October 16, 2006

Safe Bet?


VegasPoker 274 (which appears to be nowhere near Vegas) issued a statement on Friday indicating that they intend to continue to service US players.

VegasPoker247 is pleased to announce that it's business as usual. VegasPoker247 issued the following statement today via Poker Room Manager Nick Powers:

"VegasPoker247 is pleased to assure poker players around the world that they will continue to be welcome to play on our site. VegasPoker247 is completely confident that we will be able to continue offering our US customers the very best, safest and most secure online poker experience available on the internet, including the fastest deposit and payout solutions. All new and existing VegasPoker247.com customers should feel 100% confident when playing at our tables.

"VegasPoker247 wants to remind its customers that the Safe Ports Act passed by the US Congress on September 30th neither prohibits nor makes it illegal for any US customer to transact with VegsPoker247.com. Because of this, we see no reason why our relationship with US players should change. VegasPoker247 continues to run as always. We look forward to serving our current customers and to welcoming any new players who want to play at our site.

"All player's funds are completely secure and we are exploring every available depositing options with our existing payment processors. We believe they will remain unaffected by this law and will continue to operate without interference. The US Congress has no control over the international banking systems that many of our payment providers operate within.

"We will continue to update our customers as the situation develops. In the meantime we encourage our customers to continue to enjoy their experiences at VegasPoker247. We want our customers to know that our exclusive promotions will run as promised. We look forward to serving our customers and look forward to continued growth in the coming years."

-- From the Casino City Times

It is deffinitely interesting watching as various parties decide wether or not they will still cater to US patrons. I don't know if we are ready to put our money back in just yet. We feel that the place still needs to shake down for a month or two.

Russell Miner at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

Political Contributions

As the election season hits its final weeks, things are heating up. There are referndum all over the country looking at changes in casino laws or in building casinos in the first place.

In addition, as this Casino City Times post shows, where a candidate gets their money from can be just as big an issue as their platoform.

As reported by the Houston Chronicle: "Candidates for Texas governor have received more than $2 million from gambling interests, including the Chickasaw Nation, which has reason to keep Texas Hold 'Em to itself across the Red River in Oklahoma.

"The Chickasaws own Winstar Casino, a facility in Oklahoma just north of the Dallas-Fort Worth area that is drawing Metroplex gamblers away from casinos in Shreveport, La. The tribe gave Gov. Rick Perry a $40,000 donation, according to campaign finance reports released this week.

"That donation and others put a new focus on the gambling industry's battle to influence state races. Some want to bring casino gambling to the Lone Star State, while others hope to keep Texas gamblers crossing state lines.

"…Through Sept. 28, people or groups with an interest in gambling enterprises have given more than $2 million to candidates in the governor's race…"

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October 12, 2006

PokerStars Punches Back

poker stars table

This article from News.com says it all:

PokerStars, the world's second-biggest Internet poker firm, said on Thursday that a looming U.S. ban on online gaming would not apply to poker, as it is a game of skill, and its business would continue as usual.


The bill defines gambling as the act of staking something of value on "a sporting event or a game subject to chance" and is expected to be signed into law by President George W. Bush on Friday.

"These provisions do not alter the U.S. legal situation with respect to online poker," privately-owned PokerStars said in a statement.

"Our business continues as before, open to players worldwide including the U.S.," it added. "You may play on our site as you did prior to the act."

The stance contrasts with that taken by rival PartyGaming the owner of the biggest online poker site PartyPoker, which last week said the act made it "practically impossible" to provide poker for money to U.S. players.

PokerStars said: "It is important to emphasize that the act does not in any way prohibit you from playing online poker. PokerStars believes that poker is a game of skill."

Its a bold move, and we KNOW it will end in one giant messy litigation. But in the meantime, will any financial firms do business with the site? And until that litigation materializes, will PokerStars use the time to become an even bigger powerhouse than it already is?

So... much...to watch...

Russell Miner at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

So Was it All Just Hot Air?

More on the whole Internet Gambling Act from one of our favorite news sites, the Casino City Times

The Senate bill approved in Congress last weekend restricting Internet gambling had some local poker players cashing out their online accounts, calling their attorneys and blabbing less about their online play.

In Las Vegas, home to poker pros and businesses that cater to the offshore operators of Web casinos, players had grown complacent with their view that poker is a game of skill that isn't subject to U.S. gambling laws that address games of luck. Others say online poker is legal - or that if it isn't explicitly legal, it's not made illegal under the federal Wire Act, which was a law designed to outlaw Mafia-run sports betting telephone operations that predate the Internet.

Both the complacency and the overreaction that followed have been off the mark.

For Internet poker to truly become legit in the United States and evolve from an offshore enterprise to a business that U.S. gaming companies can participate in, casinos need to mount a legal challenge to the Wire Act or pass legislation in Congress to legalize Internet gambling. The odds are better on the former, though some shift in power away from religious conservatives who have dominated the Internet gambling debate could help legislative efforts.

The bill, like the Wire Act, doesn't criminalize players for gambling online. It applies criminal and civil penalties to institutions such as banks, credit card companies and online cash deposit services that process the bets. It also allows state and federal regulators to shut down Web casinos and halt methods of linking to those sites, including Internet ads and portals.

It's uncertain how actively regulators will pursue such efforts or whether foreign companies will bow to U.S. law enforcement.

The risk for bettors is that their favorite gambling site and payment processor might get spooked by the rules and block access. While there are repercussions for publicly traded companies abroad that don't return players' money, smaller, little-regulated sites could theoretically take the money and run.

Players can rest easy with the feds. The FBI has not shown any desire to arrest gamblers in their homes, nor would the Justice Department have the time or resources to pursue that course of action. The same holds true in Nevada, one of few states that prohibit players and operators from engaging in online gambling. State regulators haven't licensed Internet operators so as not to run afoul of the feds. Busting people who gamble on offshore sites, they say, is outside the state's jurisdiction and a federal concern.

Reading this, makes two things clear. First, the average online player seems to be in the clear with respect to playing on sites that are run offshore, though the risk to a sudden loss of assets will always remain. Second, it seems like the whole thing was just alot of political maneuvering in an election year.

We will certainly still remain cautious, and would advise our readers to do the same, but maybe this bill was more bark then bite.

-- Update: 10/12/06
With Online Accounts like Firepay closing their doors to online gambling payments, maybe the bite *is* sharp!

Russell Miner at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

Deffinitely Time to Cash Out


Since this whole Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (or UGEA), many folks have been waiting to see what exactly the fallout would be. Some wondered if the methods they already used, like using a third party intermediary to handle the financial transactions, would still hold up.

Well, we have received a notice from one of our Firepay Accounts, that Firepay would be complying with this new law. Firepay is one of the more popular third party payment options, and this deffinitely tells us that anyone out there with money in any online casino accounts, should evacuate while the evacuating is good.

On September 30, 2006, the United States Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006.

Once President Bush approves the Act. FirePay (www. firepay.com) will no longer allow US consumer payments for online gambling merchants.

* Beginning the day President Bush signs the Act, FirePay will decline any purchase transactions from US FirePay account holders at any gambling merchant site.
* Ten days after President Bush signs the Act, FirePay will decline any transfer attempt made by any online gambling merchant to a US FirePay account.

All US FirePay accounts holders will continue to be able to make purchases and receive payments from non-gambling, online merchants, as well as "Deposit From" and "Withdraw To" their US bank account.

Click here for the latest news and opportunities for FirePay account holders..

** Please note:

1. This new policy will not affect FirePay account holders from outside of the United States
2. For any questions regarding these deadlines or policy, please email info@firepay.com


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October 11, 2006

Betting On the Bank

Gamign And Casino Fund

As we were trolling the stories on the Casino City Times, we came across a mention of a mutual fund called the Gaming and Casino Fund. Apparantly its a fund that invests in only gaming and casino related stocks. To our knowledge, it is the first fund to solely invest in gaming and casino related companies. We were fascinated by the concept, and we dug deeper to find out more.

ArrowContinue reading: "Betting On the Bank"

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October 8, 2006

How To Be a Sore Loser

Casino City Times had this priceless news bit:

As reported by the Miami Herald: "After dropping some cash at the Miccosukee Resort & Gaming hall in West Miami-Dade Thursday night, an unlucky gambler got into his pickup truck and crashed it into the casino's glass doors.

"Several witnesses said the man appeared angry as he left the casino, claiming he'd lost $10,000.

"The man, who Miccosukee police did not identify, had been in the casino at 500 SW 177th Ave. since at least 10 a.m. playing machines, according to witnesses. He left the building about 8 p.m., headed into the free parking lot and got into his newly purchased Ford F-150. Witnesses said he flashed his headlights -- and then charged the building, hitting it between the arcade and the day care center…"

Yeah, we guess we'd be angry if we lost ten thousand dollars too, but now he's going to have to pay court fees, damages, and probably spend some time in jail. Oh yeah, and good luck getting off that blacklist.

Russell Miner at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

October 5, 2006

We're not the Only Ones Sayin It

Well, we said that Online gambling was really not going anywhere, that the money would just move underground. And it looks like we're not the only ones saying it.

Casino News had this to say on the issue:

It's a good bet that online gamblers will still be able to play Texas Hold 'Em or wager on the Carolina Panthers even if Congress succeeds in curtailing how players pay foreign Web casinos, gaming experts said Monday.

"They will figure out new ways to send money back and forth," said Kenneth Weitzner, who runs the online gambling news Web site eog.com. "They have always been one step ahead of the law. ... This is unenforceable. It's mostly a feel-good bill."

The Casino News also had a story about how MSNBC was holding a poll about wether Online gambling should be illegal or not. You can see that article, vote yourself, and see the results here. When we looked, with about 3500 responses, it was 93% saying it should be legal, and 4% saying illegal. Shocking.

Russell Miner at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

October 4, 2006

Harrah's Offered Large Buyout


Gambling Planet had this bit of news. It seems that Harrah's, the World's largest casino operator has received a fifteen BILLION dollar buy out offer from someone called Apollo Management and Texas Pacific Group.

Yes.. thats billion with a B. Its amazing how much like other megacorporations, Harrah's has built itself up by gobbling up the smaller outfits, until it now is so vast, it seems to be worth more than most countries.

The proposed deal, valued at $81 cash per share -- a 22% premium to Harrah's closing price on Friday -- would rank as one of the largest private equity buyouts on record.

The offer comes just as Harrah's puts the finishing touches on its plans to beef up its presence on the Las Vegas Strip, by acquiring Boyd Gaming Corp.'s Barbary Coast Hotel and Casino. After buying Caesars Entertainment last year, Harrah's now controls some 350 acres of prime strip property.

Harrah's shares rose 16.6 percent to $77.50 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
The proposed deal is the latest sign of aggressive private equity investors jumping on attractive targets.

This July, an investor group including Bain Capital, Kohlberg, Kravis Roberts and Merrill Lynch struck a deal to buy Hospital operator HCA Inc. for about $21 billion plus debt.

Harrah's gave no indication that it would agree to a buyout deal. "The Special Committee has not determined that a transaction is in the best interests of Harrah's and its stockholders," it said in a statement.

It will be interesting to see if this deal goes through.

Heres how some others are reacting.

It would also be interesting to see how one would deilver 15 billion dollars....an aricraft carrier filled with fiftys perhaps?

Russell Miner at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

More on the Reprecussions of the US ban on Online Gambling

Its been a couple of days now since the bomb was dropped on US online gambling. There are all sorts of stories floating about that indicate that the whole online gambling industry is reeling. One of the most telling bits we found was this from Gambling Planet

Internet gambling companies face a wave of consolidation in the wake of the US clampdown on online gaming, which could see American casinos and gambling businesses swooping for bargains in the sector, the heads of two of the biggest online gambling sites said on Monday.

Mitch Garber, chief executive of PartyGaming, and Gigi Levy, who takes over as chief of 888 Holdings this year, made their predictions as the sector felt the impact of the bill passed in the Senate on Friday making it illegal for banks and credit card companies to process online gaming payments from the US.

Investors wiped $7bn off the market value of what at the start of trading was an industry worth $12bn, as heavyweight internet gambling companies said they would suspend indefinitely their US operations.

Now thats a massive chunk of revenue gone. We have to believe that this money will not just vanish, but rather it will go underground. There will be a much seedier and less trustworthy structure that will fill in the vacuum left behind by these big pullouts.

As you can see in this NYTimes peice, the reason all of these mergers and acquisitions are possible, is because that law sent stocks falling and falling and falling for any companies involved with online gambling.

In addition MSNBC even has a story that indicated that there may be loopholes that render the act innefective in the end anyway!

Unlike the version that passed the House earlier this year, the approved legislation does not explicitly outlaw betting on online casino-style games, such as poker and blackjack. The bill does bar financial institutions from accepting "illegal" bets, leaving the question unanswered as to whether some forms of online gambling are permitted. To date, sports betting is one of the only forms of gambling explicitly outlawed in the act.

What a mess!

Russell Miner at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

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