The battle to legalize online poker continues across the United States. However, the old-school mindset continues to prevail. That is where we'll pick up our recap of the biggest online poker news of the week.
West Virginia Tries its Hand at Poker
There have been a lot of states looking to get in on the ground floor when it comes to online poker in the United States, like New York and Pennsylvania and Michigan. But the latest state to try their luck is West Virginia, which wasn't really on the radar in terms of trying to get into online poker. But Assemblyman Shawn Fluhart, along with four others, have put forth a bill called H.3067, which would allow the state to license their games through their brick-and-mortar casinos. It's not quite clear yet whether the online gaming would only be allowed in those casinos or whether it is only those casinos that would be allowed to operate the online gaming statewide.
Also, the state would move to criminalize any unlicensed online gaming. That would force operators to get licenses through the state. That's where the revenue comes into play, so they don't want anybody operating without the government getting a piece of the pie. This is their first kick at the can, so we'll see where it goes, but keep in mind that West Virginia is known as a gaming state.
New York Online Poker Bid Fails Again
New York was thought to be well on the way to securing online poker for 2017. The Senate even had online poker spoken for in their state budget. However, it isn't in the Assembly version of the budget, which means there was a setback of some sort between the Senate and the Assembly. That means it isn't likely that online poker will be in the final version of the budget. This happened last year as well as the Senate passed a poker bill by a vote of 53-5 but it never made it to the Assembly.
This seems to be a repeat of that as there is still some opposition to online poker. This is quite disheartening to players but the good news is that there are going to be committee meetings coming up. Maybe they find a way to flesh this out, because previously it did appear that they were getting closer to legalization.
Baazov Sells Chunk of Amaya Inc.
David Baazov is the former CEO of Amaya Inc., a Canadian poker operator. Baazov still owns stock in the company but he sold 12 million shares for $267.7 million CDN this past week. Baazov also sold another seven million shares for about $133 million earlier in March, so now he only owns about 3.8% of the company.
Baazov left Amaya in 2016 after AMF (Autorite des Marches Financiers), which regulates poker laws in Quebec, started to investigate Amaya for insider trading. That related to Amaya's purchase of the Rational Group, which owns Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars. Baazov had been trying to buy Amaya outright throughout 2016, making a bid of $3.5 billion in November, but due to the investigation Baazov decided to put a halt to that.
Amaya was then in talks to merge with William Hill, which is a gambling giant from the United Kingdom, but shareholders at William Hill backed out as well.