Market Research Firm Forecasts Global Online Gambling Industry Will Grow to $81.7 Billion by 2022

Five years from now, the global online gambling industry will be valued at $81.7 billion, growth that would double the current valuation of $44.2 billion.

According to a recent market research report published by Oristep Consulting, which is currently being distributed by Research and Markets Ltd., a compound annual growth rate of 10.8 percent will fuel the iGaming industry’s growth.

The 130-page report also includes vendor market share analyses for major worldwide iGaming companies including 888 Holdings, Bwin.Party, Ladbrokes, and Paddy Power.

The authors posit that accelerated growth in certain regions will serve to counter stagnant markets elsewhere:

“More than 80 nations have legalized online gambling and Europe has the largest online gambling market in the world, and this is just going to increase as Netherlands adopts new online gambling regulations.

While in the USA, three states already allow online gambling, and it is expected that more states are going to adopt similar regulations, allowing this market to grow in these regions, as the government want to benefit from the tax revenues.”

As the report mentions, America’s federal prohibition on iGaming operations – known as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) of 2006 – was essentially reversed in 2011. At that time, the Department of Justice issued a revised opinion on the Wire Act of 1961, a federal ban on sports wagers being placed via telephone which was used as the basis for the UIGEA.

In reversing the opinion, and confining the Wire Act to sports betting only, the DOJ paved the way for individual states to create their own regulated iGaming industries.

In the years since, Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware have authorized legislation to do just that, and in New Jersey alone more than $100 in tax revenue has been generated by the iGaming industry since 2013.

Oristep Consulting’s analytical department referenced this patchwork process of legalization and regulation as a “major driver” for the iGaming industry over the next five years:

“In specific regions, there has been minimal growth of this industry due to the strict government regulations, which become a huge constraint for players to work in the market – while on the other hand, a major driver for this industry is the opening up of new markets in countries like USA and Europe where certain states are allowing legal online gambling.”

In 2016, Oristep Consulting published a similar report on the state of the global land-based gambling industry, which was valued at $35.97 billion. That report forecasted land-based gambling would reach $66.59 billion in market value by 2020.

In their most recent report, the firm framed land-based gambling supremacy as a limiting factor to iGaming growth:

“Though there is a growth in the online gambling industry, land-based gambling still dwarfs the Internet activity, which can be a constraint for this industry in the long run.”

According to analysts, another factor fueling the forecasted expansion of iGaming worldwide is the rise of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. Many of the most successful iGaming operators have adopted cryptocurrency as their preferred method for deposits and withdrawals, as Bitcoin and its ilk avoid third-party oversight from banks.

As the report states, cryptocurrency adoption combined with the convenience of gambling from home will work to reduce the gap between iGaming and its land-based alternatives:

“Since the online gambling market allows players to use virtual money it has reduced the burden and risk of carrying cash as in the case of real gambling activities.

And since this can be done in the comfort of one’s home, many people are resorting to online gambling, hence showing that there is an opportunity for this market in the future.”

The report also touched on the potential for the American government to repeal PASPA, or the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 which currently bans sports betting in all but four American states.

In the event PASPA is repealed, online sportsbooks currently operating as illicit offshore entities would be available to a significantly expanded market.

College Football Odds 2017: Week 4 Betting Preview

This Saturday offers a welcome respite for the Associated Press (AP) Top-10 ranked teams.

Eight of those College Football Playoff contenders will face unranked lightweights, while ninth-ranked Wisconsin (3-0) enjoys its bye week.

That leaves sixth-ranked Oklahoma State (3-0) hosting 16th-ranked Texas Christian University (3-0) as the week’s high-profile matchup.

The TCU Horned Frogs put up points in bunches last Saturday, defeating Southern Methodist University (2-1) in a 56-36 fireworks show. Not to be outdone, the OSU Cowboys throttled Pittsburgh (1-2) in a 59-21 drubbing.

Oklahoma State and TCU average 54.0 and 49.0 points per game, respectively, but both teams are holding opponents under 18.0 points per for respectable defensive showings. Something’s got to give in this Big 12 showdown, and per the latest line posted by online sportsbook Bovada, it’s likely to be TCU’s defense. The Cowboys have home field on their side, along with a two-touchdown advantage as 14-point favorites.

The only other game pitting a pair of AP Top-25 ranked teams involves 11th-ranked Georgia (3-0) hosting 17th-ranked Mississippi State (3-0) in a clash of SEC foes.

Both of the Bulldogs have tallied a signature win thus far, with Georgia nipping then 20th-ranked Notre Dame (2-1) in a 20-19 road thriller, and Mississippi State dismissing then 12th-ranked LSU (2-1) in a 37-7 laugher.

Those triumphs were surely impressive, but the only thing that counts in SEC country is conference supremacy. The line here is as slim as can be, with Georgia favored by just 4.5 points at home.

The nation’s number one ranked team is, as is usually the case, Alabama (3-0). The Crimson Tide haven’t been tested yet, and that trend is likely to hold this Saturday, when Alabama visits Vanderbilt (3-0).

The Commodores are typically an SEC also-ran, but last week’s hard-fought 14-7 victory over then 18th-ranked Kansas State (2-1) showed Vandy can play with the big boys on occasion. Even so, the oddsmakers aren’t buying in just yet, as Alabama has been installed as 19-point road favorites.

Second-ranked Clemson (3-0) continued its impressive title defense last week, brushing off then 14th-ranked Louisville (2-1) in a 47-21 walkover. The competition eases somewhat this Saturday, as Boston College (1-2) limps into Memorial Stadium on the heels of two blowout losses.

Predictably, Bovada likes the Tigers to pounce on the Eagles, putting Clemson up as massive 34-point home favorites.

Third-ranked Oklahoma (3-0) is making noise in the highly competitive Big 12, where the Sooners shook up the standings by easily beating then second-ranked Ohio State (2-1) on the road. They’ll take on the Big 12’s cellar-dwellers in Baylor (0-3) this week, where Oklahoma is heavily favored by 28 points on the road.

Over in the Big Ten, East meets West when division leaders fourth-ranked Penn State (3-0) and Iowa (3-0) face off. Both squads are coming off relatively easy victories, so the intensity will be ramped up for a closer game when they take the field at Iowa’s Kinnick Stadium.

The Nittany Lions hold the edge here, as 13-point road favorites over the Hawkeyes.

Fifth-ranked USC (3-0) narrowly edged old rival Texas (1-2) last Saturday, requiring double-overtime and a game-winning field goal to escape with a 24-21 win.

They’ll face a fellow unbeaten in California (3-0) this week, but while the Golden Bears have played well in the early going, hosting the Trojans is another matter altogether. As such, USC is rated as big 16.5-point favorites even on the road.

Another collision of undefeated Pac-12 teams sends Washington (3-0) to visit Colorado (3-0), but once again, the road team is a major favorite with Wazzu holding an 11.5-point edge.

Online Casino and Poker Proposal Introduced in Michigan Legislature

Michigan became the latest state to propose regulating the online gambling industry, after state representative Brandt Iden (R-Kalamazoo) introduced an iGaming package in the House on September 12.

House Bill 4926, also known as the “Lawful Internet Gaming Act,” would allow Michigan’s collection of 23 land-based casinos – both tribal and commercial – to apply for internet gaming licenses.

Those applications would be processed by a newly created Division of Internet Gaming, with prospective operators paying $100,000 to apply, and $200,000 upon being licensed. From there, an annual fee of $100,000 would be paid by operators to maintain their license.

As for the tax plan put forth by HB-4926, Iden has proposed a 15 percent tax on gross gaming revenue. This matches the rate used in New Jersey, where a thriving iGaming industry has generated more than $100 million in tax revenue since launching in 2013.

In a public statement, Iden outlined his reasoning for drafting HB-4926:

“Technology is changing, businesses are going to have to adapt to that and they’re going to need an online platform at some stage.

I-gaming will happen in Michigan and whether I do it, or this governor signs it, I don’t know, but we have to start the conversation.”

Immediately after being introduced, HB-4926 was referred to the House Committee on Regulatory Reform – on which Iden serves as Chairman.

That committee then held its first hearing on HB-4926, allowing Iden an opportunity to address his fellow lawmakers directly:

“If I were a betting man, and I am, iGaming will become law at some stage in the state of Michigan.

I believe it is incumbent upon this committee and this legislature to be proactive and to protect our citizens.

And it will happen. So, the ‘when’ is up to all of you.”

Iden’s proposal follows up on iGaming momentum generated over the last two years.

This March, the Senate Committee on Regulatory Reform voted 7-1 in favor of similar legislation, and in 2016, the same committee authorized online gambling regulation.

During last week’s hearing, several iGaming industry stakeholders – including PokerStars parent company Stars Group and the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) – delivered testimony in support of HB-4926.

The Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling (CSIG), a lobby group launched and funded by land-based casino mogul and billionaire Sheldon Adelson, also contributed testimony opposing the bill.

Michigan’s three commercial casinos – MGM Grand Detroit, Greektown Casino, and MotorCity Casino – each declined the opportunity to testify. But according to Online Poker Report, all three venues currently oppose HB-4926, with MGM Grand Detroit revealing only that it “supports the concept” of online gambling in Michigan.

Mike Cox, who served as Michigan’s attorney general between 2003 and 2010, told the committee that HB-4926 was carefully crafted to comply with the state’s current gaming culture:

“These bills are the product of collaboration … Collaboration primarily with the three states that are doing it well right now, Delaware, Nevada and New Jersey.

Thankfully for us in the state of Michigan, they’ve worked out a lot of the kinks.

These bills are a result of talking with their regulators and using those things that work well, incorporating them for the benefit of Michigan citizens and complementary with Michigan law.”

Interestingly, section 10(a) of the bill includes a provision which appears to mandate online poker, while making other iGaming offerings such as casino table games and slots optional:

“The rules may include only things expressly authorized by this act, including all of the following:

(a) The types of internet games to be offered, which must include, but need not be limited to, poker.”

This caveat would mark a departure from the models established in Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey, states where operators are free to spread their preferred selection of permissible games.

NFL Odds 2017: Week 3 Betting Preview

Given the wild nature of Week 1, last Sunday’s slate of NFL action saw the league settle back into a state of normalcy. Favorites prevailed over weaker foes, fewer upsets rocked the boat, and several teams fell into their typical midseason form.

Looking ahead to this Sunday’s action, the betting board posted by online sportsbook Bovada includes several highly anticipated contests – highlighted by Week 3’s lone matchup of undefeated teams.

The Atlanta Falcons (2-0) haven’t suffered from the dreaded Super Bowl hangover as of yet, cruising to a 34-10 lead before finishing the Green Bay Packers (1-1) off 34-23 last Sunday night. They’ll take that momentum to Motown for a date with the Detroit Lions (2-0), who just downed the New York Giants (0-2) in a 24-10 snoozer on Monday Night Football.

Both teams have showed flashes of brilliance on both sides of the ball thus far – along with inconsistent play – but the bookmakers give the lean to last year’s Super Bowl losers. The Falcons are favored as 3-point road favorites, and given Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford’s penchant for fourth-quarter comebacks, that spread could be spot on when the score goes final.

If you’re an early riser, the first edition of the NFL’s annual pilgrimage to Wembley Stadium in London pits the Baltimore Ravens (2-0) against the Jacksonville Jaguars (1-1).

Kickoff is set for 9:30 a.m. eastern standard time, with the Ravens and their stout defense (only 10 points allowed all year) rated as 4-point favorites.

Week 3 has plenty to offer for fans of heated divisional rivalries, beginning with the Miami Dolphins (1-0) continuing their Hurricane Irma-prompted month-long road trip against the New York Jets (0-2).

The ‘Phins season-opener was scheduled for Miami, but the hurricane changed those plans, sending the team to face the Los Angeles Chargers (0-2) last Sunday instead. And after departing New York, the team heads to London to face the New Orleans Saints (0-2), before finally playing at home for the first time in Week 5.

As for “Gang Green,” the Jets cut every meaningful player from their roster during the offseason, setting up for a year-long experiment in NBA-style tanking. Accordingly, they’ll be big 6-point home underdogs when Miami arrives.

The Philadelphia Eagles (1-1) host the aforementioned Giants, a team which has scored only one touchdown and a pair of field goals on the year.

The return of wideout Odell Beckham Jr. on Monday Night Football didn’t do a thing to change the Giants’ offensive struggles. Meanwhile, head coach Ben McAdoo’s curious choice to throw star quarterback Eli Manning under the bus in his post-game presser may be the sign of a team imploding from within.

The Eagles are experiencing no such concerns, having earned a divisional win in Week 1 over the Washington Redskins (0-2), before playing the Kansas City Chiefs (2-0) competitively last Sunday.

The linemakers like hot teams, and home teams, and Philly qualifies in both regards – making them 6-point favorites in this NFC East tilt.

When the Saints visit the Carolina Panthers (2-0), the game will pit two teams moving in opposite directions. Saints head coach Sean Payton doesn’t seem to have the same fire he once had, which makes sense given his uncertain contract status and a decade in charge. And with quarterback Drew Brees lacking the offensive weaponry he once possessed, New Orleans has looked decidedly lackluster in two losing efforts thus far.

Cam Newton and the Panthers haven’t looked much better, but quality teams are capable of winning even when at their worst – which is exactly what Carolina has done.

That trend is expected to continue, as Carolina enters Week 3 as 6-point home favorites over their former NFC South nemesis.

Nevada Man Wins $10 Million Megabucks Progressive Slot Jackpot

As he played the Megabucks Double 3X-4X-5X Pay slot machine at the Fiesta Henderson casino on September 16, a lucky player identified only as “Roger” wasn’t sure what the five consecutive eagle symbols lined up on the reels really meant:

“I didn’t even know I’d won until the lady came over and told me I’d won it.

The machine lit up, and I knew I’d won something, but I just wasn’t sure what.”

With his wager of $3 per spin on Megabucks – the world’s first wide-area progressive jackpot network – “Roger” had unwittingly scored one of the most sizable gambling wins the state of Nevada has to offer.

By beating enormous 1 in 49,836,032 odds, “Roger” was awarded $10,192,523.88 for winning the Megabucks jackpot.

Asked about his plans for the unexpected windfall, “Roger” – a Virginia native who moved to the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson earlier this year – offered a tongue-in-cheek response when speaking to the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

“I’ll probably spend most of it on alcohol, women and gambling. The rest of it I’ll waste.”

Fiesta Henderson casino is located 20 minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, and 30 minutes from Nevada’s iconic Hoover Dam. The venue is operated as part of the Stations Casinos line of “Off-Strip” gambling establishments.

Lori Nelson, who serves as director of corporate communications for Stations Casino, issued a statement celebrating the massive jackpot:

“The Fiesta Henderson team was thrilled that one its loyal guests won $10-million plus on IGT’s Megabucks on Saturday.

What an unbelievably exciting day at Fiesta Henderson. We wish our winner a lifetime of happiness enjoying their winnings.”

For his part, “Roger” remained hesitant to share too many details about his personal life with the public, as he explained to the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

“If I told everyone, I’d get friends I don’t want.”

It appears as though “Roger” turned a minimal investment into the maximum return, as he told the newspaper that his first few $3 spins resulted in a modest payout of $20. With four more spins to work with, “Roger” then watched the reels line up perfectly to produce the life-changing jackpot.

The Megabucks wide-area progressive jackpot network was launched in 1986 by Reno-based slot machine manufacturer International Game Technology (IGT). At the time, Megabucks was the first jackpot network to link machines across various venues and jurisdictions, eventually spreading throughout all of Nevada.

In November of 1998, Palace Station – another member of the Stations Casinos family – awarded a Megabucks jackpot of $27,580,878.

With odds of nearly 1 in 50 million against, the Megabucks jackpot is typically paid out only once or twice per year.

That hasn’t been the case in 2017, however, as the most recent eight-figure payout was the second in as many months.

On August 8, a player identified only as “Rodolfo T” took home $11,856,654.67 for triggering the elusive Megabucks jackpot at the Fremont Hotel & Casino in Downtown Las Vegas.

That short turnaround is out of the ordinary for Megabucks. Prior to the Fremont win, nearly one year passed between Megabucks’ most recent jackpot, which paid out $10,777,271.41 at the Wynn Hotel & Casino on August 21 of last year.

NJ Division of Gaming Enforcement Reveals Proposed Amendments to Current iGaming Regulations

As the state’s online gambling industry continues to post impressive revenue growth on a monthly basis, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE) is preparing to strengthen its iGaming regulations.

In a document entitled “Gaming Operation Accounting Controls and Standards; Internet Wagering” – which was authorized by NJDGE Director David Rebuck and made public last week – the agency proposes several new rules, along with amendments to current regulations.

The first rule proposal concerns the increasingly popular Live Dealer segment of the online casino sector. Popularized in Europe, a Live Dealer game is still played via computer or mobile device, but players interact with a human dealer operating genuine casino game equipment. This is achieved through live streamed video footage from dedicated Live Dealer studios.

Currently, the only New Jersey iGaming brands to offer Live Dealer games – blackjack, baccarat, and roulette in this case – are GoldenNuggetCasino.com and BetfairCasino.com, both of which operate under the land-based Golden Nugget venue’s interactive gaming license.

The addition of Live Dealer technology has propelled the Golden Nugget licensee group to the top of New Jersey’s monthly revenue reports. Competitors haven’t been willing to add Live Dealer games as of yet, given the increased overhead expenses involved with training human dealers and operating a live streaming studio.

The first rule proposal offered by the NJDGE seeks to solve that dilemma, by allowing iGaming providers to offer a “bet behind” wagering feature:

“Proposed new rule N.J.A.C. 13:69F-2.27 would authorize a ‘bet behind’ wager for Internet gaming when live blackjack is available.

A live dealer blackjack game has limited seats at each table. A ‘bet behind’ wager allows an unlimited number of players to wager on whether or not one of the players at the blackjack table will win against the live dealer.”

The concept of betting behind has been commonplace in European online casinos for years. When a Live Dealer table is fully occupied, other players using the online casino can elect to bet behind a seated player rather than wait for an open seat. When betting behind, the non-seated player simply wagers along with the actions of the seated player, winning or losing in kind.

If approved, the addition of bet behind functionality would immediately increase profit margins for Live Dealer studios in New Jersey, possibly leveling the playing field between Golden Nugget and its competitors.

Another NJDGE proposal would turn temporary allowances for ACH transfer into permanent regulations. Debit and credit card transactions are the most commonly used form of ACH transfer.

Under the proposed amendment, operators would be required to block a customer’s account following five failed ACH transfer attempts:

“Proposed amendments to N.J.A.C. 13:69O-1.3 authorize ACH transfer (electronic) from a patron’s bank as a method of funding and Internet gaming account and sets the requirements for using such a method.

Casinos must block the account after 5 failed attempts to use an ACH transfer as a funding method.

Such a measure will help prevent fraud.”

Among the other rule changes put forth by the NJDGE include a physical address requirement, with P.O. boxes no longer acceptable for proof of residency, and turning temporary allowances for progressive slot machine games into permanent law.

Land-based casinos holding an interactive gaming license would also be required to employ an information technology officer.

The public has been invited to contribute input on these proposed changes, with the comment period running through November 4 of this year.

Letters can be sent to Charles F. Kimmel, who serves as deputy attorney general for the NJDGE, at 1300 Atlantic Avenue, Atlantic City, NJ 08401. Emails can be sent to rulecomments@njdge.org.

College Football Odds 2017: Week 3 Betting Preview

Another week of dominant defensive football sees Alabama (2-0) return to the top of the Associated Press (AP) rankings, following a 41-10 walkover against Fresno State (1-1).

Head coach Nick Saban has his ballhawks firing on all cylinders, having already beaten then third-ranked Florida State (0-1) while giving up just a single score in a 24-7 victory.

The Crimson Tide’s defensive prowess will be somewhat tested this week, when Colorado State (2-1) comes to Tuscaloosa. The Rams have put up 58- and 38-point performances to start the season, and they topped the 40-point plateau six times last year.

Even so, online sportsbook Bovada doesn’t give Colorado State much of a chance to light up the scoreboard against Alabama, as the Tide are rated as heavy 29.5-point home favorites.

By winning the season’s first true clash of titans – a 31-16 road upset last Saturday over then second-ranked Ohio State (1-1) – Oklahoma (2-0) claimed that spot for themselves, moving up three positions in the AP rankings.

The Sooners will get a breather this time around, with Tulane (1-1) of the American Athletic Conference coming to town. After defeating a powerhouse like the Buckeyes, Oklahoma will no doubt be looking to avoid a letdown – especially with a Big 12 showdown against Baylor next on the schedule – so seeing the Sooners as 35.5-point home favorites isn’t all that surprising.

Clemson (2-0) may not have star quarterback Deshaun Watson under center this season, but the defending National Champions have adjusted on the fly, beating then 12th-ranked Auburn (1-1) in a tight 14-6 game last Saturday.

That win put the Tigers on a collision course with an ACC rival this week, as Clemson visits 14th ranked Louisville (2-0) in a battle of big-time offenses. Clemson is averaging 35.0 points and 473 yards per game, which somehow pales in comparison to Louisville’s 41.0 points and 614.5 yards per.

Sufficed to say, the scoring will come fast and furious in this one, but Bovada believes the game will stay close throughout. With the experience edge, and defending champ chip on their shoulder, Clemson has been installed as slight 3.5-point road favorites.

One of the more highly touted non-conference rivalries in recent college football memory pits Texas (0-2) against USC (2-0), with an epic 41-38 win in the 2006 Rose Bowl giving the Longhorns bragging rights a decade later.

Leaving aside the brewing controversy over vacated wins for a moment, that rivalry has lost its luster of late, as both Texas and USC have struggled to maintain their elite standing. The Longhorns stumbled to a 5-7 record last season, while the Trojans went 1-3 before winning out.

This year, it looks to be more of the same for Texas, which lost 51-41 to Maryland (2-0) opening week. And while a 56-0 whitewashing last week over San Jose State (1-2) helped right the ship, Texas will be traveling into the lion’s den of Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to face a hungry USC squad.

The Trojans are the AP’s fourth-ranked team following last week’s 42-24 dismissal of then 14th-ranked Stanford (1-1), a win made more impressive by virtue of coming on the road. USC finished last season ranked third by the AP, and a win this week would likely put them back there – especially if Louisville manages to knock off Clemson.

The halcyon days of 2006 are long gone for the Longhorns, who will head to L.A. as 16.5-point road underdogs.

The only other matchup of ranked teams this week involves two teams on the fringe, with 23rd-ranked Tennessee (2-0) taking on 24th-ranked Florida (0-1). The Volunteers have hit 42 points in both of their wins, while the Gators mustered only three scoring plays in a 33-17 season opening loss to then 11th-ranked Michigan (2-0).

Florida’s game last week was cancelled due to Hurricane Irma, so the Gators should be the fresher team as 4.5-point home favorites.

PokerStars Continues Pro-to-Rec Shift by Limiting Live Satellite Packages and Paying More Spots in Tournaments

In yet another policy change designed to make PokerStars more appealing to recreational players, the global online poker leader will begin limiting its live event satellite packages to one per person.

Previously, players who had already qualified for a PokerStars Live event via online satellite could continue competing for additional seats, earning the cash value of a tournament package directly to their account.

Unsurprisingly, this created a market for so-called “satellite grinders” – or professional players who parlayed success in the satellite system into extra cash. As a result, the ostensible objective of online satellites – feeding recreational players into larger tournaments – was largely overridden by pros who dominated the satellite tables.

In a statement published to the PokerStars Blog on August 30, poker operations manager Mike Jones outlined the impetus for satellite limits:

“While recreational players dream of winning the poker experience of a lifetime with PokerStars, a fortunate and skilled few win multiple packages and seats to our live events, when they can only use one of them. These players have taken advantage of a system that allowed them to profit from winning against recreational or less experienced players.

While this hasn’t been against the rules, it doesn’t make for as enjoyable experience as we would hope. The practice has, in fact, been off-putting for many, as we are seeing an increasing number of recreational players not even attempting to qualify for live events.

This means that they are as a group less likely to experience the excitement that comes from playing live and the further investment in the poker world that comes from playing in a major live event.”

Predictably, opinion on the latest PokerStars reform – spearheaded by parent company Amaya in an attempt to increase the site’s profit margins – has been mixed within the poker community.

One particularly vocal critic of the move was Irish poker pro Dara O’Kearney, once a fixture on the PokerStars-owned UK and Ireland Poker Tour (UKIPT) and PokerStars Festival tournament circuits which the satellite system feeds.

According to O’Kearney, who used his personal blog to address the issue, PokerStars’ previous policy – one which he and fellow pros were asked to advise on – actively encouraged high-volume players like himself to grind as many satellites as possible:

“I answered honestly and made some suggestions, specifically that bigger side events were needed to encourage more serious players to travel, and if they allowed multiple seat and packages to be won players like me would grind satellites and provide more liquidity to ensure they ran.

After the tour took off, it seemed our feedback was no longer needed or heeded. The first major mistake Stars made was moving the buy-in up to over 1k. That proved a step too far, moving even the satellites out of the reach of recs. The satellites became less attractive for everyone.

As the satellites got smaller and smaller with more regs, many smart recs began to realize they were a heavily losing proposition for them. Internally in Stars, it seemed that people needed scapegoats, and instead of putting their hands up and saying, ‘We messed up increasing the buyin,’ it was more prudent to blame the satellite grinders: ‘Those guys are stopping recs from qualifying,’ – never mind the fact that they were still heavily incentivizing us to play the satellites with an expanded leaderboard prize pool and other perks.”

While the satellite debate limit rages on, PokerStars put out another new policy prioritizing recreational players over pros.

On September 7, Jones posted to the PokerStars Blog to announce that tournament payout structures would be flattened across the board – resulting in more players experiencing “winning moments” by making the money with a minimum cash:

“On September 11, most tournaments on PokerStars will be changing to deeper payouts.

Tourneys that have been paying 12% will change to 14%; 14% will change to 16%; 16% will change to 18%, and 18% will change to 20%.

Keep in mind that this doesn’t affect every tournament; there’s no change to approximately 30% of the weekly recurring schedule. Examples of unaffected tournaments are Progressive Knockouts, many high buy-ins, and tournaments already paying 20%.

The changes will be subtle and most players will only notice when they realize that they’re experiencing the thrill of cashing a little more often. It’s been years of tinkering to get to this point, and we’ll keep working to create the best overall playing experience.”

Flattened payouts tend to reward recreational players by reducing the top payouts typically captured by pros, and spreading those funds out through additional payout spots.

NFL Odds 2017: Week 2 Betting Preview

Week 1 of the NFL season presented bettors with several upsets, with the Kansas City Chiefs and Jacksonville Jaguars winning outright as big dogs, and the Cleveland Browns and Chicago Bears both covering against highly touted opponents.

Those largely unexpected results may be nothing more than a byproduct of shortened practice schedules and opening day jitters – or a sign that the NFL’s perpetual parity has leveled the playing field.

That’s up to bettors to decide, and based on the opening lines posted by the sportsbooks, the season’s second week offers plenty of upset potential. Week 2 features a healthy dose of big favorites facing seemingly overmatched underdogs. But as last week’s slate showed, anything can happen when two NFL teams take the field.

The New England Patriots (0-1) kicked off their title defense with a dud, as the aforementioned Chiefs went into Foxboro and won handily in a 42-27 romp. Normally, a poor performance like that might pull the line down a week later, but the Patriots are far from normal.

New England has been listed as 7-point road favorites against the New Orleans Saints (0-1), a line that may be more indicative of their opponent’s outlook than anything else.

The Saints brought newly acquired running back Adrian Peterson back to Minnesota for a “grudge match,” but head coach Sean Payton saw his once vaunted offense struggle to get in gear during a Monday Night Football fiasco. That 29-19 defeat to the Minnesota Vikings (1-0) was never as close as the final score would suggest, and facing Tom Brady and crew, New Orleans’ suspect defense may be vulnerable to another offensive outburst.

Those Vikings take on the Pittsburgh Steelers (1-0) this week, heading into Heinz Field as consensus 6.5-point underdogs. Based on that number, the linemakers don’t seem to be swayed by how the Vikings handled the Saints – or by the Steelers’ Week 1 woes.

Pittsburgh muddled through an unconvincing 21-18 win over the undermanned Cleveland Browns (0-1), but the books like quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to bring his A-game in the Steelers’ home opener.

In a rare Week 2 contest involving closely matched teams, the Dallas Cowboys (1-0) make their way to Mile High to face the Denver Broncos (1-0). Both teams opened up healthy leads early last week, but the eventual finals told two different tales.

Dallas relied on a surprisingly suffocating defense to snuff out the New York Giants (0-1) in a 19-3 snoozer. With standout second-year running back Ezekiel Elliott back in the fold – courtesy of a court-ordered injunction that staved off his six-game suspension for off-field issues – the Dallas offense also dominated with 392 total yards and a 34-minute time of possession.

As for Denver, a 24-7 lead over the Los Angeles Chargers (0-1) entering the fourth quarter somehow turned into a last-second game-tying field goal attempt, with the Bolts down 24-21. Of course, rookie kicker Younghoe Koo had a successful attempt “iced” by Broncos head coach Vance Joseph, only to see his second try blocked to seal the loss.

The consensus line leans toward Dallas at the moment, to the tune of a 2-point edge as road favorites.

And for those that love to take the points in lackluster games, the San Francisco 49ers (0-1) head north for a date with the Seattle Seahawks (0-1) – and they’ll bring 14 points with them as heavy road dogs.

That same two-touchdown spread separates the New York Jets (0-1) from the Oakland Raiders (1-0), who will be enjoying one of their final home openers by the Bay.

Massachusetts Attorney General Fines DraftKings and FanDuel $1.3 Million Each Over Deceptive Practices

More than two years after launching an investigation into daily fantasy sports (DFS) industry regulations, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office has reached a settlement with leading operators DraftKings and FanDuel.

As part of that agreement, DraftKings and FanDuel were fined $1.3 million each to resolve allegations over the sites’ use of “unfair and deceptive practices.”

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey issued a statement announcing the settlement terms:

“I am glad to have reached these settlements to address various consumer issues that existed at the early stages of this new industry.

We have since implemented a set of comprehensive regulations that provide consumers with broad-ranging protections and that have served as a model for many other states.”

The statement also outlined the scope of DraftKings’ and FanDuel’s consumer protection failures, although no specific violations were mentioned:

“As a part of that review, the AG’s Office found that some participants in daily fantasy sports contests were not adequately protected and that comprehensive consumer-protective regulation was needed.

In response to concerns uncovered during its review, the AG’s Office proposed and implemented first-of-their-kind consumer protection regulations for the fantasy sports industry.”

Based on the similarities between Massachusetts’ investigation and a similar case in New York, where DraftKings and FanDuel were fined a combined $12 million over consumer protection issues, the sites were likely under scrutiny for deceptive advertising and internal improprieties.

In October of last year, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman concluded that DraftKings and FanDuel took advantage of “misrepresentations they made to millions of consumers” during the companies’ respective rise to the top of the DFS industry.

Among those misrepresentations were claims that most DFS players had a chance to win major, multimillion dollar prizes, despite the presence of data demonstrating that as little as 1 percent of their player pools managed to do so. The use of “bait and switch” bonus offers – which promise free funds for new depositors while making no mention of onerous “playthrough” requirements – was also scrutinized during the New York investigation.

In Massachusetts, Healey used her office’s statement to ensure the DFS-playing public that both DraftKings and FanDuel were no longer engaging in such practices:

“Both DraftKings and FanDuel cooperated throughout the investigation and have made significant changes to their business models to protect consumers with respect to gameplay fairness, protections for minors, responsible gaming requirements, fairness in advertising, and data and funds security.

Each company represents that it is now in full compliance with the applicable regulatory requirements.”

As a result of the 2015 investigation, Massachusetts implemented a series of newly codified regulations on DFS operation which went into effect on July 1 of last year.

Addressing the settlement for DraftKings, which is based in Boston, the company’s general counsel Tim Parilla referenced those regulations as a byproduct of the site’s input:

“DraftKings is pleased to have reached this agreement with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office and conclude what has been a productive and collaborative process.

Over the last two years, the Attorney General’s office has done an excellent job of working to fully understand DraftKings, our business and the fantasy sports industry. That expertise informed the Massachusetts regulations which have now become the national model for common sense, consumer-focused fantasy sports regulations.”

A spokesperson for FanDuel echoed those sentiments:

“We have worked closely with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office in their review of fantasy sports, including their issuance of the first set of consumer protection regulations for our industry, which we were pleased to comply with since their inception in 2016.

FanDuel has worked tirelessly to pass laws in 16 states that solidify the fantasy sports industry and implement many of these same important consumer protections. FanDuel’s efforts have ensured that sports fans are able to continue playing the games they love in a safe, regulated environment and as we head into this football season, we look forward to continuing these efforts.”

To celebrate Week 1 of the NFL season, DraftKings recently ran a “Billion Dollar Lineup Challenge,” which required players to submit a “perfect” lineup consisting of the top fantasy performers at each position.

Per iGaming reporter Dustin Gouker of Legal Sports Report, industry analysts have calculated the odds of creating such a lineup at 1 in two trillion.