Caesars Ready to Try Out Skill-Based Gambling Machines in Vegas

Posted by admin | Casino Affiliates | Friday 31 March 2017 3:15 pm

What will it take for the gambling industry to connect with younger customers and insure a future that doesn’t fizzle out when Baby Boomers head to the grave?

If recent efforts by Caesars Entertainment and Gamblit Gaming are any indication, that effort involves skill-based gambling machines that fuse together elements of traditional slots and modern video games. In fact, the two companies are planning on testing out a trio of skill-based devices on the floor of Caesar’s Planet Hollywood property sometime in the next few months.

Skill-based gambling machines offer players a 30-90 second game, such as a shooting baskets on a virtual basketball court, that pay out winners in a manner similar to slots. The big difference is that these machines are designed to be as interactive as possible.

Gamblit Gaming CEO Blaine Graboyes, himself a video game player, was inspired to design his machines after seeing attendees at a Vegas video game conference walk right past the casino floor without stopping to play. This lit the fuse that Gamblit, and the gaming industry, hope will bring Millennials to the casino.

In Graboyes’ eyes, the gamer/gambling connection is a slam dunk, as he described in a recent interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

Gamers also have a propensity for gambling and they don’t have any place to get together and socialize. The opportunity was to create a destination at a casino that makes gamers feel like the cool kids.

The games at Planet Hollywood are not Caesars Interactive’s first flirtation with skill-based products. The company recently ran a similar test at one of their Atlantic City properties. In that instance, nearly 60 percent of the players on the new machines were under 40 (which constitutes something of a demographic miracle in a casino).

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Russia Denies Entry to Professional Poker Player

Posted by admin | Casino Affiliates | Wednesday 29 March 2017 3:14 pm

Russian authorities have barred professional poker player Anthony Guoga from entering their country to compete in a tournament.

Guoga (aka “Tony G”) was all set to complete in the Party Poker Millions tournament in Sochi when he received word that he was not welcome in Russian territory.

The ban wasn’t a complete surprised as Guoga has often challenged/irritated the Russian Government in his role as a Member of the European Parliament representing Lithuania. In particular, Guoga has defended Lithuanian energy independence and challenged the actions of Russian strongman, Vladimir Putin.

Guoga recently took to Facebook to discuss the issue but mostly steered clear of politics. In the video, Guoga mostly sticks to taunting Russian poker players and suggests that Russians are afraid he might win saying:

What is my crime. Poker fans at large say it’s because of my famous victory against Ralph Perry. He played terrible and I sent him back to Russia. Since then I have been telling plenty of Russian players to get on their bikes. It seems like they have had enough. The truth is that I always respected and continue respecting Russian poker players and common Russian people.

The poker player/politician goes on to acknowledge that politics may have played a role in his ban saying:

The more obvious reason for being blacklisted is speaking up for freedom and democracy, as my EPP Group in the European Parliament colleagues noted. That’s the price of politics and I’m ready to pay it.

This isn’t the first time this year that international politics has forced its way on to the professional poker scene. Earlier this year a World Poker Tour event in South Korea was cancelled because flights from China to Korea were cancelled because of tensions between the two countries over the deployment of missiles aimed at North Korea.

The last time Guoga won a major tournament in Russia he donated his winnings, about $ 250,000, to a Russian orphanage.

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Playtech Parting Ways with Marvel Superhero Slots

Posted by admin | Casino Affiliates | Monday 27 March 2017 3:14 pm

Playtech is saying goodbye to its line of Marvel superhero branded slot machines as of April 1. It’s a big move that’s going to cause plenty of headaches for affiliates and operators, but its one that comes at the behest of the powerful Disney Corporation and is unlikely to be reversed.

New of the purge began circulating among affiliates last week when Playtech sent out announcement detailing the end of its relationship with Marvel and Spiderman-branded slots.

According to a report on CalvinAyre.com, the company told its affiliates that the machines would be gone by the end of March. The letter was fairly short on details and leads readers to believe that the move was spurred merely by the fact that Playtech’s contract with Marvel had expired.

While that explanation may be accurate, it doesn’t necessarily tell the whole story. Most industry sources agree that Marvel’s failure to renew its contract with Playtech is all about pressure from its parent company, the Disney Corporation.

Disney is the epitome of a family friendly brand and is loathe to have its trademarked images associated with gambling in any way, shape or form. Company officials were never happy about Marvel’s ties to gaming and simply let Playtech’s licensing deal expire without attempting to renew it. (Marvel characters were also used on Amaya Gaming products, but that deal has also expired.)

There’s no word from Playtech officials as to how losing the Marvel Universe impacts their bottom line. As of this writing, the company is pushing its Marvel slots fans to other superhero-style slots such as Age of the Gods. Peter Amsel over at CalvinAyre correctly suggests is like suggesting that Star Wars and Star Trek are pretty much the same thing and probably won’t hold much sway.

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Tabcorp Fined $35 Million for Compliance Violations

Posted by admin | Casino Affiliates | Saturday 25 March 2017 3:15 pm

Tabcorp, a well-regarded Australian operator, will be paying $ 35 million in fined for its failure to comply with Aussie anti-money laundering laws. The massive fine is the result of more than 100 instances of non-compliance and is taking a heavy toll on the company’s bottom line.

The fine is the fruit of weeks of negotiations between Tabcorp attorneys and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC). A final form of the settlement was approved by a federal judge last week.

For reasons that aren’t entirely clear, Tabcorp was not in compliance with the Anti-Money laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act (AML/CTF) on a fairly regular basis. According to a report from the Associated Press, Tabcorp violated the AML/CTF on no fewer than 108 individual instances.

AUSTRAC boss Paulo Jevtovic slammed Tabcorp in a statement regarding the matter saying:

This was a serious failure in the corporate governance and the size of the penalty reflects a significant and extensive noncompliance.In my view, the noncompliance arises from a corporate culture that is indifferent to money laundering and terrorism financing requirements.

In his own statement, Tabcorp CEO David Attenborough was contrite saying:

We have made significant investment in enhancing our … compliance over the past three years and remain focused on being the industry leader in regulatory compliance across all or our operations

That “significant investment” wasn’t enough to keep the massive fine from impacting Tabcorp’s bottom line however. The company’s most recent half year profit report was down a whopping 28 percent over the previous year’s report. Tabcorp had already paid $ 20 million in fines on the matter when the settlement was announced.

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Fitch Warns: UK Regulations Could Have Major Impact on Bookmakers

Posted by admin | Casino Affiliates | Thursday 23 March 2017 3:15 pm

An proposed set of regulations on UK bookmakers could be bad news for their bottom lines. That’s the warning Fitch Ratings, an international credit rating agency, issued in a recent statement.

According to the Fitch, UK gaming regulators are prepping a set of draconian regulations on gaming machines such as video poker terminals and slot machines. The biggest impact of the new rules would be to set a £2 ($ 2.50 USD) limit on wagers at gaming machines. As the current limit is £50, the impact on land-based bookmakers could be profound.

Lawmakers are also considering rules that would greatly reduce the pace of play at video betting terminals (VBTs). Under current rules, punters can wager as much as £100 every 20 seconds.

VBTs have been under scrutiny in the British press for years and are often referred to as, video crack. 

Regardless of how they’re viewed in the press, VBTs are big business for UK bookmakers and slowing down their paces would have a major impact on their bottom lines.

According to Fitch’s estimates, bookmakers like William Hill and Ladbrokes Coral would be hit particularly hard. After all, the machines account for about half of the profits realized by both companies as Fitch pointed out saying:

Ladbrokes Coral and William Hill are the most exposed major gaming companies, because of their large portfolios of licensed betting offices. In our downside scenario we assume that Ladbrokes Coral would lose about 35% of gaming machine revenues, leading to FFO-adjusted net leverage remaining above our 4.0x sensitivity guidance for a downgrade for two years.

If there’s an upside to this gloom and doom report it’s that analysts predict the proposed rules would drive more players to gamble online.

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PAGCOR Set for New Round of Offshore Gambling Licenses

Posted by admin | Casino Affiliates | Tuesday 21 March 2017 3:16 pm

Philippines Gaming and Amusement Corporation (PAGCOR) chief Andrea Domingo is getting ready to review a new round of Philippines Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) license to home grown gambling operators.

The announcement came during a fiery keynote address and news conference at the ASEAN Gaming Summit in Manila this week.

During her address, Domingo announced that her office will be entertaining a new round of applications for POGO licenses. This comes just months after PAGCOR approved the first round of 35 POGO licenses.

According to Domingo, her office has at least 78 applicants lined up and ready to shell out the $ 40,000-$ 50,000 in processing fees and $ 150,000-$ 200,000 in fees once the application is accepted. Domingo did caution that not all 78 applicants would necessarily receive licenses.

Domingo did, however, make it very clear that PAGCOR’s interest in licensing new gambling sites was based on an interest in generating revenue for the Philippine Government. Her department has a 2017 revenue goal of $ 60 million ($ 120 million USD) and is clearly not interested in annoying Philippine strongman Rodrigo Duterte by coming up short.

In her address she noted:

he POGOs are meant to safeguard the welfare of the Filipinos at the same time meet the agency’s revenue targets to help fund the government’s nation-building programs.

Domingo also addressed the challenges of attracting tourists to the Philippines while the Duterte government continues to engage its bloody war against drug use and other social ills. That war has claimed more than 6,000 lives in just the last year alone.

Not surprisingly, that part of the speech did not go over well with her fellow government officials. Among the aggrieved were Philippines Vice President Leni Robrerdo who called for an immediate apology.

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Online Gambling Revenue and New Owners Boost Atlantic City’s Fortunes

Posted by admin | Casino Affiliates | Sunday 19 March 2017 3:15 pm

Good news is not something that comes out of Atlantic City very often.

For decades, vultures have been hovering around the seaside resort picking off the bones of fiscal failure. But a flurry of positive earnings reports and some new casino owners suggest that the good old days may be returning to the Garden State’s gambling capitol. Much of that success is being attributed to online gambling.

Online gambling, long hailed as the savior of Atlantic City, has turned out to be exactly that. According to the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) February was a banner month for online gambling in the Garden State with $ 18.7 million in revenue.

While that represents a slight dip from January, it also represents a 27 percent leap over last February’s numbers.

The big winner in the Atlantic City online race was the Golden Nugget, which brought in $ 5.175 million in online gambling revenue last month. According to a report on CalvinAyre.com, that’s a single month record for the state. (The previous record month was December, 2016 when the Golden Nugget brought in $ 4.79 million.)

On the land, Atlantic City casinos were also hearing good news.

Late last month, the Hard Rock International, a Florida-based investment group, purchased the long-suffering Trump Taj Mahal from billionaire Trump crony Carl Icahn. The group plans on pouring hundreds of millions of dollars in an effort to rehab the property.

Another troubled AC property, the Atlantic Club Casino, was also sold but it will no longer be a casino. The property’s new owners plan on building a water park on the site. That’s great news for current AC casino owners in that it decreases competition and gives tourists a reason to visit the city that doesn’t involve gambling.

Will the Atlantic City Renaissance take root or is this a passing phenomenon? Only time will tell, but trends are definitely looking positive for Las Vegas by the Sea.

 

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UK Gambling Commission Lashes Out Against Unlicensed e-Sports Sites

Posted by admin | Casino Affiliates | Friday 17 March 2017 3:16 pm

UK Gambling Commission Chief Sarah Harrison lashed out against unlicensed e-sports and skins betting sites in a scathing new position paper.

Harrison, like many other skins betting critics, is particularly concerned by the prospect of children wagering on the outcome of e-sports events.

In the paper titled Virtual Currencies, eSports and Social Casino Gaming – A Position Paper, Harrison and the Commission paint a picture of massive regulated industry that’s plagued by the nuisance of unlicensed operators. These operators, the Commission notes, are the ones who allow underage gambling.

This point was illustrated in great detail with a recounting of the recent prosecution of two UK YouTube stars for promoting gambling to minors via their e-sports channels. This particular case was the first exposure many UK parents had to the fact that their children were gambling on the outcome of video games using virtual currency to win virtual prizes known as skins. 

As is so often the case in debates surrounding the gaming industry, the Commission’s paper tackles the age-old issue of games of skill and games of chance. On this point the Commission wobbles, at first acknowledging that video games involve mostly skill, but following that up by saying that tournaments involve elements of chance such as the random pairing of opponents.

The Commission put the onus of determining skill vs chance on the industry and cautioned it move forward carefully saying:

Given that range, and the concession by representatives of the industry that most games do incorporate some elements determined at random (albeit notional elements) it is important for games developers and/or esport event organisers to assess the element of chance of a particular game prior to permitting its use for a prize of money or money’s worth.

The not-too-subtle message here is that the video game industry will likely be held accountable for e-sports friendly games that are a little too friendly towards skins bettors and gambling.

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World Poker Tour Cancels Korean Event Amidst International Tension

Posted by admin | Casino Affiliates | Wednesday 15 March 2017 3:15 pm

Escalating tensions between South Korea and China are being blamed for the cancellation of this week’s World Poker Tour event at the Paradise Casino at the Jeju Grand in South Korea.

Organizers of the event put the blame for the cancellation on the increasing difficulty of travelling between the two countries.

According to numerous published reports, airlines have been reducing the number of flights thanks to a flare up in Chinese/South Korean relations due to the implementation of an advanced missile interception system by American forces in the region.

Word of the cancellation came from an announcement on the WPT website reading:

Due to factors beyond our control, the World Poker Tour (WPT) today announced the cancellation of WPT National Korea scheduled for March 17-21, 2017, at Paradise Casino at Jeju Grand.

As you may be aware, several major airline carriers have suspended air travel in the region. In the best interest of our players, the event will no longer be taking place.

Diplomacy and international politics rarely have this big an impact on World Poker Tour Events, but the WPT stop at the island resort of Jeju is something of a special case. According to a report on FlushDraw.net, about half the players expected to participate in the event are Chinese. This makes sense given the fact that 85 percent of Jeju visitors are Chinese nationals.

This is, apparently, the first time that international politics have led to the cancellation of a World Poker Tour Event.

So far, the event has not been rescheduled.

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Baazov Sells $99 Million Worth of Amaya Gaming Stock

Posted by admin | Casino Affiliates | Monday 13 March 2017 3:15 pm

Former Amaya Gaming CEO David Baazov has divested himself of $ 99 million (USD) worth of his old company’s stock. The surprise move leaves Baazov with plenty of cash to fund his ongoing legal defense and was also applauded by Toronto Stock Exchange investors.

Baazov’s big deal, as it turns out, offers a lot more than just a look into how the One Percent live. The sale also gives the world a look into what a significant impact his current legal trouble are having on his former company.

Amaya Gaming investors who’ve been doing their homework had plenty of reason of cheer Baazov’s move.

According to a report on CalvinAyre.com, the company’s recent debt restructuring included language that required the debt to be paid ahead of schedule if, “a certain current shareholder,” made attempts to buy the company.

Baazov has made several attempts to purchase Amaya Gaming in the past.

The request was apparently made at the behest of lenders and investors who see Baazov’s presence as a corrosive weight on the company’s overall value.

Not surprisingly, Baazov didn’t see the sale in exactly the same terms. He told media outlets that he was divesting for “investment purposes.”

While everyone could use an extra $ 99 million, Baazov needs it for more than just investing. He’s facing a lengthy, and certainly expensive, trial for financial fraud later this year.

It’s worth noting that while Baazov’s sale accounted for nearly five percent of the company’s outstanding shares, he retains another 12 percent of them. So far, there’s been no word on whether he plans to sell those shares as his saga progresses.

 

 

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