Casino News Blog

EU Court Sides With Germany Over Online Gambling Regulations

July 28th, 2014 by

The European Union Court set an expected precedent for online gambling. The German state of Schleswig-Holstein has much more liberal online gaming laws than other jurisdictions in the country. Digibet, an online gambling provider based in Gibraltar, argued that the other states would need to loosen their gaming laws.

The German Federal Court disagreed with Digibet’s position, but felt some clarification was necessary. They referred the case to the European Union for a verdict. EU justices upheld the German court’s ruling, stating that fifteen German states wouldn’t be required to change their rules because of a single dissident. This means that other online German states will be allowed to maintain restrictive online gambling laws.

Digibet will be allowed to continue offering games of chance in Schleswig-Holstein, but it will need to stop providing them in the other jurisdictions it operates. The gaming provider will be allowed to continue offering online poker and other games of skill, but is unlikely to do so. Digibet left other German markets last year because of the high taxes they impose on online gambling providers.

The ruling was a setback for Digibet, but a ruling in its favor may not have helped much either. Schleswig-Holstein has recently announced that it will conform to the online gambling laws imposed in the fifteen other states. This would effectively make the EU court’s decision that all states need to implement the same laws irrelevant.

Many online gambling operators support Schleswig-Holstein’s laws and feel the rest of the country should emulate them. PokerStars recently received a gaming license in the state. It said that it supports the regulatory system, because it would arguably create more safeguards for players. However, many other German states maintain that their stricter online gambling laws have been effective.

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PokerNews Founder Elected to European Parliament

July 24th, 2014 by

Antanas Guoga (also known as Tony G) has recently been elected as a Member of the European Parliament. Guoga has been a professional poker player and is the founder of PokerNews. He is a valued member of the online poker community and will likely support new legislation to help strengthen the region’s online poker market.

Guoga said that he made history by becoming the first poker professional to be elected to office. He has received considerable support from the Liberal Party for his stance on entrepreneurship and philanthropy. He received more votes than any other candidate from the party, which shows that Lithuanian voters seem to support his efforts to expand online poker.

Guoga plans to remain an active member of the online gaming industry. Back in December, he launched a new website called Open Face Chinese Poker (OFCP). The new poker room will offer four different online poker products.

The online poker community has expressed support for Guoga. Warren Lush, the former Head of Consumer Public Relations for PartyPoker, sent a tweet on Sunday to congratulate Guoga for his victory.

While online gaming professionals are ecstatic that Guoga has been elected, he has stated that online gambling will not be his top priority. The newly elected MP has stated that Europe is facing a number of fiscal, economic and social challenges. Guoga will need to focus on declining social mobility, the Eurozone’s debt crisis and record unemployment. However, liberalizing the online gambling industry will also be one of his objectives in the months to come. He intends to use his new position to dispel negative misconceptions that have harmed the online gambling industry.

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California Tribes Finally Reach Consensus on Online Poker Legislation

July 16th, 2014 by

Efforts to legalize online poker in California have stalled over the past few years. Discord among the state’s tribes has been one of the biggest reasons that lawmakers have failed to pass an online poker bill. A recent report from OnlinePokerReport.com shows that those tribes have finally reached a consensus, which should pave the way to pass an online poker bill in the near future.

OnlinePokerReport .com published a letter that was addressed to Assemblyman Reginald Jones-Sawyer and Senator Lou Correa. The letter states that 13 of the state’s tribes have struck an agreement on the key provisions that should be included in the new online poker bill. The tribes told Correa and Jones-Sawyer that they remain committed to proceeding with the effort to legalize online poker.

Tribal leaders said that they want to implement a system that benefits both their tribes and the citizens of California. They stated that legalizing online poker would create numerous jobs for the state and generate substantial revenue to shrink the deficit. They also want to make sure that online poker sites are carefully monitored to make sure that they offer the necessary protections for poker players.

The tribes also insisted that the new bill contain a bad actors clause. This provision would prohibit regulators from issuing licenses to any company or individual that violated the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006.

The Morongo Band of Mission Indians opposed the bad actor’s clause, because it forged a partnership with PokerStars earlier this year. Robert Martin, chairman of the Morongo tribe, said that the regulator should have the ultimate decision over suitability. He said that his tribe and many others would oppose that part of the bill. However, the tribe may be willing to make concessions if that is the only way to ensure an online poker bill is passed.

The tribal consensus is encouraging for online poker activists in California and the rest of the country. Analysts estimate that the market for online poker in California would be worth nearly $390 million in the first year.

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MGM Resorts Still Holding Out on Online Gambling Expansion

July 7th, 2014 by

MGM Resorts is one of the largest casino companies in the country. The company strongly favors the legalization of online gambling, but has been reluctant to participate in any of the new markets in the United States. The company isn’t expected to offer real money gambling until it witnesses meaningful changes in the United States.

MGM Resorts currently has a site that offers free to play online gambling. The company has stated that it doesn’t want to invest in a real money site until it is sure that it will provide reasonable return on its investment.

MGM’s hesitance is understandable. The online gambling markets in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware have grown much more slowly than anticipated. New Jersey analysts believe that online gambling revenues will be less than 10% the amount Governor Chris Christie initially predicted. Gaming providers are facing a number of challenges that are holding the market back.

However, the state of the gaming market itself isn’t the company’s online concern. They said that the regulator environment is very confusing and they don’t know how it will change in the future. Changes in the federal landscape of online gambling could drastically affect it in the months to come.

MGM has recently appointed Thomas N. Auriemma to its Compliance Committee. Auriemma worked as a state gaming regulator for nearly three decades. He was the Deputy Director of the DGE for over 10 years. He also worked for the Casino Control Commission and served as an Assistant Attorney General.

He will help review developments in the state and national regulations and provide insight to senior management. John McManus, Executive Vice President and General Counsel for MGM, said that the company has considerable respect for Auriemma’s opinion.

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Black Friday Defendant Seeks Plea Bargain With DOJ

June 29th, 2014 by

Daniel Tzvetkoff, the founder of Intabill, was arrested for fraud in 2009. He was accused of a variety of charges, including falsifying financial data to his business partners and facilitating illegal online gambling transactions. Tzvetkoff faced a possible 75-year sentence for fraud, so he struck a plea bargain with the Department of Justice. He agreed to be an informant and gave prosecutors the evidence needed to file an indictment against the other Black Friday defendants.

Tzvetkoff is about to be sentenced in federal court. While he has been given a generous plea bargain, he would like to reduce his sentence further. Tzvetkoff’s attorney, Robert Goldstein, has asked his sentence to be reduced to the four months that he has already served. Goldstein said that his client doesn’t have a criminal record and emphasized the role that he played in bringing illegal online gaming operators to justice. He said that his client has already received a stricter sentence than he deserves and hopes the judge will agree.

However, some people may not agree that Tzvetkoff deserves a more lenient sentence. Sam Sciacca, one of his former business partners has sued him for $100 million. Sciacca claims that Tzvetkoff lied about the profitability and liquidity of the company. He also claims that Tzvetkoff created fake accounts to give the appearance that the company was thriving, while spending the money that he owed to Sciacca and his other partner.

Department of Justice officials may also disagree with the judgment. They appreciated his assistance bringing other defendants to justice, but have maintained that Intabill processed about $1 billion in illegal online gambling transactions. They may feel that four months is too lenient of a sentence. However, his attorney and many other legal observers are confident that Tzvetkoff will avoid spending another day in federal prison.

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New Study Shows Online Poker Helps Manage Stress

June 24th, 2014 by

Many researchers conduct studies that focus on the negative implications of online poker. A team of scientists from Canada have broken the status quo and conducted a study on the health benefits of playing online poker. The study found that online poker is actually a great way to manage stress.

The study found that playing online poker can cause cortisol levels to drop by nearly 20%. Cortisol is commonly known as the stress hormone. Elevated cortisol levels leads to a number of health problems such as high blood pressure and sugar levels. Researchers are looking for new data to regulate it.

The authors aren’t sure why online poker would reduce stress levels. They theorize that focusing on online poker helps distract people from activities and problems that cause stress. Taking a break from stressful thoughts could give cortisol levels a chance to stabilize.

Petra Maria of Maine News said that this new study could help the movement to legalize online gambling. The Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling has presented a number of studies to argue their own position. Online gaming activists need to argue the beneficial points legalization would entail. They have predominantly focused on consumer protections and government taxation, but discussing health benefits could help as well.

Federal lawmakers are currently debating two bills that would reinstate the Wire Act and ban online gambling. The bills are being pushed by Sen. Lindsey Graham and Rep. Jason Chaffetz. Graham, Chaffetz and many other Republican lawmakers have received campaign donations from Sheldon Adelson, However, other lawmakers will want to listen to balanced arguments on the issue before deciding whether or not to legalize online gambling.

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Winning Poker Network Abandons U.S. Online Gambling Market

June 17th, 2014 by

The Winning Poker Network recently announced that it has decided to cease offering its services in New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware. The company stated that the new change will take effect immediately. Players will have the opportunity to withdraw their holdings before the network shuts down.

True Poker and Americas Cardroom are the two WPN skins that operate in those states. Both providers released statements confirming the closure.

Michael Harris, a representative from America’s Cardroom, stated that the network wants to respect the regulated gaming market in those jurisdictions. Harris said that the Winning Poker Network offered words of praise to the states for choosing to legalize online gambling.

True Poker issued a similar statement. The company feels that the regulated gaming market is capable of handling demand.

Phil Payton, CEO of the Winning Poker Network, has high expectations for the future of his company. The company has had a strong edge over some of the other large poker networks. However, Payton is pessimistic about the future of WPN in the United States. He doubts that the network will ever be accepted in a regulated gaming market, but intends to continue offering services in regions that haven’t legalized intrastate gambling.

WPN’s decision to leave the markets in Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware is encouraging news for online poker advocates. They have stated that legalizing online gambling would reduce demand for black market gaming providers. The recent announcement will strengthen their argument.

The loss of the Winning Poker Network should also help support the regulated gaming market in those three states. Players on those networks may be more likely to spend their money with regulated gaming providers, which will generate more tax revenue and help support the local gaming industries.

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South Point Hired Young Programmer to Develop Nevada Poker Platform

June 6th, 2014 by

South Point recently became the third online poker provider to launch a website in Nevada. The company is determined to capture a share of the state’s growing online poker market. Michael Gaughan, the owner of South Point, stated that the company hired a young Nevada programmer to help develop the new platform.

Lawrence Vaughan is a bright, young programmer in Nevada. Vaughan met Gaughan through a mutual friend a couple of years ago. The two hatched a plan to launch a regulated online poker site, Real Gambling, shortly after Gov. Sandoval regulated the new industry.

Vaughan aspired to develop an online poker platform years before the industry was legalized in Nevada. One of Vaughan’s friends believed that his talents and aspirations would be an asset to South Point and introduced him to Vaughan in 2011. Vaughan currently serves as the Chief Operating Officer of South Point and is playing an instrumental role in the future of the company.

Vaughan is confident that Nevada players will flock to the site as soon as it is fully launched. The site is currently undergoing beta testing, which may continue until the end of the year. South Point has not spent any money advertising Real Gambling, but Vaughan feels the company’s existing brand will attract many players.

Vaughan said that the site will initially serve a small base of loyal customers. South Point hopes to promote the site after any technical problems are resolved. Vaughan has not shared any specifics, except that South Point will use its existing gaming business to promote its online presence.

 

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Baptists Collaborate With Adelson to Oppose Online Gambling

June 4th, 2014 by

Sheldon Adelson has encouraged many Republican lawmakers to support his effort to ban online gambling. One of his lobbyists wrote a bill that was introduced by Rep. Lindsey Graham. The new bill has gained the support of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Most Baptists feel that gambling is an immoral activity that should be prohibited. They have lobbied for state and federal to ban it.

A reporter recently interviewed Graham about the new legislation. Graham told the reporter that Adelson appears to have aligned himself with southern Baptists to help build support for his movement. Graham is a practicing Baptist, which is likely the reason that Adelon asked him to introduce the Restoration of America’s Wire Act bill.

Support for the new bill is particularly high in South Carolina. Over two-thirds of the primary voters that are registered as Republicans are Born Again Christians or Baptists.

Bruce Yandle, a professor of economics at Clemson University, said that the Baptist community has sometimes unwittingly allowed business leaders to encourage them to lobby for prohibition for services that they wouldn’t otherwise support. Yandle told a parable of illegal rum runners in the early 1900s that lobbied Baptist lawmakers to promote prohibition. Gambling advocates that are familiar with this tale see many parallels with Adelson’s recent efforts to ban online gaming.

Adelson has maintained that he is against online gambling for moral reasons. Most of his critics said that his statements are disingenuous. They feel that his script was written to cater to people with religious opposition to online gambling. Adelson has also used other scare tactics to discourage online gambling, such as running advertisements claiming that terrorists could use it to launder money.

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Gus Hansen Reports Nearly $18 Million in Losses from Full Tilt

June 2nd, 2014 by

Gus Hansen has been one of the most successful poker players in the world. Over the past eight years, he has won three World Poker Tour titles and two Poker superstars Invitational Tournament championships. Hansen has been revered for his poker skills, but he may be starting to lose his touch. A new report shows that he has lost nearly $18 million playing with Full Tilt Poker.

A new report from HighstakesDB.com shows that Hansen has lost $335,000 over the past week. He has lost $3 million in the past year and nearly $15 million since Full Tilt was relaunched. Hansen has now lost more money than any other player in Full Tilt history.

Hansen’s recent losing streak is particularly embarrassing for a player that was once revered as one of the most successful poker players in the world. He became a member of Team Full Tilt to help promote the company after it was relaunched. The executives at Full Tilt were probably not expecting him to endure such humiliating losses immediately after.

Guy Laliberté, the billionaire founder of Cirque du Soleil, may be the only man standing between Hansen and a record of being the biggest online poker loser in history. Laliberté recently made allegations that he was scammed while playing at Full Tilt. He claims that his opponents were pooling their money to freeroll against him.

While Laliberté is bitter about his losses, he is still able to absorb them. His net worth is estimated to be exactly 100 times the $26 Million he has lost from playing online poker. However, Hansen should be much more concerned about his poker losses.

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