PokerStars will not enter New Jersey’s regulated market in 2014

PokerStars wont make their much-hyped re-entry into the US poker market until the next year. This news was confirmed when the review application that would enable the Amaya Gaming-owned poker site to start operations in New Jersey wasn’t completed in the stipulated timeframe.
There can be many reasons as to why this application could not be processed. But knowing the history of PokerStars and US poker market; politics is being attributed to as one of the big hurdle that caused this delay.
Raymond Lesniak (State Senator) is a known as a leading proponent of iGaming in the state had said New Jersey players would be able to play on PokerStars by the end of 2014. However, he too seemed pessimistic on his Twitter account about that happening and said Governor Chris Christie was to blame.
Debate and deliberation regarding the re-launch of PokerStars in the state between Amaya and the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement actually began in mid June. But after 5 months of discussion nothing seems to have moved forward. Or even if it has then swiftness has lacked in decision-making.
The DGE however did not take as much time to process the paperwork of other companies that have become players in the US poker market. It remains to be seen how Amaya will approach this especially as they need to tread carefully and be on the right side of the authorities.

Online sports betting drives Fortuna Entertainment’s revenues

Fortuna Entertainment, the Central and Eastern European online betting company as revealed an incremental online sports betting as a major reason for their year-on-year increase in revenue during the first three quarters.
Fortuna generated €491.6 million ($609.5 million) in revenues from January through September, which indicated a jump of 21.3% on the amount at the same point last year.
The wagered on sports betting during the period increased by 21.8% to €480 million. As compared to that, amount staked on lottery betting was €11.6 million, a jump of 4.4% on 2013.
The betting operator also witnessed growth in online sports betting activity by 16.6% to €97.2 million.
Sports betting gross win was €91.9 million, an increase of 17.8% on 2013, €48.4 million of which is touted to come from online betting.
However, Fortuna’s lottery business dropped by 0.7% to €5.2 million.
Before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization in the 9-month period, the revenues were up by 21.2% to €22 million, and sports betting accounting for €21.9 million of the total.

“Sit-Out” protests against PokerStars fail to gather momentum

After several unpopular measures adopted by the Amaya Gaming owned PokerStars, infuriated players had planned a sit out protest. Several modes of protests were planned by players to send out a strong signal to the online poker giant. 
The main objective of this protest was to force a rollback from PokerStars on some of their new regulations. Section of players organized a sit-out protest after garnering a consensus on a popular poker forum.
This protest was planned for Wednesday and involved hundreds of PokerStars heads-up sit-n-go players. Sadly for them, not many took notice of this protest and it fizzled out in the end. 
In fact, the PokerStars PR team thought the Sit-Out did not even merit a response on the forum thread, let alone an official one.
Despite increasing the rake % in several formats, PokerStars did not face any backlash from players that was initially feared by many industry experts. In fact, most players were hardly bothered about the changes.
The recreational players were thrilled that some top and tough players would sit out and not participate in the daily cash games. This gave them a chance to play and win more at the tables.
Hence the protest strategy completely failed because there was no unanimity among the players. Though the protest has not been called off, it is eveident the end result will not bear any fruit. 
The biggest factor in favour of PokerStars is that they enjoy a monopoly in online poker world. Hence, they have given players an option that virtually translates to my way or the highway. This may also encourage them to execute more tough decisions in the future as well.

PokerStars exits from more than 30 ‘grey’ markets

PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker have pulled the plug on their operations in more than 30 countries. Three years after Black Friday, this latest development is being termed as Black Tuesday.
Countries across Asia, Africa and Middle East seem to be affected due to this pull out by these online poker giants.
Malaysian professional players Victor Chong posted the following on micro-blogging site Twitter:
“@pokerstars @PokerStarsAPPT tried to register for a tourney and this happened: No more real money games in Malaysia?”
Several PokerStars players that got in touch with the customer support team were informed that new owners Amaya Gaming took this decision to move out of several grey markets after considering risks associated with such countries. 
Industry experts see this as an attempt by PokerStars to comply with the requirement of the UK Gambling Commission. As per their directive, operators applying for a remote gaming license must not generate more than 3% of their revenues from unlicensed jurisdictions.
Player also received the following message from the customer support team of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker:
“Please be aware that using any technique to try to circumvent our automated restrictions is also prohibited, and may lead to your account being closed and the funds therein seized. Play-Money games will be still available for everyone to enjoy.”
It is not just the players who were in for this rude shock, but affiliates of PokerStars had their agreements ended with the site. However, as of now it is being said that only underperforming affiliates are being affected by this latest announcement.
But, there is no guarantee if the company would not terminate the contracts of other affiliates.
Online poker report quoted a source close to the company as saying:
 “Apparently most, if not all, of the affiliates terminated received little to no notice that their account was under review. Instead, they received only a notice that their account was being terminated”.
Well, there is no denying that since Amaya Gaming acquired the Rational Group, the dynamics of the online poker landscape have been altered. Players, affiliates and experts will have to wait and watch the approach of PokerStars from henceforth and manage their funds accordingly.

Like YouTube, “Recommendations” feature for videos to be implemented by Facebook

Social media giant Facebook is now testing a new feature for their site – related videos. This feature will offer recommendations to users like similar videos or popular videos once they are done watching a current video on your mobile news feed.
This is a bit like what we see on YouTube. As soon as you watch a video, you either have an option to re-watch the video or opt to watch similar videos or the most popular videos in that category.
As of now, this feature is only accessible to a group of iOS and Android test users. This latest development was reported by Mashable news website.

World Cup 2014: Twitter Re-introduces National HashFlags

The biggest show of 2014 has arrived in town. Yes, the 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks off in Brazil on 12 June. The buzz around this tournament is like no other. With 32 teams participating, this is truly a global event. Never before have social media networks witnessed so much excitement around a sports event.
Hence Twitter has re-introduced the “hashflags” for this event.  If you remember the 2010 edition in South Africa, the hashflags were a rage on Twitter. The social media firm confirmed the return of national hashflags this week.  This is a great initiative especially as the fans will enjoy tweeting in favor of their countries with their flags in tweets.
Hashflag is nothing but a combination of a hashtag and a flag. During the World Cup, when users will tweet using a # with the three letter abbreviation of their country, a flag will show up in the tweet. For instance, if you a supported of England, all you need to do is tweet using #ENG for the flag to appear in the tweet.
Twitter will be a great source for content and information during the World Cup. All fans will be able to keep track of the latest updates by using hashtags #WorldCup and #WorldCup2014. On clicking these hashtags, which are bound to be worldwide trends during the course of the one-month.
On clicking these hashtags, users will be able to access a page that includes a World Cup timeline and a match timeline. This page will curate all the World Cup content like score updates, videos, pictures, highlights, player tweets and all the other exciting content.
This will enable fans across the globe to publish and share great content, which will ensure that the overall experience of the 2014 FIFA World Cup will be maximized.

And the 2014 Winners are:

Affiliate Manager of the Year
Melanie Hainzer (LeoVegas)
Affiliate Team of the Year
Excellence in Customer Service Award
Hidden Talent of the Year (Online or Land Based)
Industry Achiever of the Year (Online or Land Based)
Innovator of the Year
Inspiration of the Year
Leader of the Year (iGaming)
Maria Hedengren (NetEnt)
Leader of the Year (land based)
Star of the Future
Marketing Excellence Award (team or individual)
Nora Felin  (Mr Green)
Team of the Year (iGaming)
Linda Arbman/Mr Green Development Team (Mr Green)
Team of the Year (Land Based)
Industry Pride of the Year

Facebook Acquires Pryte to Boost The Internet.org Project

Social medial giant Facebook is on an acquisition spree. Their latest buy is Pryte, which happens to be a mobile data plan operating out of Finland. This is an attempt by Facebook to boost their efforts in the Internet.org project. The terms of this deal have not been put out in the public domain.
Pryte’s business objective is to operate with wireless providers to offer users with mobile data plans on a per app basis instead of having users purchase it in bulk. The company was founded in 2013. 
Reuters and Mashable who suggest that Pryte, which hasn’t been publicly launched employs fewer than 30 people reported this latest development.
Pryte wrote about their acquisition by Facebook via their blog:
"Since we launched Pryte we have worked to reimagine the way mobile data works in an app-driven world, by enabling partnerships between app and content providers, and mobile operators. Now, we’re joining Facebook, whose mission to connect the world by partnering with operators to bring people online in a profitable way aligns closely with our team’s goals."
Spokesperson of Facebook said:
"The Pryte team will be an exciting addition to Facebook. Their deep industry experience working with mobile operators aligns closely with the initiatives we pursue with Internet.org, to partner with operators to bring affordable internet access to the next 5 billion people, in a profitable way.”
The team at Pryte will be working on the Internet.og project from the Facebook offices in London and Singapore.

Facebook Discontinues Frictionless Sharing

Back in 2011, frictionless sharing was considered as one of the most important features of the social networks for the future. At the same time Facebook started a feature wherein apps like Netflix and Spotify as well as news firms like The Telegraph were able to post the activity of a user on their wall and not have to request for prior permission.
At the time, it was being said of this feature:
“And soon, the idea that apps are sharing a continuous stream of our activity will seem just as commonplace and uncontroversial as the original news feed.”
Fast forward to 2014, on observing greater competition in the user newsfeed, the social media giant has decided to discontinue the feature of frictionless sharing. Stories that are shared via seamless sharing will continue to be posted, but they have been demoted to the second rung of content. Hence the probability of the user viewing such news on his/her newsfeed is greatly reduced.
On this latest development, Facebook said:
“We’ve found that stories people choose to explicitly share from third party apps are typically more interesting and get more engagement in News Feed than stories shared from third party apps without explicit action. “In the coming months, we will continue to prioritize explicitly shared stories from apps in News Feed over implicitly shared stories. This means people will see fewer implicit stories from third party apps in the future.”
This suggests, any story that the user shares automatically from third-party apps will get lower importance in the news feed. There are about 1500 news stories that may appear on the newsfeed of any user. Data that is shared through frictionless sharing does not engage the users. Hence Facebook has been quick to realize this and withdraw such content and replacing it with stories that engage the users.

Twitch To Be Acquired By YouTube For $1 Billion

It is being widely reported in the technology industry that Google/YouTube are seriously considering acquiring Twitch. Some sites have reported that the deal is already done and both companies will announce the recent developments shortly. The deal is said to be in the region of $1 billion. Twitch is a video game streaming platform that has gained popularity recently.
The PR Director of Twitch only stated the following on the latest developments:
 “Twitch doesn’t comment on rumors.” 
Google/YouTube have not made any official statement as of now about this acquisition. But they are expected to make a formal announcement very soon. Google is said to be making preparations for US regulators to question this acquisition. Since YouTube is already the biggest video streaming and sharing website in the world, it is expected that the Department of Justice will note this acquisition as anticompetitive in the online video market.
In February, some tech sites and blogs reported that Twitch was 4th in the US in terms of peak online traffic. They had more traffic than some of the biggest sites including Valve, Facebook, Hulu, and other big online companies. Twitch made up for 1.8% of the peak online traffic in US. Google with 22% ranked 2nd with Netflix being 3rd in the rankings.
Since it became an independent company, Twitch has raised close to $35 million. It became a independent company in 2014 itself. When Justin.tv was launched, the owners noticed that their gaming channels were receiving huge traffic. In 2011, they made the gaming section of Justin.tv into a site on its own called Twitch.tv, which became Twitch Interactive in 2014.
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