Weekly Update: New Jersey & Nevada Pass Historic Legislation Authorizing Interstate Online Poker! (02/27/2013)

February 27th, 2013

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Weekly Update from Rich Muny, VP of Player Relations

This was truly a historic week for poker! Yesterday, New Jersey’s legislature fast-tracked a bill licensing online poker and online casino gaming. The General Assembly passed the bill 68-5. Twenty minutes later, the Senate passed it 35-1. Then, minutes later, Governor Chris Christie signed the bill into law! Gov. Christie issued the following statement:

“I am pleased to say that today I signed New Jersey’s Internet Gaming Bill, opening the way for new opportunity to bolster our efforts to continue the revival of Atlantic City, its casinos and entertainment offerings. This was a critical decision, and one that I did not make lightly. But with the proper regulatory framework and safeguards that I insisted on including in the bill, I am confident that we are offering a responsible yet exciting option that will make Atlantic City more competitive while also bringing financial benefits to New Jersey as a whole. I want to thank the sponsors for working quickly to include my recommendations to improve the bill.”
– New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
This law allows for casinos in Atlantic City to apply for licenses to operate poker sites offering services to players physically located in New Jersey (players do not have to be residents, they just have to be in the state while playing) or in states with reciprocal agreements with New Jersey. There are no reciprocal agreements yet, so there will be a lot of lobbying to bring other states on board. I encourage you to take a moment to read the PPA press release on this historic law here.
“New Jersey has gone ‘all in.’ Residents now will have access to a safe and regulated online gaming market, and the state will have a new source for revenue and job creation — something the federal government has failed to do thus far. The U.S. represents the largest percentage of Internet poker players worldwide, so there is clearly a want and a need for a legal and regulated online gambling market. New Jersey will now serve as a leader in this thriving industry.”
– PPA Executive Director John Pappas
History was made just a couple of days prior as well, on the other side of the country. The state of Nevada passed legislation authorizing Nevada-licensed online poker sites to offer interstate play to players in states with reciprocal agreements with Nevada. Similar to the New Jersey legislation, no states yet have such agreements with Nevada, so the lobbying push will be strong there as well.

While we are all very pleased with the forward movement on interstate compacting in Nevada, there was one unfortunate amendment to the bill in the days before it passed. A provision was added that prevents operators that previously offered Internet poker from being licensed or from being a software provider to licensees. This would block companies such as PokerStars from even applying for a license in Nevada or from partnering with a casino that is seeking a license. This measure could decrease competition among sites.

It would also impact the ability of the Nevada Gaming Control Board to make an independent determination on the suitability of operators. When similar language was suggested for inclusion in federal legislation, significant Constitutional issues were raised (click here and here for related articles). These very same Constitutional problems may be present in this state-specific attempt to limit who can apply for a license. So, it remains to be seen if this ban will go unchallenged.

That being said, forward movement in these two states is very good for all of us. It is my belief that these are the first dominoes to fall. I believe we will see more and more states coming on board, similar to what we saw with growth of state lotteries.

I wish to thank everyone who participates in direct advocacy for poker via letters, phone calls, visits, tweets, and Facebook posts to lawmakers. I also wish thank those who have joined PPA as dues-paying members and I encourage everyone to take that important step. Let’s keep up the pressure and make the entire nation friendly to poker in all its forms (online, home, B&M, charity, etc.). It has been a long fight and we are all now seeing the fruits of our labors in this effort!

Update on New Hampshire

Efforts are underway to allow for charity gaming rooms to deal No Limit Texas Hold’em cash games (currently only tournaments can deal NL) with two bills. SB 61 is a bill that would allow charity gaming card rooms to deal the most popular poker games. HB 459 would also establish table stakes games, raise the standard betting limit from $4 to $6, and add a provision to protect non-raked home games.

Also at the forefront of NH politics are bills to create one or more full-fledged casinos in NH.

PPA has been coordinating our actions with New Hampshire State Director Patrick Fleming. All the bills are currently moving through the normal legislative process and NH PPA activists have been emailed with the information needed to express our support and/or concerns with these bills directly to NH legislators. Our state director has already testified before the House and Senate committees dealing with the table stakes bills and we will continue to make sure the NH legislature knows what NH poker players need and want with respect to these important matters.

SB 61 (click here)
HB 459 (click here)

State Directors Openings in PA, MN, ND, AL, and ME

2013 will be a critical year for poker. The success and momentum we built together in 2012 with our largely federal grassroots campaign is moving forward as a vocal and mobilized state-focused grassroots effort. We cannot move forward without broad support and committed involvement from our activists.

With that in mind, I am pleased to extend to members who live in PA, MN, ND, AL, or ME an invitation to become a PPA State Director. I can tell you from my own experience as the PPA Kentucky State Director that there is no more important mission for PPA than providing the framework for our strong, vocal, and coordinated grassroots effort.

If you are interested in becoming more actively involved in the PPA, the submission period ends on March 12, so please apply right away.

Washington State Update

I am sorry to report that, even after the well-received hearing on H.B. 1824, the bill to decriminalize playing online poker in that state, the bill will not move forward this year. As we stated previously in the weekly update and directly with our members in Washington, bill sponsor Representative Paul Harris tried to make changes to his bill after the hearing, but unfortunately, due to the limited number of days before the Legislature recesses for the year, the timeline simply did not permit getting this done for this session.

Here is a statement from Rep. Harris to the Washington poker community:
“HB 1824, which would have reduced the penalty for playing online poker from a Class C Felony to a Class 3 Civil Infraction had some great responses from committee members when it was heard on Tuesday. They had some concerns on clarity and requested a few minor fixes but due to the short amount of time before cutoff we will have to wait until next year’s short session to get this passed.

I have been assured that this bill will be heard again and given serious consideration in the next session. I will not give up on this bill, this will be a priority for me.

Do not be discouraged, it was an important step to even have this bill heard. We WILL get online poker legal again in Washington State.

A special thank you to all of those who gave testimony and wrote emails in support of this bill. I hope your cards (and this bill) are always live.”
– State Representative Paul Harris
PPA is working with Rep. Harris to introduce a broader bill next legislative session that would allow residents to play online poker on authorized sites in the Evergreen State. Please stay tuned for future updates on this very important issue!

HB 1824: (click here)

Maryland Hearing on Home Game Bill

Poker bill HB 486, a bill that would allow Marylanders to host and play in non-raked home poker games, is scheduled for a hearing in front of the State Assembly Ways and Means Committee on March 5th at 1pm.

PPA will be attending this important hearing. If you live in Maryland, please look for our emails from “PPA Action Alert.” We have made it easy for you to call or send a letter in support of this common sense legislation, so please keep an eye out for these action alerts. Thanks!

HB 486: (click here)

PPA’s Facebook February is Almost Over! Push Us Over the Top!

All February at the PPA, we have been trying get our PPA Facebook page over 75,000 likes. WE ARE FEWER THAN 300 LIKES AWAY! Please be sure to like us on Facebook, share that you like us on Facebook, and make sure to invite your friends and family to like us on Facebook too. It’s a simple and easy way to show support and stay up to date and involved with PPA! We are so close. Will you push us over the top?

Upcoming Appearances:
  • The Poker Advocacy with Rich Muny webcast on OnTilt Radio airs live each Monday at 8 pm ET/5 pm PT. Follow the program on Facebook at facebook.com/PokerAdvocacy, and on Twitter at @PokerAdvocacy. The show site is ontiltradio.com/ppa. Listen live here.
  • Webcast: “PPA Weekly Update” airs live each Sunday at 6:45 pm ET/3:45 pm PT on Fifth Street Radio. Listen live here.
Recent appearances:
  • OnTilt Radio (2/25): “Poker Advocacy with Rich Muny.” I was joined by PPA Executive Director John Pappas for an in-depth discussion of all PPA is doing, the Nevada online poker bill, and the New Jersey bill. (listen here or on iTunes here).
  • Fifth Street Radio (2/24): I sat down with Mark Hoke for a great discussion. I come on at time point 0:59:17 of Part 1. Listen here.
  • Fifth Street Radio (2/22): I sat down with Mark Hoke for another great discussion. I come on at time point 1:54:08 of Part 2. Listen here.
Interview Archives:

Social Media

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Thank you for your continued support!

Proud to play,

Rich Muny

Join the PPA

Over the past few weeks, we have been communicating with you about our ambitious goals for poker rights going forward. Historic victories like the one in New Jersey cannot be duplicated elsewhere without your support. We can’t win the fight for our poker rights without the strong financial backing of the poker community. Whether you live in New Jersey or Washington, or any of the 48 other states of this great country, being a 2013 PPA member is the smartest bet for the future of our game. Join today for only $15 to receive the great benefits of membership and to help us continue to fight for our rights as poker players.

The PPA wishes to keep active members like yourself updated on the latest poker advocacy news by periodically sending out select events and headlines. We hope you find it informative and thank you for your continuing support.

Nevada Legislature approves online gambling bill – Reno Gazette-Journal (02/22/2013)

Former poker champ Ferguson settles with federal prosecutors – Las Vegas Review-Journal (02/22/2013)

Nevada passes online poker bill, but gaming software not yet approved – Las Vegas Sun (02/22/2013)

Poker Is America – New York Times (02/23/2013)

American Gaming Association’s Frank Fahrenkopf Comments On Federal Online Poker Bill – Poker News (02/25/2013)

Washington Delays Fixing ‘Insane’ Web Poker Law – CardPlayer (02/26/2013)

State Senator Introduces Another Online Poker Bill in California – Poker News Daily (02/25/2013)

New Jersey Becomes Third U.S. State to Legalize Online Poker – Poker News (02/26/2013)

Governor Christie Signs New Jersey Online Gambling Bill Into Law – PocketFives (02/26/2013)

Christie signs NJ Internet gambling bill into law – Associated Press (02/26/2013)

New Jersey Legislature Again Passes Internet Gaming Bill, Christie Signs Immediately – Diamond Flush (02/26/2013)

A closer look at the New Jersey online gaming bill – Poker News Boy (02/26/2013)

Governor Christie signs revised NJ online poker bill – Poker News Boy (02/26/2013)

Governor Chris Christie Signs New Jersey Online Gambling Bill into Law – PokerFuse (02/26/2013)

Nevada Legislature approves online gambling bill - Reno Gazette-Journal (02/22/2013)

The Poker Players Alliance
Dedicated to Protecting America’s Favorite Card Game

The Poker Players Alliance is a nonprofit membership organization comprised of poker players and enthusiasts from around the United States who have joined together to speak with one voice to promote the game and to protect poker players’ rights. Visit us at theppa.org 

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