WASHINGTON DC – Gov. Brian Sandoval went to bat Thursday for a federal online poker bill, breaking away from fellow governors ramping up to fight it.
Sandoval split with the National Governors Association, which told congressional leaders the proposed bill would restrict states from pursuing their own forms of legalized gaming, and the revenue gained would help fund schools and social programs.
A draft bill reviewed by the governors was unacceptable, according to Govs. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania and Steve Beshear of Kentucky.
“We oppose the draft Senate legislation in its current form as an unnecessary pre-emption of state authority,” said the governors, who head the association’s economic development committee.
Rumors reached fever pitch last week that a bill to legalize and regulate online poker in the U.S. would be tacked on to legislation extending payroll tax cuts. Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV), however, denied the rumors on Thursday. Congress passed the payroll tax bill sans online poker legislation on Friday.
Poker players are all too familiar with gaming-related bills getting tacked on to other legislation. In 2006, the UIGEA was snuck on to the “must pass” Safe Port bill in the dead of night. Last week’s speculation gave full measure to the adage “turnabout is fair play.”
But U.S. players (and casino interests alike) remain hopeful that online poker legislation is still in the cards for 2012 despite the false alarm and Wall Street’s long odds.
OCE says they’ve been looking at the current Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee for more than a year to confirm suspicions that, essentially, Bachus, an active trader, was operating like a stock-options superuser! OK, maybe not exactly, because you gotta think Bachus woulda banked more than a few thousand bucks here and there if he were truly the Russ Hamilton of Wall Street politics. But still …
DC Power Broker? A leader in the cause of stifling online poker, seen here with his wife at an event honoring Rafe Furst and Phil Gordon, two Full Tilt Poker pros.
Regardless of whether or not this level of OCE censure might ultimately land Bachus in prison a la Martha Stewart (it’s often a fine line between unethical and illegal) Bachus’ woe is a big win for poker because such allegations alone effectively neutralize his power and influence on Capitol Hill. In the War on Poker, Bachus has been a General for the other side post-UIGEA, and twice before has shown the ability to stop online poker legalization efforts in their tracks by persuading other members to line up behind him on our issue. But not this go-round, it would seem …
WASHINGTON DC — About 110 people or so are in DC for the Digital Gaming and Lottery Policy summit … essentially a two-day crash course on gaming regulation. The DGLP confab is addressing everything from technology to legal quandaries to very detailed proposals on taxation breakdowns … like by the percent! We all know online gambling can be a complex issue, with lots of minutiae that can impact the success or failure of businesses built around a sub-industry. And the way American lawmakers are picking it all apart is enough to make you think that we musta either totally forgotten about Europe’s relatively successful regulation of a multibillion-dollar industry over the past decade, or we Americans just consider the other side of the pond nothing worth a study — they are responsible for Full Tilt, after all!
No? Regardless, as part of the process of eventually “getting there” legislatively, and staying true to Pokerati’s motto In Negotio Pro Poker Meliori, my contribution to policy noise today will be addressing online cheating. Below are my notes from which I plan to wonk out with my donk out:
As you know, the House Subcommittee for Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade held a hearing [yesterday] examining the potential regulation of Internet gambling. The hearing entitled, “Internet Gambling: Is There a Safe Bet?” called upon a variety of witnesses to discuss how best Internet gambling can be regulated in the U.S. Among the witnesses was Poker Player Alliance Chairman and former Senator, Alfonse D’Amato. A complete list of witnesses and their full testimonies is available here. You can also watch the full 2 ½ hour Committee hearing on CSPAN.com here.
Meeting with members before and after the hearing, I was immensely proud to hear every lawmaker tell us that they are being contacted by poker players. The question on the lawmakers’ minds was not “if” internet poker should be regulated, but rather “how” regulation should look.
Senator D’Amato did an exceptional job and delivered impassioned remarks defending your right to play. He urged Congress to adopt rules and regulations to ensure American consumers have a safe marketplace in which to play poker on the Internet. In fact, when it came to consumer protections the conclusion of every witness before the Committee was that regulation was far better than the status quo. And, more importantly, that sentiment was also expressed almost unanimously by the lawmakers who attended the hearing. The question on the lawmakers’ minds was not “if” internet poker should be regulated, but rather “how” should regulation look.
This week’s online gambling news includes an unusual bipartisan letter to the US Department of Justice. Plus, industry news from the United Kingdom, and a potential setback for regulated gaming in Washington DC.
POT ODDS: Gary Johnson sees online poker prohibition as emblematic of what’s wrong with America. He also thinks it should be easier to get good weed.
Presidential hopeful Gary Johnson (R-NM) came to the WSOP this year to show his support for online poker efforts, as well as drum up support for his White House run.
He took note of online poker matters shortly after April 15, he said, and couldn’t help but see the similarities between online poker and other issues he’s fought for over his political career — from ski-helmet laws or marijuana reform. He was at the PPA booth shortly before the start of the main event, and I got to chat with the two-term former governor of New Mexico about the Republican shift in support of online poker, where online poker fits in the scheme of national issues (right up at the very top, he says, as an example of American freedoms under attack), and how those who believe in smaller government can support the concept of more regulation. Apparently you can regulate online gambling without regulating the whole internet. And regulations work best, he explains, when a guy like him gets to be “dictator”. (If Obama thought he had “socialist” problems … yeow.)
Pokerati Raw: Courting the Poker Vote Gary Johnson at the WSOP
[audio: http://pokerati.com/podcast/pokerati-raw/gary-johnson-wsop.mp3] download
Johnson calls on poker players to realize that their passions go beyond just poker and are more of an American issue — like pot — and the immediate solution is to donate to his campaign.
He’s pitching himself as “the people’s president” … and thus is letting poker players know that he can be their guy in DC. For what it’s worth, I didn’t leave with the feeling that this will be a special day having met the future president … but I did leave with the sense that Johnson would help make the issues of online poker players — the basic ones, the simple right to play for money online — part of the national debate.
The Barton bill has raised the hopes of poker players, but not everyone is so enthusiastic about the proposed legislation. Also, more Black Friday fallout from across the Atlantic. Plus, regulated online gambling has been put on hold in Washington, DC
Crap, I’m never gonna get to that Deep Purple concert before Smoke on the Water … stepped away from the Pokerati Game @PalmsPokerRoom for a bit, and sure enough the draft of Joe Barton’s online poker bill — one crafted with more input from players (via the PPA) than squabbling online poker entities, and supposedly supported already by Harry Reid, has leaked out.
You’ll have to tell me what’s in it … I gotta go to the concert — and I’m sure the Senate Majority Leader from Nevada won’t be able to resist manipulating it in some way by the time it moves outta the house … but feel good overall that it will be more player-focused from the start than any that preceded it … simply because Black Friday put so many other battles amongst potential supporters to rest … and we’ll have to reassess, but I really think the conditions look strong for now as opposed to later. And I say that even though I’ll bet that Barton’s staff didn’t take my suggestion and include any provisions for splashing pots with concert tickets in the Pokerati game. (Didn’t they see I still have a 214 area code!?) Hey, special-interest politics is about compromise, right?
Maybe I’m wrong, but I just think the masses of poker players are in a better spot for such negotiations in 2011 than we were in 2010 … especially if this 101-page bill I skimmed is more than just smoke-and-mirrors on the water, which now it has no reason to be.
Joe Barton’s online poker: “And then he three-bet me on the turn with — get this — jack-high! How sick is that?”
US Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) will be in Las Vegas for Friday’s shuffle-up-and-deal … and possibly to unveil his new online poker (only) bill.
The Texas Republican has taken the baton from Barney Frank (D-MA), by way of John Campbell (R-CA), to lead the charge for licensed and regulated online poker in the House, with a new bill his office says he plans to “drop” either Friday or closer to the July 4th weekend.
It’s still probably too early to make decent predictions, prognostication, and prop bets — haven’t even seen a draft yet — but the forces lining up this go-round are indeed different than before.
This time we’re talking about an online poker-only bill, with a different committee path, and a conservative Republican — perhaps looking to put a bipartisan feather in his cap before the ’12 elections — charged with rallying support on his side of the aisle.
Poker player and industry interests are preparing to hit Congress with selective aggression in DC later this month.
The surge actually goes down on a Monday and Tuesday, but do days even matter any more when Americans can’t compete against the rest of the developed world on Sunday?
The Poker Players Alliance moved up plans for a Washington DC member fly-in scheduled for September to later this month, May 23-24 … where the official call to action is supposedly to hit Congress hard to legalize online poker and do it quickly … if not before the WSOP then at least some time in 2011, maybe, please? Click here for details on the fly-in, and here for what you can do from afar to support what should be poker’s biggest political assault on Washington DC ever.
Congress has seen the numbers — millions of voting-age American players, a $6 billion US industry, $10-40 billion in tax revenue (over 10 years), thousands of jobs — and most members know they won’t face much backlash at the polls for opposing internet prohibitions and allowing online poker the same protections as other forms of legal recreation. But what they may not realize is why it may not be so cool to wait a few years to fix things, nor how many non-criminals have been hurt by recent DOJ actions, which are rather unprecedented in that the case against online poker operators ultimately hinges on a thusfar unsettled matter of what legally defines gambling and/or games of skill.
I think for the PPA, beyond reinforcing sensible-government arguments, they plan to get their members on message — because as more and more sign on with positions the PPA first advocated after the UIGEA, the game of legitimizing online poker has evolved — while getting Congress to realize the need for more immediate action because:
It’s time to have a poker player run for President of the United States. Forget Joe the Plumber. How about Tom the Gambler?
I actually gave serious consideration to running for President in 2012. However, when I woke up, it didn’t seem like such a great idea. I thought what could a gambler offer that others can’t? I came up with several ideas and am going to share one here. This is not an article about bashing one side or the other. I’m trying to show how gamblers typically get right to the root of the problem by viewing the world differently than others.
First, I wanted to identify a problem that 95 percent of Americans would agree was a problem, thus removing all political bias. The Problem: Politicians lie, misrepresent facts and gamble with our money. Do you agree?
How do gamblers find the truth?
And if you make bad decisions repeatedly,
you are no longer gambling because you run out of money.
In a debate, if a politician sounds convincing, we believe him. He can’t be lying, he sounds so sure. The debate is concluded and the viewers have no idea that the bastard lied for an hour straight. He made up stuff and pulled answers out of his ass to avoid having to say, “I don’t know.” (Note: when pulling numbers out of asses, avoid the sharp ones like 4 and 7.)
When trying to get the Healthcare bill passed one Senator made a huge deal about the American Medical Association (AMA) supporting the bill, thus trying to make the public feel better since all doctors support it. Did you know that only 17% of all doctors belong to the AMA, because most doctors don’t like the political stands the AMA takes? Did you know that a significant majority of doctors were opposed to the proposed Healthcare bill? It is outrageously disingenuous to act like doctors are supporting the bill.
Our elected officials say that if we pass a stimulus package, we will create one million new jobs…oops, sorry, we were wrong. No big deal, we will try something else. They are guessing with our money. I like idiots in a poker game, but I’m tired of idiots in Washington. It’s like all of us voters decided to put the worst poker player in the biggest game. Unfortunately, unlike poker, these idiots can’t get lucky with our money.
In a bout of Democrat-on-Democrat tongue-lashing, longtime online gambling champion Rep. Barney Frank pointed to the Obama Administration, which oversees the DOJ, for pointless prosecutions and an unsmart use of resources, but came short of defending any indicted online poker defendants.
Frank mocked the seizures as the administration “protecting the public from the scourge of inside straights,” and lamented that the Justice Department is more focused on prosecuting online poker sites than those responsible for the mortgage crisis and financial meltdown.
“Go after the people responsible for empty houses, not full houses,” Frank added.
Doh! Barney was doing so well with that first poker metaphor, but then kinda blew it with the addendum, imho.
Still, you see the venerable liberal Congressman willing to finger the President more so than Bill Frist and the Republicans or Eric Holder and SDNY or Spencer Bachus or anyone else. Why would he direct his balk at Barack like this? Sour grapes, non-partisan principle, or something more he’d like the DC press corp to know about Obama’s role in the timing of these indictments?
I’m surprised to see poker people still speculating on the #ReidBill’s chances for bringing the poker industry a Christmas present or leaving us a lump of coal … as if any of us could be more than donkeys in a game where that word alone means something totally different.
(OK, you’re right, I can’t prove that … but if I had a receipt it would be an easier tax deduction for us than you! And true fact: I did ride paddle boats outside the Jefferson Memorial more times during the Carter administration than I saw Star Wars at a drive-in, so …)
Though just semi-experienced at best, I have been down this special-interest road before … where you’ve got a bill on the table but are running up against a semi-arbitrary not-clearly defined session clock — go Texas poker ’09! Which is why Pokerati is setting its line for #Reidbill passage firmly at somewhere between 8 and 88 percent.
Book it. We should know for sure by Tuesday or Monday or Wednesday-ish.
Though no one in the so-called “poker industry” has much if any political experience prior to Harry Reid’s current term … some poker-biz donkey-pols have learned a thing or two along the way to get us here. For a little perspective, here’s “the Professor” Howard Lederer learnin’ us some Political Science 101 last year at a high-society charity tourney in Washington DC, providing an overview of the game at hand … particularly for small-time players hoping to satellite into a bigger Beltway event:
Hello good people of Pokerati. Here’s what I hope to make a weekly digest of what I think are the most interesting and/or relevant stories (not necessarily the same thing) happening online and around the world:
PokerStars turns off Washington players – This is the first US state to be turned off by PokerStars. Major Stars competitors have not responded in-kind. This was not prompted by any change in state law in Washington (the ostensible reason was the result in the Rousso v. Washington judgment handed down on September 23rd). This may signal that Stars is not going to be as aggressive as others in maintaining a presence in all jurisdictions in the US. [Casino City Times]
HR 2267 – People continue to try to read the tea leaves to determine what’s going to happen with the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act. Every utterance from Reps. Frank or McDermott or from Senator Reid sends the online forums and poker press into overdrive. The House is now adjourned until after the November elections. If HR 2267 is to pass, it must be done during the lame-duck session starting after the mid-terms and ending before the start of the 112th Congress in early January. I continue to believe that it’s more likely than not that the current version (as amended) will not pass before the start of the next session, but remember that a lot can happen in a few days. [GovTrack.us]
Betfair IPO – This is one of the biggest public offerings in gaming in some time, so it’s no surprise that it’s getting quite a lot of attention. Betfair is apparently not raising new money on the float; shareholders are selling off approximately 10% of their holdings before over-allotment. Initial media reports had suggested a valuation of as high as £1.5B, but this appears to have been discounted. [Wall Street Journal]
Penn National coming to Vegas – Penn National Gaming purchased the outstanding debt of the M Resort in Las Vegas for $230.5M. This is seen as Penn’s way of eventually owning the asset, giving it its first Las Vegas property. The M was built at a cost of $1B, so most appear to be congratulating Penn for effectively purchasing a nice asset at a fraction of cost. [LVRJ]
PokerStars Licensure – Stars continues to build up gaming licences in various jurisdictions; it now has operating licences in France, Italy, and Estonia, as well as its ‘main’ international licence from the Isle of Man. This may be a sign of the kind of regulatory fragmentation that owners will face in future (especially in Europe) as different countries open up their markets to licensure and operations. [Gaming Zion]