Casino News Blog

Swiss Lawmakers Aim to Regulate Online Gambling and Remove Offshore Providers

October 1st, 2014 by

The Swiss government is considering regulating online gambling. Lawmakers said online gambling isn’t meaningfully different from traditional casino games, so feels there isn’t any reason to prohibit it. They discussed regulatory options at the recent Conference of the Cantonal Directors in Charge of Gambling and Lotteries (CDCM).

The government began discussing liberalizing the online gambling industry in May. The bill contained a consultation date of August 20. The CDCM held a preliminary assembly on online gambling in June before having a more detailed discussion this week. Lawmakers will likely need additional time to iron out some of the details of the proposed legislation.

It didn’t contain many details, such as the possibility of allowing foreign gaming providers to participate in the market. Lawmakers and regulators wanted to discuss those specifics at the CDCM before moving forward.

The CDCM attendees discussed the best way to regulate the new industry. They believe online gambling licenses should be restricted to existing casinos. The CDCM stated that allowing providers that specialize in online gambling would lead to a number of social problems. They fear that allowing foreign online gaming providers to participate in the market would jeopardize the Swiss gaming industry. It warned that foreign gaming providers have developed sophisticated platforms and have much more experience with online gambling.

Lawmakers will continue discussing details of the bill before moving to a vote. The bill currently stipulates that online gambling winnings will be tax exempt, but that provision may be revised. The government may want to discourage players from betting on unregulated sites, but may decide to include some tax to avoid running a deficit this year.

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Betcoin Reduce Bitcoin Rake to Lure New Poker Players

September 27th, 2014 by

Betcoin is a popular poker site that only accepts bitcoin payments. The site recently reduced its rake to draw more players.

Betcoin currently offers one of the lowest rakes in the industry. Betcoin players will pay a 2.5% rake at standard tables, which is half the industry average of dot-com poker sites. Players using Heads Up tables are only charged rakes of 1.3%. Betcoin’s rakes are about the same as those offered by SealsWithClubs, the most popular bitcoin only poker site.

Bitcoin poker networks will probably become more popular in the coming year. Players have become disenfranchised with many other online poker sites over the last few years. Recent data from PokerScout shows the global online poker market declined 13% between June 2013 and June 2014. However, demand for bitcoin poker sites has grown substantially. Data from two of the largest bitcoin poker sites showed demand grew nearly 80% in 2013.

Players in France and many other jurisdictions have grown annoyed with the high tax structure these networks cause. They will probably be more likely to turn to Betcoin, SealsWithClubs and other bitcoin sites that offer low rakes. Countries with state controlled online gaming markets are able to offer much lower rakes. However, those networks have problems of their own. They are less likely to develop new products, so players tend to be less satisfied with their platforms and turn to black market gaming sites.

Betcoin has been growing rapidly since the beginning of the year. It launched a bitcoin animated slot machine in January, which allows players to win up to 1,000 times their original wager. The site has also formed a partnership with the Winning Poker Network.

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Chaffetz Cites Underage Gambling to Draw Support for Online Gaming Ban

September 25th, 2014 by

Rep. Jason Chaffetz is the author of a federal bill that would ban online gambling. Chaffetz has been struggling to gain support from his constituents and colleagues in the House of Representatives. He recently issued a new statement that the online gambling industry is exploiting minors. He claims that new regulations are necessary to protect minors. He said that traditional casinos can keep minors from gambling, but online gaming sites can’t verify the identities of their players.

“I am afraid that if we don’t move quickly and get some decent regulations in place, which we really don’t have right now, it will be too late to stop it from reaching all the states,” Chaffetz told Newsweek reporters.

Online gambling activists have countered many of Chaffetz’s arguments. They said that New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware have strong regulations to prevent underage citizens from gambling online. They said that the geolocation and player identification technology has been very effective.

People on both sides have raised the state’s rights argument. Online gambling activists feel that individual states should be allowed to offer online gambling to their citizens. Opponents of online gambling feel that banning online gambling is necessary to protect state’s rights. They feel it is impossible to keep people from accessing online gambling if it is available in neighboring states.

Chaffetz is adamant that Utah, his home state, is opposed to all forms of online gambling legislation. Utah has banned all forms of online gambling and doesn’t want to make it easier for his citizens to access it. He doesn’t believe technology is very effective and states that banning online gambling is the only sensible solution.

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California Won’t Legalize Online Poker in 2014

September 22nd, 2014 by

California State Senator Lou Correa decided to pull his ca online poker bill earlier this week. Most experts were optimistic that a bill introduced by Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer would still be passed. They were discouraged to hear that Jones-Sawyer pulled his bill the following day.

Lawmakers have been trying to pass an online poker bill for several years. Opposition from the state’s tribes and other gaming interests kept them from making headway in previous years. The majority of the state’s tribes and card rooms finally reached a consensus on an online poker bill this year, which led many pundits to believe that a bill would be passed this year.

The announcement has dampened morale slightly in the online poker community, but most experts are confident a bill will be passed in the foreseeable future. A spokesperson for Jones-Sawyer told Online Poker News the movement to regulate intrastate poker has gained considerable momentum. Jones-Sawyer indicated an intention to reintroduce his bill next year. Correa has exhausted his term limit, so another senator will need to introduce a companion bill if Jones-Sawyer’s fails to be passed.

The online poker movement has been turbulent over the past few months. Casino magnate Sheldon Adelson has spent millions lobbying to ban online poker. Senator Roderick Wright, a long-term poker advocate, was convicted on federal charges of voter fraud.

Jones-Sawyer acknowledged these challenges, but stated they haven’t had anything to do with the failure to pass a bill to regulate online poker. He said that the legislature simply ran out of time. The state’s largest gaming interests didn’t reach a compromise until early June, which didn’t give lawmakers much time to discuss their proposed legislation. They will have more time to discuss the matter in 2015, so an online poker bill may finally be passed.

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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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