Thursday, April 15, 2021

Day: February 10, 2021

Uncategorized
Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore Says Chinese VIPs Gone for Good

Posted on: February 10, 2021, 02:26h. 

Last updated on: February 10, 2021, 02:26h.

The parent company of Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) expects China’s crackdown on cross-border gambling to impact its casino operations.

Resorts World Sentosa Singapore China casino
A Resorts World Sentosa employee scans a guest’s temperature last year. The casino resort in Singapore welcomed far fewer visitors in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. (Image: Resorts World Sentosa)

China President Xi Jinping has directed law enforcement agencies across the People’s Republic to better prevent mainlanders from traveling overseas to gamble. China is threatening foreigners who market and organize international gambling trips to Chinese people with severe penalties, including prison terms up to 10 years.

Xi’s goal is to keep more money in China, and less from flowing outside its control to casinos located throughout Asia. Genting Singapore owns and operates Resorts World Sentosa, and is a subsidiary of Malaysia-based Genting Berhad. Genting Singapore says China’s embargo on cross-border gambling will result in fewer VIPs at its multibillion-dollar resort in Singapore.

After releasing its full-year 2020 financial results, Genting Singapore issued guidance warning gaming analysts of China’s impact on its operations.

China Calls on Mainlanders to Assist

China is doing everything in its power to stop an estimated $150 billion annually from moving out of the country via gaming channels. The People’s Republic claims to have already charged 35,000 people on cross-border gambling crimes.

Gambling is illegal everywhere in the mainland, the lone exception being China’s state-run lottery. China’s wealthiest gamblers frequent Macau, a Special Administrative Region of China, but also casinos throughout Asia.

RWS was allowed to increase operating capacity from 50 percent to 65 percent from December 28, 2020, but Genting Singapore still does not expect its GGR to improve markedly on lack of foreign gamblers. Furthermore, Genting Singapore also does not expect the VIP market to recover to pre-Covid-19 levels due to China cracking down on anyone enticing mainland Chinese to gamble overseas,” commented Maybank analyst Yin Shao Yang.

China is offering immunity for its citizens who have participated in cross-gambling activities in exchange for assisting with the infiltration and apprehension of such operatives.

Worst Year in RW History

Genting Singapore conceded in its annual report that 2020 was its worst financial performance since Resorts World Sentosa opened a decade earlier.

COVID-19 slashed net profits and shareholder earnings by 90 percent. Gross gaming revenue was down 57 percent.

The Singaporean government closed its borders to outsiders for much of 2020 to keep the coronavirus out. The island city-state has confirmed fewer than 60,000 COVID-19 cases, and only 29 deaths.

“We are most grateful to the Singapore Government for providing various support measures in assisting our resort to weather through this crisis,” a Genting Singapore statement explained. “Notwithstanding the Government helping us and the Group’s implementation of cost containment measures, the effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic to our businesses was still devastating.

“This led the Group to record the worst financial performance since the opening of our Singapore Integrated Resort in 2010,” the release revealed.

RWS holds a duopoly on casino gambling in Singapore with Marina Bay Sands. Prior to the global pandemic, both casinos agreed to further invest $3.3 billion into their complexes in exchange for maintaining their duopolies through at least 2030.

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New standard of player protection at gaming venues


A team of Australian experts has set a new global standard to protect gaming organisations and venues, their customers, and their communities against gambling-related harm and money laundering.
Known as Senet Assure and Senet Assure Premium, the compliance accreditation launched today has been developed by Australia’s leading specialist gambling law, regulatory, and compliance advisory, Senet.
The announcement follows a warning this month by the NSW Crime Commission that the Australian economy could become a greater target for financial crime due to its successful management of Covid 19, and concerns that poker machines would be exploited as a money laundering option for criminals.
Senet regulatory and gambling specialist Paul Newson said the certification addresses the distinct challenges facing the industry in 2021.
“The certification will only be awarded to operators who can demonstrate the highest level of vigilance” Mr Newson said.
“Our team has developed this accreditation based on our deep knowledge of the complexities and challenges in 2021 facing gambling operators committed to responsible gambling outcomes and staying a step ahead of criminal activity.”
“The accreditation is a way for industry leaders to demonstrate they are meeting the highest standards of accountability and exceeding best practice in protecting their customers and their staff in cultivating a workplace culture of compliance and social responsibility.”
Mr Newson said that as well as safeguarding corporate reputation and minimising the risks of gambling harm and financial crime, achieving accreditation via the program developed by his team would demonstrate an organisation’s commitment to responsible gambling culture.
The Senet team has unmatched regulatory and legal expertise across the gambling sector including in respect of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regulation.
 

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Di Maria, English Premier League, lionel messi, Sports, The Secret Coach, Zlatan Ibrahimović
The Secret Coach: Seven free players who could move to Premier League this summer


With the January transfer window closing around Europe, plenty of big names with just months left on their contracts will be looking for a new club this summer.These superstars of the game include Lionel Messi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Angel Di Maria, but could these players and more move to the Premier League? Let’s take a deeper look with the help of our contact in the sport, The Secret Coach.The Secret Coach is a professional football coach in English football… who will remain anonymous. The Secret Coach has worked with some of the biggest names in the game, been through the coaching badge courses and is currently part of the coaching team at an English league side… and that’s all we’re telling you. As ever, this week, The Secret Coach pulls no punches!Last week, we talked about who might win this season’s UEFA Champions League, but this week, it’s some of the many stars who have graced the tournament who will be looking for a new club in just a few months. We have to start with Lionel Messi. After dominating La Liga, it looks like the mercurial Argentinian might be on his way to Manchester City in the summer. What does The Secret Coach think he’ll bring to the Premier League and will he be as effective as he is in Spain?“I can’t wait to see him in the Premier League!” says TSC. “It will answer questions on who is the best – him or Cristiano Ronaldo. Messi has been a fantastic one-club man club and achieved so much. He’s a fantastic player but Ronaldo has been in four countries and achieved it all, so to see how Messi would get on in Prem would be amazing. Ronaldo has done a cold wet evening on the South Coast and delivered – can Messi?”Lionel Messi is currently 3/1 to sign for Paris St. Germain and 7/2 to sign for Manchester City. One of the youngest players who is currently looking like he’ll be available ‘on a free’ is Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, aged just 21. It feels like every club could do with him joining them, but who could use him most and where would he suit?“He’s interesting – a good keeper for sure and young, but a few clubs have tried and failed to sign him and I wonder why.” Says TSC. “I haven’t seen any ‘Big Six’ sides try to sign him on a pre-contract basis. I feel there are better keepers.”One to avoid, maybe. Memphis Depay is one of two ex-Manchester United names on our radar, but could the Lyon player really make it in the Premier League second time around or does The Secret Coach think he’d rather play for a La Liga side such as Barcelona?“Depay didn’t hit the heights that he promised at United, but like all good players, he didn’t let it affect him and has gone away and reestablished himself for club and country, showing the form that got him his United move. The question for me is whether he wants to prove the doubters and himself to some degree wrong and show that he can make it in the best league in the world. He’ll either do that or cash in on his good form and go to Spain.”Angel Di Maria also spent a year in the EPL but has since been one of PSG’s star performers in Ligue 1 and the Champions League. Is there a way the gifted Argentine could make it in the Premier League and if so, which team would suit him best?“He’s a talented player,” says TSC. “I personally feel he is not suited to the physical nature of the Premier League as he showed in his spell at United. It feels like he’s been around for so long and at big clubs, too. I’m not sure if any of the current top six would take him.”Someone else who has played for Real Madrid is Galacticos lifer Sergio Ramos, who seems to have played the Premier League off against Real Madrid in a bid to get another contract more times than he’s been red carded in his career… and that’s saying something. What if Ramos really did come to the Premier League?“A love him or hate him player! If you play with him, he’s loved as he is a good defender who can score goals and has a winning mentality. If he’s not on your team his ‘dark arts’ and desire to win can be frustrating and annoying for others as can his competitive nature.”Ramos has a combative style that might suit the Premier League, but The Secret Coach thinks that he might pay for that aspect of his game more than it counts for him.“With his red card count, could he spend more time on the sidelines? I’d love him in the Premier League, again to see how a one club player at the top of his game can cope in another league. I’d liken him more to Thiago Silva in his consistency rather than a David Luiz-type, but I think London clubs might be tempted!”PSG winger Julian Draxler has weirdly never played for a Premier League club. In a league where wingers are so highly valued, could he make a real difference at the age of 28?“He’s a good player that’s been off the radar since moving to PSG. I like his energy and potential as a goalscorer; I can see a ‘Big Six’ side taking a punt on him as a squad player, but not a starter as the Big Six are full of good midfielders and wingers. Could the middle pack like Leicester make him a star?”Finally, we have to talk about Zlatan. Legendary former Manchester United and current A.C. Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be in his late 30s, but he was brilliant at Old Trafford a few years ago. Does the Secret Coach think he star for a Premier League club if he came back… and would he want to?“The man is a legend! Even at his age who would not want him? He proved at United as he has done at Milan he can score goals regularly. I’d love to see him back but would he go to a team who aren’t in the Champions League? I would imagine it would be a last season for him, but he’s a great player who I love to watch. He suits the Premier League as he is physical and clever and can score a range of goals, but I can’t see him moving, especially if Milan beat Juventus to the Serie A title.”And that’s all this week from The Secret Coach, who will be back next week here on Calvin Ayre.Imagine Zlatan back at a Premier League club. We’d all enjoy seeing another set of highlights like this from the superstar Swede!

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Daniel Negreanu Challenges Phil Hellmuth to a Heads-Up Poker Battle

Daniel Negreanu might already have his next heads-up poker opponent in mind. And it’s none other than Phil Hellmuth, who was critical of “DNegs’” play against Doug Polk.

Phil Hellmuth Daniel Negreanu

Will Daniel Negreanu and Phil Hellmuth face off on the felt in a winner-take-all heads-up match? Don’t bet on it. (Image: pokerscout.com)

Negreanu lost $1.2 million to Polk over 25,000 hands of $200/$400 no-limit hold’em on WSOP.com. He wasn’t expected to win, so it didn’t come as a surprise to many. The GGPoker ambassador entered the match as more than a 4-1 underdog.

Despite virtually every poker expert expecting a Polk victory, Hellmuth ripped into his fellow Poker Hall of Famer’s play on the new PokerGo show, No Gamble No Future.

Co-host Brent Hanks asked the “Poker Brat” for his thoughts on the recently completed heads-up poker match. The WSOP bracelet record holder didn’t mince words.

“Yeah, I was disappointed in the way that Daniel played,” Hellmuth said. “But I know his coaches, his coaches are brilliant.”

Hellmuth then went on to criticize Negreanu for trying to play a GTO-like strategy against Polk, who specializes in game theory optimal play. He then said he told Polk that he’d love to face him next, although Polk said recently that he no longer has interest in playing additional matches.

Negreanu, however, would gladly face the “Poker Brat” if he’d accept. He called out Hellmuth on Twitter for the critical comments about his play against Polk.

Yo @phil_hellmuth you said you watched “zero” of the match but seem to have strong opinions on the play. I’ll play you a heads up match live, online, at any stakes you feel comfortable with for as many hands as you would like. Wanna play big guy?” Daniel Negreanu wrote on Twitter.

Don’t Bet on It

Polk vs. Negreanu was highly popular among the poker community. On most days during the 36-session challenge, the live-streams on YouTube combined to reach more than 10,000 viewers. But that heads-up match would likely pale in comparison to Phil Hellmuth vs. Daniel Negreanu.

Polk and Negreanu are arguably the two most popular and polarizing figures in poker history. So, you know this match will generate massive interest, especially from the poker boom era crowd and the casual poker audience.

But there’s one issue we haven’t yet addressed, and that is, will it ever take place? It’s clear that Negreanu is down for the challenge. Hellmuth, however, we don’t yet know and even if he accepts, don’t bet on it being a 25,000-hand challenge or even close to that lengthy.

The 15-time WSOP bracelet winner, in the above video touted his supposed impeccable record in heads-up poker.

“I’ve won 29 of my last 30 heads-up matches,” Hellmuth claims. “I won the last heads-up tournament I played in, and so I think I’ve only lost once to Cary Katz.”

On the surface, Hellmuth’s heads-up resume is quite strong. In 2005, he won the NBC National Heads-Up Championship and finished runner-up in 2013. He recently defeated Antonio Esfandiari on PokerGo in three straight matches. And he even beat Doug Polk and Dan “Jungleman” Cates in a four-player “King of the Hill” competition on Poker Night in America.

But what he isn’t mentioning in the video is that those wins, albeit impressive, were small sample sizes. The matches only lasted a couple hundred hands, or less. Negreanu, on the other hand, faced Polk three times a week, two tables at a time online, over three months.

So, until we see Hellmuth win at heads-up over a reasonably large sample size, it’s difficult to assess his true abilities in that poker variant. Would he be willing to compete against Daniel Negreanu in a lengthy match of 20,000 or more hands to prove his skills? Don’t bet on it. And also don’t bet on Negreanu accepting a small sample size challenge.

With that said, if somehow they both come to terms and play, it would become the biggest match in poker history.

Jon Sofen

Written by

Jon Sofen

Semi-pro poker player with 17 years experience on the felt and more than five years working as professional poker media.

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Crown Resorts Limited feels the displeasure of investors

In Australia and the Consolidated Press Holdings Proprietary Limited (CPHPL) vehicle of billionaire businessman James Packer has reportedly severed its boardroom ties with prominent casino operator Crown Resorts Limited.

According to a Tuesday report from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the investments enterprise holds a preeminent 36% stake in the casino firm although it has now nevertheless terminated the consultancy contract it held with Crown Resorts Limited non-executive director John Poynton.

Voluminous vacuum:

The broadcaster reported that Poynton was the last remaining CPHPL appointee left on the board of Crown Resorts Limited following the Tuesday resignations of fellow non-executive directors Guy Jalland and Michael Johnston. Although the experienced businessman is to remain on the Sydney-listed casino firm’s board, the move purportedly means that its largest shareholder now effectively has no direct representation.

Rapid response:

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that CPHPL’s blow came only hours after a special inquiry being conducted by former New South Wales Supreme Court Judge Patricia Bergin had determined that the Melbourne-headquartered casino firm was currently unfit to hold a gambling license for its Crown Sydney development. This decision is purportedly now headed to the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority with its release having immediately sent the value of individual shares in Crown Resorts Limited down by some 9%.

Suitable step:

Philip Crawford (pictured) leads the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority and he reportedly told the broadcaster in advance of yesterday’s Johnston and Jalland resignations that Crown Resorts Limited would have to ‘blow itself up to save itself.’ When subsequently informed about the departures, he purportedly proclaimed that ‘somebody is listening to us and that’s really positive’ as the moves are destined to send ‘a big message to me and the media.’

Pertinent patience:

The Premier of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian, reportedly pronounced that the findings of the Bergin inquiry had been direct, thorough and clear and that she was now prepared to wait for specific recommendations and advice from the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority before proceeding further.

Berejiklian reportedly told the broadcaster…

It’s all there in black and white and I’m sure both Crown Resorts Limited and any other organization will read that report carefully and accept what action has to occur before anybody is able to have a licence in New South Wales. Anybody who wants to operate a casino in New South Wales has to stick to the rules, has to stick to the law. The government doesn’t apologize for upholding those high standards.”

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ARK Investment Management Buys More DraftKings Stock

Posted on: February 10, 2021, 08:58h. 

Last updated on: February 10, 2021, 11:13h.

Cathie Wood’s ARK Investment Management is rapidly building a sizable stake in DraftKings (NASDAQ:DKNG) stock.

DraftKings Stock
ARK Invest founder Cathie Wood at a Bloomberg conference last year. Her firm recently bought more DraftKings stock. (Image: Bloomberg)

The New York-based asset manager and exchange traded funds (ETFs) issuer bought another 443,500 shares of the daily fantasy sports (DFS) provider and online sports betting operator yesterday. That buy comes about a week after ARK purchased 620,300 shares of DraftKings stock, adding the name to the roster of the ARK Next Generation ETF (NYSEARCA:ARKW).

The Feb. 9 purchase of the gaming company’s equity is also being directed to ARKW. Of ARK’s five actively managed ETFs, the $5.27 billion ARKW is the most practical destination for DraftKings.

ARKW is an actively managed ETF that seeks long-term growth of capital by investing under normal circumstances primarily (at least 80 percent of its assets) in domestic and U.S. exchange traded foreign equity securities of companies that are relevant to the Fund’s investment theme of next generation internet,” according to the issuer.

ARKW usually holds 35 to 50 stocks — it’s at 56 today — with components spanning big data, cloud computing, cybersecurity, e-commerce, internet of things and social media companies. DraftKings was one of three buys ARK made yesterday for ARKW.

Why It’s Important for DraftKings Stock

Following a reverse merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC), DraftKings went public last April. With the US sports betting market rapidly evolving and more states joining the fray, there’s been plenty of hoopla along the way for the stock.

Fund managers were quick to join the DraftKings stock party. The Roundhill Sports Betting & iGaming ETF (NYSE:BETZ) was the first passive fund to own sportsbook operator’s shares at a notable percentage. Today, 51 ETFs, including ARK’s ARKW, have positions in the name, according to ETF Research Center data.

DraftKings accounts for just 0.99 percent of ARKW. That makes it the fund’s number 43 holding. The stock’s inclusion in an ARK fund is a potential boon for investors because of the firm’s track record of identifying high-growth names before those stocks really take off. The firm is a long-time Tesla bull, and was among the first to embrace what are now some of the biggest players in fintech, robotics, and streaming entertainment segments, among other niches.

Mobile games and esports tournament provider Skillz Inc. (NYSE:SKLZ) is also an ARKW component, and is the only other gaming name currently held by ARK.

Still a Ways to Go

As of Feb. 9, ARK’s DraftKings stake stands at 1.36 million shares valued at $84.75 million, according to issuer data.

That’s notable, but not enough to put the fund manager among the top 20 institutional owners of DraftKings stock. The smallest member of that group, Geode Capital Management, owns 2.04 million shares of DraftKings, or 0.54 percent of the gaming company’s outstanding equity.

At 21.71 million shares, Raine Group is the biggest external owner of DraftKings stock. That firm was an early investor in the gaming company. The largest fund manager involved in the name is Vanguard at 20.75 million shares. Combined, Raine and Vanguard own 11 percent of DraftKings’ shares outstanding.

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Business, Denmark
Sports betting reclaims Denmark’s gambling revenue crown in Q4


Sports betting reclaimed its role as Denmark’s top revenue vertical in the final quarter of 2020, despite online casino apparently having the devil in its corner. Figures released Wednesday by Denmark’s Spillemyndigheden regulatory agency show locally licensed gambling operators generated revenue of DKK1.72b (US$281.2m) in the three months ending December 30, up 6.6% from the final quarter of 2019 and 12.5% better than the market reported in Q3 2020. Sports betting led Q4’s charge with DKK724m, up 16.6% year-on-year and a damn sight better than the DKK558m reported in Q3 2020. In fact, Q4 was betting’s best quarter last year, which otherwise suffered from pandemic-related shutdowns that began in the latter part of Q1. Online casino revenue ranked second with a devilish return of DKK666m, up 16.2% year-on-year and a slightly higher sequential gain from Q3. But Q4’s total was slightly below the DKK673m peak in Q2, when the absence of major sports pushed Danes to explore other gaming verticals. Slots claimed a nearly three-quarter slice of Q4’s casino pie. Denmark’s land-based gaming verticals weren’t nearly as fortunate in Q4, as the nation headed into its second pandemic lockdown in November. Gaming machines in slots halls saw revenue fall more than one-fifth year-on-year to DKK266m, better than the DKK100m low-water mark reported in Q2, but still. Land-based casinos suffered a similar fate, falling 23.3% to just DKK69m. It’s worth noting that Q4 saw the rollout of state-run Danske Spil’s new Sikkert Spil (Safe Play) player ID system, so land-based gamblers were facing increased regulatory hurdles in addition to social gathering restrictions.  For 2020 as a whole, sports betting revenue totaled DKK2.29b, down 8.5% from 2019 and the vertical’s first annual revenue reversal since the regulated market’s 2012 launch. Despite the sports disruptions, online casino revenue rose only 5% to DKK2.45b, well below 2019’s 8.1% year-on-year improvement and the lowest annual gain since 2012. Both slots halls (DKK986m, -29%) and casinos (DKK239m, -31.5%) reported all-time lows in 2020. All told, Denmark’s overall gambling market (not counting horseracing and lotteries) saw its annual revenue fall 9.2% to just under DKK6b.

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Uncategorized
Red Rock Keeping Palms Closed for Now, Focusing on Cash Flow

Posted on: February 10, 2021, 10:03h. 

Last updated on: February 10, 2021, 11:07h.

Red Rock Resorts (NASDAQ:RRR) isn’t planning to reopen Palms Las Vegas or its three other shuttered gaming outlets sooner than expected. Instead, the company will wait out Sin City’s slow coronavirus recovery while emphasizing free cash flow generation at venues that are operational.

Palms Las Vegas
The Palms Las Vegas, seen here. Operator Red Rock Resorts is keeping the venue closed for the time being. (Image: USA Today)

Executives delivered the comments regarding the closed properties yesterday on the company’s fourth-quarter earnings conference call with analysts. Buoyed by stout earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) and rising margins, the Station Casinos operator delivered better than expected results, sending its shares to a 52-week high today.

Last June, Red Rock filed documents with the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) to keep Fiesta Henderson, Fiesta Rancho, Palms, and Texas Station closed through June 30, 2021.

Although Red Rock’s fourth-quarter net revenue and adjusted EBITDA slumped on a year-over-year basis, due in large part to the aforementioned quartet of casinos being closed, adjusted EBITDA and margins impressed. The gaming company said adjusted EBITDA for the last three months of 2020 surged 16 percent, while adjusted EBITDA margin increased 832 basis points.

Palms, Others Take Back Seat to Cash Flow

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many gaming operators are emphasizing cash flow, leaner operations, and stronger balance sheets. Red Rock is part of that club.

During the October through December period, the gaming company converted 76 percent of adjusted EBITDA to free cash flow. This is the equivalent of $114.7 million, or 98 cents a share. From June through the end of 2020, Red Rock $259.1 million of free cash “with virtually every dollar going to pay down debt and improve our financial flexibility, as we look to emerge from the pandemic,” said CFO Stephen Cootey.

That’s a sizable amount of free cash relative to the company’s market capitalization of $3.10 billion and indicates the operator can afford to be pragmatic in reopening the aforementioned venues.

Another tidbit from the conference call: Unlike prior calls, there’s was no direct mention from analysts of the Palms perhaps being sold. Fertitta previously rebuffed those rumors. On Tuesday, Cootey said, “Everything is on the table and it’s all value-related.” But that comment didn’t include mention of a specific venue.

Red Rock’s Favorable Traits

In a note to clients today, Macquarie gaming analyst Chad Beynon reminds investors that Red Rock owns all of its real estate and another 475 gaming-entitled acres in Nevada. These holdings are worth $3 a share and could be monetized if the company needs cash.

Citing Las Vegas’s strong population growth, steady housing market, and supply restriction, the analyst said the locals gaming market — Red Rock’s core clientele — is attractive from an investment perspective.

Beynon rates Red Rock “outperform,” with a price target of $33, which is up from $30 and implies upside of more than 10 percent from current levels.

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GGPoker Pennsylvania FAQ – everything you need to know about GGPoker and their efforts to receive a license in PA

The GGPoker network is one of the few poker networks that made its inception post Black Friday. It launched as a B2B network in 2014 and debuted its own poker client GGPoker in 2018.

Today it has grown to become one of the largest online poker networks in the world and is the main competitor of online poker giant PokerStars. The network is represented by some of the biggest names in the poker industry, including Daniel Negreanu, Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier and Fedor Holz.

It made a big stride in 2020 by partnering with big live tours such as the World Series of Poker to host the WSOP online bracelet events for international players for the first time. It also collaborated with the World Poker Tour (WPT), Asian Poker Tour (APT) and Battle of Malta (BoM) live tours.

GGPoker Network is regulated by the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission. It also holds a gaming license from the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) and also has a B2B license from the Malta Gambling Authority (MGA)

The network is now eyeing the US online poker regulated market. It recently obtained an Interactive Gaming Manufacturer license in the state of Pennsylvania.

When is GGPoker Expected to Launch in Pennsylvania?

On February 10, GGPoker’s parent company NSUS Group was awarded a license for Interactive Gaming Manufacturer by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB).

The manufacturing license allows NSUS to offer software technology for online poker or online casino.

Before it could bring its services to the Keystone State with its own branding, it would first need to partner with a land-based casino or one of the approved Qualified Gaming Entities. It would then have to obtain Interactive Gaming Operator’s license.

Given that the process is expected to take time, it looks unlikely that GGPoker will be up and running in Pennsylvania before the second half of 2021.

What Sign Up or Welcome Bonuses Will be Available at the Time of Launch of GGPoker PA?

With PokerStars already established in Pennsylvania and with more operators coming up, GGPoker is likely to have to up its game when it comes to offering bonuses to new players.

In the dot-com client, GGPoker offers one of the best welcome bonuses in the industry so expect a similar generous sign up bonus once it goes live in Pennsylvania.

As of now, players on GGPoker‘s global client are welcomed with two options:

  • 100% Deposit Match Bonus up to $600
  • $100 in rewards when they make their first deposit of $20 or more.

Similar welcome bonuses are likely to be available to Pennsylvania players once the site goes live.

What Kind of Promotions Are Expected to be Offered on GGPoker PA?

There is no shortage of promotions on GGPoker’s global dot-com client.

The promotions can differ a bit due to regulatory reasons but poker players in the Keystone State can be rest assured that compared to its competitors, GGPoker PA’s promotional offers are likely to be very generous.

Look for GGPoker PA to offer a constant stream of promotions covering all game types every month.

Expected promotions on GGPoker PA:

  • Leaderboard races covering both Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha
  • Constant giveaways
  • Jackpot prizes
  • Big-size online MTT series

What Tournament Offerings Will be Available on GGPoker PA?

GGPoker offers a strong line-up of tournaments for its international players. It runs all kind of formats including:

  • Freezeouts & Re-Entries
  • Bounty Hunters
  • Short Deck MTTs
  • Short-Stacked Progressive Knockouts
  • Hyper-Turbos
  • High Rollers

Pennsylvania players should hope to see a similar type of tournament offerings once GGPoker PA is launched.

Will GGPoker PA Offer GGMasters in Pennsylvania?

This seems very likely. GGMasters has been one of GGPoker’s most successful tournament brands. It is the operator’s signature freezeout tournament brand that started as a single tournament featuring a $250,000 guarantee for a buy-in of $150.

Today, it has expanded to seven tournaments running every day and boasting weekly guarantees of at least $2.5 million. It now comes in three different buy-ins: $25, $150 and $1000.

Pennsylvania players should definitely look out for GGMasters once it goes live.

How Good is GGPoker’s Software?

GGPoker’s online poker software is considered one of the best online poker platforms in the industry. What makes it different from its competitors is that it comes up with dozen of unique features not seen anywhere.

It has its own poker analysis and financial tool, PokerCraft, available to all players for free. It also has its own built-in Heads Up Display (HUD) with basic statistics on opponents such as lifetime tournament winnings and win/loss personal record in cash games, preflop playing style, and more.

It also supports the Tournament Staking platform, a Final Table Betting feature, SnapCam, which lets players record short “reaction” videos and send them to players at the tables.

Additionally, GGPoker also offers an All-In Insurance feature allowing players to protect themselves from a bad beat by insuring their hands.

However, most of these features will require regulatory approvals before they can become available to Pennsylvania players.

We believe the following features will be available once GGPoker PA goes live:

  • PokerCraft
  • Run It Thrice
  • Rabbit Hunt
  • Bubble Protection/Early Bird
  • Card Squeezing
  • Smart Betting
  • SnapCam
  • Dance Emotes

What Kind of Game Offerings are Expected to be Available on GGPoker PA?

GGPoker is yet to launch in Pennsylvania so it is hard to tell which games and tournaments will be part of the game offerings with certainty.

However, based on the operator’s game offerings on its global client, we can assume that Pennsylvania players will have a similar game selection but with some limitations.

In the dot-com client, GGPoker offers one of the most diverse game offerings in the industry. These include the traditional cash games and tournaments in both Hold’em and Omaha variants; a fast-fold cash game variant which it calls Rush & Cash; a preflop game called All-In or Fold where players only have two options at the start of hand; a lottery-style Sit & Go tournament dubbed Spin & Gold and Flip & Go—operator’s unique tournament offering in which players straight away jump into the money.

Besides, GGPoker also offers ultra-popular progressive knockouts, multi-flight tournaments, freezeouts & re-entries, short deck tournaments, hyper turbos. Expect all these tournament formats to be part of GGPoker PA offerings along with the standard affair of cash games.

Games such as the fast-fold variant require liquidity so it is unlikely to be part of GGPoker PA’s initial offering. Spin & Gold is another format that is unlikely to be offered to Keystone players due to regulatory reasons.

No traditional Sit & Go’s are offered in the dot-com client, so it is unlikely this format will be available on GGPoker PA once it goes live.

What Poker Variants are Likely to be Available on GGPoker PA?

The international GGPoker client currently offers Hold’em, Omaha and Short Deck poker variants. The site is considering adding 5 Card Omaha and Pineapple Open Face Chinese variants too.

However, it is expected that the GGPoker client in Pennsylvania will initially only offer

Will Players on GGPoker PA be Able to Play Against the International Pool on GGPoker?

No. Regulated online poker in the US is ring-fenced, meaning players can only compete against other players within the state. There is Multi State Internet Gaming Agreement in place that allows operators in states where online poker is regulated to share the player pool with other states within the country.

As of now, the interstate shared liquidity agreement is signed by three states: Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey. Pennsylvania is expected to join the agreement with other states.

However, for GGPoker to share its player pool, it must be operating in at least two states. There is no indication yet the the operator has sought approval in other states as yet.

Latest News on GGPoker PA:




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Canada, iLottery, online casino, Sports betting
Playing With Fire: Nova Scotia Shutters Gambling Awareness Program While Considering Legal Online Casino Gaming

Dreamstime/Andres Barrionuevo Lopez

Gambling Awareness Nova Scotia (GANS) is no more.
Nova Scotia’s Department of Health (DOH) quietly shuttered the non-profit, arms-length government organization in late 2020. Its functions were research, prevention, and awareness campaigns related to gambling addiction. GANS was responsible for receiving and distributing funds to support communities in their efforts to reduce problem gambling’s damaging effects.
Those funds come from a percentage of video lottery terminal (VLT) revenues, matched by Gaming Nova Scotia. The money, along with GANS’s core functions, have been folded back into the general coffer for Mental Health and Addictions at the DOH.
The move’s timing is being panned by critics. They cite the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Atlantic Lottery Corporation’s (ALC) plans to expand online casino gaming to most Atlantic provinces.
“This is the time when people are most vulnerable,” says Bruce Dienes, chair of Gambling Risk Informed Nova Scotia, a non-profit aiming to reduce harms associated with gambling, in a recent report by the CBC on GANS’s dissolution. “In the middle of COVID … isn’t there more of a need to do this prevention work and community awareness work?”
ALC adds casino games amid pandemic profit crunch
ALC launched online casino games in New Brunswick as a pilot project in August 2020. Six months later, spurred by falling profits, it is preparing to do the same in Nova Scotia and PEI. So far, there are no similar plans for Newfoundland.
The high stakes limits it has set have been the focus of much of the criticism. Currently, ALC’s online casino allows players to gamble up to $100 per pull on slots. One blackjack games allows bets of up to $500 on a single hand. By contrast, New Brunswick VLTs are capped at a maximum of $2.50 per spin.
ALC defends the higher maximums as necessary to compete against offshore sites. These operate in largely unregulated fashion and often have no limits at all. Nonetheless, those on the front lines of gambling addiction predict that the increased limits and new products will compound the problem.
Another CBC report on the proposed expansion included comments from Elizabeth Stephen, a Halifax-based therapist with over 20-years of experience treating gambling addictions. She says that the ALC’s online casino will further legitimize gambling. She fears it will attract players who would never brave an offshore site.
Stephen believes that if the provinces allow online gambling, the regulations should be even stricter than in person play. Since the opposite seems to be the case on ALC’s pilot site, she expects addictions to soar along with profits.
“From my perspective, the risks far outweigh the profits,” says Stephen. “Someone has to lose in order for us to make money.”
Stakes are high as federal government eyes sports betting
Stakes are exceptionally high as the federal government has seemingly changed its tune on sports betting. Members of the ruling Liberal minority now back the push to legalize single-event sports betting in Canada. They had previously resisted the call from opposition parties since coming into power in 2015.
To date, the only legal form of sports betting in Canada has been parlay tickets such as Pro-Line, offered through provincial lotteries. But, with the tabling of Bill C-13 by Minister of Justice David Lametti in late November 2020, it looks as though the Federal Government is getting closer to removing the federal prohibition on single-game wagering. The goal is to recapture some of the estimated $14 billion Canadians spend annually on sports betting on offshore sites.
The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on Canadian gambling revenues, as it has across industries. A year in, operators and governments are feeling the pinch more than ever. Moreover, the nascent US sports betting market is growing explosively. This, in turn, is making it harder for Canadian casino operators to compete with cross-border competition, especially as states like Michigan enter the fray.
It’s a problem, however, that provinces are clawing back much-needed supports just as the Canadian gambling industry is set to explode. Online casinos and sports betting represent a huge opportunity. However, they come with additional risks. If provinces are going to pursue this opportunity, they have an obligation to mitigate those risks at the same time.
Provinces hedge their bets
Nova Scotia’s move to dissolve GANS isn’t the only example. In 2019, Ontario shuttered Gambling Research Exchange Ontario. As the name suggests, this organzation was dedicated to studying problem gambling. Doug Ford’s provincial government shut it down just as the province began its push to privatize online casinos.
More troubling still are recent legislative changes by New Brunswick (2019) and Nova Scotia (early 2020). These are designed to protect the government, its ministers, lotto corporations, and operators from class-action lawsuits and punitive damages related to gambling.
(The Nova Scotia Department of Health did not respond to inquiries about the shuttering of GANS, ALC’s proposed expansion, and changes to liability legislation).
One of the main advantages legalized, regulated gambling has over the black market is its potential to be safer for players and communities. Realizing that potential, however, requires that legislators and regulators take their responsibilities seriously.
If they fail in their jobs, even regulated markets can exhibit the same sorts of problems that plague the offshore industry. In Canada, such problems are already apparent in British Columbia, where lax government oversight of high-stakes betting opened the door to money laundering.
The goal is to build a sustainable gambling industry, both retail and online. Doing that means striking the correct balance between profitability and harm reduction. Increasing government revenue through legal gambling is good only so long as some of that money goes towards addictions support, awareness and other initiatives.
To get there we need industry and regulators to work together to raise the bar, not lower it. If we can do that, we may all win.

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