DiamondFlush was first to report that PokerStars is in talks to purchase the Atlantic Club Casino, a property located in Atlantic City, New Jersey.Its far from a done deal, but NJ state regulators are reportedly involved in the discussions. This news, combined with reports that New Jersey is likely to consider online gambling legislation before the end of 2012, suggests the potential for a rapid reshuffling of the American regulated online poker landscape.Theres no shortage of takeaways from this news; here are three things that jumped out at me after reading the initial reports.PokerStars Is Not Surrendering The American MarketIt was tempting to think that after Black Friday, PokerStars might be content to simply dominate the other 75% of the global online poker market. The U.S. market would be too uncertain, potentially hyper-fragmented and crowded with powerful competitors who would exploit PokerStars past activity in America to shut out the poker giant at every opportunity.PokerStars surveyed that landscape and said lets buy a struggling New Jersey casino. That sounds like a company not just merely interested, but potentially hellbent, on returning to America.Neither is New JerseyNevada has a pretty solid (albeit early) lead in the American online poker race. Theyre about to issue their 12th online poker operator license, which is roughly 12 more than any other state in the U.S.. The Reid/Kyl bill, while considered a long shot by many, would essentially crown Nevada the king of regulated online poker in America.Stars buying a NJ casino throws a wrench into those works. As I put it on Twitter:The Future of Online Poker is Live PokerAnd vice versa.This isnt PokerStars first foray into the world of land-based gambling. It was only a few weeks ago that the company announced the purchase of a stake in Londons Hippodrome Casino.In 2013, I expect a rash of partnerships, purchases and mergers between the heavyweights of the online poker industry and their land-based counterparts as each begins to fully appreciate the value of the other.This isnt a shocking conclusion after all, Caesars has had a relationship with 888 for years but what will be surprising is the sheer amount and scope of the deals that will come together. ..Theres a ways to go before youll be able to belly up to the buffet at the PokerStars Casino. But with just the whiff of a scheme to officially set up shop in the United States, PokerStars is already doing what it does best disrupting the plans of its competitors.Three Takeaways From PokerStars Plan to Buy A New Jersey Casino
1 PokerStars responds with application for interlocutory appeal
2 Analyzing PokerStars position
2.1 1. The Court should allow for interlocutory appeal
2.2 2. There were problems with trial courts TRO decision
2.3 3. The trial court arbitrarily reversed itself on the TRO
2.4 4. Collection of misc. complaints
3 The next step for PokerStars & the Atlantic Club Casino
4 Read moreThe saga of PokerStars attempt to break into the regulated United States gaming market took another twist this week as PokerStars continued to pursue its attempt to purchase the financially troubled Atlantic Club Casino.That deal had appeared doomed following a recent New Jersey state trial court ruling denying PokerStars request for a temporary restraining order (TRO) blocking the Atlantic Club from terminating the parties Purchase Agreement and pursuing other potential buyers.PokerStars responds with application for interlocutory appealThursday, PokerStars filed a motion for leave to appeal the trial courts ruling denying the TRO. Because the trial courts ruling was only preliminary, PokerStars does not have any right to appeal at this point in the proceedings.Instead, PokerStars has requested permission to file what is known as an interlocutory appeal. The appellate court has broad discretion to grant or deny leave to file an interlocutory appeal.Generally, appellate courts will only grant leave to file an interlocutory appeal where a party can demonstrate substantial prejudice will result if they are forced to wait to appeal until after the underlying lawsuit reaches a final disposition. Much like the grant of a TRO itself, interlocutory appeals are an extraordinary remedy permitted only in unusual situations.Analyzing PokerStars positionAlong with its motion for leave to appeal, PokerStars filed a supporting brief which sets out in detail the legal reasons why the appellate court should permit interlocutory appeal. Although the brief addresses the merits of the arguments for entry of a TRO, the purpose of the brief is to persuade the appellate court that the trial courts TRO ruling should be reviewed immediately.PokerStars raises four main points in its brief:1. The Court should allow for interlocutory appealFirst, PokerStars argues that interlocutory appeal should be permitted because:This argument falls flat, however, because PokerStars is requesting a TRO to prevent the sale of the Atlantic Club to another purchaser, one which would presumably also fund the casinos operations and pensions. If the Atlantic Club were truly facing a choice between selling to PokerStars and bankruptcy, presumably they would sell to PokerStars.Similarly, the mere fact a case is high-profile or connected to a major industry is seldom sufficient basis for permitting a party to bypass the usual requirement of proceeding to a final disposition prior to seeking appellate review.2. There were problems with trial courts TRO decisionPokerStars second point is that the trial court improperly interpreted New Jersey gaming laws and deprived the Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) of its statutorily-mandated 121-day review period for interim casino authority (ICA) applications. This argument is essentially a rehash of PokerStars trial court argument that the Atlantic Club could not terminate the Purchase Agreement pursuant to an Outside Date clause when that Outside Date was less than 121 days after the DGE deemed PokerStars ICA application complete. Previously, PokerStars argued that the Outside Date is either the contractual Closing Date or is inextricably linked to the Closing Date; neither of these arguments were persuasive to the trial court.In an interesting rhetorical move, however, PokerStars has subtly reformulated its Outside Date argument. In its latest brief, PokerStars now asserts that the Outside Date as interpreted by the Atlantic Club and the trial court operates as a closing date and thereby improperly interferes with the DGEs ability to investigate PokerStars ICA application.In particular, PokerStars asserts that the DGE is prejudiced by the Outside Date provision because the DGE has invested significant time and resources into investigating PokerStars ICA application, resources which are now wasted if the Purchase Agreement has been terminated.PokerStars belated concern for the DGE is somewhat perplexing considering PokerStars agreed to the Outside Date provision. Further, the DGE resource argument is overblown considering New Jersey gaming regulations (N.J. Admin. Code § 13:69A-9.4) already assess all costs of investigating ICA applicationsincluding DGE personnel expensesto the applicant.3. The trial court arbitrarily reversed itself on the TROPokerStars third point is that the trial court arbitrarily reversed itself and disturbed the status quo. Here, PokerStars complains that the trial court initially granted a TRO based on a finding of irreparable harm to PokerStars if the Atlantic Club were to sell to another buyer, but then later lifted the TRO exposing PokerStars to that very harm.Although PokerStars cites to the trial courts comments from an initial hearing the day after the TRO was put in place, PokerStars fails to note that the trial court also stated that he had put the TRO in place solely based on his initial sense of the legal arguments based on PokerStars filings, and without benefit of the Atlantic Clubs filings. The trial court explicitly stated he wanted to wait for the main hearing on the TRO to reach a final determination as to whether to keep the TRO in place. After that full hearing, the trial court concluded PokerStars was unlikely to prevail on the merits of its argument, so a TRO was inappropriate regardless of whether PokerStars might be harmed by a sale of the Atlantic Club to another buyer.4. Collection of misc. complaintsPokerStars final point is a hodgepodge of miscellaneous complaints about the evidence relied upon by the trial court at the hearing on the TRO. PokerStars primarily attacks three affidavits from former NJ gaming commissioners as being improper evidence, including attacking one of the affidavits because the commissioner was also a retired judge who PokerStars asserts is ethically barred from serving as an expert witness.PokerStars also complains that one of the Atlantic Clubs attorneys improperly gave factual testimony during the course of the hearing. These types of attacks are collateral to the merits of the underlying legal arguments which turn solely on the Purchase Agreement and the New Jersey gaming statute. Appellate court judges generally take a dim view of these types of complaints; at best, they only serve to distract the appellate court from the real legal issues.The next step for PokerStars & the Atlantic Club CasinoAt this point, the Atlantic Club will likely file a resistance to PokerStars application for interlocutory appeal. The appellate court may deny PokerStars application without waiting for a resistance, though doing so is uncommon.Even if the application is granted, the parties would then file additional briefs on the merits of the arguments for and against a TRO. Briefing usually takes several weeks to complete, even on an expedited schedule (and appellate courts rarely move quickly).A decision on appeal might well not be issued until after the August 9, 2013 deadline for the DGE to rule on PokerStars ICA application; if PokerStars does not get an ICA, then the appeal (and the underlying lawsuit) would be moot. PokerStars could request the appellate court to enter its own TRO pending resolution of the appeal, but such relief is rather unlikely where the trial court has already determined PokerStars is unlikely to prevail.With late June deadlines looming for the initial round of New Jersey online gaming permits, PokerStars decision to pursue an interlocutory appeal seems to indicate that salvaging the Atlantic Club deal is PokerStars best, and possibly only, option for breaking into the New Jersey online gaming market. We should know in a few weeks whether PokerStars still has a shot at buying the Atlantic Club.Read more
Copy of the Purchase Agreement.
Coverage of the PokerStars / ACC deal from OPR.
More analysis and background from Grange here and here.
This is one of a series of profiles covering companies that hold a license to participate in Nevadas online gambling market.Contents
1 Details and Timeline of CAMS Nevada License
1.1 Partnerships and role in Nevada market
2 Central Account Management System- Company Overview
2.1 CAMS Power Players
3 CAMS: Potential in other US markets
4 Additional CAMS-related LinksCentral Account Management System (commonly shortened to CAMS LLC) is a Los Angeles-based id verification and payment processing company is a subsidiary of the massive Verifi umbrella. CAMS duties in the newly regulated Nevada market will be payment connectivity and regulatory compliance. Verifi was formed in 2005 and since then the company has been at the forefront of the verification industry, and has numerous subsidiary companies similar to CAMS under its sway.Details and Timeline of CAMS Nevada License
In November of 2012 CAMS LLC received preliminary approval from the Nevada Gaming Control Board (The NGC is a three person panel) to receive a Class 2 Service Provider license in Nevada. With the NGCBs approval CAMS would simply need to receive approval from the Nevada Gaming Commission, which occurred two weeks later.
On November 15, 2012 CAMS was rewarded with a Service Provider license after passing the scrutiny of the Nevada Gaming Commission. At the time they received their license CAMS was the first company to receive a license that allowed them to process payments for the Nevada market.As detailed above, CAMS will play a very specific role in the Nevada market, focusing on player verification checks and payment processing. This role will allow CAMS to partner with as many casinos as they wish.Partnerships and role in Nevada marketCAMS has already partnered with Fertitta Interactives Ultimate Poker website to provide ID and geo-location verifications. As more and more online poker rooms come online CAMS will likely form many strategic partnerships, performing either Know Your Customer checks, or to process deposits and withdrawals for online poker sites.Central Account Management System- Company OverviewCAMS itself was only created in 2012 by Matthew Katz, and according to the sites Linkedin page the company now boasts from 51-200 employees not too shabby for a company that has only been around for about a year.The simplest way to describe what CAMS does is through their mission statement that can be found on their website: Offering lottery and online wagering operators the ability to collect and manage player information, assist merchants and operators to monitor and comply with internal and external regulation policy, facilitate payment deposit and withdrawals, and enforce operator business rules.In addition to their usual role, CAMS will be tasked with the all-important Know Your Customer checks that must be run on every player that registers at a Nevada online poker site, as well as being the first payment processor to receive a license from the Nevada Gaming Commission.CAMS is one of the numerous niche companies that has applied for and received an online poker service provider license in Nevada. Unlike all-encompassing service providers like 888 or Bally Technologies, CAMS has two specific, and extremely important, roles in the Nevada market; to provide verification systems for online poker operators and to process payments.The lists of services CAMS will provide to the online poker industry in Nevada include:
Know Your Customer ID checks: including age verification
Geo-Location and Device ID verification
Payment processing fraud detection and security
Problem Gambler self-exclusion lists
Player deposit limit checksUnfortunately, CAMS got off to a bad start in Nevada when they contracted work related to verification to Iovation, the company founded by former Ultimate Bet executive and partial owner Greg Pierson.When news of Iovations involvement in the new Nevada market came to light CAMS was forced to drop the company, but a bad precedent had been set, as poker players wondered if the new regulated market was simply the same as the old unregulated market that oversaw the Super-User scandals. Thankfully, Ultimate Poker and CAMS quickly severed their relationship with Iovation.CAMS Power Players
Matthew Katz, CEOMatthew Katz, the CEO of CAMS was also the founder of the company and sees a bright future his company, especially as he makes major inroads into the burgeoning online gaming market in the US. Katz started his first business while he was still enrolled at Washington University in St Louis, where he later graduated with a degree in Economics. CAMS is simply the latest endeavor in a long line of successes for this young entrepreneur.CAMS: Potential in other US marketsWith their ability to process payments and take on the very difficult process of player verifications, CAMS has a future in virtually every market in the country. This can be seen by the simple fact that CAMS is not even located in Nevada, yet still received a Nevada online poker license to act as a verification company and payment processor.Additional CAMS-related LinksCAMS Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/company/cams-llcCAMS Corporate page: http://www.centralams.com/*Resources: www.centralams.com
1 Early signs point to a positive outcome for poker
2 Issue of poker as a skill game not directly in play
3 Would an upholding of Weinsteins ruling make online poker legal in the US?A significant legal test for poker in America appears to have gone well for proponents of the game.Today, the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments in U.S. vs DiCristina, with the US appealing an earlier ruling that found the IGBA does not apply to poker.Not familiar with the DiCristina case? Heres an excellent (and concise) summary.Early signs point to a positive outcome for pokerWhile a decision has yet to be issued by the court, people close to the case saw much to like about todays proceedings:Live reporting was not allowed from within the courtroom.To re-emphasize, these are impressions of those close to the case and do not represent a guarantee of any particular outcome.Issue of poker as a skill game not directly in playMuch of what excited poker players about the original ruling by Judge Weinstein was his emphasis on poker as a game of skill more like chess than craps.But the amount of skill involved in poker was not directly in play during todays hearing, as the DoJ elected to not contest the ruling on that issue. Instead, the DoJ argued that Judge Weinstein had misinterpreted the IGBA, renedering the issue of skill vs chance moot.So what is the impact of the DoJ ignoring the skill issue? A poster on TwoPlusTwo clarified the implications of the DoJs decision:Again, this is all pre-decision speculation.Would an upholding of Weinsteins ruling make online poker legal in the US?No, although it would be a general step in that direction. Online gambling would still be subject to state laws and possibly to other federal laws.
This is one of a series of profiles covering companies that hold a license to participate in Nevadas online gambling market.Contents
1 Details and Timeline of Boyd Gamings Nevada License
1.1 Partnerships and role in Nevada market
2 Company Overview
2.1 Boyd Gaming Power Players
3 Potential in other US markets
4 LinksBoyd Gaming is one of the largest casino developers and operators in the world. Boyd can boast some 22 casinos under the companys umbrella (15 of which are wholly owned by Boyd Gaming), including well-known Las Vegas properties like California Hotel, Freemont Hotel, Main Street Station, El Dorado, Gold Coast, Sun Coast, and the Orleans.Additionally, Boyd Gaming holds full and partial stakes in multiple casinos across the US, the best known of these being the Borgata in Atlantic City, New Jersey, widely considered the best casino on the AC Boardwalk.Details and Timeline of Boyd Gamings Nevada License
In February of 2012 Boyd Gaming was among the first companies to apply for an online poker license in Nevada. With the addition of Boyd Gaming the number of early applicants grew to a dozen, but with only a handful of companies seeking an operators license; the rest submitted applications for a service provider license.
On October 2, 2012 Boyd Gaming went before the Nevada Gaming Control Board in a preliminary licensing hearing. After a unanimous vote the NGCB recommended Boyd Gaming for an operator license. Two weeks later the Nevada Gaming Commission would put the final stamp on Boyds iGaming license in Nevada.
On October 18, 2012 Boyd Gaming received their online poker operator license from the Nevada Gaming Commission. Boyd gaming became just the third company to procure an operator license, following in the footsteps of Monarch Casino and ACEP.Boyds operator license allows the company to offer online poker games to residents of Nevada and visitors within the states borders.Partnerships and role in Nevada marketBoyd gaming is expected to partner with the online giant bwin.party (as will the MGM), and use Party Pokers software for their online poker games. This would be the first time Party Pokers software will be seen since they left the US market after UIGEA passed in late 2006. Party Poker was the #1 online poker room in the world prior to this, so it will be interesting to see if Party can reconnect with the US population, or if sites like Full Tilt and PokerStars have solidified themselves.Company OverviewBoyd Gaming was the brainchild of Sam Boyd the patriarch of the Boyd family, and his son William who was a practicing attorney at the timed the family started their gaming empire. Willaim Boyd ascended to the role of CEO of Boyd Gaming after his fathers passing in 1993, and remained CEO until his retirement in 2008, turning the reins over to the first non-Boyd CEO of the company, Keith Smith.Sam Boyds story is altogether amazing, but not unheard of in the early Las Vegas tales. Sam brought his family to the newly created oasis in the early 1940s, working as everything from a dealer to a pit boss, to shift manager in the burgeoning gaming industry, all the while saving a nest egg which he eventually used to buy into the Sahara Hotel and Casino. By the mid-1970s Sam, along with his son William had been in the casino business for going over three decades when the pair decided to get into the casino development game, which was the catalyst for the formation of Boyd Gaming on January 1, 1975.In Las Vegas, Boyd Gaming is known for its honest dealings and open books which led the NGC to turn to Boyd Gaming when other casinos were being investigated during the mob-days of the 1980s, which later led to the Boyds assuming control of the Stardust Casinos gaming operations.Now the company is looking to start down a new path, as they have received approval to operated an online poker room in the state of Nevada.Boyd Gaming Power Players
Executive Chairman of Boyd Gaming: William S. Boyd -William S. Boyd, along with his father Sam Boyd, founded Boyd Gaming in 1974. The former attorney turned gaming mogul has developed and operated Boyd Gaming properties since 1975, opening properties in a number of US states beginning in Nevada but also in New Jersey, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana and Mississippi.
Vice President of Boyd Gaming: William R. Boyd The next Boyd that entered the now-family-business was William R. Boyd. William R. serves as Boyd Gamings Vice President and oversees many of the companys day-to-day functions. William R. started his tenure with Boyd Gaming in 1977, and worked his way up the corporate ladder to his current role in 1991. He also serves on the Boyd Gaming Board of Directors.
President and CEO of Boyd Gaming: Keith E. Smith One man not in the Boyd family who plays a major role at Boyd Gaming is the companys CEO Keith Smith. Smith has been with Boyd Gaming since 1990, and has worked in the gaming industry since the early 1980s. Smith was promoted to Executive Vice President of Operations in 1998 and to Chief Operating Officer in 2001. In 2005,he ascended to the role of President and in 2008 took on the mantle of CEO of Boyd Gaming.Potential in other US marketsLike most Las Vegas casino operators, Boyd Gaming will likely find the goings tough in other markets where they have no presence. But with federal lawmakers introducing bills, and Nevadas governor signing a law that would permit inter-state online poker, who knows what the future will bring for US online poker and Boyd Gaming.Links
Boyd Gaming Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/company/boyd-gaming
Boyd Gaming Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BoydGaming
Boyd Gaming Twitter: https://twitter.com/boydgaming
Boyd Gaming Corporate page: www.boydgaming.com
*Resources: www.wikipedia.org, www.boydgaming.com