If you walk through the halls of the Rio during the World Series of Poker, or through any poker room for that matter, you will quickly discern that many players are involved in a staking arrangement of some kind. Whether backed or swapping action, players have realized that it is less risky to parcel out “pieces” of their action to fellow players or backers. This reduces their risk and allows them to play in tournaments or cash games that may be unattainable at their current bankroll.
Last week, it was made known that Senate Bill 40 was going to be a point of conversation in Nevada in the coming months. This proposed legislation is aimed at third-party bettors, but could have a substantial impact on backing arrangements in the poker scene. According to the regulation it would be:
“unlawful for a person to perform certain actions relating to gaming without having first procured, and thereafter maintaining, all required gaming licenses. 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”
The language in the bill would make it illegal to partake in a backing arranging or to swap action while playing poker. The penalty if convicted? Category B felony, punishable by up to 6 years in prison.
If you ask me, the chances of this having an impact on poker are slim. The main portion of this bill is aimed at “messenger betting” and not at poker players (poker isn’t even mentioned in the bill, but it has been discussed that the language in the bill – “future contingent event” – would cover poker activities). The U.S. government is trying to crack down on third-party betting because it gives criminals an untraceable way to place bets. Although all poker tournaments would suffer, the World Series of Poker would seemingly be hit the hardest if backing arrangements were deemed illegal. I have a feeling that everyone at Caesars has already rallied support to oppose this bill. Poker players have started to voice their concerns by contacting local representatives and stating their opposition.
Before everyone starts to proclaim the end of poker as we know it, we have to take a step back and realize this bill was just proposed and it doesn’t seem that it is picking up immediate steam. Even if it were passed down the road, there is a good chance it will see numerous revisions that could exclude poker backing scenarios altogether. It does, however, seem that 2015 will be a busy year.