NJ Regulators To Affiliates: You Can’t Promote Legal Online Gambling Sites If You Also Promote Illegal Ones

In a regulatory shift made public earlier this month, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement has notified affiliates that if they wish to continue promoting the state’s legal casino and online poker sites, they must drop unregulated rooms from their rosters.

The notification came on June 4, when the DGE Director David Rebuck issued a Director’s Advisory Bulletin announcing the change. The full text of that bulletin can be found here.

What it means for sites promoting NJ online casinos

According to OnlinePokerReport.com, last year the DGE notified certain affiliates via a cease and desist letter that they must stop advertising illegal offshore sites beside online poker and casino rooms that are regulated by the state of New Jersey.

CardsChat.com, PokerSource.com, RakeBrain.com, Pokersites.com, RaketheRake.com, and others were warned that they must discontinue this practice. In some instances, these affiliate sites were representing illegal offshore gaming sites as being legal in New Jersey – and in many cases they continue to do so more than one year after being told to stop.

The most recent bulletin informs affiliates that they have 150 days during which to cease advertising illegal gambling sites such as Bovada Poker, Merge Gaming, Black Chip Poker, and America’s Cardroom. Affiliates must then provide a notarized letter to the DGE asserting that these changes have been undertaken.

“It is clear that those illegal online gaming sites who accept wagers from players in New Jersey pose a significant threat to the regulation of lawful gaming,” Rebuck wrote. “Online gaming operators who have been licensed by the Division were subject to a thorough investigation regarding their business history, the functionality of their system and the good character, honesty, integrity and financial stability of their executive management team and principal owners.”

“Affiliates who promote and market illegal sites to players in New Jersey are violating New Jersey law and risk the Division taking adverse enforcement action against them,” warned Rebuck.

Why does it matter?

To many, it might seem like this change is not a big deal. So why does it matter that affiliates must now only promote legal sites to New Jersey online gambling customers?

For one, unregulated sites are often subject to little or no oversight and are not accountable to issues of player security and safety. At regulated New Jersey online gambling sites – as well as at those in Delaware and Nevada, which have also legalized online betting – player funds are required to be segregated from other funds, ensuring that should a player wish to make a withdrawal, the cash is available.

One needn’t look further than the story of Lock Poker to see what can happen when online poker and casino sites are permitted to operate in the absence of regulation. While the Lock Poker saga is a recent example, it is but one of many incidences in which U.S. players were harmed due to the policies and actions of sites that operate outside of the regulated system.

Additionally, as Rebuck noted in his letter, when players are driven to illegal sites, they are not being encouraged to play at those that are regulated and safe, thus those sites lose money. It is important to protect those businesses that are playing by the rules, especially as additional states like Pennsylvania and California mull legislation to allow regulated online gambling in their jurisdictions.

Need a few more reasons? Read this article about why players should avoid unregulated online poker sites like the plague.

No Joke, This Is An Actual Story At The Washington Post

Reported by the Washington Post, Rep. Brad Ashford (D-Neb.) was hit by Sheldon Adelson’s wife’s purse after it dropped off a ledge and onto his shoulder. Ashford has now signed on to become the 14th co-sponsor of the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA).  The bill would ban many forms of currently regulated online gambling in the United States. RAWA is backed by Adelson.

The congressman had decided to sign on to the Adelson bill before “pursegate,” the spokeman said.

Miriam Adelson’s purse contained business cards, Apple earphones, and lipstick. She was not carrying any cash, destroying the punch line of many jokes told at the time.

RAWA would take away the right for states to legalize online gambling and also stop the regulated online gambling industry operating in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware.

 

 

 

For Online Poker to Succeed, Full Online Gaming Has To Be Available

Online poker players and advocates need to get off their high horse and admit there isn’t enough lobbying power for federal regulation to happen ever.

As Congress returns for their “lame duck” session this month, there have been rumblings regarding online gaming and poker.

For now it seems that this Congress won’t be taking any action on any of the efforts to reinterpret the Wire Act of 1961, but there also won’t be any action on bills in the House of Representatives to pass online poker regulation. Still, we have to be vigilant that something isn’t hustled through committees and tacked onto a piece of must-pass legislation (everyone remember the UIGEA?).

Embracing all online gaming

The 114th Congress will be seated on January 3 and with their seating should come different tactics by all in the online poker community.

Since the passage of the UIGEA in 2006, online poker supporters have been advocating for only online poker regulation. For online poker regulation – and the potential US industry that regulation would create – to become a reality, it is critical that online poker advocates embrace FULL online gaming.

For many years, online poker advocates have stated that poker isn’t like other casino games (blackjack, pit games, slots, Keno, sports betting, etc.) because of the skill it takes to play the game. Because of the skill factor, online poker fans perceive that it shouldn’t be lopped in with other casino gaming. This, however, is a short sighted idea.

Rallying more to the cause

One of the major problems facing the online poker drive is the numbers. While the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) may trumpet their million-plus membership, as a lobbying group that is miniscule.

As of May 2013, the National Rifle Association (NRA) counts more than 5 million people as members; AARP, the organization that advocates for the rights of people over 50, counts 37 million people as members; even People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) can boast of a 3-million plus membership roll.

For poker to garner some more power in its offensive, it is time that it teams with online gaming advocates to push for full online casino gaming in the United States.

The Interactive Gaming Council (IGC) is one of the top international organizations advocating for online gaming and would be a key partner in any full push for total online gaming in the US.

The International Association of Gaming Regulators (IAGR) could show that online gaming could be adequately regulated under a US system.

The American Gaming Association (AGA) would be another organization that would be an excellent alliance as the casino advocacy group would coalesce the “brick and mortar” casino industry behind the online fight (we’ll get to a problem with this group in a moment).

If the PPA could partner with these organizations, suddenly we go from a million-member, admittedly vocal advocacy group to one that has several million members that actually has a bit of firepower in its approach.

Where’s the resistance?

There are a litany of problems with these potential partnerships, however. The AGA took the cowardly stance earlier this year of removing themselves from the online fray because of the “divisiveness” of the issue inside their membership (that “divisiveness” consisted of solely Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson and, to a lesser extent, Wynn Resorts’ Steve Wynn). They need to take a stand for the majority of their membership and get back in the game rather than kowtow to the whims of the minority.

The IGC and the IAGR, while critically important to the fight, have a pretty full plate with their international commitments and tossing in the US situation could stretch their resources thin.

The perception of online gaming

Then there is also the problem of the perception of online gaming. Adelson’s Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG) isn’t content to just stop online poker, it wants the entire enchilada with ending a potential US online gaming industry.

The ones who would make the decisions regarding regulation – politicians – also are wary of pushing through such regulation on both sides of the aisle.

The GOP has already came out (per their 2012 platform) against a federally regulated US industry on “moral grounds” and, while they haven’t put a plank in their platform on the subject, there are many Democrats who believe that online gaming would be detrimental to those less fortunate in our society.

Looking forward to 2015

Through the partnerships between several of the pro-online gaming advocacy groups above, online gaming and poker would have a larger voice in the fight when the new Congress comes to power in 2015.

That voice would, at the minimum, stop any anti-gaming regulation and, in the best case scenario, could actually push for something that would be critical: a fully regulated online casino gaming industry that would include poker (for those who want it) and other games (for those who aren’t poker fans).

It’s time to set aside the poker community’s perceived superiority regarding the online gaming issue (don’t we often complain about why horse racing and fantasy sports are exempt from the UIGEA?) and join forces with like-minded groups to push for what could be a lucrative US online gaming and poker industry.

Sorry, The Answer We Were Looking For Was “partypoker”

Who is your online poker partner again? We can’t really blame the guy as we’ve all seen the news lately, but partypoker probably wasn’t too happy.

In case you’ve forgotten, the Philadelphia 76ers and the New Jersey Devils have a partnership with partypoker, but I’ll give you one guess at which poker site the CEO of the 76ers Scott O’Neil probably played on pre-Black Friday.

PokerStars owes this “bad actor” a thank you card.

PartTimePoker.com stated the video was originally for NBA.com but has been removed.

Revel Bought By Owners of the Las Vegas Hard Rock Casino

After closing its doors on September 2nd, Revel Casino Hotel may reopen as a casino once the $110 million bid is approved in a bankruptcy court hearing.

As reported by Wayne Parry of the Associated Press, the $2.4 billion Revel Casino Hotel on Atlantic City’s boardwalk has been sold at auction early this morning for $110 million.

The winning bid went to the Canadian firm Brookfield US Holdings LLC, an affiliate of Brookfield Asset Management. Spokesperson Andrew Willis confirmed their plans to reopen Revel as a casino hotel. Willis added:

“With our ownership of the Hard Rock in Las Vegas and the Atlantis Paradise Island in Bahamas, we have expertise underwriting and operating these types of multi-faceted assets. We anticipate material synergies between these three high-quality properties.”

Revel auction controversy?

However, there is a bit of controversy as the attorney for runner-up bidder and Florida real estate developer Glenn Straub claims there wasn’t enough time for Straub to formulate a better offer. The problem he had with the $110 million winning bid was Brookfield made the conditional offer Tuesday right before midnight – the condition being it had to be accepted before 6am Wednesday morning or else it would be pulled.

Readers may remember Straub as the outspoken $90 million cash-bidder planning to reopen Revel as a “genius academy” that could potentially also have a casino. If Brookfield fails to close the deal, Straub may still get his wish of an Atlantic City tower of genius.

Another way Straub could proclaim victory is at the bankruptcy court hearing on October 7 at which the sale must be approved. A $3 million “breakup fee” will be paid to Straub for serving as lead bidder if Brookfield officially wins the auction next Tuesday.

 

Why the Problem with Gambling? The U.S. Was Built On It!

The history of gambling in the United States reveals that gambling has been closely tied with our nation from its very beginnings and continues to this day.

One of the best ways to learn about whatever country you live in is to take a lengthy drive. Last month, as part of a move from the Midwest to the East Coast, I sat behind the wheel of the family’s Mercedes-Benz and did just that, covering about 1000 miles along the way.

When the only conversation that you can have in a sports car is with the cat that is riding along with you (after the first ten minutes of meowing, they tend to go to sleep and, even if they are listening, aren’t exactly someone to bounce ideas off of), you have time to notice some of the oddities of the United States.

I went by such strange things as the Creation Museum (would have loved a stop there for just the simple comedy), roadside vegetable sales, and various Appalachian curios. One of the things that I noticed as the miles began to pile up was the roadside billboards for gambling that popped up as I drove.

Easing out of Illinois into Indiana, I was hit with those billboards from many of the popular gaming destinations in the Hoosier State. A quick hit into Ohio saw those billboards morph into the new destinations that have been opened in Cincinnati. In Kentucky, the billboards changed over from casino gaming to racetracks and horse farms that promoted the Bluegrass State’s main industry.

Even in Tennessee (where there isn’t a casino scene), the billboards promoting North Carolina’s Harrah’s Cherokee casino disturbed the natural beauty that the Great Smoky Mountains provided.

Mind you, it wasn’t just one billboard. There were more than a hundred of them, ticking down the miles until you reached the exit of said casino/racetrack/etc. It got my mind thinking (as my cat companion slumbered quietly in the passenger seat)…why do we have a problem with gambling?

The United States was (and is) built on it!

The gamble of a new nation

All you have to do to reach this conclusion is have a basic understanding of U. S. history. The very first gamble was performed from the European continent as several explorers including Leif Erickson in the 11th century and Christopher Columbus in the 15th century, decided that there was “something” where the sun was setting and (in Columbus’ case) that the earth just didn’t drop off into the Great Unknown.

Erickson’s gamble was a bit bolder in that he bankrolled himself for the trip; Columbus, on the other hand, was able to get Spanish Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand II to pay for his trip (potentially the first act of “backing” in a gambling setting).

As the “New World” began to garner attention, even the bastions of religious piety showed they weren’t above taking a chance. England was the location for this as first the “Lost Colony” of Roanoke (the ultimate gamble as the residents “disappeared” in 1590) was settled.

Following that, the Puritans – who were so religious they were considered more restrictive than the Church of England and whose very name means ‘against pleasure’ – rolled the dice and settled at Plymouth Colony in 1620.

By the end of the 17th century, the colonies were thriving and so was gambling. Lotteries were the prevalent form of gambling (and were used to fund several prominent colleges such as Yale, Harvard and Princeton), but dice, cards and horse racing were also popular (even the more unpalatable gambling escapades as cockfighting and dogfighting had their audience).

As the rumblings of revolution came to a head in the mid-18th century, our country’s Founding Fathers – most notably George Washington and Benjamin Franklin – enjoyed a good card game. Playing cards was so popular that the Stamp Act (one of the catapults for the American Revolution) included a clause that taxed every deck of cards.

After the Revolution, however, some of the old “puritanical” ideas began to set in. Gambling was banned in some of the fledgling states, but legal (and illegal) lotteries still flourished. The lotteries even came under attack, however, so that by the time of the Civil War, only three states permitted them. The “War Between The States” would prove to be the next catalyst for gambling in the United States.

Gaming goes West

Locked in a battle for the soul of the country, both Union and Confederate soldiers would pass the time playing poker (which came to the United States through the port city of New Orleans) with their brothers in arms as they waited for the next wager for their lives.

After the conclusion of the Civil War, that gambling mentality continues as citizens pushed westward and poker came along for the ride. Nearly every Western town had a casino (legal or otherwise), where a game of faro or poker would be ongoing, and the Mississippi River bustled with commerce and the “riverboat gamblers” that plied their trade on the paddleboats.

Although it was attempted many times, gambling still found a way around banishment. The actions of Prohibition in the early 20th century saw gambling and alcohol usage pushed underground and into the hands of organized crime.

Laws to make gambling illegal in the Eastern part of the U. S. saw those organized crime figures move westward to Nevada and California, with the first casinos opened in 1931 as the Boulder Dam was being built near Las Vegas. Today, only two states (Hawaii and Utah) don’t have some sort of casino or card room in their jurisdictions.

This is only looking at gambling as it relates to cards, dice, table games, etc. U. S. citizens have taken a gamble throughout the country’s history, dating from the Puritans to the signers of the Declaration of Independence (a bold gamble, you might say) to the westward expansion of the country into areas once thought to be foreboding and unsuitable for human habitat.

American character

Americans start businesses, sometimes failing but, most of the time, successful (Henry Ford, the Wright Brothers, the Rockefellers and Bill Gates ring any bells?). Americans gamble on innovations that have improved the world through industry, scientific discovery and even traveling to space. Even war, the most unfortunate invention of human society, has been impacted by American gambles.

Gambling is as inherent to the American persona as the flag, our National Anthem and our basic premise of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Without that inner drive to take a risk, to take a chance on an unknown outcome, much of what the country has become today would have not been achieved, let alone even attempted.

The United States – and much of the world, to be honest – always has to have those “dreamers,” “schemers” and gamblers to move society forward, otherwise we stagnate and, eventually, devolve.

So, as my drive ended by pulling up to our family’s new house, once again I’ll ask…why do we, not only as U. S. citizens but as an evolving species, have a problem with gambling?