Casino News Blog

Nevada Regulator Gives Final Approval on Interstate Online Poker Network

September 15th, 2014 by

888 Holdings is preparing to launch a new portal that will connect online gaming providers in Nevada and Delaware. The Nevada Gaming Control Board recommended that the new network receive a license to operate. The Nevada Gaming Commission gave final approval on the new network.

The new network will help grow Nevada’s online poker market. The portal will also create the foundation for a larger interstate gaming industry.

Nevada and Delaware are currently the only states that have signed an interstate gaming compact. However, other states could enter the agreement as online gaming becomes more popular. This would be a huge opportunity for Ultimate Gaming, Caesars Interactive and other companies that operate online gaming sites in Nevada.

The population of both states is lower than the median population of other states throughout the country. Their small populations have made it difficult for them to grow their intrastate gaming markets.

The new network could provide a much needed boost for the Nevada and Delaware gaming sites. Yehoshua Gurtler, an attorney for 888, said that the network will appeal to a wider base of players. He said that the larger player bases will help Nevada increase tax revenues.

888 claims that the new network will provide additional benefits as well. They said that gaming providers will be able to reduce spending on marketing, because more customers will be able to find their sites through the networks. The new network could also make it easier for gaming providers to run cross-promotions.

The interstate poker network should be available in the near future. Online gaming providers from both Nevada and Delaware are already submitting their sites to it.

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Nevada Online Poker Sites Generate Over $1 Million

September 12th, 2014 by

Nevada regulators released the most recent revenue figures for the state’s casinos. The figures show that both online poker and land-based casino revenues have remained strong. Online poker revenues have been lower than analysts initially predicted last year. However, the new report indicates that the market will probably continue to thrive in the months to come.

The recent report shows that the state’s three online poker providers have collectively generated $1.037 million in revenue. Caesars Interactive said that traffic to WSOP.com is growing steadily and profitability is expected to increase in the near future.

Traffic to WSOP increased by 40% last month. A large part of the traffic increase was due to people participating in the World Series of Poker online tournament. Some of those players came from other states and over 100 other countries. However, Caesars is confident that many Nevada residents will be repeat players.

Seth Palansky, the VP of Corporate Communications for Caesars Interactive, said that WSOP is expected to lead the market in the future. He said that the website has outpaced all of its competitors in both Nevada and New Jersey.

Adam Krejcik, a gaming analyst with Eilers Research, said that Caesars has probably learned a lot from the World Series of Poker. He expects that the company will offer a myriad of new offerings in the future.

Palansky and other gaming executives are encouraged by the new figures. They believe that the industry will grow more quickly after the Mult-State Internet Gaming Agreement goes into effect. Revenue growth could accelerate even further if New Jersey enters the compact. However, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie hasn’t indicated that the state will sign the agreement so far.

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French Gaming Regulator Reports Plunge in Cash Poker Revenue

September 10th, 2014 by

French gaming regulator ARJEL recently released a report showing that online poker revenues have continued to plunge. The second quarter report states that online poker bets fell nearly 20% over the same quarter in 2013. Revenues would have been even lower if tournament wagers hadn’t increased 6%.

The new report shows that the decline in the French online poker market is accelerating. Revenues in the last week of June were the lowest since online poker was legalized in 2010. Many gaming providers fear that the trend will continue through the rest of the year.

Industry experts have consistently blamed ARJEL’s strict regulations for the decline. Gaming providers must pay an effective tax rate of 37% on online gaming revenues, which has kept the industry from growing much. ARJEL will discuss possible changes in its next meeting with Parliament, but they are unlikely to modify the regulations. The gaming regulator has stated that players are losing interest in online poker, so it is unexpected to make changes a priority.

ARJEL also found that players are becoming more interested in participating in tournaments over other competitions. The introduction of Expresso poker may have played a role in the transition, but tournament participation has been increasing even before that. The popularity of online poker tournaments has drastically changed the structure of the online gaming market. Online gaming providers may need to reformulate their strategies in the months to come.

The French gaming market is clearly undergoing a number of changes. 888 and several other gaming operators have left the French gaming market. Other companies may choose to abandon the market in the near future as well.

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California Card Rooms Issue Letter of Support for Online Poker Bill

September 8th, 2014 by

California State Senator Lou Correa is rumored to be sponsoring a bill that would legalize online poker. The bill hasn’t been formally introduced, but numerous tribes and card rooms have showed their support for it. However, some stakeholders have raised some concerns that need to be addressed as well. According to a recent report from Bluff.com, twenty-five tribes wrote a letter to Correa on Wednesday to voice their opinion on the new bill.

The letter discussed a number of provisions in the hypothetical bill. The card rooms are encouraged that the State Legislature is willing to discuss legalizing online poker. However, they want to make sure that the proposed law doesn’t violate their rights.

The bill was authored by a coalition of gaming tribes. The card rooms are concerned about a bad actor’s provision the bill contains. The clause states that gaming providers that violated the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act would be barred from receiving licenses.

The bad actor’s provision was apparently written to keep PokerStars and other gray market gaming providers out of the market. However, some card rooms hinted that they may be concerned that it could be extended to them as well. They are asking Correa to make sure that their rights be taken into consideration before putting the bill to a vote.

However, the card rooms did show support for the overall spirit of the bad actor’s clause. Several of them stated that they wanted to offer online gaming services in the United States, but elected to comply with state and federal gaming laws. The majority of the state card rooms feel that entities that violated those laws should be prohibited from entering the market.

Some card rooms disagree with the premise of the bad actor’s provision. The Bicycle Club, Hawaiian Gardens Casino and Commerce Casino have all allied themselves with PokerStars and the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. They feel that all gaming providers should be given the opportunity to apply for a gaming license.

PokerStars and its allies feel that the state gaming regulator should make the final decision on all online gaming licenses. They said that the California Gaming Control Commission has an established track record for legalizing the gaming industry and don’t feel the legislature should question its competence.

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Russian Deputy Prime Minister Demands Study of Online Gambling

September 2nd, 2014 by

Several Russian lawmakers are considering legalizing online poker. They estimate that the country would generate 5 billion Rubles ($150 million) in taxes within a few years. These lawmakers initially had difficulty gaining support from President Vladmir Putin, but he seems to have become more open-minded. Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov recently ordered the Russian Ministries of Finance, Economics and Justice to conduct a study on the impact of legalizing online poker.

Kakha Kakhiani, the president of the Russian Poker Union, has been asking policymakers to legalize online gambling for several years. Kakhiani has apparently convinced some lawmakers that regulation would be beneficial to Russia. He is confident that the new study will convince remaining skeptics to support regulation.

President Putin has been opposed to all forms of gambling since taking office. He imposed a 35% tax on all gambling revenues in 2004. Putin’s laws slowly became more regressive. He tightened licensing requirements in 2007 before gambling throughout most of the country two years later.

Putin also started cracking down on online gambling over the last few years. He recently imposed a new law that allowed the government to classify online poker players as incompetent and seize their assets. It is encouraging that his sentiments have changed to some degree, but it may still be difficult for other lawmakers to gain his support.

There may be a number of reasons that Putin and other lawmakers have become more willing to legalize online poker. The biggest explanation appears to be a public poll that shows 84% of Internet users feel that online poker should be legalized. Lawmakers may want to liberalize the online gambling industry to win support of these people before the next elections.

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Argentina Trade Group Drafts Proposal for Online Gaming Regulations

August 28th, 2014 by

The Argentinean government legalized online gambling about a decade ago. The first online gambling license was issued in 2002, but many trade groups have raised issues with the regulatory framework. The Board of the Association of Lotteries, Pools and Casinos (ALEA) is drafting a new federal online gambling bill that it intends to release in the near future.

The current regulations are enforced by the 23 provinces of Argentina. This has led to a very fragmented and chaotic industry. The ALEA said that the online gaming industry is rife with corruption that provincial governments aren’t equipped to handle.

The organization believes that federal regulation will eliminate many of the problems the industry is facing. However, the ALEA’s online gambling bill may also face some legal challenges that it will need to overcome. Each province is allowed to create its own constitution and regulate trade within its borders. The ALEA is confident that its bill doesn’t violate provinces’ rights, but it may face some challenges in the Supreme Court of Justice.

Argentina lawmakers seem to support the new proposals, because it would help them overcome some of their fiscal problems. The country had a debt to GDP ratio of 166% in 2002. Argentina also has an annual rate of inflation that may exceed 100% and an unemployment rate of 22%. Federal regulation of online gambling may not help the country emerge from its hyperinflationary depression, but it may be part of a larger strategy for economic reform.

Argentinean online gaming providers have struggled to compete with most established brands from other countries. The ALEA is confident that a more consolidated industry will allow them to compete in the global market.

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Netherlands Lawmakers Insist on 29% Tax to Legalize Online Gambling

August 25th, 2014 by

Netherlands lawmakers are discussing a new bill that would legalize online gambling. Most Members of Parliament support the initiative, but disagreement over taxes has stalled discussions.

The bill states that online gaming providers would need to pay a 20% tax rate on all online gambling revenues. However, the Social Democrat Party of the Netherlands feels that rate is far too low. Party leaders have said that support is contingent on a 29% consumption tax on all online gambling revenues. They said that the lower tax rate would give online gaming providers a disparate advantage over land-based casinos.

Other lawmakers feel the proposed 20% tax rate is ideal. They are concerned that higher taxes would be devastating for smaller online gaming operators that can’t afford those taxes. They said that the higher taxes would cause more problems than it solve. A source that is familiar with the new proposals warned that a 29% tax would drive many consumers to unregulated black market gaming sites.

Some lawmakers even feel that the proposed 20% tax rate is too high. They have suggested lowering it to 10% to ensure enough gaming providers participate in the new market. Paddy Power and a number of other online gaming providers have warned that they won’t be able to offer their services in the Netherlands if the tax isn’t reduced further.

Many industry experts hoped that Parliament would pass the bill by the end of the week. Lawmakers are unlikely to meet that time frame, unless gridlock over the new tax rate is resolved. Online gaming providers are discouraged with the holdup, but would rather wait for the government to agree on a fair tax rate.

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Singapore Considers Using French Online Poker Model

August 20th, 2014 by

Singapore lawmakers have expressed an interest in regulating online poker. They feel that the French regulatory model has worked well and would like to emulate it. The country’s government officials recently consulted with leaders from ARJEL, the French gaming regulator.

Singapore government officials feel that a strict regulatory model would be ideal. They have said that ARJEL’s system has worked out better than its counterparts in other parts of the world. However, many French poker players have disagreed. They have stated that high taxes and draconian regulations have driven many players onto gray market gaming sites. Data from PokerScout and ARJEL shows that nearly one in ten players is using unregulated offshore gaming providers.

ARJEL leaders deny that their regulations have contributed to the decline in the nation’s online poker market. They feel that industry has lost its novelty factor, which has caused players to lose interest. However, statements from many players indicate otherwise. Jueline Ferey, a renowned poker coach and player, said that enthusiasm is actually growing as the industry matures.

Nevertheless, Ferey is worried that the market has declined over the past couple years. He said that the problem is that the regulations are overly restrictive. He said that ARJEL will need to loosen standards to help the industry thrive.

Singapore lawmakers are still debating the best way to regulate the industry. They acknowledge that the French system may not be perfect, but feel that it seems to offer better player protections than the models in other parts of Europe. They haven’t drafted a formal online gambling bill yet, but are expected to introduce one in the coming year.

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Portugal to Create Compulsive Gambler Blacklist

August 18th, 2014 by

Portugal recently announced that it released its plans to liberalize online gaming. The new plan is encouraging to players that have been waiting for the government to regulate the online gaming industry. However, the new regulations also include some strict guidelines that players will need to be aware of. The government will establish a national blacklist of compulsive gamblers.

Many countries have created blacklists of online gaming providers. However, Portugal is possibly the only jurisdiction to create a state organized blacklist for players. Online gambling providers would need to keep track of compulsive gamblers and share their names with their competitors. The new blacklist would include the names, ages and social security numbers of all banned players. People on the blacklist would be ineligible to create new accounts or make deposits to online gaming sites.

The Portuguese government acknowledged that the new measure is very strict, but said that it was necessary to protect players. Lawmakers argue that compulsive gambling is a serious problem in Portugal and want to take all necessary measures to fight it.

The media has heavily criticized the government for failing to deal with problem gambling over the last few years. Lawmakers have apparently created a mo blacklist in response to those arguments. However, it is unclear whether the solution will be as effective as the government intends. Critics have stated that casinos have chosen to ignore similar blacklists for players using brick-and-mortar casinos.

Online gaming operators that offer services to citizens on the blacklist face severe consequences, including possible imprisonment and hefty fines. The government hasn’t stated whether players would face any consequences for legalizing online gambling.

 

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New Norway Poker Laws Will Allow for National Poker Event

August 14th, 2014 by

The government of Norway is considering liberalizing the gambling industry. The Ministry of Culture recently recommended allowing licensed operators to offer home poker games and tournaments. Experts from Pokerfuse.com and TightPoker.com are encouraged by the announcement and believe lawmakers may be more inclined to legalize online poker in the future.

Lawmakers have taken a more favorable view of online gambling since the end of last year. Ola “Odd Oddsen” Amundsrud, one of the country’s most successful poker players, played a 10k hand competition against Deputy Representative of Parliament Erlend Wiborg. Amundsrud proved that poker was a game of skill, which could help encourage lawmakers to legalize it in the future.

Norwegian poker players should be encouraged by the news. They have been forced to travel to other countries to participate in annual poker tournaments. They would rather have the opportunity to participate in a tournament in their own country. The new tournaments will need to be implemented on a small scale. The Ministry of Culture recommends capping each event to ten players and limiting the buy-in to 500 Kroner. Some players may not appreciate these new policies, but appreciate that it is a step towards more liberal poker laws.

Many players have also expressed interest in a regulated online poker industry and hope lawmakers launch one in the future. Several lawmakers have introduced legislation to legalize online poker. Their proposals have been postponed so that the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) can evaluate them. The delay may actually be beneficial for online poker advocates, because lawmakers may be more likely to pass the bill if the national poker tournament works out.

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