Archive for the 'Casino' Category

House of Lords Passes UK Gambling Bill

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.

 

Chevron Files Lawsuit Against PartyGaming CEO

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.

 

Belgian Gaming Commission Could Prosecute Players Using Unregulated Gaming Sites

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.

Shared Online Poker Market Receives Little Support in Spain

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.

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

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.

Oklahoma Tribes Abandon Plans to Offer Online Gambling

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.

French President Appoints Head of Observatory to Lead ARJE

The French gambling industry is facing a number of challenges. Gaming revenues from regulated providers have been plummeting and lawmakers are trying to offer more customer protections. Jean-François Vilotte’s resignation as the president of ARJEL was a setback for them. Vilotte announced that he was stepping down from his role with the French gaming regulator in December. President François Hollande has finally appointed his successor.

Charles Coppolani, the former head of Observatoire des Jeux (ODJ) will assume the new role. The ODJ was founded to study the social and economic impacts of gambling. Hollande is confident that Coppolani is the most qualified for the job. Coppolani has a background in law and has been a professor at the University of Law, Economics and Social Sciences.

A recent report from Hollande said that ARJEL faces two conflicting interests. The regulator needs to protect citizens from fraud and exploitation. However, it also needs to protect the interests of the gambling markets. Balancing the two interests can difficult, but Hollande feels that Coppolani can handle both responsibilities.

Coppolani clearly has the credentials needed to lead ARJEL. However, the transition may be stressful for him. The gaming industry is declining and many citizens are using gray market online gaming providers. However, French lawmakers are hesitant to make reforms that would change the landscape of the gaming industry. Villotte tried to change the tax structure of the gaming industry and allow gaming providers to share player pools with other jurisdictions. He chose to resign after they refused to consider his changes.

Coppolani will face some challenges in his new role. However, he is confident that he can live up to his new responsibilities.

Troika Orders Portugal to Legalize Online Gambling This Month

Portugal has received a lot of criticism for its inflexible online gambling laws. Many politicians and industry professionals have complained that the country’s existing online gambling laws violate free trade treaties with the rest of the European Union.

Many Portugal lawmakers have also criticized the delays. The country is facing record deficits and has a debt-to-GDP ratio of 124%. Germany and other members of the Eurozone have forced the country to implement a number of austerity measures to reduce its debt burden. Many members of Parliament pointed out that the country could avoid further budget cuts by increasing revenues significantly through taxing online gambling.

The European Commission has finally ordered the country to legalize online gambling by the end of the month. The online gaming community is relieved that the European Commission has finally intervened. The Portuguese government has consistently stated that it would legalize online gambling. However, it has failed to make the necessary changes. Online gaming advocates have consistently brought the case to the European Union.

Many people are surprised that Troika has actually stepped in. The council has been criticized in the past for “rarely barking and never biting” when EU member states violate free trade treaties. However, it has clearly been under increased pressure to enforce those compacts in recent months.

While the new ruling is encouraging, many online gaming providers may still be reluctant to participate in the new market. The country is currently imposing a 25% tax rate on gaming revenues. Most gaming providers will have a difficult time competing in the new market. However, lawmakers are under political pressure to maintain the existing tax rate. They may lower the rate in the future if few providers pursue online gaming licenses.

 

Norwegian Culture Minister Recommends Live Poker Tournament Championship

The Norwegian government currently has a monopoly on the country’s gambling industry. Several lawmakers have proposed allowing the free market to take control of the industry last October. They feel that foreign gaming operators would improve the state of the gaming industry. The Norwegian Cultural Minister, Thorhild Widvey proposed the first steps on Thursday. Widvey suggested offering a live poker tournament sometime next year.

Widvey has proposed several strict rules that clubs and casinos would need to follow if they ran the tournament. They would need to set a maximum buy-in to prevent high rollers from overspending. They would also need to limit the size of the prize pool. The Cultural Minister hasn’t stated what those limits will need to be.

Widvey discussed the proposal with Roy Steffensen, one of the Members of Parliament. She stated that she wants to create the regulatory framework for the new tournament in the next year.

The government wants to screen gaming providers carefully to ensure they would comply with the proposed tournament rules. Casinos and clubs would need to apply for a license before they could participate in the upcoming tournament.

Steffensen and other lawmakers are worried that the proposed tournament may be illegal. However, Widvey’s interpretation of the Gaming Act state that the government regulator can conduct and oversee tournaments. If her interpretation of the law is correct, Parliament may not need to pass a new law for Widvey to move forward.

Gambling opponents could still challenge her proposal. Widvey may need to defend it before the courts, but she is confident that won’t be a problem. The government is becoming more open to liberalizing the gaming industry and few critics seem like they want to go through the hassle.

Former Congresswoman Urges Congress Not to Ban Online Gambling

Sheldon Adelson is urging Congress to change the Wire Act and ban online gambling. Many online gaming advocates are trying to counter his arguments. A recent post from The Hill states that former Rep. Mary Bono is the most recent online gaming advocate to speak out against Adelson.

Bono used to be the Chairwoman of the House Commerce Subcommittee on Trade as well as a member of the Subcommittee on Technology. She recently told her former colleagues to fight back against any efforts to ban online gambling. She also wrote a piece in Roll Call stating “”Whether you gamble or not — and whether you participate in Internet games or not — it is clear that the prohibition of Internet gaming is a bad idea for Americans.”

The online gaming community has been fighting for legislation to support online gambling for years. They were ecstatic when the Department of Justice ruled that online gambling didn’t violate the Wire Act in 2011. However, Adelson and other lobbyists that oppose online gambling have been actively trying to make all forms of online gambling illegal again. They stated that online gambling creates a number of serious social risks for the entire country.

Bono wrote that banning online gambling never discouraged Americans from gambling over the Internet. She said that the government needs to focus on making online gambling safer for everyone rather than causing people to gamble on unregulated websites overseas.

Bono said that over a million Americans are taking a huge risk by gambling on foreign websites. She also pointed out that the state is missing out on a massive stream of potential revenue that it could generate by taxing online gambling.