Inside Gaming: Busy Week for Online Poker Legislation; DraftKings and FanDuel Dismiss Merger Talk
This week's installment of Inside Gaming attempts to catch you up on the many happenings throughout the U.S. regarding online poker-related legislation as well as that rumor regarding the two largest daily fantasy sports sites perhaps considering the possibility of joining forces.
Online Poker Bills Earning Attention in Several States
The last seven days have been particularly active on the legislative front with regard to online poker's prospects in the United States. At present only three out of 50 states allow online poker — Nevada, Delware, and New Jersey — but several other states are presently considering bills to permit their residents to join the game.
We mentioned here a week ago how in Michigan the state's Senate Regulatory Reform Committee had passed an online poker and casino bill by a 8-1 margin, thereby sending the bill to the entire Michigan senate. News of the favorable committee vote on the bill, titled the "Lawful Internet Gaming Act," came somewhat suddenly, as there hadn't seemed to be much momentum behind the bill since its introduction in April.
Don't start betting on online poker in Michigan just yet, however, as the current legislative session ends in two weeks and the prospects for the bill proceeding further aren't necessarily the brightest. Learn more about the bill and its prospects here:
We've been discussing the possibility of online poker in California for over a decade now, but at the start of this week such talk had become more intriguing as an online poker bill appeared poised to pass through the state's Assembly Appropriations Committee to be heard by the entire Assembly.
An obstacle was encountered, however, when a six-tribe coalition led by the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians expressed opposition to the bill, with the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians additionally speaking against it.
The "bad actor" sticking point has arisen again as a point of contention, specifically with regard to the possibility of PokerStars being allowed to rejoin the online poker game in the Golden State.
Jason Somerville of Team PokerStars Pro has been voicing his support of online poker legislation getting passed in California. He can be heard discussing the campaign this week in "Jason Somerville Wants You To Join the #Fight4Poker."
Meanwhile, for an in-depth discussion of the situation, including an interview with California Assemblyman Adam Gray who authored the bill being considered, read here:
It's been a similarly up-and-down week in New York when it comes to online poker's prospects, where cautious optimism early in the week was soon followed by doubt and uncertainty.
On Tuesday the state's senate passed an online poker bill by a wide margin — 53-to-5 — meaning unlike in Michigan or California, such a bill had been moved even further up the legislative ladder. But the Assembly still had to consider it, and word even then from Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow who authored their version of the bill was that it didn't have the same support in his chamber.
However, there still remained hopes that the bill might get included in a last-minute omnibus bill full of various legislation — nicknamed "Big Ugly" — to be voted upon late last night as the current legislative session came to a close.
That vote and the end of the session had been scheduled for last night, but too much ground had to be covered and both the Senate and Assembly voted to return today to complete their work for the session. Meanwhile a daily fantasy sports bill (also authored by Pretlow) is scheduled to be considered by the Assembly today.
All of which is to say, stay tuned today to find out what if anything happens with regard to online gaming in the Empire State. Meanwhile, you can catch up on the situation with online poker here:
DraftKings and FanDuel Downplay Merger Talk
Speaking of daily fantasy sports, once again this week emerged rumors that the two largest DFS sites — DraftKings and FanDuel — were nearing a potential merger, a possibility that frequently arose last year as both were soaring in popularity and yet to face various challenges to the industry that have arisen over the last nine months.
That said, the Associated Press reports that officials from both sites have downplayed the idea that a merger is in the works.
While online poker continues its battles in a few states, DFS is presently engaged in many more across much of the country, a situation which some view as favorable to the sites' joining forces and consolidating not only operational costs, but the expenses associated with lobbying efforts to keep (or make) DFS legal in states where the future of daily fantasy sports is in doubt.
"I have to believe the two companies see that continuing to bang heads is wasteful," NY sports lawyer Daniel Etna told the AP. "They have to see it makes sense to have less competitive pressure and consolidate, rather than go at it alone."
Bloomberg first reported speculation that investors in both sites have been pushing for a merger, but neither company offered anything subsequently to support such conjecture.
"These rumors have existed for as long as both companies have been in operation," DraftKings Vice President Femi Wasserman told the AP. "We don't comment on specultation." Neither did FanDuel offer any comment to encourage the idea of a merger.
The prospect of the two leading DFS sites joining forces additionally inspired some to consider whether or not federal regulators would allow it. As Boston lawyer Dustin Hecker explained, "a merged company would effectively control over 90 percent of the daily fantasy sports market, creating a potential monopoly that may run afoul of federal antitrust laws."
In other words, while a merger could help the two sites consolidate their efforts to fight their present legislative battles, it could invite different legal issues neither currently face.
For more on the merger talk as well as an overview of the current, embattled situation in which DFS finds itself in the U.S., read the AP's report over at CDCGaming.