Believe it or not, I’m playing online poker again. I’ve bought in three times already, so yay, it works (and is super-easy to play for real money), but cannot yet report on the cash-out process, because you know … damn river.
But now that we have online poker in Nevada definitively running and here to stay, I’ve started paying a little more attention, and it seems a lotta eyes are on New Jersey right now. Not only do you have Gov. Chris Christie making an aggressive, courts- and DOJ-challenging push for fully legalized and legitimized sports betting inside his borders, but also you have poker-loving state senator Ray Lesniak committed to making the state a global leader in online gambling (sports betting included) and start welcoming international players into the virtual borders of the Garden State without having to show a passport. Sure, Atlantic City may be closing down casinos, but sometimes you gotta get rid of the chaff. And that’s kinda what we could be seeing as two big poker tournament main events in New Jersey — one live and one online — coincide with all the semi-related New Jersey casino-world buzz.
The live tournament is the WPT Borgata Poker Open — a poker-world stalwart that has been serving up big-time televised final tables since Season 2 of the World Poker Tour. (They’re now in Season 13.) This year’s main event is a $3,500 buy-in, with $3 million guaranteed. They expect a good turnout based on preliminary events and online qualifiers that have been running on partypoker in New Jersey as well as partypoker worldwide.
But also going on simultaneously is partypoker’s Garden State Super Series — an online event open to anyone within New Jersey borders that’s shaping up to be the largest online tournament series in New Jersey history, and for that matter US history of the licensed and regulated sort. Both main events kick off on Sunday, with the GSSS guaranteeing $250,000 in prize pool — it’s a $200 buy-in — and $50,000 minimum for the winner.
Now for poker players, we realize these are not knock-your-socks-off big numbers. But they represent growth. Not booming growth, mind you, but more the slow, smart and sustainable type. It’s significant enough money in play for Mike Sexton (and presumably others) to be consciously choosing to play Day 1B of the WPT Borgata Poker Open main event so they can also play in the main event of the Garden State Super Series (without being distracted by an iPad at the table). Though I’m a little too far removed from Atlantic City to know if there’s an online-poker refugee or commuter culture sprouting up, we do know with events like the Garden State Super Series that the players are indeed showing up online, and this has everything to do with cooperation with a live casino such that both operations are ready to serve their players wherever they are seeking certain action.
The GSSS has already paid out more than $250,000, and has another $400,000 in guarantees starting Sunday. So far they’ve hit 14 out of 15 guarantees, so while not ridiculous, mind-blowing sums, it does give a sense of the significant and reliable American cash circulating in the New Jersey online poker economy.
A few other notable indicators you can see this weekend and beyond:
- multiple events, not just no-limit hold’em
- multiple buy-in levels
- multiple ways to qualify for all players
- converging live and online events
- chance to make a final table and end up on TV
- seats won through social freerolls
- hitting guarantees
Add it all up and you’re seeing a new era, with players who are ready, and both online sites and brick and mortar casinos doing the right things to integrate social players, recreational weekend warriors, and grinder pros alike … mixing it up for a vibe that in some ways isn’t too different from what partypoker was going for in the earliest days of poker coming of age.
It’s Responsible Gaming Education Week, August 4-8, you probably know, or maybe not, because “responsible gaming” isn’t exactly something we celebrate in a culture that extols the virtue of being “All In”. And it’s not likely that poker is about to see any special prizes for best bankroll management or superior game selection or, say, excellent investment of tournament winnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization.
So RGEW is an annual campaign from the National Center for Responsible Gaming, which is the AGA’s officially independent 501c3 that gets $25 million (a year?) from the casino industry to fund academic research in a transparent, peer-reviewed way that tries really hard to not look like Mad Men-era tobacco science.
This year’s theme: “Get to Know Responsible Gaming”. (A sensible revision to 2012’s plausibly oxymoronic “All In for Responsible Gaming”, no?) Anyhow, this new campaign caught my eye in part because I spent the better part of a semester last year doing research about gaming-related media and their connection to irresponsible gambling, particularly among those most vulnerable to manipulative messaging. Have a look if you like at 30+ pages of what is essentially just literature review on:
among Adolescents and Problem Gamblers
It’s riveting, I swear — delightfully long, dry, and unwieldy. I laughed, I cried, but mostly just committed follicular assault on myself while trying to grasp tenets of “academic writing” and APA style. (“Too much personality in your verbs,” my professor balked.)
Hey, it was good enough for a B. And if I learned anything from the process, it was that in a regulated industry there’s far more to the business of responsible gaming than a few glossy brochures in a dusty casino next to the taunting ATMs.
Sheldon Adelson turns 81 today, which makes him still just a kid according to my grandmother. We of course all know Adelson is a wealthy man, but I didn’t realize he was the richest person in Nevada (like by far). I mean sure, he woulda made my shortlist if you asked, but I didn’t really place his economic stature in context until seeing this bit of data porn showing who has the largest net worth by state.
So what do you get a man who has everything? OK, maybe Adelson doesn’t have everything, but he does have more personal wealth than the GDP of nearly 100 independent nations. He has so much money ($35.7 billion) that he could singlehandedly pay off ALL of Caesars’ debt and still have more than $12 billion left over — enough to still be the richest person in Nevada, as well as 34 other American states. Sooo … maybe just close your eyes and make a wish?
There are a few people who stand out in poker because they do things differently than most everyone else — in ways we all know we’d stand to benefit by emulating. Unfortunately, too often we don’t recognize that until these people are gone. Chad Brown will forever be attached to the Summer of 2014 for a bracelet he probably wished he didn’t have to win, and on Sunday is the farewell event open to players who want to remember poker is all about real life and real lives … and that’s what can make it so fun.
More at downtownchadbrown.org.
Even novice players know that a Royal Flush is the ultimate poker hand but even many experienced players might not realise just how rare getting the ten, jack, queen, king and ace of one suit actually is. Although movies like Casino Royale have made this most sought after hand seem within the realms of possibility the odds are truly stacked against you.
Of course, the chances of getting a Royal Flush no more difficult than getting any other 5 specific cards in a straight flush. A Royal Flush is 1 specific straight flush and there are 4 different ways in can occur, one for each suit. There are 2,598,960 different combinations in 5 card poker so there is a 4/2,598,960 or 1: 649,740 chance of getting a specific straight flush, including a Royal Flush using the formula (1/p) -1:1, with “p” being probability. The chances of drawing any straight flush, aside from a Royal Flush, are reduced to 1:72,192 since there are now 9 different hands which can be used to in 36 ways to make the hand.
To put that into context, you could be dealt 20 hands every day for a year (20 x 365 = 7300) from the time you were old enough to play poker (18 or 21 years old depending where you live) and mathematically speaking you would likely never get a natural Royal Flush (649,740/7300 = 89) unless you lived to 107 or 110 years old! It gets significantly easier of course to make a Royal Flush when you are discarding and picking up cards or have a flop as in Texas Hold’em. In a standard game of Texas Hold’em your chances of getting a Royal Flush improve to 1: 30,940 – so if you played 20 hands of poker a day, mathematically you’d get about 1 Royal Flush every 4 years. How about the chances of 2 players having a different Royal Flush in the same game? About 1: 1,516,060. What a cooler that would be!
There are worse odds however than getting a Royal Flush. In fact, if you think about it your chances of having any straight poker hand is only 1 out of the 2,598,960 possible combinations. Your chances of getting that hand again are exactly the same, meaning that it is very unlikely that most people are dealt the exact same hand twice over the course of their lifetimes! Other popular forms of gambling also offer worse odds. For example your odds of winning the lottery are only about 1 in 8 million at best – and with super-lotteries like Mega Millions your chances of winning the jackpot are a mere 1 in 259 million! With that said, if you did somehow manage to win the lottery you’d obviously make more a lot more money than you’ll ever make playing even the highest level of professional poker. With prizes worth hundreds of millions of dollars lottery is still by far the most popular form of betting, with millions of people buying tickets to each weeks draw, hoping that their lucky numbers come up despite the long odds.
Getting a Royal Flush is extremely difficult, even with a flop, so appreciate just how fortunate you are when it happens to you. And the next time that you hear a fellow poker player telling you about the number of Royal Flushes which they’ve had, take it with a grain of salt. A serious professional Texas Hold’em player will probably have a Royal Flush every year or two, a casual player maybe a handful in their lifetimes if they cards fall in their favour. However if you hear about a person who brags about getting a Royal Flush on the first five cards that they were dealt you should be wary – odds are that they are either dishonest, delusional or extremely lucky!
Luis Suarez, the Liverpool and the Uruguayan national team striker that is participating in the World Cup in Brazil, has been was named last month in Barcelona as the new ambassador of 888poker, one of the world’s leading poker rooms.
Recently chosen as ‘Best Player’ of the English Premier League by the association of the press and the competition itself, Luis Suarez is also a serious candidate to the ‘Golden Boot’ for this 2013/14 season. The Uruguayan sum 31 goals, the same as Cristiano Ronaldo (31), and three more than Leo Messi (28), his closest pursuers.
Suárez has said during the presentation that due to commitments with preparing the World Cup selection, he may not take part in events such as the WSOP, but has announced that in the near future he will appear in tournaments, both live and online.
The Uruguayan striker joins the 888poker team which already includes other athletes , although many of them are better known in the UK than in any other country.
“Luis is going to do a lot of very special things with our customers. He will bring exclusive content with him and users will be able to play online against him. That’s fantastic,” explained 888poker staff members.
In poker terms, the Uruguayan discovered it’s a game he really likes. “I love playing poker. It needs a lot of concentration and competitiveness that is exciting. I Like it. And everybody likes. I believe that to play for this home will be great fun.”
Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to poker Mr. Dwight Hiward — someone with the clever foresight to have been named after what would become a plausibly convenient typo for a popular basketball player’s name. A couple clicks reveal @pokerati’s new follower is way into poker. And hey, if his actual tweets turn out to be some new style of poker metaphor, gotta say … a little rough, but I think I like where you’re going with that, kid!
In April of this year, Ontario’s Auditor General, Bonnie Lysyk, released her report on the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation’s Modernization Plan. The report was prepared and made public in response to motions passed by the legislature’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts.
The report is a sobering read for OLG, for the government, and for anyone interested in gaming in Ontario. The report suggests that OLG’s decision-making and plans were unrealistic, short-sighted, and subject to unstable leadership and oversight. The key question coming out of it isn’t, however, what went wrong. It’s where does OLG go from here?
The Modernization Plan
In 2012, in partial response to a mandate to increase revenues to the province, OLG released its Modernization Plan. Modernization projected an additional cumulative C$4.6B in net profit to the province over the next 6 years; C$3B in new private-sector capital investment in Ontario; and an additional 2,300 new gaming-industry jobs and 4,000 new jobs in the hospitality, entertainment, and retail sectors. This would be accomplished by, among other things: moving casinos already in Ontario and opening new ones; expanding private sector delivery of lotteries and gaming; closing the Slots at Racetrack Program; expanding lottery ticket sales; and, introducing OLG’s own internet gaming initiative to the province.
Modernization was predicated on Ontario’s municipalities welcoming new gaming sites. In fact, several municipalities have rejected them. The online gaming initiative has been repeatedly delayed and is still unavailable. OLG is now trying to integrate horse racing into the Modernization Plan. The entire board of directors of OLG—including its chairman—and its CEO have left in the past year. As of March 2014, OLG has revised its projection of new net profit to Ontario from C$4.6B down to C$2.4B. The Auditor General still thinks this number too high and that C$1.8B is more realistic—40% of the original estimate two years ago.
What went wrong?
A number of problems arose to impair Modernization, some of which are of the OLG’s own making. First, the government and OLG did not adequately prepare and plan before launching what Lysyk calls “an ambitious, ‘best-case scenario’ Modernization Plan.” This was part of an “overly ambitious timeline,” delays to which “have caused significant uncertainty about the likelihood of achieving the revenues projected” by Modernization.
Second, Modernization depended on municipal buy-in to new and relocated casinos in Ontario, particularly in Toronto. The Auditor General notes that “most large host municipalities for these potential new gaming facilities (Greater Toronto Area municipalities, Hamilton, Ottawa, Kitchener and Waterloo) either have not accepted or have significantly changed OLG’s proposals.” As anyone who has advised participants in OLG’s land-based expansion program knows, it has been beset by delays, although Lysyk notes that procurement has been fair, open, and transparent.
Next, both financial and private-sector capital investment projections were overstated. The report argues that it’s more likely that there will be a net loss of provincial gaming jobs, not a net gain. Finally, the cancellation of the Slots at Racetracks Program was outlined in Modernization but came as a surprise to the horse-racing industry, suggesting inadequate consultation. OLG is belatedly trying to integrate horse-racing into Modernization, but the savings from cancellation are now estimated to be C$326M over the next 4 years which, the AG notes, is over 70% less than originally projected.
The government and opposition parties at Queen’s Park are predictably wrangling over the fallout from the Auditor General’s report. The current government is trying to pass off the damage to Dalton McGuinty, premier until early last year, and insists it is on track to balance the provincial budget by 2018 (which was one of the drivers of Modernization in the first place). The opposition describes Modernization as reckless and the government’s accounting as “full of holes.” It remains to be seen how much of a part the report will play in the provincial election that’s currently underway.
If it’s possible to set politics aside from gaming in Ontario, what happens to Modernization now? There are few clear answers. The plan continues, but it’s replete with delays and—even now, according to the AG—overly optimistic promises. It’s unclear whether most or all of the Modernization Plan has lost the confidence of stakeholders, of politicians, of the general public, and even of the OLG itself. Whether the government changes this year or not, there could be big changes at OLG, either in response to Lysyk’s report or simply to take provincial gaming into a new strategic direction.
Not all of OLG’s wounds were self-inflicted. The Auditor General points out that since 2005, OLG has gone through 5 board chairs and 7 CEOs and reported to 5 different government ministers. She wonders “if stable leadership and governance could have benefitted OLG and the gaming industry in Ontario.” The current Modernization problems may have happened anyway, but it must be hoped that the government and OLG have learned something from this report about how to better conduct and manage gaming in the province.
People often teach beginners about Texas Hold’em by explaining the value of the various poker hands. They then move on to discuss the blinds, pre flop, flop, the turn, etc. It can all get quite confusing. BetClic have provided Pokerati with a comprehensive interactive infographic that breaks the game down into its various stages. Have a play with it below if you want to know more. Perhaps you have a friend you’ve been trying to get into Texas Hold’em? This could be a good way to teach them the rules and the phases involved.
You can view the original infographic here.
The New York Senate considered legalizing online poker last year. They withdrew their proposal when they failed to gain support from lawmakers in the State Assembly. However, many senators are still committed to regulating online poker.
Sen. John Bonacic has recently introduced a bill that would allow gaming providers to offer certain types of poker games unlike the NJ online casino games offered by the garden state. Bonacic is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering. He intends to use his position to advocate for more liberal online gambling laws.
The state’s gaming laws list poker as a game of skill, rather than a game of chance. Bonacic’s bill would reclassify online poker as a game of skill, which would make it legal to offer within state borders.
The senator is using precedent from a federal case in 2012 to support his claim. Federal District Court Judge Jack Weinstein ruled that online poker was a game of skill, which meant that it doesn’t violate gaming laws. Weinstein’s ruling was ultimately overturned by the Appeals Court, but the court didn’t dispute his opinion that poker was a game of skill. This precedent gives Bonacic a strong argument that may encourage members of the Assembly to support his law.
Bonacic said that his new bill would help the state generate millions in new taxes. Gaming providers would need to pay $10 million to receive an online gaming license. They would also need to pay a 15% tax on all gaming revenue.
The bill also has a number of safeguards to limit the social risks of online poker. It includes a bad actors clause that would prevent any site that violated the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act from offering online poker in New York.
John Pappas, the head of the Poker Player’s Alliance, is encouraged by the new bill. However, he said that the Assembly hasn’t introduced a similar bill, which means that it may be difficult to pass it. Pappas said the gaming community shouldn’t be too optimistic until they see how other lawmakers respond to Bonacic’s proposals.
There’s a fair amount of research going on these days looking at that ever-fine line between gaming and gambling (Gainsbury, Russell, & Hing, 2014). This mini-documentary looks at the size and complexity of virtual gaming economies, and reveals how popular recreational online activities are vulnerable to cheaters and Chinese gold farmers (prisoners made to play video games for prison-guard profits) … which has some wanting regulatory oversight similar to gambling!
Who woulda guessed that online poker could provide a template for gamified digital consumer protections? (Really, it kinda-sorta is …)
I guess the real question is why not? If we are to move forward in modern technology than accepting the endless possibilities is eminent. Change isn’t always easy for many and sticking to the old fashion ways is to some safe. But sooner or later the rest of society comes around as it becomes more widely accepted and they are feeling a bit left out of the modern new age of advancement.
Bugsy Siegel Puts Las Vegas on the Casino Map
It’s envisioning what appears to be the impossible dream that turns ordinary men and women into legends, changing life as we know it forever. Bringing new ideas to the masses at first can be quite challenging as they are looked at like they have a third eye or two heads. But it takes perseverance to follow through and time to get the recognition that is finally deserved.
Imagine the ridicule Bugsy Siegel took with a brainstorm idea to build a luxurious Casino and hotel in the middle of the desert. Not only did the idea seem insane to build in the heat of the desert with no water supply available at that time, but a Casino? This was in the 1940’s folks and people at that time were not ready for any part of it, after all Casinos were not considered exactly a righteous upscale business.
Although contrary to belief Nevada did have legalized gambling at that time and there was actually already a few Casinos in Las Vegas, it was Bugsy Siegel that turned it into a glitzy and glamorous gambling town and transformed it to a gambling paradise affectionately called Sin City today. We can only thank the mobster figure for one fantastic legacy he left behind.
Travelers from around the world came to Sin City filled with ambience, glitz and excitement that could not be matched anywhere else. That was until legalized gambling became prevalent in other states and in other countries around the world. It didn’t happen overnight as government officials were adamantly opposed to land based Casinos and it was only a matter of time because once again it represented change.
The Surge of Online Casinos
Then the surge of online Casinos erupted in the 1990’s. Gamblers themselves were skeptical at first. Gambling with real money online? It was simply not going to work, admit it, we all thought it! Eventually curiosity got the best of gamblers and the temptation overtook our fears of a new way to gamble. Initially no one ever thought it could ever measure up to the land based Casinos and offer the thrills and perks they were accustomed to.
In 1994 the first Free Trade and Processing Act was passed in Antigua and Barbuda allowing operators to apply for online Casino licenses through their jurisdiction. By 1996 Kahnawake Gaming Commission was established and regulated online gaming, issuing licenses to online Poker and Casino sites. This was essential in providing fair and honest business operations.
Microgaming is the Godfather of online Casino software that paved the way for gambling. The company based in the Isle of Man offers premium products and state-of-the-art graphics. Following in their footsteps was CryptoLogic software providing a safe haven for transactions in a secured environment.
One of the earliest online gaming portals was Casino On Net established in 1997 that stills thrives today. Since their conception they have seen over 1,000,000 members place a bet. That type of statics is staggering.
Speaking of statistics by the late 1990’s online gambling caught on and went from a mere 15 websites in 1996 to 200 in one year’s time in 1997. In a published report gambling revenue sky rocketed with over $830 million in 1998 alone and was well on its way to popularity on an international level. In 2001 it is estimated that a staggering 8 million players participated in online gambling.
It wasn’t until 1999 that the very first online Poker room was introduced to players. This was also the first year multiplayer gambling was introduced allowing social chat and interaction with each other. More gambling variety began to open virtual doors including Bingo, Sports betting, Horse Racing and Lotteries.
The UIGEA Hits Online Gambling Hard
Now one of the most popular ways to gamble it takes a sudden hard hit in September 2006 when the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed by the House of Representatives and Senate prohibiting banks and financial institutions to accept transactions from US players. As a result, although the law does not state its illegal for US customers to gamble online it has become hampered due to banking restrictions.
This forced many online operators from accepting any customers from the United States to play and all active accounts were suspended. Because the US market made up a good part of the revenue many operators were forced to close their doors.
Online Gambling Flourishes
Today online operators have rebounded embracing a global market of players and have continued to flourish regardless of the major setback. Predictions that the laws will eventually be reversed are promising as some States have already lifted the ban and is a matter of time that the US as a whole will have the freedom to once again gamble online.
For more interesting information on internet gambling including online and land based Casinos, Gambling related News, Banking, Exclusive Bonuses, Free Casino & Slot play go to LatestCasinoBonuses.com. It is your complete source for Casino, Bingo, Poker and Sports betting. Comprised of one of the largest gambling resources available anywhere, it provides everything you need and want to know about the gambling industry including the best rated Casinos to play at.
Change is inevitable and online gambling has become one of the most popular ways to play. It offers the convenience and comfort of playing at home avoiding over crowded Casinos, parking and your favorite Table Game, Video Poker or Slot machine from being occupied. Online gambling is ready when you are open 24 hours, 365 days a year offering competitive promotions, Bonuses and loyalty schemes that are rewarding and lucrative.
It continues to grow better all the time with Virtual Casinos in real time and Mobile Casinos for those on the go. What lays ahead in the future for the gambling community? It all it takes is one vision, one genius and modern technology to once again conceive the unthinkable.
Lest you weren’t sure about the relationship between lottery interests and slot machines in future regulated online gambling spaces, here’s a common ad getting served up to some of us on Facebook these days (for myVegas, an MGM joint). You do the math while I continue to get play-money slots game requests from Aunt Rita in Indiana.
While MGM has to wait (except in New Jersey) for real-money casino (or lottery) play, you can guess they are happy to be running various free point promotions where the prize is ultimately a trip to one of their real brick-and-mortar casinos, where the slot machines may or may not pay out the same way the they did for play money online.
We’re certain that you’re no stranger to Europe’s longest established poker tournament, The Irish Open.
Terry Rogers had become hooked on No Limit Holdem during a trip to Vegas, and upon Returning to Ireland, Terry established the Irish Open which became the catalyst in spreading this variation of the game throughout Ireland, and then across Europe.
Paddy Power Poker, proud sponsors of the Irish Open for almost 10 years, have put together this brief history of the tournament, which we are pleased to be able to share with you today.
Read more about the History of the Irish Open on Paddy Power Poker.
Learning to play a new casino game can be very exciting. However, for some people it can also be a bit intimidating at first. Playing at a land based casino can make them feel somewhat self-conscious due to their lack of experience. For this reason, many learn first how to play new games at online casinos. With many variations, poker is one game often chosen by many to learn. For new players, there are certain tips that can be followed which can help improve one’s chances of winning.
Avoid playing too many poker hands is an easy tip that can help improve your overall result. When playing online at a site like http://www.luckynuggetcasino.com/, many are tempted to have several hands open at one time. When a player opts to play additional hands simultaneously, they often are not as attentive as they would be when focusing on one hand. This means they will probably play some poker hands that should have been folded. By playing hands that aren’t meant to be played, players are simply wasting money. This money they could be using more effectively elsewhere. A good rule of thumb is to try to maintain a ratio 1 to 1 ratio played hands to folded hands. Professional poker players insist if a player is playing a large majority of hands, they are reading the cards wrong.
Given the mental aspect of the game of poker, ensuring that you are in a state of mind to clearly make decisions is another important part of the game. Many times players may play when they are tired. By being tired, they can have some difficulty thinking clearly and making appropriate decisions. This could end up being rather costly. Fatigue can come with long playing sessions. Frequent breaks can help clear one’s mind and allow the body to stretch. By getting up out of one’s seat, blood flow returns to the brain, which can help improve one’s ability to think clearly.
This past week, two sources of information became available indicating how the Canadian government will increase its regulation and oversight of virtual currencies, including bitcoin. Through a combination of legislative and regulatory changes, Parliament and the Financial Reports Analysis Centre of Canada—Canada’s financial intelligence unit—will wrap “dealers” in virtual currencies into the current money services business regime. Conceptually, this is somewhat similar to the approach taken to exchange functions by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network in the United States. The federal government has clarified things somewhat but, at the same time, left us with many unanswered questions. We will have to wait for further regulatory guidance to see how the whole regime in Canada plays out, but I think things are looking very positive for FIU regulation of cryptocurrencies in Canada.
The Current Structure & Canada’s Economic Action Plan
FinTRAC is an independent agency that acts as Canada’s FIU to enforce the Financial Action Task Force’s 40 Recommendations. It does this primarily through the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act (the PCMLTFA) and Regulations (the Regulations). I have previously written about FinTRAC, its FATF-mandated role, and the PCMLTFA and the Regulations. As explained in the earlier post, FinTRAC has thus far taken the view that bitcoins are not “funds” within the meaning of the PCMLTFA and the Regulations. That means that FinTRAC will not regulate many bitcoin exchange functions under the MSB rules in Canada.
Note that this does not mean that FinTRAC will never regulate bitcoin exchanges or other bitcoin business models under the current rules, depending on their business lines and functions, nor does it mean that persons transacting in bitcoin in Canada aren’t subject to regulation. For example, taxpayers earning income from source in Canada will pay tax on that income, subject to the normal inclusion and deduction rules. People transacting in bitcoin in Canada are also subject to the anti-money laundering provisions of the Criminal Code. And bitcoin-denominated products bundled as funds and other investment products will be subject to provincial securities rules. (If certainty on that last point was needed, which I don’t think it was, the Ontario Securities Commission recently made very clear that the Securities Act applies to funds denominated in bitcoin. One company, in particular, has been very public in marketing “bitcoin investments” in Canada. The OSC is now reviewing the company’s continuous disclosure record and delving into just about every area of modern Canadian securities law in that review, including marketing, accounting, disclosure requirements, and registration issues.) Still, FinTRAC had taken a relatively hands-off approach to many bitcoin exchange business lines because of its interpretation of the PCMLTFA and the Regulations. Certain participants in the bitcoin economy have responded by coming to Canada and setting up new businesses here.
Last month, the federal government introduced its 2014 budget plan to Parliament. I blogged on the budget as it affects bitcoin. Dubbed Canada’s Economic Action Plan, the budget calls virtual currencies “emerging risks” in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing. The budget proposed to introduce AML and CTF regulations for virtual currencies, including bitcoin. The budget plan seemed to indicate that only regulations would be changed, possibly without new legislation being passed by Parliament.
We now know that both new legislation and regulations are on the agenda. And we basically know how the federal government plans to strengthen its bitcoin oversight.
The first indication the government provided this past week was the budget implementation act. That entire document is a few hundred pages long and can be viewed here. The particularly relevant provisions affecting bitcoin are distilled into a shorter extract here. This is a government bill—styled the Economic Action Plan 2014 Act, No. 1—that essentially sets out the legislative details of the government’s budget plan.
The implementation act establishes that virtual currencies are to be regulated as part of the MSB regime. See pages 4-5 of the extract (pages 163-164 of the entire document). Part I of the PCMLTFA addresses record keeping, identity verification, suspicious transaction reporting, and registration requirements. Section 5 addresses those persons and entities to which Part I applies, and the proposed replacement to s. 5(h) of the PCMLTFA now includes “dealing in virtual currencies, as defined in the regulations.” Note that a “dealer” in virtual currencies is caught by section 5 whether it has a place of business in Canada (subsection (h)) or it doesn’t but provides the service to Canadian customers and the service is “directed at” Canadian customers (new subsection (h.1)). Also note that subsection 1(1) of the Regulations provides that “money services business” includes persons or entities referred to in subsection 5(h) of the PCMLTFA; that will doubtless be changed to include new subsection 5(h.1).
So virtual currencies will be included under the PCMLTFA and the Regulations, and we see they’ll be covered by the MSB rules and that those rules are aimed at “dealing in virtual currencies.” That already answers a number of questions that were outstanding from the budget announcement.
We also saw some interesting thoughts in the remarks of federal Department of Finance officials this past week before the Senate Standing Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce. That committee is engaged in a study of digital currency; it will be studying for more than a year and report out sometime in 2015. This past Wednesday, David Murchison, the Director of the Financial Sector Division made some brief but telling remarks about what the Finance Department is doing as part of the budget’s implementation agenda. Mr. Murchison referred to the legislative and regulatory changes targeting those “in the business of dealing in virtual currencies.” He then said: “We would aim, in these regulations, to cover virtual currency exchanges, but not individuals or businesses. We think that this approach will allow for financial innovation, which we see to be one of the interesting markers behind this. Again, there will be an opportunity for public consultation on both these initiatives.” Mr. Murchison also stated that Finance is undertaking a consultation on Canadian payment system oversight and that virtual currencies will be included in that consultation.
Two things are clear from the comments from Finance. First, the Department of Finance is targeting virtual currency (including bitcoin) exchanges and “not individuals or businesses,” limiting the scope of the MSB rules still further, which seems positive. Second, financial innovation appears to be important to the government—indeed, references to the positive attributes and innovation of bitcoin ran throughout the evidence from Finance and the senators’ questions—so Canada is not out to throttle this nascent industry.
One side note: The committee’s deliberations will be going on for some time, so there will be plenty of time to comment later, but generally I was very impressed at the way the senators are approaching this issue. It’s obviously a new area to many of them, and I think they’ve already asked many clear, helpful, and penetrating questions. I look forward to seeing more evidence get in front of this body.
Where Does This Leave Us?
The implementation bill and the committee testimony give rise to at least as many questions as they answer. For example, what are “virtual currencies?” The focus of the Senate hearings was clearly on bitcoin, so surely bitcoin will be included. A good bet is that it will include currencies that are both decentralized and convertible, but we will have to wait and see. Another example is the line between exchanges as “dealers” and other businesses. What will the definition be of those in the business of dealing in virtual currencies? Mr. Murchison said they’re targeting exchanges and not “individuals or businesses.” Clearly businesses can be exchanges, so that just punts the question over to the definition of “exchange.” Will a miner selling bitcoin post-mine be an exchange? Are arbitrageurs among bitcoin exchanges in the business of dealing in virtual currency? Are so-called bitcoin ATMs exchanges? Again, we will have to wait for the consultation process and further guidance from the Department of Finance for answers.
Generally, I think the past week has been good for bitcoin in Canada. We have a great deal more clarity in terms of what will be expected from certain cryptocurrency businesses in Canada, notably exchanges. We know that the government will cover exchanges under the MSB rules. That proposed regulation, thus far, seems appropriate. We will have to continue to watch to see how narrowly tailored it is. If we get to a set of reasonable definitions in the Regulations, we may well still have a very welcoming regime for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in Canada.
On March 14th, lawyers for four plaintiffs filed suit in Toronto against Mt Gox, the bitcoin exchange embroiled in ongoing scandal. Defendants include several corporations in the Mt Gox Group of companies and Mark Karpeles, a majority shareholder in those companies and Mt Gox’s CEO.
The notice of action for the lawsuit is here.
Among other relief, the plaintiffs are seeking certification of the action as a class action under the Ontario Class Proceedings Act, 1992; their appointment as representative plaintiffs for the class; and, C$500M in damages. The proposed class in the proceeding includes all persons in Canada that paid a fee to Mt Gox to buy, sell, or trade bitcoins and all persons in Canada that had bitcoins or fiat money stored on Mt Gox on February 7th of this year. The plaintiffs thus far claim that they’re owed anywhere from a few thousand dollars to 100 bitcoins (close to C$70,000 at today’s exchange rate).
While counsel to the plaintiffs in this action don’t have a copy of the notice of action up on their website, they do have a presser up online. (It’s common for plaintiffs’ counsel to post communications like this both to communicate with and control the proposed class.) Canadian counsel appear to be working alongside the US firm that has brought a class proceeding against some of the same defendants in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and that obtained a temporary restraining order against those defendants on March 11th.
The notice of action contains the usual laundry list of alleged misdeeds including contractual breach, fraudulent and negligent misrepresentation, conversion, and unjust enrichment.
The Mt Gox defendants can be counted on to try to use its ongoing — and perhaps future — bankruptcy filings and proceedings to stay this and other litigation.
Most of the defendants seem to be outside of Canada and the United States. Those defendants will have 60 days to respond to the notice of action after service. Stay tuned to see what happens in this latest litigation round.
With each passing year, more and more women are achieving notable success in the poker world. Many talented female players have broken through the glass ceiling of the once male-dominated game to win prestigious tournaments and become household names in the world of poker. This probably explains why the game of poker is becoming more and more popular among women both online, at rooms like Titan Poker, and in live poker venues.
Just who are the high profile women poker players who’ve risen to prominence in the game? Let’s take a look at this list (in random order) of some of the world’s best female poker players.
It’s probably fair to say that American professional player Vanessa Selbst is the most successful female poker player ever. Vanessa has bagged over $9 million in tournament prize money – winning tournaments such as the Partouche Poker Tour Main Event, two NAPT Main Events and two World Series of Poker bracelets. She took the $25,000 PCA High Roller title together with a first prize of $1.4 million in 2013.
Vanessa’s made a good start to the New Year – she finished third in the PCA 2014 Super High Roller in January, collecting $760,640. Six days later she placed 3rd in the PCA High Roller event, pocketing $607,580. Vanessa is currently ranked 8th in the world by the Global Poker Index.
Jennifer Harman was the first female player to win two WSOP gold bracelets: the No Limit Deuce to Seven Lowball event in 2000 and the $5,000 Limit Hold’em event in 2002. The No Limit Deuce to Seven Lowball title is notable because Jennifer had never previously played that type of poker.
Jennifer is a regular player at Bobby’s room at the Bellagio in Vegas, where some of the highest stakes poker games in the world are played with limits at $3,000/$6,000. In a good year, she has cleared $1 million from playing four nights a week at the Bellagio.
In 2010, Jennifer was inducted into the Women in Poker Hall of Fame. Having been the recipient of two kidney transplants, Jennifer does a lot of charity work for CODA (Creating Organ Donation Awareness).
Kathy Liebert has been on the poker scene since 1994, but she is still a regular at the major poker tournaments. She has amassed almost $6 million in prize money, with many of her wins taking place in the first decade of the millennium. Kathy’s largest win ever was in 2002, when she won the PartyPoker Million cruise and landed an amazing $1 million. She won the $1,500 Limit Texas Hold’em Shootout event at the 2004 World Series of Poker, one of three women to win an open event at that year’s WSOP.
Born in 1988, Norwegian Annette Obrestad had already made a name for herself in online poker before she became the youngest person to win a WSOP bracelet in the inaugural World Series of Poker Europe Main Event in 2007, where she pocketed £1,000,000 the day before her 19th birthday.
In online poker playing circles, she’s known as “Annette_15″, as she was only 15 when she first played the game. According to Annette, she never made a deposit into an online poker room, building her bankroll from nothing by playing the freerolls. Annette already has more than $2.5 million in online winnings and nearly $4 million from live events.
Xuan Liu was born in Tian Jin, China, and then moved to live in Toronto, Canada, at the age of five. Although she had enjoyed games of skill from a very early age, she only started playing real money poker at university. She quickly realised this was her passion and has focused on her poker playing career since graduating.
Her winnings at live poker tournaments total more than $1.4 million and her biggest cash was at the 2012 PCA Main Event, when she finished 4th for a prize of $600,000. She has won more than $300,000 online, including her play at Titan Poker. Xuan’s definitely one of the most respected young poker talents out there today, and is a member of EPT Players Council. She is also included on the WPT ‘Ones to Watch’ list.
Born in 1983 in Taipei, Maria’s poker celebrity began at the 2007 World Series of Poker Main Event when she took home almost $238,000. She was the last woman standing at the event, finishing 38th out of a field of more than 6,300 players.
At the 2011 WSOP, Maria played heads-up for a bracelet in Event #4 $5,000 No Limit Hold’em, finishing 2nd for her highest cash ever, $540,020. She has over $1.5 million in lifetime tournament winnings at live events.
Liv Boeree studied Astrophysics before starting a poker career at the age of 21. She won the European Poker Tour Main Event in San Remo in 2010, pocketing €1,250,000 and thereby becoming the third woman ever to win an EPT title. Liv’s lifetime tournament winnings at live events now total more than $2 million.
Allyn had a successful career as an attorney before starting to play poker as a hobby. She balanced her career and being a mum while she learned to play poker at the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles.
In 2012, Allyn, her husband Barry, and stepson Jeff, were the first family in history of poker to have three family members at a World Series of Poker final table during the same summer series. That summer, Allyn won the $1,000 No Limit Hold’em – Seniors Championship (Event #29) for a bracelet and a prize of $603,713, her biggest cash ever.
In 2013, Allyn claimed the top prize at the 2013 Card Player Poker Tour Venetian Deep Stack Extravaganza III Main Event taking home $293,966. Her lifetime earnings in poker so far amount to more than $1.2 million.
As well as being a television quiz show host, writer, and wife of English comedian David Mitchell (who plays Mark Corrigan in the Channel 4 sitcom ‘Peep Show’), Victoria Coren is one of the best British female poker players. She has amassed nearly $1.75 million in poker prize cash, including her 1st place finish at the 2006 European Poker Championships in London, where she pocketed £500,000.
Vanessa Rousso has won more than $3.5 million in poker tournament prizes and she is listed as one of the top ten most successful Texas Hold’em female players. Playing online with the screen name of “Lady Maverick”, her biggest cash was at the 2007 World Championship of Online Poker, when she finished 2nd and won $700,782.50.
Vanessa’s biggest live win was €570,000 at the 2009 €25,000 EPT High Roller Championship. Vanessa has been active in efforts to legalize online poker in the United States.
These are just some of the most talented female poker players around today, and you probably have additional nominations to be included in such a prestigious list. With every success talented female poker players have, more women feel empowered to pull up a chair (real or virtual…) at the poker table.