Casino News Blog

PPA Criticizes Provision of California Online Poker Bill

December 15th, 2014 by

The online gambling industry is discussing the benefits and potential implications of a new AB 9 poker bill that would legalize online gambling in California. The Poker Players Alliance hasn’t taken an official position on the proposed legislation, but warns that it may not have the impacts lawmakers intended.

The new bill contains several changes from the legislation sponsored by Senator Roderick Wright. One of the biggest changes is that players would place transactions at the physical card rooms and casinos that operate the online poker sites. John Pappas, Director of the PPA said that this provision wouldn’t work the way that bill author Mike Gatto intended.

Pappas said that online poker operates under a set of established premises. He states that the logistical approach that Gatto has written hasn’t been tested before and would almost certainly deter players from participating in the market.

Gatto has defended his recommendation to require in-person transactions. He said that preventing money laundering and establishing the ages of players are both important considerations. He is confident that his approach would be an effective way to resolve both problems. He also feels that drawing players to the physical casinos will benefit them.

Pappas said that the approach is entirely unnecessary. He states that online gambling sites already have proven solutions to identify players to prevent both risks. He also pointed out that money laundering and underage gambling haven’t been shown to be problems in New Jersey.

Pappas indicated that the desire to lure players to the casinos was a somewhat more sensible goal, but still doesn’t agree with the approach. He feels that the casinos could more effectively draw new players online and encourage them to visit the location later.

While Pappas has raised these concerns, he clarified that they may not necessarily reflect the position of the rest of the PPA. He promised to reach out to PPA members to seek input on whether they would visit a casino to make a deposit, which should allow lawmakers to better gauge the feasibility of the approach.

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Ontario Lawmakers Share Differing Views on Online Gambling

December 5th, 2014 by

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation recently launched its own website to offer online gambling to its citizens. The OLG has stated that the new website will allow the state to generate nearly $400 over the next five years. Andrea Horwath, the leader of the Ontario New Democrat Party, has warned that expanding online gambling will create serious problems for the province’s youth.

Horwath isn’t the only Ontarian politician that is concerned with the new site. Jim Wilson, Interim leader of the Progressive Conservative, has vocalized similar feedback. He said that the government has chosen to address its addiction to overspending by targeting people with gambling addictions. Wilson also warned that online gambling could adversely impact local casinos.

Despite the concerns, the OLG is confident that online gambling will be beneficial to Ontario. It expects online gambling revenues to allow the state to boost social spending rather than implementing drastic austerity measures. The organization has sent invitations to over 50,000 prospective customers.

Finance Minister Charles Sousa implied that the social risks are vastly exaggerated. Sousa said that many Ontario citizens are already gambling over the Internet, so regulating the activity is unlikely to exacerbate the problem. The government merely hopes to funnel money consumers are already spending overseas back to the local economy. Souza also points out that the new website will have many safeguards that overseas gaming operators don’t provide.

The Ontario government has taken a major step by establishing a state sanctioned gaming site. Lawmakers will probably discuss the implications of the site over the next year before more empirical evidence is released.

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GOP Mid-term Victory May Not Doom Online Poker

December 2nd, 2014 by

The Republican Party is relentlessly trying to ban online gambling in the United States. Sheldon Adelson has donated over $100 million to GOP candidates, so they are clearly inclined to support his Reinstate the Wire Act proposal. The Republicans gained control of the Senate in Tuesday’s election, which poses a risk for the online gambling community. However, there may still be hope that online gambling legislation will be passed and the RWA will be struck down.

Lawmakers also have to weigh the needs of their constituents against Adelson’s interests. Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell has been elected as the Senate Majority leader. His state could generate nearly a billion dollars in revenues for education and other social programs. His commitment to his constituents may trump the $15,000 in donations that he received from Adelson and several of his family members.

The online gambling community should still be concerned that the Republican Party has seized such control in Congress. However, there is still a realistic possibility that the online gambling ban will be overturned. Congress may also still pass legislation to regulate online gambling across state lines. However, the election results are still a cause for concern for the online gaming community.

The Poker Players Alliance and other online gaming advocates will relentlessly continue their lobbying. Their efforts may draw more support if other states legalize online gambling, because those states would adamantly oppose any efforts to ban the industry.

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South Africa Legislators Discuss Legislation to Ban Online Poker

November 27th, 2014 by

The Parliament of the Republic of South African has introduced a bill that would effectively ban online poker. Lawmakers are currently discussing the bill with regulators and gambling experts throughout the state and intend to vote on it in the near future.

The new legislation will overhaul the entire gambling industry, but the online poker ban is one of the most drastic changes. Many MPs feel that the proposed ban is a necessary safeguard for consumer, but they are still worried that the bill will carry unintended consequences. They have sought feedback from Zodwa Ntuli, deputy director-general of the Department of Trade and Industry and officials from the National Gambling Policy Council.

Ntuli and several other experts have voiced concerns with the new legislation. They said that the bill would offer little incentive to stop South Africans from gambling over the Internet. Since demand for online gambling is so strong, they feel that regulation would be a better way to protect citizens. Their concerns are shared by lawmakers in the Democratic Alliance, which have clarified their opposition to the proposed legislation.

The National Gambling Policy Council hasn’t rendered its opinion on the new bill yet. Even if it doesn’t agree with the text of the bill, it is likely to applaud the government’s efforts to fight online gambling addiction. The organization estimates that about 3% of South African adults have a gambling problem.

Some lawmakers don’t feel that legislation should be passed by the central government. They would prefer a framework where the national government doesn’t intervene and allows regional governments to regulate it as they see fit. Ntuli said that many provincial governments want to expand the gambling industry as a means to generate more revenue.

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PokerStars Defends Currency Conversion Fee

November 20th, 2014 by

PokerStars recently modified its policy on currency conversion fees. Recent threads on Two Plus Two, Cards Chat and other gaming forums show players are discouraged with the new policy.

The gambling operator previously charged players the median rates published on the XE currency exchange site. The rates were historically much more favorable than those offered by competitors. The new rates will be more similar to those offered at other gaming sites. Many players are upset that they will have to pay higher exchange fees, but PokerStars has defended its decision.

Eric Hollreiser, Head of Corporate Communications for PokerStars, said that players are still offered better exchange rates than most competitos. He said that the decision wasn’t made lightly, but PokerStars has faced some financial setbacks over the last few years that forced them to make the change.

Players seem to be more concerned about lack of transparency over the new fees than the cost itself. One analyst concluded that the new margin increased costs by about 2.5%, which is still relatively modest. However, the margin wasn’t published on the PokerStars website. A couple of posters on Two Plus Two stated that the decision was clearly an attempt to make a quick buck, which may damage the poker titan’s long-term profitability. The new decision has prompted concerns about future policy changes by Amaya Gaming.

While the new announcement was a disappointment to most players, it is unlikely to undermine the PokerStars brand. Some players called for a migration to other online gaming platforms, but most seem reluctant to follow through. They feel that PokerStars continues to offer the highest quality gaming experience and are unlikely to abandon the site unless other discouraging news surfaces.

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French Online Poker Providers Offer More Anonymity

November 18th, 2014 by

A number of French online poker providers have started offering anonymous tabling options. Winamax, the country’s most popular poker room, is the latest to introduce a feature allowing users to play incognito. Michael Gentile of Pokerfuse reports that these new tables have spurred debate about the impact on players.

Many advocates argue that allowing players to shield their identities promotes fairness. They claim that players can use these features protect players from tracking software used to understand their strategies. Amateur players also feel less pressured to place large wagers.

Critics have raised concerns about player protections. They are worried that anonymity enables fraud on the part of other players. Winamax and other leading operators argue that they take all necessary precautions to stop fraud. Threads on Cards Chat and other online poker forums have shown that experienced players seem to disapprove of anonymous tables, because they prevent them from being able to study competitor hand histories.

Some players are also concerned that anonymous tabling makes it easier for cheaters to create accounts on other tables where players don’t recognize them. Players have played a key role in identifying many of the most serious scams by analyzing the history of cheaters. Many players warn each other about suspicious players on Two Plus Two and other online gaming communities.

Many larger online gaming providers have been reluctant to offer anonymous tables. Many players use HUDs as part of their strategy, which can’t be used on sites that offer anonymous tables. According to research from Jocelyn Wood at FlushDraw, professional players tend to flock to sites that don’t offer anonymous tabling so they can utilize HUD software.

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Latest Report Shows Lock Poker Owes Players $3 Million

November 14th, 2014 by

The online poker community has raised a number of serious concerns about Lock Poker. Some players have reported waiting over a year to process withdrawals. Analysts originally estimated that the company owed players about $1 million, but recent posts on Two Plus Two show that the company appears to owe them about three times that amount.

Two Plus Two poker “IHasTehNutz” created the Lock Poker Payout Scam report to provide information about the ongoing scandal. He said that the actual money owed to Lock Poker players is $3.2 million after factoring for funds players still have left in their accounts. The original estimate is based off of players that have initiated withdrawals, but IHasTehNutz claims that figure is a significant underestimate. There are indications that Lock Poker doesn’t have sufficient liquidity for players to make future withdrawals either.

Slightly over half of the money is owed to U.S. players. A number of players outside the United States have been waiting for payouts since November 2013.

Many of these players clearly believe that their withdrawals will never be liquidated, so are trying to desperately cut their losses. Players have been reportedly selling their Lock Poker chips for pennies on the dollar for months.

Problems at Lock Poker are expected to persist indefinitely. A recent report from PokerScout found that player traffic declined 15% last month. The site currently receives about 34 players a day. Lock Poker is offering a number of new rakes and other incentives to lure new players to its site, including a 200% deposit bonus for new accounts. However, the company’s reputation for failing to process payouts is making it difficult to reach new players.

The company will probably develop even worse liquidity problems if player activity continues to decline. The Revolution Gaming Network has barred the skin from its network and initiated legal action, which will probably exacerbate the problems that it is facing. RGN, the Poker Players Alliance and a variety of other groups have urged players to avoid using the site.

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NFL Seeks Injunction to Bar Sports Betting Movement

November 11th, 2014 by

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a bill to repeal an existing sports betting law and replace it with a new version. State lawmakers argue that the new law meets the criteria established by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. However, at least one sports league has protested the new law and has vowed to have it overturned. The NFL intends to challenge the law and recently filed a brief for an upcoming injunction to bar Monmouth Park from offering NJ sports betting services.

State Sen. Raymond Lesniak said that the injunction will take place on Tuesday at 3:30 PM EST. The brief outlines the arguments that lawmakers need to expect. The league claims that the new law violates the state constitution, which bars any form of gambling that hasn’t been expressly legalized and regulated by the State Legislature. This wording would be a Catch-22 for the state if the courts agree, because the federal court ruling states that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act prohibits the regulation of sports betting.

Monmouth Park recently indicated that it intends to offer sports betting early next week. The NFL argues that the entity should be barred from doing so until the court issues a ruling on the lawsuit.

The lawsuit and injunction briefs also claim that the new law continues to violate the PASPA. Governor Christie and other state lawmakers disagree, but a federal judge will need to decide. Christie had reservations over the constitutionality of a previous draft of the law, but is confident that the recently signed law complies with the state constitution. The bill was passed by a margin of 73-4, which clearly shows that state lawmakers strongly support the legalization of sports betting.

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Swedish Tax Authority Condemns Players With Undeclared Poker Winnings

November 6th, 2014 by

Swedish poker players are exempt from paying taxes on earnings from sites based in the European Union (EU), but are forced to pay a tax on sites outside the EU. Skatteverket, the Swedish tax authority has been investigating players that haven’t been reporting their winnings over the last couple of years. The government has identified approximately four dozen players that have avoided paying their taxes.

Skatteverket said that these players have not reported about €28 million. It intends to take action against them in the very near future.

According to Dag Hardyson, the National Project Manager for Skatteverket, many of these citizens appear to be professional gamblers that make lucrative incomes. Many of these players apparently believed that they could go unidentified. However, Hardyson said that Skatteverket has developed new ways to uncover the real names of these players. The tax agency has been working closely with tax havens in other jurisdictions to discover the identities of these players.

Skatteverket has been actively monitoring poker forums where Swedish players congregate. They found that many players were boasting about their abilities to circumvent the tax requirements. They are currently working with the moderators of these forums as well as the managers of various tax havens to pursue the players. Dan Glimme, an ambassador from Unibet Poker, said that Skatteverket will soon force these players to pay their back taxes and fines applicable under law.

Experts argue that Swedish poker players that don’t want to pay taxes should play on sites based in Sweden and other EU countries. However, many Swedish players may choose to continue playing on foreign sites, since the player base in Sweden is so low due to the state-controlled monopoly.

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New Jersey Providers Encouraged to Educate Customers on Regulated Market

November 5th, 2014 by

Regulated online gambling providers in New Jersey are still struggling to draw players to their sites. They have made progress addressing a number of the problems they have faced, such as resolving geolocation identification errors and providing payment processing solutions. However, many players are still reluctant to create accounts because they don’t understand the legality of online gambling. Many experts believe gaming providers need to educate players about the regulated market.

Chris Grove of Online Poker Report recently discussed some of the steps online gaming providers should take. Grove said that they should clearly emphasize that they are regulated to offer online gambling by the Division of Gaming Enforcement. He said that these messages should be prominently displayed above the fold on every page of their websites. He also recommends providing links to state resources on online gambling.

These steps could help gaming providers reach more players. However, educating players about the legality of online gambling may not be sufficient. A February poll from Fairleigh Dickinson University found that only 31% of New Jersey citizens support legalizing online gambling, which is lower than the proportion that support legalizing marijuana.

The poll showed that fewer New Jersey citizens supported online gambling than before it was legalized. More recent follow-up polls may indicate the opposite, but many New Jersey citizens still appear to have reservations about gambling over the Internet. Gaming providers will need to educate them about both the consequences of online gambling and the fact that it is currently regulated. The market may grow much more rapidly if citizens have a better understanding of the nature of the industry.

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