A Canadian gambler’s license plate asks: Want to go double or nothing?
If you had cash on Full Tilt shortly before Black Friday, you’ve got until this weekend to inform government contractors that you’d like your money back, please. Check out what I got in the mail recently from the poker world’s new-good friends at Garden City Group, who are handling Full Tilt remissions on behalf of the DOJ, whom you may or may not recall earmarked nearly $200 million of PokerStars money for paying back Full Tilt player/ponzi victims.
Curious though, their effort to contact me, as my email has been the same since I signed up in 2004 … and I’m almost certain I maintained a negative balance on Tilt ever since I stopped playing there in like ’09. (According to my records I was in the red for about $300, but hey, I’m standing in solidarity with Erick Lindgren; I called “not paying!”)
Presuming I didn’t unknowingly luckbox into some sorta secret errant money transfer, I think this postcard campaign reveals a GCG serious about covering various asses should someone and their lawyer(s) can come back later and claim ignorance when trying to get a piece of any FTP payout pie. Otherwise you gotta wonder … they didn’t have my email address — the one that just about everybody remotely connected to poker has? (You know, the one that has been the same ever since signing up with Full Tilt in ’04?) And yet they were able to track me down through a postal address that didn’t even exist for me or Pokerati until after Black Friday? It wasn’t anything I ever provided to Full Tilt Poker, PokerStars, Garden City Group, nor the DOJ, as far as I know. In fact, I could be wrong here, but I think the only federal agency that would have this address for me is the IRS.
Hmm … makes you wonder what kinda sit-n-gos the NSA really might be playing!
If you haven’t yet submitted your online poker DNA to Uncle Sam and you still want a chance at seeing your Full Tilt bankroll ever again, visit http://fulltiltpokerclaims.com/.
In an interesting decision out of Montreal, the Quebec Superior Court very recently found in favour of Loto-Québec in a claim against it by two Quebec residents. A copy of the judgment is here.
The plaintiffs alleged that certain limited outputs of the algorithm used to generate lottery selections in Quebec’s ‘Extra’ lottery add-on product showed that Loto-Québec violated its own governing by-law, the Criminal Code, and provincial consumer protection legislation. Basically, the plaintiffs claimed that the tickets were not generated at random, which meant that the winners were not selected at random. They sought substantial money damages, including $10M in punitive damages.
The Superior Court roundly rejected every one of the plaintiffs’ claims. Most important, the court found that Loto-Québec generally has the discretion to conduct and administer lotteries within the parameters that it chooses. While tickets as part of the draw may or may not be produced completely at random, the winners are selected at random, and that latter quality is sufficient to meet Loto-Québec’s legal obligations.
There are plenty of good reasons to criticize the provincial lottery monopolies in Canada (poor planning, lack of innovation, the occasional scandal), but exaggerated and baseless claims about a lottery product not being sufficiently random aren’t a useful avenue of attack.
The Canada Revenue Agency (the Canadian equivalent of the IRS) just issued its first release on how it will treat virtual currencies for taxation purposes. There is not much new here — the CRA sent an e-mail to the CBC back in April about bitcoin taxation — and the government leaves several questions unanswered. Still, it’s an actual release from the CRA and not just a communication to a news outlet, which is helpful to those advising taxpayers. And even though the interpretation bulletins and the release do not have force of law, this communication does at least put up some signposts about the CRA’s thinking about bitcoin.
The release — styled one of the CRA’s fact sheets on “digital currency” – is available here.
No Canadian tax practitioner will be surprised that a bitcoin-denominated transaction will often be taxable where that transaction would be taxable without bitcoin. For example, under subsection 5(1) of the Income Tax Act, a person’s income from office or employment includes “the salary, wages and other remuneration, including gratuities, received by the taxpayer in the year.” Salary, wages, and remuneration paid and received in bitcoins are taxable under this provision, just as salary, wages, and remuneration received in US dollars, UK pounds, or Euros are taxable. (Right now I’m leaning towards treating bitcoins for most Canadian tax purposes just like any other currency — more on this below.) For good measure, section 6 of the Act sets out a whole laundry list of items that are included in office and employment income — things like free rent, housing allowances, living expenses, insurance benefits, and a standby charge on the use of company cars. If you are a resident of Canada and receive employment income in bitcoins, you’ll be taxed on it. I think similar arguments can be made for many provisions in the Act, e.g., business income and so-called ‘passive’ investment income like dividends and royalties.
But no-one had any idea until this past April how the CRA was thinking about bitcoin, when the Agency sent an e-mail to the CBC setting out its views. The recent CRA release repeats the two general bases on which bitcoins — or any virtual currency – will be subject to Canadian taxation: 1. when used as barter; and, 2. when bought and sold as a commodity. The barter rules, opines CRA, apply when virtual currency is used to pay for goods or services. The example given in the release is paying for movies using digital currency; the value of the movies, says the fact sheet, should be included in the seller’s income for tax purposes. As a general proposition, this makes sense for business-owners, whether it’s paying at a movie theatre or paying for a download on your smart TV. Or, to use another example, if I sell an e-book and accept bitcoin for the transaction, that’s revenue for accounting and tax purposes to me, provided I’m in the business of selling such things. I would also argue that, if the book purchase were an ordinary expense of the buyer’s business, then it’s a deductible expense to the buyer, whether the transaction is in bitcoin or in some other currency.
There’s an issue with the insinuation in the CBC piece and the fact sheet that any barter transaction with bitcoin is subject to taxation, though Interpretation Bulletin IT-490 (Barter Transactions) avoids this pitfall. The fact sheet says that “[a] barter transaction occurs when any two persons agree to exchange goods or services and carry out that exchange without using legal currency.” That’s true. But the release goes on to cite the movie example and reaches the blanket conclusion that the value of the movies “must be included in the seller’s income for tax purposes.” That’s not necessarily true. For barter to be taxable, it has to be a transaction involving income from a productive source. A ‘source’ includes, for instance, a disposition of property, or income from a security, a job, or a business. Gambling winnings are almost invariably not a source (with a big exception for truly professional poker players here), nor are non-business transactions between acquaintances. So if I help you move and you give me a case of beer (or some bitcoins), that’s not taxable unless I’m in the moving business. But if you pay me in bitcoins for legal advice, that is taxable to me as income from a source.
As to buying and selling bitcoins as a commodity, the fact sheet says only that “any resulting gains or losses could be taxable income or capital for the taxpayer.” This statement isn’t overbroad like the barter statement, so that’s a good starting point. Losses aren’t taxable in the hands of taxpayers; if anything, they’re deductible. What the CRA is primarily after here are people speculating in bitcoins, and they are indicating that those gains or losses may be taxable (or deductible) on account of income or capital. So-called income gains are fully includable in income in Canada, and fully taxable. Capital gains are effectively only 1/2 taxable. The whole income-capital distinction is beyond the scope of this post, but think of a capital gain or loss typically arising when you dispose of an asset that’s not inventory or production materials. That said, if you are in the business of simply buying and trading those assets, all such dispositions are more likely to be on account of income and not capital. The bottom line on income vs. capital for bitcoin: very generally, if you buy bitcoins and they sit in your bitcoin wallet, appreciate in value, and you sell them, you’ll likely be taxed on that transaction as a capital gain in Canada. If you are in the business of buying and selling bitcoins as a speculator, any gains will probably be on account of income.
While helpful, the comments do not address a key bitcoin area: how is mining to be taxed? The CRA has had nothing to say about this so far. I see the issue as whether bitcoin will be treated as a currency for mining purposes or whether it will be treated like a precious metal that is actually mined out of the ground — gold or silver, for example. Mark Goodfield, a Toronto accountant, suggests that payment for computer power in bitcoin may be like a coupon being issued by a retail store, although it seems to me that that would likely still be taxable under the barter rules, provided they are source transactions.
I said at the Future of Payments conference this past May and still believe that the CRA is making this more complicated than it needs to be. If bitcoin is treated as an actual functioning currency, then there’s no reason to have resort to the barter rules, for example, and the taxation of mining might become clearer. Transactions could be translated on the day of occurrence using some reasonable exchange rate between bitcoin and Canadian dollars. The CRA will claim that bitcoin is not a legal currency, i.e., that it hasn’t been adopted by any national government as its legal tender. That’s a point that should be addressed. Would the CRA then need to accommodate every virtual currency having the same properties as bitcoin, including its decentralized nature, the same way? What virtual currencies would the CRA treat this way, and which ones would it perceive differently? These questions are worth grappling with. More to the point, they’ll eventually have to be answered as more people participate in the bitcoin economy and report their economic activities to the tax authorities.
Do we call it gaming or gambling? I think we all know the casino industry would prefer we call it “gaming”, but for poker players that’s sometimes kinda hard when you see your heroes on the TV holding second pair and a gutshot only to be shouting “gamble gamble!” after an all-in and a call.
While some suggest gaming and gambling have already virtually converged, and others contend that no matter, the customers are different, there has been little definitive work to confirm what the Nevada Gaming Commission (and Gaming Control Board) have known all along: People are more comfortable betting real money when the activity in question is referred to as gaming, not gambling.
At least that’s the case when it comes to online wagers, according to new research set to be published in the December issue of Journal of Consumer Research. Full title: “Framing the Game: Assessing the Impact of Cultural Representations on Consumer Perceptions of Legitimacy.” (LOL academic phrasiologies.)
While this study looks at myriad forms of casino gambl, er, gaming, it takes special note of online poker. By doing a content analysis of newspaper coverage post-Black Friday, researchers found that indeed, media suddenly stopped presenting poker as an online entertainment option akin to video games and instead were presenting it using words associated with criminal pursuits.
Read below for more details about what they found, and feel free to question the credibility of any social scientist who doesn’t reference the phrase, “one time!” when talking about the relationship between cards and money.
Why Are Consumers More Likely To Participate in Online Gaming Than Gambling?
Consumers are more likely to participate in online betting if it’s called “gaming” rather than “gambling,” according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.
“Changing an industry label from gambling to gaming affects what consumers, especially non-users, think of betting online,” write authors Ashlee Humphreys (Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University) and Kathryn A. LaTour (Cornell University). “A label like gaming prompts all sorts of implicit associations like entertainment and fun, while a label like gambling can prompt seedier implicit associations like crime.”
These largely unconscious associations affect what people think of the industry and even their intention to participate, the authors explain. The process of changing perceptions, called framing, has an impact on whether or not people think the industry is socially acceptable. And framing can occur merely by changing a word.
The authors analyzed newspapers like the New York Times and Wall Street Journal for the language used to describe online betting. They analyzed coverage of “Black Friday,” April 15, 2011, when the US government shut down the three largest online betting sites. Newspapers shifted the way they described the online activity, framing it more as a crime, which led to a shift in consumer judgments about the legitimacy of online casinos, especially among non-users.
The authors conducted two experiments rto explore what causes consumers to make different judgments about gambling. They found that “rags-to-riches” or “get-rich-quick” narratives prompted a set of favorable or unfavorable implicit associations among participants. In a stronger test of their hypothesis, the authors changed only one word in the narratives—gambling or gaming—and found that the “gaming” label caused non-users to judge online betting as more legitimate. “This last experiment shows that a name change to ‘gaming’ can even prompt non-users to be more inclined to participate in online betting,” the authors add.
“Industry labeling has important implications not only for whether or not consumers find an industry acceptable,” the authors conclude. “For example, opponents to online gambling may want to be aware of the potential for social media to become a conduit for the expansion of online gambling.
Ashlee Humphreys and Kathryn A. LaTour. “Framing the Game: Assessing the Impact of Cultural Representations on Consumer Perceptions of Legitimacy.” Journal of Consumer Research: December 2013. http://ejcr.org/.
Want a sense of the new world we’re seeing here in Nevada, thanks to licensed and regulated online poker? Game-wise, the combo of WSOP.com and Ultimate Poker is still hardly a shell of the glory days of PokerStars and Full Tilt. But what is different is the way online poker is showing up around town … on billboards, TV, radio … in snail mail, on top of slot machines … I’m kinda waiting to see it show up at the 50-yard-line at Sam Boyd Stadium — because really, shouldn’t there be a WSOP.com Silver Bowl?
(Note: technically a Texas-based maker of industrial lubricants has that game locked down for three years.)
Until then, however, the WSOP is left to consider other means to present their brand (and an entire industry!) with newfound legitimacy. According to the presumably reliable delivery driver from Noble Pie Parlor in Reno, WSOP.com provided some 500 of these boxes for their handmade “New York Street”-style ‘zas.
Journalist Brian Krebs broke the news on Oct. 2 that US federal authorities shut down Silk Road, the most famous, or infamous, Tor network online contraband bazaar. Pursuant to a criminal complaint and related civil complaint and protective order, Ross William Ulbricht (a.k.a. Dread Pirate Roberts) was arrested in San Francisco as the FBI seized the Silk Road web domain and millions in bitcoin.
But given the role of BTC in Silk Road, one question I have is what this case means for bitcoin, if anything. This case may put virtual currency more front and centre for some, but I don’t think it should have much of a long-term effect on how policy-makers and regulators look at it. That’s because this is fundamentally a drug case, not a bitcoin case. Paragraph one of the criminal complaint emphasizes that the defendant and others agreed to violate the narcotics laws of the United States. Bitcoin was just one of the instrumentalities in the alleged criminal scheme: good technology used for criminal ends.
Ulbricht was charged with one count of narcotics trafficking conspiracy (undercover agents apparently procured ecstasy, cocaine, heroin, and LSD on Silk Road), one count of computer fraud conspiracy, and one count of money laundering conspiracy. A panoply of illicit goods and services were available on Silk Road, including controlled substances and other drugs, computer hacking services, and forged documents. In an allegation that may make for a future bar exam question, Ulbricht is also alleged to have used Silk Road to orchestrate a murder for hire. If the allegations are true, Ulbricht contracted with a drug dealer to murder a Silk Road vendor, paid the drug dealer, received photographic evidence of the killing, and apparently believed that the hit was successful. But apparently the murder did not in fact take place.
This is the first complaint in the matter. Given the scope of the alleged wrongdoing, subsequent amended criminal complaints expanding the charges against Ulbricht and pulling in others for distributing narcotics would be unsurprising.
A few things struck me as I read the criminal complaint. First were the bitcoin parallels to cash being used to facilitate illicit transactions. Cash (and by that I mean notes representing fiat currency) can be used in criminal enterprises. Bitcoin provides similar functionality, and potentially more so because of its purely virtual nature. At one point, the complaint postulates that “Bitcoins are not illegal in and of themselves and have known legitimate uses. [Both of those statements are true. --SH] However, bitcoins are also known to be used by cybercriminals for money-laundering purposes, given the ease with which they can be used to move money anonymously.” Setting aside the basis for such knowledge and ignoring the broad reference to anonymity, if you substitute “cash” for “bitcoins” in the second sentence and strike “cyber,” you have an equally convincing statement.
Cash can be exploited for criminal purposes, and so can bitcoin. The criminal acts — drug-dealing, murder-for-hire — should be prosecuted vigorously by law enforcement, but cash and bitcoins shouldn’t be vilified in the process. A candid and productive discussion about bitcoin acknowledges its vulnerabilities but also its tremendous power and potential for good.
The second thing I found interesting was how Silk Road essentially appropriated bitcoins and used them in a way that would surely offend some bitcoin enthusiasts. To make purchases on Silk Road, the complaint alleges that one had to fund a separate bitcoin wallet on a Silk Road server. When purchases were made, the bitcoins paid by the buyer were held in escrow pending completion of the transaction. Furthermore, Silk Road charged a commission on each and every transaction: 8-15 percent according to the complaint. I expect the concept of being forced to hold one’s own funds on another’s server, the escrow service, and 15 percent transaction fees offend many in the bitcoin community, irrespective of the nature of the things for sale on Silk Road. (For the record, if it needs to be said, I take greater umbrage at murder conspiracy than 15% commission fees.) The driving force behind bitcoin is the elimination of trust or counterparty risk in the financial sector, let alone trust in a bunch of criminals.
The larger point coming out of this is the centralization element that seems to be important in some of these criminal enterprises. Silk Road essentially tried to centralize and control the transactions in the marketplace, in part to hide them. Consider the Liberty Reserve indictment from earlier this year, also out of the Southern District of New York, where the enterprise created its own centralized currency, to both control it and obfuscate transactions using LR. It seems obvious, but it’s worth stating: criminal elements may often prefer to centralize and control their activities, precisely because they want to hide from law enforcement within some trusted circle. Bitcoin’s nature abhors this centralization and oftentimes, though not always, leaves a public transactional record on the blockchain.
Finally, some of the errors about bitcoin and what it does and doesn’t do in the complaint were disappointing, if not wholly surprising, to see. For example, not all bitcoin transactions are or need be recorded on the blockchain. (This cuts against the point I made above re: public notification of blockchain transactions.) Bitcoins are not an “anonymous” form of digital currency. A blanket conclusion of that sort is an overreach in the context of research that’s been done on bitcoin and anonymity (also here). These misconceptions about bitcoin are perhaps the biggest problem that the Ulbricht case poses for the virtual currency in the short term. Policy makers may well judge and seek to regulate people in the bitcoin space based on what they think they already know, whether their knowledge is or isn’t complete. Then again, some believe shutting down illicit sites like Silk Road could actually make people more comfortable with bitcoin as it “weeds out” the criminal element from the bitcoin space.
Silk Road has been in the crosshairs for some time. It’s even been discussed in Congress. It should be shut down. But this case tells us very little about how to regulate those using bitcoin.
Pokerati contributor Stu Hoegner was one of the first attorneys in North America to accept bitcoin as a means of payment. Follow him on Twitter @GamingCounsel.
Some people in Congress believe American Indians struck it rich with the establishment of tribal gaming and the passage of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act in the late 1980s.
But serious problems with education, health care, unemployment and housing remain. Tribes are also dealing with the effect of Internet gaming on their business, off-reservation casinos and political gridlock in Washington, D.C.
“They’ve been very busy in Washington this year,” John Gusik, founding partner of the Franklin Partnership, a Washington, D.C., law and government relations services firm, said Thursday at the Global Gaming Expo. He was moderating a panel discussion on tribal gaming on the final day of the expo at the Sands Expo and Convention Center in Las Vegas.
“There have been 4,500 bills in Congress this year; only 31 have been enacted,” Gusik said. “It’s a do-nothing Congress. Seventy-two bills dealing with tribal issues and none have been enacted. Internet gaming continues to languish in Congress.”
The fate of those bills has also been hurt by the Oct. 1 deadline to enact a budget or face a possible federal government shutdown.
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Pete Kirkham, president of Red Maple Consulting, a Springfield, Va., government affairs and political strategy firm, said Congress hasn’t passed any of the 13 appropriation bills needed to fund the government.
“If you represent tribes, they think you must work on Indian gaming all the time,” Kirkham said. “Gaming takes up some time but it’s also about health care, education and housing.”
Kirkham acknowledged that the vast majority of a tribe’s revenue is earned through gaming, but said those dollars go to providing services to the community.
The National Indian Gaming Commission reported $27.9 billion in gaming revenues in 2012, up 2.6 percent from $27.2 billion in 2011.
“Everything is now seen through the prism of gaming,” said Jana McKeag, president of Lowry Strategies, an Alexandria, Va., government and public affairs consulting firm. “Congress believes that tribes have all this gaming money … why do they need (federal dollars)?”
McKeag noted that gaming revenue was a replacement for “a tax base.”
Eddie Ayoob, a partner with Indianapolis-based law firm Barnes & Thornburg, and John Harte, a member of the Washington D.C., consultancy Mapetsi Policy Group, also participated in the hourlong discussion.
The trend toward off-reservation casinos, including the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians in California and a Tohono O’odham casino in Arizona, was one of the issues discussed by the panel.
The North Fork Rancheria, a project that will be managed by Station Casinos Inc. outside of Fresno, Calif., has won state and federal approval, but has yet to be approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ordered the Obama administration to take a second look at the Tohono O’odham Nation off-reservation site. The bureau placed the 54 acres near Glendale, Ariz., in trust for the tribe.
“This was not the intent of IGRA,” McKeag said. “It’s a very slippery slope. I understand they are trying to bring economic development, but it’s a disadvantage for the tribes that played by the rules.”
While off-reservation casinos are a threat to on-reservation casinos, Internet cafés are a growing threat to the overall health of the industry. McKeag said the cafés have mostly popped up in strip malls in Florida, California and North Carolina.
“In California, for example, they are illegal but the state has no money to shut them down,” McKeag said. “They are not regulated and are an opportunity for money laundering. The problem is if they shut them down, they just pop up somewhere else.”
Kirkham expressed frustration that “only big bills” are moving through Congress. He said that will make it especially difficult for any Internet gaming bill to pass in the House and Senate.
“Our job is to get to 60 and 218,” Kirkham said. “Sixty (votes) in the Senate to get something passed and 218 (votes) in the House.”
Follow reporter Chris Sieroty on Twitter @sierotyfeatures.
Many people in the United States, especially poker players, are hearing more and more about States legalizing, or looking to legalize poker over the Internet. However, with all the information on the World-Wide-Web floating around on this topic it can be a bit confusing so this article is intended to simplify it all.
The facts are Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey are the only three States that have passed legislation for legal poker online. Nevada went live with UltimatePoker, a real money poker website, in April of 2013 and just recently went live with the WSOP site on September 19th, 2013. Nevada passed Interstate Poker, just like the other two States, which means you must be within the State/Nevada in order to play poker for money on these two websites.
As for Delaware and New Jersey, they are still working out operational procedures, regulation policies, how it will be taxed, etc., but it’s anticipated that everything should be in place by the end of 2013 or early 2014.
www.USpokerSites.us poker law page lists the gambling and poker laws State by State, along with their current stance and future outlook on making poker over the net legal. As for other States looking to regulate and tax online poker, there are about ten States moving in that direction. Of those ten States taking a serious look into this matter, six continue to push legislation; California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and Washington. Three others are looking to write bills; Maryland, New Hampshire, and New York. And, Texas appears to be a State towards the top of the list that will pass Internet poker in the near future.
State gaming regulators gave preliminary approval Thursday to a marketing agreement between Golden Gaming and Gibraltar-based 888 Holdings in which the tavern operator could deliver its customers as online poker players to a website that includes Treasure Island.
Under terms of the exclusive marketing agreement, Golden Gaming can sign up customers from its three Pahrump casinos and its 40 wholly owned statewide taverns operations to play online poker on a planned website that will be operated by 888 Holdings, parent company to 888poker.
Golden Gaming would share in a percentage of the gaming revenues with Treasure Island and 888 Holdings.
“It’s unique and allows Golden Gaming to market 888’s platform to its customers,” Golden Gaming attorney Michael Alonso told the Gaming Control Board.
Alonso said Golden Gaming does not have any role in the operation of the website, and is only a marketing vehicle to deliver players. He told regulators the agreement is a way for 888 Holdings to expand its online gaming operation into the locals market and Pahrump. The customer base for Treasure Island, which is owned by Phil Rufin, is the Strip.
Golden Gaming is expected to market the 888 website through various interactive programs and other means.
Alonso told the control board that Golden Gaming slot machine route operations, where the company is the third party operator of slot machines inside grocery stores, taverns, bars and other businesses, would not be part of the agreement with Treasure Island and 888. Alonso said a deal might be reached in the future in which the location could receive a fee for signing up players.
Regulators recommended the concept’s approval, saying the arrangement could add more players to Nevada’s interactive gaming community.
“This is a good example of new ideas coming to the marketplace,” Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett said. “It’s an attempt to add further liquidity. I, for one, welcome it.”
The Nevada Gaming Commission will have to sign off on the agreement on Sept. 26.
If approved, the agreement would go live when Treasure Island launches its website. Currently, Station Casinos-owned Ultimate Gaming has the state’s only real money regulated online poker website in operation.
888 Holdings plans to operate poker websites for Caesars Entertainment, under the World Series of Poker Brand, Treasure Island, and its 888 poker website. Golden Gaming would only share in the revenues if a customer signs up to play on either the Treasure Island or 888 website.
The World Series of Poker website is expected to launch shortly. Treasure Island is expected to follow.
Alonso said the marketing agreement would take effect when Treasure Island launches its website.
Follow reporter Howard Stutz on Twiter @howardstutz.
Summer poker tournaments in Las Vegas generate nearly a quarter-billion dollars worth of prize money, Pokerati data crunchers have found. (Thanks Thea in the Philippines!)
It really is about more than just the World Series. Sure the tournament brand proudly owned by Caesars Interactive may have started it all, but now you’ve got Venetian Deep Stacks, the Wynn Classic, Binion’s Classic, Aria Classic, Rio Deep Stacks, Caesars Megastacks, Bellagio Cup … the list goes on … but all are competing for players, and apparently all you need is a casino property and a poker cliche … and maybe 110-degree weather outside, and voila — tournament success awaits!
LOLs notwithstanding, to better understand the impact of live events on the poker economy, and to assess the scope of WSOP and non-WSOP summertime Vegas action, we looked at 13 different series(es?) held at 10 different casino properties from mid-May through mid July … accounting for 722 tournaments total, nearly 230,000 entries (not to be confused with number of players) … making for more than 1,000 tournament days (whoa, that’s a lotta staff somebody’s gotta manage) in just one city.
And upon looking a little deeper (scroll horizontally) we found how:
- Caesars clearly dominates across low, middle, and high stakes tournament levels — with the 312 tournaments they operate accounting for 43 percent of the action we looked at, but 88 percent of the available prize pools
- Bellagio tourneys may be in a different league of high-dollar play, but even with WPT-branded events, total prize pools under MGM Resorts’ umbrella tally a relatively paltry $10 million
- Venetian held 212 tournaments, with some 32,000 entries generating about $14 million in prize money (after raking about 14 percent)
- With an average buy-in of $185, Rio Deepstacks accounted for 70,000 tournament entries, and $12 million in prize money
- The Hollywood Poker Open was notable, but probably also an outlier; still, might this one-off just before the WSOP main event reveal a possible a soft spot in the tournament economy at the $2,500 level in late June?
Add it all up, and you’re looking at three years of tournament poker, essentially, crammed into two months of real time. And while in some regard $245 million in collective prize pools suggests the health of the overall poker economy is strong, Bellagio did cancel more than half the events in its unofficial WSOP second-chance series, aka the Bellagio Cup, and the Venetian had three DSE tournaments that drew only single-digit fields, so … whether for matters of busted bankrolls or scheduling missteps, might we be seeing hints of market saturation?
* rounded up to the nearest 5.
WSOP.com is ready to launch. Like for real. And for real money, too. This according to executives for Caesars Interactive Entertainment, who hosted a semi-private conference call Monday morning to lay out their plans.
It’s happening on 9/19 at 9:19am … 9-1-9 … not to be confused with Herman Cain’s 9-9-9, which didn’t exactly get him to November. Non-sequiturs aside, a new era of online poker really is upon us now — just in time for the November Nine, no less. At least in Nevada, where it may or may not be a total coincidence that LAS was one of the very first airports to offer free wi-fi.
You’ve probably already started filtering through the buzz, bolstering, and requisite bitching on Twitter and 2+2. But in case you missed it, or just for posterity’s sake, here’s the raw audio of that conference call, where a whole host of Caesars suits, some new, some familiar, made their legal and regulated internet gaming plans official.
888 Holdings is a major contender in the world of gambling and they are doing quite well in their new ventures. The company that was once geared toward UK and European markets has expanded to regulated Spanish, Italian and, most recently, the US online gambling market. It seems that it’s going to be a profitable year and a bright future for the software giant. As operators, 888 runs some of the best online gambling sites available. They’ve mastered it all from poker to slots, bingo, sports and even manage to provide some of the most lucrative promotional and bonus offers.
An article regarding 888’s financial results, 888 Releases First Half 2013 Financials available on CasinoListings.com, provides a full break down of the company’s successes this year thus far. Casino, Poker and Mobile revenues are up for the year with mobile gaming growing rapidly.
888 CEO Brian Mattingley spoke of the company’s performance saying, “We are making good progress in new markets with tremendous success in Spain and Italy where we see further opportunities for growth. These experiences have given us further confidence in our ability to capitalize on the exciting US opportunity which continues to develop and we believe our strategy and partnerships ensure that we are well positioned to maximize market share as that market becomes regulated.”
As far as the US online market is concerned, entering this market must be done in a specific way. For example, in Atlantic City online gaming companies must partner with licensed land based operators in order to receive approval for an online poker website. There have been 9 of 12 casinos in AC that have already announced such partnerships with Harrah’s Resorts Atlantic City and the Showboat Casino Hotel partnering with 888 Holdings.
In the state of Delaware 888 Holdings has partnered up with Scientific Games Corporation, provider of gaming products and services to lottery and gaming companies around the globe, in a real money online poker option set to launch in October 2013.
Most recently, the Nevada Gaming Control Board gave preliminary approval for an online poker product offered by both local operator Golden Gaming and 888 Holdings. Earlier this year a Nevada gaming license was already approved for the partnership between 888 and Treasure Island Hotel and Casino.
The future is in the hands of the US market. Mattingley has his sights set on California, Florida and New York. Securing a place in these states in addition to its current deals will give 888 Holdings a significant presence in the US.
South Point has become the fourth company to offer a mobile betting app after launching its service Tuesday at five Nevada locations, including four in Las Vegas.
The app, available for the iPhone, iPad, Android and Android tablets, is free to download and resembles the William Hill app that has been available in Nevada for more than a year.
South Point began advertising its app Friday in its sports book. A website is available at nvsportsbooks.com to answer questions gamblers might have.
The app requires a minimum $100 deposit. Out-of-state residents are allowed to sign up and fund accounts, but the device can only be used in Nevada.
The app, which features lines set by South Point, offers consumers the ability to deposit money or collect winnings at four additional properties participating in Nevada Sports Books, including the Cannery, Eastside Cannery, Rampart and the Virgin River casino in Mesquite.
“Our guests have the opportunity to place their sports bets from home, while at South Point at dinner or at the bar,” said Ryan Growney, general manager of South Point. “By adding this new mobile betting application to our sports books offerings, we can showcase a new method of placing bets to sports fans throughout Nevada.”
The app will offer all types of bets except parlay cards or pari-mutuel racing. Cantor Gaming, Station Casinos and William Hill are the other sports book operators to offer a mobile wagering device.
Caesars Entertainment Corp. and MGM Resorts International, two of the largest operators on the Strip, as well as local and regional gaming company Boyd Gaming Corp. have yet to introduce a mobile sports betting app.
It was only a matter of time before Hollywood got wind of online poker and casino operators and decided to glamourise the industry in their own special way. Although only the trailer is doing the rounds, the new up and coming film entitled ‘Runner, Runner’ with Ben Affleck and Justin Timberlake looks set to tell a cautionary tale about an industry that is worth billions. For the purposes of entertainment, the plot of this film will revolve around Timberlake’s attempt to pay his college tuition with online poker winnings, only to have the funds withheld by the nefarious Affleck who runs his poker operation on the island of Costa Rica. Timberland wants what’s rightfully his and goes after Affleck but once there, is tempted by Affleck with a life of opulence and decadence.
The film sounds great, but is it really the type of press that the online casino and poker industry needs? Sure, Hollywood has always been about dramatically twisting the truth and the tired old phrase ‘any news is good news’ comes to mind. But the pending release of a film that paints a bad picture of an old and well liked past time for the sake of profit and entertainment will raise questions. Fortunately questions and concerns are easily laid to rest when one surveys the international regulated online casino industry. The money made from just a small cluster of some of the world’s legal operators is enough to suggest that profit may eventually trump legislation.
888 Holdings has thus far has seen a 7% increase in profits mainly thanks to its poker and casino endeavours. 888’s $200 million mark at just the half of 2013 has a lot to do with an increase in popularity of online poker and its portability thanks to mobile casino technology – the type you can play here.
Paddy Power also reported very strong mobile and online growth with a 12% increase in profits equating $103 million – growth only measured thus far up until June 2013. Playtech, one of the world’s most renowned mobile and online casino software developers has boasted profits of $231 million up to June 2013 which indicates a 15% increase in profits.
What is quite apparent is that legal and regulated mobile, poker and online casino entities are boasting tremendous growth. It seems that the world at large is very prepared to accept these forms of convenient gambling as the way forward.
So who knew … seems like we mighta had two poker players running for president in ’08. (Yet somehow federal legislation always seems to stagnate?)
Sen. John McCain got “busted” playing online poker on his mobile phone Tuesday, during a Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing to assess the merits of military action against Syria. Here’s the original source, and read here to see the Twitter firestorm around senior senator from Arizona’s on-duty online poker play. McCain tried to brush off the “scandal” with some LOL < 140 … and, hey, what’s there to consider when you have already know your vote is gonna be based on a rather clear position of “More War Always Better”.
As for the brand of poker McCain was playing on his iPhone … VIP Poker. Ever heard of ‘em? Yeah, me neither. I suppose it’s possible I’ve ignored a Facebook ad from them offering $120 Jillion in free chips … but then it’s also possible that the fake-sounding “VIP poker” is really just an NSA shell for financing covert missions and McCain was trying to dump chips before the next committee hearing.
VIP Poker LOL.
There’s been a lot of hype surrounding Macau as of late. This Chinese district lies between The People’s Republic of China and Hong Kong, but is becoming a gaming hub that attracts the highest of rollers due to its lax gaming laws and limited taxation. Just a few weeks ago, the Macau Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau released its figures for July and the projected revenue was not only in line with the government’s expectations, but also show a 20% increase from June. There are two reasons for this sudden boom despite a slowing Chinese economy. What are they?
To begin, Macau is not only a premier gaming destination for poker players. Yes, they’re largely one of the main focal points of the area, but there are also quite a few tourists filling up the region. Because Macau offers tourists quite a bit to do, it’s not unusual for them to make a brief stop at a local casino to flood some of their disposable cash into a few hands of poker or one of the many other games to suit any budget. Regardless of how much tourists actually want to spend in these casinos, it’s likely that they’ll be able to find something that suits their tastes and available funds.
The same can’t be said for Las Vegas. The recession hit the region particularly hard given the limited amount of disposable income gamblers were bringing to the city’s casinos. It was up to city planners to try and generate a sustainable revenue stream after the billions of dollars that were invested in regeneration and development schemes, which is still troubling officials to date. However, this doesn’t affect Macau due to its early diversification by city planners. Several tourists make their way to the region for shopping and enjoy considerable savings despite a 30% luxury tax.
Another reason for this boom in popularity and revenue is the attention that’s being given to the region due to poker. The APT Macau Main Event is one of the region’s largest and most successful poker tournaments that sends players home with substantial cash finishes. Henrik Tollefsen, the tournament’s most recent winner, left Macau with over $140,000 USD. This set the record for the largest payout ever in Macau and is sending poker players in droves to try and get their own share in the proverbial hemorrhaging of cash.
Macau is also a focal point for leading names in online poker, such as PokerStars. They’ve already secured quite a strong footing in the region and have partnered with local casinos to serve as hosts for major events. Two PokerStars sponsored events, the GuangDong Asia Millions and the Macau Poker Cup, are already attracting leading names in the game and are expected to continue to draw quite a few high-profile names to China.
It has certainly been another eventful time in the fight for poker rights. I encourage you to view a terrific video by PPA Executive Director John Pappas. In it, he shares insights from Capitol Hill and the progress being made. This video was sent to 2013 members last week and is a great example of the timely insider information you can get by becoming a 2013 PPA member. Please join today.
Instructions for Finding Your Full Tilt Poker Balance
Full Tilt Poker Claims Administrator Garden City Group will start accepting applications for remission of Full Tilt Poker balances on September 16th. You may wish to check and see what they have on record as your balance. To find your current Full Tilt Poker balance, you will have to download your account history. I downloaded mine and it was pretty straightforward. Here’s how to do it:
- Go to FullTiltPoker.com and download the client.
- Open the client and log in. Your old login credentials should still work.
- Go to “Requests” in the menu bar and select “Account History…(Web).” A web page will open where you can initiate a request for your history.
- Select the date range for your request. I chose an end date a couple of weeks after Black Friday (choose something like 5/1/2011) and a start date a few months prior. Once done, click “submit.”
- You will receive an email when the file is ready for download.
- Once you receive the email, select “Account History…(Web)” in the “Requests” menu of the FTP client, download the ZIP file from the web page that opens, and simply open the Excel-compatible spreadsheet.
- If you don’t have Excel (or a compatible spreadsheet program), you have some free options. One is to use Google Docs. Another is to download MS Excel Viewer. I downloaded it myself to verify I could open this spreadsheet. It works fine. Another is to download LibreOffice.
For your FTP point balance, open the cashier in the client. While our cash balances are not there, our point balances are.
Be sure to pay close attention to the dates, as the window is short. GCG will start accepting applications for remission on September 16th and will stop on November 15th.