July 31, 2014

Bad Beat on Pocket Aces Costs Poker Player His $1M Buy-in



The World Series of Poker may be known to the masses for its $10,000 buy-in main event, in which thousands of entrants compete for the $10 million prize, but that's actually not the competition with the highest stakes involved.

That title belongs to "The Big One for One Drop," featuring a whopping $1 million buy-in. There were 42 people who competed this year, with the winner pocketing over $15 million.

Things weren't so sweet for Connor Drinan, however, whose seven-figure buy-in was lost to an exceptionally bad beat. Drinan's pocket aces had a 2 percent chance of losing the hand pre-flop. Spoiler: That didn't work out so well for him.

The winner of the hand, Cary Katz, finished the tournament in eighth and claimed a $1.3 million prize.

July 30, 2014

Maqasid Shari'ah: The Prohibition of Gambling, Punishment and Justification

Gambling or al-maisir from Islamic perspective is defined to mean a game of haphazard in all matters particularly a game of chance by means of divinatory arrows. Maisir is of various categories. Some of these types of maisir are seeking omen or fortune by divinatory arrows, back gammons, chess, lottery and many others.

The word maisir is derived from the root ‘yasara’, means to become gentle, to draw lots by arrows or ‘yasaar’, means affluence because maisir brings about profit or yusr, that is convenience, ease because it is an earning without toil and exertion or yasr, means dividing a thing into a number of shares and distributing them among themselves. Gambling is called maisir because those who partake in the games of chance divide the meat of sacrificial animal among themselves. [1]

All the above connotations are vividly found in the word maisir. According to Imam Malik gambling is of two categories that are; a game of chance that is partaken in with a view of sport (fun) and the game of chance which involves gambling. To make it clearer, gambling means all dealings in which people are require making a bet and every dealing which involves some aspects of gambling is maisir.

PROHIBITION OF GAMBLING IN THE QURAN

There are verses from the Qur’an which highlighted the prohibition of gambling and the wisdom behind its prohibition. Allah says:

“‘They asked the Prophet (S.A.W) about khamr (intoxicants) and games of chance (gambling). Say, in both of them there is great harm although there is some advantage as well in them for men, but their harm is much greater than their advantages. [2]

In another verse, Allah mentions:

“O ‘ you who believe, verily wine and game of chance, ungodly shrines, and divining devices are abomination of Satan’s work. Avoid them, that your may prosper. Only would Satan sow hatred and strife among you, by wine and games of chance, and turn you aside from, the remembrance of Allah and from prayer. Will you not, therefore abstaifi from them?” [3]

From the above verses, it is obvious that maisir entail great sins and promises petty benefits and that maisir is an abominable act of Satan. It is therefore imperative to avoid gambling in order to achieve success and happiness in our lives. Satan sows in our hearts the seeds of enmity and hatred against one another and turns us aside from the remembrance of Allah and other obligation particularly prayer by means of games of chance. Although it entails some benefits as mentioned in the verse, we have to bear in mind that its harmful effects outweigh d benefits to individual as well as people at large.

In fact, the gradual prohibition in the first verse (2219) has been totally declared unlawful in the second verse (5: 90,91) leaving no room for relaxation.

PROHIBITION OF GAMBLING IN THE SUNNAH

The Prophet (S.A. W) said:

“Whoever says to his companion, come let us play a game of haphazard should give alms (as an atonement). [4]

It connotes that a mere invitation to gambling is such a serious sin as to warrant atonement thereof by charity. What is more the position of a man who is indulges in gambling. The Prophet (S.A.W) further said:

“Whoever plays backgammon as if he dyes his hands with the flesh of swine and its blood.” [5]

1bn Abi Al Dunya has reported Yahya b. Kathir as saying:

‘Allah’s Messenger passed by people playing backgammon. He said, “their heart are preoccupied in sport, their hands are ill and their tongues make absurd utterances. Every game which involves gambling or mischief, is a game of chance (maisir).”

There is no difference of opinion among the jurists that every sort of gambling is harmful, except betting for horse race and archery which have been declared lawful for persuading for horsemanship archery and preparation for Jihad. This is in line with the Qur’anic verse where Allah says:

“Make ready for them all you can of armed force and horses tethered that thereby you may dismay the enemy of Allah and your enemy.” [6]

Therefore, it is clear that the prohibition of gambling is not only mentioned in the Qur’an but also supported by the tradition of the Prophet

GAMBLING AS AN OFFENCE PUNISHABLE BY TA’ZIR

Looking to great emphasis and its root of prohibition in the Qur’an and Sunnah, it is no doubt to say that gambling is an offence. However it is not an offence punishable by hadd because it does not fall under any category of hadd crimes. It is in fact an offence punishable by ta’zir.

As it is understood, ta’zir are crimes which punishments have not been fixed by the Qur’an and the Sunnah. However, it is as a whole can be divided into two types:

1. The actions and omissions in which any divine provision (Shariah text) or any principle thereof is violated (ma’siya).
2. The violation of rules regulations and orders of the rules acting as sub-legislative authority; provided that such rules and regulations must not be arbitrary and must be based on the larger interest of the society (maslaha ‘amma). In fact, these rules and regulations should not contravene any Divine provisions.

As far as the offence of gambling is concerned, it falls under the first category which is called ma’siya. Ma’siya is defined as the commission of prohibited acts and the omission of obligatory acts which are mentioned in the Shari’ah text. Thus, any violation of a legal order or prohibition which is not punishable either by a hadd punishment or atonement is considered a ta’zir crime and should be punished by a ta’zir punishment.

JUSTIFICATION FOR THE PROHIBITION

Every society reacts against the behaviour of individuals which infringes upon public interest and it is universally believed that acts which provoke social relations must be punished.

One may ask, Why Islam prohibit gambling? Why gambling is liable under ta’zir punishment? Is the punishment justified?

To answer these questions, a careful study and attention must be given to the nature of gambling itself and effects entail from the act.

Gambling brings about religious, social, moral and economic harm. From the Qura’nic verses that have been discussed before it is clear that gambling entails following evil effects.

First, gambling distracts those who partake the game from the remembrance of Allah and Prayer. When a gambler sits continuously for hours together, he is so absorbed in it that he forgets everything around him; rather he becomes unconscious of his own self. He forgets his household and family’s responsibilities. How then, can be take care of his prayer?

Second, it sows the seeds of disputes and quarrels among the gamblers which ultimately assume the shape of enmity and hatred among them. This point is made clear in the following verse:

“Only Satan sow hatred and strife among you, by wine and games of chance and turn you aside from the remembrance of Allah and from Prayer; Will you not, therefore abstain from them?

Third, the sin of gambling is greater than its benefit. The verse 2: 219 enunciated two invaluable principles namely:

1. Dispelling mischiefs is precedent to acquiring benefits and,
2. The commission of lesser evil is obligatory when the commission of either of the two evils is necessarily essential.

Fourth, it corrupts morals making people sluggish in waiting for providence by whimsical means and giving up activities essential for making earnings viz agriculture, industry, business which are the foundation stone of social living and human prosperity and happiness in this mundane life.

Fifth, it enslaves the gambler who becomes a mute slave in the hands of gambling and seldom succeeds in abandoning it. When he earns some benefit, his greed for gambling increases and when he losses the game, even then his interest in the games of chance increase to make good the loss. In this way, he remains awfully engaged in gambling till he becomes a destitute.

Sixth, it brings about a sudden havoc in the countries due to sheer waste of wealth by losing the game. Finally, it usurps the wealth of towns and transfers it to the band of the mischief mongers within and outside the country. Thus, gambling is a root cause of innumerable economic evils reducing many rich people to destitution and ultimately forcing them to commit suicide.

From the wording of the Qura’nic verse (2219), Allah has mentioned that there exist benefit (manfa’a) in gambling and wine drinking (khamr). However, the mundane benefits of gambling as compared with its great harm and ruinous complexities are mere whimsical benefits. Some of petty benefits of gambling are:

1. It gives some transitory pleasure to the winning gambler, for this pleasure is followed by grief as a reaction, when he suffers loss’ by gambling.
2. It promises munificence to the poor just as people winning lottery, a form of gambling build asylums and hospitals and do other good works. But the fact is that the wealth acquired by unlawful means and spent on good works have no reward because Allah is Pure and He accepts only pure things. The same thing is true about gambling or lottery for it brings about a benefit to a very small group of people and causes a crushing loss to the majority of them.
3. It makes a destitute a rich man all of a sudden without any toil and in the next moment reduces a rich man to a destitute.

In short, all the benefits of gambling enumerated above are imaginary and whimsical whereas its harms are real. When the gambler spends his wealth for a fancied profit and when a person wastes his hard earned money for the fancied things having no existence, he corrupts his thinking and weakens his reason. Gambling has forced a large number of gamblers to commit suicide and made them content with living a life of humiliation and abjection.

July 28, 2014

Philippines introduces new online gambling regulations

A Philippine legislator has proposed to introduce a new bill in the country to strengthen the protection for minors accessing online gambling.

Samuel Pagdilao a former policeman and now party legislator in the Philippines has introduced Bill 4540 which seeks to monitor online gambling and protect minors from “the pernicious effects of gambling.” Said Pagdilao.

The introduction of the Internet has had a great impact on the ways people could participate in gambling, according to Pagdilao.

“People are no longer bound to physical locations and are able to face their bets from within their own homes,” Pagdilao said.

The Bill would seek to punish any licensed online gambling operator who fails to stop underage gambling on their site with a prison term of 5 to 10 years in prison and or a fine of $115,000 to $230,000.

There would also be a penalty for any adult enticing a minor to gamble online of 5 years to 10 years in prison and or a fine of $2,000.

July 23, 2014

Putin gives green light for gambling zone in Crimea

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a law setting up a gambling zone in Crimea, the territory Russia annexed from Ukraine in March.

Four official gambling zones were created in Russia five years ago when the authorities acted to curb betting.

Russian MPs argue that the new law will attract investment and boost visitor numbers in Crimea, with its network of Black Sea holiday resorts.

Western states refuse to recognize Crimea's unification with Russia.

While the annexation, which followed a referendum on self-determination, was virtually bloodless, it encouraged pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine to take up arms against the new authorities in Kiev.

There were concerns that Crimea's tourist revenue would fall sharply this summer as a result of the crisis.

Russia has sought to maintain summer visitor numbers with holiday promotions while state companies have been encouraged to treat their workers to holidays on the peninsula. Initiatives include visa-free travel to Crimea for Chinese tourists.

The new law also extends the gambling zone in Russia's southern Krasnodar territory to cover the city of Sochi with its Winter Olympics venues. Casinos are expected to be built near the Olympic Village, Russian media report.

The other three gambling zones were set up in Russia's Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad, the Far East and Siberia's Altai territory.

July 10, 2014

Pinnacle Sports: Brazil bigger than Euros and South Africa combined

Phil Hudson, Acquisitions Manager at Pinnacle Sports, discusses his firm’s decision to open up the World Cup Final to $1million bets.

Do you anticipate the World Cup Final to be your biggest ever betting market?
Yes, we fully anticipated volume to exceed both Euro 2012 and World Cup in 2010 combined, with live and mobile components of that making significant contributions.

How has business been during this tournament?
The volume received is living up to our expectation, and with $1million limits for the final, we hope to end the tournament on a real high. Not only are we accepting $1million bets, but our customers also have ave the option to rebet at that stake as well.

Can you envisage rolling out the higher betting limits to other events?
Well our limits for the 2014 Super Bowl were $250k, NBA hit $100K and we regularly go to $500k for the Champions League so we are certainly looking to push the boundaries on limits across all our major sports.

Why persevere with the $1 minimum bet size? Isn’t this almost costing you money?
Though we have a wholesale model we are keen to acquire customers from right across the betting spectrum, as we believe all bettors should seek to maximize value. Given we don’t have specific sign up incentives this is cost effective, and our message is about educating bettors – especially those who are new to gambling – rather than just preaching to the converted.

Why do you think other bookmakers run scared of hefty bets? Is the art of balancing books a lost one? Or just out of fashion in favour of risk taking?
I cannot comment on the reasoning behind it, but bookmaking has certainly become homogenized with the risk-management aspects in many cases outsourced. Pinnacle Sports do all risk-management in-house, and it is the strength of this expertise that enables us to provide a low margin, high limits model, where winners are welcome back, unrestricted.

Spain's Gerard Pique Up 140,000 Tournament Chips at World Series of Poker

Gerard Pique would much, much prefer to be preparing to defend Spain's World Cup title this coming Sunday than playing poker in Las Vegas.

But Spain crashed out of the World Cup after just two matches, so to Las Vegas Pique went.

And it's proving to be quite fruitful so far.

Participating in the annual World Series of Poker, on Wednesday night, Pique was already up 140,000 in tournament chips at the tournament.

July 04, 2014

New social marketing campaign from Paddy Power

Bookmaker Paddy Power has launched a new word-of-mouth social media campaign, designed to capture the excitement of online audiences across the summer sporting events including the FIFA World Cup.

The ongoing social commerce campaign, launched in partnership with social-selling platform Buyapowa, will give sports fans the opportunity to earn special rewards including improved odds by spreading the word amongst family and friends. The first promotion will focus on the World Cup quarter finals.

The series of co-buying promotions will offer Paddy Power’s online followers and existing customers the opportunity to increase the odds they receive on the bets they’ve already placed, by getting friends and family in on the deal. The more people who take part and commit to buy, the better the price gets for everyone, creating a built-in incentive for sports fans to drive word-of-mouth. A top prize will also go to the customer who generates the most referrals.

Gideon Lask, CEO, Buyapowa says: “Paddy Power has a loyal core of customers, and with this campaign we’re aiming to fire up the online community to get other sports fans involved in an online flutter. This is a fun new take on the office sweepstake – a great way to get everyone involved in this summer’s sporting events, by gamifying the process of placing an online bet.

“Paddy Power already have a fantastic and growing fan-base online, so we see this as a way of rewarding those loyal fans who already love what they do, and giving soon-to-be fans an extra reason to get involved. In order to cut through the noise brands need to drive advocacy, enthusiasm, and human-generated content that flies straight to the top of users’ friends’ News Feeds, offering them an opportunity to participate and get rewarded. That’s what we’re helping Paddy Power to do.”

Mark Singleton, Head of Sportsbook Marketing at Paddy Power says: “We’re in the middle of the busiest season of the year with high profile sporting events coming thick and fast. We want not just to be a part of the conversation but a part of the experience – and that means offering our online community some amazing offers to give them added entertainment during the biggest sporting events of the summer. We’re pretty sure it’s the best friends and family deal since the dawn of the chicken bucket, so we’re hoping this partnership with Buyapowa will excite our customers and help us continue to innovate online.”

July 03, 2014

FIFA: No Cameroon Fixing

FIFA have revealed they have found "no indication of any match manipulation" by the Cameroon national team, nor from any other country at the 2014 World Cup.

The Indomitable Lions' woeful showing at the Brazil showpiece, where they finished rock bottom of Group A, was further dragged through the mud after it was claimed no fewer than seven of the squad members had been involved in cheating.

German magazine Der Spiegel had claimed convicted match-fixer Wilson Perumal had correctly predicted Cameroon's 4-0 defeat to Croatia, the match being most closely scrutinised, although he denied those claims soon after.

World football's governing body have also claimed they have been closely monitoring all games at the tournament, and that they have unearthed no evidence to support match fixing by any Cameroonian.

"We have requested from Der Spiegel all the communications with Perumal and any other material they claim to possess in order to prove the allegations they have made in public," FIFA spokeswoman Delia Fischer told reporters.

"The article has put the integrity of the FIFA World Cup in question which is a serious allegation.

"As mentioned on various occasions, FIFA has carefully monitored all 56 games to date and continue to monitor.

"So far we have found no indication of any match manipulation on the betting market in relation to any of the World Cup matches."

July 02, 2014

UK-Licensed Online Gambling Tops £1B, New Accounts Highest In Five Years

Online gambling operators holding a UK license reported revenue of £1.06b in the 12 months ending September 2013, up 16% year-on-year. Figures released Friday by the UK Gambling Commission showed online sports betting revenue improved 17% to £879m, while turnover rose 15% to £22.4b, representing all but £1b of total online turnover.

Online pool betting added revenue of £108m and the casino vertical chipped in a mere £30m. All verticals were either up or flat, except bingo, which fell 20% to £2m. The number of online gambling accounts and active accounts both nudged upward while new player registrations hit 5.2m, the highest level in five years.

Bearing in mind, these sums reflect only about 15% of the actual UK online market, as they don’t include UK punters wagering with sites like William Hill, Ladbrokes and countless other operators licensed in jurisdictions such as Gibraltar or the Isle of Man. That all changes October 1, when the UK’s new gambling laws take effect – or not – and all UK-facing operators are required to hold a UK-issued license.

The Commission has advised operators to submit their UK license applications by midnight on September 16, after which a two-week dead period commences and then it’s showtime. Two months after that, the UK’s 15% point-of-consumption tax (POCT) kicks in and Christmas gets cancelled at most UK-listed company exec’s homes.

The Commission’s figures show the UK’s total gambling market (excluding the National Lottery) was worth £6.7b, up $250m from the previous year. Nearly half (£3.2b) of the total came via retail betting operations, which were essentially flat year-on-year. Off-course horse betting revenue rose just 2% to £690m while football betting revenue was up nearly a quarter to £293m.

Revenue from betting shops’ notorious fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBT) was up a mere 0.3% to £1.55b. The FOBT in betting shops accounted for 67% of all UK machine gaming. The number of betting shops decreased by 45 to 9,021 while the number of people employed across the industry fell 3% to just over 104k.

Land-based casino revenue rose over 12% to £1.08b, representing 16% of the total gambling pie. Punto banco baccarat accounted for nearly one-fifth (£201m) of total casino revenue, nearly double what the game brought in the previous year, reflecting its popularity with both Asian gambling whales and Asian friends of Phil Ivey. Blackjack tied baccarat for second while roulette remained the top table game with £344m. However, blackjack and roulette were available at a combined 1,496 tables while only 150 tables were devoted to baccarat.

The Commission received 135 reports of suspicious betting activity between October 1, 2012 and March 31, 2014. Nearly 60% of these reports came from bookmakers, with the rest coming from sports governing bodies, police, media and the public. Of the bookies’ reports, 37 were submitted by UK-licensed operators while 43 came from jurisdictions that cooperate with the Commission on sports integrity issues.