Thursday, October 26, 2006

Ontario Legislative Proposal May Target Negreanu, Other Celebrity Canadian Players

A few of Ontario's biggest poker names might want to take a look at a legislative proposal recently introduced for consideration. The introduction of the proposal, actualy an upgrading of an earlier consumer- and commerce-oriented act, parallels the UIGEA, although its reach is rather less pervasive. Since the gambling and banking practices themselves fall outside the scope of provincial legislation --- unlike the U.S.'s cite-it-when-it's-convenient commitment to "states' rights" --- the Ontario legislature is instead attacking the advertising face of online gambling.

At least that's how it's been reported, in much of the mainstream poker press. When I researched the topic before writing it up for, I discovered a second sub-section immediately following the first, widely-reported one, which dealt with the proposed ban on advertising for online gaming. But the second clause had barely been mentioned at all, even though it had been included verbatim in a couple of poker sites' top-level writeups on the issue.

Well, anyhow, here's what this second provision offers:

13.1 (2) No person shall enter into a sponsorship relationship with an internet gaming business that is operated contrary to the Criminal Code (Canada).

There wasn't any room in my piece to go off on tangents, pontificating about the effects of that second provision; I mentioned it but lightly, then let it go. But let's think about it here, for a second. Two of the very biggest names in tournament and cash-game poker are Ontario-born, those being Daniel Negreanu (Thunder Bay), and Gavin Smith (Guelph, near Toronto). No doubt there are countless more, but this is just top-of-the-head stuff. Now, remember that Negreanu is the big-name force behind Full Contact Poker, and Smith has some celebrity deals as well; I believe he's one of the "friends of Full Tilt," among other things.

Are these guys on the edge of being legislated into illegality? I don't know the current status of Negreanu's citizenship, since he lives in Vegas these days, but what surprised me is the fact that it hadn't been picked up at all in other poker outlets. Negreanu is one of the game's brightest and most personable faces, and what happens to him or about him is very important to poker as a whole.

It's not about shining light on Negreanu; the kliegs are already on him, all the time. Rather, it's about the rest of us recognizing these outside threats for what they are.

In any event, I'd wager that Negreanu and Full Contact Poker are feeling a bit besieged these days. Not only is there this matter, but FCP is one of those Ongame/Pokerroom skins, and FCP is searching for a new software provider and/or network as it attempts to transition away from the no-U.S. stance of Ongame. FCP announced just yesterday that there might be a short-term suspension of its services to U.S. players on November 5 as it struggles to put an alternate solution into place.

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