Weekly Poker Roundup: June 26, 2015
It was a busy week on the legal front in the online gambling world and one of the most coveted bracelets of the 2015 World Series of Poker was awarded. Let’s take a look at some of the key news items from the past few days.
RAWA Introduced in U.S. Senate
Senator Lindsey Graham (R – SC) introduced Sheldon Adelson’s Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) in the United States Senate this week. The same bill has already been introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R – Utah), aiming to eliminate online gambling from the country.
Anybody with any sort of sense understands that RAWA is a complete sham and is simply Adelson’s attempt to get rid of perceived competition to his brick-and-mortar gambling empire. The Interstate Wire Act of 1961 prohibits sports betting over communications lines, but for years was incorrectly interpreted by the U.S. Department of Justice as outlawing all remote betting. In late 2011, the DoJ’s Office of Legal Counsel issued a clarification, stating that the Wire Act did only make sports betting on the internet illegal, not other forms of gambling. That prompted states, including Delaware, Nevada, and New Jersey, to launch their own legal, regulated intrastate online gambling industries, with others considering the same.
By “restoring” the Wire Act, Adelson and his cronies actually want to set the interpretation back to the incorrect one. They somehow try to justify deregulation of the industry, which would clearly make online gambling less safe for those who still decide to partake in the activity.
Mike Gorodinsky Wins 2015 WSOP $50K Poker Players Championship
After a number of close calls with his second World Series of Poker Bracelet, Mike Gorodinsky finally made it all the way to the top and he did it in style, winning the prestigious $50,000 Poker Players Championship at the 2015 WSOP. He had previously finished second, third, and ninth in different events at this year’s WSOP.
With its ultra-high buy-in and ten-game rotation, the Poker Players Championship is seen by many pros as the best test of one’s poker skill. While one tournament does not determine one’s worth as a poker player (well, beyond the $1.3 million Gorodinsky won), this one can be used to give someone bragging rights as the best all-around tournament player for a year.
Gorodinsky beat Jean-Robert Bellande heads-up for the victory, a rematch of a tournament at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure in 2010, one which was also won by Gorodinsky. Said the champ afterward, “I feel amazing. This is literally something that I’ve gone to bed dreaming about, and it’s just cool to legitimately realize a dream. So it’s just an amazing day. An amazing five days.”
With the win, Mike Gorodinsky is now atop the 2015 WSOP Player of Year leader board.
Bryan Micon Returns to U.S., Pleads to Lesser Charge
Bryan Micon, founder of the now-defunct Bitcoin poker site SealsWithClubs.com and currently the head of SwC.eu, returned to the United States to face charges after a warrant was issued for his arrest. Earlier this year, agents of the Nevada Gaming Control Board and the Nevada Attorney General’s office raided Micon’s Nevada home, seizing computer equipment and other evidence. In a video blog, Micon said he was marched out of the home in his underwear and handcuffed in front of his wife and daughter while the agents spent eight hours searching his house.
SealswithClubs.com was closed, but Micon soon moved to Antigua and setup SwC.eu. Recently, a warrant was issued for his arrest, charging him with a felony count of operating an unlicensed interactive gaming system. In returning to the U.S., he is pleading to a lesser misdemeanor charge of the same thing. If a judge accepts his plea agreement, he will pay a $25,000 fine, receive probation that he would have to stay in the country to complete, and give up ownership of some of the things the agents took from his home, including computers, cash, and a few Bitcoins.
DraftKings, ESPN Forge Marketing Deal
DraftKings, one of the leading daily fantasy sports (DFS) sites on the internet, has agreed to a marketing deal with sports leader ESPN to have DraftKings’ services promoted throughout ESPN’s various platforms, including television and online.
Daily fantasy sports is a fast-growing segment of the online gambling industry, particularly in the United States, where it remains legal because of a carve-out in the UIGEA. Participants select real-life athletes for their fantasy team and winners are determined based on how those players do in their games. The beauty of daily fantasy sports is in the name: “daily.” As opposed to traditional fantasy leagues that often become tedious as the season goes on, DFS contests only last a single day (or week, depending on the game), meaning players don’t lose interest and can try again the next day if their team doesn’t do well.
DraftKings is the second-largest DFS site on the internet; its customers reportedly paid $304 million in entry fees in 2014, with $40 million of that remaining for the company after distributing prizes.
Rep. Joe Barton Introduces Pro-Poker Bill in House
Bookending the laughable RAWA bill discussed earlier, Rep. Joe Barton (R – TX) introduced the “Internet Poker Freedom Act of 2015” which would legalize and regulate online poker throughout the United States. Rep. Barton prefers this to the current state-by-state regulation because, “The complex web of state and local regulations now being devised could still leave players at risk.”
He added, “I believe H. R. 2888 creates a federal standard and provides players proper protections (while) including safeguards for children and problem gamblers.”
While the bill would be fantastic for internet poker players, it would not be good for those who prefer other forms of online gambling, as those would be deemed illegal.
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