April 15, 2013
A recent deal between Ukash and PayPoint will now allow customers of the former to make cash withdrawals. These withdrawals will be available at any of the 24,000 locations under the retail payment provider’s network. Before this deal, Ukash users were only allowed to make deposit payments; this was particularly inconvenient for online poker players wanting to withdraw their earnings. CEO David Hunter, in a media segment, explained that this move was made with the intention of providing higher flexibility for its consumers. He also stated that this was intended to provide greater appeal for electronic commerce retailers who would now consider adding Ukash to their payment options.
Ukash services is owned and operated by Smart Voucher Limited as an electronic money institution. This is under the regulatory auspices of the United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority, FCA. It has garnered recognition by winning the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in two consecutive years, 2011 and 2012. It has also made the Times List of the UK’s 100 fastest growing companies placing at an impressive 23rd spot.
The Ukash system allows online transactions without the need for a bank, debit, or credit card. The user purchases a unique identifier which is a 19-digit code that enables them to transfer funds online. Their e-wallet model is especially targeted towards people who would rather transfer funds online without providing personal information. This reduces the chances of identity and financial fraud on the part of their users. Although Ukash does not require personal information for usage, the online gaming sites have their own monitoring tools to check for money laundering activity. This model restructuring is going to allow Ukash to offer a more comprehensive payment processing service that can rival that of its main competitor –NETELLER.
April 13, 2013
A look at the traffic on online poker sites shows that iPoker refuses to be dimmed in its quest for dominance of the online market. Its numbers continued with a surge maintaining its quest for dominance by regaining its first place behind PokerStars. The competition for second place has been very closely tied between the three sites in contention for the spot. According to Pokerscout’s seven day averages for the latest week, iPoker leads with 3100 players, while Full Tilt and PartyPoker follow closely at the 3000 player mark.
This is born out by the moving trend for the last 30 days; Full Tilt Poker has been on a continuous downward streak that it seems unable to mitigate. PartyPoker, on the other hand, has been unable to establish a stable base and has been continuously declining despite the launch of ZyngaPokerPlus, a gaming skin currently limited to the UK. The launch may have done wonders for Zynga’s share price producing an upward movement of 15%; however, this has not had much positive impact on PartyGaming’s numbers. In fact, their share price has followed the trend and similarly dipped 15% since the launch. This may have investors at bwin.party worried considering they may have been looking to emulate the success of Full Tilt’s relaunch which created an upward surge of 10% in online poker gambling.
iPoker’s surge has been bolstered by recent additions such as Bet Fair and Dusk till Dawn to the iPoker network by parent company Playtech. The effect has seen a turnaround in what had previously been Playtech’s declining gambling section. SealsWithClubs deserves a mention as the week’s largest gainer due to the popularity of their Bitcoin system. However, this should be taken cautiously as their largely American market may be negatively impacted by possibility of state regulated online poker in the U.S.
April 13, 2013
A Las Vegas businessman, Chad Elie, who is currently serving a five-month prison sentence for third-party poker payment processing after being indicted on Black Friday, has filed a lawsuit against his former lawyer, Jeff Ifrah. Chad claims that his lawyer misled him on issues regarding the legalities of third-party poker processing. He further claims that Ifrah did not disclose to him a memorandum that was sent to him in 2010 by Akin Gump that detailed discussions between the firm and government lawyers in Manhattan. He says that the memorandum confirmed third-party poker processing as illegal. In his 20-page lawsuit, Chad claims that Ifrah kept this memorandum a secret as he wanted to continue pocketing the hefty commissions.
Elie retained Ifrah in 2009. At that time, Ifrah was working with Full Tilt Poker, a bank in Utah known as Sun First Bank, and Pokerstars. According to the complaint, Elie claims that he retained Ifrah to help him obtain information regarding the legalities of online poker and third-party financial processing. According to the lawsuit, Elie claims that Ifrah encouraged him to engage in the trade by introducing to him a number of banks that processed payments for the poker companies. In exchange to the services provided, Ifrah received huge financial benefits from Pokerstars, Full Tilt, and Elie. Such profits saw Elie become one of the highest-earning poker processors.
In April 2011, Elie was among the 11 individuals who were indicted as part of a crackdown on illegal poker processing. The crackdown also led to the shutting down of U.S. Full Tilt and Pokerstars websites. The feds termed Full Tilt as a ponzi scheme for the way it cut corners as it tried to go round the legal financial systems.
It is still a shame that unfortunately, many Americans who had invested their money in online gaming at Full Tilt have not been repaid to date.
April 10, 2013
Kansas legislators voted against a bill that had sought to criminalize online gambling within the state. This clause was in fact part of a wider raft of measures. The measures had been intended to attract gambling investment in physical casinos to the four zones in the state that allow gambling. Legislators from the Southeast corner of the state had been pushing for the passing of this bill as their region is the only one of the four to fail to attract gaming investment. This might be due to the area being lowly populated. Furthermore, with gaming opportunities offered across the border in north-eastern Oklahoma by several casinos investors may not see the need for the investment.
On a high note, the bill sought to reduce the entrance investment and development price needed to qualify from $225 million to a more enticing sum of $50 million to be applied in the Kansas Southeast unoccupied gambling zone in order to stimulate investment. However, the bill proposed to ban online gambling by turning it into a Class B non-person select misdemeanor. Such offence carries penalties of up to six months jail time or a fine of one thousand dollars for the offender. This clause was an amendment to the bill that was recently passed. Furthermore, the bill proposed video games and electronic slot machines from that state’s para-mutual gambling locales. This proposed ban would take effect immediately and would last until the year 2032. Opponents of these proposed bans saw them as a transparent attempt at appeasing anti-gaming voices.
In a surprising move, some of the legislators who had helped pass the amendment clause banning online gaming went on to vote against the entire bill. The amendment which passed 26-11 was part of the bill that was thrown out 25-14 by the state legislature.
April 2, 2013
In the wake of legalization of online poker by the states of New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware, other states have taken note. However, Wisconsin is one state where not much about online poker regulations has been heard.
Wisconsin is a state renowned for land-based casinos, which are operated by Native Americans. Other tribes across the country have been very liberal about expressing their interest in Internet gaming. The tribes in Wisconsin, though, continue to be silent.
Steve Verrett, the director for the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) in Wisconsin, said, “State-by-state legislation in my opinion is not ideal.”
In justification of his statement, he went on to add, “It will create small pockets of tournaments and little competition as you will only be able to play within your state or compact of multiple states. Will Wisconsin join a group like a Powerball lottery system? I don’t know and actually have little confidence in it. The best bet for Wisconsin and most other states outside of California, Nevada, and New Jersey is federal regulation. If federal regulation with an ‘opt out’ clause gets put into place as it has been discussed, I think Wisconsin is forward-thinking enough to be a part of that.”
Verrett is encouraging players to become proactive in spite of the minimal movement on the online poker front in Wisconsin. He said, “Join the PPA, get on the mailing lists and use the tools that the PPA has in place to let decision-makers in your area know your opinion.
“The PPA does a very good job of tracking opinions of state and federal decision-makers for your state and provides very simple one-click form letters to send to your senator or representative. If you are a poker player, you should keep pushing the issue. Don’t be a person that complains when decisions are made against us; voice your opinion before the decisions are made.”
April 2, 2013
The American people’s online petition for licensing and regulation of Internet poker finally received a response from the Obama administration on Friday after waiting nearly eight months. The National Economic Council deputy director, Brian Deese, who is also special assistant to President Obama on economic policy, issued a four-paragraph response. The first and last paragraphs were merely skeletons containing the introduction and the conclusion, leaving only two paragraphs with meat.
The second paragraph was an acknowledgement that a large number of Americans play online poker and they are not prevented by any federal law from doing so. It goes on to state that each state has the mandate to authorize online poker or not. This is a confirmation of the Justice Department’s green light in December to states to move ahead on the issue.
The third paragraph is a listing of the typical areas of concern in the issue of Internet gambling, including prevention of minors from playing, money laundering and fraud. With regard to that, the response states, “The Administration will continue to examine this issue and is open to solutions that would help guard against the use of online gambling sites as tools for conducting illegal activities or preying on unsuspecting individuals to the extent that online gambling is permitted.”
The response said nothing of the petition’s actual message; that regulating online poker in the U.S. would be a safeguard against such concerns and at the same time offer consumer protection, create jobs, and raise revenue to the tune of billions of dollars.
Optimists had hoped the administration was putting together a thoughtful reply and hence the long wait: most of the other early petitions had already received a response. Following the failure of the initial set of responses to address the content of the various petitions, a new petition was created and it had the title “Actually take these petitions seriously instead of just using them as an excuse to pretend you are listening.”
Pokers Players Alliance (PPA) created the original poker petition on September 22, aimed at the “We the People” promotion ran on the official website of the White House. In three days time, the petition had crossed the threshold of 5,000 signatures that was necessary for a response. By the time it was done, there were nearly 10,000 signatures.
John Pappas, the PPA executive director, said, “Today’s petition response is promising in the respect that each of the issues raised by the White House can be and will addressed by U.S. regulation of the industry.” He added, “The best response is for Congress to put a bill on the president’s desk that protects consumers, restores personal freedom and raises much needed revenue.”
April 1, 2013
The state lottery of Delaware, which oversees Internet gaming, just announced a request for proposals to assist in the launch of Internet gaming at a later date in the year, an announcement that was followed by several companies submitting their requests. According to GamblingCompliance.com, as of now Ration Group, the parent company of Poker Stars, and 13 other companies have already responded with offers to help bring online gambling in the state to fruition.
Some of the other big names in the industry that made their submissions include IGT, 888 Holdings, Continent 8 Technologies, Amaya Gaming (owns Ongame Network poker platform), Stan James PLC, and SHFL Entertainment.
According to Delaware lottery officials, there is great hope in the launch of real money online gambling happening some time before the end of September. As such, the companies interested in submitting their offers have been asked to be set to go live by that schedule.
The companies are said to offer a variety of services though their specific nature is yet to be revealed. However, when the state’s lottery was announcing the opening for proposals, they were seeking suppliers in four areas: Game Content Vendors, Operations Management Provider, Backend Technology Platform Provider, and Support Services Vendors.
The state of Delaware is after companies with a track record of operation for not less than a year, and with experience in North American and European markets.
The dates for the launch of online poker in Nevada and legalization in New Jersey draw closer. With this progress, state lawmakers are anticipating a broader player pool through interstate compacts. This is an industry with millions of dollars potentially at play, and other states’ legislators, such as Illinois and California, are also seriously considering avenues to get in.
March 23, 2013
Colombia, one of South America’s most successful economies, moves to reinforce protection of its citizens and collect its share from online gaming.
As the South American country looks forward to the formulation of new laws that will legalize Internet gaming, unlicensed operators have received a stern warning from Coljuegos, the Colombian gaming regulator.
Currently, it is illegal to partake of online gaming. Under Colombian legal definitions, poker is a game of chance and legal in licensed casinos. President Rodrigo Vélez Jara of Coljuegos has advised Colombian citizens to have no confidence in the game play offered by unlicensed casinos, asserting that they have no legal protection while playing. He has asked them to report unlicensed online operators for prosecution.
The constitution mandates that revenues coming from state monopolies fund health care. With this regard, Sr Vélez accuses unlicensed offshore operators of “… operating outside the law and undermining the funding of public health services in Colombia.”
The penalties for operators caught breaching the law include fines and a five-year ban from offering online gambling services in Colombia.
In spite of the warnings, major online operators have not yet faced any noteworthy legal challenges as they continue to provide their services in the Colombian marketplace. Coljuegos’ exhortations seem to have done nothing to water down operators’ argument that online poker is not illegal under the current law: rather than explicitly against Colombian law, it is not covered at all.
Last fall, Coljuegos was tasked by the government to develop a regulatory framework to support a new online gaming licensing law. Vélez said, “in the future, online games will be included in the portfolio of betting options available to Colombian consumers.”
Coljuegos was established as a replacement of ETESA in 2011. ETESA was a regulator given much greater power and expected to generate much more revenue than its predecessor ECOSALUD S.A. In 2001, ECOSALUD S.A was disbanded due to massive overstaffing, corruption, and ineffectiveness. ETESA came in and managed to increase revenues for the national health budget by 2%, which amounted to $148m. Expectations on Coljuegos are an increase of this amount by a factor of five. Such a task implies tapping into new revenue streams presented by licensed online gaming.
March 23, 2013
Patrik Antonius, the second most profitable high-stakes online poker player in history, is now up more than $15 million lifetime on Full Tilt Poker. He is back to his familiar soul-crushing strategies on the FTP software.
The Finnish pro took charge of the virtual arena from last Friday and won over $1.1 million while playing under the screen name “FinddaGrind”. This amount is the largest won in a week in the web poker world. According to the HighstakesDB Full Tilt pre-2012 data, Antonius was up approximately $13.5 million. This amount combined with his other winnings of 2013 puts him up about $15 million on Full Tilt Poker lifetime.
The online platform is not the only space Antonius dominates. He has come to be highly regarded for his brazen battle techniques in the live cash game arena, where he has earned a name for being one of the best and most profitable players of all time. The pro’s career is also marked by stunning tournament wins; the total wins he has amassed in tournaments throughout his career amount to nearly $5.6 million.
Just recently, in the 2013 Aussie Millions main event, Antonius finished third and took home $633,419.
The HighstakesDB figures can best put Antonius’ upswing into perspective. Below are the 2013 Full Tilt cash game standings.
Viktor “Isildur1” Blom: $4,063,347
Alexander “PostflopAction” Kostritsyn: $3,474,146
Ben “Bttech86” Tollerene: $1,841,245
Phil “OMGClayAiken” Galfond: $1,797,335
Patrik “FinddaGrind” Antonius: $1,523,801
Ben “Sauce1234” Sulsky: $1,904,302
Phil “Polarizing” Ivey: $1,851,903
Gus Hansen: $1,640,949
Scott “mastrblastr” Seiver: $1,220,393
Isildur1’s downswing officially came to an end when he surged to a $1.86 million profit in mid-March, taking the Swedish pro to the top of the chart with over $4 million in earnings. With a loss of $1.1 million last month alone, Phil Ivey’s record is not as glowing as would be expected.
March 18, 2013
A glimmer of hope finally emerges for poker enthusiasts of the Big Apple, as the Senate calls for the legalization of online poker.
For years, New York has enjoyed a reputation for being one of the states at the helm of the most stringent tax and business laws, and the more recent gun control laws. The world of online poker has been banned for a long time too. Now, though, a ray of sunshine has penetrated these restrictions promising a resurgence of online poker, as the New York Senate has called for the legalization of the game.
As stated by Jeff Klein and Dean Skelos, the principle proponents, online poker could bring in over $100 million in revenue for the state. This is a massive monetary amount that cannot be treated lightly, as it could be the much needed breath of fresh air in an environment weighed down by budget cuts and layoffs.
The legislation of the classic casino game couldn’t have come at a better time. Governor Cuomo is currently putting the construction of land-based casino operations across the state into serious consideration. Whilst a proposal necessitating no budget is a definite in for whichever cause, more so internet gambling, there is reason to believe online poker could become a reality in no time at all.
With the recent state court ruling of poker as, not a game of chance, but a game of skill, things are looking up for professional poker players. A game is considered illegal when it is ascertained to be a game of chance. Poker has set itself apart for decades, and it appears the state government has begun to get into terms with this. Besides, the potential revenue it could generate if legalized is a highly persuasive prospect.
The 1961 Wire Act is the one thing that has made the poker situation very muddled, what with its ambiguity when it comes to whether games like poker are categorized under the illegal umbrella of sportsbetting. However, it is likely to have little or no influence on the realization of online poker in many states like New York. In fact, the Department of Justice recently reinterpreted this law, rendering clarity to the distinction between poker and sportsbetting.
It’s about time government officials recognized the potential in the legalization of online poker. Focus has shifted from the outdated discourse that has always sought to assert poker as a sport that has nothing to do with skills, to now numbers and facts. This issue could be settled as soon as in April, when the fruition of legislative deadlines will arrive.