December 28, 2011

Department of Justice: Wire Act Only Applies to Sports Betting

In an opinion handed down in September, but not made public until two days before Christmas, Assistant U.S. Attorney General Virginia Seitz found that the Wire Act only applies to sports betting. Many in the industry, including state and Federal lawmakers, have been awaiting word on the applicability of the Wire Act as it relates to online poker. Now, we apparently have our answer.

In a press release sent out at the close of business on Friday, as many in the poker community were traveling to be with loved ones for Christmas, Poker Players Alliance (PPA) Executive Director John Pappas commented, “This is a much needed clarification of an antiquated and often confusing law. For years, legal scholars and even the courts have debated whether the Wire Act applies to non-sporting activity. Today’s announcement validates the fact that internet poker does not violate this law.”

The Wire Act became law in 1961. Online poker being green-lit under the Wire Act would also seem to hinge on whether poker is defined as a "non-sporting activity."

Friday’s DOJ announcement could pave the way for a bustling online poker business at the state level, where jurisdictions like Nevada and New Jersey have been concerned, at least in part, that legalized online poker could violate the Wire Act and the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). Remember, the Black Friday indictments rested on the UIGEA and Illegal Gambling Business Act.

The opinion, which centered on online lottery sales, asserted, “Because the proposed New York and Illinois lottery proposals do not involve wagering on sporting events or contests, the Wire Act does not prohibit them.” It added, “Interstate transmissions of wire communications that do not relate to a sporting event or contest fall outside of the reach of the Wire Act.” You can read the full opinion by clicking here.

So what does this mean for online poker players in the United States? Could we see legalized online poker in 2012? As states like Nevada are already approving online poker regulations, Pappas detailed, “This will provide policymakers at both the state and Federal level with the legal confidence to move forward with licensing and regulation of online poker and other non-sporting activity within their respective jurisdictions.”

Pappas continued, “However, it is our hope that our Federal policymakers see this as an incentive to move quickly to enact Federal licensing and regulation before various states produce a mix of individual state schemes that may not be the best model to serve consumers.”

According to the Wall Street Journal and other news outlets, Nevada could unleash legalized online poker rooms in 2012, as casino giants like Caesars Entertainment and Boyd Gaming have already applied for licenses. The court clarified relevant language by asserting, “In our view, the references to ‘bets or wagers’… are best read as shorthand references to the ‘bets or wagers on any sporting event or contest.’”

The same opinion contended that the original intention of the Wire Act was to combat phone wagering on sporting events: “The Wire Act’s legislative history reveals that Congress’ overriding goal in the Act was to stop the use of wire communications for sports gambling in particular.”

The clock could be ticking for Federal legalization of online poker. With 2012 being an election year, members of Congress could overlook the revenue potential of legalized online poker and internet gaming in general. Urging lawmakers to act on online poker soon after the New Year was PPA Chairman and former three-term Senator from New York Alfonse D’Amato, who charged, “We urge members of Congress to act quickly based on today’s announcement and pass legislation like HR 2366 to license and regulate online poker at the Federal level.”

Betfair face backlash as punters miss out on millions after in-play betting error

Betfair face a backlash from punters after the bookmakers declared all bets are void following an incredible in-play betting error.

The gambling firm faced an unprecedented multi-million pay-out after odds of 28-1 were offered in-play on a runaway 13-8 favourite at Leopardstown.

There were bizarre scenes in the in-running betting world with a freakish amount traded on Betfair in the 2pm woodiesdiy.com Christmas Hurdle.

A total of £1,642,094 was matched at 28-1 on Voler La Vedette, who went off the 13-8 favourite on-course and won very easily.

Even more strangely, the Betfair graph showed over £21million was offered to back Colm Murphy's mare at those odds, even though she was always in contention and looked the obvious winner even before the final flight.

This meant one layer could potentially have lost £600million in only a few minutes if all of the money had been matched.

Betfair suspended the market in order to investigate, with many of the exchange's members in a state of shock on the website's forum.

After lengthy discussions, it was revealed this was due to a technical error, and that all bets on the event would be cancelled.

A statement from Betfair customer services read: 'Customers betting in-play on this race will have seen that Voler La Vedette was available to back at 29 when the in-running market was suspended, and that a considerable sum was matched on the clear winner at that price.

'An investigation has revealed that this was due to an obvious technical failure which allowed a customer to exceed their exposure limit.

'In accordance with our terms and conditions, all in running bets on this race, both win and place, will be made void.

'We fully appreciate the dissatisfaction this will cause many customers, and apologise for a very poor customer and betting experience.'

December 15, 2011

Betfair gambles on faster website to challenge rivals

The company, whose shares have tanked since last year's £13-a-share float, showed signs of improvement yesterday as it unveiled a maiden 3.2p interim dividend and confirmed the earlier than expected exit of chief executive David Yu, who is stepping down at the year end.

He is handing over on an interim basis to finance director Stephen Morana, who will hold the reins until August's arrival of Breon Corcoran from rival Paddy Power.

"Once that appointment was made I became a lame duck. It's better to have clarity," said Mr Yu, who will still have his £515,000-a-year contract paid up to October next year.

Asked if he should not have waived that given the performance of the shares, Mr Yu said: "We have a contract in place. We will respect that."

He has already been criticised for the 125pc rise in his total pay last year to £824,676, though that was boosted by a short-term incentive plan.

Mr Yu is bowing out after a half in which core betting exchange revenues reached £170m, boosted by second-quarter growth of 12pc. Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rose 36pc to £42.4m, with pre-tax profits up from £7.45m to £20.9m – though last time's were hit by £14.7m of exceptional charges, mainly due to the float. The third quarter has started well with core revenues up 13pc.

Betfair is increasing its fixed-odds betting to compete with bookies that can offer instant in-play bets on such things as the outcome of a penalty. "The exchange is always going to be the vast majority of the business but we accept there are some things it can't do," Mr Yu said.

Mr Morana said Betfair punters were currently going to rivals for 30pc of their bets: "We need to give them no reason to go anywhere else." Betfair is testing a faster website that can download pages in 3 seconds compared to 18. Mr Yu said this had "not been driven" by recent site outages, punters failing to get on bets for the Tote jackpot or a cyber theft of customers' account details. "Betfair is more than 10 years old. When we built the system, we didn't envisage all these products," he said. The shares fell 17.5 to 795.5p.

December 14, 2011

Bovada – The US Version of Bodog Has Arrived

The Bodog name brand has left the US market (kind of) and is now using the URL of Bovada.lv. As explained earlier this is merely a name change to separate the Bodog.com brand from anything the United Kingdom or other licensed countries may not like, such as opposing the US government. Gamblers from the US can do so fully at Bovada.

The website will run and operate exactly like Bodog did with the exact same games and promotions. There really is no difference for online gamblers. If you are from the United States and try to access Bodog, you will be detected by an IP check, which will tell the system that you are from the United States and send you to Bovada.lv. A redirect message as to why you are being re-directed will also appear.

Why Bodog chose the .lv extension which stands for Latvia is not known. A more suitable extension would have been .ag or .co in which the United States gamblers are already accustomed to after “Black Friday”. During that period gaming sites who serviced the United States had to redirect their names for fear of losing their sites to the DOJ. The DOJ had authority to seize dot com domain names, but they did not have the authority to seize many other extensions, which is also why Bodog.com is now hosted on Bodog.eu.

This is now the fourth time Bodog has had to change their domain name because of the United States attack on gambling sites who take bets from the USA. Their first encounter of a name change was because of a legal battle in which Bodog was suspected to be using proprietary software without payment. This lead to the ‘newbodog.com’ domain. After that they decided to rebrand to ‘bodoglife.com’ and after eventually getting their domain back, it was again to Bodog.com. Now because of US attacks it went from Bodog.com, to Bodog.eu, to now Bovada.lv. Confused yet?

Anyway, if you want to play on what we here at Compatible Poker believe to be the most reputable gaming site online, you can do so from Bovada.lv if you are from the USA.

December 13, 2011

bwin.party prepares for Spanish & Danish markets

bwin.party digital entertainment plc said Tuesday that it expects to be among the first wave of operators to be awarded gaming licences in Spain and Denmark ahead of their respective market openings in 2012.

In a pre-close trading update to the London Stock Exchange this morning, bwin.party said that revenues since the end of September were in line with management expectations, with full year continuing clean EBITDA margins expected to be in the range of 22 – 24 per cent.

The company submitted licence applications for Spain at the end of last month, with bwin.party expecting approvals for sports betting, casino, poker and bingo products to be issued in the first wave of licences ahead of the market opening in 2012.

In Denmark, bwin.party also expects to be among the first wave of operators to become licensed to offer online poker, casino and sports betting at the beginning of January 2012, having submitted licence applications in October.

Since launching its €75m share buy-back programme in September, bwin.party has purchased 13,970,335 shares at a total purchase price of £17.6m (€20.8m), with an average price of approximately 126 pence per share. These purchased shares have been cancelled.

The company re-affirmed that it remains on-track to deliver approximately €40m of synergies in 2012 and the full €65m of annualised synergies in 2013 as previously announced, despite the postponement of certain integration projects in order for the company to be ready to launch into Spain and Denmark at the beginning of 2012.

bwin.party added that the sale process for Ongame's B2B business is currently at an advanced stage, having attracted a number of interested parties, but is unlikely to be finalised before the end of the year.

December 09, 2011

Biggest Betting Boss in the World, Does Not Want Online Gambling

One of the wealthiest pit-bosses in the world is casino executive Sheldon Adelson; he holds the personal viewpoint that young people should not gamble. While he is right that underage people should not gamble; he may be wrong about the fact that technology in online gambling has not advanced sufficiently to prevent the under-aged from accessing casino websites. He is in opposition to online gambling as he believes it could allow young people to gamble.

Adelson is at the head of the land casino industry’s biggest publicly traded company – Las Vegas Sands Corporation. He is also 78 years old, ranked in Forbes as the world’s 16th richest man, and believes that when he dies, if his body is cryogenically frozen, he can be re-animated when a cure for old-age is found! If that is not narcissistic, then we don’t know what is? So, while Caesars Entertainment Corp, MGM Resorts International, and others are now backing the online industry, and even giving it push for legalization, he comes out with this controversial ideology.

While this is very much a personal stance; “a personal observation regarding technology”, it does not bode well for the online gambling industry in the USA. Adelson has told the head of the American Gaming Association that he will oppose legislation. The Board of Las Vegas Sands Corporation has re-iterated that this is not a formal strategy on the part of the company. However, it goes without saying that a man with the wealth and leverage of Adelson, could put some cats amongst the pigeons.

The land casino industry in the USA has hummed and ha-ad regarding whether they wanted the online industry legalized or not; but now they are actively pursing the legal route. Whether Adelson will ‘rout’ these plans or not, we suppose now remains to be seen?

Gambling Patterns Indicate that 2011 Gold Cup Was Fixed?

The 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup that eventually concluded with a thrilling 4-2 Mexico victory over the U.S. captivated soccer fans this past summer. It drew record attendance throughout the proceedings, and that record attendance was eventually capped off with a 93,420-person showing at the Rose Bowl for the final.

According to a new Sports Illustrated report, however, there were also apparently instances of match-fixing occurring throughout.

"There has been information that some matches in the Gold Cup were manipulated," FIFA head of security Chris Eaton confirmed to Grant Wahl of SI.com. "We worked with CONCACAF at the time, and CONCACAF have been very interested in following up any information that can be revealed in the future on that."

And what specifically led them to this conclusion? Irregular betting patterns over the course of the tournament were prevalent, it seems. Sports Illustrated approached a leading betting-industry expert while researching their report, and he admitted that strange patterns led him to be suspicious of every game featuring Cuba and Grenada, as well as El Salvador’s 5-0 defeat to Mexico in the Gold Cup.

SI noted:

The games involving Grenada (which lost three matches by a combined 15-1) and Cuba (which was outscored 16-1), the insider said, stood out: "It was the sort of thing where we sat around and said, 'Yeah, this looks like it's a 99 percent chance that it's bent.'"

Interestingly enough, the betting that reportedly took place in this instance wasn’t the kind that traditionally springs to mind when it comes to sports gambling. Rather, it was “in-running betting” in which wagers are placed over the course of the game on things that will happen from the point at which the bet was made, going forward.

"With Cuba and Grenada, yes, they're terrible, but there's lots of other teams that are also terrible, and generally those of us in soccer betting are used to pricing out these sorts of games, where you have very good against very bad," the expert told SI. "We see them a lot in the World Cup and European Championship qualifying. What I would say is that the odds movements for in-running betting [in Cuba and Grenada's Gold Cup games] were just incredibly, incredibly unusual and extreme. We're talking about five to 10 times what you would typically see. And these extreme odds movements would be subsequently vindicated by what was happening on the field."

Despite the murmurs of improprieties, though, nothing has been proven as of yet. If there was any wrongdoing, however, more investigations will no doubt chip away at the wall of secrecy that has been built around soccer-related gambling controversies over the last few decades.

Unibet stops all gaming activity in Spain

In order to comply with the new Spanish Gambling regulations, Unibet will stop all gaming activity in Spain as of 20th of December 2011.

The majority of the Spanish banners/text links in your affiliate account will be de-activated on the 14th of December 2011. However, we will keep the best performing banners/text links active and re-direct these to the Brasilian website as of 14th of December 2011.

If you are currently promoting Unibet or Maria in Spain we would kindly ask that you substitute your Spanish banners/text links from your website to avoid dead links.

We have a wide range of geo targeted text links that you can use to promote Unibet and Maria. You will find these in the Media Gallery when searching for language English (International). We also have a range of geo targeted banners in the system that have proven very popular. You will find these in your Media Gallery under the tab Geo location media groups.

If you are already using existing geo targeted banners/text links you do not need to do anything as they will still function correctly.

Rest assured your acquired customers will remain under your affiliate account and you can login at any time as the affiliate account will still be open.

December 08, 2011

UEFA, ARJEL find no unusual betting in Lyon's 7-1 win over Dinamo Zagreb in Champions League

An investigation into Lyon's unlikely 7-1 victory over Dinamo Zagreb failed to turn up any unusual betting patterns, and even UEFA said Thursday it found nothing suspicious about the outcome.

ARJEL, France's online gambling regulator, routinely looks into "atypical" scorelines, but said it found nothing out of the ordinary — either in the total amount gambled online with French operators, the number of bets, their spread, or in how odds evolved during the game.

The lopsided result helped Lyon advance to the last 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday. That, combined with the apparent ease with which it scored some of its goals, sparked talk that the match may have been fixed.

Ajax, the team that was eliminated on goal difference after losing to Real Madrid 3-0, asked for a UEFA investigation into Lyon's match.

"By asking a number of open questions, we at least expect to get a clear reaction from their side," Ajax interim director Martin Sturkenboom said. "Doing nothing is not an option. This way, we protect our position for the future should something irregular surface."

UEFA's gambling fraud detection system, which taps into information from more than 400 betting companies and monitors 29,000 games per season, is designed to spot telltale suspicious gambling patterns that could point to match-fixing.

"For the time being this system has not shown any irregular betting patterns around (Wednesday's) games or their outcome that would justify any enquiry on that front," UEFA said.

"UEFA also pays a lot of attention to the sporting behaviour on the pitch and we are currently waiting to receive the reports of the referee, referee observer and match delegate to see if, in their opinion, something suspicious might have happened. If there is anything in these reports that could raise a doubt, UEFA may then charge a disciplinary inspector to investigate the matter. But there is nothing at this stage that would justify doing so."

For some, suspicions were aroused by an apparent wink that Dinamo defender Domagoj Vida appeared to direct at Bafetimbi Gomis as he helped the Lyon forward pluck the ball out of the net after Lisandro scored the French team's fifth goal.

"I have no doubts whatsoever about the integrity of the match or the competition," UEFA President Michel Platini said after an executive committee meeting in Venice, Italy. "I believe in this competition and I believe in the integrity of the players in this competition."

ARJEL's regulatory powers over online gambling in France include combating fraud. The agency said probing matches that, for whatever reason, are deemed to be suspicious is one of its duties.

Lyon said in a statement on its website that ARJEL was simply following its procedures by carrying out postgame checks.

"The club totally approves of this action which is undertaken whenever a sporting result is considered atypical," Lyon said.

It also appeared to frown on suspicious mutterings about the result, saying it "regrets that comments are not being limited to the sporting aspect of an incredible exploit both for Olympique Lyonnais and for French football."

In Croatia, Dinamo issued a statement describing speculation about the result as "shameful, malicious and tendentious."

"(It's) a defeat that was hard to imagine," Dinamo said, noting that coach Krunoslav Jurcic was fired because of it. "A team that was more powerful, superior in numbers and had greater motivation ... won yesterday."

Dinamo midfielder Jerko Leko was sent off in the 28th minute for collecting two yellow cards in quick succession. Lyon failed to score before that and even trailed 1-0 in the first half before its unlikely comeback.

Gomis led the rout with four goals, including a seven-minute hat trick — the fastest ever in the Champions League. Besides Lisandro, Maxime Gonalons and Jimmy Briand also scored.

Because only a win and a deluge of goals would do it, Lyon looked extremely unlikely to qualify ahead of Ajax in Group D. Lyon coach Remi Garde was quoted as saying that qualification was "unimaginable."

The front-page headline of French sports daily L'Equipe on Thursday was "Miraculous!"
Ajax needed only a draw at home in the other Group D match against a below-strength Real Madrid to qualify ahead of Lyon. Instead, it lost 3-0. Ajax coach Frank de Boer said Dinamo could have made it harder for Lyon to pull off its stunning feat.

"I know that if you are down to 10 men, as they were after a half hour, I think, that if you play 4-4-1 and you are 1-0 up then you can make it very hard for your opponent," De Boer said. "I've heard that the goals were very easy. But we have to look to ourselves. We didn't do well enough. We should have got a minimum of a point and we didn't."

Wilshere denies betting claim over wager placed on Arsenal's Greek tragedy

Jack Wilshere has denied betting on his own team - which is strictly prohibited by UEFA - during Arsenal’s Champions League defeat to Olympiakos.

The England midfielder, who is currently out of action with an ankle injury, could be in trouble with European football’s governing body after suggesting he had placed a bet on Emmanuel Frimpong to score the first goal in Tuesday night’s game.

Wilshere, 19, said Frimpong could be ‘worth a cheeky £10’ before posting ‘Frimmy nearly won me some money there!’ when the Ghanaian midfielder narrowly missed the target with the score at 0-0.

Olympiakos forward Rafik Djebbour eventually broke the deadlock in the Greek side’s 3-1 win, but Wilshere later insisted he had not put a wager on.
The Arsenal star said before the match: ‘Champions league tonight come on the Arsenal! @Frimpong26AFC 1st goal is 150-1... worth a cheeky £10 right?’

Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny replied to Wilshere saying that a bet would be a waste of money, and Frimpong responded: ‘Cheers Guys U can put a tenner on a tackle? whats the odds:)’
UEFA is now looking into Wilshere’s tweets. The midfielder could face a fine or even a ban if found guilty of breaching the rules.

A spokesman said: ‘All persons bound by UEFA’s rules must refrain from any behaviour that could damage the integrity of matches and competitions.

‘A breach of these principles is committed by anyone who participates directly or indirectly in betting or who has a financial interest in such activities.’

Wilshere moved to defend himself after the game, insisting he had been joking. He said: ‘I didn’t actually bet on the game. I know we’re not allowed to! I was only messing #justtobeclear’
The tweets have since been deleted from Wilshere’s account.

December 07, 2011

AGCC launches external review of actions against Full Tilt

The Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC) has launched an independent review of its actions and processes leading up to the suspension and eventual revocation of licences belonging to Full Tilt Poker, which will be conducted by the former chairman of the UK Gambling Commission, Peter Dean CBE.

The AGCC said the decision had been taken in order to provide full transparency of the actions taken by the commission against Full Tilt, focussing specifically on the appropriateness, timeliness and fairness of the actions undertaken.

The licences of Vantage Limited, Filco Limited, and Oxalic Limited (together trading as Full Tilt Poker) were suspended by the AGCC on June 29th 2011 and revoked by the AGCC Commissioners on September 29th.

“As soon as we became aware that there were possible irregularities in relation to FTP’s operational integrity AGCC acted to discharge fully our statutory obligations,” said AndrĂ© Wilsenach, AGCC’s executive director. “We believe we acted appropriately and fairly at all times but, following our own internal assessment and the inevitable questions that have been raised by third parties, the Commission decided that it is in the best interests of players, licence holders and AGCC itself to commission an independent review and to make the outcome public.”

The AGCC has appointed Peter dean CBE, the former chairman of the UK Gambling Commission, to conduct the review.

Dean was chairman of the Gaming Board for Great Britain, and subsequently the Gambling Commission from 1998 to 2007. Prior to this, he was deputy chairman of the UK’s Monopolies and Mergers Commission from 1990 to 1997 and from 1996 to 2001 served as the Investment Ombudsman appointed by the Investment Management Regulatory Organisation (IMRO) to handle complaints against IMRO regulated companies. He is also a former chairman of the International Association of Gaming Regulators

“I am delighted that Peter Dean has agreed to conduct the review,” continued Wilsenach. “He has many years of experience at the top of the British Gambling Commission and commands wide respect from operators and regulators alike. He has been asked to review fully the actions taken by AGCC in respect of FTP and to focus specifically on the appropriateness, timeliness and fairness of those actions.”

Dean will present a final report and recommendations to the Commission by the end of March 2012.

December 01, 2011

PokerStars buys Cara de Poker

Ahead of early Spanish regulation in 2012, PokerStars has increased its presence with an acquisition of the Spanish iPoker skin Cara de Poker. According to the announcement on the CaraDePoker.com website posted yesterday, player accounts – including their funds and VIP points – are to being moved over the PokerStars platform.

“[Beginning next year] only license holders will be permitted to offer poker games and tournaments to Spanish players, significantly reducing the number of games available,” explains the official statement on the website, referring to the new regulatory system in Spain that will segregate the player pool and create a regulated dot.es market.

“Only the largest room in the world and in Spain will be able to offer the number of cash tables and tournaments needed to provide a superior experience,” continues the statement, titled “PokerStars, The Best Possible Choice.”

The Cara de Poker iPoker skin has closed, and customers who start the software are greeted with a message informing them that an account migration to PokerStars is in progress. It’s been reported that PokerStars is certainly well positioned to capitalize on a new Spanish regulated market, assuming regulation proceeds as planned and the poker room receives a license.

Forced into online black market gambling?

A review of the £1.7 billion British online gambling market is set to be reviewed in early December. It’s been reported that a secondary licensing fee on offshore gaming companies operating in British markets could be on the cards. The shakeup means that the government could close tax loopholes taken advantage of by offshore online gambling operators. Most of the top 20 operators in the UK market operate from offshore locations and do not pay taxes or horseracing levies in Britain. William Hill, in particular has voiced themselves on the issue.

It’s been reported that William Hill is the gambling group most likely to be affected by the secondary license fee. It has more than 10% market share and operates offshore. It commissioned professional business services provider Deloittes to carry out a review.

Deloittes concludes that secondary taxation at the point of consumption could lead to an exodus of the more reputable online gambling operators, forcing an estimated 40% of the players to shift to unauthorized and untaxed operators. This would result in the growth of a black market in online gambling. A spokesman for William Hill told The Independent newspaper, “The question for the Government is, should it introduce policy which distorts markets?”

The drastic proposal was aired by Tory MP Matthew Hancock and would involve taking tax from where a bet is placed as opposed to the physical location of the company. It means companies that decided to buy up a money-saving sun-haven need a UK Gambling Commission license. An Independent article quotes the Deloitte report as saying “a 15 per cent tax could mean two-fifths of legitimate firms leaving the UK market.” Hancock wants to determine where online gambling is taking place in an annual Finance Bill.

Changes are expected to come into force this time next year. The UK remains one of the world’s best licensing regimes and companies – private or public – will always be attracted to a country that has the centre of the iGaming universe, London, at its core.