Saturday, June 23, 2018

World Casino News
Scout Gaming scores top Fantasy Sports award

Among fierce competition, Stockholm-based B2B fantasy sports and pool betting provider, Scout Gaming Group (SCOUT:FN Stockholm), has been named “Fantasy Sports Supplier of the Year” at this year’s EGR B2B Awards. Having recently had a string of commercial success with a number of top operator agreements on various markets and a robust product roadmap, on […]
Casino News Daily
Robert Nehorayan Takes Down 2018 WSOP $1,500 Limit Hold’em

Robert Nehorayan is known by many as Rec Rob, his nickname derived from him identifying himself as a recreational player. However, he outlasted last night a field that included seasoned poker pros like Daniel Negreanu, Chris Ferguson, and Ari Engel to win his first gold bracelet from the WSOP and his largest cash of $173,568.

The player topped the 596-strong field of Event #41: $1,500 Limit Hold’em. As mentioned above, some of poker’s top players entered the tournament to pursue another great accomplishment in the game. Of all fellow participants, Nehorayan had special praise for Terricita Gutierrez, a Limit Hold’em specialist whom the eventual champ considered his toughest opponent.

Terri, as Nehorayan called her, has been playing Limit Hold’em cash games every single day for years now to accumulate knowledge and experience that many other fellow players at the table lacked. She was ultimately eliminated in fourth place, good for $51,733.

The $1,500 event was played over three days through June 22. It saw 596 entries generate a prize pool of a little over $800,000. The top 90 places paid.

Day 3 Action Highlights

Day 3 of the tournament kicked off with 19 survivors in contention but seven of them quickly headed to the payout desk within the first 90 minutes of play. Action slowed up a bit afterward, as finalists became more aware of the event’s approaching end.

Chips swung back and forth throughout the day and the chip lead went from one player to another. Many of the remaining hopefuls had many ups and downs, but it can be said that Nehorayan managed to maintain a good stack and momentum throughout that final stage of the event. The brand new WSOP champion admitted that he had really good cards running his way, as well.

David Gee was the last player to be eliminated before the heads-up duel. That final duel took place between Nehorayan and one-time gold bracelet winner Kevin Song. Song won his piece 21 years ago for topping the field of a Limit Hold’em event. A second piece eluded him last night, unfortunately, although he fought really fiercely for it.

The match between the final two men standing began with Nehorayan holding a 3-1 advantage to Song. However, the latter quickly caught up and took the lead for a little while, putting great pressure on his opponent.

Nehorayan eventually regained his momentum and retook the chip lead to never look back. On Hand #286 of the final table, the player won a key pot that secured him with 3.9 million, while leaving Song with just 475,000.

The final hand of the tournament was dealt shortly after. On Hand #289, Nehorayan called from the button and Song raised. Nehorayan asked his opponent how much he had left and put him all in. Song tabled [8s][6s] to clash into Nehorayan’s [10s][7d]. The board landed [2c][Qh][9h][4h][Jh] to end Song’s participation in the tournament and seal the victory for Nehorayan.

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Casino – CalvinAyre.com
Amax trumps Suncity in court fight over Imperial Palace Hotel

amax-holdings-imperial-palace-hotelMacau junket operator Amax International Holdings has won a court case over the disputed ownership of the Beijing Imperial Palace Hotel.

On Friday, Macau Business reported that Macau’s Court of First Instance had ruled on June 15 that Amax subsidiary Empresa Hoteleria de Macau was the rightful owner of the Imperial Palace property, dealing a blow to Victory Success Holdings Ltd, an offshoot of Macau’s largest junket operator, Suncity Group Holdings Ltd.

The fight for control of the Imperial Palace, formerly known as the New Century Hotel, dates back to 2012, when a former paramour of Amax chairman Ng Man Sun claimed the property as her own after the couple split up. Ng had transferred 80% of his stake in Empresa Hoteleria to his ex before they split up but always insisted this transfer was ‘temporary.’

In 2016, Empresa Hoteleria announced that it had transferred the ownership stake to Victory Success the year before, purportedly as the settlement of a debt. This March, the Macau court ruled that Victory Success had “pretended” to hold a general assembly meeting, which in the court’s view invalidated the ownership transfer.

The following month, Victory Success sent around 40 staffers to forcibly take over the hotel and change all the locks. In May, the court issued an injunction ordering Victory Success to vacate the building. Victory Success challenged this injunction but its arguments were swatted down by the June 15 ruling.

The Imperial Palace hasn’t welcomed any guests since 2016, when the Macau Government Tourist Office ordered the property closed due to the ownership squabble having contributed to the general demise of the property.

Amax had also waged a long-running war regarding the property’s Greek Mythology Casino, which operated under an SJM Holdings license until it shut down in December 2015. Amax held a nearly one-quarter stake in the company that ran Greek Mythology, but claimed it hadn’t received any payments or proper accounting of gaming revenue for years.

In June 2012, Amax chairman Ng was viciously attacked by a gang of thugs while he was visiting the then New Century Hotel. Conflicting reports claimed the six attackers were armed with either hammers or razors, and speculation was that the attack was meant to ‘send a message’ from parties unknown.

The post Amax trumps Suncity in court fight over Imperial Palace Hotel appeared first on CalvinAyre.com.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Casino News Daily
Bulgarian Oddity: Private Company Operates as the National Lottery, But No One Seems to Care

Bulgaria is one of the poorest countries in the European Union, but recent figures show that its gambling industry has been thriving, particularly over the past several years. And while that industry has been hopping from strength to strength, it is also understood that it has been contributing relatively small amounts of money in annual tax contributions and even smaller amounts of money for socially responsible causes.

According to multiple recent reports from local media outlets, citing official data, Bulgaria’s regulated gambling market was worth BGN3 billion (€1.5 billion) in terms of revenue generated in 2017. Scratchcards, known to be extremely popular among residents of the tiny Balkan nation, accounted for the greater portion of the revenue bulk last year.

In fact, saying that these products are extremely popular in Bulgaria is a mild representation of the nearly maniacal obsession with which hundreds of thousands of Bulgarians, mostly elderly people, are buying scratchcards, lured by the promise for a quick and easy win and a better life.

Several companies owned by Bulgarian businessman Vasil Bozhkov are known to be leaders of the local scratchcards sector. Mr. Bozhkov is one of Bulgaria’s richest people. His business interests spread across various industries and his alleged ties to the criminal underworld have long been part of media coverage focused on his curious persona.

The National Lottery and New Games are actually two of the leaders in the nation’s scratchcards sector and they are both owned by entities that are related to Mr. Bozhkov. Special attention needs to be paid to the choice of name of what has turned into the most popular seller of scratchcards in Bulgaria – the National Lottery.

In the most general case, National Lottery usually refers to a state-run entity that provides different lottery products and services and uses a portion of the money generated by the sales of those for good causes. In the case of Bulgaria’s National Lottery, we are speaking about a privately-run entity. And despite our team’s efforts, we could not find any information about how much of what it generates it has contributed to good causes.

Should a private company run an operation under the National Lottery brand? We believe that the answer to this question is quite clear and it is a bit too disturbing that this company has been allowed to conduct its activities for years, even though it has nothing to do with the state.

The National Lottery in Bulgaria vs. the National Lottery in UK/Ireland

Gambling services in the UK, including ones provided under the National Lottery brand, are regulated by the country’s Gambling Act 2005 and a companion piece from 2014. Bulgaria’s market was, too, regulated several years ago. And while Ireland’s gambling regulations are in a state of an extreme mess at the moment, there still is clarity over how the country’s National Lottery should function.

UK’s National Lottery was established in 1994 as a state-franchized entity operated by the Camelot Group. According to information from the lottery operator’s official website, it has contributed over £38 billion for good causes since it was founded more than two decades ago.

In Ireland, the National Lottery operates as a state-run entity that has been functioning since 1987. It has raised and donated more than €5 billion to good causes since established over three decades ago.

In Bulgaria, the National Lottery, as already mentioned, is a privately-run company, owned by a businessman who many would say has a rather questionable reputation, and it is quite unclear what contributions it has made to good causes, even though its official website states that it contributes funds to various education-related causes.

In other words, the National Lottery brand usually carries a connotation of an entity run by the state that offers lottery/gambling services but also considers it an important task to benefit communities by raising and distributing funds for good causes, unless you are in Bulgaria where the National Lottery does not really belong to the nation.

More Facts and Figures about Bulgaria’s Scratchcards/Gambling Industry

An economically struggling nation with a blossoming gambling industry is not something unheard of. However, when a considerable portion of an extremely poor nation resorts to buying scratchcards to the point of maniacal absurdity in hopes for a quick win, that means that there is something fundamentally wrong in the way that nation’s gambling industry functions, or rather in the way it is allowed to function by those who have control and responsibilities over those matters.

As mentioned above, Bulgaria’s gambling industry was worth around BGN3 billion last year. However, it is understood that licensed gambling operators, including those providing various lottery products, contributed just BGN177 million in tax revenue to the nation’s coffers. In comparison, Bulgaria’s tobacco industry was worth around BGN3.5 billion in 2017 and contributed BGN3 billion in excise duties and VAT.

As for Mr. Bozhkov’s lottery businesses – New Games and National Lottery – these were reported to have generated turnover of €88.5 million and €15.3 million, respectively, in 2017. The businessman’s overall gambling businesses reported turnover of nearly €300 million and profits of €76 million. Local media outlets also report that National Lottery was actually Bulgaria’s largest advertiser in 2017 with ad spending of over €23 million.

Ads promoting the operator’s scratchcard products can be spotted practically everywhere in the country and across different media outlets. In addition, scratchcards can be purchased across post offices, supermarkets, special points-of-sale, and a number of other facilities.

Meanwhile, according to the most recent information released, Bulgaria’s gambling industry contributed just around BGN2.2 million in 2016 and just around BGN2.4 million during the first three quarters of 2017 to responsible gambling causes. Licensed gambling companies are required to make such contributions under a provision in the nation’s gambling law.

Proposed Restrictions

Bulgaria clearly has a gambling problem as well as a problem with the protection of its gamblers. The country’s Deputy Prime Minister Valeri Simeonov and his party, the National Front for the Salvation of Bulgaria, has recently introduced a bill calling for certain restrictions within the country’s gambling industry. Most of the provisions in the legislative piece are concerned namely with the operations of the National Lottery and its likes.

If the bill succeeds in Bulgaria’s National Assembly, it would roll out curbs to the promotion and sale of scratchcards and related lottery products. For instance, lottery operators would not be able to show winners on television, a popular marketing approach to which the success of these products could be greatly attributed. In addition, scratchcards would only be sold at special points of sale. As mentioned above, products of this type are currently available practically everywhere.

While Minister Simeonov’s recently proposed curbs seem as if they might be a step in the right direction, Bulgaria still needs to do much more. The country does not have a dedicated organization that works with problem gamblers. And as it can be seen, nobody really finds it odd that a private company has named itself the National Lottery, while it does not really work for the nation, unlike state-run National Lotteries around the world.

The post Bulgarian Oddity: Private Company Operates as the National Lottery, But No One Seems to Care appeared first on Casino News Daily.

World Casino News
New York lawmakers fail to pass updated sportsbetting legislation

Hopes that New York would soon become the next American jurisdiction to legalize state-wide sportsbetting were reportedly crushed on Wednesday after its lawmakers failed to pass an updated sports wagering legislation. According to a Thursday report from The Post-Standard newspaper, the letdown means that the New York State Gaming Commission will now be forced to […]
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Eric Baldwin Captures Second Gold Bracelet in 2018 WSOP $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em

Eric Baldwin took down last night Event #37: $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em for his second gold bracelet from the WSOP and a first-place prize of $319,580. It has been nine years since the player from Henderson, Nevada captured his first gold piece from the series.

Baldwin made it through a field of 1,330 entries and a long and action-packed heads-up match against Ian Steinman, a player who was vying for his first WSOP gold bracelet but had previously won a gold ring from the WSOP Circuit.

Originally scheduled as a three-day tournament, action extended into a fourth day during which Baldwin and Steinman battled it out for a while before determining the champion.

As many as 20 players returned for Day 3 and that starting field was reduced quite quickly to just nine finalists who were seated at the official final table. From that point on, chips were swinging back and forth as players were not keen to give up on the title without a good fight.

During six-handed play, Baldwin won a massive pot against Aaron Massey. The former was propelled to the chip lead while the latter’s stack was weakened to a point that made it too challenging for him to recover. Massey, a two-time WSOP Circuit gold ring winner, eventually went out in fourth place.

A Two-Day Heads-Up

Heads-up kicked off after Steinman eliminated Germany’s Enrico Rudelitz in third place. It was Baldwin who entered the two-handed match as the chip leader. The two finalists played a level and a half on Day 3 of the tournament. The eventual champion built quite a momentum and stack during that time.

The players had the opportunity to choose between playing one more level Wednesday night or call it a day and resume action on Thursday. Baldwin, holding the lead, was keen to keep playing as he wanted to go back home on Thursday and celebrate his wife’s birthday. However, Steinman asked for an additional day of play and it was decided that the two players would have to return at the host casino, Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino, on Thursday.

The next day saw Steinman put some pressure on his final opponent. The player managed to catch up a bit, but never took the lead. Chips went back and forth and short-handed play lasted for hours, which Baldwin said sucked his mental energy. Yet, the winner pointed out that he had great fun playing against Steinman.

Hand #270 of the final table was the last one dealt within the tournament. It saw Baldwin raise to 300,000 pre-flop and Steinman re-raise to 950,000. Baldwin then looked at his opponent’s chips and announced all in, which Steinman snap-called, tabling [Kh][Ks] to Baldwin’s [As][Jh]. The board ran out [2c][8h][10h][Js][Ac] to deliver a winning to two pair to Baldwin. The two finalists shook hands and Steinman headed to the payout desk to collect his consolation prize of $197,461.

In his post-victory interview, Baldwin said that he was actually happy that things turned up the way they did and that they had to play a fourth day because his mother was thus able to join his rail on that additional day to support her son. Baldwin said that he dedicated his second WSOP gold piece to his late father who had always attended tournaments he had played in.

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