Buoyed up by the success of their casinos, Delaware looks like it’s trying to jump into the online gaming arena in a big way. A bill to allow online betting in Delaware and provide more venues for sports betting is on its way to the state House for a vote.
The House Gaming and Parimutuels Committee approved the bill last week. Gov. Jack Markell proposed expanding keno beyond Delaware’s three existing casinos to at least 100 sites throughout the state, and authorizing betting on NFL football in at least 20 more sites.
Expanded gambling revenues would let Delaware eliminate the $4 million in slot machine fees paid by the existing casinos and cut their table game fees from $6.75 million to $3 million. In return, the casinos would spend an equal amount on traditional business expenses such as marketing, capital improvements and debt reduction.
“This is key to making sure that this industry stays competitive for the years to come,” state finance secretary Tom Cook told the committee, noting that Delaware’s gambling industry has faced increased competition from neighboring states in recent years.]]>
“We want to take the lead,” said New Jersey state senator Sen. Raymond Lesniak (pictured left), a sponsor of the bill that would legalize online poker in New Jersey. “We don’t want Nevada to take the lead.” His bill cleared the state Assembly’s gambling committee yesterday, as lawmakers race to make New Jersey the first state that allows Internet betting.
Lesniak said the state has already lost out on about $200 million because Gov. Chris Christie’s vetoed a similar bill last year. But since then the US Department of Justice opened the door to internet wagering, and sent the Garden State’s lawmakers scrambling to enact legislation.
New Jersey estimates an additional $300 million to $400 in gambling revenue for the state if the bill becomes law, along with the construction of $150 million to $300 million of data centers to handle the traffic.
But it’s not all smooth sailing. Lesniak is concerned that Gov. Chris Christie’s political ambitions are getting in the way of his previous support for Internet gambling legislation in the state.
Christie has been talked about as a possible running mate for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, and is also in line for a position in Romney’s administration if the former Massachusetts governor is successful in November.
After vetoing Internet gambling legislation last year, Christie reversed himself in January and now supports allowing Atlantic City casinos to host online gambling websites. Christie’s reversal encouraged Lesniak to reintroduce his bill. Although Christie’s wavering could affect Republican votes, Lesniak said they aren’t needed for the bill to pass in the Democrat-controlled New Jersey legislature.
“We’ll have it on his desk before the end of June,” Lesniak said. “He’ll have to fish or cut bait at that time.”
According to Lesniak, Christie can always say, “I did what was right for my state. I’m not asking any other state to do it. I wouldn’t support it at the federal level, but for New Jersey it’s the right thing to do.”]]>
Card Player Magazine reported that poker professional and Hall of Famer Barry Greenstein tweeted in an attempt to link President Obama’s announcement in support of same-sex marriage to the plight of ostracized poker players.
Greenstein said that the president supports efforts to legalize online poker, but just won’t admit it.
While I respect Barry’s reputation in the poker community, his statement seems silly and somewhat misguided. Even if Obama believes in his heart that online poker is OK but won’t actively support it right now—and none of us can read his mind, so we really don’t know what he supports and what he doesn’t—he’s not supporting anything unless he comes right out and says so.
He’s in a political campaign, so it’s probably in his best interest to be mushy on issues that can probably cost him votes but not gain him any, and I understand that. But President Obama’s doing what politicians have done since time began. He’s dancing around both sides of an issue by saying nothing and allowing everyone to read whatever they’d like into the tea leaves. This is not what I call support. It’s merely tap dancing.]]>
After five years as editor of Poker Player Newspaper, I’m out. As of yesterday, Stan Sludikoff decided to assume the role of editor, in what’s one in a series of cost-cutting moves designed to stabilize the paper’s financial problems and retain its viability. I will simply be a columnist for the paper going forward, and until the paper’s profitability increases, I don’t see myself wearing the editor’s hat any time soon.
For now, I’ll continue on as a columnist for the paper, with Stan as editor as well as publisher.
It’s too bad. I really enjoyed editing the paper. ::sigh::]]>
It’s been one year today since the Feds swooped down to shutter America’s most popular online poker sites: PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and CEREUS Network rooms Absolute Poker and UB.com. On Black Friday, the US Department of Justice indicted these sites and millions of players have had to live with the aftermath of their actions.
For most poker players, the biggest impact is that Full Tilt never repaid money to their customers—money that did not belong to Full Tilt in the first place. To me, this is the biggest of the crimes resulting from Black Friday and its collateral damage. For all of the DOJ’s posturing in the days following the site seizures, only the five payment processors charged in the case have appeared in court, with each copping a guilty plea and a smallish sentence.
But what about guys like Howard Lederer and Chris Ferguson? Both were actively involved in the management of Full Tilt Poker, yet saw no ethical issues in paying themselves with money that was never theirs, and never belonged to Full Tilt Poker. They simply took players’ money.
This is a criminal act. I’m not an attorney, but fraud and embezzlement seem to be good starting places for what might be a rather lengthy list of charges. Answers won’t be forthcoming until these guys are in court, under oath, and questioned about their activities by prosecuting attorneys. In my opinion, the enormity of their crimes and the impact of their actions on others far exceed any ill deeds done by the five payment processors.
If they are innocent, a day in court is a way to defend themselves and restore their reputations. But if they are guilty, they need to face justice, be held accountable for their actions, and be punished for it.
Although Poker Stars quickly moved to return player funds to them, none of the other online sites did. I don’t believe players will ever see all of their money, and the best they can expect is to have their deposits—but not their winnings—returned to them.
Even that’s iffy right now, although Full Tilt is advertising to fill jobs in Dublin, from which one would infer that their license will be reinstated soon. They are intent on hiring folks with language skills that suggest they are looking at expanding into Eastern Europe.
Even if you like their software and interface, would you play there? Some folks will probably argue that the new regime is not the old one, but as long as I had a choice of rooms, I’d play at PokerStars. They have a demonstrated track record of caring about customer interests—never mind the fact that the Isle of Man, where they are headquartered and regulated, requires them to “ring-fence” player funds, and not comingle them with company operating monies.
It’s been a year today since Black Friday, and while so much has happened, there’s so much more that needs to take place to ensure that justice is done, that the guilty are held accountable for their actions and punished for it, and that poker can raise itself up from a year of disaster, anger, and angst, and regain its place as America’s—and the world’s—card game of choice.]]>
Now you can hear Keep Flopping Aces, Thursday night at 6 p.m. Pacific Time for our first show on Hold’em Radio. Our last show was two weeks ago at the old station, and this week Shari Geller and I will debut Keep Flopping Aces at www.holdemradio.com.
For our first broadcast, it will be Shari and I, chatting about poker and smoothing out the wrinkles. But we have guests booked for the next three weeks following that, and on April19 our guest will be professional poker player and writer Chris “Fox” Wallace. He’ll be followed on April 26 by poker’s ultimate insider Nolan Dalla, Director of Communications for the World Series of Poker, who will preview this year’s WSOP.
On May 3, we will have either John Pappas or Rich Muny from the Poker Player’s Alliance, in what should be a very interesting show. It was just over a year ago on April 14, the day before Black Friday, that Shari and I hosted John Pappas on our show. We were all bullish that evening on the future of online poker, but awakened the next morning with egg on our faces, when we discovered that the Feds had moved to curtail all online poker in the United States, a move that propelled the Full Tilt scandal into the spotlight and changed everything.
So join us on live at Hold’em Radio, or download the show as a podcast for on demand listening. We look forward to it.]]>
Yesterday was our 170th show on Rounders Radio. It was also our last. After a one week hiatus, Shari Geller and I will move Keep Flopping Aces to Hold’em Radio. We’re keeping the same time slot: Thursday evening at 6 p.m. Pacific Time. Shows will also be rebroadcast three times during the following week, and they’ll be available as podcasts for on-demand listening.
The station was recently purchased by Dan Ross and Camille Cannon from the company that bought the station from its founder, Wade Andrews. I began my poker radio adventures on the original Hold’em Radio, moved on to Rounders Radio, and now we’ll be back.
Our first Hold’em Radio show is slated for April 12. That’s show will just be Shari Geller and me, as we try to tell our new listeners what the show is all about and work out any technical details we might encounter.
On April 19, our guest is pro player, author, and noted poker teacher Chris “Fox” Wallace. The following week, April 26, our guest will be Nolan Dalla. Nolan has been a guest every year around this time to give us a preview of the upcoming World Series of Poker. As the WSOP’s communications, Nolan is the ultimate poker insider. He’s always informative, always entertaining, and always opinionated.
We’ll announce new guests as we book them. In the meantime, please tune us in and give us a listen … every Thursday night at 6 p.m. Pacific Time, and corresponding time slots world-wide.]]>
The government’s planned prosecution of Utah banker John Campos hit a road block of sorts, when US District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan ordered prosecutors to explain in writing why they let former Utah banker John Campos plead guilty to a misdemeanor instead of a felony, and avoid a trial scheduled for April 9. When Judge Kaplan blocked the guilty plea, he said he needed to know why the government was walking away from the case.
This was to have been the only scheduled trial resulting from charges brought against a dozen individuals in poker’s Black Friday raids that shuttered the operations of PokerStars, Full Tilt, Absolute Poker and UB in the United States. Half of those charged remain fugitives, while the others have pleaded to charges.
“You’re basically walking away from the prosecution?” Kaplan asked, questioning the severity of the outcome after Campos admitted that the bank where he served as vice chairman of its board of directors and a part owner processed $200 million in gambling proceeds between late 2009 and last year.
The judge said he’ll decide whether to accept the plea at a June 27 sentencing.
Campos’ deal is an acknowledgement of trial risks, admitted Assistant U.S. Attorney Arlo Devlin-Brown. Campos had received legal opinions suggesting that it might not be illegal to process money for Internet gambling companies.
“There would be a risk that a jury on that basis could have a problem,” Devlin-Brown said.
Campos admitted as part of his plea that SunFirst Bank processed gambling proceeds, and that PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker promised to invest $10 million in his bank. Through his lawyer, Campos stated that he did not believe the investment was in return for the processing of gambling proceeds.
Assistant US Attorney Andrew Goldstein said the stipulated sentencing range of up to six months in prison was about what Campos would face if he pleaded guilty to a felony, and that the government succeeded in banning the 57-year-old Campos from future jobs with banking institutions.]]>
Federal prosecutors played “Let’s Make a Deal” with John Campos, former vice-chairman of a Utah bank and the last remaining money man scheduled to fight the government’s online poker case in a trial set to get under way April 9.
Campos is alleged to have accepted a cash infusion in return for handling online poker transactions. Although initially charged with a felony, he agreed to plead guilty to a single misdemeanor charge.
This deal between Campos avoids a trial that might have impacted the government’s case against the indicted PokerStars’ founder Isai Scheinberg and Full Tilt Poker’s Ray Bitar, although the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan refused to comment.
Another payment processor, Chad Elie, pleaded guilty on Monday to conspiring to commit bank fraud and operating an illegal gambling business. He will forfeit his interest in more than $25 million in payment processing accounts and pay an additional $500,000 to the feds.
Led by Assistant U.S. Attorney Arlo Devlin-Brown, the feds extracted guilty pleas from seven of the 11 individuals indicted as part of the government’s Black Friday crackdown. Allowing a Campos to cop a misdemeanor plea suggests the government wants to avoid a trial.
The reason might have something to do with the government’s position that online poker violates US Law. After all, both sides filed detailed motions with the court, and federal judge Lewis Kaplan refused to dismiss any of the government’s charges filed against Campos and Elie, setting the stage for the April trial. One of the last motions filed asked that the question of whether poker was a game of chance—and therefore gambling—be put before a jury, but Kaplan never ruled on that request.
The feds can now turn their attention to Isai Scheinberg and Ray Bitar, although neither of them is in the United States. I still don’t know why the feds are not chasing down Chris Ferguson and Howard Lederer as part of this case. I’m not a lawyer, but it’s clear to me that the practices of our legal system and the concept of justice are quite often misaligned … to say the least.]]>
Daniel Tzvetkoff, the one-time high-roller Australian businessman who brought down America’s multi-billion-dollar online poker industry, is set to emerge from hibernation April 9. He will testify in a New York courtroom, when his former Las Vegas-based business partner Chad Elie, and Utah banker John Campos, go on trial.
Elie, 31, is charged with nine offenses, including conspiring to commit bank fraud and money laundering. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 85 years.
Campos is a 57-year-old executive at Utah’s SunFirst Bank who allegedly agreed to process gambling transactions, and is charged with six offenses. He could be jailed for 35 years.
Facing a 75 year stint in a US federal prison and charged with money laundering, bank fraud, and other charges, Tzvetkoff made a deal with prosecutors after he was arrested inside of a Las Vegas casino in April 2010. Following his arrest, he became the government’s star informant. Tzvetkoff’s inside knowledge led to “Black Friday,” the day that PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and UB/Absolute Poker were shut down to US players.
His firm allegedly processed more than $1 billion in illegal transactions between US players and internet gaming websites based offshore. As part of his plea deal, Tzvetkoff handed more than 90,000 documents over to prosecutors.
We opined that Tzvetkoff would testify, and if you search this site for posts made on October 1, 2010 and April 18, 2011, we were 100 percent correct in our assumptions.]]>