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Poker News | World Poker News

PokerStars.net NAPT Adds Los Angeles, Likely Scraps Return to Vegas

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The PokerStars.net North American Poker Tour (NAPT) was hailed as the next greatest poker series when it was announced and introduced to players at the 2010 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, and from there it traveled to the Venetian in Las Vegas and Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. The next stop on the tour was anticipated by the poker industry for months, and in mid-June, it was revealed that the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles would host the next part of the series in November.

The details of the event are yet to be announced, such as the side events to be associated with the NAPT Los Angeles, but the official dates of the Main Event are November 12 to 17, which will be just after the end of the November 9 festivities for the World Series of Poker Main Event in Las Vegas. The poker community can then drive across the desert for the NAPT, where the Main Event will offer a $5K entry fee, though there will likely be lower buy-in events as well as a higher one for some type of high roller tournament. The entire series of tournaments will run from November 4 to 21.

Players scheduled to attend already include Barry Greenstein, Bertrand “ElkY” Grospellier, Greg Raymer, Joe Cada, Vanessa Rousso, and Daniel Negreanu. The latter noted, “I’ve played at The Bike in the past and there is a strong local presence in LA. It’s always really important for a tournament’s success to have a strong core of local players as it gives even more incentive to travel to the events when you know there will be big money on the line. I’m looking forward to playing.”

As PokerStars gears up for its Los Angeles trip, it should be noted that there is a rather long break between its last stop at Mohegan Sun in April and the fourth stop on the tour in November. The first season is turning into a very long one, but it does not seem to be due to poor planning or a lack of interest from cities. The alleged problem, as unearthed by some investigative reporting by Dan Michalski of Pokerati, pertains to various cities and their unwillingness to deal with an online poker website in light of the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act).

Michalski’s first piece
, written on May 28, revealed that after the Venetian hosted the NAPT event there in February, the Gaming Control Board got involved, as did the casino, attorneys, U.S. Department of Justice, and other federal agencies. The distinction between dot-com and dot-net advertising has become blurred in recent years, and as the federal government begins to scrutinize the entire industry more carefully, the issue has become more urgent, especially for those land-based casinos that accept money from said websites. According to a member of the Gaming Control Board, the Department of Justice has deemed online gaming an illegal activity, and those doing business with those gaming companies are not in compliance with the DoJ.

More specific to that point, the Nevada Gaming Control Board published a letter it penned in response to a question about the legalities of working with an online gaming site. In the letter, it acknowledged the “hotly-debated” topic on a federal, state, tribal, and international level. While it walked around the subject with legal jargon, it also made clear that it is not taking laws or implications of them lightly. “A number of federal statues come into play as you advise your clients,” the letter read, “such as UIGEA, the Wire Act, the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, the Illegal Gambling Business Act, anti-money laundering statues, the Interstate Transportation of Wagering Paraphernalia Act, and the Travel Act…” With regard to current casino agreements that have connections to online gaming, the latter noted, “Under the current environment, the Board is assessing these relationships on a case-by-case basis and recently has increased its efforts in this regard… As in any regulatory environment, any acts of rehabilitation undertaken by a company to address past practices is [sic] appropriate when giving consideration to the suitability of that company’s methods of operation. Through this assessment process, the Board has an interest in past and present compliance efforts and will look favorably upon those companies that are currently operating within compliance of not just U.S. law, but international laws, as they pertain to internet gaming. Clearly those internet companies have not complied with state and federal law, especially after the passage of UIGEA, and have demonstrated no interest in voluntary compliance will be looked upon less favorably.”

Though the tone of the letter is serious, the message is uncertain, as the Gaming Control Board clearly is not prepared to take a definite stance on the issue. But the mere mention of internet companies not in compliance with the UIGEA indicates that eyes are on companies like PokerStars and others still accepting money from U.S. customers.

What this means for the future of online poker in America is more than a little confusing, but what can be deduced from the current messages from the Gaming Control Board is that casinos are being discouraged from entering into agreements with online websites that may not be in full compliance with the federal laws or may be targeted by the DoJ for such alleged misconduct. Thus, it seems that any past agreement between the Venetian and PokerStars may have been dissolved, and the NAPT may not return to Las Vegas in the near future.

More information has been promised on this in-depth topic by Pokerati in the coming weeks.

For now, the NAPT plans to roll on to Los Angeles in November. The Bicycle Casino in Bell Gardens will be the location of the weeks of tournaments, and qualifiers will soon be running on PokerStars to allow hundreds (or thousands?) of players to win their seats into the Main Event. To find out more and take part in some of the qualifiers and satellites, download PokerStars now. And by using the marketing code “POKERWORKS” and bonus code “STARS600”, players can earn a bonus of 100% on any deposit of up to $600.

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