Most people in this country are eager to cast their votes on November 6th. Some are planning to vote for candidates they’re hoping will bring about substantive change, while others are voting to maintain the status quo. You all know which category you fit in. But since this is a POKER column, I thought you might enjoy a brief election story about what’s at stake in the state of Nevada, where, surprisingly, the future of online poker is in danger.
You have every right to scratch your head on that one. I mean,seriously? Didn’t they start the whole thing? Well, yes, but, their current governor, Brian Sandoval, a staunch advocate for online gambling, is ineligible to run again due to Nevada’s term limits law. So this is going to be quite a contest. Nevada’s current Attorney General, Adam Laxalt, won the Republican Party primary this past June and wants to be the state’s next governor. Laxalt is a die-hard anti-online gaming politician who has supported not only killing online poker in Nevada but also across the United States.
Laxalt’s opponent is Steve Sisolak, a pro-online poker Democrat. Nevada is known as a swing state, which means it has historically gone back and forth between Republicans and Democrats in presidential elections. In fact, if Sisolak wins, it would be the first time a democrat would have been elected governor of Nevada in 20 years. But it’s a very close race.
What’s the moral of this brief election tale? Sometimes you have to vote BLUE if you don’t want the issues you care about to move backwards!! (or move in the wrong direction) ??
The 49th Annual World Series of Poker ran from May 30 to July 17 at the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, but it has now come to an end. There were a record 78 bracelet events and more than $267 million dollars paid out in prize money from all 78 events. We have had a lot of up and down emotions throughout our reports. We will conclude this series with our final coverage of this year’s spectacular series closing with none other than The Big One For One Drop.
Event #75: The Closer – $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em (30 minute levels) – $1 Million Guarantee – Joe Cada, who came in 5th at the Main Event’s final table, went on to win “The Closer” for his second bracelet of this series. This makes it a total of four bracelets for Cada, who not only bagged a lot of chips at this year’s WSOP but undoubtedly bagged a lot of new fans as well.
Event #78: The Big One for One Drop – $1,000,000 No-Limit Hold’em Twenty-Seven High Roller players dropped a million dollars each for the chance to take home some of the $24,840,000 prize pool. But at the end it was Justin Bonomo who triumphed and picked up the win and with that, took over the top spot on the all-time money list of Poker Winnings. Bonomo earned a very very sweet $10 million after a heads-up battle with Fedor Holz (who had to settle for $6 million) That win put his total cashes at just under $43 million, surpassing the long-time top money earner, our favorite, Daniel Negreanu ($39,656,197).
Now we all have to get back to our normal daily routines until next year, when the sure to be historic 50th Anniversary of the World Series of Poker is celebrated. The remaining questions would be; Will we see you there? Will you get to a final table?
It has never failed to amaze me that more states, in fact all states, don’t want to take advantage of the huge amount of extra revenue generated by online gambling, especially poker. I would have thought by now we’d catch up to the rest of the world, yet more than three years have gone by with only Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware successfully passing legislation, and reaping the benefits, of making online poker legal.
After more than three years, why does there suddenly seem to be more action in more states to get similar legislation passed? There’s California, of course, which has tried and failed on several occasions to get internet poker legalized. Until they can get the politicians, card rooms, horse racing crowd and the Indian tribes that currently have the monopoly on gambling to come together and make it happen, the latest bill from online gambling advocate, Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer, will probably die on the vine. That sure leaves a whole lot of money on the table that the union’s largest state could definitely make use of.
New York has managed to get two bills to the committee stage, which, if combined into one actionable and acceptable-to-all bill, might just have a chance of being signed by Governor Cuomo. Pennsylvania is also eager to have online casino gambling, but still needs to pass the necessary regulations. Their HB 392 would authorize full online casino gaming but also would open daily fantasy sports in the state; it has lots of support but hasn’t passed anything yet.
A couple of new-to-the-game states have also shown a lot of interest recently. Michigan has a bill, SB 203, to legalize online poker that’s also open to including other forms of online gambling activity. The voters of Michigan seem to be behind its passage, but there are still a bunch of hurdles to go through. And finally, a bill in Hawaii, SB 677, has been introduced to open “internet gaming” in the state, Interesting because Hawaii actually has laws on the books preventing live gambling.
As some might imagine, the desire on the part of these states and perhaps others to get legislation passed quickly has grown considerably since the current administration took office. While no one can predict what the president thinks about online poker (he seemed to be for it five years ago, but we all know that means nothing today), we CAN predict where the new attorney general, Jeff Sessions, stands on the subject. During his confirmation hearings he was asked directly what his thoughts were on the legality of online gaming by famously anti-gaming Senator Lindsey Graham, who has been among those who would love to re-institute the Federal Wire Act of 1961 (passed to deal with racketeering). Sessions testified that he already thought it wasn’t legal for online gambling to be conducted and would look into it further once he was heading the Department of Justice. Don’t you just love these states’ rights republicans?
Keep in mind that in 2011, it was the Department of Justice that announced its belief that the 1961 Wire Act applied only to sports betting, thereby opening the door for states to legalize intrastate non-sport online gambling, such as lottery ticket sales and Internet poker.
Bottom line is that we really have no idea which way this will go, considering the extreme views of certain leading republicans who continue to want to restore the federal Wire Act. Should that happen, states would be unable to circumvent federal law to pass their own internet gambling laws. Although that seems highly unlikely, the uncertainty about it has hastened the efforts of at least a few more states to pass a bill, under the assumption that they would be grandfathered if they had already legalized online poker.
A couple of years ago, we were following the progress of legal online poker with great interest; it seemed like the next big thing about to bust wide open. But not much happened and interest among our readers waned. Nevertheless, we decided to take another look at the status of online gambling today.
As many of you know, Nevada was the first state to legalize and regulate online poker in 2013, with WSOP.com controlling 99% of the industry. In March 2015, Nevada and Delaware entered into an interstate poker compact which benefited Delaware tremendously. New Jersey came on board at the end of 2013, There are currently two poker networks involving four sites in the state: Borgata, Party Poker, WSOP.com, and 888.
All eyes now are on California, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts as we look ahead in 2016.Being that it’s an election year, most pundits agree that no controversial legislation will be passed. On the other hand, some believe that with the huge popularity of DFS (Daily Fantasy Sports) and sports betting in general, the outlook for iGaming — including online poker — is brighter than it’s been in a long time.
We’ll let you know whenever there’s news about online gaming – there could be a surprise or two that we haven’t even considered yet. In the meantime we are heading off to the tables for a little bit of LIVE Texas Hold’em.