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Poker Industry News

News From Around The Globe

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Oct 01, 2011

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French Court Says Poker is Skill Game

A Toulouse court has ruled that poker is a game of skill after hearing a case against defendant Jean-Pierre Gleizes. The Frenchman was accused of organising and running private poker events in public without proper licensing.

The court’s decision that poker should not be considered a game of chance is paramount to the case and would exempt Gleizes from France’s illegal gambling laws.

The defense brought forward numerous experts to demonstrate their claim including a professional poker player, a mathematics professor, and even top-ranked chess and bridge players.

The prosecution has decided to appeal the court’s decision and now the case will be heard on the Conseil d’Etat, which acts as France’s Supreme Court. ♠

Betsson Poker Profit Down 32 Percent

Publicly-quoted online gaming company Betsson saw poker gross profit drop 32 percent in the second quarter of 2011 to SEK17.1 million (€1.88 Million) from SEK25.3 million (€2.78 million) in the second quarter of 2010.

The decline was 17 percent from the first quarter of 2011 when gross profit totalled SEK20.5 million. Poker now makes up just 6.2 percent of Betsson’s overall revenue compared to 8.7 percent a year ago.

Poker profit in the first quarter also saw a significant decline of 40 percent.
The company said in its interim financial statement, “Poker has long shown negative development. Recent developments in the segment, known in the USA as Black Friday, and the repercussions of these developments have had a positive impact on the Poker level of activity.”

Betsson also operates online sportsbook and casino businesses which were down 47 percent and up 16 percent respectively in the second quarter. ♠

William Hill Poker Revenue Jumps 11 Percent

William Hill, the publicly-quoted online British bookmaker, saw first half net poker revenues up 11 percent to £11.8 million from £10.6 million a year earlier.

Poker, hosted on Playtech’s iPoker platform, in the first quarter was up 16 percent and the group has now sorted out its differences with its online partner Playtech.

All online verticals showed vigorous growth with sportsbook up 41 percent to £53 million, casino up 14 percent to £76 million, and bingo up 25 percent to £11.9 million.

Ralph Topping, chief executive of the company said, “This is an especially strong set of results for William Hill in challenging economic conditions. I am pleased with both our online performance, which has been driven by outstanding Sportsbook growth and innovations in our in-play and mobile offerings, and the strength of our Retail business, which continues to benefit from the popularity of machines and the resilience of over-the-counter betting. ♠

Ladbrokes Poker Revenue Plummets 31 Percent

Net poker revenue at Ladbrokes Plc, one of Europe’s largest bookmakers, fell 30.8 percent in the first half of 2011 to £7.4 million from £10.7 million in the first half of 2010.

In its first half interim statement the company said the number of actives [players] in the first half fell by 21.3 percent while customer yields were down 11.3 percent.

The company said of its digital division, which includes casino and bingo, “Overall, net revenue was marginally ahead in the half (6.6% excluding effect of the World Cup) with growth in Casino and Bingo offset by further declines in Poker.”

Earlier this year Ladbrokes was in talks with 888.com and Playtech and is currently courting Sportingbet.com. ♠

Bet24 Announces Security Breach

Online poker site, casino, and sportsbook BET24 has issued a warning regarding a security breach of personal customer information relating to various companies including BET24.

The police informed the company that third party individuals have been arrested for stealing information by illegal electronic access to the site’s database in December 2009. A small number of customers who complained of unauthorised activity have been fully reimbursed by the site for any financial loss.

So far it is thought that the stolen information was used to access a limited number of customer BET24 accounts, third party accounts, and personal email accounts. There is apparently no information to indicate unauthorised access since December 2009, therefore it is believed that accounts registered after Oct. 31, 2009 have not been affected.
It is thought that the encrypted card information has not been decrypted and the site also states that card security codes are not stored on its database. ♠

French Online Poker Site Closes

French online poker site, 200 Percent Poker, has been closed down by its owners La Société Française des Jeux sur Internet (SFJI) which consists of around 40 bricks and mortar casinos.

The business was only launched in September 2010 after receiving a licence from regulator Arjel and while the site currently displays an “Under Maintenance” message it is understood there are no plans to reopen it.

Players will be informed of the refund process after administrative checks are carried out and will be paid in full. ♠

Ongame LaunchesAndroid Poker App

bwin poker came to Android mobile devices in August as Ongame launched a new app to join its iPhone poker platform which has been available since January.

Berthold Kao, bwin.party’s product manager, said, “Android was always the next step for us after launching the world’s first real-money poker app for iPhone six months ago. The real-money iPhone app that we developed with Ongame has been a tremendous success, and we also believe that the Android app has significant potential.

“Building a mobile application is not just about format and technology. Delivering a mobile application that appeals to the mass market requires you to reinvent the whole poker experience.” ♠

Italian Poker Players Targeted For Tax

The Italian tax authorities have moved to the next stage of their ongoing “Operation All In” which is targeting the earnings of poker players in the country, according to Tax-News.com.

The Italian Revenue Agency and Guardia de Finanza (financial police) are now homing in on the earnings of poker players on offshore media such as on TV which could be as much as $100 million and encompass up to 4,000 players according to the report.

These players have been asked to visit their local tax offices to discuss the situation and have been reminded that all earnings must be declared even though expenses related to the earnings are not tax deductible.

Earlier this year many sponsored players were contacted by the authorities asking for details of their income from these deals.

Elsewhere in Italy, online poker cash games were finally launched as part of the program of regulating online poker. Previously players could only play tournament poker. ♠

Poker Revenue Up 58 Percent At 888.com

888.com has seen its business to consumer (B2C) poker revenue rebound strongly after several quarters of decline with revenue up 58 percent in the second quarter of 2011 to US$13 million from US$8 million a year earlier.

The company said this was, “…due to the success of the Poker 6 platform.”
The number of active B2C customers also leapt, up 90 percent to 231,000 compared to the second quarter of 2010 while B2C revenue per customer was $55, down 17 percent compared to this time last year.

The company also commented on its current trading situation saying, “The strong trading during Q2 has continued into July led by poker. Whilst the historical seasonally quiet period is beginning to impact activity levels, daily average revenue during the first 19 days of July is 27 per cent higher than Q3 2010 and is at almost the same level as Q2 2011*.

“In addition, during the same period daily average deposits increased by 10 percent and daily average poker new customer recruitment increased by more than 75 percent compared to Q2 2011.”

Full Tilt Pays Overdue Licence Fees

Suspended online site Full Tilt Poker has paid £250,000 in overdue license fees to the Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC), according to press release on the organisation’s website.

In a statement AGCC said, “On the 26th July 2011, the AGCC held a public hearing to consider allegations arsing from the investigation. At the hearing the Commissioners of the AGCC, acting as a tribunal, decided to adjourn the hearing to a date no later than 15th September, as they felt that this was in the best interest of the players using FTP’s services.

The recent payment of overdue licence fees by FTP is also in players’ best interests since it allows commercial negotiations to take place that might result in a successful refinancing deal.

Full Tilt’s license is still suspended at the time of writing. ♠

Kahnawake Renews Full Tilt Poker License

The Kahnawake Gaming Commision (KGC) granted beleaguered online poker site Full Tilt Poker a renewal of its Secondary Client Provider Authorization (Secondary CPA) for a term of two years on August 2. The former online giant had its primary license suspended by the Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC) in late June.

According to a statement released by the KGC, “To maintain a Secondary CPA, a licensee must maintain a valid license to operate interactive gaming that has been issued by a comparable jurisdiction. Accordingly, the Commission is closely monitoring the proceedings being conducted by the AGCC. The AGCC has confirmed to the Commission that, although the eGambling licenses held by [Full Tilt Poker] are presently suspended pending the outcome of a hearing, these licenses are still considered to be valid.” ♠

Dan ‘jungleman12’ Cates Admits Multi-Accounting

Online poker suffered another serious hit to its reputation in August, when Dan “jungleman12” Cates, online poker’s biggest winner from 2010, hadmitted to multi-accounting (playing under a multitude of screen names) in a scandal that also involves Jose “Girah” Macedo and Haseeb Qureshi.

After an inquisition from the poker community led to an interview with Noah Stephens-Davidowitz and poker pro Vanessa Selbst, Cates confessed to being apart of a complicated web of lies that involved playing on the European online poker accounts of Qureshi and Macedo in order to disguise his identity. Cates denies multi-accounting on PokerStars or Full Tilt Poker, sites where he has won millions.

Qureshi was let go from CardRunners in early August, and subsequently vowed to leave poker, after news broke of his role in the multi-accounting. The Portuguese Macedo, a former LockPoker Pro who was staked by Cates and Qureshi, has admitted to scamming players he was coaching and helping Cates and Qureshi find action on other sites. Earlier this year Macedo was in talks with Tom “durrrr” Dwan about participating in the Durrrr Challenge.♠

FairPlayUSA Launches, Joins Push for Online Poker

FairPlayUSA, a non-profit campaign based in Washington D.C., has joined the push for licensed and regulated online poker in the United States. The organisation, funded by casino giants Caesars and MGM, launched in late July.

The group’s website states its goal “is to educate policymakers and the public on the broad public policy interests raised by the current ambiguous laws in the U.S. that have led to millions of Americans gambling on the Internet.”

The initial members of its advisory board include Tom Ridge, the former Governor of Pennsylvania and first Secretary of Homeland Security; Parry Aftab, an Internet safety expert; and 2004 World Series of Poker main event champion Greg Raymer. The group is headed by Executive Director Marisa McNee.

The group’s first of 10 principles, which reads “Strengthen the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 to unambiguously eliminate illegal Internet gambling”, has drawn some criticism this week from the poker community. Raymer said that efforts to bring forth a federal solution need to be about compromise — and that the group’s first principle has been interpreted as “clearing the road” for the big casinos, but that isn’t how the language was intended to read.

Mike Sexton also joined the advisory board in early August. He said, “Americans should be able to play poker online in the privacy of their homes knowing that the games are safe and fair. FairPlayUSA is committed to ensuring a strict regulatory framework for online poker, and I am pleased to be part of its advisory board.”

According to Marisa McNee, “We’re honored that Mike has agreed to join our Board of Advisors and help carry our message of the importance of bringing integrity and safety to online poker.” She continued, “As FairPlayUSA grows as an organization, our message of strict regulation, child and consumer protection, and support of law enforcement will continue to resonate with key policymakers.” ♠

Phil Galfond Return to Online Poker

Phil “MrSweets28” Galfond has returned to online poker after a long hiatus resulting from April’s Black Friday. The high-stakes pro, who is one of the top earners in online poker history, has relocated to Canada and resumed play on PokerStars.

Galfond told Card Player back in May that the odds of him relocating were at 95 percent, but he just didn’t know where to at the time. Now with the World Series of Poker and the live high-stakes cash game season over with, Galfond is back on the virtual felt and won about $30,000 during the week of writing.

Some of Galfond’s early action was against online cash game regular Viktor “Isildur1” Blom, who has been wallowing in rollercoaster mediocrity throughout 2011. Through nearly 2,500 sessions this year on PokerStars, Blom has endured massive swings, just recently pulling himself out of the red yet again.

Galfond, better known by his Full Tilt Poker name “OMGClayAiken,” currently has more than $1 million stuck on the site since its was forced to stop trading.

With Full Tilt’s nosebleed cash games out of the equation, the month of July saw only a handful of pots exceed six figures, as the majority of the high-stakes online action comes at just $25-$50 to $50-$100 pot-limit Omaha on PokerStars. ♠