The Bad Actor Clause in Nevada's Online Poker Bill
With recent news rumoring that the state of Nevada could be dealing it's first virtual cards as early as May this year, it looks like 888 will be the ground breaking company. The fact of the matter is that 888 played by the 'rules' when after the passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act they pulled out of the US market sharply incurring no wrath from any involved party. Little did they know back then (or maybe they did) that this would pave the way for the situation as it is today. They have deals in place with Treasure Island along with a few others and the stage is all set for them to make their entrance on Nevada's Online Poker stage. The big boys of online poker however are left on the sidelines. Full Tilt and PokerStars because of the bad actor clause in the online poker bill AB114 will not be able to enter or do business in this new regulated market for 10 years. That's the price they will have to pay for continuing to allow US citizens to play poker on their respective sites post UIGEA, but is that fair and is it a little bit pedantic? There are a few questions around the bad actor clause and one of them is, are Stars and Tilt really that bothered? The short answer is probably not at the moment, they have enough of a market share when it comes to online poker that a state with the population of Nevada and with no interstate compacts in place and nor will there be for quiet some time, it's small feed for them. They will be content with focusing on their current market and other emerging ones.
Stars in the US
So Nevada is a no go area and PokerStars just have to see out their sentence and of course how things pan out on a federal level. The bad actor clause, many observers believe is a little pedantic, and in a way a poke at Stars and Tilt not just for accepting US players but for stepping on the toes of the bricks and mortar casinos in Nevada, a kind of "don't mess with us" clause if you will. Online poker in Nevada will not be a lucrative entity for a fair few years and most people realize this. It will of course generate a small amount of tax revenue and it will provide residents of Nevada a regulated environment in which to play. One question is could it have generated even more tax revenue if PokerStars were steering the ship? The fact is, yes it would. The bad actor clause means that Nevada is losing out in many ways. Tilt has arguably the best software in the industry and Stars simply knows how to market to the masses. I am not saying 888 will do a bad job, of course they won't but they are not Stars. It's a different ball game in New Jersey of course where there is no bad actor clause meaning that both room will be able to enter the US market through that door, and should PokerStars be successful in their pursuit of the Atlantic Club Casino then they could very well make the Garden State their US base.....not a bad thing. Illinois recently softened their bad actor clause to mean that any operator that had been charged with illegally operating in the states would be excluded, not simply operated in the states, so that's a no go too. In summary, Stars will settle in New Jersey and have a crack at things from there which is good for Atlantic City and good for the economy too. We'll have to wait and see what happens regarding interstate poker as with so much taxable dollar floating around it wouldn't be like the Federal Government to not want a slice of it.