Will skill ruling in New York help online poker?

September 25, 2012  

Now that everyone has caught their breath after Full Tilt and PokerStars finally got married after finding each other online, we can get to the latest legislative news from around the United States. Most of the online news these days is coming out of Nevada, seeing how they likely will have state-regulated online poker by the end of the year. But the big news came from a U.S. District Court ruling in New York.

 In the case of U.S. vs. Dicristina, Lawrence Dicristina was arrested in 2011 for running illegal poker games. He was convicted under the Illegal Gambling Business Act and was looking at a prison sentence. His defense team requested a post-trial hearing to determine if poker was to be considered gambling, according to the terms listed in the law. The defense worked with the Poker Player Alliance to present its case that poker is a game of skill. The PPA provided the defense team with detailed documents and expert testimony.  When the dust settled and the river card was dealt, the presiding New York U.S. District Court Judge, Jack Weinstein, overturned the jury’s verdict and dismissed the indictment against Dicristina, citing it was his finding that poker is “predominated by skill.”

 This ruling likely will be appealed, seeing how the IGBA is the primary law being used against poker sites and players. But for now, the poker community is celebrating this ruling. Howard Lederer’s attorneys have filed papers citing this ruling and asked the DOJ take this into consideration in his civil lawsuit, stemming from Black Friday. After initially rejecting this argument, the DOJ and Lederer’s attorneys continue to fight over this matter.

NEVADA SET TO START ONLINE POKER: In our last issue of Ante Up, we reported South Point Casino got approval for its online site, South Point Poker, LLC, to be the first licensed operator to provide online poker to Nevada’s residents. It has had “free money” poker on its site for some time and now has received the approval to be an operator for real money. Final testing of the site is being completed and will likely go live by the end of the year. 

 There have been 12 companies who have filed an application to be an operator and more than 30 applications from other companies that desire to be a part of the Nevada online landscape. One of these companies is PokerTrip Enterprises, which has become the first affiliate site. Its business plan states it will provide the best information to poker players about the approved sites and would be able to facilitate the dialog between players about the sites. In return, it is proposing to generate revenue by driving players to the sites. 

Players could benefit from this site by getting comps or online bonuses deposited into their accounts for choosing certain operators sites on which to play. PokerTrip needed to appear before the Nevada Gaming Commission by late September to gain final approval for its license.

Next issue, I’ll cover the NGC regulations for operators of the Nevada online sites to make sure players and their funds are protected.

— Email Joel Gatlin at editor@anteupmagazine.com.