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In this edition of the PokerGuru Gaming report, we see a lot of legal changes and developments that have taken place in the gaming industry. We start off in New Jersey where the state is close to legalizing sports betting following the abolishment of the PASPA. Next, we come to Louisiana where the state is trying to improve the poker industry by making changes to its casino laws.
We then move to New York where the lawmakers have been trying long and hard to legalize online poker. Next, we learn of Or Poh Soon who is the first gambling agent to be booked under Singapore’s Organized Crime Act (OCA). Rounding up this report is news from Slovakia, where following the ruling made by the court, the casinos in the capital city of Bratislava received reprieve from the ban placed by the City Council.
Following in the footsteps of Delaware, New Jersey will become the second U.S. state to pass the sports betting bill legalizing the activity within the state. After the U.S. Supreme court overturned the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) in mid-May, several states were gearing up to develop legislation to regulate and legalize sport gambling. Although Delaware was the first state to offer single-game wagering, the ‘First State’ along with Nevada could offer limited sports betting options before the Supreme Court ruling. Therefore, New Jersey will become the first state to allow sport betting after the PASPA was reversed.
The sport betting bill was unanimously passed by the New Jersey Assembly and then sent to the Senate on June 7. It was speedily approved and passed on to the Governor. The legislation that was universally accepted by every Garden State lawmaker stated that New Jersey will henceforth be able to accept wagers on college and professional games but not high school sports. Individuals placing bets have to be 21 years or above in age. Bets can also be placed online.
An abstract of the new legislation reads as follows: “An operator may also accept wagers by means of the Internet, including from persons who are not physically present in this State if the division determines that such wagering is not inconsistent with federal law or the law of the jurisdiction, including any foreign nation, in which any such person is located, or such wagering is conducted pursuant to a reciprocal agreement to which the State is a party that is not inconsistent with federal law.”
The casino laws in Louisiana are changing and along with that the poker industry may be on the rise. The state’s governor recently signed a new bill that permits considerable land-based expansion for 15 riverboat casinos.
Historically, the riverboats would travel along the state’s waterways but after realising that docking in one location provided better business the riverboat casinos were legalized in 1991. Harrah’s is the only land-based casinos in New Orleans.
But the downside of riverboat casinos is the difficulti in hosting major poker tournaments. This new legislation allowing land-expansions for riverboat casinos will make holding tournaments easier for casinos.
Regarding the new law, Poker room manager Chad Disante stated, “We are excited about new opportunities that come with this newly passed legislation. Our poker room is now able to host large-scale, land-based tournaments and is no longer confined to a restricted gaming space. Our guests will see more legendary events at Horseshoe Bossier City with the World Series of Poker and RunGood Poker Series.”
New York lawmakers have not given up hope for legalizing online poker. A new legislation was passed by an important Senate committee. On the heels of the Supreme Court ruling regarding the legalization of sports gambling, New York legislators had been trying to legalize real-money online poker sites. When MGM Resorts had acquired the Empire City Casino, it had given an impetus to the policymakers to push forward with the lawful sanctioning of online poker.
The bill numbered S03898 had successfully passed a full Senate vote but was not picked by the other legislative chamber. However, now with the possibility of legalizing not only internet poker but also sports betting, New York politicians are trying to combine both forms of betting into one single legislative act.
With the Supreme Court ruling offering increased protection to the states in regard to the passing of their own gambling laws, New York may soon be able to allow both online poker and sports gambling within the state.
On June 8, 55-year-old Or Poh Soon became the first agent to be sentenced under the Organized Crime Act (OCA) of Singapore. The gambling agent was among many others who were arrested at the online gambling bust after the Singapore Pools and Turf Club released their state-approved sites in 2016. The charges were brought against Or and six others in November 2017.
Or had been hiring punters for online gambling groups since 2013 and charging a commission of 8% to 10% on the wages of his punters, including an extra 5% if his customers won lottery prizes. He had managed to earn approximately S$62k prior to his arrest.
He pleaded guilty to working as an agent for unauthorized online gambling operators who accepted lottery and sports bets through at least six websites. Or can now be sentenced for up to five years in jail or asked to pay a fine of S$100k or both. He may also be sentenced to similar punishments under the country’s Remote Gambling Act.
The Bratislava City Council had voted in favour of an absolute ban on gambling within city limits in April 2017, with exceptions being offered to sports betting shops and lottery retailers. On June 7, the Regional Court in Bratislava reversed the vote stating that it was not in compliance with the law.
According to Slovak court, the City Council was wrong to conduct a second vote when the first vote had failed to pass in February 2017. It also prevented the City Council from holding a third vote on the matter.
The City Council did not react favourably to the decision, with the Mayor of Bratislava Ivo Nesrovnal stating the “wishes of 136k city residents who signed a petition that led to the Council vote(s)” were crushed. However, the Slovak Association of Entertainment and Games (AZAH) bemoaned that the decision was too late in coming, since over 50 gaming venues had already been forcibly shut down.