PPA John Pappas California testimony Sen. Lindsey Graham RAWA

PPA director John Pappas testified before the California GO Committee this week on the need for iPoker regulation, while Sen. Lindsey Graham is trying to ban Internet gaming on the federal level. (Image: allwebsolutions.net)

The Poker Players Alliance (PPA) took its case to the California General Assembly Governmental Organization Committee on Wednesday to highlight the need for state lawmakers to legalize and regulate online poker.

Speaking in front of Adam Gray (D-District 21), the committee’s chairman and author of AB431, one of four bills that would authorize Internet poker in California, PPA Executive Director John Pappas advocated for an iGaming overhaul in the Golden State.

“Now is the time for the legislature to regulate Internet poker,” Pappas testified. “Any effort to regulate Internet poker should not be viewed as an expansion of gambling in California, but rather as an opportunity to better protect consumers.”

California Dreaming

All eyes in the gambling world are fixated on California as networks, coalitions, and advocacies are speaking out in support of online poker.

Amaya and PokerStars have launched Californians for Responsible iPoker along with two Mission Indian tribes and three of the most profitable card rooms in the state, and the world’s largest Internet poker network is also sending its brand ambassadors Daniel Negreanu, Chris Moneymaker, and Vanessa Selbst on a statewide tour.

It’s evident the coalition and PPA both believe 2015 is their best chance for legalizing online poker.

“Anyone who suggests that regulation of Internet poker is not possible is purposefully misleading this Committee,” Pappas attested. “Lawmakers should legislate, regulators should regulate and the players just want to play.”

RAWA Insta-Graham

While California deliberated over legalizing online poker, one of the GOPs most recent 2016 presidential candidates, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), decided it was an opportune time to reintroduce the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) into his federal chamber.

Of course, the timing is being highly criticized by many considering just one week ago a 21-year-old killed nine people inside the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

RAWA seeks to restore the Wire Act to its pre-2011 interpretation and ban Internet gaming on a federal level, a bill that’s largely thought to be driven by Sheldon Adelson, a billionaire Las Vegas casino tycoon who is a reliable supporter of the Republican Party.

Graham has been a longtime ally of Adelson, and his recent presidential announcement paired with him reintroducing RAWA amidst his state in mourning paints a rather ugly political picture according to the PPA.

“As the eyes of the nation are focused on South Carolina following the recent tragic event, I think I speak for most Americans when I express profound disappointment in Senator Graham for choosing this time to advance a bill for the sole benefit of a billionaire political donor,” Pappas said in a press release.

“The Congress made the decision to adjourn early so they could attend services on Friday in Senator Graham’s home state. Unfortunately, Senator Graham has not reset his priorities,” Pappas declared.

RAWA has been tossed around in both the Senate and House over the last year but with little progress. The House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations held a much-publicized hearing last March, but the largely one-sided testimony from experts invited by Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), the representative who brought RAWA to the House, was largely discredited.


Pennsylvania Senate hearing testimony online gambling

The committee on Community, Economic & Recreational Development heard testimony this week relating to online gambling as the Pennsylvania Senate considers passing such legislation. (Image: paonlinecasino.com)

The Pennsylvania Senate committee on the Community, Economic & Recreational Development spent more than two hours on Wednesday listening to experts deliver testimony on Internet gambling, providing insight on an array of topics including the timeframe for implementation and the market’s fiscal potential.

Chaired by State Senator Kim Ward (R-District 39), whose SB 900 is the leading piece of legislation on the table, the panel invited representatives from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) and Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP), as well as Todd Mostoller, executive director of Pennsylvania’s Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association.

And while the conversation was long, nothing was said that would seem to hamper an impending vote on Ward’s proposition.

SB 900 would permit current land-based casinos to apply for and buy online gaming licenses, and offer slot machines in off-track and satellite locations.

Hearing Highlights

It can often be challenging to create a highlight reel of any political hearing as you often find even those in attendance fighting the urge to drift into dreamland sitting behind those testifying, but Pennsylvania’s wish to create an online gambling market provided plenty of headline making-comments.

Speaking first, Kevin O’Toole, executive director of the PGCB, told the committee that should the General Assembly pass online gambling legislation, his board is “anticipating a range of between nine and 12 months to actually begin the play on the Internet.” That’s relatively fast by most estimates considering the licensing application process seen in other states with legalized iGaming.

O’Toole also requested that Ward and her bill’s co-sponsors consider adding a clause to allow interstate agreements, granting Pennsylvania the potential to share player liquidity with New Jersey, Delaware, and Nevada.

Kevin Kline, the director of racetrack gaming for the PGCB, said he does not believe online gambling would have any significant impact on the horse racing industry. “Advance deposit wagering on horse racing and iGaming may be able to complement each other by advertising or including a link on each respective website providing an opportunity to cross-market,” Kline said during his testimony.

But Mostoller disagrees, saying the Equine Coalition has strong concerns relating to SB 900, primary the expansion of slots to non-primary locations and the legalization of online gaming, two conditions that would cannibalize his industry.

“Instead of slots play occurring at existing facilities, the introduction of non-primary locations will merely disperse gambling wagers over at larger geographic area, decreasing the slots play at the Category 1 facilities, which is the main source of funding for our racing purses and breeder incentives.”

Cry Wolf

Pennsylvania has a $1.2 billion budget shortfall, but Republicans, who currently control both the state’s House of Representatives and Senate, is adamantly opposed to Governor Tom Wolf’s plan to raise taxes in order to combat the deficit.

While many covering the political climate in Harrisburg have speculated GOP lawmakers want to pitch iGambling as a saving grace, Ward adamantly denies that claim.

“Right now we’re working on a budget in the Senate that does not include any money from gaming,” Ward said after the hearing.

How much does the state stand to gain from online gambling? It’s a tough market to forecast, but Ward’s bill does come with heavy fees for operators that could equate to $260 million, and with revenues being taxed at an astronomical rate of 54 percent, potentially millions more per year.

King of Instagram Dan Bilzerian White House 2016 high-stakes poker

“King of Instagram” Dan Bilzerian is banned from at least one nightclub and has a rap sheet as long as a bill in Congress, but that isn’t stopping the former poker pro from trying his hand at a run for the White House. (Image: socialmention.com)

Dan Bilzerian is the “King of Instagram” per his own accord, and although he’s never held any sort of political office, the playboy has his eyes set on becoming the king of the United States.

While he’s identified as a Republican in the past, it’s unclear whether he will run as an independent, Democrat, GOPer, or perhaps some new party only Dan Bilzerian knows about.

Notorious for his outrageous social media posts featuring busty nude women or barely-there attire, the 34-year-old trust fund baby has claimed to have won millions of dollars playing poker but has just one official cash tournament result to his name, the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event where he placed 180th for $36,626.

A staunch supporter of anything that fires or explodes, Bilzerian has seemingly been more interested in guns, bombs, and his “sexual philanthropy” over the last several years than anything even remotely related to governmental policy.

According to Bilzerian16.com, his official presidential campaign launch party will be held June 24th at the Marquee NYC club, with tickets ranging from $40 for females, $55 for males, and custom packages running up to $10,000.

Swift Vetting

While nearly every serious presidential candidate is vetted by his or her respected party long before they became anywhere close to receiving the ticket, Bilzerian doesn’t appear to have much, if anything, to hide.

On a daily basis, he pours his women out on his social media channels and shows off his adult toys including yachts, private jets, houses, cars, firearms, and more.

If there’s something more scandalous to his lifestyle than he’s currently revealing, that very well might be the most shocking revelation from Bilzerian’s promiscuous existence in recent years.

As other candidates like Hillary Clinton is being investigated to discover whether she used a private email server and Mike Huckabee is being questioned about his relationship with the Duggar family, Bilzerian is posting videos of himself throwing a porn star off a roof, kicking a model in the face at a Miami club, and getting arrested for possessing bomb-making supplies in Los Angeles.

Socially Awkward

Though today many politicians devote considerable time to increasing their social media presence and getting out their message, Bilzerian’s massive following online has resonated with his millions of followers, but that likely won’t be the case with the majority of voters.

A self-described “Actor, Astronaut, Asshole” on his website bio, Dan might be two of those things, but there’s little evidence to suggest NASA has ever employed the party animal.

Once a high-stakes poker player that participated in private VIP games, Bilzerian would be the first and only presidential candidate fully in support of legalizing online poker.

That might win over a few votes among the gambling faithful, as would his strong pro-gun views among National Rifle Association, a resolute supporter of the GOP.

Unfortunately, his positions on economics, foreign policy, national security, healthcare, climate change, faith, civil liberties, taxes, education, abortion, and more remain unclear. But one thing is transparent, and that is Bilzerian doesn’t care what you think.

Earlier this month he posted about Bruce, aka Caitlyn Jenner, “I can’t read anything in my news feed other than Bruce Jenner got a sex change, & everyone’s opinion on it, like I give a (expletive) what u think.”

Pennsylvania iGaming online gambling Hollywood Casino

The Hollywood Casino wants Pennsylvania iGaming legalized, and that might soon very well happen after four senators said they plan to amend the current gaming law. (Image: pngaming.com)

Legalized Pennsylvania iGaming has three current bills on the table from three different state representatives, but a group of senators believe their colleagues are going about it the wrong way.

Four state senators have united to bring online gambling to the Keystone State in a more expedited manner by amending the current law, the Pennsylvania Race Hose Development and Gaming Act.

State Senator Kim Ward (R-District 39), Sen. Robert Tomlinson (R-District 6), Sen. Elder Vogel (R-District 47), and Sen. Joseph Scarnati III (R-District 25) filed a memorandum on Wednesday saying they will introduce a series of amendments to the current gaming and horse racing law that would drastically overhaul gambling.

“These enhancements and reforms are reflective of the challenges faced both in establishing and maintaining the viability of the Pennsylvania gaming industry in an increasingly competitive environment,” the senators say in their release. “This proposed legislation is meant to ensure a healthy and vibrant business atmosphere for Pennsylvania’s gaming industry, while maximizing gaming revenue and the positive economic impact of gaming in the Commonwealth.”

Last but Not Least

The memo released by the senators lists five specific areas of revisions, and while the first four relate to slot machines and operating hours for serving alcohol, it’s the fifth point that is sure to stir up the pot:

“Existing Pennsylvania casinos that offer slot machine and table games would be eligible to offer Internet gaming to individual patrons that have registered and established an Internet gaming account and are physically present in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania while playing online.”

That’s quite the bombshell following four paragraphs of otherwise humdrum language, and will likely awaken the other 46 state senators from their slumber as they’re reading, assuming they are actually looking over the memorandum.

To combat anticipated kneejerk opposition, Ward, Tomlinson, Vogel and Scarnati are mandating that the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board and Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs work together to develop safeguards tailored to preventing problem and compulsive gambling stemming from Internet gaming.

Pennsylvania’s Hollywood

Since online gambling operators will need to have a partnership in place with a land-based Pennsylvania casino, major poker networks like PokerStars and bwin.party won’t be focusing on venues in Philadelphia or Pittsburgh, but Grantville.

Located just northeast of the state capital of Harrisburg, Grantville is home to the Penn National racecourse and Hollywood Casino, one of the most profitable gambling establishments in Pennsylvania and yet still unattached in regards to iGaming. Penn National executive Eric Shippers told the House Gaming Oversight Committee last month that Internet gaming is “vital” to the future of the industry.

In anticipation of legislation, many casinos have secured deals with software and Internet gaming companies, but one that hasn’t? The Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem, owned by Sheldon Adelson, online poker’s biggest antagonist and leading pusher of the Restoration of America’s Wire Act.

As discussions continue in Harrisburg, those in favor of Internet gaming will hold their breaths as they await specific language and details on the senate co-sponsored amendments.

 East Coast Gaming Congress online gambling growth Sheldon Adelson

New Jersey State Sen. Ray Lesniak said at the East Coast Gaming Congress this week that online gambling’s toughest hurdle is that of Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson. (Image: Patti Sapone/The Star-Ledger)

The East Coast Gaming Congress’ 19th annual convention began with a one-day packed schedule discussing the challenges and opportunities regarding online gambling and setting out a roadmap for the future.

Held at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City, speakers and panelists included a wide array of individuals involved in the industry, from politicians and lawyers to casinos and Internet operators.

And if anything was learned from the four sessions, it’s that the overall health of iGaming is improving, and its potential upswing has no limits.

“We likened the rollout of New Jersey to the process of birthing a baby,” Eugene Johnson, senior vice president of Spectrum Gaming Group said as he moderated the discussion iGaming at 1.5: Baby Steps. “Now that baby is starting to toddle.”

Slowly but Surely

By all accords, online gaming in the three states with legalized Internet poker or casino gameplay has struggled, with Morgan Stanley recently slashing its valuation on the potential market from its initial estimate of $5 billion to nearly half at just $2.7 billion. “We continue to believe that there is a material runway for growth, but results have been disappointing,” Morgan Stanley’s report said.

But that “material runway for growth” has already been laid down, and the expansion is imminent, at least according to those in attendance at the East Coast Gaming Congress.

“The biggest challenge of Internet gambling in the US is that this is an industry still looked at as having been born out of sin,” Gil White, outside counsel to 888 Holdings said during the Roadmap for the Future discussion. “The new world of Internet gambling is clearly regulated and regulatable.”

Panelists identified culprits for the slow rollout, including technical glitches stemming from geolocation technology, and the resistance of financial transactions being approved by Visa due to liability concerns.

With a new online gambling merchant code in place, successful Visa transaction rates are now around 50 percent, more than double since its infancy.

With hiccups being addressed and resolved, and several key states considering legislation, including both California and Pennsylvania, many insiders feel online gambling is ripe for growth.

The $30 Billion-Dollar Question

While those in Atlantic City are bolstering the industry in which many of them serve, a dark cloud looms over the Borgata in the way of Sheldon Adelson, online gaming’s most financially strong and active foe.

The man worth a give or take $30 billion is using his political clout to push the Restoration of America’s Wire Act, a bill that would create iGaming prohibition.

“The biggest problem is Sheldon Adelson,” New Jersey State Senator Ray Lesniak (D-Union) said Wednesday. “When a billionaire says he’ll spend whatever it costs to stop Internet gambling, that scares the bejesus out of legislators.”

However, Adelson might soon have more pressing issues after the former CEO of his Sands Macao resort brought a lawsuit accusing the Vegas tycoon of having ties to organized crime.

A judge ruled earlier this week that the case will be tried in a Nevada courtroom, a notion Adelson calls “delusional and fabricated.”

bwin.party revenue drop Amaya 888 acquisition

Disappointing revenue numbers released by bwin.party are unlikely to send potential acquirers running, despite the company having earned six percent less than it did in the first quarter of 2014. (Image: californiagambler.com)

Bwin.party has been hogging the headlines this week, as it was confirmed Amaya and GVC together submitted a deal to buy the company, with 888 Holdings following suit with a bid of its own.

But could those proposals be jeopardized after bwin released its financial numbers for the first quarter of 2015 that show the company is headed in the wrong direction?

Probably not, according to experts.

Compared to 2014, total Q1 revenues are down six percent from $184 million to $172 million, a decline credited to lower sports betting margins and the continued regression of online poker.

But like any good politician, the company’s leadership is spinning the news into one of positivity.

“Given our expanding mobile footprint, increased focus on the core business and the associated program of operational efficiencies, we remain on-track for the full year,” Norbert Teufelberger, CEO of bwin.party said.

Folding on Poker?

Perhaps most striking in the earnings report is the dismal performance of poker. The game fell 31 percent compared to last year’s first quarter, with revenues totaling just $18.7 million, less than 11 percent of bwin’s gross income.

“Our year-on-year performance for the first quarter confirms the challenging environment in European poker,” Teufelberger explained.

The company’s chief executive blames the implementation of the Value-Added Tax (VAT) in certain EU markets as one reason for the reduction of revenue. But that isn’t stopping the company from remaining optimistic in regards to the American market.

“In the United States, draft legislation is being considered in both California and Pennsylvania. On the back of the strength of our US platform and existing partnerships (that now includes a market access partner in Pennsylvania), we believe that we are well-placed to secure a leading position in each of these markets should a suitable regulatory and fiscal framework be introduced.”

Bid Adieu to Bids?

Bwin.party says it will now focus its attention on reviewing the bids from 888 and Amaya/GVC, assessing which offer makes the most sense for its investors and employees.

Though bwin isn’t commenting on the specifics of the offers, they likely involve a combination of cash and share considerations accumulating somewhere north of $1 billion. Both 888 and GVC are publicly traded companies on the London Stock Exchange, while Amaya trades on the Toronto market.

“While there can be no guarantee that these discussions will result in any transaction being completed, the Board expects to reach a conclusion over the coming weeks when a further announcement will be made,” bwin.party said in the financial report.

Will the earnings shortfall scare off either bidder?

“There is nothing in these results that I think would frighten off any potential suitors,” Nick Batram, a market analyst told Reuters.

In fact, Batram believes it might have just the opposite effect.

“Perhaps, on the contrary, they might want to get their business done sooner rather than later, just in case this is the beginning of a recovery,” he explains.

And that’s apparently what investors believe as well, as despite a six percent revenue drop shares of bwin.party (LON:BPTY) were up three percent during early trading on Thursday.

Amaya Neymar PokerStars

Signing sports great Neymar Jr. this year was part of a global expansion vision: Amaya CEO David Baazov says PokerStars now represents two-thirds of the total online poker industry. (Image: Creative Commons via Flikr)

Amaya Inc. has released its quarterly numbers for January 1st through to the end of March, and due to its acquisition of Rational Group’s PokerStars and Full Tilt online gaming portals last June, the Montreal-based company posted a 2,549 percent revenue increase from a year ago.

Yes, you read that number right.

Revenues for the three-month period totaled $283.6 million, a far cry from the $10.7 million Amaya grossed before it purchased the word’s leading Internet poker and gaming platforms.

“We saw continued strength in our core consumer online gaming business,” David Baazov, the company’s chief executive, said.

Safety in Numbers

Earlier this month, Amaya told investors that its earnings might be a little lower than the company previously forecasted, citing the selling of its business-to-business (B2B) assets as the main reason for the shortfall.

The decision to unload Diamond Game, Cadillac Jack, Chartwell, and Cryptologic from its portfolio led to reduced earnings, as Amaya classified those sales as “discontinued operations.”

At the time, Baazov said to expect the first three-month revenue figure to be in the range of $278 to $283 million, which it ended up eclipsing by $600,000. That’s certainly reason for optimism among investors, as the stock (TSX:AYA) was sent soaring on Thursday, up nearly seven percent.

Any sector of the stock market has its times of instability, but the gaming industry is often an area more traditional investors tend to avoid. With Amaya coming in on the high end of its expectations set earlier this month, the news should help allay the fears of weary shareholders.

Pushing Poker

After buying Rational and its poker network subsidiaries for $4.9 billion last year, Amaya realized it needed to diversify and release some of its assets in order to reduce debt. And now, it’s rather apparent that the company is focusing on its two poker and online casino properties, and so far, it appears to be paying off.

On a global scale Amaya says that “PokerStars estimates it increased its share of the online poker market, based on cash game and tournament players, to approximately 66 percent… ”

According to the financial data, 94 percent of the company’s $280 million business-to-consumer (B2C) revenue was generated from online poker, with just six percent coming from its newer casino offerings. That could change for the second and third quarters, however, as the company continues to roll out other table games across additional platforms.

Sports betting will also make its debut in the following months, with customers in legalized jurisdictions soon able to access their poker and sportsbook account directly from the website, downloadable client, and even mobile app.

Self High-Five

No one is more impressed with Amaya’s report than Amaya, as the company claims it’s not just growing the game for selfish reasons, but for everyone involved.

“PokerStars recently made multiple strategic marketing investments to help grow the global poker sector, including the sponsorship of new poker pros, celebrities and athletes,” Baazov affirmed.

While it might be safe to assume PokerStars is first and foremost looking out for its own interests, it’s hard to argue that its recent signing of soccer superstar Neymar Jr. will do anything but increase online gaming’s visibility.

Sheldon Adelson Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling

The Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling, an organization with Sheldon Adelson’s support, says its recent polling proves residents in Pennsylvania don’t want to legalize online gambling. (Image: stopinternetgambling.com)

Sheldon Adelson is a master of persuasion, because when you’re worth more than $30 billion, money truly does talk.

He’s convinced members of Congress to take up the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), a bill that seeks to bring Internet gaming prohibition to the United States, and while the new Attorney General Loretta Lynch says a reversal is unlikely, that isn’t stopping Adelson’s campaign.

Now he’s turning his attention to key battleground states considering legalizing online gambling, and no state seems closer than Pennsylvania, which is why Sheldon’s Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling conducted a survey in the Keystone State to see where the people stand.

Conducted by GOP surveying company Harper Polling, 513 registered voters were asked a series of questions on their views of iGaming, and the results were overwhelmingly against the expansion of the industry to the tune of 73 percent.

“Throughout the survey, there is clear evidence that while Pennsylvanians approve of other types of gambling, they have a sharply negative view of online gambling,” Brock McCleary, president of Harper said.

Evidence Questioned

While the Coalition and Adelson are promoting the results through various media outlets, proponents of Internet gambling have come to its defense, pointing out that the poll was extraordinarily flawed.

State Rep. John Payne (R-106th District), the author of House Bill 649, a proposition that would legalize online gaming, says of the poll, “I don’t hold much credibility to the survey because of the way it was done. The entire poll is designed and orchestrated to give the answers they want.”

According to Harper’s own press release, the polling company asked respondents a series of statements to see if the claim made them more or less likely to support legalized iGaming. But the statements were forcefully in favor of banning the industry.

The Coalition proudly reports that an astonishing 80 percent of interviewees said they were less likely to support online gambling after hearing the statements. The only problem is that the statements were highly questionable in factuality.

Amongst the declarations read included claims “online gambling in Pennsylvania will make it easy for children to be exposed to and participate in gambling,” and that the current proposed legislation won’t prevent “people or businesses with a history of illegal activity” from participating.

Other statements asserted that online gambling is a job killer, vulnerable to criminal schemes, and does not include any community involvement.

Bunch of Malarkey

Pennsylvania is seriously considering legalizing online gambling, and it’s important to gauge where the citizens of the Keystone State stand, but the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling probably isn’t the right organization to lead the research.

With more than 12.7 million residents, the sixth largest in the US, a biased poll consisting of 513 voters shouldn’t be reason for lawmakers in support of iGaming to change course.

McCleary basically revealed the survey’s goal in his closing remarks. “All of the arguments in opposition to online gambling proved highly effective and can help further solidify public opinion against online gambling,” McCleary concluded.

Jim Murren MGM Resorts Las Vegas online gambling

MGM Chairman Jim Murren isn’t necessarily concerned with which direction online gambling goes, saying Las Vegas isn’t in the convenience business but the resort-based industry. (Image: legalsportsreport.com)

Jim Murren isn’t losing any sleep over online gambling legislation as the MGM Resorts International CEO and chairman feels that regardless of whether states pass or ban iGaming laws, Las Vegas will continue to attract millions of tourists and remain profitable.

During the American Gaming Association’s (AGA) hour-long meeting with reporters this week in Washington, DC, Murren, who is also the chair of the organization, expressed his opinion that Internet betting isn’t a make or break resolution to both his company and Vegas as a whole.

“People will go to our resorts because we provide a form of hospitality and entertainment they cannot get at home and they certainly can’t get on the Internet,” Murren said. “Our business model is not based on the Internet driving business to us. So getting the growth of Internet gaming in and of itself is not required for us to meet our growth projections.”

Tell That to Sheldon

Of course, Murren’s way of thinking vastly differs from that of Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire owner of the Las Vegas Sands Corp. who is pushing the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) in Congress.

Though Adelson points to moral issues as motivation for his desire to ban all forms of Internet wagering, some pundits believe pro-RAWA advocates are also worried about losing their quasi-monopoly on the industry, primarily that of sports wagering.

“I think people are going to go to Las Vegas for March Madness, they are going to go to Las Vegas for the Super Bowl,” Murren stated. “They are going to go, even if there is sports betting in New Jersey and other states.”

“That is the Las Vegas experience that we create. Maybe I’m sounding overconfident, but when you invest the billions of dollars that we invest to create these experiences that we create, I’m all for consumer choice.”

AGA 2016 PAC

The AGA, a trade group representing the biggest casinos and lotteries in the country, also confirmed this week it will invest heavily in the 2016 election through its own political action committee (PAC). “We’re going to be more active in political discussion,” Murren said at the AGA’s new headquarters in DC.

“Because, as it turns out, you look at any battleground state in the United States, it’s more than likely that they have gaming there, with thousands and thousands of employees.”

The PAC spent just $152,250 during the 2012 presidential election, a rather low amount considering the industry it represents is worth $240 billion and supports 1.7 million jobs.

“Every industry has a PAC, every industry has dollars,” Geoff Freeman, AGA president and CEO said. “Is ours big enough? No. But we’re going to really focus on the assets that make our industry unique, if that’s what can separate us.”

While Murren told reporters he is a Republican, the PAC won’t necessarily support only GOP candidates. The group plans to meet with potential presidential contenders in the coming months to see where each stands, and inform them on the misconceptions about the casino industry.

“Certainly, what we can count on is members from Nevada are strong champions of gaming, Democrats and Republicans alike,” Freeman concluded.

bwin.party New Jersey license

Bwin.party CEO Norbert Teufelberger believes his company’s licensing in New Jersey is a reflection of its online software gaming products, and he remains optimistic about the future of iGaming in the US. (Image: pokeroff.ru)

Since 2013, bwin.party has been partnered with the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in order to legally offer online gambling to residents in New Jersey, but now the digital entertainment company can go out on its own after receiving two Casino Service Enterprise Licenses from the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE).

In a press release, CEO Norbert Teufelberger said, “Receipt of our full license in New Jersey marks an important milestone for our US business.”

Primarily known for its poker room PartyPoker, one of the largest in the world, bwin.party also offers online sports betting, bingo, and an abundance of casino games.

“We have a demanding delivery pipeline which will provide customers with further exciting content throughout 2015,” Teufelberger commented.

Bwin In, PokerStars Out

In addition to granting bwin.party (NJ) and bwin.party (USA) with full licenses, the DGE also granted Sportech with the right to offer its residents online gaming products.

The company that was once again passed over is of course PokerStars, the planet’s largest poker room that has been desperately seeking entry into the US.

That’s not to say that the DGE won’t approve PokerStars, in fact many believe it will happen sooner rather than later. Last month, Amaya boss David Baazov told investors regarding PokerStars, “As it relates to New Jersey, I would say that we feel that this is coming. We do expect to receive and launch in the next quarter.”

The long delay in approving PokerStars has created much speculation, primarily from NJ State Senator Ray Lesniak (D-20th District) who has gone so far as to point at Governor Chris Christie for causing the holdup.

Though there is no hard evidence of Christie blocking PokerStars, the notion of the governor trying to please anti-iPoker advocate and GOP donor Sheldon Adelson isn’t too far of a stretch.


The animosity towards PokerStars is understandable considering the poker network’s actions pre-Black Friday in 2011 in which it provided services to US residents unlawfully. Bwin.party, however, claims it’s in the state’s good graces simply due to its superior suite of online gambling products.

“Recognized as being the best poker software supplier and for providing the operating platform behind the best mobile gaming product (poker and casino) as well as the operator of the year in New Jersey, together with our partners, we are focused on delivering a safe and secure real money gaming experience for adults wishing to play games using mobile, touch and desktop channels,” Teufelberger said.

Though Party Borgata was once the leading Internet poker room in NJ, the network has since been dethroned by the pool sharing of WSOP NJ and 888 NJ. Should PokerStars enter the fray, bwin.party’s poker product will be scrambling for players.

“We believe that the path to regulation across the United States is inevitable and expect that other states will soon follow,” Teufelberger opined. Should the bwin.party boss be correct, the legalization of additional states will only strengthen the overall iGambling market across the country.