It's been a tough week for poker. Federated Sports + Gaming, a company running the Epic Poker League announced it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Although this doesn't mean the end of Epic Poker, going bankrupt is not something a successful company would do. In other news, the Bodog founder Calvin Ayre and his associates were charged for running an illegal gambling business and money laundering and could face prison. Bwin.party co-CEO Jim Ryan shared his thoughts about online poker legalization in the United States and his company's prospects in the new market. Keep reading for more.
Federated Sports + Gaming Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
The company behind the Epic Poker Tour, the Global Poker Index, and the Heartland Poker Tour, Federated Sports + Gaming announced on Wednesday, February 29th, it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The good news is that this does not mean they're going under, but rather facing reorganization. Federated Sports + Gaming Executive Chairman Jeffrey Pollack said the company hopes to make a deal with another firm and establish a combined entity in order to keep their brands and tournaments alive and running.
Pollack issued the following statement explaining the situation:
“There is no easy way to say this, but, at the end of the day yesterday, Federated Sports + Gaming filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Our company needs a new start.
This reorganization filing is an important first step in that direction and our goal is to keep the Epic Poker League and all of our key initiatives – including the Global Poker Index, epicpoker.com, the Epic Poker game on Facebook, and the Heartland Poker Tour – moving forward with a continued spirit of innovation. We will most likely accomplish this by entering into an agreement with another firm that shares our passion and vision – a process we had been working toward prior to the filing.”
The Epic Poker League commissioner Annie Duke sent a letter to all league members saying that filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy does not mean the end of the league or the company, although she couldn't tell when Event 4 and the Season One Championship will take place. The event was originally set to take off at the end of January or the start of February, but was postponed because of player requests, who complained about an already busy tournament schedule. Pollack denied that the decision was made due to the company's financial problems.
Head to PokerNews for the full story.
Bwin.party Ready for the U.S. Market
With Nevada's online gaming legislation already passed and a number of other states going through the process, some of the biggest gaming companies and casinos are preparing to launch their internet poker platforms as soon as the legal obstacles are out of the way. One of such company is Bwin.party – a compound entity considered to be the world's biggest online gaming operator. Preparing to come back to the U.S. market (PartyPoker left it in 2006 due to the passing of UIGEA), Bwin.party Digital Entertainment joined forces with another two gaming companies – MGM Resorts International and Boyd Gaming.
PokerNews' correspondent Brett Collson interviewed Bwin.party co-CEO Jim Ryan to find out the gaming giant's plans regarding the U.S. market and the general issue of online poker legalization in America. Ryan said he does not expect PartyPoker to regain its former positions when the site covered more than a half of the American market, but hopes that combined with the WPT brand, Party will stand among the industry leaders.
“We're certainly going to have a lot more competitors — at least in the early phase, when there will be a scramble for market share,” Ryan said. “I think PartyPoker and the World Poker Tour are going to attract a very significant market share, but it remains to be seen what that will be.”
Read the entire interview on PokerNews.com.
Bodog Founder Indicted
Calvin Ayre's week wasn't the best so far. Although the Bodog founder detached himself from the company in 2008 by resigning as the Bodog CEO, the news of Department of Homeland Security seizing the Bodog.com domain should have come as a warning. The next day the United States District Court for the District of Maryland unsealed an indictment against Ayre and three of his partners, James Philip, David Ferguson, and Derrick Maloney. The group is charged with conducting an illegal online gambling business - starting June 2005 through January 2012 - and money laundering.
The Bodog crew is accused of transferring at least $100 million to their customers in Maryland and other locations via online payment processors for illegal gambling activities. The Bodog founder now could face five years in prison for leading an illegal online gambling business and 20 years for the money laundering charges.
On Tuesday Ayre issued a statement claiming that the whole thing is an “abuse of the US criminal justice system for the commercial gain of large US corporations,” and that the prosecutors have no actual evidence against him. “It is clear that the online gaming industry is legal under international law and in the case of these documents is it also clear that the rule of law was not allowed to slow down a rush to try to win the war of public opinion,” Ayre said.
Republican Presidential Candidates and Online Poker
Although three out of four Republican presidential candidates oppose online poker legislation, there's still hope for the poker community that the one who doesn't will become the one to face Obama in the November election. Mitt Romney currently leads the Republican polls while Ron Paul, the only Republican candidate who says people should be free to play poker online and be able to make their own choices in life, is far behind.
However, the situation might change when the states voting in caucuses announce their delegates. The system in these states is a little bit more complicated than in those voting in the regular fashion, but the delegates from the caucus states might make a big difference when the final votes are counted. Paul hopes that his plan will work and that he just might rise from the underdog to the winner. The March 6th Super Tuesday could bring some answers to the table.
Read more about the Republican presidential candidates and their attitude towards online poker in U.S. Republican Candidates and Online Poker – What the Future Holds.
Online Poker Middleman Pleaded Guilty
Ryan Lang has pleaded guilty for conspiracy to the U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Tuesday, February 28th. Lang, a 37 year-old Canadian citizen, was indicted after Black Friday for helping online poker companies violate U.S. law and mediating between them and brokers who served to convince banks to process illegal payments.
In court Lang claimed he regrets his actions and asked for forgiveness. “I wish to publicly apologize to anyone I've harmed by my conduct,” he said. Lang has pleaded guilty to “conspiracy to commit tax fraud and violation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, accepting funds in connection with Internet gambling and conspiracy to commit money laundering.” He now could face 30 years in prison with the sentence being announced on September 24th.
Read the full story on WSLS.com.
Kerkorian Sells MGM Resorts Shares
Just half a year after he sold the first 20 million of MGM Resorts shares for $214.8 million, America's 117th wealthiest man, Kirk Kerkorian, sold another 20 million of the company's shares - this time for $268 million. The founder and still the major shareholder of casino giant MGM Resorts, Kerkorian sold the shares via his investment firm, Tracinda. Despite selling a major amount of MGM Resorts in just six months, Kerkorian still remains the major shareholder with 18.7 percent of the company still in his pocket. However, that is a significantly smaller amount than he had just three years ago when he owned over 50 percent of the company.
Read more on this on the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
Rhode Island Voters Support Casino Gambling
More than 50 percent of Rhode Island's population support casino gambling. WPRI.com reports that according to the recent poll 55 percent of 511 registered voters said they are in favor of casino gambling and 39 percent were against it with 5 percent of voters taking neither side. The survey represents the public opinion on gambling before the vote in November when the local citizens will get to decide whether the Twin River Casino can become a full-blown casino - the same question can be raised concerning the Newport Grand Casino as well.
However, Chief of the Narragansett Indian Tribe, Sachem Matthew Thomas, said that despite the general casino gambling acceptance, the November vote will not necessarily go casino way since there's the issue of changing the constitution. “I found that in my travels amending the constitution was just a no no,” he said. “I even think if our casino was on the ballot they would vote favorably for it. But if they have to amend the constitution, that's a whole other ball game.”
Go to WPRI.com for more.
Massachusetts Brings in a New Member to the Gambling Commission
Retired New Jersey State Police Lieutenant Colonel Gayle Cameron has been appointed the new member of the Massachusetts Gambling Commission. The decision to include an experienced New Jersey casino industry investigator was made by the state's Attorney General Martha Coakley. The new member of the Gambling Commission should help the state prepare for the upcoming invasion of the gambling industry as well as help avoid any voids and errors.
“I would say there are individuals who will make attempts to do things that may not be legal,” said Cameron in the press conference after appointing the new commissioner. “I’m not naive. And I don’t anticipate everything running smoothly, but I think what’s important is having systems in place and a combined effort with all the agencies who are tasked with enforcing to combat those issues.”
The Boston Herald has more.
Celebrity Poker Live Airs This Saturday
This week Celebrity Poker Live – a TV poker reality show – announced its March 3rd premiere on KCBS-TV. The show will be shot at the Bicycle Casino in Los Angeles and feature celebrities playing poker for charity. Celebrity Poker Live will air Saturdays at 1:30 am – 2:00 am on KCBS-TV, Channel 2, plus a show in Spanish will air Monday to Friday, 2:00 am – 2:30 am, on KWHY-TV, Channel 22.
The reality TV show will feature a number of poker-playing celebrities including baseball’s six-time All Star and two-time World Series champ Jose Canseco, Ken Davitian of the Oscar-nominated movie “The Artist,” and Emmy Award winner Kate Linder from television’s “Young and the Restless.” Other players are drummer Adrian Young of rock band No Doubt, CBS “Cold Case”‘s Jeremy Ratchford, and supermodel Joanna Krupa.
The show will be presented by three co-hosts – Los Angeles radio personality and stand-up comedian Joshua Escandon, Miss California 2009 and Miss Teen USA Tami Farrell, and Miss Arizona Danielle Demski.
For more information visit CelebrityPokerLive.tv.
WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star Takes Off Monday
Next Monday, March 5th, the World Poker Tour will give start to the WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star event taking place in San Jose, California. The televised tournament will feature a $10,000 buy-in Main Event running March 5th through 9th. To motivate players to give their best from the very start of the tournament, the WPT has prepared $10,000 bonuses for Day 1A and 1B chip leaders. And other news is that as soon as the Main Event goes down to the last 36 players, all tables will become six-handed and remain that way until the final table.
The WPT Bay 101 Shooting Star final table will be a televised event and all poker fans will be able to enjoy the live stream on the WPT website. The stream will start at 4:30pm PT on March 9th with Tony Dunst in the commentator's seat accompanied by a number of special guests. The live-streamed final table will also feature hole cards as well as expert analysis.
Image courtesy of cbsnews.com.