World Poker Tour to bring the curtain down on WPT.com

World Poker Tour has announced the closing of doors on their online poker portal WPTPoker.com from June 6.
The company sent out mailers to affiliates informing them of the site’s closure and the fact there will be three-month grace period in which all players must make their withdrawals.
All necessary guidelines will be adhered to and the closing will witness withdrawal of certain tournaments as well as cash games.
Not just cash, but player points will be refunded. However, there would be no cash value given to players for their tournament tickets.
In addition, if a player had secured a seat to any live event through WPT Poker, the invitation will stand and the player can participate in the event.
If one does not request a withdrawal within the 3-moth grace period, he/she will then have to get the funds by means of a manual payout directly via WPT Poker. This does not apply to loyalty or player points.
WPT statement on its impending closure read:
“Unfortunately, the business has decided that WPT Poker should close.” 
However, the exact reason behind the shutting down of the WPT online poker website is yet to be known. 
Sunday, 17 May 2015 13:04


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Spielbank Berlin Casino to host 2015 WSOPE from October 8th to 24th

The Spielbank Berlin Casino will host the 2015 World Series of Poker Europe from October 8th to 24th.
Players will compete in this high-profile event for 10 bracelets. Interestingly, the WSOPW also has the cheapest ever bracelets up for grabs in European poker history, namely the €550 Oktoberfest No-Limit Hold’em, and the €550 Pot Limit Omaha.
Mid-range and high buy-in events like €10,450 WSOPE Main Event, and the €25,600 High Roller No-Limit Hold’em are bound to be the star attractions at the tournament.
Berlin is expected to woo some of the best talent in the world for the WSOPE. Also, Germany has thrown up some of the most exciting poker talent of late with 2011 WSOP Main Event winner Pius Heinz, 2014 Player of the Year George Danzer and the likes of Ole Schemion, Philipp Gruissem, Dominik Nitsche, Marvin Rettenmaier, Martin Finger, Fabian Quoss, and Benny Spindler. 
Speaking about this latest event, WSOP Executive Director Ty Stewart said:
“Berlin became a logical choice city for WSOP Europe given its proximity to all of Europe, the experienced management team at Spielbank, and the gap of time since a major poker tournament has come to the city. We believe this truly will be the best organized and contested WSOP Europe ever.”
Traditionally, turn out for the main event has been 360 players on an average. However, there was upswing in player numbers in both 2011 (593) and 2012 (420) when the series shifted from London to Cannes. 
Just like Cannes, Berlin is a prime destination for tourists in EU and last years a record 28 million people visited the city, with majority of those coming from Great Britain, Italy, USA, Holland and Denmark.
Casino Director of Operations, Marcel Langner said:
“It`s a great honor to host this event. We are sure all visitors will have a great time in Berlin. We will offer cash game and tournament play, as well as the Oktoberfest special to welcome our guests from all over the world. Welcome to Spielbank Berlin.”
The Spielbank Berlin Casino is widely regarded as one of Germany’s best casinos. Hence it would a fitting destination to host the country’s first ever WSOP Europe.

Coingaming set to release Quickfire mobile games

Coingaming on Tuesday announced their accomplishment of becoming the first licensed Bitcoin-only online gaming platform to launch Quickfire mobile games.
Microgaming has powered the very desirable mobile game selection of Quickfire, which includes ‘Thunderstruck II’ and ‘Cricket Star’.
If anybody wants to access any of these titles, they can only do so by logging in to the Coingaming Bitcoin-only platform.
The good news is that this platform is compatible with wide-ranging mobile and tablet devices.
Communications director of Coingaming, Mark McGuinness, said: 
“Quickfire’s mobile content is an excellent addition to our current mobile Bitcoin platform. Our agreement with Quickfire shall see Bitcasino.io, one of our B2B partners, offering this quality mobile content to their discerning Bitcoin only players.”
On paper, this appears to be a good move by Coingaming. However, one will have to wait and see the results when players eventually start using the platform.

PokerStars’ parent company names new COO, CMO

Rational Group, which was acquired by Amaya in August last year, has made two key appointments in their organization. The company that houses online poker giants PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker appointed a new COO and CMO on Friday.
This is yet another instance of the company evolving post their takeover by Amaya. Rational Group initially announced the changes internally, however, sources close to the company confirmed this news.
Israel Rosenthal replaced Rafi Ashkenazi as the new Chief Operating Officer at Rational. Before taking over this high-profile position, Rosenthal had seen several other key projects of Rational Group. Ashkenazi will be moving in to another role at Amaya.
Gino Appiotti will take over from Alex Payne as the new Chief Marketing Officer of the company. The latter was in the job since August 2011, is now working with eBay Europe in a similar role.
Appiotti on the other hand has been with Rational for around three years and was President of Southern European operations before taking up this new responsibility.
In his previous role, Appiotti was at the forefront of Rational’s transition from poker-only to a wider range of gaming products. His experience will be useful as PokerStars now has interests in casino, sports betting, and possibly DFS in 2015.

Optimal Payments acquires Skrill for $1.2 billion

Optimal Payments on Sunday confirmed of having reached an agreement with Sentinel Topco Limited, owner of owns Skrill Group to acquire it for  a whopping$1.2 billion.
Via a subsidiary of Optimal Payments, Netinvest Limited, the company will purchase the whole issued share capital of Skrill.
To complete this, it will cost them 781 million in cash and 37.49 million of Optimal Shares, payable upon completion of the entire process. 
Post completion, Sentinel Group Holdings S.A. or its shareholders will control around 7.9% of the Enlarged Share Capital of the Group.
Skrill is considered one of the prime options for digital payments in Europe. They offer safe and secure e-wallet solutions for business houses as well as customers.
By virtue of acquiring Skrill, Optimal believe they would end up saving in cost cutting measures somewhere around $40 million a year. 
Majority of iGaming industry operators make use of Skrill as a trusted payment gateway for deposits as well as withdrawals.

Caesars executive throws weight behind PokerStars for legalization in US

PokerStars received a shot in the arm this weekend as Jan Jones Blackhurst, executive vice-president of communication and government relations at Caesars Entertainment Corporation, spoke out in support of the online poker giant’s effort to become legalized in the US.
It was confirmed on social media last week by Chris Krafcik of GamblingCompliance that Jones Blackhurst that PokerStars “should be considered for legalization in the US”.
However, this support is bound to surprise a lot of people, as Caesars’ has been a long-time supported of the ‘bad actor’ clauses in online poker bills.
The ‘bad actor’ clause intends to sideline any operator or market affiliate from the US online gambling ecosystem after December 31, 2006, from applying for a licence to operate in the country.
That cut-off date is approximately at the time when the draconian Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed in the US.
The Amaya Gaming-owned brand functioned in the US up unto April 2011 when the brought criminal charges against their executives. Though the company never accepted any wrongdoing on their part, PokerStars settled the lawsuit by shelling out a huge sum of money.
Caesars’ backing comes at a time soon after Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians, Caesars’ online and land-based partner in California, as well as the Pala Band of Mission Indians and the United Auburn Indian Community, in a letter to representatives of State Mike Gatto and Reggie Jones-Sawyer, defined their new outlook with regards to the ‘bad actor’ clause in the bills introduced by them.
The letter of support, intercepted by Pechanga.net. read: 
“We suggest an approach that looks specifically at personal participation in unauthorised gaming.
“Under this approach, those persons with control over a licensed operator, service provider, or marketing affiliate could not include any person who has personally participated in unauthorised gaming.
“This approach strikes a balance between the state’s need to ensure that persons who wilfully defy gaming laws not be permitted to jeopardise the integrity of internet poker in California, while recognising that control of an entity may change over time in a way that resolves regulatory concerns.
“If a company that engaged in unauthorised gaming changed ownership, regulators would be able to review the effect of that change in ownership under the bill’s standards.
“Use of assets developed through unauthorised internet gaming; we recognise that this is an important issue that remains to be resolved, with different approaches reflected in your respective bills.
“While we have not yet identified a possible consensus position, we encourage continued conversation on this important issue to identify an approach based on considerations of fairness, regulatory integrity, and legal requirements at issue.”

Russian player wins $1 million PokerStars Spin & Go


In an attempt to promote Spin n Go, the latest poker variant of PokerStars, the online poker giant hosted a $1 Million Spin & Go special promotion in December that was extended through January as a big payout wasn’t hit.
Finally, the players got around to beating the long odds of 3-in-10 million to release the jackpot, with $1 million top prize being bagged by Russian player “Sss66666”, two players from Belgium and Bulgaria took home a cool $100,000 each.  All of them won after having invested only $5.
This format of poker has again showed by it can be a life-changing experience to poker players. With a meager investment, players can aim and hope to win big at the poker table.
However, the introduction of Spin & Go was met with backlash from regular PokerStars grinders that thought this variant would drive players away from cash games and tournaments. Hence they felt it would hit their profits.
Finally, better sense prevailed and players began to saw these, as a much need boost to the online poker industry that is quite monotonous in the present day. There is now a reasonable consensus around this latest variant and players are actually beginning to enjoy the Spin & Go’s.
Daniel Negreanu, said:
“Do you know what kills games and destroy the poker ecosystem above and beyond all the things mentioned? Winning players. Yup, you guys lol. The winning players as a whole win a lot more money than the company makes each and every year. Yet, oddly, they still offer VIP programs to the very people who are essentially ‘killing the games.”
There is no denying the need of attractive games and innovation in online poker. More companies need to take a cue from PokerStars and offer players some new and exciting variants to play.

Contagious Gaming agrees deal to acquire Chelbis

Online gaming and lottery software developer, Contagious Gaming signed a deal to acquire Chelbis, the online bingo providers based out of UK for approximately $3.5 million.
As per the agreement, Contagious Gaming will acquire securities (outstanding and issues) of Chelbis. Contagious is listed in Toronto.
The buy-out price that also constitutes an earn-out consideration equivalent to net income in 2015 as well as 2016, has to be paid by virtue of an amalgamation of common share of Contagious and cash.
The UK-based Chelbios offers online bingo games and runs several websites like House of Bingo and Gone Bingo. The company also operates Bingo networks like Best Bingo Network and Fun Bingo Network.
Chelbis also looks after the management of 14 white label bingo partner websites within its networks.
Contagious Gaming CEO, Peter Glancy, said.
“The acquisition of Chelbis is expected to be materially accretive, diversifying our revenue streams, providing consistent cash flow and allowing us to capitalise on synergies which should ultimately increase margins and reduce costs. We look forward to completing the acquisition of Chelbis and welcoming them as Contagious Gaming shareholders.”
Madhu Avalur, CEOF of Chelbis, added: 
“We look forward to completing the acquisition and joining the Contagious Gaming team where we will be able to leverage our resources and create synergies to drive value for shareholders.”
Though from the outset, this does not appear as one of the biggest deals in the market, the return on investment aspect of this deal sure makes sense. It would be wise to keep an eye out on these two parties to know how this deals helps them generate more revenues.

Bookmaker Efbet inks deals with Bulgarian football clubs to boost presence in market

Efbet, the online sports betting operator inked a sponsorship agreement with Levski Sofia, a football club that plays in top-flight football of the country.
As newly signed agreements is valid up to the end of 2014 for now. But the two parties have kept an option open for extending the deal to an additional three-and-a-half-year term, which is when 2017-18 football season in Bulgaria ends.
As per the deal, Efbet, a Malta-based Eurofootball, which is partly owned by Intralot, will derive benefit by placing their logo on the back of Levski Sofia players’ jerseys.
CFO of the club, Konstantin Bazhdekov said: 
“We hope everything becomes clear at the beginning of next year. The partnership is beneficial for both sides.”
Efbet’s collaboration with Levski Sofia will help increase their reach in the Bulgarian market especially in among the footballing-loving audience. Prior to this, bookmaker has already sealed deals with CSKA Sofia, Locomotiv Sofia, Slavia, Locomotiv Plovdiv and Botev Plovdiv.
In October, it also agreed Efbet entered into an exclusive joint venture partnership with the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) and the Bulgarian national football team until 2016.
Deals between bookmarkers and football teams are not new English football has majority of their clubs in partnership with major companies like Mansion, Ladbrokes and William Hill.
Even Bwin paid a record fee to have their logo on Real Madrid’s jersey. However, the return on investment wasn’t as expected.
It remains to be seen if Efbet can get value on their deals in Bulgarian football.
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