Weekly Poker Update: November 30, 2020

Poker Update November 30

In the past few weeks, news arrived that the World Series of Poker—which seemed like it would be confined to the online poker sphere in 2020—would indeed be taking on a live element this year. And the whole thing began on Sunday with the first cards dealt in the international portion of the event. It is all leading up to two Main Events where the final tables will be held in a live setting with players in the same room, one for international players and one focused on the United States.

International World Series of Poker Main Event Gets Underway

It seems all a bit of a mad rush to get things going on such short notice. But such was the desire to salvage some sort of World Series of Poker normalcy in terms of having live tables, especially in this chaotic year of 2020.

You have to keep in mind that these will not be live events from the get-go. In fact, the early parts of each of the two Main Events will come from online action taking place at WSOP.com and GGPoker. Hence, you’ll hear the word “hybrid” kicked around a lot in the next few weeks.

While this news has generally been greeted with excitement in the world of real money poker, there has also been some controversy as well. You see, there already was a Main Event conducted this year, and it took place entirely in the online sphere. That championship was captured by Bulgaria’s Stoyan Madanzhiev.

At the time, Madanzhiev’s conquest seemed to be the be-all, end-all of the WSOP for 2020. No one had any idea, considering the stringency of health protocols, that there would be any chance at some sort of live event. And the way these latest Main Events have been hyped, they have cast a bit of a pall on Madanzhiev’s win, which doesn’t seem fair.

Czech Republic Casino Floor

The other thing to keep in mind is that there is no guarantee that the live final tables, currently scheduled for December 16th in Rozvadov, Czech Republic (for the international event), and December 28th in Las Vegas (for the domestic event) will take place. There is always the possibility that the health complications facing the world could cause a postponement or even a switch to the online sphere.

One other twist to all this—the two winners of these events are scheduled for a live head-to-head battle when all is said and done on December 30th in Vegas. It’s a new twist that could add some extra excitement to the proceedings. There will be a last person standing that can claim a kind of ultimate World Series of Poker champ.

This is all happening very fast. To be involved in the international Main Event, you have to get into one of the early flights on GGPoker, which, after Sunday, take place on December 5 and 6. The US Main Event begins with online play at WSOP.com on December 13.

The buy-in for these tourneys is $10,000. And unlike the online version of the Main Event, there will be no rebuys allowed for players who are eliminated. This certainly makes this version of the WSOP a bit more like what you would have expected in past years.

One other note: Players in the United States must be located within the states of New Jersey or Nevada to participate in the early, online portions of the contest. Remember, you don’t have to be a resident of those states. But you do have to be operating your connected device of choice within those two states at the start of the action.

Regardless of whether or not you believe that this version of the World Series of Poker is legitimate or is just a rehash of what we’ve already seem, the bottom line is that there will be big money on the line. And the action will likely feature the best of the best in the world of poker in terms of those playing the game. Certainly, we’ll be watching closely over the next month or so and letting you know, in the end, who comes out on top.

Polk Starts to Surge Past Negreanu

In the past few weeks, we’ve been telling you all about the so-called Grudge Match of the Century in poker. For those who haven’t been following, we’re referring to the battle between Daniel Negreanu and Doug Polk, who have long sniped at each other for various matters and finally decided to settle it on the felt. The Texas Hold’em battle has been raging since the beginning of the month.

For the most part, it had been a tight contest between the two. This flew in the face of what many oddsmakers at gambling websites had believed. Due to his relative inexperience in the online head-to-hear sphere, Negreanu was considered a 4 to 1 underdog to Polk, who thrives in that particular setting.

Daniel Negreanu Versus Daniel Polk

Yet Negreanu had been acquitting himself quite well. In fact, the lead seemed to be trading hands every single session. The two came into the week barely separated in terms of their totals over the course of the match.

But this week certainly changed things drastically. Polk took a significant lead with a couple of lucrative sessions. And then he really laid the hammer down on Saturday.

In a monster session, Polk took Negreanu for over $332,000 in just 684 hands. That pushed his lead to a pretty significant $596,197, the bulk of which was amassed this past week. There have been 5,751 hands played in the entirety of the match.

Let’s put that into perspective. There will be a minimum of 12,500 hands played. At that point, the loser can concede, or they can double the pot and go to 25,000 hands to complete matters.

In other words, Polk is starting to stretch it out to the point where Negreanu should be a bit concerned. Big leads can certainly be overcome in head-head matchups in the world of poker. But if you’re a Polk backer, you’re probably feeling pretty good about how things are turning out so far.

If you’re in Negreanu’s corner, you might be a bit encouraged by the fact that luck certainly seems to have been in Polk’s camp so far. Many lucky river cards helped him in the Saturday session. Polk, emboldened by that, played with a lot of confidence and started making all the right decisions even when the cards weren’t falling into his lap.

In any case, the next week of sessions could prove Negreanu. If Polk continues to widen his lead as the pair gets closer to that 12,500-hand mark, the pressure will be all on Kid Poker. A concession might have to be considered, which would be a tough pill to swallow, but might be a way to lessen the damage.

Weekly Poker Update: November 23, 2020

Poker Update November 23, 2020

Last week, we told you about the surprise announcement that the World Series of Poker has announced a pair of live “Main Events” for the prestigious brand. This came at a point where most people assumed that such a thing wouldn’t be, forgive the pun, in the cards. After all, live poker tournaments create all kinds of complications in terms of social distancing and protective precautions.

How Many Main Events Are Too Many?

The solution is a pair of hybrid events, one in America and one for international players. Early rounds of these Main Events are set to take place with players competing against each other online, as his been the norm this poker season. But those who eventually reach the final table will actually get together, as in the old days, to fight it out for the big prize.

For the most part, the announcement that the final table would be in person was met with enthusiasm amongst the poker community, considering the potentially massive pot up for grabs. After all, winning the World Series of Poker Main Event is generally considered to be among the most, if not the most, prestigious prizes in the entire game. The fact that it seemed to have been rescued in a year when most had written it off looked like a positive story on the whole.

But someone brought up some interesting points about this new undertaking that cast it all in a different light. And that someone, Stoyan Madanzhiev, has a pretty good perspective. After all, he is the 2020 World Series of Poker Main Event champion.

Before you go thinking that you’re reading double, that last sentence is correct. Back in September, Madanzhiev took home nearly $4 million by winning the Main Event of the World Series of Poker Online edition that had taken place throughout the previous month. As such, it seemed like he would be able to add his name to a prestigious list of poker stars who won the coveted title.

Yet the new announcement, which insinuated that an actual World Champion hasn’t been crowned yet this year, seems to suggest that Madanzhiev’s title was somehow less than legitimate. Even though it was advertised as being the crowning achievement in the world of poker at the time. Can the two seemingly disparate statements coexist in any way?

Pro Poker Player Stoyan Madanzhiev

Well, in defense of the WSOP, they’ll take whatever marketing angle they can to try to sell this thing to the poker-playing public. And there are some differences between one and the other as well. For the upcoming World Series of Poker, there will be a higher buy-in, and there will be no buying back in for eliminated players to gain multiple chances, something that was allowed in the September event.

Still, to suggest somehow that what Madanzhiev did in September doesn’t count towards an actual Main Event win is definitely unfortunate, especially when nobody can be sure if those live final tables will actually manifest, considering the continuing uncertainty.

There likely will be continued debate over this going forward until these two World Series of Poker tournaments commence in a few weeks. Let’s hope the end game is that, no matter who wins these newer Main Event tourneys, that Madanzhiev’s accomplishment still gets the recognition it deserves.

Bitcoin Poker Boom

When you think about poker in an old-fashioned sense, you might think of big wads of cash on the felt as players throw their cards on the table. But according to recent reports, it’s all about the digital coins changing hands these days. Yes, the Bitcoin boom is being felt far more acutely in the world of poker than perhaps anywhere else.

For those who aren’t that technologically savvy, Bitcoin is the most popular type of the monetary form known as cryptocurrency. The value of the coins has risen and fallen wildly over the past few years. And with the uncertainty surrounding the financial markets, it’s been a boom time for the Bitcoin gambling crowd lately.

In recent weeks, the value of Bitcoin has risen to its highest level in almost three years. And it’s not that much of a leap to say that poker players are helping to fuel that boom, at least in indirect fashion. According to the Winning Poker Network, a major player in the world of online poker, the network has had to really up their Bitcoin game just to keep in line with the demand for the digital coins.

Bitcoin Image on a Laptop Keyboard

The CEO of the company claimed in a recent interview that the vast majority of payout requests from poker players have come in Bitcoin. Players are certainly savvy to the rising value of the currency. As a result, Winning Poker Network has been forced to hustle just to keep up with the demand.

As for WPN itself, it usually quickly converts any Bitcoin that it receives into fiat money. After all, with a business at stake, they have to be careful about volatility factors. But it is interesting to see that the players themselves, guys and gals who really understand the importance of having a strategic edge, are so adamant about such major exposure to Bitcoin.

Polk-Negreanu Update

The grudge match of the century rolled on this week, with Daniel Negreanu and Doug Polk trading haymakers. It’s been fun to watch the lead changing hands with such regularity. And there’s not much separating the two as we get deeper into the battle.

As of Sunday, these two had played 3,800 hands over the past few weeks. After the first session took place in a live setting, they’ve since been going at it in real money Hold’em action in an online sphere. Most experts felt that such a setting gave Polk a major edge, which is why he was a 4 to 1 favorite on many betting websites.

Negreanu has been far more than just competitive. In fact, he was in a solid lead over much of this week. That was until Polk came firing back with a session in which he outdid Kid Poker by over $200,000. So, where do we stand? With that big session win, Polk now holds a lead of only a little over $26,000. Considering that is well within the range of the margin for a single session, it’s a tenuous lead at best.

It’s important to remember that the end is far from near in this battle. Polk and Negreanu are scheduled to play at 12,500 hands, at which point, one of the two can call it quits. If they decide to stick it out from there, the stakes can be doubled, and the event will go to 25,000 hands.

In any case, this has been tighter than many expected. There’s no telling what can happen, and it’s certainly possible that one of these two can form an insurmountable lead with several big sessions in a row. But there also exists the possibility that this could come down to the last few hands of the marathon match, which is what everyone wants to see.

Weekly Poker Update: November 16, 2020

Weekly Poker Update Text and Rio Las Vegas

2020 has been all about people having to make sacrifices in all aspects of life. In the world of poker, the biggest sacrifice was the notion that live tournaments would likely fall by the wayside to a great extent. In their stead came online tournaments trying to pick up the slack and satisfy the competitive whims of the world’s best poker players.

In terms of poker tournaments, the World Series of Poker pretty much reigns supreme. The tourney was scheduled earlier this year but had to postpone because of the unfeasibility of live tournaments. An online version of the event took place instead in late summer and, although there was some hiccups and complaints, proved to be a ringing success.

And as the months dragged on, it seemed like the poker world would have to settle for that as being the closest thing to WSOP action it would get. But then came the announcement last week that, at least for now, the World Series of Poker would indeed get a live table main event. As it turns out, there will be two of them.

Live From Last Vegas

World Series of Poker Main Events will be held for both United States and international players. In the announcement, the World Series of Poker also made it clear that a hybrid format would be in play. Early rounds of the action will take place in an online sphere, before the fields are pared down to the point where a final table will be held with the remaining players gathering together.

In the case of the American version, the preliminary rounds for the $10,000 buy-in event will take place starting on December 13th. As was the case with the online WSOP earlier this year, players must be logging on in either New Jersey or Nevada to be able to complete. The final nine players take the action to the Rio in Las Vegas on December 28.

As far as the international part, it will be the same type of deal. Players will try to make their way to the end by doing so in online battles. When the final take place on December 15th, it is scheduled for the King’s Casino in the Czech Republic.

Rio Las Vegas Casino

There is a lot to unpack there with all that information. First of all, there is no guarantee that the final table will indeed take place in a live setting. After all, recent weeks have proven that we are far from out of the woods in terms of being able to return to live events with people enclosed in small spaces, even with all the necessary precautions in place.

If things do worsen, the possibility is that the event organizers could indeed shuffle the final table to an online setting anyway. If that were the case, all of this hype would be directed to an online Main Event. Considering we’ve already had one of those this year under the WSOP banner, it would be an odd turn of events.

Another possibility would be to postpone the final table until conditions become more favorable again. In all likelihood, that would mean that it would get pushed into the 2021 calendar year. If things do improve, we could end up with two World Series of Poker Main Events next year.

In addition, there is still the issue of American players having to make it to New Jersey or Nevada to even be eligible for the event. While that led to some memorable moments in the online version earlier this year, it would still be a shame if the field was limited somewhat by this requirement.

Basically, there still seems to be a lot that is very much up in the air with all of this. It is possible that it comes off without a hitch and the final tables take place as planned. But it is also within reason that something comes along to turn this entire thing on its head.

In any case, this still has to qualify as good news for the world of poker, no matter how it all ends up going down. The chance that we will have top players staring at each other across a table with the biggest prize in the entire game on the line is extremely enticing after how tough a year 2020 has been. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that it comes to fruition in one way or another.

Kid Poker Strikes Back

We are starting to go a little deeper into the so-called Grudge Match of the Century in the world of poker. And the good news is that it looks like, at least to this point, that the real money Texas holdem battle between Daniel and Doug Polk is going to be the kind of match that warrants the hype. And, my oy my, has there been a lot of hype.

If you recall last week in this column, Negreanu forged a lead following the head-to-head opening session. But then Polk struck back in the first online go-around, which many expected. After all, that is a world with which Polk is infinitely comfortable, while it represented a sort of new frontier for Negreanu.

Pro Poker Player Daniel Negreanu

This last week, Polk lengthened his lead with another successful online session in a row. Negreanu cut the margin in the next day’s action. But it was on Friday where Kid Poker really struck big, overpowering Polk for an advantage of over $200 in that day’s session.

Where do we stand right now? After over 1,700 hands played, Negreanu has jumped back into the lead by over $25,000. Considering that most of the daily action contains shifts of more than 100,000 at a time one way or another, that is a precarious lead to be sure.

Negreanu is in a better spot than he was earlier in the week. And with two consecutive winning sessions, his confidence seems to be growing. Polk even seemed to acknowledge in a tweet that his longtime rival was handling the format better than expected.

There is a long way to go in this battle. Remember that the earliest it could possibly be over is after 12,500 hands, which means that we’re not even 15% of the way there yet. And the possibility exists that it could go the full route of 25,000 hands before a winner is decided.

Still, the back-and-forth play so far has been exciting to watch. The two have been downright cordial, after so long sniping back and forth at each other on social media. And Negreanu’s good play is making this grudge match into more of a barnburner than many thought it would be, which means it should be holding our attention for quite some time to come.

Weekly Poker Update: November 9, 2020

Weekly Poker Update Text With Boxing Gloves Touching

A major head-to head matchup between two of the biggest names in poker finally got underway this past week. Read all about that and everything else that took place in the week that was in poker.

Head-to-Head Poker Begins

If you had believed the hype, you might have assumed that the head-to-head showdown between Daniel Negreanu and Doug Polk would be more contentious than the recent election. After all, for more than half a decade, these two poker titans have been sniping at each other on social media.

On top of that, the process of agreeing on the specifics of the matchup was protracted and messy. This thing was first agreed upon in the summer, and yet they didn’t deal the first cards until a week ago on Sunday.

But once it finally began with a head-to-head session, the two combatants were downright cordial to each other.

Pro Poker Player Daniel Negreanu

It wasn’t quite a mutual admiration society, of course. But to watch Negreanu and Polk go at it, there was never a moment where you thought the table would be tipped over and chairs would be thrown.

That means it was all about what would transpire on the felt. Coming into the match, Negreanu was a 4 to 1 underdog on most top gambling websites. The main issue was that the head-to-head format seemed to favor Polk, who was much more comfortable in that setting.

Negreanu came out firing on Day 1, with the first 200 hands held in a live setting. Perhaps that benefited Kid Poker, as someone who is more of an old-school type in terms of tournament settings. With the help of some effective bluffing, while also calling Polk on some bluffs, the underdog jumped out to a lead of just shy of $117,000.

Jumping to any conclusions based on a small portion of the match seemed to be hasty, especially since the action was moving over to a format that was much more in line with Polk’s favored style: multi-table and online.

So, it was that Polk took control with an excellent performance in that second session, outdoing Negreanu over 424 hands of action by over $218. That now puts him out in the lead by slightly over 100,000 after two sessions.

The Element of Luck

The interesting thing about this is that it wasn’t that Negreanu played poorly or that Polk played particularly well. Instead, it was just a matter of luck. Polk pulled some excellent cards that often left Negreanu running straight into a brick wall with hands that weren’t that bad at all.

And that’s an element that is bound to come up in shorter sessions like these first two that have begun this matchup. That’s why the bigger picture is the important part when judging between the two. Remember that the parameters of the showdown require, at the very least, for 12,500 hands to be played between the two (only 624 have been played so far).

Professional Poker Player Doug Polk

At that point, the player losing can call it a day. Or they could continue through 25,000 hands, possibly even doubling the bet along the way. By the time Polk and Negreanu play that much, all the luck should have evened out by then, and we should have a better understanding of who the better man is at this stage.

As you might expect with these two, things remained fluid right up to the first cards dealt. Negreanu had balked, at different times during the runup to the match, about hole-card reveals and pre-flop charts being used. But both were in evidence once play began, and there isn’t any indication that might change.

When the action resumes, we might see tempers flare at some point. The fact that they are playing online poker, however, helps to put a lid on that to an extent. That would leave any sniping that does take place to transpire online.

To this point, even that has been relatively quiet. About the only interaction they’ve had on Twitter to this point has been to admit that they both struggled a bit during the online session with mis-clicks, leading to plays that they hadn’t intended.

It’s nice to see that they have found some measure of agreement during this battle. Let’s see how long the good vibes last.

Games People Play

Poker simulations have long been a part of both the PC gaming and console scene. But a new one that is arriving in November could be a real game-changer. And it’s just not because of how the game plays, but also because of how it looks.

Courtesy of Ripstone Games, Poker Club arrives with considerable hype in the gaming world. In terms of the poker play, there seems to be the kind of variety involved that you would want in simulation. You can play just about any way you want at all levels of play, either in one-offs, tournaments, larger tours, etc.

You can also take your time and learn how to play poker if you are relatively new to the scene. That kind of tutelage can certainly come in handy, and then the game play will help you try out these different techniques.

But what is really striking about Poker Club is the way that it looks. It uses ray tracing technology for its visuals, which is something that is usually used for games with a bit more visual action. But who says that poker players should be left out of the fancy stuff?

Based on the trailer for the game that has been released, it is quite striking indeed. The cards themselves look unbelievably crisp and colorful, and the overall settings are inviting and scenic. You can even watch the shadows on the table change as the game advances and time passes.

In addition, the game promises excellent AI, so that Poker Club finds the sweet spot between being too demanding for newcomers and too easy for veterans. And the trailer also promises that the cards that come during game play will be random and represent a fair and realistic experience.

It remains to be seen if this game will be able to make it through the deluge of offerings that will start to pop up during the runup to the holiday season. But what is certain is that Poker Club definitely looks the part of a top poker simulation. Time will tell if it can indeed hold up under that scrutiny once actual poker enthusiasts dig in and start to play.

Weekly Poker Update: November 2, 2020

Weekly Poker Update Jonathan Duhamel

When we think about men or women winning a big real money poker tournament, it’s hard to ever imagine it as being a bad situation. After all, the lasting image is usually that winner surrounded by big piles of cash as a symbol of what their skill and luck has wrought. What could be wrong with any of that?

A Taxing Situation

Well, there is the small matter of having to pay taxes on those winnings. Taxes are at the heart of a case involving a former champion of the biggest poker tournament of all. The nature of what it takes to win at poker is also a big element of this interesting skirmish.

Back in 2010, Canadian Jonathan Duhamel was at the top of the poker world after the winning the Main Event at the prestigious World Series of Poker. That is obviously a high level of success to attain, something that you would think would require a lot of poker skill. But Duhamel’s success in the case may come down to whether he can prove his poker winnings were a result of luck.

The Canadian government is trying to collect $1.2 million from Duhamel. This is despite the fact that poker winnings are generally in the clear in Canada, in part because it is considered a game of chance. Perhaps the level of success that Duhamel has achieved is putting him in the crosshairs.

Pro Poker Player Jonathan Duhamel

There are several tentacles of the argument with which Canada’s tax officials are trying to snag Duhamel. First of all, his high-profile win in the Main Event of the World Series of Poker gained him a sponsorship with PokerStars. And part of the payback for that relationship came in tournament buy-ins, which would seem to give Duhamel an edge on winning beyond any luck.

Second, there was Duhamel’s practice of swapping action, which also has been cited by the government in their case. For those who don’t know, swapping action is the practice of a player promising shares of tournament winnings to other players as they do the same for you.

It’s a way of ensuring that you come out with something even if you don’t play well. But the Canadian government argues the hedging practice bucks against the whole “game of chance” concept.

Canada is trying to say that Duhamel was using poker as his sole profession. This argument falls apart a bit upon closer inspection, because that would seem to open up the doors for all other top Canadian pros to get zinged. After all, most of them use poker as their main source of making a living.

For Duhamel’s part, the crux of his argument is that all of the above only occurred because of his success playing the game. If it all came from a game of luck to start, Duhamel seems to be arguing, then it’s all lucky, and, therefore, not taxable.

Both sides seem to be stretching it a bit. On the government’s side of the equation, it does seem like there is a bit of a double standard in place, as Duhamel is being treated much differently from most other poker players in the country.

Meanwhile, if you had asked Duhamel following his Main Event win a decade ago if he won purely because of luck, he likely would have taken exception to that. There is definitely a skill set that separates the best players from lesser ones in poker. To deny that is the case seems a little bit skewed, at best.

We’ll have to watch and see how all this turns out in the end. In any case, it should be a warning to future Canadian pros to make some sort of concession to the possibility that the Taxman could be coming for any poker winnings they amass, especially if those winnings happen to be substantial.

Poker Show Revival

There was a time where it seemed when it seemed that every television channel to which you turned featured some sort of poker competition. In the past few years, poker on television has slowed to a bit of a trickle. But as a byproduct, the practice of streaming live poker events has grown at an enormous rate.

It now appears that those two worlds are about to collide. First of all, the long-rumored return of High Stakes Poker appears to be coming to fruition. A recent trailer promised that new episodes are being taped, with the date for the return set for December 16.

High Stakes Poker TV Show Screenshot

For now, however, it appears that the show, which was known for the big money at stake each episode and the fun commentary from Gabe Kaplan, will be found in the online sphere. PokerGo is behind the reboot, and, at first glance, there doesn’t appear to be any network television component.

Also on the way back: Poker After Dark, another staple of poker television in the boom area of the early 2000s. In this case, this show has already seen life in the online sphere at PokerGo. It also appears to be slated for a December return after about a year away.

No details have been released to this point about who will be participating, if there are any format changes, how many episodes, etc. And, as we said, we don’t know yet if any networks will be playing along.

These two shows are beloved brands in the poker world, so the hope is that they could catch on in any sphere. And, even if they don’t start with any kind of television support, maybe they will do well enough to get to that point.

In any case, we are assuming that these shows will show folks sitting at actual poker tables, interacting in enjoyable ways, and winning big chunks of money for their Texas Holdem expertise. It was a combustible formula once before, and it certainly could be once again. It will be interesting to see how well these ventures do as we head into the end of this year and the beginning of the next.

Best 2020 Presidential Election Prop Bets

Check Boxes With a Joe Biden and Donald Trump Background

The 2020 US election is coming up in just a few days, and it’s safe to say the entire world will be watching. As a matter of fact, many people will be watching to see if the bets they’ve made at top gambling websites will be winners or losers. For those who are wondering, there are many excellent 2020 election prop betting opportunities waiting for you if you know where to look for them.

Most avid gamblers know that you can bet on the 2020 presidential election, and some of them have probably already made plenty of wagers well in advance. You can lay your money down on challenger Joe Biden or incumbent President Donald Trump. Pick the right choice, and you could come away with a hefty profit.

If you are ready to bet on the 2020 presidential election, we believe the betting sites listed below will give you the best possible experience:

  • MyBookie – 100% Welcome Bonus up to $1,000
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  • Bovada – 50% Welcome Bonus up to $250
  • BetOnline – 50% Welcome Bonus up to $1,000

You can move off the beaten path to find some excellent betting opportunities in the 2020 election. These bets, often known as proposition or prop bets, look at some of the other aspects of this US election. And you can often get better odds with these wagers than if you were to stick with the typical head-to-head matchup.

In the following article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about placing prop bets on the 2020 election for real money. We’ll explain how these bets work at the top gambling websites that offer them. We’ll also take you inside some of these wagers and talk about how they might play out come Election Day and beyond.

What Are Prop Bets?

Perhaps the best way to describe prop bets is to think in terms of sports. For example, when betting on the Super Bowl each year, you can make obvious bets about who will win or lose, which team will cover the point spread, or how many points each team will score. But there are specialty bets, such as which player will score the first touchdown, how long the game will be, which songs will be played at the halftime show, and so on.

These bets are the prop bets. They are aptly-named because the gambling site, or the house, is essentially making a proposition about a possible outcome.

In the case of the 2020 election in the US, prop bets can be considered pretty much anything that isn’t the main question: who will win the presidential election? These bets can be related to the presidential election or not, but they are generally tied into all the election action taking place this coming Tuesday, November 3rd.

2020 Election Voting Terminals

They can look at serious aspects or trivial aspects of Tuesday’s action, but they must be something that can be accurately measured so that the wager can be fairly won or lost. One of the main reasons people like prop bets is because they offer more potential payback, on average, than straight bets. Considering this presidential election figures will be close, you can’t really get odds on either candidate that will result in a big payoff, at least unless you bet a lot. But you can expect some of the prop bets available to you to give you much better odds than you might otherwise hope to have.

You need to understand that each different gambling website is likely to have its own unique selection of election prop bets. As a result, you should do some shopping around to see what’s available to you so that you can find the bets that you feel confident in winning. Just remember to stick to the most reliable and effective election gambling sites.

What Do the Odds for Prop Bets Mean?

When you see the odds for 2020 election prop bets listed on different websites, you’ll see a number attached to each outcome. These numbers will have a plus or a minus in front of them. Any time you see the numbers, you’re looking at the odds for each possible outcome.

If the prop bet is between only two outcomes, there will usually be a plus in front of one set of odds and a minus in front of the other. The number with the minus represents the favorite, while the number with the plus is the underdog.

If these numbers are close to each other, it means there isn’t much separation between the two outcomes. But if the numbers are quite different, it means that there is a big favorite and a big underdog.

If there are more than two outcomes in a 2020 election prop bet, it could be that all of them have plus signs in front of the odds. That just means that no single outcome is a favorite in the sense that it is expected by a majority of the bettors to happen.

Let’s take a look at a sample set of prop bet odds to show you how it all works:

  • Outcome A: -150
  • Outcome B: +200

Every set of 2020 election prop bets will be based on an average bet of $100 (or whatever denomination you might be using). For the minus (or favorite), you have to bet the amount listed to win $100. And for the plus (or underdog), you have to bet $100 to win the amount listed.

In this case, you would need to bet $150 to gain $100 in return on Outcome A. And if you bet $100 on Outcome B, you would win $200 if that is the result.

It’s important to realize that you don’t have to bet $100 for the underdog or whatever the odds are for the favorite. You can bet higher or lower amounts. But the ratio set by those original odds will hold no matter the size of the bet.

Top 2020 Election Prop Bets Available

We’ve taken a look at the 2020 Election bets and odds listed by BetOnline.ag and MyBookie.ag, two excellent gambling websites. And we’ve spotted some interesting prop bets for the 2020 election that might be of interest to you. Take a look below.

The Day the Loser Concedes the Presidential Election Odds (MyBookie.ag):

  • November 3, 2020: +400
  • November 4, 2020: +225
  • November 5, 2020: +500
  • November 6, 2020: +650
  • November 7, 2020: +800
  • November 8, 2020: +900
  • November 9, 2020: +900
  • November 10, 2020: +800
  • November 11, 2020: +800
  • November 12, 2020: +1200
  • November 13, 2020 or after: -145

This bet might seem odd to you if you haven’t been following everything that’s been going on leading up to the 2020 presidential election in the US. But current events are such that it is becoming increasingly likely that there might be a quick concession by the loser, which is usually the case.

First of all, the race is extremely tight. Even though most polls have Joe Biden with a slight edge when it comes to projecting the Electoral College points that determine the election, the margin of error is still within the range where there could be a different outcome. President Trump was able to overcome polls showing him well behind four years ago in the 2016 election.

Presidential Debate 2020

More importantly, there is the issue of counting votes. There are more people that are expected to vote by mail in 2020 than ever before, and it’s by a huge margin. As a result, it could take a while longer than usual for those votes to be counted, especially in so-called “battleground” states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan.

As a result, the idea that the election might not be clearly decided either on November 3rd (Election Day) or the morning after is in play. And if there is confusion, it is possible that the debate over who won could drag on for a while, as it did in the 2000 election. That’s why the favorite here is the for November 13th and after.

One thing you might want to do to give yourself some value with for this 2020 election prop bet is to choose one of the middle-ground dates where the payback potential is much higher. For example, it’s certainly possible that the losing candidate will concede November 9th, which is six days after the election and the beginning of a new week. That could be a day when one of the two candidates, after a weekend of soul-searching and getting advice from advisors, decides to call it quits.

The safest bet is obviously the November 13th and after option, since the confusion of the mail-in ballots and the tightness of the race could certainly push it that far. But you’d be getting less than the size of your wager in return, which doesn’t seem like it’s that much of a value. It’s better to take a shot at a bigger payoff than settle for something so meager in return, especially when there are that many outcomes in play overall.

2024 US Presidential Election Odds (MyBookie.ag):

  • Joe Biden: +300
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: +300
  • Kamala Harris: +350
  • Elizabeth Warren: +800
  • Bernie Sanders: +1000
  • Michelle Obama: +1000
  • Andrew Cuomo: +1200
  • Ted Cruz: +1200
  • Josh Hawley: +1200
  • Tom Cotton: +1500
  • Pete Buttigieg: +1500
  • Michael Bennet: +2000
  • Cory Booker: +2000
  • Ivanka Trump: +3000
  • Mike Bloomberg: +3000
  • Kanye West: +5000
  • Mark Cuban: +5000
  • Elon Musk: +7500

You might be wondering why anyone would want to bet on an election that is four years away when so many things can happen between now and then that could drastically change things. The simple answer is because you will never get better odds than right now.

What do we mean?

Think back to 2012. Imagine if a similar bet was offered right before Barack Obama won his second term. Chances are, the odds for Donald Trump becoming president in 2016 were quite long, meaning that you could have won big had you taken that chance.

This is also a bet where you should look around at different sites to try and find the best possible odds for your chosen candidate. For example, you see that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is listed at odds of 3 to 1 to win the 2024 election. But if you check out the same bet at BetOnline.ag, her odds are 25 to 1 (+2500). Obviously, you’re better off choosing those odds if you’re an AOC fan.

Looking at the odds at MyBookie.ag, you can see that they believe AOC is going to make her move in the next four years. In fact, they have her as a co-favorite with Biden. Many people think that, even if Biden does win, his age might prevent him from even running again in 2024, let alone beating the next Republican candidate.

Notice also that there isn’t a Republican candidate anywhere in the top few choices. You have to go down to Ted Cruz, sitting at 12 to 1, before you see a GOP possibility listed. The dismissal of the Republican Party for 2024 seems a bit premature, as the party has proven to be resilient as far as elections go.

Pile of I Voted Stickers

How about some of the long shots? Pete Buttigieg at 15 to 1 is an interesting selection. Mayor Pete’s campaign ran out of steam this year, but his recent TV appearance speaking out against President Trump seem to reveal a growing confidence that could serve him well in four years.

Another interesting play at 30 to 1 is Ivanka Trump. Let’s assume that President Trump defies the polls once again and manages to defeat Biden, eventually serving four more years. If that term goes well, his supporters might want to see the presidency stay in the family.

Of course, any bet like this is purely speculative. And there is no way to know if any of these people are even going to run in 2025. But you won’t be able to do much better, odds-wise, than some of these outcomes in any of your 2020 Election prop bets, which makes this one pretty valuable.

Over/Under Bets

If you want a different approach to betting on the 2020 election with prop bets for real money, you might want to try an over/under approach. Instead of trying to predict the outcome of the presidential race or even a senatorial race, you can focus on the numbers. The oddsmakers will set a certain number, and you have to decide if the actual result will go over or under that amount.

Over/under bets are popular in sports like football. And they can be a way to use prop bets on the 2020 election to your advantage. BetOnline.ag features some interesting ones.

Voter Turnout in the 2020 Election:

  • Over 149 ½ million voters: -225
  • Under 149 ½ million voters: +160

This is an interesting one because of the nature of this election. As we said, many people are preparing to vote via mail-in ballot. This could certainly push the totals skyward from what we usually expect.

In addition to that, this election in particular seems to have inspired many people who haven’t voted in recent years (or in elections before) to get involved. Those who have been pleased with how the last four years have gone are fired up to make sure it stays that way. And those on the other side, perhaps frustrated with how things have gone during President Trump’s term, might coming out en masse to keep it from happening again.

It stands to reason that the turnout will be higher this time around. In 2016, only 138 million people voted. Will enough people get involved that the number soars above the over, and is that risk worth taking at such low odds?

Here is another interesting 2020 election over/under prop bet at BetOnline.ag.

House Seats Won by Democrats:

  • Over 209 ½ Seats: -2000
  • Under 209 ½ Seats: +900

Because so many people are concentrating on the presidential and senatorial elections, where control could flip from one party to another, there hasn’t been as much focus on the House of Representatives. But it could provide the opportunity for a winning prop bet for those who are willing to go down that road.

Right now, there are 232 Democrats and 197 Republicans in the House. Most expert predictions seem to suggest that they’ll stay in that position in the upcoming election. Republicans would have to flip 13 seats to get to the over.

Yet the oddsmakers are clearly trying to push you to take the Republican side because of the unfavorable odds the other way around. You might now want to bet $20 to make $1, which is what you’d have to do if you go with Democrats.

How you bet on politics in 2020 could depend on what your overall goal is. Are you happy with a tiny profit? Or is it a case of trying to win more with a smaller wager?


We hope that you now have a better feel for making prop bets on the United States 2020 election. Make sure to look around for the best possible odds for whatever bet you want to make. And always make sure to stick with reliable gambling websites for these wagers! Good luck.

Is It Legal to Bet on the 2020 Presidential Election?

Presidential Seal and Scales of Justice With Biden and Trump Portraits

The 2020 presidential election cycle is drawing to a close, and the United States is a mere few days away from finally deciding on a president. And you might be noticing various indications of the odds for each of the two main candidates, President Donald Trump and challenger Joe Biden. That might lead you to ask the question of whether or not it is legal to bet on the presidential election in the United States in the first place.

This year’s election has perhaps garnered more interest from the American public than any in decades. People on both sides are extremely passionate about their candidate, to the point where it feels like there isn’t much middle ground. And since people are so vocal about their chosen candidate, it stands to reason that they might want to put their money where their mouths are by making wagers on the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

Here are some of the sites that we believe will give you the best possible experience for betting on the 2020 presidential election:

  • MyBookie – 100% Welcome Bonus up to $1,000
  • BetNow – 100% Welcome Bonus up to $1,000
  • Bovada – 50% Welcome Bonus up to $250
  • BetOnline – 50% Welcome Bonus up to $1,000

There might be some question about whether or not it is legal to bet on the presidential election. On one hand, you have to worry about whether you, as a bettor, can even place a wager. Then, you also have to ensure that the online gambling websites where you place your bets will actually pay you back.

We’re here to help you out by providing some clarity by telling you whether or not you can legally wager on the US presidential election. In addition, we’ll tell you which sites to visit if you do want to make legal wagers. Finally, we’ll also talk to you about the types of bets you can make if you do decide to go forward with betting on the 2020 presidential election.

Can You Legally Bet on the US Presidential Election?

Well, the simplest answer is yes and no. You can make your wagers on the 2020 presidential election as long as you do so with a site that can legally take them. But even if you find yourself betting on the election through an illegal venue of some sort, you usually are not the one facing the legal burden.

Back in the early 1960s, the United States put a law into effect called the Federal Wire Act. It was directed at organized crime and their habit of making lots of money from taking sports wagers from common citizens. But this law essentially means that no betting can take place across state lines without an okay from the jurisdiction in question.

Vote 2020 Metal Buttons

In other words, the bookies that unofficially ran the action back in those days were the ones that were targeted. But it’s important to realize that the bettors themselves weren’t the ones who were in any legal jeopardy. The only ones who had to worry were the ones taking the bets.

Although the Federal Wire Act was meant to cover sporting events, it stands to reason that it could easily be applied to those who wanted to take odds on US elections. The bottom line is, if you’re in the United States and betting with an unsanctioned bookmaker or organization, those taking the bets may have to deal with the law.

Gambling on the Presidential Election Online

When the creators of the Federal Wire Act wrote the law, they were essentially using wire communications as their method of stopping illegal gambling. In other words, any kind of telephone communication about gambling was grounds for legal action. But those lawmakers never envisioned the internet as a form of wire communications in the future.

The way that the Wire Act could be applied to online gambling has been a source of great legal debate for decades. It is still somewhat up in the air whether sports gambling or casino-type gambling is allowed on gambling websites within the United States. And there is another gray area about whether you can bet with sites located overseas, where there are little to no laws restricting online gambling.

Of course, this would all apply to any attempts to bet online on the 2020 presidential election. You will have no problem finding sites located overseas giving you the opportunity to wager on it. What you won’t find is any US sites, such as those sites attached to land-based casinos in states where sports and casino gambling are legal, giving odds on the election.

The reason is that it would likely be frowned upon by the United States Justice Department. If the sites indicated that one candidate was way ahead, it could discourage people from actually going out and voting. That’s why you won’t see odds on Trump and Biden alongside the odds for the Cowboys-Eagles game this Sunday, at least not at US betting sites.

Betting on the Presidential Election Overseas

We’ve established that it isn’t likely that you’ll be able to legally wager on the 2020 presidential election at United States-based casinos, sportsbooks, or gambling websites. But what about the betting websites that are located outside the US?

If you’ve ever traveled overseas and visited a bookmaker operation of casino, you might have been surprised at the vast number of events—even ones that aren’t sports-related—that can be wagered at these locations. There is no doubt that gambling laws are a little more relaxed in certain countries outside the United States. And that applies to the gambling websites that are sourced from these countries.

Can you bet on the 2020 presidential election with these sites? Again, the answer isn’t just a simple yes or no.

If you find that you are able to sign up for a top-rated online betting site, fund your account, and place a wager on the US presidential election, you really don’t have to worry about any kind of legal ramifications coming down on you.

But the key is whether or not you will be able to do that. The main issue is transferring your money. Some financial institutions, such as banks or credit card companies, may frown on your use of their funds for overseas gambling.

If that’s the case, you might find that you can’t make deposits into your account. That means you won’t be able to wager on the presidential election, because you won’t be able to put anything at stake. But if you choose your gambling websites wisely, you won’t have this problem. In the next few sections, we’ll explain how to do that.

Safely Betting on the 2020 Presidential Election

You have to realize that the world of online gambling is quite a competitive one. There are hundreds of online betting operations available to you, most of which are located outside the United States. And many of those will likely offer you the chance to bet on the presidential election.

The problem is that many of these sites aren’t quite as trustworthy and reliable as you might like them to be. Whenever you bet on anything online, you’ll need to provide both personal and financial information. And if you give that info to a site that isn’t trustworthy, it can be disastrous for you.

Election Ballot Drop Off Box

For that reason, you should only choose reputable websites to wager on the presidential election. First of all, these legit sites are safe for you in terms of setting up an account and providing the necessary information. Second, these sites can also be trusted to return any winnings to you that you might have achieved betting on the presidential election for real money.

But how do you know which of these trusted presidential election betting sites are okay to use? Well, you have to do the research and read the reviews offered online.

One other important characteristic of these gambling websites is that they all can boast of a wide variety of funding options. If one or more of your preferred banking methods is in some way blocked or unavailable, you should still be able to find another one that works for you. And that ensures you’ll have no problem getting your wagers in for the 2020 presidential election.

How to Bet on the 2020 Presidential Election Online

For those of you who have never wagered on anything online before, you might think that the process is confusing. But it’s actually quite simple, even for those who might be a little technologically-challenged. Here is a simple step-by-step guide:

  1. Choose your site: You can look up sites that allow you to wager on the 2020 presidential election. However, we suggest that you begin with the top gambling sites. Search through those sites to see which one seems most comfortable to you.
  2. Sign up: This will require you to provide personal information so that the site can know who you are and how to contact you. You’ll also have to create a username and password. Once you have that in place, you’ll enter it every time you log into the site.
  3. Fund your account: This is what we talked about above, where you provide the financial information that allows you to deposit and withdraw from your gambling account. This might mean typing in credit card numbers, bank account routing numbers, or even cryptocurrency account numbers.
  4. Find the page for betting on the 2020 presidential election: The best gambling websites will be easy to navigate, so this shouldn’t be a problem. You’ll decide what types of bets to make (more on that below) and how much you want to put at stake.
  5. Win the bet: If your bet is successful, the money that you’ve earned—based on the odds that were provided to you for wager and how much you put at stake—will be added to your gambling account. If, at any point, you want to get your hands on that money, you’ll contact the site to begin the withdrawal process.

Betting on the 2020 Presidential Election

Now that you know that it’s possible to wager on the 2020 presidential election without the law banging on your door, you might want to know about how betting on the election works specifically. What are the types of wagers you can make? And what do the odds mean? We answer that below.

Types of Bets

The most basic wager that you can make on the presidential election is a straight bet on which candidate will win. This is as simple as it gets. Bet on Biden or Trump directly, and you’ll win if you’re right when all is said and done.

But you can go beyond that to try one of the more exotic bets on the presidential election. These are often known as “proposition bets.” You can find odds on just about anything connected with this year’s election.

For example, some popular prop bets on the 2020 presidential election this year include:

  • When will the loser concede the election? This bet is popular this year because of the possibility that the election will drag out for several days due to the onslaught of expected mail-in ballots.
  • What will the count of the Electoral College be? Many betting websites will set up what is known as an over/under total for how many electoral votes either candidate will win. You then have to decide whether the actual total will go over or under that number.
  • Who will win the Senate? In addition to it being a tight presidential race, the control of the United States Senate appears to be up for grabs this year. That will make for a popular prop bet this year.

What the Odds Mean

When you see odds for the presidential election listed, you’ll usually see a plus or minus in front of the number. This is in reference to the moneyline, which is used by oddsmakers as a way of evening out the two sides. It’s common in sporting events.

The moneyline is always based on 100 units of whatever denomination you’ll be using. Whichever candidate has the minus sign in front of the odds is the favorite, while the one with the plus sign is the underdog. For example, at BetOnline.ag, the current odds for who will win the 2020 presidential election look like this:

  • Joe Biden: -200
  • Donald Trump: +175

What this means is that, if you bet on Biden—the current favorite—you would have to bet $200 to win $100 in return. By contrast, if you bet on President Trump, you would win $175 on a $100 wager.

Of course, you aren’t limited to only betting $100. If you’d like to know the odds, just do a little division. For example, if you wanted to bet $50 on Joe Biden, you’d win $25 in return. $200 to win $100 = $50 (200 divided by 4) to win $25 (100 to win 25)

You’ll likely see moneylines attached to all kinds of presidential election bets available on gambling websites, such as prop bets and over/unders. Always remember that big numbers in front of the minus or plus usually means a big favorite/underdog. The closer the numbers are to 100, the tighter the oddsmakers believe the race will be.


We know we threw a lot of information at you concerning betting on the 2020 presidential election. Let’s try to sum up what we’ve learned to this point:

  • Whenever a bet of any kind is considered illegal, the target of legal scrutiny is usually the entity that takes the bet, not the bettor.
  • Because of the Federal Wire Act and the concerns that advertising betting lines might influence voter turnout, you won’t be able to legally bet on the presidential election at any operator or website located within the United States.
  • Websites outside of the United States will offer plenty of wagers on the presidential election.
  • As long as you don’t have any problems funding your account, you should be able to bet on the election at reputable offshore gambling sites.
  • There is a wide range of bets available for the US presidential election beyond just which candidate will win the presidency.
  • There are plenty of moneyline bets for the presidential election, but there are props and over/unders, too.

We hope that you can now make an informed decision about whether or not you feel comfortable wagering on the presidential election this year. It has been a long campaign, which has caused a lot of controversy amongst the public. At the end of it all, we hope that if you do decide to wager on the outcome, you come up a winner.

Weekly Poker Update: October 26, 2020

Weekly Poker Update With Doug Polk and Daniel Negreanu

There hasn’t been a lot to talk about in terms of actual poker action over the past few months, especially since the conclusion of the World Series of Poker online event. Obviously, world events have forced the cancellation or postponement of many live events. And what events that have taken place haven’t always gone so well.

It’s a good thing that professional poker players have the kind of dynamic personalities that can often create news where there seems to be none. That has certainly been the case for Daniel Negreanu and Doug Polk. The two have sustained an intense rivalry even though they’ve spent precious little time staring each other down across the felt.

For years, Polk and Negreanu have been sniping at each other, over slights and differences of opinion that can often seem somewhat slight to an impartial observer. And they’ve also threatened to take each other on for more than half a decade in the ultimate showdown. Most of the poker world never figured it would ever happen, or that all the posturing would lead to nothing more than that.

Well, lo and behold, the two have not only agreed to meet in a head-to-head matchup, but have even set a date. And that date is November 1, meaning that the whole poker world will be watching.

We already have enjoyed the build-up, providing us news when there wasn’t much else in the poker world for us to get excited about over these past few months. Now it’s time to see if the actual contest lives up to the hype, which, quite frankly, might be an extremely difficult thing for it to do.

How We Got Here

If we were to detail every time Negreanu and Polk traded verbal jabs in the last few years, we’d have a small novel. Instead, let’s concentrate on the high points.

First of all, the introductions:  You have Negreanu, Kid Poker himself, who was one of the leading figures in the real money Texas Hold‘em explosion of the early 2000s. He is a charismatic figure, one of those guys you either hate to love or love to hate. As years passed, he became an unofficial promoter for the sport, albeit in sometimes controversial fashion.

Pro Poker Player Doug Polk

Polk is more of a new-school guy, somebody who was sort of scuffling along in various tournaments before finding a niche in head-to-head money games, where he quickly became a legend. He also learned the self-promotional tools of social media, which he used to build his brand and, occasionally, give his two cents on the actions of other players.

Indeed, the social media world has been the setting for most of this rivalry. It began when Polk questioned Negreanu’s assertion to another player that he could indeed become a force in cash games if he was just given a little time to practice them. The fuse was officially lit.

It became more of an inferno a few years back when Negreanu made controversial comments, somewhat misconstrued but still ill-advised, suggesting that a higher takeout would actually be better in some cases because it would force out pros and allow recreational players to win more. Polk actually took out a billboard to troll Negreanu about his words.

The tension kept simmering until this past summer, when Polk again started applying pressure to meet Negreanu head to head. Negreanu surprised everyone by suddenly accepting, finally putting an end to all the back-and-forth so that they could settle it with the cards. But first, they would have to agree on the particulars, which, unsurprisingly considering these two, caused even more drama.

Setting the Ground Rules

Because it is a head-to-head matchup, which is Polk’s area of expertise (even though he has scaled back his play dramatically in recent years), concessions would have to be made for Negreanu to finally agree. Seemingly every detail of the match was up for negotiation, from the amount of hands to be played to the online venue that would be hosting.

Two of the biggest sticking points indirectly demonstrate the differences between the two men in terms of styles of play. First of all, Negreanu insisted there be no use of pre-flop charts. These charts, which can give players a mathematical heads-up about when to fold and when to push forth, are part and parcel of online play.

Pro Poker Player Daniel Negreanu

On the one hand, they really aren’t that different from a baseball manager using statistical information in a dugout to decide what pinch-hitter or relief pitcher to put in the game. On the other side of the coin, Negreanu seems to see it as a high-handed way of cheating, and there are a probably a lot of players who agree with him.

Negreanu also didn’t want to see any use of hold-card cameras. This might have seemed like an odd request, since these cameras have been standard fare for televised poker for decades. But his point is that Polk being able to look back at day’s end and parse Negreanu’s strategy would give Polk even more of an edge that he might already have.

Negreanu eventually agreed to make use of the cameras for part of the match. As far as we know, we think that we’re all set for a start on November 1st, with action you can view at WSOP.com. But with these two, we shouldn’t take anything for granted.

Action on the Action

In case you’re wondering, Negreanu is a 4 to 1 underdog according to poker websites. Some high-profile names, including Phil Hellmuth and Mike Matusow, have already put in their money behind Kid Poker. Maybe it’s a sign of faith, or maybe it’s a case of the odds being too juicy to pass up.

Whatever the case may be, it appears that the preliminaries are just about complete. There is nothing left to do but to shut up and deal. We’ll all find out who the better player is, at least in this setting for this amount of time.

You could say that it’s an event that the poker world has been waiting for and that it’s about time. But there will also be people who are hoping that the rivalry off the felt continues even after they go head to head in this showdown. After all, the verbal warfare has been pretty entertaining stuff in its own right.

Weekly Poker Update: October 19, 2020

Weekly Poker Update Text and Atlantic City Skyline

For the bulk of the past few months, we have been relegated to news about online poker in this column. Social distancing requirements and health protocols have kept both everyday players and hardcore professionals away from the felt, forcing them to settle for the online sphere.

This past week seems like a good indication that a return to live poker on a larger scale might not be too far off. Several poker rooms across the country either reopened or announced immediate plans to do so, including several within East Coast gambling hotspots like New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Restrictions are in place, of course, but it is definitely a positive sign going forward.

Poker Reopening Review

The biggest news of all of these returns comes from Atlantic City, where poker rooms have been dark since March. But that will all change after the announcement that the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa will have its poker room up and running again this coming week.

Why is this such a big deal? Well, first of all, the Borgata’s poker room is essentially the largest one in AC, with 30 tables available. That’s a good way to start.

And that’s the other key here. The Borgata is the first of the five casinos in Atlantic City to reopen for live poker. Considering the city’s reputation as a gambling mecca, it is a kind of symbolic victory for all poker players to see one of the casinos getting back into the live game business.

Borgata Casino Poker Room

Of course, precautions are being taken. Live cash games with seven-handed action will be taking place at the 30 tables. Dividers will be placed between each player, and no spectators will be allowed in the room. There will be no food allowed in the poker room, and masks must be worn.

But those little inconveniences seem like a small price to pay for the chance to bring live poker back to AC. And the good news doesn’t end there.

  • In Pennsylvania, Mount Airy Casino and The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono became the first casinos in the state to reinstate live poker this past week. Pennsylvania was one of the first states outside Nevada and New Jersey to legalize casino gambling, which makes it a hot spot for action.
  • In Las Vegas, eight-handed action will be returning to Planet Hollywood. Many other Vegas casinos got back to poker action in June, making Planet Hollywood one of the last holdouts.
  • Casino Helsinki, in Finland, announced a return to live action with a weeklong event scheduled for November. It will be the first live poker event in Finland since the shutdown. That makes it a nice item for those who players overseas who have been hankering to get back to live action.

All of these are encouraging signs. But there is no doubt there is a still way to go before the poker scene is quite back to where it was.

Keep in mind that most of the announcements listed above are your basic run-of-the-mill daily action. There still haven’t been any major efforts at live tournaments to be conducted anywhere but online. (The one effort that was made recently, but it didn’t turn out so great.)

Still, it’s a matter of baby steps. The Borgata’s announcement and these other news items seem to indicate that the rumors of the demise of love poker seem to have been greatly exaggerated.

Poker as Life Book Club

This year, we’ve seen a boom in books that claim that learning poker can teach you a lot more than how to win a lot of money. Earlier this year, Maria Konnikova had a hit with The Biggest Bluff: How I Learned to Pay Attention, Master Myself and Win. It was a combination of self-help and memoir that spoke to how poker’s life lessons can be healing and revelatory.

On the heels of that, this past week saw the release of How to Decide: Simple Tools for Making Better Choices. To the uninitiated, this might not seem, based on the somewhat generic title, like it has much connection to the world of poker. But when you find out that the author is Annie Duke and that name rings a bell, you’ll figure it out quickly.

Ex Pro Poker Player Annie Duke

For those who might not know, Duke was one of the most popular poker pros at the time when real money Texas Hold’em events began showing up with regularity on TV in the 2000s. She was often the lone woman at some seriously star-studded tables. And she did more than hold her own; she, for a long-time, was the highest-earning woman in the sport and has multiple titles on some of the biggest stages.

Duke essentially retired from poker around 2012 and has turned her attention to other pursuits, such as consulting for major companies and corporate speaking. Along the way, she started to write books about these dual worlds, including the 2018 Thinking in Bets.

How to Decide is aimed at business owners and investors and attempts to demystify the decision-making process, using the lessons Duke learned in poker as an example. In interviews promoting the book, she has spoken a bit about the process.

The parallels that she draws between poker and investing are insightful, which the book likely expounds upon in much greater depth. She talks about how in poker, you can account for only so much, due to the luck of the draw. And when making decisions about investing or personal or business finances, the same applies, as you can’t possibly know what unexpected event might occur.

Books like Duke’s and Konnikova’s are beneficial to the poker world because of how they shine a different light on the pastime, especially for those who might not know much about it. They run against the stereotype of poker players as seedy and against the stereotype of the game itself as being one that doesn’t have a lot of redeeming value.

Let’s hope that Duke continues to churn out informative, interesting books like these that branch far beyond the world of poker. In this way, she’s making a contribution to the game as impactful as the one she made when she played it.

Weekly Poker Update: October 12, 2020

Weekly Poker Update The Midway Poker Tour Logo

Most poker tournament play has been relegated to the online arena over the past several months. The necessary health protocols that need to go into place for a live tournament are costly and still quite can’t ensure the safety for players stuck in an indoor location for hours at a time. It’s just the way it has to be right now until things change.

Perhaps that’s why the promise of a new poker tour starting up in the middle of all this, with actual live tournaments as the driving force, should have been met with an air of skepticism. Ironically enough, the health concerns weren’t the problems that wreaked so much havoc on the Midway Poker Tour’s inaugural event last weekend. Instead, it seemed to be lack of coordination between the Tour’s founders and the charitable organization that was part of the tournament.

Nothing Gold or Silver Can Stay

For an excellent overview of the entire debacle, PokerNews gives the exact blow-by-blow rundown from a reporter who was on site during the event. But for the sake of our little recap here, we’ll explain the highs—or as the case may be, the lows—of the whole affair.

The Midway Poker Tour was intended to be a way back into the live tournament world and an attempt to be a player-friendly alternative to other tours. To start things off, an $1,100 buy-in and $100,000 guaranteed event was held at Sheraton Suites Chicago Elk Grove in socially-distanced ballrooms.

When all was said and done, there were 266 entrants over the opening two days on October 2nd and 3rd, putting the total purse at $258,020, well over the initial guarantee. After the prize structure was calculated, 31 players were guaranteed at least $2,300, with the winner grabbing a total of $55,060.

That’s pretty good scratch for what was meant to be a regional-type tour. And it certainly would have been a promising start for the overall enterprise, were it not for some folks not reading the fine print before moving forward.

The event was held in conjunction with the charity 4 KIDS Sake, Inc. And that charity aspect is what caused the big issue.

Midway Poker Tour Promotion

It turns out Illinois gambling laws limit any type of cash payback in such an event to $500 above the initial buy-in. In other words, the most that players could walk away with in cash was $1,600, below the minimum and well below what the top performers were supposed to get.

This little hitch appears to have been noticed only at the last-minute by both tour leaders and charity workers. The solution was something that had been used by other events: combine the cash with precious metals which could then be exchanged for cash. But there were a few problems with that.

First of all, many of the players were unaware of this setup until they went to collect their winnings where notified. Not to worry, said organizers. The plan was to have a little bit of metal on site that would be sort of handed from player to player as they cashed out on the premises.

Illinois law insists that the metals can’t be just a sort of holding prize to be passed around, but that there would have to be enough for each winner to have possession of the actual winning amount. And it also stipulates that there could not be an on-site exchange. Basically, nothing that the organizers hoped to pull off was allowable.

A wild scramble to acquire over $200,000 in silver at least got the prizes to the players. But that also meant that they would have to be responsible for the effort of exchanging this silver on their own, with variable rates and fees complicating that process even further. In essence, the winners had to do more work to get the cash they earned at the tables.

The founder of Midway Poker Tour has since promised to all the players involved that all would be made right (and apparently that process has already begun). Still, it’s hard to imagine that this tour will be able to rev up the momentum it needs to try this again.

Oh, by the way, Renato Spahiu ended up winning the event. It’s never a good sign when who wins the thing is the least important part of a poker tournament story.)

In any case, we’ll have to wait and see if other real money poker tours (if any more of them decide to try their luck in this difficult environment for such events) can learn from the example here of what not to do. If not, they might want to hire a lawyer to check the landscape and make sure their players will be properly paid.

Postle Pushes Back

A few weeks ago, we told you about the saga of Mike Postle, a poker pro accused of cheating by many of his peers. Posner was called out after an incredible hot streak, fueled by unorthodox play, took place in a Sacramento casino during live-streamed events over about a year-long period.

Mike Postle Live Stream Poker Game

His accusers could never pinpoint how Postle pulled off the alleged cheating, which they assumed was fueled by his having access to the other players’ hole cards. Nor was any evidence ever uncovered of any misconduct during these tables. (Theories ranged from the information being passed to his cell phone to a transmitter hidden beneath his baseball cap.)

The scandal hasn’t shown any signs of letting up. And Postle is trying to fight back now by filing a $330 million lawsuit against some of his accusers. Some big names are included as defendants, including top poker pros Daniel Negreanu and Phil Galfond, as well as ESPN, who reported on the story.

The gist of Postle’s complaints is that the defendants made claims about his cheating even if they knew they were false. It falls in line with Postle’s previous insistence that the entire cheating story was a conspiracy against him.

Veronica Brill, who was a commentator on the controversial livestreams and brought the accusations into the spotlight through social media, is also on the defendant’s list. She told Wired magazine that she is hoping to fight the lawsuit and eventually get into court where facts will come forward. Don’t be surprised if you continue to hear a lot about this story in the coming months.

Weekly Poker Update: October 5, 2020

Poker Update Text and Phil Hellmuth and Antonio Esfandiari

We are in unprecedented times in the world of poker, with many large events having to gear down or make a transition into the online sphere. As a result, players are trying to find ways to drum up big action in some sort of attention-grabbing setting. And poker fans are craving to see it as well.

That could be the reason for the recent mini-boom in staged head-to-head showdowns. With the World Series of Poker’s online edition now in the rear view, many big names are seeking the kind of exposure that they usually get from big tournaments. And these one-on-one battles seem to be filling in the gap.

Head-to-Head Heyday

In recent weeks, Phil Hellmuth and Antonio Esfandiari battled in a pair of showdowns for big stakes. So far, Hellmuth has come out on top, with the most recent victory coming in a $200,000 battle this past week. This is an open-ended series which could probably go on as long as the competitors wish to keep propping it up.

Also, this week, Daniel Negreanu agreed to a head-to-head battle with his rival Doug Polk. This challenge first cropped over the summer, and it took this long for the combatants to agree on the details. It appears, barring any more flare-ups, that the two will go at it starting on November 1st of this year.

Poker Player Phil Galfond

Then there’s the case of Phil Galfond, by far the most ambitious of the head-to-head battlers. His so-called “Galfond challenge” is basically a gauntlet thrown down to any other poker pro who wants to pick it up. Galfond has done a lot of this battling in the real money online poker sphere, and he’s been coming out on top with regularity.

So, where do all these battles stand at the moment? Well, let’s start with the Hellmuth-Esfandiari matchup. These two are the probably among the most recognizable players to those who fell in love with poker during the Texas Hold’em boom of the early 2000s.

When they first clashed back in those heady days, there seemed to be a genuine animosity between the two of them. Hellmuth found “The Magician’s” tactics infuriating. It made for some intense matchups over the years.

The animosity between Hellmuth and Esfandiari has since been replaced by genuine friendship, as the two have become elder statesmen for the pastime in many ways. That’s why the ribbing that takes place during these most recent matchups is more on the benign side. Hellmuth still goes through his histrionics, but it feels more like theatre than anything else.

In any case, he has had the better of it so far, so there isn’t too much he needs to complain about. Hellmuth took the first round in July. He followed it up by busting Esfandiari out this past week in a match streamed by PokerGo, using a bluff-happy strategy that had The Magician on the defensive the whole time.

What’s next? Well, Esfandiari has the right to call for a rematch for $400,000, which could immediately reverse the $300,000 that he already lost to Hellmuth. Is there any doubt this is going to happen?

Pro Poker Feud

In the case of Daniel Negreanu and Doug Polk, there was a lot of doubt that their much-hyped head-to-head battle would come to fruition. This battle figures to be the direct opposite of what is going down between Hellmuth and Esfandiari. Quite simply, it really appears that these two men hate each other.

It has been a feud boiling for about six years now. At one point, it included Polk buying billboard space to mock Negreanu. In the past year, Negreanu has been in the spotlight for far more than his play, which once again drew needling from Polk. All of a sudden, the challenge that had been tossed about for years was finally accepted.

Of course, considering the many fits and starts in this story, there was no guarantee that this would actually happen. But the details seem to have finally worked out this past week. The tentative start date is November 1st.

Poker Players Daniel Negreanu and Doug Polk

Needless to say, the two argued back and forth on social media about this, upping their animosity. All of the details are a bit intricate, but the bottom line is 25,000 head-to-head hands, unless someone decides to pack it in halfway through because they’re too far behind. The stakes might also be raised at that halfway point as well.

Alas, the spectacle of it might not be as entertaining as it otherwise could be because Negreanu only agreed on the condition that his hole cards would not be shown during play. His logic is that the format is more to Polk’s strengths anyway (even though the latter has ramped down his poker activity the past few years). Daniel Negreanu feels that Doug Polk being able to study his style of play would hamper his chances even more.

It isn’t yet set in stone that this will happen. But it does seem closer to being realized than ever before.

Finally, there is Galfond, whose approach of taking on all comers doesn’t seem to be wearing him down at all. Galfond has already scored two conquests that were finished in the spring, earning nearly 400,000 Euros in the process. And now, he’s in the midst of two other matches and doing quite well.

He has been sporadically taking on Bill Perkins since April and is well ahead in that duel, although it isn’t yet complete. And this past week, Galfond has been going toe-to-toe with Chance Kornuth. The Galfond-Kornuth battles has been a wild affair, with Galfond building a big lead but Kornuth resiliently cutting into that lead at press time.

As if all this weren’t enough, Galfond still has two more of these matches on the docket, albeit with no set start date. If he could somehow manage to sweep all six of these confrontations, it would no doubt go down as one of the most impressive head-to-head poker feats ever.

Poker Nostalgia

The head-to-head matchup in poker certainly carries a kind of nostalgic resonance. After all, when you picture the Old West and saloons and dusty cowboys, there is always that card game between two players across a rickety table at the heart of it. This recent rash of head-to-head matchups, with all the strategy they entail, certainly evokes that nostalgia.

It remains to be seen when the poker world will return to the way it was before all the craziness of 2020 went down. Let’s just hope that there’s still a place for these high-stakes head-to-head showdowns even when normalcy returns. They’re just way too much fun to lose.

Weekly Poker Update: September 28, 2020

Poker Player Mike Postle

They say that any publicity is good publicity. And it’s hard to deny that the cheating scandal surrounding Mike Postle and his exploits at the Stones Gambling Hall in Sacramento, California, over the past couple years is intriguing stuff, even if you’re not a poker aficionado.

It has everything: intrigue, animosity, charismatic characters, and big wads of money changing hands. Or at least if did before it devolved, like everything eventually does, into an issue haggled over by lawyers, which is where it currently stands.

This is by no means a new story, as it was first reported about this time a year ago. But it received a fresh coat of paint courtesy of Wired and an online article by investigative journalist Brendan Koerner. It’s an exhaustive piece of reportage that covers all the bases and makes an honest effort to get both sides of the story, even if it’s pretty clear what side Koerner believes.

Poker Cheating Controversy

For those who may have missed the details, Postle—up to that point a middling poker pro—went on an incredible tear at Stones. This began in the summer of 2018 and continuing for the better part of a year, in real money Texas Hold’em tournaments that were live-streamed by the casino.

In a tournament last September, Veronica Brill—a poker player herself who was acting as commentator for the event—raised issues about the legitimacy of Postle’s play, issues on which she elaborated shortly after on social media.

In the aftermath, the poker world seemed to take sides. Both Brill and Postle were eventually the subject of harassment. Accusations and denials were flung, legal issues were raised, and no real answers were ever uncovered to anybody’s satisfaction.

Speculation was that somehow, Postle—whose success was built on decision-making that many other pros saw as unorthodox—had received information about what other players at the table were holding as their hole cards. Since these were live-streamed events, hole-card cameras were in place.

Perhaps, Postle had somehow glommed on to these camera feeds, either through a technological loophole he exploited or with the help of a conspirator? And perhaps he then accessed this information through his cell phone or even a transmitter hidden in his baseball cap, as some have alleged.

Poker Player Veronica Brill

Again, there has been no proof of any kind that Postle did anything but beat the odds at a mathematically unlikely rate. As for the legal ramifications, they have mostly fizzled out. A settlement with some plaintiffs in a case involving Postle and the casino was offered, where some money was awarded on the condition that those receiving money conceded that no evidence of cheating was found.

The article examines the damage done to the main participants in this imbroglio, with both Postle and Brill now estranged from poker. But it also speaks to another interesting disconnect in the poker world between those who believe in the numbers and those who think the game goes deeper than that.

There is an unspoken thread running through the article that many of those who thought Postle was cheating were those who harbored an analytical approach to the game. By that, we mean that they based their decisions on computer algorithms and other technological resources meant to yield the ideal play in every possible Texas Hold’em situation. Koerner makes several references to game theory optimal, or GTO, in his article.

Yet we have to remember that Hold’em Poker is not the same as playing video poker. In video poker, there is a correct play for every situation because there is no human element in the game. Make those decisions and, once luck evens out, you will do better than someone who makes other choices.

What if Postle was just extremely astute at reading his competitors at the table, either detecting tells of betting patterns that helped him intuit what cards they were holding? That wouldn’t account for the fact that he hadn’t been able to do that so well previously in his career, when his results weren’t that noteworthy. Could he have just figured something out?

It’s a situation reminiscent of the whole Moneyball debate in baseball. When that famous book was published, it helped initiate an era where baseball decision-makers started to lean heavily on statistical information, instead of subjective traits, for everything from player acquisition to lineup construction. Yet even now, a couple decades after that book came out, you’ll still find baseball lifers who think analytics are mumbo-jumbo and are ruining the game that they love.

In similar fashion, the Postle case seems to illuminate that schism in the poker world. Even as the micro picture of Postle’s actions is still extremely cloudy, the macro picture is of a poker world somewhat divided between the old and the new guard. And that debate figures to rage on long after the memories of this specific mess dim.

Phil vs. Antonio: The Eternal Struggle Continues

On a much lighter note, one of modern poker’s longest-standing rivalries will undergo a new chapter this coming week. Phil Hellmuth will take on Antonio Esfandiari toe-to-toe in the second round of their “High-Stakes Duel” series on Wednesday at 6 PM PDT. You can watch it via PokerGo’s app and social media outlets.

The esteemed duo will be going at it for $200,000 in a head-to-head Texas Hold’em battle. In Round 1, held by PokerGo back in July, Hellmuth got the better of Esfandiari. Now, the stakes have been doubled for this one, since Esfandiari has demanded a rematch.

Poker Player Phil Hellmuth

Apparently, the idea behind this is that the loser can continue calling for rematches at double the stakes of the previous match. You can argue that these two have met for much higher stakes in the past, of course, but there’s no sense in raining on this parade.

After all, any occasion we get to see Esfandiari infuriate Hellmuth is one that should be cherished. At one point, these two actually seemed to actively dislike each other.

Now, the two are good friends, so any histrionics at the table on Wednesday will likely be theatre. But with personalities this big and poker talents this vast, it should at least be entertaining theatre, so why quibble?

Weekly Poker Update: September 21, 2020

September 21 Text On a Black Poker Chip

For the past month, most of the oxygen in the poker world has been sucked up by the World Series of Poker online event. It took place from July through the first week of September, stirring up both acclaim and controversy. It was a noteworthy occasion, considering that this was the first effort to hold the WSOP all online because of the inability to hold it live.

World Poker Tour Events

Next to the World Series of Poker, however, the biggest brand name in terms of poker events has to be the World Poker tour. And they have also taken things online, enjoying similarly impressive player engagement as the WSOP.

Two of the more high-profile events in the World Poker Tour online edition took place this past week. First up was the main event. The buy-in was $10,300 for this no-limit Texas Hold’em event.

The high price of entering certainly didn’t scare away the faithful. 1,011 entries eventually took a crack at it. With the size of the field, the guaranteed purse for the field of $10 million actually rose to just over $10.1 million, with the winner looking at a cool payout of over $1.5 million.

Poker Player Phillip Mighall

The competitors at the final table were mostly those with long track records of big-money tournament success. Not surprisingly, the momentum swung wildly as the final nine took their shots at each other. Damian Salas had the lead at the beginning of the action, but the proverbial deck was shuffled on the leaderboard quite a few times after that.

Interestingly enough, the pair that would eventually end up as the final two, Phllip Mighall and Teun Mulder largely stayed out of the knockout hands that reduced the field. Mighall was responsible for two eliminations, including that of third-place finisher Salas, and Mulder just one.

When he knocked Salas, Mighall had benefitted from an extremely lucky river card that turned him from big underdog to winner. In the hand that eventually decided the Main Event, he also pulled one out. Initially, he sat with an off-suited 7-10 while Mulder rocked a pair of aces.

A third ace on the flop likely made Mulder feel even more invincible, not thinking that the nine and jack that came down as well would have any effect. On the turn, Mighall received the eight to make his straight. When Mighall went all-in at that point, Mulder quickly called, only to see the trap into which he had fallen.

Mulder still could have pulled it out of the fire if the river had produced another ace or something to match the revealed cards on the board for a full house. When that didn’t happen, Mighall was able to celebrate. It was his first ever career title and his career bankroll took a 150% or so jump to over $2 million.

Steve O’Dwyer Goes Head-to-Head

While Mighall’s win was a career-best, Steve O’Dwyer is no stranger to big victories. He came into the World Poker Tour’s heads-up championship with a very impressive 28 career titles and over $31 million in tournament earnings. But even though he had cashed in many times, a win in either the World Series of Poker or the World Poker Tour had always eluded him.

That all changed by the end of the head-to-head action this past week. Not that it was an easy journey for him, as the event drew 166 entries to slightly boost the guaranteed $500,000 prize pool. For those who don’t know, head-to-head action takes place in a way where you have to start even each matchup, meaning that it is a great test of consistency and stamina.

Poker Player Steve O'Dwyer

O’Dwyer passed those tests with flying colors. His savvy in the final match was key, as he bluffed his way to a lead over his combatant Artem Akhmetvaleyev. Heading into the final hand with almost double the chips of his foe, O’Dwyer was ready to lay the hammer down.

A suited ace-king gave O’Dwyer the impetus to go at the hand aggressively, while Akhmetvaleyev stuck around with an off-suited seven-eight. Akhmetvaleyev then took the lead after the flop gave him a second eight and didn’t help O’Dwyer. But O’Dwyer didn’t budge and got a king on the turn to send him into a solid lead.

When a four came on the river, and O’Dwyer went all-in to force Akhmetvaleyev’s hand, the latter thought another bluff was in the works and called. Thus, the battle ended. O’Dwyer ended up with $135,000 for the victory.

This is one of the best players of his era, even if he might not have the signature win to show for it. The proof is in the bottom line, as O’Dwyer sits 10th all-time in tournament earnings. The win this week just adds to his impressive legacy.

The Show Must Go On

Back in the poker boom of the “oughts,” poker shows stuck to the tried-and-true format of tournament play. In other words, the players at the final table had been whittled down from a much larger grouping. This way of doing it meant that there would often be somewhat unknown players going in front of the big lights.

High Stakes Poker, which ran for seven seasons intermittently from 2006 to 2011, attempted to show what it was like for the best players when they got together for cash games. As a result, the money used in the game represented money that came from the pockets of the players (who were also paid to appear on the show to help soften the blow).

The end result was something that felt as if you were getting a sneak peek at a hidden world, and it was highly entertaining.

Well, it looks like the world of High Stakes Poker might be back. Top pro Nick Schulman recently tweeted out confirmation of the show’s return in 2020. Perhaps that means Schulman has already participated in a taping.

There’s no other news, such as if it will be indeed hosted by Game Show Network once again, as it was originally or not. Nor has any other player came forward and confirmed their participation.

But if it is true, it would be great if there was one specific person involved: Gabe Kapler. The former Welcome Back Kotter star did a wonderful job co-hosting the original High Stakes Poker. Kapler is now 75 and has been keeping a low profile lately, but It just wouldn’t seem right if he wasn’t the one calling the action.

Weekly Poker Update: September 14, 2020

Mike SextonIt’s hard to overestimate what a loss it was to the poker world when Mike Sexton passed away a week ago this past Sunday (after the last edition of this set of news releases). Sexton was 72 years old at the time of his death. He had been battling prostate cancer, and there had been reports earlier in the week about his grave condition. Unfortunately, his death was impending and not a surprise to many.

But that didn’t make it any less devastating to the world of poker. Sexton’s well-known nickname was “The Ambassador of Poker.” Rarely has a moniker been more fitting.

The Loss of a Legend

Hardcore poker fans know that Sexton was, first and foremost, an ace player. He cashed over $6 million in live tournaments. Among his big victories were the World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions in 2006 and, just three years ago, a win on the World Poker Tour.

In addition, Sexton was also a fixture in high stakes games. He was one of those pros who helped promote the game among the Hollywood elite. And those Hollywood folks, in turn, helped to popularize real money Texas Hold’em to a wider audience during the boom of the early 2000s.

Speaking of that boom, Sexton’s presence played a crucial part as well. Along with Vincent Van Patten, Sexton was chosen to co-host the World Poker Tour on the Travel Channel in 2003. At that time, poker on television was relatively scarce, with the exception of token coverage from ESPN during the World Series of Poker.

It was around that same time that the innovation of cameras placed underneath the hold cards helped change the way that viewers were able to see the game. Before that point, poker hands, for those who weren’t in the middle of them, were quite boring to watch. There was no way of knowing what exactly all the betting meant, except for those rare occasions when the hands were played out to their completion.

Yet the success of those World Poker Tour telecasts went far beyond just the hole card technology. Sexton and Van Patten’s chemistry was undeniable. With Van Patten’s flash and Sexton’s good-humored presence, it was the ideal match.

More than that though, Sexton had a way of making what could, in lesser hands, feel like impenetrable jargon seem understandable to the average viewer. The more you watched, the more he would reveal the subtle nuances of what the players were doing with their bets and their decision-making process. He made it seem manageable even to those who didn’t know a straight from a flush.

Mike SextonWhile Sexton was quick to point out when a player made a mistake, he never did so in a way that felt nasty. As a player himself, he seemed to innately understand how difficult it could be to make that decision to raise, call, or fold in the heat of the moment. As a result, he was far more effusive with his praise at a great play than he was accusatory at a bad one.

There are a number of reasons why Texas Hold’em took off in popularity during that time period. ESPN’s own broadcasts of the World Series of Poker helped. But those weekly WPT shows had a captive audience, and Sexton, as the genial ringmaster overseeing it all, was integral to its success.

When he moved on from that gig, he immediately stepped into another ambassadorial role with PartyPoker. Again, it was all about promoting the game that he loved.

By all accounts, Sexton took his role as a kind of one-man ad agency for poker very seriously. And again, by all accounts, he was known as one of the nicest guys around. For all his talent as a player and his success as a broadcaster, his modesty was clearly genuine to anyone watching at home.

Many people have mentioned this week about Sexton’s signature sign-off for those WPT shows: “May all of your cards be live and may all of your pots be monsters.” Notice that he was aiming it at the viewers, wishing them well, not thinking of himself. That’s what we’re all wishing to Mike Sexton now as he moves on to the poker tables in the afterlife.

Negreanu’s Last-Minute Loss

We talked about the World Series of Poker Online Main Event, but it wasn’t actually the last of the bracelets handed out. That honor went to the winner of the “Super MILLION$” event held this past week, which featured a $10,000 buy-in and $5 million in guaranteed purse.

The obvious storyline was the tournament itself and who would come out on top. But there was also an interesting undercard going on, as Daniel Negreanu, who managed to be extremely visible during the summer without actually cashing much, was worried about his side bet. Before the beginning of the World Series of Poker Online event, Negreanu had made one-on-one bets with several top pros.

Closeup of a Pocket Pair of Aces

The gist of the bet centered on winning bracelets. If Negreanu should win a bracelet and the other player not win, he would win the bet, and vice versa. Should each player win a bracelet (or neither), it would be a push.

Up to the final event, Negreanu had come up empty, but so had the others who would accept the bet. It was looking like a giant push all the way around, meaning that the $100,000 bets would be unclaimed.

The last man standing who could change all that was Connor Drinan. Drinan is one of those guys often listed as the best player to never win a bracelet. He had been sniffing around one all summer long, with three Top 10 finishes, but he had still been unable to seal the deal with a victory.

He once again found himself at the final table in the Super Million$ event. Up to that point, he had survived a few close calls in terms of nearly being eliminated. And even when he got to the final table, he did so in sixth-place in terms of his chip total.

But once Drinan got on a roll, there was no stopping him. He ended up vaulting quickly to the top from that sixth-place start and building up a sizable chip lead. And he finally disposed of Daniyar Aubakirov, who finished second, when, on the last hand, Drinan drew the one card he needed on the river to prevent Aubakirov of doubling up and staying in it.

First of all, Drinan won the bracelet. With the massive influx of entries that took the purse way over its initial guarantee, he cashed for over $1.4 million. And, by the way, he also added the $100,000 side bet victory.

For Negreanu, he watched Drinan snatched the bet at the last possible second. Talk about your bad beats.

2020 World Series of Poker Recap: Looking Back On The Major Events

Poker Cards and World Series of Poker LogoFor the past couple months, much attention has been devoted to the action at the 2020 World Series of Poker Online. Well, the event has now wrapped up as of this past week. It’s time to take a look back, not just at the Main Event that gave it a proper sendoff, but also to the entire scenario.

If you’re just joining us for the first time in this column, the World Series of Poker Online provided a kind of replacement for the actual World Series of Poker. That event is usually the highlight of the poker season and has been a television staple for the past few decades. But due to precautions taken around the world, including Las Vegas where the tournament takes place, a postponement was necessary.

Since many modern players are well-versed in poker at the top online casinos, in stepped the online event. It began with tournaments held at WSOP.com for players based in Las Vegas or New Jersey, the epicenters of American gambling. GGPoker more than picked up the slack with events for players on international soil.

Concluding the Main Event

World Series of Poker LogoThis past week featured the conclusion of the action, as the tournament that everyone was anticipating, the No-Limit Main Event, took the spotlight. Leading into the Main Event, organizers promised a $25 million guaranteed prize pool. When more than 5,800 players entered with a buy-in of $5,000, the prize pool rose to over $27.5 million, making it the highest in the history of online poker.

It all started two weekends ago as the field was winnowed down to just 38 competitors after the various flights sorted themselves out. Those 38 players were back at it last Saturday, winnowing the field down to the final table. Even though every one of those players was guaranteed a nice sum, all eyes were on the ultimate prize of over $3.9 million for the winner.

Even though there were several big names within the final 38, many unheralded players made deep runs as well. Once the final nine were reached, the chip leader at the start of the day, Bryan Piccioli, was long gone, finishing 23rd. As they hit the final table, Tyler Rueger sat in the chip lead.

From there, the lead changed hands a few times. Wenling Gao of China did the hard work of dispatching several players in all-in battles. But when it came down to two players and head-to-head action, Gao found herself at a significant chip disadvantage to Bulgaria’s Stoyan Madanzhiev, who kept slowly and steadily as the others fell by the wayside.

On the hand that decided it, Gao seemed to be in the driver’s seat with a pair of aces to Madanzhiev’s unsuited six-seven. But when the flop came out three-four-five, Gao was in deep trouble. Hoping that Madanzhiev was bluffing the straight, she went all-in after an eight came on the turn, but, when the cards were flipped, she knew that there was no chance on the river.

Madanzhiev’s earnings in tournaments to that point were extremely modest and were immediately dwarfed by the winner’s share of the purse. Gao came up short in her efforts to become the first ever woman to capture the WSOP American Main Event. But her consolation prize wasn’t too bad at all, as she banked over $2.7.

The final four in the World Series of Poker Online Main Event (Tyler Rueger of America finished third and New Zealand’s Thomas Ward finished fourth) all bagged over $1 million. 728 of the 5,802 entries ended up with some sort of payout when all was said and done.

The Big Picture

And so it was that the World Series of Poker Online event came to its essential conclusion (there were some more bracelets handed out in some tourneys held over the past week) with one of those wild twists of fate that Hold’em style poker can bring. The game play over the past few months was filled with that kind of drama. But the question remains about whether or not this online action quite filled the void of the live version of the WSOP.

The New York Times ran an article this past week talking about the intrigue surrounding this year’s version of the WSOP. They talked about some of the highlights, including the memorable bracelet won by one player from a grocery store parking lot. And they also took a look at the lows, such as technical glitches that ranged from whole events having to be rescheduled to single hands where players were locked out from making the plays they wanted.

The article also talked about the oddities of the location requirements for the tournament. For the first stage on WSOP.com, players had to be settled in New Jersey or Nevada to take part. Once GGPoker took over, players could not be on American soil if they wanted to play in the different bracelet events.

On the one hand, this seems absurd, especially for something purporting to be the official World Series of Poker. While many top American pros could spare the expense of a jaunt off the Mexico for a month of online action, the location requirements likely scared some folks away.

But, by the same token, players from countries outside the U.S. had much greater access to the action that they might have enjoyed if they were forced to travel to Vegas for the live event. Let’s put it this way: Could you have envisioned a final head-to-head between players from Bulgaria and China in the Vegas event?

Looking through social media following the Main Event was interesting. On the one hand, there were many people exhilarated by the Main Event and the action that took place during all through the past month. But there were a lot of contrarians as well, people questioning the legitimacy of it and comparing it to run-of-the-mill online events that take place all the time.

It’s a debate that isn’t likely to subside within the poker community very soon. But perhaps the best way to look at it was to say that this online version of the World Series of Poker was the best that could be done under the extreme circumstances.

Final Thoughts About the 2020 WSOP

Could it have gone smoother? Yes, of course. And there are many improvements that could be made going forward.

As for the location issues, those will be hard to overcome unless American laws change. Perhaps by the next time something like this is undertaken, more states will allow online gambling. It seems like a long shot to see the federal laws change anytime soon, considering how slow those wheels turn.

The other question to be answered will be what happens to the online event if some semblance of normalcy returns and the event can take place in Vegas sometime in the future. Will it disappear? Or will it be a compliment to the live proceedings?

As the great 80s band Asia once said so wisely, only time will tell. Until then, we thank the 2020 World Series of Poker Online event for the memories.

Weekly Poker Update: August 31, 2020

August 31, 2020 Text on a Black Poker Chip With a Money Background

We’ve been hearing a lot in recent weeks about a boom in online poker activity that has taken place in conjunction with people being unable to play in live events. But as it turns out, it looks like it might also be the lack of other viable gambling options that have pushed some people towards either trying online poker for the first time or getting back into it after some time away.

The financial reports from Flutter Entertainment pretty much make that case. For those who are unaware, Flutter is a major conglomerate in the gambling world. Under its umbrella, you can find star players in the industry such as Betfair, FanDuel, and TVG Network.

PokerStars is also one of Flutter’s major offshoots. And in a recent financial report, the company mentioned a stunning 70% increase in customers playing at the site. That helped to drive a 22% hike in online gambling business for the second quarter of 2020, compared to the same time a year ago.

PokerStars Online Poker Table

Apparently, the major raise came from small-time players. This flies in the face of the theory that online poker is only the realm of card sharks. It should also reassure casual players who might be wary of getting involved.

Flutter officials also noted that they were aggressive in trying to keep people from overextending themselves. Sizable deposits were often met with interventions. This shows that not all online poker players are doing so responsibly.

Online Poker’s Success in the Face of Adversity

The financial reports are an indication that online poker seems to be immune to any kinds of societal or economic forces that might be hurting other industries. If anything, it seems to thrive in tougher times. And the boost can certainly be attributed to gamblers looking for some sort of action while sports were on a hiatus.

It will be interesting to see what the industry looks like when businesses return to normal or all kinds are able to operate as they used to do. Will people rush back to the poker rooms immediately, or will they be wary of dealing with other unknown issues that come with being in large crowds?

There is also the possibility that real money online poker will prove so convenient and easy for them that it stays on a roll. After all, there is an entire generation that is very used to conducting all kinds of business and pleasure in the online sphere. For them, playing poker virtually likely doesn’t seem like too much of a stretch at all.

Maybe there will be carryover as well, with people who learned the game online in this recent period going on to become players in live events once they can take part in that. Whatever the outcome, Flutter’s report seems to indicate the next boom in poker could be right around the corner, with online games driving the bus.

Big Money Up for Grabs in WSOP Online Main Event

For the past month or so, we’ve been talking about the ups and downs of the World Series of Poker Online. There certainly have been some technical issues, complaints, and a general sense that, if the event were to take place again, certain things could be done much better.

But even the staunchest of cynics would have to agree that the response to the event has exceeded expectations. Just about every event has featured an impressive number of entrants. And the vast majority of those events went off without a hitch and shone the spotlight on some very exciting play.

We are in the home stretch of the overall event now, but there is still one big prize to be claimed—the World Series of Poker Online Main Event. And as it turns out, that prize is going to be bigger than anyone hoped. Thanks to a late surge of entrants buying in at the $5,000 level, the prize pool shot over the initial advertised amount of $25 million to over $27.5 million.

WSOP.com Hotel Lobby Display

The winner of that prize money remains to be seen. The first flights began this past weekend and action will go on all week long. It will take some time to whittle it down from the nearly 6,000 people who entered the Main Event.

The final table is scheduled for September 6th, which means that by this time next week, we should have a Main Event champion. That individual will walk away with over $3.9 million, along with the prestige of being the Main Event winner.

That prestige part is an important concept because, let’s face it, at the beginning of the World Series of Poker Online, it was a toss-up as to whether any of it would even work. Something on this scale in the online poker world had never really been attempted. Just the fact that it is going to make it to the finish line is a triumph in itself.

In addition, the bracelet events were graced time and again by some of the biggest stars of the sport, which saturated the whole event with the kind of legitimacy it needed.

The initial fear was that the online atmosphere would be unattended and underwhelming, and now it’s impossible to argue that it was either of those things.

Yes, there was controversy along the way. But the folks at WSOP.com and GGPoker seemed to have come out of this, if not unscathed, then at least still standing. There will be lessons they learned that they can take forward if they do it all again.

This brings us to a great question. Will there be a need for another online World Series of Poker in the future? Should it still exist, and can it be as profitable, if the live version of the World Series of Poker comes back strong?

These are fascinating questions but, for right now, you can leave them for another day. In the meantime, good luck to all the participants in the Main Event. Let’s hope that the tournament produces a worthy champion when all is said and done.

Weekly Poker Update: August 24, 2020

August 24, 2020 Text On a Black Poker Chip With a Cyberspace Background

Online Onslaught

If you’re a poker aficionado, chances are, you’re going to find a way to get your action. Even in the most troubling times, the urge to play the game that serves as the ultimate combination of skill, luck, and cunning never dwindles. And the most recent numbers out of the online gaming world certainly seem to bear that out.

In the second quarter of 2020, online gaming revenue in the United States came in at over $400 million, more than triple the level where it was at the same time last year. It was a record-breaking haul for a single three-month period. And it even outranked the earnings from online sports betting in the fourth quarter of 2019.

The obvious driver for the boom in online gaming at top gambling sites are all of the people who are staying at home. These online casino games include poker, blackjack, poker, slots, and so on. Without their usual outlets and with more concerns for safety, players who might have resisted the online sphere before likely took the dive when casino closures began. Meanwhile, those who were already comfortable in the online realm probably moved all their action permanently.

El Royale Online Casino Blackjack

Nonetheless, those figures are quite staggering and could be an eye-opener for states across the country. Remember that, at present, only five states allow online casino gambling without any specific restrictions. Nevada allows online poker and nothing else, but that still provides a big revenue boost to the overall total.

In other words, those huge numbers are driven by a very tiny percentage of the country. The fact that a five-state haul could outdo online sports gambling, which is legal in 22 states, is somewhat stunning. Remember that the comparison is to online sports gambling in the fourth quarter of 2019, when there were no viral threats and football season was in full swing.

Anytime numbers like these emerge, you have to look at the full context. First of all, online gaming still falls short of the haul pulled in by actual casinos. And the effect of these crazy times sure has a lot to do with it.

If you look no further than the success that the World Series of Poker has had shifting into the online sphere, you’ll know that a sea of change is certainly possible. As far as online poker goes, many are finding that the concerns they might have had about the online gambling experience might have been exaggerated.

In addition, state legislators who may have been dragging their heels when it comes to online gambling are probably seeing these numbers and thinking twice. At a time where budget cuts are rampant, the opportunity to pump money back into the economy should be greatly prized.

If nothing else, the numbers also lend a kind of legitimacy to the best online gambling sites that offer poker and other games. The old-fashioned, shady, back-room operations need to fall by the wayside at this point. And online poker players should feel solid that they are part of a booming business.

Big Pot Bonanza

How much money do you play for in your home poker game? At what point do you start to worry about the size of a pot? Most of us would likely start to tremble once things get even a little beyond our comfort zone.

But professional poker players have always proven to be a different breed. They have the ability to shake off the nerves and focus on the positive. Instead of thinking about the consequences of their losses, they focus on the rewards of their wins.

All of that is a prelude to say that the biggest pot in the history of online no-limit Hold’em took place this past week. It came on GG Poker and came up just shy of the million-dollar mark. And ironically enough, it came just a week after the previous high pot in a single hand was set, also at GG Poker.

GGPoker Online Poker Game Screenshot

The battle was between Tan Xuan and Ali Imsirovic. At the start of the hand, Imsirovic already seemed to be sitting pretty with a suited ace-king against his foe’s suited seven-nine. On the flop, both players got another suited card to match the two that they had, but Xuan also paired up his nine to take the lead.

When the flop brought another spade to match the three Imsirovic had in tow, he confidently called Xuan’s raise of over $100,000. On the river, Imsirovic got the spade he needed for his flush and knew that he was in control, with the ace of spades already sitting as one of his hole cards.

Xuan still confidently went all-in, despite the fact that there were three spades on the board as a warning sign. Whether Imsirovic worried that Xuan was somehow hiding a full house or four of a kind is hard to say. All we know is that he called the bet and found out that he was the winner.

The final pot was $974,361. That topped the previous record of $842,438. It just goes to show that the real money online poker world is capable of attracting the high rollers who don’t blanche in the face of huge sums of money being on the line.


If there was a theme to this week’s article, it’s that online poker is doing just fine. The flipside of that, of course, is that many live tournaments have had to postpone their action. This past week, a few more live tournaments fell by the wayside.

Event organizers in Malta and the Netherlands were holding out hope that events they had scheduled in November might be able to go forward if things improved. However, both the Malta Poker Festival and the Master Classics of Poker were forced to throw in the towel this past week.

While postponements and cancellations are unsurprising, they are still tough on the establishments holding them. Let’s hope that a full return to tournament action isn’t too far off in the future.

Weekly Poker Update: August 17, 2020

August 17, 2020 On a Black Poker Chip With a Venetian Casino Background

We Got the Beat

Every poker player, whether playing in the casino or on a poker gambling site, has their own bad beat story. And most players actually have several. Usually, it’s one of misery and woe about how the cards went against them at the worst possible time. And the story often looks like a hand that couldn’t possibly lose and yet, well, they lost anyway.

For some lucky folks at The Venetian in Las Vegas, a bad beat turned out to be very lucrative. As is the case with many casinos, The Venetian offers a cash prize for bad beats that are particularly heinous. And, in this example, everybody at the table benefitted.

It all went down on Tuesday when a player named Adam Lister settled in one of the Venetian’s poker rooms. He seemed to be sitting pretty with the four of hearts and five of hearts as his hole cards. Those suited connectors looked even better when the five cards on the board included the six of hearts, seven of hearts, and eight of hearts. In other words, Lister had a straight flush, the second-best hand in all of Hold’em poker.

Yet one of the other players was dealt the nine and 10 of hearts. This gave that player a straight flush with higher cards than what Lister had, winning him the hand. Incredibly, Lister was a loser with one of the best hands in the game.

The Venetian Las Vegas Poker Room

Luckily, the Venetian’s jackpot for bad beats kicks in whenever a player is beaten despite holding a hand that is better than four of a kind with nines. Lister’s hand qualified. In other words, the big loser became the big winner.

To be exact, Lister took home $166,000, which is half of the progressive jackpot that was available at The Venetian for bad beats. The player who won the hand also took home a nice bonus of $83,000. And, just for being innocent bystanders, six other players at the table shared in the remaining $83,000 included in the bonus.

Most bad beat stories, obviously, don’t end so well. But in this case, Lister’s experience shows you that anything can happen when you sit down at the poker table.

Face-Up Cards Bring Smiles in England

In Great Britain, casinos have recently reopened with the expected safety measures in place. Only seated games are allowed, which means no craps for the time being. Partitions separating the players and thermal imaging centers at entrances are also all part of the process.

One additional safety measure can actually give players a tiny edge in a few games. For those who play Three-Card Poker, you know that it’s commonplace for the cards to be dealt face-down. You then check to see what you have to decide what kinds of bets you’re going to make from that point, depending on if you think you can beat the dealer.

To prevent players from touching their cards excessively, the British casinos will be dealing the player’s cards face-up instead of face-down. This goes for all players at the table. As a result, you won’t need to touch the cards to see what you have.

The dealer’s cards still remain face-down, as you might expect, but it does create a slight advantage for players. This is especially the case if you’re at a table with several other gamblers. Any cards that you see other players having in their hands eliminates them from possibility as being in the dealer’s hand.

You can start to get a better idea of what the dealer might have waiting for you. It could conceivably affect how you play the hand.

Admittedly, the face-up situation gives you more of an advantage in blackjack, which is also contained in this British casino edict. That’s because many blackjack players count cards. Face cards and aces are crucial in blackjack, so if you see a lot of them at the table, it’s bad for the dealer and vice versa.

The same doesn’t quite apply to Three-Card Poker. If you see a lot of face cards at the table, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything about the dealer’s hand. For example, they could be sitting with a pair of low cards, which the player might not be able to beat.

In any case, it’s an interesting byproduct of this new era. Most regulations that have been put in place in casinos are generally inconvenient to players. Here is one that actually helps them out, if only the tiniest bit.

Celebs Got Game

When the poker boom took off at the start of the new millennium, it was fueled—in part—by the fact that celebrities seemed to be just as entranced with the game as everybody else. Now, we might actually have some evidence about who stands above and beyond in terms of celebrity poker players.

In an article published on cardplayer.com, Houston Curtis lists his top five celebrity poker players. It sheds a light on which celebs can actually hang with the best of the best when the chips are down, so to speak.

First of all, Curtis eliminates two players from contention: Tobey Maguire (Spiderman, himself), because of his extensive poker experience which Curtis feels sets him apart, and Jennifer Tilly, because Curtis feels she’s become more poker pro than actress at this point.

Rick Salomon Playing a Poker Game

You can check out the top five in this link. But for those who are wondering, Ben Affleck and James Woods are the two biggest names on the list, coming in at #3 and #5 respectively. Hey, Woods was in Casino, after all, so it makes sense, right?

As for #1, it’s Rick Salomon. The only issue with this is that if you look up Rick Salomon on the internet, he is listed as an “American poker player,” first and foremost. His connection to the celebrity world comes from some of his high-profile romances.

In any case, it is fun to know who’s on top of the pecking order in the world of celebrity poker. And Curtis has promised to also release a list of the worst players in Hollywood. Let’s face it, for the schadenfreude factor alone, that should be a lot of fun.

Weekly Poker Update: August 10, 2020

August 10, 2020 Text On a Black Poker Chip

For casual fans who don’t know much about it, the fact that the World Series of Poker is being held online this year might insinuate that it is somehow a lesser event. But aside from the oddity of not being in the same room with their counterparts, the game or its strategy really hasn’t changed for the pros. More importantly, as a big winner proved this past week, the massive money at stake hasn’t changed.

On Saturday, the biggest purse yet in the online World Series of Poker was at stake, as nine players took to the final table for the Millionaire Maker Hold’em event. The original prize pool, which was boosted by a $1,500 buy-in, was guaranteed for $5 million. That amount skyrocketed to nearly $9 million when over 6,200 entrants took part.

The end result was a winner’s purse of $1,489,289. Those at the final table had to wait a week, as the first part of the tournaments was held back on Monday. And when the dust cleared and there was only one left standing, it was Daniel Dvoress who walked away with the win and the bracelet, his first ever.

Lest anyone think that it was a case of Dvoress backing into the title after coming into the day with the chip lead, he aggressively took care of most of his foes. As a matter of fact, he knocked out the last five players at the table, finishing by putting the kibosh on Caio De Almeida just two hands into head-to-head play.

WSOP 2020 Online Text and Gold Bracelet

Even though it was his first bracelet victory, Dvoress is no stranger to high-stakes action. He has earned over $17 million in his career in tournament play. As a matter of fact, the WSOP earnings from this one look like small potatoes compared to the $4 million he scored in an event in the Bahamas last November.

There will be even bigger purses on the line going forward, as the World Series of Poker online event continues through the next month or so. Still, no word has been given on the possibility of a live WSOP event taking place due to the uncertainty of current evenets. As Dvoress’ win proves, however, there is plenty to gain from taking part in the online event.

Doubling Up

When you consider that there are thousands of entrants in most World Series of Poker events and that there are only a finite number of those events, it’s always a bit surprising to see someone win twice in the same year. Obviously, it’s a skill-based game, but there is a lot of luck involved in coming out on top of a huge tournament as well.

Yet it seems like, every year, there is at least one or maybe even a few jack-of-all-trades who double their WSOP pleasure with multiple bracelets. It happened again this year, but the source of this achievement was a bit of a surprise. In fact, if you were guessing that Alek Stasiak would be the guy, you must be descended from Nostradamus.

Coming into 2020, the Canadian possessed career tournament earnings that barely scraped past $10,000. As a matter of fact, it had been two years since he had last cashed in any tournament.

That’s not to say he isn’t a quality player, as he could have been focusing on cash games for all we know. But it did kind of leave him off the radar when it came to this year’s World Series of Poker.

WSOP 2020 Online Poker Game Table

On July 27th, Stasiak forced himself onto that radar by coming from behind in head-to-head action to capture the Every 1 For COVID Relief Hold’em event. It was his biggest payday in tournament action by far, as he secured $343,204.

A one-time win like that could obviously be written off by some as a fluke. But Stasiak put all of that to rest when he scored another big WSOP victory this past week. This one came in a $1,000 buy-in no-limit Hold’em event.

Think about the math involved here. The first event featured 2,323 players. On Friday, Stasiak topped a field of 2,006 to win it all. His winning purse this time around was $273,505.

What was amazing about this score was that he came into the final table with the least amount of chips of anybody there. It looked like he might have had to settle for a minor award this time around, which still would have been a bigger chunk of change than anything he managed heading into this year.

But Stasiak got to nibble small pots here and there to stay afloat, while others picked themselves off. He managed to keep his head down as five players were knocked off, albeit with a chips disadvantage still. And with only four players left, it was time for him to start mixing it up.

That’s where he got a bit of luck to go his way, going all-in on a hand despite being at a disadvantage based on the first two cards. But the flop went his way and he was hurting for chips no more. At that point, he could start to bully instead of being the bullied.

Luck continued to go Stasiak’s way when he called an all-in and, again, benefitted from an advantageous flop. He then knocked out the third-place finisher. Finally, it was head-to-head time as he faced off against Kunal Bhatia. The back-and-forth continued for a while until Bhatia was on his last legs. As befitting his seat-of-the-pants run up to that point, Stasiak only captured the final hand when the river card gave him the advantage after he had trailed the hand all the way until then.

Is there such a thing as a poker hot streak? You’ll get differing opinions on that. After all, the luck of the draw is so much a part of the game and is extremely fickle.

Maybe Stasiak just prefers the online format. His wins make it seem like he’s more than comfortable at top gambling websites.

One thing is for sure, Alex Stasiak must be feeling confident right about now, which can go a long way to having the psychological fortitude to win high-stakes event. We’ll be watching closely to see if he can make it a three-bagger before the World Series of Poker Online event is through.

Weekly Poker Update: August 3, 2020

August 3, 2020 Text on a Black Poker Chip With a Casino Background

Here are some of the top news stories that arrived last week in the world of poker.

Arrest Made in Zhao Case

More news arrived this past week in the tragic death of poker pro Susie Zhao. Zhao’s body was found by Michigan police in Michigan on July 13, just a day after police reported that she was missing. The body, which had been badly burned, was identified as Zhao last week and police announced that they were treating the case as a murder.

On Friday, the police in White Lake Township, Michigan, announced that they had taken someone into custody in conjunction with the case. All police said was that the man was a 60-year-old and that he resided in Pontiac, Michigan. There was no announcement on any charges being filed.

Zhao’s death at such a young age and in such a grisly fashion sent shock waves through the poker community. Many expressed disbelief that she could have been the target of anyone because of her reputation for being so well-liked. However, police officials have speculated whether her career and her wealth could have been in some way a part of her murder.

Even though Zhao banked over $200,000 in her career in official poker tournaments, she was more known for her presence in high-stakes cash games in Los Angeles and Las Vegas. She had only recently moved back to Michigan where there was speculation that she was dealing with personal matters.

Increased Capacity at Station Tables

One of the issues with players returning to poker tables has been availability. Due to social distancing restrictions, most tables that did open did so with a limited number of players allowed at each table. Players in some land based casinos end up waiting long periods of time before they could play a game.

The good news is that some of those restrictions are starting to let up ever so slightly. This past week, three Station Casinos in Las Vegas were ready for eight-handed play. This is the most that has been allowed since casinos opened up again, with five-handed or six-handed play being the norm till now.

Entrance of Boulder Station in Las Vegas

Boulder Station, Red Rock Resort, and Santa Fe Station are the casinos which will offer eight-handed play. They will start doing so on Monday. Part of the deal is that there must be plexiglass dividers separating the players to help stop any potential virus spread.

The hope is that more and more casinos can start to make similar moves. But with recent news about the rise of cases in certain parts of the country, there is no guarantee. Poker players should be happy to accept whatever they can get in terms of live play for as long as they can get it.

Counting on a Miracle

Who here misses Celebrity Poker Showdown? Back in the poker n television boom, Bravo Network hosted a weekly show where celebrities from the worlds of television, movies, and music competed in Texas Hold‘em tournaments for charity. These were good-natured affairs, notable for both the ribbing between competitors and the occasional head-scratching play that you wouldn’t see from the pros.

Well, if ever you thought it might be fun to take part, you can sort of do so this week thanks to the folks at Miracle Flights. The medical charity is hosting a real money online poker tournament on Wednesday. And to sweeten the deal, they’ve invited some bold-faced names to compete.

Celebrity Poker Showdown Group Photo

Among the celebrities who’ve been announced include Brad Garrett of Everybody Loves Raymond fame, Olympic gold medalist figure skater Oksana Baiul, and Richard Kind, veteran of countless TV shows and movies (his occasional guest spots as Larry’s cousin Andy on Curb Your Enthusiasm are always triumphs.)

Back in the Celebrity Poker Showdown days, you could only watch the luminaries. But the tournament sponsored by Miracle Flights is open to everybody. All it takes is a $100 buy-in and you’re ready to roll.

In case you’re wondering, Miracle Flights is a charity that offers free plane rides to those in need of medical help that isn’t anywhere near where they live. It’s a good cause, and it should be a fun event. Plus, you might have the chance to wipe out a celebrity with a big hand, which should be worth the price of admission.

Facebook Goes All in With Poker AI

We’ve all watched as technology has improved. Computers have been taught to do things like play against chess master champions and predict future results. In the world of poker though, it might have seemed like artificial intelligence would always be inadequate to some capacity. That’s because poker deals with imperfect knowledge. The fact that you can’t know what other players are holding or thinking as you make your decisions is a key component of its difficulty.

But Facebook researchers seem to have made a breakthrough in that department. The system they developed is known as ReBeL. That’s short for “Recursive Belief-based Learning.”

Recently, ReBeL was put to the test against poker pro Dong Kim in a heads-up situation. While the statistics that it reported are a bit confusing, the program did much better than any previous effort in this field. And it did so at an incredibly rapid pace, never taking longer than five seconds per decision.

The ramifications for this are kind of scary. If an AI could indeed be proven successful and be harnessed by individuals, even the most distinguished professional poker players could be brought down to size by a newcomer with the advanced technology.

We’re probably a long way off from that reality, of course. Besides, Facebook isn’t releasing the code for ReBeL just yet. But if you sidle up to a seat at a poker table and see someone next to you with a Facebook ID card, you might want to move on to the next available table.

Weekly Poker Update: July 27, 2020

July 27, 2020 Text on a Black Poker Chip

We’ve been talking a lot about the World Series of Poker’s online incarnation in this space over the past few weeks. With the exception of a few little hiccups, things had been running smoothly in the United States portion of the larger event. There were some incredible stories, exciting poker, and the events largely went off without a hitch.

But that all came to a screeching halt a weekend ago. The international part of the WSOP was all set to get underway. And then, well, it didn’t.

A pair of tournaments that essentially started the GGPoker part of the World Series of Poker both had to be postponed due to a variety of technical problems. The events were scheduled to resume yesterday, with all players who were still in it allowed to come back and try to do it all over again.

To make up for all of the issues, GGPoker was offering vouchers to all those who were affected by the postponement. And it should be noted that events held throughout the week on the site were able to go off without any major problems. Once the postponed events are completed, everything will still be on schedule for this portion of the larger event.

Still, a lot of players expressed their displeasure online about the situation. Some were upset that the site blamed the difficulties, in part, on the large number of people who visited the site. That is a bit of a head-scratcher, since it makes sense that there would be big online crowds for such a prestigious event just beginning.

On top of that, GGPoker’s efforts to atone for the technical problems were also taken to task. Many players claimed that refunds would have been better, since the postponement meant that some players likely wouldn’t be able to clear their schedule to resume the action.

Obviously, this was one of the major concerns about handing out bracelets for the World Series of Poker in a strictly online format. With the postponement of the live tournament, the online action was meant to act as a replacement, or at least a stopgap just in case the regular event could eventually be held.

The hope is that this is the last of the issues that crops up and that the World Series of Poker online event can once again gain the momentum it had previously enjoyed in the last three weeks. We won’t truly know until the summer is over and the online events are completed. Will we look back at the rough weekend and see it as a little stumble during an otherwise smooth journey, or will it have been the harbinger of many problems to come?

Negreanu’s Complaints

As the guy who is the professional spokesman for GGPoker, Daniel Negreanu did a lot of apologizing early in the week for the event postponements we just told you about. But he went back on the attack later in the week during an interview with the Daily Star website.

Daniel Neqreanu WSOP 2020 Streaming Screenshot

Negreanu’s complaints are with the new breed of players and their demeanors in televised action. He longed for the days when colorful personalities roamed the tables and made for excellent television. His point seemed to be that the younger players don’t show that same kind of charisma and are instead intent on doing their business without any fanfare.

In addition, he worried that live streams of poker tournaments are no substitute for produced, televised events. While he said that watching every hand of an event that goes on for hours is fine for a hard-core enthusiast, it does nothing for the casual poker fan. Considering that the poker boom took place when television got involved (and hole-card camera technology came with it), there are some interesting points that he’s making.

But there are some counter-arguments to be made as well.

Is it the responsibility of the poker player, with big amounts of money at stake, to concern themselves with putting on a show? After all, those players might not get too many chances at winning such high stakes, so it is of paramount importance that they concentrate as fully as possible on the task at hand.

As for the point about TV, that one seems a bit more valid. But, then again, it is a vastly different television landscape than the one where poker once created such a stir. It seems highly unlikely that even a television show with high production values and enhanced drama can once again capture a large swath of the public, which is why streaming options at real money gambling websites have become so prevalent.

But you have to hand it to Negreanu for being an idea man. He isn’t content to just sit back and watch poker’s popularity dwindle on his watch. All his ideas might not be gems, but at least he offers those ideas.

Mystery Of Poker Pro’s Death Deepens

Susie Zhao, a poker pro who earned solid money from sanctioned poker tournaments and also was a fixture in cash games, was found dead in Michigan. Zhao had been missing for about a week in Michigan. Authorities on Monday confirmed that a body that they found was indeed Zhao.

The circumstances surrounding her death are a bit murky. Her body was found in a parking lot by a local resident. Officials are treating the death as a murder.

Professional Poker Player Susie Zhao

Zhao had only recently moved back from the West Coast, where she enjoyed most of her poker success, to Michigan near her family. While her career earnings were officially listed at over $220,000, including some cashes in the World Series of Poker, her earnings in cash games could have been many times greater. Police aren’t yet speculating if her murder was in any way tied to her poker career.

Zhao was only 33 years old at the time of her death. Michigan police are actively seeking out information from residents to try and help solve the case.

Weekly Poker Update: July 20, 2020

Black Poker Chip With July 20 2020 Text With a WSOP Table Background

Whatever you might want to say about the new online-only format for the World Series of Poker this year, you can’t deny that it has produced some amazing stories. Sure, maybe it’s not the traditional WSOP that we’ve come to know. But it is a fascinating event in its own right, with the kind of online poker twists and turns that might not occur if the players were confined to the poker room.

Case in point, the bracelet victory on Monday by Ryan Depaulo in the Big 500 No-Limit Hold’em event as part of the online series. Depaulo pocketed over $159,000 for his victory. And he did so all while sitting inside his car.

To make this story even more bizarre, this car spent the whole tournament parked in the lot of a Whole Foods grocery store in New Jersey. You see, Depaulo isn’t a Garden State resident, and thus, he couldn’t compete in the event without finding some place within the state to play the tournament. Hence, his idea to get the job done while others headed in to take care of their shopping list.

Depaulo added to the drama by keeping up a running commentary of his exploits on Twitter, including several posts where he worried about cops showing up and sending him packing. Nonetheless, he never did get the boot. And when he won, his screaming, cursing reaction was priceless, as customers walked by wondering what in the world was going on:

You might think based on the nature of this story that Depaulo’s win was a huge upset, that he might have been a novice of some sort intruding on the hallowed halls of the WSOP. In truth, he makes a living as a poker Vlogger and has placed in the WSOP before. (This wasn’t even his biggest purse.)

Still, the idea that he could keep his focus on the task at hand in such an extraordinary setting says something about his concentration (not to mention his multi-tasking). Coming on the heels of a bracelet win last week coming from a player’s father’s basement, Depaulo’s win seems to be part of a growing trend. And this trend is giving the World Series of Poker online its own identity of irreverence and fun, one that is demanding our attention more and more as the weeks go by.

Welcome International Players

The New York and New Jersey-based World Series of Poker events are just the tip of the iceberg. This week marks the first full week of action in the international portion of the online WSOP. It kicked off on Sunday and will continue throughout through September 6.

There will be 54 bracelets handing out in this stretch, bringing the total for the WSOP online events to 85. It’s also important to note that the international tournaments will be held at GGPoker, which can incorporate players from all over the world. The other action is already taking place at WSOP.com.

WSOP.com Large Letters in a Casino Conference Hall

When it comes to the biggest event of the entire series, that would be the WSOP Online Main Event, which features a $5,000 buy-in and a guarantee of $25 million in prize money. That would make it the largest of all real money online poker purses in the history of the pastime.

Of course, all of this is in lieu of the postponement of the actual, live World Series of Poker. There hasn’t been any word in the past few weeks of developments considering a possible rescheduling. But as time passes, it becomes less likely that we’ll see that happen this year.

The main problem, of course, would be the magnitude of the event and the concerns related to huge crowds gathering for it. Even with many Las Vegas casinos opening up their poker rooms, they are restricted in terms of number of players at each table and number of people actually in the casino. As a result, it’s possible that the online action will have to suffice for 2020.

Bovada Boost

Of course, the World Series of Poker isn’t the only place you can get your online action. And this past week, Bovada put itself firmly in the mix of top gambling sites in terms of high-stakes tournaments. The 2020 Super Millions Open got underway this past week.

The first event was held on Friday and the action continues until August 19. There are 175 events scheduled throughout the month-long span. And there are over $9 million in guaranteed purses on the line in that stretch.

What Bovada can provide that the World Series of Poker events cannot is a chance for cheap entry. You can get in some of the events for just a shade more than five bucks. And that doesn’t even take into account the satellite events which will allow you to work your way into a shot at the bigger purses.

The Super Millions main event on August 16 features guaranteed purses of $500,000, which could rise even higher depending on the amount of entries and buybacks. This series just adds to what has been an incredibly busy summer for online poker.

Why Don’t They Call It Poker Island?

For those looking for some pricey real estate, you can buy Pumpkin Island, located within the Great Barrier Reef not too far from the coast Australia, for the price of 25 million Australian dollars (about $17 million USD). Its owners just announced this past week that it is up for sale. From the looks of it, Pumpkin Island is a postcard everywhere you turn, and it’s a sustainable one at that.

Pumpkin Island Near the Australian Coast

Once upon a time, however, you wouldn’t have needed that much dough to buy the island. You just would have just needed some good hole cards and a favorable draw.

The legend goes that the island’s one-time owner Snigger Findlay, who used it as an oyster farm, was reluctant to sell it in 1961 to Roger Mason, who was visiting with his wife and offered to buy. Mason could only convince Findlay by suggesting a game of poker. Findlay relented, Mason won (no word on the winning hand), and he bought the island lock, stock, and barrel for 60 pounds.

You often see in movies where someone puts something at stake in a poker game that normally wouldn’t be in the pot. How often that really happens is up for debate. But even the most imaginative Hollywood screenwriter might not have believed the story of how Pumpkin Island, again up for sale, originally changed hands.

Weekly Poker Update: July 13, 2020

Black Poker Chip With July 13 2020 Text With a Pennsylvania Background

Even with so much going on in the world, poker news keeps coming fast and furious. It helps that the World Series of Poker online edition is in full effect, offering all kinds of tales both ridiculous and sublime. But there have been some other developments in the poker world, online and offline, this past week that bear noting as well.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at all that went down.

Negreanu in the News

Poker fans have to be thankful for Daniel Negreanu for keeping us entertained these past few months. Most of the big names in the poker world have been out of the news cycle, which is what you would expect during this time. But Negreanu seems to be a lightning rod for attention.

Negreanu has been actively making side bets on how many bracelets he would win in the World Series of Poker online events this year. In case you’re wondering, he’s still on zero. But he has cashed out small amounts in a few of the events held so far.

This week has been a particularly newsworthy one for Negreanu. And, in both cases, what happened to him is actually relevant to most poker players.

First came his complaints on Wednesday that Bank of America was shutting down his account. While Bank of America didn’t give a specific reason in the verbiage that Negreanu tweeted out to his followers, you can guess that there was some sort of red flag that came up due to large sums of his money going to gambling.

Of course, the odd thing about this is that the sums that Negreanu is spending to get involved with the World Series of Poker are perfectly legal. But by the same token, Bank of America is completely within its eights to terminate any accounts that they see fit. It’s all right there in the documents that you sign when you open an account.

The lesson here is similar to the one learned the hard way by online casino players who don’t look at the funding options available to them when they sign up for a particular gambling website. It doesn’t seem to be a problem until it becomes one.

It’s doubtful that Negreanu will have a hard time finding a bank willing to accept his business going forward. But the incident does point to a disconnect between the way banks and poker players view the pastime.

Later on in the week, Negreanu suffered another headache when he was booted out of a hand in one of the WSOP events due to a computer glitch. Because everything that happens with him tends to go viral, a video of Negreanu’s explosive reaction to this made the rounds.

Of course, were any of us in the same seat, we likely would have had the same reaction. And it does highlight a bit of an issue that can crop up at any time in online play.

Even as everyone is quick to praise online tournaments as an alternative to the real thing, the chance of some sort of malfunction is a shadow hanging over the proceedings. We can only hope that an ill-timed breakdown doesn’t mar one of these events if it happens on a crucial, tournament-deciding hand.

Pennsylvania Poker Beefs Up

Pennsylvania is a somewhat underrated state when it comes to the gambling world. In fact, it was one of the first states to take the leap into casino gambling that had previously only been the dominion of Nevada and New Jersey for decades. On top of that, the success of Pennsylvania’s casinos is one of the main reasons to which experts point when they try to elucidate the decline of Atlantic City.

The odd thing about it is that all this has occurred in a state which has been generally slow to get gambling matters squared away on the regulatory front. That’s part of the reason why Pennsylvania online gamblers are out of luck for the World Series of Poker online events unless they travel to New Jersey or Nevada.

That could soon be changing, however. Party Poker, WSOP.com and 888 have all made inroads recently in terms of opening up their doors in the state. They would join PokerStars, which is the entrenched poker entity in the Keystone State.

Pair of Aces Next to a Chip Stack

With news coming out this week from several of the above organizations that soft launches could be coming up in the months to come, it seems a matter of time before there will be much more competition for the poker player’s action in the state real soon. More competition is always good for the player, since it means that you can pick and choose your game instead of being forced into one.

It also means, if the World Series of Poker continues to have an online presence next year, Pennsylvania could be one of the hubs of that activity. Casinos within the state could also become more of a destination, assuming we can get back to the point where crowds of people can gather without worry.

The Big, Big Blind

Pro poker players are usually the types who know how to deal with the loss of their buy-in money. Some Australian poker players got way more than they bargained for this past week, however, in terms of their losses.

It seems that Victoria, one of the states in Australia, instituted a crackdown on those violating any lockdown regulations. Caught within this sweeping takedown was a poker game inside a home that included 13 players. Each of these players were fined $1,652 in Australian dollars, which comes to about $1,150 USD.

Obviously, no such fines are being handed out in the United States. But it is still a good idea to practice common sense when it comes to large social gatherings nonetheless. These folks didn’t and paid the price.

One wonders if the pot was big enough the ultimate winner of that home game was able to offset their losses. As for the also-rans, well, they dealt with a serious double whammy—what they lost at the table and what they lost to the law.

Weekly Poker Update: July 6, 2020

Black Poker Chip With July 6, 2020 Text

The period of adjustment from a live World Series of Poker, which may or may not happen this year, to one played entirely online is a prolonged one. That said, the first week of action in the World Series of Poker Online event managed to draw in some big names and provide some typically exciting finishes. Even with some concerns being raised on various venues, the first week of high-stakes online poker seems to have gone off without a hitch.

It all began on Wednesday, July 1st, when the first of the bracelets was handed out in the $500 buy-in No Limit kickoff. That event was won by Jonathan Dokler, who beat out a total of 1,715 entries (almost a third of which were comprised of re-buys) to take home a nice winning purse of over $130,000. That represented almost a fifth of the total prizes of over $770,000 at stake.

Dokler also gave us a taste of one of the unintended delights of this event: inventive screen names. His is Art.Vandelay, which must have made George Costanza proud somewhere in the world. (No word on whether Dokler has ever secretly wanted to be an architect like the Costanza character in Seinfeld.)

The events that took place this past week were open to any player who were in the states of Nevada or New Jersey at the time. Still to come later this month are events that will be held at the GG Poker website and aimed at international players.

All of these online events are in lieu of the actual World Series of Poker, which is still in postponement status. These website-based tournaments have been well-populated so far, which is good news for the players looking for sizable purses to offset the buy-ins.

That’s not to say that there weren’t some grumblings about the new way of doing things until things can get back to the status quo. First of all, an article on Forbes went in-depth with concerns about players trying to cheat during the online tournaments. The article talked about everything from the habit of “ghosting,” where someone other than the named player would be playing the hands, to worries about software programs being used.

The gist of the article ultimately turned out to be that it would be extremely difficult for someone to win a lot of money in an WSOP event via cheating. But it’s still more of a concern in online tournaments than it would be in live events. Luckily, the top gambling sites in charge of the biggest events, like WSOP.com and GG Poker for the World Series of Poker online tournaments, offer pretty strong security protocols.

World Series of Poker Online Banner

Another worrisome complaint was from those bemoaning the number of re-buys available in these online events. While these re-buys are welcome because of how they drive up the purse, they also make it more likely that a bracelet could be captured by somebody getting a third or fourth chance.

For many professional poker players, winning a bracelet from playing in the World Series of Poker represents a pinnacle of the pastime. Anything that in any way lessens that experience can be problematic when thinking of poker in terms of its history. In other words, does a bracelet won with a rebuy deserve the same sort of accolades as one won without it?

Ultimately, the answer is up for debate between the purists and the new breed. But rebuys aside, any worries that these online winners might thrive against lesser competition should be doused somewhat by the caliber of some of the big names involved.

Daniel Negreanu, who has been active in promoting the online event through his side bets, was already in the mix in a few of the tourneys held so far. And before hitting a run of bad luck, Phil Hellmuth was actually the chip leader relatively late in the game of the event eventually won by Dokler.

Any of the perceived negatives about this new way of conducting the World Series of Poker has to be balanced against some of the cool stories coming out of the first week of play. For instance, Matt Bode won the high-speed “turbo” event held on July 4th and he did so from the comfort of his father’s basement. If that doesn’t scream internet poker, we don’t know what does.

Poker Player Louis Lynch

And don’t forget about the victory that Louis Lynch scored in Day 2 of the online events. Lynch defeated Ryan Ko when it came down to a head-to-head to decide first and second place.

It remains to be seen whether this incarnation of the World Series of Poker is able to stand up to the incarnation of the tournament that so many have known and loved for so long. But maybe Lynch’s victory was a symbolic one for the new normal in the biggest poker tournament of all.

One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

While online poker tournaments continued to heat up, the live poker games held in casinos throughout the country continued to sputter due to the pandemic. The biggest news came from California and Florida. Live poker action had returned in these states but is now back on the shelf.

Meanwhile, governmental leadership in New Jersey has decided that smoking and drinking has to be banned from their casinos for the time being. That action forced the Borgata, one of the most popular casinos in the Atlantic City area, to postpone its opening. Their owners decided that, without the amenities they could usually offer in place, it was best to sit out and wait for better days.

Pennsylvania’s governor has also decided that masks must be worn in all public spaces. That should also put a kibosh on any smoking in those casinos, which might adversely affect attendance for poker games.

The path towards normalcy in the casino world always seemed a bit fraught with peril. But we are now finding out just how difficult this is going to be.

What that means is that the poker world will likely be in stop-and-start mode for some time. Players must have patience. That goes for those in places where play is available albeit with many restrictions, as well as for those whose favorite tables remain closed.

Weekly Poker Update: June 22, 2020

Black Poker Chip With June 22, 2020 Text

You may not have realized it, but your ability to legally play online poker was being indirectly discussed with great seriousness this past Thursday. Once again, sides were arguing on the interpretation of the 1961 Federal Wire Act. And as it always seems to be the case when this musty law rears its head, there was little agreement or clarity to be found.

For those who might be new to this topic, the Wire Act was originally intended as a way to slow down the mob’s propagation of sports gambling. It essentially made it illegal for any entity to conduct any kind of gambling business over wire communications. At the time, the “wire” part of it was largely intended for telephone usage.

Of course, no one who imagined the law could have ever envisioned the internet, which is technically a form of wire communications. And for the past decade or so, depending on who happens to be the party in power, the Justice Department has gone back and forth on whether or not the law does indeed apply to online gambling activities such as online poker.

On Thursday, this long saga received a new chapter with arguments held within the First Circuit of Appeals in a dispute between the New Hampshire Lottery Commission and the United States Department of Justice. At issue is a 2018 DOJ opinion which seemed to indicate that the Wire Act should apply to online gambling such as poker in addition to sports gambling. The New Hampshire folks took legal action for fear that, if the opinion were followed, their enterprise could be considered illegal.

You might not see how any of this is a big deal for online poker. But the point is that, if the overall opinion that the Wire Act does indeed encompass all online gambling and not just sports, real money online poker could go bye-bye.

What occurred on Thursday was a mix of legal mumbo-jumbo and some nifty sidestepping by the DOJ. Their lawyers constantly assured the court that they had no intention of prosecuting the New Hampshire lottery entities. But they also seemed to contend that their 2018 opinion was indeed capable of making online gambling illegal and should be the law of the land. You can check it all out for yourself here.

This would seem to be a contradiction. Or it could indicate that the government really only wants to go after certain types of online gambling. Major casinos might be pressuring the government to take a hardline stance.

The good news is that the judges who heard the case seemed to be having a hard time wrapping their heads around the DOJ’s arguments. And this case is an appeal of a decision that already went in New Hampshire’s favor.

But the bad news is that, no matter what decision this court makes, this could still make it to the Supreme Court. Although recent major decisions have shown that members of the highest court in the land are indeed willing to vote against their perceived reputation, it is still technically a group with a conservative majority, which would seem to work against the online gambling enthusiasts.

The bottom line is that there is still a long way to go before this argument ends. Once the First Circuit Court of Appeals hands down its decision, the ball will be in the court of the losing party on whether or not to appeal. Most likely they will, then the Supreme Court will decide if they even want to hear the case before proceeding.

Still, online poker enthusiasts should keep an eye on how everything is shaking out. And they should consider how they would proceed in a worst-case scenario down the road.

Openings and Closings

Obviously, we’re still far from a return to normalcy when it comes to the poker world bouncing back to pre-COVID-19 days. This week offered a mixed bag in terms of poker rooms once again becoming a hub of activity at casinos around the world.

The good news is that Las Vegas witnessed three more major casinos opening their poker rooms back up this past week. Bellagio, Caesars Palace, and Sahara all opened up poker shops this past Thursday. That raised the number of poker rooms on the Strip to four, with seven in operation in the entire city.

Obviously, that is a far cry from full capacity. And players in those rooms will notice differences. The most impactful is a limit to the number of players at each table, which could result in a bit more waiting time before prospective players can find a seat. But it’s still a positive development.

Bellagio Poker Room

Elsewhere in the world, however, the news wasn’t as encouraging. For example, the Massachusetts Gambling Commission seems to be at odds with the casinos within the state who are balking at some harsh restrictions being imposed. And one of those harsh restrictions is that no poker rooms are allowed.

The commission acknowledged that this could be in issue for some of the casinos and have tabled formal announcement of guidelines until more talks about the issues could take place. Still, the fear is that an open-ended edict of no poker rooms could linger indefinitely once it is formally in place.

Meanwhile, in Great Britain, Genting announced the official closure of three of its casinos last week. Now comes the possibility that the remaining Genting casinos may be shuttering poker rooms completely, due to both the economic losses suffered during the pandemic and the safety realities going forward.

Look for this kind of ebb and flow between positive and negative news, in terms of poker rooms reopening, to continue for the near future. The worrisome thing is that all of the good news seems to be written in pencil, while all of the bad news is being etched in ink.

Dan’s Plan

You have to give credit to professional poker legend Daniel Negreanu for giving folks something to talk about during these difficult times for poker players. In fact, he’s taking bets that even those who have never played a hand of Hold ‘Em might be able to enjoy it, at least if they want to bet against Negreanu.

First of all, he’s offering 2 ½ to 1 odds that he will win a bracelet in a World Series of Poker bracelet this year. (In other words, the bettor would be putting $2.50 at risk for every dollar Negreanu does). This includes any bracelets won in the online sphere, where it was recently announced a total of 85 will be up for grabs. And if the live World Series of Poker does somehow take place later this year, those bracelets would also count for the bet.

Not liking your odds there. Negreanu is also offering up an even-money bet pitting him against any player of your choice. The determining factor, again, would be WSOP bracelets in 2020.

Poker Player Daniel Negreanu

In other words, if Negreanu wins one and the specified player doesn’t, Negreanu wins the bet. If the specified player wins one and Negreanu doesn’t, you win. And if both or neither win one, it’s a push.

Lest you think that nobody would engage in such a crazy thing, Negreanu said that the has already reached his $100,000 maximum for even-money bets with fellow poker pros Connor Drinan and Ali Imsirovic. There is definitely action taking place.

We’ll keep an eye on this going forward in terms of how the betting shakes out. And we’ll also be watching Negreanu closely one the first WSOP online events start taking place at the beginning of July.

That will do it for this week! But we’ll be back next week with all the biggest poker news.

Weekly Poker Update: June 15, 2020

Black Poker Chip With Date Text

This past week witnessed the largest-scale reopening of casinos so far since the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus. As a result, more poker rooms were filled with life than they have been for a long time. But we are far from a return to normalcy in that respect.

First of all, only about two-thirds of worldwide casinos have opened their doors. In the United States, East Coast casinos are still where most of the lockdowns persist. The good news is that major casino states like New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania are slowly beginning to lift their in-state restrictions, with some casinos in those states opening back up and others soon planning to do so.

As for poker, specifically, it was always going to be one of the most problematic casino areas in terms of the logistics of dealing with the post-COVID necessities. Vegas gamblers are starting to find out what they’ll be dealing with if they want to get their typical action, rather than just relying on real money online poker.

The biggest change is that most casinos have restricted the number of players at each table. Whereas it used to be extremely common to find around 10 players going for a single pot, the new norm is four or five per table. This reduces the congestion and conceivably should help keep the necessary social distancing in place.

The problem is that it turns into a numbers game, with far too many ready and willing players for available seats at poker tables. As a result, expect to wait for a while before you get to sit down if you do want to get back into the swing of things at the poker table. Waiting lists are common, some dotted with as many as a hundred names or more.

Beyond that, other expected precautions have been put into place. You’ll see hand sanitizer stations everywhere you turn, along with signage reminding you to wash as often as possible. And you’ll also witness dealers wearing masks and taking more time to make sure their area is spotless, perhaps slowing down play somewhat.

As for the players themselves, requirements such as masks depend upon the jurisdiction. In casinos where patrons aren’t required to wear masks but are strongly advised to do so, early reports claim that the response has been mixed.

The bottom line is that, while players finally have options if they want to get back to the poker rooms, they should be prepared for an experience that’s quite different from what they usually have. Patience is required, and you have to be ready for some inconveniences for the conceivable future. All you can hope is that things keep trending in the right direction going forward, which is far from a certainty with this unpredictable virus.

Big Brands and Online Play

If you had to ask a casual fan what the two biggest brands are in the world of high-stakes poker, chances are most would name the World Poker Tour and the World Series of Poker. These are the entities that have received the most television attention in the poker boom of the past few decades. It’s telling then that both made announcements this past week about noteworthy online extensions of their brands.

In terms of the World Series of Poker, they had previously announced that they would be adding an online element this year. This past week, they detailed the scheduling, with the first events coming up July 1. On top of that, 85 bracelets, the famed prizes for winning an official WSOP event, will be up for grabs in this format.

It’s a great chance for online players to get involved with the ultimate in poker events. The question remains whether the beefed-up online presence is, in part, a way to replace the live experience.

There have still been no official announcements about a date for the live event, which was originally scheduled for May. A postponement was announced in April, which was a no-brainer considering that all other major live events, like sports and concerts, also disappeared from the schedule.

World Poker Tour Table Game

It is fair to wonder then whether the ambitious online schedule is a fallback plan of sorts in case the months pass and holding a massive, in-person event like the WSOP remains untenable. In that respect, we’ll have to remain in stay-tuned mode.

Whether coincidental or not, the World Poker Tour also stepped forward by solidifying their own plans last week for an online series. It’s called the WPT World Online Championships, and it is being done in conjunction with partypoker. Events run from the middle of July until the beginning of September.

The idea is a series of tournaments, including a quintet whose winners will be official to the extent that they’ll be part of the WPT Champions’ Cup. If you can’t afford the hefty buy-in ($3,000 for four of the events and $10,000 for the main event), there will be plenty of satellite events available at partypoker to spread out the love.

The fact that the WSOP and WPT are sort of going head-to-head with these endeavors suggest some hearty competition is in store. And it will be interesting to see if one dwarfs the other in terms of popularity or if it’s more of a standoff.

Regardless of how that turns out, it can only be good news for those professional players (and aspiring amateurs) missing out on their typical action. If you’re one of those folks, chances are you’ll have one or maybe both of these undertakings on your radar.

Wire Act Waiting

For something that was passed 60 years ago as an attempt to curb the mob’s reliance on sports gambling, the Federal Wire Act certainly has been a persistent little bugger. And it faces more scrutiny this week when an appeal is set to be heard in a case that could have major ramifications on online gambling.

Screenshot of an Online Poker Game

For those who don’t know the story, the Wire Act was passed in 1961 and made it unlawful to use wire communications to enable gambling. At the time, there was no internet, of course. And despite the fact that several judgements in the past have upheld the idea that the Act was meant only for sports gambling, it is once again in the news thanks to a hearing coming up on Thursday, June 18th at the First Circuit of Appeals.

The issue is whether a New Hampshire lottery game runs afoul of the law. The Department of Justice, which has switched its opinion on the Wire Act over the years depending on which way the political winds are blowing, is once again trying to use it to clamp down on all interstate online gambling.

If the three-judge court should rule with the DOJ in this matter, the decision could upend all the process that’s been made in recent years in legalizing online gambling, including poker. Both the poker players and the real money online gambling sites running the games would be back to square one in trying to determine if what they’re doing is legal or not.

Nonetheless, the decision that comes from this court isn’t necessarily final. It could move to the U.S. Supreme Court, which would be the next stop, should the Justices agree to hear the case.

On one hand, that prospect is a bit scary for the online gambling (and poker) world, in that a Supreme Court decision would hold a lot more weight than the back-and-forth with the Wire Act of the past decade. But getting a final decision could also remove online poker from this perpetual limbo and finally put it in the clear.

Top Three Download Casinos for 2020

Download Icon With Casino Chip BackgroundTo help jump-start the new year, I’ve done a fresh review of all the download casinos available in the industry to pinpoint which ones are the current best of the best.

In this blog, I’ll present you with my list of the top three download casinos for 2020. If you’re looking to use a download casino for online gambling this year, you’ll want to use one of these options to ensure you’re working with one of the industry leaders.

Note: If you’re not sure what a download casino is, I’ll quickly get you up to speed. In today’s online casino space, there are two traditional ways to play games. One way is through a download casino, which requires users to download software onto their device to play.

Alternatively, the industry also provides instant play websites where games can be played directly from a device’s internet browser. On this page, I’ll be focused exclusively on the best download casinos for 2020.

Vegas Casino Online

Vegas Casino Online Screenshot

To kick things off, the first operation I’ve chosen as one of the top download casinos for 2020 is Vegas Casino Online. Even if you’ve never heard their name before, they’re a strong contender that should be on your short list of considerations. Check out my reasoning below for why I’ve included them in my list of recommendations.

A Trusted Option

Founded in 1999, Vegas Casino Online is one of the oldest download casino operations that’s still in operation. Besides offering a quality download casino option to their clients, another reason they’ve stayed in business this long is thanks to their trustworthiness. I’ve seen lots of online casinos come and go, and many of them failed because they could not be trusted.

Luckily, that’s not the case when it comes to Vegas Casino Online. If you end up using this download casino, I’m confident you’ll always be safe and secure on their platform.

Bonuses and Promotions

If you like the idea of mounds of bonus cash, then you’ll love working with Vegas Casino Online. As a new customer on their download casino platform, you’ll have the chance to score up to $10,000 with their hefty 400% welcome deposit bonus.

If you prefer a welcome offer with lower rollover requirements, there are two other options with less bonus potential, but also lower associated playthrough requirements. What I love about this is the option it provides players to select the welcome bonus that’s the best fit for them.

Outside of the welcome promotions, Vegas Casino Online also has a ton of other chances for you to score bonus cash, free spins, and more. Some of my favorites from their mix include their daily bonuses, weekly rewards, and their quality loyalty program. Check out the promotions portion of the download software to view all your bonus possibilities.

Fee-Free Deposits and Withdrawals

Something I don’t see all too often in the online casino industry is an operation offering fee-free banking methods. To be clear, it’s common to find places offering free options on select banking options. However, it’s rare to find someone like Vegas Casino Online where you’ll never pay a fee for a deposit or withdrawal regardless of which banking method you utilize.

What’s fantastic about this is that it saves you money. I hate wasting my money on junk fees tied to online casino deposits and withdrawals. If you choose to play at Vegas Casino Online’s download casino, you’ll get to keep more of your hard-earned cash!

If Vegas Casino Online sounds like a download casino you’d like more information on, then don’t miss this in-depth Vegas Casino Online download review.

Las Vegas USA

Las Vegas USA Online Casino Screenshot

My next selection for one of the top three download casinos of 2020 is none other than Las Vegas USA. They, too, have built an excellent download software that clients can use if they don’t prefer the instant play website. Check out my primary reasons Las Vegas USA made the cut below to see if they may be the right fit for you.

Substantial Bonuses

From a potential bonus size standpoint, Las Vegas USA’s download casino is tough to top. Currently, clients can earn up to $10,000 in welcome bonus cash. This insane amount of bonus potential is one of the highest I’ve ever come across within the industry.

As if the welcome offer wasn’t already enough, there’s always a laundry list of other special offers that are exclusive to existing clients using their platform. Should you choose to use Las Vegas USA’s download casino, there’s no question you’ll always have some excellent promotional opportunities at your fingertips.

Massive Lineup of Online Casino Games

Another thing that’s awesome about the Las Vegas USA download casino is it provides clients with access to more games than most other options in the industry. Right now, there are roughly 300 casino games on their download software.

Once you install it, you’ll find a well-balanced collection of slot machines, video poker, table games, and other specialty casino games. To view additional details about the games they offer, consult this complete review of the download version of Las Vegas USA.

24/7 Customer Service

The final core reason I love the Las Vegas USA download casino is thanks to their around-the-clock support. With agents on standby 24/7, you can be sure you’ll never have to wait an extended period to get the help you need.

Simply send their support team and email or use the live chat functionality to get your questions answered. Every interaction I’ve ever had with the Las Vegas USA customer service has always been swift and extremely helpful.

Bovada Casino

Bovada Casino Screenshot

The last casino to make my list of the top download casinos for 2020 is Bovada. While many folks know them for their poker action, Bovada also provides a full spectrum online casino that’s worth a look. Check out some of the top reasons I enjoy playing on the Bovada download casino below.

Massive Poker Room

If you’re planning to play poker online, Bovada’s download casino is one that should be on your short list of considerations. Personally, Bovada is my go-to spot when I’m looking to play poker for real money online.

With Bovada, there’s a huge poker room with all kinds of sit and go’s and full poker tournaments. You’ll find a massive collection of game types, styles, buy-ins, and more. Be sure to check out their poker room to experience it for yourself.

Live Dealer Games

Something rather unique in the download casino space is finding quality live dealer games. Luckily, if you’re into playing this fun online casino game format, Bovada delivers it well on their download platform. With live dealer casino games, you’ll play a game that includes a live video feed of a real-life dealer inside a casino from somewhere around the globe.

If you’ve never tried live dealer casino games before, I’d highly suggest it, and Bovada’s download casino is an excellent place to test things out thanks to the superb quality they provide. For me, I love the added interaction live dealer games offer me compared to standard online casino games.

You can learn more about Bovada’s live dealer games and other portions of their operation in this detailed review of Bovada.

Bonus Cash

One other thing which helps Bovada stand out from many other download casinos is their lineup of bonuses and promotions. As a newcomer to their download casino, you’ll have the chance to score up to $3,750 of bonus funds thanks to their excellent casino welcome offer.

Even after you claim your Bovada welcome bonus, there’s more to look forward to. With Bovada, there are always lots of options for reload deposits when topping off your account. In addition, the Bovada Rewards program is one of the top loyalty programs you’ll find in the online casino space.

The Runners Up

I didn’t want to wrap up this blog without making mention of two download casinos that almost made my list of suggestions above. Each of these online casinos included below represents a reliable option if you didn’t find one you like in the list of top three download casinos for 2020 above.

Cherry Gold Casino

Cherry Gold Casino Screenshot

One of the runners up to my list of the top three download casinos of 2020 is Cherry Gold Casino. This online casino site has been around for more than 15 years, proving themselves as a trusted option for folks looking to play games online.

The collection of games found on Cherry Gold’s download casino is one of my reasons I love their operation. In total, there are roughly 200 quality games from RealTime Gaming. You’ll find a nice variety across popular casino games. What’s nice about their download casino is it offers just as many games as the instant play website does. And you’re also able to play all their casino games in a free demo mode to try things out.

In addition to their excellent games, Cherry Gold Casino also has a stellar lineup of bonuses and promotions. Right now, new clients can get a 200% bonus match on their initial deposit. Once that’s claimed, there’s always a long list of other bonus offers for existing clients to take advantage of. Be sure to check out the promotions portion of the download casino to review all their latest offers.

To learn more about this download casino, check out this Cherry Gold download Casino review.

Red Dog Casino

Red Dog Casino Screenshot

The other runner up for the top download casinos for 2020 is Red Dog Casino. With Red Dog Casino, you can play on their instant play website or use the download software. Even though they’re a relative newcomer to the industry, I’m highly impressed with what they bring to the table.

One of the primary reasons I’m a massive fan of Red Dog’s download casino is thanks to the bonuses and promotions it provides clients. As a new player on their platform, you’ll have the chance to earn a bonus match of up to 245%.

To get the maximum value from this welcome offer, be sure to deposit using the cryptocurrency Bitcoin. Red Dog Casino also doesn’t disappoint when it comes to other promotions once players are established on their download casino. Based on my experience, there’s always some reload bonuses and additional special bonuses to help you earn added perks while gambling on their platform.

Something else which stands out about Red Dog’s download casino is the quality of their customer service. One area that really impressed me is their excellent FAQ section. They’ve compiled one of the most complete lists of frequently asked questions in the industry.

With this tool, you can most likely get the answers you need without ever needing to contact their team. But, if you do need to reach their support agents, you’ll be able to do it 24/7 using three different contact options. You don’t want to miss this review of the download version of Red Dog Casino if you’d like to learn more about everything they have to offer you.


I hope my blog on the best download casinos for 2020 has been able to help you pinpoint the one that’s ideal for your unique needs. If you’re unsure which one you should work with, check out this page dedicated to picking the right site.

If you’re new to playing casino games online, there’s a ton of other excellent resources on this website that can help you learn new things and improve your skillset.

Some of my favorite pages that may be able to assist you are the online casino basics, casino beginner’s guide, and casino games directory. No matter how experienced you are, I’m sure you’ll find some new things to help elevate your knowledge and skills.

Thanks for reading, and best of luck with all your future download casino action!

2020 Arkansas Derby Will Take Place This Saturday, May 2nd in a Two-Race Event

The 2020 Arkansas Derby has the green light from Arkansas authorities to take place this Saturday at Oaklawn Park. This top Kentucky Derby prep race has now been split into two divisions due to 22 horses entering. Two winners will walk away with enough qualifying points to be assured of a spot in the Kentucky Derby.
Two Racing Horses at the Arkansas Derby

Like most of the sports world, horse racing has been on hold during the COVID-19 crisis. A few Kentucky Derby prep races managed to sneak in right before more serious restrictions on live events were handed down. But for the past month, the sport has been quiet at a time when it’s usually drawing its most fervent attention.

That will change on Saturday with two divisions of the Arkansas Derby, held at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas, take place one after another in the early evening hours. In previous years, the Arkansas Derby had always been a single-race event, but unique circumstances called for something different. Each of the two races on the schedule will carry a purse of $500,000 and will feature a field of 11 top three-year-olds.

Ironically, Saturday was the original scheduled date for the Kentucky Derby, which has been postponed to September 5th at Churchill Downs due to COVID-19. The two splits of the Arkansas Derby will give horses a chance to qualify for the Run for the Roses. With 170 qualifying points going for each winner, there is almost no possibility that the two winners Saturday will be kept out of the field in Kentucky should they be healthy enough to race at that time.

The Fields

Each of the two divisions of the 2020 Arkansas Derby will take place at a distance of 1 1/8 miles on the dirt surface at Oaklawn Park. The first split takes place with a post time of approximately 6:29 PM ET. As for the second split, it will go off at 7:43 PM ET.

As is often the case in the world of American Thoroughbred racing, trainer Bob Baffert seems to be holding all the cards. Baffert trains the morning line, unbeaten favorites in each of the two divisions.

In the first division, Charlatan, winner of his first two career starts at Santa Anita, goes off as a prohibitive even-money favorite. Even though the three-year-old has not yet faced stakes competition, the impressive nature of his performances so far figures to earn him the bulk of the betting attention.

The second betting choice in the first division is Gouverneur Morris at 9-2, while Anneau d’Or gets the nod as the third choice at 6-1. Many in the field are deep long shots, which is a clue as to how highly-regarded Charlatan is.

In the second division, the odds are a little bit tighter. Baffert’s trainee Nadal, winner of all three of his races to date, gets the nod as the 5-2 favorite. But King Guillermo, a surprising winner in another Derby prep race, the Tampa Bay Derby, in his last start, is right behind him at 3-1.

Other top contenders in the second 2020 Arkansas Derby division include Wells Bayou, the 7-2 third choice who won the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby in his last start, and Storm The Court, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner.

Added Importance

Right now, there are no other Kentucky Derby prep races on the schedule between now and September. While some are expected to be added if restrictions are lifted somewhat, there is no guarantee that will happen.

As a result, all eyes in the horse racing world will be on the Arkansas Derby’s two races on Saturday, which should gather a lot of betting attention. Even casual racing fans, who might be missing other sports, could be watching closely. It figures to make for a memorable evening at Oaklawn Park.

2020 World Series of Poker Postponed

World Series of Poker (WSOP) announced on Monday, April 21st , that the 51st poker series, which was scheduled for next month on May 26th, will now be postponed for later this year. The reason for this, as stated by the WSOP, is the current crisis that we all are facing globally, the COVID-19 pandemic.

World Series of Poker Logo

The poker event was going to be held at the Rio All-Suite Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, and was going to start on May 26th and run through the middle of July. With 80+ tournaments and $293 million in cash, this six-week long event invites the best, the elite, and the newcomers to compete at the same tables for glory and fame.

The highlight of this event is a $10,000 Texas Hold’em tournament, which sees players from all across the globe. Now, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to the shutdown of most Las Vegas casinos, leading to the event’s postponement. No new dates for the event have been announced yet. However, the World Series of Poker officials have informed that they will soon announce the format and updated schedule for the poker event.

In a statement released by Ty Stewart, Executive Director of the World Series of Poker, Stewart said, “We are committed to running the World Series of Poker this year but need additional time to proceed on our traditional scale while prioritizing guest and staff well-being.”

Players Agree With Decision to Postpone

Some of the event attendees agreed that this decision by WSOP was the right one. The federal government recommends that certain steps must be taken for reopening businesses. The main guideline is to follow social distancing measures and limit crowd sizes. Hosting an event as big as the World Series of Poker, while keeping up with social distancing guidelines, would be quite challenging.

In another statement released by Ty Stewart, he said:

“In the interim, official WSOP competitions are expected to be played online this summer, and we will soon announce details of an expanded series of tournaments to be played on WSOP.com and through a partnership with international operators, which will allow players to chase WSOP glory from their homes.”

Online Poker Tournaments Available

Although in-person poker tournaments won’t be happening anytime soon, it’s still not a complete loss for the WSOP. They have announced the other WSOP competitions to be held online. Right now, the online event is legally available only for the residents of New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware. Participants who choose to play online must be 21 years old and above.

The actual WSOP poker tournament cannot be held online as of right now, considering the legality of casino games around the world. Any news regarding this and any other competition held by the World Series of Poker will be updated on their official website at WSOP.com.

Caesars Entertainment and UNLV Join Forces

A new education center is being created in the southwestern region of Las Vegas. The University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) and Caesars Entertainment have partnered up to build a hub that will focus on gaming and hospitality technology. The goal is to push the gaming industry forward with an educational setting, emphasizing the technical aspect of gaming.

New Education Hub

The education hub will be 43,000 square feet in size and focus on several aspects of gaming. The hub space will have simulated hotel rooms as well as a casino floor and sportsbook. The Harry Reid Research & Technology Park of UNLV will house the new hub. Titled Black Fire Innovation, the academic location will include virtual reality facilities along with an e-sports arena.

The new space should be open before 2019 comes to an end. The goal is to provide an educational hub where emphasis is placed on technology in the gaming industry to help push the industry forward. Black Fire Innovation will be situated in a four-story building on the UNLV campus. Caesars Entertainment has a four year lease on the space and two automatic extensions for a four year time frame. The Black Fire space will take up about a flour and a half. The total price for the hub project has been estimated at around $35m. This is a huge investment and will hopefully be lucrative for investors.

UNLV President Marta Meana said:

This collaboration with Caesars Entertainment will strengthen UNLV’s role as a research leader and further elevate Las Vegas as the global intellectual capital for gaming and hospitality. Collaborations like Black Fire also give our students unparalleled access to experts at the forefront of the industry.

Hub Details

Caesars Entertainment CorpAccording to UNLV’s associate vice president for economic development, Zach Miles, the fourth floor will be home to a mock resort. The space will have a casino and hotel rooms as well as a café, all of the future. Reportedly, there will be robots moving about the facility, with testing taking place as to how they engage within the facilities.

The project is a step by Caesars to be a leader in innovation when it comes to casino gaming. The company plans on using the hub to work with emerging student talent as well as technology partners. According to Les Ottolenghi, the chief information officer and executive vice president for Caesars, the facility is being designed to spur both creativity and entrepreneurship that will shape the future of the industry.

Research is expected to be conducted within the facility that will include several technologies that are emerging in the gaming industry, including ideas involving artificial intelligence and blockchain. By conducting research on the emerging technologies within the industry, Caesars will be able to remain on the edge of development. The company will be able to stay ahead of competitors and hopefully provide fresh ideas to the industry.

The education hub is a unique idea that should help to spur development in several sectors. The gaming industry, particularly in Nevada and primarily Las Vegas, is focused now not only on gaming but also on additional amenities. The younger generations are not as apt to play the slots and table games like the older generations. Newer amenities are being added to casinos to focus on offering something for the younger crowd.

The new educational hub should help Caesars be able to develop products and/or amenities that will meet visitor demand. It will certainly be interesting to see how the expensive development of an educational center will assist the industry and what comes from the research and experiments completed onsite.

Casino Self-Ban Program a Hot Topic In Louisiana

Summary: The self-exclusion program for Louisiana casinos is being discussed after a lawmaker admitted a gambling addiction and using the program.

In states where gambling is legalized, programs have been created where casinos can choose to exclude players from gambling or players can choose to self-exclude. The programs are available to help those who are addicted to gambling. In Louisiana, a self-exclusion program has been available for over ten years but is not well-known among residents of the state. A lawmaker recently admitted being addicted to gambling and using the program, which has now brought the program to life.

Issues Arise

Louisiana CasinosSenator Karen Carter Peterson of New Orleans recently disclosed that she has a gambling problem. This information came to light in an email from March. Peterson was outed by a television station in New Orleans, stating that the senator had violated her casino ban. The senator placed herself on the list and went to a casino, which she was not supposed to do. She was called out by the news station which now has proponents of the program worried that players will not be as willing to sign up as they will be afraid of keeping their identity private.

State Police are in charge of the self-exclusion program and keep the information private, for the most part. Lt. Nick Manale stated after the news broke that the Louisiana State Police will not comment on the process of the program out of respect to those who use it for personal challenges.

The police were contacted by the media and refused to provide information about the program including how many people are self-banned. Some members of the agency are worried that the news of the senator being on the list and being called out will keep addicts from placing their name on the list.

In February, Peterson went to the L’Auberge Casino which is located in Baton Rouge. She received a misdemeanor summons after gambling at the casino since she is on the self-ban list. A recent post on Facebook by the senator revealed that she has been an addict of gambling for many years, calling the condition a disease.

According to the senator, she was in the program and consented the officials to escort her out if she was spotted in a gambling facility. Her actions resulted in the court summons. She violated the voluntary ban due to what she called challenging times. The senator admitted that the program works as it should and she regrets failing to uphold her end of the self-ban agreement.

Gambling Addiction in Louisiana

In the United States, program gambling affects around 1% of the adult population. In Louisiana, the state has a gambling hot line that receives around 700 calls a year. The calls are completed by individuals who feel they have a gambling problem.

According to experts, the self-exclusion option to ban oneself from a casino establishment is an effective way to deal with problem gambling. However, there are doubters who feel that the program is hard to enforce and question if the program is even effective.

In Louisiana, to self-exclude, players have to schedule a formal meeting with a state police gaming operations field office. During the meeting, the individual has their picture taken and the photo is given to gaming officials at the casino facilities across the state. Facial recognition software is often used to find individuals who are not supposed to be on site.

Hopefully the recent introduction of the self-exclusion program in the news involving the senator will be a way to positively highlight the program and show others how it can be used as a beneficial tool.

Wire Act Case Arguments to Begin Soon

Summary: The arguments in the case involving the recent Wire Act opinion change by the Department of Justice will begin soon with reports suggesting a decision will be made by May.

When the United States Department of Justice decided to change their opinion of the Wire Act, it sent gaming operators scrambling. When the Wire Act was changed in 2011, after decades of remaining the same, the change allowed states to legalize online gambling. The only stipulation was that interstate sports betting online would not be allowed. Now, the DOJ has changed that opinion to include all interstate online gambling.

Wire Act is being challenged in court soon

Because of the decision, several stakeholders have filed a suit against the DOJ. The New Hampshire Lottery Commission is one such group, ready to take on the federal government and ensure their iGaming industry stays intact. Arguments in the case begin in less than two weeks and according to the executive director of the NH Lottery Commission, a decision could be made as early as May.

Legal Challenge

Charles McIntyre, the executive director of the New Hampshire Lottery Commission, recently spoke with Online Poker Report on the case. McIntyre expects the judge to make a decision before May comes to an end.

According to McIntyre, the issue is a statutory one. There is much to consider because the law was put on the books before the internet was created. Most older laws in the US have been updated to reflect the changes in technology. This one has not. McIntyre feels that Judge Paul J. Barbadoro, the one presiding over the case, will be considerate and take 30 to 40 days to come to a decision.

It was in January that the updated opinion was made public to include all forms of interstate gaming. The Wire Act was first created in 1961 to fight activities of the mob, including illegal sports betting operations. With the 2011 opinion, the DOJ made changes so that the internet was considered and states could legalize online poker, casino and lottery gaming.

Now that the new opinion has been made, states that offer online gaming are at risk. The New Hampshire Lottery Commission wasted no time in challenging the ruling. They filed a lawsuit in district court in the city of Concord. Other states and groups can tag along by filing an amicus brief.

What’s the Deal?

With the change, interstate gambling is at risk. Delaware, New Jersey and Nevada all work together to offer interstate online poker gaming. With the new Wire Act ruling, this would have to come to an end. Several states also take part in online lottery gaming. Such games as the Powerball can be played in multiple states. The DOJ’s new opinion of the Wire Act now puts hundreds of millions of dollars at risk as lotteries are unsure if they are in compliance or not with the changes.

Several possible issues have been under consideration, including payment problems and server locations. Several companies that operate in New Jersey are planning on offering online gaming services in Pennsylvania as well. Before the rule change, the operators could have used servers for iGaming in New Jersey to service Pennsylvania sites. Now, such operators will have to set up servers in Pennsylvania to be in compliance.

With payment issues, operators are worried that financial institutions will once again be leery of processing deposits based on the DOJ ruling. If this occurs, sites will have a problem providing financial options for their members.

The hearing is set to begin on April 11th. Hopefully we will know something soon as to what will happen to the online gambling industry in the US. Will the Wire Act be changed back to its 2011 format, or possibly changed yet again?

Pennsylvania Truck Stops May Lose VGTs Via New Bill

Summary: Truck stops may not be able to operate video gambling terminals if a new bill banning the option is approved.

In Pennsylvania, a gaming reform package was passed into law in late 2017. The package allowed for several expansions within the state’s existing gambling industry, including video gambling terminals at truck stops that met certain criteria. Now, a lawmaker has decided that VGTs do not need to be allowed and has introduced legislation to try and stop the games from being placed in the local truck stops.

Bill Would Stop VGTs

PennsylvaniaSenator Scott Martin introduced a bill in January that would give the local communities of the state more control over VGT placement. The bill has five cosponsors already and has sat within a Senate committee for some time.

If the bill is able to move forward, a municipality would be able to decide if they do not want to allow the video gambling terminals in their community. The area would have to alert the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board of their decision.

If a municipality decides to void VGT options, they can reverse their decision in the future. A new resolution would need to be sent to the Gaming Control Board to reverse the decision. If a license has been provided in a region for VGTs at a truck stop and a municipality decides to void the option, then the Board will have to provide a refund to the license holder.

Gambling at truck stops has already been in operation since the decision was made in 2017 to allow VGTs. Senator Martin has not been a fan of how the gaming option has progressed. In speaking with Transport Topics, Martin stated that the applications for VGTs are propping up everywhere.

Facilities such as rest stops are making requests to change their property in order to meet criteria to offer the gaming option. According to the Senator, the local governments and citizens are not happy that the applications of VGTs continue to pop up.

Pushing for Support

Since last year, Martin has been pushing for support of his measure. he sent a letter to lawmakers in December 2018 that cited the gaming reform package allowed local governments to choose to opt out of category four gaming, the satellite casino portion of the bill. He felt that the same should be allowed for the VGTs as well.

An opt-out was provided for VGT gaming but it was only offered to counties where there was already a casino of a category 1, 2 or 3 variety. A total of 10 counties out of 12 decided to opt out.

According to Martin, municipalities that do not wish to have such gaming expansions in their community should have the option to say no if they so choose. The senator feels that the people of the state should have the ability to maintain their individual culture as well as protect their community.

The bill now sits within the Community, Economic and Recreational Development committee in the senate. As of yet, the committee does not have any meetings scheduled to review the bill.

It would seem the lawmakers will not really be on board for banning the VGTs when they were already agreeable to the 2017 gaming package. However, if Martin can garner enough support, the bill may push forward. We may see the state fall back when it comes to gaming expansions, despite the fact that they were able to move forward in several areas when the gaming package was first approved.

Only time will tell what will happen with VGTs in Pennsylvania. It may be weeks or even months before we see any movement with the bill sponsored by Martin.

Sugar House Sportsbook Planning March Madness Parties

Summary: With sports betting in full swing, SugarHouse Sportsbook is planning to offer March Madness viewing parties.

Sports betting is in full swing in several areas across the United States and is only expected to get bigger. After the United States Supreme Court ruled in May 2018 that sports betting was no longer an illegal activity, states wasted no time passing legislation and getting started offering services.

In Pennsylvania, several casinos are offering sports betting options, as they also prepare to launch online casino gaming. Sugar House is a land-based venue that already offers online gaming in New Jersey and they have a sportsbook in Pennsylvania. The brand’s sportsbook in PA is set to offer something special this month due to March Madness.

March Mania

Known as March Mania, the SugarHouse Sportsbook will be offering betting options on all games during the Division one championship series. The option will include the bracket format, even offering wagering on the first four games of the tournament series.

During the tournament, the casino will be hosting viewing parties titled March Mania. During these parties, players will be able to win tickets to the final game along with airfare and accommodations. During the series, the casino will offered seats at their sportsbook and Fishtown Hops.

Guests of the casino will be able to watch each game for free, including the championship event on April 8th, but only at Fishtown Hops. The sportsbook will require a paid reservation.

Sports Betting on March Madness

Sugar House CasinoEvery state that currently offers sports betting expects the NCAA tournament to be a big draw for bettors. Aside from the Super Bowl, the March Madness basketball tournament should be the next big producer of revenues for sportsbooks.

During the event, players will be able to place wagers on games via the six betting windows of the sportsbook as well as kiosks. Two of the kiosks will be removed from the sportsbook during the series and moved to Fishtown Hops so viewers there can place wagers.

Players who wager on the games from now until March 24th via the QuickBet function will be given a chance to win the prize package on offer. With QuickBet, players can place wagers at a fast pace, creating a betting slip at their own convenience.

Estimates have been made as to how much money will be generated by NCAA March Madness betting, but we will only know for real once the betting slips are in. It is expected that hundreds of millions will be placed on the NCAA games. Depending on the outcome of the bets, the casinos in Pennsylvania like the SugarHouse, as well as venues across the US, will be able to benefit from the popular tournament series.

In general, fans of March Madness will take part in work place pools or betting with friends, where maybe $10 to $20 is wagered per person. Now that the option to bet on the event is legalized, it will not be surprising to see much money spent by bettors. After March Madness comes to an end, we will get to see just how popular the series really is and how it will affect the new sports betting industry in the US.

Online Gambling Legislation Steams Ahead in West Virginia

Summary: Legislation involving online gambling is quickly gaining ground in West Virginia, with only two more stops until it becomes a legal activity.

Online gambling has been available in the United States on a restricted basis since 2013. That year, Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware began offering iGaming and have not looked back since. Hundreds of millions have been earned and within the past few years, more states have considered joining in. Back in 2017, Pennsylvania passed online gambling legislation and should get started sometime this year. Now it seems that another state could be in the mix, if the final two steps in the legislative process prove to have a positive outcome.

West Virginia Steaming Ahead

After passing sports betting legislation and launching services a few months ago, West Virginia is now making headlines again. The state is the next in line to potentially join the handful of others who offer online poker and casino gaming. The state was able to see a bill pass within the House last month that will authorize poker and casino games online.

West Virginia CasinosHouse Bill 2934 was approved by the House and then sent on to the Senate. The West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act was then changed a bit by senate members and voted upon. The bill was approved by a vote of 26 to 7. The bill must now go back to the House for consideration and if approved, will sit on the desk of Governor Jim Justice for signing.

The House will have to approve the minor changes before it can move on to the Governor’s desk for approval. If signed into law, West Virginia will become the 5th state in the US to legalize online poker and the fourth to offer online casino gaming, as Nevada is strictly an online poker state.

Details of the Bill

Under House Bill 2934, the state’s Lottery would be in charge of regulating online gambling. The five casinos in the state would have the ability to apply for licensing. The state will set a tax rate of 15% on gross online gaming revenues. It is anticipating that West Virginia will be able to earn $5.9 million every fiscal year by way of tax revenues once the new industry is fully implemented.

A license would be good for five years and come at a cost of $250,000. To renew the license, operators would have to pay a $100,000 fee. With the help of technology partners, the land-based casinos in the state can offer online slot games, table games and poker based on the language of the bill.

To make sure gaming is taking place within state borders, geolocation technology would be used. The technology ensures that players are located in West Virginia and not another state.

Before, the tax rate was set at 10%. However, an amendment was made to push the rate a bit higher at 15%. There was a debate to increase the tax even further, to 35%. This was not done though as lawmakers felt that the bill would die due to the high rate.

If passed into law, the bill would take time to implement. It is expected that online casinos could launch by the end of the year, as the bill would take effect in a 90 day time frame. However, it was expected that Pennsylvania would launch rather quickly and we are still waiting on those sites to launch.

With the West Virginia bill, the Lottery will have to examine regulations that other states have implemented involving online gambling and adopt a similar plan. For now, the bill must be considered once again before moving on to the Governor. We will certainly keep an eye on these developments and report as details are provided.

Texas Representative Introduces Casino Legislation

Summary: A representative for the state of Texas has introduced new legislation that would create 12 destination resorts.

While many states offer casino gaming, there are still some in the United States that shy away from the activity. Texas is one such state, not home to traditional casino gaming. One representative would like to see that change. State Representative Roland Gutierrez has introduced House Bill 3043, a measure that would see 12 destination resorts created in Texas.

New Legislation

Texas CasinosAccording to Gutierrez, House Bill 3043 would bring commercial casino gaming to Texas. According to the Rep. the state has to change and lawmakers are open to gaming discussions. The request is not for casinos on every corner, but to see the state become involved in the industry.

Gutierrez has stated that Texas is currently losing out on billions as neighboring states offer full-scale gambling and residents of the state are taking advantage of slot and table gaming. Players from Texas can easily visit Louisiana, New Mexico and Oklahoma to take part in tribal and/or commercial casino offerings. Arkansas just recently approved commercial casino gaming.

Texas does have one casino that is operated by the Kickapoo Lucky Eagle, but the vast square footage of the state makes the venue far away from most consumers. With his bill, Gutierrez would make casino gaming more accessible in all areas of the state.

Legislation Specifics

House Bill 3043 does not list specifics, such as how much a license would cost. However, it does set the Texas Lottery Commission as the one in charge of the new industry. They would set the price points for fees in order to cover the costs to the state for the administration of casino gaming.

Revenues from license cost, the renewal of licensing and taxes would go towards the general revenue fund. It could then be used from there for whatever is deemed necessary. Gutierrez would like to see gaming used as a way to bring new revenues to the state instead of relying on other means such as raising the property tax paid by residents of the state.

If the bill were to pass into law, it would have to still go through a voter referendum process. Voters would have to choose if they want to see a casino created in their community. However, the bill would first have to be signed by Governor Greg Abbott. In the past, Abbott has stated his opposition of casino gaming, so he might not be willing to approve such legislation.

For now, the legislation will have to be considered and go through the process of moving forward. Gutierrez is hopeful that the bill will be accepted by his fellow lawmakers. If Texas is to stay competitive with their neighbors, they will have to offer some form of gambling aside from the slim pickings they already provide.

Most states are looking at gambling in some form or fashion to be able to create revenues needed for education, funding road work, senior care and other programs. Millions of dollars stand to be gained and states that have budget shortfalls can certainly stand to gain by having the extra income.

Golden Nugget of AC Making Move to Be Top Overall Operator

Summary: While the Golden Nugget is the top earner with online gambling in the New Jersey, they have recently made moves to take over the number one spot regarding gambling as a whole in the state.

Over the past few years, the Golden Nugget has cemented themselves as the top earner when it comes to legal online gambling. Holding the majority market share, the Golden Nugget was the first to hit the $5 million monthly revenue mark as well as surpass the $10 million mark and show no signs of slowing down. The brand has done so well and have continued to grow in other ways, now with the potential to surpass the Borgata as the number one overall operator in NJ.

Hoping for First Place

Golden Nugget New JerseyThe month of January was a good one for the Golden Nugget as the operator was able to reach the number two spot for overall gambling revenue in Atlantic City. They are gaining closely to the Borgata and hope to take over the number one spot soon. For 2018, the Golden Nugget ranked 4thamong the nine operating casinos in the state so the move to number two in January is promising.

It is interesting to note the progression of the Golden Nugget over the years. Back in 2008, the casino was in bad shape, under the operation of Trump Entertainment Resorts. The company has come a long way in the past few years, easily becoming a dominating force in the industry.

Owned now by Tilman Fertitta, a billionaire from Texas and the owner of the Houston Rockets NBA team, the casino has been under his direction since 2011. With the acquisition, Fertitta paid $38 million for the facility. He then invested $150 million to make the venue competitive in the region. The casino was redone within the interior as well as the exterior, creating a more comfortable and enticing environment.

During the first year of operation, the casino was able to earn just over $130 million. This was the first time the venue experienced double digit growth in many years. Fast forward to January, the Golden Nugget earned $26.7 million in gambling revenues. This is not too far behind the $55.8 million earned by the first place Borgata.

It is unclear as to if the Golden Nugget will be able to catch the Borgata when it comes to overall gambling earnings. The brand is far superior when it comes to online gambling, but lag behind when considering land-based earnings. In the fall and winter, casino visitors are lower than they are in other months, so unless the Golden Nugget can come up with a way to bring in traffic, they may continue to be in second place when compared to the Borgata.

The Golden Nugget is also the smallest casino in Atlantic City, offering only 720 guest rooms. They do not have the capacity as other venues do, such as the Borgata, which can hurt the bottom line.

Overall, the Golden Nugget is doing quite well for themselves, but if they have the ability to move into the number one overall spot is yet to be seen. Hopefully, the casino will continue to see success and we will see an even larger rivalry emerge between the casino and the Borgata as they battle it out for the top spot.

West Virginia Online Gambling Bill Continues to Move Forward

Summary: An online gambling bill in West Virginia continues to move forward, passing yet another hurdle late last week.

While most states in the US seem to be focused on sports betting legislation, West Virginia has their eye on online gambling. The state has seen quick progression of legislation involving online gambling. Already offering sports betting within their borders, West Virginia lawmakers now want to get in on the online gambling market.

H 2934

West Virginia CasinosIn the state, lawmakers of the House passed H 2934 with the lower chamber approving the measure with a vote of 72 to 22. The bill would legalize online casino and poker gaming in the state. Titled the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act, the measure is now headed towards the Senate. The House was in heavy favor of the measure and it is believed that the Senate will be just as approving.

If the State Senate approves the measure, the online gambling bill will move on to Governor Jim Justice’s desk to be signed into law. If signed, West Virginia would become the 5th state in the US to have legalized online gambling.

The bill was introduced by Delegate Jason Barrett and has 10 fellow co-sponsors. The bill would allow existing casinos in the state to offer online casino and poker gaming. Players would have to be physically located in the state to take part in gaming online.

The bill will set a tax rate at 15% for revenues generated and operators will have to pay a relatively low fee of $250,000 for licensing. All around, the bill seems to be accepted by lawmakers and gaming operators alike, with the potential to pass before the current session comes to an end.

Will the New Wire Act Opinion get in the Way?

Many analysts are pondering whether or not the new opinion of the Wire Act by the Department of Justice will play a role in the online gambling bill’s passage. Just a few months ago, the DOJ announced that the Wire Act no longer applied to solely online interstate sports betting but all online interstate gambling.

Concerns were raised that the change would cause lawmakers in West Virginia to move forward with caution. However, the opinion does not seem to have affected the efforts of lawmakers to see online gambling come to pass in the state. Other states are also considering online gambling legislation including Michigan and Kentucky.

Hopefully, as West Virginia continues their efforts, it will encourage others to do the same. Certainly, if lawmakers legalize online gambling in the state, it will push others to follow suit.

In the US, Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware have established successful online gambling industries and have been in operation since 2013. Pennsylvania passed legislation in 2017 and should get started sometime this year. If West Virginia were to pass legislation as well, it might have a snowball effect. We could see several states begin to propose online gambling legislation to see iGaming offered within their borders.

All eyes will be on West Virginia in the coming days and weeks as the Senate begins reviewing the measure. Supporters are sure to go crazy if the Senate votes in approval of the measure. If that is the outcome, the governor will simply have to sign the measure for online gaming to become a reality in the state. Hopefully that is outcome we will see and the online gaming market in the United States will become just a little bit larger!

We will stay up to date on the latest developments and report as new information is provided.

Online Gambling Bill Moves Forward in West Virginia

Summary: Legislation involving online gambling in West Virginia moves forward

After becoming one of the first states in the US to legalize and launch sports betting, West Virginia is now on the path to legalizing online gambling. A new bill has emerged, paving the way for the state to become involve in iGaming. H 2934 has seen a substitute bill advance within the House Judiciary Committee during a scheduled hearing yesterday. The bill now moves on to a second committee.

Moving Quickly

West Virginia CasinosThe bill was able to pass within the House committee and will now be reviewed in a second committee. To be legalized, the bill will have to move fast as the regular session ends on March 9th, only a few weeks away.

The primary sponsor of the West Virginia Lottery Interactive Wagering Act is Delegate Jason Barrett. With 10 other co-sponsors, the bill is supported by both republicans and democrats. The bill would allow the five casinos in the state to offer online gambling. Included in the mix would be table games, slots and poker.

The West Virginia Lottery Commission would be in charge and licensing would cost $250,000 each. In a statement, Delegate Barrett said that West Virginia seeks to lead the charge once again by permitting their land-based casinos to provide gaming online via electronic devices. If approved, the option would bring millions of dollars in revenues to the state.

Within the bill, criminal penalties have been created for any online gambling operators who are not authorized to offer services in the state. This could include such brands as Bovada and Ignition, online casinos that offer services in the US.

Tax Percentage Increased

In the initial bill, a tax was set for online gambling at 10%. Yesterday, the committee decided to change that number to 15%. However, there were still some lawmakers who felt that the number was still too low. Delegate Tom Fast wanted to see the tax rate increased to 35%. Others argued that the 15% was on point with other states that have passed online gambling legislation.

In New Jersey, the tax is set at 15% on the high end and Nevada has a lower tax of 6.75%. The amendment was moved forward in the end with a 15% tax rate.

Now that the bill has passed within the subcommittee, it still has a way to go before it can become law. The bill moves on to the Finance sector next, where it will be reviewed by more lawmakers. Of the committee set to review, Delegate Eric Householder is the chair. Householder is a cosponsor so it would not be surprising to see the bill advance directly to the floor.

If the House passes the measure, it will then move on to the Senate. It would have to pass within the Senate as well to then reach Governor Jim Justice’s desk. The current session is short so lawmakers will have to act fast in order to see the bill pass into law.

Hopefully, we will see the measure continue to advance at a rapid pace and online gambling will become a reality in the state. It has been over a year since Pennsylvania approved online gambling and the state has yet to start offering services. It would be great to see another state in the mix.

NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement Approves Netent Permanent License

Summary: The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement has approved NetEnt has a permanent license holder when it comes to online gambling.

The state of New Jersey is the top earner when it comes to online gambling. The state continues to hit new milestones and set new records when it comes to online casino and poker gaming. The state now offers online sports betting, which is only going to propel the monthly revenue totals even higher. Operators and game suppliers from around the world as well as inside the United States want to offer their services in New Jersey. The market is a golden one, set to be successful indefinitely. For NetEnt, their license as casino supplier was recently updated, allowing the company to permanently offer services in the region.

Permanent Casino Supplier

NetEntNetEnt has secured a permanent license to remain as a casino supplier in New Jersey indefinitely. The company is now focusing their efforts on their New Jersey offering and also securing an expansion into the online gambling market of Pennsylvania.

The Swedish provider offers quality online gaming content that is offered to players from around the world. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement decided to give the company permanent licensing after they had been in operation for other three years in the region.

NetEnt was given a Casino Service Industry Enterprise license that is now permanent. The license is the first one for company in the United States of this kind and they hope to continue to expand into other areas in the nation.

The company first applied for a license in the state back in 2015. Regulators gave the company a transactional waiver to be able to provide products and services while their application remained under review. During the three+ years that the company was in operation, they were able to create partnerships with several casinos in Atlantic City to further their reach within the region.

In Atlantic City, NetEnt was first operational via Resorts Casino. They then formed partnerships and launched online via such operators as the Borgata, Ocean Resort Casino and the Hard Rock Atlantic City and more.

Moving into Pennsylvania

Because NetEnt has been so successful in New Jersey, they hope to see the same success as they move into other markets. Pennsylvania is the latest state in the US to be ready to start offering online gaming. The state legalized iGaming in late 2017 and 2018 was spent setting up regulations, approving licensing and setting up partnerships.

This year, the state is set to launch digital services and NetEnt wants to be involved. Executives of the company feel that

Pennsylvania will be launching later on as regulatory requirements have been changed. NetEnt is also taking a look at the recent Wire Act changes and want to see how the federal government plans on enforcing their new ruling where all interstate online gambling is considered illegal.

While the change is something to consider, the company does not feel that the new opinion will affect their plans to further expand within the US. It will be interesting to watch as the company continues to offer services in New Jersey and hopefully gets started in Pennsylvania in the future.

New York Online Sports Betting Might Not Be Easy to Accomplish

Summary: New York gaming regulators are considering mobile and online sports betting, but voters might not be on board.

In New York, legislation to allow sports betting to take place in the state was passed back in 2013. However, at the time, a federal ban was in place regarding the industry. In May 2018, the United States Supreme Court decided to rule that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was invalid. This decision allowed states like New York to get started with sports betting.

The state has been slow going in their efforts to launch the new wagering option. The New York Gaming Commission has been busy crafting rules and regulations, with the option only available to casino venues. Mobile gaming and online options are not considered legal based on state law.

Mobile Gaming

New YorkNew York can add mobile gaming to the mix, but Governor Andrew Cuomo believes that the option can only come about if an amendment is added to the constitution. With this route, the state would have to see an amendment approved by the Assembly and Senate, then placed on a ballot for voter consideration.

This could take as long as three years to complete. In the meantime, the state would be restricted to on-site sports betting. This restriction would definitely put a damper on the amount of revenues the state could bring in. Mobile usage is basically a given when it comes to gambling these days. Players want to have access to their games on the go and mobile allows them to do so.

Neighbor to New York, New Jersey, offers mobile options and will most likely take on a little New York traffic as visitors cross state lines to place wagers online.

Would Voters Approve?

If an amendment to the constitution is required, voters would essentially have to approve the idea. As of right now, approval might not be so easy to secure. Based on a recent Siena College poll, voters are split as to how they see mobile gambling via sports betting.

44% are for and 44% are against. A remaining 12% have no opinion on the matter. So, it seems the proponents of mobile sports betting will have to convince voters that the option is a good one to see it come to fruition, if an amendment is needed.

Other lawmakers do not feel that the decision needs to require an amendment. For now, discussions are ongoing as to how the state can proceed in general with land-based offerings as well as how to move on with online options.

The state is only going to fall further and further behind if they cannot get started in general. Having land-based sports betting will be a good starting point, but will not bring in the large amount of revenues as can be seen with mobile gambling.

It seems over the next few weeks or even days, we should see the state legislature decide how they wish to proceed. We may see land-based gaming stay at the forefront and mobile options be pushed to the wayside as the state just wants to get the ball rolling with the new industry.

Ohio Senator Feels Optimistic for Sports Betting Legalization

Summary: Sports betting legislation is up for discussion in Ohio, with one senator optimistic that the option will come to pass in the state.

Senator John Eklund of Ohio is a strong supporter of sports betting for his state. He has plans to introduce legislation involving the gambling industry, and feels hopeful that the bill he creates will be able to move forward.

Getting Started:

OhioEklund spoke with Legal Sports Report recently, stating that he feels the chances of a bill passing are better than 50/50. The Senator feels that the number of groups and organizations that support the option are far more than those who are opposed.

S 316 is a placeholder bill created by Eklund and Senator Sean O’Brien, one that would at least get the subject on the table for discussion. In the House, a companion bill has been created by Dan Greenspan. Eklund plans on having the details of S 316 ready by the end of the month to hopefully get the ball rolling with sports betting legislation.

The Senator began discussing sports betting in 2018 and at the time, was not in favor of mobile wagering. In the beginning, Eklund believed that the safeguards were not in place and mobile wagering would be unsafe for the younger generation. However, he is now aware of how the option can be offered with security measures in place.

Are Integrity Fees Considered?

Eklund understands that professional sports leagues are interested in integrity fees and want to be given a payment for protecting their games. Eklund is not so sure that the integrity fees need to be paid. For now, it seems the Senator is not going to offer this option. However, he has said that he will see about what will be done in the future.

Currently, leagues are not being paid integrity fees from the billions wagers legally as well as illegally in the United States. So far, the majority of the states offering sports betting are not providing integrity fees and they feel that the leagues are already ensuring integrity so why should they pay now?

Big revenues should be on the way if sports betting is approved in Ohio. To get the ball rolling, Eklund will be filling in his placeholder bill from 2018. However, the process has taken longer than the Senator has expected it to.

Stakeholders are agreeable that Ohio should have regulated sports betting. There are limitations as to how much the new industry would create for the state, but it would be new revenues none the less. There will be issues that will have to be dealt with involving the new industry such as what type of betting will be allowed, who will be able to offer wagering, who the regulator will be and if online gaming will be offered.

According to Eklund, he has already received four different drafted bills from stakeholders involving sports betting. Shareholders include fraternal organizations, racetracks and casinos. It seems several groups are interested, so all the details will have to be hammered out before the bill can move forward.

It will be interesting to see how the state progresses once the bill is filled in by Senator Eklund. Ohio might soon be the next state to get started in the sports betting industry.

Online Gaming Continues to Be A Success in New Jersey

Summary: 2018 was a stellar year for New Jersey regarding online gaming and 2019 is setting up to be just as successful.

In 2018, the online casinos of New Jersey enjoyed a record-breaking year. The industry was able to break revenue revenues six times out of 12 months and came close to hitting the $30 million mark in December, just narrowly missing out on yet another milestone. The state saw many highs last year and 2019 is setting up to be no different!

Highlights of 2018

New JerseyLast year, several factors contributed to the state’s success involving online gaming. New Jersey offers both online casino and poker gaming, having also just recently entered into the realm of online sports betting. The state saw great success as many changes came to the overall gambling industry last year.

First, two new casinos opened in the summer, both offering online gaming. The Hard Rock Atlantic City and Ocean Resort Casino opened and started offering both land-based and online services, which helped to increase the overall revenue numbers.

The state’s large portfolio of online casino games has played a large role in the success of iGaming. Players have a nice selection of table games, slots and more, along with live dealer, which makes for a more enticing experience online. Players continue to log in on a regular basis to enjoy the online casino and poker content, which only helps to push the revenue numbers further.

Sports betting legalization and launch also helped to create a stellar 2019. Sports betting is providing both land-based and online gaming revenues, as players can place wagers on site as well as online. It seems that if 2019 continues as 2018 did, the state will only continue to break records.

What’s To Come?

For 2019, it has been predicted by Eilers & Krejcik that as much as $401.5 million will be earned in revenues. The prediction is that the industry will continue to grow and reach new heights, increasing in total growth by over 35%.

The large percentage of growth does seem quite high but could be doable. One must consider that the state will continue to see new online casinos created, additional sports betting operations, and casinos integrating mobile sports betting options.

Sports betting is expected to be huge in the United States and because New Jersey already does quite well with online gaming, sports betting should be a big hit via mobile and online as well. It is expected that the new industry alone will bring in large numbers both online and via land-based wagering.

As to just how much the state will see by way of sports betting is yet to be determined. The new industry is in the early stages. Online sports books as well as land-based offerings are still in the customer acquisition phase. Such players may have gambled online in the past or this may be their first time.

Sports betting reaches a different audience than casino and poker does, so it could be that New Jersey reaches even greater heights when it comes to how much they can earn via sports betting services.

Just like 2018, all eyes will be on New Jersey this year as they continue to dominate the online gambling sector. Be it online casino gaming, poker or sports betting, New Jersey has the perfect formula. Month after month, the state continues to see gains and improvements, showing other states in the US just how online gaming is done. Hopefully, the state will continue to set new records and encourage other states to begin offering services online.

Indiana Gambling Legislation Moves Forward

Summary: A bill involving a casino license and sports betting has moved forward in Indiana.

The Senate Public Policy Committee recently heard testimony supporting a bill involving a casino license and sports betting, choosing to push the bill forward. The bill will allow for Gary’s Lake Michigan casino license to move inland and provides a license to Terre Haute. Also in the mix is sports betting. If passed into law, the bill would allow wagering on professional and college sports.

Moving Forward

IndianaThe bill has a fiscal impact, so it will now be considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee. Gary sent several officials to the hearing to be able to push for support. The mayor of the city, Karen Freeman-Wilson, was on hand along with city council members, senators and more. The officials wanted to show that moving the casino inland would be a huge opportunity for the city.

The mayor has wanted to see the two riverboat casinos move inland so that the Buffington Harbor will be open for development. Now that the casino licensing has been moved, the city will have a blank area in which to use for economic development. The city will be able to provide jobs as well as increase the amount of tax revenues brought to the city.

Senate Bill 552 would provide the city of Gary with a large increase in gaming revenues, money that is much needed. The casinos already 800 jobs will be increased by 400 with construction jobs also available as the inland building is constructed.

The region of Gary has been undergoing a transformation as of late in order to change the perception of the region as well as the reality for the community. According to Mayor Freeman-Wilson, the city is trying to return to a time when they were prosperous. Already, around $1.7 billion has been invested over a seven year time frame in the region.

More than 1,300 vacant buildings or abandoned structures have been demolished or deconstructed to focus on reducing crime in the region and see overall community success.

Sports Betting Component

SB 552 also covers sports betting, an industry that Indiana can also benefit from. States across the US have continued to legalize sports betting after the option became available last May. In Indiana, the bill would allow casinos in the state to offer sports betting.

The measure places rules for the casinos to provide the new wagering option. The Indiana Gaming Commission is also given the ability to create additional regulations. Sports betting is supported by lawmakers as well as professional sports teams in the state including the Colts and IndyCar.

It seems the bill has the full potential to pass into law. Already close to a dozen states have legalized sports betting in some form or fashion. If Indiana is able to pass the legislation, they would be yet another state that gets in on the newest industry in the nation.

Now, we just wait and see what happens to the measure in the Senate Committee. Hopefully, the bill will continue to move forward and we will see Indiana become the next to offer sports betting along with the quality casino changes to the region.

Sports Betting Overtakes Online Gambling Legislation Efforts

Summary: In the US, sports betting legislation efforts have far surpassed online gambling legislation changes.

New YorkIn May 2018, the US Supreme Court decided to rule that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was invalid. This Act was what was keeping most every state in the nation from taking part in sports betting activities. Over the past few months, state after state have begun or completed the process of legalizing the new industry. This year alone, several states have moved forward with legislative efforts to get in on the action. Lawmakers are much more receptive to sports betting than online gambling legislation with sports betting now tracking much more action than iGaming.

Busy Year

2019 is already setting up to become a stellar year for sports betting. So far, several states have started the discussion or introduced legislation to get the ball rolling with sports betting. Texas, Arizona, Iowa, Oregon, Massachusetts, Washington D.C. and many other states are focusing on sports betting legislation. But what about online poker or casino gaming? Thankfully, there are still states that are interested in launching these industries as well.

New York is one such state that is still considering online gambling. Lawmakers in NY are focusing on trying to see online poker move forward, though progress has been slow going. Senator Joseph Addabbo has taken over as the chairman of the Senate Gaming Committee and is the newest sponsor of legislation involving online poker.

Senator Addabbo has decided to reintroduce legislation first created by former Senator John Bonacic. S18 would legalize online poker and regulate the activity as a game of skill. However, sports betting is currently taking center stage, being considered in the House and Senate in mobile and online form.

Virginia is also a state still considering online gaming. Currently, the topic of debate is sports betting but one bill on file focuses on online gaming as well. Several sports betting bills are on the table with one focused on allowing the state lottery to sell tickets online and take sports bets online as well.

H 2210 was able to move past the Committee on Rules last month with a strong vote of 14 to 2. However, the legislation is on hold at the moment. The state does not have any land-based casinos, so how online gaming and sports betting would take place is still being worked out.

Still Being Considered

Even though the sports betting has taken center stage, there are states that are still considering online gambling. Even with sports betting legislation efforts, some states are adding in other elements, such as online gaming in generalized form. This could open up the door for online casino and poker gaming in the future.

So, as we continue in the New Year, all eyes will be on states that are focused on enhancing their gambling industries. How many more states will legalize sports betting in the coming months? Will states focus on online casino and poker gaming as well? Only time will tell what will happen. As always, we will stay tuned to all new updates and keep our players in the know as to what’s going on around the nation by way of newly introduced legislation.

Caesars Atlantic City Properties Affected By New Competition

Summary: The two new casinos in Atlantic City as well as neighboring state competition have caused Caesars three properties in New Jersey to decline in guest hotel stays as well as revenues.

In June 2018, the Hard Rock Atlantic City and the Ocean Resort Casino both opened for business, on the same day no less. With the launch of two new gaming properties in Atlantic City, current operating casinos were expecting to be affected in some manner. There were seven casinos operating in the region and this would bring about even more competition. Caesars Entertainment Corp operates three properties in Atlantic City and all three were subject to lower guest stays as well as a decrease in revenues due to the new competition.

AC Casinos Affected

Caesars Entertainment CorpCaesars owns the Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City, Caesars Atlantic City and the Bally’s Atlantic City casinos. Each venue has operated in the region for decades and has been successful. However, once the new casinos opened up, the three began to see issues. When looking at the seven total properties operating in the region before the two new venues were opened, the Caesars properties were hit the hardest.

When looking at hotel stays, the numbers were down. Bally’s even downsized the number of rooms they offer, and they still saw a decrease in overall stays. Before the two new venues opened, the Caesars Entertainment Chief Financial Officer, Eric Hession, stated that he felt the properties would take a hit. The new casinos would cause issues along with the competition that continues to build in neighboring states such as New York and Pennsylvania.

Number Breakdown

Looking at the individual numbers for each casinos, the declines can easily be seen. Harrah’s Atlantic City earned $332.9 million in gaming revenues for 2018 which is a decrease from the previous year of 8.4%. However, despite the decline, the casino still came in 3rd place among the nine total venues for last year’s earnings.

Caesars earned $326.9 million and Bally’s earned the least at $191.9 million. Caesars was down 11.2% and Bally’s was down 9.1%. The results saw Caesars finish in 4th place while Bally’s was in 6th by the end of the year.

Expert analysts suggest that the Caesars properties are struggling due to the lack of investment by the parent company. Caesars and Bally’s are two of the oldest properties in the region and could benefit from capital investment. Harrah’s has seen an investment by Caesars, with $56 million being spent this year on renovating and rebranding the Harbour Tower, the oldest hotel tower of the facility.

For Caesars and Bally’s to see a turn around, some type of investment will have to be made. The company is making efforts to revitalize their operations in Atlantic City, having spent around $200 million within a four year time frame with more changes yet to come this year.

Along with their land-based operations, the company also focuses on online poker and casino gaming. It will be interesting to see how the brand fares with their three land-based facilities as well as with online services in 2019. Competition will continue to build as Pennsylvania begins to offer online gaming as well as satellite casinos, VGTs are added and sports betting.

Caesars may continue to see declines if competition continues to be a factor.

Online Sportsbooks Launches via Hard Rock Atlantic City

Summary: The Hard Rock Atlantic City Casino has launched their online sports book this week.

Sports betting is fully operational in New Jersey, with several operators offers land based as well as online gaming options. The state continues to soar above the rest of the nation by way of gambling offerings, with online gaming taking center stage. New Jersey is one of only a handful of states that offers online sports betting along with casino and poker games. This week, the Hard Rock Atlantic City launched their online sportsbook, offering one more option for visitors to the state.

Soft Launch Begins

Hard Rock Atlantic CityBefore a sportsbook can be fully operational, they must complete a soft launch. The online sportsbook did so over the weekend, going live soon after they were given conditional approval by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement. The testing phase is basically done with the sportsbook operating in full force.

The site opened just in time as the Super Bowl is this weekend, the busiest weekend of the year for sports betting companies. With the launch, the Hard Rock sportsbook becomes the 10th online offering in New Jersey. The option is the first for the Hard Rock, as the brand decided to go online first before opening their land-based option.

Partnered with Gaming Innovation Group

The Hard Rock sportsbook is being powered by the Gaming Innovation Group, a company based in Malta. The company is also behind the brand’s online casino, an offering that launched not long after the land-based casino opened in June of last year.

For Hard Rock customers, the sportsbook and the casino have a shared walled. This makes it easy for players to enjoy online casino games as well as sports betting. Players can easily switch back and forth to whatever they wish to enjoy.

Several sports are available for wagering at Hard Rock including the popular sports of auto racing, basketball, baseball, boxing, golf, tennis, MMA, football, soccer and more.

As for the retail sportsbook, the Hard Rock has provided information since last year on what they will be providing. Officials targeted this year as the opening date, but it will most likely be some time before the land-based venue is ready to open.

In the past, the Hard Rock International SVP of online gaming, Kresimir Spajic, commented that the partnership with GiG has shown the company is innovative, capable and flexible, with the qualities coming together to ensure a quality sportsbook for the casino. Hard Rock felt that their extension with GiG involving their partnership will enable the brand to reach their goal of beginning the online gaming and sports betting leader in New Jersey.

Now it will be interesting to see how the online sportsbook fares. By the end of February, there will be a full month of operation figures to review. How much the sportsbook takes in will be a good indicator as to how successful the brand will be in this new venture.

The sportsbetting option will bring about even more revenues to the state, as the gambling industry continues to grow at a rapid pace with no signs of slowing down. We will report on the figures as they are released so that our readers can see how the state is progressing with their huge gambling industry, both online and land-based.

Tribal Sports Gaming Being Considered in Arizona

Summary: Legislation has been introduced in Arizona to legalize tribal sports betting, an option that would be a first for the United States.

Across the United States, Native American tribes operate casino gaming. Tribes that have been federally recognized have the right to operate casinos on reservation lands. With changes taking place in the gambling landscape of the US, with sports betting now an option, tribal groups want in on the action. In Arizona, a new bill was introduced last week that would legalize sports betting for tribes. This would be a first in the US, distinguishing the option for Native Americans.

New Bill

Arizona CasinosLast Wednesday, three state officials of Arizona introduced a bill that would allow federally recognized tribes to offer electronic sports betting kiosks. These kiosks could be located off reservation lands, in venues such as stadiums, clubs and bars. The tribes that could operate such sports betting options would have to have a state gaming compact with the state to be approved for sports betting operations.

The legislation would allow anyone over 21 to lease the machines from the tribe and offer the kiosks in their establishments. Examples of such facilities include the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Affairs, private clubs that often offer gaming.

An existing law would place a cap on the amount of machines a tribe can offer. Additional machines are not included in this legislation. State lawmakers see the option as a great way for the state to be able to have more revenues.

Wagers placed within a casino would be taxed at 8.5% as set in a gaming compact sharing agreement. Wagers from the kiosks that are located off-site would be taxed at a lower 6.5% rate based on adjusted gross receipts.

Estimated Revenues

Studies have been conducted as to just how much revenue the sports betting machines could bring to the state. A study from 2017 by Oxford revealed that as much as $26 million could be created from a 10% tax rate. Another study estimated a wider range, from just over $480,000 to $2.3 million.

There is worry that the new sports betting option, if approved, would hurt the lottery. Research has suggested that sports betting takes away from other items such as the lottery. This may hurt the legislation going forward if some lawmakers are worried that the new option would take away from lottery earnings.

The bill’s language also may leave off-track betting venues from taking part in sports betting, which may also cause a problem. The bill restricts the kiosks to facilities that have a 6, 7 or 14 liquor license. Venues without such licensing are unable to apply for the new gaming option. This restriction as put in place to keep such machines out of restaurants and grocery stores to protect families.

The type of wagers allowed via the new option have yet to be determined. The Arizona Department of Gaming will be in charge of determining what will be offered. The bill has an emergency clause so that it will go into effect immediately once the governor signs it. Even if the measure does pass, it may be some time before the department determines what type of gaming can be offered in the state.

All eyes will be on the new bill and if this will be the first time a Native American tribe is given such rights to operate sports betting games.

Online Lottery Better Be Legalized with Online Sports Betting Says Massachusetts Treasurer

Summary: As online sports betting is being considered in Massachusetts, one official says that online lottery gaming better be included as well.

Since the United States Supreme Court ruled in May of 2018 that sports betting can now be legalized in individual states, lawmakers have been rushing with legislation to get in on the action. Several states have already legalized sports betting, both online and in land-based form. In Massachusetts, online sports betting is under consideration and the state treasurer is now calling for online lottery gaming as well.

With One Should Come the Other

The Massachusetts Gaming CommissionDeborah Goldberg, the State Treasurer, commented recently after a Lottery Commission meeting that if sports betting goes online then the lottery needs to be able to offer online services as well. The state almost passed legislation three years ago to allow online ticket sales but the proposal being considered died without moving forward.

Now, sports betting is being considered and it seems online lottery gaming may soon be back in the mix. Goldberg supports online sales and wants to see the state get started in offering this option. As consideration has been given to online casino and poker games, Goldberg has urged online lottery sales as well. The treasurer says that the state cannot continue to be successful unless they modernize their offerings.

And she is right. As gambling continues to evolve, players are more likely to access services if they can do so online. Players want to be able to enjoy their favorite games on the go and not be tied to a desktop computer. The wave of the future involving online gambling is mobile usage and those who do not offer such options will fall behind.

With an online lottery selection, players would be able to purchase tickets via mobile device or desktop. Players who purchase their tickets in store would still do so, but an online option would open up the market to a new group of participants. Or perhaps more sales as players would not have to be out and about to buy tickets.

Online Lottery Gaming

Several states have passed online lottery gaming legislation and are offering services. States that have passed such legislation include: Michigan, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Illinois, Kentucky and Georgia. For Massachusetts to join the pack, it would be huge for the state. The lottery in Massachusetts already generates $1 billion in annual revenues. So much more could be earned if online sales were allowed.

For the most part, online lottery ticket sales include the Mega Millions, Lotto and Powerball. Players can easily access sites that offers online ticket sales and purchase what they wish. If Massachusetts began offering online sales, the lottery site would have to add a section that offers tickets online.

Even though the treasure is pushing for online lottery gaming, the road ahead will be difficult. It seems lawmakers are more centered on sports betting and adding in online lottery sales might be tough. However, we may see that the state ends up combining sports betting, lottery online sales, online casino and poker gaming all in one package.

If Massachusetts were to do so, they would be the second state in just over a year to pass legislation combining several aspects. The last to do so was Pennsylvania, when they passed a large gaming expansion package in 2017.

Former New Jersey Senator To Fight Recent Wire Act Changes

Summary: Former senator of New Jersey, Raymond Lesniak, is preparing to fight for a declaratory judgement on the recent opinion by the Department of Justice involving the Wire Act.

Online gambling operators were hit with a major blow just a few days ago when it was made public that the Wire Act had been changed to now make all interstate online gaming illegal. The change will create significant complications for the online gaming industry, affecting the location of servers, financial transactions, live dealer gaming and more. Former Senator of New Jersey Raymond Lesniak played a major role in this home state in starting iGaming operations and now it seems he will be back in action to try and stop these recent changes.

Declaratory Judgement

New JerseyLesniak along with other lawmakers are working to see a declaratory judgement on the new opinion, in the hopes of straightening out the new changes. Lesniak recently spoke with Online Poker Report, calling the new opinion ‘outrageous’ and stating that it puts state revenues at risk as well as lotteries. If Congress does not move to fix the issue, then he will do so via the judicial process.

In 2013, New Jersey became the second state in the US to offer online gambling. The change was made due to the 2011 ruling by the Justice Department in which the Office of Legal Counsel ruled that the scope of the Wire Act only reached sports betting.

According to the former senator, the new opinion is a threat to the boost that the state’s casinos have enjoyed over the years as well as a threat to the revenues and jobs of the state produced via online gambling. Sports betting at racetracks and casinos may also be impacted in a negative manner. The former senator does not want to see the state lose the gains they fought so hard for over the past few years.

Lesniak commented that it is unclear as to why the DOJ decided to make the change after seven years of allowing the state and lotteries to take part in online gaming. The name Sheldon Adelson has come up, but it is unclear if the Las Vegas Sands has pushed for this change. He has been very vocal in his stance against online gambling and has spent millions in support of campaigns against iGaming as well as in support of republican candidates.

Slowing Down Progress

Over the past few years, online gambling has progressed. The states that already offer the option are growing in their operations and other states are looking at getting started in the industry. Pennsylvania passed iGaming legislation in 2017 and spent last year working to set up their new industry. They are expected to begin operations this year, however, operators are now having to create plans of action to present to the Gaming Control Board, showing that all aspects of their operations will remain within the state’s borders.

It could be that this new decision will affect online gambling in the US going forward. States may be leery once again to get started, as they may be afraid of federal prosecution. Now, all is reliant on how the DOJ will be enforcing the new opinion. Only time will tell if the change will fully affect online gambling and in what manner.

We will stay abreast of the details and provide info as soon as it is made public.

West Virginia Officials Agree to Delay iGaming Discussions

Summary: While West Virginia seemed to be on the fast track to legalizing online gaming, officials of the state have now decided to consider the issue in the future, instead of now.
A meeting was held within the House Finance Committee last week which discussed several avenues of gambling expansion in the state of West Virginia. Many subjects were on the table, with some moving forward and others being delayed. Unfortunately for online gambling proponents, the process of seeing casino style gaming available online in the state has now been delayed.

Approved, Not Approved

West Virginia CasinosOfficials involved with the lottery of the state decided to throw their support behind bills that would expand keno gaming as well as allow for limited video lottery gaming in retail outlets. Online gambling however, did not receive such approvals. During the House Finance Committee meeting, the Director of the state Lottery, John Myers, stated that the agency wants to be able to reconsider online gaming in the future.

The Lottery reportedly sees potential with online gaming, but wants to halt discussions and come back to it in the future. This year, a bill has already been filed to see online gambling come to life in the state. Delegate Shawn Fluharty along with four other democrat lawmakers filed the H 3067 measure, proposing online gaming for the state.

The legislation has showed up during the last three meetings of the committee but has yet to move forward. Language in the bill would allow the existing casinos in the state to operate iGaming. The state Lottery would act as overseer. The industry would have a $50,000 licensing fee set per license with online gaming gross revenues taxed at 14%.

While the lottery may not be interested in the industry just yet, that doesn’t mean it won’t come to fruition. Another legislative effort may be in the works that could spark new life into the idea. No such legislation has been proposed yet, but reportedly, a committee chair is showing support on the matter.

Additional Gaming Legislation

While the lottery officials are not on board with iGaming just yet, they are still agreeable to changes within the existing gambling industry. Right now, the players of the lottery can cash in their winning keno tickets with any retailer in the state. However, tickets must be purchased only at venues where the Alcohol Beverage Control Administration has approved licensing.
With legislation H 2184, keno tickets would be up for purchase at new locations, including convenience stores. The option would certainly make gaming easier and will most likely produce a nice new addition to the stream of keno revenues.

A second bill, H 2191, was also introduced, one that would allow the limited video lotteries to take place. Distributors of such games could be retailers which would help the outlets remain viable.
In the meantime, the state has been busy setting up their new sports betting industry. Regulators continue to work on mobile applications for the industry. All five casinos want to offer mobile wagering so players can bet on the go. The land-based services have been successful thus far and are only expected to see an increase in revenues as the industry continues to grow.
Right now, there are two gaming venues that offer online and mobile wagering platforms. Both the Mardi Gras and Wheeling Island facilities were able to get their mobile offerings up and running to begin online operations.

Wire Act Changes Require 90 Day Compliance

Summary: After a change to the Wire Act by the Department of Justice was made public this week, a memo has been released giving businesses 90 days to make changes.

Sports BettingThis week, it was made known that the Department of Justice has decided to rule that the federal Wire Act applies to all forms of interstate gaming. In the past, the Act applied to only sports betting. With the change, online poker and lottery gaming will be affected and possibly the online casino industry as well. Now, a memo has been issued by the US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that states the new opinion will take effect in 90 days. In this time frame, the office will be making guidelines.

90-Day Time Frame

During the 90-day time frame in which the federal government will be making prosecutorial guidelines, there will be no safe harbor so to speak for those who are in violation of the law based on the new opinion. All types of legalized online gambling may be affected with this new change, as any online gambling is considered illegal if it takes place across state lines.

In several states, online casino gaming, lottery, sports betting, poker and daily fantasy sports takes place. Sometimes, the transactional data involved will travel across states lines. Yet the actual gaming will take place within a single state. However, there are some instances where gaming does take place across state lines and payment systems as well. Due to the new interpretation, even the payment methods may be an issue which could leave some online gambling operators in hot water.

In the memo, Rosenstein has designated the Organized Crime and Gang Section of the Criminal Division to review the Wire Act and approve any proposed charges. The Justice Manual will soon include the findings of the review and approval process for prosecutions to be made based on the Wire Act interpretation. Further guidance can be provided for department attorney’s who have any questions regarding the implementation of the Wire Act.

Confusion Remains

Since the new opinion has been provided, there has been much confusion as to what will happen. It is believed that action will be taken to take the matter to court. Experts feel that the issue will be in litigation within the 90 day time frame set for the guidelines to be created. States may decide to sue the federal government in the hopes of obtaining a judgement that the Wire Act still only applies to sports betting.

As of the release of the Wire Act change, there has yet to be any change in a state offering online lottery ticket sales or online gaming. It seems that states are pushing ahead with any new changes, such as Rhode Island, one of the latest states to put forth legislation that will legalize applications for sports betting within their borders.

In reality, there was great clarity as to what was allowed for online gambling with the Wire Act from the changes made in 2011. This new opinion simply creates more obscurity and a sense of unknowing that only causes confusion instead of actually helping.

For now, it seems that operators are going to continue as normal. As the guidelines are created by the federal government, we will have a clearer picture as to what is expected of operators. Hopefully, the online gambling industries will not be affected in such a way that will cause strain or the ceasing of operations.

New Wire Act Opinion by the DOJ Could Spell Trouble for iGaming Industry

Summary: The United States Department of Justice has changed their opinion on the Wire Act of 1961, ruling that all interstate online gambling is illegal.

In 2011, the Department of Justice, under the Obama Administration, ruled that the Wire Act of 1961 was to be changed. The new opinion was that the act only applied to sports betting. This paved the way for individual states to begin legalizing online gambling. New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada have been successful in offering online casino and/or poker gaming. Pennsylvania has legalized the option too, and should start sometime this year.

This week, the DOJ decided to rule that the Wire Act was not interpreted correctly in 2011 and have now applied it to all interstate online gambling. It is rare for the DOJ to issue a new opinion on a subject when it was recently changed, but this administration seems to be set on making changes to the overall landscape of US legislation.

The new opinion was dated the 2nd of November and states that the Wire Act applies to gaming beyond sports betting. It also states hat the 2007 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act does not change the Wire Act.

The UIGEA legislation created an exception for fantasy sports involving restrictions of online gaming. With the new opinion, it states that based on the Wire Act, there is no such exemption. With this decision, daily fantasy sports operators need to be worried.

Daily fantasy sports companies and lotteries in the states sell tickets for multi-state draw games. Examples of this would be the Mega Millions and the Powerball. These legal gambling activities would be in violation of the law now based on the change to the Wire Act. But, what action will the federal government take?

Online poker gaming will also be affected. In Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware, online poker player pools are shared. Players in Delaware can access sites in New Jersey and vice versa. The online poker industry in the United States is already struggling so if the player pooling is taken away, revenue numbers will dwindle.

It is possible that the Department of Justice will not take action against states that offer interstate gaming. But why make the change then? The current administration is real chummy with anti-gambling activists like Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson. It could be that the change was made to try and shake up the online gambling industry, in any way possible.

Possible Issues

Because we have no idea how the DOJ will move forward now that the new opinion has been made public, it’s anyone’s guess what could become an issue. Take for example banking. In the past, online operators had trouble getting banks and financial institutions to allow payment processing for online gaming sites. Over the years this issue has been resolved. However, now that interstate change is in play, banks might not be too willing to process payments for gaming in one state when they are based in another.

It could be that payment processing could become a big issue for operators. Banks want to avoid any federal issues. To avoid any risk of prosecution, the financial institutions may stop processing payments in specific states for that reason.

I imagine over the coming weeks we will learn more about what the new opinion of the DOJ on the Wire Act will entail. We will keep our readers updated on any changes and how it affects online gambling in the US.

Penn National to increase presence in Pennsylvania via video gaming terminals

Summary: Operator of the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, Penn National has announced plans to further their presence in Pennsylvania by operating video gaming terminals.

Since late 2017, Pennsylvania has seen a boom within their overall gambling industry as operators and partners begin to set up for various expansions within the industry. Online casino and poker gaming is set to begin this year, with operators setting up partnerships last year and gaining licensing in preparation. Penn National is a gaming operator in the state who is preparing to provide additional gaming options, including video gaming terminals. The company announced last week that they had partnered with Rutter’s convenience stores to get started.

VGT gaming

Penn National GamingAs an operator of the Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, Penn National had the ability to apply for video gaming terminal licensing, or VGTs for short. The company has announced a deal has been signed with Rutter’s, with the company set to provide five VGTs within 20 locations of Rutter’s convenience stores throughout the state of Pennsylvania.

VGTs were part of a gaming expansion package created in 2017 that was signed into law. Because so many new aspects of the gaming industry were approved, it has taken some time for gaming to get started. Now, it seems Penn National will be the first to get started and in a big way.

Senior Vice President of Regional Operations for Penn National, John Finamore, commented on the new deal, stating that the company is looking forward to working with Rutter’s to introduce VGT gaming to the state. Penn National is excited to be combining their expertise with the established success of Rutter’s convenience stores to offer the new gaming option via qualified locations.

VGTs were an issue when legislation was being considered back in 2017, as some casinos were opposed, afraid the machines would cut into their slot profits. However, in the end, the option was added to legislation and will begin this year.

Qualifying Properties

To be able to offer VGTs, locations have to meet a certain set of criteria. The VGTs must be added to locations that meet certain standards. The property must sell 50,000 gallons of diesel fuel on average per month. The property must also have 20 parking spots minimum that are dedicated to commercial vehicles. The property must also be located on three acres of land or more.

VGTs are similar to slot machines as players will be wagering and see the outcome based on a random number generator. Players can wager $5 max on the machines and the top payout cannot exceed $1,000.

Back in May, the Gaming Control Board began excepting applications. Since that time, a total of 60 locations have requested to house the machines. Each location can have as many as five machines. Over 20 locations have been given conditional approval.

Penn National was one such group that was given conditional licensing by the Board. Rutter’s still has to be approved before the gaming option can begin.

Hopefully, the new games will be up and running in the next few months. It will certainly be interesting to see if the games provide an additional source of revenues and just how much time and money players will spend on this new type of gaming in the state. We should see more interest from operators once the VGTs are up and running and they have an example to go by to see just how the machines will fare.

New Hampshire House of Representatives Introduce New Sports Betting Bill

Summary: A new sports betting bill has been introduced in New Hampshire that would create the first standalone retail shops for the industry in the US.

In the United States, sports betting continues to be the hot topic of discussion. State after state are introducing legislation as the New Year begins to get in on the action. Close to ten states already offer the activity and several have already introduced legislation this year to get the ball rolling to join in. This week, New Hampshire lawmakers decided to introduce a bill that will not only start offering services in their borders but they will also see retail shops added, which would be a first for the United States.

HB 480

New HampshireThe New Hampshire House of Representatives saw HB 480 introduced this week, a bill with a goal of establishing a system within the Lottery Commission to see sports betting legalized in several formats. Online, mobile and land-based are being considered. A Division of Sports Betting would be created inside the Commission, helping to regulate the new industry.

The legislation essentially puts the Commission in charge, allowing the group to decide if wagering will be offered directly via an authorized Sports Betting Agent or through the agent via mobile devices and physical retail facilities.

It is the physical retail facility portion of the bill that is getting headlines. The state currently does not have any land-based casino facilities. In other states, casinos are the platform for sports betting. Existing operators are able to apply for sports betting licensing and then use their existing facility to open a sports book. That luxury is not available in New Hampshire.

So, the state will have to do something similar as to what is found in the United Kingdom known as betting ships. This would be a first for the United States and certainly something that other states who do not offer casino gaming could consider.

According to the legislation, the cities and towns of the state would have to approve any betting shop installations with a ballot referendum before any sports betting would be authorized in a region. Any anti-gambling municipality will not be allowed to interfere with the digital wagering operation of the state.

Players who took part in sports betting would have to be at least 18 years of age and wagering would not be allowed for college events involving teams of the state or games that take place in the state in general.

Progressing Forward

If the option is approved, the Commission created could decide to launch their own wagering option. If they do, then they would be given the ability to hire vendors to manage the operations. If a betting agent were to be hired, the agent would have to give a percent of revenues back to the state. The amount is unknown at this time. 10% of that amount would be placed in a fund going to responsible gambling initiatives.

The timeline for the new industry would hopefully see the bill approved by July 1st. Then the process of selecting a betting agent could begin by the first of next year. Legal wagers would then be in operation possibly by the summer of 2020. It will certainly be interesting to see how the legislation progresses and if New Hampshire will be one of the next to launch sports betting services in the US.

Washington D.C. Decides to Halt Sports Gambling Legislation

Summary: While Washington D.C. quickly moved sports betting legislation through the system, it seems the region is now halting their efforts.

In the United States, efforts have shifted from online gambling legislation to sports betting. After the US Supreme Court ruled that individual states could legalize sports betting when the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act was shut down, state after state began to pass bills to get started. Late last year, Washington D.C. was one region that proposed legislation and moved quickly to see the option become a reality. However, it seems that efforts have now stalled, with a decision by the city council being postponed.

Halting Efforts

Sports gambling legislation has come to a stand-still in Washington D.C. as the city council decided this week to postpone a decision involving the measure that will allow competition when it comes to the management of sports betting in the city. The council stated that they want to give the community additional time to provide their opinion before making a final ruling.

The concern regarding sports betting in the region is that the council will be choosing an entity to manage the industry instead of allowing companies to bid to be the provider. In the United States, it is typical for the bidding process to be open so that there are not any deals made that are considered shady or unfair to the industry.

According to council members, months may be lost in progress. The area may be delayed in offering sports betting, but the process would be more in line with what is currently going on the nation, instead of setting up a group without competition beforehand.

In December, the city council of D.C. approved sports betting. With the approval, they became the first jurisdiction to give approval in the Washington area for the wagering activity. There are no casinos in the region that would be able to offer sports betting, but D.C. is home to the lottery.

The lottery is operated by Intralot and the D.C. Lottery is the overseer. The group has pushed to see Intralot in charge of sports betting, with the organization stating that delays in this decision will cost the region millions of dollars. According to Beth Bresnahan, the Executive Director of the D.C. Lottery the process of bidding could take three years and cost tens of millions of dollars of lost revenues.

Bresnahan also pointed out that if nearby Maryland and Virginia begin to offer sports betting in the meantime, then the District would be behind when it comes to establishing customer relationships with residents in these regions as well as their own. Because of the location of the district, commuters from other states could easily begin taking part in the activity, if the lottery is able to have control now.

Council Members Stand Strong

Despite the argument by the Lottery, the members of the city council have remained firm in their decision to allow the public to have a say so. The council wants to see what the public has to say on the matter and ensure that the D.C. residents understand what will take place before moving forward.

The Chairman of the Council has agreed to withdraw an emergency measure involving sports betting and a bill will be introduced next week that will look to approve public bidding.

Parx Casino Set to Launch Sportsbook This Week

Summary: Sports betting continues to grow in Pennsylvania, as the Parx Casino prepares to launch their sportsbook this week.

Sports betting continues to grow in the United States, as individual states continue to pass legislation to legalize the new industry. Several states approved the option last year either before the Supreme Court ruling involving the Professional & Amateur Sports Protection Act or after the Act was struck down, ready to offer sports wagering services. Pennsylvania was one such state that approved the industry, with the Parx Casino set to begin offering services this week.

Four Operating Sportsbooks

PennsylvaniaWith the launch of the Parx Casino sportsbook, the state will be home to a total of four operators offering land-based services. The Parx Casino is the market-leader, so all eyes are on the operator and how well they will fare with the new industry.

Last Friday, owner of the casino, Greenwood Gaming & Entertainment, announced that they would begin the soft launch of their land-based sportsbook beginning Tuesday at 2pm. A soft launch is mandatory for a 48-hour time frame before full wagering is allowed. The sportsbook will be powered by Kambi and full wagering should be offered by the provider by 1pm on Thursday, as long as the soft launch runs smoothly.

When the sportsbook opens at the Parx, the facility will be a smaller version offering only temporary space until the permanent sportsbook is completed. The temporary option is located in the former 360 bar and lounge. The permanent location should be ready by summer to be able to prepare any changes before the next NFL season begins at the end of the year.

Greenwood Gaming also operates another facility in the state of Pennsylvania. Owner of the South Philadelphia Turf Club, the operator has yet to state if they will be offering sports betting at the venue. Online gaming is also in the mix. The Gaming Control Board has not approved any online betting product and Parx has plans to get started online as well. The casino has stated that they will be offering a mobile betting application soon, but details of the new option have not been revealed.

The first sports betting facility opened in the state back in November via the Hollywood Casino at the Penn National Racecourse. The SugarHouse Casino along with the Rivers Casino began offering services once month later, in December.

Focus on Sports Betting

For the past few years, any changes to the gambling landscape have involved discussions that include online casino and poker gaming. However, the SCOTUS decision involving the PASPA quickly saw all eyes focused on sports betting. The industry has huge potential and states are already earning millions as players place their sports wagers day after day.

The Hollywood Casino was able to see a betting handle of $1.4 million with revenues over $500,000 within just two weeks of operations in November. The industry is set to be big business and the total number of revenues and bets placed will only continue to increase as more states get in on the action.

This year, several states have already either started discussions or legislation is set to be considered beginning this week. Tennessee, Missouri and South Dakota are just a few examples of states that are looking at sports betting as a new way to bring in revenues to the state. We will continue to monitor any changes and report any new legislation or efforts in the US involving sports betting as well as other changes in the gambling industry as a whole.

Danville City Council Tries to Get the Ball Rolling for Virginia Casino Gaming

Summary: The Danville City Council has approved a resolution to try and bring casino gaming to a minimum of three cities in the state of Virginia.

While several states have expanded to offer online gaming and sports betting, states like Virginia are struggling to even get started with traditional casino gaming. There are still states in the US that do not offer casino gaming or they have limited options for players to enjoy. In Virginia, the state have several cities that could benefit from casino gaming and the Danville City Council are hoping to use gambling as a way to bring in much-needed funds.

Approving Casino Resolution

Virginia CasinosThe Danville City Council approved a resolution this week that could see at least three cities in the state adding casino gaming. The vote was unanimous in support of an effort to legalize casino gambling in the state. The push to see casinos come to the state began in Bristol as a group of investors were seeking the ability to create a $150 million casino resort in the area where the Bristol Mall was formerly located. The city council of Bristol approved a resolution for casino gaming back in September, and argued that the facility could give a huge boost to the city.

In October, Portsmouth was in on the idea, with their city council approving a casino resolution as well. Now that Danville is on board, along with two state legislators, the idea is to work together to see changes within state Legislature to allow residents in each community to vote on whether or not they want to see a casino added to their city.

Both Senator Bill Carrico and Delegate Israel O’Quinn have announced they plan on introducing a bill that would cover the cities casino ambitions. The piece of legislation would have to pass within several areas before it would make it to the governor’s desk. Then, of course, residents in each region would have to vote yes on a referendum for the option to be legalized. It will take a great amount of effort to see any legislation move forward and be approved.

Are Residents Interested?

So now the question becomes, are residents interested? Even if the bill is able to move forward within the legislature and signed by the Governor, will voters say yes? An independent report on the matter has been conducted by Chmura Economics and Analytics, showing that a casino in Bristol would create more than 5,400 direct employment positions and just over 1,400 indirect positions.

By the year 2028, the report suggests that such gaming could bring in as much as $1 billion in that time frame. It seems that the casino gaming would have a strong impact on the economy, which is something that voters could get behind. Danville, Portsmouth and Bristol are all strapped for cash and the massive revenues that would be created from casino gaming would certainly be helpful.

In Danville, residents are reportedly in strong support of the idea. The majority of the citizens in the region are in support. But just like with any change, there are those who are opposed. Some residents are concerned that crime will increase as well as social problems arising due to gambling.

For now, the legislators on board are working on their bill and should introduce it soon. Lawmakers in the state will be back in session on the 9th.

Looking Ahead: Which States Could Legalize Sports Betting in 2019?

Summary: 2018 ended with several states legalizing and beginning sports betting services. Which states could join them in 2019?

Over the past few years, all eyes have been on the online casino and poker industries of the United States. Since 2013, New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware have offered online casino and/or online poker gaming. Pennsylvania passed legislation in late 2017 and should begin offering online gaming services sometime this year. In May of last year, the United States Supreme Court struck down a federal ban on sports betting, which led to several states legalizing the option and starting services as quickly as possible. For 2019, there are several states that are set up to possibly legalize sports betting, helping the overall industry to continue to grow and expand.

Who’s In the Mix?

Sports Betting in New JerseySo, which states are in the mix to possibly pass sports betting legislation this year? Several states have bills on file so they will be ready to consider legislation as soon as their next legislative sessions begins. One such state that has a bill on file is Kentucky. The state is already known for wagering, being home to a strong horse racing industry.

The state created a panel last summer to study sports betting and to draft legislation for the industry. A public hearing took place in October with the state’s AG announcing he was for the option in November. This year, there are two bills that will be considered; BR 15 and BR 320. Both proposals include the Kentucky Lottery Corporation as the group building the framework for the industry. One bill would see the state’s Gaming Commission in charge while the other would see the Horse Racing Commission in charge of regulation.

Surprisingly, Tennessee is also on the list of state’s that have introduced legislation. The state is one that does not have any gambling on offer, with casino and poker gaming prohibited. Late last year, H1/S16 was pre-filed in the House to be considered this year. The bill would see a state Gaming Commission created to regulate retail as well as online and mobile wagering.

Missouri is also a state to watch as they were very active last year in trying to see sports betting come to pass. Lawmakers introduced six bills, but progress was limited. The issue for the state is in the details as lawmakers cannot seem to agree on what a bill should entail. The subject of an integrity fee has been one issue of contention, as with other states.

For 2019, the state has a bill pre-filed. S 44 will be considered this year, with language not including a fee to any league as well as placing a 0.5% fee on the sports betting handle to be applied to construction as well as the maintenance of sports and other facilities.

Will Online Casino and Poker Gaming Be Back?

With sports betting so heavily considered in 2018, it seems that online casino and poker gaming has been pushed to the side. Some states are looking at all areas of gambling, including online casino/poker gaming along with sports betting, but for the most part, the sports wagering industry is taking center stage.

For proponents of online gaming, the hope is that states will see the benefits of online gaming along with sports betting and decide to legalize it all. If this were to happen, the US would begin to see a gambling boom, one that has not been seen in some time.

New Sports Betting Operations Begin in West Virginia

Summary: Two more casinos in West Virginia are now offering sports betting, including online wagering.

Sports betting has been steadily increasing in the United States, as state after state passes legislation to legalize the gaming option. West Virginia was one of the first states to pass legislation and casinos in the region are slowly beginning to start operations. The Wheeling Island Hotel Casino Racetrack and the Mardi Gras Casino & Resort are the latest to begin sports wagering in the state.

Delaware North Properties

West Virginia CasinosBoth casinos are owned by the same parent company, Delaware North. Along with land-based sports betting, the company has decided to launch an online option, available via desktop and mobile application. BetLucky.com allows players across the state to access the sports betting product of Delaware North.

The timing of the sports betting launch was perfect as the state’s University team is preparing to compete in the Camping World Bowl this weekend as well as the semifinals and finals of the College Football Playoff are set to take place.

Three other casinos in the state already offer services. They are the Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort, The Greenbrier Resort and the Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Racetrack. These were the first venues to offer sports betting in the region.

When the state passed the legislation, it was estimated that sports betting would create around $5.5 million in revenues during the first year of operations. It is expected that the majority of the revenues will be generated from mobile applications.

Partnered with Miomni Gaming

Back in October, Delaware North made their partnership with Miomni Gaming made known. The gaming company is well-known for providing mobile sports wagering technology in the United States as well as providing mobile and turnkey retail solutions. After the announcement was made, the companies have focused their efforts on launching in land-based venues as well as online.

In West Virginia, the BetLucky site is the first to offer online as well as mobile gaming in the state. The app is free and can be downloaded at the BetLucky site or via the Apple App Store. Players located anywhere in the state can take part.

Commenting on the new application, Delaware North’s Vice President of Marketing for the Gaming Division, Luisa Woods stated: “We think West Virginians and visitors to the Mountain State are going to love how easy it is to register and use the app. The platform was designed to be flexible, easy to use and reliable, with innovative features designed specifically to engage and entertain U.S. sports fans. Patrons at the casinos can use the app or the betting tellers in the sportsbooks.”

Within the two land-based venues owned by Delaware North, the sports betting experience is one that offers a casual atmosphere with social interaction. Players are located near bars, food and beverage options as well as a heavy event calendar that focuses on major sports events.

The goal is to provide a casino experience along with a sports environment. Players can choose to enjoy casino games along with placing sports bets with options for drinks and food in the same vicinity. Taking part in events provides an added level to the overall experience.

It will be interesting to see how sports betting increases over the next few months as players begin to take part in the new offerings. The state should see a solid revenue increase as the new land-based and online options begin.

Video Gambling Terminals Finally Moving Forward in Pennsylvania

Summary: Video gambling terminals were legalized in late 2017 with the first of next year to signal the first machines becoming operational.

Towards the end of 2017, lawmakers in Pennsylvania decided to pass a gaming reform package that gave the gambling industry a huge expansion. Along with online casino and poker gaming, the state allowed for satellite casinos to be created, sports betting and video gambling terminals, among other changes. The video gambling terminals approval has been swept to the wayside for some time as the state focused on sports betting and online gambling. Now it seems that VGTs are back in the spotlight as the state prepares to launch machines at the first of the year.

VGTs are Coming

PennsylvaniaWhen 2019 begins, players in Pennsylvania can expect to see video gambling terminals being placed at truck stops in the state. The games are expected to be installed during the first quarter of the year, according to Doug Harbach, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

The machines offer various games all in one tiny vessel. Players will be able to enjoy a quick game or two when stopping at a truck stop for gas, a snack or rest. So far, 62 venues that have a truck stop have applied for licensing to be able to offer video gambling terminals. Only 23 of that number have been able to gain conditional approval from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board.

Truck Stops have to meet certain criteria before they will be approved by the Board. The facility must sell 50,000 gallons of diesel fuels each month as well as have a minimum of 20 dedicated parking spots for commercial vehicles. The facility must also be located on three acres of land. Back in May, the state Board began accepting applications for the VGTs. The applications that have been received so far are requesting to offer as many as five machines at each facility.

The truck stops have to create areas where the machines can be placed for gaming. The games will only be available for players 21 years of age or older. Live surveillance or video surveillance must be installed at the venue to watch the play area. Employees have to be trained to recognize any problem gambling issues to help consumers enjoy themselves.

Opting Out

Counties in the state that already host a casino could chose to opt out of video gambling terminals at truck stops in their area. Each county that is home to one of the 12 casinos decided to opt out. Counties with qualified truck stops that do not have gaming venues in place do not have the ability to opt out. If a facility in such a region wants to offer VGTs they can apply to do so.

Opponents do exist regarding VGTs despite their legality in the state. Opponents have been hard at work to try and deter facilities from offering such gaming options. Advertisements were created to condemn the machines when lawmakers starting suggesting the option within the 2017 bill. The ads along with opinions that were published led to a certain belief about the games.

The games were represented in a negative fashion, with opponents stating that the games would line the streets, being placed near schools, in nursing homes, in restaurants, and more. However, the games are legal and will be regulated by the Board, ensuring player safety.

The truck stops can only offer five machines or less. With all 60 applicants being approved, this would only be 300 machines, a low number when compared to casino games.

It will be interesting to see how the games fare once the VGTs are up and running. It won’t be long before we see the games installed and operational.

Two NJ Casino Operators Violate State Gaming Regulations

Summary: Caesars Entertainment Corp. and the Golden Nugget have been penalized by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement for taking wagers that involved teams from the state.

Gaming operators in New Jersey have to follow strict regulations when it comes to the real money betting options they offer. Regarding sports betting, casinos are not allowed to offer wagers that involve college teams in the state. Two casinos operators in Atlantic City recently got in trouble for accepting wagers on college games involving teams in the region.

Illegal Sports Bets

Golden NuggetThe Golden Nugget and Caesars Entertainment Corp. were charged with accepting wagers back in September on games involving teams of New Jersey. The regulations involving sports betting in the state prohibit college teams in New Jersey or games involving a college team that take place in a venue within the state from being wagered on.

Caesars Entertainment Corp. was fined $2,000 for accepting wagers on a game that took place on September 10th involving the Kansas Jayhawks and the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. The company was alerted of the violation back in November and were reviewed earlier their month with an assessment of the civil penalty.

The Golden Nugget, the second operator involved in the illegal wagering issue, were forced to forfeit a small amount of $390 from wagers placed by ten players on various college football games in the state, also taking place in September. The Division of Gaming Enforcement revealed that the wagers were cancelled by the casino when they were found out, but the money could not be returned to the players because their identity is unknown.

Division of Gaming Enforcement Spokesperson, Kerry Langan, commented on the incidents by stating: “Prohibited sporting events were posted, and wagers were placed on those events. All improperly posted bets were voided and if the gamblers were known, those funds were returned to them.”

“The casino licensees are required to have internal controls in place to prevent prohibited games from being posted for wagering. When these controls fail, there are regulatory sanctions.”

The Golden Nugget must follow the college regulations as do the other sports betting operators in the state. The Golden Nugget does have an additional prohibition since the property is owned by Tilman Fertitta. Mr. Fertitta owns the Houston Rockets NBA team, so the Golden Nugget is not allowed to offer wagers on professional basketball games.

Following Regulations

All operators in New Jersey must follow the regulations set by the Division of Gaming Enforcement, and those who do not, will be subject to some form of punishment, usually a fine. The two gaming operators in this instance got off relatively scot free. In the past, regulators have had to pay tens of thousands of dollars when violating such regulations as underage gaming or allowing a restricted player to access real money games.

For sports betting operators, changes will have to made in training of employees as well as ensuring all wagers that are offered are meeting the state’s requirements. By catching any issues early, operators can avoid heavy fines or other punishment. The DGE does have the right to remove licensing, but a violation by an operator would have to be pretty severe in order to see the group remove a gaming license.

Many sportsbooks in New Jersey are temporary as the venues are create permanent sports for wagering. As the permanent facilities are created and services are launched, training will help to ensure that such instances of illegal wagering do not happen again.

Former NJ Senator Says ‘Stay Out of Our Business’ Regarding Gaming and Sports betting

Summary: Former Senator of New Jersey, Raymond Lesniak, has come forward, stating the federal government needs to leave the state alone when it comes to sports betting and gambling.

Over the past few years, states of the US have been left to their own devices when it comes to gambling legislation, particularly, online gambling laws. Recent changes this year to sports betting legalities have paved the way for sports betting in every state as well. Because of these changes, the federal government have now seemingly decided to stick their nose back in the states business and this is not faring well with certain former lawmakers. Former State Senator of New Jersey Raymond Lesniak, spend decades as a lawmaker in New Jersey, helping to set the state up for success. The former senator has now come forward are news broke that sports betting regulations are in the works on a federal level.

Stay Out of Our Business

New JerseyJust a few days ago, it was made known that several lawmakers are working to create federal regulations involving sports betting in the United States. The developments are a concern in several states where sports betting is already in operation, particularly in New Jersey.

Commenting on the developments, Former Senator Lesniak stated: “Any time Congress gets involved in something that we’ve fought so strongly for so long to achieve for the state of New Jersey, it’s going to cause us great concern. In terms of the DOJ opinion, I’m not quite sure what it means and what its effect will be. We’ll have to wait and see. But the less the federal government interferes with our gaming and sports betting, the better it is for us. I wish they would just stay out of our business.”

For New Jersey, the state’s online gambling industry is set to push past the $1 billion revenue mark for lifetime earnings. Having launched in November of 2013, the state continues to earn massive amounts of cash each month from online casino and poker gaming. If changes are made on a federal level, it would greatly affect how New Jersey operates and may cause harm.

With sports betting, the state has seen success instantly. Having started in June, the state has already seen close to $1b in sports betting handle. Senators Chuck Schumer and Orrin Hatch are the two who introduced the federal sports betting bill, a measure that would not stop New Jersey from providing sports betting, but the oversight by the federal government could have an impact on the already established industry.

It doesn’t seem as though the bill will be able to pass into law this year, and it seems that New Jersey has proponents in the Senate that would stop such an effort from moving forward. According to Lesniak, Senators Cory Booker and Bob Menendez are both on the side of the state and would fight to ensure the measure would not move forward.

For many, the goal is to see the states maintain their right to offer sports betting, online gaming, etc. based on how they would like. It makes more sense to allow each individual state to be in charge of what they would like to offer and how they go about it, instead of creating federal oversight as this could be harmful for the states that are already offering online casino gaming and/or sports betting.

Iowa Lawmakers Look to Online Lottery Sales for More Revenues

Summary: Lawmakers in the state of Iowa are considering allowing ticket sales online via a website and mobile application.

Online gambling continues to be a hot topic in the United States. From online casino and poker gaming to lottery ticket sales and sports betting, states across the nation are considering different ways to expand their gambling industry with the internet. Just recently, lawmakers in Iowa have begun considering moving lottery ticket sales online, offering games via the lottery website as well as a mobile application.

Going Online

Iowa CasinosJust last week, Mary Neubauer, the Vice President of the Iowa Lottery, stated that the $371 million in 2017 sales puts the lottery in a strong position. The program is quite strong but adding in modern technology could help to bring even more to the industry. In a briefing, the VP said that the lottery has introduced products over the years that have enhanced their long-term product lines to keep the game selection fresh.

She pointed out that no one would say that paper products are going to stand the test of time by themselves. And while players like to purchase paper tickets and will continue to do so, the online market opens up the lottery to even more gamers. The younger generation of individuals that meet the age requirements for gaming, are constantly on mobile devices. Adding a mobile element will keep players engaged for longer periods of time.

Working on an Online Lottery Bill

Currently, lawmakers in the state are working to create a bill that will be considered in the next legislative session. What the legislation will entail exactly is anyone’s guess. However, the bill should cover website and mobile gaming, including which devices can be used to purchase tickets as well as how players can pay for their lottery purchases online.

According to Neubauer, the legislation is needed to stop illegal sales and to provide an option for players who want to purchase tickets in a cashless method. Millennials as well as other groups of consumers are no longer carrying cash. It is important to have a seamless option such as an e-wallet for transactions involving the lottery.

The younger demographic, individuals ages 18 to 25, rarely have cash, which is a common form of payment for lottery tickets. Having online sales should only help to increase the number of tickets sold as the younger demographic will be more willing to play.

Online Lottery Gaming

In the United States, six states currently have laws in place to allow online ticket sales. Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania all offer online lottery sales. Of that number, Pennsylvania does not offer players the ability to purchase draw games tickets online, such as with games like the Mega Millions.

Additional states offer an alternative to online lottery sales, with an online subscriptions service. In these states, players are limited to the number of times they can purchase tickets. New York, Virginia, Maine, North Dakota and North Carolina all offer the subscription service option.

As 2018 comes to an end, we look to 2019 to see more changes to the gambling landscape in many states. If Iowa passes online lottery gaming legislation, it will start the path for even more states to begin to offer this option. As additional industries like sports betting and online casino games grow, even more options for online play should become available in the United States. We look to next year as a big one for gambling as a whole and will be interested to see what changes are made.

Draft Kings Moves Into Online Casino Gaming in NJ

Summary: DraftKings has added to their offerings in New Jersey by launching online casino gaming.

DraftKings was once known only for their daily fantasy sports offering. As a top operator in the DFS industry, the company quickly expanded to sports betting once the option became available. Now, the company has extended their reach even further by creating an online casino and offering traditional casino games.

Draft Kings Casino

DraftKingsAs of Monday, the DraftKings Casino was integrated into the sportsbook application offered in New Jersey. The company has started the first phase of the launch, offering blackjack to visitors. The casino will offer more games but as of right now, this is the only option available. Currently, the app is only accessible via Android for online casino gaming, but an iOS option should be offered in the near future.

The launch is huge news for the online gambling industry and shows just how operators can offer a multitude of gaming options. While sports betting will be lucrative for the company, DraftKings should fare well when it comes to casino gaming. In New Jersey, when it comes to online gaming, casino games reign supreme.

The online casino industry tends to bring in around $25 million in revenues each month, from table games and slots. DraftKings is also to offer their online casino gaming options via their partnership with Resorts Atlantic City. While the company has launched an online casino brand, it is unclear as to if they will be offering online poker as well.

Will FanDuel Follow?

DraftKings easily made the switch to sports betting from daily fantasy sports and should be successful with online casino operations. So now the question arises, will FanDuel follow? The two are bitter rivals when it comes to DFS gaming and are sure to continue their rivalry with sports betting as FanDuel is already offering sports betting in the US. However, they are behind when compared to DraftKings by way of what they offer.

So now, many are wondering if FanDuel will consider adding an online casino as well. It could happen. The brand is now part of Paddy Power Betfair, a company known for a plethora of gaming. FanDuel was acquired by PPB during the summer and at the time, company executives stated that the plan was to use FanDuel as their US facing brand.

Because of this, one could assume that FanDuel will focus on sports betting and casino gaming in the states. However, no plans have been mentioned as of yet for FanDuel to begin offering casino games online.

Either way, DraftKings will now have to compete against major powerhouses when it comes to online casino gaming, The Golden Nugget continues to dominate the industry, bringing in as much as $9 million in one month alone. The brand has what it takes to deliver huge revenues by way of online casino games. Borgata is their nearest competitor and they barely manage to reach $4 and $5 million a month, so a huge gap remains between the top two operators.

It will be interesting to see how well received the blackjack games of DraftKings are and what games they will launch in the future. Will the brand be successful and see even more traffic with their casino site? Or will sports continue to be the main attraction of the brand, as players stick to DFS and sports betting options?

US Sports Betting Push Continues: Two New States Considering Legislation

Summary: Missouri and Ohio are the latest states to announce consideration of sports betting legislation, with both revealing they are not against integrity fees, like other states have been.

Since May, states in the US have had the ability to legalize sports betting. A ruling by the United States Supreme Court made the change possible and states are taking advantage. Sports betting is a multi-million dollar industry, providing states with tons of revenues via land-based venue services as well as online. As legislation has passed, states have been bombarded by professional leagues who are now for sports betting but want a piece of the action.

Leagues like the NBA and NFL would like to see an integrity fee paid by the states as they begin to offer sports betting. The leagues argue that the fee would help them to protect the integrity of the games, though this is something that they are already supposed to be doing. For the most part, states have not included integrity fees in their legislation and have no plans to pay the leagues a portion of their earnings. However, two new states that have announced ambition to consider legislation are seemingly going to pay this fee to the leagues.


A bill has already been created in the state of Missouri regarding sports betting. Senate Bill 44 was proposed to allow sports betting to take place within riverboat casinos in the state. Online gaming would also be allowed. Sportsbooks would pay 12% in taxes based on their adjusted gross receipts and a 2% tax has been placed in the bill, being called an administrative fee. This amount would be paid along with an integrity fee set at ½ percent.

To offer sports betting in the state, operators would have to pay a $10,000 fee for a land-based license as well as pay for an interactive license. $10,000 will be paid for each interactive license acquired. $5,000 will have to be paid by operators to the Gaming Commission as a separate integrity fee along with $10,000 paid each time a license is renewed.


In Ohio, the state is looking to start discussions involving sports betting. The state is actually considering an option where several states could come together and offer services. However, some lawmakers are not happy with this plan. Senator Bill Coley has stated that a multi-state arrangement would give sports leagues one-quarter of 1% as an integrity fee.

According to Coley, if they go about sports betting legislation in the right manner, the winner will be the leagues and the franchises will be able to double in value. While growth within these sectors are good, for the most part, states do not want to include integrity fees within their legislation.

Sports leagues in the United States continue to argue that they should be given a piece of wagers because they have to make sure that resources are in place to keep games fair and avoid any match-fixing. States argue that leagues do not need this fee as they are already having to ensure the integrity of games.

While integrity fees are not being praised by states, leagues are able to cut deals with gaming operators to provide data for sports betting. Being a data supplier will give leagues a piece of the action without the integrity fee in place. Leagues can provide data they already collect to help operators be able to set their odds for upcoming events and games.

888 Holdings Increase Reach in US with New Acquisition of AAPN

Summary: 888 Holdings, a top online poker operator in the United States and abroad, has announced the acquisition of the All American Poker Network, helping to further their reach within the nation.

888 CasinoOnline poker is offered in three different states in the US currently, Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware. Pennsylvania recently approved legislation to offer online poker as well as casino gaming but have yet to launch services. One operator that offers online poker in the states is 888Poker. The parent company of the 888 brand, 888 Holdings, recently became the sole owner of the All American Poker Network, also known as AAPN. The ownership came after they bought out their investment partner Avenue Capital for $28 million.

Long-Term Success

The acquisition of the stake in AAPN is considered a strategic step for 888 to be able to achieve long-term success in the United States. According to Itai Frieberger, the CEO of 888, the company has taken over 53% of the interest in the company of which Avenue Capital held. According to the CEO, the acquisition gives the company additional operational, technological and commercial flexibility to be able to develop innovative and exciting partnerships with new companies and launch services in new states.

Currently, 888Poker is the only site that offers online poker services in the three states that have legalized the activity. The brand provides software for the World Series of Poker sites for both Nevada and New Jersey. With the new acquisition, the brand will be able to further their reach in the US as additional states legalize online poker gaming.


The AAPN is a network created by 888 and Avenue in 2013. The network was created as Nevada and New Jersey prepared to create online poker gaming sites. The goal of 888 is to use the network when other states legalize online poker and take part in interstate agreements. So far, the focus in the US is on sports betting. As sports betting is now available across the US, if states pass legislation, lawmakers are moving away from focusing on online poker and casino gaming and shifting to considering sports betting.

Over the past five years, online poker gaming has yet to gain any ground while online casino gaming continues to expand. Players have taken to online casino gaming, playing table games and slots, bringing in millions each month in revenues. Online poker gaming barely reaches $1 million a month in New Jersey and other states have struggled to earn minimal revenues.

Analysts feel that Pennsylvania might help the online poker industry. Once operations are launched, we could see an increase in participation. However, pooling players with other states will not happen until 2020 so it will take some time for the state to be able to assist their neighbors.

For now, 888 Holdings has a good standing in the US when it comes to online poker. They have a network that can easily be integrated in any state that decides to pass online poker legislation. It seems that 2019 will be a big year for gaming but as to if interest will involve online poker is anyone’s guess.

Sports betting seems to be the hot topic under consideration and online poker as well as online casino gaming have been pushed to the side, at least for the moment.

Seattle Seahawks Create Online Partnership with Snoqualmie Casino

Summary: The Seattle Seahawks have signed a new partnership with the Snoqualmie Casino, allowing the venue to use their logo for advertising, working together for promotions on-site.

With the launch of sports betting in several states in the US, it has started a chain of events. Sports teams have realized that sports betting is already here so they better get on board. As soon as states began to offer services, professional sports teams began to cut deals with casinos and gaming venues to get in on the action. Just this week, it was announced that the Seattle Seahawks have now signed an online partnership deal with the Snoqualmie Casino, a venue close to the Seattle area.

New Deal

The partnership is a first for the franchise of the Seattle Seahawks and the casino, located near Issaquah. Several representatives of the team as well as the casino were on hand this week at the CenturyLink Field to make the announcement of the new partnership. With the deal, the casino will be allowed to use the logo of the NFL team to create advertisements as well as promotions.

The casino has already been a sponsor of the team and a suite holder since 2008 so they are happy to now have increased their partnership with the team. In a press release, Amy Sprangers, the senior president of revenue for the Seattle Seahawks, stated: “We are proud to formally announce an expanded partnership with our long-time partners at the award-winning Snoqualmie Casino. We look forward to working together with Snoqualmie Casino to create exciting new activations for the 12s for years to come.”

Partnerships such as this one are popping up across the United States as professional sports teams can see how they can benefit from merging with gambling facilities. The new deal between the Snoqualmie Casino and the Seahawks should be profitable on both ends.

Other Partnerships

Once the United States Supreme Court decided to rule in favor of sports betting and strike down the Professional & Amateur Sports Protection Act, the deals began rolling in. The first to sign was the Dallas Cowboys, who choose to work with the WinStar World Casino of Oklahoma. Other teams followed soon after including the Baltimore Ravens, a team who will be working with the Horseshoe Casino.

The New York Jets announced two months ago that 888 Holdings will be a sponsor of their organization. This marked the first time a team would be partnered with an online organization. The deal includes advertisements featuring casino, poker and sportsbook operations.

With 2019 close at hand, the next year will see major changes across the gambling industry in the United States. As more states enter the sports betting genre, expect to see even more deals between casinos and online gambling operators with NFL teams, NHL, MLB, NBA and more. Such partnerships will ensure that the teams are benefiting from the sports betting operations and it won’t be surprising if a flurry of deals are signed at the beginning of the year.

There is still plenty of time for new deals to be announced in 2018 as well. For sports betting, both land based and online, this year has been a whirlwind. We expect that 2019 will be just as busy as casinos work to launch services to hurry up and get in on the action as legislation is made law.

Golden Nugget’s $500,000 Annual Race Coming to An End

Summary: The Golden Nugget’s online casino Annual Race featuring $500,000 in prize money is coming to an end this month.

In the state of New Jersey, players have a nice selection of online gaming options. There are several online casino and poker operators providing services in the state that help players have a nice variety for game play. Month after month, the Golden Nugget has proved to the be top operator, as they continue to blast the competition, earning $8m or more with every monthly reporting. The online casino knows what players want, offering the best games and competitions in the region. The Golden Nugget’s $500,000 Annual Race is set to end this month, bringing to a close a very lucrative competition for the online gaming operator.

Tons of Cash All Year

Golden NuggetSince January, the online casino has provided added value for players who take part in the annual race. Every month, a certain amount of price money was up for grabs along with potential prizes. Since December has started, it marks the last month of the race, with plenty of value remaining. Players can compete this month for $250,000 in bonus prize money as well as the opportunity to become the newest owner of a Bentley Continental G.T.

The online casino is offering their Holiday Giveaway, which provides players with the ability to earn a piece of $250,000 in bonus cash. Players will need to play as many casino games as they can online in December to have a shot at winning bonus cash.

Every time a deposit is made or a real money bet placed, players earn points. The points then accumulate and place each player within the leaderboard. The higher on the leaderboard a player is listed, the more bonus cash they will receive.

Players will have to have an account at the Golden Nugget online casino and log in then select the Opt-In button for the contest to take part. Players will need to deposit at least $20 to take part and leaderboard points can then be earned.

Earning Points

There are a few ways that players can earn points while playing at the Golden Nugget online casino. First, points are earned from slots, table games, blackjack, roulette and video poker. Five Golden Points will be earned for every $100 wagered on slot machines. Players will earn 1 Golden Point for every $100 wagered on video poker, table games, roulette or blackjack.

Players who place a real money wager each day between a time frame of 1am ET to 1am ET the following day will earn 10 Golden Points. Earn 20 more Golden Points by depositing $50 to $99. This can be earned daily. Earn 40 Golden points every day you deposit $100 or more.

Players who had the opportunity to take part in the annual leaderboard will see the competition come to an end this month. A total of twenty five exclusive prizes are up for grabs including $1,500 in bonus cash, a 12 month lease of the Bentley and more.

The Golden Nugget will also be providing five random prizes as the competition comes to an end. Each prize is worth $1,500 in bonus cash. It will be interesting to see who earns the bonus cash and the major prizes of the competition, including the Bentley lease. There is still plenty of time to compete in the monthly contest as December has just begun. Players have to be located in the state of New Jersey to take part in the contest as well as any online gameplay.

Will Online Poker Struggle in Pennsylvania Once Services are Live?

Summary: Online poker has continued to struggle in the United States. Will the industry be successful in Pennsylvania once services are live?


Since 2013, online poker gaming has been offered in three states within the US; Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware. Each state has offered the activity for five years but none have been able to see great success in their online poker offering. Players are not as drawn to iPoker as they are with online casino games and the numbers have shown this struggle. New Jersey has the largest online poker market in the US currently and they barely manage to hit the $1 million mark in revenue each month for the industry. With Pennsylvania set to offer online poker soon, along with online casino gaming, it has many wondering if there will be a turn around for poker in the new state.

Is Interest There?

If you go back to the early 2000s and think about the poker boom, when Chris Moneymaker won the WSOP after earning a seat from an online qualifier, the interest was there. Players wanted to be like Moneymaker so they got online to play cards for real money. However, a few years later, Black Friday took place and the options to play online poker became nonexistent.

It seems that the shift from the poker boom to no poker at all has led the US to suffer when it comes to online poker revenues today. New Jersey has top operators in the mix, from the WSOP/888 alignment to PokerStars, yet the industry continues to barely cross the $1 million mark time and time again. Neighboring Pennsylvania will be launching services soon and it was just announced that PokerStars will be operating in the state as well. So, now experts are considering if Pennsylvania’s online poker scene will be busy and if the industry will succeed. Because so far, no state has seen great success with online poker.

To put things in perspective, month after month, New Jersey brings in over $20 million a month in online casino revenues. This is from table games, slots and live dealer. Basically, the online casino industry in the state is bringing in $19 million or more A MONTH when compared to online poker. This is a huge difference.

Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement

To try and make things better, Nevada and Delaware created and joined the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement. New Jersey would take some time but they eventually joined in as well. Now with Pennsylvania about to offer online poker, they have also decided to join the group. Basically, poker operators pool players, allowing individuals from one state to take part in gaming in another state. The goal is to create more traffic for everyone.

With another state in the mix, we could see online poker revenues begin to climb, though in the beginning it may be slow going. PokerStars will most likely be the first to launch, which will be good because the brand is recognizable. We have learned that PokerStars is investing in customer acquisition in the region, hopefully bringing new players to Pennsylvania once gaming is launched.

Only time will tell what online poker will turn in to with another state in the mix. All eyes will be on Pennsylvania as they begin to offer online poker services and move forward with providing players in their state with both online poker and casino gaming options.

New York Assemblyman Ready to Give Up Poker To See Sports Betting Pass

Summary: After fighting for years to see online poker come to fruition in New York, Assemblyman Gary Pretlow is ready to throw in the towel if sports betting would be approved.

Since 2013, online poker and casino gaming has been a reality in the United States. New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada were able to pass legislation in that time frame and have been able to offer services for a five year time frame.

Over the past few years, several states have considered online casino and poker legislation, but only one has been able to pass a bill. Pennsylvania is set to launch services at any time, increasing the number of states offering services in the northeastern region of the US. New York has tried and tried to get the ball rolling with online gaming, only to fall short each and every time.

Assemblyman Gary Pretlow has spent three years of his time the Assembly to try and see online poker come to pass in the state. Now it seems he would throw it all away if sports betting legislation could be passed in the state. In speaking with Online Poker Report, Mr. Pretlow stated that he would give up online poker for sports betting if he had a choice. The revenue stream for sports betting is actually doing better than what online poker could provide.

Working for Years on Legislation

Mr. Pretlow began his efforts with poker online gaming in New York back in 2016. He introduced legislation trying to see New York join New Jersey in offering some form of online gaming. However, all efforts failed. The state was able to see legislation pass in the Senate, but the Assembly was unable to move any bill through.

New YorkOver the years, New Jersey has proven to be successful with online casino gaming but has struggled with online poker. It seems New York might have made a good decision in not offering online poker just yet, but casino gaming and sports betting are booming in neighboring states. With Pennsylvania set to start offering online services at any time, to stay competitive, New York has to do something. 2019 needs to be the year that the state becomes involved in online gaming in some form or fashion if they do not want to fall behind when compared to neighboring states.

In New York, it has been estimated that $20 million to $25 million could be generated from online poker. However, with sports betting, the low end is $150 million. The state would fair much better by offering sports betting instead of focusing on online poker. It seems the monetary argument could push lawmakers to focus their efforts on sports betting to make some type of change in the state.

New Year

As 2019 begins, Mr. Pretlow has plans to continue his online gaming efforts. According to his interview with Online Poker Report, Mr. Pretlow will be introducing an online poker bill, but he will be working to prioritize his efforts and do one thing at a time. The thought now is that sports betting is too important as it can bring in much needed funds and it could be messed up if focused on with online poker gaming.

It will be interesting to watch as the New Year begins to see if New York will be able to pass legislation and what they will start with by way of a gaming expansion, online poker, sports betting or both.

West Virginia Sports Betting to Launch Mobile Wagering Soon

Summary: Recent reports indicate that the sports betting industry of West Virginia will be ready to offer mobile wagering in the near future.

Sports betting is in full swing within the state of West Virginia, as the region is one of the first to offer the new services thanks to a recent ruling by the United States Supreme Court. Acting quickly, West Virginia lawmakers wasted no time getting legislation and regulations in place, so operators could start taking sports bets. Now, it seems that the new industry is preparing to offer mobile wagering soon, ensuing players can post their wagers from anywhere in the state.

State Lottery Confirms

West Virginia CasinosThe state lottery director John Myers has confirmed that mobile sports betting is coming soon for the state. According to Myers, the Mardi Gras Casino and Wheeling Island gaming venue, both owned by Delaware North, are going to be offering retail as well as mobile sports betting in the near future. According to the director, the lottery has completed testing of the owner and both locations have a mobile application that will be taking online wagers.

Current Offerings

In September, West Virginia started offering sports betting with the Hollywood Casino being the first to launch services. After that, FanDuel Sportsbook at the Greenbrier was able to get started as well. It would be two full months before another casino would start offering services. Just last week, Mountaineer Casino began offer sports betting. Once the other two venues get started, all five sports betting licenses will be in operation.

Mountaineer, Hollywood and Greenbrier will not offer mobile sports betting. The two new operators should be able to gain a strong market share once they launch their app for sports betting. To offer sports betting in general, operators have to pay a $100,000 licensing fee.

So far, the sports betting industry in the state has been slow going. The state has seen low returns, which can be expected when there are few operators offering services. During the first two weeks of this month, just over $22 million was taken in Handle while the Revenue generated was just over $2.7 million.

With the current pace, the state’s sports betting industry is short of the estimated $5.5 million in tax revenues, earning only $273,254 so far this month. Much less will be brought in at this rate. However, once mobile gaming is in full swing, then the amount should soar.

Take for example, New Jersey. The industry earned $175 million just from online and mobile wagering for the month of October. This a staggering amount and the new section of the sports betting industry has helped to ensure that the state is successful in their wagering efforts.

West Virginia may not make as much as New Jersey, but they should see a huge upswing in bets once mobile is a go. Players may be interested in sports betting but might not make the trip to a venue to place a bet. With mobile wagering, players can easily place a bet. State residents as well as visitors will be more willing to place wagers when they can do it from home at any time they like.

It will be interesting to see how the industry changes once mobile wagering is launched. Will West Virginia see a strong increase in wagering? Only time will tell if mobile betting will cause an increase or if the numbers will stay relatively the same.

Mohegan Sun Pocono Approved for Online Gaming in PA

Summary: During the recent Gaming Control Board meeting, the Mohegan Sun Pocono was approved for licensing involving online table games and slots.

Yesterday, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board hosted a monthly meeting. The board meets about two times a month to deal with licensing and other issues. During this most recent meeting, the board decided to give licensing approval to the Mohegan Sun Pocono. The venue is now free to add table games as well as slots online for players in the state to enjoy.

Withdraw Poker Interest

PennsylvaniaThe Mohegan Sun initially applied for licensing for online poker, casino table games and slots. Each license had an individual cost and had to be paid for the brand to be considered. The group asked the board to withdraw their application involving online poker and now they will no longer be offering this option and will receive $2 million back of what they paid for licensing.

When a company presents their case for online gaming in Pennsylvania during a board meeting, they must provide information as to what they plan on offering. This information can include who the casino will be working with for online gaming. During their presentation, the Mohegan Sun did not name who their partner will be. However, they did say that who they are working with is a public company based in Europe and that partner has filled out an application in New Jersey, set to work in both states.

So, who is this mystery partner? It really could be anyone. A smart guess, as mentioned by Play Pennsylvania, is Kindred Group. The Kindred Group is the owner of Unibet and are currently partnered with New Jersey casino the Hard Rock Atlantic City. They are also a public company. It seems we won’t find out who the partner is officially until the Mohegan Sun decides to give us the news. It will be interesting to see if it is the Kindred Group or possibly another company that is not on the radar.

Current Landscape

In Pennsylvania, several operators have been approved for online gaming and have set up partnerships to get started. It seems as 2018 is about to end, we might not see online casino and poker gaming in the state officially until next year. Players in the state are certainly ready and proponents of online gaming want to see another state join in with Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware in being in full operation in the United States.

Operators who have been approved for licensing include Harrah’s, who has partnered with 888 and Scientific Games. Hollywood Casino and Penn National has partnered with IGT and William Hill to offer online gaming and sports betting.

Mount Airy has decided to partner with 888 and PokerStars, set to offer gaming online including sports betting via the BetStars brand. Parx Casino has partnered with GAN and Kambi while Rivers is partnered with Kambi as well along with SugarHouse/Rush Street Interactive.

SugarHouse will be operating with their Rush Street owner and Kambi while Valley Forge has created partnerships with FanDuel and GAN as well as partypoker and GVC. Presque Isle Downs will be working with several partners including SBTech, IGT and NetEnt.

Everyone is ready for Pennsylvania to begin offer online gaming services. Hopefully by the end of this year or next year, at least one online operator will launch services, allowing players to get started enjoying their favorite games online!

Rhode Island Launches Sports Betting via Twin River

Summary: Eight states now have operating sports books in the US as Rhode Island began this week via Twin River Casino.

Sports betting is booming in the United States as casinos across the nation begin offering the new activity thanks to a ruling from earlier in the year by the US Supreme Court. Several states started quickly with the new industry including New Jersey and Delaware. This week, Rhode Island became the 8th state to launch sports betting services, as the Twin River Casino of Lincoln started offering services.

Slow Start

Twin River CasinoThe Twin River Casino was supposed to begin offering sports betting on October 1st but were delayed in launching their sportsbook. It would take another two months almost before the casino was ready to begin. On Monday, the sportsbook was open for business with several big wigs on hand to throw out the ceremonial first bet. At the event was John Taylor, the Chairman of Twin River, as well as Senate President Dominick Ruggerio and Speaker of the House, Nicholas Mattiello.

With the new industry, the state will be able to receive 51% of revenues with the vendor earning 32% and the casino keeping 17%. The sports betting facility at Twin River is located on the third floor of the casino where players have been able to wager on greyhound and horse races for many years. The racino underwent a $100,000 renovation phase in the existing area to change it to add sports betting terminals as well as update the area.

The space now includes televisions that have been mounted to the countertops of the facility as well as on the wall. Customers of the sportsbook can place wagers on games involving Major League Baseball, the National Basketball Association, the National Football League and the National Hockey League along with the NCAA sports teams. However, teams located in Rhode Island are excluded from wagering.

Future Plans

In the future, the Twin River sportsbook will offer even more, if plans fall into place. The property hopes to provide hand-held devices that can be used to place wagers. The venue has plans to create a second phase of their sports book experience by spending $1.5 million to create a 3,600 square feet space for sports betting that will include 100 television screens. The area will also be home to a bar and food and beverage area.

John Taylor, the Chairman of Twin River, commented on the upcoming next phase by stating:

Phase 2 is where the market is heading. It will be a comfortable place where guests can come in and make a bet, sit down on couches, have a beer and enjoy themselves.

Mr. Ruggerio, the Senate President for the state, commented as well, stating that he has waited 40 years for this day and he is confident that sports betting will help to provide Rhode Island with a steady stream of new revenue that will be helpful for initiatives that lawmakers are hoping to accomplish in 2019.

The state will look ahead with the new industry, set to offer online and mobile wagering, probably by the summer. It is expected that this side of wagering will begin with the new fiscal year. It is important to include online wagering as players want to be able to use their mobile device to place bets. With mobile and online offerings, the state will be able to bring in even more revenues that are much-needed.

New Virginia Sports Betting Bill Limited to Online Gaming

Summary: Virginia is the latest state to propose sports betting legislation, with the language limiting the industry to online play.

In states across the US where casino gambling is allowed, players have access to land-based gaming while online options are limited. Only a few select states offer both online casino and land-based gaming.

As states begin to consider the new industry of sports betting, lawmakers are placing an emphasis on offering online options as well as land-based facilities. It makes sense to offer the new industry in both formats because players want to be able to wager from home as well as at the sportsbook.

While most states are focusing online sports betting and physical sports books, the most recent state to propose legislation is looking to offer the new option only online.

Virginia Introduces Sports Betting

Virginia CasinosA bill was recently drafted in the state of Virginia that would regulate sports betting in the region, set to be filed officially in January when the new legislative session begins. Once information of the new bill was made public, it quickly became apparent that the legislation would focus on online platform sports betting and makes no mention of physical venues.

Titled House Bill 1638, the new bill was created by Delegate Mark Sickles. In the bill, it states that a sports betting platform is one that is a website, application or other platform that is available via the internet or a wireless, mobile or similar connection.

To be able to offer sports betting operations in the state, operators would have to apply for a permit that would be three years long.

The Virginia Lottery Board would have to approve the legislation. The Board would also be in charge of the regulatory side of operations and there may only be five permits up for grabs initially.

Applicants for the new industry would have to pay $250,000 to get started and undergo a screening process to be approved as an eligible provider.

Once in operation, the industry would have a 15% tax set on the adjusted gross revenues and then once the three year initial time frame is up, permits would have to be renewed and have a price tag of $200,000.

Allocations of Funds and Additional Info

The new industry would see the creation of a Sports Betting Operations Fund. The proceeds of the industry will see 2.5% going towards this fund.

The Problem Gambling Treatment and Support Fund will also be created with 2.5% allocated to this category. The remaining 95% will go towards the Major Research Project Subfund.

Players will have to be 21 years of age or older to take part. College as well as youth sports will be prohibited from being part of wagers on offer.

The industry would also include a voluntary exclusion program that would place a permanent ban on those who are added to the program keeping them from taking part in sports betting activities.

Additional sports betting legislation may be in the works in the future. Senator Chap Petersen has expressed interest in proposes his own legislation. With his measure, the bill would not limit sports betting to online game play.

He wants to see the activity more open and creating a social environment where bettors can go to a location, interact with others and spend money. He also would like to see the proceeds go towards the state community colleges. Sickles bill will see money going towards Universities.

Law Approved in Louisiana Set to Protect Skilled Gamblers

Summary: Individuals who are considered skilled gamblers are set to be protected further based on a recent law approved by lawmakers earlier in the year.

Earlier this year, the lawmakers of Louisiana decided to approve a law with the idea that protections would be established for individuals who are considered skilled gamblers.

This would include individuals who play blackjack and count cards. Known as Act 451, the bill was able to move through Legislature with no opposition.

Act 451

Louisiana CasinosThe new legislation will ensure that a player cannot be excluded from a gaming venue just based on their skill level. At the time, lawmakers felt that the bill would protect individuals from being kicked out of a casino for taking part in activities that are legal under law but not approved by operators of the casino.

Gaming venues across the country have continued to ban players who they feel are taking part in card counting, although the activity is not illegal.

With the new law, now in effect, skilled players will be able to continue to play their games, including blackjack, without being banned. Or so it was thought. It seems that the law is not actively being enforced in the state.

According to reports, it seems that players are still being asked to leave the premises of a casino when taking part in such activity as card counting. According to Doug Cain of the State Police, the Gaming Division of his department has received a few calls regarding the issue.

As the law is written now, it does not require the division to take action against a casino licensee who decides to exclude players from certain games. For now, it seems the issue is one that is being considered a civil matter between the casino and the player.

Player Frustration

The law that was enacted was supposed to help players but it without enforcement, there is no reason for it to be on the books. Players are becoming frustrated at trying to take part in card counting and continually being thrown out of venues.

Take Don Loehr for example. According to houmatoday.com, Loehr is kicked out repeatedly or ignored by dealers due to his card counting skills. For years he has had to deal with issues by security and floor bosses due to his skilled gambling.

According to Loehr, even players who are on a hot streak and not card counting have been asked to leave or to switch games. To the professional, it seems the casino is becoming paranoid about the wins and taking action even if the individual is not card counting.

Without any opposition by the gaming industry and the fact that the law was passed should indicate that action should be taken against a gaming venue that decides to kick someone out for what the government has called skilled gaming.

The act was one of several gambling bills addressed by the state government this year and it seemed as if players would be protected further. However, without action taken by a governing body, casinos will continue to be able to push players out if they are suspected of card counting.

For skilled gamblers, they still feel like they are being pestered for how they play their favorite card games. According to Loehr, there was hope with the new law but it seems that nothing has changed and why are laws such as this even being passed.

Sports Betting Efforts Moving Forward in Virginia

Summary: Efforts to see sports betting come to pass in Virginia are moving forward as several lawmakers are deciding to show their support.

Across the United States, efforts are being made to see sports betting come to pass. Several states have already implemented legislation to pass sports betting and are already offering services. Such states include New Jersey, Delaware, Mississippi and West Virginia. Since the federal government decided to strike down a federal ban on the activity, states have been able to offer the activity once legalizing the option within their borders. Virginia is the latest state to see news released that legislation is being drafted, however no efforts will be made until 2019 as the year is about to come to an end.

Filing a Bill

Virginia CasinosSenator Chap Peterson announced this week that he will be filing a bill to see sports betting come to fruition within his home state. The bill created by Peterson will seek to legalize the gambling option as well as create a state authority that will be in charge of regulating the activity. The bill will also see direct tax revenue placed towards reducing tuition costs at the community colleges in the state.

In an interview, Petersen stated that his bill would recognize the reality that sports betting is a reality and the state has already done their work when it comes to daily sports fantasy and that activity is widespread. The bill would take the sports wagering to another level, something that other states are already doing.

Delegate Mark Sickles made a sports betting proposal this week, projecting that the state could earn as much as $41 million via tax revenues. The money could then be used to fund research projects at the universities in Virginia.

Bill Language

With Petersen’s bill, college betting would not be allowed. This could be frustrating to fans of Virginia college sports, but Petersen tries to put any opposition to rest by stating that this caveat would save them money in the long run.

Petersen feels that sports betting will be legal in every state within the US in a five year time frame. His efforts are to get the concept out there in Virginia and hopefully see the gaming option come to pass. A key issue in the state will be to determine where sports gambling will go. Currently an off-track betting site is being set up in New Kent County, set to feature machines that offer wagering on historical horse races.

The General Assembly is also supposed to be considering a piece of legislation that would allow a casino to be created in Bristol. For Petersen, his bill would not require a sports betting operator to have a casino. Established tracks like Colonial Downs would be able to do it automatically while off-track betting sites will be able to offer services as well.

Local areas would be able to license a sports betting facility if the city or county government decides to pass an ordinance and approves the option via a voter referendum.

The Virginia Lottery has stated that they are interested in being in charge of sports betting if legalized. Petersen stated that he would like to see sports betting separate, however other lawmakers want to see the lottery become involved with a new industry.

For Sickles, his bill would create a 15% tax on the revenues from sports betting and the industry would be overseen by the lottery, ensuring that a trusted brand while the private sector can continue to do well.

It will be interesting to see which path is taken and if any of the sports betting bills are able to move forward in the state.

Pennsylvania Needs Sports Betting to Increase Overall Gaming Revenues

Summary: As gaming revenues decline in Pennsylvania, the state is ready to add sports betting in the mix to see an overall increase.

The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has released the revenue numbers for the gambling industry in the state for October, revealing a significant drop in earnings from slots and table games. Overall, revenues are down, and operators are ready to get started with sports betting to see an increase in total gaming revenue numbers. Online gambling will soon be in the mix as well along with satellite gaming venues, so hopefully the future will signify a turnaround for the gambling industry as a whole.

October 2018 Totals

PennsylvaniaFor the state, total gaming revenues came in at just over $252.7 million. This is a 3.49% decline when compared to the October 2017 totals. Slot machines dropped only 1.7% to $186 million while table games were down 8.12% at only $66 million earned for the month. Over the past year, slots have been on an increase, but have been unable to keep a steady incline for a several month time frame. The industry is up then down and back up again.

Breaking down the gains and losses individually, only four casinos out of the 12 operating venues in the state were able to see an increase in revenue numbers for October. The Valley Forge Casino Resort saw the largest gain, earning just over a 10% increase for the month. The Rivers Casino was up over 5% while the Parx Casino was up 4.16%. The Presque Isle Downs and Casino was up 3.16%.

The remaining casinos all saw declines. The largest was seen by the Lady Luck Casino Nemacolin, with an 11.56% decline in earnings. The Sands Casino Resort Bethlehem was not far behind with a loss of 11.30% when compared to October 2017.

As far as gains are concerned, the Valley Forge Casino continues to the be dominating venue. Month after month since November 2017, the casino has continually seen an increase in revenues when comparing the month from the previous year. It was only April that the venue saw a decrease in earnings, at just over 5.6%. Other than that, the casino has been quite successful, earning positive numbers for months on end.

Enter New Gaming Revenue Sources

For some time now, the state has suffered from losses, either in the slots or table games category. It is high time that additional sources of revenue are provided from the gaming industry. The state has somewhat launched sports betting as Penn National has already opened their sports book at the Hollywood Casino. Parx, Rivers and the SugarHouse Casino are all supposed to launch in December. Those should be followed by Harrah’s in Philadelphia and the South Philadelphia Turf Club.

On top of that, the state is preparing to launch online casino and poker gaming as well. These two options, along with sports betting should definitely increase the bottom line of gaming as a whole. Operators of land-based venues have been approved for online gaming, having obtained licensing and are setting up partnerships to get started.

By next year, several new aspects should be in full swing within the state regarding gaming additions. With the new options, the overall gambling revenues should increase significantly. There is a great need for online gaming as well as sports betting, and with the population size of the state, it should not take long before steady revenues should come rolling in.

Online Gambling Bill Might Be on Michigan Governor’s Desk by Year’s End

Summary: As 2018 comes to an end, the state of Michigan might send an online gambling bill to the governor’s desk before December is over.

Online gambling is under discussion in several states within the US, with some further along in their efforts than others. Leading the pack, Michigan has been preparing to introduce online gambling legislation and moving the bill along as quickly as possible.

Representative Brandt Iden has been leading the charge, just recently stating that a bill might reach the governor’s desk before the year’s end.

Working on Passing Legislation

MichiganRepresentative Iden attended the US Sports Betting Policy Summit this week, stating that he has been working with fellow Senate members to see a gambling bill come to fruition during the lame-duck session in the state. During the event, Iden stated that he feels that his bill, H 4926, will make it to the governor for signing by the end of the year.

The bill is currently sitting in the Committee on Government Operations in the Senate, having already passed within the House earlier in the year.

Known as the Lawful Internet Gaming Act, the bill would place the Gaming Control Board of the state in charge of setting regulations for online sports betting operations.

Within the board, a Division of Internet Gaming would be created, with the group being in charge of overseeing online casino and poker gaming.

With all the details covered in the bill, there is still time for it to move forward. This month, three days remain in session while nine are set for next month.

If the bill does not move forward and pass into law this year, efforts will have to start over. In an odd year, the state does not allow bills to carry over.

In the unfortunate event that the bill does not move forward, the Iden would have to start from scratch.

The Representative has his eye on several areas of gaming, including working on another bill that will be focused on sports betting. He must create any legislation involving gaming with a focus on commercial needs as well as tribal interests, plus keeping in mind the state lottery.

At OnlinePokerReport, Iden had stated that he was looking at what was done in New Mexico regarding gaming. The state created compact amendments recently that allowed sports betting within tribal venues. Iden has stated that this is similar to what Michigan will need to implement to ensure that the tribal interests are met.

Current Online Gambling Landscape

In the United States, online gambling is only operational in Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey. Pennsylvania passed legislation in late 2017 but has yet to get started. Efforts are being completed to get the ball rolling, but operators might not get going until early 2019.

If Michigan is able to pass legislation this year, they could get started in 2019, becoming only the 5th state to begin offering online gambling in the US.

As far as sports betting is concerned, if Michigan is able to pass legislation, they would become the 9th state to offer legal sports betting in some form or fashion. States that have already passed legislation include: Delaware, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and West Virginia.

We shall see over the coming weeks if Rep Brant is able to get his bill passed on to the governor’s desk and if the state will be able to see online gambling come to fruition before the year ends.

Representative Jim Sensenbrenner Asks DOJ to Review Federal Sports Betting

Summary: Wisconsin Representative Jim Sensenbrenner has called upon the United States Department of Justice to review the sports betting landscape on a federal level.

Since mid-May, sports betting has been booming in the United States due to the United States Supreme Court ruling that a federal ban against the activity was null and void. State after state has either started looking into legislation or already passed laws to allow the activity to take place.

While the past few months have been good for sports betting, it seems one representative of Wisconsin is not too happy and wants the Department of Justice to weigh in regarding potential oversight of the industry via the federal government.

Letter Sent to Deputy AG

Representative Jim Sensenbrenner sent a letter to the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein this week, stating that the Department of Justice needs to provide a fresh perspective when it comes to laws involving sports betting, including the Wire Act.

The Rep has his hands in the fire so to speak as the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations. The Subcommittee recently took testimony on the subject of sports betting back in September.

When the hearing ended, as the chair, Sensenbrenner stated that intervention is necessary by Congress to harness the industry as it emerges.

The concerns of the representative involving sports betting include the striking down of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act along with the Wire Act and how it was reinterpreted. The Rep is not a fan of the changes and wants to see something done about it.

Sensenbrenner has voiced concern over terrorism, identify theft and money laundering in connection with sports betting. While there are issues with any industry, such problems have been shot down time and time again when brought up by those who are opposed to such gambling options.

By simply taking a look at New Jersey, the most successful state involved in online gaming and recently launched sports betting, it is clear to see the positive effects.

Just this past month, the state was able to record revenues via online gaming and an increase in wagers placed via sports betting operations. The state continues to do well and is a prime example as to how such gambling should be conducted in the US.

What Congress Should Do

According to the letter, there are three possible solutions that Sensenbrenner thinks that the federal government should do involving sports betting. First, they could chose to re-enact a federal ban on the activity. I doubt this would happen because so many states have already passed legislation and are offering services.

Second, federal standards could be created for the industry, across the board, with each state having to follow to offer sports betting. This seems unlikely as well. Third, the Representative suggests that states will be deferred to regarding regulation of the gambling activity.

This seems the most likely in the scenarios. States have already been regulating their gambling industries for many years and do a good job of avoiding any illegal activity.

According to Sensenbrenner, the worse choice that Congress could make is to do nothing. However, he does feel that if any changes were to take place, it would be months or even years before legislation could be developed and enacted.

DraftKings Ready to Open Sportsbook at Resorts AC by Month’s End

Summary: After launching a sportsbook in Mississippi this week, DraftKings is now preparing to open a sportsbook in New Jersey via Resorts Casino Hotel of Atlantic City.

The DraftKings brand is well-known in the United States for daily fantasy sports contests. Once sports betting became a reality in the states, the brand worked quickly to enter the new marketplace. The company is set to open a sportsbook this week in Mississippi and they have now announced that their book at the Resorts Casino Hotel of Atlantic City will launch by the month’s end.

Draft Kings Ready to Open

DraftKingsThe sportsbook has been under construction for some time now and is almost ready to go. The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement will need to provide their final approval before the facility can start offering services. It is expected that the venue and approval will be given by the end of November. The launch will come just a short time after DraftKings gets started in Mississippi with their sportsbook at the Scarlet Pearl Casino Resort.

Mark Giannantonio, the CEO and President of the Resorts Casino Hotel, commented on the new sportsbook, stating that the casino is proud to have partnered with who they consider an industry leader in the sports betting industry. Once completed, Giannantonio says that on-property retail space will provide an immersive and entertaining experience for guests as well as sports fans.

The venue at the casino will have five betting windows and offer 12 kiosks. For sports fans, the sportsbook will include ultra-HD video walls where games will be highlighted. A VIP area will also be included, ensuring that players feel taken care of. Stadium-style seating will be included, with chargers, so bettors can spend a long time relaxing and wagering in the book.

Along with the sports betting options, the sportsbook will include a full bar that includes drink menus and food. When players want to play additional games, the sportsbook will have electronic slots included on the bar top.

Matt Kalish, the Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer of DraftKings, commented that the company has been working with the Resorts team to ensure the retail sportsbook will meet the highest quality of standards and customer experience.

Online Offering In The Works

DraftKings has been offering online gambling options in New Jersey for some time and reports of the online gaming earnings should be released this week. It is expected that DraftKings will be the leader when it comes to sports betting earnings online.

Back in September, it was Resorts Digital Gaming that came out on top when it comes to revenues, earning just over $8.5 million. Almost 100% of those earnings were generated by DraftKings. The brand has easily been able to surpass their competitor FanDuel, who earned $2.85 million for the month. However, when it comes to land-based sports betting, FanDuel reigned supreme. For September, the brand was able to earn just over $4.3 million.

It will be interesting to see how the DraftKings land-based book compares to FanDuel once the first full month of operations is in the books. If the sportsbook opens by the end of the month, it will be January before we will know the full details of operations. It takes a few weeks after the month has ended before the results are made public by the NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement.

For now, all eyes will be on New Jersey as DraftKings awaits approval from the DGE and gets ready to launch land-based services.

Kambi Group Ready for Online and Kiosk Betting in Pennsylvania

Summary: Awaiting operating licensing approval, the Kambi Group is already focusing their efforts on being prepared to offer online as well as kiosk style sports betting in Pennsylvania.

In Pennsylvania, several changes are coming for the gambling industry. Sports betting as well as online gaming is about to begin and operators of land-based venues are quickly creating partnerships with companies that can help them get started. The Kambi Group is one such company that has plans to offer sports betting in the state, having already partnered with three casinos. The company is currently waiting to be approved for licensing before they can begin to offer services.

For now, the brand is working to set up their mobile betting operations as well as over the counter betting, which will take place via kiosk. Kiosks are already used in Europe for wagering and will be something new in the United States. With a kiosk, players will have instant access to wagering options, not having to wait in line at a sports betting window.

What to Expect

Pennsylvania Online GamblingThe Kambi Group is already functioning in the United States via a partnership with the SugarHouse Casino. The brand operates the betting app of PlaySugarHouse, so they already have a solid footing in the states. Despite this experience, the brand does not have any when it comes to the new sports betting kiosks.

Speaking with Play Pennsylvania, the Kambi Group gave the news outlet an inside look into what the kiosks will look like and how they will operate. Before a kiosk can be used, the player will need to deposit funds. This can be done one of three ways. Players can use the casino or an online account to load a player account card which can be used at the kiosk.

Players can choose to use a voucher which would require visiting a teller and paying for the voucher. Or, players can use cash at the kiosk. With the card and voucher, the item is inserted into the machine to get started.

With the card, a password is used for access.

Once the payment is provided, the user will then select which event they want to wager on. The amount of wager is also selected at this time. The chosen event will then move to a new screen which shows the pending bets. Once the betting process is complete, the player will end their gaming session and a receipt prints out.

When the event finishes up, the bettor can cash out by taking the receipt they received to a betting counter. However, the winnings can also be used to place more wagers at the kiosk. The betting slip is used in the kiosk to wager once again.

Kiosk Wagering

All US online casinos that have been given approval for sports betting will be allowed to have the kiosks within their facilities. The self-service option can be located in the sportsbook but also throughout the casino floor. Players are sure to take advantage of this option as it will be a new element and a convenient one at that.

Currently, there are six venues that have conditional approval to offer sports betting. The first to get started is expected to be Hollywood Sportsbook which has said they will open this month. Next month, the Rivers Casino and the SugarHouse hope to have their sportsbooks operational.

It will be interesting to see how Pennsylvania fares once their sports betting operations are functioning fully. They are sure to take a strong lead in the US as a top provider of the new gaming industry.

Golden Nugget Online in PA: What To Expect

Summary: As the Golden Nugget seeks approval for online gaming in Pennsylvania, what should we expect from the top-operating brand from New Jersey.

Unless you have been living under a rock or avoiding online gambling news in the United States, then you already know that the most successful operator in the nation regarding online gambling is the Golden Nugget of New Jersey.

The brand continues to surpass their previous month when it comes to player traffic and revenues earned, dominating the New Jersey market as well as topping the charts overall in the US. The brand has now applied for online gaming licensing in Pennsylvania and all eyes are on what they will do once live in the new region.

Applied and Waiting for Approval

Golden NuggetWhen the online gambling licensing stage was opened up by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, operators could apply for three licenses, paying $10 million total to offer online slots, table games and poker. Only operators in the state with licensing for land-based services could apply. When little interest was shown and a certain time frame completed, operators could begin applying for individual licensing at $4 million each.

Over time, the state saw applications submitted but licensing still remained. The board then decided to open up the process to qualified gaming entities located outside the state. When this happened, the Golden Nugget jumped at the chance to submit an application.

The brand now awaits a decision by the board. It may be this month’s meeting where we find out if the company is approved to offer their services in Pennsylvania while based in New Jersey.

It would be silly for the board not to approve the company based on their proven success in New Jersey. The Golden Nugget is the only operator to surpass the $9 million mark in monthly revenues from online casino gaming and their closest competitor is the Borgata, a brand that may reach the $5 million mark from time to time.

For now, the Golden Nugget is untouchable in New Jersey and should see the same success in Pennsylvania. If approved, all eyes will be on the brand as they begin to launch services in the region.

What to Expect from the Golden Nugget

The Golden Nugget already has established partnerships thanks to the services they provide in New Jersey. In Pennsylvania, it would not be unheard of for the brand to use those partnerships as well. The company is already teamed up with Betfair and Play Sugarhouse, offering the largest library of online games in NJ including live dealer options.

It is believed that the Golden Nugget will set up a skin with the Sugarhouse brand in Pennsylvania but not confirmed. The brand uses SG Digital for their online gaming offerings, so they should use this same brand in PA as well.

As far as additional options, the Golden Nugget should provide something like their New Jersey offering, providing a loyalty program along with additional incentives such as leaderboard competitions. It would be silly for the brand to do anything different than what they offer in New Jersey as they are seeing massive success.

It is also expected that the PA offering will include live dealer. The Golden Nugget was the first to offer live dealer gaming in New Jersey and they already have a full portfolio of unique options including a live roulette version offered straight from the casino’s gaming floor.

It will certainly be interesting to watch and see what the Golden Nugget ends up offering if they are approved for licensing. We should hopefully find out by the end of this year if the operator is approved to move forward.

Missouri Casino Faces Heavy Fine for Cheating Incidents

Summary: The Mark Twain Casino of Missouri is facing a large fine due to several incidents of cheating.

Casino operators across the United States have sets of rules they must follow in order to provide quality gaming to patrons. In every state that offers casino gaming, there are groups in charge such as gaming boards or commissions. These groups must maintain oversight of the industry and report on any issues, setting fines or punishments for venues that do not follow rules and regulations as they should. It is not uncommon for a casino to face a fine or action from a board based on issues that are discovered. This week, it was announced that a casino in Missouri is now facing a $50,000 fine due to issues with cheating.

Fine Determined By Gaming Commission

Missouri CasinosThe Mark Twain Casino of Missouri has been issued a $50,000 fine by the state’s Gaming Commission due to several incidents of cheating that took place in December 2016 until August 2017. During their monthly meeting last week, the Commission decided to approve a preliminary order for disciplinary action recommending that the casino pay the fine due to failing to take action against the cheating individuals and not reporting the incidents after the gaming laws were violated.

The casino now has 30 days to decide to appeal the ruling or the action will be final and the penalty will need to be paid. During the meeting documentation was presented that detailed incidents of cheating at the venue involving table games. Reportedly, employees of the venue and patrons were working together to take money from the casino during game play.

The casino’s department over table games reportedly knew that cheating was taking place but did nothing to stop it. The incidents came to the attention of the Commission in August of last year by the surveillance manager of the casino along with the casino operations director. With an investigation, it was found that the violations involved employees aiding in cheating as well as lack of supervision. The venue was found to have failed in reporting such violations to the Commission.

Once the Commission found out about the incidents of cheating, three individuals were fired from the venue and arrested on charges related to cheating. The supervisor of table games and the pit manager pled guilty to cheating. A table games dealer still has charges pending.

Coming Before the Commission

The issue did not come before the commission until now, pretty much a year later, due to the criminal investigation that was taking place involving the incidents. According to the Commission, they questioned 20 to 25 people who were witnesses connected to the incidents. The information was sent to the prosecutor in the case and then they were able to come forward with disciplinary action against the administrative side of the matter.

In the document provided during the meeting last week, examples were given as to how the cheating took place. In some instances, the dealer would change the outcome of a game of craps by not cleaning the losing bets. The dealer would also say from time to time that the craps dice went bad, which means the player rolled a seven. He would then give the dice back to the player without collecting the losing bet.

The roll was also manipulated from time to time by the dealer to see the outcome be anything but a seven. In other instances, players were allowed to add a wager after the outcome of the roll was known.

Golden Nugget of NJ Applies for Pennsylvania Online Gaming License

Summary: The Golden Nugget has applied to provide online gaming in the state of Pennsylvania.

Some time ago, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board decided to open up the online gaming licensing process to what they are calling qualified gaming entities. Such an entity could be one located outside the state, but one that is licensed in another jurisdiction that has proven themselves in the industry. No company has proven themselves as much as the Golden Nugget of New Jersey. Consistently breaking records when it comes to online game traffic and revenues, the brand is now setting their sights on Pennsylvania.

New Applicant For The State

Golden NuggetThe Golden Nugget provided their application for online gaming to the board right before the deadline cutoff yesterday. The board confirmed that they had received the application to new sites PlayPennsylvania. The Golden Nugget is reportedly interested in offering online slots and table games, set to pay $4 million each for licensing in each category.

MGM Resorts also applied this week, as an out of state operator, set to offer all three gaming categories, online poker gaming, table games and slots. If both operators are approved by the board, then that will leave six licenses up for grabs in the state.
While both companies are sure to be successful in their endeavor, all eyes will be on the Golden Nugget. The company is currently the most successful when it comes to online gaming in the state of New Jersey as well in the United States. The company has been able to sit in the number one spot month after month in NJ as their gaming platform continues to reach record numbers.

In September, the brand was able to take in $9.3 million in online gambling revenues, the largest portion of the $24.1 million earned from online casino and poker gaming combined. Surprisingly, the Golden Nugget only offers online casino, so they are able to hit such high numbers without any help from online poker gaming.

Next Step in the Process

Now that the two new applications have been submitted, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board will now review the applications for approval. The applications are multiple pages long and will take some time to review. However, both MGM and the Golden Nugget are established and well-known in the gambling industry, so it would not be unreasonable for the two to be provided approval fairly quickly.

However, a decision most likely will not be made until the next meeting of the board, which takes place on November 28th. Once approval is given, the process of setting up the online gaming site can begin. It will most likely be in 2019 when the two begin offering services in the state.

It was supposed to be this year when Pennsylvania began to offer online gaming, but the process of setting up the new industry has been slow going. It took some time for the licensing process to begin and then it seemed interest was minimal. Once applicants began to submit their paperwork to be considered, the board then slowed down the process to review information provided carefully.

It has only been a short time since operators have been gaining approval for online gaming licensing and most of those who have been approved have stated that launch will be in 2019. For now, we will have to wait and see, hopefully with players having access to online gaming in the very near future. Even if the first launch is in 2019, the New Year is only a few short weeks away!

NFL Team Partners with 888 Casino in New Jersey

Summary: As sports betting continues to grow in New Jersey, online casino operator 888 has announced a partnership with the New York Jets.

Sports betting has been a hot topic in the United States over the past few months, gaining ground after the United States Supreme Court decided to rule the Professional & Amateur Sports Protection Act unconstitutional.

With the ruling, states blasted off with sports betting operations, with New Jersey one of the first to get started. As sports betting has started, professional sports teams are partnering up with gaming companies. This week, online casino operator in NJ, 888 Casino, has decided to announce a new sponsorship deal with the New York Jets.

New Deal Signed

NFLThe online casino operator announced this week that they are a proud sponsor of the New York Jets, as can be seen on the home page of the New Jersey gaming site. With a little investigative work on the part of Online Poker Report, it was found that that Jets website had discussed 888 in a post from October 21st, stating that players could meet brand ambassadors during the home game, and have the opportunity to download the app of the brand to gain an entry into a drawing to win merchandise of the NFL team as well as other prizes.

In the information on offer, it does not seem that the 888 Sportsbook will be promoting the NFL brand directly. However, we may see 888 begin to promote the NFL team via their sports betting site.

It’s odd to see that the Jets have signed a deal with 888 as they already have an arrangement with FanDuel via daily fantasy sports. FanDuel has a sportsbook in the same area in which the NFL team has their home games. The sports team also promotes FanDuel during their games, telling players to visit the brand’s tent before the game to take part in exclusive contests. Players can try to win special merchandise and tickets via the tent.

Other NFL Deals

The Jets are not the only teams to have signed deals with gaming groups. The Dallas Cowboys were the first to do so, having signed a deal with the WinStar Casino of Oklahoma. The Horseshoe Baltimore has also recently signed a deal with the NFL Team the Baltimore Ravens. These deals will see the teams promoting the gaming brands within their venues while the casinos will be promoting the teams within their gaming floors.

However, these deals differ from the one signed by the Jets and 888 Casino because this deal is online exclusive. It marks the first time an NFL team has become involved directly with a casino in New Jersey, not to mention in the United States. None of the deals also involved sports betting, which is odd as well. It seems the NFL teams are taking it slow, opting to begin with promotion and not be directly involved in sports betting, at least for now.

For now, these are the only deals in the works involving NFL teams. The NHL recently announced a deal with MGM Resorts while Caesars has partnered with the New Jersey Devils and the Philadelphia 76ers. As sports betting becomes more readily available, we should see more deals signed that will see gaming venues working with sports teams to promote their offerings, particularly sports books.

It will be interesting to watch and see how the partnerships evolve over time as more professional sports teams and casinos decide to team up.

Tropicana Casino & Resort Atlantic City Launches Sportsbook

Summary: Better late than never, the Tropicana Casino & Resort has finally launched their sportsbook.

Sports betting is in full swing within several states in the US including New Jersey. Players have access to online sports betting as well as land-based with several operators already offering services. This week, it was announced that the state is now home to a total of nine sportsbooks, as the Tropicana Casino & Resort of Atlantic City has launched services. The company is working with William Hill to offer sports wagering.

Wagering Starts Now

Tropicana Atlantic CityThe new sportsbook is operated by William Hill and was able to get started while football season is still in full swing. The North Tower Casino is where players will be able to place their bets, with a new sportsbook in the works that will offer 5,000 square feet of gambling space.

The launch of the new sportsbook was announced via the casino’s website yesterday, with a new section added to promote the new offering. The physical sportsbook is the only option open right now as there is no mobile or online option available yet.

Tropicana was slow to start as several other casinos already launched land-based as well as an online sportsbook. The state has already been able to see over $330 million wagered on sports since the new industry launched in the summer months.

Late Start for Tropicana

So, why did it take the Tropicana so long to get started? Several sports betting operations were in working order by June, with the legal change taking place in mid-May. William Hill was able to launch a sportsbook at Monmouth Park with others following over July and August.

The situation involving the Tropicana was a bit different because the property was undergoing a pending acquisition. Icahn Enterprises was selling the property to Eldorado Resorts in a $1.85b deal. The sale did not close for several months with the final approval not taking place until early this month.

In a surprising turn of events, the new owner decided to fire the online casino staff and focus on sports betting instead. In September, before the sale was finalized, William Hill announced they were the new partner of the Tropicana, announcing the new book would launch this year. It wouldn’t be much longer after the announcement that the decision would be made to go ahead and launch services.

Sports betting has already shown promise for the state in the few short months that it has been in operation. Gaming regulator David Rebuck stated that the numbers for revenues are stunning when looking at the recent September report. Released just last week, the state showed that expansion is happening rapidly, thanks in part to football season.

Casinos in the state took in over $184 million for September, keeping close to $24 million in revenues. The handle recorded is over double what was earned in August. In September, it marked the first time that all eight sportsbooks were in operation for one full month. Online sports betting was also added, which helps to increase the total numbers.

With the Tropicana now in operation and possibly more to come, the state is only going to see these numbers continue to climb. New Jersey has easily become the top state to provide sports betting in the US, both online and in land-based format. It will be interesting to see how the state continues to perform as the year comes to an end and how well they continue to do into 2019 and beyond.

Mega Millions Continues to Make History

Summary: With a jackpot that continues to climb, the Mega Millions continues to grow, waiting on a big winner.

Playing the lottery is something that most everyone in the United States enjoys doing. While not every state offers the lottery, many do, and players will purchase tickets where they live or travel to nearby states to do so, especially when jackpot prizes begin to grow to massive proportions. Currently, the Mega Millions is in the billions range, with players buying tickets in record numbers, the prize only continues to grow.

Million Dollar Winner

Just recently, a player from New Jersey managed to win $1 million by playing on October 19th. The player purchased a lottery ticket at a 7-Eleven in Morris County, with the store reporting that the ticket was able to match five of the six numbers that had been drawn. The winner has yet to come forward and they may honestly not know that they even won the prize.

During the drawing, the numbers that came up were 15, 23, 53, 65 and 70. The 7 was the Mega Ball. The player did not choose the Mega Ball, so they ended up earning the smaller prize instead of the big one. During the recent drawing, there were 15 big winners but only one saw their prize multiplied by choosing the Megaplier option, earning $2 million in the process.

Main Jackpot Keeps Growing and Growing

Online LotteryTonight, a drawing will take place for the Mega Millions yet again and the jackpot is currently the largest in history. The jackpot is estimated at $1.6 billion. If one player earns the big win, they could choose to take the lump sum payout which would equal $904 million. The previous record for the largest Powerball jackpot was $1.586 billion, a jackpot set in 2016.

That prize was split between three players, one from Kentucky, one from Florida and one from California. Each were given $533 million. A single winner tonight would easily eclipse the previous record jackpot.

Today’s lottery environment is much different than that of just a few years ago. Many states have opted to offer online lottery ticket sales, which allows players to purchase tickets whenever they like. The ease of online sales is helping to increase jackpots considerably. When the amount of prize money increases as it has of late, payers come out of the woodwork to be able to buy tickets in the hopes of being the next big winner.

This of course increases the jackpot which only fuels the buying process even further. The jackpot continues to increase until hit, then resets to build again until another winner is named.

Over the past few months, the winner of the jackpot has taken place in New Jersey. Back in March, a man won the Mega Millions to earn $175 million from a total jackpot of $533 million, after paying taxes. Just two months later in May, a player selected the right numbers in New Jersey as well to earn $183 million in cash.

It will be interesting to see if tonight’s drawing will result in a big win or if the prize will continue to grow until the next drawing, and so on. Players are all hoping their numbers are picked tonight so they can be the next big winner, earning almost $1 billion in the process!

Horseshoe Casino of Maryland Finds New Partner with the Baltimore Ravens

Summary: The Horseshoe Casino of Baltimore, Maryland has signed a new partnership agreement with their hometown National Football League.

In the United States, sports betting is the new hot subject when it comes to gambling. Casino operators in states around the country are hoping to get started in the new industry as it becomes available. So far, several states have already implemented sports betting legislation and already offer wagering options, including New Jersey, Delaware, Mississippi and West Virginia. With the new industry, comes new partnerships, including casinos signing deals with professional football teams.

The Horseshoe and the Ravens

Horseshoe Casino BaltimoreIn the state of Maryland, the Horseshoe Casino Baltimore has decided to sign a deal with the NFL’s Baltimore Ravens, to create a new marketing partnership. This is the second partnership of its kind after the United States Supreme Court ruled that federal legislation that banned sports betting in the majority of the country was no longer valid.

Last Friday, the Horseshoe Casino Baltimore announced their official partnership with the Baltimore Ravens. The casino is owned in part by JACK Entertainment and Caesars Entertainment. The new agreement is a multi-year deal, with the terms yet to be revealed.

With the deal, the Horseshoe Casino will be able to use the logos of the Ravens as well as trademarks within the gaming floor. This will include displaying the brand in their three level bar. This area will be rebranded as a Ravens venue after being previously known as 14Forty. The casino will also be creating new loyalty cards for customers that will feature the NFL team.

For the casino, the Ravens will be displaying the venues logo at their home field, the M&T Bank Stadium. The casino will be highlighted at all games, helping to hopefully bring about more traffic to the venue. The casino has seen their revenues decrease each month over the past few months, especially after the National Harbor casino opened in late 2016. The venue continues to finish behind MGM and the Live! Casino.

In the official press release discussing the new partnership, Erin Chamberlin, the General Manager of the Horseshoe, stated that the new agreement will see two strong Baltimore brands coming together, each offering a unique entertainment product that has broad and complementary appeal.

According to Kevin Rochlit, the VP of the Ravens, the Horseshoe has become a popular spot for football fans to visit before and after the Raves games.

More Deals To Come

The deal between the Baltimore brands is just the latest in what is expected to be many deals struck between gaming venues and professional sports teams. The Dallas Cowboys were the first to cut a deal, having partnered with the Winstar World Casino in Oklahoma. This deal came quickly after the Supreme Court ruling and more are expected to follow.

As the sports betting industry continues to blossom in the United States, it is expected that even more deals will be made involving NFL teams, the NBA, MLB and other professional sports organizations. Sports betting is going to be big business in the US, especially as more states become involved. We may not see any additional states pass legislation this year, but it is expected that 2019 will bring with it many more proposals that will see more states begin offering sports betting within their borders once legislation is passed into law.

New Jersey DGE Cracking Down on Illegal iGaming Sites

Summary: The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement is taking action against online gambling sites in the state that are operating illegally.

New Jersey is one of only a handful of states that currently have legalized online gambling in operation in the US. Despite the legal means to offer services, illegal gaming sites are still at play in the US, including in New Jersey. The Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) has stated that they are now getting serious about taking action against online gaming sites that are illegal operating in their state.

Warning Sent

New Jersey DGEAccording to the OPR website, A letter was sent by the agency warning affiliates about the consequences that will arise from marketing to customers in their state. The illegally operating sites most likely received the same or a similar letter.

The issue first came to light when David Rebuck, the head of the DGE, began to become more vocal about the problem of illegal operations. As sports betting becomes more prevalent, the issue of illegal competition will only continue to grow in the state.

Rebuck stated during the Global Gaming Expo last week that the illegal market is ‘massive’ in the US and that it has been for quite a long time. Rebuck pointed out that it is easy for a player to look up how to bet in a state, such as sports betting or casino. They are then taken to an illegal website and the site is readily available. In a short time, the player has opened an account and placed bets at the illegal site.

In September, Rebuck made it known that the DGE had determined that over 108 offshore gambling sites were currently providing services to customers in the US. The sites are usually based in Costa Rica or Antigua and operate out of the reach of state officials.

Stopping Affiliates

It seems the DGE is taking a creative approach and setting their sights on the affiliates of the illegal online operators. The affiliates are the promoters behind such brands and the DGE is letting them know that its not okay and that any affiliation with such sites needs to stop. In the letter, the DGE stated:

“This letter shall serve as official notice that your website, by offering unauthorized gaming links, is promoting activity that is contrary to New Jersey and federal law. We request that you immediately remove any online gaming links that are not authorized under federal law or the law of any State.”

It seems the only operator that Rebuck has mentioned by name when discussing illegally operating sites is Bovada. The Bovada brand has been active in the United States for several years and they have offered services without obtaining licensing. It seems Rebuck is now ready to take on any brand that is not licensed and make them have to obtain an operating license if they are to offer services in his state.

Regulators have decided to send copies of the letters they sent out to affiliates to the Division of Criminal Justice. This was done so that the group can consider taking legal action. Violators are at risk of breaking state and federal laws regarding racketeering and gambling advertisement.

Affiliates who continue to work will illegal sites will be banned from associating with those who are licensed in New Jersey. This would definitely have a negative effect on those affiliates in the state who work with both licensed and unlicensed operators.

We shall see in the coming weeks if further action is taken and if any more details are provided by the DGE as to what they plan to do about illegal operators.

Online Gaming Continues to Thrive in New Jersey

Summary: The online gambling revenue numbers are in for September, with New Jersey operators falling just short of setting a new record.

Online gaming is alive and well in the state of New Jersey, the current top operating state in the US when it comes to casino and poker games. The state has easily surpassed Nevada and Delaware, with no additional competition as of yet.

Pennsylvania will be starting online gaming soon, but in the meantime, NJ continues to dominate. The New Jersey Gaming Control Board has released the September figures and the numbers show that the online gaming operators of the state came close to breaking another monthly record.

Falling short of a record month:

New JerseyIn September, the combined revenues for online poker and casino gaming came in at just over $25.75 million. Online casino gaming contributed to over $24 million of that number. The total amount of revenues earned marks the second-highest monthly total for the state since launch. For online casino gaming, coming in at $24,142,472 is the most the state has ever earned in this category since launching in 2013.

The month also marks the ninth one running where the online casino industry has surpassed the $20 million mark. In total, the state has been able to earn more than $20 million in total revenues for 19 months in a row. With the September revenues, the state has been able to see an over 26% increase in revenues when comparing September of last year.

Monthly Highlights:

Overall, the total gaming revenues came in at $25.75 million, which is a 7.3% increase month to month and a 26.3% increase when comparing September of last year. For online casino earnings, the state saw $24.1 million earned, which is an 8.5% increase month to month and a more than 30% increase when looking at yearly totals. For poker, the total gaming win came in at $1.6 million, which is a drop in both month to month and yearly totals. When compared to August, the online poker earnings were down 8.4% while yearly totals came in at 15.4% less.

For the month, the Golden Nugget continues to be the top operator. The operator earned over $8 million for the 7th month running, coming in at just over $9.2 million. The numbers mark the second time the state has surpassed the $9 million mark for monthly earnings.

Other operators are far behind, but still doing well. The top earners seem to get near the $5 million, such as the Borgata. None have been able to reach that milestone as of yet, though. The Borgata came close last month, earning $4.5 million in overall revenues.

As far as poker is concerned, Caesars is doing quite well. The brand is able to see a nice gain due to multi-state poker as they are associated with the WSOP/888Poker partnership. The brand earned just over $670,000 in revenues for online poker, which is pretty good considering poker does not do very well overall in the state.

The Hard Rock AC and Ocean Resort Casino are still considered newbies to the industry and were unable to earn $1 million when their totals were combined. The Ocean Resort continues to be at the bottom when it comes to revenues.

Overall, the online gambling industry is thriving. It will be interesting to see how October, November and December fair. The state is easily on track to break new records and continue to be the dominating state when it comes to online gambling in the US.

Ocean Resort Casino Launches New Android Mobile App

Summary: New Jersey online casino players now have one more Android option as Ocean Resort Casino launches their new version.

Online gaming options abound in New Jersey, as players have access to a great deal of casino and poker options. Atlantic City casinos like the Golden Nugget and Tropicana offer online gaming to help further their bottom line and offer their players more. The Ocean Casino Resort is one of two casinos that opened in the area during the summer and they also offer online gaming. The brand quietly launched their Android app for their online gaming site this week.

Android Offering

New JerseyOn the promotions page of the brand, the announcement of the new Android App was provided for visitors of the site. Players will need to visit the announcement page and click the Download for Android button to get started. Once logged in, players can choose a game to get started with real money play.

The Android application includes all functions of the site, so players will not find the experience different from the traditional gaming site. Players can choose from the full list of games as well as take part in leader board competitions and promotions.

With the announcement, Ocean Casino Resort made it known that they would be launching an Apple version soon. No date has been announced as to when that app might be released.

Mobile Gaming is Essential

For an online casino to be successful, it needs to cater to mobile devices. Be it an app or be compatible with a mobile browser, players want to be able to access gaming via mobile. Consumers use their mobile smartphones for everything these days from shopping to dining and more. Having an option for mobile with online casino gaming is essential to a casino’s overall success.

Research has shown that young people are more likely to use a mobile device than a traditional method of internet connection, such as a computer. Most young people do not even own a desktop computer and use chromebooks or their smartphone to access the internet. Casinos have to be able to cater to the younger demographic as well as the generations that will be gaming in the coming decades.

As technology continues to advance, casinos have to stay with the times. Online offerings need to reflect what consumers are doing and right now, mobile usage is key. According to a report by the Pew Research Center, over 20% of individuals ages 18 to 29 only use their smartphones to connect to the internet.

The legal age to gamble in New Jersey is twenty-one and that number fits into the demographic of consumers who use mobile devices. For casinos to be successful with their online gaming, their offering needs to be compatible with smartphone devices. The best way to do this is to offer a mobile application.

With the new option, the Ocean Casino Resort should see somewhat of an uptick when it comes to their online gaming traffic numbers.

The state is also starting to see a steady stream of sports betting earnings as well. With mobile options popping up for sports betting as well, the overall gaming numbers in New Jersey should soar over the coming months as the year comes to an end.

It will be interesting to see if the Ocean Resort has more success in October, November and December, revealing if the app is a big driver of traffic as it seems to be.

Satellite Casinos Could Offer Sports Betting

Summary: With satellite casinos in progress in Pennsylvania, the new venues may end up offering sports betting along with table games and slots.

Gaming is rapidly expanding in the state of Pennsylvania as operators prepare to begin providing sports betting, satellite casinos and online gaming to residents as well as visitors. After a gaming reform package was passed into law last year, all of these changes and more were approved. Now, the state has been busy preparing to begin offering their new options for gambling. Several operators have applied for a satellite gaming license and have been approved. Satellite casinos are miniature versions of a land-based casino that can offer a smaller number of slots and table games. Now, such venues may also be open to sports betting in the future, yet another wagering element to provide gamers.

Sports Betting Too?

Penn National GamingOperators who were approved during an auction process for satellite casino license were paying to offer slots and table games. Now, it seems sports betting is on the table too. According to Penn National, the Gaming Control Board has stated that a land-based sports book can be provided at a satellite casino.

In speaking with the York Dispatch, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board Communication Director Doug Harbach, stated that a sports book can be offered, and that Penn National would have to apply for sportsbook approval. There is no time frame on such approvals, so it would most likely be some time before the option could be launched at mini casinos.

At the time when the satellite casino legislation was passed into law, sport betting in Pennsylvania was not a reality. The original language of the law stated that as many as 10 satellite casinos could be created in the state and they could offer up to 30 table games and 750 slot machines within the first year.

Now, the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act has been eliminated, the state is able to focus on sports betting if they so choose, and they want in on the action. In the gaming package, lawmakers did have a little information set aside in case the PASPA was struck down. They set a $10 million licensing fee and a 36% tax rate, which many feel is very high compared to other states like Nevada offering more reasonable tax platforms.

Casinos are now interested in offering sports betting at their satellite casinos, providing a fresh space for the activity. The board are having to consider the option, along with a ton of other offerings, as many changes are taking place in the state. Satellite casinos are a good option for starting sports betting as most operators are starting from the ground up and can include a sportsbook in their plans.

Penn National’s Plans

Penn National is preparing to launch their satellite casino in a mall where a Sears store used to be located. The brand will be calling their venue Hollywood York and will be spending as much as $120 million on the renovations of the building. When it comes to licensing, the company will be spending over $50 million.

The facility is in a good location for sportsbetting as there are not many casinos in the area. It will be interesting to see how the brand fares once they get going with operations. It will be some time though before the facility will be up and fully functioning, offering slots and table games, along with the possibly of sports betting.

With this revelation, it will also be interesting to see which venues follow suit and look to launch sports betting within their satellite casinos as well.

Rivers Casino Withdraws Application for Online Gaming

Summary: The Rivers Casino of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania has decided to withdraw their application for online gaming.

In Pennsylvania, licensed gaming operators in the state have been applying for the opportunity to offer online gaming. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board must receive an application and then approve an entity for online slots, table games and/or poker. So far, a few casinos have been approved, including the Sands and Valley Forge. Today, we learned that the Rivers Casino of Pittsburgh has decided to no longer apply for online gaming, having removed their application from consideration.

No Longer Interested

Sugar House CasinoWith the application withdrawn as of yesterday, the state now has three additional interactive gaming certificates available. The total number of open options now in the state is 10. The news of the application withdrawal is odd as no official comment has been made on the matter. The brand did speak to Online Poker Report, stating that the property is still interested in offering sports betting.

In a statement, a Rivers Casino spokesperson said that the company is taking time to explore online gaming options, set to actively pursue a sports betting license for land-based and mobile gambling. The owner of the Rivers Casino, Rush Street Gaming, is also the owner of the SugarHouse Casino, that will still offer online gaming. It seems that perhaps the SugarHouse venue will be the online gaming access point for the owner while the Rivers will be the sports betting hub.

For Rivers Casino to be able to offer sports betting and online casino gaming, they would have to pay $20 million total. The brand could save $10 million by sticking with the SugarHouse as their online gaming destination and then using the Rivers as their sports betting venue. It makes sense to be involved in both areas of gambling but not overwhelming so, spending a great deal of money on licensing for both properties.

More Licensing Available

For some time now, the state has been offering up the online licensing to entities located outside of Pennsylvania. Now with the Rivers withdrawing their application, even more outside entities could become involved. A total of 29 out of 39 have been claimed which now leaves four online poker licenses on offer, three online slot licenses and three online table game licenses.

The Gaming Control Board has announced that entities that are considered qualified for gaming will be able to seek the certificates that are available by filing a petition starting on October 15th. Such operators will have until October 31st to complete the petition process. Companies do not have to have a presence in the state to be considered.

Once the petition process has ended, the board will then choose entities at random to be able to offer online gaming. Now with more licenses up for grabs, there is more potential for outside entities to be able to operate in the state via online slots, table games and poker.

Over the next few weeks, we should see companies stepping forward and vying for the available licensing. Will it be companies that are based in other states? Or will we see operators from other regions, such as Europe, hoping to get started in Pennsylvania?

Players are ready to be able to enjoy online casino and poker games from their home or on the go in the state. Since the gaming reform package was passed last fall, allowing online gaming to be legalized in the state, players have been waiting in anticipation for the opportunity to wager online for real money. Hopefully, the operators who have licensing will begin to offer services shortly.

Two Operators Approved for iGaming in Pennsylvania

Summary: The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has approved two casino operators for online gaming licensing.

Online gambling was approved in the state of Pennsylvania thanks to a gaming reform package that passed in late 2017. So far this year, the state has seen several operators fill out applications to earn licensing to offer online poker, table games and slots. Just this week, the board approved two operators for licensing, the Sands Bethlehem Casino and the Valley Forge Casino.

The Sands Applied?

If you know the name Sands associated with the gaming industry, then you know the company has no intentions of offering online gaming. The Sands Bethlehem Casino is currently owned by the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, which is associated with Sheldon Adelson, a strong opponent of online gambling in the United States. So, it seems odd the brand would apply for licensing.

The Sands will not be offering online gaming but did apply as the brand is about to be taken over by the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, a group based in the state of Alabama. As part of a deal agreement announced earlier in the year, the tribe agreed to acquire the property for $1.3 billion but stipulated that an online gaming license had to be secured for the deal to be complete.

During the board meeting, as reported by Online Poker Report, Michael Magazzu, general counsel for the Sands, stated:

We are only applying for the interactive gaming certificates because of the pending sale of the Sands Bethworks Gaming assets to PCI Gaming. If not for that pending acquisition, Sands Bethworks Gaming would not be applying for these interactive gaming certificates.

Because the new owner cannot apply yet, the Sands agreed to do so for them. Known as PCI Gaming, the new owner of the Sands will need to meet several conditions that were created by the Office of Enforcement Counsel to be able to move forward with the online gambling activities.

The application of the Sands were approved.

Valley Forge Also Earns Approval

Pennsylvania Online GamblingUnlike the Sands, Boyd Gaming does want to offer online casino gaming and were ready to present their reasons to the board during the meeting this week. The group is just a few weeks away from acquiring the Valley Forge Casino.

The casino is already partnered with the FanDuel Group with IGT set to provide the gaming platform for the casino. The operator wants to be able to provide gamers table games, slots and poker options online. Online sports betting will also be provided in the future.

The board heard the Valley Forge presentation and decided to approve them for online gaming under certain conditions, the same as with the Sands. Partners of both casinos will have to be vetted before gaming can officially begin online.

So far, eleven casinos of the 13 located in Pennsylvania have applied for online gaming in some form or fashion. Most have decided to purchase the full set of gaming permits. The Presque Isle Downs was the only casino to avoid applying for an online poker license.

Other operators who have been approved by the board to offer online gaming include Mount Airy, SugarHouse, Harrah’s, Parx and Hollywood Casinos. The Mohegan Sun, Stadium Casino (still under construction) and the Rivers Casino are still waiting to be approved by the Board.

It seems that soon, the state of Pennsylvania will finally launch online gambling, offering residents and visitors to the state a wealth of options including slot games, table games and poker.

Golden Nugget Offers More with Haunted Mansion Challenge

Summary:  The online casino of the Golden Nugget continues to offer players more with the exciting Haunted Mansion Challenge.

In the state of New Jersey, online casino gaming has been on offer since 2013. Over the years, certain operators have been able to stand out above the rest. The Golden Nugget provides an online casino for gamers to enjoy, providing slot games, table games, live dealer and more. For 2018, the online casino of the brand has continued to dominate the market, bringing in at minimum $8 million or more per month in revenues. Their closest competitor is the Borgata and they usually only reach the $4 million mark.

To continue to be the best and offer players more value, the brand has decided to provide a special event this October. Players who visit the site will be able to take part in the Haunted Mansion challenge, set to offer players with monster value and big prizes.

Haunted Mansion

Golden NuggetPlayers who want to take part in the Haunted Mansion need to be located physically in the state of New Jersey. An account must be created at the Golden Nugget and real money deposited. Once you are ready to go, you can think click on the Haunted Mansion to begin.

Inside the mansion, players will find many twists and turns, as well as prizes! The Victorian house is filled with horrors, set to offer a full month of incentives. There will be 500 winners in total with the grand prize winner earning a $10,000 prize!

The top ten players in the leader board challenge will be given bonus prizes. The competition is part of a year-long option, so players who participate in October will be able to compete for double the points. The Golden Nugget has decided to award double leader board points for the month.

In October, there will be a total of $50,000 in bonus prizes up for grabs. The $10,000 prize will be a free play bonus that the winner can use at the Golden Nugget online casino. Every month, a new race will start, offering at minimum $25,000 in prizes. October is a special month, so the brand decided to go all out with their offering!

Yearly Race

The Haunted Mansion is part of the Half-Million Dollar Yearly Race currently taking place at the online casino of the Golden Nugget. The yearly race will offer more than $500,000 in prizes as well as an additional $175,000 year-end giveaway. The top prize of the contest is a Bentley lease for one year or the $30,000 bonus equivalent.

Second place in the contest will earn a Live the Dream prize package or they can choose to take $15,000 in bonuses. Third place is a year of fine dining or $12,000 in bonus cash. For the month of October, the race offers more value and will be even more exciting as it is spooky themed to coincide with the Halloween Holiday.

Once the month comes to an end, the site will reward the Haunted Mansion prizes. It will be interesting to see just how many players take part. The Golden Nugget is already a very popular online gaming site and the addition of the Haunted Mansion plus the yearly contest is sure to drive up traffic. We may see the brand move up by way of revenues and traffic numbers if players decide to play even more to be able to take part in the special leader board challenge.

William Hill Launches iOS Sports Betting

Summary: New Jersey sports betting operator William Hill has now launched an iOS version of their mobile sports betting offering.

On September 1st, William Hill began offering sports betting in New Jersey, with a quiet launch of a land-based sports book at Monmouth Park. The first sports bet of the brand took place at the retail outlet and once online betting was launched, Will Hill would offer Android options but did not offer an iOS version. Owners of iPads and iPhones were unable to wager on sports games via William Hill, that is until this past week. The brand has now launched an iOS option so that owners of such devices can take their gaming on the go.

Smaller Market

For most online gaming operators, mobile gaming is offered quickly as players like to be able to wager via mobile devices. For the most part, operators will launch options via Android and iOS to be able to provide access to everyone. For William Hill, the brand decided to launch via Android first, then move on to iOS. Just over 50% of mobile users choose Android devices over iPads and iPhones. Because of this, it seems the brand decided to go with the majority first, then launching via iOS.

Strong Mobile Options in New Jersey

William HillIn the state of New Jersey, mobile sports betting is quite common. Several operators are offering the option, more than not. Right now, playMGM and 888 Sport are the only remaining operators who offer sports betting that have yet to launch both an iOS and Android version of their mobile offerings.

DraftKings was the first to enter the market, offering a linked wallet that provided access to sports betting and daily fantasy sports. The brand just recently announced they have added the PayPal option as a way of deposit.

Competitor FanDuel also has launched sports betting services in New Jersey, offering a land-based sportsbook via the Meadowlands. Another option for players can be found via SugerHouse Sportsbook. Offering an online app, players can easily access sports betting on the go when using the SugarHouse format.

For gamers who wish to enjoy sportsbetting and casino in one place, Caesars is a great option. A single wallet is available for both, which helps players to have access to casino and sports betting gaming, all in one place. Players will also find that this app offers access to the Total Rewards Program which is linked to three casinos in Atlantic City.

Additional sports betting options can be accessed via BetStars, 888 Sport and playMGM. Players can easily find an option for sports betting in the state, be it onsite or online via mobile devices.

So far, there is no further apps or online sports betting options coming to New Jersey. It will be interesting to watch going forward how the industry fares as the year comes to an end.

While New Jersey sports betting is fully operational, another state is preparing to offer services. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board recently approved several gaming operators for sports betting in the state. So far, Harrah’s Philadelphia, Hollywood Casino, Parx Casino and SugarHouse Casino have all applied for a sports betting licensing. Approvals could happen as early as next month and hopefully Pennsylvania will be able to get started in the industry just as New Jersey has.

Sports Betting Continues to Thrive in the United States

Summary: Sports betting is in its infancy in the US, but states are continuing to thrive as more become involved in the new industry.

Since May, sports betting has become a booming industry in the United States. Once the US Supreme Court decided to strike down the Professional & Amateur Sports Protection Act, states began to work quickly to create regulations to get started with sports betting or crafted legislation to get the ball rolling to enter the industry. In the beginning, it was Delaware and New Jersey offering services, then followed by Mississippi and West Virginia. Reports have been revealed in West Virginia showing that the state is already doing quite well in seeing revenues from the new industry coming in at over $1 million. Close to $3.4 million in total wagers were placed during the first three weeks of operations in the state.

West Virginia Thus Far

West Virginia CasinosSports betting in the state thus far as fared very well. The West Virginia Lottery Commission recently published the figures, so the public can see just how the new industry is evolving. During the first full week of operations, the state earned just over $457,000 which ran from September 1stto the 7th. During the next week of wagering, from September 8thuntil the 14th, a total of $1,104,008 was wagered. The final week of totals, September 15thuntil the 21st, saw even more wagered, at $1.8 million.

The majority of the wagers were placed by patrons of Hollywood Casino as they were fully operational early on. The casino opened a William Hill operated sports book at the end of August, able to offer sports betting without any competition for some time.

By mid-September, The Greenbrier opened a FanDuel Sportsbook. The revenue from this venue was counted as well, but only eight days of data were available. The state should see even more revenues in the coming weeks/months as more operators begin offering services and one online betting starts, via desktops and mobile devices.

WV Gaming & Racing Association President John Cavacini stated that the early numbers are promising and they were consistent with what operators were expecting. From sports betting thus far, the state has been able to collect more than $100,000 in taxes.

Problems Ahead

While the revenues and wagering numbers are strong in West Virginia casinos, the state still has a few problems in West Virginia. Regulators are currently working to finish up temporary regulations dealing with permanent legislative rules. Right after the Hollywood started offering services, Alan Larrick, regulating director, stepped down from his position. The new director if John Myers and he is now working to finish up the regulation needs.

Another part of the issue is the integrity fees wanted by professional sports leagues. Leagues like the NFL and MLB have asked for such fees in an effort to be able to earn revenues from sports betting. West Virginia was against integrity fees from the very beginning, but now Governor Jim Justice seems to be pushing for the gaming option to add in the fees.

Lawmakers believe that the Governor is catering to private interests instead of what is needed by the state. It will be interesting to watch the state as the year continues, seeing just how much sports betting evolves, and how much is earned by way of revenues and wagers. Only time will tell if the state will continue to succeed with what they are offering to the public by way of this new industry.

Online Gaming Licensing Remains Unspoken for in Pennsylvania

Summary: A total of seven licenses are still up for grabs in the state of Pennsylvania involving online gaming, but will there be any takers?

Online gambling has been slow going in the state of Pennsylvania. Late last year, the state approved online slots, table games and poker, but the licensing process and actually seeing operators go online is taking forever. Once the application process was opened up for licensing, it was slow going and now, seven licenses still remain. It now begs the question as to if the remaining licenses will be applied for and by who?

Slow Process

Pennsylvania StateWhen the licensing process began in the state, operators were slow to begin their application process. Many analysts felt that operators were slow to apply due to the high tax rate, with 54% set for online gaming. The price point per license was also an issue. Operators first had to pay $10 million for all three or they could wait until the licensing process was open per license which led to a $4 million per license payment.

Over the past few months, a few operators have been approved and things are starting to move along. During a meeting of the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board on September 12th, the board decided to provide the remaining seven licenses up for grabs via random draw. The licenses are not only offered to existing operators in the state, but now, any qualified gaming entity can apply.

There are certain regulatory requirements that a company considered a qualified gaming entity must meet. First, they must have licensing in another gaming jurisdiction and be in good standing. They must also be located in a jurisdiction that has licensing standards that are comprehensive and have similar safeguards in place as those that are required in Pennsylvania. The entity must also have business experience and expertise to be able to operate an online gaming system.

What’s Left?

The online gaming licensing options that remain include 3 for online poker gaming, 2 for online table games and two for slots. Operators can apply and pay a $4 million licensing fee to offer services in the state.

Current operators in the state have all applied for online gaming except for two; the Meadows Racetrack & Casino and Lacy Luck Casino. The owners of both casinos have already applied via other Pennsylvania properties, so it doesn’t make sense for them to apply with another venue.

We may see either The Stars Group or MGM deciding to vie for licensing. The Stars Group is currently partnered with Mount Airy, who is also partnered with 888. In the future, we may see an online license obtained by the two online gaming operators as they already have established brands and could do well in the region as a stand-alone operator.

MGM may also show interest in licensing as they have a partnership with Boyd Gaming. The Valley Forge Casino has now been approved for a takeover by Boyd Gaming, so we may see online gaming becoming a subject of interest once the acquisition has been completed.

The process is also now open to foreign gaming companies that do not have a vested interest in the United States as of yet. Basically, the door is wide open for anyone to try and obtain licensing from the

seven that remain in the state. The Board should be announcing a date soon for the upcoming drawing for the remaining licenses, so by that time, we should find out who is interested and what they might provide in the state.