May 13, 2013 The €25,000 High Roller competition at the 2013 PokerStars and Monte-Carlo® Casino European Poker Tour Grand Final has passed its final stages. The prestigious event was won by Steven Silverman, who also attained the largest score of his career.
Place Player Prize
1 Steven Silverman €775,400*
2 Tony Gregg €760,000*
3 Fadar Kamar €760,000*
4 Vanessa Selbst €290,300
5 Toby Lewis €232,400
6 Chris Moore €193,500
7 Igor Kurganov €154,700
8 Victor Sbrissa €116,100
Steven Silverman Image
*Denotes a three-handed deal. When the final day of play commenced, Silverman was third according to the number of chips and all the attention was focused on defending champion Igor Kurganov and Team Poker Stars Pro Vanessa Selbst. Kurganov defeated a field of 133 players and won this event in 2012; he was looking for a spectacular repeat, while Selbst won the $25,000 High Roller at the 2013 Poker Stars Caribbean Adventure and entered Day 3 of this tournament as a chip leader. Kurganov’s hopes for a miraculous back-to-back feat were shattered as on his final hand of Ace of DiamondTen of Diamonds he went all-in with against Silverman’s Ace of ClubsQueen of Spades with the blinds worth 15,000/30,000/4,000 during Level 23. The community cards were revealed as Seven of HeartsSix of ClubsThree of DiamondsJack of DiamondsTwo of Clubs, having Kurganov eliminated with €154,700 in money won. As the next level unfolded, Selbst re-raised to 185,000 Tony Gregg’s raise of 80,000. Gregg replied by making it 480,000 to go to which Selbst further responded by going all-in for about 1.8 million. Gregg called, with his Ace of ClubsKing of Clubs to compete against Selbst’s Queen of DiamondsJack of Diamonds. Initially, Selbst was in the lead when the flop turned out to be Queen of ClubsFour of ClubsTwo of Diamonds, but the turn wasEight of Spades, with the river showing Ace of Spades, thus making Gregg the victor and locking Selbst in fourth place at €290,300 in winnings. When the three-handed action began, a few attempts at striking a deal were made, unsuccessful at first. Later on, Silverman, Gregg and Kamar agreed to a deal that earned €760,000 each and left €15,000 and the title to be contended for. Fadar Kamar quickly fell in third place, leaving Silverman and Gregg to play for the trophy, the extra cash amount and the Shamballa Jewels bracelet. The two are good friends and went for a little break where they enjoyed some coffee; after that brief respite, Silverman rapidly stretched his lead over Gregg, precipitating the final hand play. That occurred when both competitors went in, Silverman with Ace of SpadesJack of Spades against Gregg’s Two of ClubsTwo of Hearts. On the flop, Six of HeartsFive of DiamondsThree of Hearts, Gregg took the lead but the Jack of Clubs turn made Silverman the front runner. That title stuck to him when the Jack of Hearts river was revealed and eliminated Gregg with €760,000 to take home. Silverman scored the extra cash, bringing his total to €775,400 – the best performance of his career and all the more exciting since he entered the tournament via a €3,000 satellite.

May 11, 2013

The State of New Jersey experienced the sharpest decline in gross gaming and tax revenues when compared to the other 21 states which had operational commercial casinos during 2012.

This was one of the key findings of the 2013 State of the States survey published by the American Gaming Association, a trade group headquartered in Washington, DC.

Other outstanding discoveries of the survey included the fact that Philadelphia held on to its title of No.1 racetrack-gaming market in the United States (its gross gaming revenue stood at $835.3 million) – Parx Casino and Racing of Bensalem was in the lead there for the third consecutive year.

Also, the survey found that an increasing number of young patrons (aged 21 through 35) are frequenting casinos – they constituted 39 percent of those polled for the first time and were more attracted to non-gambling amenities such as restaurants or nightclubs.

As a whole, the United States commercial (non-tribal) casino industry grossed a revenue of $37.34 billion in 2012, an improvement of 4.8% compared to 2011, thus signaling the third straight year of growth. Not only that, but last year brought about the industry’s second highest level since 2007, before the effects of recession were felt.

Frank Fahrenkopf Jr., the outgoing president and CEO of the American Gaming Association, expressed optimism and excitement at this particular result of the survey, telling reporters in a conference call that “That’s tremendously good news. You add the impact of casino tax revenues and jobs, [and] both the present and future look bright for the industry.”

New Jersey CasinoFifteen of the twenty-two states that had operational casinos in 2011 experienced an increase in the gross gaming revenues of last year and the main reason that New Jersey was not among them proved to be the impact of Hurricane Sandy. The devastating natural disaster also took its toll on casinos, forcing them to close and further deterring potential customers by keeping tourists away.

These realities, coupled with an increase of gaming activities in neighboring Pennsylvania, allowed for Philadelphia to overtake Atlantic City in gross gaming revenue for the first time in history. “Pennsylvania has been one of the great successes in our industry,” according to Fahrenkopf – he also quoted Caesars Entertainment’s CEO Gary Loveman as saying that the Northeast is an underserved market and that the statistics in Pennsylvania truly reflect that fact.

“But, of course, there is a price for that, and I think Atlantic City has been hit by that,” he added. “Those that live in Philadelphia no longer have to drive to Atlantic City.”

On the East Coast, several states are increasing their casino activities, with New York considering the possibility of adding nontribal casinos, Maryland already doing it and Maine also having an increase in the field; MGM Resorts International is in the process of building a casino in DC. Fahrenkopf prediction is that the competition will increase in the next few years.

However, one gaming aspect that New Jersey seems to be a winner at is the employment of a greater number of additional people: in 2012, the number of casino jobs in the state increased by 5.8%, bringing the total to 34,726. The greater part of this 5.8% growth was contributed by Revel, a company that added 2,000 jobs in a place, as Fahrenkopf described it, “that really needed it”. At the other end of the spectrum, Pennsylvania’s casino jobs saw a 2.7% increase and a grand total of 10,162 employees.

The American Gaming Association’s fifteenth annual report surveyed 300 people aged 21 through 35 who had been at a casino in 2012. This age group had the highest rate of casino visitation, 39%, compared to the general adult population at 34%. Younger clients also wagered online, played poker and tried their luck at the lottery in higher numbers than the general casino public. Online betting is gaining popularity and support in the US nowadays, as three states (Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey) have legalized certain forms of Internet gambling.

The younger population that took part in the survey was also more likely to frequent non-gaming attractions when going to a casino, such as concerts, nightclubs, shopping, spas and pools – Atlantic City and Las Vegas are actively marketing and investing in them.

Fahrenkopf was again highly positive in his remarks when assessing the impact of younger people on the casino industry: “That all bodes well for the future. They are our lifeblood.”

At the national level, this industry employed 332,000 workers in 2012, down 0.9% from 2011; it generated $13.2 billion in wages, benefits and tips.

May 10, 2013

The legal case unfolded during a period of 18 months and involved two men accused of hacking – they were investigated for employing a software bug to win considerable amounts of money playing IGT video poker. The central issue was whether the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act of 1986 was applicable.

“The United States of America, by and through the undersigned attorneys, hereby moves this Court to dismiss Counts 2 and 3 of the Indictment,” stated Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Chu in a written note.

Video Poker MachinesThe two male individuals, John Kane, 54, and Andre Nestor, 41, are now only faced with one charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, with their trial scheduled to take place on the 20th of August, 2013.

It all began in 2009, when Kane unearthed a firmware bug in IGT’s Game King video poker machine – taking advantage of it afforded him the opportunity to play back a previous winning hand at ten times the original bet. Nestor joined him as he went across Las Vegas and used the bug to beat the house at several casinos but the former eventually made his way to Pennsylvania, where he stripped a certain establishment of $400,000 by playing video poker against it.

Prosecutors contended that the two men’s actions were nothing less than hacking based on the sequence of button clicks and demanded that the bug be installed – defense lawyers, on the other hand, argued that Kane and Nestor were only playing the machine based on its settings.

“The case never should have been filed under the CFAA,” posited Kane’s lawyer, Andrew Leavitt. “It should have been just a straight wire fraud case. And I’m not sure it’s even a wire fraud. I guess we’ll find out when we go to trial.”

March 22, 2013 New Jersey Governor Chris Christie recently signed a bill that legalizes online gambling in the state. Coming as a result of years of debate and consideration, the measure is expected to increase $32.9 billion state budget by around $200 million. Gov. Christie took quite a radical turn in making this decision as he was once firmly opposed to any legalization without vetoing legislation and a public referendum. Being recently pressed by sore budget gaps, he had to give in and avoid upsetting budget hawks. But what would have happened if Christie hadn’t been forced into accepting online gambling legalization without consulting the people in a referendum? Well, the measure would not pass at the moment, as a recent poll found that only 41 percent of registered voters support it, while 46 percent are opposed. However, the momentum is toward favoring online gambling: two years ago only 26 percent were supporting it, with as many as 67 percent against; in May 2012, those statistics were 31 and 58 percent, respectively and now they stand at the above-mentioned figures. The organization that conducted the poll, PublicMind Poll at Fairleigh Dickinson, had its director, Krista Jenkins, give an assessment as to the cause for this shift. She concluded that voters might have acquired new information that produced a change of opinion and/or may understand the inevitability of online gambling legalization and choose to accept it.
Atlantic City Coastline

The buoyant Atlantic City casino district

The poll also questioned people on their knowledge about the case of a federal judge recently blocking New Jersey’s attempt at legalizing sports betting at horse racing tracks and Atlantic City casinos. The state contended that a federal law violated the Tenth Amendment by forcing it to ban such betting and that it unfairly allowed such activities in only four states. When asked about how much they knew about the case, most people were not able to provide conclusive feedback, but 80 percent of them agreed that the issue should rest with the states. Jenkins underscored the importance of so many people being against federal sticking of nose into state and local affairs by remarking how voters from both major parties came together “in a rare moment of agreement”. The poll questioned 702 registered voters by telephone during the interval March 4 – March 10 and had a 3.7-percentage-point margin of error.