January 31, 2013

CONCACAF to target match-fixing

CONCACAF has announced that it is exploring a number of measures designed to combat match-fixing and corruption in football.
The governing body for football in the Americas and the Caribbean has released a statement saying it's in the process of identifying measures on a case-by-case basis following a workshop which ended in New York Friday.

CONCACAF says it's also examining a number of preventive steps in the form of courses and training programmes as well as specific legislation.

"Match manipulation in football must be tackled in the strongest possible way and we are glad that CONCACAF is taking a proactive approach on this subject," said Serge Dumortier, senior security manager at FIFA.

"We must take all the steps necessary to safeguard the integrity of our sport."

More than 30 delegates from football, government and law enforcement in Canada and the United States attended the workshop co-hosted by CONCACAF and organised by INTERPOL and FIFA.

The two-day Integrity in Sport workshop examined a range of topics, including the betting industry, match-fixing threats, governance, education, and prevention.

"This workshop has the goal to raise awareness of the key contemporary match-fixing issues and threats in football, and to identify good practice and areas for development," said Shawn Bray, head of the US National Central Bureau in Washington.

"The goal is to bring together players, referees, coaches, sports associations, betting regulators and law enforcement to improve individuals' awareness and understanding of corruption in football."

Officials say match-fixing has become a global matter affecting every sport on the planet and that football is now a high target for unlawful business deals.

Presentations were made by INTERPOL, FIFA and Early Warning System, a company established to monitor matches and to safeguard the integrity of football.

"The football family must certainly be an intrinsic part of the battle against match-fixing through education, surveillance and sanction," said CONCACAF General Secretary Enrique Sanz.

"However, we mustn't forget to work in partnership with all other affected sports, governments, media, fans, and society as a whole."

A similar workshop for the confederation's Caribbean members will take place in Panama at their Congress in April.

January 28, 2013

KGC investigated BetUS ties with organized crime

Court papers related to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigation into BetWSC (World Sport Centre) and revelations from a later KGC inquiry into Kahnawake-licensed bookmakers exposed possible links between BetUS and the Canadian mafia.

In November 2012, the RCMP charged over 20 people for their roles in an illegal sports betting ring with alleged mafia ties. Two of the people charged at the end of 2012 had been arrested before when the investigation dubbed Project Colisee culminated with the arrest of 91 mafia associates, including Canada's reputed godfather Nicolo Rizzuto.

The Rizzuto crime family and the Montreal mafia bankrolled a sports betting operation present locally in Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto and online with internet bookmaker World Sport Centre.

According to the RCMP, World Sport Centre operated betwsc.com, an online bookmaker that between October 2004 and March 2006 generated $26 million in profits from 820,000 online bets processed and almost half a billion dollars in revenues.

BetWSC.com operated from the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory with a license from the Kahnawake Gaming Commission.

When the Gaming Commission chairman learned that BetWSC.com was linked to the Montreal mafia, the KGC launched its own investigation that ended with the suspension of BetWSC.com's license and the online bookmaker web site being taken down by hosting provider Mohawk Internet Technologies.

The Kahnawake Gaming Commission extended its investigation to all Kahnawake bookmakers, a circumstance that eventually led to the suspension of BetUS license.

At the time, Sportsbook Review stated that BetUS decided to relocate after Kahnawake changed its telephone betting policies, while another version indicated that BetUS had its license terminated over irregularities.

At the end of 2006, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, worried by the possibility the United States could try to assert jurisdiction and apply their internet gambling laws and the UIGEA payment ban to Kahnawake-licensed operators, decided to amend its telephone betting rules prohibiting placing bets or even discussing betting odds on the phone.

Bookmakers Review spoke to a person that at the time was working for a service provider in the Mohawk Territory and that clearly recalls the KGC decision to suspend the license of BetUS parent company LT Baroda had nothing to do with the newly passed UIGEA, but was rather motivated by the concern the KGC had that criminal organizations could have infiltrated the online betting industry in Kahnawake.

BetUS, which like BetWSC also had a presence in Belize, ended up laying off a staff of around 100 in the Mohawk Territory of Kahnawake and set up office in Costa Rica, where it remains today.

An article on a French language regional newspaper dated December 2006 confirms that about 100 workers had been laid off on the heels of the concerns created by the criminal charges against the principal of World Sport Centre alleging links with organized crime in Montreal.

Norskespill launches on EveryMatrix open games platform

Malta-licensed gaming operator Norskespill.com has gone live with its Norwegian-facing operations utilising EveryMatrix’s GamMatrix open gaming management platform.

The GamMatrix platform, including the newly introduced Casino Engine, is a vendor-neutral gaming management and payment processing platform which allows EveryMatrix customers to integrate any kind of gaming software into one single wallet system.

Through the platform, Norskespill.com offers its players a range of third-party casino games from the likes of Net Entertainment, BetsoftGaming, IGT, Microgaming and Play’n GO.

“EveryMatrix has demonstrated a very high standard both in terms products and services in addition to delivery and flexibility,” said Norskespill.com CEO Niclas Lundquist. “The EveryMatrix product suite makes us capable of meeting our objective of being the market leading online gaming provider in Norway by continuously satisfying player expectations through quality solutions.”

Norskespill.com already has EveryMatrix’s OddsMatrix sportsbook integrated onto its online platform, as well as the company’s Mobile360 solution which incorporates sports betting and casino games into a single mobile web application.

“Norskespill has been a very interesting acquaintance for us,” said EveryMatrix CEO Ebbe Goes. “Their knowledge of mobile solutions is very deep and they have definitely helped refine the EveryMatrix mobile offering, making interaction faster and more streamlined. Growing through our partners is a core strategy for us and Norskespill is a great example of this.”

January 25, 2013

Gamesys launch Playboy game theme on Facebook

Gamesys has recently launched Playboy Casino on Facebook. The game sees players play their way through a series of slot machines winning prizes along the way.

It starts with a 1950s style slot in order to win money and experience points, players can also win money by inviting friends to play.

Experience points are then used to progress to the next level and unlock additional machines. Each machine is based around a different era from Playboy’s history and all the slot machines feature multiple pay lines, wild symbols and bonus games.

As a player completes more levels they can collect a series of badges and trophies, the aim being to collect them all. However, while the machines are very different in aesthetics, they are essentially the same with no great surprises along the way.

The game also features a real-time chat facility which allows players to talk to each other when playing.

It remains to be seen how popular the game will become, but already there are over 50,000 monthly active users and it is currently featured in the New Games section of Facebook’s App Center.

Venetian Macau suing two Chinese gamblers

Sheldon Adelson’s Venetian Macau took legal action in a Hong Kong court this week to recover approximately $4.5m (£2.8m), against two of its former high roller customers from China.

In one lawsuit, filed on Wednesday with Hong Kong’s high court, the Venetian is trying to recover $3m from Zou Yunyu, who once featured on lists of China’s richest people and has an estimated $220m fortune from her company, the Shanghai Gaoyuan Property Group.

In the second case, the Venetian is pursuing $1.5m from Xie Xiaoqing, a businessman and deputy to the provincial legislature in Hubei province, according to Hong Kong media.

The Venetian is one of four casinos owned by the Chinese arm of Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Corp. Adelson’s fortune is valued at over $20bn and his interests span gaming empires in Nevada and Asia, the Israeli newspaper market and Republican politics in the US. In the 2012 elections, he and his wife, Miriam, donated $95m to Republican candidates, including a massive late surge of $33m to pro-Romney political committees.

Macau’s rise to the top of the casino market has been powered by wealthy mainland Chinese gamblers, but the lawsuits highlight the difficulties in collecting debts if they return to the mainland, where gambling is illegal and debts aren’t recognised by courts. Both Macau and nearby Hong Kong have separate legal systems from mainland China.

Nevada casinos post combined loss of $1.2 billion

Nevada’s largest casinos suffered a combined loss of $1.2 billion in 2012, even though revenues saw an increase.

The annual “Gaming Abstract” released yesterday by the state Gaming Control Board analyzes the financial information of casinos that gross $1 million or more in casino revenues.

There were 265 Nevada casinos that fell into that category during the 2012 fiscal year that ended 30th June 2012.

Casinos reported total revenues of nearly $23 billion, up from $22 billion the previous year.

The 2012 report marks the fourth straight year of losses for Nevada’s largest casinos. But it also marks a big improvement over last year, when the resorts had a combined loss of nearly $4 billion.

January 24, 2013

Greece monopoly ruled illegal

OPAP’s gambling monopoly in Greece is close to the end of the road after the Court of Justice for the European Union (CJEU) ruled it illegal. The monopoly contravenes European Union (EU) law as it grants exclusive rights without serving the public interest by limiting the amount of betting opportunities, according to a court ruling this morning. The current case was one filed by Stanleybet, William Hill and Sportingbet, with the result sending OPAP’s share price sliding downwards on the Stoxx Europe 600 Index – 11 percent to €6.27 at the last check.

There is still breathing room for Greece and if they implement stricter controls to ensure consumer protection they will be allowed to preserve it. If that doesn’t happen then Greece will have to open up the market to allow firms from other EU countries to operate.

Immediate reaction to the ruling came from Sigrid Ligné, secretary general of the European Gaming and Betting Association, who stated: Given the factual setup of OPAP’s monopoly which clearly fails to meet the CJEU test we hardly expect effective control to be implemented in the future. Therefore, Greece should follow the Court’s clear advice to liberalise the market. The ruling is highly relevant and gives the EC yet more jurisprudence to put an end to non-compliant gambling policies across the EU.”

Ligne is hopeful this ruling will give way to more cases being investigated by the EU regarding other member states that contravene EU law.

“At this stage only the EC, as the Guardian of the Treaties, can restore legal security by acting directly on the many complaints it has received, not only against Greece, but also against many other Member States. The EC can now take firm action on all pending infringement cases in order to ensure all Member States are in full compliance,” she added.

January 21, 2013

PokerStars signs Olympique Lyonnais sponsorship deal

In France, online poker operator PokerStars has announced that it has replaced rival BetClic after signing an official sponsorship deal with football club Olympique Lyonnais.

The agreement began at last weekend’s match against Evian Thonon Gaillard and sees video branding for one of the world’s largest online poker brands appear on screens inside the club’s 40,000-seat Stade De Gerland.

In addition, the PokerStars.fr website is to run a series of special tournaments giving fans of ‘Les Gones’ the chance to win prizes including shirts, scarves and tickets along with trips to meet the players while Olympique Lyonnais is to display offers for the online poker brand via its own domain.

“Digital is a major focus of development for the club,” said Vincent-Baptiste Closon, Marketing Director for the seven-time domestic champion.

“PokerStars is a major player in the digital arena so it is natural for us to associate with this site.”

January 18, 2013

Dutch regulators invite online operators to consultation

Dutch regulators have invited operators to a consultation on the 28th January where proposals for a new liberal regulatory system will be discussed.This will be the first formal meeting between the Dutch Gaming Authority (DGA) and operators interested in acquiring a license under new gaming laws.

New proposals will be published at the end of March and regulation is expected to come into effect sometime in 2014.

Gaming regulation has been a hot potato in Dutch politics over the last few years as politicians clashed over the extent to which online gambling should be liberalized.

Under the existing Dutch Betting and Gaming Act, the operation of online poker is illegal in the Netherlands. The regulation ignores all forms of remote or online gambling.

But recent elections brought a new coalition government into power, and its leader Mark Rutte has taken on the issue. He is determined to create a legal online gaming structure to “exploit” the tax raising opportunities that regulation will provide.

Earlier suggestions that the new laws should only legalize online poker have fallen away and the new likelihood is that licenses will be awarded for casino and sportsbook betting too.

Health Lottery boss critical of Camelot, players also angry

Health Lottery owner Richard Desmond has attacked Camelot for doubling the price of the National Lottery to £2. The media mogul used a full-page ad in his Daily Express newspaper to say the move “incredibly unfair and is at the expense of lottery players” and done “so that Camelot can line the pockets of its management and overseas shareholders”. Camelot announced the news this week they were hitching up the price for the first time since 1994. There was also a raft of changes to the prize money being handed out with the prize for matching three numbers rising from £10 to £25, and four numbers now netting a cool £100 instead of £60. Anger from players came from the fact the prize for matching five numbers dropped by a third to £1,000.

Desmond’s words came after the change to a £2 caused a public outcry from customers. Politicians have even got involved, with UKIP deputy leader Paul Nuttall: “This is going to ruin people’s bit of weekend fun. It is nothing more than a tax on the poor to subsidize the rich.”

A spokesman for Acevo, the association of chief executives of voluntary organisations, said: “We understand that this move is projected to increase the amount of lottery income going to charities and community groups, which in these difficult times will be very welcome.”

Pennsylvania is now No.2 gambling destination surpassing Atlantic City

Pennsylvania has surpassed Atlantic City as the nation’s No. 2 gaming revenue market. The state’s Gaming Control Board said this week that Pennsylvania casinos took in $3.16 billion from slot machines and table games in 2012, surpassing the $3.05 billion reported for the same year by Atlantic City, which suffered its sixth straight annual revenue decrease.

The state still has a ways to go to catch Las Vegas, the nation’s largest gaming market, which produced $6 billion in gaming revenues in 2011. The 2012 year-end totals for Las Vegas will be released in February. For the first 11 months of the year, Strip gaming revenues were up 1.2% over 2011. In Pennsylvania, there are 11 casinos operating. A 12th casino, in the western part of the state, is expected to open this year.

Six groups, including Wynn Resorts are seeking the state’s 13th license in Philadelphia. The Pennsyvlania data underscore the challenges facing New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as he looks to reinvigorate the tourism and gambling industries after years of decline and the recent superstorm Sandy.

The state has lost business as New York, Pennsylvania and Maryland expanded their gambling operations. “Pennsylvania is a great growth story,” said Jan Jones, executive vice president for communications and government relations at Caesars Entertainment. which has one casino there and four in New Jersey. “Governor Christie has really been trying to reposition Atlantic City as a resort destination.” Casino revenue in New Jersey has fallen for six straight years since peaking at $5.2 billion in 2006, according to state data.

Pennsylvania ranked third in the nation in casino spending in 2011, behind Nevada and New Jersey, according to the American Gaming Association trade group. New Jersey has 12 casinos after the opening of Revel last year. Pennsylvania has 11. The closely held Parx Casino & Racing, formerly Philadelphia Park Racetrack & Casino, was the state’s largest in revenue with almost $500 million in total, separate reports showed.

January 16, 2013

PokerStars confirm interest to buy Atlantic City Casino

As previously reported back in December, it has now been confirmed that the Rational Group, the owner of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, has offered to buy the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey for an undisclosed sum.

The move marks the first attempt by the company to gain a foothold in the U.S. market since PokerStars online gaming-related $547 million settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice last year.

The deal will now go before New Jersey regulators. The company said in its application, “Rational US is a willing and enthusiastic prospective purchaser, and it intends to improve the financial viability of the property, and therefore the offerings available in Atlantic City.

“The purchase will improve the overall economic and competitive conditions of Atlantic City and the state of New Jersey, as the current owner of the company has, for a considerable period of time, been marketing the property for sale.”

Michael Frawley, the casino’s chief operating officer, and Eric Hollreiser, PokerStars head of corporate communications, said in a statement, “The acquisition of The Atlantic Club Casino Hotel will secure up to 2,000 jobs and maintain the economic benefits the casino brings to New Jersey.

“During this interim period, the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel will operate as normal under current management, which will be retained following completion of the acquisition.”

The Casino has struggled under the ownership of Resorts International Holdings which is owned by a Los Angeles hedge fund.

With Senator Chris Christie still considering signing into law online poker in the state, PokerStars are hoping it seems to be the first off the blocks to offer interstate online poker back in the US before any of its competitors.

January 10, 2013

Rank considers fate of Blue Square

The Rank Group said it is undertaking a review of its lossmaking Blue Square Bet business, which operates solely in the online channel of the highly competitive sports betting market. The announcement is no surprise to observers whom have seen Blue Square plummet in appeal, since the growth of other sportsbetting sites like Paddy Power, Betfred, Bet365 and William Hill.

Rank said it intended to focus its resources on further developing Grosvenor Casino and Mecca as multi-channel brands meeting customer needs in gaming-based entertainment via venues, online and through mobile devices.

The announcement seems to point to a sale or closure of the brand and focus solely on online & mobile casino offerings.

Nevada introducing new bill allowing interstate compacts

A bill has been introduced at the Nevada General Assembly, on behalf of the state’s State Gaming Control Board, that would allow for the state governor to enter into interstate gaming compacts with other states. This legislation sets up Nevada to potentially be at the forefront of a compact in which individual states that have passed online gaming bills can work together to offer online gaming without federal legislation.

The bill, titled Assembly Bill 5, would remove language in the previously enacted online gaming bill that stated that an online gaming license does not become effective until a federal law was passed authorizing online gaming or the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) provided notice that interactive gaming activities are permissible under federal law. The bill would add language that allows for the governor, on behalf of the state, to enter into agreements with other states.

Assembly Bill 5 has been referred to the Nevada General Assembly Committee on the Judiciary. The upcoming legislative session does not begin until February 4, 2013.

The possibility of gaming compacts became a reality after the DOJ released an opinion in December 2011 stating that the Wire Act applies only to sports betting.

This opinion by DOJ eased fears among state lawmakers that money involved in online gaming could not be sent across state lines without incurring a violation of federal law. With that hurdle removed, the possibility of states entering into online gaming compacts became a reality.

Thus far two states, Delaware and Nevada, have enacted laws legalizing intrastate online gaming. Last month, the New Jersey state legislature passed a law legalizing online gaming and the bill is currently waiting for action to be taken on it by Gov. Chris Christie. Other states have publicly stated that they will consider online gaming legislation in sessions this year.

One potential problem with interstate gaming compacts is the potential for a hodgepodge of different laws and regulations for players and operators. States that lack experience in regulating gambling activities may look to the states that do have such experience, like Nevada and New Jersey, to regulate for them as an alternative to establishing their own regulations for online gaming. Thus far, Nevada is the only state to implement regulations governing online poker.

Nevada may want something in return for helping regulate gaming activities in other states, and it is not clear from the bill what that may be. Compacts like this have the potential to entrust a significant amount of power in a state agency, such as the Nevada Gaming Commission, and it is unclear whether it would be in the best interests of players and operators for that to occur. The concern over one state agency having so much power may serve as an impetus for states that do not currently have regulatory bodies for gaming to decide to establish them.

Bwin asks for clarity & fairness in German market

Bwin.party said Germany should allow online gambling companies to compete on a level playing field with locally based operators.

The company, the world’s largest listed online gaming group, also said trading since the end of September had been in line with management expectations.

“Gross win margins in sports betting returned to more normalised levels in November after a very strong run of results in October,” the company said.

Bwin.party was one of 12 operators given six-year licences in December to operate online casino and poker games in the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein.

It pressed its case for more liberal betting rules across Germany, its largest market.

“There is now a question over how the existing regime in Schleswig-Holstein can co-exist with the alternative system proposed by the other 15 German states that seeks to allow sports betting only and with significant additional restrictions for the online offer, restrictions that do not apply to land-based operators,” the company said.

The company is also concerned that Schleswig-Holstein is considering reversing course to fall back into line with the rest of Germany.

“Whilst we welcome the move to regulate the online gaming market in Germany, this must be in a consistent and coherent manner in-line with EU law,” the company said.

January 08, 2013

188bet to Offer Anonymous Tables

Online gaming provider 188BET recently launched Microgaming’s poker software, one that includes anonymous tables and signifying a move to begin offering its online poker clientele the choice of playing in tables where player profiles are unavailable, including aliases, avatars, locations, and notes. 188BET’s decision to introduce anonymous tables comes a little over a year after Bodog fully committed itself to the model when it launched its Recreational Poker Model in late 2011.

For all the criticisms and vitriol thrown at Bodog when it launched its Recreational Poker Model, anonymous tables seemed to have gained a foothold in the industry, particularly in light of 188BET’s recent move to launch its own (slightly different) version.

Bodog’s Recreational Poker Model and its anonymous tables have always had one objective in mind: to protect the interests of the net depositing players by trying to create a more level playing field. It’s a field that player tracker tools and data-mining sites won’t get access to, allowing the site’s casual players to enjoy the game without having to worry about being hunted down by the poker sharks who rely on tracking software to determine where the prey is playing.

When Bodog launched this model a little over a year ago, it came with the expected backlash from a lot of established players in the online poker circuit, a lot of whom complained in their own choice language about losing a critical advantage that these data-mining sites and player tracking software offered.

However, that’s exactly what Bodog was striving to achieve with its anonymous tables; keep the Rottweilers on a leash and let the poodles scamper about and enjoy themselves. The model created an eco-system where the sharp poker players aren’t just draining money away from the recreational players, thereby enabling everyone to rely on their skills more than using data-mining sites and HUDs as advantageous crutches.

Now, the industry has taken notice, as evidenced by 188BET’s decision to launch their own anonymous tables that are part Microgaming’s poker software. The gambling Industry Swami himself, Calvin Ayre, called this move a year ago when he predicted that at least one other poker network would eventually adopt this model as its own.

It must be noted though, that Microgaming already used a limited version of anonymous tables before Bodog, but according to Bodog Network vice president Jonas Odman, their interpretation and implementation of the software differed from Bodog’s version. “At those sites, [anonymous tables] are an alternative to normal tables,” Odman noted back in December 2011 when the Bodog Model had just been launched.

The problem with having anonymous tables as an alternative is that net depositing players – the group identified as the lifeblood of online poker – do not realize the benefits of sitting in an anonymous table. Instead, they sit down at non-anonymous tables, putting themselves at risk of having their profiles tracked. “The winning players then follow the net depositing players, which means that nobody plays at the anonymous tables,” Odman noted.

Awareness still falls on the shoulders of the players themselves, but what happens when these casual players are there to enjoy themselves without knowing what an anonymous table really is? The responsibility of offering a level playing field is on the operator and Microgaming’s optional anonymous tables aren’t exactly “optional” if they use them more as marketing tools and the casual players don’t know what it’s all about in the first place.

Nevertheless, it’s refreshing to see a major Asian operator taking a similar approach to Bodog and offering its own recreational poker model. It would’ve been better if 188BET decided to make all their tables anonymous to really level the playing the field. In the end though, the benefits of having anonymous tables is becoming more evident, proving that there’s a lot more to this model than the critics have slammed it to be. Heck, it could even potentially be the future of the industry.

Poker has, and will always be – and is supposed to be – a game of skill. With anonymous tables, there’s no other option than to pit those skills to the test against the rest of the table. That’s how poker should be in the first place.

January 07, 2013

Ladbrokes in talks to buy Betdaq betting exchange

Irish businessman Dermot Desmond could be in line for a windfall after Ladbrokes confirmed it was in discussions to buy his betting exchange.

It is thought the bookmaker could be just weeks away from paying an estimated £30m for the Global Betting Exchange, which trades as Betdaq.

Ladbrokes said on Monday: "[We] enjoy a close commercial co-operation with Betdaq and can confirm discussions regarding a potential future acquisition. Negotiations are ongoing, though at this stage there is no certainty that an agreement will be reached."

Desmond set up the exchange 13 years ago in Dublin as a rival to Betfair, but it has failed to grab a significant portion of the market and is thought to be loss-making. Betfair, meanwhile, continues to dominate, with an estimated 90% share of the exchange market, which operates more like a trading platform on which punters can lay bets against one another.

The Ladbrokes chief executive ,Richard Glynn, has been dogged by failed acquisitions since he took the helm of the group almost three years ago, holding talks with 888 and Sportingbet that ultimately collapsed. But analysts say this deal is more likely to go ahead, as Desmond is also one of Ladbrokes' biggest shareholders, with an estimated stake of between 2% and 3% in the bookie.

It is thought Ladbrokes is keen to offer customers, who use both betting exchanges as well as fixed-odds services, a one-stop shop.

Simon French of Panmure Gordon said: "Acquiring Betdaq would provide Ladbrokes with broader product reach and may reduce leakage of certain customers to Betfair but significant investment in product and marketing would likely be required for Betdaq to become a material profit contributor to Ladbrokes."

Desmond retains a hold rating on the shares with a target price of 202p.

Ladbrokes shares ticked up 0.5% in early trade to 203p.

January 02, 2013

Texas introduce bill banning online poker

Texas legislatures will have a new poker bill to consider in 2013, after a measure called the “Texas Poker Gaming Act of 2013” was introduced in December.

The new bill, sponsored by State Sen. Eddie Rodriguez seeks to regulate the offering of brick-and-mortar poker games while banning other forms of poker, including over the Internet. Electronic poker tables, warmly supported in an earlier Texas poker measure that died in committee, would also be banned under the Rodriguez bill.

Rodriguez’ measure would define a new poker division of the Texas Lottery Commission, though the bill also defines poker as a game of skill and therefore not a lottery.

The bill would also allow licenses for offering poker to be applied for by existing pari-mutuel facilities, bingo halls and tribal concerns. Participating tribes and pari-mutuels could offer poker around the clock, while bingo halls would be limited to providing poker only during the halls’ normal hours of operation.

Operators would be taxed a maximum of 18% of gross revenues under the bill.

The bill’s wider goals appear to be the corralling of widespread illicit poker games across the state, none of which generate tax revenue for Texas. While underground games and illicit poker rooms abound, the state has only one legal poker room at present — the Kickapoo Nation’s 12-table Lucky Eagle Casino poker room, at Eagle Pass, near the Texas-Mexico border.

The poker bill will receive its first consideration once the Texas state legislature reconvenes in January of 2013, though its prospects are uncertain. Despite the state giving poker’s most popular variant its name, the state remains a conservative bastion with strong anti-gambling interests, which have lined up to defeat similar proposals in the past.

Macau sees $38 billion revenue in 2012

Macau’s gambling revenue jumped 13.5% to a record $38 billion in 2012, official figures showed on Wednesday, despite the pace of growth in the world’s largest gaming hub slowing from a year earlier.

Gaming revenue rose to 304.14 billion patacas from 267.87 billion patacas in 2011, according to statistics posted on the official Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau website.

But the pace of growth slowed from 2011, when revenues surged 42% year-on-year to $33.47 billion.

The former Portuguese colony of Macau, the only part of China where casino gambling is legal, overtook Las Vegas as the world’s gaming capital in terms of revenue after the sector was opened up to foreign competition in 2002.
Six firms are licensed to operate casinos in Macau, which was handed back to Beijing in 1999.

Casino operators have plans to build new multi-billion-dollar resorts on Macau’s Cotai Strip, a former swamp which has been reclaimed and transformed into a glittering centre for gamblers.