Poker Professional Brandon Steven Under Notice from Federal Authorities for Unknown Actions



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Per reports from his hometown newspaper, poker professional Brandon Steve has been put on notice that federal authorities are examining his actions. What isn’t clear, however, is what are the exact “actions” that Steven has committed.

The Wichita Eagle and writers Tim Potter and Kelsey Ryan report that Steven, who is a popular businessman as the owner of several car dealerships and a health club in the area, received a letter from the U. S. Attorney’s Office. That letter, signed by Assistant U. S. Attorney Aaron Smith of the District of Kansas and dated February 1, indicated that a phone that was “subscribed to you (Steven)” was intercepted by federal authorities during the time of May and June in 2015. In addition to Steven, a member of the Eagle staff also received a similar letter on the same situation which, per a local attorney, is common; anyone who has received a call from that phone number (Steven’s) would receive the notice of interception.

Steven believes that he knows why the feds are examining the situation. “I’m aware of the broad nature of this inquiry,” Steven noted to Potter and Ryan. “As you know and everybody knows, I play high stakes poker. From what we (unknown as to the “we”) know, they are looking into my poker and my involvement with Castle Rock Casino. I’ve retained counsel and we’re going to fully cooperate with this matter.”

The project that Steven is talking about, Castle Rock Casino, was a plan by a coalition led by Steven for the building of a casino in the Sunflower State. In 2015, that group joined three other contractors – Emerald City Casino Resort, Kansas Crossing Casino & Hotel, and the Southeast Kansas Casino Partners LLC – in competing for a lone license to build a casino in the state (the fourth in a series of casino licenses). After presentations from all the entities, Kansas Crossing was chosen as the group to build a casino in southeast Kansas.

That wasn’t the last that was heard from the Castle Rock group, however. A lawsuit was filed soon after the decision was made by state regulators, alleging that the regulators ignored state law that required them to consider maximum revenues and tourism to “keep in the best interests of the state).” Castle Rock attorney Russell Jones stated at that time that the “Castle Rock proposal maximized revenues, tourism, employment and every other metric. They didn’t pick it. We think they violated the law by doing what they did.”

State regulators didn’t have the same thought regarding the Castle Rock situation, though. Citing what they believed to be overestimations of revenue and financing of the debt, Kansas gaming officials steadfastly maintained they made the correct decision. It also didn’t hurt that the Kansas Crossing group was already involved in the state’s gaming industry, with its involvement in two of the other three casinos in the state.

Three different courts in Kansas ruled against Castle Rock in the case, but they persisted in moving the case forward to the Kansas Supreme Court. As they have battled through the court system, Kansas Crossing has moved forward in building and staffing the property, which is expected to open in March of this year. The Castle Rock appeal to the Supreme Court was heard last month but, as of yet, there has been no decision released (previous opinion and testimony throughout the ordeal doesn’t bode well for the appeal).

The continued battle over the casino and its future doesn’t seem to have affected Steven’s play on the tournament poker circuit. Last year Steven racked up over $1.2 million in tournament earnings, including a victory at one of the ARIA Super High Roller events in October for a $648,000 cash and a tenth-place finish at the World Series of Poker’s High Roller for One Drop in July (good for $384,425). That was by far his best year ever on the tournament circuit, topping the $973,429 Steven earned in 2013.

Further information on the federal action – and on the decision by the Kansas Supreme Court – isn’t currently known. Poker News Daily will monitor the situation and update as necessary.

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