A World Series of Poker real money website based in Nevada took a step forward Wednesday.
The Gaming Control Board tentatively approved Caesars Interactive Entertainment to operate online poker in Nevada.
The company, the interactive arm of the Caesars Entertainment Corp., manages the promotion and advertising aspects of the annual World Series of Poker.
Caesars Entertainment general counsel Michael Cohen told the board during a meeting in Carson City that the Nevada website would be run as a World Series of Poker brand.
If approved by the Nevada Gaming Commission on Dec. 20, Caesars would become the 17th company granted an interactive gaming license to offer online poker to players who are physically within the state’s borders.
Boyd Gaming Corp. and Station Casinos, fierce competitors in the locals casino market, could soon take their rivalry to the Internet.
Affiliates of the two companies were tentatively approved Wednesday to operate online poker websites within Nevada’s boundaries by the Gaming Control Board. The Nevada Gaming Commission will take up the matter Oct. 18.
The companies may launch their poker operations at different times. The sites can be accessed only from computers and mobile devices within Nevada’s borders.
Boyd Gaming officials said they will wait until the company’s online partner, bwin.party gaming, is licensed by state gaming regulators. Ultimate Gaming, a subsidiary of Fertitta Interactive, which is controlled by the founders of Station Casinos, plans to launch a Nevada gaming site as soon a technology achieves the various levels of approval.
Many of our lives changed five years ago today, as George W. Bush signed the Port Security Act into law.
At the time, many wondered if this marked the end of online poker, which had been booming at a rate that woulda had virtually the entire planet + Jupiter playing by now. Ironically, what was supposed to be a death knell for online poker would actually be what made several of my friends and colleagues (temporarily) rich … and the principals of Full Tilt and PokerStars and Ultimate Bet (momentarily, in the scheme of things) extremely powerful.
Let’s have a little flashback, shall we … to slightly more innocent-til-proven-guilty times … commemorating this uber-significant day in poker history:
Though I’m not expert enough to confirm or deny any validity, this video did give me pause. To the untrained eye, it sure does look like possible (if not certain) cheating software in play on ClubWPT, the World Poker Tour’s subscription-based non-gambling site — you know, the one Mike Sexton is heavily pimping on Poker After Dark (in commercial spots previously occupied by Full Tilt) as the safest American online poker alternative out there.
Interesting to see the code explained, visually, for a clearer understanding of how God-mode in the UB Scandal probably worked … then extra-curious to realize Jim Ryan, CEO of WPT-parent Party Gaming, was CEO of Excapsa Software, Ultimate Bet partner, during the heyday of cheating on their site.
And while some may think little of it, because hey, it’s just pretend money … we all know free-play online poker isn’t just about the joys of truly amateur poker … it’s about preparation for real-money online gambling. The WSOP is pushing their free Facebook-app game throughout the Amazon Room, after all, and Zynga takes a rake in their “cash games”. Do a Google search for “Zynga poker rigged” or “Facebook poker scam” … The screams of cheating and scandal are more outrageous than AP/UB/Cereus ever coulda had to cover up.
Whether the apparent security flaws at Club WPT are a matter of coincidence, ignorance, incompetence, or shenanigans, it does make you wonder who will be ready for American players when real-money online poker comes into play.
And while in some ways this graph looks like the inverse of Party Gaming’s graph in ’06 come the UIGEA and their subsequent, calculated US pullout. But zoom out and you’ll see today’s rise for Party (now officially Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment) is merely a token blip in their long-term efforts to get back atop the online gaming world.
In fact, they had plummeted rather hard just this month as US legislative efforts began making it seem as if Stars and Tilt would be white-list operators in any future, regulated American online gaming economy.
Meanwhile, Scarlet got her hands on some detailed equity research from the venerable banking institution Barclay’s … assessing the impact of of the US DOJ’s actions on the European gaming market. Good in some spots, not as promising as some might think in others.
The midterm elections and the November Nine are over, but interesting things keep happening in the gaming world. For starters, the lame-duck session of Congress is underway; time will tell if anything that affects Internet gaming will pass before the start of the next congressional session. In addition, here are the legal tidbits that I thought were the most interesting and/or relevant coming out over the past week:
FullTilt Turns Off Washington - In big news from last Friday, FullTilt Poker has elected to follow PokerStars’s lead and discontinue providing real money games to players located in Washington State. This impacts players residing in Washington and non-residents of Washington visiting Washington. Tilt’s FAQ on the matter is here. This is being done to preserve Tilt’s Internet-poker-only-is-legal argument. A related fact is that they’re able to protect their poker-only and transparent processing solutions by turning off Washington. This leaves fewer offerings out there willing to service Washington State poker players. [Poker News Daily]
New Jersey Moves Forward on I-Gaming - Irrespective of what’s happening in Congress, New Jersey continues to move forward in its review of an intra-state Internet gaming offering. This week, the NJ Senate’s Budget and Appropriations Committee reported out S490 (Permits Internet wagering at Atlantic City casinos under certain circumstances); the bill now goes to the full State Senate for consideration. This bill has State Senator Ray Lesniak as the primary sponsor. It seeks to authorize Internet wagering in Atlantic City casinos, thereby allowing New Jersey residents to place wagers on casino games by means of the Internet. All games, including poker, which may be played at a casino in New Jersey, may be offered through Internet wagering under this bill. Several commentators have been saying for some time that New Jersey is one of the more promising states for intra-state gaming; if this bill becomes law - and there’s a ways to go yet - those predictions may turn out to have been prescient. [NJLeg.state.nj.us]
Kentucky v. PartyGaming - In other US state news, PartyGaming is not (initially, at least) rolling over in the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s attempt to extract damages from Party. Recall that Party was added to the state’s suit against Pocket Kings (Tilt) earlier this year; Microgaming was added last month. Party has now brought a motion to dismiss the complaint on several grounds. This will be interesting litigation as it rolls forward alongside the Kentucky domain name litigation. Watch for one or more of the identified defendants in Pocket Kings et al to settle. [EGR Magazine]
GTECH Worldwide Expansion - GTECH, a Lottomatica subsidiary, continues to generate interesting news and business. Recently it has struck a number of deals with various operators, including with provincial operators in Canada. Last week two more deals were made public. The first was a 10-year agreement with the Shenzhen Welfare Lottery Center to upgrade existing Keno systems, selling online lottery games, and increasing the operator’s terminal base. [iGaming Business] Then came word that GTECH has received a two-year extension to continue providing support to Pronosticos para la Asistencia Publica in Mexico. [Gaming Intelligence] Even though the parent posted a net loss in Q3, keep watching GTECH, folks.
gTLD Expansions - This is the most important ongoing story in Internet gaming (and, indeed, in intellectual property) that you’re hearing nothing about. Basically, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is opening up the general top-level domain registry well beyond what’s currently available. Instead of .com, .biz, etc., people will be able to create their own extensions and registries. Some of the new registries could include cities (.london, .nyc), Internet auction providers (.ebay), and people with strong trade-marks and domain names in a host of industries (think of .pfizer or .coke). The implications for Internet gaming are huge. Not only could operators register trade-marked names (e.g., .pokerstars), but they could add security to their offerings by owning, domiciling, and managing their own registries. Some think that a more generic name could be registered by one or more parties: .bet or .poker, perhaps. A summary of changes in the proposed final new gTLD applicant guidebook are here - worth a view. [via CircleID]
I swear I’m not the Facebook police any more than I am a Harrah’s attorney … but when the shit just gets served up while I’m busy liking stuff … it’s kinda hard to miss! Yet another example appeared on Tuesday night of a rather blatant misappropriation of WSOP trademark on Facebook. It always seems to happen on Tuesday nights … hmmm.
â€œWe would like to confirm that the Facebook ad mentioned in your September 17, 2010 post was indeed a mistake on the part of a 3rd party advertising agency used by our â€œWPT Texas Holdâ€™em on Facebookâ€ licensee. The ad was placed by the advertising agency without the knowledge of WPT or our Facebook game licensee.
Please be assured that we acted immediately to rectify the situation and that the advertising agency has pulled the unapproved ad. Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention.â€
Cool, yeah whatever, like we said, we’re not the Facebook police, but you’re welcome — Pokerati is always happy to help. We did notice the replacement ads that appeared the following Tuesday:
Time for some of the major legal developments in gaming over the past week, as selected by @GamingCounsel:
Netherlands I-Gaming Attitudes - Probably the most interesting international story of the past week is the ruminations from the Netherlands that the new government may be interested in liberalizing the country’s Internet gambling laws. It’s not clear how far this process would go and what games or betting would be included, but a lot could happen in what has been a very restricted online market in the EU thus far. [eGaming Review]
Nova Scotia Says No (That’s in Canada, Folks) - Another international piece is the recent pronouncement of the premier of Nova Scotia that that province will not pursue a government-sanctioned Internet gaming offering. Nova Scotia’s finance minister added that any estimate of the revenues associated with Internet gaming would be “a wild guess.”(That’s an interesting comment given that the province of Ontario has publicly estimated that it could turn a profit of at least C$100 million/year; many have questioned the basis for such a projection.) The CEO of the Nova Scotia Gaming Corp. (rightly) pointed out recently that Internet gambling will continue to grow whether the government is involved or not. [Globe and Mail]
Betfair Move - Hot on the heels of the Betfair IPO announcement, there is speculation that Betfair may move out of the UK to a jurisdiction with a lower tax rate. William Hill and Ladbrokes recently moved to Gibraltar because they perceived that UK taxes were too high. Some are saying Betfair may make a similar play. With competition increasing among Internet gaming jurisdictions, more and more operators are paying attention to applicable taxes. [CasinoGamblingWeb]
Station Casinos Trademark Infringement/Cybersquatting Suit - Station Casinos Inc. has sued two website operators in Federal Court in Nevada: SL Enterprises (www.vegasstationcasino.com) and Ryan Murphy (www.stationcasinos.org). If the Station marks have sufficient rights attached to them through use and/or registration, they should have a good case. This kind of thing happens in i-gaming all the time and it’s a big problem for operators; it’s tremendously time-consuming and potentially expensive to vigilantly prosecute misappropriation of property rights. [Las Vegas Sun]
PartyGaming in Venezuela - PartyGaming plc has set up an online poker offering in Venezuela. This continues two trends: Party’s continuing march around the world into new markets and the increased interest in South America as a lucrative and growing market for interactive gaming. [Gambling Zion]
The bad news: People in France were recently blocked — just last week — from playing on PokerStars.com.
The good news: They’ll be able to play on PokerStars.fr, in a fully legal and regulated way.
They just won’t be able to play against anyone not in France … which sets up a new dynamic of what licensed and regulated online poker could look like worldwide in the not-too-distant future.
France’s regulatory body ARJEL released a list on Friday of nine more approved licensees, adding to 17 previous approvals. French parliament passed a law in October 2009 that ended its state-run online gambling monopoly, allowing up to 30 licenses for privately owned websites. PokerStars got one in this second wave of approvals, and PartyGaming got five.
The newly licensed companies and their completely legalized domains are:
LIL Managers Ltd (FriendBet.fr): sports betting
Reel Malta Ltd (PokerStars.fr): poker
Electraworks SAS (PartyBets.fr , GameBookers.fr, PartyPoker.fr, ActPoker.fr, LuckyJeux.fr): poker, sportsbetting
Gaming Iliad SAS (Chilipoker.fr): poker
Partouche Gaming France SAS (Partouche.fr): poker
Back in November, when I first learned about the WPT’s imminent sale to PartyGaming, I bought up as much WPTE stock as I could, assuming it would blow up, or at least be converted to Party stock in a highly profitable way. Much to my disappointment, when the new shares showed up in my online account, they were for Lipscomb’s new company, Ante4, which had no plans just a bunch of cash. They were trading at less than a dollar a share.
Believing I had seen this repeatedly while chasing penny tech stocks in the late ’90s — almost always these companies available on the cheap gave me hope briefly before descending on an asymptotic curve towards zero — I quickly sold all I had just bought of ANTF and dumped it into PRTY.L. If only someone had told me to hold on to it! Now, just six months later, the new Lipscomb-Berman joint that I got (and got rid of) at 90something cents is trading at $3.44, for a YTD increase of 222 percent.
Why do I think for all the grief I’ve given Steve Lipscomb over the years, he’s sitting in a very happy place right now, laughing … at me?
Seriously, I can’t believe they let people gamble this way on the internet! But it’s just so hard not to with those cute baby ads making it seem like any kid with access to a computer and a credit card can do it!
The US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling earlier this month that American plaintiffs are not entitled to get their day in American courts for discrepancies with offshore online poker sites.
This case specifically addressed two players in Ohio who sued PartyPoker claiming collusion. However, the court ruled, and the Appeals court upheld: Sorry, take your beefs against Party to Gibraltar. When they signed on and agreed to play, they did so accepting Terms and Conditions agreeing to handle all disputes in Gib, nowhere else, the court said.
But the concurring opinion of Judge Merritt, quoted above, should give all Internet poker operators and players some nightmares. He ruled that the case had to be heard in Gibraltar, because to allow Ohio state law to apply would mean Wong, Gibson and everyone working for Party Poker would have to go to jail!
No one had raised the issue of whether Internet poker was illegal. â€œBut sometimes courts have to raise embarrassing questions that both parties to litigation had rather we overlooked.â€
Not so sure I agree that this decision “should give all Internet poker operators some nightmares.” I think it’s kinda the opposite. With Full Tilt juggling cases of varying frivolity out the ying-yang, I gotta think they’d be pretty happy with what could be precedent to force plaintiffs to take up matters outside (the US).
Party Gaming’s stock, btw, has been doing quite nicely of late:
A shocker but not really … Jeffrey Pollack and Harrah’s are breaking up.
The WSOP Commissioner, President, and Twitterer in Chief‘s last day with Harrah’s and the World Series is today.
“I’ve made the decision after four years of successfully leading the WSOP as a global sports and entertainment property,” he says. “[Today] is my last day. Friday the 13th.”
Pollack — who has never played a poker tournament — took over the reigns shortly after the 2005 WSOP, the first year Harrah’s ran the 35-year-old tournament series bought from Binion’s.
The list of accomplishments under his aegis include drawing more competitors from more countries (putting it on par with the Olympics in terms of numbers), supporting women in poker, helping Don Cheadle and Annie Duke build Ante Up for Africa into a Hollywood A-list charity event, and working closely with players (via the Players Advisory Council) to steadily improve what is undeniably the biggest and arguably the best annual festival of poker tournaments in the world. He credits his team for incorporating TV broadcasting (most recently securing a new long-term contract with ESPN), new media, sponsorship, licensing, and summer-time side events that have made the Rio a real home for the WSOP and part of sure-to-endure poker lore.
“I’ve achieved everything I set out to do and more,” Pollack says.
In a move PartyGaming says is specifically part of their positioning themselves for re-entry into the US market …
9 November 2009
(â€œPartyGamingâ€ or â€œthe Companyâ€)
Acquisition of World Poker Tour completed
PartyGaming, the worldâ€™s leading listed online gaming company, announces the completion of the acquisition of the business and substantially all of the assets of WPT Enterprises Inc. (â€œWPTEâ€) for a cash consideration of $12.3 million plus an additional minimum aggregate payment of $3m over the next three years relating to an ongoing revenue share agreement.
I went to Bellagio yesterday for free danish a little poker suit ho-down to learn more about the PartyGaming-World Poker Tour merger/acquisition/absorption … and was thinking how this meeting that included outgoing WPT president Steve Lipscomb and incoming new boss Adam Pliska might be kinda like George W. Bush handing the keys to the White House over to Barack Obama — you know, peaceful transition of power, new regime, new direction … change … then I thought, nah, that comparison might not be fair, and might be stretching things a bit.
But then, upon meeting Pliska a few minutes later …
Hmm … White House, WPT House, WPTE House … Party Politics … workshop … but still, there might be something there.
Click below to read the corporate bio of a guy who stands to be rather influential in shaping poker’s future. But first, here’s another pic (taken at the actual White House) of the new WPT president, who was in town to talk about plans for what he believes will be a major poker stimulus: