Archive for the ‘Poker Legislation’ Category

Lynn "Queen of Hearts" ParisLynn “Queen of Hearts” Paris 

I just learned something today that totally shocked me. Did you know that the weekly poker game you host in your man-cave – the one with the brand new custom Lumen poker table that you’re so proud of — or maybe The Lumen Poker Table the game you attend twice-a-month after hours at the office, is actually ILLEGAL in some states? Seriously. I knew there were some pretty obscure laws still on the books, like dogs aren’t permitted to bark after 6 P.M. in Little Rock, Arkansas, or bear wrestling is prohibited in Alabama and wading in public fountains is forbidden in parts of Kansas. But not being able to play poker in your own home? Talk about intrusive!

So, for those of you wanting to know if you’ve been breaking the law during your weekly poker game, the answer might be YES, if you reside in:

Arkansas, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi (where you can bet on dog fighting, but not a home game of poker!) Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

Of course, that still leaves plenty of states where hosting or attending a home or private poker game is perfectly legal. Take California and Colorado, for example, where you can legally play poker at home while smoking legal, recreational marijuana! (probably not a great idea, but still . . . it’s absolutely legal.) You’re also legal in Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, and North Dakota.

All of the above-mentioned legal “home poker” games, otherwise known as social gambling, abide by a set of guidelines that most of us accept as reasonable:

  1. The host, or homeowner, may not receive economic gain for hosting the game, only from personal winnings (no rakes allowed!);
  2. All players must have an equal opportunity to win and
  3. The poker game is played in a private setting (home, private club etc.)

I have no idea how these social guidelines are enforced, but you can add Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Hawaii, Montana, Oregon, Texas, Virginia and Washington to the list of legal states by that criterion. If you dig deeper into the laws for each state, you can find little quirks governing home poker games beyond the three social guidelines. For instance, in Colorado, Connecticut and Wyoming, players must be able to prove that they have a bona fide social relationship outside of a gambling setting. And in Florida, players are restricted to a $10 maximum limit on a single hand (known as “penny-ante” poker games.)

It’s all pretty confusing, especially once you get past the illegal states. That’s why, if you’ve been counting, there are only 48 states mentioned. The laws in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts don’t actually refer to home poker games at all, leaving it up to the residents to decide.

In fact, we’d be willing to bet (see how hard it is to avoid using gambling terminology?) that whatever state you live in, if you want to play poker at home with your friends you’ll find a way to shuffle up and deal. Good luck.

Send us your comments, questions or thoughts!

Lynn "Queen of Hearts" ParisLynn “Queen of Hearts” Paris

As 2016 draws to a close (thankfully, for many of us) it’s probably a good time to revisit our sporadic review of the status of legal online poker. When we began covering it, we assumed that there would be exciting news to report on a semi-regular basis as state legislatures voted to follow Nevada’s lead to legalize and regulate online poker.  However, with the exception of New Jersey and Delaware, nothing much has happened since 2013. In fact, more states have legalized marijuana than online gaming, something we could never have predicted.Online Poker

Looking ahead to 2017, there are four states that might push to get a bill passed – Pennsylvania, California, Michigan and New York — although all face hurdles that may be difficult to overcome.

As Greg Raymer, member of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) Board of Directors put it, “Every state has a chance, and the best way to get online poker in your state is to let your representatives know you want it, and that their decision on this issue makes a difference when it’s time for you to vote. Tell them now, and tell them often. And get your poker friends to do the same.”

It is difficult to understand how states which already allow betting on horse racing, Daily Fantasy sports, and the sale of lottery tickets haven’t made more progress getting an online poker bill passed. It’s not like they couldn’t make good use of the potential millions of dollars of revenue generated by legalizing and regulating the poker industry.

On the federal level, it’s anybody’s guess, since predicting what the President-elect will do is a foolhardy proposition. What we do know is that there are several congressmen who pushed for an online gambling ban in 2016, including Senators Tom Cotton, Lindsey Graham and Mike Lee and U.S. Representative Mike Fitzpatrick. Behind the desire to ban online poker is none other than billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson, an ardent anti-online gaming mogul. How much he will attempt to influence the new administration is not known, but if he wants republicans to protect his brick and mortar interests, all bets for a 2017 online gambling victory will be off.

In the meantime, those of us who live in a state which still does not allow online poker have to be content with playing on the virtual felt of online poker free-roll tables.

Send us your thoughts!

Lynn "Queen of Hearts" ParisLynn “Queen of Hearts” Paris

After reading our brief August 20th blog, by “Pocket Bullets” Paris about the status of online poker legislation in California, I decided to take a closer look at what was really going on in our home state. After all, CA is ahead of the curve in so many areas (think legalized marijuana, for example) it’s hard to believe they can’t muster the votes to legalize iPoker. How hard could it be?

Pechanga Resort and CasinoWell, it turned out to be harder than anyone imagined. One of the reasons is that the powerful proponents of the bill – AB 2863 (introduced by Democratic Assemblyman and Chairman of the Governmental Organization Committee, Adam Gray) – and the powerful opponents of the bill have done a last-minute role reversal.  For as long as anyone can remember, the major stumbling block to getting an online poker bill passed was the alleged stranglehold on poker revenue enjoyed by a tribal coalition consisting of seven tribes, spearheaded by the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians. By many poker fans and enthusiasts, they were viewed as hard-line “obstructionists.”

In a statement issued in June, the head of corporate communications for Amaya (owners of PokerStars) said: “It is a shame that obstructionist forces continue to block the passage of a pro-consumer online poker bill in California.”

Poker Payers AllianceThe Poker Players Alliance* (PPA) also got involved, especially on Twitter, where members made obstructionist claims against the Pechanga-led coalition in tweets like these:

@ppapoker – This is worth repeating. Some tribes don’t want you to play iPoker & no amount of compromise will change that.

@ppapoker – CA Tribes who oppose current Gray bill claim not be “obstructionists” but hard to believe that when they continually move the goal posts.

@ppapoker  – The tribes are and always will be obstructionist when it comes to online poker. Pure, venal, unenlightened self-interest.

However, at the last minute, Chairman Gray introduced an amended AB 2863. Although Gray maintained that it still had the votes to pass, it never went up for a full Assembly vote.

Why? Because those amendments turned out to be highly controversial, favoring the Pechangas. In fact, one source stated last week, “Chairman Gray and his team handed his drafting pen to the Pechanga coalition.” (source: Flushdraw)

PokerStars OnlineSpecifically, the bill always contained suitability language to handle previous “bad actors” (such as PokerStars) to sit out for five years or pay a one-time hefty fine.  But, according to Amaya, owner of PokerStars, the revised bill didn’t provide a path to negate the five year sit-out period and contained language that would prohibit certain assets indefinitely. (After paying $4.9 billion to acquire Stars and Full Tilt, this didn’t sit well with Amaya, which had worked very hard, and successfully to restore PokerStars’ reputation in the U.S.)

Well, turnabout is fair play. Now it was PokerStars’ coalition (which includes horseracing, labor unions, several tribes, and over a dozen card rooms) that was extremely unhappy, calling the amendment a “poison pill.”  With the Pechangas supporting AB 2863, it’s PokerStars and its allies (including the PPA) that are being labeled obstructionists and being criticized on Twitter:

@PPA – The CA online poker bill’s new “bad actor” amendment harms its prospects for passage by turning powerful tribes & card rooms against it.

@PPA – ICYMI, @PokerStars is now trying to block California online poker legislation if it’s not on their terms

@PPA-Where’s the @ppapoker letter writing campaign to demand @PokerStars stops acting against the interest of Californian poker players?

Various big names in the industry have called the bill’s prohibition of PokerStars, “punishment by legislation.” Attorneys have noted that the amended bill is not only unconstitutional, but would lead to the loss of millions in revenue for the state, as one of the global leaders in the industry would be left on the sidelines.

In a nutshell, it looks like a temporary win for the Pechangas, whose goal has always been to keep PokerStars out of the market. Conversely, PokerStars isn’t trying to keep anybody out; they’re simply fighting for the chance to apply for a license in order to compete.

The bottom line is that Californians lose again; there’s no legal online poker in the cards for the Golden State in 2016. All can we do for now is to keep you posted on this issue as often as we can, and whenever we can break away from the tables.

*The Poker Players Alliance ( is a nonprofit membership organization comprised of over 1,000,000 online and offline poker players and enthusiasts from around the United States who have joined together to speak with one voice to promote the game and to protect poker players’ rights.

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Jim "Pocket Bullets" ParisJim “Pocket Bullets” Paris

As just about everybody knows, currently online poker is regulated in only three US states: Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware, with California getting closer by the second. Of course, poker fans have been hearing that for a very long time, so here’s the latest.


PokerStars Online

On Monday August 22, 2016, a new amended AB 2863 Online Poker Bill will be reviewed, with an amendment that will enforce a five-year ban for PokerStars in the Golden State. In other words, Monday’s vote will decide PokerStars’ fate.


California Gold RushAlthough California, my home state, has made some progress in struggling through years of negotiations, regulations and hurdles necessary to get a bill legalizing online poker to pass, it is still illegal in the Golden State. As hard as it’s for me to believe after so much time has gone by, there is still one huge obstacle to overcome: a majority of hard-line Native American tribes simply do not want  PokerStars to enter the market and take any piece of their action.

That is the reason why the five-year moratorium has been introduced. Hopefully, it will receive a majority vote so that after all these years the bill can finally be advanced to the Senate.

Five years certainly seems like a very long time for the online players to wait around for all this legal mumbo-jumbo to finally be unraveled. But what is worse, in my humble opinion, is the loss of all the extra gold that would come into the Golden State.

So in the meantime, Californians will return to the offline poker tables and dream about when they can legally play for real money online in their PJs if they choose to. Like they can in every other country.

Send us your comments or thoughts!