FTP Red Pro resigns; Lesniak to reintroduce New Jersey intrastate online poker bill

Lesniak-New-Jersey-online-pokerFull Tilt Red Pro Erich “COOLMAN” Kollmann has severed his relationship with Full Tilt Poker. In a statement on unipoker.at, the Austrian Kollman read the obituary on the “four-year successful partnership,” from which Kollman claims “both partners benefited very much from each other.” Kollman said he hoped FTP managed to get back on its feet soon, and also hoped players “will all be handled positively and fair.”

Back in the USA, California’s state Assembly will reportedly hold a committee hearing on the state’s two prospective online poker bills sometime next week. The current session for lawmakers ends Sept. 9, so the clock is ticking and the commercials and editorials are flying fast and furious. Should be a proper battle all the way to the finish line. Pass the popcorn.

But while all eyes are on California, things may be heating up in New Jersey. On Wednesday, Peretti Farms, the self-dubbed largest horse farm in the state, announced it was shutting down. The 700-acre property has been producing horses for over two decades, but GM Anthony Peretti said the economic uncertainty and the decline of New Jersey’s racing business had made their business model unworkable.

The announcement seems to have lit a fire under New Jersey state Sen. Ray Lesniak. Lesniak called the closing of Peretti’s stable doors “the beginning of the end of the 13,000 jobs, $1 billion horse racing industry in New Jersey.” Lesniak restated his conviction that online poker would “add tens of millions of dollars to the state treasury and provide a bridge to self-sufficiency for three years through purse enhancements to keep the horse racing industry alive.” John Brennan’s Meadowlands Matters blog reported Lesniak announced plans to ‘tweak’ the online poker bill already passed by both the state’s legislative houses prior to reintroducing the bill as early as next week.

Lesniak is well aware that the major US casino companies are planning to make a big online poker push at the federal level this fall and they don’t want state-level competition taking Washington’s focus off their own effort. Lesniak has already told his federal counterparts in no uncertain terms that their legal/constitutional arguments for leaving online poker to the feds are hogwash. The tone of Lesniak’s letter also suggested he didn’t appreciate Senators Kyl and Reid trying to tell an upstart state politician how things were going to work. So what we want to know is: does Lesniak really believe his ‘tweaked’ intrastate bill has a better chance of avoiding Gov. Chris Christie’s veto pen, or at this point is he simply out to sandbag the federal effort as a giant states-rights ‘fuck you’?