First Look at Futures Betting Odds for Super Bowl 53

First Look at Futures Betting Odds for Super Bowl 53

With the city of Philadelphia still celebrating a Super Bowl championship that was 52 years in the making, oddsmakers are already looking ahead to next year’s title tilt.

According to online sportsbook Bovada – which released its opening odds in the immediate aftermath of Sunday’s supersized shootout – the Eagles are (+900) to win Super Bowl 53.

Only one team in the NFL offers better odds and that’s the New England Patriots (+400), the runners up in one of the more entertaining Super Bowls in recent memory. But with the Pats securing a Super Bowl berth in three of the last four seasons – and four out of the last seven for that matter – their placement at the top of the table certainly makes sense.

Even so, it won’t be the same Patriots juggernaut football fans have reckoned with during the Belichick/Brady dynasty. Sure, those two will be back in the fold for 2018, but defensive coordinator Matt Patricia has already been hired away as the new head coach in Detroit, while offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is widely expected to take the head coach position in Indianapolis.

Throw in star tight end Rob Gronkowski’s refusal to recommit for next year during the postgame press conference – following a pair of concussions in a single month – and shutdown corner Malcolm Butler’s inexplicable benching, and the Patriots could be a different team altogether going forward.

As for the Eagles, career backup quarterback turned Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles will almost certainly be traded. With his stock at an all-time high, and starter Carson Wentz recovering well from his season-ending leg injury, the sparkplug who powered three straight postseason wins as an underdog will likely suit up for another squad next year.

Adding to the intrigue, Philadelphia is currently more than $ 9 million over the salary cap, so roster upheaval is to be expected.

Joining the Eagles as favorites to represent the NFC are the Green Bay Packers (+900), a team which will benefit immensely from the return of quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The Pack went 4-1 before Rodgers went down last season, notching impressive wins over the Seahawks and Cowboys before Rodgers’ season was cut short. With a full 16-game schedule to work with, there’s every reason to believe Rodgers’ return will key a renaissance in Green Bay.

From there, the betting board is dominated by NFC contenders, as nine of the top 12 teams per Bovada odds hail from the same conference.

The Minnesota Vikings, who were just one win away from hosting their own Super Bowl, are fourth-best at (+1200).

The Dallas Cowboys, a talented team that took a step back after 2016’s playoff run, could be a bargain at (+1800).

The same can be said for a trio of playoff participants from this season, as the L.A. Rams, the New Orleans Saints, and the Atlanta Falcons can also be backed at (+1800).

In the surprise department, the San Francisco 49ers moved from (+10000) in last year’s post-Super Bowl odds to (+1800) this time around. The addition of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo transformed the Niners from a 1-10 doormat into a powerhouse, with San Francisco closing the year on a five-game winning streak.

And speaking of last year’s odds, the Eagles were tabbed as (+5000) longshots this time last year. Bettors looking for a longshot at the same price have the Buccaneers, Cardinals, Giants, Lions, Titans, and Redskins to choose from.

Check below for a full lineup of all 32 teams along with their initial odds to win Super Bowl 53:

Team SB Odds on 2/5/18
New England Patriots +400
Philadelphia Eagles +900
Green Bay Packers +900
Minnesota Vikings +1200
Pittsburgh Steelers +1400
Dallas Cowboys +1800
L.A. Rams +1800
New Orleans Saints +1800
Atlanta Falcons +1800
San Francisco 49ers +1800
Carolina Panthers +2500
Houston Texans +2500
Seattle Seahawks +2500
Jacksonville Jaguars +2500
Kansas City Chiefs +2800
Denver Broncos +3300
Indianapolis Colts +3300
L.A. Chargers +3300
Oakland Raiders +3300
Baltimore Ravens +4000
Detroit Lions +5000
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +5000
Arizona Cardinals +5000
New York Giants +5000
Tennessee Titans +5000
Washington Redskins +5000
Buffalo Bills +6600
Cincinnati Bengals +6600
Miami Dolphins +6600
New York Jets +6600
Chicago Bears +7500
Cleveland Browns +10000

 

 

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Golden Nugget NJ Becomes First iGaming Platform in U.S. to Offer Live Dealer Casino Hold’em

Golden Nugget NJ Becomes First iGaming Platform in U.S. to Offer Live Dealer Casino Hold’em

Online gaming enthusiasts in New Jersey received another gift from GoldenNuggetCasino.com in the days before Christmas, when the site launched the first live dealer Casino Hold’em tables in the country.

Since rolling out live dealer Casino Hold’em on December 23, the primary iGaming platform operated by Golden Nugget Atlantic City has run the game on a daily basis between 3 p.m. and 3 a.m. local time.

Live dealer games connect online casino players directly to a dedicated studio built within the Golden Nugget casino. From there, professional dealers operate genuine cards and other casino equipment while running real table games, including blackjack, baccarat, and roulette. Players at home are able to place bets and sweat the action in real time, without worrying about the integrity of unseen random number generators and other risk factors associated with traditional online gambling.

Casino Hold’em is a variant on classic Texas Hold’em, designed in 2000 by Stephen Au-Yeung to be played as a house-banked table game. Players begin by placing an ante bet in exchange for a two-card starting hand, while the dealer takes their own two-card holding. After three community cards, called the “flop,” have been dealt, the player may opt to fold and forfeit their ante bet, or place an additional bet of equal size to call.

Upon calling, two more community cards are dealt (the “turn” and “river”), at which point the player and the dealer expose their starting cards. Using any combination of those two cards and the community cards, players make their best possible five-card poker hand in hopes of beating the dealer for an even money payout. Additionally, players can win progressively larger prizes using the Ante-Win pay table by forming high hands (four of a kind, straight flush, etc).

Golden Nugget became the first legal and regulated iGaming operator in America to offer Casino Hold’em as a live dealer game.

In a public statement, Golden Nugget’s senior vice president and general manager of online gaming Thomas Winter celebrated the historic product launch:

“Being the first to offer a Live Dealer version of the world’s most popular poker game in America, Casino Hold’em, shows our commitment to delivering on an innovative and world-class product to our patrons.

Our patrons have asked, and we are happy to deliver, on this request using our unique live-dealer digital platform.”

The new Casino Hold’em tables are operated in conjunction with Ezugi, a company specializing in furnishing live dealer studios and products. In August of 2016, Ezugi partnered with the Golden Nugget Atlantic City to construct the first live dealer facility serving the regulated American iGaming market.

Kfir Kugler, who serves as chief executive officer for Ezugi New Jersey, offered his own statement on the addition of Casino Hold’em:

“We are again honored to partner with GoldenNuggetCasino.com and Golden Nugget Atlantic City to bring the first ever online live dealer Casino Hold’em to America and New Jersey.

America is in love with poker, and by using the Live Dealer platform, the game retains its strong connection between the player and the dealer in a live environment.”

In July of 2016, the month before becoming the online live dealer provider in New Jersey, GoldenNuggetCasino.com generated just over $ 3.7 million in monthly casino revenue – just ahead of larger and more well-established competitors like Borgata ($ 3.3 million) and Tropicana ($ 3.2 million).

By December of that year, with live dealer games proving especially popular with players, the site jumped to $ 4.7 million in monthly revenue while Borgata and Tropicana both dipped to $ 3 million.

At the time, Winter attributed the site’s dominant market share directly to the introduction of live dealer games.

Today, the Golden Nugget remains the lone provider of live dealer products in the state, both through GoldenNuggetCasino.com and fellow licensee Betfair.

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Lottoland Online Lottery Exchange Launches World’s First Bitcoin Lotto Jackpot

Lottoland Online Lottery Exchange Launches World’s First Bitcoin Lotto Jackpot

Lottoland has taken the gambling world by storm over the last year, and the Gibraltar-based company has its sights set on the Bitcoin boom for 2018 and beyond.

In a press release issued on December 18, Lottoland announced the launch of what it calls the “world’s first officially licensed Bitcoin lotto jackpot.”

Beginning that same day, the Lottoland website began accepting wagers on its new Bitcoin Lotto, which was seeded with a jackpot of 1,000 BTC.

Lottoland’s founder and chief executive officer Nigel Birrell issued a statement celebrating the impending Bitcoin integration:

“We’re pleased to be able to announce the launch of this world exclusive Bitcoin jackpot.

Today, 1,000 Bitcoins are worth over $ 20 million and might be worth even more by tomorrow.

Bitcoin is a worldwide phenomenon, and Lottoland is giving our customers the opportunity to get involved.”

Birrell mentioned a jackpot equivalent to over $ 20 million, but the cryptocurrency craze has seen Bitcoin’s value fluctuate wildly in recent weeks. At the current exchange rate, Lottoland’s jackpot would be worth USD$ 15,849,995 as of December 20.

The business model pioneered by Lottoland is based on allowing bettors access to international lottery draws. Because most state-supervised lottery programs prohibit foreign players from entering, Lottoland doesn’t sell actual lotto tickets. Instead, the site allows players to place wagers on the results of lotto draws like the U.S. Powerball, the EuroMillions, and Germany’s Lotto 6 aus 49.

When a winner matches their numbers to the numbers pulled in the actual draw, Lottoland pays out the corresponding jackpot on its own, using a €100 million (AUD $ 118 million) policy underwritten by Insurance-Linked Security.

Thus far, Lottoland has paid out more than $ 1.25 billion to winning players while serving 13 international markets, including Canada, Australia, and the U.K.

Lottoland’s newly launched Bitcoin Lotto relies on the Spanish lottery Sorteos de BonoLoto to produce its winning numbers. Sorteos de BonoLoto – operated by the Spanish government since 1988 – utilizes the standard “6 from 49” lotto system, in which players select six numbers from a set of 1-49 in hopes of matching all six to trigger the jackpot.

The Sorteos de Bonoloto holds drawings every day of the week except Sundays, so Lottoland players will have six opportunities per week to participate in the Bitcoin Lotto.

The Lottoland website’s Bitcoin page describes the setup as follows:

“When you bet on Bitcoin Lotto at Lottoland, you are betting on the outcome of the six main numbers drawn from the Bonoloto (the “Complementario” and “Reintegro” numbers do not affect the Bitcoin Lotto).

This incredible Bitcoin jackpot is the first of its kind and you won’t find anything like it anywhere else.

Furthermore, Lottoland will be increasing the Bitcoin jackpot from time to time, so you can continually play for bigger and bolder Bitcoin bonanzas.”

The cost of a single entry in the Bitcoin lotto is set at £3, and the odds of matching all six numbers on a single ticket stand at 1 in 13,983,816.

That’s certainly a longshot, but as Lottoland makes clear in its FAQ section, players face odds up to 10 times worse when playing EuroMillions. And indeed, the odds of winning the Powerball jackpot stand at 1 in 292,201,338 – or more than 20 times worse than the Bitcoin lotto.

Players aren’t obligated to match all six numbers either, as Lottoland uses a tiered payout system to dispense supplementary prizes. Tier 1 is the primary 1,000 BTC jackpot for landing a six-number sweep, but matching five numbers correctly (1 in 55,492 odds) is good enough for the Tier 2 prize of 1 BTC.

From there, players matching two, three, or four numbers will receive standard prizes of £1, £5, and £50, respectively.

 

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Pennsylvania Senate Passes State’s First iGaming Bill; Massachusetts Senator Slows Momentum

Pennsylvania Senate Passes State’s First iGaming Bill; Massachusetts Senator Slows Momentum

When legislative sessions commenced across the country to begin the year, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts were considered likely candidates to legalize and regulate online gambling.

But after a whirlwind week of legislative action in both states, only Pennsylvania appears to be pushing forward on the iGaming front, with Massachusetts punting on the issue until next year.

On May 23, the Pennsylvania Senate Community, Economic & Recreational Development Committee passed H-271 via an 11-3 vote. That same day, the Senate Appropriations Committee also moved the bill – which calls for the regulation of online slots, casino games, poker, and daily fantasy sports (DFS) – forward by a 24-2 margin.

One day later, the full Senate voted 38-12 in favor of passing Pennsylvania’s first online gambling bill.

Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa (D-Allegheny) – who sponsored his own iGaming legislation this year and has been a vocal supporter of the issue – spoke from the Senate floor on the importance of retaining iGaming enthusiasts and the revenue streams they create:

“To not have those folks, we lose business along those lines, but more importantly, we lose an opportunity, an opportunity to have people who would be playing in that space.”

The Senate estimates that online gambling license fees and yearly taxation will generate between $ 110 million and $ 147 million next year, badly needed funds that have already been earmarked by Governor Tom Wolf to help resolve the state’s budget deficit.

Those projections are largely based on licensing fees, which H-271 sets at $ 5 million apiece for online poker and casino platforms – and $ 10 million for operators choosing to offer both. With up to 12 iGaming licenses slated to be issued, one for each of the state’s current land-based gambling licensees, garnering an eight-figure sum should be an attainable goal.

However, by passing H-271 and not one of three other iGaming bills introduced this year, Pennsylvania opted for the highest proposed tax rate of 54 percent on slot/casino revenue (poker will be taxed at 16 percent). And as Steve Ruddock of Online Poker Report has pointed out, that enormous tax burden may be enough to force smaller sites to sit on the sidelines, as the current 17.5 percent tax on iGaming revenue in New Jersey allows operators to retain just 5 cents on every dollar earned.

The House of Representatives will review H-271 in June and add its own amendments, before voting to send the iGaming issue to Governor Wolf’s desk.

Unfortunately, players in Massachusetts will be forced to wait another year for iGaming to launch, after Senate President Stan Rosenberg (D-Amherst) halted all momentum on the issue:

In a recent interview with Boston Herald Radio, Rosenberg outlined the Senate’s strategic approach to handling the current push to regulate both online lottery sales alongside slots, casino games, and poker:

“Online lottery and online gaming are both issues that are being reviewed now to try to figure out how we manage the situation so we don’t hurt the Lottery.

And in the case of online gaming that we don’t hurt the casino industry we’re building in Massachusetts.
We could potentially act next year… potentially.”

The Massachusetts Senate passed an online lottery measure last year, but it eventually stalled within the House amidst concerns that internet sales would inordinately effect the state’s traditional lottery system.

The state did manage to sign a DFS bill into law last year, which triggered the creation of the Massachusetts Special Commission on Online Gaming, Fantasy Sports Gaming and Daily Fantasy Sports. The panel was tasked with studying the latest online lottery and iGaming bills introduced to begin 2017, and their recommendations are scheduled to be published on July 31.

Rosenberg has decided that the best course of action is to wait for the results of that report, before crafting new legislative language for introduction in 2018.

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

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.

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Michigan Joins the iGaming Fray by Introducing Four New Bills; First Clears Committee Vote

Michigan Joins the iGaming Fray by Introducing Four New Bills; First Clears Committee Vote

With the introduction of four separate bills on March 1, Michigan officially joined the race to become America’s fourth state to regulate online gambling.

At this early juncture in the legislative process, three of the four bills (Senate Bills 202, 204, and 205) are simply penal code supplements to S-203, known unofficially as the “Lawful Internet Gaming Act.”

That bill would create the regulatory framework for a legalized iGaming industry, under which anyone physically located within the state’s borders would be permitted to play online poker and casino games for real money.

Sponsored by state senator Mike Kowall, and co-sponsored by four other lawmakers, S-203 is an extension of similarly constructed iGaming legislation introduced by Kowall last year. The 2016 effort, known as S-889, was put forth in April and passed through the Senate Regulatory Reform Committee by an 8-1 margin, before stalling on the full Senate floor.

On March 8 of this year, the same Senate committee – of which Kowall is a member – voted to move his new S-203 forward in a 7-1 vote.

During the hearing, executive director of the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) John Pappas praised Kowall’s construction of S-203:

“For more than a decade the PPA has been at the forefront of advocating for sensible public policy that authorizes and regulates internet gaming. We know a good bill when we see it, and that is why I would like to thank Senator Mike Kowall for his leadership on this issue.

Moving a poker game from the kitchen table to the computer table is just another part of the way the internet has transformed our lives – extending oversight into internet gaming is simply a reflection of our modern-day society.

Michigan can choose to ignore the internet, or it can embrace it for the benefit of its citizens and its economy.”

Along with Kowall, each of the bill’s five co-sponsors – state senators Curtis Hertel, Bert Johnson, Rick Jones, Marty Knollenberg, and Rebekah Warren – serve on the committee.

And while this passage was widely expected based on last year’s vote, the expedited nature of the committee vote provides lawmakers with additional time to debate the finer points and find compromise.

Those finer points give state regulators one year from the time S-203 is signed into law to create regulatory frameworks to govern a statewide iGaming industry. From there, only brick and mortar casinos already operating within Michigan’s borders would be eligible to apply for an iGaming operator’s license.

In a departure from the model established by Nevada, New Jersey, and Delaware, the number of such licenses to be awarded would not be capped.

Users would need to prove that they are 21 years or older in order to play, and geolocation would be used to ensure that all players are physically located within the state’s jurisdictional boundaries.

Crucially, the law allows Michigan to enter into interstate player sharing agreements with fellow iGaming-legal states. In the estimation of iGaming experts, this provision is considered essential in ensuring continued player pool liquidity growth.

In addition to a 10 percent tax applied to annual gross gaming revenue, iGaming operators would pay a $ 200,000 fee for the first year of a five-year licensure period, followed by $ 100,000 each year thereafter.

The five-year platform provider licenses which would be awarded to companies like PokerStars and 888 Casino would follow a $ 100,000 / $ 50,000 payment scheme.

Finally, an annual appropriation of $ 5 million from combined online gaming revenue would be collected and distributed to the state’s First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund.

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Area iGaming Profession Groups New Every month Cashflow Release in The first of the year

Area iGaming Profession Groups New Every month Cashflow Release in The first of the year

Per the latest monthly revenue report issued by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE), the state’s online gambling industry began 2017 with a record-setting January.

All told, the five brick and mortar casino entities licensed to operate online gambling ventures generated $ 18.8 million in revenue last month. That figure represents a 28 percent rate of growth over January of 2016, when New Jersey’s iGaming industry recorded $ 13.3 million in revenue.

And while the state’s streak of nine consecutive months tallying year-on-year revenue growth of 30 percent or higher came to an end, that near miss still qualifies as a rousing success.

In terms of month-on-month growth, the entire industry experienced a 2.4 percent uptick from its revenue count in December of 2016.

Breaking the numbers down by game type, the online casino segment – which includes virtual slot machines and table games like blackjack and roulette – accounted for $ 16.5 million. That was good for a 32 percent rate of growth over the same period last year, while online casino revenue expanded by 1.2 percent over December’s mark.

The online poker segment contributed $ 2.34 million in revenue during January, or 8.7 percent more than the same period last year. But when comparing December of 2016 to January, online poker revenue spiked by 11 percent.

As far as the various licensed operators and their collection of online gambling products were concerned, the Golden Nugget’s licenses (Golden Nugget Casino, Betfair Casino, and Play SugarHouse) topped their competitors with $ 4,776,218 in combined revenue. That figure nearly matched the group’s record-setting performance in December – despite the Golden Nugget iGaming operation being limited to casino games only.

The group of Caesars Interactive Entertainment licenses (Caesars Casino, Harrah’s Casino, WSOP.com, and 888.com) were second-best with $ 4,032,263 in total monthly revenue. Of that amount, $ 3,318,899 was generated by casino play, while poker produced $ 713,364 more.

New Jersey also has Caesars licensees to thank for its strong online casino performance month-to-month, as its 10.80 percent rate of growth over December represented the only one over 0.51 percent within the industry.

Judging by market share, the Golden Nugget’s trio of licensees have made the greatest gains, while the Borgata’s four licensees (Borgata Casino, Borgata Poker, PartyPoker NJ, and Pala Casino) have slumped badly.

Back in May of 2016, the Golden Nugget group sat in fourth place in a five-horse race, holding only 19 percent of New Jersey’s iGaming industry market share. At that time, Borgata owned 24 percent market share and enjoyed a dominant position within the emerging industry.

When January’s numbers were in the books, however, Golden Nugget had jumped in front with 22 percent market share – while Borgata slipped into second place at 21 percent.

Industry experts point to Golden Nugget’s early adoption of Live Dealer online gaming – wherein players access live streamed footage of human dealers operating genuine casino equipment – as a key driver in the company’s recent iGaming surge.

Conversely, Borgata hitched its proverbial wagon to the poker sector, which has since been cornered by the arrival of PokerStars, the world’s leading online poker room.

Having contributed $ 2.8 million in tax revenue over January, the regulated iGaming industry which launched back in late 2013 has now contributed $ 75 million in taxes to New Jersey’s state coffers.

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PokerStars Secures First International iGaming Operator License Issued by the Czech Republic

PokerStars Secures First International iGaming Operator License Issued by the Czech Republic

Amid a spate of withdrawals from mid-level markets, including Israel and Slovenia in 2016, PokerStars recently secured another regional foothold in the Czech Republic.

The globally leading online poker company, which also operates a thriving online casino platform, issued a press release on January 31 to announce that it had been issued the first international operator license under the Czech government’s new iGaming regulation.

Per the press release, the newly launched PokerStars.cz domain will operate under the strict new licensing policies put in place by the Czech State Supervision of Gambling and Lotteries Department.

In June of 2016, the Czech president Miloš Zeman signed sweeping legislation to create, tax, and regulate a legal online gambling industry. The new laws were designed to replace the previous “grey zone” in which major iGaming companies like PokerStars, William Hill, and several others had been serving Czech players in a quasi-legal fashion for many years.

The U.K.-based sports betting titan William Hill pulled out of the Czech Republic ahead of the new laws being officially enacted on January 1 of this year, but PokerStars successfully applied to join a dozen domestic iGaming entities as the first international operator.

According to PokerStars chief operating officer Guy Templer, the company’s decision to remain in the market and participate in the regulatory process was a priority:

“We are very proud to be the first online casino and poker operator to be awarded a license and support the newly regulated Czech market.

This underscores our commitment to supporting local regulations and obtaining local licenses wherever possible.”

The iGaming legislation, which was authorized by the Czech legislature in a unanimous 42-0 vote, leans toward the restrictive end of the industry spectrum. Licensees will see their gross gaming revenue taxed at a rate of 35 percent, while a subsequent 19 percent corporate tax is also imposed.

Players will be forced to contend with curious burdens as well. The maximum allowable limit for a single online poker wager stands at 1,000 Czech koruna – or just under $ 41 – while winnings from any cash game or tournament cannot exceed 50,000 Czech koruna ($ 2,049).

One reason PokerStars chose to remain in the Czech market despite these impositions is the country’s status as a hotbed for European poker. The capital of Prague was a prime stop on the PokerStars-sponsored European Poker Tour (EPT) for several years, and the city is home to dozens of land-based casinos and card rooms.

According to the press release, PokerStars will connect players in the Czech Republic to “a wide range of poker games and tournament formats across its shared global liquidity.” In addition to poker, the company’s casino platform includes both Classic and Premium blackjack, along with European and Double Ball roulette tables.

The PokerStars.cz site can be accessed via desktop or laptop through the Windows and Mac operating systems, and mobile users on iOS or Android devices can also participate.

PokerStars parent company Amaya also billed itself as the “most licensed online gaming brand” in the statement, as the Czech Republic became the 17th country to award approval.

Sports betting enthusiasts will be glad to note that Amaya has also submitted an application on behalf of its BetStars online sportsbook brand.

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SuperSport Launches Croatia’s First Licensed Online Poker Room

SuperSport Launches Croatia’s First Licensed Online Poker Room

The small Eastern European nation of Croatia recently launched its first licensed online poker room, courtesy of local casino and sportsbook operator SuperSport.

Croatian law has allowed for a regulated online gambling industry since 2010, but it took until January 11 for the country to put the Ordinance on Interactive Online Casino Gaming into practice.

That law’s statutory language is quite strict, stipulating that online gambling licenses in Croatia will only be awarded to companies that operate at least one brick and mortar casino on local soil. As such, major worldwide operators like PokerStars and 888 Poker were effectively barred from entering the emerging Croatian market.

This left a void to be filled by domestic entities, one that SuperSport stepped in to fill. Having already established itself as a dominant force within the local gambling industry – by opening more than 300 live betting shops since 2004, and an online sportsbook in 2010 – SuperSport’s positioning for an online poker license was second to none.

Even so, as SuperSport Head of Poker Vedran Katic told PokerNews one day after the site launched, laying the groundwork for such an ambitious project took time:

“There were other bureaucratic and technical issues that prevented licenses to be issued until last year. The state lottery was the first to launch an online casino based off of the 2009 gaming regulations, which then made it possible for others to enter the market, because they covered all the problems connected to the whole infrastructure needed for the Ministry of Finance to be able to oversee all the concessions.”

Further complicating matters was a provision within the federal iGaming law which held that any necessary infrastructure must be built in Croatia.

This removed the option of outsourcing central tasks like computer coding and server management, leaving SuperSport to essentially build its own infrastructure system from the ground up:

“Developing poker software is very, very difficult. It is very complex for developers, who are usually not poker players themselves. We wanted to make custom branded software with the software being completed fresh. When players first sit down, they can feel like they haven’t seen it anywhere else before.”

In launching SuperSport Poker for the first time, the site’s developers chose to release a “beta” mode only for the purposes of direct player testing. On the first day of live play, SuperSport achieved a cash game volume peak of 190 players.

Although cash games are the primary focus for SuperSport at this time, the site also offers a limited tournament schedule. For now, the poker action is limited to No Limit Texas Hold’em, but Katic reports that additional variants like Pot Limit Omaha and Seven Card Stud are in the works.

The site’s primary audience thus far is local recreational players, so advanced analytical tools like heads-up displays (HUDs) preferred by professionals are not permitted. As Katic explained, the site’s objective is to build the largest possible pool of players, before expanding the scope of SuperSport Poker to mirror major online poker rooms worldwide:

“We want to develop in line with player liquidity that the poker network is going to bring. For example, if we want to have fast-fold poker, want to have lottery-style sit & go tournaments and want to have all these popular types of games, you have to have quite big liquidity.”

For now we are just focusing on the basics and we will have a mobile version and probably a web browser version in addition to the downloadable software currently available for both the PC and Mac.”

GambleOnline.co

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