Entries in Gambling (12)


PokerStars' Bid to Buy Casino Could Signal Gambling Gold Rush

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A move by the online gaming giant PokerStars to buy an Atlantic City, N.J., casino could signal a gold rush for the gambling industry, according to industry watchers.

Online companies are expected to be scrambling for land and casinos in states like Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware, which recently passed laws allowing online gambling if it is affiliated with in-state casinos.  Similar bills have also been introduced in Pennsylvania and Illinois.

PokerStars, part of the online gambling corporation Rational Group, based in the U.K., struck a deal earlier this year to buy the Atlantic Club, an 800-room hotel and casino on the Atlantic City boardwalk, according to paperwork filed with the state's division of gaming enforcement.

The move came after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed a law on Feb. 26 allowing online gambling for residents as long as the games were hosted by in-state casinos located in Atlantic City.

The company, which was previously indicted by the Department of Justice for offering online gambling to U.S. residents, wants to legally operate its website and the casino, according to its owners.  They reportedly paid about $30 million for the casino.

"In a nutshell, the future of gaming will require a mix of online and offline expertise," Eric Hollreiser, spokesman for PokerStars, told ABC News in an email.  "We are the world's largest online poker company and one of the largest producers of live poker tournaments in the world, which we produce in many of the world's best known casinos."

Hollreiser said that the proposed business model would help drive online gamers into casinos for live tournaments, and remind casino-goers to log on and game at home until their next visit.

"We drive traffic from our online tournaments to our major casino partners around the world.  This drives a poker tourism business in cities such as London, Monte Carlo, Barcelona, (and) Rio," he said.  "The traffic runs both ways as we introduce new audiences to poker in these live tournaments."

PokerStars is awaiting approval from the Division of Gaming Enforcement and the state's Casino Control Commission.  If it goes through, it could represent the first time a gaming website has transformed into owning and operating a hotel and casino.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Gamblers Betting Near Record Amount on Super Bowl

Larry French/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Gamblers are betting what could be a record amount of money on Super Bowl XLVII.

It's still too early to predict exactly how much money will be riding on the line come Feb. 3, but experts say the total being wagered in Las Vegas alone could approach the all-time Super Bowl record -- $94.9 million -- set back in 2006.

"It's an intriguing match up because the coaches are brothers," says Jay Kornegay, vice president of Las Vegas' Superbook, the world's largest race and sports betting book.  "The Ravens, the hottest team, may not have a large fan base, but they certainly add an intriguing element.  There's the fact Ray Lewis is retiring.  It's one of the better teams versus the hottest team."

It's hard to predict how much money ultimately will be bet, says Kornegay, because about 80 percent of all wagers get made in the last few days before the game.  Still, he says, he's expecting this year's Super Bowl to come very close to the record -- probably between $92 million and $93 million.

And that figure, he says, represents "a drop in the bucket" compared to total U.S. betting on the outcome, almost all of which is illegal.  The only legal place to place a Super Bowl bet in the U.S. is Nevada, though New Jersey is working to legalize sports betting at its 12 Atlantic City casinos despite a federal ban.

The line in Las Vegas right now, Kornegay says, has the 49ers a 4-point favorite.  That will likely change as the bookmakers attempt to even out the betting before game time.

As in past Super Bowls, so-called proposition bets -- wagers on such specific things as how big the point spread will be, how many touchdown passes will be thrown by a given player, or whether either team will score in the first five-and-a-half minutes -- are extremely popular, and can represent, Kornegay says, anywhere from 10 percent to as much as 50 percent of total betting on the game.

Although Superbook will eventually offer 20 pages of such betting possibilities -- some 300 in all -- Nevada bookies are restricted to offering only those propositions whose outcome can be documented on the field of play.  So, for instance, Superbook cannot take bets on how long it will take Alicia Keys to sing the National Anthem.

"In the state of Nevada," Kornegay says, "we can't take the real crazy ones."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Five Men Found Guilty for Playing Poker in a Private Home

Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock(COLUMBIA, S.C.) – The South Carolina Supreme Court has ruled Wednesday that due to state laws, a poker game held in a private home six years ago has been determined as illegal.

Twenty-five civilians were arrested at a house in Charleston in 2006 for playing a game of “Texas Hold’Em” style poker, in which players were charged fees for food and beverages, thereby classifying the situation as a “gambling house,” according to a statute dating back to 1802 as part of the basis of arrest. Police found thousands of dollars worth of cash in the house.

Five of the 25 players arrested fought the charges, bringing up the case to the state Supreme Court, where, due to the results of the case, their arrests have been reinstated. Neither the prosecutors nor the defense attorneys could be reached for comment.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


On Which Candidate Are Gambling Bookies Betting?

NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/GettyImages(NEW YORK) -- We know how Karl Rove and James Carville are betting on the election. But how about Vinnie The Pipe, Hot Horse Herbie and Nathan Detroit? Gamblers have long shown themselves to be accurate predictors of U.S. presidential elections. So, who are they betting on this time — and by what margin?

They're betting on Obama. By how much depends on what group of gamblers you ask. Some of the biggest can be found laying down presidential bets on gambling websites such as Intrade (based in Ireland) and on online U.K. bookmakers Ladbrokes and William Hill. Presidential betting doesn't take place in Las Vegas (at least not legally), since U.S. law forbids it domestically.

Intrade and the two English bookies, however, being based overseas, aren't subject to that same restriction. Carl Wolfenden, exchange operations manager for Intrade, tells ABC News it's a common misconception U.S. citizens can't bet on presidential elections.

Nearly three quarters of Intrade's presidential bets (73 percent) come from the U.S., he says. Though credit card companies block payments from U.S. gamblers, they can pay by check. "Americans can do it," he explains. "It's just inconvenient."

Intrade has taken bets on the past two U.S. presidential elections. How accurate have gamblers been? "They've been pretty good," says Wolfenden. In '04 they bet on Bush and correctly called results in all 50 states. In '08 they predicted Obama and got 48 states right (they bet wrong on Missouri and Indiana).

This year, bettors at all three online book makers favor Obama. Ladbrokes gives him odds of 1-to-5 (versus Romney's 7-to-2). William Hill scores them, respectively, 2-to-9 and 16-to-5.

Presidential betting options have grown more exotic in recent years, notes Marketwatch. For instance you can now bet not just on the general election but on the number of votes each candidate will rack up in the Electoral College. Intrade on Monday offered odds on whether or not Romney would release more tax returns. If he had, you'd have collected 1,000-to-one.

Some of the juiciest odds apply to which candidate wins which state.

Though killings can be made on some state bets, the state market, says Intrade's Wofenden, tends to be thinly traded. "We've been very happy with volumes on the main market but a bit surprised and disappointed by the state markets," he said, though he's not sure why. "There are some very exciting states. Virginia and Colorado are still toss-ups." A really bold gambler, he says could "punt" and bet on Obama's winning North Carolina, where polls have him losing by a substantial margin.

Who'll win Ohio? Intrade gives a 71.8 percent probability to Obama's winning; 30.3 percent to Romney.

Bookmakers already are taking odds on the 2016 election, with Ladbrokes giving 3-to-1 odds that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee, compared to 200-to-1 for Chelsea Clinton and 100-to-1 each for George Clooney and Michelle Obama.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Researcher Questions Whether Women More Risk-Averse Than Men

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- While previous academic research has shown women to be less willing to engage in risk than men in situations like gambling, a new economics paper released this week finds men can be just as risk-averse, if not more.

Julie Nelson, chairwoman of the economics department at University of Massachusetts-Boston, wrote “Are Women Really More Risk-Averse Than Men?” as a working paper this week.

“The paper finds a lot of the economics and finance research in behavioral differences between men and women is vastly exaggerated,” Nelson said.

Nelson and a research assistant reviewed more than 24 published articles about the subject, many of which studied men and women’s gambling habits and often concluded that women were less willing to gamble.

“My paper goes over the literature and says ‘not so fast,’” she said.

Nelson often found small differences in the averages of the two genders that measured how willing they were to take risks.

“Academic articles hide that there is a lot of overlap between men and women,” Nelson said.

Nelson pointed out that it should be difficult to generalize on risk just from studies about lottery-like games, upon which is what much of the research is based.

“That’s easy to do with a bunch of undergraduates in a psych lab,” she said of much of the research methodology about the subject.

Either there are problems with studies themselves or some people over-interpreted the results, Nelson said.

Kimmo Eriksson, a Swedish scholar, co-authored a paper called “Emotional reactions to losing explain gender differences in entering a risky lottery” in 2010. However, after reading Nelson’s paper, he acknowledged in a blog post his error in citing a previous risk-related gender study.

Eriksson and his co-author had written that “females’ lower risk preferences and less risky behavior is robust across a variety of contexts.”  However, the previous study he cited concluded that the majority, 60 percent, of the research subjects supported “the idea of greater risk taking on the part of males,” and, “a sizable minority,” 40 percent, were either negative or close to zero.

A loose translation of his blog post included, “Julie Nelson is of course right that robustness was too strong a word.”

As an economics professor, Nelson pointed out that generalizations based upon gender about risk-aversion can lead to broader cultural bias in financial decision-making and the workplace. She argued out that the cultural perceptions of what is masculine and feminine may be more influential on one’s risk aversion than a biological difference.

“Could the financial crisis that began in 2008 be attributed, at least in part, to issues of sex and gender?” she wrote in the paper. “In the wake of the crisis, several commentators asked whether women leaders would have prevented it or whether it would have happened ‘if Lehman Brothers had been Lehman Sisters’. The evidence reviewed in this essay suggests, however, that the biological sex of the financial decision-makers or regulators is likely not the most important factor.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Casino Suing Gamblers Who Won $1.5 Million, Blames Unshuffled Decks of Cards

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.) -- A New Jersey casino has sued a group of gamblers who won $1.5 million after they allegedly realized the eight decks of cards used in a game of mini baccarat were not pre-shuffled.

The Golden Nugget in Atlantic City, N.J., filed suit against the gamblers and playing card company Gemaco after 14 players collectively won $1,536,700 in 41 winning hands.

As the same sequence of cards kept appearing April 30, the players increased their bets from $10 to $5,000, the casino alleged.

"The gamblers unlawfully took advantage of the Golden Nugget when they caught onto the pattern and ... by passing money to fellow gamblers in order to place bets in excess of posted betting limits," the casino said in a statement.

In a lawsuit filed in New Jersey Superior Court, the casino cited gambling regulations that state gaming odds must be fair for both sides.

The Golden Nugget is seeking a return of the $558,900 it paid out to several of the players and the nearly $1 million worth of chips.

Benjamin Dash, attorney for the gamblers, said his clients, who did not know each other, were "playing the game lawfully."

After paying out a portion of the winnings, the casino managers became suspicious. Convinced they were watching a "sophisticated swindling and cheating scheme," they refused to cash in the remaining $1 million in chips.

No evidence of a scheme was found. On May 1, the Golden Nugget said it learned by "direct admission" from Gemaco's CEO that the decks used in the baccarat game were not shuffled, despite being touted as pre-shuffled, certified decks.

ABC News was unable to reach Gemaco for comment.

Three of the gamblers filed a countersuit against the casino, alleging they were discriminated against because of their Chinese heritage.

"All of the players were Asian [and] none of their chips were honored," Dash said. "In New Jersey, a chip is evidence of a debt."

After the win, Dash said, one of his clients was assaulted when he answered the door of his hotel room.

The man was pinned against a wall and his belongings were searched, Dash said. He was then held in a room without access to food, water or an interpreter, according to allegations in the countersuit, which identifies no particular assailant.

The Golden Nugget called the claims "completely false."

"[We] would never discriminate against anyone, including the Asian community," the casino said in a statement. "In fact, the Golden Nugget designed and built an Asian gaming area and restaurant to specifically attract Asian guests to the casino."

The case will be heard Aug. 31.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


PokerStars in $731M Money-Laundering Settlement

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- PokerStars has agreed to a $731 million money-laundering settlement with the U.S. government that includes reimbursement for some customers whose funds were frozen when the feds cracked down on the gambling sites.

PokerStars also will acquire the assets of its former competitor, Full Tilt Poker, as part of the agreement, the companies said today.

On April 15, 2011, the Department of Justice shut down PokerStars, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker, the three largest online poker companies operating in the U.S., alleging illegal gambling and money laundering, and cutting off a source of income for online professional gamblers across the country.

Under the settlement, PokerStars will pay $547 million over three years to the U.S. and must make available to foreign players all balances, about $184 million, that were held in the Full Tilt accounts within 90 days, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. U.S. players at Full Tilt must apply to the Department of Justice for reimbursement.

“Acquiring certain assets of Full Tilt Poker strengthens PokerStars, brings welcome relief to Full Tilt Poker players who have been waiting over 12 months for repayment of their money, and benefits the entire poker community,” Mark Scheinberg, chairman of PokerStars, said in a statement.

PokerStars has remained open for players outside the U.S. players and repaid its U.S. customers after operations were halted.

Earlier this month, Full Tilt Poker CEO Raymond Bitar was charged with promising players that their funds would be protected in “segregated” accounts when the company used the money to pay for Full Tilt operations and to pay Bitar and other owners over $430 million. When Bitar willingly came to the U.S. from the company’s headquarters in Ireland, he said he would cooperate with authorities to return players’ money.

“We are pleased to announce these settlements by Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars, which allow us to quickly get significant compensation into the victim players’ hands,” said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in a statement.

The $547 million will be payable over three years.

PokerStars plans to re-launch Full Tilt Poker in most markets as a separate brand, following the appointment of a new, independent management team.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Detroit Man Gambled Away Over $1.5M After ATM Error

Hemera/Thinkstock(DETROIT) -- A Detroit man is facing 15 months in prison after he was able to withdraw unlimited cash from his Bank of America account that only held a few dollars.

Ronald Page, 55, took advantage of a bank mistake that placed his account into a "pay all" status, allowing him to withdraw unlimited overdrafts, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Detroit said.  And withdraw he allegedly did: From August 1 to 18 in 2009, Page hit ATMs, mostly at casinos and cashiers, for $1,543,104.

Page, a retired worker after 30 years at General Motors, had maintained an average balance of about $100 in his account from Dec. 1, 2008 to May 31, 2009, according to his indictment.

He pled guilty on March 7 to theft of bank funds.  His sentencing will take place on June 27.

Page could not be reached for comment.  His attorney, Richard Morgan, did not immediately return a request for comment.

A spokeswoman for Bank of America provided a statement to ABC News saying, "We can't provide specifics in regards to Mr. Page's account as it is proprietary and because his case is still in the courts, we are unable to comment."

Court papers state that Page was a frequent gambler at casinos in the Detroit area and Las Vegas from January 2009 to February 2010. Between February 2009 and August 2009, his Bank of America account was used primarily for gambling, a court document states, in which he would deposit his winnings and withdraw amounts from $2,000 to $50,000.

On Aug. 1, because of the bank error, Page withdrew $312,000 from ATMs at Greektown Casino in Detroit, then $51,727 the same day from MGM Grand Casino.  But the party came to an end on Aug. 18, when his attempt to withdraw $52,000 from his account at Greektown Casino was denied.  He also went to the Motor City Casino on Aug. 19 and attempted to withdraw $51,400 from his account but was again denied.

Bank of America advised Page on Aug. 21, 2009 that his account was overdrawn by over $1.5 million and demanded immediate repayment.  He has not repaid the bank.

The U.S. Attorney's Office recommended 15 months in prison for Page and that the court order restitution to Bank of America for the $1,543,104.

They also recommended Page be prohibited from gambling activity, lotteries, or wagering of any kind along with banning him from entering the premises of any gambling casinos, horse tracks, bingo parlors, or dog races or wherever gambling activity is conducted.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Absolute Poker Founder Pleads Guilty in Fraud Case

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The co-founder of an Internet poker company pleaded guilty to fraud Tuesday in a New York court.

When banks and credit card companies became unwilling to process online poker payments, Brent Beckley, the founder of Absolute Poker, started lying about what his business actually did. He pleaded guilty to tricking banks into accepting credit cards from players so they could keep betting. The banks thought they were processing payments for merchants that sold jewelry or golf balls -- in fact those merchants did not exist.

Beckley is expected to serve approximately a year in prison when he's sentenced in April.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Winning! Blackjack Player Lightens Three Casinos of $15 Million

John Howard/Digital Vision/Thinkstock(ATLANTIC CITY, N.J.) -- Between December and April, a gambler named Don Johnson, playing single blackjack hands of up to $100,000, reportedly walked away from Atlantic City's tables with a cool $15 million.

From the Tropicana he took $6 million; from the Borgata, $5 million; and at Caesar's he let off easy, taking only $4 million.  So how did he do it?  Was it divine intervention, card-counting or an epic run of good luck?

Johnson isn't saying.  He admits to having had to take some losses along the way.  In what may turn out to be an unfortunate choice of phrase, he told a reporter for The Press of Atlantic City, "I don't wear Kevlar.  I'm not bulletproof."

The 49-year-old resident of Bensalem, Pennsylvania, said in the same interview that he began playing blackjack 15 years ago, starting with $25 bets.  Today, he's a professional gambler of sorts: chief executive officer of Heritage Development LLC, which develops computer-assisted wagering systems for horseracing.  His prowess in blackjack, he says, has gotten him banned from some casinos.

Johnson insists that he's no cheater: that all his Atlantic City winnings came to him fair and square.  Though he refuses to divulge the system he uses, it depends in part on his having a big enough bankroll to sustain losses and keep right on going.

"If you can take the swings," he told the Atlantic City paper, "You're going to win.  You also have to understand the math."

By that he likely means card-counting, which is not illegal: A blackjack player with a trained memory and enough acuity can keep track of which cards have been played and which are still in the deck, thereby maximizing his chances for beating the house.

Henry Tamburin, author of Blackjack: Take the Money and Run and editor of Black Jack Insider Newsletter, however, doesn't rule out the possibility Johnson's winnings could have been the result of "sheer luck."  It's highly unlikely, he says, but not impossible -- especially if, as Johnson told the Press, casinos had been giving him a VIP discount of 20 percent on his losses.

As the CEO of the Tropicana said in early May, referring to his casino's loss of $6 million to an undisclosed player assumed to be Johnson, "We ran very unlucky."

In fact, it was the first time since the casinos opened in Atlantic City in 1978 that a gambling house lost money at the game of blackjack over a particular month, a spokesman for New Jersey's Casino Control Commission told The Star Ledger.

Tamburin suspects there must be more to the story: "To me, it's all a little strange.  Something's not right here.  If you're the CEO, after you lose $1 million, somebody wakes up and says: There's something wrong here." 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio