PokerStars wants to return to the US

Many things have changed since PokerStars got slammed by the US government. Check out the video for the story, but with many states putting together regulations to allow online poker, PokerStars wants to come back.

  

Federal poker legislation still on hold

Don’t expect Congress to get its act together on federal poker legislation.

Don’t hold your breathe if you’re waiting for the Federal Government to regulate online gambling. That’s the gist of remarks made by MGM Resorts International CEO Jim Murren at the Southern Gaming Summit in Biloxi, Mississippi last week.

“It won’t be here likely at a federal level because the federal government is doing what they are best at, nothing at all,” he said in his keynote address. “It will be done at a state-by-state level and (MGM) will be actively engaged.”

Murren pointedly criticized house Republicans for their inaction on Federal poker legislation, “If it isn’t happening, don’t blame Sen. Reid. Blame the House Republicans. That’s where it is being held up.”

A number of states are racing to bring intrastate online poker networks online in the wake of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) reversal on their interpretation of the Federal Wire Act last December. That move wasn’t necessarily as good for big casino companies like MGM Resorts as it might sound.

A patchwork of state-by-state gaming regulations creates major headaches for national firms looking for a piece of the poker pie. Another potential regulatory headache is that many states are likely to limit gaming licenses to companies with a physical presence in their borders.

The good thing is that the DOJ decision in spurring some action, even if it’s only at the state level so far. State action will then push the feds to do something.

  

Poker is a game of skill

Regardless of the idiotic arguments advanced by the US Justice Department, everyone knows that poker is a game of skill, not a game of chance. Nevertheless, the government is pursuing their ridiculous crackdown on online poker:

For years a massive Internet poker industry operated in the U.S., arguing that facilitating for-money online poker play did not violate any U.S. law. The U.S. Justice Department, however, did not agree with that position and on Friday federal prosecutors in Manhattan filed the most detailed defense of their view that Internet poker is just plain illegal, invoking country music and suggesting that La Cosa Nostra had infiltrated the online poker business.

The 51-page document was filed by the government in response to the pre-trial motions of an indicted banker and payment processor, who both became unlikely warriors in the long legal battle over online poker in America when they filed legal papers in October arguing that online poker companies like PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker were not gambling businesses. John Campos, a former vice-chairman of a Utah bank, and Chad Elie, who ran a payment processing business, are the only two individuals who have directly stood up to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s April crackdown on the online poker industry in the U.S., which included the indictment of 11 individuals. It is because of Campos and Elie that the government is being forced to litigate its case against online poker for the first time.

In asking a federal judge not to grant motions to dismiss filed by Campos and Elie, federal prosecutors claim “the conduct alleged in the Indictment – a scheme through which the charged defendants abused the U.S. financial system in order to fund their illegal operations – amounts to clear violations of the statutes charged.” The federal prosecutors also claim that Campos, Elie and the rest of the U.S. online poker industry, are wrong to argue that poker is a game of skill and not chance–and thus cannot be treated as illegal gambling.

It’s going to be fascinating to see how the courts decide here. I want to see the testimony of professional poker players and their powerful argument that this is a game of skill. With that, the online poker bans might actually go away.

  

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