Today, Friday, October 4, 2013, a new poker movie hits theaters. It’s called “Runner Runner” and it stars Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake as opposite sides of a dispute about one man’s (Justin Timberlakes) loss of a great sum of money to an online poker site.
Calling it a thriller that set against a backdrop of online poker (actually it’s set in Costa Rica, although more of the film was shot in Puerto Rico) the movie is the most recent from the team of writers/producers Brian Koppleman and David Levien. The movie follows a ruthless offshore online poker site operator played by Affleck, lending to rumors that the film will shed a bad light on online poker and hurt the industry’s efforts to legalize in more states and then the whole U.S.. The producers’ answer to that is to look at the 1998 film “Rounders” (which was written, incidentally by the same dynamic duo) that rallied that same complaints, yet only served to bolster the game of real money high stakes poker, if anything. The writers/producers also swear that they were already working on the film before the 2011 Black Friday debacle hitting sites like Absolute Poker and Ultimate Poker took place, with those events merely serving as validation that they indeed had themselves an urgent and relevant story worth telling.
With just three weeks to go before the end of this session of the California state congress, new online poker legislation has just been introduced. The new bill will make online poker legal within the state – as it is now in Nevada and New Jersey, among others – but with the stipulation that only existing card clubs and Native American tribes already offering gambling in the state would be eligible to receive licenses.
This amended legislation came Monday, August 19 from state Senator Lou Correa, Democrat of Santa Ana. Not stated in the bill is what the cost of these licenses would be or how much of a site’s poker revenue needs to be shared with the state. No sponsors have yet come out in support of the amended bill.
Another attempt at legalizing some form of online gambling in the state is still facing the California state congress but has received no hearings as of yet. That legislation is a re-introduction of a bill originally stalled in 2012.
Meanwhile, the various Indian gaming commissions in the state, such as The Pechango Band of Luiseno Indians by Temecula, or the California Tribal Business Alliance have all been trying to craft their own online poker proposal.
The current session of the California state congress ends on September 13, and the Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg announced that he does not believe any online gambling bills will advance to the floor before that date.
Rumors are now circulating in the press that U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is getting ready to once again roll out legislation making online poker legal in these United States.
This rumor remaining after a related rumor that Sheldon Adelson has suddenly done a 180-degree turn in his opposition to legal online poker in the U.S. has been debunked, at least according to Adelson’s spokesperson who says that he is still adamantly against it. Nevertheless there were several reputable news outlets reporting that Adelson had told Harry Reid that he would back new online gambling legislation if it restricted itself to online poker. Regardless of what Adelson’s spokesperson says, if the rumor about Reid’s forthcoming bill is true, we’ll find out the veracity of that other rumor in due time.
Meanwhile on a state level, news has just come out that Nevada and New Jersey – two of the states to have already passed online poker legislation for their states and begun the processes of implementation – are nearing completion of their pact to open the doors of each other’s online poker establishments to one another’s residents.
Reid’s rumored bill will effectively place a blanket-ban in the Federal Wire Act on all types of online gambling except for online poker.
Interestingly, this news comes out at the same time that an appellate court reversed a lower court’s ruling acquitting a player charged with illegal online gambling because he was playing Hold’em Poker, an established game of skill.
The latest salvo in the battle to pass legal online poker in the U.S. Congress comes in the form of a bill called the Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2013 sponsored by Representative Joe Barton of Texas (R). Differing from much of the previous attempts at online gambling legislation that have made their unsuccessful way through the chambers of Congress, this bill is aimed not at legalizing all forms of online gambling but online poker alone, the reason being that poker can be argued to be a game of skill whereas online casino gambling is generally considered to be comprised of games of chance.
Meanwhile Barton said in a conference call arranged by the poker lobby organization Poker Players Alliance that legal U.S. poker online is not far off. This in contrast to the sentiments of Senate majority leader Harry Reid of Nevada (D) who, in spite of his support for both online gambling legislation in general and online poker legislation in particular says he believes the chances of legal U.S. poker passing this Congress are slim.
Barton’s bill will also leave alone that 2011 Wire Act interpretation that made it allowable for states to pass their own intrastate online gambling legislation and regulation if they so wished. States like Nevada and New Jersey have already done so and are taking steps to make online gambling for their residents an imminent reality. Barton believes once more states follow suit, federal legislation can’t be far behind.
Carbon Poker introduces Poker Maximus II, an online tournament series that is US player friendly! Poker Maximus II begins on September 6, 2012. Thirty-five guaranteed events will run through the next eleven days for a total guarantee of $1,300,000 in prize money.
The opening event is an affordable $11 buyin tournament with a staggering $15,000 guarantee. The series features the affordable $11 tournaments as well as higher buyin $33, $60, $109 and $215 tournaments. All budgets should find something to like in this schedule of tournaments. Satellites of all varieties are available in the sit and go format as well as the traditional multi-table tournament style.
Bovada Poker, the new brand name of Bodog Poker in the USA has an exciting Holiday promotion for all you United States players. Bovada poker will host weeday freerolls December 19-23, and again December 26-30. the top 25 players in each of these freerolls will win entry to the $100k Guaranteed the following Sunday. So, if you win a ticket December 19-23 you MUST play the December 25, 2011 $100K Guaranteed tournament. The next week’s winners must play the January 01, 2012 $100k guaranteed. You can only win one ticket per week, and they must be used that week. Players not able to play the corresponding tournament are encouraged to not play. There will be no cash value and the tickets are not transferable.
For those who do have time on Christmas Day and New Years Day, these freerolls are a great chance at playing a big tournament with no real bankroll impact.
The Holiday Countdown continues. Bovada Poker is giving their loyal players cash bonuses for playing on a couple of the historically slow weeks of the year.
Earn Poker Points during the week of Dec. 19 – 25 and Dec. 26 – Jan. 1, and qualify for one of two different bonuses each week.
Level 1: Earn 50 Poker points within a week and get $15 cash
Level 2: Earn 100 Poker points within a week and get $30 cash
You get the highest bonus you reach for each week so no double dipping. But it is cash not a 20x rollover bonus like some sites.
The last Bovada Holiday Poker Countdown event is a drawing for free entry to every $100K Guaranteed tournament of 2012. That is fifty-three $162 entry fees paid by Bovada.
To get entries to the drawing just earn 5 poker points on December 24 and again on December 25. Earn more points both days and gain more entries. the more you play, the better your odds of winning.
Last week we posted a story about the US Department of Justice releasing some Full Tilt Poker funds so that US players could be paid. As it turns out this is not true. Holdem Poker Chat along with most poker news outlets based the story on an article on eGaming Review Magazine which turns out to just be a lie.
The Public Information Office of the US Attorney’s Office has said that no funds have been released and that if any such action should be taken that it would be followed up by a public filing from their office.
Earlier today it was announced that a federal grand jury returned indictments charging two gambling businesses and three defendants with conducting an illegal gambling business and money laundering. The two indictments were returned on April 26, 2011 and unsealed today. As part of the investigation, 11 bank accounts located in Charlotte, North Carolina; Guam; Panama; Malta; Portugal; and the Netherlands; and domain names associated with 10 internet gambling sites were also seized today.
The following internet domain names were seized pursuant to court order:
Anyone who tries to access those web sites will be directed instead to a banner that provides notice that the domain name has been seized by order of the court. The banners are expected to be posted later today.
ThrillX Systems, Ltd., d/b/a BetEd; Darren Wright; and David Parchomchuk, both of British Columbia, Canada are charged in one indictment. K23 Group Financial Services, d/b/a BMX Entertainment; and Ann Marie Puig, age 35, of San Jose, Costa Rica are charged in a second indictment.
The indictments and seizures were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge William Winter of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Homeland Security Investigations; Special Agent in Charge Rebecca Sparkman of the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, Washington, D.C. Field Office; Anne Arundel County Police Chief James Teare, Sr.; and Colonel Terrence Sheridan, Superintendent of the Maryland State Police.
“It is illegal for internet gambling enterprises to do business in Maryland, regardless of where the website operator is located,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein. “We cannot allow foreign website operators to flout the law simply because their headquarters are based outside the country.”
“These indictments are the direct result of impressive undercover investigative work by our agents, along with the close collaboration of our law enforcement partners here in Maryland,” said William Winter, Special Agent in Charge of ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Baltimore. “The proceeds from illegal Internet gambling are often used to fuel organized crime and support criminal activity. ICE HSI will work diligently to uncover illicit transactions involving these types of financial crimes. Together, with our law enforcement partners, we will disrupt and dismantle organizations that commit these crimes, regardless of their location, whether here in the United States or abroad.”
“Internet gambling, along with other types of illegal e-commerce, is an area of great interest to IRS Criminal Investigation,” said IRS Special Agent in Charge Rebecca A. Sparkman. “Laundering money from illegal activity such as illegal internet gambling is a crime. Regardless of how the money changes hands – via cash, check, wire transfers or credit cards – and regardless of where the money is stored – in a United States financial institution or an offshore bank – we will trace the funds. IRS Criminal Investigation will vigorously investigate and recommend prosecution against the owners and operators of these illegal enterprises to the fullest extent possible.”
According to the two count indictments and the affidavit filed in support of the seizure warrants, ThrillX, a registered company in British Columbia, Canada, with offices in Vancouver, Canada and San Jose, Costa Rica, is a software solutions provider producing online sports book and casino software. BMX Entertainment, based in Limassol, Cyprus, operates six websites that offer online sports betting services.
The indictments allege that the defendants own and manage illegal gambling businesses involving online sports betting. The affidavit alleges that online gambling sites are run by companies located outside of the U.S., while the majority of customers are in the U.S. Internet gambling operators rely upon the U.S. banking system, and more specifically, money-processing business generally called “payment processors,” to facilitate the movement of funds to and from their customers, the gamblers. Typically, an internet gambling operator directs the payment processor to collect funds from individual gamblers which are used to wager with the gambling organization. Those gambling proceeds are transferred to an offshore foreign bank. The internet gambling operator then sends a check or wire transfer from an offshore bank to the payment processor, directing the payment processor to distribute the money to gamblers for their winnings.
The affidavit filed in support of the seizure warrants alleges that Homeland Security Investigations in Baltimore, Maryland opened an undercover payment processor business, called Linwood Payment Solutions. Linwood allowed undercover agents to gain person-to-person contact with top managers of gambling organizations to discuss the Internet gambling business, to negotiate contracts and terms of the processing, and to handle the intricate movement and processing of collection and payment data from the gambling organizations to the banks.
The affidavit alleges that on November 12, 2009, a Maryland-based online gambler and cooperating informant confirmed that he/she frequented gambling sites, opened accounts and gambled in Maryland. The gambler agreed to set up online gambling accounts and was provided $500 to place bets on gambling websites. The gambler created an account on a BetEd website and placed several bets. On March 30, 2010, BetEd used Linwood to wire transfer $100 in winnings to the gambler’s bank account.
Linwood allegedly processed gambling transactions since 2009 for BetEd, K23 and other gambling organizations using banks located in Guam and Charlotte, North Carolina. According to the affidavit, between December 2009 and January 2011, Linwood processed over 300,000 transactions worth more than $33 million, including transactions for individuals in Maryland. Between February 2010 and March 2011 alone, BetEd directed Linwood to wire transfer over $2.5 million of collected gambling proceeds to bank accounts in Panama; and between February 2011 and April 2011, K23 directed Linwood to wire transfer over $91,000 of gambling proceeds to bank accounts in Portugal and Malta.
The indictments and affidavit seek the forfeiture of the bank accounts used to process the gambling transactions, as well as domain names of websites used by the defendants to further the online gambling transactions.
The defendants face a maximum sentence of five years in prison for operating an illegal gambling business and a maximum of 20 years in prison for money laundering. No court appearance has been scheduled.
UPDATE: We have it on good authority that DoylesRoom will continue to cater to US players and may even get their domain name back. We’ll keep you posted.
Bookmaker is already back up and running under a new domains and sent this email out to all players;
As you may already know, Bookmaker has temporarily lost the rights to the Bookmaker.com domain. We are confident that in time, it will be returned to us, until then, we have launched a new, temporary site: bmaker.ag.
Despite having lost the domain, none of the business operations have otherwise been affected. Player account balances and information are safe and secure. Effective immediately, players can log on to bmaker.ag. and it’s business as usual.
You likely won’t notice any other changes at all and will experience all the same features and benefits as our original site; just on a new address.
We sincerely apologize if you were affected by our interruption. As always, if you have any questions or concerns please call our customer service department at 1-866-9Bookmaker.
The House Financial Services Committee approved a bill Wednesday that would license and regulate online gambling in the United States, in a 41-22-1 vote.
The Security and Accountability For Every Port Act of 2006 (SAFE Port Act) was an Act of Congress covering port security online gambling measure that was added at the last moment. The House and Senate passed the conference report on September 30, 2006, and President Bush signed the Act into law on October 13, 2006.
Since 2008, Committee Chairman, Barney Frank (D-Mass) has been fighting and lobbying to halt the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. Frank’s first attempt failed to get out of Committee on a 32-32 vote. A second bill passed Committee on a 30-19 to vote, but was never voted on by the full House of Representatives.
This year, Rep. Frank introduced the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act (HR 2267). This bill drew a large amount of support by the Democrats and almost half of the votes by the Republicans. Thirty-four Democrats voted for the bill and four voted against it, while seven Republicans voted for the bill and 18 voting against it. Several members of the committee failed to even vote.
Along with Frank, two California Representatives, Republican John Campbell and Democrat Brad Sherman, took part in amending the bill Wednesday and ensuring its passage.
Campbell created a substantial amendment which called for changes on both the administrative and consumer protection sides of the proposed legislation. Campbell’s amendment gives “states and tribal authorities parallel authority to administer licenses and enforce these regulations.” Campbell’s amendment also requires licensees to maintain all online gambling facilities targeting U.S. residents within in the United States.
Campbell added additional protections for consumer by requiring the odds of winning be posted for each game. His amendment also requires loss limits for players in addition to age and location verification.
Sherman’s amendments added language that prevents bad “actors” from obtaining licenses, gives states a full legislative session to opt out of the federal plan and specified that that in order to get a license, the majority of that company’s job had to be in the U.S.
Other amendments that passed include bans on inappropriate advertising, bans on ads targeting minors and the frequent testing of minor protection systems.
“The fact is, online poker is not going away,” said former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, chairman of the Poker Players Alliance, in a statement. “Congress has a choice – it can license and regulate it to provide government oversight and consumer protections, or our lawmakers can stick their heads in the sand, ignore it, and leave consumers to play on non-U.S. regulated websites in all 50 states. I’m glad the Financial Services Committee today overwhelmingly chose to act and protect Americans as well as preserve the fundamental freedoms of adults and the Internet.”
There are still several hurdles that need to cleared before it can become law. First, the full House needs to vote on it. Since the house breaks on August 9th, it is unlikely the vote is going to happen. It is also unlikely the voting will occur during the lame-duck session of Congress after the November elections. The bottom line is that this means it has to pass a full floor vote between Sept. 7 and Oct. 8. In order for a full vote to happen, the Democratic leadership in the House, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), needs to schedule it.
If the House passes the bill, then it needs to be taken up by the Senate. If it is passed by both the House and the Senate, then it will need to be signed by President Obama.
It is important for all of this to happen this year, before the end of the legislative session. If it doesn’t, the process will have to start all over again next year. Then it will have to be presented when the makeup of both the House and the Senate will be different.
A bitter sweet victory for online gamblers, but a continuous uphill struggle and fight for those Representatives fighting for our rights.