Casino News Blog
June 18th, 2013 by
John Pappas, Executive Director of the Poker Players Alliance, recently announced that Federal lawmakers are expected to introduce a new online poker bill in the next couple of weeks. Pappas was hoping that they could have introduced the bill earlier this month, but it was delayed while Congress was on recess for Memorial Day.
Pappas believes that lawmakers are taking enough time to write the bill properly rather than hastily writing a draft that would never be passed. He is encouraged that they seem committed to regulating online poker this year.
Pappas didn’t expressly criticize the bill that Senators Harry Reid and Jon Kyl tried passing last year, but most reporters felt the implications were clear. Reid and Kyl’s bill was criticized for a number of reasons. The biggest reason other lawmakers never read it was that it was written to favor the state of Nevada.
The details of the new bill will not be known until they are released, but sources claim that it will be much more equitable for other states. Several states have legalized online gambling to various degrees, so federal lawmakers feel compelled to finally take action. They realize that they will probably need to introduce a bill that benefits all states if they hope to legalize online poker this session.
Federal lawmakers are also more adamant about legalizing online poker since the first site was launched. Ultimate Poker launched an online gaming site nearly a month ago. The site has fared well in Nevada, but gaming experts aren’t sure what will transpire when other gaming sites are launched. Lawmakers feel more pressure to have a clear regulatory framework before other sites go live in Nevada or other states that have legalized online gambling.
June 14th, 2013 by
Governments around the world have been trying to decide how they will deal with bitcoins, but have been reluctant to regulate them. The United States government finally decided to take action earlier this week. The United States Department of Homeland Security froze a United States account in Dwolla.
Helen Popper of the Santa Clara School of Business said that the law requires companies to report when they are holding someone’s money. This may create new challenges for both bitcoin firms and companies that accept the virtual currency.
Many people are trying to understand the implications of this announcement. The news can have a major impact on many companies that use the digital currency as a form of payment, including some online gaming firms.
Some online gaming firms have allowed players to make payments through bitcoins. A few gaming providers use bitcoins as the sole payment option. There are a number of reasons that gaming operators allow players to use bitcoins. Many players enjoy the anonymity the virtual current provides.
Players in the United States and other countries that have banned online gaming can use the virtual currency to circumvent the laws. Tim Worstall wrote a post in Forbes earlier this year stating that bitcoins could be a way for more Americans to enjoy gambling over the Internet. Many gaming providers know this and are allegedly using bitcoins as a way to reach players in unregulated markets.
The government’s sudden interest in regulating bitcoins appears to have raised concerns for many online gaming providers. SatoshiDice, a gaming provider that accepts the virtual currency, recently announced that they are no longer accepting U.S. players on their site.
Other gaming companies may follow suit. They believed that bitcoins may be a great way to sidestep U.S. gambling regulations, but more stringent regulations may force them to change their business model and start reporting players using the virtual currency. The bitcoin providers will need to do the same.
June 12th, 2013 by
Whether you play online blackjack or online poker, all players are required to deposit money. Hence, online casinos try to do everything they can to make it easy for its players to deposit money and withdraw their earnings. However, one of the options that have been removed is the credit card.
Due to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), credit cards more often than not are declined as a funding source, especially if the card was issued by a bank in the US. If a credit card is to be processed at an online casino in the US, then the casino has to officially satisfy the credit card merchant that it is officially and legally operating. Only then will the payment be approved.
Now that a number of states are legalizing online gambling, online casinos are looking for ways where they can work out a deal that allows a credit card to be used and not declined. The states of Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey have recently legalized online gambling and want to make sure that credit card payments remain a smooth transaction for its online players.
Credit Card providers are currently very strict on their procedures. As of now, any online casino that wants to credit card payments must pay a $5,000 registration fee and also provide all documentation required to confirm that it is indeed a legal entity to provide online gambling services.
June 11th, 2013 by
The Rational Group, the parent company of PokerStars, was in the process of purchasing the struggling Atlantic City Club Casino. The contract stipulated that PokerStars would need to secure a New Jersey online gaming license by the middle of May for the deal to be honored. PokerStars missed the deadline and Colony Capital, the holding company of the struggling Atlantic City casino, voided the deal.
The Rational Group filed a temporary restraining order to prevent Colony Capital from seeking a new buyer. Superior Court Judge Raymond Batten overturned their restraining order last Friday. Battan said that the contract stipulated that either party could terminate the deal if PokerStars hadn’t received a license to provide intrastate gambling before the specified deadline.
The Rational Group had also argued that it would be unfair for Colony Capital to revoke the deal, because they had already invested about $11 million to help the casino stave off bankruptcy before the deal was finalized. However, Batten pointed out that the contract contained a provision that the casino could keep the money that the Rational Group had advanced.
Wayne Positan, an attorney for the Rational Group, said the Rational Group was not pleased with this decision. They had already advanced nearly two-thirds of the funds they needed to purchase the casino. Positan said that Colony Capital is screwing his employer after saving them from bankruptcy.
Tariq Mundiya, the attorney for the Atlantic Club, said that the Rational Group understood the risks and chose to accept them. Mundiya argued that the Rational Group had no standing to rewrite the contract that it signed months earlier.
A spokesperson for the casino said that they are encouraged by the new ruling and hope to capitalize off of online gaming shortly.
June 5th, 2013 by
The Singapore government is currently conducting a new study to determine whether it should implement new laws to regulate online gambling. They have not shared all the details about the scope of the study or the regulations they may introduce, but most experts believe they will have a major impact on the online gaming industry. Bryan Tan, a partner in a renowned Singapore law firm, said that the online gaming industry should be prepared for these changes by next year.
S. Iswaran, the Second Minister for Home Affairs, said that the government wants to decide how it should limit access to online gaming sites and restrict the types of activities players can engage in. The government has a number of questions about online gambling. Their biggest question is whether the current gambling laws apply to online gambling or if lawmakers would need to introduce a separate set of regulations. Iswaran said that their biggest concern was preventing minors from engaging in online gaming.
He said they plan to complete this study by the end of the year. At that time the government will announce whether it intends to create a separate set of regulations or tailor existing laws to cover online gambling.
Tan said that the government is concerned about the social implications that online gambling can create. He mentioned that Singapore residents are frequent gamblers and the government may need to take additional steps to limit the risks online gambling has created. He said that the government has not hinted what types of changes it will make, but stated some experts are concerned that the new laws could be much stricter than necessary.
June 4th, 2013 by
Russ Hamilton became a well-respected online poker icon after he won the World Series of Poker in 2004. Hamilton’s reputation has quickly taken a turn for the worse after being implicated in a cheating scandal at UltimateBet.
Hamliton allegedly used a special software to view the cards of other players at the tables. This allowed him and his accomplices to cheat players out of approximately $20 million. Some of the players who were defrauded from this scandal included Ben Affleck and other well-known celebrities. One report indicates that Affleck alone was personally defrauded out of about half a million dollars.
Hamilton is believed to be the mastermind behind the cheating ring. He was originally believed to have been the only operator, but recent evidence indicates that other players were involved as well. The most compelling evidence in the case is an audio recording that Hamilton made five years ago. The recording was saved on the computer of Travis Makar, a computer expert who worked closely with Hamilton for many years. The tape surfaced after investigators seized data from Makar’s computer.
The recording reported by Legal Poker shows conversations between Hamilton and UltimateBet founder Greg Pierson. Two UltimateBet attorneys were also on the audio. Pierson made statements that suggested that Hamilton’s actions may have been encouraged because they helped UlitmateBet raise money while facing possible insolvency. The poker room is now defunct and the scandal has only damaged the brand further.
The recording shows Hamilton confessing to cheating players in great detail. He even shared the screen names of many of the players who were taken advantage of. He even mentioned that he reported the money he stole to the IRS and paid taxes on it.
June 3rd, 2013 by
Ultimate Poker became the first regulated online gaming site to be launched in the United States two weeks ago. The company has already become a popular hub for online poker players throughout Nevada. However, many players were concerned about playing on the site because Ultimate Poker was using Iovation as its player verification provider.
Iovation handled player verification services for UltimateBet. UltimateBet is on the verge of bankruptcy and hasn’t been able to pay many of its players the money that they are due. A more recent scandal emerged which showed that several people were using special software to cheat other players out of more than $20 million. Some of the people involved in the scandal were company insiders.
Players are even more concerned with the fact that Greg Pierson, the CEO of Iovation, is also the founder of UltimateBet. Recent audio recordings implicated Pierson in the cheating ring as well. This has led players on many other gaming sites to believe that Iovation isn’t qualified to handle player verification for any online gaming site.
Ultimate Poker has addressed these concerns and announced that they terminated their relationship with Iovation last week. They posted a release on the forum 2+2 stating that they hope this decision will make their customers feel more comfortable.
They have not announced who they will use as a new player verification services provider. They may work with a different provider through CAMS/Verifi, the player verification provider that subcontracted Iovation. They will need to have a new verification provider to continue providing online gaming in Nevada.
The Nevada Gaming Control Board is investigating the relationship between Ultimate Poker and Iovation. NGCB Chairman A.G. Burnett said that the responsibility to manage these services rests with the gaming company and the NGCB will need to learn more about the relationship and decide how to proceed from there. He didn’t comment futher, but Casino City Times said he seems concerned that they were using an unlicensed contractor to handle these services.
June 1st, 2013 by
Several people affiliate with Full Tilt Poker have been named in a class action lawsuit. The plaintiffs are former players who said that they lost a substantial amount of money due to mismanagement. The defendants have filed several motions in the last couple of weeks.
The attorneys for the defense have filed a motion to dismiss the charges, which a federal judge has not ruled on yet. They have since filed another motion requesting a protective order against class action discovery until the judge ruled on their motion to dismiss the charges they are facing.
The lawsuit was initiated by Judy Fahrner at the beginning of the year. She filed a motion against nearly 30 people who were either employees of Full Tilt or companies working with it. Fahrner said that she was one of a number of Illinois residents who placed a lot of money into the site. They all lost most or all of the money after the Department of Justice shut down Full Tilt and other poker rooms on Black Friday.
She is requesting compensation four times the amount of money she lost as allowed under the Illinois Loss Recovery Act. She had to request that her case be heard as a class action lawsuit to fall under the scope of the Act. The defendants said that she doesn’t have any standing to try the case as a class action lawsuit because the Act doesn’t allow her to seek compensation for the losses sustained by others.
Fahrner interprets the law differently. She said that the law doesn’t require plaintiffs to file a motion on their own behalf. However, the defendants cited a 2011 case as precedent that may prove her wrong. That particular case included almost all of the same defendants that Fahrner has filed against. No other plaintiffs have been named in the case so their motion may be upheld.
May 31st, 2013 by
Turkey lawmakers feel that illegal online gambling has become a major concern throughout the country. They have passed more stringent penalties to discourage foreign gaming sites from accepting bets from Turkish citizens. However, those penalties have not been effective so Parliament feels that it needs to enact even stricter laws.
The new laws would carry stricter penalties for websites that offer their services to players in Turkey. The law would also carry penalties for other people involved as well. A recent draft of the new bill states that players could face fines as high as half a million Liras. The law would also carry penalties for banking institutions that helped process payments for online gaming providers. These are stark differences from previous laws which were targeted specifically towards penalizing online gambling sites.
A number of different regulators would need to be on board to ensure these new laws are enforced. The Telecommunications Communication Agency and Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency would need to oversee various different institutions to find out if they are working in concert with any online gaming providers. These regulators would be responsible for fining any individuals or organizations involved.
The law primarily focuses on carrying out civil penalties that participants would be forced to pay. However, the law could also carry criminal penalties for many of the organizations involved. The draft of the bill currently states that operators at broadcasting stations and other businesses that advertise online gaming services could face between and three years in prison. Companies that act as intermediaries between online gaming providers and Turkish citizens could face similar prison sentences.
Turkish lawmakers believe that the new law will be sufficient to discourage online gambling. They are confident that fewer citizens will play if they are concerned that they will face penalties themselves.
May 29th, 2013 by
Native America tribes throughout the country have raised concerns about the New Jersey law that legalized online gambling. The California Tribal Business Alliance has formally stated that they oppose the new law. Their position shows that the new law may impact many stakeholders outside of New Jersey.
Tribes across the country have been apprehensive about states legalizing online gambling for years. Three states have passed laws to legalize online gambling over the past year, but the tribes are most threatened by the law New Jersey passed in February. There are no tribes in New Jersey operating any casinos. However, some tribes are concerned that the new law would set a precedent for other states that could pose a threat to tribal casinos.
The California Tribal Business Alliance and other tribal interest groups realize that the New Jersey does not pose a direct threat to them. However, they are worried about what will transpire if other states pass similar laws.
A number of tribes are currently offering free-to-play online gambling. However, they are having a difficult time agreeing whether they should support efforts to legalize real-money online gambling. Roger Gros, an author with Global Gaming Business, said that some tribes are considering the potential financial benefits of offering online gambling. However, other tribes fear that it could discourage patrons from visiting their casinos.
The tribes are also debating the implications of the New Jersey gambling law. Some feel that the new law indicates that they can provide online gambling through their casinos. Other tribes fear that the states may try to chip away at their existing casino businesses by renegotiating compacts with the tribes.
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