The Nevada Gaming Control Board has moved to reassure poker players that its proposed bill, SB 40, will not outlaw the practice of staking players in tournaments.
Fears were raised earlier this week on the TwoPlusTwo forums when gaming lawyer David Gezch alerted forum users to the ambiguous nature of the bill’s language.
“This bill additionally provides that it is unlawful for a person to receive any compensation or reward, or any percentage or share of the money or property played, for: (1) accepting or facilitating a bet or wager on the result of any race, sporting event or future contingent event, without having first procured, and thereafter maintaining, all required gaming licenses.”
Gezch was concerned that the bill would “prohibit, criminalize P2P staking for brick & mortar poker tournaments, among other activities,” and what worried him most was the vague phrase “future contingent event” which could easily apply to a poker tournament.
Worse still, violation of SB 40 would carry with it stiff penalties. The bill proposes “imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 6 years, or by a fine of not more than $5,000, or by both fine and imprisonment.”
Player staking is a huge part of tournament poker culture, particularly at a big festival like the WSOP, as it allows players to offset variance by spreading their money over a number of events.
Meanwhile, tournaments with huge entry fees, such as the million-dollar-buy-in One Drop, are completely reliant on staking for their runners.
Staking in live tournaments occurs among all levels of players, amateur to pro, and at every buy-in, and so there were real concerns that SB 40 could have a drastic effect on the entry fields at the WSOP, a state of affairs that would damage poker significantly.
However, in an email to Pokerfuse, the Chairman of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, A.G. Burnett, clarified the situation.
“I’ve seen a couple articles on the Board’s bill regarding certain types of wagers,” he said. “Just to clarify, this isn’t a poker bill, it is solely related to sports betting only. The reason for the ‘future contingent event’ is that our sports books don’t always take strictly sports-related bets; we have allowed them to take non-sports bets in the past and the possibility exists that they might be allowed in the future … SB 40 is centered on bets occurring in sports books only.”
So, SB 40 is merely a law designed to combat money-laundering in Vegas sport books by targeting proxy sports betting services, rather than attempt to dismantle the World Series of Poker, and that means we can all, once again, sell generous chunks of ourselves come June without fear of prosecution.