Posts Tagged ‘poker stars’

Poker Stars and Full Tilt Leave Markets

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

With there being no real secret to the agenda regarding the world’s most (in)famous online poker brand’s desire to relaunch in several legitimate online gambling markets, namely the UK and US, PokerStars has begun to remove itself from questionable markets that may prohibit it from becoming part of the UK and US iGaming regimes.

The markets affected by this new move are of relative obscurity, including a handful of countries in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. These areas of the world have casinos online, but are considered to be grey markets, and thus, not as reputable as markets like that of the UK.

After it was announced that PokerStars would be asking players to close accounts in countries such as Bangladesh, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, North Korea, Nigeria Malaysia, and Turkey, executives at the company issued a statement asking that existing players in these markets cash out and close their accounts “at their convenience,” and to take advantage of any upcoming tournament entries and Frequent Player Points before making a final withdrawal. This new move out of unsavory markets for PokerStars is an important one that comes at a crucial juncture in the UK market, as the impending UK Gambling Act (Licensing and Advertising) expected to go into effect next month requires that any online operator intending to seek a remote gambling license does not receive more than 3% of its gaming revenues from unlicensed markets.

The UK casino market online is one of the largest and most lucrative in the world, generating about £2.5 billion ($4.26 billion US) in yearly revenue, with £329 million ($559 million US) of that income generated by online poker. Needless to say, this is the online poker market to go after for PokerStars.

Amaya Gaming purchased PokerStars months back with the plan to give the brand a new image and draw attention aways from its rocky beginnings of taking wagers from illegal markets in the past. The US market was very lucrative for the online poker giant until the Department of Justice targeted its operations, charging the brand with unlawful dealings i.e. taking real money wagers from US players.

PokerStars is undisputedly the largest online poker hub in the world, with a player pool unrivaled. Since Amaya bought the company, it has launched a full-fledged marketing campaign to make the poker site legitimate in the eyes of major regulated markets. With the UK market a big possibility – and very soon at that – industry insiders are speculating as to whether the PokerStars name will make its way back into the US market now that Amaya, one of the most highly respected casino operators in the world, has taken the reigns.

One notable country that PokerStars did not remove itself from in this new announcement was Canada, where several well-known operators such as Betfred, Ladbrokes, Matchbook, and EuroPartners have recently stopped taking wagers. Since Amaya is a Canadian company with a listing on the Toronto Stock Exchange, this should come as no surprise that the two top poker brands are staying put in Canada.

Amaya Buys PokerStars for $4.9 Billion

Saturday, June 14th, 2014

PokerStars_AmayaThe deal is sealed, and what a deal it is. The online gambling industry has been anticipating an announcement soon, and it certainly got one: Amaya Gaming has purchased the PokerStars online poker brand for nearly $5 billion.

Due to the online poker brand’s historical legal drama, Mark Scheinberg (whose father remains under indictment in the US), has been declared a new billionaire. More precisely, he’s a billionaire a few times over, as Poker Stars agreed to be purchased for $4.9 billion in cash.

Poker Stars is based in the UK (Isle of Man) and was being operated by parent company Rational Group Ltd. before the sale to Canada’s Amaya Gaming Group Inc. Scheinberg is Rational’s CEO and owns 75% of company. In the deal, Scheinberg will leave his post at Rational upon completion of the transaction.

It can easily be argued that this father-and-son team was one of the first major companies within the online gambling industry. While internet wagering was around before PokerStars began offering online poker in 2001, the online poker brand now has more than 85 million registered online users from all corners of the planet.

Rational netted around $420 million after paying various taxes, interest and other fees from $1.1 billion in gross earnings during 2013, which is an impressive sale, considering Poker Stars’ “checkered” past of taking illegal wagers from US players before the US passed definitive online gambling laws. Many industry insiders would say that several brands were caught up in the gray area of online waging in the US during that time.

PokerStars Legal Issues

Poker Stars was certainly just one of a large number of online gambling companies taking real money wagers from US players while the analysis of US online gambling laws was being examined and argued in courts.

A little over 3 years ago, the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York charged Isai Scheinberg and 10 other company big wigs (from other gambling sites) with money laundering, illegal gambling and bank fraud. Fallout from the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA), which took place that April, prohibited companies from accepting payments for real money online wagers (later overturned by a DOJ ruling on the 1969 Wire Act).

After the massive crackdown, PokerStars settled for $731 million in 2012 to have charges dropped. The deal, interestingly enough, cleared the online poker giant of any wrongdoing within the eyes of the Justice Department. And yet, Poker Stars has been shunned in the US since then – most recently by the state of New Jersey, which suspended Poker Stars’ online gambling application for 2 years.

This new acquisition is most likely engineered in some part to boost the brand’s reputation for a much desired reentry into the burgeoning US market.

Since the settlement and subsequent advancements in online wagering activity in the US, Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey have launched online casino sites of their own. Clauses deemed “bad actors” in these states, however, exclude companies involved in the 2006 UIGEA crackdown.

The Chairman and CEO of Montreal-based Amaya stated that he is convinced US regulators will consider PokerStars in a different way under the new ownership.

Amaya holds licensure in several gambling markets throughout the world. We’re talking eighty different markets, folks, which is a big deal indeed. If you thought you’d seen the last of Poker Stars in the US, think again.

Poker Stars Passes Increased Rake Fees onto Unhappy Players in France

Monday, July 12th, 2010

I don't know what this says in French, but something tells me it isn't about higher rake fees...

I don't know what this says in French, but something tells me it isn't about higher rake fees...

Here’s a message for all you lawmakers out there contemplating drawing up laws to regulate online gambling. Write a law to actually regulate online betting activity, not hinder it. Sure, taxation and regulation tend to go hand-in-hand. But when the taxation policy does not make it worthwhile for operators to do business, then it kind of defeats the purpose does it not?

In the UK, where strict regulatory laws have driven out several top-shelf online betting operators in the last few years, in France, some operators are choosing to pass increases in taxation onto the players themselves. More specifically, the popular online poker room, Poker Stars has dumped a 2% increase in rake charges on French players, as a result of new regulatory laws – which for all intensive purposes – are supposed to liberalize online gambling in France.

Beginning earlier this month, the French government gave an open invitation to offshore betting operators seeking to do business with French citizens – and Poker Stars was one of them. The only catch was that the operators would be required to pay more in taxes than what they were generally accustomed to in other regulatory jurisdictions.

Instead of sucking up the loss, Poker Stars has decided to make the players pay. Mind you, these are the same players who helped make Poker Stars become one of the most popular online poker rooms in the world. Needless to say, players from France are up in arms about the decision to raise the rake charge up to 7.7% (the percentage amount of the pot that is deducted and paid to Poker Stars every hand), and have formed a coup d’etat of sorts.

Taking advantage of the rule called a “sit out”, French players have successfully managed to impose a boycott on Poker Stars. Permitting seated players to “sit out” a hand at a table, the rule is now being exploited to the point where some entire tables are being “sat out” by players. Taking note of the uprising, Poker Stars defended its decision, stating they have been losing money themselves as a result of raised taxes. However, you and me and all the players at Poker Stars know that’s absolute BS.

I guess then it comes down to how greedy does Poker Stars want to be? Whether the staged sit-outs will be enough to get the world’s most popular online poker room to rethink increased rake fees for French poker players remains to be seen.


Poker Stars Holding Online Qualifiers for The Big Game to Air on Fox

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

Get in on the Big Game at Poker Stars and Win a $100K Buy-in

Get in on the Big Game at Poker Stars and Win a $100K Buy-in

Leading U.S. facing online poker room, Poker Stars, has revealed plans to launch a new high stakes cash poker game – Big Game – to be filmed and aired by the Fox Television network the Summer of 2010. In other words, whether you like Fox or not, if you’re a fan of poker, this is one television series you’re not going to want to miss.

Better yet, if you’re a fan of online poker, this is one game you will not want to pass up getting in on. The way Big Game works is that the top cash game players at Poker Stars will get to compete in head’s up, high stakes action against the biggest names in the professional poker world. So yes, that means you will need to be at the top of your game if you want to make it to the Big Game.

Through June 15 (just in time before the UIGEA potentially goes into effect), players from both Canada and the US will be eligible to compete in online qualifier tournaments, which in turn, will lead to the Big Game Final Round qualifiers. Anyone who finishes in the Top 200 will then be eligible to submit an audition video to be used for casting purposes. Since this is television we are talking about here, personality weighs in with playing skills!

Every episode of Big Game will feature a new Final Round online qualifier, who from this point on will be referred to as the Loose Cannon. He or she will be the lone non-professional sitting at a table playing with blinds set at $200/$400 and competing for hundreds of thousands of dollars with the best of the best professional players in the poker world. Poker Stars will give each Loose Cannon $100,000 to cover the buy-in, and any money made over the $100K amount will be theirs to keep.

To make things more fair, or should I say interesting, the Loose Cannon will be permitted to play with their own cash on top of the $100K buy-in. Considering the bankrolls of the competition, this will likely prove to a be a helpful bonus. Of course, anyone who makes it this far playing online satellite tournaments at Poker Stars should have some spending cash under their belt – or at least be able to find an investor.

For more information on Poker Stars, including welcome bonus information, read the OCS Poker Stars Review.

Poker Heist in Germany no Oceans Eleven, But Full of Excitement all the Same

Monday, March 8th, 2010

If you watched the evening news last night, there’s a good chance you heard about the high stakes poker heist that went down in Germany, in which live television cameras caught the caper going down – or at least the immediate repercussions thereof. If you didn’t see it, basically, think of your standard World Poker Tour camera shot, the sound of people screaming and stuff breaking, a set board crashing down behind the players at the table, the camera going into handheld “shaky” mode, and everybody running for cover.

It truly was like something out of Ocean’s Eleven, minus the….how do you say…professionalism? As if there is anything professional about robbery. But to be honest, the German poker heist was probably more real life than any blockbuster movie fantasy. Apparently, the crooks did not read “Robbing for Dummies”. Heck, the footage capturing all the poker tableside action speaks for itself.

Another video shows the perps running from behind a counter where the money was apparently being held, and wielding a small machete at a supersized security guard, who in turn, resorted to throwing random objects at the thieves and managing to successfully capture one of them. However, either the captured perp had all the money in his backpack, or his fellow robbers have something of a conscious, for one of them returned, threatening the security guard with a metal stand. That was enough to back the security guard down – who, apparently, was the only person with an ounce of bravery in the whole casino – and the thieves went on their merry way. It was a sloppy mess to say the least.

Granted, they did get away with approximately 300,000 Euros. Authorities, however, expressed confidence that with all of the evidence left behind, it is very likely the bandits will be brought to justice. Currently, they are still on the run.

Who knew poker could be so fun? Wouldn’t you know it, but the tournament, which had a 1 Million top prize award, was eventually won by an online qualifier at Poker Stars. Kevin MacPhee, a 29-year old home player from Idaho, took out his revenge in head’s up play on the Finnish player, IIari Tahkokallio, who ironically won head’s up against MacPhee last year at the London Open.

Poker Stars in the News: Upcoming Tournament Could be Largest to Date; 9/11 Cop Wins Million Dollar Challenge

Thursday, December 24th, 2009
Visit Poker Stars to Join the World Record Poker Tournament for $1

Visit Poker Stars to Join the World Record Poker Tournament for $1

The leading U.S. facing online poker room, and the most popular poker room at that, Poker Stars, has been in the news of late, shooting the final episode for the first season of the “Poker Stars Million Dollar Challenge”, and getting geared up for what could possibly be the largest online poker tournament to date – that is the Guinness World Record for largest poker tournament.

The news that technically shouldn’t be news to begin with, has to do with the results of the final table at the Poker Stars Million Dollar Challenge, which is scheduled to be aired on FOX December 27, 2009. However, due to a leak provided to the New York Post, the final results have already been published for the whole world to see. What makes the outcome of this event especially newsworthy is that the winner is a retired NYC detective who was one of the first officers on the scene at Ground Zero on 9/11.

Officer Mike Kosowski, who was originally an alternate to compete in the tournament after placing fourth in a Poker Stars online qualifier satellite tournament, ended up getting to compete in the final event after all show four players were knocked out in the first round. After winning a consolation sit ‘n go, Kosowski went on to face three other show winners at the final table, beating them out to compete in head’s up play against noted poker professional, Daniel Negreanu.

Besides the fact that an underdog won the Poker Stars Million Dollar Challenge, what’s so great about this particular tournament is that it was won by a national hero. Not only was Kosowski one of the first emergency personnel on the scene at Ground Zero, while helping evacuate civilians, Kosowski was thrown ten feet in the air after the South World Trade tower collapsed, consequently receiving burns on his head and neck.

Retiring shortly after the trauma of 9/11, Kosowski turned to online poker to help him occupy his time (encouraged to do so by his wife, who was cheering him on all the while at the final table). As it turns out, the decision to join Poker Stars has been another “life changer” for Kosowski, who says he is still on an emotional high and wondering if he is living a dream. As mentioned, the taped action at the final table with Kosowski will air on FOX Sunday, December 27th, beginning at 5 pm.

Now, onto other Poker Stars  news and events, which for all the online poker players out there, is what it’s all bout, right? Also taking place December 27th (beginning at 2:45 EST) will be the start of a $300,000 guaranteed prize pool poker tournament, which could end up being the largest online poker tournament to date if enough players sign up. In fact, the whole point of the tournament is beat Poker Stars current world record of 65,000 players. Currently, there are nearly 50,000 registered players.

Not only are there three days still to go for 15,000 more players to sign up, satellite tournaments are taking place round the clock. Furthermore, the buy-in is just $1, which is as cheap as a non-freeroll poker tournament can get. With the top prize valued at $50,000, and the top 30,000 finishers guaranteed cash winnings, that is one investment worth the risk. If you’ve never participated in an online poker tournament before, this is a great, cost-effective opportunity to get a taste of what an online poker tournament is like. Visit Poker Stars to open a free account now. Read the OCS Poker Stars Review for more information.