Archive for the ‘News’ Category

Yankees’ A-Rod Involved in Poker Scandal

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

alex-rodriguezThere is yet another scandal involving New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez. This time it is related to his gambling habit. The third baseman is being investigated by Major League Baseball for his alleged participation in a number of high-stakes underground poker games. The poker games, it should be noted, are illegal to run but not to participate in, so A-Rod is not accused of any crime.

After Star Magazine broke the story, the Yankees and Major League Baseball learned about allegations that Rodriguez had taken part in at least two high-stakes poker games. In one of the games, there was allegedly cocaine use and a fight that broke out after one player refused to pay up his loss of more than $500,000. This is said to have angered MLB Commissioner Bud Selig, who scolded Rodriguez in 2005 for to taking part in poker games. Selig will soon interview A-Rod regarding the matter. Rodriguez is currently on the Disabled List.

Playing in poker games may not be a big deal to most people, but baseball has long had a policy against players or coaches gambling. Pete Rose has suffered a lifetime ban for his gambling habit, though no one ever proved he bet on his team’s games. Most recently, Mets clubhouse manager Charlie Samuels lost his job and has since been indicted for various charges from an investigation that began with his gambling habit.

To Selig, it is dangerous to have a player like Rodriguez play in high-stakes games and possibly owe a lot of money. Though A-Rod’s contract would make debt almost impossible, the Black Sox scandal of 1919 has made baseball weary of any gambling involvement. Plus, like it or not, poker has a stigma in the eyes of many, and baseball wants to avoid association with an activity of which many people disapprove.

As for me, I wonder why anyone would agree to play poker against A-Rod. Since he is a known cheater at baseball, how can you trust him to not cheat in poker? Rodriguez tested positive for steroids in 2003 and has been treated by a physician who pleaded guilty to smuggling human growth hormone into the U.S.

According to MLB sources, if it is proved that Rodriguez took part in the alleged poker games, he will likely be suspended. Richard Rubenstein, a PR representative for A-Rod, said that the allegations contain “numerous factual inaccuracies and Alex looks forward to cooperating with MLB in their investigation.”

Greece Online Gambling Expansion May Run Into EC Complications

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

Most people have heard about the crisis with the Greek national debt. Some, especially those in the online gambling industry, have heard about how the Greeks intend to raise a portion of the money they need through an expansion of online gambling within their country. Just this past Monday we here at brought to your attention the Greek online gambling plan that would allow them to potentially raise €5 billion ($7.2 billion) by the year’s end.

But that plan could hit a snag in the form of the European Commission. The plans in Greece for their online casino gaming expansion appear to clash with laws set forth by the European Union, and the EC is watching Greece closely to see if they will indeed move forward with their expansion plans despite warnings that they could face legal proceedings from the EC for not working within EU laws.

On Monday we told you about how the Greek plan included the strategic sale of shares of OPAP, the state-run Greek gambling monopoly. The sale would be strategic so that the government does not lose management and control of OPAP. The plans also included legalizing slot machines, but the big expansion would have been in the online casino gambling sector.

But now other plans of the expansion have been brought to light. The plans for online casino expansion would be limited to a set number of licensees. Restrictions would be imposed on new licensees for their online casino operations. And to top it off in the EC’s eyes, the Greek proposal for online casino expansion would give OPAP, which Greece is trying to maintain management of, special privileges which in turn gives OPAP an advantage over the other online casino operators who would just be entering the Greek market.

In addition to the fact that those plans would step on the toes of EU law, it could potentially put off online casino operators as they would be obtaining a license that would not allow them to compete on an equal plain with OPAP. With the EC watching Greece, we will continue to monitor the situation in Greece to see if they indeed do move forward with their online casino expansion plans or whether they go back to the drawing board.

Full Tilt Gets its Secondary License Back

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

Back in June when Full Tilt’s license was suspended by the Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC), it set off a bit of chain reaction for the former online poker giant. The license that had been granted by the AGCC was Full Tilt’s primary license. And then it was suspended in order for the AGCC to conduct an investigation into their business practices; Full Tilt’s hearing to reinstate their license was suspended until September 15th in order for the company to work with potential investors in the deal to make the online poker site viable to hang on to its license and rebuild itself.

But the suspension of the Full Tilt primary license resulted in the Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC) suspending Full Tilt’s secondary license to operate within Kahnawake. According to Kahnawake state law, secondary online casino operator licenses can only be issued to an operator if they have a valid primary license. With the suspension of Full Tilt’s primary, AGCC issued license, the KGC assumed that meant that their primary license was no longer valid. Hence the suspension of the secondary license.

Recently the KGC spoke with the AGCC about Full Tilt’s primary license and their upcoming hearing. It was then that AGCC explained that even though the Full Tilt license is suspended, it is still valid. As a result the KGC reinstated Full Tilt’s secondary license; at this time Full Tilt is not offering any of its online casino services to players within Kahnawake. The KGC has stated that it will continue to closely monitor Full Tilt as it goes through its hearing.

The reinstatement of their secondary license is seen as a plus for Full Tilt. Currently they are trying to attract potential investors to purchase the company. Such a purchase would go a long way towards a positive outcome for Full Tilt’s hearing since a new investor could turn the company around and rebuild it.

Politician: Make Underage Gambling a Criminal Offense

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

pennsylvaniaEveryone, including pro and anti-gambling politicians, want to keep underage people off of the casino floor. Underage gambling is a major reason many people oppose gambling in the first place, and why some try to block casino expansion or regulation of online casino gambling. With the exception of underage people who want to gamble, and perhaps a few unscrupulous casino owners, everyone wants to stop the problem, but how?

A Pennsylvania politician thinks he has a solution. Currently in most jurisdictions the punishment is too small. The casino gets a fine and the gambler usually gets nothing. Representative Paul Costa (D-Turtle Creek) wants to make underage gambling in the state a criminal offense.

The current prohibition “is classified as a non-gaming summary offense, which is not a disincentive and nothing more than a slap on the wrist,” he said. Costa has some sway when it comes to the issue. He is a member of the Pennsylvania House Gaming Oversight Committee.

It is currently illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to gamble in Pennsylvania. Costa’s proposal would make the first offense for gambling underage carry a fine up to $2,000. A second and any subsequent offenses would be a third-degree misdemeanor, carrying a fine of up to $5,000. In addition, there would be increased penalties if the gambler used a fake ID to gain entry to the casino.

In addition to the fine and criminal record that gambling under the age of 21 would carry, Costa is considering requiring forfeiture of any gambling winnings and forcing the offender to be placed on an excluded gambler’s list.

The purpose of Costa’s proposal is clear. He wants to make the repercussions of underage gambling too bad for someone to risk getting caught. Costa says that his legislation would make sure minors know that “taking a chance at a casino” is going to have “lasing consequences.”

French Court Rules Poker to be a Game of Skill

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

Poker players, especially those in France, have cause to be happy. Potentially. The French Criminal Court of First Instance in Toulouse has ruled that poker is a game of skill.

This ruling is the result of a trial against Jean-Pierre Gleizes. Gleizes is the manager of the French land casinos Les Coulisses and St. Tropez. He was accused of organizing private poker games in public venues without having a license to do so. Gleizes claims that poker is a game of skill and therefore not subject to French law that requires a license to run games of chance. Evidence was given by a professional poker player, a mathematics professor and national champions of chess and bridge to illustrate that poker is indeed a game of skill.

The ruling opens up a whole new stance on poker in France. For starters online poker would be exempt from the online gambling bill that recently passed in the French government. The purpose of the bill was to regulate any casino online that offers games of chance to French citizens. If online poker becomes exempt from the online casino bill, online gambling operators would then be able to avoid paying the French government licensing fees and taxes on revenue. However, prior to even to this French ruling, there was an effort underway to include games of skill in an enlargement of the online casino bill.

While many French poker players are happy to hear that their favorite casino game is now considered a game of skill, there are some repercussions that could impact them. If poker is officially declared to be a game of skill it then becomes a taxable skill. That would mean that French professional poker players would have to pay taxes on their income. But the ruling does give them the clout to say what they do for a living is not left to chance.

The only dark spot in this ruling is that the prosecution is seeking an appeal to overturn the FCCFI’s ruling and have poker—both online poker and casino poker—declared a game of chance. The decision will reside with the French Supreme Court.

Florida to Revamp Lottery

Monday, August 1st, 2011

Florida-lotteryThe U.S. state of Florida has an odd relationship with gambling. Casinos are only allowed on native reservations. Online casino gaming, though not expressly prohibited, are not regulated or conducted in a manner that ensures compliance with state laws. Bingo is okay in some locations and horse and dog racing are allowed, but Internet gambling cafes are either illegal or exist due to a legal loophole. And then there is the lottery.

Voters approved of a state-run lottery via referendum 25 years ago. The government enthusiastically offered the games of chance, despite turning up their noses at casino games with better odds. While allowing blackjack, a game with excellent odds, at the tribal casinos took a lot of intense legislative fighting, few lawmakers oppose the Lottery. Now the only problem with the lottery, according to lawmakers, is that it is not popular enough.

Sales of lottery tickets are down in Florida, in part because of the economic recession and in part because there are much better gambling alternatives with much better odds. Even the worst casino game has better odds than the Lotto, so players would rather take a spin on the slots than buy a card at their local gas station. As a result, the fiscal year ending June 30 saw revenue at approximately $4 billion, which is an improvement over the last four years but still down 4% from 2007.

Governor Rick Scott has appointed Cynthia O’Connell to lead the Lottery. She is tasked with rebranding the product and making it more popular. Her biggest challenge is bringing in the younger demographics, since it is primarily older people who play the Lottery. Among the changes she is expected to make are redesigning the Lottery website and creating a social media presence. The goal is to make the Lottery cool for younger players.

Greeks Looking to Online Gambling to Help Solve Debt Woes

Monday, August 1st, 2011

It has been in international headlines the last couple of months that Greece is working a ways to solve the issues with its national debt. Currently they have obligations to the European Union and to the International Monetary Fund. While online gambling and online casinos will not entirely solve the Greek national debt issue, it can make a significant difference.

Currently the Greek government has a 34% stake in OPAP, the state run gambling monopoly. Under an agreement with the European Commission in the Greek proposal to help generate some revenue, the Greek government was supposed to sell their stake in OPAP. They are moving ahead with this, but they may not sell all of their stake, according to the Greek finance minister, Evangelos Venizelos, in order to maintain management control. The reason for this, as given by Venizelos, is that, “OPAP’s value is not only its shares but also the value of exercising its management.” Maintaining management will allow the Greek government to collect revenue from OPAP operations and licenses.

If the Greek government did sell their stake in OPAP it would generate at least a minimum of €1.2 billion ($1.73 billion). The hope is that the sale would be to a strategic investor so that some degree of management could still be maintained since another €500 million ($719 million) in selling more online gambling and online casino licenses. Other options to bring in revenue from online gambling and online casinos is to extend OPAP’s license from the Greek government itself, which would add another €400 million ($575 million) towards Greece’s financial obligations to the European Union and International Monetary Fund for helping the country cover its national debt. Although amount of revenue has not been estimated yet, another option would be to give OPAP an exclusive license; this license would be to operate all of the video lottery machines in the country, which number at 35,000.

Those are only a handful of the options that the Greek government has. But it is their intention to raise €5 billion ($7.2 billion) by the end of the year. While the plan is on shaky ground with the EC, Greece intends to move forward with it, citing that it is a good plan for them to raise their end of the money agreed upon. Venizelos said, “We have a clear target to present €1.7 billion ($2.4 billion) from privatizations by the end of September and €5 billion ($7.2 billion) by the end of the year.” And all of this from online gambling and online casinos.

U.S. Government Seizes Online Bingo Site

Monday, August 1st, 2011

Seized_2011_05_BaltimoreIn the latest action against the online gambling industry by the U.S. federal government, a popular online bingo website was shut down over the weekend, with its domain seized. At this point, no indictments have been made public, but any customers who visit the old website will be greeted with a message eerily similar to the ones found on PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker on Black Friday.

Whereas the Black Friday domains were seized by the FBI, in this case it was seized by ICE. The website says that the domain name “has been seized by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement – Homeland Security Investigations, Office of the Special Agent in Charge, Baltimore, MD.” According to the page, the online bingo domain was seized “in accordance with a warrant obtained with the assistance of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.” The message also says that it is “unlawful to conduct an illegal gambling business in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1955(d).”

According to 18 U.S. Code – Section 1955, a business is considered an “illegal gambling business” if it is in “violation of the law of a state or political subdivision in which it is conducted.” There is no federal law prohibiting online bingo. Therefore, for FuntimeBingo’s business to be illegal, it must have operated in a state, city or county that banned bingo or online gambling. At this point, it is not known if that is the case.

When the .com domain was seized by the feds, FuntimeBingo responded by opening their website on a new domain. The new site can be found at The .ag domain is a domain associated with Antigua. FuntimeBingo says they are “the world’s number one online bingo” site.

Online Gambling Site Warns of Data Breach

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Bet24-PokerIn another example of why you need to constantly monitor your accounts and be careful what you put online and where, an online gambling website has warned of a data breach that has put some information in jeopardy. Bet24, an online casino, poker room and sports betting site licensed in Malta, is notifying customers that there was a security breach in December 2009.

At the time of the breach, the gambling company took the appropriate actions, it says, including resetting passwords. However, after a recent arrest of a suspect who was in possession of “unauthorized copies of personal customer information relating to various companies including Bet24,” the company decided to notify members.

According to Bet24, customer names, email addresses, home addresses, account IDs, passwords and credit card numbers have been stolen from the website. The stolen information is known to have been used to access a limited number of Bet24 accounts. In each case, the company has notified the members and fully reimbursed them for any money lost. The technique used to breach Bet24’s security as well as the identity of the hacker is unknown, but the online casino says it is working with authorities.

Bet24 is a casino with a good reputation, though it is not listed as one of the top sites here on Reputable online casinos are generally safe places to store your account information, at least as secure as your bank, but even banks get hacked sometimes. There is no sure thing, which is why it is important to monitor your accounts for unauthorized activity.

Casino Campaign Launched in Maine

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

maine-location-mapThe push to bring expanded gambling to the U.S. state of Maine just got more organized. A special interest group has launched in order to campaign for bringing table games to a Bangor, Maine slot casino. Voters will have the final say on the matter.

On Monday, Prenobscot County for Table Games and Jobs Coalition held a press conference announced the launch of their campaign. The group said that it wants to bring blackjack, roulette, craps and other table games to Hollywood Slots casino. During the press conference, the group said that adding table games to the casino would create jobs and increase revenue for the city and state, both of which are in debt and needing more funds.

Currently table games are prohibited from casinos by state law. However, earlier this month Governor Paul LePage (R) signed a bill into law that would allow table games at the casino if voters in Penobscot County approve of the change. The referendum will be placed on the November ballot and if voters choose expanded gambling, the law will be amended to allow it.

The newly formed Prenobscot County for Table Games and Jobs Coalition has not yet said what the exact impact of expanded gambling would be. John Osborne, the general manager of Hollywood Slots, has provided numbers. He predicts that allowing table games at his casino would create 100 new jobs worth $4 million annually in salary and benefits. More salary and more casino revenue also means more tax revenue for the governments.