Some interesting developments this week in the gambling world:
PartyGaming PLC, best known as the parent company of the popular online poker site, PokerStars.com reached a settlement agreement with the US Department of Justice. In exchange for a non-prosecution agreement, PartyGaming agreed to pay a fine of $105 Million. PartyGaming ceased its US operations in October of 2006, but the company hopes to some day reenter the market. Should the poker be deemed a skill game, or the UIGEA is repealed, this settlement clears the way for the company and its executives to start US operations without fear of prosecution from past actions.
Steve Wynn shared his thoughts on the economy and Vegas’ path to recovery.Wynn argued that Nevada cannot afford to ignore helping the Casinos, since their taxes fund over half of the state’s budget. Wynn also noted he was frustrated with how the US Government “stimulus funds” are being distributed and that more attention needs to be paid to creating new jobs. He suggested government tax credits for job creation, conservation of assets, and responsible debt levels. Check out the article for the complete video interview. Wynn, also did a sit-down interview with Charlie Gibson, which will appear on “60 Minutes” this Sunday.
Atlantic City’s oldest Casino, Resorts Atlantic City, is trying to conjure up memories of Atlantic City’s heyday by installing 8 coin-operated slot machines. The clinging of coins coming out of slot machines used to be the signature sounds of gambling. Today, coin-operated machines have been replaced by electronics, flashy lcd screens, and receipt vouchers. In the United States over 90% of the estimated 900,000 slot machines do not accept or payout coins, and are rapidly becoming extinct. So far the machines have received rave reviews from customers, but casino executives warn not to expect many of these coin operated machines and say electronic slots are more efficient to run, jam less often, and offer an equally enjoyable experience for players.
Old school slot machines aren’t the only sign that some customers are rejecting technology. The Trump Plaza announced this week that it will remove all electronic poker tables from its casino floors. The Trump Plaza installed the 14 tables last June, but said that even though the machines were faster, error free, and did not need to be tipped, the tables generated less interest than traditional tables, as it seems players like to play poker with a traditional card dealer. Welcome news for dealers worldwide.
A recent report by consulting firm Cigital analyzed 103 Million Hands recently played on PokerStars and concluded that poker is a game of skill. Cigital found that just over 75% of pots end before a showdown and only 50% of those those remaining hands that go to showdown are won by the player with the best hand. Using this data Cigital concluded that Texas Hold’em can be seen as 88% skill and not predominated by chance. Expect data from this study to be referenced frequently in future debates over the legality of poker.
Today is Friday the 13thand in case you are wondering, there will be 3 Friday the 13th’s this year, the most in the past decade!
The ACES train that shuttles people between New York City and Atlantic City is now running and reviews are beginning to show up. Review were generally positive, but apparently the trays on the backs of the coach seats were badly aligned. Speaking of trains, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D,NV) managed to secure $8 Billion in the latest economic stimulus bill to build a high speed trains. Speculation is that a large portion of the money may be used to build a high speed train that offers service from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.
A new study found that slot machines are being designed to take advantage of the “near-miss effect.” This phenomena should help explain why some gamblers try to chase their losses by continuing to bet after a bad beat. The article states:
“Before the reels on a slot machine stop spinning, a gambler’s brain is already anticipating the potential rewards. And although two bananas on the pay line with a third just barely visible won’t pay a gambler any more than three random fruits, such near misses have the well-documented, if irrational, effect of enticing gamblers to try again. The reason, according to a new study, is that these near misses activate the same reward signals in the brain as a win. ...
The rewards of a near miss may have ancient origins. In skill-dependent tasks, such as hunting, people do have some control over the outcome, and trying again after a near miss could bring home the bison, he explains. “The healthy brain is looking for ways in which it can control the environment, and gambling games harness that natural system.”“
There was no Mega Millions Lottery winner on Tuesday, so the jackpot is expected to grow to upwards of $60M for this Friday. Mega Millions is a multi-state lottery that includes California, New York, Texas, and many other states with large populations, and is known for its huge jackpots. Check out the MegaMillions.com website and find out where to play.
More bad news out of Atlantic City. Penn National Gaming canceled their planned casino development, joining MGM Mirage, Pinnacle Entertainment, and others who have recently scrapped plans for new Atlantic City casino developments. It isn’t all bad news for Atlantic City though, there is a new express train to shuttle casino goers form New York to Atlantic City. Dubbed “ACES” for Atlantic City Express Service, the train offers service on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The four double-decker cars feature leather seats, food, drinks, an other amenities. Ticket prices range form $50-75.
Finally, Actor/Comedian Steve Martin appeared on the David Letterman Show and told us of his experience of playing online poker while on Ambien and winning $1000. Watch the youtube video below for a good laugh.
The New York Daily News offers up their tips to picking winning lottery numbers. They offer up several good ideas to help secure a jackpot win, as well as tips to avoid having to split a big win.
Harrah’s released the 2009 WSOP Schedule. Following roughly the same blueprint as last year, there will be 57 gold bracelets given out in 50 days, with the No-Limit Texas Hold’em championship starting July 3rd, 2009. Once again, there will be a multi-month break once the final table is reached, with the final event taking place at The Rio on November 7th.
This week we also found out that Montell Williams will be hosting a new TV show this November called the International Team Poker League (ITPL). The ITPL will combine reality TV elements with poker and follow 6 players as they live the “poker lifestyle” and try to build their Legend. Stay tuned for contestant signup information.
Looking for the ultimate luxury gambling getaway? Mobil announced their 2009 star awards for hotels, restaurants, and spas. It appears Casinos in both Las Vegas an Macau brought home some serious hardware racking up a plethora of 4 and 5-star awards. Wynn, LV and MGM grand appear to be the cream of the crop, as the properties combined for five, 5-star awards. Wynn received 5-stars for their Tower Suites hotel rooms, Alex at Wynn restaurant, and Wynn Spa. The Skylofts at MGM Grand earned five stars for the first time and Joel Robuchon earned its 3rd annual five-star rating.
The Associated Press reported that States facing record budget shortfalls think gambling can help fill the gap and bring in much needed revenues without raising taxes. Expect several states to open up new lotteries and issue gambling licenses as we work our way out of this recession.
Doyle’s Room the online card room of Texas Poker Legend (and owner of 10 WSOP bracelets) Doyle Brunson has switched software from MicroGaming to the Cake Poker Network and is once again accepting American players. Rumors of the move have been floating around for months after their old software provider, MicroGaming, stopped accepting US player.
To kick off the relaunch, Doyle’s Room will host a $100,000 Guaranteed No-Limit Texas Hold’em tournament on Sunday, February 1st. The tournament starts at 5pm EST and has a reduced buy-in of $150+$12.
Busy week on the legal front:
On Monday, UIGEA regulations went into effect making it more difficult for US residents to deposit into online casinos. While banks have over 10 months to comply, some players are already reporting that their deposit attempts have been blocked.
On Tuesday, the Kentucky Appeals Court overturned the previous courts findings and ruled that internet domain names are not "gambling devices" and not subject to forfeiture. This is a positive ruling for online gambling, but the domain battle is far from over. Up next: the Kentucky Supreme Court.
Poker fans found reason to celebrate this week a Pennsylvania Judge found two defendants not guilty on unlicensed gambling charges for holding a house poker game when he ruled that poker is primarily a game of skill. This ruling clears the way for legal house poker games across the country, easing the minds of millions of Americans who play poker.
Trump Entertainment Resort Inc, Donald Trump's casino company, is desperately trying to avoid its 4th bankruptcy since 1991. The firm has managed to negotiate a 2-week debt extension to keep lenders at bay, but with terrible revenue reports coming out of Atlantic City, it might be only a matter of time. Trump One Card members with a significant balance of points should consider cashing in and requesting some of their hard earned comps while they still can.
1979 WSOP Winner and Poker Hall of Fame member Amarillo Slim was beaten and robbed of $8,000 cash and a $85,000 diamond ring when he was lured into a field expecting to collect a 4x4 as collateral for a bet he had won. We hope you heal fast Slim, and normally we would feel sorry for you, but at 80 years old you might want to consider hiring some debt collectors. After all, this isn't the first time you have been robbed.
More reports telling us stuff we already knew: when money is tight, people don't gamble as much. Casinos in Atlantic City struggle as revenue drops. In fact, only one casino, Harrah's Resort Atlantic City, managed to increase its revenue during the year. It isn't just the big guys either, small casinos are feeling the recession all over the country with revenues down across the board.
This isn't to say every gambling channel is struggling, the AP reports that state lottery sales are rising in many states as more people faced with financial insecurity are trying to hit a big payday.
It looks like Bellagio is still the King of Las Vegas and the Palms is agreat for Slots and Video Poker players. Be sure to check out the 2008 Trippies which gives out awards for the best and worst of Las Vegas.
Here are some of the results chosen by readers:
This was a great week for the Smarter Gamblers General Forum, including a great discussion about knowing when to quit. Be sure to jump into the conversation and let us know how you know when its time to color up and leave the table.