Posts Tagged ‘Politics’

2017 Year in Review: Tumultuous Year in Poker and Politics

 2017 Year in Review: Tumultuous Year in Poker and Politics

As they prepare to drop the ball in New York City, it is appropriate to look back at the year gone by in the poker world. When it comes to politics regarding poker in 2017, for the first time in ages it wasn’t just the States of America that had its issues. Turmoil regarding poker, especially the online version, raised its head around the globe. So now, as you get the hors d’oeuvres ready for tonight, peruse these instances from the 2017 calendar year in no particular order.

NO JOY “DOWN UNDER” WITH NO POKER

In a move that had been brewing for several months prior to the start of 2017, the Australian government went ahead and passed sweeping gaming regulations that, as an after-effect, saw the nation’s online poker industry chopped off at the knees.

In November 2016 (to get control of online wagering in the country), the Australian Legislature introduced the Interactive Gambling Amendment Act of 2016. The law aimed to put some controls on the companies working in the online arena, forcing these companies to apply for licensing from the Australian government. Without a license, online operators faced hefty fines totaling millions of dollars.

In March, despite many of their brethren suggesting that it would impact legitimate operations, the IGAA was passed and its impact was immediate. Yes, shadier online operations were shut out of the country but those that were providing online gaming that the government was OK with – online poker especially – had to depart also. Such companies as The Stars Group (PokerStars), 888 Holdings (888Poker) and partypoker had to pull their poker products (and online casinos) from the country because they lacked the licensing necessary to operate (and, as publicly traded companies, they could not operate in markets with laws against their product).

By the end of 2017, the Australian government was reexamining their regulations to allow those legitimate companies back into the country. But as they put their finishing touches on the fireworks on the Sydney Harbor Bridge for New Year’s Eve, nothing has been changed yet.

NOW YOU KNOW WHY THE GERMAN PROS LEAVE

Germany has long had a bit of a love/hate relationship with poker, especially online. Although some of the best players in the game hail from the country, many of them don’t live there because of their archaic online poker laws. An incident from earlier in 2017 shows that situation isn’t going to change anytime soon.

The Federal Administrative Court in Leipzig, Germany, ruled in the fall that a ban on Internet casino gaming, poker and “scratch card” games was legal, despite the objections of the European Union to the ban. Two cases brought by unidentified companies outside of Germany were ruled on during the fall, with the Court ruling that individual companies could pass legislation that, while violating the European Union’s treaty regarding free trade between the 26 Member Nations, was enacted to “protect children and vulnerable people” from predatory actions.

The moves by Germany flew in the face of some of the other nations in Europe. During the summer France, Spain, Italy, and the EU came to an agreement for shared liquidity between the countries. Helping to spur the action on the “ring-fenced” nations was the goal of the agreement, with the countries allowing for play over national borders instead of blocking such activity. At some point in 2018, these countries will begin full-throttle online gaming in the entirety of Europe, something that hasn’t been a reality since the mid-2000s.

FINALLY, SOMETHING IN THE U. S. TO CHEER

Since 2013, there have been three states – Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware – that had passed online casino gaming and/or poker regulations. Despite the fits and starts that other states in the U. S. had gone through (we’re looking at you, California), no other states for four years had even gotten close to passing legislation to legalize online casino gaming and poker. That was until Pennsylvania got in the game.

In what was arguably the biggest story of 2017, Pennsylvania passed online gaming and poker regulations, with the operations set to open at some point in 2018. Although they had passed a budget that incorporated online gaming revenues in it in 2016, political infighting in the state delayed the passage of that budget until the spring of 2017. Once that was passed, the battle then moved on to the online question.

For much of the spring and summer, the debate raged in the Pennsylvania General Assembly and, to be honest, the legislators tried to find other ways to raise revenues and not expand gaming. But, in a frenetic two-day period in October, HB 271 (the online gaming and poker regulation bill) was passed and signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf. With that sweep of Wolf’s pen, the Keystone State became the fourth state to pass online gaming and poker regulation.

There were plenty of other occurrences during the year…what were some of your choices regarding politics and poker in 2017?

The post 2017 Year in Review: Tumultuous Year in Poker and Politics appeared first on Poker News Daily.

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2015 – The Year in Poker, Part 1: Poker and Politics

 2015 – The Year in Poker, Part 1: Poker and Politics

As we approach the final week of the year 2015, it is time to take a look back at some of the great moments of the year and some of the less popular times.

Arguably the dominant story throughout the calendar year was the continued fight in the political spectrum over online poker. The fight was carried out not only on the state front but on the federal one as players for billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson refused to back away from their threats to ban online gaming of any kind, including poker. For once, however, the news by the end of the year turned out in the pro-gaming personnel’s favor.

After the 114th U. S. Congress was seated in early January, the slate was clean for online gaming and poker. A late threat in the throes of the conclusion of the previous Congressional session to insert anti-online gaming legislation into the omnibus bill (a bill that was necessary for the continued function of the government) had been thwarted, but two men continued to push the drive. In the House of Representatives, Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz picked up the Adelson baton in reintroducing the “Restoration of America’s Wire Act of 2015” (or RAWA for short), a bill that was essentially the same legislation introduced in 2015 (any bills on the table from the last Congress died with the new Congress being seated), in February. Although he took a bit longer due to his dalliance with a run for the Presidency, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham also introduced RAWA legislation later in the year.

While Graham had his bill in the Senate, it was Chaffetz who was tasked with carrying the water for Adelson in pushing the House version of the bill. Chaffetz conducted a hearing on HR 707 (the nomenclature for the RAWA bill) in March in his subcommittee, the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, and attempted to stack the deck with only anti-online gaming witnesses offering their opinions before adding a neutral witness. Overall, the hearing was derided as an example of crony capitalism and an overreach of the federal government into an area usually reserved for the states.

Chaffetz would not let up, however. After letting RAWA simmer for some time on the back burner, he was able to capture the main stage of a House committee to try once again to push RAWA along its trail. In early December, Chaffetz would have the floor of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform – a major committee in the House – and once again attempted to weight the witnesses that he handpicked for testimony. This time around, there was a major opposition to Chaffetz and the RAWA bill from virtually everyone not named “Chaffetz.”

Fellow Republicans took an opposing stance to Chaffetz, something almost unheard of in the House, in deriding Chaffetz’s bill on a litany of reasons. Despite Chaffetz trying to say that the bill was for “state’s rights,” many Republican members of the Committee stepped away from Chaffetz and the bill over cronyism and the 10th Amendment, staking their place as opponents of its passage. Testimony also went against Chaffetz and RAWA as Nevada State Senator Mark Lipparelli – who apparently was supposed to support Chaffetz but was pro-online gaming in that he established the framework in Nevada as one of his last acts as Chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, one of three states to have online gaming and/or poker – ripped apart the “straw men” arguments presented by others on the panel. By the end of the day, Chaffetz wasn’t even chairing his own hearing anymore, preferring to slink off into the shadows to lick his wounds.

While the federal threat against online gaming and poker was halted for the moment, the drive in the state-by-state regulation of the industry was stuck in neutral. Since the flurry of states that passed online gaming regulations in 2013 – Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware – there has been little to no movement on the political front in the state capitols. There were some creaking steps forward, however, making 2016 a year where some more states might step into the fray.

California drew attention for the first part of the year as it pondered the question of regulating online poker for its state. There was a committee vote on AB 431 in April that passed by a unanimous vote, but the vote on that bill was simply as a “placeholder” until the relevant parties could come to some agreement (re:  who would be allowed to corner the market) as to how to proceed. By August, the hopes that California – which would be a prominent jewel for online gaming/poker regulation – would join the threesome from 2013 had died out, but hopes were seeded for the coming year.

As California faded into the woodwork, Pennsylvania began to step up as the next likely contender to enter the U. S. online gaming and poker industry. Faced with a sizeable budget deficit and more than five months overdue in presenting a budget for the state, both Republicans and Democrats began to entertain the idea of passing online gaming regulations, looking for an initial boost of about $ 100 million from the licensing of online sites and software providers and a long-term boost from the regulation and taxation of casino games and poker. No more than four bills were presented over the course of the year, with Pennsylvania HB 649 (introduced by Representative John Payne) taking the lead. HB 649 even went as far as being voted out of committee (18-8) and readied for introduction into the Pennsylvania House.

Alas, by December, the hopes of some sort of online gaming regulation being included in the 2016 budget deal had fallen by the wayside. After a great deal of discussion in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, any mention of online gaming and poker being a part of the current compromise to move a budget forward have been removed and tabled for future consideration. It is still the closest that a state has come to passing some sort of legislation regarding online gaming and poker since the 2013 flurry.

Other states, including New York, Massachusetts and Illinois, have brought the subject up in their respective legislative bodies, but no actual legislation has been presented.

On the grassroots front, two men have attempted to move online gaming and poker legislation forward in their respective states. Curtis Woodard and Martin Shapiro have picked up the baton in each of their states (Washington and Florida, respectively), with each of them composing a framework legislation for consideration by politicians. The two advocates were able to speak with some of the legislators that would be important for getting any bill considered and, with some more support from fellow poker players in their states, could see some movement on the subject in 2016.

As the calendar prepares its turn to 2016, the poker community can be pleased that its advocacy has helped to stave off several attacks. It also serves as a reminder, however, that the battle is still going on and the warriors must always be vigilant.

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