Negreanu is “Player of the Decade” ; Top 5 Gambling Stories of 2013 ; Sixers, Devils Gain Gambling Sponsors

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Daniel Negreanu Named Global Poker Index “Player of the Decade”

By Earl Burton www.pokernewsdaily.com

Although there is still seven years left in the decade of the ‘Teens, the Global Poker Index has taken the step to decide who the “Player of the Decade” is. Now we know that this decade is barely three years old, so the GPI is looking at the “New Age” of poker (and let’s use this instead of the “poker boom” – it sounds much more classy!) that began with the advent of the World Poker Tour in 2003, the win by Chris Moneymaker at the World Series of Poker Championship Event that year and other milestone events. When the numbers were finally crunched, Canada’s Daniel Negreanu was judged to be the man atop the “Player of the Decade” rankings.

Calculating the statistics since 2003, Negreanu was atop an impressive list. His 7377 points was enough to get past Erik Seidel (6953) for the top slot on the ladder and Michael Mizrachi gave Seidel a run at the runner up slot with his 6553 points. Barry Greenstein, who has been quiet of late, finished in the fourth slot with 6457 points, while the rest of the Top Nine rounded out with John Juanda (6261 points), Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier (5778), Shannon Shorr (5578 and a slight surprise), J. C. Tran (5569) and Phil Ivey (5422).

“I’m very honored by this award,” Negreanu noted as he prepared for the 2014 PokerStars Caribbean Adventure, which starts tomorrow. “I’ve worked hard on my game throughout the decade, so that I could find ways to consistently win year in, year out against tougher and tougher competition each year.”

“I’ve never wanted to rest on my name alone and winning has always been important to me,” Negreanu continued. “The game has changed a lot over the past 10 years, but the key ingredient for success hasn’t: confidence. I enter the next decade more confident than ever before.”

The GPI may be using their tried-and-true formulas on this subject, but there is plenty of room for debate on the issue. Negreanu, who had one of his best years as a pro in 2004 and nearly duplicated that success in 2013, has had a fantastic decade, but the others behind him have had arguably equal or greater success.

Mizrachi is perhaps the greatest argument, with his two WSOP Poker Players’ Championships (among three bracelets) that are considered the toughest game in poker and two World Poker Tour titles. Seidel, who hasn’t won a WSOP bracelet since 2007 or a WPT event since 2008, has been a force in the High Roller poker world, making $6.4 million alone in 2011. The other gentlemen on the list also have their arguments for the top slot.

There has naturally been quite a bit of discussion over Negreanu earning this honor. On the Two Plus Two forums, poster ‘NickMPK’ points out, “This award (was) perfectly timed to include his two monster years (2004 and 2013). Seems almost as absurd as Negreanu NOT winning the GPI POY.” On the 2013 GPI POY, Negreanu was caught in December by Ole Schemion, whose fifth place finish at the European Poker Tour stop in Prague, the Czech Republic, garnered enough points to pass Negreanu; Negreanu won the other two major POY races, Bluff Magazine and CardPlayer Magazine.

“Winning all the donkaments in the world will never compare to ‘Isildur1’ in November 2009,” another Two Plus Two poster, ‘The4thFilm,’ opined. Others pointed out that the list was lacking in that Phil Hellmuth wasn’t mentioned in it despite “The Poker Brat” racking up six bracelet wins since 2003. On the PocketFives boards, poster ‘tonyddl’ did give Negreanu some credit. “Ridiculous how people berate his play,” he wrote. “However, he has continually (proven) himself year (after) year. I would love to see a two-table six-max sit and go, throwing in ‘Isildur1’ (Viktor Blom), (Tom) Dwan and (Sam) Trickett with the nine men and a $250,000 buy-in.”

It is also worthy of noting that the men on the GPI’s Decade Project list also play some of the highest stakes tournaments in existence today. Negreanu is a fixture in High Roller events, as are Seidel, Grospellier and Ivey, while Mizrachi’s PPC WSOP bracelets are for a $50,000 buy in tournament. How those High Roller events affected the standings isn’t known.

Much like the arguments over Player of the Year races – or even the “best player of all-time” debates – this isn’t one that is going to be resolved at any time soon. But kudos has to be handed to Negreanu for his performance over the last ten years and the attempt by the GPI to quantify how the last ten years of tournament poker have rolled.

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macau

Hartley Henderson

Top 5 Global Gambling Stories of 2013

By Hartley Henderson – exclusive to OSGA.com   

A great deal of gambling goes on in places that aren’t the United States. Most of Europe has legal internet gambling and many of the largest operators in the world are European companies. Hartley Henderson lists his top 5 global gaming stories of the year.

 

5. The decision by Skrill (Moneybookers) to pull out of Canada

While U.S. bettors have been frustrated by the difficulty of getting money to and from offshore gambling establishments following the decision by NETeller to no longer process gambling

transactions in North America, the same can’t be said for Canadians. Bettors in Canada have had the option of depositing and withdrawing by credit card, Western Union and a few e-

wallet solutions. The most popular e-wallet solution has been Moneybookers (now called Skrill) which operated in a manner similar to NETeller although the limits were usually a bit

lower. In fact an article in 2011 stated that approximately 1 in 5 offshore deposits from Canadians were made by Moneybookers.  It thus came as a shock to Canadians in December when

they received an email from Skrill stating that as of January 2nd Canadians would no longer be allowed to use the company to process gambling transactions. Of course Canadians would

still be able to use Skrill for non-gambling related transactions but the amount of people who actually did so was so small that the gesture was insignificant.

It’s uncertain why exactly Skrill chose to withdraw from Canada although most of the speculation is that when they won the right to process transactions in New Jersey, management at

Skrill was told to make sure they were operating completely legally. In better words, they needed to withdraw from all grey markets and New Jersey were pointing directly at Canada

which is only a stone’s throw away from the state and where the legality of offshore gambling is still in question. In fact there has been much speculation that Canada is just the

beginning and Skrill will be withdrawing services for gambling transactions from other grey market countries in due time. It’s also notable that any U.S. dollar withdrawals to Canadian

customers automatically clear through U.S. intermediary banks and it’s possible that those same banks alerted the New Jersey government about their concerns in this regard. A second

speculation is that CVC Capital Partners, which bought Skrill last year, may be interested in offering their product in Canada once online gambling is introduced in Ontario and other

provinces and they want to be “squeaky clean” when they make their application to the Canadian provincial governments for that opportunity. They would likely be turned away if they

were processing offshore transactions to Canadians but will be considered if they no longer do so. The last speculation is that CVC Capital Partners looked at the numbers and just

decided that the amount of money generated from Canadian transactions just wasn’t sufficient enough to warrant operating in Canada any longer.

Fortunately for Canadians that prefer e-wallet solutions there are still a few options left including Instadebit, WebMoney, UKash and Play Safe Card. Still, the loss of Moneybookers

will be felt by many Canadians who have grown to love them as a payment option.

4.  The Canadian Senate and single game sports betting

A federal law in Canada makes it illegal for any province to take wagers on single game sports although every province has a lottery that allows wagering on multiple games. In an

effort to help generate interest at U.S. border casinos (particularly Windsor and Niagara Falls), a Windsor based Member of Parliament 2 years ago introduced a private members bill (C

-290) which aimed to overturn the law and allow any province that wanted to offer single game sports betting the right to do so. Shockingly there was little opposition to the motion in

the House of Commons and last year the House of Commons unanimously voted to pass the bill and allow single game sports betting. The only hurdle left was that it had to be ratified by

the Canadian senate, an unelected body of patronage appointments which almost always just rubber stamps any bills that pass the House of Commons. Unfortunately for sports bettors, this

didn’t occur. The major sports leagues have turned to the Senate asking that the bill not be ratified and the usual leftists on the Senate have started to chant the typical “won’t

someone think of the children” cry, arguing that allowing single game sports betting could turn teens and young adults into compulsive gamblers. Other senators were also upset that the

bill passed in the House without any real debate. As a result the bill has been pushed back and now will not be voted on until at least 2014.  Most likely though, the senators simply

wanted to use this bill as a means to show that they are indeed relevant.

In 2013 when the Senate indicated it would not simply ratify the desires of the House of Commons, Conservative senator Bob Runciman stood up and effectively called his fellow senators

and the sports leagues a bunch of hypocrites. He noted that many sports succeed as a result of gambling and he also suggested that there is no real difference between single game

sports betting and parlay betting which occurs now with the sports lottery other than the fact that the parlay bet is “a suckers bet.” He claimed that if senators really cared about

Canadian consumers they should ratify single game sports betting where they would at least have a chance to win.

It seemed inevitable that the bill would die in the senate but the greed and corruption of those same senators now gives the bill a chance.  The senate has been under a lot of scrutiny

recently as a result of scandals involving unsubstantiated expense reports which actually has led to the suspension and threatened termination of three conservative senators including

Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin and Patrick Brazeau and by some accounts all 3 of those senators planned to vote against bill C-290. More importantly many Canadians are frustrated with

the senate and many senators have acknowledged that blocking a bill now that has been passed unanimously in the democratically elected House of Commons could be an act of suicide.

Consequently, some of the senators which said they would be voting against the bill are reconsidering. The Canadian Gaming Association has also helped dispel myths about single game

sports betting with the introduction of a website called c290now.ca.

3.  The turnaround of Betfair

When Andrew Black and Edward Wray founded Betfair in 2000 they had a potential goldmine. European bettors loved the idea of exchange wagering and in a short period the company had

surpassed some of the biggest sports betting firms in the UK in terms of revenue. The company won numerous awards for its ingenuity and soon everyone who was anyone in the sports

betting industry had a Betfair account.  The company made a deal with the Australian government which allowed Betfair to offer its product in that country, which was substantial in

growing its revenue and in 2008 Betfair purchased the TVG networks in the U.S. in hopes of someday offering exchange wagering for horse racing stateside. Betfair also purchased the

naming rights to Hollywood Park racetrack in California, hoping that name recognition would help if and when exchange wagering was allowed in that state.

Betfair continued to grow its operations and in 2010 went public on the AIM stock exchange with an IPO price of GBP13. Not long after the IPO, however, Betfair stock began to tumble as

customers began to turn away from both horse racing and poker. Betfair had reached a deal with Bwin a few years prior to be a part of the Ongame poker network but many of the larger

skins such as William Hill pulled out of the Ongame Network and Bwin itself stated it was going to sell off Ongame as surplus since it formed a partnership with Party Poker and they

planned to turn all its customers to the Party Poker platform.  Betfair looked for other networks to join and turned to iPoker, despite of the objections of many Betfair poker players

who claimed iPoker was an inferior product. Along with the decline in poker Betfair faced a real dilemma with regards to grey markets. They had reached a deal to offer their product in

countries like Spain, Germany, Greece and Cyprus but the legality of those offerings were still uncertain.

While poker and the grey markets were a concern perhaps Betfair’s biggest challenge was the fact that many punters began to look for fixed betting options as was witnessed by the rise

in revenues at many traditional bookmakers. Exchange wagering would always be Betfair’s prime revenue source but the lack of fixed odds was a deterrent to many. So in the last few

years Betfair began to offer a fixed wagering option as well as multiples and other traditional sports betting options. It seemed to work as many former customers came back to Betfair,

wagering on the fixed odds now available to them.  The last big disappointment for Betfair occurred when the California Racing Commission decided not to go ahead with exchange wagering

in the state despite the fact that it previously indicated it was on board.

In 2012 CVC Capital Partners announced its intentions to buy out Betfair but the offer made was considered insulting and Betfair announced a strategic decision to curtail operations in

the grey area markets and scale back considerably advertising in non-profitable countries in an attempt to stave off the buyout. It decided its best options for profitability were to

cater to its current base in Western Europe and to Australia. Consequently, they cut back considerably in advertising and promotions in the rest of the world and similarly let almost ¼

of their staff go. The result of all these decisions paid off as in 2013 Befair saw a rise in profits for the 1st half of its fiscal year by almost 56% although overall revenue fell.

Betfair’s plan going forward is to focus on “sustainable sources” from regulated markets which ironically includes the United States. Along with TVG, which saw a substantial rise in

handle and revenue in 2013, Betfair reached a partnership deal with Trump International to offer online casino wagering on the website Betfaircasino.com in New Jersey.  Ironically

while Betfaircasino.com is expected to do well, casino and arcade wagering at Betfair.com itself is doing poorly.

At the time of writing Betfair’s stock price is approaching its IPO price after having fallen by half in the year prior. CVC Capital Partners has also no longer interested in acquiring

Betfair. When the point of consumption tax kicks in this year, however, it will be interesting to see how that affects the stock price since Betfair is located outside of the UK.

2.  Macau widens its gap on Las Vegas in revenue and profits

While Las Vegas and Atlantic City struggle to attract bettors in the U.S., the same can’t be said for Macau, a special administrative region of the People’s Republic of China. Gambling

has been legal in Macau since the 1850s but in the early 1960s the monopoly to run gambling was given to Stanley Ho.  Gambling always flourished in Macau thanks to wealthy Asian

bettors but never reached its full potential under Ho. In 2002 the monopoly to Ho was lifted and Las Vegas companies flocked to Macau to take advantage of huge population base and the

fast growth in the Asian economy. It’s well known that many Asians love to gamble and Macau is the only legal area for them to do so.  The Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts, MGM, Galaxy

Entertainment among others have set up casinos and the results have been astounding. Gambling revenues have increased every single year and in 2013 the total amount bet was US$45

billion, a growth of almost 19% compared to the US$38 billion bet in 2012. In comparison Las Vegas only saw around US$11 billion in 2012 and that figure is declining. The game of

choice in Macau is baccarat although black jack, slot machines and greyhound racing are also popular.  Macau also started westernizing in other ways as it brought boxing matches to the

island and in the future plans to bring in other popular sports and musical acts.

As a result of the unprecedented success and concerns about the number of junkets going to Macau from China and consequently taking money from the mainland, the government of China

threatened to put a stop to many of the junkets that shuttled high rollers from the mainland of China to the Macau casinos in early 2013. In fact when that news hit the Chinese

newspapers the stock prices of many of the Macau gambling companies took a nosedive. To appease China, the Macau government vowed to work with Beijing to put in strict rules on junket

operators and wade out the seedy ones by putting in licensing procedures for junket operators and automatically withdrawing any licenses to operators with criminal records. They also

agreed to cut back on the number of junkets allowed.  It seemed to work as the Chinese government never acted on their threat and as has been pointed out revenues are at a record high.

Many analysts predict that gambling could exceed US$60 billion in Macau in 2014.

1.  UK Government proceeds with point of consumption tax

Prior to the internet, people wagering by phone at UK gambling businesses just accepted a tax which was built into the payouts on all bets.  Many North Americans will recall wagering

by phone at sites like Bowman’s International or William Hill where they had to identify to the bet taker whether they wanted to pay a 10% tax on the stake at the time of a bet or pay

10% tax on the profit later should the bet win. This stake was not kept by the gambling companies but was simply a tax collected by them on behalf of the UK government. When internet

wagering took off, however, many operators in other countries set up shop in tax free zones and bettors happily wagered with them knowing that they could keep all their winnings. Not

surprisingly, many UK bettors also decided to take their business to those companies to avoid the tax.  Among the jurisdictions that offered tax free betting was Antigua and Malta but

islands close to the UK including Alderney, Gibraltar and the Isle of Mann also provided tax free betting. Consequently many well known UK companies chose to set up in those

jurisdictions including William Hill, Ladbrokes, Coral and Betfair.  In fact in most of these jurisdictions charged companies less than 1% of their gross profits as a licensing fee

with a solid cap on the total collected. A few companies like Bet365 chose not to set up in a tax free zone, although they were the exception.  To keep check on businesses in the tax

free zones the UK government initiated the “white list” which had a set of regulations consistent with regulatory requirements in the UK that each jurisdiction had to pass and only

companies operating in jurisdictions that were given a white list were allowed to advertise their services in the United Kingdom. All the jurisdictions previously listed were on the

white list.

Frustrated with the number of companies that continued to move away from the UK to avoid paying the tax to the UK government, the UK Gaming Commission announced a new gambling bill 2 years ago which effectively eliminates the white list and forces all companies to hold a UK Gaming Commission license if they want to advertise their products in the United Kingdom. To receive the license companies still have to operate in countries that pass UK regulatory requirements, but also have to agree to pay a point of consumption tax to the UK government

regardless of where they are located. The goal of the legislation is to provide more revenue to the UK government and also to convince companies located offshore to return to the UK

since there would be no advantage to continue in places like Gibraltar. The UK government estimates this new requirement will generate upward of GBP300 million to their coffers.  Last

year the UK government announced that this law will go into effect in 2014. Companies that fail to abide by the new requirements could face fines, imprisonment and revocation of their

licenses.

While no amount has been set in stone and is set to be debated before the government’s March budget, it is expected that the point of consumption tax will be set at 15% of gross

profits. In an effort to change the government’s mind, several of the companies located outside of the UK pointed to a KPGM study which showed that the new tax scheme could backfire

greatly on the UK government.  The study shows that the tax at 15% would force many companies out of business and would propel a great number of UK bettors to turn to unlicensed

operators in other jurisdictions outside of the UK’s reach such as Kahnawake or Costa Rica.  If nothing else KPMG has asked the tax be kept at 10% maximum to allow companies to at

least stay viable.  While companies like William Hill, Ladbrokes and Coral are crying foul, others in the government point to Bet365 that never left the UK and haven’t missed a beat.

In fact in its 2012 fiscal year Bet365 announced total betting of close to GBP20 billion and a profit on betting of GBP179 million which was up by over 50% from the previous year.

The final details will be announced in the March budget but it has to be seen how then new tax will not only affect the businesses like William Hill but also jurisdictions like

Gibraltar and Alderney which rely on gambling for their survival. We all know what happened to Antigua when it was no longer deemed a viable location for gambling businesses.

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76er devils party poker

Gambling Sponsorship for 76ers, Devils Is First by U.S. Teams

By: bloomberg.com

The Josh Harris-controlled Philadelphia 76ers and New Jersey Devils signed a multiyear marketing agreement with partypoker, becoming the first major U.S.-based professional sports teams to align themselves with online gambling.

The agreement with the unit of Gibraltar-based Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment Plc (BPTY), the teams and Prudential Center, home to the Devils, comes about a year after New Jersey legalized online gambling, which is expected to be a $7.4 billion business in the U.S. by 2017, according to the research firm H2 Gambling Capital. Nevada and Delaware are the only other states to allow online gambling.

“This is our flag in the ground that we do things differently,” Scott O’Neil, chief executive officer of the National Basketball Association’s 76ers, the National Hockey League’s

Devils and the Prudential Center, said in a telephone interview. “We’re looking for groundbreaking opportunities with companies willing to take chances.”

The agreement is worth at least $10 million, according to a person with direct knowledge of the deal.

Former U.S. Olympic Committee Chief Marketing Officer Rick Burton — a former commissioner of the Australian Basketball League, which allows gambling-related sponsorships — called the agreement “logical.”

“You’ve got all these teams and leagues where everybody is being told you better be able to sell, but every possible category has been explored,” Burton, a professor of sports management at Syracuse University, said in a telephone interview. “Here, there’s a salesman who says, ‘I can get you big money, but you have to let me in the gambling space.'”

Richard Peddie, the former chief executive officer of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, which operates the Maple Leafs and basketball’s Raptors, said he isn’t surprised these teams — in the lower half of franchise valuations in their respective leagues — are the first to align themselves with a gambling site.

More Risks

“Both teams will take even more risks and push the envelope when it comes to marketing,” Peddie said in a telephone interview. Previously, hockey’s Toronto Maple Leafs had a marketing agreement with an online gaming company.

A group led by Harris, co-founder of Apollo Global Management LLC (APO), bought the 76ers in 2011. He assumed control of the Devils last year. The Sixers are worth $418 million, 20th in the 30-team NBA, according to Forbes Magazine. The Devils are worth $320 million, 20th out of 30 NHL clubs, Forbes said.

O’Neil said there are 60 million online poker players in the U.S., and that 2 million people a year attend events at the Prudential Center.

“We have this moment in time that allows a company like ours, which is unique, which frames New Jersey, a pretty incredible opportunity,” O’Neil said.

Christie Support

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who signed the online wagering law last year, also has supported introducing sports betting in the state. A U.S. appeals court in September blocked

New Jersey’s attempt to expand its gambling business to sports, saying the state’s effort conflicts with federal law, which limits it to four states.

Expansion of sports betting has been opposed by the major athletic leagues, including the NBA and the NHL.

National Football League and Major League Soccer rules prohibit teams from accepting online gaming sponsors. Major League Baseball spokesman Pat Courtney said it considers such deals on a case-by-case basis, adding that he wasn’t aware of any existing agreements.

Mark Tatum, the NBA’s executive vice president of global marketing partnerships, said 28 teams have casino sponsorships and 20 have lottery deals.

“As long as the gambling site doesn’t include sports gambling or sports betting; it’s now allowed within our rules,” Tatum said.

There were 148,487 Internet gaming accounts created in New Jersey through Jan. 6, according to Lisa Spengler, a spokeswoman for the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement.

Agreement Details

As part of the agreement, partypoker will become the official online gaming partner of the Sixers, Devils and Prudential Center, which is in Newark, New Jersey’s biggest city. The

agreement includes social media and digital asset creation, including mobile. Partypoker will also get traditional in-arena advertising and television spots.

“These are two of the most iconic names in American hockey and basketball with huge and loyal fan bases throughout New Jersey and the surrounding metropolitan areas,” Norbert

Teufelberger, CEO of Bwin, said in a statement.

Additionally, fans in New Jersey will be able to compete for prizes, including tickets and suites for both teams, road trips and marquee events such as the Jay Z concert at the Prudential Center on Jan. 22.

Gaming Sponsorships

Mitchell Etess, chief executive officer of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, which owns the WNBA’s Connecticut Sun, said in a telephone interview that the Sixers and Devils are only the beginning. Mohegan Sun has sponsor agreements with basketball’s Boston Celtics and baseball’s New York Yankees.

“Gaming is an industry that can provide significant sponsorship,” he said. “The reality is that over time we’re seeing that these types of barriers are eroding.”

Bwin has marketing agreements with a number of European-based sports franchises, including soccer’s Manchester United and Real Madrid.

“We’re in really good company,” O’Neil said.

New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware are the first states to offer online casino-style wagering. All began taking bets last year, with New Jersey officially starting Nov. 26. Nevada limits online betting to poker, while New Jersey and Delaware permit betting on a variety of games. All three limit betting to people physically within the state borders.

Declining Revenue

The New Jersey law was designed to help revive the state’s casino industry, which has lost about 40 percent of its revenue as neighboring states expanded. Online gaming providers must physically locate their computer hardware in Atlantic City casinos. Rival operators include Caesars Entertainment Corp. (CZR), Golden Nugget, part of Landry’s Inc., and Ultimate Gaming, a unit of Las Vegas-based Station Casinos Inc.

As the most populated of the three states offering online betting, New Jersey’s market is expected to generate $435 million in revenue this year, about 83 percent of the U.S. total according to Bloomberg Industries estimates.

Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment is the world’s largest publicly traded online gambling company. It was formed through the 2011 merger of PartyGaming Plc and Bwin Interactive Entertainment AG.

In October 2011, Bwin created a joint venture to enter the online gambling business in the U.S. with Las Vegas-based MGM Resorts International (MGM) and Boyd Gaming Corp. (BYD) The two companies own the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa, New Jersey’s largest casino. Bwin offers online betting in New Jersey under the Borgata and partypoker brands.

Bwin sponsors World Poker tour events at casinos in Europe, with players chosen in online qualifying rounds.

This is a reprint from bloomberg.com  

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