Posts Tagged ‘online’

MGM Launches Online Poker Site in New Jersey

 MGM Launches Online Poker Site in New Jersey

MGM Resorts International has beefed up its internet presence in New Jersey, launching a pair of online gambling sites last week: playMGMpoker.com and playMGMcasino.com. The two sites made their “soft launch” on August 1st, meaning they had limited uptime while the company and state regulators made sure everything was going fine. The sites are now running full-bore, giving players in the Garden State more options for both online poker and online casino games. MGM has partnered with GVC Holdings to use GVC’s partypoker software for the online poker room.

You might wonder why I said that MGM has beefed up its presence when the online poker sites/networks in New Jersey are PokerStars, 888/WSOP, and Party Borgata, but no MGM. That is because last year, MGM bought Boyd Gaming Corporation’s stake in the Borgata (they shared it 50/50 previously) to become the casino’s full owner. Thus, MGM is the company in control of the Party Borgata network.

Naturally, playMGMpoker.com will be a part of the Party Borgata network, along with BorgataPoker.com and nj.PartyPoker.com.

“We are thrilled to be entering the online gaming landscape in New Jersey with the expansion of our playMGM.com platform to include both casino and poker games,” said Chief Operating Officer of MGM Resorts International Corey Sanders in a press release last Wednesday. “The ability to effectively bring Las Vegas to New Jersey via an online experience is an exciting undertaking, especially as we continue to develop our presence on the East Coast with the recent acquisition of Borgata, the opening of MGM National Harbor and the pending 2018 opening of MGM Springfield in Massachusetts.”

It is actually an interesting play here by MGM. It obviously already has the Party Borgata network, so adding another online poker room seems like a curious move. There is a real chance it could backfire and just cannibalize the other two sites on the network. Even if it is player-neutral, the added expenses in running playMGMpoker.com would make it a net negative.

At the same time, though, the idea here could be to use MGM’s brand name to grab some players from PokerStars and WSOP/888 as well as possibly grow the entire market by getting people who may have been interested in playing but never did to jump into the fray with MGM.

Additionally, playMGMpoker.com and playMGMcasino.com will be cross-promoting with MGM’s other properties, particularly the multitude of casinos in Las Vegas.

To kick it off, playMGMpoker.com is running a pretty solid promo for new players, offering $ 25 free with a real money deposit and virtually no playthrough requirement (there is one, but it’s minimal). $ 10 of the free money is just cash, while $ 15 is tournament money.

There is also a 100 percent deposit match up to $ 2,000. Now, while the percent is great, it is not as great. There is a fairly sizable playthrough requirement, the bonus is released in 10 percent increments, and players only have seven days to earn it. Those last couple parts make it tricky: deposit too much and the increments could end up so large that it is hard to unlock even one or two of them within a week.

Poker News Daily

New York Online Poker Bill Passes Senate Finance Committee

 New York Online Poker Bill Passes Senate Finance Committee

It is on to the full Senate for a bill that would regulate and legalize online poker in New York state, as the bill has passed the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday by a 27-9 vote. On Valentine’s Day, the bill passed the Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee by a unanimous 11-0 vote.

The purpose of S3898, according to the text of the bill itself, is:

To authorize the New York State Gaming Commission to license certain entities to offer for play to the public certain variants of internet poker which require a significant degree of skill, specifically “Omaha
Hold’em” and “Texas Hold’em.”

Straightforward, it is (Yoda…I am?).

The bill is sponsored by Republican State Senator John Bonacic, who has taken up the online poker cause during the last few years. He introduced a bill last year and everything was going well, especially when it sailed through the Senate by a 53-5 vote, but the Assembly never even voted on it.

Bonacic has been confident about his bill this year, telling GamblingCompliance, “Last year, there was too much gaming for the Assembly to consider with fantasy sports and the efforts in New Jersey for a referendum to put a casino in the Meadowlands, and I really think that it got put on the back burner. So now we are putting it in the front burner.”

We won’t bore our readers with all of the finer points of the poker bill, but some of the provisions, as we listed out in February, as well, include:

•    Permits the state to enter into interstate gaming compacts so that player pools can be combined.
•    15 percent tax on gross gaming revenue
•    A maximum of ten licensed operators who must pay a licensing fee of $ 10 million each. Licenses would be good for ten years.
•    Most forms of poker would be authorized, even though the above “purpose” statement only mentions Hold’em and Omaha (that was likely just a simplification, as Hold’em and Omaha are the two most popular forms of online poker – there would be no reason to exclude other forms, like Stud).
•    When and if the bill is signed into law, there will be a 180-day grace period before licenses can be issued and games can start, likely to make sure the state is properly prepared.
•    Operating an online poker site without a license is a crime. Unlicensed operators will be both fined and taxed.

One of the reasons that the bill didn’t get voted upon in the state Assembly last year was Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, who was actually the sponsor of the Assembly’s version of the bill. In a February interview with FIOS1 News’s Andrew Whitman, he said that he was not confident about operators’ ability to prevent cheating. Fortunately, after visiting New Jersey’s Attorney General, he came away impressed and is now “satisfied” that cheating can be prevented as much as is reasonably possible. Pretlow now believes the bill shouldn’t have problems in the New York Assembly, assuming it gets there.

“When I do sign off on something,” he told Whitman, “my colleagues feel that it is a good deal and they don’t question why I made a certain decision. They know that if that decision was made, it’s for good reason. So I don’t really see there’s going to be much opposition to moving this along.”

Poker News Daily

MGM, GVC Team for New Jersey Online Casino/Poker Offering

 MGM, GVC Team for New Jersey Online Casino/Poker Offering

According to announcements from the players involved, the New Jersey online gaming industry will be growing by one very soon.

Last week, MGM Resorts International announced that they would be teaming with GVC Holdings PLC – the ownership behind partypoker – to bring a new entry into the Garden State’s online gaming and poker offerings. MGM, which owns the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa on the Atlantic City boardwalk (and is already offering a popular set of sites), has been looking for some way to introduce an eponymously named sites that would work as a compatriot for the Borgata operation but still be standing on its own. Later this year, MGM will offer GVC’s software to run its games (at this point, it looks like the site may be called “PlayMGM.com”), looking to have over 300 casino games along with cash and tournament poker that will not only be offered online but also will be offered through mobile variants.

Naturally, both companies were excited to extend their partnership into another venue. “We are delighted to extend our relationship with MGM Resorts and to be launching casino and poker under the playMGM brand in New Jersey,” said GVC’s Chief Operating Officer Shay Segev. “MGM Resorts is quite simply one of the biggest and best names in the business, and we look forward to working with them for many years to come.”

Echoing those sentiments was Corey Sanders, the Chief Operating Officer of MGM Resorts. “This is a historic moment for MGM Resorts to be launching real money online casino and poker under the MGM brand for the first time. GVC has been a first-rate partner for us, and we are excited about the possibilities of extending that partnership as regulated markets open up in the U.S.”

The Borgata/GVC partnership has been a profitable one for both sides. Since their partnership began when New Jersey opened for online gaming and poker in 2013, the Borgata and GVC have earned over $ 152 million, outpacing the second-place operation of Caesars/Harrah’s and 888 Holdings (have earned slightly more than $ 117 million in the same time span). Those two organizations have dominated the online poker segment of the New Jersey industry, with Borgata/GVC slightly outpacing Caesars/Harrah’s/888 by slightly more than $ 5 million.

Whether there is enough room for another operation in New Jersey is the question, however. When it was introduced in 2013, the two properties with a similar name – the Trump Taj Mahal and the Trump Plaza – were both involved in the Jersey online gaming scene. Within a couple of months, the Plaza was left in wreckage along the side of the road, while the Taj Mahal (paired with the now-defunct Ultimate Gaming) was able to stagger on until September 2014. Once Ultimate Gaming closed its doors, the Taj Majal lost its partner in the dance and shut off its operations (both properties are now closed).

A newcomer, Resorts AC, was one of the companies that was struggling on the sidelines in November 2015, but that was before they signed a deal with the company that was thought to be the “savior” of online poker in New Jersey. Resorts AC (already running an online casino operation), and its partnership with Amaya Gaming and the #1 online poker site in the world PokerStars, came into the fray in March 2016 and, to be honest, has not brought the throngs that people thought would turn out (especially in the poker arena). Since the debut of PokerStars in New Jersey in March 2016, they have consistently been the #1 online poker operation in New Jersey, but that lead is not dominant. After an initial burst of activity, the three online rooms have settled in to divvying up the $ 2 million online poker market in the state roughly equally.

The question will have to be asked if there are enough customers to support another online casino/poker operation in the state, but we’ll have to wait to see what that outcome will be. The new MGM/GVC partnership won’t open its doors until later this year, at which point players will decide whether the newcomers are worthy contenders or just another site.

Poker News Daily

GAN Receives New Jersey Online Gaming License

 GAN Receives New Jersey Online Gaming License

B2B internet gaming software developer GAN – once known as GameAccount Network – announced last week that it has been granted an online gaming license by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE). GAN initially applied back in 2013, so this has been a long time in coming. The company contends that not only does this now allow it to offer online gaming in New Jersey, but also makes it look better for potential licensing in other states.

In a press release, GAN CEO Dermot Smurfit said:

We have long maintained that a key benefit of choosing GAN is the guaranteed integrity and strong compliance profile of our current and historic business activities, clean source of investment funds and the unquestioned suitability of our major shareholders, directors and employees to be licensed in New Jersey. Here is the proof of those long-standing statements. GAN has been thoroughly and professionally investigated by the NJDGE and we welcome the grant of our first privileged gaming license in the United States. In the heavily regulated world of Internet gaming, the significance of this gaming license cannot be underestimated and is a major asset for our Company and will deliver our shareholders significant value over time.

GAN has already had a presence in New Jersey, as it has been Betfair Casino’s software provider since November 2013. GAN ran slightly afoul of state regulations in the middle of last year when it unintentionally activated a new version of its mobile Android software for Betfair before it had been sufficiently tested, allowing six players from outside of New Jersey’s borders to gamble for real money. Fortunately, the DGE said that less than $ 350 was wagered in total and GAN got the problem fixed, so in the end it wasn’t that big of a deal. Nonetheless, GAN was fined $ 25,000.

GAN also partnered with the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa to offer its “simulated gaming” product in early 2016. As it sounds, “simulated gaming” is a fancy term for “play money gambling.” Like other play money gaming products on social networks, though, players can purchase additional chips for real money.

Offering play money gaming is not a big deal, but it may have been important in order to get GAN’s foot in the door for a future real money gaming opportunity with Borgata. Smurfit said at the time:

Our strategic market positioning is to serve as an enterprise-level solution for either Simulated Gaming or real money Regulated Gaming and, in certain circumstances, our single technology platform may serve both requirements. In 2016 Simulated Gaming will be served to the majority of Borgata’s patrons who live out-of-State and, in the event GAN receives Borgata’s consent to commence operations is equally capable of simultaneously serving real money Regulated Gaming to the Borgata’s patrons resident in New Jersey.

Borgata’s online poker room is currently powered by PartyPoker, but considering GAN’s new license and the deal struck between GAN and the Borgata last year, could a change be in the future for Borgata? One would think that with WSOP/888 and PokerStars present in New Jersey that GAN isn’t about to strike out on its own, so it will be interesting to see what it decides to do with this new found power.

Poker News Daily

Might U.S. AG Jeff Sessions Kill Online Poker?

 Might U.S. AG Jeff Sessions Kill Online Poker?

Sheldon Adelson’s Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) was introduced in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives on multiple occasions in the last few years and even had a couple hearings in the House, but in the end, even Republicans saw it for the blatant crony capitalism that it was. The threat of a gambling ban was over. Unfortunately, the poker community is starting to get a bit worried again as the rumors have started that the Trump administration may look to get a ban going soon.

According to GamblingCompliance (sorry, there’s a paywall), “Gambling lobbyists in Washington, D.C. are abuzz with speculation that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is on the verge of announcing plans to overturn the 2011 legal opinion which cleared states to regulate internet gambling.”

Sessions, who was considered too racist in 1986 for a federal judgeship (too racist in the eighties!), shared his brief thoughts on internet gambling during his confirmation hearing for his Attorney General position. He was asked about online poker by his buddy Senator Lindsey Graham, the Senator who did Daddy Adelson’s bidding and introduced RAWA in the Senate:

Lindsey Graham: About the Wire Act, what’s your view of the…Obama’s Administration’s interpretation of the Wire Act law to allow online video poker, or poker…gambling?

Jeff Sessions: Senator Graham, I was shocked at the memorandum – I guess – the enforcement memorandum that the Department of Justice issued with regard to the Wire Act and criticized it. Apparently, there is some justification or argument that can be made to support the Department of Justice’s position, but I did oppose it when it happened and it seemed to me to be an unusual….

Graham: Would you revisit it?

Sessions: I would revisit it and I would make a decision about it based on careful study and I haven’t gone that far to give you an opinion today.

And now, if the “buzz” is true, it looks like Sessions will be revisiting the 2011 clarification of the Wire Act. Remember, the Wire Act specifically prohibits sports betting over telecommunications lines, but that’s it. For whatever reason, it was interpreted for years to include all gambling, but finally at the end of 2011, the Office of Legal Counsel set the record straight. That clarification cleared the road for states to legalize intrastate online gambling. So far, Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey have regulated online poker, while a few other states offer internet lottery purchases. A reinstatement of the old Wire Act interpretation would presumably kill all of this.

The odd part about the possibility of Sessions overturning the 2011 clarification of the Wire Act is that the Wire Act still says that it is only sports betting over telecommunications lines that is banned, so it seems like it would be a strange situation where the legal enforcement of the Act would clearly be based on an incorrect interpretation.

The sad part is that Sessions could easily get away with doing this, as with all the bullshit that Trump and his band of dunces are making us put up with every day, barely anybody would notice – and thus put up a fuss – if online poker was stomped out.

Poker News Daily



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