April 30, 2013

Ultimate Poker Launches First Licensed US Online Poker Room

Ultimate Poker made online poker history minutes ago by launching the first real money online poker room ever to be licensed in the United States.

As of Tuesday, April 30th, 2013, the Ultimate Poker client can be downloaded, accounts can be created and money deposited. As of 1:50am PT, no actual games are currently being run. Real money games are expected to be introduced later this morning, reportedly at 9:00am PT.

Ultimate Poker is only available to players that are physically within the borders of Nevada at the time of play. Geo blocking technology is used to recognize login attempts outside Nevada. While other players cannot use Ultimate Poker for real money, the client is available to download and view from anywhere in the world.

Ultimate Poker is operated by a subsidiary of Station Casinos known as Fertitta Interactive. Station Casinos owns a 57.3% stake in the company. Tom Breitling was recently approved to be a 14.3% owner of the interactive division. The remainder of the company is owned by minority partners.

April 25, 2013

Greece gives OPAP suitor more time to raise bid

Greece's privatization agency has given Greek-Czech fund Emma Delta more time to improve its bid for a controlling stake in gaming firm OPAP, two officials directly involved in the sale talks told Reuters on Thursday.

"They asked for and were given a postponement until Wednesday, May 1,» said one official at Greece's privatization agency, who declined to be named, after a first deadline expired. An official at Emma Delta confirmed the move.

Emma Delta, controlled by Czech investor Jiri Smejc and Greek shipowner George Melisanidis on Monday offered 622 million euros ($808 million) for 33 percent of Greek gambling monopoly OPAP and management rights at the company.

Emma Delta submitted the only valid bid in the sale, Greece's first big privatization under its international bailout program.

But privatization agency HRADF asked the fund to raise its offer to at least 650 million euros, the stake's minimum value as estimated by an external assessor.

Deutsche Bank and National Bank, Greece's main sale advisers, had put the stake's value at 610 million.

OPAP shares were up 0.3 percent to 6.9 euros in early trading in Athens, giving a 33 percent stake in the company a stock market value of 726 million euros.

April 24, 2013

Bwin.party look to withdraw from 18 countries.

Bwin.party have announced they are blocking players from 18 countries within the EU and also South America. Those countries involved are Greece, Poland, Romania, Cyprus, Finland, Serbia, Armenia, Belarus, Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Slovenia, Ukraine, Argentina, Brazil and finally Colombia.

The move was announced to affiliates by the company on an email on Friday 19th April.

On the email it said that from the 30th April no new singups will be accepted from those countries and also there was a request that all marketing material aimed at those countries be removed. However all existing accounts will remain open, and affiliate commission to those accounts will continue to be paid.

It is thought the move is connected with those countries mentioned looking to reduce or prohibit online gambling within their borders in the future along with the commercial aspect that those mentioned are small in operating value and allows bwin.party to focus their efforts on more lucrative markets such as the US and more recognised and profitable regions such as the UK and Spain.

April 23, 2013

Betfair says “No” to £910 million takeover

Betfair have rejected the takeover offer from CVC Capital Partners of some £910 million, saying it believes in its “unique” business and prospects.

The bid from CVC Capital Partners who are behind Formula 1, was rejected by Betfair on valuation grounds.

CVC announced last week that it has held talks with other investors, including Betfair shareholder and Richard Koch, about a possible joint approach for the online betting exchange.

The proposal from CVC valued the company’s shares at £8.80, compared with the £13.00 seen on its stock market debut in 2010.

Betfair says it is going through one of the “most exciting phases in its development”, thanks to a new strategy revealed in December and the appointment of a new management team led by chief executive Breon Corcoran.

Chairman Gerald Corbett said: “We have a unique business with a market position, profitability, cash flow and prospects that this proposal fails to recognise.”

CVC owns luggage firm Samsonite and also has stakes in Brit Insurance and theme park giant Merlin Entertainments.

Japan to open casinos in two years

Reports in Japan say that a pro-casino group of Japanese lawmakers are pushing for plans to be submitted this year for legislation aimed at opening the world’s third-largest economy to land based casino gambling.

Currently gambling in casinos is illegal in Japan, but a large portion of the population do gamble on a pinball-like game called pachinko, which generates an estimated $200 billion in revenue each year.

Japan having a large and wealthy population along with the geographical location to Shanghai and Beijing means that Japan could become a serious gambling location in competition to Macau and newly opened Singapore.

It is estimated that Japan’s gaming market could be worth some $10 billion if two large-scale integrated resorts are approved – more than Singapore’s $5.9 billion and Las Vegas’ $6.2 billion in 2012.

The cross-party casino group aims to submit a promotional bill to parliament in the autumn, which could be followed by concrete laws within two years, Takeshi Iwaya, the deputy head of the lobby of more than 100 lawmakers said to reporters.

South Koreans gamble $66 billion illegally each year

According to government reports this week in South Korea illegal gambling in the country has surpassed $66 billion for the first time ever, which the government say desperately needs regulation to avoid money laundering by criminal gangs.

The report by the National Gambling Control Commission under the Prime Minister’s Office, say that the illegal gambling market was estimated at 75.15 trillion won ($66.45 billion) in 2012, up from 53.70 trillion won tallied in a similar report in 2008.

The latest figures given are so huge that is accounted for about 20% of the country’s annual budget.

One of the main reasons for the large increase is online gambling and sports betting now accessible to residents in the country, which is estimated at a total of 17.10 trillion won.

April 17, 2013

The FBI Busted A Russian Gambling Ring That Catered To Wall Streeters, Oligarchs, And Hollywood Stars

More than thirty people were charged by federal authorities in a massive illegal gambling, money laundering, and extortion scheme tied to Russian organized crime, according to an indictment in the U.S. District Court Southern District of New York.

The operation allegedly involved two criminal organizations, Nahmad-Trincher (based in Los Angeles and NYC), which catered to millionaires, billionaires and poker pros, and Taiwanchik-Trincher (based in Kiev, NYC, and Moscow), which serviced oligarchs from Russia and the former Soviet Union.

According the indictment, these groups had operations spanning across continents with defendants located in Los Angeles, Russia, New York and the former Soviet Union, bank accounts in Switzerland, holding companies in Cyprus and the United States, and a gambling website in Taiwan.

The characters in the drama include the son of a billionaire art dealer, a Bronx plumber, a JPMorgan branch manager, a real estate firm in New York, a car repair shop in Brooklyn, and a Russian man charged with allegedly bid-rigging the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic Games, etc.

Basically, this goes deep.

The Taiwanchik-Trincher Organization, which the indictment identifies as an "international organized crime group with leadership based in New York City, Kiev, and Moscow," was allegedly led by Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov (a.k.a. "Alik"), Vadim Trincher (a.k.a. "Dima"), and Anatoly Golubchick (a.k.a. "Tony"), the indictment said. They are all named as defendants.

You might recognize the name Tokhatkhounov. He was the guy charged with allegedly bribing officials at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, according to the indictment.

Based in Russia, Tokhatkhounov was allegedly referred to as "Vor," which is defined as a Russian term meaning "Thief-in-Law."
It's basically like a version of the "Godfather," and is a moniker bestowed on the highest-level criminal figures from the former Soviet Union. According to the indictment, a "Vor" gets tribute from other criminals, offers protection, and uses "their authority to resolve disputes among criminals."

Tokhatkhounov's group allegedly ran an illegal gambling business, money laundering, extortion, and other criminal operations. The crux of their business, however, was a series of high-stakes poker games and gambling activities frequented by oligarchs.

Nahmad-Trincher, based in Los Angeles and NYC, was structured in much the same way, but catered to Wall Streeters, pro athletes, and Hollywood stars, The New York Times reported.

No famous figures were named specifically in the indictment.

Names or not, we're talking big money here — like $50 million running through Cypriot and American shell companies, or $499,800 sent to a bank account in Taiwan owned by an illegal gambling website operating in the United States, or $850,000 moving from a Swiss bank account to a U.S. bank account under the control of Norman "The Oracle" Seigel.

To hide all these transactions, says the complaint, the Trincher groups relied on a sophisticated money laundering operation. Not only did they run money through a Brooklyn car garage, a real estate company, and an online used car dealership, but they also used a JP Morgan branch manager in NYC named Ronald Uy.

Uy, who was named as a defendant, allegedly assisted "in structuring several transactions at the Bank designed in part to avoid generating currency transaction reports," according to the indictment.

Of course, gambling doesn't work out for everyone all the time. When one client wins, another one must lose. Losers playing in the Trincher group's high stakes games could, according to the Feds, expect violence or at least threats of it.

In one case," Nahmad-Trincher allegedly took control of 50% of "Client-3's" Bronx-based plumbing business when he racked up $2 million in gambling debt.

There were several arrests made today in New York, Los Angeles, Miami and other places, according to the New York Post.
Earlier this morning, the FBI raided Helly Nahmad Art Gallery at the swanky Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan's Upper East Side. The Feds were looking for Helly Nahmad, the son of billionaire art baron David Nahmad.

April 16, 2013

Ray Bitar To Plead Guilty In Full Tilt Poker Case

The final member of the Full Tilt Poker team that federal prosecutors alleged, in September 2011, had been operating a “global Ponzi scheme” reportedly will plead guilty.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Raymond Bitar needs a heart transplant and this medical development has affected his criminal case.

“It’s a very unusual situation,” Bitar’s attorney told The Wall Street Journal. “We’ve been able to work out something with the government that takes into account the unique circumstances. We appreciate the government’s courtesy in this regard.”

It’s unclear what kind of “courtesy” has been dealt to Bitar. He was facing life in prison after being accused of a handful of financial-related crimes in running Full Tilt. He has been residing in California since being released on bond in 2012.

Howard Lederer, Rafe Furst and Chris Ferguson, who were originally alleged to be part of the Ponzi scheme, all have settled their respective civil cases with the federal government. None of them admitted to any wrongdoing with running the online poker site.

Hundreds of millions were owed to former customers when the site shut its doors, as American victims are still waiting on compensation from the government.

Full Tilt Poker software is back in cyberspace thanks to a government-approved takeover by former rival PokerStars, which also fell into hot water on Black Friday in April 2011.

April 12, 2013

Online bingo: A very full house

Switch on the television or flick through a newspaper and there's a good chance that you'll come across an advert for online bingo. But who is playing - and why?

A typical evening sees Anita Heffernan, 50, spending two or three hours playing bingo online.

It's not for the money - her biggest ever win was about £400 and, being a game of chance, players typically spend more than they win.

"It is a hobby," says Heffernan. "I would much rather do that than spend a night out in town."

There's been a rapid growth of bingo websites. As recently as 2004 fewer than 20 such sites operated in the UK, now there are thought to be about 350.

Operators include everyone from bingo hall owners Mecca and Gala, to newspapers like The Sun and Daily Mail.

For a game strongly associated with the camaraderie of a night spent at crowded tables with friends any move online could be seen as being at odds with the very reasons for playing.

Many of the vast concrete and neon bingo halls on High Streets across the country may now be showing their age, but millions still visit them every year.

For the uninitiated, bingo is a game of pure chance. There's no skill involved other than the ability to keep up - in the UK version of the game players listen intently for the 25 random numbers between one and 90 printed on their card to be called out.

One by one they are crossed off until someone has none left and there's a winner - then they might shout "bingo" or "house".

The figure at the centre of the action - the caller - traditionally announces each number in a language so familiar it has become corny: "Two fat ladies - 88", "clickety click - 66".

Advertised - and played - against a backdrop typically drawn in purples and pinks, it is not difficult to work out who the marketing for the online version is aimed at, says the University of Glasgow's Prof Gerda Reith, an expert in gambling and addiction.

Examples include the suave, purple-suited fox who leads a bus full of women on a big day out in Foxy Bingo's television adverts.

"They're trying to appeal to people they know like bingo and get them to play online. That's women."

There are younger players. Anni Nevison, 21, plays two or three times a week, including five hours on a Sunday.

"I get excitement and friendship," says Nevison, who has been playing since she was 18. "You go into a bingo site and it's like a little family, it's so chatty," she says of the other players she messages in the sites' chatrooms.

She would love to meet the people she talks to, although that is difficult as they are spread across the UK.

It is this chatroom-type element which is key to the appeal of online bingo for many players. Talking is frowned upon in traditional halls while the game is being played (the social element happens between and after games) lest players be distracted as the numbers are called. But online users can talk as much as they like.

Many sites fill players' bingo cards in automatically, so that they can concentrate on chatting. Online bingo terms have appeared as a result, including BLNG (better luck next game) and HABO (have a better one).

Should they wish to, some sites also allow players to message one another privately.

The cost of a bingo card can be as little as 1p, although most are about 10p and can be more. Prizes can run into several thousand pounds, although winnings usually depend on how many other people are playing and are often just a few pounds.

Few would see themselves as being involved in an activity comparable to poker, or playing slot machines, but the growth of online bingo is part of the "feminisation" of gambling, says Mark Griffiths, professor of gambling studies at Nottingham Trent University.

The focus on its social aspects makes it more appealing, he says.

"People conceptualise it as a bit of harmless fun, a harmless flutter and even though they know its a form of gambling, they never use the word," says Griffiths.

It might be expected that the growth of online bingo would have seen linked reports of problem gambling, but support organisations GamCare and the National Problem Gambling Clinic are yet to encounter it as a significant issue.

However, Liz Karter, author of Women and Problem Gambling, has seen a significant rise in the number of women with an online gambling problem - including bingo.

"The things that they report as being particularly difficult are the constant advertisements - it makes recovery very difficult," she says.

The rapid growth of the sites came after the 2005 Gambling Act, which swept aside strict regulation and allowed advertising for the first time, says Reith.

Not only could women be actively encouraged to have a flutter, but there was also a chance to make up for falling numbers in bingo halls.

"The traditional game is not a money maker... bingo is low stakes low turnover and it's got worse since the [2007] smoking ban," says Reith.

Before the ban, players could light up inside during games and would have no need to go outside during breaks - making the bar and nearby slot machines busier.

Online bingo provides a chance to make up for some of that lost income.

The Gambling Commission's 2010 British Gambling Prevalence Survey suggests that 12% of women (compared to 6% of men) play bingo.

Among the big brands, Mecca Bingo reports that a fifth of the money it now takes is online, rather than in bingo halls.

The shift online is likely to continue, says Griffiths, who believes bingo is at the centre of a new type of "soft gambling".

Heffernan wagers £20 a night and likes concentrating on the numbers - "watching the game play out, when you get close it's quite exciting".

"I do enjoy it," she says of visits to real world bingo halls. "But it is slow in comparison."

It is not something her family understands, but nor does she expect them to.

"Bird watching? No thanks. Some people could spend hours looking at car magazines or whatever. This is just what I do."

April 05, 2013

Swansea head for top ten finish as they exit sponsorship deal

Swansea City have plenty to be smiling about. Not only the prospect of mouth-watering derby games against arch rivals Cardiff but a top ten Premier League finish.

City currently lie 9th in the table despite three straight defeats, a point ahead of Fulham and four ahead of 11th placed West Ham.

Success on the field also creates opportunities off it, and as part of their developing off-field strategy current main sponsor, online gaming operator 32Red has agreed to end its shirt sponsorship deal with the Welsh club following the conclusion of the current season in May.

Gibraltar-based 32Red is the firm behind the online casino at 32Red.com and has served as the Welsh club’s primary shirt sponsor for four years. Its current deal was set to run until the conclusion of the 2013/14 season.

However, in a joint statement the pair explained that the decision had been taken in order to allow Swansea to ‘engage with third parties who may be able to assist in the physical development of the stadium and support the club in its next phase of growth’.

“It's been a fantastic relationship with the Swans,” said Ed Ware, Chief Executive Officer for 32Red.

“Our association has coincided with Swansea City's most successful period ever so far. We will look back on the partnership fondly and wish the club the very best of luck for the future.”

The original sponsorship deal with 32Red was signed in June 2009 when Swansea were a mid-table Championship club. They have since managed to secure promotion to the top-flight for only the second time in their history and celebrated their 100th birthday this season by winning the Capital One Cup.

“I’d like to place on record the club’s enormous thanks for the support that 32Red has given us over the last four years,” said Leigh Dineen, Vice-Chairman for Swansea City.

“It has been a pleasure to deal with and played an important factor in our progress. I feel we have some exciting opportunities in the marketplace and have agreed to conclude the agreement with 32Red one year early and on friendly terms.”

Kansas says NO to online gambling

It seems Kansas will not be entering the state by state race to legalize online gambling anytime soon as Senators rejected a bill to allow residents to place bets online.

Senators rejected the bill by 26-11 on Tuesday 2nd April to allow for a new state owned casino to be built in the state and at the same time voting against online gambling in the state.

The vote on Tuesday which would revise a 2007 law authorizing state-owned casinos and slot machines at dog and horse tracks to extend was called down and included the provision for online gambling also.

The bill would require any prospective developer to invest at least $225 million in a southeast Kansas casino, and backers of such a project say the investment is too high. The bill proposed was to drop it to $50 million.

April 04, 2013

Betradar unveil new Live Sports Centre

Betradar, the world’s leading supplier of sports and betting related data, announces the release of its new sports content solution “Live Sports Centre”.

Providing bettors with the necessary information to analyse their bets, as well as tools that entertain and stimulate further betting activity, is a daily challenge for bookmakers. Establishing a strong relationship with the customers through offering a good mixture of information and entertainment is the key to a successful online sportsbook. Therefore, Betradar’s sports content solutions cater for exactly this need and provide customers with all the information they are looking for.

Betradar’s latest innovation, the new Live Sports Centre, makes sports betting websites even more interactive, providing in-depth and graphically enhanced live content on various sports. “With the new Live Sports Centre, we offer a fully customisable solution for multiple media platforms. We took a conscious decision to focus on high flexibility through three sizing variations and modular usage of content”, says Erik Lorenz, Managing Director Sales from Sportradar, “so bookmakers are able to pick and choose between the available components to perfectly suit their needs”.

Betradar’s new Live Sports Centre is currently available for Soccer and will be launched soon for Tennis and Formula 1. The soccer solution impresses with attack visualisation and positional data of all on-pitch action and covers more than 25 soccer leagues and tournaments. Furthermore, a new ball spotting feature will be launched soon, enabling bettors to follow the course of a match. Due, not least, to the increasing number of mobile users, Betradar has developed a web-based mobile solution as well as a native app, which is compatible with all iPhone/iPad devices and focuses on what is so important for the customer: functionality and ease of navigation.

“With the new Live Sports Centre, Betradar has launched a solution offering great new features and lots of improvements. To give our customers the opportunity to learn more about the key features of Betradar’s new Live Sports Centre, we have created a video-campaign, focusing on the benefits for online sportsbooks. The campaign is available on our new YouTube channel”, says Tobias Brunner, Associate Director Marketing from Sportradar.

April 02, 2013

Betfair acquires Blue Square for £5 million

Betfair have confirmed that they have purchased online sports site Blue Square from the Rank Group for £5 million, the purchase includes all assets and the customer database.

The deal means that effectively Blue Square is now non operational and all customers will be directed to the Betfair platform to sing up and receive a welcome bonus to join Betfair.

The deal with Rank to purchase the Blue Square business has been known for some time but today it was confirmed by the betting exchange giant. The brand that has struggled against fierce competition over recent years is a move by Rank to now focus on their land based gaming and online casino brand.

Betfair said in a statement: “the acquisition is consistent with Betfair’s strategy of focusing on regulated markets and growing its sportsbook and gaming operations alongside the exchange.”

Illinois to be fourth online gambling state?

Could Illinois be the fourth state to enter the online gambling business? Lawmankers in the state have sent another gambling expansion bill to Governor Pat Quinn for consideration and hopefully signing into law.

Previously the state Governor has had concerns over problem gambling safeguards, proper regulation and oversight of the gambling industry.

Senators have sent proposals to the Governor to expand gambling with five new casinos, including one in Chicago, increasing the number of slots machines in the state, which would include Chicago’s two airports. However the biggest of them could be the inclusion of online gambling in the state.

Illinois has a population of over 12 million residents, making the state by far the largest to enter the online gambling world, should the Governor sign the bill into law.

The possibility of this happening this time is more likely, the democratic Governor has previously kicked out two other attempts by lawmakers to expand gambling in the state because of his concerns, but in his March budget speech he said he was now open to the prospect of gambling expansion.

The bill includes some provisions this time to help the Governor put pen to paper with; a ban on political contributions from the gambling industry, appointing an inspector general to monitor gaming and giving the state gaming board more authority over a Chicago casino.

“The stars are probably lining up better than they’ve ever lined up,” said Sen. Terry Link, who’s a main sponsor of the legislation. “We’re doing a lot of the things that the governor wanted.”

It is well known that the Governor is skeptical over online gambling, but supporters say that online gambling could help the states serious financial problems. However Pat Quinn has said that the most important issue for the state is the $100 billion pension black hole, which could delay the progress of the gambling expansion bill, until this is sorted out.

“There hasn’t been much review on that at all,” Quinn told reporters last week. “Any time you have something brand new, it shouldn’t just be thrown into a bill at the last minute.”

But Senator Link, who has sponsored gambling legislation for the state for over ten years, says it only makes sense because people are doing it online illegally, and legalizing it would help bring profits to the state.

Part of the proposal calls for splitting profits, between treatment programs for problem gamblers and the pension problem. Supporters estimate the profits that would go toward the state’s public pension system could exceed $50 million.

“This is the only revenue-generating bill that’s been introduced,” Link said.

However, when asked last week by reporters, Quinn said he won’t consider gambling until lawmakers solve the pension problem. Quinn has made pensions his number one issue since 2011.