Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Punch and Counterpunch: AGA Seeing Stars

Spent more time than I expected to yesterday reading and rereading that brief of the American Gaming Association objecting to the Rational Group’s bid to purchase the Atlantic Casino in New Jersey -- or, rather, specifically, to the involvement of PokerStars (owned by the Rational Group) in that possible purchase. (Here is the .pdf, if you’re curious.)

Kept looking for something new about the history of PokerStars, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, the Black Friday indictment and civil complaint, or anything else that might be news to the state of New Jersey’s Casino Control Commission and Division of Gaming Enforcement as it contemplates how to proceed in the matter.

But as others have already pointed out, there isn’t really anything there that those receiving the petition wouldn’t know about already. Even those of us with less direct reason to have followed the story as it has unfolded over the last six-and-a-half years know pretty much all of the details set forth in the petition. And in fact the brief seems at times to exaggerate or misrepresent certain details about the indictment/civil complaint and subsequent settlement, too.

I usually struggle a little reading these legal documents, sometimes having to admit limits to my knowledge and understanding that prevent me from appreciating what exactly they signify. Here, though, I felt more like a teacher reading a student essay. That is to say -- rightly or wrongly -- I felt as though I was in a situation where I could be fairly confident I knew as much or more than the author did about the chosen topic and argument.

Thus the primary message being delivered here is the desire of the AGA (i.e., the casino industry) to broadcast its opposition to the potential re-entry into the U.S. of PokerStars. F-Train spells it out for us in his piece for Flushdraw from yesterday where he explains how the AGA speaks for the casinos and its interests.

F-Train also alludes to the other bit of interestingly-timed news that Eric Hollreiser, Head of Corporate Communications for PokerStars, has stated that Caesars Entertainment had approached Stars about selling them certain assets, including the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino. Apparently that offer also may have included the WSOP, too. (Diamond Flush posted a copy of Hollreiser’s statement in full.) According to Hollreiser, the offer was declined and that Stars isn’t interested in trying to obtain any other casinos just now.

Reading backwards, it all sounds like the AGA’s opposition isn’t unrelated to the spurned offer (“Perhaps it is no coincidence...” writes Hollreiser). And that Stars was prepared and ready to share the news of the offer as a quick counter to the AGA’s petition. All moves comprising an interesting, complicated game, to say the least. (And again, I can’t help but think of puns about trying to take on a group whose very name suggests a commitment to reason.)

Let me backtrack a little from my earlier claim to possess some understanding about online poker’s recent history. I’ll admit that when reading about these new moves in the burgeoning battle for online poker in the U.S., I feel a little like I do when reporting on a tournament in which the players are skilled and seeming to operate on levels well above my own, making it hard if not impossible to identify with their decision-making.

Sort of thing necessarily puts one in a passive mode, unable really to judge or even react immediately. Which works, I guess, given how long we’ve all been stuck in “wait and see.”

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Blogger Yakshi said...

If the attorney wrote a brief of the same quality as a student essay, he sounds like he should be out of a job, especially in light of the exaggeration and misrepresentation. Embarrassing.

3/07/2013 12:34 AM  

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