December 16, 2013

PayPal Admits To Sharing Customer Info With Company Tied To UB Poker Scandal

According to PayPal's Privacy Policy, the popular payment company contracts Iovation to "retrieve risk information regarding the IP and device from which you are accessing PayPal [and] research and testing as to appropriateness of new products and services."

Iovation, for those of you unaware, has a CEO who founded Ultimate Poker, the now shuttered online poker site scarred by an internal cheating scandal that ultimately wound up being profiled on a segment of the CBS news magazine "60 Minutes".

Whether the folks behind PayPal were aware of Iovation’s skeletons, few seem to really know. PayPal bigwigs might not follow industry poker news but they certainly keep tabs on their own community forum, which now features a posted message regarding the controversy. was among the first websites to note the cozy relationship between PayPal and Iovation.

And it is not the first time Iovation has developed business partnership arrangements with otherwise reputable companies.

Last March, the Station Casinos backed online poker site Ultimate Poker (not to be confused with UltimateBet) severed ties with Iovation once these past revelations came to light.

“We understand that there were concerns among some of our customers, we hope this makes our players feel more comfortable,” a short statement from Ultimate Poker read at the time.

Iovation is subcontracted through CAMS, itself a subsidiary of Verifi.

From US Poker:

Travis Makar, a former business associate of Russ Hamilton, released tapes that implicate Hamilton and Greg Pierson, among others, in a cover-up of the UltimateBet insider cheating scandal. Pierson is the CEO and co-founder of Iovation.

A documentary on the UltimateBet insider cheating titled UltimateBeat connects Iovation co-founders directly to the scandal. Scott Bell, director and creator of UltimateBeat, published a detailed outline of the tapes leaked by Makar here. These tapes were used in the UltimateBeat film.

Men Prefer Gambling Over Sex Recent Study Reveals

A “neuroeconomics” study has revealed that both taking risks with money and sexual arousal affect same parts of the brain. Men who were sexually aroused or shown sexy pictures gambled / played more daringly than those shown scary pictures of animals like snakes, scorpion etc or even neutral pictures.

The research proved that both sex and money trigger the same part of brain that plays the main role in the experience of pleasure. Not only for gambling, the same results could be seen in actions where money was at stake like stock market trading etc.

The case study was done over people of various age groups and both the gender. Pretty Interesting results were seen in the case study. Firstly the results were same irrespective of the gender. Both men and women gambled more daringly after seeing some sexy pictures.

Another interesting observation was that the urge of having sex increases with the winning of the gambles especially in women. Many people agreed that they had the best sex of their life while making out in casinos only.

And the degree of influence of sexy pictures on people of various age groups was also studied. It was brought to attention that youth is affected the most by it and the influence decreases as the age group of people increased. People were divided in groups of 10 like: 30 years – 40 years, 40 years – 50 years, 50 years – 60 years and so on. People in the first age group were the ones who were influenced in the experiment the most and those of the last age group were the one who were affected the least by the experiment. The first batch played more daringly however the last batch played almost the same way they always did.

Another case study conducted in Netherlands brought another interesting point to attention. The study proved that men who gamble on regular basis prefer gambling over women. In simple terms it can be summed up as brain of people who gamble regularly is hardwired to prefer easy money over easy women. The study involved 18 pathological gamblers and 20 healthy individuals into an MRI and their brain activity was monitored while performing one of the two tasks.

The participants were asked to press a button as fast as they could and in reward they could either win cash or view pictures of hot women. It was observed that the gamblers responded 4% faster when money was the reward compared to when the pictures of hot women was the reward.

The two case studies clearly highlight the relationship between sex and gambling. Also we understand the difference in the way in which the brain of a professional gambler and a person gambling not so often react differently when allowed to choose between easy money and easy women.

December 13, 2013

Skrill exits Canadian gaming market

Ewallet service provider Skrill will be leaving the Canadian online gaming market.

The news came suddenly to both gaming firms and players on Skrill’s departure from the Canadian market. Skrill sent out notifications to gaming firms and players stating they have 4 weeks to cash out their balances, and will cease their services as of January 2nd 2014.

Canadian players have experienced a similar story in the past, when Neteller exited the market back in 2007. Currently, Canadian players have some options left for placing wages online with the likes of MasterCard, Visa, InstaDebit, Ukash, PaySafeCard, EntroPay and electronic checks.

Skrill is the (un)official ewallet for online gambling in New Jersey, and plans on expanding their presence in North America as more states decide to follow suit and legalize online gaming. The sudden, short announced decision does leave many wondering. There are rumors of provincial lottery sites posing a stand against offshore firms who do not pay Canadian taxes, and they are taking action against them.

There is no word from Skrill as of yet on why they have decided to leave the Canadian market.

December 12, 2013

Romania to change gambling tax laws

The Romanian state is planning to double the tax casino operators currently pay along with adding an extra 200 Euros to each slot machine used in the country per year.

The current law tries to figure out how much each gambler loses and then taxes the operator on the loses, but slot machines operators agree it is impossible for companies and the tax administration to highlight how much a gambler actually wins or loses, and tax it, so they welcome the change, even if it represents a tax increase.

The new tax regime will cover a whole host of gambling including slot machines, video lottery, online gambling, casino and poker clubs. Last year the government revenue from gambling tax was EUR 7.5 million.

With over 65,000 slot machines in the country estimates have that they earn over 1 billion Euros for operators each year. With casino operators the new tax will be on net earning set at 2% tax, which will be the same for online gambling operators.

Also for online gambling operators more changes will come as the state wants to block access to online sports bets and gambling sites which are not owned by the state or not licensed to do business in Romania.

A black list of sites unauthorized in Romania will be compiled, and will be monitored by the National Office for Gambling.

American Indian tribes ready for online gambling

The American Indian tribes have not so far taken part in any online gambling in the three states that have legalised online gambling in Nevada, Delaware or New Jersey but by the end of 2013 that could be changing.

The American Indian tribe in rural California, the Alturas Indian Rancheria Tribe will be ready they believe to launch online gambling to customer outside of the US, either before or just into the new year. They are not alone with the same strategy being taken up by the Cheyenne & Arapaho Tribes in Oklahoma, looking to entice overseas online gamblers to their website that will be launched soon in 2014.

In total American Indian tribes operate 460 gaming venues in 28 states in the US and many tribal leaders feel with global revenues in online gambling at $30 billion a year, they are missing out on a piece of the action.

How much the US market is worth a present is unsure, Fitch Ratings believes New Jersey which is the largest of the states to allow online gambling says the market is worth $300 million to $700 million a year in the coming seven years.

But the Indian tribes are not all together with online gambling with many believing it will harm their current land based casino operations, with the other side saying it will help with their large scale un-employment problem.

One thing is for sure the Indian tribes want to get into online gambling, how and in what form is still not certain but come the end of the year, they will be live with their own offerings.

December 10, 2013

North Korean leaderpurges his uncle after gambling allegations

The North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has proved that nobody is beyond the reach of his cane, as his once powerful uncle Jang Song-thaek has been purged from his position for crimes that include faction-building, drug use, womanizing and gambling.

The normally discreet North Korean media have reacted to the news by splurging the world’s media of photographic images of Song-thaek as he is forcible removed from his chair, by officials, during a meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea.

It’s not the first time that Kim Jong-un has made changes to the higher echelons of power after the military chief Ri Yong Ho was also removed from office due to ‘ill health’ last year.

“It is the most prominent disgrace of an official in North Korea’s entire history,” Andrei Lankov, an expert on the North at Kookmin University, told the Guardian, “Purges in the past have seldom touched members of the family; the only precedent I remember was in the mid-70s when the brother of Kim Il-sung was removed. As far as I understand there was no official accusation brought against him; he was simply sent to the countryside.

“Secondly, when they have purged people in the past it was mentioned in passing.

“It tells us something about the new leadership’s style: the young man seems really tough and brutal in dealing with people he wants to destroy.”

A report from the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said that Jang had ‘seriously obstructed the nation’s economic affairs and the improvement of the standard of people’s living.

“By abusing his power, he was engrossed in irregularities and corruption, had improper relations with several women and was wined and dined at back parlors of deluxe restaurants.

“Ideologically sick and extremely idle and easy-going, he used drugs and squandered foreign currency at casinos while he was receiving medical treatment in a foreign country under the care of the party.”

Somehow you get the feeling that match fixing wouldn’t be a problem in the North Korean DPR League and it is in the UK equivalent.

Let’s Hope Dennis Rodman Doesn’t Understand What Faction Building is

Perhaps, Dennis Rodman has heavily influenced Jang Song-Thaek?

The former NBA star has a CV littered with a history of addictions that would seemingly result in a North Korean incarceration, with the exception of faction building, but that hasn’t stopped the North Korean leader from taking a shine to the guy.

“You have a friend for life,” the leader told Rodman after his first visit to the normally secretive country.

The former wild man will be returning to North Korea on Dec 18th to continue his work with the North Korean national basketball team who will play an exhibition match against former NBA players in January.

The Irish funsters PaddyPower are sponsoring Rodman’s Korean trip, which is not surprising given the fact that the lads in green have worked with the North Korean leader in the past (as shown in the video below)

FA chief: Spot-fixing 'isn't a big issue'

The Football Association's general secretary Alex Horne has insisted match-fixing is not widespread in the game but has warned against complacency.

Horne was among representatives from five sports - football, cricket, tennis and the two rugby codes - who attended a summit with ministers in Whitehall on Tuesday morning for talks on tackling fixing.

It followed the arrest of six people, including Blackburn striker DJ Campbell, following an investigation into spot-fixing in football by the National Crime Agency (NCA).

Horne, who was at the meeting with culture, media and sport secretary Maria Miller, said the "general consensus" was that fixing was not a widespread problem. Representatives from the Premier League, Football League and British Horseracing Authority (BHA) were also present.

He insisted however that the FA took the issue seriously and will study measures against fixing already in place in cricket and horse racing.

Horne said after the meeting: "I think the general consensus around the room was this isn't a big issue. The intelligence that we have says this isn't a wide-scale issue at the moment but, again, we don't want to be complacent.

"It's clear that, as Britain, we are very proud of our sporting product, of the sport that we play in this country and we all want to do all we can to protect the integrity of that sport.

"We are never complacent on this issue and there's a lot we can learn from other sports. Some of the education programmes that cricket have put in place are very far advanced, and the integrity unit that the BHA have in place is very far advanced so there's lots of learnings that are open to all sports."

The FA has its own integrity unit and education programmes, but fixing has been an issue for a longer time for horse racing and cricket.

Horne added: "We don't want to see this in our sport and so, therefore, we are doing everything we can, we are looking at all measures we can across sport but also with the agencies.

"We really welcome the recent impetus from the NCA. I think that is going to be a really important body for all of us in reminding people that these are criminal activities and the criminal nature of activities shouldn't be underestimated and all power to the NCA."

December 09, 2013

Bet365 to add 600 new jobs

Midlands based betting firm Bet365 has announced it is to create up to 600 new jobs in a new expansion plan that will see the company move into its new headquarters in Forge Lane Stoke on Trent.

Bet365 has over 2,200 employees currently and with the move has promised to increase that by another 600 by the end of the decade, reaching almost 3,000 staff.

Its joint chief executive Denise Coates CBE said: “I am from the area and apart from my time at university, have always lived here.

“Key to bet365’s success, is our fantastic and loyal group of employees who have worked with me over the years I have worked in Stoke.

“At the moment we contribute over £80 million annually into the economy in terms of staff wages, so it’s a significant amount being invested in the area in terms of those wages. Other businesses will also benefit”.

Bet365 is planning to build a new 13,000 square meter office in Forge Lane, which is almost double the size of the existing HQ.

Former Premier League player admits to fixing matches

Match fixing in English football took another incredible turn after the National Crime Agency arrested six people connected to another spot fixing investigation involving players in the Championship.

The sordid details were unearthed by the Sun with incredible information on former Premier League player Sam Sodji, who was caught on film bragging about his power to fix matches at a drop of a hat…or in this case, a show of a yellow or red card.

The information was gathered by an undercover reporter after compiling four month’s worth of information on the betting syndicate. Of those findings, the most incredible one was Sodje’s admission that he can arrange for players to earn yellow or red cards in exchange for pay-outs amounting to £30,000. The price goes up for a red card, or in some cases, balloons to the six digits if the fix happens in the Premier League where fines are typically higher than in the lower tier leagues.

The NCA isn’t commenting on details surrounding the arrest, opting only to say that six individuals have been arrested and are being questioned regarding the scope of their involvement in the syndicate.

Sodje’s claims, in particular, are especially damning after he was recorded bragging about his apparent match-fixing powers, even calling it “child’s play” because of the amount of money being waved in player’s faces.

“This guy came to meet me at my house and it was sorted,” Sodje was quoted as saying. “That’s how easy it is – it’s nothing.”

One particular incident occurred last February while Sodje was playing for Portsmouth. In a game against Oldham, the 34-year old Nigerian walked up to Oldham’s Jose Baxter and punched him in the gonads twice, earning a red card – and a pay-out for his actions. Even more perplexing was the reason for the attack, something Sodje attributed to referees not booking him during the match.

Nothing gets you sent off faster than knuckling up on a man’s privates, it appears.

December 03, 2013

Match fixing scandal: Two men charged

Two men have been charged in connection with the latest match fixing scandal to hit the world of football, Michael Chopra talking about his gambling problems, and Kenny Sansom thanks the Professional Footballers Association (PFA) for helping him recover from gambling and alcohol problems.

The UEFA President Michel Platini believes that match fixing represents the greatest threat to the future of the world’s most popular sport, and we have three sports betting news stories from the UK that worryingly trend towards the magical Frenchman’s foresight.

Two men have been charged in connection with the English Football match fixing scandal that we brought you late last week.

Chann Sankaran, a 33-year old Singaporean national, and Krishna Sanjey Ganeshan, a 43-year old with dual UK and Singaporean nationality, have both been charged with conspiring to defraud bookmakers by influencing the course of football matches.

At the time of writing there is still no news regarding the teams, or the players, involved but it’s believed to be non-league matches.

Five other men were released on bail and amongst them was Delroy Facey, 33, player turned agent who once graced the Premier League with Bolton.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) issued a statement that said Sankaran and Ganeshan had conspired together and with others ‘to defraud bookmakers by influencing the course of football matches and placing bets thereon. The Crown Prosecution’s Organized Crime Division found sufficient evidence and was satisfied it was in the public interest to authorize charges of conspiracy to defraud. The maximum sentence for this offence is 10-years’ imprisonment.”

Declan Hill, author of The Fix: Soccer and Organized Crime and The Insider’s Guide to Match Fixing in Football,” told The Times ‘this tide of globalized sports corruption has reached all around the world. British football administrators have been sleepwalking themselves into a crisis. They’ve been warned about this for years.”

The Football Association (FA) has reacted to the news by stating that neither they nor the various leagues have been found guilty of complacency. The NFL, NHL, NBA and MLB must be smiling from ear to ear as they continue to gather evidence like this in their sports betting war against the New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, as he promises to move heaven and earth to create a platform to allow online sports betting in the Garden State.

Non-league football is perfect for the snakes in the grass because it is nowhere near as high profile as Premiership or other English League matches. The players are on normal working-middle class wages and people expect them to make more mistakes and errors on the pitch.

One set of eyes that is firmly set on non-league football matches is that of the bookmaker, with a standard non league game expected to create over 50 different betting markets for the would be punter.

In a recent interview with Brian Touhy, author of the controversial sports fixing book Larceny Games: Sports Gambling, Game Fixing and the FBI, he told me that no player was safe from the clutches of the match fixers, as drug and gambling issues can create huge amounts of debt for even the richest players in the American leagues.

A case in point over the great blue yonder is the Blackpool Striker Michael Chopra, 29, who has revealed that he quit Cardiff City, and signed for Sunderland, so he could use the signing on fee to pay off his gambling debts during a trial at Newcastle Crown Court last week.

Chopra told the court how he would gamble up to £30,000 in cash with other players on the team bus en route to matches when just a teenager playing for Newcastle United.

“Players would gamble on the bus and I got involved. We would take thousands of pounds on to the bus, anything up to £30,000.

“It might change hands playing cards on the bus, we would go to the bank before and take out the money. It was part of team bonding. We were playing for real cash, if you were playing for £30,000 you would have it with you at the time.” Said Chopra.

Chopra also revealed how he was threatened by Scottish loan sharks during his time with Ipswich, the club and the Professional Footballers Association (PFA) – headed by the gambling afflicted Gordon Taylor – organized a £250,000 loan to help him pay off debts created through gambling.

“I had loan sharks turning up at the training ground when I was at Ipswich. They came up to me and asked me for my autograph and said I better get myself into the club and get that money now.

“They said they knew what car I was driving and they would follow me until I paid them. They said they knew what school my little boy went to and where my parents lived and where I lived in Ipswich. I felt sick that I had put my family in that situation from my gambling.”

It’s believed Chopra lost £2m through gambling and was giving evidence at the trial of four men on drugs charges. Earlier this year Chopra admitted banning himself from as many gambling sites as he could in order to ‘fight this illness.”

It’s thought that Sheldon Adelson is keen to sign him up as star striker for the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG) football team.

Another former top-notch footballer has been in the news as a result of gambling problems.

The former Arsenal and England full back Kenny Sansom has publically thanked the FA after revealing how they have helped him find his feet again, after being found sleeping on park benches just four month ago.

Sansom lost everything as he fought against crippling alcohol and gambling addictions, but has been sober for the past two months thanks in part to the FA and also Sporting Chance. A clinic established by Tony Adams MBE in a bid to help sportsmen and women recover from alcoholism.

Unibet targets casual players with move to standalone poker network

Swedish online gaming operator Unibet has announced plans to move to a standalone online poker product early next year, which has been developed exclusively for its Unibet and Maria brands by Estonian based supplier Relax Gaming.

The company said that it decided on the move as the “next step in developing their customer experience.”

The software is being developed exclusively for the Unibet and Maria brands by supplier Relax Gaming. In connection with this, Unibet is also investing €1.25m for a share in the company.

Unibet said that it has been closely involved in key functionality and design to cater for its new poker strategy.

“The environment in the online poker industry has changed over the years and we have come to the insight that being part of a poker network is not sustainable for Unibet in the long term,” said Unibet’s head of gaming Daniel Eskola. “This project has given us the possibility to start from a blank piece of paper and define everything we believe is important for a fun poker experience.

“In a way, our goal is to bring the fun back to poker by creating software with a clear focus on the casual player.”

Unibet and Maria will be the sole operators offering the new product after previously being part of a network of multiple operators through the Microgaming Poker Network.

”Our relationship with Microgaming remains strong, and we are continuing to offer Quickfire games in our casino,” added Eskola.

In its most recent results for the third quarter of 2013, online poker was the only product to post a year-on-year decline with gross winnings revenue falling 26 per cent to £2.5m. The product accounted for just 4 per cent of the company’s total revenue during the quarter.

Unibet said that the new software will include a user friendly table selection, rich 3D backgrounds, the ability to change avatar and screen name, as well as gameplay features such as achievements and missions.

Unibet Poker will be available for PC and Mac download, browser, and tablet versions for both iOS and Android.

December 02, 2013

Estonia match-fixing: 11 charged on suspicion of fixing 17 games

Eleven footballers have been charged in Estonia on suspicion of fixing 17 matches, including three in the Europa League, prosecutors said Monday.

Prosecutors said the men were part of a match-fixing conspiracy covering teams in Estonia, Lithuania and Ukraine, who allegedly agreed to fix results and signed players based on their willingness to fix games.

“The teams looked for individuals who were ready to play in such a way that that events took place in a predetermined way, or that the desired results was achieved,” Estonia’s Public Prosecutor’s Office said in a website statement.

The 11 players allegedly earned a total of over 108,000 euros ($146,000) from match-fixing between June 2011 and November 2012.

There was no word on which particular matches were fixed, and the players were identified only by their first names and ages. As well as the three Europa League games, prosecutors said 12 Estonian league games were fixed, as were one game in the Estonian Cup and Lithuanian league.

November 29, 2013

Bulgaria delays vote on online gambling tax reduction, Hills sites off blacklist

Bulgaria missed its chance to reduce its much-loathed gambling tax rate on Thursday, as parliamentarians narrowly decided to postpone a vote on the relevant legislation. Earlier this month, a group of 11 Bulgarian MPs proposed a bill that would eliminate the punitive 15% tax on betting turnover in favour of a more reasonable 20% tax on gross profits. The existing tax scheme has not surprisingly failed to convince international operators to form a queue at the Bulgarian gambling regulator’s license-issuing window, with Malta’s the only Bulgarian-authorized online gambling site to date.

The Bulgarian authorities have responded to this snub by instituting a blacklist of Bulgarian-facing websites that currently contains over 150 domains. Yordan Tsonev, member of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) party and one of the 11 MPs who proposed the tax relief, claims that over 40 operators have declared their willingness to come in from the cold if the proposed tax changes are implemented.

Opponents of the new tax plan say the legislation is flawed, in that it would have operators declare their revenue to the State Commission on Gambling (SCG), rather than the National Revenue Agency. The critics say this will allow operators to fudge their data and thereby deprive the state of tax revenue, as the SCG lacks the authority to verify the data it receives. Members of the Bulgarian Socialist Party – the DPS’ partners in the ruling coalition – also complained that the legislation hadn’t been discussed by the party’s parliamentary group prior to Thursday’s debate. The verbal sparring is scheduled to resume next week.

Meanwhile, the Bulgarian blacklist has shrunk by three names, all of which are operated by UK betting outfit William Hill. The SCG expunged the sites –, and – after determining that they weren’t doing business with Bulgarian punters.

November 28, 2013

Football match-fixing: referees embroiled in scandal

The alleged match fixer at the centre of the football betting scandal exposed by The Telegraph has also claimed that he can pay referees to manipulate the results of games.

The Singaporean, who was arrested on Tuesday night, was secretly recorded saying that he would pay referees across Europe a fee of £20,000.

It is understood that the claim is also being examined by the National Crime Agency which has launched a major investigation into match fixing.

The man was one of six arrested by the National Crime Agency earlier this week. Three footballers and Delroy Facey, a player-turned-agent who has played in the Premier League, were also arrested.

It can now be disclosed that, as well as claiming he could pay players to fix matches, the Singaporean man also alleged that referees were involved.

“The price for one game is £20,000”, said the fixer. “So I know some referees … You want Europe, anywhere, £20,000”.

It was not clear from the conversation whether any British referees were involved.

The fixer arrived in this country last week and was arrested on Tuesday evening.

In a series of covertly recorded conversations over the past fortnight, he claimed that lower league matches could be fixed for as little as £50,000 and correctly forecast the outcome of three games played by the same team.

It is the first time police have amassed sufficient evidence to hold those suspected of attempting to fix a match in Britain, following a series of similar scandals abroad.

In a statement, the NCA said: "Six men have been arrested across the country as part of an NCA investigation into alleged football match fixing.

"The focus of the operation is a suspected international illegal betting syndicate. The NCA is working closely with the Gambling Commission and the Football Association."

The operation is one of the first by the agency, dubbed Britain's FBI, which was launched this year to fight suspected organised and serious crime.

The identities of the teams involved cannot be disclosed for legal reasons, as the police operation is understood to remain active. However, they are not Premiership sides. "This operation remains very live with new developments on an almost daily basis," said one well – placed source.

Nick Clegg has said that the allegations about football match-rigging are “very worrying” and warned that it must be investigated by the authorities.

Mr Clegg told LBC Radio: “It needs to be looked at. Like any person who follows football I’ve read accounts of football match fixing in other countries and thought there by the grace of god go we.
“To hear that it’s now being investigated here, there have been arrests in the Midlands, is very worrying.

“I hope that’s the sum total of it. It would be terrible if we look back in months and years to come and discover this is the tip of [theice-berg].”

The disclosure of the match fixing arrests has led to claims that the problem has now become “endemic” in the global game.

Match-fixing is “endemic” in football, the former head of security for Fifa claimed today after members of an alleged betting syndicate were arrested on suspicion of fixing English games.

Chris Eaton, now director of sport integrity at the International Centre for Sport Security, said it had been “only a matter of time” before the English game was caught up in what he called the “global wave of match-fixing in football.”
He said: "International sport, especially football, is in serious trouble with corruption of its competitions.”

David Davies, the former Football Association, said that English football is not immune to the “disease” of match fixing.

"We are not immune to a disease that has already struck in 60 countries, at least, around the world where match-fixing has been alleged and in some cases been proved", he said.

Mr Davies, who has spent time in the Far East seeing how betting works over there, added: "People are fanatical about betting even in areas where it's illegal.

"The truth is there is all of this unofficial betting, quite a lot of it on the Internet, and they bet on everything and anything."

The suspected match fixers are being held under the bribery and fraud Acts at a police station in the Midlands. It is understood that the Crown Prosecution Service has been liaising with police officers in recent days.

The suggestion that English football games are susceptible to match – fixing will cause serious concern for the Football Association.

In recent years concern has been growing that gangs were targeting matches in the UK. This newspaper was approached by an undercover investigator with links to Fifa, who had been gathering evidence against suspected Asian match fixers offering to operate in Britain.

During a series of undercover meetings in Manchester this month, which were covertly recorded, one of the fixers claimed he could rig games and that potential gamblers would make hundreds of thousands of pounds by using the inside information on Asian – based betting websites.

The fixer, from Singapore, also alleged that he controlled teams in other European countries and could buy foreign referees to secure results.

"In England the cost is very high … usually for the players it is £70,000," he explained in imperfect English.

He offered to target two football matches in Britain this month. He said he planned to tell players how many goals he needed to be scored in total. "I commit myself and they commit. So you tell me how many goals … Give me at least five … either 3–2, 4–0 or zero, … for me four is enough."

He also claimed that he would pay one player an extra £5,000 to take a yellow card at the beginning of the game as a signal that the match's result was likely to be manipulated. During one meeting this month, the fixer correctly predicted how many goals would be scored during a match the following day.

"This is my team", he began, pointing to the club listed on a gambling website. "I know what they're going to do."

He added: "I know because they all tell me every time. Because sometimes I have extra money, I just send them some money … because sometimes they need money or they call me so I just leave them some pocket money."

The fixer asked us for €60,000 [£50,000], which he said was to cover the cost of paying the players.

He claimed to be connected to Wilson Raj Perumal, who has been convicted of rigging football matches abroad. "Wilson Raj Perumal … he's the king … he's my boss. Everybody in the world know him," the fixer said.

Raj Perumal, is also originally from Singapore, but has lived in London. He is understood to be responsible for fixing numerous football matches over the last 30 years, and is helping the Hungarian police to investigate corruption.

Match fixers target players and officials to rig the result of games so that they can earn hundreds of thousands of pounds by betting or allowing others to bet on the predetermined outcome.
The gambling takes place in the Asian market and British betting markets are not believed to have been implicated.

International betting monitors have warned that millions of pounds are being wagered on Conference games and some UK bookmakers stopped taking bets on some teams early this year. It is understood that there are active police investigations into football fixing in more than 60 countries.

An FA spokesman said: "The FA has been made aware of a number of arrests in relation to an NCA investigation. We have worked closely with the authorities in relation to these allegations. The FA will make no further comment at this time due to ongoing investigations."

Football match-fixing: six arrested by police investigating betting syndicate as rigging hits British game

Members of an alleged betting syndicate have been arrested on suspicion of fixing English football games in the biggest match-rigging scandal for decades, The Telegraph can disclose.

Officers from the National Crime Agency held six men in the past two days, including at least three footballers and Delroy Facey, a player-turned-agent who has played in the Premier League.

One internationally known fixer arrived in this country last week and was arrested on Tuesday evening.

In a series of covertly recorded conversations over the past fortnight, he claimed that lower league matches could be fixed for as little as £50,000 and correctly forecast the outcome of three games played by the same team.

It is the first time in decades that police have amassed sufficient evidence to hold those suspected of trying to fix a match in Britain, following a succession of similar scandals abroad.

On Wednesday evening the agency said: “Six men have been arrested across the country as part of an NCA investigation into alleged football match fixing. The focus of the operation is a suspected international illegal betting syndicate. The NCA is working closely with the Gambling Commission and the Football Association.”

The operation is one of the first by the agency, dubbed Britain’s FBI, which was launched this year to fight suspected organised and serious crime.

The identities of the teams involved cannot be disclosed for legal reasons, as the police operation is understood to remain active. However, they are not Premier League sides. “This operation remains very live with new developments on an almost daily basis,” said one well-placed source.

The suspected match fixers are being held under the bribery and fraud Acts at a police station in the Midlands. It is understood that the Crown Prosecution Service has been liaising with police officers in recent days.

The suggestion that English football games are susceptible to match-fixing will cause serious concern for the Football Association, which fiercely defends the integrity of the game.

In recent years fears have been growing that gangs were targeting matches in the UK. This newspaper was approached by an undercover investigator with links to Fifa, who had been gathering evidence against suspected Asian match fixers offering to operate in Britain.

During a series of undercover meetings in Manchester this month, which were covertly recorded, one of the fixers claimed he could rig games and that potential gamblers would make hundreds of thousands of pounds by using the inside information on Asian-based betting websites.

The fixer, from Singapore, also alleged that he controlled teams in other European countries and could buy foreign referees to secure results.

“In England the cost is very high … usually for the players it is £70,000,” he explained in imperfect English.

He offered to target two football matches in Britain this month. He said he planned to tell players how many goals he needed to be scored in total. “So I talk to them. Double confirm. I also tell them, I tell … this [is] what I want … Because simple, I commit myself and they commit. So you tell me how many goals … Give me at least five … either 3-2, 4-0 or zero, … for me four is enough.”
The fixer told the undercover investigator how he typically instructed players. “So, so, the first, first 45 minutes, the result must be two-zero or 1-1. That’s two goal. More than enough for me,” he explained.

“In the second 45 minutes, so two-zero. Total, the whole game must be have four-zero or 3-1 or 2-2. As long as the total.”

He also claimed that he would pay one player an extra £5,000 to take a yellow card at the beginning of the game as a signal that the match’s result was likely to be manipulated. During one meeting this month, the fixer correctly predicted how many goals would be scored during a match the following day.

“This is my team”, he began, pointing to the club listed on a gambling website on his mobile phone. “I know what they’re going to do.”

He added: “I know because they all tell me every time. Because sometimes I have extra money, I just send them some money … because sometimes they need money or they call me so I just leave them some pocket money.”

The fixer asked us for €60,000 [£50,000], which he said was to cover the cost of paying the players.

He claimed to be connected to Wilson Raj Perumal, who has been convicted of rigging football matches abroad. “Wilson Raj Perumal … he’s the king … he’s my boss. Everybody in the world know him,” the fixer said.

Raj Perumal, is also originally from Singapore, but has lived in London. He is understood to be responsible for fixing numerous football matches over the past 30 years, and is helping the Hungarian police to investigate corruption.

Match fixers target players and officials to rig the result of games so that they can earn hundreds of thousands of pounds by betting or allowing others to bet on the predetermined outcome.
The bet will usually be for a minimum number of goals and the fixer will often try to incentivise players to concede goals deliberately and lose a match.

The gambling takes place in Asian markets and British betting markets are not believed to have been implicated.

Concern was already mounting that Asian match fixers were targeting lower league British games. In a recent interview, Chris Eaton, Fifa’s former head of security, said that match fixing had become “endemic” internationally.

Earlier this month, Nick Garlic, a senior official at Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, criticised the Football Association’s commitment to tackling corruption and said he believed match fixers had worked in Britain.

International betting monitors have warned that millions of pounds are being wagered on Conference games and some UK bookmakers stopped taking bets on some teams early this year. Following those warnings, the FA contacted clubs to “remind players and officials of their responsibilities under the rules”.

It is understood that there are active police investigations into football fixing in more than 60 countries.

In September, four Australian players, who used to play for AFC Hornchurch, were arrested after allegedly conceding goals as part of a match-fixing ring.

On Wednesday night, an FA spokesman said: “The FA has been made aware of a number of arrests in relation to an NCA investigation. We have worked closely with the authorities in relation to these allegations. The FA will make no further comment at this time due to ongoing investigations.”

A Gambling Commission spokesman said that the body had “provided advice, intelligence and expertise in supporting this ongoing NCA investigation and continues to liaise with both the NCA and the Football Association”.

November 26, 2013

NJ gives green light to online gambling

New Jersey regulators have given the green light to six of the online gambling operators that took part in the five day trial period and can now go live with real cash games immediately, except for the Golden Nugget that State Gaming Enforcement director David Rebuck says needs to do some more work on the software before they can enter.

All seven of the online operators granted a license took part in the trial period that New began a five-day trial period of online gambling last Thursday. The reason was to test the complex technology involved in the games and determine whether the systems are ready for the entire state to play for real money.

The biggest problem recorded in the trial period was the geolocation software which was registering players outside the state borders when they were actually inside. However regulators believe this to be a minor issue and can be worked out as live gambling takes place.

No timeline for the Golden Nugget has been given and the operator will have to wait until it proves itself before it can enter the online gambling business in the state.

November 22, 2013

Beckham signs up in Macau

David Beckham has been signed up by Las Vegas Sands in Macau to represent and promote the Casino operators business in Asia focussing on its dining and retail business within their resorts.

The former Manchester United, Real Madrid and England football star attended a press conference in Macau to announce the deal, with it being David Beckham’s first ever visit to Asia’s largest gambling hub. Details of the deal are not really clear following the press conference as Mr Beckham was unable to answer reporter’s questions, but Sands China Chief Executive Officer Edward Tracy wants to use the appeal of the Beckham brand to increase sales in their non-gambling business which currently represents 40% of their total income and believes the impact of the former football star will help the company achieve that.

Earlier this year, the former England captain said he would act as a global ambassador for soccer in the world’s most populous nation, and the China Football Association invited him to promote the game among the youth. With such a well-recognised celebrity as David Beckham with Sands the impact in China would help promote the operator without breaking any laws which restrict direct advertising of gambling in China.

“I miss football but I’m happy that I have something set up and I can just jump into another career as long as I get off the field,” Beckham told reporters in Macau, referring to his company Beckham Ventures as well as work on various brand tie-ups and charities. “I’m glad that there are so many business opportunities presenting in front of me and I can become a businessman now.”

TV gambling ads have risen 600% since law change

The number of gambling commercials on British TV has rocketed from 234,000 a year to nearly 1.4m annually since the deregulation of the sector six years ago, according to new research.

Media regulator Ofcom on Tuesday published research showing that viewers were bombarded with 1.39m gambling ads ran last year, with under-16s exposed to an average of 211 ads each.

This is an increase of nearly 600% since the Gambling Act 2005 came into force in September 2007, which opened the door to TV advertising for sports betting, online casinos and poker. Prior to that legislation only allowed ads for football pools, the National Lottery and bingo premises.

In 2007, some 234,000 gambling ads were aired – two years before that the figure was just 90,000. This rose to 537,000 in 2008 after the market was liberalised.

Ofcom pointed out that between 2005 and 2012, a period that has seen significant growth in the number of digital TV channels available to viewers, the total amount of TV advertising airtime also doubled from 17.4m to 34.2m spots.

Over this period the proportion of commercials accounted for by gambling ads rose from 0.5% to 4.1% of all TV advertising.

According to Ofcom, in 2012 532,000 bingo TV adverts were aired, 411,000 commercials for online casino and poker services, 355,000 for lotteries and scratch cards, and 91,000 sports betting ads.

The research shows that the 1.39m TV ads produced 30.9bn "impacts" – that is, the number of times a commercial was seen by viewers – across the course of 2012.

A breakdown of the impacts shows that adults saw an average of 630 gambling ads on TV, while children aged four to 15 saw 211.

November 11, 2013

Two online gambling bosses leave

Two major departures have happened recently with Paul Leggett Vice President of online gaming at Amaya leaving after an internal email was leaked to the media.

David Baazov, CEO of Amaya sent an internal email confirming Leggett’s departure by saying. “Paul is a consummate professional and has done an incredible job at Amaya,” he said. “He has led the integration of the online businesses, developed our strategies for technology and product, signed key deals and has put our online business on the path forward to greater things. He will be sorely missed.”

It is understood the departure is voluntary and could be connected to Leggetts previous work within online gambling post the UIGEA, however this is not confirmed, but as this was announced Amaya were granted a license to supply online gambling in New Jersey.

Another departure in the online gambling world is that of Mathias Dahms the CEO of Mybet, Dahms will step down from his role at the end of the year. He has been with the company for 15 years and was a co-founder of Mybet and has held the role of CEO since 2010. No reason for the departure has been made except that Mr Dahms will be seeking new challenges.

Ladbrokes Letter Reignites Fixed-Odds Betting Terminal Debate

A letter from UK planning minister Nick Boles to bookmakers Ladbrokes says the planning change legislation passed this summer will help beat back efforts by local councils to stop the spread of betting shops on the UK’s high streets. The letter, obtained under freedom of information laws by shadow local government minister Hilary Benn, was a response to a query by Ladbrokes regarding the “alarming actions by unelected officials” toward the opening of new betting shops.

Earlier this year, London’s Newham Council voted to block the opening of a new Paddy Power shop in its jurisdiction, but the Irish betting company challenged the decision and eventually won a victory in Thames Magistrates Court in June. In Boies’ response to Ladbrokes, the minister acknowledged the actions of local councils “can be a significant problem” but Boies said the new powers available to the government under the zoning laws would allow them to “tackle” the problem.

Boies’ response led Benn to claim that the government was “undermining the powers used by councils” while Manchester councilor Kevin Peel said the letter “made a total mockery of the government’s localism agenda.” A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government rejected the allegations, noting that the legislation was introduced to parliament three months before Ladbrokes wrote its letter, thus “to suggest the government was somehow influenced by the betting industry is simply untrue.”

The main objection of local councils like Newham involves the betting shops’ controversial fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), which are limited by law to four per shop but can account for nearly half of some shop profits. Last month, Prime Minister David Cameron promised to take a “proper look” at the FOBT issue, saying the difficulty lay in finding the sweet spot between “a fair approach and a decent approach that prevents problem gambling” while ensuring that bookmakers “are not over-regulated.” Helen Grant, the new head of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), said there was “certainly no green light” for FOBTs and the government “will be reviewing their existence and function very carefully.”

The government won’t have much time to contemplate its path forward. On Thursday, Liverpool city council unanimously voted to ban FOBTs from betting shops within its jurisdiction. The council will now ask the government to either allow the ban to proceed or to authorize the council to limit the maximum stakes punters are able to wager on the machines and cap the number of betting shops bookmakers can open in certain areas of the city.

The Association of British Bookmakers (ABB) has criticized FOBT opponents for ginning up the debate by citing “misleading and unverified” statistics that paint worst-case scenarios of players being driven into bankruptcy as representative of all FOBT activity. ABB spokesman Peter Craske cited the group’s own stats that showed “most customers bets around £7.55 and play for about 20 minutes” while reminding Liverpool councilors that betting shops employed 700 local residents. As for complaints that bookies are taking over UK high streets, Craske said bookies were “like any other retailer” in that they “open in areas where there are customers and where there is demand.”

Craske’s criticism is echoed by statements issued this summer by the UK Gambling Commission that described the FOBT worst-case scenario as “astronomically improbable and cannot be credibly cited,” yet these stats continue to drive much of the FOBT debate. Fortunately, while the wheels of justice may turn slowly, they do eventually get up to speed, evidenced not only by Paddy Power’s court victory but by bookmaker William Hill’s successful challenge of a decision by a council in Inverness denying Hills a license to open a shop on Pumpgate Street.

Last week, the Highland Licensing Board issued a statement acknowledging that its decision represented a “breach of natural justice” in that it had not allowed Hills the opportunity to challenge claims that the new shop would harm the community. The board also stated that “there was no evidence before the board to suggest that there was a likelihood or probability of the harm from gambling they thought it possible might occur.” The council’s “reason for refusal had therefore been based on speculation, and would be held, therefore to be unreasonable.” A decision made on the basis of evidence… Will wonders never cease?

November 08, 2013

New Jersey approvals clear six Atlantic City casinos to launch online

The Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) in New Jersey issued Transactional Waivers Friday to online gaming companies partnered with six of the seven Atlantic City casinos that will launch online gaming sites on November 26th.

The waivers enable Borgata, Caesars, Golden Nugget, Tropicana, Trump Plaza and Trump Taj Mahal to go live on that date with their online poker and casino offerings, while Resorts and its online partner PokerStars continue to wait for approval.

A spokesperson for PokerStars said: "Our application remains under review by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement and we remain committed to working with the Division to complete the review process."

But the wait is over for the rest. received a waiver to begin transacting with Borgata, as did GameAccount (Trump Plaza); Fertitta (Trump Taj Mahal); Amaya (Caesars, Borgata, Golden Nugget and Trump Plaza); Gamesys (Tropicana); 888 (Caesars' and Bally's); and Bally Technologies (Golden Nugget).

The DGE also said Friday that eight other companies were considered eligible to receive a Transaction Waiver, once they enter into an agreement with a casino licensee or platform provider and request the waiver.

The companies that have passed a preliminary investigation are Paddy Power, Scientific Games, Williams Interactive, Genesis Gaming, Betable, Evolution, Pala Interactive, and Rush Street Interactive.

The DGE added that it continues to review other companies who have filed for Casino Service Industry Enterprise (CSIE) licensure, ancillary casino service industry enterprise licensure and vendor registration.

Japan’s big developers plan super casino in Tokyo

A proposed new casino development in Tokyo, Japan is being lined up by Japan’s biggest property developer Mitsui Fudosan Co which has joined forces with media firm Fuji Media Holdings and builder Kajima Corp.

It has been over 10 years of lobbying from supporters of casinos in the country but next year it is believed that land based casinos will be allowed by the new government of the business-friendly Liberal Democratic Party.

Following Japan winning the 2020 Olympic Games bid it is strongly believed the government will legalise gambling to help pull in more desperately needed tax from the building of casinos.

The three companies want to build a complex in Odaiba, near Tokyo Bay, that would include a hotel, conference centre and a casino.

“Our role in this project would be to get involved and make a contribution to help Tokyo become a more attractive city,” said Masatoshi Satou, Mitsui Fudosan’s executive managing officer. “But it is totally up to what happens to the bill and the direction of the government.”

Gambling giants MGM Resorts International, Las Vegas Sands Corp, Melco Crown Entertainment and Wynn Resorts Ltd have also shown interest in developing casino resorts in Japan, which is the last untapped country where operators believe huge profits can be made from Japanese gamblers.

More than 100 lawmakers, many from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, will meet on Tuesday next week to discuss and finalize plans for an initial bill which will then be submitted during the current parliament session that ends next month.

If the legislation passes as expected next year, the government will come up with concrete regulations within a year. Which would mean the first casino would open in Japan in time for the 2020 Olympics.

UK government moves forward with “point of consumption” tax

The point of consumption tax that has caused so much contention amongst online gambling operators working and serving the UK market has taken another step to becoming into effect with a second reading in the house of commons.

The Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Bill was passed unopposed at second reading in the Commons on 5 November, Under the terms of the bill, all overseas operators offering gambling services to customers in the UK will be required to hold a UK Gambling Commission licence. Currently these businesses are governed by the regulatory authorities of countries in which they are based.

Culture minister Helen Grant told MPs that the new licensing requirement will make overseas operators “the subject of robust and consistent regulation, increasing protection for UK consumers, supporting action against illegal activity and establishing fairer competition for British-based operators”.

Labour’s culture spokesman Clive Efford said the bill had been “a long time coming”. But he questioned why it did not include action against match-fixing in sport.

He said the European Parliament had passed a resolution to make match-fixing a criminal offence and sports governing bodies had also strengthened their own laws.

“Why when we are attempting to create the most robust system for regulating the gambling industry here in the UK would we fail to introduce this specific form of sanction?” he asked.

Amaya signs games deal for New Jersey & Europe

Canadian gaming software supplier Amaya Gaming Group has entered into a licensing agreement to supply UK-listed digital entertainment with a range of its online casino content for the operator’s online gaming brands in Europe and New Jersey. will be launching three online gaming websites in New Jersey on behalf of its New Jersey gaming partner, the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa, including, and

The websites will all be integrated with Amaya’s Casino Gaming System, providing customers with access to a selection of the supplier’s proprietary and third-party gaming content.’s director of games Golan Shaked said the deal will give customers access to “an even wider range of market-leading online casino games through the, and gaming sites in New Jersey.”

“We are delighted to be working with one of the premier providers of online casino content in the market today,” Shaked said.

Amaya’s content will also go live across’s existing European-facing websites, including those operating under its PartyPoker, bwin, PartyCasino and Foxy Bingo brands.

Amaya chief executive David Baazov said he was “thrilled” to extend his company’s relationship with the Gibraltar-based operator. sold its Ongame poker network to Amaya last year.

“We look forward to leveraging our proven online casino content and's strong reputation and partnerships to embrace the emerging but exciting online gaming market in the U.S. and the existing online gaming markets they serve,” Baazov added.

November 05, 2013

Unibet post impressive results

Unibet the Swedish online gambling operator has announced impressive results for the nine-month period January 1 to September 30, 2013, with net profits almost tripling and mobile revenues soaring. Here are the main points from Unibet:

· Gross winnings revenue amounted to GBP 56.1 (43.8) million for the third quarter of 2013 and GBP 169.5 (140.3) million for the period January to September 2013.

· Profit from operations for the third quarter 2013 amounted to GBP 9.2 (4.5) million and GBP 29.0 (22.6) million for the period January to September 2013.

· Profit before tax for the third quarter of 2013 amounted to GBP 9.2 (4.0) million and GBP 27.9 (22.1) million for the period January to September 2013.

· Profit after tax for the third quarter of 2013 amounted to GBP 8.2 (3.4) million and GBP 25.4 (19.8) million for the period January to September 2013.

· Earnings per share for the third quarter of 2013 were GBP 0.292 (0.120) and GBP 0.908 (0.710) for the period January to September 2013.

· Operating cash flow before movements in working capital amounted to GBP 14.2 (8.7) million for the third quarter 2013 and GBP 43.4 (34.2) million for the period January to September 2013.

· Number of active customers at the end of the quarter was 453,753 (382,378).

“28 per cent organic growth”

“Unibet delivered 28 per cent year on year growth in gross winnings revenue in the third quarter (22 per cent excluding the impact of exchange rate changes). This was achieved despite the excellent summer weather in many of our key markets and high numbers of favourites winning. The growth was wholly organic and demonstrates continued increases in market share.”

“It is also satisfying to report that underlying EBITDA for the third quarter increased in line with the growth in revenues, demonstrating improved scalability despite the significant investments Unibet has made in information mining, local regulation and in Kambi.”

“Unibet’s mobile offering continued to develop and mobile revenues represented 23 per cent of gross winnings revenue for the third quarter 2013 compared to 8 per cent for the same period last year. This proportion is significantly higher in certain key markets.”

“In the period up to 3 November, average daily gross winnings revenue has increased by over 21 per cent compared to the third quarter 2013”, says Henrik Tjärnström, CEO of Unibet.

Are Paddy Power's high-profile stunts going down well with punters on social media?

Paddy Power's heady mix of subversion, mischief and sports chat is proving popular with the social-media crowd.
Recently, the bookmaker's head of brand, Paul Sweeney, said the company was in the "entertainment" business.

A glance at the content pumped out by its Twitter and Facebook presences bears out Sweeney's claim. Sports banter is the order of the day, focused on having a conversation with users.

Stunts have always been a go-to marketing tactic for Paddy Power, but this year they took on a different social dimension. The brand supported Stonewall's "Rainbow Laces" campaign against homophobia, which sent a pair of laces to players at every football league club in England and Scotland. For "basketball diplomacy", an attempt to thaw North Korea-US relations, it backed ex-NBA star Dennis Rodman's quest to organise a game between the two countries.

Sure, the brand gets things wrong on occasion, but for the most part, Paddy Power's social-media content is setting the standard in its sector.

44% of comment on Paddy Power related to the subject of brand preference. The bookmaker's ethical stance helped to drive overall positive perceptions of the brand. Issues discussed included Paddy Power's fair pay-outs and its recent anti-homophobia campaign with Stonewall.

75% of conversations about William Hill benefits were positive. Many believed they would win more with it than other bookmakers, especially for poker and casino games. Factors such as tokens and online support appear to have boosted its appeal.

November 04, 2013

32Red partners ITV for exclusive online slot launch

Gibraltar-licensed online gaming operator 32Red has signed a three-year deal with UK broadcaster ITV to launch an exclusive new online slot game based on popular reality TV show I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!

32Red signed the agreement with ITV’s Brand Extensions division, which was established to help the broadcaster monetise its most popular programmes.

32Red’s chief executive Ed Ware said his company was “working closely with ITV on a number of initiatives,” adding he was “very excited” about launching the new online slot, which has been developed by Microgaming and is expected to go live on on Thursday, ahead of the show’s return to UK TV screens later this month.

“Obviously the programme is extremely well known and the character of the show converts well into the exclusive slot game we are launching later this week,” Ware explained. “It's another landmark alliance for 32Red and part of our plan to invest in the brand and make positive but relevant associations with highly credible partners.”

I’m a Celebrity … Get me out of here! is a reality TV show in which eight to twelve celebrities live together in a jungle environment for a few weeks without any luxuries, with the winner crowned king or queen of the jungle. The first episode aired in the UK in 2002 with the thirteenth series of the show set to begin later this month.

The new slot game uses iconography from the TV show, as well as the theme tune and other features. Aside from the regular game play, players have the chance to win up to 50 free spins when 3, 4 or 5 scatters appear on screen, triggering a Bushtucker Trial style choice of creepy insects to decide on the free spins multiplier.

32Red’s head of marketing Mark Quayle asaid that the company was “confident that the association with such a strong brand will prove to be a huge success for us.”

“The slot game will be available for casino, poker and bingo players at 32Red to ensure all of our players can sample the thrills of the jungle,” he said.

The partnership marks ITV’s latest online gaming partnership, with the company already working with operator NetPlay TV on the casino site Jackpot247 which features both companies’ branding, and ITV Bingo, managed by Foxy Bingo operator Cashcade and using software provided by 888’s B2B arm Dragonfish.

William van Rest, ITV's director of commerce and ventures, said: “ITV is pleased to be working with 32Red on this fantastic brand extension for I'm a Celebrity.. Get Me Out Of Here! The slot design brings the jungle and its creepy creatures alive with a great new game for 32Red players. We are sure it will be a very popular addition to the 32Red offer.”

It is the first instance of 32Red launching new content with one of its partners, with the majority of its previous deals involving advertising opportunities. The operator sponsors a number of horse racing events, and is an active football sponsor currently working with Italian club Bologna FC. It also sponsors the Late Night Film on UK TV channel Film4.

November 02, 2013

US Virgin Islands become 4th state to enter online gambling

The Virgin Islands are looking to renew their interest towards online gambling, indeed the the “Virgin Islands Internet Gaming and Internet Gambling Act” was passed way back in 2001 but never pushed by the government as a serious offering for online operators to take up.

However now that the tiny islands are struggling with an economic downturn they are now announcing they are open for business and welcome all online operators to take a look at the benefits of using the islands as their online gambling base.

“This marks a turning point in the diversification of our gaming industry from land-based casinos and racinos, to Internet gaming and gambling…The implementation of this Act will fulfill our mission of attracting very successful global Internet gaming companies to the Virgin Islands, and encourage new investments to our struggling economy,” the islands governor said.

This makes the Virgin Islands the fourth state in the US to legalise online gambling, however with a total population of some 120,000 citizens online gambling operators will not be knocking down the door to get into that market.

“The Virgin Islands is open for business and the Virgin Islands Casino Control Commission will begin to implement the act immediately,” the governor said.

Who and when the Virgin Islands will be tapped into by online gambling is unclear at this present, a gambling industry insider said that most likely a land based local operator will try and enter the market there, but with such a small population it will not interest any of the major players in the market.

November 01, 2013

Daniel Tzvetkoff seen living the good life again

Daniel Tzvetkoff the man who ran Intabill and was arrested in April 2010 for money laundering and then gave up the entire online poker industry as a super grass to avoid a 75 year jail sentence has been spotted enjoying the good life again under the witness protection program.

The fallen Australian whiz kid who set up Intabill to process money payments with online gambling companies still working in the US market after the 2006 UIGEA was charged with money laundering to the value of over $500 million, but in return from facing jail gave US authorities inside information on his former customers in return for his freedom.

Reports in the Australian Newspaper this week say that Tzvetkoff was seen recently walking along the Gold Coast beach and even posted photos of himself and his wife while hiding out for several months on another beach in southeast Asia.

Tzvetkoff was discharged earlier this year from bankruptcy thou he has never repaid any of the debt he owes including to the Australian tax office totaling $143 million.

Here is a snapshot of David Tzvetkoff’s life:

AUGUST 2001: BT Projects founded

FEBRUARY 2007: Online payment company Intabill registered

MARCH 2008: Tzvetkoff buys Hedges Avenue mansion for $28 million. Has additional property portfolio of more than $21 million

AUGUST 2008: Features on Sunday Mail Rich List worth $82 million

MARCH 2009: Buys V8 supercar team, Inta Racing

APRIL 2009: Sacks 96 staff at his Intabill office

JULY 2009: BT Projects placed in liquidation with debts of $80 million

JULY 2009: Business partner Sam Sciacca sues Tzvetkoff for $100 million

JULY 2009: Online poker house Kolyma sues for $52 million

JULY 2009: Sells partnership in Zuri nightclub

AUGUST 2009: Sells 30m superyacht Maximus

NOVEMBER 2009: Hedges Ave mansion sold for $17 million

JANUARY 2010: Files for bankruptcy

APRIL 2010: Charged by US authorities with money laundering. Faces 75 years in jail

MARCH 2011: Deal with US DOJ to enter witness protection program

OCTOBER 2013: Seen out and about in Australia and posting photos on facebook. founders to sell shares for New Jersey license

James Russell DeLeon and Ruth Parasol DeLeon whom were two of the original founders of PartyGaming have offered to sell their remaining shares in in an attempt to convince New Jersey regulators to issue the European based company its New Jersey online gambling license.

The couple who are going through divorce proceedings after marrying in 2003 had to go through separate licensing applications as major shareholders of an applying licensing company, to which they prefer not to do, so have instead offered to place their shares in trust for a three year period in which time they are to be sold.

In total the pair have just over 14% stake in the merged company and there were concerns that because of their background in partygaming and pre-UIGEA activities there could be some danger of the online gambling giant failing to receive a New Jersey online gambling license which they are partnering with the Borgata.

The start of online gambling in the state is slated for the 26th November, at present only 5 of the 12 casino operators in the state have been granted their licenses, however a gaming industry insider working in New Jersey expects a raft of license approvals over the next 5 days.

October 29, 2013

Albania to shut down online gambling

Albania will shut down all overseas online gambling sites in the countries effort to stop the outflow of money from one of the poorest regions in Europe.

Prime Minister Edi Rama said the government would prepare legislation to block gambling on websites based abroad, where Albanians are estimated to be spending spent €500 to €700 million ($690-965 million) a year, according to calculations from domestic and international gaming observers.

Since the new government party took charge with a landslide victory in June of this year, it has been busy closing down casinos and betting shops totalling 1,300 across the country for operating without proper licenses and tax evasion.

October 17, 2013

Harry Wilson's grandfather makes £125,000 on Wales debut bet

The jubilant grandfather of young football star Harry Wilson is set to bank £125,000 after betting the teenager would play for Wales – back when Harry was only 18 months old.

The 16-year-old Liverpool academy star made his international debut last night – scoring a big win for his grandfather the moment he came on as a substitute.

Peter Edwards, 62, walked into a William Hill betting shop in Wrexham in 2000 and bet £50 on the teenager one day playing for Wales, at odds of 2,500-1.

The teenager scored one for the record books himself during last night's World Cup qualifier against Belgium, becoming the youngest player to represent Wales.

But one life-changing moment instantly gave rise to another when Edwards decided he would retire with immediate effect on the proceeds of his win.

He made the decision in his caravan in Buckingham, where he was working, nervously watching the international clash on his iPad.

The electrical contractor of Corwen, Clwyd, North Wales, works away from home most of the year, spending one weekend a fortnight with wife Dorothy, 58.

"She is over the moon. I retired immediately. I told my manager yesterday that if Harry plays I wouldn't be coming back," he said.

"I've retired one year early. I have come home now and will not be going back. Not bad for a daft bet."

He said he put on the original bet on a whim after seeing how Harry liked playing with a football even as a toddler.

"He used to chase the ball around the front room on his hands and knees even before he could walk, that's what gave me the idea. But I hoped the bet would come up."

He said after Harry enrolled in the Liverpool FC academy his skills quickly developed and he returned to William Hill in the hope of placing a second bet.

"Harry was about 12 then. But they turned me down and said I already had a substantial bet with them. But they threw in England as a gesture of goodwill."

It meant even if the teenager had opted to play for England, something he could have done because his grandmother was born in Chester, the pay-out would have been safe.

Harry himself will also benefit from the win, which Edwards said will ensure regular lengthy journeys to and from Liverpool will be made easier.

He said that as a teenage player with the academy his earnings are still modest and travel costs can be high.

"This means I will be able to help Harry out. You can be quite sure that he will get a share of it," he said.

October 10, 2013

Mystery buyes takes a £37M stake in Ladbrokes

A mystery buyer has taken a £37m stake in the UK bookmaker Ladbrokes, prompting the share price to jump to 188.80p, as speculation over a potential bid escalates.

Intriguing gambling news from the Telegraph as they report that a mystery buyer – thought to be the Playtech founder Teddy Sagi – has acquired a near 3% stake in the UK bookmaker Ladbrokes.

Shares jumped 10.8 when the purchase was made on Wednesday to 179.8p after a buyer spent £37.1m on 21.8m shares at 170p, and that continues to rise with the price pegged at 188.80p at the time of writing.

The deal – which was made through Shore Capital – was just below the 3% disclosure limit, but the Telegraph report that an informed source reliably confirms that the mystery buyer is Teddy Sagi.

Sagi is no stranger to the Ladbrokes team. It’s his company, Playtech, that Lads are pinning all their hopes on for a return to form that will see the digital division over turn an operating profit that is currently looking likely to fall £17.5m lower than anticipated.

It seems a sound move for Sagi as he seemingly has his fate in his own hands, and should his company fail to make the digital division shine then he can also benefit should anyone – like CVC for example – come in with a bid.

The news comes just a day after we reported changes in the Ladbrokes board with David Martin coming in from Arriva to replace John Jarvis as a non-executive director.

October 08, 2013

Gambling Commission rebukes Coral Bookmakers

The Coral bookmaker has been rebuked by the UK Gambling Commission over a recent incident involving money laundering within their retail units.

A man in his thirties that is currently awaiting trial on drug charges spent over £90,000 in the betting shop without being challenged on where the money came from. The Gambling Commission say the operator will have t0 pay back the money as it is almost certainly from illegal activity.

The betting shop in the North East of England is supposed to record and challenge any gamblers that spend in excess of £10,000, a suspicious activity report was filed by Coral staff but nothing else was done in relation to the customer and his high spending rate.

Instead the commission said Coral chose instead to “recognise the significance of the customer from a commercial perspective” – and gave him a complimentary day at the races as a valuable customer.

There are calls in the EU Commission to lower the reporting rate from currently £10,000 to £1,700 however this has not been implemented at present in the UK.

Bulgaria issues online license to billionaire national

Bulgaria is becoming a very frustrating environment for European online gambling operators since the March 2012 laws regarding online gambling to regulate the market. The law was believed to offer the chance for operators to enter the market in Bulgaria but one and half years later not one European online gambling operator has been issued with an online license except for Eurofootball that is based in Malta but interestingly the owner of the company is Bulgarian billionaire Vassil Bozhkov Krumov.

Most if not all of the European operators have been placed on the Bulgarian black list for the country and most of the major operators which would like to enter the market also sit on that blacklist so barring them to apply.

With Bulgaria struggling with economic woes and with the opportunity to gain much needed revenues from taxing online operators the government continues to lock out the Europeans.

Analysts in the European market say that the tax revenues for the government in Bulgaria could be as high as $200 – $300 million per annum, but point to possible corruption and the entire lack of foresight within government to allow operators in the market.

What continues to happen is customers in Bulgaria continue to play online illegally on Europeans gambling websites and the government in Bulgaria loses out on taxes.

October 03, 2013

Jim Ryan back in the game

California will be the key to success for online gambling companies in the US should they pass laws to become the fourth state allowing online gambling. That could be sometime in 2014 and for the 38 million residents, tribal casinos and interested online operators would mean that the largest US state would be able to call the shots on any interstate compacts.

No surprise then that former CEO of Jim Ryan has joined up with arguably the best poker player in the world Phil Ivey, former director of Michael O’Malley and the Pala Indian tribe in California to form Pala Interactive LLC.

The new company will work on bringing an online poker offering in the state with the backing of the Pala Indian tribe who own the Pala Casino resort spa. Bringing in Phil Ivey as their ambassador will offer a very recognizable face to the company and with Jim Ryan as CEO who many observers say did a fantastic job while at the UK online gambling company during the merger of party gaming and bwin, the new start-up will have a very safe pair of hands to guide it through its passage into online gambling.

Michael O’Malley who has a wealth of experience in the poker industry with Card Player magazine, Wynn Las Vegas and Harrah’s will bring the expertise and skills needed to ensure the company are successful and highly competitive.

Robert Smith the Chairman of the Pala Band of Mission Indians supports online gambling in the state and wrote a letter in May of this year encouraging the other Californian tribes to back the Tribal iPoker Bill.

California is the key state to success in the online gambling market and some of the most recognized faces and names in the business are now firmly in position to push the state into the fledgling sector.

Holland Casino close to bankruptcy

Holland Casino the state-owned gaming group is under threat of going bankrupt after being put under direct supervision after piling up debts of over €60m and soon to hit €100m.

In a move to stave off bankruptcy the company have cut 150 jobs and taken away benefits for employees, Holland Casinos has a monopoly in the country with 14 casinos in operation.

The operators woes are put down to lower visitor numbers and lower spend per head of those still visiting the casinos. Also some observers in Europe place the blame on management of Holland Casinos to not adapt quicker to changing circumstances within the sector and customer needs.

Only in June CEO of Holland Casinos Dick Fink resigned because of poor results, the future of the state owned casinos are now in the balance.

September 30, 2013

Net Entertainment signs partnership agreement with online gaming operator William Hill

Net Entertainment has signed a partnership agreement with one of the largest and most reputable online gaming operators in the world, William Hill PLC. Under the terms of the agreement Net Entertainment will supply William Hill with a selection of top desktop and mobile titles.

"We continue to follow our growth strategy in the UK market, and I am very excited that William Hill has selected Net Entertainment as supplier for a selection of our best in class casino games to be distributed over their online casino network," comments Björn Krantz, Chief of GMO and MD Net Entertainment Malta Ltd. "The agreement with William Hill solidifies the trust and confidence our partners have in our operational and technical leadership. Both parties are now working very close together to secure a successful integration and planning for commercial launch and we are convinced that our games will be well received
by William Hill's player base."

"Net Entertainment is one of the leading suppliers of best in breed online casino content in the market today, and we are fully committed to make sure we can provide our player community with the very best experience, which now can be further realized through our agreement with Net Entertainment. The agreement will cover gaming distribution for all customer devices. William Hill are committed to be leaders in mobile development and working with proven suppliers like Net Entertainment will make our proposition even stronger," comments James Curwen, Director of Gaming, William Hill.

September 25, 2013

How the Canadian who founded the world’s largest poker site almost lost it all

One spring evening five years ago, George Clooney mingled with 300 champagne-sipping guests on a massive yacht moored in the harbour of Cannes, France. The occasion was a charity event with the cast of Ocean’s Thirteen, and Clooney was putting in an appearance along with co-stars Brad Pitt, Matt Damon and Don Cheadle, as the sun set over the Mediterranean. On the fringes hovered a short man in his early 60s, seemingly unsure what to do with himself. He didn’t socialize or drink, and clung to the small group of people with whom he’d arrived. He was a little hazy on the pedigree of the celebrities around him. One attendee recalls, “It was like someone had taken their parents to a party.”

That fellow, Isai Scheinberg, was actually a distinguished guest. He sponsored the whole event through his online gaming company, PokerStars, and he was there to explore marketing opportunities with the cast, some of whom were poker buffs. The effort never went farther than a few charity poker tournaments, but the actors did gather around a poker table with the company’s logo printed on the felt for a quick photo. The picture hangs in the company’s lobby.

Strangely, when asked about the evening in question, a spokesperson for PokerStars said Scheinberg was never there at all, despite an attendee witnessing him onboard. If he did indeed make an appearance, it was a rare event. He preferred to remain holed up in his company’s headquarters on the occasionally dreary rock that is the Isle of Man. But PokerStars craved the cachet that celebrity spokespeople brought, as it helped to position the website as a legitimate business in the United States. This was important because the year before, the U.S. has passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), which prohibits financial institutions from processing payments related to “unlawful” online gaming. Poker had always been something of a grey area in the U.S., the country where it was most popular. Now its legality appeared even murkier.

Scheinberg was a masterful tactician, and he was prepared for something like this. He didn’t travel to America, and when he shuttled between the Isle of Man and Toronto, where he originally founded the company, he flew on a private jet to better avoid an emergency landing or unplanned diversion to an American airport, according to those who worked with him. (The company says he flew only once on a private plane along this route.) In the past, Scheinberg solicited law firms for opinions on the legality of online poker, and did so again after UIGEA. The law, he was told, didn’t apply to online poker. He was already of the opinion that existing laws only affected games of chance, like blackjack and roulette. In Scheinberg’s mind, and in those of his lawyers’, poker was a game of skill, much like chess, another game he was fond of. He saw no reason to stop serving U.S. citizens. But he did need to consider the handful of American executives he employed, and, leading up to UIGEA’s passage, asked them if they could stay with the company and forgo travelling back home, the consequence of challenging muddy U.S. laws. Not everyone was prepared to do so. But armed with his legal opinions, Scheinberg had made his decision: he went all in.

The repercussions of Scheinberg’s choice to continue dealing with U.S. citizens are still reverberating today. PokerStars became the world’s biggest online poker site overnight when its main rival, PartyGaming PLC, shuttered its U.S. operations in light of UIGEA. Its rise to the top is a largely untold story, one with Canadian roots. Scheinberg built his company, which now has 1,640 employees, with a combination of brains, audacity and, though he might not care to admit it, luck. That luck evaporated in 2011. The U.S. Department of Justice launched civil charges against PokerStars, branding its business illegal and accusing it of money laundering, and PokerStars was forced to shut down U.S. operations. But all may not be lost: cash-strapped state governments are letting online poker back into the U.S. PokerStars’ future now depends on the company’s ability to account for its troubled past in front of state regulators. And it will be all the more difficult with criminal charges hanging over Scheinberg’s head.

The headquarters of PYR Software Ltd. sits in an office building in the Toronto suburb of Richmond Hill. Next door, a rundown plaza houses a kebab shop and a pizzeria. PYR’s website says the company helps its “customers worldwide to retain industry leadership…while maintaining world domination in terms of market share.” The mission statement doesn’t mention that PYR has only one client: PokerStars.

Scheinberg founded PYR in 2000. It built the software to power his online poker venture. Its employees, numbering around 100, are still mostly responsible for the software that services the tens of thousands of players on the PokerStars site at any given time, about 60% of the market. The nondescript digs are befitting of its founder. Scheinberg has never given an interview, and only two photographs of him have ever been published. (If you plug his name into Google, the top image result is of someone else.) For a while, his desire for anonymity even extended inside the company. When PokerStars established headquarters in the Isle of Man in 2005, Scheinberg described himself to new hires as the chief technology officer. A former employee says during a job interview, Scheinberg never once let on he was the founder. Many people contacted for this article were reluctant to talk; some declined out of respect for Scheinberg’s privacy. The company would only respond to written questions through a spokesperson.

Raised in Lithuania, Scheinberg holds Israeli-Canadian citizenship and is fluent in Hebrew. He earned a master’s degree in mathematics from Moscow State University, and later moved to Israel where he served in the Israeli Defense Forces and fought in the Yom Kippur War. Owing to his technical mind, he ended up working for IBM in Israel before transferring to the company’s Canadian office and settling in Richmond Hill. Part of his leisure time was spent playing cards, and he travelled to Las Vegas in 1996 to participate in the World Series of Poker, pocketing $3,337. Scheinberg also played in card rooms around Toronto, sometimes with Daniel Negreanu, now the third-highest-ranking professional in the world.

Around that time, gaming was moving online. Total industry revenue, including poker, amounted to US$1.2 billion in 1999, with companies like Paradise Poker and PartyGaming leading the way. Poker was still a relatively obscure game back then; the number of players on Paradise Poker rarely exceeded 2,000. Scheinberg thought he could do better. He founded PYR, assembled a team of programmers (some from IBM) and recruited people who knew more about poker than he did. In late 2000, he sent an e-mail out of the blue to Terrence Chan, then a student at Simon Fraser University. It was just two sentences long: he wrote that he had an idea to discuss, and gave his phone number. Chan called, and learned Scheinberg had found him through a discussion group called Scheinberg, a reader of the forum, was impressed with the depth of knowledge Chan showed for the game. He explained he was launching a poker site and needed an expert consultant. Chan signed on and helped the programmers in Richmond Hill translate the intricacies of live poker into software, while still taking classes. To help manage operations, Scheinberg recruited one of his sons, Mark, who holds Canadian citizenship and grew up outside Toronto. At the time, Mark was a college dropout in his 20s travelling around Latin America. “He was pretty much being a beach bum,” Chan says. Scheinberg often insisted his website would beat the rest. “They seemed insurmountable,” Chan says, “but he was always confident and said if we have world-class software and world-class support, there’s no reason we can’t do it.” PokerStars launched on Sept. 11, 2001, and introduced cash games shortly afterward. Just like a traditional cardroom, PokerStars makes money by keeping a small percentage of the pot (up to 4.5%) on almost every hand played.

Word spread that PokerStars’ software was more reliable than the competition’s. “It was so swift,” says John Duthie, a player who went on to found a live poker tournament with PokerStars, “and it very rarely crashed.” PokerStars was geared toward serious players, eschewing the cheesy graphics employed by the likes of PartyGaming, which “was almost like a bingo site rather than a serious poker site,” Duthie says. At first, customer service was outsourced, but Scheinberg soon brought it in-house. He opened an office in Costa Rica, a country known for its gambling-friendly laws, and put Mark in charge. Chan moved to Costa Rica and found Mark to be a talkative, energetic boss who retained the carefree ethos of his travelling days. “He would go out and party with us,” Chan says, “but I think at some point when the company got bigger, he started being more aware of his image.” The company hired seven people in Costa Rica to answer questions and complaints, only one of whom knew anything about poker, so Chan spent two solid weeks giving a crash course. Taking control of customer service proved wise, as PokerStars’ competitors were either slow to respond or outsourced customer service to a firm where nobody knew much about the game. Finally, Scheinberg carved out a niche by focusing on tournaments, which offer better prize money and a shot at glory, on top of regular games. The site attracted a cult following and became the “darling of the community,” as Chan puts it.

PokerStars’ big break came in 2003 at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. The event was largely the territory of poker pros, but online companies saw an opportunity. PokerStars held tournaments to send winners to the WSOP, where the buy-in was $10,000 each. The company spent $370,000 to send 37 players to Vegas that year, and while the cost was steep, ESPN planned to broadcast the tournament, which would provide television exposure for PokerStars. Chris Moneymaker, a mild mannered 27-year-old accountant from Tennessee blessed with the perfect name for a poker player, won a seat through PokerStars after paying $39 to enter a tournament. Few considered the gaggle of amateurs bumbling around in PokerStars T-shirts to be threats, but on the last day of the tournament, Moneymaker was sitting at the final table with seasoned pros. He beat them all and walked away with $2.5 million.

Thus began the poker boom. It had been building for a while, but Moneymaker’s arc from obscurity to multimillionaire convinced others the same thing could happen to them. “This was so perfectly, magically ideal for the target demographic,” says Nolan Dalla, the company’s former director of communications. The company began growing rapidly, and two years later Scheinberg established corporate headquarters in the Isle of Man, a self-governing British crown dependency best known for its zero corporate tax policy. PokerStars took over part of a sprawling building perched on a cliff overlooking the Irish Sea. (It eventually purchased the building last year, and the exterior still lacks any corporate branding.) Scheinberg then split his time between headquarters and PYR in Richmond Hill.

By 2006, PokerStars was the second-largest poker company in the industry, outmatched only by PartyGaming, which went public the previous year on the London Stock Exchange with an $8.5-billion valuation. Rumours surfaced in the British press that PokerStars, too, was considering an initial public offering and seeking a $3-billion valuation. Whatever plans Scheinberg had were scrapped when the U.S. passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in October. The legislation was largely driven by conservative politicians concerned about the potential destructive effects of online gambling. Leading up to UIGEA’s passage, PartyGaming’s stock plummeted. Scheinberg, meanwhile, was offering to double the money in new player accounts. PartyGaming then completely pulled out of the U.S., which had accounted for more than 80% of its revenue. Scheinberg’s legal advisers told him UIGEA only affected payments around already illegal forms of gambling. And because it could be argued poker was a game of skill—and not chance—it was not illegal to begin with under U.S. law. UIGEA, the company believed, changed nothing. With PartyGaming gone, his company became the biggest poker site in the world. But it wasn’t the only one to continue soliciting U.S. customers. Full Tilt Poker, based in Ireland, remained, and became the second-largest company after PokerStars. While Scheinberg’s decision looks shrewd, it was the result of exhaustive examination by gaming lawyers, and former employees say he is a conservative person by nature. Still, there was an irresistible momentum at the company. “It’s like if you’re running a marathon and you quit at the 25th mile. You wouldn’t do that,” Dalla says. As an American working in the U.S., Dalla was offered the chance to move to the Isle of Man around the time of UIGEA. He declined, and reluctantly left the company.

The following five years were a period of huge growth for PokerStars. The company expanded not only in the U.S., but also into parts of Europe, Asia, and South America. It was an aggressive marketer and spent heavily on spokespeople ranging from Mats Sundin to Jason Alexander. Tennis pro Rafael Nadal is currently the company’s poster boy, following in the footsteps of Boris Becker, both of whom were selected in part because of Scheinberg’s love of tennis. “He’d do anything to meet these tennis stars,” says a former employee. PokerStars also operates many live poker tournaments around the world, which helped to establish the brand in new markets.

By 2008, according to a former executive, Scheinberg sat atop an empire that churned out around $1 billion in revenue. But even when PokerStars published an account of its history to mark its 10th anniversary, there was not a single mention of the founder. He wasn’t highly visible inside the company, either. Scheinberg was so nondescript that when he did appear, “we used to joke he was the janitor,” says a former employee. Those who worked closely with him describe him as impersonal, obsessive about details, and in command of an impressive memory. He could pick up an intense discussion from weeks ago as if it just happened. As the company grew, he still browsed poker forums to keep tabs on what players were saying, and he would shift gears accordingly. “He would change an entire project at the last minute on the basis of what somebody said on the forum,” says a former employee. “The guy probably sleeps three hours a night because he’s literally all over the forum.” There was an understanding at the company to never do anything that somebody could complain about online, because Scheinberg would find out.

As Scheinberg’s personal fortune grew, he retained a modest demeanor and seemed to prefer spending time working, or walking along the shoreline. But as a manager, he enjoyed debate and playing devil’s advocate. During a job interview with an individual he had been trying to hire for some time, Scheinberg began by “slagging off every fucking thing I’d done,” the individual recalls. “He loved all this stuff.” Scheinberg and his son Mark, now CEO of the company, would get into heated arguments in front of staff, usually in Hebrew, while no one had a clue what they were shouting about.

“He’s the most demanding human being I’ve ever known,” says Steve Morrow, a veteran poker tournament director hired in 2002. Morrow moved to Costa Rica to serve as a poker expert, though he soon realized Scheinberg wanted him mainly for his name. “I truly believe he was more interested in my reputation for honesty than anything else,” he says. Building trust with players was crucial, and Morrow’s reputation helped PokerStars earn credibility out of the gate. But Morrow was uncomfortable with the arrangement, and butted heads with Scheinberg so often he tried to resign after five months. He ended up staying for one more year, and left when Scheinberg offered to renew his contract with a huge pay cut. Despite mixed feelings, Morrow doesn’t begrudge Scheinberg his success. “He did so many things right,” he says. PokerStars, which says it values Morrow’s early contributions, doesn’t dispute his account, but adds he was expected to be “very proactive” in communicating with players on poker forums, and was reluctant to do so.

Despite the success that came from continuing to operate in the United States, a low-grade paranoia about a crackdown by the American government permeated the Isle of Man. One former employee recalls being spooked after hearing so many American accents around the island’s tiny capital, called Douglas. In 2010, Daniel Tzvetkoff, one of the industry’s biggest payment processors, was arrested and charged on a trip to Las Vegas. Tzvetkoff, who processed for PokerStars, was a wunderkind from Australia who became a multimillionaire in his 20s, and owned a mansion and a fleet of cars, including a Lamborghini with a licence plate reading “BALLER.” Rather than face a lengthy prison sentence, he co-operated with authorities.

The U.S. Department of Justice had a very different view on the legality of online poker. With Tzvetkoff in its pocket, the DOJ struck in 2011, filing civil suits against PokerStars and Full Tilt, along with another company operating in the country called Absolute Poker. It also filed criminal charges against Scheinberg and Paul Tate, the company’s director of payments, alleging bank fraud and money laundering. Nine other poker company executives and payment processors were charged. The crackdown caught the industry off-guard, particularly because there appeared to be a push by some U.S. politicians to finally clarify the laws around online poker. The case alleged that because most banks would no longer process poker transactions, the three companies relied on middlemen to establish bank accounts using phony business names and funnel player funds through these accounts. One of these middlemen set up websites for his fake businesses, which purported to sell “everything from clothing to jewelry to golf clubs to bicycles.” Another claimed to sell environmentally friendly household products, and built a website featuring testimonials. Eight of the eleven men have since pleaded guilty to some charges. Scheinberg and Tate, who are not U.S. citizens, haven’t entered a plea.

Chad Elie was one of those who pleaded guilty. Elie was charged with disguising transactions for all three poker companies as payday loans and fees related to online clubs that offered shopping discounts, among other things. He also processed payments transparently for PokerStars by forging a relationship with a struggling bank in Utah. Elie originally decided to fight the charges and pleaded not guilty. Though he wasn’t an employee of PokerStars, he had an indemnification agreement with the company to minimize his liability in legal matters. Scheinberg, Elie says, was initially reluctant to honour the agreement. “There was a lot of arguing between me and him,” he says. “Some pretty bad text messages.” Scheinberg relented, and the company ended up paying millions for the defence, Elie estimates. A trial date was set (Tzvetkoff was to appear as the prosecution’s star witness), but shortly before it began, Elie changed his plea and fessed up to one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud. The charge related to a bank account that handled transactions for all three online poker companies, but appeared to handle transactions related to online clubs.

Scheinberg was floored. “He’s mad to this day that I pled,” Elie says. Scheinberg sent an e-mail demanding an explanation, and insisted Elie could have beaten the charges. But Elie’s lawyers discerned the judge presiding over the trial was not sympathetic to the view that poker was a skill game, and during a mock trial, the jurors had trouble grasping the concept. Elie spent five months in prison and completed his sentence in June. He doesn’t deny that some payment processors deceived banks into handling poker transactions (he mostly blames Tzvetkoff), but insists he never intentionally misled anyone. Even with the bank account that led to his guilty plea, Elie characterizes it as a case of sloppiness. His account representative at the bank knew about the poker transactions, he says; it just wasn’t recorded in the documentation. “I should have had that signed off by them,” he says.

How much did Scheinberg know about the dubious practices used to serve American poker players? Elie, who describes Scheinberg as “very hands-on with every single thing,” says, “I don’t think he knew…I definitely would swear that under oath.”

But at least one PokerStars employee knew. Nelson Burtnick, a Canadian, served as the company’s director of payments until 2008, when he joined Full Tilt. Burtnick was indicted alongside Scheinberg and pleaded guilty in September 2012 to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and money laundering, and two counts of accepting funds related to illegal gambling, for his actions at both companies. “My superiors, other employees and I knew and understood that if we did not use payment companies that deceived their banking partners, the business would not function or operate,” he said at his plea. “Most U.S. business for both poker companies was fashioned this way.” Burtnick didn’t name his superiors.

PokerStars, through a spokesperson, disputes Burtnick’s statement. “Nelson’s statement does not mention PokerStars explicitly,” wrote Eric Hollreiser, head of communications, in response to e-mailed questions. “If he did mean to include PokerStars in that, then his statement is wrong. Furthermore his statement is incorrect about business not being able to function, because PokerStars has only processed credit cards with the correct coding for Internet gaming.” Hollreiser also wrote the company had contracts with its payment processors requiring them to operate transparently with banks. “When later on PokerStars became suspicious that these obligations were not complied with, the company moved to establish independent and transparent relationships with U.S. banks.” In the months following the DOJ’s allegations, PokerStars came off much better than its co-accused. Full Tilt had been partly funding itself with the money players deposited in their accounts. The business collapsed within months (the DOJ branded it a Ponzi scheme), and players couldn’t retrieve their funds. PokerStars, in contrast, kept player accounts and operating funds segregated.

In July 2012, a settlement was reached with the DOJ, Full Tilt, and PokerStars. Full Tilt surrendered its remaining assets to the DOJ. PokerStars forfeited $547 million to the government to be used to reimburse Full Tilt’s American players, and another $184 million to its foreign customers, bringing PokerStars’ total settlement fee to $731 million. As part of the agreement, the government turned over Full Tilt’s assets to PokerStars. In a weird way, PokerStars came to the aid of the DOJ. Players were furious about the crackdown, and blamed the DOJ for the fall of Full Tilt and the loss of their money. Scheinberg allowed the DOJ to save face, earned the goodwill of players, feasted on the remains of his primary competitor and dealt with the company’s civil suit—all without ever admitting to anything. The settlement also states that nothing contained in the agreement “shall limit” PokerStars in returning to the U.S. should online gaming laws change, a clause the company believes helps its case with state regulators today. In a separate agreement this past June, Mark agreed to turn over a further $50 million to the government, even though he was not subject to the indictment. In the settlement document, the DOJ alleged payments made to Mark by PokerStars during the period covered by the indictment are subject to forfeiture. Though Mark disputed that claim, he paid up anyway and admitted no guilt or culpability. Scheinberg’s criminal lawsuit is still ongoing. As part of the company’s settlement, he’s forbidden from serving in a management or director role at the company while he’s facing charges. He’s now a PokerStars Fellow, primarily advising on technology matters and on entering new markets.

The DOJ’s charges against him, and the company’s contention that it did not condone any deceptive practices used on its behalf, will probably not be tested in court so long as Scheinberg never steps foot in the country. But from his office in the Isle of Man, he’s pushing the company back to the U.S. with full force.

The federal government may have demonized PokerStars and its competitors, but many cash-starved states in the U.S. are taking a different approach. Three of them, including New Jersey, now regulate online gambling within their borders. Even before New Jersey passed legislation in February, which allows only the state’s land-based casinos to offer online gambling, PokerStars was plotting just such a re-entry strategy.

In December, it agreed to purchase the struggling Atlantic Club Casino Hotel for just $15 million. The acquisition would go through only if PokerStars received an interim casino authorization from the state. The fact the company could apply so easily was something of a coup. Companies that operated in the U.S. after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was passed are banned by Nevada’s online gambling laws from operating in the state for five years. Other states considering online gaming, such as California, are also looking at so-called bad actor clauses. PokerStars says these clauses wouldn’t stop it from applying, and that it would also consider challenging the constitutionality of them. New Jersey, however, decided against the introduction of such clauses.

The American Gaming Association, the lobby group for the casino industry, filed a 26-page motion in opposition to PokerStars’ application. It was the first time the AGA had ever tried to stop a company from getting a licence. The AGA slammed PokerStars as a business “built on deceit, chicanery, and the systematic flouting of U.S. law.” PokerStars rejects the claims made in the submission, and paints it as an attempt to discredit a viable competitor. “Cynical mudslinging based on innuendo and, often, outright fabrications, must be seen for what it is—a desperate attempt to tarnish the most successful, customer-oriented, financially stable and secure online gaming company in the world,” according to Hollreiser.

New Jersey regulators stalled, and the Atlantic Club pulled out of the deal. PokerStars sued, arguing it had already pumped $11 million into the business to keep it afloat, but a New Jersey court allowed the Atlantic Club to seek new buyers. PokerStars’ first comeback attempt proved to be a costly failure, but it didn’t give up. Just a couple of months ago, in July, it partnered with the Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City to offer online gaming in the state. That deal still needs regulatory approval, and while the AGA has been mum, its opposition to the Atlantic Club deal gives the state a lot to consider.

So far, the new partnership looks more promising, but PokerStars may have given its opponents more ammunition. The AGA previously raised questions about the extent to which Scheinberg had stepped back from the company as required. Since then, more details have emerged about his role. In the litigation over the Atlantic Club, the casino’s chief financial officer, Eric Matejevich, testified he had at least two phone calls with Scheinberg—one in October that opened discussions about the acquisition, and another days before the Atlantic Club pulled out of the deal. Scheinberg called to say his advisers told him the company stood a 90% chance of receiving the casino licence, and groused about how long it was taking. PokerStars responded that the phone call was “entirely within the defined scope” of his role.

The treatment of PokerStars mystifies analysts across the Atlantic. “Europe forgets the past,” says Warwick Bartlett, founder of Global Betting and Gaming Consultancy in the Isle of Man. “In America, you’re damned forever.” The online gaming industry could change dramatically if PokerStars is shut out from states that legalize gaming. Many established names are looking to cater to U.S. players and lock up the market, including Caesars Interactive Entertainment, which partnered with an Israeli gaming powerhouse. The glory years may already be over for PokerStars—and not only because it lost access to American players. New regulations in European countries, including France, Italy and Spain, allow people to play only against other citizens, not across borders, which has decreased the appeal of the game, along with revenue. Bwin.Party, which acquired PartyGaming, earned €185 million from poker in 2011, but €174 million the following year. “Poker has been the only online gaming vertical in decline,” say Gavin Kelleher, an analyst with Goodbody Stockbrokers in Ireland. That may help to explain why PokerStars is considering “casino style games” under the Full Tilt banner, branching beyond poker for the first time.

In the U.S., the odds appear to be against Scheinberg, but then he’s never had much use for odds. As a poker player and as a businessman, he puts faith in his abilities. “He’s the one person I’ve played poker against I cannot read,” says an industry insider. “Most people over time, I’ll get used to them. But Isai is impossible. He’s extremely analytical, and changes strategy on the turn of a coin.” It’s the approach of a guy who leaves nothing to chance. It’s no surprise that the corporate entity that owns the PokerStars brand is called the Rational Group. For Scheinberg, it’s all about skill. A couple of years ago, when a former employee expressed concern about the difficulty of re-entering the U.S. market, Scheinberg chuckled. “We’ll find a way,” he said.