Amendment softens language of proposed Nevada online-poker black book bill

Haley Hintze
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Posted on: April 14, 2023 1:53 pm EDT

The original promise that a Nevada state legislature bill could result in the public outing of online poker players found to have cheated or violated other rules has already been watered down following the first hearing on the bill’s contents, held a little over a week ago. Assembly Bill 380, which in its original form would have created an open-to-the-public “black book” online listing of banned or suspended players, has been significantly weakened following the addition of language by the bill’s original drafter.

The amendment, which was already being drafted before the Nevada House Judiciary Committee’s April 5 hearing to discuss the proposed bill, removes almost all of the language that would have made public the identity of any players who had been banned from a Nevada-regulated online poker site. For the time being, the only site licensed in Nevada is Caesars-owned WSOP.com.

Caesars execs pushed back on AB 380 in the April 5 hearing, asserting that the measure, if it became law, would place an undue burden on the site and company. That burden would include the risk of time-consuming and expensive litigation if a player sued Caesars over being wrongfully accused of cheating. Caesars’ execs did not address the flip side of that burden, in that players already known to have been cheated on the site are neither receiving refunds or adjusted payouts, nor do they have an effective legal means to address or otherwise recover their losses to illicit players.

The amended language to AB 380 reads as follows:

Provisions of the proposed amendment:

  1. Remove “cheating” requirement in the list of persons in Section 1 and subsequent sections as necessary. Instead, require list by account status only.
    a. …”list of persons who have been suspended or banned from an interactive gaming system for cheating have an account and status thereto.”
  2. Remove release of persons full name and date of birth in Section 2.
  3. Require only the release of accounts whose activity is greater than $1,000 in deposits or activity in that month.

The amended language removes any mention of “cheater” or “cheating” that appeared in AB 380 as originally proposed. The bill was created by a Nevada pro poker player, Sara Cholhagian Ralston, who also previously served as the executive director of the state’s Patient Protection Commission. Ralston’s amendment may have been drafted by the April 5 hearing, but was not published on Nevada’s legislative portal until earlier this week.

Perhaps more importantly than the pulled “cheat” references, the amended language also removes the initial proposal’s requirement that a banned player’s real name and date of birth be reported to the Nevada Gaming Commission for review and possible inclusion on the online-poker blacklist. Instead, the amendment’s revisions allow that only the screen name of a banned or suspended player be published.

Whether the amendment’s softened language still provides the need for transparency attested to by Nevada Assembly Speaker Steve Yeager, one of AB 380’s supporters, is open to interpretation. Nonetheless, and barring further amendments or bills on the topic, Caesars appears to have already won this small battle to not have banned players fully outed to the public.