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In this edition of our PokerGuru Gaming Report, we discuss many ongoing issues in the gaming and poker industry.
In our first story, we have news that despite the efforts of the New York policymakers to legalise online poker, the State Assembly has pushed the matter to the legislative session of 2019 when it will be further reviewed.
In our second story, we take a closer look at the U.S.-North Korea relation and the possibility of an American casino in the Asian country, courtesy of Trump ally Sheldon Adelson.
Next, we move on to Pennsylvania where the Gaming Control Board (PGCB) has levied a fine of $50,000 on Valley Forge Casino Resort for being too generous with its free slot play.
Our third story takes us to Russia and we learn that the Eurasian country has been curtailing its financial blunders in order to fight unlawful business exchanges.
In our last story, we talk about the formal completiong of the $4.7 Billion agreement regarding the acquisition of Sky Betting & Gaming by The Stars Group.
The lawmakers in New York had worked hard to push for legalisation of online poker but unfortunately due to a delayed end to the 2018 legislative session, online poker proponents have been pushed back to the 2019 session.
MGM Resorts had been in support of the legalisation of online poker within the state for a long time. Its acquisition of Empire City Casino in May this year, along with the U.S. Supreme Court reversing the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992, had given a much-needed boost to the gaming industry in the state of New York.
The state policymakers had seemed determined to legally sanction internet poker, with Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, who is headlining the online poker efforts in his legislative chamber, stating “we are going to get [online poker] done”.
The state Senate had advanced the bill, however, the Assembly stalled its progress while not even conducting a vote on the legislation, even though Pretlow believed he was just eight votes away from passing the legislation through the Assembly.
Even in the face of reignited tensions between the United States (U.S.) and North Korea over the former’s denuclearization demands, a strong ally of the current American President Donald Trump, believes that the rogue nation of North Korea may be a good place to open a casino.
The man in question is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Las Vegas Sands Sheldon Adelson who stated in a charity event in Israel last month that he “wants to build a casino in North Korea”. The Trump supporter who has a net worth of approximately $40 billion has reportedly said that he wants “the Trump Administration to help end the unresolved Korean War, which could pave the way for North Korean economic development”. President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited the Marina Bay Sands casino-resort, owned by Adelson, located in Singapore during their June Summit.
Adelson’s statements regarding building a casino in North Korea have come at a time when the nation’s leader Kim Jong-un had shown interest in opening a casino-resort in the eastern port city of Wonsan, despite the fact the political leader’s forced economic isolation of his country has resulted in completely devastating its economy.
It has been alleged that China may be subtly involved in the negotiations between North Korea and the U.S. since 90% of the former country’s trade dealing are with the East Asian nation. With the U.S. and China heading towards a trade showdown, it is possible that China may well be behind the most recent conflict between North Korea and America.
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) recently announced that they have levied a fine of $50,000 on the Valley Forge Casino Resort for “giving out excess amounts of free slot play in violation of its approved complimentary matrix”.
The Board further elaborated, “Per regulation, each licensed facility in Pennsylvania is required to have in their internal controls a matrix of employees authorized to award complimentary services along with specific limits on the amount that may be authorized. An investigation by the PGCB’s Bureau of Investigations and Enforcement discovered that free slot play had been awarded during 2015 and 2016 by employees not authorized to do so or, if authorized, beyond limits of the authorization, which lead to total awards higher than an approved level”.
According to a report, the employees of the resort casino did not have the authority to extend the slot credit and gave away 557 complimentary slot-play transactions amounting to $411,000. However, the casino protested that no fraudulent activity had taken place.
The casino’s advocate, Michael Fabius said, “We have absolute confidence that every one of these free-play transactions was issued to a real customer with a real business reason”.
In order to prevent the flow of unlawful business transactions, including unauthorized gambling, the government of Russia has decided to tighten its financial errors.
The deputy head of Russia’s Federal Tax Service (FNS), Daniel Yegorov, on July 11, requested the Ministry of Finance to sanction the FNS with the authority to induce banks and financial institutions to hand over information on customer accounts, irrespective of whether the accounts are being investigated for taxation purposes, so as to “identify and suppress illegal business activities”.
While the Ministry has not yet approved the request, if accepted the sanction will give the FNS uninhibited power to monitor Russian’s financial transactions, which will transverse its current power only being able to request for banking information on account of suspected anomalies in an individual’s tax returns. However, the access is limited to only verifying the suspected information.
The Russian lawmakers had also been developing amendments to present legislations that would necessitate banks to provide information to Rosfinmonitoring (Federal Financial Monitoring Service) related to all withdrawal of funds from Russian ATMs using foreign bank cards.
The infamously distrustful nature of the Russian political authorities regarding any activity that may occur without its consent has led it to thwart its citizens from frequenting internationally licensed online gambling sites and also regulating the online traffic to locally licensed online sports betting sites during the ongoing FIFA World Cup.
Three months after The Stars Group announced its plan to acquire Sky Betting & Gaming, the group has finally inked the $4.7 Billion deal, complete with the required paperwork.
CEO of The Stars Group, Rafi Ashkenazi has, in a formal statement on July 10th confirmed that the acquisition is complete, and the transaction has created the world’s largest publicly-listed online gaming company whilst uniting two iconic brands with strong technology platforms and teams.
Terming it as a “pivotal moment” for the company’s evolution, Ashkenazi said, “SBG’s mobile-focused sportsbook pairs well with our industry-leading poker offering to create two premier customer acquisition channels. We believe this combination along with our combined online casino offerings positions The Stars Group for continued growth in the evolving online gaming industry”.
Since Sky Betting & Gaming carries very prominent sports betting and bingo brand and has enjoyed a long-standing casino and poker setup, the current deal allows The Stars Group to add an important dimension to its sports betting profile and helps its step onto bigger shoes with the goal to expand its global footprint.
According to The Stars Group, the acquisition will help improve its revenue diversity with a more balanced take from poker, casino, and sports betting. It would also rake in nearly 75% of revenue from locally regulated or taxed markets, while the sportsbooks and online casino segments of Sky Betting & Gaming will strengthen the group’s overall technological backbone.
For Poker players, the deal essentially means that there will be many more crossover promotions on sports betting and online casino games over PokerStars, Full Tilt and Sky Poker while Sky Poker will retain its own unique entity. The group has still not divulged any intention to combine player pools of the three that could likely help grow its liquidity further.