Ten of 12 Brick and Mortar Casinos in Pennsylvania Officially on Board with Online Gaming

Even as the state’s latest attempt to pass online gambling legislation languishes in front of lawmakers, Pennsylvania’s land-based casino industry is almost entirely aligned in support.

As the second-largest brick and mortar casino industry in the country, behind only Nevada, collaboration with the Keystone State’s collection of competing operators has always been considered a litmus test for iGaming legalization.

The importance of combining iGaming interests with existing land-based casino operations has been underscored in California. There, several years of attempts to legalize and regulate iGaming have been consistently scuttled by a coalition of tribal casino operators, creating a legislative stalemate which lasts to this day.

Pennsylvania has its own issues to contend with on the iGaming front – taxation rates chief among them at the moment – but considering the written testimony delivered during a key committee meeting this month, land-based casinos won’t be a concern.

On March 7, a joint hearing was held by the Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee and House Gaming Oversight Committee. The subject of debate was a pair of iGaming bills recently introduced by local lawmakers – Senate Bill 477 and House Bill 392.

The latter is a 209-page omnibus legislation package – identical to the iGaming bill passed by the House last year – which would legalize online casinos, poker rooms, and daily fantasy sports (DFS) sites.

As part of the written testimony process, no less than five casino operators – representing six Pennsylvania casino properties – offered their unequivocal support for iGaming passage:

  • Caesars (Harrah’s)
  • Lady Luck
  • Mount Airy
  • Rush Street (SugarHouse and Rivers)
  • Valley Forge

Eric Pearson, chief executive officer and president of Valley Forge Casino, pointed to the success of iGaming in neighboring New Jersey as a prime impetus for iGaming passage:

“Additionally, I hope you will consider allowing internet gaming in the Commonwealth. Pennsylvania has an opportunity to be among the first in what will be a significant growth opportunity for the industry moving forward.

As we can see from our neighboring state to the east, once the internet gaming market is established, then a real opportunity for consistent healthy growth exists. If internet gaming is considered here in Pennsylvania, then I ask that it not discriminate against Category 3 casinos and allow us to participate in this exciting new area.”

Richard Schwartz, president of Rush Street Interactive – the online division of Rivers Casino and SugarHouse Casino operator Rush Street Gaming – predicted a mutually beneficial relationship between land-based venues and their online platforms:

“As the casino industry has matured in Pennsylvania, it has become more than just a gaming experience, with expanded dining and entertainment options at many casinos, including SugarHouse and Rivers.

We believe that online gaming represents an exciting opportunity to increase the health of the brick-and-mortar casino industry in the state of Pennsylvania, while generating licensing and tax revenue for the Commonwealth.”

Four other casino operators – Meadows, Mohegan Sun, Penn National (Hollywood Casino) and Presque Isle – have previously expressed their conditional support for iGaming, in written and oral testimony, during the last four years of deliberation.

One of the state’s two remaining casinos, Sands Bethlehem, is currently owned by the Las Vegas Sands corporation and notorious anti-online gambling crusader Sheldon Adelson. But with the Sands Bethlehem expected to be sold to MGM Resorts – a traditional ally of iGaming interests – the venue is considered a de facto “yes” vote by industry insiders.

The lone remaining holdout would then be Parx Casino, as chief executive officer Anthony Ricci continues to claim iGaming poses a “cannibalization” threat to land-based casinos.

Progress Report for PokerStars NJ on One-Year Anniversary of Launch

When online poker players in New Jersey logged in on March 21 of last year, they became the first Americans with legal access to the PokerStars platform in nearly five years.

With the launch of PokerStars NJ that day, the state’s nascent regulated online poker industry received an instant infusion of enthusiasm. The industry’s recognized leader had finally returned to the U.S. market following the infamy of “Black Friday,” and New Jersey’s player base was understandably excited for what would come.

The one-year anniversary of that momentous occasion is now upon us, making for the perfect time to reflect on PokerStars NJ’s progress thus far.

Using monthly revenue reports released by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE), one can trace the various upswings and downturns posted by PokerStars NJ during its first year of operation.

The site became an immediate hit with the Garden State’s well-established community of online grinders. One day after the launch, PokerStars NJ had eclipsed the Borgata / PartyPoker platform for second place on the cash game volume, per data maintained by iGaming traffic tracking site PokerScout.

Within the week PokerStars NJ had surpassed the WSOP / 888 partnership to claim the top spot on the state’s cash game volume leaderboard.

While organic cash game traffic was partly responsible for that rapid rise up the ranks, PokerStars’ famed promotional muscle was soon put to work.

On March 29, just over a week after opening its virtual doors, PokerStars NJ announced a special edition of its popular Spin & Go lottery-style mini-tournaments. For a buy-in of just $10, three players per table would “spin” the reels to receive a random prize multiplier, with a jackpot of $100,000 on tap until a fortunate trio cashed in.

It took nine months, during which time many local players soured on the Spin & Go experience, but in January of this year a player named “VaderWolf” scored the $100,000 win, while his two opponents pocketed $10,000 each.

From mid- to late-May the site played host to the New Jersey Spring Championship of Online Poker (NJSCOOP), its first online tournament series in the state. The scaled down take on PokerStars’ globally popular SCOOP series provided another surge in player traffic, moving the site above the $1 million revenue plateau for the second straight month.

From there, however, revenue plunged sharply by nearly one-third during June, followed by a slight dip in July. That slump coincides with a slimmed down promotional schedule over the summer.

In October a second expanded tournament series – the New Jersey Championship of Online Poker (NJCOOP) – created renewed excitement for the site, and revenue once again climbed into the seven figures.

Over the next four months, revenue has seemingly stagnated at between $800,000 and $950,000 between November of 2016 and February of this year.

To celebrate the site’s one-year anniversary, PokerStars NJ is rolling out a full complement of promotions. Those include $50 in free play (using bonus code FREE50) for new depositors, and a Mega Cash Bonus for any depositors adding $30 or more – both running through April 2.

The CardHunt puzzle promotion awards up to $3,000 in cash for completing daily CardHunt poker puzzles.

Finally, on April 2 the Big Sunday promotion doubles the usual guaranteed prize pool for the Sunday Special tournament to $100,000, while all other tournaments that day will boost the prize pool by 25 percent.

Below you’ll find a full rundown of monthly revenue marks for PokerStars NJ’s first year:

PokerStars NJ First-Year Revenue Totals by Month, with Month-on-Month Change                                   

March 2016 $597,677 N/A
April 2016 $1,177,837 97.07%
May 2016 $1,151,703 -2.22%
June 2016 $778,070 -32.44%
July 2016 $754,199 -3.07%
August 2016 $865,150 14.71%
September 2016 $744,045 -11.13%
October 2016 $1,013,671 31.84%
November 2016 $829,309 -18.18%
December 2016 $808,849 -2.46%
January 2017 $948,683 17.28%
February 2017 $889,103 -3.76%
Total $10,558,296 N/A

 

 

Playtech-Powered Online Poker Rooms in Finland and Austria Begin Historic Player Sharing Agreement

For the first time, two state-operated online poker sites will share their player pools across national borders, after Austria’s Win2Day and Finland’s Veikkaus merged their networks last week.

Both sites are powered by the Playtech software engine, and are operated by their country’s respective federal governments.

The Austrian Ministry of Finance agreed to the liquidity sharing plan – which permits players in one country to compete against peers from the other – on August 8 of last year. That approval was followed by the Finnish Ministry of Interior on December 8, paving the way for last week’s launch.

Previously, players on the Veikkaus platform were effectively cordoned off, permitted to play against fellow Finns only, while Win2Day imposed the same restrictions on Austrians. The liquidity sharing scheme effectively breaks those borders down, expanding the player pool by enabling Finns to play alongside Austrians, and vice-versa.

In a jointly issued press release announcing the new network’s debut, Timo Kiiskinen – senior vice president of Veikkaus – praised the new platform’s early returns:

“We are extremely happy with the overall product and the network’s performance so far, and are delighted to have launched on schedule.

This is a great venture between ourselves, win2day and Playtech and we’re sure it will be a great success.”

Win2Day’s managing director Martin Jekl offered his take on the improved user experience offered by shared player pools:

“Working with Veikkaus and Playtech has been a seamless process and we are very pleased with the results of the network in the first few days since launch.

Our customers now have access to the best and most responsible poker experience on the market and we look forward to seeing what the rest of the year will bring.”

Shimon Akad, chief operating officer for Playtech, pointed to the historic nature of the cross-jurisdictional arrangement:

“This is a milestone in poker and the gaming industry.

We’re delighted to be at the heart of yet another industry-first providing two great brands with the leading poker network and a series of leading products that I’m confident will prove a huge success going forward.”

Back in September of last year, the Finnish government elected to merge its three separate iGaming venues. Former online casino and poker operator Raha-automaattiyhdistys (RAY) was consolidated with pari-mutuel betting provider Fintoto Oy and Finnish-focused sports betting outlet Veikkaus Oy to form the comprehensive site in existence today.

The newly formed Veikkaus iGaming platform debuted on January 1 with more than 2.5 million registered users onboard.

That player base is now combined with the 800,000 registered users – of which 150,000 play poker exclusively – currently holding Win2Day accounts.

Both sites have prior relationships with Playtech, one of the world’s leading providers of online gambling software, proprietary products, and backend services.

The aforementioned RAY casino and poker platform has been powered by Playtech since 2010, while Win2Day has used the company’s software for the last two years.

To promote the player sharing agreement and merged network, the sites will host a cross-branded tournament on Sunday, April 9. Boasting a guaranteed prize pool of €100,000, the tournament will mark one of the largest played online within the Nordic region of Europe.

Another marketing tool used to bring the player bases together is known as Sökö, a variant of five-card stud poker played primarily in Finland. In the game of Sökö, players keep one of their five cards face down throughout the hand.

2017 Major League Baseball Season Betting Props Roundup

Spring training has been underway for weeks in the sunny enclaves of Arizona and Florida, which means the century-old rite of passage known as Opening Day is right around the corner.

Sunday, April 2 marks the official start of Major League Baseball’s marathon regular season, with a trio of nationally televised divisional tilts starting things off in style. The rest of the league’s rank and file begins play the following day, and from there the summer will be spent tracking 30 teams over 162 contests, complete with pennant races and statistical chases.

Seasoned baseball fans live and die with every inning by default, but for the average sports enthusiast, the slow grind of a grueling regular season is usually absorbed in piecemeal fashion. Reading a few box scores, checking in on an extra-innings thriller, and maybe even spending an afternoon at the ballpark can be enough to follow a favorite club’s progress.

But for baseball bettors – aficionados who lay their money on the line to back season-long futures and proposition bets – the ebb and flow of a long season practically pays for the price of admission. A few choice wagers on player performances can provide daily entertainment value, even when your own team falls to cellar-dweller status.

The Bovada sportsbook has several prominent MLB props posted as spring training comes to a close, so if you like the idea of enjoying 162 games’ worth of action on a single bet, check below to compare wagers:

American League Most Valuable Player (MVP)

The race for the AL MVP award begins and ends with the reigning winner, center fielder Mike Trout (+125) of the Angels. The two-time AL MVP (’14 and ’16) is quite simply the best all-around player in the game – boasting a .315/.441/.550 slash line with 29 homers and 100 RBI – and at even money, he’s the clear favorite at Bovada.

The also-rans include Red Sox right fielder Mookie Betts (+500), Astros second baseman Jose Altuve (+1000), and Tigers first baseman – and two-time AL MVP (’12 and ’13) – Miguel Cabrera (+1200).

National League MVP

The NL MVP race offers a bit more parity, with Cubs outfielder and defending NL MVP Kris Bryant (+275) narrowly edging Nationals outfielder and 2015 NL MVP Bryce Harper (+300).

Other players in the mix offering better than 10 to 1 odds include Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado (+700) and Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo (+900).

American League Cy Young

Last year’s AL Cy Young winner was Rick Porcello of the Red Sox, who rode his team’s success to a 22-4 record. Those wins were enough to edge Tigers ace Justin Verlander, who recorded a 16-9 record despite posting an ERA of 3.04 – better than Porcello’s 3.15 mark.

Oddly enough, neither pitcher is listed as Bovada’s favorite this year, or even close to it. Porcello (+3300) sits behind no less than 12 pitchers, while Verlander (+1200) has a pair of peers to catch.

Those would be Chris Sale (+350) and Corey Kluber (+500), of the Red Sox and Indians, respectively. Kluber won in 2014, while Sale has yet to reach pitching’s pinnacle despite his stellar statistical output in recent years.

National League Cy Young

Since 2011, four of six NL Cy Young awards have been claimed by two pitchers: Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers (’11, ’13, and ’14) and Max Scherzer of the Nationals (’16).

Accordingly, Bovada sees this as a two-ace race, pitting Kershaw (+160) against Scherzer (+350) in a proverbial pitcher’s duel.

If you like longshots, studs like Giants ace Madison Bumgarner (+1000) and the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta (+1600) aren’t bad bets in the least bit.

MLB Home Run Leader

The race for dinger leader isn’t what it used to be, and that’s probably a good thing for baseball at this point. Last year’s leader, Mark Trumbo of the Orioles, socked 48 out of the park – which wouldn’t rank in the top-10 during the bad old days of juiced jacks.

The oddsmakers at Bovada don’t expect Trumbo’s (+1400) unexpected output to continue, as he’s listed among the third tier alongside teammates Chris Davis and Manny Machado.

The favorite is Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton (+800), who can hit moonshots with the best of them, but has struggled staying on the field throughout his career.

Arenado (+900) and Bryant (+1000) round out the list, while Harper (+1400) and Trout (+2000) offer decent value.

2017 NCAA Tournament Sweet Sixteen Betting Guide – Odds and Analysis

With two rounds completed, the 2017 NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball tournament bracket is beginning to take shape.

And while the early rounds weren’t ripe for momentous upsets like previous editions, this year’s tournament was still turned topsy-turvy to set the Sweet Sixteen.

The second round saw the first number one seed to fall, as Villanova was ousted by 8-seeded Wisconsin. And a pair of 2-seeds in Louisville and Duke were downed early by 7-seeds in Michigan and South Carolina, respectively.

The latter upset was particularly brutal for basketball fans, bracket-holders, and sports bettors alike. Before the tournament tipped off, the Blue Devils held the best odds (+600) to win it all of any squad among the 68 title contenders, per online sportsbook Bovada.

On the other side of the coin, the only double-digit seed to take two games and earn their Sweet Sixteen ticket was 11-seeded Xavier. The Musketeers defeated 6-seed Maryland in the opening round, before blowing a 3-seed Florida State team out by 25 points.

With the bracket reshuffled and the Sweet Sixteen matchups officially set, Bovada has revised their odds to complete college sports’ most significant streak and win the national championship.

Having outscored the opposition by a combined 58 points through two games, top-seeded Kansas hold Bovada’s top spot, offering (+475) odds. The Jayhawks face 4-seed Purdue (+2000) next, which explains the Boilermakers’ relatively low placement on the title totem pole.

Another top-seed to cruise thus far is North Carolina (+500), but their path through the Midwest region isn’t nearly as clear. The feared 4-seeds from Butler (+4000) are up next, and while Bovada doesn’t particularly like the Bulldogs’ chances, the program is well-versed in March Madness momentum, having reached consecutive title games in 2010 and 2011.

A pair of skilled squads from the West region are next up, as top-seeded Gonzaga (+650) and 2-seed Arizona (+650) offer the same odds. The Wildcats’ road to the Elite Eight appears to be smoother, facing aforementioned Xavier (+7500) and the tournament’s lone remaining Cinderella story. The Bulldogs, meanwhile, face 4-seed West Virginia (+1800) and experienced head coach Bob Huggins.

If you’re a bettor who got in on Bovada’s early lines, a trio of dark horse contenders now holds serious value. Fourth-seeded Florida (+1200) has seen its pre-tournament odds (+3300) move sharply in the right direction, as have 3-seed Baylor and 7-seed Michigan (+1600), after beginning at (+2800) and (+2500), respectively.

Following the team’s rousing upset of Duke, 7-seed South Carolina can be backed at (+5000). But beating the vaunted Blue Devils cut those odds down from (+15000), and with the less pedigreed Bears of Baylor up next, the Gamecocks’ longshot chances don’t seem impossible any longer.

For the latest odds on all of the Sweet Sixteen survivors, as currently shown on Bovada, see the table below:

2017 NCAA Tournament Odds

Team NCAA Tournament Odds on 3/20
Kansas +475
North Carolina +500
Arizona +650
Gonzaga +650
UCLA +900
Kentucky +1000
Florida +1200
Baylor +1600
Michigan +1600
West Virginia +1800
Oregon +1800
Wisconsin +1800
Purdue +2000
Butler +4000
South Carolina +5000
Xavier +7500

 

Betfair Casino New Jersey Revenue Up 39% in 2016 to Approach Profitability for First Time

With the release of preliminary earnings results for 2016, Paddy Power / Betfair confirmed that the company’s New Jersey-facing online casino is nearing profitability.

Moving into the black would mark a first for the Betfair Casino New Jersey operation, which launched in November of 2013 as one of the state’s six original online casino venues.

Within the dense 53-page financial disclosure, Paddy Power / Betfair attributed a strong performance by the company’s US division largely to Betfair Casino New Jersey, which recorded revenue growth of 39 percent last year.

Breon Corcoran, who serves as chief executive officer of Paddy Power / Betfair, broke the US division numbers down while speaking to investors during an earnings presentation:

“US division revenue in local currency increased by 13 percent and operating profit increased by 9 percent.

These results include … Betfair Casino New Jersey, where revenue increased by 39 percent. The casino is now operating at breakeven earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) after a couple of years of startup losses.”

Overall, Paddy Power / Betfair’s global operations tallied revenue of £1.55 billion ($1.9 billion), good for an 18 percent rate of growth, along with a 35 percent rise in EBITDA.

The company’s New Jersey operation is linked to the brick and mortar Golden Nugget casino resort in Atlantic City. The venue serves as the license holder for Betfair Casino New Jersey, along with its own Golden Nugget branded online casino, and a third platform known as PlaySugarHouse Casino.

Based on previous disclosures by Paddy Power / Betfair, the Betfair Casino New Jersey platform accounts for approximately 35 percent of the Golden Nugget’s total iGaming revenue.

Combing through the monthly revenue reports released by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE), the steady pace of growth enjoyed by Golden Nugget’s collection of licensees is quite clear.

After beginning 2016 with just over $2.5 million in monthly revenue over January, the group increased that figure to just under $4.8 million by December – good for an increase of 92 percent over the 12-month span.

The table below shows all monthly revenue totals reported by Golden Nugget’s licensees throughout 2016:

January $2,505,664
February $3,118,809
March $3,070,087
April $3,305,283
May $3,200,067
June $3,533,457
July $3,706,991
August $3,469,206
September $3,659,348
October $4,088,225
November $3,802,276
December $4,790,418
Total $42,249,831

Making the site’s performance even more impressive, Betfair Casino New Jersey, and the other Gold Nugget licensees for that matter, lack the online poker component that competitors like Borgata and Caesars rely on.

Historically, the state’s fledgling iGaming marketplace has been dominated by the alliance between Borgata – Atlantic City’s major casino resort – and PartyPoker. In May of last year, the partnership held 24 percent market share to lead New Jersey’s five operating groups, while Golden Nugget and Betfair sat in fourth place with 19 percent.

But by January of this year the tide had turned significantly, with Golden Nugget holding 22 percent market share – 12 percent of which came from Betfair Casino New Jersey – to outpace Borgata / PartyPoker at 21 percent.

That month saw Golden Nugget and Betfair dominate the monthly revenue counts with a $4,776,218 total gaming win. Even combining casino and poker play, rivals like Caesars / 888 ($4,032,263) and Borgata / PartyPoker ($3,767,853) were badly outperformed.

West Virginia Sports Betting Bill Gains Momentum; Could Set Stage for PAPSA Challenge in Supreme Court

After introducing a strongly worded bill that would legalize sports betting in the state, West Virginia appears poised to join New Jersey in challenging a longstanding federal prohibition.

A coalition of 11 lawmakers within the state’s House of Representatives introduced House Bill 2751 – officially titled “Legalizing Sport Pool Betting” – on March 1.

If passed, HB-2751 would call on the West Virginia State Lottery Commission to create the regulatory framework needed to allow the state’s brick and mortar casinos to operate on-site sportsbooks.

In choosing specific legislative language, lawmakers signaled West Virginia’s willingness to dispute the constitutionality of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PAPSA) of 1992. That federal law forms the basis for the current ban on sports betting, which covers all but four American states (Nevada, Oregon, Delaware and Montana).

The textual language contained within HB-2751 immediately clarifies West Virginia’s stance on PAPSA, stating that the “legislature finds” Congress “unlawfully enacted” the law.

Going one step further, the bill’s authors include a section “finding that federal law prohibiting sports betting in West Virginia is unconstitutional,” before offering a final legislative finding stating the “federal government has no authority to prohibit sports betting in West Virginia.”

As documented by sports betting lawyer Daniel Wallach, writing for Legal Sports Report, the precise wording of these sections suggests that West Virginia is well aware of New Jersey’s ongoing struggle to challenge PAPSA.

Wallach cites the pivotal Interactive Media Entertainment & Gaming Association (iMEGA), Inc. v. Holder, 2011 WL 802106 (D.N.J. Mar. 7, 2011), in which several plaintiffs – including iMEGA, the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, and state senator Raymond Lesniak – brought their case against PAPSA to federal district court.

That court dismissed the lawsuit on the basis of judicial “standing,” a provision of the Constitution’s Article III which essentially holds that the federal judiciary will only hear “cases or controversies” that are actually occurring, and not merely hypothetical:

“Any civil enforcement action [to challenge PASPA] would be premature, because New Jersey law does not permit the sports gambling sought by Plaintiffs … [and if] PASPA were found unconstitutional, New Jersey law would still prohibit the sports gambling activities Plaintiffs and their members seek to legalize.”

In layman’s terms, New Jersey’s initial PAPSA challenge failed because state law doesn’t allow for sports betting as it currently stands.

This ruling resulted in New Jersey putting the issue to voters via public referendum, which was overwhelmingly passed to amend the state constitution to allow sports betting.

West Virginia’s bill seeks to cut the judicial standing argument out of the equation preemptively, by using the language of “legislative findings” to declare that sports betting is already authorized within the jurisdiction.

Looking forward, that strategy would set the stage – assuming the legislature passes HB-2751 and Governor Jim Justice signs it into law – for the State Lottery Commission to formulate sports betting licensing procedures. From there, the four major professional sports leagues (NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL), along with the NCAA, would be expected to issue cease and desist letters to the state – as happened in New Jersey following that state’s successful referendum.

Any subsequent lawsuits stemming from that dispute would be heard by the US District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, with that jurisdiction’s eventual ruling likely to be challenged to the Fourth Circuit US Court of Appeals, and then to the Supreme Court if necessary.

West Virginia’s legislative session ends on April 8, and HB-2751 is currently being considered by the state’s House Judiciary Committee.

PokerNews Returns as Official Live Reporting Team for the 2017 WSOP

The poker community is celebrating the return of PokerNews as the official live reporting team for the upcoming 2017 World Series of Poker (WSOP).

Each summer between 2007 and 2014, poker fans all over the planet followed PokerNews for live reporting from the floor of the Rio in Las Vegas, but WSOP organizers brought the operation in-house for 2015 and 2016.

That move drew sharp criticism from the close-knit community of poker pros and dedicated fans, with many voicing their complaints on Twitter via the #BringBackPokerNews hashtag.

Unable to replicate or replace the comprehensive combination of live updates, running chip counts, video interviews, podcasts, and other aspects of PokerNews’ media contributions, the WSOP has bowed to public pressure by reversing course.

Beginning on May 30, when the 48th annual WSOP commences, PokerNews will return to provide live reporting for all 74 gold bracelet events on the schedule.

Seth Palansky, who serves the WSOP’s vice president of corporate communications, issued a statement praising PokerNews’ live reporting bona fides:

“It’s great to have PokerNews back in the fold at the World Series of Poker. They are the foremost authority and have written the book on tournament live reporting. Having their experienced team of personnel at the 2017 WSOP will ensure poker fans across the globe stay digitally connected throughout our 74-event, 50-day festival.

PokerNews and the WSOP have a long successful track record together and we are thrilled they are back as the official live reporting team of the WSOP.”

Matthew Parvis – chief creative officer of PokerNews parent company iBus Media – also referenced the company’s longstanding history covering poker’s most prestigious tournament series:

“I remember following the WSOP live updates on PokerNews well before I even worked for the company, so to say I’m excited that we’ll be back on the floor of the Rio for the entire summer is an understatement.”

We’ve invested lots of time and resources into making sure poker fans get all the information they crave from major poker tournaments.

Among those resources is the popular MyStack app, a proprietary PokerNews product designed to turn recreational players into their own live reporters.

Recognizing that a significant portion of their reader base during the WSOP season represents friends and family of recreational players who are running deep, PokerNews launched MyStack in 2013 to allow anybody in the field to update their current chip counts.

By taking a few seconds in between hands to update their count – using any iOS or Android powered mobile device – players can add their name, nationality, and chip stack to PokerNews’ official live updates for any bracelet event.

One of the common complaints levied against the WSOP’s in-house reporting efforts concerned the absence of a MyStack equivalent, and the corresponding lack of focus on recreational players.

Parvis commented on the flexibility afforded by the MyStack app, which was designed to level the playing field during continuous coverage of major tournaments with massive fields:

“MyStack will never replace our traditional live reporting, but it’s a great addition at events like the WSOP that have huge starting fields since it’s simply impossible to track thousands of runners each day.

We’re excited to share some of the improvements we’ve made with the app over the past two years with the poker community and the WSOP.”

The 2017 WSOP kicks off on May 30 and runs through July 17 – with buy-ins ranging from $333 to $111,111 in events spanning the spectrum of poker disciplines – culminating with poker’s World Championship, the $10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Main Event.

Poll Finds 9 of 10 Conservatives Agree Online Gambling Ban is Crony Capitalism

As the number of states seeking to legalize and regulate online gambling continues to grow, political winds appear to have shifted against the most prominent legislative effort to ban the industry nationwide.

During the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in late February – the largest gathering of conservative political figures in the country – advocacy group and Washington D.C.-based think tank Institute for Liberty conducted a simple two-question poll.

Attendees were asked if they “oppose attempts by some in Congress to ban state-regulated online gaming,” and whether a “bill that would bar states from legislating the use of online gaming and selling lottery tickets online, is a violation of the Tenth Amendment and an example of crony capitalism.”

And per that polling, 91 percent of respondents oppose Congress intruding on states’ rights when it comes to online gambling, while 89 percent view such efforts as “crony capitalism.”

Known as the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), the bill in question was introduced in 2015 by co-sponsors Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) as a way of denying individual states the right to regulate online gambling.

The bill’s title refers to the Wire Act of 1961, a federal law which previously formed the basis for online gambling’s illegality – until the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a revised interpretation in 2011.

That DOJ opinion held that “interstate transmissions of wire communications that do not relate to a ‘sporting event or contest’ fall outside the reach of the Wire Act,” thus limiting its scope solely to online sports betting. In the intervening years, three states – Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware – have used the DOJ ruling as the basis for passing their own legislation to regulate online casinos and poker rooms.

Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas Sands casino magnate and billionaire patron of conservative politicians, has led a vocal lobbying campaign to restore the Wire Act and return to the previous federal prohibition.

By funding a lobbying group called the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG), and bestowing lavish campaign contributions to Congressmen like Graham and Chaffetz, Adelson has repeatedly attempted to push RAWA toward passage, ostensibly to limit competition for his massive brick and mortar casino empire.

Andrew Langer, president of the Institute for Liberty, issued a statement assailing Adelson’s ulterior motives for supporting RAWA:

“Conservatives see RAWA for what it is – one of the worst forms of crony capitalism in Congress today. RAWA is nothing short of an effort by one of the richest men in the world to ban a form of competition for his brick and mortar casino empire – and everyone knows it.

Worse yet, he is even willing to trample on the Constitution to do it.”

The polling provides confirmation of RAWA’s unpopularity with conservative voters, while the bill’s repeatedly stalled efforts within both houses of Congress suggest Republican lawmakers hold similar views.

Although RAWA has been derided as “dead” by iGaming industry watchdogs and D.C. insiders several times over, the inauguration of President Donald Trump and his elevation of Jeff Sessions to the position of Attorney General has brought the bill back to the forefront. During his Senate confirmation hearings, Sessions expressed “shock” at the DOJ decision and said he “opposed” the ruling.

Considering that position by Sessions, Langer viewed the recent poll as a message to Capitol Hill:

“Rank and file conservative voters reject the crony RAWA bill and will defend the Constitution from this Vegas-purchased onslaught on liberty. We will be vigilant opposing this bill.”

Futures Betting Guide for the 2017 NCAA Tournament Bracket

Aside from the Final Four, the most anticipated day in all of college basketball is Selection Sunday, when 68 of the nation’s top teams, conference champions and at-large bids, are officially tabbed to compete in the NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball tournament.

And after yesterday’s Selection Sunday announcement, the 2017 NCAA tournament bracket is officially set – signaling the start of feverish betting on first-round games.

With the full field now set, and the path to potential regional-deciding matchups clear, online sportsbook Bovada has released championship odds for each of the 68 contenders.

At the top of the bracket, Villanova (31-3) earned the tournament’s top overall seed out of the East Region. Even so, these Wildcats find themselves tied with those from Arizona (30-4) – the second-seed in the South – along with the top-seeded Jayhawks of Kansas (28-4) in the Midwest, with odds of (+800) to win it all.

That puts the trio in third place, behind top-seeded North Carolina (27-7; +700) in the South, and Bovada’s favorite to win it all Duke (27-8; +600) in the East.

The fact that the Blue Devils have fewer wins and a non-number one seed, but still sit atop the betting board, speaks to the experience of legendary head coach Mike Krzyzewski. It takes players to put up points though, and Duke is powered by sophomore guard Luke Kennard and freshman forward Jayson Tatum in that regard.

Another role reversal in terms of seeding comes from the West, where top-seeded Gonzaga (32-1; +900) has the best win-loss record in the land – but not the best odds to win a title out of their region. That honor goes to aforementioned Arizona, who many bracketologists are labeling a dark horse candidate to down the ‘Zags en route to the Final Four in their backyard of Glendale, Arizona.

While bettors have 68 teams to choose from, only 24 of those offer odds better than 100 to 1, so more than one-third of the bracket is ostensibly comprised of Cinderella stories that aren’t likely to be told.

In terms of value, teams like Louisville (24-8; +1600) – the second-seed in the Midwest – and the East’s third seed Baylor (25-7; +2800) are decent sleeper picks.

The four “play-in” games take place on Tuesday and Wednesday, while full-fledged First Round action tips off on Thursday and Friday. For odds on all 68 NCAA tournament contenders, as offered by Bovada, see the table below:

2017 NCAA Tournament Odds

Team NCAA Tournament Odds on 3/13
Duke +600
North Carolina +700
Kansas +800
Villanova +800
Arizona +800
Gonzaga +900
Kentucky +1000
UCLA +1000
Louisville +1600
Oregon +2200
Purdue +2200
West Virginia +2500
Michigan +2500
Baylor +2800
Florida +3300
Florida State +3300
Virginia +4000
Iowa State +4000
Notre Dame +4000
SMU +4000
Butler +6600
Wichita State +6600
Wisconsin +6600
St. Mary’s (CA) +7500
Cincinnati +10000
Maryland +10000
Michigan State +10000
Minnesota +10000
Oklahoma State +10000
Creighton +15000
South Carolina +15000
Northwestern +20000
Rhode Island +20000
Virginia Tech +20000
Arkansas +25000
Kansas State +25000
Miami (FL) +25000
Middle Tennessee State +25000
Providence +25000
Seton Hall +25000
USC +25000
Virginia Commonwealth +25000
Vanderbilt +25000
Wake Forest +25000
Xavier +25000
Dayton +30000
Marquette +50000
Nevada +50000
Princeton +50000
Bucknell +100000
East Tennessee State +100000
Florida Gulf Coast +100000
Iona +100000
Jacksonville State +100000
Kent State +100000
Mount St. Mary’s +100000
NC Central +100000
NC Wilmington +100000
New Mexico State +100000
New Orleans +100000
North Dakota +100000
Northern Kentucky +100000
South Dakota State +100000
Texas Southern +100000
Troy +100000
UC Davis +100000
Winthrop +100000
Vermont +100000