AVP Weekly - New Jersey Online Gaming Launch Gains Steam and More This Week

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Author Jennifer Newell's poker week in review for Nov. 4-10.

Our consolidation of the week's news is quick and to the point — seven stories, to be exact — for the week ending Nov. 10. Let's go.

No. 1 — New Jersey Approves Transaction Waivers

Recently, several land-based casinos in Atlantic City were approved for online gaming licenses. Late last week, a list of transactional-waiver approvals were released, which give the specified companies the authority to proceed with the online gaming process. While the companies don't have a full license approval and the investigation into their applications is ongoing, the companies "meet our needs" and their "suitability, more importantly, is satisfactory," said the head of the New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement.

The list included companies like Amaya Gaming, Gamesys, 888 Holdings, CAMS, Betfair, Bally Technologies, and Ultimate Gaming. The companies are "authorized to engage in Internet gaming activities," and a full license will be awarded upon completion of the investigation. Meanwhile, all of the companies can move forward with preparations for the Nov. 26 launch of Internet gaming for New Jersey players.

No. 2 — NJ Companies Without Partners or Approvals

The most obvious omission from the list of transactional waivers provided by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement was the PokerStars name. While it was initially reported by one journalist that PokerStars was denied, correct information soon came from PokerStars' own Eric Hollreiser of Corporate Communications. "The failure to appear on either list does not mean PokerStars has been rejected by the DGE," he wrote on Twitter. "It does not necessarily mean PokerStars will not be a part of the initial launch of regulated online gambling in New Jersey."

There was a list of companies that were revealed to be eligible for a transactional waiver in the state, but they have yet to notify the Department of Gaming Enforcement of their interest in a partnership with a company for the process or they have yet to file an application. That list includes Paddy Power, Williams Interactive, Pala Interactive, Scientific Games, Betable, and Evolution.

No. 3 — Delaware Online Gaming Begins

The Delaware Internet Lottery teamed up with Scientific Games and 888 Holdings to prepare an online gaming site for the state. The sites would be available to players within the state on three gaming websites — Delaware Park, Dover Downs, and Harrington Raceway. They all opened for a testing period on October 31, but the official launch happened on Nov. 8.

Games available on the poker section of the sites included no-limit and limit hold'em, as well as pot-limit Omaha. Other games appear on the site but with no availability as of yet, such as Omaha eight-or-better, seven-card stud, and seven-card stud eight-or-better. SNGs were running over the initial weekend, but multi-table tournaments have yet to launch. The casino portion of the site offers video poker, roulette, blackjack, and slot machines.

PocketFives reported that online poker cash-game traffic was very low over the first few days of public real-money play, as the peak number of players on Nov. 8 was 24. Players also reported numerous issues, such as with geolocation verification using Verizon and the inability to use a "remote program" while running the software. The problems are being addressed and are reminiscent of those experienced by players on Nevada's Ultimate Poker and WSOP.com upon their initial launches.

No. 4 — Paul Leggett Leaves Amaya

The name Paul Leggett is often associated with the position he held as Chief Operating Officer of Tokwiro Enterprises, the parent company of Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker. He was with the company at the time of the massive cheating scandal. After leaving that position, he took on the role of VP of Online at Amaya Gaming earlier in 2013. As of last week, he was leaving that position "effective immediately," according to confirmed reports by US Poker.

Amaya CEO David Baazov had nothing but rave reviews for Leggett, who will be replaced by Don Jacques, who was formerly the Director of Business Development at Amaya. US Poker says a source believes that Leggett left the company in order to help it receive licensing with the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement, as his association with Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet was hindering the final approval.

No. 5 — WSOP.com Beats Ultimate Poker in Nevada

Ultimate Poker has led the small online poker industry in Nevada since its launch in April 2013, but the recent addition of WSOP.com changed the makeup of the market. And in just a few months, WSOP.com rose above its competition per the rolling seven-day average of cash game players, according to PokerScout data.

The latest numbers showed 129 players on WSOP.com as compared to the 123 players on Ultimate Poker. Players on popular poker forums indicate that more prefer the WSOP.com platform and game selection, in addition to the option of a Mac client.

No. 6 — Full Tilt Remissions Updates, Including Possible AP/UB Payments

Poker Players Alliance Vice President of Player Relations Rich Muny noted last week that there may be a legal loophole in the documents regarding Black Friday and Full Tilt Poker remissions payments that could allow former Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet players to file claims with the Garden City Group. There is no confirmation for this assertion as of yet, but the PPA did discuss the option in a recent meeting with the U.S. Department of Justice. The PPA may pursue options with the Southern District of New York prosecutors to persuade them to take on the case for UB/AP victims.

Meanwhile, the PPA told players that Full Tilt Poker victims could begin receiving payments in the first quarter of 2014. Those who submitted claims with no disputes or additional information required may be among the first to receive their remissions payments. Also, of the claims submitted by former Full Tilt players, approximately 35,000 of them (80%) were accepted without dispute.

No. 7 — DiCristina Case Looks to U.S. Supreme Court

The United States v. DiCristina case has been ongoing since Lawrence DiCristina's private poker game was raided on Staten Island, and the man was charged with violating the Illegal Gambling Business Act of 1970. The case was first ruled against DiCristina, but he appealed the ruling, and that judge overturned the conviction, stating that poker was a game of skill and didn't apply to the law in question. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the conviction, however.

The legal team is now looking toward the US Supreme Court for a ruling. They have filed a 223-page petition with the highest court in America in the hopes of receiving a ruling. The petition for a writ of certiorari argues that the Illegal Gambling Business Act of 1970 was part of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970 and does not apply to poker, specifically the low-stakes poker games in question in the DiCristina case.

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