Voters in Arkansas legalized casino gambling on Tuesday, passing ballot Issue 4 by a vote of 54.07 percent to 45.93 percent. The measure automatically gives Oaklawn Racing and Gaming in Hot Springs and Southland Gaming and Racing in West Memphis casino licenses. Two more licenses will be available through an application process.
Governor Asa Hutchinson wasn’t too happy about it, lamenting, “I did not support this initiative, and I continue to have great concern over the immediate and negative impact on the state’s budget. But the people have spoken, and I respect their will. Time will tell as to what this means for our state, and it remains to be seen as to whether the communities affected will consent to the gambling initiative.”
Two groups against the measure had sued to keep it off the ballot, but the Arkansas Supreme Court ultimately ruled against them. They argued that the wording of the issue was confusing and misleading.
PokerStars has introduced a new cash game called Fusion, which is a combination of Hold’em and Omaha. Like its other novelty cash games, Fusion will be a temporary option in the Pokerstars lobby.
Fusion begins as Hold’em. Looks exactly like it – everyone is dealt two hole cards and there is a pre-flop betting round. After the flop, though, it all changes. Each player still in the hand is given another hole card. Then, after the turn, everyone is given a fourth hole card. At that point, Fusion is Omaha. The winner at showdown is the player with the best five-card hand using two hole cards and three board cards.
By my count, this is PokerStars’ fourth novelty game of 2018, following Split Hold’em, Showtime Hold’em, and Unfold.
PokerStars has also launched PokerStars VR, a virtual reality poker game, after a small beta test. The game is available for Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and Steam. Though it is a PokerStars game, PokerStars VR was developed by Lucky VR. It is only available for play money, not real money.
While PokerStars VR – or any virtual reality poker product, for that matter – will never be mistaken for real poker, it is as realistic a version of poker as you will get while sitting on your couch. The game is played in the first person – what you would see with your own eyes live is what you see in the game. You can look down at your cards, look around the room, throw your chips into the pot (kind of), stare down your opponents, etc. Of course, it is cartoony, as well, as PokerStars aimed to make it entertaining.
“When we showcased the product it was amazing to see people really enjoy and become engrossed in the game,” said Severin Rasset, Director of Poker Innovation and Operations at PokerStars, in a press release. “We wanted to venture into the world of virtual reality because we believe it is an exciting avenue of technology to explore and something that our players would appreciate. I highly recommend that everyone tries out the game as it can only truly be understood and enjoyed by experiencing it.”
Back to the elections, Florida voters will now have control over future casino expansion as they favored Amendment 3 this past Tuesday by a massive margin, 71.44 percent to 28.56 percent. The ballot measure gives Florida residents the “exclusive right to decide whether to authorize casino gambling by requiring that in order for casino gambling to be authorized under Florida law, it must be approved by Florida voters.”
It sounds like a good idea, but in reality, it is going to make any sort of gambling expansion extremely difficult to bring to a reality. A petition to get a gambling measure on the ballot will require hundreds of thousands of signatures (nearly three-quarters of a million if done right now) and then to pass, 60 percent of voters would need to vote for it. Critics of Amendment 3 also don’t like how voters in one part of the state will be able to influence casino measures in another part of the state.
Amendment 3 was backed by Disney and the Seminole Tribe of Florida, who poured a combined $45 million into the effort. Disney doesn’t want competition for its theme parks and the Seminole Tribe has almost a monopoly on casino gambling in Florida and naturally doesn’t want more competition.
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