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POKERSTARS EXEC REASSURES PLAYERS IN THE WAKE OF THE AMAYA DEAL
The Pokerstars brand has been putting time in on the player communications front following the buzz around the deal between its parent the Rational Group and Amaya Gaming, with director of poker room operations, Steve Day, doing sterling work on major forums like twoplustwo.
The central message is that there will be little change for players, Day posted, writing:
The short version is that there will be no significant impact on the player experience. We still plan to serve all current markets, including Canada, and to work to grow the game of poker globally.
We are also excited about the potential to be licensed in New Jersey and then begin serving players there quickly thereafter. I do not have a timeline to share, but can say that we believe that this purchase has a significant positive impact, the Pokerstars exec wrote.
Day also addressed fears that the change in ownership, and the departure of founders Mark and Isai Scheinberg, would impact Pokerstars' renowned customer service capability.
"We will certainly miss Mark and Isai," Day observed. "As some of you have surmised, our founders established the culture and values that permeate every decision and every customer interaction. Though Mark and Isai are leaving, the culture and values remain, along with the nearly 2,000 staff who continue to turn our culture and values into action on a daily basis. Our entire leadership team is still in place, and I can assure you that we embrace these values whole heartedly."
Day also promised continued innovation in pursuit of improving the player experience:
"We have several projects already in progress and others that we are already in the process of completing, such as PokerStars 7. The people and values behind these two projects will also be behind our next improvements. A big part of our success over the years has been constant improvement of our product, and we plan to continue this tradition."
Comments in the Amaya statement announcing the acquisition agreement also generated questions, especially on Amaya's intentions to grow its online sportsbook, casino and social gaming range, were also addressed by Day:
"I do see some references here to casino and sportsbook. I can see why certain slides in the Amaya presentation linked earlier in the thread raise questions about our future plans relating to these products. Full Tilt has recently rolled out a wide variety of casino games, so it is not surprising to see such products referenced as areas of potential growth compared to the 2013 financial results," he said.
A CHANCE FOR U.S. PLAYERS TO COMMENT ON INTERNET GAMBLING (Update)
Following up on its decision Apuestas Deportivas Online Bingo Play Slots Online in US March Madness Contest to draft a framework for regulated online gambling that will be of assistance to US states seeking to open their markets (see previous InfoPowa reports), the National Council of Legislators for Gaming States (NCLGS) has invited comments from the public to assist in the process.
The Council is collaborating with the University of Las Vegas International Gaming Institute on the project, which it hopes to bring to fruition next year.
The initiative is well-timed, with the Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey online gambling markets already legalised and several other states reputed to be actively considering possibilities.
The Council does not have a position either for or against the concept of legalised online gambling, but has recognised that it is a very real factor in the US gambling industry, and that there is a need for appropriate and effective regulation should individual states decide to take the regulatory and licensing route.
The public invitation is well and professionally presented with guidelines on the link below, and the window for comments closes on January 31st 2014.
ABSOLUTE POKER AND U.S. ATTORNEY'S OFFICE SIGN AGREEMENT (Update)
In a sequel to 2011's Black Friday online poker company shut downs (see previous InfoPowa reports) it appears from newly filed court documentation that the United States Attorney's Office, represented by Preet Bharara and The Absolute Poker Group represented by legal counsel Jerry D. Bernstein have come to an agreement that will come into force with immediate effect.
The terms are tough:
"The Absolute Poker Group agrees that all assets, including property of all kinds, real and personal, tangible and intangible, goodwill, right or non-physical resource that is presumed to represent an advantage in the marketplace, and anything having commercial or exchange value, of the following Absolute Poker-affiliated and controlled companies (collectively, the the Absolute Poker Group"), or any other transferee of assets f/b/o the Absolute Poker Group, its owners or designees shall be forfeited to the United States, for disposition according to law, pursuant to Title 18, United States Code, Section 981:
"As set forth herein. Blanca Games hereby withdraws its claim in this action for the assets of Blue Water Services Ltd., Trust Services Ltd., SGS Systems Inc. and Fiducia Exchange Ltd.
"The civil money laundering claims against the Named Absolute Poker Companies are hereby dismissed with prejudice, with the exception of the civil money laundering claims against Blue Water Services Ltd., Trust Services Ltd., SGS Systems Inc. and Fiducia Exchange Ltd., which remain pending.
"Each party shall bear its own costs and attorneys' fees."
The agreement was approved and ordered into law by Judge Kimba M. Wood on July 15 2013.
PIONEER ONLINE SPORTSBOOK CLOSES
The World Sports Exchange, a pioneering online sports betting operation in the Caribbean which has been making headlines - often for all the wrong reasons - since the 'nineties, has finally closed.
The site has frequently been the focus of attention from enforcement agencies, but the management claims the "halt" in operations is the result of "inadequate capital resources" and that its financial affairs are currently under review.
Any remaining players will hardly be reassured by the lack of detail on how their account balances are to be handled; the notification merely informs them that they will be kept informed on the company's plans to repay or transfer player account balances.
Founded by Jay Cohen, one of the first online betting execs to be prosecuted and imprisoned, in more recent times the company has become notorious for slow payments and has frequently been accused of bad player communications.
The current US enforcement drive against online sports betting companies (see previous InfoPowa reports) is hardly an encouraging development in the sector.
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FULL TILT LAUNCH REACTIVATES 400 000 PLAYERS
PokerScout published its online poker traffic report with some interesting summations on the return of Full Tilt Poker (FTP).
Full Tilt Poker took back its second place position in the market soon after launch, averaging around 8 500 cash game players which PokerScout said is nearly triple the traffic of iPoker Network or PartyPoker.
PokerScout opines that the majority of Full Tilt players weren't poached from competitors but rather returned to online poker, specifically Full Tilt, following a 16-month absence which as resulted in the reactivation of 400 000 players. It bases the opinion on an average 5 percent drop in traffic on the top five poker sites in the week following FTP's launch which totals only one quarter of FTP's traffic.
Acknowledging that 10 percent of launch-day visitors may be attributed to "novelty factor" and "curiosity-seekers", PokerScout said even so, figures show the site would have lost only 11 percent of its customers, a surprising and impressive development.
Other network news showed the benefit of the iPoker French network's acquisition of Everest Poker.fr, with the network showing growth of 2000 percent ahead of Party Poker.fr and third place overall in the French market.
Top Movers during the week:
-Full Tilt Poker took its second place pushing 15 websites and networks down a notch.
-iPoker.fr made its top 20 debut in 18th place after the Everest merger.
-PartyPoker.fr and International.it each dropped two spots to 19th and 20th, respectively.
-PeoplesNetwork.it and IPN, formerly in 19th and 20th place, respectively, fell out of the top 20.
Year-Over-Year, online poker traffic has increased by 3 percent as the market is buffeted by tough regulatory environments and harder economic times.
The top three company's year-on-year saw PokerStars down 7 percent, iPoker Network down 28 percent and PartyPoker down 32 percent.
Notable gainers year-on-year were iPoker.fr, up 1 500 percent and Revolution Gaming (formerly Cake Poker Network) up 59 percent.
Notable decliners include IGT Poker by 90 percent, International Poker Network (IPN) down 48 percent, Merge Gaming Network down 46 percent, iPoker.it - 31 percent, PKR - 25 percent, PokerStars.fr - 24 percent and Ongame Network - 20 percent.
Under the small but interesting heading, Winning Poker Network (formerly Yatahay) was up 200 percent and Everleaf Gaming Network down by 53 percent.