PPA’s Petition to White House for Online Poker Legalization

September 29, 2011

Director of online poker advocacy group Poker Players Alliance Drew Lesofski created a petition on the White House website regarding the need for online poker regulations last Friday in hopes to generate the 5,000 signatures needed for the petition to be reviewed by higher powers. It took only three days for the petition to generate more than 7,000 signatures.

The petition will remain live on the White House website until October 22nd. At that time, the issue will be addressed by the White House. Online poker advocates are encouraged to continue showing their support for the cause by continuing to sign the petition to show the administration just how important this right is to US citizens.

VP of the PPA Rich Muny says, “What we really want is to show the administration that a lot of people care about this liberty. We want it to always be in their heads that poker is in the top-tier of Americans’ interests. To me, that is more important that what response we get from the administration.”

The petition simply states:

“Appropriate regulation of online poker will put the US in charge of safeguarding responsible adult players, prevent underage participation and protect those with excessive gaming habits. The current unregulated US marketplace does not guarantee a single consumer protection.

“US regulation of this global industry will also mean the creation of American jobs and billions in new revenue without raising taxes. Licensed US-based horse race wagering sites have proven that online betting sites can be successfully regulated. It is time to allow online poker the same opportunity.”

If you agree with this statement, it only takes a minute to create a free account and virtually sign the petition online.

Muny says, “It’s very important for everyone in the community to participate. We want to stay above any bar they choose. It’s very gratifying that the White House thought a good proposal would take 30 days to 5,000 votes and we did it in three days. That shows the strength of our community. More votes will increase our priority in getting an answer. Every additional signature is an important one.”

European Masters of Poker to Feature WCOOP Winner

September 29, 2011

On the heels of PokerStars’ World Championship of Online Poker, the European Masters of Poker has kicked off in Barcelona, Spain. The tournament will run through October 2nd and is expected to draw in at least the player field of last year, which capped out at 430. Finland’s Matias Knaapinen won the event last year and scored a €93,000 payout for his first place victory. Buy-in to this year’s European Masters of Poker Main Event is €1,100, so the prize pool is expected to rise significantly.

Speaking of the WCOOP, recent winner of this year’s WCOOP, Denmark’s Thomas Pedersen, is expected to attend the EMOP and will be representing Victory Chandler Poker’s Team VC.

A full schedule of side events will also be featured with varying buy-ins including a €550 NLH event two-day event that will begin on October 1.

Chiligaming to Expand into US Free Internet Poker Market

September 29, 2011

Chiligaming, online gaming operator based out of France, has announced that they will open a new office to be located in California that will target the US poker market with a free-to-play social poker gaming network. This network will be the first of its kind, and will be backed by the completely UIGEA-compliant Chiligaming poker network.

The network will use the company’s proprietary software that comes with a wide variety of features for the social gaming community such as virtual currency, accessibility via mobile devices including Android and iPhone as well as tablets and social networking sites, and multiple language compatibility.

This is just another genius idea in the long line of ideas that hopes to plant roots for online poker in the US market should it become legal. And the question isn’t really “will online poker become legal in the US?”, but rather “when will it become legal?” at this point. Many companies like Chiligaming are trying to get in the door ahead of time, so they don’t have to waste time establishing a clientele after regulation occurs.

Director of Chiligaming Rohin Malhotra says, “This new platform is technically the most advanced on the market today. In pre-regulation USA where casino and other gaming brands are eager to legally enter the online arena, grow their online presence and seek to get a head start, Chiligaming’s turn-key solution is the perfect partner.”

Recently celebrating its fifth anniversary, the Chiligaming company has already established itself as a strong and reliable force in the industry. As part of their expansion that will move the company into the US and the Asia-Pacific region, Chiligaming will open its first US office in San Francisco sometime in the near future.

Chiligaming CEO Alexandre Dreyfus says, “The gaming market is evolving and Chiligaming is evolving with it by expanding its operation to become an active social gaming player in addition to an established online gaming operator. Chiliplay.com will be the first brand to launch on the network and we will be welcoming more partners now that all the devices for access are ready.”

The move will enhance already strong brand recognition and successful market base already established in Frane and the UK.

Update on Full Tilt Poker Status

September 29, 2011

Ian J. Imrich, lawyer for Chris Ferguson, is currently taking questions on Facebook from former Full Tilt Poker players, disgruntled and all. Imrich had been posting things on his Facebook wall relating to Full Tilt in efforts to save what little popularity they had left. Now it’s more or less an open forum where effected parties can pose questions regarding their missing player funds, the rumors about French investors, and whatnot, though there are some harsh words being said about Ferguson and other Full Tilt Poker associates.

Unfortunately, there are so many disgruntled players, it is virtually impossible to address every single concern, though many are the same. Jeff Ifrah, lead defense lawyer for Full Tilt and Ray Bitar, Poker Kings CEO, attempted to host a similar thing on TwoPlusTwo, but it didn’t last five days after realizing he was no match for the masses.

While the letter of intent from the potential investor that would save the company and return player funds expires tomorrow, September 30th, many are losing what little hope they had. Ifrah has confirmed talks with the AGCC that would further extend the hearing on the company’s operating license until the investor was able to meet with the DOF.

So nothing has changed, but time. Time will run out on Full Tilt Poker, but hopefully not before the players are paid.

Possible French Investor for Full Tilt Poker

September 27, 2011

After rumors have been circulating around the Internet that Full Tilt Poker did in fact have some investor with the guts to buy Full Tilt out of its debt and refund all the players funds that were otherwise lost but not forgotten, it seems a French investment group is actually considering the proposition. They are so serious that they have carried through with the necessary actions that would be needed to finance and finalize a takeover.

A takeover would cost an investor up to $300 million just to repay players after operating costs were mixed with player funds, which caused the online poker room to lose its license and ultimately be accused of operating a “Ponzi Scheme” by US media outlets.

While most players no longer feel loyalty to the Full Tilt brand and could care less if the site gets revived, they do care about their money, so many are praying for a viable investor to surface. So the news of this French company has given players new hope that they might see their money once again.

The official Full Tilt attorney, Jeff Ifrah, made a statement regarding the takeover:

“The investors are totally committed to doing this- we’ve met with them and seen the funds. Their primary concern right now is the AGCC’s decision on Full Tilt’s license. The investor’s position is that if Alderney revokes the license, they won’t go through with the deal because it makes things too difficult.”

Hopefully the AGCC will take into consideration the fact that the company still has hope to rebuild itself and do things right, including paying all those players back.

Ifrah also mentioned that the potential investors have hired lawyers to hold meetings with the US Department of Justice. They are hoping to work things out with the US. All of these factors will contribute to the decision of the investors, which makes perfect sense. They want to invest in a company that will be on good terms with the AGCC as well as with the US, or it just won’t be worth it.

Bodog Says PokerTracker is Guilty of Data Theft

September 27, 2011

After an attempt by Bodog to block traffic data by hiding full poker tables from its own poker lobby, PokerScout, online poker data tracker, has reported that this move has had little to no effect on the data tracker’s abilities to keep accurate tabs on Bodog Poker traffic. Bodog has asked that their traffic data not be tracked, as they believe that each poker operator’s data belongs to that site and outside parties do not have the right to publish that data and anyone who does publish such data is guilty of data theft. PokerScout disagrees.

Bodog does not feel that it’s fair to less experienced players that more skilled poker players are able to access these types of data logs and use it as an advantage over inexperienced players. PokerScout feels that because online poker games are played in a public arena via the Internet, then the data is no one’s private property.

Because Bodog relies mainly on its sportsbook and racing leg, it’s online poker sector is merely a catch all for other types of bettors who meander from the sportsbetting page to the poker room. Bodog believes that without the public knowledge of poker tracking data, sharks won’t come to play at Bodog in hopes to prey on the fish who don’t know any better. This would ultimately mean that the sharks won’t be taking the money, and Bodog will benefit from more earnings via raked pots.

VP of the Bodog Network Jonas Odman explains it this way: “Money can only leave a poker ecosystem in two ways, through rake and withdrawals. Winning players are withdrawing players, and as a poker network, our revenue will increase the fewer withdrawing players we have.”

PokerStars Wraps Up WCOOP

September 27, 2011

Sixty-two events later, the World Championship of Online Poker hosted by PokerStars has wrapped up. The main event saw 1,627 registrants, who each paid the $5,200 buy-in and created a prize pool totaling $8.135 million. It was Denmark’s Thomas “Kallllle” Pedersen who finished first and won $1.26 million. Second place went to Czech Republic’s “Vojt_R,” who won $710K.

Overall, the country with the most monetary winnings was Canada, followed by Russia and UK. Russia and Canada were tied for the most final tables, UK coming in third. But it was Russia who won the most titles with 10 WCOOP first place wins, which makes sense because Russia also had the most registrants. The UK was in second place for most titles with eight, and the Netherlands came next with seven.

The WCOOP player of the year award went to both Joel “2FLY2TILT” Gordon and Big_Nemo, both of whom earned 295 points throughout the series. In third was Daniel Negreanu, who finished in fifth place out of 70 in the 8-Game High Roller Event #61 with a $10,300 buy-in and a prize pool worth $700K. First place went to Russia’s “Ostrov.”

Reports Surface that Full Tilt Contributed to Congressional Campaigns

September 23, 2011

The Boston Globe reported last Wednesday that Democrat representative of Nevada, Shelley Berkley, who has been an advocate for online poker legalization and regulation for quite some time, accepted political contributions from Full Tilt Poker of around $20K. Spokeswoman for Berkley’s US Senate campaign, Jessica Mackler, said that the money would be returned in some way.

Berkley says, “These allegations are extremely troubling and, if true, threaten to unfairly cast a shadow over the entire online poker community thanks to the alleged actions of a few individuals.”

The article also focused attention on Democratic representative from Massachusetts, Barney Frank, also an online poker activist who has over the years proposed multiple bills to Congress regarding the legalization of Internet poker. According to the Boston Globe, Rep. Frank accepted around $18,600 in donations and one more additional contribution is still pending.

Frank and Berkley have received the highest amount of Full Tilt contributions, but others have reportedly received funding.

Earlier in the week, the former online poker site was accused of being a “massive ponzi scheme” by a federal prosecutor, which created quite the buzz among the online poker community. After being charged with money laundering, illegal gambling operations, and fraud in the Black Friday fiasco, Full Tilt Poker hasn’t had a good day yet. Now owing former US players more than $440 million, a new investor is the only thing that could save the once great online poker brand.

Now well-known poker pros and directors of the Full Tilt Poker company, Chris Ferguson and Howard Lederer, have been added to the civil suit. These two, along with poker player Rafael Furst, also named in the complaint, together gave nearly $200K to various congressional campaigns since 2007.

Drunk Online Poker Player Threatens Poker Site

September 19, 2011

Thirty-five-year-old Michael Gallagher from the UK (Redcar, East Cleveland) reportedly lost somewhere in the neighborhood of £19,000, which is about $30,000 US dollars, at an unnamed online poker site before losing it and giving “going on tilt” a whole new meaning.

Gallagher lost his money between June of 2010 and May 2011 before finally losing his cool on May 25th when he emailed the website’s head office located in the Isle of Man with a threatening message. He wrote that he would be visiting the office with a sawed off shotgun and would shoot as many people as possible unless they paid him £30,000 (or $50K US dollars) for his losses.

The following day, Gallagher followed up with a second email that explained he was drunk when he wrote the email and apologized for his actions. However, the online poker site wasn’t so sure, so they notified the police and Gallagher was later arrested and is now charged with blackmail.

Following the advice of his lawyer, Gallagher plead guilty to conveying a threat via electronic communication. He will be sentenced next month, despite requests by his lawyer for an earlier sentence. The presiding Judge Georg Moorhouse explained he needed more time to decide sentencing, saying, “I think a report is required because of the very nature of the threat.”

Currently out on bail, Gallager awaits his fate.

Intrastate Online Poker in the Works in Massachusetts

September 19, 2011

Despite the US federal government’s advice to state governments to not pursue the legalization and regulation of online poker at the intrastate level, many state governments continue to push ahead with poker legislation. Most states have continuously hit a brick wall when attempting to pass such legislation, but they persist in their efforts. Now perhaps something will give.

Lawmakers in Massachusetts are strongly considering the introduction of intrastate poker regulations now that the Massachusetts House has approved the inclusion of an expanded gambling bill, Representative Dan Winslow’s proposed amendment. Winslow’s bill would require five licenses be issued for online poker by a state gambling commission by July 31st, 2012. The reasoning behind Winslow’s proposal is financial. He believes that this action would generate revenue for the state as well as create high tech jobs for educated yet otherwise unemployed citizens.

The bill must further pass the Senate and a conference committee and would then still be subject to a veto by Massachusetts’s Governor Deval Patrick, much like the veto of the New Jersey legislature that went through both the House and the Senate of New Jersey, only to get vetoed by the governor at the last minute back in March of this year.

Meanwhile, members of the online poker community, especially those in Massachusetts, are keeping their fingers crossed in hopes that this may be the online poke bill that finally makes law.

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