Packers Backers Turn $300 into $28K, Then Let it Ride on Falcons Game

When the final whistle blew to conclude Week 11 action in the NFL, the Washington Redskins had just finished off a 42-24 pasting of the Green Bay Packers.

That loss plummeted the Packers, a perennial playoff team during quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ tenure under center, into an ignominious 4-6 hole. With the world watching on Sunday Night Football, the Packers suffered their second straight blowout defeat, so bettors who jumped off their bandwagon at that point can’t be blamed.

But for a pair of 40-something pals from Bayside, New York, watching Rodgers and the Packers fall from grace only motivated them to hop aboard.

Although not Packers fans in any conventional sense, Brian Yankelevitz and Russ Axelrod liked the idea of backing the team to follow their embarrassing loss with an extended winning streak. The schedule looked to be soft and Green Bay was underperforming, but a proclamation by Rodgers the day before Thanksgiving sealed the deal:

“I feel like we can run the table, I really do.”

With that, Yankelevitz and Axelrod decided to fire $300 on the Packers, placing a moneyline wager on them beating the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 12.

Speaking with reporter Brett McMurphy of ESPN, Axelrod described how Rodgers’ boast influenced their decision:

“He said, ‘We’re just going to win out.’ I sent it to the guys and said, ‘Let’s do it again.'”

The year before, Yankelevitz and Axelrod decided to try the same gambit with the Dallas Cowboys, joining with two other friends to plunk $2,500 on America’s Team when they sat at 3-7. That wager flamed out in the next game, a fact that motivated the other two bettors to abandon ship this season.

Following up on the fledgling tradition, Yankelevitz and Axelrod knew going into the Eagles game that any profits generated by a win would simply be rolled over to the Packers’ next game. The goal would be to ride the team as far as possible, either winning a major sum following a Super Bowl win, or losing it all in the process.

Sure enough, the Packers downed the Eagles 27-13, as +140 underdogs on the road no less, and Yankelevitz and Axelrod were off and running. Their strategy of letting it ride continued to pay off as the Packers fulfilled Rodgers’ promise, running the table to end the regular season with six straight victories.

The accumulated winnings were wagered on Green Bay as big favorites over the Giants for Wild Card Weekend, and once again as underdogs against the Cowboys in the Divisional Round.

Now the lifelong friends are holding a betting slip worth $28,213.60 – but rather than hedge, Yankelevitz and Axelrod have already let it all ride on this Sunday’s NFC Championship Game against the Atlanta Falcons.

That ticket has the Packers as +170 underdogs – meaning a Green Bay upset in the Georgia Dome will pay out a whopping $76,176.70.

And should Green Bay reach the Super Bowl, the friends have already decided to see their quest through, so every penny will be bet on the Packers to win it all. In effect, the friends will either share between $150,000 and $200,000 – depending on Super Bowl lines – or go bust.

But as Axelrod told ESPN, they’re not sweating the situation all that much, choosing to savor the ride instead:

“Brian and I are lifelong gamblers, the story is as good as winning the money. We won’t pull a dime off the table, and there’s no hedging on Super Bowl.”

Australia Loses 888 Poker, the World’s Second-Largest Online Poker Room

Over the course of the last week, online poker players across Australia have logged into their 888 Poker accounts to discover a truly bad beat.

With a simple announcement plastered on lobby screens, 888 Poker informed thousands of Australian players that they could no longer access the site, effective Monday, January 16:

“Following a business reevaluation, we’d like to inform you that 888poker’s services are not being offered to players residing in Australia and therefore your account will be closed as of 01/16/2017.

You can still withdraw funds from your bankroll at any time using our web cashier. Please check your email for more information.”

That email simply repeated the original announcement, while offering a terse addendum to tournament players directing them to unregister from all events before accounts were restricted:

“If you’ve already registered to any of our tournaments starting from 16/01/2017 onwards, please unregister as you won’t be able to participate.”

With that, Australia unofficially entered an age of online poker prohibition that closely resembles the regulatory climate created in the United States over the last decade.

Officially, Australia hasn’t yet banned the industry through federal legislation, but 888 Poker’s withdrawal from the lucrative marketplace was based on anticipated passage of the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill (IGAB) 2016.

Currently, online poker in Australia exists in what the industry classifies as a legislative “grey zone,” meaning laws in place to ban the business are absent or unenforced.

Three primary laws govern online gambling in the country – the Australian Interactive Gambling Act (2001), the Interactive Gambling Regulations (2001), and the Australian Communications and Media Authority Act (2005) – and per those provisions, offering online poker constitutes a violation.

But a jurisdictional dispute between the Australian Broadcasting Authority and the Australian Federal Police has rendered these laws obsolete, thus allowing online poker to thrive Down Under over the last decade.

With the ascendancy of anti-gambling political figure Senator Nick Xenophon to power within the Australian Parliament, IGAB was authorized to make online gambling bans easily enforceable. Should the legislative package be passed, which Australian political experts widely believe to be imminent, online casino games, lotteries, and poker would be expressly banned, leaving only sportsbooks eligible for licensure.

Unlicensed operators would then face stiff fines of AUD$6.75 million per day for violating IGAB – a provision which likely prompted 888 Poker’s early departure.

The IGAB was introduced in November by Minister for Communications Mitch Fifield, in response to the 2015 Review of Illegal Offshore Wagering, a government-ordered inquiry into online gambling. The bill has been endorsed by Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge and other allies of the Xenophon Team political bloc.

Written to provide a direct response to Australia’s rampant problem gambling phenomenon, IGAB’s language seeks to limit online wagering in the country to sportsbooks:

“Prohibited services under the IGA include online casino-style gaming services of chance or mixed skill and chance, such as blackjack, roulette and poker, which are played for money or anything else of value. Wagering and lotteries are permitted under limited circumstances.”

Another focus of IGAB is dissuading foreign operators, like the Gibraltar-based 888 Poker, from providing Australians with online gambling services, as Tudge has stated:

“The government is committed to taking tougher action against illegal offshore wagering providers and this bill does exactly that.”

While 888 Poker was the first offshore operator to take the hint and head for safer waters, Isle of Man-based PokerStars previously issued a statement signaling that a similar move was in the works for the world’s leading online poker provider.

Previewing the PokerStars New Jersey Winter Series

Online poker players in New Jersey won’t be left out in the cold when the PokerStars NJ Winter Series makes its debut on January 22.

In less than a year, the world’s leading online poker room has made major inroads within New Jersey’s legalized and regulated online poker industry, following PokerStars’ return to the American market in March of 2016. Part of that steady progress, which has seen PokerStars NJ become the state’s top online poker platform, has been built on the site’s commitment to creating fresh new tournament offerings like the upcoming Winter Series.

By spreading 10 different tournaments, each with its own unique format, over eight days of action, the PokerStars NJ Winter Series is designed to hold widespread appeal. The various guaranteed prize pools total $275,000, with individual events ranging from $15,000 to $75,000 in guarantees.

The buy-in amounts are also quite diverse – running from $50 to $1,000 – so players spanning the bankroll spectrum from micro-stakes to major events will have opportunities to get in the game.

The festivities begin on Sunday, January 22, when Event #1: $75 No Limit Hold’em (NLHE) Six-Max with a $15,000 guaranteed prize pool kicks off at 4:00 p.m. local time.

Two hours later, Event #2: $200 Sunday Special with a $65,000 guarantee starts up, giving players who busted out of the opener a second shot.

One high-profile tournament to watch for is Event #4: $1,000 NLHE High Roller with a $30,000 prize pool, as the region’s top online pros will be tangling with a cool thousand on the line. The big buy-in action begins on Tuesday, January 24 at 7:00 p.m. local time.

When PokerStars held its first New Jersey Championship of Online Poker (NJCOOP) series last October, a similarly structured $1,000 buy-in High Roller event attracted more than 100 entries to build a prize pool of $109,000.

The first and last days of this year’s Winter Series will each offer a pair of tournaments for players to choose from, while each of the intervening days will feature a single event.

In addition to the standard NLHE format which dominates the schedule, the Winter Series includes Event #6: $250 Pot Limit Omaha (PLO) with a $20,000 guarantee, giving fans of the four-card variant a stage on which to shine. The PLO tournament takes place on Thursday, January 26 at 7:00 p.m. local time.

The largest guaranteed prize pool generated by the Winter Series stems from the grand finale, as Event #10: $400 NLHE Main Event with a $75,000 guarantee gets underway on Sunday, January 29 at 6:00 p.m. local time.

Players who prefer to win their way into Winter Series events can participate in smaller buy-in satellite tournaments, which are running around the clock on the PokerStars NJ platform.

Take a look below to review the full schedule for the inaugural PokerStars NJ Winter Series, including dates, start times (local), buy-ins, formats, and guaranteed prize pools:

Event Format                                   Buy-In            Start Date      Time (p.m.)    Guarantee

1          NLHE 6-Max                          $75                  January 22       4:00                 $15,000

2          Sunday Special SE                  $200                January 22       6:00                 $65,000

3          NLHE 4-Max                          $100                January 23       7:00                 $10,000

4          NLHE High Roller                  $1,000             January 24       7:00                 $30,000

5          NLHE Rebuy                          $50                  January 25       7:00                 $10,000

6          Pot Limit Omaha (PLO)         $250                January 26       7:00                 $20,000

7          NLHE Deep Hyper-Turbo      $200                January 27       9:00                 $10,000

8          NLHE (Rebuy + Add-on)      $150                January 28       7:00                 $20,000

9          NLHE Prog. KO, 6-Max         $200                January 29       4:00                 $20,000

10        NLHE Main Event                 $400                January 29       6:00                 $75,000


NHL Midseason Stanley Cup Odds Update

The NHL All-Star break is fast approaching, meaning all of the league’s 30 teams have crossed the halfway point in terms of games played.

And with a half season’s worth of standings points now accumulated, puckhead prognosticators are revising their initial appraisals on who will lift Lord Stanley’s Cup this summer.

Based on the initial NHL futures, as posted by Bovada on October 6 before the regular season commenced, there has been significant movement throughout the league.

A preseason contender like the Tampa Bay Lightning – tabbed as the fourth-most likely team to win it all at +1000 odds in October – has struggled to reach the .500 mark all year, causing their stock to plummet to +3300 as of January 17.

On the other side of the spectrum, the upstart Columbus Blue Jackets have surged to a 29-9-4 record and 62 points – second-most in hockey – to turn bottom of the barrel +6600 preseason odds into just a +800 shot to win the Cup. The Blue Jackets enjoyed an epic 16-game winning streak earlier in the year, and with 40 games left to play they’re only 12 points away from surpassing their total from all of last year.

Columbus has never won a playoff series in 15 seasons since joining the league as an expansion franchise, so breaking through into the realm of true Cup contenders is quite the accomplishment.

Aside from the big movers, the trinity of elite teams that entered the year as Cup favorites – Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Washington – have all maintained that status thus far.

The Blackhawks’ star-studded cast has the second-most points in the Western Conference at 59, and their odds have slightly improved from +750 to +700.

The Penguins and Capitals both started at +1000, but Washington has claimed the most points in the league at 64 to drop down to +600. Pittsburgh has 59 points, meanwhile, to place them third in the stacked Atlantic Division, and they’re now at +900 on the Stanley Cup odds.

Check below to see how all 30 NHL teams have moved the oddsmakers’ numbers midway through the year:

Odds to Win Stanley Cup at Bovada

Team Cup Odds on 10/6 Team Cup Odds on 1/17
Chicago Blackhawks +750 Washington Capitals +600
Pittsburgh Penguins +1000 Chicago Blackhawks +700
Washington Capitals +1000 Columbus Blue Jackets +800
Tampa Bay Lightning +1000 Pittsburgh Penguins +900
Dallas Stars +1200 Minnesota Wild +900
St. Louis Blues +1400 New York Rangers +1100
San Jose Sharks +1600 Montreal Canadiens +1100
Nashville Predators +1600 San Jose Sharks +1600
Anaheim Ducks +1600 Edmonton Oilers +2000
Florida Panthers +1600 St. Louis Blues +2200
Los Angeles Kings +1800 Anaheim Ducks +2200
Minnesota Wild +2500 Calgary Flames +2800
New York Rangers +2500 Los Angeles Kings +2800
Detroit Red Wings +2500 Nashville Predators +3300
New York Islanders +2500 Tampa Bay Lightning +3300
Boston Bruins +2500 Boston Bruins +3300
Montreal Canadiens +2500 Philadelphia Flyers +3300
Philadelphia Flyers +3300 Toronto Maple Leafs +3300
Edmonton Oilers +3300 Ottawa Senators +4000
New Jersey Devils +5000 Dallas Stars +4000
Colorado Avalanche +5000 Florida Panthers +4000
Ottawa Senators +5000 Winnipeg Jets +6600
Calgary Flames +5000 Vancouver Canucks +6600
Winnipeg Jets +5000 Detroit Red Wings +10000
Toronto Maple Leafs +5000 Carolina Hurricanes +10000
Buffalo Sabres +5000 New Jersey Devils +15000
Arizona Coyotes +6600 New York Islanders +25000
Carolina Hurricanes +6600 Buffalo Sabres +25000
Columbus Blue Jackets +6600 Arizona Coyotes OFF
Vancouver Canucks +6600 Colorado Avalanche OFF


Betting Guide for NFL Conference Championships

Heading into the NFL’s highly anticipated conference championships this Sunday, the four teams left standing are all peaking at the right time.

Pittsburgh is riding a nine-game winning streak, New England and Green Bay have both won eight straight, and while Atlanta has “only” won five in a row, they have averaged 38 points per game doing so.

Storylines abound entering Sunday’s decisive conference championship tilts, as they always do when elite teams are competing for a Super Bowl berth.

Quarterback Aaron Rodgers saved the Packers’ season by running the table and backing up a boast made when the team sat at 4-6. The last victory – a 34-31 instant classic over top-seeded Dallas – included the same last-second heroics Rodgers has built his reputation on as he seeks that elusive second Lombardi Trophy.

Ben Roethlisberger led the Steelers to a similar surge after starting 4-5, putting himself in position for a rare third Super Bowl title.

Tom Brady has them both covered, and his stellar play has buoyed the Patriots despite the loss of star tight end Rob Gronkowski. Brady will appear in an unprecedented 11th conference championship, so he clearly laps the field in terms of postseason experience.

Experience is the key for Matt Ryan, the only QB in this year’s final four who has not won a Super Bowl. Ryan’s last playoff appearance in 2012 ended one step short with an NFC Championship Game loss, and on the heels of an MVP-caliber season he will no doubt be looking to get the Super Bowl monkey off his back.

Green Bay Packers (12-6) @ Atlanta Falcons (12-5) – Sunday 3:05pm ET

The first game of the day features two high-octane offensive attacks led by the two leading candidates for MVP.

Atlanta has put up over 40 points on five occasions this season, and just missed the mark in last week’s 36-20 romp over the Seattle Seahawks. The team tied the vaunted 1999 St. Louis Rams offense for total points scored, and their 33.8 per game average was by far the best in the business.

Green Bay has topped 30 points in each of its last six games, so this game should be a shootout. When these two teams met earlier this year, they combined for 11 scoring drives and just six defensive stops in a 33-32 Falcons victory.

The oddsmakers at the Bovada sportsbook like the home team here, giving Atlanta the 4-point edge in their early lines. As for each team’s odds of winning the Super Bowl, Bovada tabs Atlanta (+260) as slight favorites over Green Bay (+350).

Pittsburgh Steelers (13-5) @ New England Patriots (15-2) – Sunday 6:40pm ET

Roethlisberger has led the Steelers on nine playoff runs since entering the league in 2004, reaching four AFC Championship Games along the way.

Brady has taken the Patriots on 12 playoff runs over that span, including an astounding nine conference championships, but interestingly, the two have only crossed paths once – in the 2004 edition won by New England.

Roethlisberger was a rookie then, and he has come a long way since with two titles to his credit, but Bovada still puts the Pats on another level as big 6-point home favorites here. Pittsburgh’s touchdown-less 18-16 victory over Kansas City in the divisional round may have something to do with that spread.

The site is also bullish on Brady and Belichick winning their fifth ring together, posting New England (+150) as the clear favorite, with Pittsburgh (+425) bringing up the rear.

2017 WSOP Schedule Tease Highlighted by Weekend Flagship Events

For poker players all over the planet, one of the most anticipated days of the year occurs when the World Series of Poker (WSOP) releases its schedule for the summer’s festivities in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Per a press release issued recently by Editor-in-Chief Seth Palansky, that day won’t come until February, but WSOP officials did unveil several features of the official schedule for the 48th annual edition.

The 2017 WSOP will commence on Tuesday, May 30 and run through Monday, July 17 at the Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino, located just off the Strip.

Over the course of 49 consecutive days, the WSOP will play host to several dozen official gold bracelet events. In addition to the primary slate of bracelet events, the WSOP is home to satellite tournaments, smaller Daily Deepstack events, and cash games of all variety – which run around the clock in a converted convention hall that transforms into Sin City’s largest poker room every summer.

The grand finale of every WSOP – the prestigious $10,000 buy-in No-Limit Hold’em Main Event that has been played as poker’s World Championship since 1970 – will begin on Saturday, July 8 with the first of three starting flights. Players can take a single shot at poker immortality in any of the three “Day 1” flights, with Day 1B taking place on Sunday, July 9, and Day 1C on Monday, July 10.

From there, the Main Event field is consolidated and the tournament plays out over the next seven days, before halting when the nine-handed final table lineup is set on Monday, July 17.

But while the Main Event is surely on every player’s poker bucket list, that $10,000 price tag does tend to make it a pipe dream for most, which is why the WSOP is placing greater prominence on its so-called “Flagship Events” this time around.

By ensuring that each of the five Flagship Events – all offering more affordable buy-ins between $565 and $1,500 – take place over a weekend, WSOP organizers hope to create a more convenient schedule for recreational players.

Palansky made mention of this operational shift in the press release:

“With just six weekends available to start new events this year, the WSOP has strategically built the 2017 schedule to place signature events on the weekend, with juicy prize pools and popular tournaments planned to ensure poker enthusiasts with a great time and an opportunity to win big.”

The first Flagship Event is the third running of the $565 buy-in Colossus, which allows for one reentry in each of the six starting flights to create massive fields and prize pools. Last year the Colossus II event drew 21,613 entries, falling just short of the record-setting total from 2015’s original Colossus.

The Colossus III boasts a $1 million guaranteed payout to the winner, with six starting flights running through the weekend of June 2-4.

The second Flagship Event is the $1,500 Millionaire Maker, offering another $1 million guaranteed first-prize payout, and two starting flights take place over June 10 and 11.

Next up is “Seniors Weekend,” as the $1,000 Seniors (50+) and Super Seniors (65+) events are timed to coincide with Las Vegas’ popular EDC music festival. The Seniors Championship begins on Friday, June 16, while the Super Seniors kicks off on Sunday, June 18.

The $1,500 Monster Stack event begins with a pair of starting flights on June 24 and 25, and the $888 Crazy Eights tournament returns with four Day 1s occurring twice daily over July 1 and 2.

Poker Pro Dan Smith’s Charity Drive Raises $1.7 Million

Over the course of a stellar career that stretches back to 2008, poker pro Dan Smith has made a habit of hauling in seven-figure scores.

The former World Poker Tour (WPT) title holder has taken down more than $1 million on five separate occasions, but in doing so for a sixth time, Smith decided to share the wealth.

On November 14, Smith took to his DanSmithHolla blog to announce the return of his charity drive, which began last year alongside fellow high-stakes pro Dan Colman. In 2015, the pair pledged to match up to $70,000 in donations, a goal which was easily met and exceeded to send $210,854 in total to worthy causes.

This time around Smith upped the ante considerably, offering $175,000 in matching funds to create an eventual $350,000 pool if the drive’s donation goals were achieved. Smith set a deadline of January 1, 2017 and began spreading the word within the poker community.

Initially, Smith’s efforts were directed at raising funds for a diverse collection of nine different charitable organizations:, Against Malaria Foundation, Give Directly, Just City, Liberation Prison Yoga, the Lineage Project, MAPS (Zendo), the Massachusetts Bail Fund, and the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative (SCI).

The causes varied greatly across the board, including the provision of mosquito nets in places where malaria is rampant, therapeutic yoga classes to assist inmates in rehabilitation, bail payments to help people avoid unnecessary court fees, and supporting the global movement to address climate change. Two of the charities – Against Malaria Foundation and GiveDirectly – were recommended by the group Raising for Effective Giving (REG), which counts several top poker pros as board members and focuses on the concept of “effective altruism.”

On December 2 the drive received a significant contribution from an anonymous donor, who pledged to match $125,000 in additional donations to the Against Malaria Foundation, GiveDirectly, and funds once Smith’s original $175,000 target had been met. In sum, the anonymous gift raised the stakes to $600,000 overall, which seemed to get the ball rolling toward an even larger effort.

Daily fantasy sports (DFS) legend Martin Crowley, who regularly competes for the largest prizes on DraftKings and FanDuel, then stepped in on December 20 to make his own impact. Crowley had already matched $325,000 in donations at a 1:1 rate, but he decided to kick in another $200,000 in matching funds to push the goal to $1 million.

Crowley penned a blog post at DFS site RotoGrinders calling for his fellow players to contribute:

“Awareness is the first step towards transformation. Though I’d love to see each member of the DFS community step up and give, I’m grateful and humbled you’ve read this far. You don’t need to donate six figures to make a difference – in fact, simply acknowledging the need is a big step for many of us. So what can you do?”

Martin’s brother Tom Crowley, another DFS superstar, then added his own $500,000 donation once the $1 million mark was surpassed, bringing the total haul to $1.7 million.

On his blog, Smith revealed that 134 individual donors contributed to the effort, before providing a breakdown of the funds allocation:

Charity – Donation – $8,556
Against Malaria Fund – $287,535
Give Directly – $115,173
Just City – $9,750
Liberation Prison Yoga – $12,868
Lineage Project – $4,000
MAPS – $31,100
Zendo – $0
Massachusetts Bail Fund – $10,325
SCI – $13,131
GiveWell Unspecified – $7,670

Subtotal – $500,408

Dan’s Match – $175,000
Martin’s Match + Extra – $525,000
Tom’s Donation – $500,000

Total – $1,700,818

Pennsylvania State Senator Renews Push Toward Online Gambling Legislation

Throughout the latter half of 2016 the state of Pennsylvania was seemingly poised to become the fourth state to pass online gambling legislation, joining Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware.

An iGaming bill was passed by the state’s House of Representatives in June and forwarded on to the Senate for an expected approval. Progress stalled within that legislative body, however, and House Bill 1887 was unceremoniously shelved until 2017.

On January 2 of this year, state senator Jay Costa posted a memorandum of co-sponsorship to his fellow members of the Pennsylvania Senate, informing them of his intention to introduce an omnibus iGaming bill during the current legislative session.

Within the memorandum, Sen. Costa outlined the structure and purpose of his planned bill, which will be modeled on the template provided by last year’s nearly passed HB-1887:

“In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation amending the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act to allow the Commonwealth’s gaming industry to continue to evolve and remain competitive in a responsible manner, respond to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s September 2016 ruling that declared the slot machine local share provisions of the Act unconstitutional, and generate an estimated $137 million in revenue for the FY 16-17 budget.”

Sen. Costa’s proposed bill would regulate the online casino, poker, and daily fantasy sports (DFS) industries. The gaming license required to become an online casino operator would come at the cost of $10 million, and only brick and mortar casinos in Pennsylvania are eligible to apply. Additionally, any vendor contracting with a local casino to “host” their online casino platform will be charged a licensing fee of $5 million.

As for DFS operators, the licensing fee for that sector of the market would be $2.5 million under Sen. Costa’s bill. These licensing fees will be deposited directly into the state’s General Fund.

All online gaming revenue generated by licensed operators would also be taxed at a rate of 25 percent, with 15 percent directed to the state’s Property Tax Relief Fund, and 10 percent to the Commonwealth Financing Authority.

The first fund is aimed at reducing property tax rates for Pennsylvania taxpayers, while the second provides capital for economic development projects in the counties where land-based casino license-holders are physically located.

Sen. Costa’s memorandum also provided revenue estimates for the industry as it would exist under his bill’s provisions. Within the forecasts, Sen. Costa allows for the dispensation of only a portion of the allotted licenses to be awarded by the state, predicting that 10 online casino licenses will be doled out from the dozen available for example.

According to those estimates, those 10 newly licensed iGaming enterprises would contribute $100 million in revenue to the state’s General Fund, while five of 10 possible iGaming vendor fees ($5 million per) would add another $25 million to the state coffers. The DFS industry would contribute another $5 million via a pair of licenses – likely awarded to DraftKings and FanDuel – at $2.5 million each.

Sen. Costa did not provide a proposed schedule for formally introducing the bill, but the posting of a memorandum of co-sponsorship is the first component of the legislative process.

Live Dealer Games Becoming Big Boon for Golden Nugget’s NJ Online Casino

When the Golden Nugget New Jersey online casino launched the state’s first live dealer games on August 11, the site’s operators were cautiously optimistic about the technology’s potential to drive traffic.

Fast forward five months, and the introduction of live-streamed table games like blackjack, baccarat, and roulette has driven record rates of growth for the Golden Nugget New Jersey brand.

Thomas Winter, who serves as the Golden Nugget’s Vice President of Online Gaming, spoke with Steve Ruddock of Online Poker Report during a December interview to discuss the impact of live dealer games on his platform’s overall performance:

“A material share of live dealer players are new to online table games, which speaks for the unique appeal of this innovative product.

Our players acquisition is very strong, at levels not seen since early 2014. And our RNG table game revenues are up since we started offering live dealer. The results are exceeding our expectations.”

The live dealer online gambling concept was introduced in recent years to bridge the gap between brick and mortar gameplay and the random number generator (RNG) driven virtual tables online. Trained human dealers operate genuine casino equipment, from cards to roulette wheels, while running a table like they would in a traditional casino. The proceedings are filmed and live streamed to players using a particular online casino, who are able to place real money wagers and follow the action in real time.

Within the Golden Nugget Atlantic City property, a special room is cordoned off and utilized for the online casino’s live dealer product.

As Winter mentioned in his interview with Ruddock, a healthy portion of the players partaking in live dealer games on the Golden Nugget New Jersey site are participating in online gambling for the first time. According to Winter, live dealer play offers the perfect entry point for players who aren’t entirely comfortable with purely digital RNG online wagering:

“When we survey brick and mortar patrons, the main reason why a majority of them have not signed up for an online casino is a lack of trust. Live dealer is the best possible answer to their concerns.”

Winter also spoke to the ability of live dealer games to attract new players who wind up sampling other aspects of the online casino, such as virtual slot machines:

“Even as they come to play live dealer, new players also enjoy our large selection of slots.”

Upon launch, Golden Nugget New Jersey spread three live dealer tables – one for each of the main table games (blackjack, baccarat, and roulette) – for eight hours per day. That production has grown slightly to nine hours a day, while the blackjack section of the studio has added two more tables.

Winter also told Online Poker Report that the venue plans to triple its studio size within the next six months, while also exploring partnerships with competing brands to share studio space and reduce overhead costs:

“We are in discussions with a few potential partners who understand the benefits of offering a differentiating product but also recognize that the New Jersey market alone is probably not big enough to justify the overheads of two studios. This should offset the potential negative impact of extra competition for our brand.”

Barista Pockets $900,000 for Winning Westgate Las Vegas SuperContest

For sports bettors who specialize in NFL football, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperContest is styled quite similarly to the World Series of Poker (WSOP).

Both events take place annually in Sin City, attracting a healthy mix of professionals and amateurs alike, and for a relatively small entry fee, a player’s skill and hard work – combined with a little luck – can lead to life-changing six-figure scores.

And while the WSOP had its moment in the sun thanks to accountant Chris Moneymaker’s improbable Main Event victory back in 2003, the sports betting sector is hoping a barista’s big win in the SuperContest creates a similar “boom.”

When the last Week 17 game went final to conclude the NFL’s regular season, 32-year-old Starbucks worker and Las Vegas resident Damon Graham put the finishing touches on a 5-0 week picking against the spread (ATS). It was no fluke, as Graham’s entry “Pops2008” had gone 13-2 ATS over the last three weeks of the SuperContest.

When the final standings were tallied up, the “Pops2008” ticket stood atop the massive field of 1,854 entries with a 54-28-3 overall ATS record. For guiding his entry – one of two he had in the field – to the finish line sporting the season’s top record, Graham earned the first-prize payout of $895,482.

Since 2004, the SuperContest has invited football fans and casual bettors to join the fabled Las Vegas “wiseguys” – or professional handicappers – in a season-long competition picking ATS. Each entry must submit five picks for the upcoming week’s game, using lines generated by the Westgate sportsbook – which bills itself as the largest such venue in the world. By season’s end, a small percentage of the field (top-50 this year) earns a “cash,” with payouts ranging from double the buy-in to huge six-figure sums.

In the past, professional punters like the famed Steven Fezzik (2008 and 2009) have dominated the proceedings, but this year the amateurs made their mark.

Graham, a Maryland transplant living in Las Vegas since 2008, put the maximum of two entries into the field, and his “main” entry also managed to finish tied for 40th-place – good for another $2,217.38 in winnings. On top of that, by virtue of that aforementioned 13-2 run over the last three weeks, Graham’s winning entry also won the Mini-Contest title for another $10,000.

Week 17’s unpredictable slate of games, along with having a pair of entries tied for fourth place at the time, put Graham in a tricky spot when assessing his picks. In the end, he decided on Texans (+3) @ Titans, Bills (-3.5) @ Jets, Ravens (+2) at Bengals, Cowboys (+4) at Eagles, and Dolphins (+9.5) at Patriots for his primary entry.

On the “Pops2008” card, Graham simply went with the five opposite picks in an attempt to maximize his expected value. When the whistle blew on Sunday’s early games, Graham’s actual picks went 0-5, vaulting the “Pops2008” ticket to the top of the standings with a 5-0 finish.

Speaking with ESPN Chalk, Graham found humor in the fact that picking incorrectly propelled him to nearly a million dollars in winnings:

“I’ve never been happier to be wrong about anything in my whole life.”

The SuperContest field set a record this year with 1,854 entries, topping last year’s mark of 1,727. In 2010, the SuperContest drew just 345 entries, with the field expanding significantly every year since.