SVP Business Development,Optimal Payments
Plus all the latest news and articles
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Publication Infinity Gaming Magazine are operated by ÂŠ Clever Duck Media Ltd ÂŽ Company Reg. No. 687 1018
Editors notes Welcome to the November edition of the Infinity Gaming Magazine, well 2012 has flown by and only a couple of editions left before the big event on the 4th February.
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The November magazine has some great interviews inside this month with Roger Marris, CEO of the Ritz Club. Neil Erlick of Optimal Payments, Kara Scott and Orrin Edidin of Williams Interactive.
Of course all the usual articles, news and updates that you expect from one of the most popular and trusted publications for the gambling industry.
Contact Us Clever Duck Media Suite 105 Park Plaza Point South Hayes Way Cannock WS12 2DB UK
There is so much excitement in the US with the possibility of a Federal online gambling bill soon to be presented, which the magazine covers in depth along with the latest on Nevada online poker. Wanted to also mention we have a World exclusive for December with PokerStars all about the launch of Full Tilt Poker, the build up to the launch and the day itself, do not miss that one. Enjoy the magazine and see you all in December Warm Regards, Lana Thompson
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Contributing Writers: Sarah Francis - Productive Payments Martin R. Baird Judith Lewis
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Interview with Roger Marris C.E.O The Ritz Club on page 7
Interview with Roger Marris Pt:1 C.E.O The Ritz Club 7 Some of the amazing stories from the Ritz Club 9 The man who â€Żbroke Atlantic Cityâ€Ż 10 Nevada on trying to grow a tech sector 15 Protect Your Brand: A Tale of Three Casinos 16 Interview with Neil Erlick - SVP Business Development,Optimal Payments 18 Interview With Orrin Edidin- WMS Interactive President & CEO 20 Interview with Kara Scott Pt:1 - TV personality, journalist and poker player 24 Bally CEO Richard Haddrill stepping down 27 Texas to go for casinos in 2013 27 Bally & SHFL do deal on content 27 Gambling Industry fights back against Belgium 29 MPs attack former gambling company owner over hypocrisy 28 Gambling Industry fights back against Belgium 29 Social Gaming Association (SGA) launched 29 Paddy Power announce Q3 results 29 Betsson named among illegal online operators in Spain 31 Bookie Mania launches on Facebook 31 William Hill partners with ESPN 31 Permira sells last shares in Galaxy Entertainment 33 Macau minimum age raised to 21 33 Macau gambling revenues rise over 3% in October 33 Caesars gives up on Macau & golf 33 Lack of gaming regulations cost Serbia up to 50 million Euros a year 35 Will the ducks not be so lame this time 37 Online poker players face long wait from DOJ 39 Zynga real money to launch early 2013 39
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Interview with Roger Marris pt:1 C.E.O The Ritz Club
The Infinity Gaming Magazine speaks to the CEO of one of the most glamorous VIP clubs in the World, The Ritz Club. Roger Marris has a history nearly as impressive as the club he works at.
Q: Roger Thank you for speaking to us, you are the CEO of The Ritz Club,
can you explain to our global readership what your role for the company entails?
RM: Henry Kissinger said that: “The task of the leader is to get his people from where they are to where they have not been.” As Chief Executive of The Ritz Club my role is to guide and provide inspiration and innovation to the management team and staff and to continue the ongoing vision of the Club and the company’s unique principles and values which were originally established by our owners. One of my early goals was to ensure that The Ritz Club brand continues to be a strong, luxurious and stylish brand, and that it works comfortably alongside our sister companies The Ritz Hotel, and Ritz Fine Jewellery. We are going to continue to be one of the best casinos in the world and a member’s club that delights our customers and makes our employees incredibly proud of what they do.
Q: You have been CEO for just over a year now with The Ritz Club, what is your background in the gambling industry? RM: As you may know, I am returning to the ‘family’ so to speak, as I was
the former Managing Director of The Ritz Online Casino when it operated from 2005 – 2007 (the company was sold in 2007). My background in gaming is with Harrah’s WSOP and Littlewoods, on the gaming side of the business. Prior to coming back to The Ritz Club I was working for in a global executive role for a FTSE250 business, not at all connected to gaming but it was a role that took advantage of my strategic operational and management skills in a multi-channel business.
Q: What challenges are there in the London VIP Casino business at present? RM: The London gaming scene is changing and there is a need to reflect and consider where the high-end marketplace is evolving towards including identifying future gaming trends and requirements. Although we continue to see the Middle East as an important and valuable part of our business one of the biggest catalysts for change and one of the greatest opportunities for new business is the arrival of players from China and the other Far East markets (Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Cambodia, Hong Kong). The growth in the mainland Chinese market will be important for everyone in the high-end, luxury casino industry.
Q: This summer saw the Olympics return for the third time to London, was the summer
event a help or hindrance to the companies business? RM: Actually neither, during this summer we saw parity in our business although we entertained a number of Middle East guests who were in London for the Olympics, we felt that several of our members stayed away from central London whilst the Olympics were on.
Q: How do you see the market in London fairing over the next few years? RM: As I have mentioned at the beginning of this interview, the Chinese and Asian market will be important for everyone in the London high-end luxury casino business. Over the past few months we have been monitoring the influx of big players from this part of the world. However in order to increase market share all London casinos will have to review their current offerings and identify opportunities to attract this new wave of players. For many operators, including The Ritz Club this will be a cultural and strategic change of direction for the business as we will have to make the transition more solidly into Punto Banco and other games favoured by the Chinese and Far East player. We need stability in regulation and although I believe that all businesses should have a muliti-channel perspective and embrace different channels as opposed to fighting them, we should be aware of the effect that the international operators are having on the UK marketplace.
Q: We have seen a few more developments in London over the last couple of years, with both the Stratford development and the Hippodrome, do you think the London market has enough capacity for those or will it see the closure of other casinos to make way for newer developments? RM: There is no doubt that for those of us who operate at the high-end of the business, that the market is getting smaller as the industry is seeing some shrinkage. The players are still out there – probably not as high profile as the good old days - but as I’ve mentioned, we have to be ready to adapt and prepare to receive the Far Eastern audience. The Ritz Club is an international business that happens to be in London; our customers are international and we are not dependent on the London market for our business. The Stratford and Hippodrome openings have introduced a new style of gambling to the market in London and follows the same formula as the gaming venues of Nevada and Macau, which offer visitors an array of entertainment from live shows to cocktail bars and restaurants. Gaming is offered too, of course, but it’s not obligatory.
Q: You were involved in the online poker
industry previously, what is your opinion on the US market, do you think anytime soon there will be any Federal or State movement towards legalising online gambling there?
RM: I think we will know more once Obama gets into office, but in my opinion this is more than likely to be dealt with on a state-by-state basis rather than at the Federal level. This question has been asked for so long now. IGM NOV 2012 ~ 7
Interview with Roger Marris pt:2
C.E.O The Ritz Club
Q: What is the future for The Ritz Club, how does one of the most recognised brands continue to attract the very best customers in such a competitive market? RM: Without doubt The Ritz Club is one of the worlds most luxurious private gaming clubs. Located right at the heart of Mayfair, it appeals to the true connoisseur of luxury and elegance. It will remain important to continue to increase awareness of the brand using marketing initiatives to leverage opportunities. We are a people business and Personal service is why people choose most of the organisations they work for and casinos are no different. The power of the personal contributes significantly to the perception of the brand. It is essential that our service and products are flawless and consistent and provide our members with unique experiences this is what sets us apart from the competition. We will need to anticipate the needs of members, customers and business and act upon them proactively showing high levels of initiative. We must encourage innovation in order to provide solutions that will help in achieving and delivering better and faster results with courtesy, respect and dedication while remaining focused on customers members needs. Ive been involved in several flagship brands in my professional career, but none have been so quintessentially British on a global scale, nor the epitome of elegance as The Ritz Club. We have a lifetimes experience in providing a discreet and scrupulously honest service and that makes The Ritz Club a trusted brand. The Ritz Club embodies the timeless sense of style that many aspire to - a style common to many leading British luxury brands but found so rarely amongst casino ventures. Quite simply, there are plenty of casinos, but very few have the stature, heritage and traditional qualities of The Ritz Club.
Q: Finally Roger before we leave you, The Ritz
Club has again sponsored the forthcoming 6th International Gaming Awards (IGA) with the focus on deserving charities, why is it important that the company continue supporting this global event?
RM: The Awards seek to reward excellence in all areas of our industry, not limited to commercial success alone and it is important for all casino operators to continue to support this major industry event. The International Gaming Awards allows us to showcase innovation, highlight and reward outstanding contributions made by industrial professionals and is the ultimate endorsement of excellence in our industry. 8 ~ IGM NOV 2012
Some of the amazing stories from the Ritz Club Johnny Depp developed his love of Irish Whiskey whilst spending evenings at the Bar talking to the then Irish Head Barman who introduced him to some of the rarer malts The Ritz Club is one of the actor’s favourite Clubs to visit when in London.
he e of t me m o s a to h o s t c e s w h e n Dn d e y a i l fa o om p a lbu m nce mous b e r R ’s m o s t f a e r l at e s t p e r f o r m a m A h e c u i h ’ d t . s e p T l d o f m u l au n c h m p r o m t I a m… wo r y B a s s e y g a ve a n i a m w h a e d T h e I v S h i r l e S h e l a t e r s h o o t o f ‘ py a n d l o p . n a 0 o h i 1 h 0 s s a 2 g a fa she w Durin du r i n b e c au s e y Ro om g a f i l m sho s i m pl lub ! w o C ‘c u t ’ 1 it h S i r R o t a b o u t t h e R it z ger M 1 ti me o o r e , B o n d m ov i can be s du e t he d i es in t t o h e t a h rd en re h wa s r e lo c at e a s t h e t u b e o i s e o f t h e c t o r h a d t o e A m b e r f r ust r d to t h U sh o ut t r n a d i ns erg a Rog e r t i on a n d ev e B a r of t h e r u mble p a s r o u n d wh i e r yo n e ch . t. C e l s e ’s lu b d u e t o T h e s c e n e a mus e t he d i r m e nt i n c lu d i e c t o r ’s ng Si r
I n March 1987, Kerry Packer (the legendary Australian tycoon) reportedly lost 8 million pounds playing blackjack in the salle prive. According to an eyewitness, he was playing two tables at a time and moving from one to the other to place his bets, playing all seven hands at each table and staking £10,000 pounds per hand. As he lost, he repeatedly signed the casino’s house cheques for more chips at £200,000 a time. Eventually tiring of signing his name he handed over a cheque for 1 million pounds instead. IGM NOV 2012 ~ 9
The man who broke Atlantic City
on Johnson won nearly $6 million playing blackjack in one night, single-handedly decimating the monthly revenue of Atlantic City’s Tropicana casino. Not long before that, he’d taken the Borgata for $5 million and Caesars for $4 million. Here’s how he did it. Don Johnson finds it hard to remember the exact cards. Who could? At the height of his 12-hour blitz of the Tropicana casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, last April, he was playing a hand of blackjack nearly every minute. Dozens of spectators pressed against the glass of the high-roller pit. Inside, playing at a green-felt table opposite a black-vested dealer, a burly middle-aged man in a red cap and black Oregon State hoodie was wagering $100,000 a hand. Word spreads when the betting is that big. Johnson was on an amazing streak. The towers of chips stacked in front of him formed a colourful miniature skyline. His winning run had been picked up by the casino’s watchful overhead cameras and drawn the close scrutiny of the pit bosses. In just one hand, he remembers, he won $800,000. In a three-hand sequence, he took $1.2 million. The basics of blackjack are simple. Almost everyone knows them. You play against the house. Two cards are placed faceup before the player, and two more cards, one down, one up, before the dealer. A card’s suit doesn’t matter, only its numerical value—each face card is worth 10, and an ace can be either a one or an 11. The goal is to get to 21, or as close to it as possible without going over. Scanning the cards on the table before him, the player can either stand or keep taking cards in an effort to approach 21. Since the house’s hand has one card facedown, the player can’t know exactly what the hand is, which is what makes this a game. As Johnson remembers it, the $800,000 hand started with him betting $100,000 and being dealt two eights. If a player is dealt two of a kind, he can choose to “split” the hand, which means he can play each of the cards as a separate hand and ask for two more cards, in effect doubling his bet. That’s what Johnson did. His next two cards, surprisingly, were also both eights, so he split each again. Getting four cards of the same number in a row doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. Johnson says he was once dealt six consecutive aces at the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut. He was now playing four hands, each consisting of a single eight-card, with $400,000 in the balance. He was neither nervous nor excited. Johnson plays a long game, so the ups and downs of individual hands, even big swings like this one, don’t matter that much to him. He is a veteran player. Little interferes with his concentration. He doesn’t get rattled. With him, it’s all about the math, and he knows it cold. Whenever the racily clad cocktail waitress wandered in with a fresh whiskey and Diet Coke, he took it from the tray. The house’s hand showed an upturned five. Arrayed on the table before him were the four eights. He was allowed to double down—to double his bet—on any hand, so when he was dealt a three on the first of his hands, he doubled his bet on that one, to $200,000. When his second hand was dealt a two, he doubled down on that, too. When he was dealt a three and a two on the next two hands, he says, he doubled down on those, for a total wager of $800,000. It was the dealer’s turn. He drew a 10, so the two cards he was showing totalled 15. Johnson called the game—in essence, betting that the dealer’s
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down card was a seven or higher, which would push his hand over 21. This was a good bet: since all face cards are worth 10, the deck holds more high cards than low. When the dealer turned over the house’s down card, it was a 10, busting him. Johnson won all four hands. Johnson didn’t celebrate. He didn’t even pause. As another skyscraper of chips was pushed into his skyline, he signalled for the next hand. He was just getting started. The headline in The Press of Atlantic City was enough to gladden the heart of anyone who has ever made a wager or rooted for the underdog: But the story was even bigger than that. Johnson’s assault on the Tropicana was merely the latest in a series of blitzes he’d made on Atlantic City’s gambling establishments. In the four previous months, he’d taken $5 million from the Borgata casino and another $4 million from Caesars. Caesars had cut him off, he says, and then effectively banned him from its casinos worldwide. Fifteen million dollars in winnings from three different casinos? Nobody gets that lucky. How did he do it?
to Caesars. All of these gambling houses were already hurting, what with the spread of legalized gambling in surrounding states. By April, combined monthly gaming revenue had been declining on a year-over-year basis for 32 months. For most people, though, the newspaper headline told a happy story. An ordinary guy in a red cap and black hoodie had struck it rich, had beaten the casinos black-and-blue. It seemed a fantasy come true, the very dream that draws suckers to the gaming tables. But that’s not the whole story either. Despite his pedestrian attire, Don Johnson is no average Joe. For one thing, he is an extraordinarily skilled blackjack player. Tony Rodio, who succeeded Giannantonio as the Trop’s CEO, says, “He plays perfect cards.” In every blackjack scenario, Johnson knows the right decision to make. But that’s true of plenty of good players. What gives Johnson his edge is his knowledge of the gaming industry. As good as he is at playing cards, he turns out to be even better at playing the casinos.
Fifteen million dollars in winnings from three different casinos? Nobody gets that lucky. How did he do it? he first and most obvious suspicion was card counting. Card counters seek to gain a strong advantage by keeping a mental tally of every card dealt, and then adjusting the wager according to the value of the cards that remain in the deck. (The tactic requires both great memory and superior math skills.) Made famous in books and movies, card counting is considered cheating, at least by casinos. In most states (but not New Jersey), known practitioners are banned. The wagering of card counters assumes a clearly recognizable pattern over time, and Johnson was being watched very carefully. The verdict: card counting was not Don Johnson’s game. He had beaten the casinos fair and square.
Hard times do not favour the house. The signs of a five-year slump are evident all over Atlantic City, in rundown façades, empty parking lots, and the faded glitz of its casinos’ garish interiors. Pennsylvania is likely to supplant New Jersey this year as the second-largest gaming state in the nation. The new Parx racetrack and casino in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, a gigantic gambling complex, is less than 80 miles away from the Atlantic City boardwalk. Revenue from Atlantic City’s 11 casinos fell from a high of $5.2 billion in 2006 to just $3.3 billion last year. The local gaming industry hopes the opening of a 12th casino, Revel, this spring may finally reverse that downward trend, but that’s unlikely.
It hurt. Largely as a result of Johnson’s streak, the Trop’s table-game revenues for April 2011 were the second-lowest among the 11 casinos in Atlantic City. Mark Giannantonio, the president and CEO of the Trop, who had authorized the $100,000-a-hand limit for Johnson, was given the boot weeks later. Johnson’s winnings had administered a similar jolt to the Borgata and
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“high rollers are not all created equally” “It doesn’t matter how many casinos there are,” Israel Posner, a gaming-industry expert at nearby Stockton College, told me. When you add gaming tables or slots at a fancy new venue like Revel, or like the Borgata, which opened in 2003, the novelty may initially draw crowds, but adding gaming supply without enlarging the number of customers ultimately hurts everyone. When revenues slump, casinos must rely more heavily on their most prized customers, the high rollers who wager huge amounts—tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars a hand. Hooking and reeling in these “whales,” as they are known in the industry, can become essential. High rollers are lured with free meals and drinks, free luxury suites, free rides on private jets, and … more. (There’s a reason most casino ads feature beautiful, scantily clad young women.) The marketers present casinos as glamorous playgrounds where workaday worries and things like morality, sobriety, and prudence are on holiday. When you’re rich, normal rules don’t apply! The idea, like the oldest of pickpocket tricks, is to distract the mark with such frolic that he doesn’t notice he’s losing far more than his free amenities actually cost. For what doth it profit a man to gain a $20,000 ride on a private jet if he drops $200,000 playing poker? The right “elite player” can lose enough in a weekend to balance a casino’s books for a month. Of course, high rollers “are not all created equally,” says Rodio, the Tropicana’s CEO. (He was the only Atlantic City casino executive who agreed to talk to me about Johnson.) “When someone makes all the right decisions, the house advantage is relatively small; maybe we will win, on average, one or two hands more than him for every hundred decisions. There are other blackjack players, or craps players, who don’t use perfect strategy, and with them there is a big swing in the house advantage. So there is more competition among casinos for players who aren’t as skilled.” For the casino, the art is in telling the skilled whales from the unskilled ones, then discouraging the former and seducing the latter. The industry pays close attention to high-level players; once a player earns a reputation for winning, the courtship ends. The last thing a skilled player wants is a big reputation. Some wear disguises when they play. But even though he has been around the gambling industry for all of his 49 years, Johnson snuck up on Atlantic City. To look at him, over six feet
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tall and thickly built, you would never guess that he was once a jockey. He grew up tending his uncle’s racehorses in Salem, Oregon, and began riding them competitively at age 15. In his best years as a professional jockey, he was practically skeletal. He stood 6 foot 1 and weighed only 108 pounds. He worked with a physician to keep weight off, fighting his natural growth rate with thyroid medication that amped up his metabolism and subsisting on vitamin supplements. The regimen was so demanding that he eventually had to give it up. His body quickly assumed more normal proportions, and he went to work helping manage racetracks, a career that brought him to Philadelphia when he was about 30. He was hired to manage Philadelphia Park, the track that evolved into the Parx casino, in Bensalem, where he lives today. Johnson was in charge of day-to-day operations, including the betting operation. He started to learn a lot about gambling. It was a growth industry. Today, according to the American Gaming Association, commercial casino gambling—not including Native American casinos or the hundreds of racetracks and government-sponsored lotteries—is a $34 billion business in America, with commercial casinos in 22 states, employing about 340,000 people. Pari-mutuel betting (on horse racing, dog racing, and jai alai) is now legal in 43 states, and online gaming netted more than $4 billion from U.S. bettors in 2010. Over the past 20 years, Johnson’s career has moved from managing racetracks to helping regulate this burgeoning industry. He has served as a state regulator in Oregon, Idaho, Texas, and Wyoming. About a decade ago, he founded a business that does computer-assisted wagering on horses. The software his company employs analyzes more data than an ordinary handicapper will see in a thousand lifetimes, and defines risk to a degree that was impossible just five years ago. Johnson is not, as he puts it, “naive in math.” He began playing cards seriously about 10 years ago, calculating his odds versus the house’s. Compared with horse racing, the odds in blackjack are fairly straightforward to calculate. Many casinos sell laminated charts in their guest shops that reveal the optimal strategy for any situation the game presents. But these odds are calculated by simulating millions of hands, and as Johnson says, “I will never see 400 million hands.” More useful, for his purposes, is running a smaller number of hands and paying attention to variation. The way averages work, the larger the sample, the narrower the range of variation. A session of, say, 600 hands will display wider swings, with steeper winning and losing streaks, than the standard casino charts. That insight becomes important when the betting terms and special ground rules for the game are set—and Don Johnson’s skill at establishing these terms is what sets him apart from your average casino visitor. Johnson is very good at gambling, mainly because he’s less willing to gamble than most. He does not just walk into a casino and start playing, which is what roughly 99 percent of customers do. This is, in his words, tantamount to “blindly throwing away money.” The rules of the game are set to give the house a significant advantage. That doesn’t mean you can’t win playing by the standard house rules; people do win on occasion. But the vast majority of players lose, and the longer they play, the more they lose.
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Nevada on tryi ng to D
ownturns prove time and again how important it is for Nevada to diversify its economy. State leaders know it cannot just rely on one certain industry. But economic diversification has been an unattainable goal for decades. The Great Recession hammered the point home again. When Brian Sandoval ran for governor in 2010 and took office in 2011, he made diversification a key piece of his platform. The cornerstone of his effort is broadening technology. Consider: • Nevada wants to expand its aerospace defense industry and has thousands of acres of open space for testing facilities at the Nevada National Security Site, formerly known as the Nevada Test Site. The state is looking to be a key player in the development of unmanned aerial vehicles — drones — for civilian purposes. • The state has embraced clean energy and has several initiatives in place to take advantage of local solar, wind and geothermal resources. • Nevada is relatively free of earthquakes and catastrophic storms, making it a good candidate for electronic data and records storage. Several companies have recognized that and have built or are building facilities to protect servers. • Technology is rapidly changing the gaming industry. Technological visionaries are finding new ways to entertain people and deliver better experiences. And Nevada is one of the nation’s leaders in the development of Internet gambling. The push to expand the state’s tech sector already has begun. Las Vegas companies such as Switch, a data center for Fortune 1000 companies, and IT Strategies, a technology consultant, not only settled here but are helping to market the state to colleagues. “We’ve been a secret for a long time,” said Kristi Overgaard, who leads Switch’s brand development efforts. “But it’s time for us to make a difference.” Switch founder and CEO Rob Roy has shunned publicity through most of his career but has shifted his philosophy — a good thing both for Switch and the state. He accepted Sandoval’s appointment to the governor’s economic development commission and even hosted commission meetings at his high-security Switch SuperNAP facility. Such partnerships are key, according to Steve Hill, director of the state Economic Development Office. Selling Nevada as a technology hub requires endorsements from tech companies that already are here. “It’s critical that this be a private sector-led initiative,” Hill said. Successful Nevadans must sell both the state’s business-friendly climate and its quality of life, those leading the effort said. “One of the things I think we need to emphasize is that Las Vegas is one city that has the undercurrent of ‘anything is possible,’” Overgaard said. “Here we are in the middle of the desert, yet we have New York City on one corner and Paris on another. There’s energy night and day. And for the most part, our leaders say, ‘You want to do that? OK.’
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“I think years ago, quality of life was a more difficult conversation because the Las Vegas brand is so embedded in casino life,” she continued. “But that’s changed. We’re now a better balanced community.” Overgaard pointed to the ongoing transition downtown as an example of how the city is moving beyond just the casino industry. Still, negative perceptions about Las Vegas remain one of the challenges in efforts to recruit tech companies to Southern Nevada, “We’re really not known as a tech hub,” said Mike Yoder, chief technology officer for WinTech, a Las Vegas company that developed virtual office receptionist technology. “When you think of Las Vegas, you think of Elvis and showgirls, not technology.” While Las Vegas’ image in some ways hurts recruiting efforts, Nevada’s low tax rate helps balance that out. “The draw for Nevada has always been the attractive tax structure and its friendly business laws,” Yoder said. “Especially when you compare it to California.”
“It’s critical that this be a private sector-led initiative” Cheap housing also is a draw. “Housing has always been pretty attractive, even though we’ve had a lot of negative stuff with the foreclosure crisis,” Yoder said. “But the flip side of that is that we do have some very affordable housing here now.” Tech companies are working together and becoming better connected through the effort. Those partnerships also must continue for the state’s tech sector to grow, Yoder said.
g row a tech sector “There’s definitely still a stigma over schools,” Abajian said. “But I think you’re going to find some good and bad on this like you’d find good and bad anywhere.” As for higher education, Hill said IT companies looking at Nevada aren’t necessarily seeking massive changes to the university system, a fix that would take millions of dollars the state has little hope of raising. Instead, they’re interested in seeing computer industry certification programs developed by private colleges or even high schools. Other companies want to partner with universities on research programs and have met with department heads at UNLV and UNR to develop programs to meet their needs. The state hopes to help that effort by bringing together investors and people in the local tech sector. The Nevada Institute for Renewable Energy Commercialization, for example, recently assembled about 150 people for the first-ever SciTech Hookup, a fundraising showcase for entrepreneurs, investors, business people and community leaders. The event included speakers and panelists who discussed the challenge of building a tech economy in Southern Nevada’s gaming-dominated landscape.
“We have the ability to fly in and out of nearly every place in the world. And there’s no state income tax.” Efforts by the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, the Nevada Development Authority and the Technology Business Alliance of Nevada are helping the cause.
Among the challenges they mentioned is persuading many of the city’s wealthy retirees to contribute to tech research programs at local schools. Many of the residents are transplants with ties to other institutions and are more inclined to give gifts to them than to UNLV or UNR. State officials also announced at the SciTech event the launch of Project Vesto, a contest that offers a $100,000 prize to a startup with less than $1 million in revenue and $100,000 in external equity. A panel will judge five-minute pitches by entrepreneurial contestants, then Nevadans will choose a winner by voting online. Organizers hope to host more networking events with the ultimate goal of creating a Permanent School Fund to support public education through profits generated by investments in science and technology.
The alliance is a growing organization that aims to foster high-tech growth in Nevada. It is dedicated to helping startups find employees, customers and financing. Almost everyone associated with TBAN has business associations from out of state, so it’s a matter of coordinating efforts to find companies to entice to move or expand here. It isn’t easy to recruit companies that are well-established elsewhere, but Southern Nevada can — and must — market its business-friendly and tech-hungry environment, said Tori Abajian, director of business development for IT Strategies, which addresses strategic planning, project management, system analysis and programming. “The infrastructure is excellent,” Abajian said. “We have data centers and connectivity to the Internet. We have good people in town that are very skilled. We have the ability to fly in and out of nearly every place in the world. And there’s no state income tax.” Of course, there are challenges too. Nevada is continuously criticized for its shortcomings in education.
IGM NOV 2012 ~ 15
Protect Your Brand: A Tale of Three Casinos
ot long ago when gaming was booming globally, it wasn’t unusual for gaming companies to build properties within driving distance of one another, if not within the same market. Those casinos are still with us, but they can pose a challenge related to branding. More than ever, these casinos must provide consistently excellent customer service. Their guests will expect it. Here’s why. If I eat at a chain restaurant in Los Angeles and then visit one of its sister restaurants in London, I will expect the quality of the food and service to be the same at both locations. If the two restaurants are across town from each other or even a few blocks apart, my expectations will be even stronger. Some casinos with multiple properties in the same market are failing this test and I know it from first-hand experience. My wife and I once visited a number of casinos on a business trip. Three of them were the same brand in the same city and I expected our experience as customers to be similar at all three. I was more than disappointed. I was traumatized at the differences among the properties. Let’s take a look at this problem. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll talk about casinos A, B and C. Please note this is an egregious fabrication and any resemblance to real casinos is accidental – or not. It’s very important to note that guests do not make a distinction among properties A, B or C. If the brand is the same or similar at all three properties, these casinos are all the same to customers. In a customer’s mind, this means that if one is great, they are all great. The opposite is also true from the customer’s point of view. If one is lousy, they all are and customers will tell more people about their gaming experience if it’s a poor one. We started at property A. We had noticed billboards advertising it and recognized the name. As we approached the market area, we could see the casino and thought it would be a great place for us to start our visit. As a matter of fact, we were excited to visit the property and its relatives in the area. As we drove into the parking garage, we both commented that things looked a little rough. The signage looked old and worn. But that was only the parking area. The casino would probably be great. We couldn’t have been more wrong. As we walked into the property, we noticed one thing over and over. Dirt! The carpet was dirty and looked awful. You could see ashes on the carpet everywhere. Even the windows were a mess. We decided the property could just be having a bad day. It happens. Wrong again. We walked onto the casino floor and right into a huge letdown. The casino was dark, small and confusing. Unfortunately, those were the good points. The casino was so uninviting, we wanted to leave at that very moment. When we approached the player’s club to get our cards, the employee who greeted us was nice. He smiled and even made a fun joke. But when we asked for cords to attach to our cards, he told us we had to buy them in the gift shop. I was stunned that this casino wouldn’t give away a simple cord. I suppose if they can’t afford to hire cleaning people, they also can’t afford such a trifle giveaway. We gave our visit one last shot. We tried one of the restaurants just to see if that would lift our spirits. The service in the restaurant wasn’t bad. The people were nice. I wouldn’t say friendly, but they were at least pleasant. The food was OK but expensive for a sandwich and chips.
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That was it. We’d had enough and walked out as quickly as we could. Casino executives need to pay close attention to my next comment. Based on that one experience, if we were average consumers, we would never visit another casino with that brand. But by now, we were on a quest. Casino B was next. Would it be better or are all three that bad? We entered Casino B and immediately noticed a difference. It was clean, open and looked inviting. It was a property that we would enjoy visiting again in many ways. It was also a newer property and I understand designs for old and new properties are different. But it’s just too easy for guests to generalize and decide that A and B are the same. The company that owns these casinos better hope people go to property B first. How could one casino be so terrible and the next one much better? Now we simply had to go to casino C, the tie breaker. Would it be the one that makes me encourage friends to visit brand X casinos? Or would it be the final nail in a large casino coffin that should be buried deep? Here’s the kicker. Casino C was very nice! It was clean and had a great energy. I would want to tell people to visit and enjoy themselves. But should I risk it? What if they didn’t listen to exactly what I said and went to casino A? What if they thought property A was my definition of a nice casino? What if they went in and felt so dirty after 10 minutes they longed for a clean room where they could get sterilized? It’s critical to remember that your company is only as good as its reputation. You are only as good as the word that circulates about you on the street. And if you have more than one property in the same local market, you simply must pay attention to what’s going on. I know that people talk about casino A in the city we visited. Our experience was not a one-time event. That property has serious needs and everyone in the area knows it. I can hear the typical excuses from the executive team when something like that happens. “You can’t get good workers here.” “We have a union.” “We don’t have a union.” “We don’t have any money.” Customers don’t care about those excuses. When a company spends hundreds of millions dollars on a property and it has other properties in the area that are not up to par, it doesn’t matter how great the new one is. People will still talk about casino A. If you want to have a successful brand, you need to make sure your quality, guest service and cleanliness are great at all your properties, not just the newest one. Protect your brand. Protect your future. Martin R. Baird is chief executive officer of Robinson & Associates, Inc., a Boise, Idaho-based consulting firm to the global gaming industry that is dedicated to helping casinos improve their guest service so they can compete and generate future growth and profitability. Robinson & Associates is the world leader in casino guest experience measurement, management and improvement. For more information, visit the company’s Web sites at www. casinocustomerservice.com and www.advocatedevelopmentsystem.com or contact the company at 208-9912037. Robinson & Associates is a member of the Casino Management Association and an associate member of the National Indian Gaming Association.
Interview with Neil Erlick SVP Business Development,Optimal Payments Optimal Payments join the IGA6 as Sponsors, we talk to Neil Erlick about Optimal and why they wanted to be a part of this global event.
Q: Thank you for your time, let us start the interview with the news on Optimal Payments and Caesars, according to the news reports Optimal will be the payment processor of choice for Caesars Interactive (CIE). Is that correct and can you tell us exactly what will mean for both companies? NE: Under the agreement, Optimal will supply CIE with gateway services related to payment processing and fraud management. The deal is exciting and means that Caesars Interactive is likely to be well placed to be one of the first operators to offer regulated online poker in Nevada. It’s an honour to be associated with such a well-established and respected brand like Caesars and we are looking forward to building on this relationship as the US regulated market continues to evolve over the next few years.
Q: This is a very important business relationship for Optimal, are you hoping for more developments in Nevada for other operators to use your services? NE: Absolutely. We believe we have
the best - and most complete – offering. With our extensive experience in regulated markets, and track record of working with both publicly traded companies and governments, as well as supporting land based casinos moving online, our solutions are tailor- made for this industry. We are continuing discussions with a number of the major operators in Nevada who are looking to take part in the regulated online market there.
Millions of consumers in over 180 countries have trusted the NETELLER eWallet payment account service offered by Optimal Payments to safely transfer billions of dollars around the globe since we launched it in 1999. Why? Instant transfers, 100% funds indemnification, embedded MasterCards, support for 17 currencies and 13 languages, marketing and loyalty programs, stringent identity, age and Know Your Customer processes, and low FX rates are just some of the reasons it is preferred by both consumers and merchants.
“The IGA is always a great event. This prestigious event is unique in its efforts with charities and it’s an honour to be able to support this special evening and help the broader community.”
Q: How do you view the current state of online gambling in the US, do you think it is best for a Federal or state by state legislation for online gambling to be legal? NE: I think a federal bill at the end of the day would be easiest to manage from a regulatory perspective, but I think we are a long way away from this becoming reality. It’s looking more and more like it will be on a state by state basis, as we’ve seen in Delaware and Nevada. Other states are actively looking at regulation, but only time will tell. In any event, at Optimal, we are preparing our products and services to be ready for either outcome – and supporting those operators who want to participate in a rapidly growing regulated market.
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Q: Where currently in the world does Optimal offer their services?
Q: For our readers who are involved in land based gambling and not online, if a company wants to run an online gambling site, receives all the necessary licensing, when and how does a payment processor come in and what is needed for a payment processor like Optimal to offer their services? NE: It’s funny … payments
is an area often overlooked for new entrants into the online space. Operators initially focus on getting licensed, setting up the technology, targeting new customers with extensive marketing campaigns, and making the game itself attractive to players. Obviously the site can’t run without a player account management system or the actual software platform, but players can’t start wagering unless they have a way to deposit funds! We have experience working with the land based operators and we can hold their hand, set them up and walk them through the necessary steps to make sure the first players arrive at the table with money. If there’s one message, it’s that the operators should engage the payment company at the earliest opportunity… at Optimal Payments we have so much experience helping new entrants to the online market, particularly in regulated markets, that we can add value across the board, in areas such as fraud and risk management, as well as payments.
Q: Has the company seen an increase in new online operators recently, what is the trend in new operations as the company sees it? NE: We are always adding new clients, but I think the online gaming market (at least in Europe) is becoming slightly saturated. There is an increasing amount of merger and acquisition activity where we see some of the larger operators combining their businesses – scale is still important, particularly in the lower margin segments such as sports betting. However, we do see a number of new merchants taking advantage of emerging markets such as Latin America, and niche games/marketing are still growing. There is also a trend towards mobile/social gaming as the lines between traditional operators and social media companies begin to blur. Q: On a licensing front, are there any licensing jurisdictions that Optimal does not recognise and as such cannot offer their services? NE: Optimal works with legally licensed operators around the globe. We have a strict policy on which countries we will and will not provide services to. Currently we offer services to customers in over 180 countries.
Q: Again for our non-online gambling readers, what is the process Optimal uses to verify a legitimate company and what safeguards are there from a payment processor side? NE: Optimal has a formal merchant acceptance policy which ensures we carry out all the requisite checks before taking on a new operator. We are publicly traded and we are licensed by the FSA - we need to make sure that both our customers and the company are protected from financial and reputational risk by partnering with the right organisations. Our on-boarding checks include company financials credit checks, company searches, reviews of history including previous processing relationships, identifying the principals involved, requesting references and in some cases site inspections. All of these ensure we know our customer before the first transaction takes place. We also continue to monitor merchants after take on. We take risk management and underwriting very seriously – whether before boarding an account or once they are live it is a huge part of our business. Outside of technology, our compliance/risk/underwriting teams are our biggest group of employees, making sure all transactions are monitored in real time, so that any issues are identified before they become problems – for us or our customers.
Q: On to more lighter subjects, Optimal have announced their sponsorship of the 6th International Gaming Awards (IGA), why does Optimal believe this is an event to support?
NE: The International Gaming Awards is always a great event. The IGA recognises the best the gaming industry has to offer, both operators and suppliers, from the online and land-based worlds, from across the globe. This prestigious event is unique in its efforts with charities and it’s an honour to be able to support this special evening and help the broader community.
Q: Optimal actually won the award last year for Best Payment Processor of the Year, what makes Optimal such a leading company in their field?
NE: Optimal Payments is a leading provid-
er of online payments solutions. Our offering to operators is always tailored to meet their precise requirements – and we are not just talking about payments. Our business has always been a pre-eminent partner to both online and increasingly land-based gaming operators since our foundation in the late 1990s.
Operators are increasingly looking for a complete service – not just handling their payments, but looking after their customer data, managing their risks around financial transactions, and ensuring they’re not exposed to fraud. Optimal Payments has shown again that it is ideally placed to do all of this – it’s what we’ve been doing since 1996 – and our approach to tailoring solutions for our customers means we’re able to provide more than just payments.
Q: Finally Neil, how is 2013 looking for the company, will it be expanding more in the US or Europe, what does the future hold for the company? NE: 2012 has been a great year for Optimal. We have seen strong growth in our underlying processing business, NETBANX, as well as the NETELLER eWallet business. We’ve signed some new major partnerships, including Caesars Interactive, and the Lotus F1 Team. 2013 promises to be another good year, as our pipeline of business is strong and new merchants signed this year come online. The US gaming market represents a good opportunity for us and we’re also anticipating the launch of a new mobile-enabled eWallet early in 2013. In all, exciting times!
IGM NOV 2012 ~ 19
Interview With Orrin Edidin WMS Interactive President & CEO
nfinity Gaming Magazine sat down with Orrin Edidin, the man leading the charge for Williams Interactive into the online world. Q: Williams Interactive was set up in July of 2012, what was the reasoning behind it?
OE: Williams Interactive is the home for all of the WMS interactive initiatives and businesses, both wagering and non-wagering. We’ve been monitoring the interactive space since the late 1990’s, but not until 2008 did we begin to push forward with the development of our online gaming operations. Then in 2010, after major research and development, we launched Jackpot Party, a legal online UK-based casino. Our goal was to develop, deploy, test and improve a regulatory compliant online software platform, and to build and grow our capabilities in order to offer a fullsuite of B2B managed services to our casino customers. With the explosion in social gaming, we felt it was the right time to make a move into this sphere, and the formation of Williams Interactive met our brand identity and management objectives. To ensure our success, we assembled an incredibly talented team from WMS and two recent acquisitions, Phantom EFX and Jadestone Group. The experienced and agile Phantom team brings a decade of playfor-fun slot development experience and an entrepreneurial spirit which allows them to quickly and efficiently design and develop high-quality slot games for online, casual and mobile applications. They are passionately entrepreneurial and, like WMS, have an energetic culture that is built on quality and creativity. In addition to expanding our expertise, Phantom has accelerated our growth in the social space. The acquisition of Jadestone Group AB, a leading developer, publisher and distributor of online gaming content and entertainment, was a strategic technology enabler that supplements and enriches the existing WMS portfolio of gaming content, online products and content distribution. Like Phantom, the Jadestone team has a culture built on innovative game design, but with a particular focus on multi-player skill games and creative user interface designs that complement the WMS focus on great slot content. Now with more than 175 employees around the world, Williams Interactive has three business lines— online gaming operations, content
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distribution via remote game servers, and social/casual games. When we announced our launch, our customers said they wanted great content, a strong brand and an array of managed services—and that is what we are delivering to them.
Q: What locations around the World is Williams Interactive strong in? OE: Our current focus is on more mature markets, such as Europe,
while we work to build a pipeline of land-based operators in the slowly evolving U.S. market. In June, we entered into an agreement with Group Partouche, one of Europe’s largest casino operators, to build and deploy a branded online site with an array of WMS’ proven, premium licensed and proprietary slot games as well as a Baccarat, Roulette, Blackjack and Video Poker. We expect this site to launch in early 2013. On the U.S. side, we combined forces with 888 Holdings to provide a complete end-to-end poker solution allowing land-based casino operators to leverage and aggregate their respective customer databases in order to build a large-scale pool of players necessary to deliver optimal player engagement and enjoyment. And, now that we have received our Nevada operator’s license for online gaming, we expect to offer our casino customers substantial services when that market is ready, possibly in early 2013.
Q: Some companies have looked at Social Gaming, using
platforms like FaceBook to promote their brands and games. What is Williams Interactive position with this?
OE: Indeed, we are very involved in social gaming as
part of our interactive products and services offerings. Our recent acquisitions of Phantom EFX and Jadestone allow us to offer an array of comprehensive services to our customers.
Q: Can Williams Interactive see any Federal changes to online gaming during the November to January lame duck session? OE: I believe it is unlikely to get into Federal
legislation in the short term, but there is some hope. At present, state-by-state legislation seems the more likely outcome.
Q: There is of course a lot of competition now in the interactive sector. What would you say sets Williams Interactive apart?
Being a leading global supplier of proven casino game content is our biggest competitive advantage. Our longstanding reputation as a respected supplier, our continuous evolution as a company to ensure the very best services and technology, along with our growing catalogue of games, both in land-based form and interactive, makes WMS a leader in our field. We do not stand back and admire our achievements, but constantly look for ways that we can improve our products, services and platforms.
Q: Do you see online as the main growth not just for WMS but for all traditional land based manufacturers in the future?
4 FEBURAURY 2013 THE BREWERY LONDON
OE: Change is inevitable, and convergence of land-based casino gaming and interactive online is a sure bet. Let me be clear, our land-based casinos are not going away, and there will always be a demand for cabi net-based machines. However, as the industry evolves, we’ll see new platforms, such as tablets, and new technology come into play. It’s very similar to the movie industry. Where once there were only movie-houses, now consumers take full advantage of movie entertainment in all forms—at the theatre, online, streamed and in Dvd-format.
Our customers want to hear about our interactive plans, so that they can get ahead of the curve. We are prepared to offer them a broad set of value-added interactive solutions, products and managed services.
Q: What is your opinion on Asia for online gaming in particular? OE: When online gaming happens in Asia, it will be huge. The availability of super-fast broadband, or lack thereof, and the regulatory environment are the key stumbling blocks at present. Once those issues are addressed, Asia will certainly be a major sector.
Q: How has the new interactive arm of WMS been received by customers so far?
6th International Gaming Awards
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OE: It has been received extremely well. The “Williams” brand is a wellknown brand, and operators look for a company that they know and can trust. At the recent G2E in Las Vegas, the Williams Interactive products and services got rave reviews. We look forward to working with our current and new customers to bring them a full portfolio of products from our expanding catalogue of services.
IGM IGP NOV 2012 ~ 21
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Interview with Kara Scott Pt:1 TV personality, journalist and poker player Q: Good speaking to you today Kara and thank you for taking the time to speak to Infinity Gaming Magazine. Can we start at the beginning of your career, you actually started in Backgammon not poker? KS: My TV career actually began in Sports, Martial Arts to be exact. I had never really considered working in television until my Muay Thai trainer in London mentioned to me that a producer he knew was looking for someone to host a show on Channel 5. It was just a bit of a lark at first and then I realised that I really loved the medium and began to pursue other jobs in TV as well. The first gaming job that I landed was for a show about Backgammon which was then picked up by a poker channel in the UK. The producers on that channel liked my work and asked me to come in and audition for a show about poker and the rest is history!
I think that the two sides of my job dovetail really nicely. Being a player means that I can do my job as a journalist with more depth and understanding of the subject. Being a journalist in poker means that I get to pick the brain of some of the best players in the industry and that definitely improves my game!
Q: How good are you at Backgammon do you play for money? KS: When I took the job hosting a show about Backgammon, I had never really played much at all. I did a crash course on the game with an excellent British Pro and spent a couple of weeks reading everything I could on it and cramming as much understanding in as possible. I found it to be a really fascinating game and started playing myself, both for fun and to help me better do my job. I even played the World Championship doubles event with one of the legends of the game, Paul Magriel, many years ago. I have to admit that most of the decisions were definitely his though and I was just in charge of rolling the dice. Once I found poker, I didn’t have very much time to spend on Backgammon so sadly, I’ve let my game go.
Q: Moving on, you have done a lot of TV work for poker channels, what has been the funniest moment during your time and what has been the most stressful?
KS: I think many of the funniest moments that I had in TV were back in the days when I hosted a small UK cable TV show called ‘Poker Night Live.’ It was a bit of a low budget, cult classic. I would spend hours late at night in a tiny room, sitting behind a desk with a poker pro and we would commentate through every hand of tournaments that were being played online. The late hour and the isolation led to a lot of crazy banter and I think we became more well known for the ridiculous non-poker topics that we covered each night, rather than our insight into the game!
The most stressful moment of my career was definitely in the lead up to hosting one of the most iconic TV programmes in poker, the iconic ‘High Stakes Poker.’ That was the first poker show that I’d ever watched myself and I knew how important it was to the audience. It was also my first big American television job and I was going to be co-hosting with Gabe Kaplan – the man is a legend both in and out of poker - and so the pressure not to mess it up was immense. Thankfully, the crew that I worked with were incredible professionals and they made sure that it all went smoothly.
Q: What do you prefer, being in front of the camera or playing poker? KS: I love how my job as an ambassador for Party Poker allows me to do both. I host all of their TV content but I also play live events with their patch and as their representative. It means that no matter what I’m doing, I always feel like I’m playing hooky from work! When I’m spending a lot of time working on the TV side of things, playing a tournament feels like a huge bonus and a break from my ‘real’ job. When I’m grinding a lot of poker events in a row, going back in front of the camera feels like a bit of a holiday.
IGM NOV 2012 ~ 23
Interview with Kara Scott Pt:2 TV personality, journalist and poker player The Infinity Gaming Magazine caught up with the gorgeous Kara Scott, to find out more about this multi talented lady and her move back to Europe.
Q: On poker, you of course play the game and indeed cashed out twice at the WSOP main event, what does Kara Scott see as the future in poker for herself?
KS: Cashing deep in the Main Event was a great experience. I haven’t been able to play that tournament over the past couple of years because I’m now working with ESPN on the live coverage for the WSOP but one day, I’m sure I’ll be back behind those chips. For now, I love the buzz of doing live TV for such a huge channel as ESPN and with such an incredible team of people. I’ve had a lot of success in my poker for someone who doesn’t actually play full time or for my living. I’d love to win another tournament. The ultimate for me would be to win a World Poker Tour title but I’m going to have to put a lot more hours of work into my poker game to get up to that level! Q: You are now working for PartyPoker, can you tell our readers about your role with the poker website? KS: The past few years, I’ve been an ambassador for Party Poker. That means that I represent them to the poker community but playing live events with their branding and doing PR for them. It also means that I host all of their TV content – shows like the Premier League, the Party Poker Big Game, the European Open etc. When they approached me about signing me to their team, I was really excited because the first big live tournament I won was a TV tournament that they’d sponsored. I’d also hosted a few TV shows for them in the past so signing on to work with them full time was an easy decision. Q: Of course you covered the recent WSOP main event final table, what was that like? KS: The WSOP Main Event final table is like nothing else in poker. The atmosphere is absolutely incredible! Throughout the entire thing, over 24 ~ IGM NOV 2012
15 hours of poker, the crowd never stopped chanting, singing, screaming and cheering. It was electric. The players have this huge 3 month build up to prepare for the biggest final table of their lives and you can tell just how important it is to them to be there. It’s tense, it’s exciting and we some absolutely incredible deep stacked poker play. I love it!
Q: Did the best guy win this year? KS: There were some really amazing poker players at the Final Table this year and Greg Merson was certainly one of them. No single poker tournament can determine who is ‘the best’ overall because poker is a game that depends on the long run. But it was no fluke that these talented players reached this final. When you look at some of their histories in the game, their track records in both tournaments and cash games, you can see just how professional they are. Greg Merson did not need to prove himself as a player, he was already among the best, but this win has cemented him in people’s minds, absolutely. Q: In your opinion Kara, what makes a great professional poker player? KS: The best poker players are incredibly disciplined. They play more than anyone else and they analyse their hands more than anyone else. They eat, breathe and sleep the game and they know all of the math inside out. There is definitely some innate talent involved as well – tendency towards aggressiveness in pots, fearlessness, the ability to perform under pressure. What a lot of people don’t see though, is just how hard the great poker players work. They put in a ridiculous amount of hours to get to where they are. Like with athletes, there just aren’t any short cuts.
Q: Much has been said about poker being either luck or skill, is it both, what is your thoughts? KS: Well, like I said the amount of work that players put into the game is key. There is certainly luck involved in poker – that’s one of the great things about the game! – but in the long run, over thousands and thousands and thousands of hands, the best players will win more. In the short term, anyone can win but it’s the long run where poker really shows who has the most skill. Luck keeps it interesting for those of us who don’t have that x-factor though! Q: You have covered so many live main poker events, tell us what is the life of a poker professional like? KS: Poker Players have a very transient
lifestyle. There’s so much travelling and so many hotel rooms, lots of club sandwiches and late nights. A lot of your time is spent at the poker tables, either playing in tournaments or grinding the cash games once you’ve busted. There’s such a big community of players who travel the different circuits that each tournament is like a reunion. Different groups of people meet up and spend time together. It can be a bit lonely to be on the road all of the time but the poker players and the media who cover the events are really close and that makes it seem like more of a travelling circus than anything else.
Q: Is there enough women professional poker players? KS: Women make up a much smaller portion of the poker population than men do, that’s simple fact right now. The female player numbers have been growing and hopefully will continue to do so. There are some great female poker players (or actually, just great poker players who happen to be female) like Vanessa Selbst who show that women most certainly can
Photo Courtesy of Caroline Darcourt
and do compete at the highest levels. It will just take time for more women to take up poker and work their way to that level.
Q: Do you think a women will win the WSOP main event one day and why has it not happened yet? KS: I think it’s definitely possible that a woman will be the Main Event champion one day. The fact that it’s not happened yet makes sense though when you think that only 3-5% of the field is female. Q: Where are you based now, you were living in America, but there were some stories saying you are back in Europe now? KS: I am in the process of moving back to Europe. I left the USA early this year after 3 years in California. I’ll be on the road around Europe for a few more months but am definitely looking for a place to call home over here after so long on the road. Q: Before we let you go, what does the future hold for Kara Scott, more TV work, more playing poker or something else? KS: I love my work with
Party Poker and ESPN and hopefully will continue to do both for a long time to come. Moving back to Europe also means that I can start playing poker online again and I’m excited to dust off my game and get back to working more seriously at the tables.
IGM NOV 2012 ~ 25
Isle of Man | London | Paris | Dublin | Singapore | Gibraltar Guernsey | Malta | Montreal
Itâ€™s all in hand...
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Bally CEO Richard Haddrill stepping down
Bally & SHFL do deal on content
Bally Technologies announced that CEO Richard Haddrill is stepping down from his post and that Ramesh Srinivasan will become president, CEO and a board member at the end of 2012.
Bally Technologies has entered into an agreement that permits it to offer customers table-game content from fellow American firm SHFL Entertainment.
Haddrill, CEO since 2004, will become chairman of the board under a leadership transition plan.
Las Vegas-based Bally stated that the deal will see ‘best-in-class online casino table-game content’ from SHFL Entertainment made available to users of its iGaming Platform, which will allow them to ‘deliver top offerings in online casino table games to their players’.
Srinivasan joined Bally in 2005 as executive vice president of systems and was named president and chief operating officer in March 2011. “The board of directors is very pleased with the direction of the company and our succession planning process. We value the strong executive team at Bally and the close working relationship between Ramesh and Dick, which we expect to continue,” said current board Chairman Kevin Verner. “Ramesh and I have been great business partners over the past 13 years across two companies and these changes reflect the continued natural evolution of our roles and responsibilities. We have built a deep group of leaders at Bally and Ramesh has proven his ability to lead the team,” Haddrill said in a statement.
Texas to go for casinos in 2013
Texas lawmakers began filing bills before the 2013 legislative session. Many of the proposed laws were familiar reruns, but others will set the tone for politics next year including casinos in the state. Many of the bills focus on schools, pre-kindergarten classes along with a bill making it an offense for a car driver to read, write or send a text message or similar communication while moving. However the bill for the gambling industry is that Texans could decide whether to allow casino gambling in the state, if a joint resolution introduced by Democratic Sen. Rodney Ellis passes next year. The Houston lawmakers wants state revenue from gambling to help pay for public schools.
“We are pleased to have entered into this agreement with SHFL Entertainment,” said John Connelly, Business Development Vice-President for Bally. “One of Bally’s commitments to our interactive customers is to provide them with best-in-class content from the leading licensed suppliers from around the world. Operators will have the ability to choose from an array of world-class content, enabling them to maximise their revenue and competitive advantage. The products we can now offer from SHFL Entertainment furthers our ability to fulfill this commitment.” Integrated with core patron, slot management and business intelligence systems, Bally declared that its open iGaming Platform enables land-based casinos to offer customers social and wager-based poker, table games, video slots, sportsbetting and social connection services. The Golden Nugget venues in Las Vegas and Atlantic City recently became the first to take advantage of this service via the GoldenNuggetPoker.com domain while Mohegan Sun casinos in Uncasville, Connecticut, and Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, are also to utilise the innovation along with four sites owned by American Casino and Entertainment Properties. “This agreement with Bally and its business-to-business focus in the online interactive market fully aligns with our strategy to leverage our renowned proprietary table games brands online,” said Louis Castle, Chief Strategy Officer for Las Vegas-based SHFL Entertainment, Las Vegas-based SHFL Entertainment, which was previously known as Shuffle Master Incorporated. “Our online content is comprised of the same offerings that have proven to be so successful in land-based casinos including Three Card Poker, Casino War, Let It Ride, Ultimate Texas Hold’Em, our popular side bets and our progressives to name a few.”
Lawmakers filed almost 200 bills and resolutions on Monday, and they may add more until the final months of the session. The bills are referred to committees, which hear testimony and debate their merits before deciding whether to pass them on to the entire legislature for consideration for 2013.
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MPs attack former gambling company owner over hypocrisy” T he All Party Betting and Gaming Committee has complained about the “materially misleading” anti FOBT campaign by Derek Webb, who
looking at ways to tighten the rules on opening new betting shops to restrict machine growth. While the MPs on the gaming committee accept there is a legitimate debate over the machines, they are aghast at some of the claims made by Mr Webb. Their complaint to the ASA argues that he has provided no evidence for claiming there are “thousands of families who fall foul of FOBT addiction each year” or that: “The reason so many new betting shops are opening up on our high streets is to offer more FOBTs on which you can bet up to £10 nearly every 20 seconds.” Mr Davies points out that the Gambling Commission’s latest prevalence survey shows that between 2007 and 2010 the percentage of people gambling on FOBTs has only risen from 3pc to 4pc, while problem gamblers playing on such machines “went down by half a percentage point”. Senior bookmaking sources also point to the alleged “hypocrisy” of Mr Webb. He is the founder of casino games developer Prime Table Games, which he sold in October last year to the Las Vegas-based Galaxy Gaming for $23m (£14.5m).
made almost £15m in the casino industry but is now leading an attack on bookmakers. Having dubbed the fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) in the shops the “crack cocaine of gambling”, Mr Webb took out advertisements at the Lib Dem, Labour and Conservative party conferences calling for a clampdown on the machines. The campaign by Mr Webb, who is a top 20 Lib Dem donor, having given the party £25,000 in the past 13 months and is the former owner of Prime Table Games, which he sold last year Galaxy Gaming for $23m (£14.5m). Adverts from the “Campaign for Fairer Gambling” read: “Pull the plug on bookmakers’ addictive roulette machines”, asking: “Which side is your party on? The bookmakers’, or society’s?”. The MPs’ gaming committee has complained to the Advertising Standards Authority over what it sees as a highly “subjective” campaign in which Mr Webb persistently portrays opinions as fact. A letter, signed by Conservative MP Philip Davies, co-chairman of the 20-strong committee, complains that Mr Webb’s adverts present information that is “without objective substantation, factually inaccurate, denigratory, omits material information and expresses subjective opinion as if these are objective claims”. The letter was sent earlier this month. Ministers are expected to announce a review within weeks of the evidence relating to problem gambling and betting machines, in particular – the takings from which could this year overtake the traditional over-the-counter businesses at William Hill and Ladbrokes. Don Foster, the Lib Dem communities minister, used the party’s conference in September to echo Mr Webb’s calls for maximum stakes to be cut from £100 to £2. Labour is also
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Asked if he was campaigning against the bookies to protect his interests in the casino industry, Mr Webb said that was a “complete red herring”. He added: “Over the years everyone involved in gambling has profited in some way from addictive gamblers. I have retired. I want to put something back .” Asked at the Lib Dem conference if his policy was being influenced by Mr Webb, Mr Foster said: “I’ve met Derek about three times in my life. If there’s anybody who insinuates that his contributions to the party influences what I am doing, I fear they would be in trouble .”
“The campaign by Mr Webb, who is a top 20 Lib Dem donor, having given the party £25,000 in the past 13 months and is the former owner of Prime Table Games, which he sold last year Galaxy Gaming for $23m (£14.5m).”
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Betsson named among illegal online operators in Spain
The Spanish gambling authority is clamping down on what they call illegal operations within their borders ordering twelve unlicenced operators to cease their activities in the Spanish market, one of them named is Betsson. The sanctioned companies are reported to have ten days in which to comply with the order & are said to include: UWin Poker, Betsson, Gaming VC (Betboo), Come On Europe Ltd, DreamMakers Gaming Tech, Tempo Gaming Ltd, RM Royal Media Group NV, Midas Player Ltd (king.com), Media Entertainment (offsidebet.com), 12Bet, 10bet.com Ltd. & Globet International Sports. Betsson has been shocked by their inclusion in the list. Its chief executive officer Magnus Silfverberg said: “We have no business whatsoever in Spain,“ we don’t target Spain or do anything in Spain , but we have a site in Spanish for the many people around the world who speak Spanish.”
Commenting on the game’s Beta launch, Mr Malhotra said: “We are really excited to bring to the market a truly original game which provides users with a fun, easy and genuinely social to bet on Facebook.”
“Bookie Mania even has a public bet running in the spirit of the game. If our intern manages to virally secure 5,000 Bookie Mania users by Christmas I will personally dress up in drag as Ms. Santa Claus, shave my legs and dance around Trafalgar Square.” The company also has other initiatives including its Millionaire promotion, in which Bookie Mania makes virtual millionaires of users making the funniest or craziest peer-to-peer bets, and the introduction of Special Events bets that invite users to submit subjects that the public can bet on. The game, which can be accessed via Facebook or www.bookiemania.com, is currently on Facebook only and will be unveiling its applications for Mobile, Tablet and other social platforms next year. Bookie Mania entered into an equity partnership with the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe of Washington State in July early this year.
William Hill partners with ESPN
William Hill has signed a deal to become the exclusive betting partner of the ESPN Goals app and will supply live odds for the Barclays Premier League in a branded “betting zone”.
Sacha Michaud , president of the Spanish Association of Di gital Gaming J Di gital , said: “The closure of the websites of those operators who have not The free ESPN Goals app provides video clips of all the goals in the Barclays complied with regulations demonstrates the degree of seriousness & profes- Premier League. From early December the app will feature a “bet now” butsionalism that we can find in the Spanish online gambling market, which is ton that will supply live odds from William Hill. a clear indication that we are going in the right direction. ESPN Goals users will be able to bet on all the action in the Barclays Premier “Action should be taken against unlicensed operators to have a safe & League in real time through a William Hill-branded “betting zone”, without orderly market but without losing sight of the fact that the occurrence of leaving the app. these cases shows that more work is needed to ensure the Spanish market is attractive enough for customers preventing them from seeking out unregu- William Hill will be the only brand on the app’s loading page. The bookies lated operators.” will be promoted through display banner ads throughout the app and video ads will promote William Hill around video content.
Bookie Mania launches on Facebook
Bookie Mania™, the groundbreaking social game that allows users to bet on anything with anyone for free, has officially unveiled its beta game on Facebook. Bookie Mania uses virtual currency to bring together the social gaming phenomenon with the power of a betting game.
The partnership was negotiated between ESPN and William Hill directly and all creative has been devised by their in-house teams. Alan Fagan, group sales director EMEA at ESPN, said: “This new partnership demonstrates our ability to offer brands integrated, innovative and relevant advertising solutions, connecting them with football fans on whichever device is most relevant.” The ESPN Goals app is available through Apple iTunes, Google Play, Nokia’s OVI store, the Blackberry app world and Windows Phone marketplace.
New features added to the app for this season include selected studio clips, social media Created by Rohin Malhotra, a seasoned veteran of the Media and Gaming sharing capability and industries, Bookie Mania™ provides players with a fun, social non-gambling the ability to personalise betting experience. The game goes far beyond sports betting by letting the app around the user’s players make bets against the House and with other players worldwide on interests or club. a range of international Sports, Movies, Music, Financial Markets and on absolutely anything they want with their Friends.
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Permira sells last shares in Galaxy Entertainment Permira has completed its sale of its remaining share holding in Galaxy Entertainment Group, meaning now the private equity firm has left the Macau gambling industry, which comes as corporate results confirm a sharp slowdown in the world’s largest gaming market by revenue. The UK based equity company was among the first to invest in the Macau gaming sector when it paid US$830m in 2007 for a 20% share in Galaxy. Now selling its last 5.94% stake for US$875m, Permira is estimated to have made a total profit of US$1.4bn on its original investment since it began selling its Galaxy shares in September last year. In other related Macau news Melco Crown Entertainment, a joint venture between Australian billionaire James Packer and Lawrence Ho announced on Wednesday a 7.4%fall in net profit to $104.9m while revenue slipped 4% from a year ago.
Macau gambling revenues rise over 3% in October Gambling revenue in Macau rose 3.2% in October year-on-year, government data showed. October’s revenue of 27.7 billion patacas ($3.5 billion) was the strongest revenue figure this year. Analysts had forecast growth of around 2% during the month. Slower economic growth in China and heightened political scrutiny as the country prepares for a generational power shift have been keeping many cash-rich Chinese gamblers away from Macau’s baccarat tables. Spending by China’s expanding middle class has kept overall gambling revenues from dropping significantly, but growth rates have fallen substantially over the past six months.
MGM China last week reported that revenue rose 6.1% and net profit increased 8.9% in the third quarter. In the same quarter last year, net profit surged an amazing 130%. Sands China has weathered the slowdown better than most rivals because of its focus on mass market gamblers and the opening of a new property. LVS said last week that Sands China’s quarterly net profit grew 17% to $327m while revenue rose 37% to $1.6bn.
Caesars gives up on Macau & golf Caesars Chief Executive Gary Loveman told investors in Las Vegas this month that the company received a clear signal from the Macau government that it wouldn’t grant any more casino licenses to U.S. operators. Mr. Tight, the company’s international executive, says Caesars doesn’t have formal offers for the Macau property but there “has been a signifcant level of interest in the land from a number of potential buyers.”
Macau minimum age raised to 21 Starting the 1st November all workers and visitors in Macau, must be 21 years of age or above to be allowed to enter casinos in the former Portugese enclave. Some casino operators have had this regulation in place for sometime now, but only today was it passed into law. It also includes a provision that allows people to request a voluntary casino entry ban. Macau’s gaming regulator said in a statement yesterday that it will send out its inspectors to provide necessary assistance while casino employees are checking the age of those entering.
Caesars is struggling under debt it accrued from a private-equity buyout in 2007 and its dependence on U.S. gamblers for growth. The Las Vegas company sold 1.4% of itself in an initial public offering early this year. “In the long term the U.S. gaming markets are just not rebounding to the degree they need them to to fix the capital structure,” says Peggy Holloway, an analyst at Moody’s. Even thou Caesars are giving up on Macau, executives say they aren’t giving up on Asia. Caesars is trying to win branding and management contracts for hotels without gambling in Asia—a strategy similar to that of rival MGM Resorts. Caesars last year said it had a deal to manage a future hotel on China’s Hainan island. Mr. Tight says he expects to announce more deals soon. A typical management contract for a large hotel could generate about $3 million to $5 million in revenue a year, he says. The company also is keen to bid for casino licenses in Taiwan as well as Japan, should Tokyo legalize casino gambling.
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Lack of gaming regulations cost Serbia up to 50 million Euros a year The lack of regulations in Serbia’s gaming sector have cost the country 30 to 50 million euros annually for at least the last four years, prompting industry leaders and gaming operators to call for greater oversight. The new government that took power this year eliminated the department that ran the gaming industry and brought the sector under the control of the Republic Tax Administration. Vlajko Senic, state secretary at the Ministry of Finance and Economy, met with gaming sector representatives on September 17th and agreed the industry is in need of reform. He expressed the will for co-operation and said he expected proposals from experts in the field about regulations and improvements. “We’d like to believe that, finally, we have positive signals from the ministry and that some experts will start to work on regulation and control of gaming in Serbia,” Mirjana Acimovic, chairman of the European Gaming and Amusement Federation’s committee for responsible gambling, said. While Serbia has a considerably larger population than its neighbours, unregulated activity has left the country with the lowest gaming revenue in the region. According to Belgrade-based Jakta, the association of gaming organisers, authorised technicians and producers of gaming equipment, Serbia’s annual revenue from slot machines is 45 million euros. In Croatia, where the population is nearly half the size, slot machine revenue is 90 million euros per year. In Macedonia, where the population is less than a third of Serbia’s, slot machine revenue is 120 million euros. Industry experts say a lack of oversight legislation, monitoring systems and technical standards are among the reasons Serbia lags behind its neighbours in gaming revenue. There also exists a significant grey economy in gaming, which causes unfair competition. “Accumulated money in the grey area is huge,” Said Acimovic. Acimovic said unchecked software, unregistered workers and unpaid taxes
and fees are a significant part of the problem. “Another issue is online gaming where the world’s leading companies provide services to our citizens while they do not have license and do not pay fees and taxes, but they damage people who participate in these games, country’s budget in millions, and they are unfair competition, too,” Acimovic said. She added that quality regulation of gaming processes and institutions could lead to a 10-fold increase of industry revenue in a span of three years. Acimovic recommended measures that other nations have taken, including independent laboratories for equipment testing and real-time insight into casino operations and betting. Serbian gaming law is mostly in line with the EU, but provides only a framework. Specific rules and regulations are lacking. “Numerous models and some good solutions for this area were already found, and Serbia doesn’t have to create anything new,” Ana Kolesan, a lawyer at Kovacevic-Kolesan, said. “It can use just one model or combine few of them. Croatia is good example, especially when it comes to accordance between the gaming law and the criminal code.” Kolesan explained that Serbian criminal code has just one crime related to gaming, punishing those guilty of unauthorised organisation of games of chance. The penalty is less than three years in jail or, alternatively, a fine. In Croatia, punishment for the same crime is up to eight years in jail, and fines are not an option. “Benefits of new measures are numerous,” Kolesan said. “The state budget will grow, crime will be combated especially in the area of money laundering, which used to follow this sector, competitors will be loyal and, at least, the influence on youth and risk groups will be much better since regulated systems rarely have negative influence.” Gaming operators said improved industry oversight will help their business. “If we would have regulations as EU states have, the grey economy will be smaller and we will have more chances for better profits, more employers and better conditions for them,” Milija Tanaskovic, director at BeoGaming, said.
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we are poker
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Will the ducks not be so lame this time
he final verse has been written for the 2012 U.S. Presidential Election. That verse reads simply as a surprising status quo from the last two years: Barack Obama retains his job in the White House and Congress remains divided. Until the 113th Congress is sworn in on January 3, 2013, Congress will move into the period colloquially known as the “lame duck session.” It is during this lame duck session that many commentators anticipate that Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) and Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) will introduce federal legislation to authorize online poker. Rumors have circulated for several weeks that Senators Reid and Kyl would soon offer online poker legislation. In mid-October, draft legislation was publicly leaked and has now been widely circulated through the Internet. This is not the first time Senator Reid has floated the concept of federal online poker legislation during a lame duck session. Following the 2010 mid-term elections, rumours ran rampant that Senator Reid would move quickly to introduce and secure the passage of legislation authorizing online poker in the U.S. Ultimately, the rumours of 2010 never materialized to fact. Will the 2012 congressional lame duck session be any different? The answer is anybody’s guess. Conventional wisdom would suggest that online poker legislation will face resistance in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. However, as popular attitudes have evolved and more Republicans have voiced support for federal online poker, coupled with the knowledge that Mr. Obama will remain in office for four additional years, the outlook for the enactment of online poker legislation may improve. The fact that Mr Obama was re-elected should not be lost in the procrastination equation. This effectively means that it is unlikely that the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) will modify its 2011 interpretation of the federal Wire Act.
limited to entities that control or are controlled by a casino gaming facility, a qualified race track, or a qualified card room. • Persons that knowingly accept or accepted bets on sporting events from U.S. persons or are affiliated with any person that knowingly accepts or accepted bets on sporting events from U.S. persons would be ineligible to hold a federal online poker license. •
Significant vendors would also be subject to qualification and
licensing. • An opt-in approach, which would require states to affirmatively elect to allow wagers to be placed by individuals located within the state. • States and federally recognized Indian tribes, meeting certain criteria, would be eligible to be a delegated regulatory authority with respect to the authorized online poker industry. To be eligible to serve as a qualified regulatory body, a state or Indian tribe would need to establish, among other criteria, a reputation as a regulatory and enforcement leader in the gaming industry and a strict regulatory regime. The push to authorize online gaming in the U.S. continues to gain momentum with each passing year. The theme that can be extracted from the 2012 election is the preservation of the status quo. Whether Congress maintains the status quo by not acting on online gaming legislation remains to be seen, but don’t bet on it happening.
While only informal agency action – and not binding agency action – the DOJ, through the auspices of a memorandum opinion released in December 2011, concluded that the Wire Act only extends to prohibit wagering on sporting events. The DOJ’s December 2011 interpretation of the Wire Act represents a complete reversal of its previous long-standing interpretation that the Wire Act applied to criminally prohibit all forms of gambling. If online poker legislation is ultimately introduced, the draft leaked to the public may very well serve as the template. The highlights of Senator Reid’s and Senator Kyl’s draft online poker legislation include: • All forms of i-gaming would be prohibited, except for “on-line poker facilities” that are operated pursuant to a federally issued license. •
Persons eligible to receive a federal online poker license would be
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INTERNATIONAL GAMING AWARDS CEREMONY 4 FEBURAURY 2013 THE BREWERY LONDON
Book your tickets at gaming-awards.com
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Online poker players face long wait from DOJ Online poker players in America hoping for a quick resolution to their Ful lTilt Poker repayments will be very disappointed to hear from the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) which met with officials from the Department of Justice this week. John Pappas, Executive Director for the PPA alongside counsels Marc Zwillinger and Ken Dreifach from law firm ZwillGen PLLC met with the Department of Justice’s Asset Forfeiture and Money Laundering Section in an encounter that was described as ‘cordial’ and ‘productive’. “We provided the Department of Justice with information and insights on what the player community expects from the remission process and how we believe such a process ought be administered to assure fairness,” read a statement from the PPA. “Our first priority was to reaffirm our earlier assertions from an August 8, 2012, letter that 100 percent of player account balances be made available to players through the remission process. We laid out compelling legal and practical arguments why full repayment was the only equitable solution. “We also raised the issue of ‘player point’ balances on FullTilt Poker and encouraged the Department of Justice to recognise the inherent value of these points when they consider what a player is owed. “Our thoughts on these matters were well received. However, it was clear from our discussion that no decisions have been made at the Department of Justice regarding the manner of repayment of player balances. Nevertheless, we have provided them with a clear picture of the expectations of the player community.” The PPA stated that it also shared its thoughts with the Department of Justice on how to streamline the process for former players to apply for and receive funds and emphasised the need for a ‘flexible approach’ to authentication and verification. “While they would not confirm so in the meeting, we are hopeful that the Department of Justice has sufficient means to authenticate players based on the records such as user name, passwords, security questions and e-mail addresses,” read the statement from the PPA. Finally, the PPA declared that the refund claims process remains ‘a long way away’ as the Department of Justice is currently in the midst of hiring a third-party claims administrator following a bidding process. “There is no current date certain for that selection to occur but it was evident that, even when a claims administrator is hired, forfeiture and
remission procedures require that a substantial administrative process be adhered to before players begin seeing their funds,” read the statement from the PPA. The PPA intends to ‘remain vigilant’ with its advocacy efforts while reminding players of the ‘staffing and resource limitations’ at the Department of Justice and the ‘numerous other forfeiture cases’ it is currently administering. “This is certainly not good news for those poker players still awaiting the return of their money but it is all the news the PPA can provide at this time,” read the statement from the PPA. “Beyond that, the PPA can only pledge to continue its work with the Department of Justice and do everything it can to help the Department of Justice get the process moving as soon as possible. The PPA’s legal team is already working on specific methods to help accomplish this objective. “While there were not many answers to come from this meeting, [we] do believe that it was beneficial and that there is a clear record for the Department of Justice to make the right decisions with respect to the player remission process. We fully expect to keep a continued and open dialogue with the Department of Justice and we will continue to update you as more information becomes available.”
Zynga real money to launch early 2013 Zynga who announced a partnership with the world’s biggest listed gambling company Bwin.Party recently, that will see Zynga Poker offering real money games to their customers in the UK, while operating under a Gibraltar license. The company now said it expected to make an appearance in the first quarter of 2013 on a Party Poker skin, hence sharing Party Poker’s player pool. Along with the poker Zynga will also be offering a range of other casino games including roulette, craps and blackjack. The move into real money gaming is a timely move for Zynga as 2012 has seen the company’s stock plummet, seeing a 40% drop coming in the second quarter, alone. Zynga has squarely apportioned blame for its share decline on its partner Facebook, which currently provides around 90% of its revenue. A decision by the social media giant to alter its algorithm resulting in Zynga games being less visible in its search results have wreaked havoc with the company’s profits and it is now hoped that the transition to real-money will help boost the company’s revenue and make Zynga more attractive to its investors. Bwin.Party, too, stands to profit greatly from the new partnership, as the company has experienced a 33% decline in its cash game traffic over the past year. Having access to Zynga’s 30 million monthly users, as well as 120,000 daily ring game players offers huge potential for the Austrian online gambling company. Nevertheless, for the new project to be a success several hurdles have to be first overcome. Presently, fewer than 10% of Zynga’s social media customers spend money on its games, including buying chips, or virtual items. Considering 1.4 million UK players use Zynga Poker per month, that equates to around 140,000 potential real money customers, but how many of them will want to play for the higher buy-ins necessary or even gamble at all. In just under half a year the company should have a clearer idea.
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Published on Nov 21, 2012