Political Chatter

We are proud to debut a brand-new section of the magazine in this issue. Here, we’ll take a quick look at what’s happening in the gaming and political world and present you with need-to-know highlights from the past month.

New Jersey
Despite opposition from sports organizations such as the NCAA, NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB, New Jersey is continuing to move forward with its plans to launch sports betting. The aforementioned sports bodies claim that the current plan clearly violates the federal law against sports betting1 and is also a threat to the integrity of sport. Gov. Chris Christie also plans to privatize the state lottery.

New York
On Aug. 21, Judge Jack Weinstein of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York ruled that poker is a game of skill and cannot be considered illegal under the Illegal Gambling Business Act (IGBA). Many are quick to point out that a ruling from one judge may not necessarily be adopted nationally; other judges could rule contrary to Weinstein at any time. However, Weinstein has experience and age on his side. Appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967, he is a well-respected senior judge. His opinion has also garnered a great deal of respect for its thoroughness. The quote that best explains the judge’s reasoning, from within the 120 page document, states:

The influence of skill on the outcome of poker games is far greater than that on the outcomes of the games enumerated in the IGBA’s illustrations of gambling. While a gambler with an encyclopedic knowledge of sports may perform better than others when wagering on the outcome of sporting events, unlike in poker, his skill does not influence game play. A sports bettor is better able to pick a winning team, but cannot make them win. In poker, by contrast, increased proficiency boosts a player’s chance of winning and affects the outcome of individual hands as well as a series of hands. Expert poker players draw on an array of talents, including facility with numbers, knowledge of human psychology, and powers of observation and deception.2

This case has provided the Poker Players Alliance ammunition they can use to argue on the federal level that poker is a skill game.

California
A recent decision by Gov. Jerry Brown may change the gaming landscape in California. Brown has approved a plan for two tribes to open casinos away from their ancestral lands. He explained that his administration agrees with an earlier Federal Department of the Interior ruling that grants two northern California tribes the right to open the distant casinos.

Illinois
In Illinois, Dem. Gov. Pat Quinn has vetoed a bill to expand gambling in the state. He opines that the proposal lacked sufficient regulatory oversight, and as he would like to preserve his political integrity in such a plan, he would rather reject it. The bill would have increased the number of casinos in Illinois from 10 to 15—including a first in Chicago—and would have allowed slot machines at race tracks. Many think this would have helped the cash-strapped state, which is already losing gaming profits to nearby casinos in Indiana. Quinn is certain his decision will not be overridden. State Rep. Lou Lang, also a Democrat and the bill’s sponsor, disagrees. He thinks there is a good chance the veto could be overturned in the democrat-controlled legislature during its fall session that begins in November.

Nevada
South Point Casino, Monarch Casino and GCA are celebrating (or should be) after being granted i-poker licenses in Nevada. South Point hopes to have online poker in operation as soon as October. MCRI expects to partner with online poker operators to launch i-gaming and will sync with its Atlantis Casino. GCA will provide online payment solutions for online operators. PokerTrip Enterprises, a marketing company, has been recommended for an affiliate i-gaming license in the state. The company will have to wait with baited breath until Sept. 20 to learn if the Nevada Gaming Commission grants it final approval. If it does, PokerTrip will work to refer players to online poker rooms and will be paid on a fee basis.

1 The 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act prohibits sports betting in all states in the U.S., with the exception of Nevada, Delaware, Oregon and Montana. States were allowed a window of opportunity within which they could have requested sports betting approval.
2 Section VIII 3, “U.S. v. DiCristina Opinion (8/21/2012)”. Retreived Sept. 10, 2012 from Poker Players Alliance website, http://theppa.org/ppa/2012/08/21/u-s-vs-dicristina-case/

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