Author: Petesede

Sheldon Adeleson shifts focus from online gambling to renewable energy

Online Gambling and Renewable Energy have something significant in common, they both are enemies of billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adeleson who has spent a decade and millions of dollars preventing online gambling from getting a foothold in Las Vegas.  But numbers being reported regarding lobby spending in Nevada are showing that in the past year, Adeleson is now spending more money lobbying against new renewable energy laws than laws against online gambling.  Nevada is considering a law that would require the state to produce 50% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.  It is hard to see Adeleson´s reason for opposing the bill since current technology, operating in sunny states such as Nevada should not effect energy prices for the casinos, especially given such a low threshold of 50% over the next 13 years. There is some hope, probably naive, that Adeleson´s hatred of renewable energy or laws that require the use of renewable energy will take his focus away from online gambling, which he has almost single-handedly been able to thwart with every attempt.  Online gambling is a much more clear and present danger to Adeleson so it is unlikely the latest bill regarding renewable energy will be much of a distraction.   Adeleson takes one of the hardest stances against online gambling, refusing to acknowledge that online gambling can become an important revenue stream for tradition...

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Silk Road founder has life sentence upheld.

Online gambling has always been a legal murky area in many countries, especially in the USA where each state often determines its´own way of handling the future of gambling, with many states not even have a firm grasp on their own way of legislating normal gambling.  For many online casinos that operate or have customers in jurisdictions without clear laws regarding online gambling, it makes normal operations risky especially in regards to payments and banking in general.  For this reason, many online casinos are moving toward and promoting Bitcoins as a preferred payment system.  And for this reason, the recent court decision regarding Ross Ulbricht is important to the world of online gambling. Silk Road was an online marketplace for illegal activity, the majority of which were drug related, but as the FBI will point out it also was used for much more sinister things such as human traffic, child pornography and even murder-for-hire.   This last part is paramount to the life sentence against the founder of Silk Road because not only was he accused of facilitating illegal drug trading and profiting from it, but as the investigation against him heated up, he was accused of trying to hire hitman to kill key witnesses.  In the end, and after two years, the FBI was able to infiltrate the deepest layers of Silk Road and collect evidence against Ulbricht....

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South Africa cracks down against online gambling

While most of the world moves forward with the inevitability of online gambling, with many countries and US states even embracing the potential tax revenues,  South Africa is going the other route.  South Africa has always had a zero tolerance approach to online gambling, with laws against online gambling existing almost as soon as the first person thought of opening an online casino.   But those laws were ignored and mostly unenforced, as reports are pointing out that even 5 years ago, public confessions were often not followed up.  All of that has recently changed with a huge and swift crackdown against online gambling In a series of moves, multiple big winners have recently had their bank accounts seized by law enforcement and their winnings confiscated.  New regulations placed on banks require them to report bank transfers of online activity linked to online casinos.  The penalties against the banks are severe enough that the banks are forced to comply and have willingly  or maybe reluctantly turned over evidence against their customers.   The latest crackdown may be one of the reasons that many casinos that are available outside of South Africa have begun promoting the use of Bitcoins. The campaign against online gambling in South Africa goes even further with recent legislation that holds companies such as internet cafes and even popular wi-fi destinations like a corner Starbucks responsible...

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Bitcoin valuations make online gambling risky

Talking about Bitcoins online is a bit like talking about religion or politics, no matter what you say, a lot of people are going to disagree.   There are those who see Bitcoins as nothing but a Ponzi scheme created by some unknown group of people, while others see it as the ultimate form of liberty.   But one of the really interesting debates is when people try to both justify it as a currency, but then in the same breath say it is a great investment tool to make a lot of money.  In reality, both cannot be true.   Currencies are investment tools, but they are usually the safest, most marginal ways to make money, where large hedge funds use huge investments to make tiny profits in a very predictable way.   Currencies generally move in small fractions of 1% per day.  However, Bitcoins are more often equated to investing in a tech or bio-medical start-up where you are lured by the chance off doubling your money in a few months, or even weeks.  This type of speculation and price movement is not something you want to see in something used as a currency, and this problem is showing up in online casinos. Online Casinos are one of the few places where you can actually give and receive bitcoins very easily and frequently.  The problem with the...

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New generation favors games of skill, online gambling over resort gambling

As the next generation of gamblers meet the legal age to gamble, resort casinos are seeing a drastic decrease in those willing to travel to real casinos to part ways with their money.  Don´t get me wrong, for now, resort casinos are doing well with the baby-boomers hitting retirement age and the increase in sports related travel to Las Vegas, but the future is more murky for the pure casinos. Obviously one of the biggest changes for the youngest generation that can legally gamble is that they have grown up their whole lives knowing the internet.  This has a greater impact on resort casinos that most people realize.  The most obvious difference with young people is they can now gamble directly online.  Obviously there is an appeal to going to a huge resort casino, but there is also an appeal to gambling when you want, wherever you want with no huge upfront travel expense.  Spend a couple thousand on airfare and hotels? or use those thousands to add to your bank at an online casino. But the more subtle difference caused because of the internet is knowledge.  The average 20-something gambler knows right away that slot machines are heavily tilted towards the house, that you can download a standard play chart for Blackjack or how to research which casino has the best comps system.  All of those things make...

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Huge Ransomware attack misses online casinos

For those who have a large amount of money currently in online casinos, you can breath a sigh of relief regarding the huge ransomware attack that occurred earlier this week.  Ransomware is accurately named, in essence the worm/virus will encrypt all of the files on your computer and prevent you from accessing anything until you pay the bribe.  In the case of the latest attack, the price was $300 which had to be paid in Bitcoins which the ransomware creators thought would make the transaction untraceable, but that turned out to be untrue.   In any event, the ransomware was only able to infect people who were using old operating systems and who had not updated their OS.  The irony is that the country hardest hit was China, where software, including operating systems is often pirated, and thus cannot be updated with security fixes.   The UK was also hit hard with some high profile companies such as a major hospital being hit. But for those of us who use online casinos, there was very little risk.  Online casinos are constant targets of hacking and malware attempts and thus usually have a very advanced security team, and certainly an online casino that is constantly under attack would never be operated on fifteen year old operating systems or pirated operating systems.  Despite the huge scale of this latest ransomware attack,...

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New York online gambling, halfway there.

A bill has been submitted to the New York State Senate that would allow online gambling for the first time.  The bill singles out poker as the only game allowed, and furthermore only two varieties of poker Holdem and Omaha.  These are the two games that the bill´s sponsor has deemed to be the two least luck-based games, or conversely the two most skill-based forms of poker currently available online. The bill still face substantial obstacles including from tribal casinos.  The influence of native american tribes vary from state to state and as many of them derive a lot of income from their ability to host casinos, they are almost always against any expansion of gambling within their state.  In Florida, for example, the Seminole tribes poses a lot of political power and for decades have thwarted many attempts at gambling expansion.  The tribes in NY do not have anywhere near the political power and this can only really influence their local congressmen.  The lobbying and campaign financing done by the NY tribes is minimal. In previous years, the NY State Senate was able to pass a similar bill by a large margin, however, it became bogged down and eventually pulled by the state house because of confusing over skill-based verses luck-based gambling.  This year the sponsor of the Senate bill has gone through great lengths to clarify the...

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Cyberwar comes to online gambling as China attacks Hong Kong

Cyber attacks are nothing new, and certainly DDoS attacks have been around almost since the beginning of the commercialization of the internet.  In many cases a DDoS is done just to harm a company or group that someone felt slighted by.  But on other occassions DDoS are done as a way to demand a ransom.  This happens more often then we know with online casinos and especially sites that allow sports betting.   If a group can effectively mount a DDoS attack during the NFL playoffs or in the days before a major soccer match, it can result in millions of dollars in losses for the casino or gambling website. So when during a week in April, a series of DDoS attacks were targeting online casinos based in Hong Kong, many people thought it was just another attempt at blackmail, but then the evidence began to mount.  The first piece of information came from the fact that all of the attacks were launched from mainland China against all of the Hong Kong casinos.  During that timeframe, there were no other significant attacks launched against any other online casino.  The second piece of evidence actually occurred before the attack when a high ranking politician from China openly expressed the harm Hong Kong based online casinos were doing against mainland China.  He also pointed out that many of the Hong Kong...

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UK law forces online casinos to use fair and honest advertisements

As part of a consumer protection policy aimed at online casino customers, the UK has brought a hefty fine against one of the most popular and well marketed online casinos that operates in the UK, BGO.com .   As most news involving online casinos, what happens in one country usually has ramifications everywhere in the world since, like in this case, the casino will have to change their online presence in order to comply with the new regulations in the UK.  Another reason to pay attention to what is happening in other countries is that usually governments take cues from each other when it comes to enforcement of laws and if the laws are worth writing. The fine filed against BGO is expected to be around half a million dollars, so will immediately open the eyes of all online casinos in regards to advertising methods and false or misleading claims.  In the case of the UK laws, the new regulations required that the casino must prominently advertise any restrictions or limitations to promotions, especially regarding free money bonuses.  It is a very common practice for online casinos to advertise ´free money´ or 500% deposit matches without explaining the limitations of the free money. With BGO, and with many casinos, the free money comes with a ton of restrictions including the fact that it cannot ever be withdrawn.  Only the...

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Skill based gambling, coming soon to online casinos?

In recent weeks, the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas has expanded the appropriately named ´Level Up´ lounge, an area of the casino marketed towards younger gamblers.  The Level Up area does more than just cater to different tastes of younger voters like a craft beer bar, but also is where the MGM Grand has chosen to host it´s first skill-based real-money games.   There are currently only two games available, but they can be played in different ways, either teams against teams,  teams against the house, player against player or player against house.   Team-based games, be either fully cooperative or competitive have become a staple part of video games the last decade with games like Call of Duty and League of Legends being some of the highest earning games of all time.  Add to this the e-sport phenomenon with games such as StarCraft filling arenas with young people paying to watch skilled players compete against each other and it is easy to see why major casinos who offer mainly lifeless slot and video poker machines just are not exciting or attractive to millennials. No matter how many bells and whistles get added to a slot machine, most younger people are quickly going to recognize a few things.   First is that there is nothing they can do to improve their odds of winning, and second is that...

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Poland makes online gambling legal, but an impossible business model

Polish politicians have found a way to give the people what they are demanding, but still do what they wanted to do anyway.  Due to insider conflicts and the effects of big money, the legislature of Poland has been firmly opposed to online gambling, however, that contrasted drastically with a population pushing for a legal way to gamble online, especially young voters who made waves on the issue over the last decade.  But as politicians often do, those in Poland found a way to appease the masses while at the same time keep the money and support from big donors. How are they doing it?  mainly through two measures that were part of the original legislation that allowed online gambling to begin with.  It is unclear if they wrote the original legislation intentionally at the time with wording that allows for what they are doing now, or they are merely taking advantage of the wording of the original.  In any event, whether it was intentional or not, the group that oversees only gambling is taking advantage of two easily manipulated rules to basically make online gambling non-viable for any company. The first manipulation is simply with the fees and how they are charged to online casino operators.  Many online casinos are actually owned a single company.. in some cases a single company can own five or more online casinos that...

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New Record for Mobile Progressive Jackpot win at $8.7 million dollars

Microgaming, one of the leading providers of games for online casinos this week has confirmed that a record jackpot has been won off of a mobile device of $8.7M dollars on the progressive jackpot named Mega Moolah.  Microgaming is based out of the Isle of Mann, a small island off the coast of the UK.   The casino where the jackpot was won is the Tipico Online Casino based out of Malta. The record haul of $8.7M barely tops a progressive jackpot win of $8.6M which was won last summer.  The bet size to win the $8.7M was about $7.  While real casinos often require annual payments to receive the full jackpot amount, or a drastically reduced amount for a one-time payment, Microgaming and most other operators of progressive slots stay true to the marketing and pay a full one-time payment of the total jackpot amount.  While there are debates whether annual payments are better for winners, either way it is a life altering occurrence. The progressive jackpot win for the mobile device of $8.7M still does not even come close to the $20M win obtained a few years ago in a computer-based online casino along with many other wins of more than $8.7M.  As mobile devices become more popular for users and online casinos, expect to soon see mobile device wins topping even PC jackpot wins. Progressive Jackpots...

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Delaware and New Jersey online casinos, a tale of opposites in 2017

In March of 2017, online gambling in the state of Delaware has plummeted more than 40% despite neighboring New Jersey showing a 45% increase in profits while offering very similar experiences.  As the online gambling market in New Jersey continues to expand and mature, profits are quickly becoming a major par of the casino industry in the state, account for over 10% of all income earned by casino in the state. In the state of Delaware, however, officials and business leaders are scrambling to determine the cause of the rapid reduction in profits.  In some cases, individual online casinos are reporting a shift among games, with players moving towards games with smaller house advantages, while others are point to weather as a cause.   In March of 2016, the weather was bad in Delaware resulting in more online gambling which made year over year comparison to March 2017 difficult because of better weather this year resulting in more people outside the home. The gambling industry in Delaware is obviously not nearly as mature as New Jersey and the companies operating there do have have the large backing of brick and mortar casinos so the rapid decline in profits in 2017 is a major concern for the long-term survivability of the industry.  Delaware currently has three companies operating online casinos in the state and the two largest reported huge drops...

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions considers overturning DOJ online gambling decision.

In 2011 the Justice Department made a decision that the American Wire Act only prohibited online sports gambling and did not cover online slot machines or other online parlor games.  This decision largely allowed individual states to decide how to regulate online gambling within their own borders and allowed states like Delaware to quickly jump into the game. However, during his confirmation, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said he was shocked by the 2011 decision and did not necessarily agree with it.  He also stated it was a decision he was likely to revisit once becoming Attorney General, which he now is. The story gets even more murky ( welcome to politics) since Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas Casino owner reportedly donated $5M to the Trump Inauguration Fund, along with $11M to the Trump campaign and another $20M to a Republican senate PAC.  One of Adelson´s main issues is the rise of online gambling, so you can imagine a lot of influence was bought with that $36M in campaign funding over the last 12 months. An act by the Department of Justice might be necessary since very little progress has been made in either the senate or house in regards to restricting online gambling with Republicans believing it is best left as a state issue.  President Trump has also stated in the past that online gambling is unstoppable, so either the...

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Online Gambling enemy Rep. Jason Chaffetz not running again

Rep. Jason Chaffetz who is the current chairman of the House Oversight Committee and has been a long-time antagonist for the online gambling community announced last week that he will not be seeking re-election.  Chaffetz district in Utah is largely Mormon so it is very unlikely that it will go Democratic or to a moderate Republican, but more importantly it means a much less powerful person will be taking the seat.  Chaffetz has been a close ally to billionaire Sheldon Adelson and received substantial campaign contributions for Adelson in exchange for introducing legislation to restrict online gambling. Chaffetz was the author of the RAWA, the restoration of the american wire act, a ridiculous law that attempted to transfer laws written for the telegraph and apply them to online gambling and other online issues.  The bill was largely ignored by the house and no similar bill ever appeared in the senate, but the departure of Chaffetz means that items and restriction in RAWA will probably not find their way into appropriations or tax laws in the near future. Chaffetz largely become known because of his use of the Oversight Committee to cause media attention against Hillary Clinton on a variety of issues from her private email servers to Benghazi.  it was mainly Chaffetz who made sure that for the past few years, there was always an open house investigation into...

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