Posts Tagged ‘online’

Hard Rock Atlantic City to Use GiG Platform for Online Gambling Offering

 Hard Rock Atlantic City to Use GiG Platform for Online Gambling Offering

On Monday, Malta-based Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) announced that it has entered into a five-yar agreement with Hard Rock International to be the company’s online gambling provider for its Hard Rock Atlantic City property, set to open this summer. The two companies had signed a Letter of Intent in late October, though at the time, GiG did not make it public that its partner was, in fact, Hard Rock International.

Gaming Innovation Group was founded in 2008 and has offices in six cities: Malta, Marbella, Gibraltar, Oslo, Kristiansand, and Copenhagen. It owns seven business-to-consumer online gambling and sports betting brands, focusing on European markets. That is, until now. The venture with Hard Rock will be GiG’s first foray into the young United States regulated online gambling market.

GiG explained what it will provide in Monday’s press release:

The agreement will see GiG furnish Hard Rock with a state of the art digital consumer portal, as well as the back-end platform to manage their operations. GiG has communicated ambitions to expand its platform services, focusing on larger clients by utilizing platform scalability. The agreement is a breakthrough for GiG’s platform services as it marks the first agreement with a major global brand and land based casino chain. GiG will also supply Hard Rock with its new front-end casino service, GiG Magic.

“We are excited to be part of Hard Rock’s inspiring and innovative plans,” said Robin Reed, CEO of GiG. “This agreement confirms the attractiveness of the GiG platform and the ability to support major operators in the industry. By adding a New Jersey license, we will move into our third regulated market, positioning GiG towards an important and growing iGaming market.”

Added SPV of Online Gaming at Hard Rock, Kresimir Spajic, “Hard Rock has an ambitious plan to become a global leader in the international online gaming space. We are confident that, together with GiG, we can disrupt the market, through product innovation and unique user experience.”

Hard Rock Atlantic City is the former Trump Taj Mahal, which closed in October 2016. Things were a mess leading up to the closure (aren’t they usually?) as Carl Icahn, the largest debtholder of Trump Entertainment Resorts took control of the casino when the company came out of bankruptcy in February 2016. In the months that followed, he refused to invest $ 100 million into the casino that he promised, holding out for tax breaks from Atlantic City and New Jersey. He got concessions from the Unite Here Local 54 union, causing its members to lose pension and health benefits, but when the union later tried to negotiate to get their benefits back, Icahn wouldn’t budge. The workers went on strike and the Taj eventually closed, Icahn blaming the union.

Hard Rock International acquired the Trump Taj Mahal in late March 2017. It has plowed $ 500 million into the property, converting it to its Hard Rock brand and plans to re-open this summer. The online gambling products are expected to also launch this year, though GiG did not specify if this would happen when the casino opens its doors.

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Online Poker Bill Passes New York Senate Gaming Committee

 Online Poker Bill Passes New York Senate Gaming Committee

If at first you don’t succeed…you know how it goes. Such is the case in the New York state legislature, where for the third consecutive year, a bill which would legalize and regulate online poker has made it through the Senate Racing, Gaming, and Wagering Committee. S3898 passed easily by a 10-1 vote and now moves on to the Senate Finance Committee.

There was significant movement with the bill last year, as it not only made it out of the Racing, Gaming, and Wagering Committee, but also the Finance Committee and then passed a vote of the full Senate in mid-June. Despite having half the year to get through the Assembly, it never even made it out of committee there. And it’s not even that it lost a vote; the Assembly really just didn’t bother with it.

One would think that it would move fairly quickly this time, as it is the same bill as last year. It was introduced around this time in 2017, getting through the first committee and reported to Finance in mid-February. Now, I don’t know what Senate schedules look like and there are certainly more pressing issues in Albany, New York than online poker, but it wouldn’t be difficult to envision lawmakers shuttling S3898 through the process in a hurry to get it over to the Assembly with as much time left in the year as possible.

Most of the bill is standard fare, but shortly before the full Senate vote last year, the dreaded “bad actor” clause was added. This type of clause, which has been seen in other online poker legislation, punishes operators who continued to accept U.S. players after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was passed in 2006. Some bad actor clauses outright ban these operators, while others delay their licensing application or assess fines.

The bad actor clause in the New York legislation says that, among others, this factor may be looked like by the New York Gaming Commission when evaluating the suitability of an applicant:

(f) Whether the applicant:

(i) has at any time, either directly, or through another person whom it owned, in whole or in significant part, or controlled:

(A) knowingly and willfully accepted or made available wagers on interactive gaming (including poker) from persons located in the United States after December thirty-first, two thousand six, unless such wager were affirmatively authorized by law of the United States or of each state in which persons making such wagers were located; or

(B) knowingly facilitated or otherwise provided services with respect to interactive gaming (including poker) involving persons located in the United States for a person described in clause (A) of this subparagraph and acted with knowledge of the fact that such wagers or interactive gaming involved persons located in the United States; or

(ii) has purchased or acquired, directly or indirectly, in whole or in significant part, a person described in subparagraph (i) of this paragraph or will use that person or a covered asset in connection with interactive gaming licensed pursuant to this article.

It does not appear that this bad actor clause is of the strictest variety, as it does not say that such an operator would be automatically deemed ineligible to receive an online gaming license. Rather, an operators actions after the UIGEA should be considered by the Commission.

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Betcoin to Re-Launch Bitcoin Online Poker Room

 Betcoin to Re Launch Bitcoin Online Poker Room

Bitcoin online gambling site Betcoin shut its poker room down on Christmas, but a month later it has announced that the poker room will soon reopen. Interestingly, the decision to rev things back up looks to be because of Betcoin’s bad beat jackpot.

Betcoin is one of the oldest sites to deal exclusively in Bitcoin and other cybercurrencies, having launched in 2014. Its ownership situation has been shrouded in mystery and when it made the announcement that it would be closing the poker room (the other parts of the business have continued to operate, the only reason given was “Betcoin.ag has been acquired.”

We don’t knew who acquired Betcoin and why the decision was made to close the poker room. It looks like player money was safe, so as unfortunate as the closing was, sometimes things happen.

A few days after Christmas, an apology post was published on Betcoin’s poker page.

“First and foremost, we would like to apologize to the great players that have played with Betcoin.ag over the past 4 years,” it started. “We apologize to you, because our research indicates that Betcoin.ag has not taken the very best care of you. We also apologize for not handling the Bad Beat Jackpot matter in the most expeditious and fair manner as possible for all of you great players.”

Betcoin then explained what it planned on doing with the bad beat jackpot money that it had collected without a winner:

Betcoin.ag is now committed to addressing your concerns in the most professional manner and immediately handling player concerns. We are very excited to be improving the overall culture. As our first matter, we believe it is necessary to distribute the Bad Beat Jackpot based on the percentages to players who have contributed to that Jackpot through the years. We will be calculating the totals over the next week to two weeks and expect that all distributions will be posted to player accounts by the second week of January 2018.

Alright, great. Everyone will get the money they contributed back. Seems fair, as the jackpot was never paid out. But last week, Betcoin said, “….it was determined that each contribution cannot be determined with 100% accuracy.”

“Without this 100% transparency and accuracy we believe the redistribution was unacceptable.”

So, what Betcoin has decided to do is reopen the poker room and gradually reduce the requirements for triggering the bad beat jackpot until it is hit. It seems like a strange solution; after all, there was a reason the new owners closed the poker room in the first place and I would be very surprised if that reason had to do with the bad beat jackpot. One would also assume that the poker room will remain open after the jackpot is hit (and the BBJ will be discontinued), so using the BBJ as the reason for the poker room’s revival is just perplexing. Perhaps spending more time figuring out everyone’s contribution would have been a better choice?

Betcoin has said that it will re-open the poker room the week of January 26th. Week naming conventions be damned, seeing as that’s a Friday, I’m guessing that’s the day it will happen.

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Partypoker Going for All the Glory with a 2018 MILLIONS Online Guarantee of $20 Million

 Partypoker Going for All the Glory with a 2018 MILLIONS Online Guarantee of $20 Million

Earlier this month, partypoker hosted its first online version of its already-popular MILLIONS event. The $ 5 million guaranteed tournament was a hit, as over one thousand players registered, generating a $ 5.1 million prize pool. Jon Van Fleet won the event, banking just over a million dollars. Players will have to wait a year for the next MILLIONS online, but their patience will be rewarded, as partypoker is quadrupling the guaranteed prize pool.

Yes, I had to re-read it at first, too. I’m not normally impressed by tournament guarantees, as they come in all sizes and we have seen plenty of them at a million dollars or more for some of the more significant online poker series. But holy hell, next year’s MILLIONS online guarantee is going to be $ 20 million? I don’t really even know how that’s possible.

The $ 20 million guaranteed MILLIONS online will run December 1st though December 4th, 2018 at partypoker and will feature the same $ 5,300 buy-in that it did this month.

Players can start ramping up as early as February, as the MILLIONS online leaderboard will kick off on Monday, February 5th. The top ten players on the leaderboard every week will be awarded a $ 5,300 seat in the December event. Players who win more than one seat will receive the additional $ 5,300 prizes in tournament dollars. Mid and low leaderboards will also exist, with the top 20 players on each winning smaller denomination satellite tickets.

Of course, MILLIONS is primarily a live tournament series, so partypoker is making sure that live players aren’t left out of the fun. The first through tenth place finishers in every live MILLIONS Main Event will also receive a $ 5,300 seat into the Millions Online tournament.

This is impressively ambitious. The $ 5.1 million prize pool for the recent MILLIONS Online was the largest tournament prize pool in partypoker’s history and partypoker has been around for a long time, at least in online poker terms. The poker room will need to attract a field of 4,000 to meet the guarantee, but even if it hit that number on the nose, there would still be a hidden overlay because a good number of seats are being given away. Now, there is an entire year for players to compete in satellites to earn their seats, so I suspect achieving a no-overlay $ 20 million prize pool might be achievable (the guarantee alone will likely drive traffic to partypoker and encourage players to register who might not have otherwise done so), but it will still be an uphill climb.

John Duthie, President of partypoker LIVE, said in a partypoker blog post, “I love the concept of a MILLIONS leg on partypoker, it gives us the opportunity to bring together our MILLIONS players from all over the world at the end of the year to compete for an unprecedented prizepool. I was a little nervous about trying this concept out, but players supported us this time so we should return the favour and go for a record breaking online prizepool in 2018.”

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Online Gambling Bill Makes It Through Michigan House Committee

 Online Gambling Bill Makes It Through Michigan House Committee

A bill to legalize online gambling passed through a Michigan House of Representatives committee Wednesday and though it will be nearly impossible for it to advance any further during this legislative session, there is some hope for the next.

The Bill, House Bill 4926, was introduced by Rep. Brandt Iden three months ago. He told Online Poker Report (OPR) in October that he wanted to see it pass the House by Thanksgiving.

“Throughout the month of October, I’m hoping to gain a lot of headway,” Iden told OPR. “If I had my way, we’ll be able to get everyone to the table and put a bill together and through the House before the Thanksgiving holiday. We’ll see how achievable it is, but that’s my goal.”

Well, it clearly wasn’t achievable, as it only just now made it through a committee and the legislative session is about to end. The good news, though, is that in Michigan, bills can carry over to the next session, so Iden will not have to start from scratch.

The bill stipulates that prospective online gambling operators would be required to pay a $ 100,000 licensing application fee. If granted a five-year license, the fee for the first year would be $ 200,000 and then $ 100,000 each year thereafter.

In October, Iden told OPR that the biggest challenge was arguably getting all of the state’s tribes and the three commercial casinos to all agree on the legislation. Lawmakers could always go ahead and vote for bills without the blessing of all the stakeholders, but is generally a good idea to get those who may be operating the gaming sites to be onboard.

“They’re constantly looking to expand their operations with new gamers. They realize they have generations of gamers that are going to be looking at new platforms, and if they don’t get on board they will miss bus,” Iden said to OPR.

For this Michigan House Regulatory Reform Committee vote, Iden said that the committee did meet with stakeholders the day before in order to discuss the bill. The three commercial casinos – Greektown, MGM Detroit, and Motor City – all now apparently support the legislation when they did not previously (they supported legalized online gambling, just not the bill as written.

As first reported on Twitter by Gambling Compliance’s Chris Krafcik, there were two main amendments to the bill in committee. The first requires gaming servers to be located on the property of a licensed casino. Krafcik says this is important because it may put online gambling in sync with the Michigan constitution, which says that gambling must take place at a casino. Having the servers at a casino theoretically means that online gambling is occurring at the casino, in essence a new gaming offering by existing licensed operators, rather than an expansion of gambling.

The other change is an adjustment to the tax rate. The amended bill says licensees must pay a tax of 10 percent on gross gaming revenue, down from 15 percent previously.

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