Archive for May, 2011

Montana Senate Committee Rejects Blackjack Bill

Although the existing casinos in Montana currently lack the resources and the funds to add blackjack tables to their establishments, the Montana Senate Committee has rejected the blackjack bill and hence blackjack card games will not be legalized in Montana.

As with other states the arguments for the expansion of the gambling industry by adding blackjack to the list of games offered, and against it are still the same. Some people think that the legalizing gambling would help increase the states income since the tax payers money will be invested within the state and not in the neighboring states as is now happening.

Although Montana is known to have a large number of blackjack players, not many stepped forward to support the bill, and the reasons are still unknown. However, those who did speak up were against the expansion since they considered it as being done at the cost of social services.

The Senate Representative, Tony Belcourt, who was hoping to push through the bill, owns a bar and he stated that his business has declined since the ban on smoking in casinos was imposed. Many people have their own reasons for not supporting the bill although they may be offering similar services of gambling professionally.

Nevada Online Gambling Bill

The Nevada State Assembly passed an online gaming bill this week.

The bill would develop a licensing system for online poker businesses in Nevada, but its passage and implementation hinges on the federal government’s move toward legalized online gambling throughout the country.

Originally, the bill would have legalized online poker in Nevada, but just days before Black Friday – or April 15, the day the government effectively shut down online poker in the U.S. – the bill was revised to define legalized online gaming in Nevada as directly connected to legal throughout the U.S.

The bill instructs regulators to draft rules now that will be effective once federal legislation is passed, should that happen.

If passed by the state senate – an action that is expected to happen – the bill would place Nevada in an excellent position to become an effective licensing system for online gaming companies and would also place Nevada ahead of other states that are also trying to enact some kind of legal online gaming.

The bill that was originally introduced to the State Assembly was heavily backed by PokerStars, one of the online poker rooms shut down by the government. The online poker room donated more than $270,000 to political campaigns in Nevada, but those donations now appear to have violated federal law. Most or all of the contributions have since been returned.

GiGA New Formation

A powerhouse international internet gaming group formed recently and is dedicated to consulting and advising with companies that might soon entering into the U.S. online gaming market.

Three companies have come together to form the Global iGaming Advisors, or GiGA. They are UK-based H2 Gambling Capital, Gaming Edge Associates and New Jersey-based Spectrum Gaming Group. Their decades of combined experience will be harnessed to best consult with companies that might enter the U.S. internet gambling market, which many expect will soon be open.

“Our partnership brings together our gambling knowledge and expertise from both the European online and U.S. retail markets and we are excellently positioned to advise clients looking to develop their online business, especially with regulatory changes expected in the U.S.,” said Anton Bell, a GiGA partner in a press release.

The many GiGA services will include evaluating the market and determining the feasibility of business opportunities, basic strategy and planning, help with business launches and implementation, and assisting with licensing and fiscal evaluations.

“Our growing U.S. client base welcomes the expertise that H2 and Gaming Edge bring, especially their hands-on experience working with many of the leading online operators,” said Michael Pollack, managing director of Spectrum Gambling Group. “Our network of longstanding relationships with U.S. land-based operators, lottery directors and legislators enables us to connect clients with the right people, informed and equipped with the knowledge to make the right business decisions.”

Stars Returns Money

PokerStars announced this week that it has so far returned more than $100 million to U.S. players following its closure after the U.S. Department of Justice indictment on April 15.

The company says it is still receiving requests for pay-out and will continue to abide by the April 20 agreement it reached with the government that allows the company to pay U.S. customers who want to cash out their PokerStars accounts.

PokerStars was forced to close its doors to U.S. customers after the government indicted 11 people associated with online poker including the founders of PokerStars as Full Tilt Poker. The government charges both companies (along with Ultimate Bet) with money laundering and bank fraud. The indictments have effectively shut down online poker in the United States, though the companies are still operating successfully and fully in other countries.

For U.S. players who are simply interested in learning the game, PokerStars.net is still operational and offers players an opportunity to learn the game without an exchange of real money.

Dearfoams sponsor WSOP

The company may not carry the same sexy allure that poker often carries with it, but Dearfoams has been named the official footwear sponsor of the World Series of Poker.

Players can benefit from the comfy and cozy appeal of the Dearfoams slippers since they will be promoted heavily throughout the event via the company’s logo, signage and thousands of pairs of slippers that will appear on-site throughout the month-long event.

In addition, all players in WSOP main event tournaments will be given Dearfoams slippers to wear while they play. In addition, WSOP dealers at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas and ESPN’s camera crew are also invited to wear Dearfoams slippers throughout the event as well.

Since the U.S. government crackdown, American poker players haven’t been able to get their online poker fix, and that also means that chances to win seats at the WSOP are limited since players often play in satellites as sites like Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars to win their seats. But Dearfoams is launching a promotion that will allow one player a $10,000 seat the WSOP Main Event.

“We are very excited to partner with the WSOP,” said Mark Zobel, VP of marketing for the R.G. Barry Corp., the parent company of Dearfoams. “Dearfoams will enable players at the WSOP Main Event to ‘make themselves comfortable’ at the table, allowing them to worry about their hand, not about their feet.”

The WSOP kicks off at the Rio on May 31.

AGA pushing for new Online Gambling Legislation

According to recent media reports, the American Gaming Association is beginning to lobby Congress to pass legislation that will regulate online poker in the United States.

The AGA is the official lobbying arm of the casino industry and its entrance into the online poker lobby indicates to online gaming watchers that the brick and mortar casinos are more interested than ever in entering into online play.

According to the Associated Press, the AGA held a press conference this week which was attended by several heads of major casinos in the U.S.

“The millions of Americans who are playing poker online deserve to know they are playing safely with law-abiding operators,” said AGA CEO Frank Fahrenkopf.

It’s not clear yet if the AGA is proposing that Congress pass HR1174, or the Internet Gambling Regulation, Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act, which is currently before the Congress, or if the AGA is pushing for new legislation altogether. HR1174 is similar to legislation that was pushed through Congress late last year before it was shut down.

All of this comes less than a month after the Department of Justice shut down three of the top online poker rooms in the world, immediately stopping game play at those sites by American citizens. PokerStars.com and Full Tilt Poker were two of the rooms targeted in that sting.

AP filing bankruptcy

MSNBC.com is reporting that Absolute Bet and its spinoff venture Ultimate Bet will be filing for bankruptcy shortly.

On April 15, the federal government seized domain names, monies and other business capital from three of the major online poker rooms including AP. Within a week, Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars had reached an agreement with the government to open their doors briefly in order to return account monies to players.

When AP resisted such an agreement, many speculated it was because the company didn’t have the monies to return to all American players. Now, that speculation might turn out to be right.

MSNBC is also reporting that 300 of the company’s Costa Rican employees will lose their jobs. According to the site, 300 employees accounts for 95 percent of the AP workforce in Costa Rica.

Company owner Blanca Gaming indicated that the company “had no cash on hand and no prospects for future cash flow.” The company also indicated that they would not be able to make payments to players or vendors.

WSOP 55 Bracelet Events Coverage

Last week, officials with the World Series of Poker announced that television coverage of the event is more than doubling and this week, officials announced that fans can watch live coverage of 55 gold bracelet events via the internet.

Fans can simply head to WSOP.com, which will stream the coverage on a five-minute delay. Coverage will be provided via two cameras and audio. Some angles will include a wide overhead shot of the entire table and the participants at that table; a flop camera will provide visual sightlines. The announcer will provide coverage of the betting action as it occurs.

According to the WSOP, this is the first time in WSOP history that all 58 gold bracelet events will be given some kind of video coverage. It’s already been announced that ESPN3 will stream the $25K Heads Up tournament, the $50K Poker Players Championship and the Main Event.

“We are proud to provide video of the culminating action to a worldwide audience in real time,” WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart said. “This online initiative will complement our spectacular television package on ESPN and deliver even more of this year’s WSOP to fans who want the most immediate coverage possible.”

PPA again lobbying for online poker

The Washington Post is reporting that the Poker Players Alliance is ramping up its efforts to get online poker legalized in the United States.

Following the April 15 shutdown of online poker, many believed that hopes for legalized online poker were all but dead. The Department of Justice has charged three of the world’s largest and most successful online gaming companies with various gambling offenses as well as bank fraud and money laundering.

On April 15, the day commonly referred to in the poker world now as “Black Friday”, the DOJ shut down the websites of the three major online poker companies and froze bank accounts.

But the Poker Players Alliance is taking this opportunity to ramp up those efforts to get online poker legalized. According to the Washington Post, the lobbying group has “unleashed a blizzard of telephone calls and e-mails to lawmakers in the past two weeks.”

According to the article, many gaming advocates actually see the shutdown of the online poker rooms as a new opportunity for American companies. Since all of the companies that operate in the United States are operated offshore, many believe that pushing them out of the country will allow large brick-and-mortar casinos, such as Caesars Entertainment Corp. and Wynn Resorts, for example, to successfully open online poker rooms in the United States.

“I hope we can get something done,” said Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), who recently tried to get Congress to pass an online poker bill. “It’s something that has to be regulated. The commodity is cash and we have to be very, very careful that we do it the right way when it deals with interstate commerce.”

ESPN coverage of 2011 WSOP

Though online poker is currently in danger stateside, tournament poker is alive and well.

Poker fans are gearing up for the July playing of the 2011 World Series of Poker, and ESPN announced this week that it will offer unprecedented access to the WSOP’s main event. In all, ESPN announced that it would offer more than 34 hours of coverage in HD on ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN3.com.

Some new aspects of ESPN’s coverage will include live unedited hole cards on a 30 minute delay and daily coverage of the WSOP main event. During the Main Event, ESPN will show every hand and hole cards. The coverage will shift between two feature tables about every 30 minutes, and will show “all in” and “call” situations at both tables played at the casino.

“For the first time viewers at home will have the best seats in the house for the World Series of Poker, poker’s premier event,” said Matthew Holt, ESPN manager of programming and acquisitions. “The fans will see hole cards post-flop and get an inside look at all of the strategy, angst and competition of the world’s best players vying for a seat at the most prestigious final table in the sport.”

Other ESPN coverage will include blogs, podcasts, videos, interviews with the game’s top players and more. The Main Event will be held at the Rio All Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas from July 14 to July 19.