A proposed amendment to Chapter 465 of the Nevada Revised Statutes would make it a felony to take a piece of another player´s action in a game of poker.
For years it has been common practice for poker players to be staked, or to sell or swap a piece of their action in poker tournaments – particularly at events such as the World Series of Poker where the buy-ins are substantial and players want to balance their risk of loss.
However, a new bill has been introduced to the Senate – apparently targeting third party “messenger betting” – which could inadvertently end the practice of staking, selling or swapping action, and which could result in far fewer players participating in this year´s poker jamboree.
Messenger Betting and FinCEN
“Messenger betting” is the act of placing a bet on behalf of somebody else. Although most messenger betting is conducted between friends (
If you are having a bet on that game, put $10 on for me), the US Treasury is becoming increasingly concerned about criminals placing bets through intermediaries to conceal the origin of the funds.
Casinos and sports books in Nevada are supposed to complete a “Currency Transaction Report” for any cash bet in excess of $10,000 and submit it to the Treasury´s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). FinCEN then uses this information to monitor suspicious activity and track down money-launderers.
Because sports’ betting is widely prohibited outside of Nevada, FinCEN´s attention has been focused very much on the Silver State. At the end of last year, the regulatory body called on casinos to make a greater effort to identify third parties on whose behalf bets were being placed, and even threatened civil and criminal penalties to casinos who failed to play ball.
Enter Senate Bill 40
To curb the volume of messenger betting in Nevada – and to assist the state´s casinos with their compliance obligations – the State Gaming Control Board has introduced Senate Bill 40. This proposed legislation is a one-page document which aims to eliminate intermediaries by insisting that anybody accepting a bet on behalf of another is licensed by the State.
Under Chapter 465 of the Nevada Revised Statutes it is already illegal to accept bets without a gaming license in Nevada, but Senate Bill 40 would extend the scope of Chapter 465 to anyone who financially benefits from third-party betting activity – which inadvertently includes revenue-sharing affiliates and poker players who benefit from staking, buying or swapping another player´s action.
The offending clause of the proposed legislation makes it illegal
to receive, directly or indirectly, any compensation or reward, or any percentage or share of the money or property played … … without having first procured and thereafter maintaining all required gambling licenses. If betting messengers fail to procure the required gambling licenses, it would be considered a Category B felony.
How Does This Effect the WSOP?
Imagine if you wanted to buy a share of Daniel Negreanu´s action in the WSOP Main Event – and he sold it to you and then cashed – both you and he could be prosecuted under the language of Senate Bill 40, and face up to six years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
Unlikely that it is that Daniel Negreanu would need staking in most of the WSOP events, thousands of players descend on the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino each year having been partly funded by professional stakers or having swapped action with other players.
If Senate Bill 40 is passed, it would make staking and swapping illegal, and substantially reduce the number of players that would be able to participate in the events – particularly the higher buy-in events. Some people might consider that to be a good thing, as only the crème-de-la-crème could afford to attend the WSOP, but was that the intention of whichever dimwit wrote the text of Senate Bill 40?