Weekly Poker Roundup: January 1, 2017

Poker Player Sentenced to Prison for Casino Patron Robberies

27-year old Dominick Blair Roberson, who was reportedly trying to get a professional poker career going, was sentenced to eight years and eight months in prison for robbing several people after they went home from Los Angeles area casinos.

Roberson was convicted on four counts of second-degree robbery and one count of attempted robbery. In each instance, he trailed people who he saw leave a casino with cash and then robbed them when they arrived home. He stole $1,000 to $6,000 from four women in these schemes, failing once (the attempted robbery charge) when a male mark was able to fend him off. No violence was reported; Roberson used a “replica” weapon as part of the robberies in order to appear more intimidating.

TheHendonMob.com shows that Roberson has $17,580 in live tournament earnings, though his professional poker aspirations may have been at the cash game tables, for which detailed records are not kept.

Poker Central Off the Air

Poker Central, the self-proclaimed 24/7 all-poker television network, is out of the television business, this according to Multichannel News. Poker Central will no longer broadcast any of its programming on television, nor will it provide live streams. Instead, it will focus on its own methods of transmission like YouTube and Twitch.

For a company that touted itself as a poker television network, Poker Central had a tough time actually getting on TV. In 2016, it was finally able to partner with a small Ohio cable system called Buckeye Broadband, but that was basically it. It was also available for viewing on streaming devices such as Roku.

Poker Central President Joe Kakaty told Multichannel News, “It’s a digital pivot because we saw our millennial audience wanted more content. But they wanted new, original content.”

Online Gambling Operators Starting to Leave Australia

Online casino operator Vera&John has informed its Australian customers that their accounts will be/have been closed. While it did not tell said customers why this was happening except for it being a “business decision,” it is almost certainly because of a pending change in the country’s gaming laws that would effectively make most online gambling, including online poker, illegal.

The issue is the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016, whose primary goal is to curb “in-play” online sports betting. Such betting is permitted in Australia by licensed operators, but only over the telephone. Many operators have used smartphone apps to get around this restriction; the bill aims to tighten up this loophole.

What the bill also does, though, is make any form of online gambling that isn’t explicitly legal illegal. Online poker is currently in a gray area, being neither legal nor illegal, but if the bill becomes law – and it seems that it will – poker and other online gambling like casino games would become effectively illegal. Amaya indicated in a recent earnings call that it would probably pull PokerStars out of the Australian market were the bill to pass.

Pennsylvania State Senator Calls Meeting of Casino Minds

In an attempt to jumpstart (or re-jumpstart?) gambling expansion/revision talks in Pennsylvania, State Senator Kim Ward has called representatives from the state’s twelve casinos to the Capitol for a meeting on January 3rd.  “The days of doing nothing are over at this point,” Ward said.

The Pennsylvania legislature resembled a dumpster fire in 2016, as lawmakers could not agree on how to structure the state’s budget. It was basically partisan politics at its worst. In the budget that was finally – we think – settled upon, about $100 million was reliant on online gambling revenue. Problem was, online gambling never got legalized and regulated in 2016. While Ward has not made public what she will discuss with the casino reps, online poker is a possibility to be on the agenda.

One major issue that is a virtual lock to be discussed is the urgent problem of casino “host fees.” In short, the nine non-Philadelphia casinos pay either $10 million or two percent of their slots “gross terminal revenue” – whichever is larger – to the municipalities where they are located (the Philly casinos have a different deal). This money is quite important to city and county budgets. The Mounty Airy casino’s owner, though, sued the state in 2016, saying that because the host fee is always $10 million for those nine casinos, it amounts to an unconstitutional tax.

The State Supreme Court ruled in Mount Airy’s favor and gave the legislature until the end of January to make the necessary adjustments to the law.

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