We are in the midst of the World Series of Poker, which makes it silly season for gambling news from the rest of the world. Expect next week’s column to feature a giraffe that won a razz tournament and Epic Poker’s zeppelin-based relaunch. Right now you’ll have to settle for stories about trains, Italians, and reality TV.
Run on Time
Let’s start with the trains. Australian website Sportsbet.au.com have been politely asked by Melbourne locomotion provider, Metro Trains, to stop taking bets on whether their services will run on time. There were fears that enterprising degenerates might take it upon themselves to sabotage the lines in order to guarantee a payout. [The Age]
This story, while fairly ludicrous, raises some interesting moral questions. Bruno Venturi, an everyday Italian man who works in a pet shop, is fighting to claim a £650,000 jackpot he won from Eurobet. They are refusing to cough up the cash on the grounds that a software error caused Venturi to pay for only one in every six bets. The dispute began in 2009 and has now made it all the way up the chain to Britain’s High Court. [Telegraph]
Reality TV Sparks British Dust-Up
This could have been a nice story about a young poker player raising his profile in the media by doing a good deed, but Andrew Feldman’s upcoming appearance on the UK reality show Secret Millionaire has devolved into scandal. Last month British pro Sam Trickett claimed he would out a fellow player who had “stolen” a large amount of his cash. Since then he’s remained silent, but it seems that Feldman’s pending TV fame has sparked Trickett and co. to more or less publicly accuse Andrew of borrowing €25,000 from Trickett, then refusing to pay him back on the grounds that he is quitting poker. [Poker News]
Tapie’s Wembley Tourney
He might have lost the race to buy Full Tilt Poker, but Frenchman Bernard Tapie has not lost his ambition. This week he announced the first venue for the International Stadiums Poker Tour, a series of events which will cram 30,000 poker players into the world’s largest sporting arenas. The series kicks off at Wembley Stadium – the more or less sacred home of English football – during May 2013. For the first two days 30,000 players will sit in the stands and compete online, from which 3,000 will win their way onto the turf to play in a €4,500 buy-in tournament with a guarantee of €2 million. [ISPT]
Social Gaming Under Scrutiny
Over the past couple of years Zynga have slowly edged their way onto the poker radar thanks to their immensely popular Facebook version of Texas Hold’em. They also managed to avoided any kind of legislation by pointing at the tables and shouting, “look, no money!” The UK Gambling Commission aren’t so sure, however. Zynga make their (not inconsiderable) profits from users who purchase extra stacks of worthless chips with real cash. The Commission are now working on a investigation into social gambling in an attempt to discover if the industry needs to be licensed and regulated. [Online Casino Archives]
Playtech’s Unsettling Dealings
Playtech have long been the kings of third party gambling software, but their financial antics are making people with briefcases and stock portfolios very nervous. The company have purchased a large bundle of stuff from their largest shareholder, Teddy Sagi – the company’s founder and owner of 48pc of Playtech stock. His new venture, Skywind, have sealed a €6 million deal with Playtech, who are also renting a London office from their former chief at £750,000 per year. [Telegraph]
Nadal Joins PokerStars
Stop the presses! While nobody was looking, some real news has snuck in at the back door. Tennis superstar Rafael Nadal has joined Team PokerStars. Undoubtedly one of the greatest players ever to hit a furry ball over a net, Nadal will represent Stars in the freshly minted Spanish market. I can’t recall a bigger sports star than Nadal being paid to represent poker in any capacity. Certainly not one with such worldwide pull. [PokerStars]
Well that was quite a shock. What’s more we’re only three days away from the start of Wimbledon. The centre-piece of professional tennis and the pride of upper-middle class British people who like things that happen on lawns. What with Rafa, some positive news out of Nevada, and Ivey’s return at the WSOP, I dare say that things are looking quite positive for poker. I think I need to lie down.