Ex-PokerStars Employee Dodges Prison Time

Posted by admin | Casino Affiliates | Tuesday 29 November 2016 3:15 pm

Paul Tate avoided a date with a US prison cell after turning himself in to US authorities for his role as the payments director at PokerStars during the Black Friday-era.

Tate stood in front of US District Judge Lewis Kaplan in a Manhattan court room on Monday to face the music for his role in the epic online poker scandal and was pleasantly surprised by the song that was playing. Judge Kaplan not only let Tate off with a $ 119,000 fine, he also let him walk away a free man.

In an address to the court, Judge Kaplan praised Tate for turning himself in to US authorities after a five-year exile on the Isle of Man. Kaplan had been facing up to five years in prison for operating an illegal gambling business.

Though he was wanted in the US, law enforcement on the Isle didn’t think his crimes were extradition-worthy and that meant he could have dodged American law enforcement indefinitely, according to a report from Reuters.

Tate, however, seemed to show true remorse for his role in the scandal and that drew praise from the judge who said:

Given that you couldn’t be extradited for this, you deserve a world of credit for coming to face the music

With his legal troubles behind him, the 43-year-old Tate is now free to move on with his life. The former payments director continued working for PokerStars until 2014 when the company was sold to Amaya Gaming for $ 4.9 billion.

Tate is the ninth person to stand before a judge on charges related to Black Friday. The two remaining fugitives, PokerStars founder Ira Scheinberg and Absolute Poker founder Tom Scott, have not indicated that they’ll be turning themselves in at any point in the near future.

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Hackers Post Stolen Casino Rama Data

Posted by admin | Casino Affiliates | Sunday 27 November 2016 3:16 pm

The cyber criminals responsible for hacking into the Casino Rama, a tribal casino in Ontario, Canada, have upped the stakes in their game by posting reams of personal data from their big haul.

Casino Rama, which is run by the Rama Band, was initially hit by the hackers late last week in a breach that captured more than decade’s worth of the casino’s most sensitive data. Included in the hacked files were social insurance numbers from patrons dating back to 2004; requests for credit; and files detailing which customers owe the casino big bucks.

Unfortunately for Casino Rama, their customers weren’t the only ones impacted by the hack. Employee files ranging from applications to payroll information.

Casino Rama CEO John Drake told the Globe and Mail that his company regretted the hack and was working around the clock to secure their systems.

Unfortunately for Drake and the Ramas, things went from bad to worse the day after the attack when the hackers released began appearing online along with taunts from the responsible parties.

According to a report on CalvinAyre.com, a note appeared with the pilfered information saying, “…“no security systems were in place leaving the whole casino network wide open,” and, “…that they take the protection of data and customer information seriously when really they don’t.”

It’s not clear at this point whether or not the data was released as part of an extortion plot. Such schemes are becoming increasingly common with cyber criminals threatening to release their stolen information unless they’re paid off, usually in bitcoin.

Casino Rama’s troubles grew even worse at the end of last week when a Toronto attorney filed a class action lawsuit against the casino for $ 50 million on behalf of the people whose information was stolen. The lawsuit alleges that Casino Rama didn’t take cyber security, or previous threats from hackers seriously.

A representative for Casino Rama maintains that the company took all necessary precautions; is cooperating fully with law enforcement; and is limited in the amount of information it can share with the public at this time.

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Brazilian Senate Readies Dec. 7 Vote on Gambling Bill

Posted by admin | Casino Affiliates | Friday 25 November 2016 3:15 pm

The Brazilian Senate will be voting on a long-debated gambling bill on December 7. If approved, the bill would open a massive, new regulated gaming market in South America’s most populous country.

The sweeping legislative package establishes regulations, licensing schemes, and tax structures for both land-based and internet gambling across the massive country.

Responsibilities for enforcing the new gambling structure would be split between government agencies with Caixa Econômica Federal (a government bank) handling the internet side of the business.  Caixa would also act as the licensing authority for all internet casinos, according to a report on G3 Newswire.

There’s a variety of licenses that would be available through a bidding process, including some that wouldn’t expire for 25 years.

In a nod to the corruption scandals that have rocked Brazilian political life in recent years, government officials and their families would be barred from owning casinos.

Should regulated gambling win out the Brazilian statehouse, it would still not be allowed everywhere in Brazil. The proposed measures include limits designed to keep casinos from congregating in one geographical zone. It also includes an amendment that prevents bingo halls from opening in cities with a population of less than 200,000.

How many casinos are actually in each city or town will also be determined by population, rather than demand. No municipality will have more than five casinos under the proposed plan.

Most of the tax revenue collected from regulated gambling, about 91 percent, would be used to fund Brazil’s equivalent of Social Security. The rest would go to the Federal Police, cultural funding, and Brazil’s Olympic programs.

The prospect of regulated gambling in Brazil should be music to the ears of potential operators and affiliates. Brazil is the largest country in South and about 43 percent of its population, around 100 million people, fall into the very desirable 25-54-year-old demographic.

 

 

 

 

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PokerStars CFO Hints at Pullout from Austrlian Market

Posted by admin | Casino Affiliates | Wednesday 23 November 2016 3:14 pm

PokerStars could be pulling out of the lucrative Australian gambling market as soon as this week if a new bill cracking down on grey market operators passes into law.

The proposed measure, an amendment to the Interactive Gambling Act of 2011 (IGA), would close loopholes that allowed PokerStars, and other major operators, to operate in the Australian market with limited regulatory oversight.

IGA 2016 clearly bans online casino and poker sites in language reading:

Prohibited services under the IGA include online casino-style gaming services of chance or mixed skill and chance, such as blackjack, roulette and poker, which are played for money or anything else of value. Wagering and lotteries are permitted under limited circumstances.

That particular paragraph is designed to start bringing order to an Australian online gambling market that’s been riddled with massive loopholes for years. A failure to specifically ban overseas operators in the 2001 bill gave way to massive grey market activity from some of the biggest names in the online gambling industry, including PokerStars and William Hill.

Australian lawmakers have been under pressure to tighten up those loopholes and the 2016 IGA amendments, if passed, would do just that.

Word of the potential pullout came from Amaya Gaming CFO Daniel Sebag during a conference call to investors. Sebag said that his company is currently in compliance with Australian gaming laws and would comply with any changes in the future, even if that meant blocking Australian players entirely.

Amaya, like most mainstream operators, is keen to avoid any association with grey markets in countries where this type of activity is expressly forbidden.

Besides violating its responsibilities to follow the written law as a good corporate citizen, the company could also find itself blocked from other regulated markets if it were to illegally participate in grey market activity.

Currently, the Australian poker market accounts for just 2.5 percent of PokerStars’ total revenue.

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DraftKings and FanDuel Ready to Merge

Posted by admin | Casino Affiliates | Monday 21 November 2016 3:14 pm

DraftKings and FanDuel, the two biggest names in daily fantasy sports (DFS) have agreed to merge their business operations. If approved, the deal would create a DFS behemoth that controls a full 80 percent of the US market.

The deal, which was announced late last week, is a desperate bid for survival by two companies that have been engaged in a massive legal fight since the US-facing DFS industry imploded last year. But there are plenty of roadblocks still standing in the way.

If approved, the DraftKings and FanDuel would join forces with each company holding three seats on the board of directors with an independent seventh party joining as the seventh member. (Presumably to act as a tiebreaker.)

In the e-suite, current DraftKings CEO Jason Robins would act as CEO of the new company, while FanDuel CEO Nigel Eccles would act as chairman of the board. As of this writing, there’s no word on what the new company would be called.

The reasoning behind the proposed merger is simple; since both companies are fighting the same legal battles in nearly every US State, the savings in legal expenses alone will justify the merger.

Of course that’s not what the official line out of the DFS giants’ public relations machines. In a statement to the press, as reported on by ESPN.com, DraftKings CEO Jason Robins said:

Joining forces will allow us to truly realize the potential of our vision, and as a combined company we will be able to accelerate the pace of innovation and bring a richer experience to our customers than we ever could have done separately.

Their ability to do all these things hinges on approval from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and that could be difficult to obtain. After all, the two companies control a total of 80 percent of the US DFS market. According to ESPN, the two companies are prepared to argue that their merger will actually be a benefit to consumers.

Whatever happens with the proposed merger isn’t likely to happen soon. Both companies plan on operating independently at least through the 2017 NFL season.

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PokerStars Unveils Expected VIP Club Changes for 2017

Posted by admin | Casino Affiliates | Saturday 19 November 2016 3:15 pm

PokerStars began unveiling new policies for its VIP Club that are set to be implemented in 2107.

The massive changes are part of a larger effort to attract more recreational players to the PokerStars ecosystem without alienating their highest rollers. It’s a delicate balancing act and, so far, those VIPS aren’t very happy with the proposed changes.

Online poker forums have been buzzing for months about the new plan and company officials had dropped clues about proposed but no official word came from PokerStars until last Friday when they sent out an e-mail to the their VIP Club members which read, in part:

Today we began contacting players to provide notice of important planned changes to our VIP Club, notably that our current VIP Club, with rewards centered around monthly and annual statuses, will be replaced sometime in 2017 with a new, combined rewards program for poker, casino and sportsbook.

Most of the changes detailed on Friday were aimed at Supernova-level players, PokerStars’ top-tier VIPs. Chief among them is a new policy making requiring Supernova players to earn that coveted status each month. Under the previous policy a player only needed to reach Supernova once and would remain at that status for the rest of the year.

Some members of the online poker media have already suggested that this is the beginning of the end for PokerStars’ most elite VIP-level.

VIP players at PokerStars will also suffer a cut to their rakeback from 30 percent to 28 percent, a move that was announced earlier this year.

PokerStars is stuck between a rock and a hard place when it comes to the elite players on the VIP level.

On the one hand, these big-time players generate plenty of revenue for the company thanks to their incredible volume of play. On the other hand, one man’s VIP is another man’s shark, and that’s not-so-good when it comes to attracting and retaining recreational-level players.

It’s a delicate balancing act to maintain and it will be interesting to see how Pokerstars’ most prolific players react.

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AGA Jumps in New Jersey Sports Betting Case

Posted by admin | Casino Affiliates | Thursday 17 November 2016 3:18 pm

The American Gaming Association (AGA), along with five US states, have joined the State of New Jersey’s fight to legalize sports betting in the United States.

It’s just the latest twist in an ongoing legal saga that’s taken on new dimension since the shock election of US leader Donald Trump.

Along with the AGA, Arizona; Louisiana; Mississippi; West Virginia; and Wisconsin filed amicus briefs with the court. These filings indicate a formal support of New Jersey’s bid to have its case heard before the United States Supreme Court.

In a statement on its website, the AGA explained its position saying:

The 24-year-old federal ban –which is breathing life into a $ 150 billion illegal sports betting market — threatens the integrity of games, presents fundamental questions about states’ sovereignty to define their own laws and combat crime within their borders, and prevents fans from engaging with the sports they enjoy in a safe, legal way.

But there’s still plenty that could happen between now and then and much of it hinges on how Trump behaves once he takes office in January.

For starters, there’s no guarantee that the Supreme Court. which is supremely divided between liberal and conservative judges, would rule in New Jersey’s favor in the first place.

There’s also the possibility that court would refuse to hear the case and that would pretty much end the Garden State’s legal options, but not its political options.

There’s always a chance that a Trump-led US Department of Justice would decide to quit enforcing current US policies like Professional and Amateur Sports Act (PASPA) and Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA). According to ESPN.com, Trump is already on record supporting legalized gambling in Atlantic City, where he himself once owned a casino.

That idea isn’t necessarily as far-fetched as it might sound. The DOJ, under current President Barrack Obama, opted not to enforce the Wire Act of 1964, an act that paved the way for the country’s first legalized online gambling.

While very little is certain at this point, it’s clear that the AGA is betting on a gambling-friendly Trump administration.

The US Supreme Court will decide whether or not to hear the case sometime in early 2017.

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Baazov Bids on Amaya Gaming

Posted by admin | Casino Affiliates | Tuesday 15 November 2016 5:43 pm

Former Amaya Gaming CEO, David Baazov is offering $ 3.65 billion to assume control of the company. Baazov’s offer comes just days after the company announced its Q3 results which included a hefty boost in revenues.

Baazov’s bid, according to a recent report on CalvinAyre.com, will be formally submitted some time this week. His offer, which will come from an new investor group that includes:

  • Head & Shoulders Global Investment Fund
  • Goldenway Capital
  • Ferdyne Advisory Inc
  • KBC Aldini Capita

His offer also included a pledge of $ 200 million to help cover $ 200 million that is owed to former Rational Group owners Isai and Mark Scheinberg. This component of Baazov’s offer is important as payments to the Scheinberg’s have sometimes been a drag on Amaya’s overall revenues.

The report also mentioned that Baazov believes it’s really in Amaya Gaming’s best interest to become a private company, instead of a publicly held company.

What the report doesn’t mention, but that anyone familiar with Baazov’s situation is thinking, is that the former CEO is facing a host of criminal charges that all revolve around the violation of public trust in the form of insider trading. It can readily be assumed that his legal situation, which is far from resolved, has tainted his view of publicly held enterprises.

Should Baazov’s bid be successful, he would be taking over a company that’s currently in pretty good shape. Q3 revenue at the gaming behemoth is up more than 9% over this time last year. Overall, Amaya Gaming is on track to clock adjusted earnings of more than $ 300 million this year.

So far, there’s been no official reaction from the company regarding Baazov’s offer.

 

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Nevada Loses Gambling Tax Crown to Pennsylvania and New York

Posted by admin | Casino Affiliates | Sunday 13 November 2016 3:17 pm

Move over Nevada, there’s a new gambling tax revenue king in the United States of America, Pennsylvania. The Keystone state is now besting the Battle State by more than $ 500 million in revenue, according to a recent report from the American Gaming Association (AGA).

Pennsylvania’s popular casinos brought in more then $ 1.38 billion in tax revenue for the state last year alone. That’s incredibly impressive for a state that’s only offered regulated gambling for barely a decade.

As if losing out to Pennsylvania wasn’t bad enough, the Nevada market is in danger of losing the number two spot to New York State. The Empire State is pulling in around $ 888 million a year in tax revenue from its legalized establishment. (New York has offered legal gambling since 2001 with the first casino opening in 2006.)

Nevada, by way of comparison, has only offered legal gambling since 1931and brought in just $ 889 million last year. But remember, higher tax revenues are usually the result of higher taxes.

Pennsylvania casinos pay out around 55% of their revenues to the state and New York state casinos are paying between 31%-41%. Nevada tax rates max out at 6.75% at the state level, according to the Las Vegas Review Journal.

What the tax revenue numbers do point out is the massive demand for gambling in the American East, and Atlantic City’s failure to meet that demand. On the flip side, Atlantic City is now in its ninth consecutive year of declining revenue and there’s little hope for a savior of any kind.

In Pennsylvania, however, the news from the regulated gambling world continues to be all good.

 

 

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Australia Cracks Down on ‘Click-to-Call’ and Offshore Gambling

Posted by admin | Casino Affiliates | Friday 11 November 2016 3:17 pm

A new bill introduced in the Australian Parliament this week is aimed at closing a legal loophole that allowed offshore gambling sites to operate without local licensing.

If passed into law, the Interactive Gambling Amendment bill 2016 would mean the end of click-to-call in-play wagering for Aussie punters.

The legislation was introduced by communications minister, Mitch Fifield and is part of a larger government effort to crack down on unlicensed online operators, as well as addressing the issues surrounding problem gambling. More specifically, the bill would impose fines of up to $ 1 million (USD) per day on operators that serve Aussie gamblers without the proper licensing.

Just to drive the point home a little more, the bill also includes measures for insuring that the executives from companies that do violate the law are unable to leave the country.

More importantly, especially for operators with US-facing sites, the bill provides measures for sharing the names of violators with other regulatory bodies.

Fifield’s bill was inspired by the rapid rise of a practice known as click-to-call which served as a workaround to Australian laws requiring the use of a phone to place in-play wagers.

Though the practice has been used by all sorts of operators, it’s been especially popular with the legion of offshore operations that serve the Australian market. That didn’t sit well with government officials like human services minister, Alan Tudge who told the Guardian newspaper:

We expect online wagering providers to meet community expectations. The tougher laws will seriously disrupt illegal offshore providers from acting unscrupulously or targeting vulnerable Australians.

The government is committed to taking tougher action against illegal offshore wagering providers and this bill does exactly that.

Tudge’s bill is up for discussion at the end of the month.

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