CAESAR'S CEO SPEAKS UP FOR ONLINE POKER LEGALISATION
But Loveman insists on a federal solution, and it only embraces poker
Achieving wide coverage that included major newspapers, CNN Money, Fortune magazine and Associated Press articles this week was an op-ed article written by Caesars Entertainment CEO Gary Loveman, supporting the idea of legalised online poker in the USA through the federal rather than individual state route.
The piece was prompted by the recent enforcement actions against major online poker sites (see previous InfoPowa reports), which Loveman sees as an opportunity for the United States to fully
legalise and regulate the $6 billion industry...but the tone of the article suggests that he's focused particularly on internet poker.
“Only federal legislation can clear up the current ambiguities in U.S. law and crack down on other online gambling like sports betting and casino games,” Loveman wrote.
Loveman appears to share the controversial US Department of Justice view that internet poker is expressly illegal in the United States, asserting: "Online poker is currently illegal in the U.S. and, as a result, the $6 billion industry has developed overseas, catering to the wishes of millions of Americans playing from their homes in Ohio, California, Mississippi and every other state. That's crazy."
But the land gambling executive points out that legal actions against PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker won’t change whether millions of Americans want to play online poker.
“Instead, the question is this: Should we seize the moment to legalize online poker, permit a safe and legitimate industry in the U.S., and bring these jobs and revenues home?” Loveman wrote.
“Unequivocally, the answer is yes.”
Associated Press noted that Caesars has long espoused the need to regulate and tax online gambling, and that Loveman’s comments are the first public statements about the indictments from the company that owns the World Series of Poker.
In his piece, Loveman compares the current US market enforcement moves to alcohol prohibition in the 1920s, saying adults are being hamstrung by a law keeping them from activities they consider appropriate.
“Business is being diverted from legitimate, respected companies that employ thousands of people to fly-by-night, underground (and in this case, foreign) operations,” Loveman said in his article, titled "Online Poker - Legalize It.”
"Just like Prohibition, consumers lose all of the protections that come with a government-regulated onshore business. And millions of otherwise law-abiding adult Americans are hamstrung by a law they disrespect and consider to be a barrier to a perfectly appropriate activity," he warns.
Loveman claims that the latest Department of Justice actions have created a unique opportunity to "...bring thousands of jobs home to America, to generate revenues that benefit Americans rather than foreign companies and to bring clarity to the current ambiguous set of federal laws.”
And he recommends: “We should seize the moment."
He adds: "The question we face isn't "will there be online poker?" Millions of Americans have already answered that question through their regular play, and the latest indictments won't change that. In fact, less than 24 hours after the three poker sites were closed, other foreign operators began filling the void."
Turning to the mechanics of regulation, Loveman emphasises the need for a federal solution, saying: "Unfortunately, however well-intentioned it may be, state level legislation will not adequately address the problems that currently exist.
"The goals of legislation are simple: let Americans play online poker in the privacy of their homes, and create jobs and revenues here in America. Only federal legislation can accomplish that, by creating a well-regulated system of online poker. And only federal legislation can clear up the current ambiguities in U.S. law and crack down on other online gambling like sports betting and casino games."
Loveman goes on to detail the generally accepted requirements for sound regulation, covering fair gaming, problem gambling and under-age precautions, financial probity, measures to guard against criminal involvement, money laundering and cheating, and shielding the privacy of players.
"In short, this bill should recognize the reality of the world we live in....And it should acknowledge that as a game of skill, poker deserves to be treated differently than other forms of gambling," Loveman opines.
He optimistically concludes: "One day, we'll look back at 2011 and laugh at the folly of a ban on Internet poker -- just like we now think about Prohibition. The sooner that day comes, the better."
GAMBOOZLE SET TO FILL U.S. ONLINE POKER GAP
Club subscription model is legal, nfl football betting Online Bingo Play Slots Online in US Online Sportsbook says Intelimax
Vancouver-based Intelimax Media has announced that it is currently preparing a new subscription-based gaming platform on its Gamboozle.com site which will include internet poker.
With an eye on the gap in the US online poker market created by recent federal actions against Pokerstars, Full Tilt Poker, Absolute Poker and UBPoker, Intelimax says that its new multi-player platform will offer a number of casual games, casino games, poker, fantasy sports and social networking to members through daily play, leader boards and tournaments.
The company will generate revenues through its monthly membership fees and advertising on the website, whilst at the same time providing legal online gambling due to its subscription-based business model.
Glenn Little, Intelimax president and CEO said: "The recent news of several large online poker operators being shut down for illegal activities creates a much greater opportunity for Intelimax.
“Our InteliGaming entertainment platform will cater to those sports, social media and gaming enthusiasts that enjoy conversing and playing online games for free or for a monthly subscription fee to gain access to prizes paid out to weekly leaders and tournament winners."
WYNN EXPLAINS CHANGE OF HEART IN POKERSTARS DEAL (Update)
"I had only misconceptions...." says erstwhile online poker opponent.
Steve Wynn, the owner of Wynn Resorts and a central figure in that company’s recently announced partnership deal with online gambling giant Pokerstars (see previous InfoPowa reports), has expanded on his change of heart from being an opponent of online poker to a supporter of the industry.
Speaking to Nathan Vardi of Forbes Magazine this week, Wynn said that he previously had only misconceptions about online poker.
"I thought it would be difficult to regulate, and if the Internet people got in trouble it would bring the wrath of the government down on us in the live gaming community out here in Las Vegas. I didn't see the business opportunity, I just saw problems, he said."
Then he was approached by the Democratic Party Nevada Senator Harry Reid, Wynn recalls.
"Harry Reid called me and said, 'Steve, there are millions of people playing poker, and it's as American as apple pie. I want my office to look into this and see if we can regulate it.'
"Harry and I have been friends for 40-odd years, we ran marathons together. . . . And I got contacted by the people at PokerStars, who asked, 'Why are you not interested in this? Take a minute and learn the truth about this.'
"That began my exposure to that company and that business and what they do, and I have to tell you I was shocked."
Wynn explained that he had had no idea on a number of aspects of online poker, such as Pokerstars being highly regulated in Europe, employing 1 300 highly skilled people with an average salary is $110,000.
"One of my concerns was about young people playing," said Wynn. "It turns out they have more control about young people playing than we do."
Wynn went on to rationalise the Pokerstars argument regarding the legality of online poker in the United States, namely that the Justice Department opinion is untested in the courts, and that at state level there have been rulings that poker is a game more of skill than of chance.
"I say there is a bit of sophistry here clearly," Wynn told the Forbes writer. "What difference does it make what PokerStars or the Justice Department says? The point is millions of people are playing poker, and they are going to continue to play poker legally or illegally."
Wynn makes the surprising admission that he is not a technophobe, preferring to rely on his staff when it comes to computer and internet issues.
The land gambling mogul gives an interesting insight into his dealings with Pokerstars founder and owner Isai Scheinberg, who explained his motivation for a partnership by saying that Pokerstars had a multitude of American customers, and the company therefore wanted to "do it right".
Scheinberg apparently told Wynn: "I don't want to look over my shoulder at this point of my life."
Wynn responded by emphasising that he would only take his company into a putative online gambling venture if it was legalised at federal level, and if it was a 50-50 deal.
"I know that as a nonbeliever I was convinced by the logic of the argument," Wynn said. "And when I learn something and change my mind I may have the naive notion that other people might be enlightened by the facts themselves."
But he ended on a cautionary note, warning that his conversion "...doesn't mean I am right, especially in Washington."