Casino News Blog

Final Full Tilt Payments May Be Issued in March

January 22nd, 2015 by

Some former Full Tilt Poker players in the United States are still waiting for reimbursements. The Garden City Group, the claims administrator responsible for overseeing the accounts, has repaid most players. However, some players disputed their account balances or raised other objections to the reports. The GCG recently announced that these players will likely receive their remissions in March.

The majority of players agreed with the balances that the GCG had on file. Players that disputed the information were given until November 24, 2014 to provide updated balances, addresses and other information. The GCG believes that all players eligible for reconsideration provided this information and has started processing the requests.

The GCG and the U.S. Department of Justice have been carefully reviewing the information and hope to provide an expected date for the final round of payments in the near future. They believe that the payments will be completed by the end of March, but they may face delays if the updated information is still incomplete or other unexpected problems arise.

The claims administrator is working diligently to make sure all players receive their repayments in a timely manner. They are expected to provide further updates over the next few weeks.

Several thousand former players have received remissions. The GCG said that 600 players received payments in September, which amounted to nearly $2 million. The repayments have been a huge relief to the players that had deposits with Full Tilt before the site shuttered in 2011. The closure could also restore confidence in the U.S. online gambling industry and encourage players to play in states where online gambling has been regulated.

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New UK Tax Has Hampered Online Gambling Sentiments

January 10th, 2015 by

The United Kingdom government recently made some drastic changes to its online gambling laws, which included a new point of consumption tax. The law has been met with frustration by both many operators throughout the country and the Gibraltar Betting and Gaming Association (GBGA).

The new tax took effect on December 1. Peter Howitt, the CEO of the GBGA, said that his organization is strongly committed to supporting the regulated market. However, he is worried that the new tax is causing significant problems for many regulators. He said that the market has been destabilized, because some of the smaller foreign operators are leaving the market because they can’t afford the large taxes.

One of the biggest criticisms of the law is that it gives a strong competitive advantage to domestic companies. All gaming providers are required to pay taxes to the revenue authorities in their own jurisdictions. However, all companies that hold a UK gambling license are also required to pay the 15% tax as well. The new tax structure in the United Kingdom means that gaming providers based outside the UK are forced to pay double taxation, which has made it infeasible for them to remain in the jurisdiction.

The GBGA filed a lawsuit against the UK tax authorities last summer. The court ruled against the GBGA, but the organization was recently informed that it has the right to file another lawsuit next year. Howitt believes that the association has a valid case, but doesn’t want to be overly optimistic. He told reporters that litigation is always a long shot, especially for plaintiffs filing lawsuits against foreign tax authorities. However, the GBGA intends to proceed with the lawsuit and hopes that the gambling tax will be overturned.

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Andorra Prepares to Legalize Online Gambling

December 22nd, 2014 by

Andorra is a small European country located between France and Spain. The country’s lawmakers are preparing to legalize and regulate online poker and hope to finish the process in the next few months.

The General Council of Andorra is expected to pass the new gambling bill, which will allow online poker operators to offer their services in the country. The law also includes a provision that would create a regulator that would issue a license to a single brick and mortar casino.

Both provisions of the bill will be significant boons for the country. The country only has a population of 85,000 people, but receives about 10 million tourists each year. The government is confident that those tourists will be willing to spend a substantial amount of money at the new casino, which would allow them to generate a substantial amount of revenue.

While the new casino is a promising development for the small country, Andorra may benefit even more from regulating online poker. The country is not a part of the European Union, which means that it will not be subject to many of the strict online gambling laws that dictate the conduct of online gaming providers in other parts of Europe. This advantage is expected to lure many companies to the market. However, while the country isn’t required to abide by free trade laws, it is likely to still participate in an international market to limit liquidity concerns such a small country poses to operators.

Government officials are still discussing the specifics of the new legislation. The new regulator will play a key role in shaping the new market. Government officials will issue a formal announcement after the details have been finalized and plan to vote on the new legislation in the next year.

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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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