Caesars says online poker cheating bill could lead to ‘burdensome litigation’
Caesars Entertainment voiced its opposition Wednesday to a measure that calls on regulators to create a list of people with interactive gaming accounts who have been suspended or banned for cheating.
The company said the bill, AB380, would create a burden for Caesars, which is the only online poker operator in Nevada.
However, professional poker player Sara Cholhagian Ralston, who drafted the legislation, told the Assembly Judiciary Committee she submitted an amendment to the bill that addresses privacy and liability concerns and removes any language that could interfere with the due process used by state gaming authorities.
But the changes didn’t dissuade Caesars from opposing the legislation.
Caesars lobbyist Mike Alonso said the company works with the Gaming Control Board “on a daily basis” and does “everything reasonably possible to keep bad actors off the [online poker] site.”
He called Ralston’s efforts for transparency “a laudable goal” but was concerned a public listing of suspected cheaters could lead "to expensive and burdensome litigation for damaging someone's reputation or from players who think that they lost money to an alleged cheater and want compensation."
Nevada legalized online poker in 2013, but there is just one site, World Series of Poker, which Caesars Entertainment runs. Because there is just one online poker site, the state doesn’t disclose revenue from the activity.
Alonso said cheating is covered in Nevada law and over the purview of the Gaming Control Board.
“We cooperate with them and provide whatever we are required through reports. But we don't make that determination [if a player is cheating],” he said. “They’re a law enforcement agency and they go through a process.”
Nevada is part of the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement created in 2014 with Delaware to build the player pool for two of the nation’s smallest states in terms of population. The agreement now includes four states.
Danielle Barille, vice president of Caesars Digital, which operates WSOP.com, told the committee every poker hand played on the website is monitored through “advanced algorithms” in the company’s software. She added that Caesars Interactive is currently in the process of "trimming accounts based on reasonable suspicion violations of our terms of service.”
Assemblyman Ken Gray (R-Dayton) expressed concern about releasing the names of poker players and “publicly shaming” them as a cheater.
Ralston told the committee the overall goal is to provide a level of transparency for Nevada’s poker community and consumer protection for the players.
“I'd like to remind this committee that this is for real money. Poker players have a livelihood that they need to maintain,” Ralston said. “In the online poker world, we don't have that level of transparency. You don't know who you’re playing against. [A player needs] to have that type of information that's relevant so a player can decide who to play with and who we don't want to play with.”
(Disclosure: Sara Cholhagian Ralston is the wife of Nevada Independent CEO Jon Ralston. He was not involved in the editing of this story)
Editor’s Note: This story appears in Behind the Bar, The Nevada Independent’s newsletter dedicated to comprehensive coverage of the 2023 legislative session. Sign up for the newsletter here.