Casino News Blog

House of Lords Passes UK Gambling Bill

April 19th, 2014 by

The UK House of Lords has passed a new bill that will reform the gambling industry. The bill will create a number of changes that will affect both land-based and online gaming providers. The most significant reform is a requirement that all online gaming operators hold a UK gaming license to offer their services within the country.

The House of Lords supported most of the measures in the bill. There were only a couple of amendments that the Lords took issue with. The first provision that they debated was a horse racing levy.

They also voted against an amendment that would create new limitations on gambling advertisements. The UK Gambling Commission said that it would study the impact of the new advertising rules in the future and make a recommendation to Parliament. The House of Lords may be more likely to support the amendment after the review is completed.

The new gaming bill also has a 15% point of consumption tax on all gaming income derived from UK citizens. The tax will not apply to gaming revenue from customers in other countries. The new tax was written to deter gaming providers from avoiding taxes by relocating to other countries.

Some countries are upset by the new point of consumption tax. The Gibraltar government is afraid that many gaming providers in its country will return to the United Kingdom since they can no longer circumvent the UK gaming tax. However, William Hill has said that it will remain in Gibraltar for the foreseeable future.

The House of Commons will need to hold its final vote on the bill before it can be enacted. MPs have already read and passed previous versions of the bill, so they are expected to pass the final version in the next couple of weeks. Chancellor George Osborne is expected to sign the bill, which means the new law will likely go into effect this summer.

 

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Chevron Files Lawsuit Against PartyGaming CEO

April 16th, 2014 by

Russ DeLeon, one of the largest shareholders of PartyGaming is facing legal challenges with Chevron Corp. DeLeon helped fund an environmental lawsuit against the multinational energy company in Ecuador. Chevron has since retaliated by filing a lawsuit of its own. The lawsuit claims that DeLeon knew that the plaintiffs were using criminal tactics to win the lawsuit.

Documents from the prior lawsuit show that DeLeon gave the plaintiffs nearly $2 million. In return, he expected to receive about a quarter of the proceeds of any future settlement.

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled that the lawsuit was a clear violation of the RICO Act. Morgan Crinklaw, a spokesperson from Chevron, has seized on the statement. She said that DeLeon and the plaintiffs should be held accountable for trying to extort Chevron.

The lawsuit will be heard in Gibraltar since that has been DeLeon’s primary place of residence for the past six years. Judge Christopher Butler ruled against a motion to dismiss the case and stated that Chevron could move forward with the ruling. Butler doesn’t seem to be aware of Kaplan’s ruling that DeLeon and the plaintiffs in the original case violated United States RICO laws. He did cite previous findings from the U.S. judge, but isn’t required to use them as the basis for his own ruling.

DeLeon is already struggling to recover from the aftermath of his recent divorce. He and his wife were both priority shareholders in PartyGaming. Their divorce has created challenges for both of them and other PartyGaming investors. The new lawsuit won’t bode well for DeLeon either, but is unlikely to have as much of an impact on the company as his divorce.

 

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Belgian Gaming Commission Could Prosecute Players Using Unregulated Gaming Sites

April 15th, 2014 by

Many gaming regulators in Europe have begun fining prosecuting unregulated online gaming providers. However, the Belgian Gaming Commission is taking an even stricter view on online gaming. Gaming authorities have indicated that they may prosecute players that use unregulated gaming sites as well. They said that players have had four years to familiarize themselves with the policies and have no excuse for failing to comply.

The BGC prosecuted a number of players in a bar several months ago. The players were engaged in offline gambling, but the BGC stated that it may start prosecuting players using unregulated gaming sites as well. The Public Prosecutor’s office would have final say on whether or not to pursue charges. However, the gaming regulator has the authority to initiate the process. They could also impose fines on players even if prosecutors decide not to take the case.

DLA Piper, a Belgium law firm that specializing in gaming law, is following the case closely. The firm is curious what measures the BGC will take in the near future. They wrote that threats to prosecute players is unprecedented and aren’t sure whether the regulator will follow through with the threat.

Marjolein De Paepe, a spokesperson for the BGC, said that the regulator made the new policies very clear. She said that players have been given ample opportunity to adapt to the new regulations. De Paepe said that the regulator will not hesitate to prosecute players.

There are currently six regulated online gaming providers in Belgium. Attorneys encourage players to limit their activity to these sites to avoid prosecution.

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Rhode Island Lottery Director Hesitant to Promote Legalizing Online Poker

April 9th, 2014 by

Rhode Island lawmakers have been considering legalizing online poker since the Justice Department amended its interpretation to the Wire Act. They are investigating the benefits and social consequences of legalization. Gerald S. Aubin, the Rhode Island Lottery Director, recently hinted that he may be opposed to legalizing online poker. However, Aubin said that the matter is for the state legislature and voters to decide.

Aubin didn’t raise concerns about any potential negative implications of legalizing online poker. He said that his concerns are purely logistical. Aubin feels that online poker shouldn’t be legalized unless voters across the state approve. He said that it would also require an amendment to the state constitution. He is worried that it may not be feasible to pursue those changes to legalize online gambling, but didn’t rule out doing so.

The gaming community isn’t sure whether or not voters would choose to legalize online poker. They rejected a measure to expand a casino in Newport while supporting a proposal to expand another casino in Lincoln.

Steve Ruddock of Online Poker Report is optimistic that they would be in favor of online poker, because the state’s gambling industry accounts for a third of its budget. The state’s online poker industry would be unlikely to hurt the land-based casinos, which would mean that the state could generate significantly more revenue by taxing it. Ruddock also feels that legalizing online poker may even be essential to save the state’s casino industry, because it is losing market share to Massachusetts.

Since Aubin is pessimistic about legalizing online gambling, it is unlikely that the state will pursue it this year. Lawmakers are still expected to weigh the pros and cons and consider introducing a bill down the road.

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Shared Online Poker Market Receives Little Support in Spain

April 2nd, 2014 by

The country’s leading casinos are ecstatic that the new online gambling market will be launched in a few months. Some experts hope that the government will extend the regulations to allow gaming providers to share players with their counterparts in other EU member nations. However, a leading authority on the Spanish gambling industry feels that shared player pools will not be a top priority in the near future.

Albert Agustinoy Guilayn, a gambling expert from one of Spain’s top law firms, said that few casinos are advocating for shared liquidity. Guilayn said that they are focused on developing new products for their players in Spain.

Guilayn said that a few Spanish casinos have an oligopoly on the country’s gaming industry. They seem to be afraid of new competitors and are unlikely to support shared player pools.

Carlos Hernandez Rivera, the head of the Spanish gaming regulator, is in favor of shared liquidity. However, Guilayn feels that Rivera will be unable to gain enough support from lawmakers or industry leaders. The gaming regulators from Spain and Italy have been discussing possible compacts with their counterparts in other parts of Europe, but those negotiations have been unsuccessful so far. France has refused to participate in a shared online poker market and other countries seem hesitant to join.

The Spanish gaming industry is already undergoing significant changes. The government recently regulated slot machines and has finally liberalized online gambling. Guilayn said that lawmakers and industry leaders will need time to acclimate to these changes before proceeding with other proposals. They may consider shared liquidity pools if the new market is shown to be profitable. However, lawmakers may want to wait at least a couple fo years before making such a proposal.

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Proposed Changes to Mexican Gambling Laws Concern U.S. Poker Players

April 1st, 2014 by

The Mexican government is considering making some changes to its gambling laws. The current laws have been in effect since 1947 and almost all members of the government feel that they are obsolete.

The Ministry of Interior recently stated that it may create a National Institute of Gaming to oversee the new regulations. Interior Minister Miguel Angel Osorio Chong said that his agency will work closely with the House of Representatives to enact the new regulations.

The proposed changes have created concerns for many poker players that migrated from the United States. They believe that the new regulations would bar many prominent online gambling providers from operating in Mexico. They are also worried that gambling taxes will be increased substantially.

These are legitimate concerns, but it is too early for players to become nervous. The Ministry of Interior is still weighing options and hasn’t written any proposed regulations yet. He also hasn’t stated his feelings about online gambling.

There is also a good chance that the new law won’t even be passed. The government has proposed changes to gambling industry laws a number of times, but lawmakers have failed to come to an agreement. Most experts are skeptical that they will be any more successful this time around.

Chong hasn’t alluded to the changes the agency is considering. He will be working closely with Ricardo Mejía Berdeja of the Parliamentary Working Group, which means that Berdeja’s political views may foreshadow the new laws. However, any law that Berdeja and Chong come up with will need the support of the rest of Parliament to pass. Chong will also work with several other ministers and consultants in a variety of disciplines.

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iGNA Panel Discusses Outcomes of Regulated Online Poker in U.S.

March 28th, 2014 by

The United States online poker industry is still very young. A number of well-known online gambling experts discussed the landscape of the new industry at iGaming North America Conference.

The iGNA conference was held between March 19 and 21. It is one of the most important events for the new online gaming industry. It will be the first time that the conference has been held since any state has regulated online gambling. Many experts are still debating what impact online gambling has had for these state’s gaming industries.

The iGNA has stated that the U.S. online gaming industry was crippled by the Black Friday indictments. Industry leaders want to know what steps need to be taken to rebuild it. They have learned a number of lessons from both the victories and mistakes made over the past year.

Two online gambling executives were present at the conference. Chris Danek of Ultimate Poker and Bill Rini of Caesars Interactive shared their insights on the new industry. Danek and Rini have both participated in the gaming markets in Nevada and New Jersey. Their feedback will be highly beneficial for both lawmakers and the industry as a whole.

In addition to these executives, several prominent commentators in the online gaming industry will sit on the panel. Some of the panel members include:

  • Dan Stewart, the founder of PokerScout
  • John Mehaffey, an industrial analyst and writer for USPoker
  • Chris Grove, the editor of OnlinePokerReport.com

These experts discussed a number of topics that the industry is currently facing. These include concerns about the liquidity of the industry and the lessons that the industry has learned since Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey regulated online gambling. They may also discuss the compact that Delaware and Nevada recently signed.

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Oklahoma Tribes Abandon Plans to Offer Online Gambling

March 27th, 2014 by

Two Oklahoma tribes announced plans to launch an online gambling site called PokerTribes.com. the site would offer real money online poker to players in other countries. The Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes forged a compact with the state government, but their proposal was overturned by the federal government. The two tribes filed a lawsuit against the government to offer online gambling, but have since decided to abandon plans to offer online gambling.

The federal government has imposed very strict laws against offering online poker across state lines. However, the legality of online poker wasn’t the core issue in this case. The Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes wouldn’t have violated U.S. online gambling laws by offering online poker to other countries. The concern was the revenue sharing agreement between the tribes and the state of Oklahoma. The federal government opposed the proposal because it felt that the deal inequitably favored the state.

Both tribes disagreed and decided to fight the decision in federal court. They filed a lawsuit against the Department of Interior in December. The lawsuit stated that the Department of Interior didn’t have exclusive jurisdiction over the deal and shouldn’t have been the final arbitrator. They hoped to have the decision overturned. However, they recently decided to drop their lawsuit.

The tribes spent nearly $10 million developing their site. They hoped that they would be able to recoup their investment. They may consider offering real money poker to overseas customers again in the future, but their plans will need to be suspended indefinitely. PokerTribes.com may continue to offer free-to-play poker. However, the tribe’s ultimate goal was to monetize the site by offering real money poker so they may decide to shut the entire site down in the future.

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Regulated Online Poker Revenues Begin to Fall in Italy

March 25th, 2014 by

Licensed online poker providers are struggling to maintain profitability in Italy. A recent report from Amministrazione Autonoma dei Monopoli di Stado (AAMS), the nation’s gaming regulator, found that online poker revenues declined by 20% from January 2013 to January 2014. The report also stated that online poker revenues have fallen by 50% since the beginning of 2012.

The report shows that PokerStars Italy is currently leading the market, although the firm’s revenues have dropped significantly over the last two years. A recent report from PokerScout shows that PokerStars accounts for slightly over half the cash game traffic and revenue in the state. Other PokerScout reports show that the company typically generates about three quarters of the online poker revenues in other European countries.

The regulatory environment in Italy is very similar to that of Spain and most other European countries. However, the market appears to be more competitive. PokerStars may be having a difficult time competing with many of the local gaming operators. The company has found it much easier to compete in the Spanish gaming market, because the only competitor, Codere, has failed to gain an edge over global poker brands.

Gaming revenues in Italy are expected to decline for the foreseeable future. Many gaming providers are already reluctant to participate in the Italian gaming market. The country’s taxes aren’t quite as high as those imposed in France, but they are still higher than many other countries. The tax doesn’t appear to be generating much revenue for the country, because the AAMS has been forced to merge with the Division of Customs. Gaming providers may be inclined to leave the Italian market if revenues don’t improve in the near future.

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Online Poker Will Not Be Included in Florida Online Poker Bill

March 23rd, 2014 by

The Florida Senate Gaming Committee introduced a gambling reform bill earlier this week. The new reforms will be enacted on July 1 if the bill is passed. The gaming industry was hoping that the new bill would legalize online poker, but the bill will clearly be limited to land-based casinos. However, it is still possible that online poker will be legalized in Florida later this year.

The current bill is an initial proposal to expand Florida’s gambling industry. Lawmakers are still discussing the law and are open to making revisions. The law could be changed to include online poker if enough lawmakers feel that it would benefit the state.

Online poker could still be legalized even if it isn’t included in the new gambling reform bill. The proposed bill doesn’t bar the state from authorizing an online gambling bill in the future. Lawmakers could pass a separate bill for that purpose.

The chance that the gambling reform bill will be passed could also be smaller than many people expect. Lawmakers are often hesitant to pass large bills. They tend to break them down into several smaller bills that are less complex. This means that the state’s gambling industry could be reformed in different phases. If lawmakers chose to go this route, they would be forced to discuss separate bills in much more detail. They would be more likely to discuss the future of gambling reform.

While many people were disappointed that the gambling reform proposal didn’t mention online poker, there is still a chance that it could be legalized this year. The current session doesn’t begin until the beginning of March and will last until the end of May. Lobbyists still have plenty of time to convince lawmakers to pass a bill to regulate online poker.

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