John Cynn Claims WSOP 2018 Main Event Title, Wins $8.8M

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The 2018 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event spawned one of the most epic heads-up battles in the history of tournament poker and poker in general. The 10-hour long marathon eventually ended when John Cynn defeated Tony Miles heads-up thus winning the main event on Sunday morning and walking away with the crown of poker’s world championship and a whopping $8.8 million in prize money.

While still coming to terms with his epic win, Cynn made it clear that while the amount of the prize money was indeed overwhelmingly large and would significantly change his life, he does not want it to change who he is as a person.

“The money is very significant, but I do like to think that I don’t need the money to be happy,” he said. “But at the same time, practically, it’s going to make things a lot easier — things I want to do in life … even to my parents, this is money that they never could’ve imagined. It’s definitely going to be life-changing.”

When he was entering the 2018 World Series of Poker Main Event, John Cynn who is from Indianapolis had a little less than $1 million in career prize money. This did not stop him from having a pretty good run at the event which eventually brought him to the final table and it was then that he became assured that he would walk away with a huge win.

A Record-Breaking Showdown

Cynn’s and Tony Miles’ heads-up battle lasted over 10 hours but this was not the only record that they broke – the showdown also set the record for the most hands played  heads-up to close at a WSOP main event as well as the most total hands at a WSOP main event final table, that is, 199 and 442 respectively.

Even though Miles entered the day as the chip leader, he failed to outwit John Cynn but all was not lost as he still managed to walk away with $5.5 million for his second-place finish. He was, however, clearly disappointed with the result. Still, he had a perspective of how special the Main Event was for the poker industry as a whole.

“We’ve been playing on little to no sleep — the nerves and the angst that you feel at night, it’s almost impossible to get a good night’s rest,” Miles commented after the event. “Then you come in here and you have to battle for 12 hours heads-up. It was a war, and it was amazing. I’m sure it’ll go down and be chronicled in history as one of the best heads-up matches ever. I have a ton of respect for him. He’s going to be a great champion, and I’m really happy for him.”

The Final Table Results

1: John Cynn (US) $8,800,000

2: Tony Miles (US) $5,000,000

3: Michael Dyer (US) $3,750,000

4: Nicolas Manion (US) $2,825,000

5: Joe Cada (US) $2,150,000

6: Aram Zobian (US) $1,800,000

7: Alex Lynskey (AUS) $1,500,000

8: Artem Metalidi (UKR) $1,250,000

9: Antoine Labat (FRA) $1,000,000

Alleged Leader of Western Pa. Gambling Operation Charged

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Pennsylvania’s gambling industry has seen tremendous growth in the past several months, something that has brought more to the local players and improved the overall conditions of gaming. These developments have necessitated the need for more inspection and a monitoring as a means of ensuring that the necessary regulation of the field as well as the prevention of illegal gambling activities. The measures have been quite successful.

The most recent casualty of the anti-illegal gambling measures is Washington County man who was arrested last Thursday for allegedly running an illegal video gambling operation in a total of 33 bars and clubs for between 2006 and 2017. According to the Josh Shapiro, the state Attorney General, during the 11 years in within which the operation was conducted, its owner, 58-year-old Anthony Zenner, accrued over $7 million in illegal profits.

“Today we’ve ended Tony Zenner’s video gambling operation,” the Attorney General said in the press release. “This defendant raked in millions of dollars in illegal proceeds, draining money from Pennsylvanians – and from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania — over the last decade. These video poker machines – with the lure of the cash payout – are illegal gambling devices. We’ve taken action with the Pennsylvania State Police to shut his enterprise down.”

Mr. Zenner has been charged with dealing in proceeds or illegal activities and gambling devices as well as being part of a corrupt organization. The Attorney General further confirmed that Zenner’s Zenner Vending operation provided no less than 142 illegal gambling devices to restaurants, bars, and clubs in southwest Pennsylvania for nearly a decade.

The investigation into Zenner’s operations began in January 2016 after a review of gambling devices questionnaire that was completed by the owners of clubs and bars where illegal gambling machines were discovered and used to track down the vendors of the illegal gambling devices. This was then followed by the installation of undercover surveillance on the clubs and bars with illegal gambling machines that were provided by Zenner Vending.

Violation of Pennsylvania Gaming Laws

In the press release, Shapiro further mentioned that Zenner Vending made cash payouts to players who won credits on the illegal gaming machines. These cash payouts coupled with the poker machines that are games of chance made Zenner’s operation a violation of the state laws. Zenner’s machines were also found to contain “knock off” devices as well as an internal accounting feature that kept track of every player’s earned credits and winnings. He would also split the profit of his poker machines with the club, bar and restaurant owner usually one a 50-50 basis – it is estimated that his weekly profits summed up to about $14,470.

“Thanks to strong law enforcement collaboration with our partners in the Pennsylvania State Police and the effective use of a Statewide Investigating Grand Jury, this illegal gambling enterprise is over,” Shapiro added.

Three Pa. Casinos Apply for State’s First iGaming License

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Last Friday, after an incredibly long period of pessimistic speculation and uncertainty pertaining to the future of Pennsylvania’s online gambling industry, three casinos finally made the move to forward their applications for the first online gambling license. The casinos, Poconos-based Mt. Air, Parx Casino in Bethlehem and the Stadium Casino that is yet to be built in Philadelphia all hope to offer online gambling services in the near future. This, in essence, sets the ball rolling on the launch of legalized online casino gambling in the Keystone State which in the past couple months seemed to be almost stagnant.

According to Douglas Harbach, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) spokesperson, the three casino operators each filed a petition for the $10 million licenses on Friday. The licenses will allow them to offer interactive online gaming in three categories: non-peer-to-peer interactive table games; peer-to-peer interactive games like poker; and interactive games that simulate slot machines.

The license application period for all three categories of internet casino games remains open till Monday, July 16 for all of the Keystone State’s 13 casinos. When this period finally elapses on Monday, the next stage will come into play – the 13 casinos will have a month from July 16 to apply for any of the individual gaming categories for $4 million each. In case there are any more remaining licenses after August 16, the PGCB will then open the application process to the qualified operators who do not have Pennsylvania Casino licenses.

Things Are Looking Up for Mt. Airy

Even though it is the smallest Category 2 casino in the state, Mt. Airy has some pretty huge ambition and plans to boot. The casino took its first step towards conquering the online space in 2014 when it partnered with the 888. Since then both 888 and Mt. Airy have only been able to serve as promotional partners before things took an unexpected but welcome turn in October 2017 when Pennsylvania legalized interactive gaming last year.

Other than 888, Mt. Airy has also partnered with PokerStars – both partnerships will certainly include portions of the revenue from the skins attached to the licensee’s name. In fact, the partnerships will also go a long way in helping Mt. Airy to tap into other markets outside the Keystone State.

Doors Open for Sports Betting License Applications

Another highlight this week for the Pennsylvania gaming industry was a move by the state regulator to finally begin the process of sports-betting licensing. This was announced PGCB officials who clarified that the entities that could apply for the sports betting licenses included device or equipment manufacturers, sports betting system operators and other related service providers.

Even so, the 13 Pennsylvania casinos are yet to forward applications for the sports betting licenses, just like it was the case with online gambling.  This is probably due to the $10 million upfront cost and the accompanying 36 percent state and local tax rate that the sports wagering operators will have to pay in the state. Obviously, a compromise on either side will have to be reached but until then, we will just have to wait and see.

Ocean Resort Casino Atlantic City Launches Online Casino

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In just two weeks, New Jersey’s gambling options have seen a significant expansion that began with the relaunch and grand openings of Atlantic City’s previously closed casinos. Hard Rock and Ocean Resort went live on June 28 with Hard Rock launching its online casino offering later that day. Ocean Resort has not been left behind and on Tuesday the casino operator officially unveiled its much-anticipated online gaming platform when it removed the “under construction” banner from

The online casino is currently in the process of a soft launch with the limited gameplay being imposed for the first few days. There are already a number of promotions available on the websites as well but the online casino is yet to begin featuring the “full offering” of its online gaming services.

Big Gain for GAN

For its online casino venture, Ocean Resort Casino partnered with GAN, a B2B internet gaming software developer, and supplier. Ocean Resort will be utilizing GAN’s technology to deliver a converged online and on-property gaming experience to the casino’s guests via its Ocean Premier loyalty program. The offering will allow the guests to trade their reward points earned from on-property gaming for cash when they switch to the online casino. Similarly, the Ocean Resort online casino customers will also be able to redeem the rewards points earned from online gaming at the brick and mortar Atlantic City casino.

“Ocean Resort Casino is a fabulous casino property, unarguably offering the best quality gaming & hotel in Atlantic City, which has now been optimized for success by the new ownership and leadership. We’re privileged to bring this immense property to life online, just as it relaunches in the traditional retail casino market. We’re excited to deliver not just another ‘me too’ Internet casino, but to also bring online for the first time the capabilities unlocked only by GAN’s convergence Patent which may give casino patrons in New Jersey a compelling economic rationale to play online with Ocean Resort Casino rather than established incumbent casino operators already online in this fast-growing market. Ocean Resort Casino is anticipated to be material to GAN’s revenue and earnings in H2 2018,” commented Dermot Smurfit, the CEO of GAN.

What to Expect

At launch, the casino began by offering over 50 slots, a decent number of table games including blackjack and roulette as well as 8 different versions of video poker. The online casino also includes a dedicated section where customers can access online games which can also be played in the land-based casino.

“GAN delivered efficiently and cost-effectively for Ocean Resort Casino and possesses a strategic patent which will give Ocean Resort Casino a competitive advantage with casino guests in Atlantic City who also choose to gamble online. Furthermore, GAN’s proven platform, ‘dual-mode’ Simulated Gaming, as well as real money Internet gaming and track record of client success in the New Jersey market, are among the many reasons we chose GAN to bring Ocean Resort Casino online in 2018,” Ocean Resort Casino CEO, Frank Leone pointed out.

Legalized Sports Betting Finally Coming to the State of Iowa

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Ever since the United States Supreme Court made repealed PASPA in May, a number of states have been grappling with various sports betting legislation. A decent number of the states have been quite successful in launching their own sports betting industries with a few others opting for a rather slow approach as they fine-tune various elements of the regulations that will govern their sports betting ecosystems.

One of the states that are just now beginning to significantly advance its sports betting bids is Iowa. Gambling interests backed by the state’s legislators, the state lottery, and the casinos are gearing up for yet another push for the legalization of sports betting. It is anticipated that statewide sports betting in Iowa could go live by next year thus opening the doors for a number of economic benefits to both the state and the local community through the taxes paid by the operators.

With all the relevant parties having shown great support for sports betting in Iowa, the only thing that remains is for them to decide how best to go about it. Jake Highfill, the Iowa state representative has confirmed that both the Democrat and Republican politicians in the state are “all in” on the legislation.

Legislative Work Continues Behind the Scenes

As mentioned before, the window of introduction of the new legislation has now closed since the state session has been officially closed till January – there will, therefore, be no significant legislative moves till then. Still, when the next legislative session begins, it is likely that the sports betting legislation will move forward in the form of House File 2448, which had already been approved by Iowa’s Ways and Means and House State Government committees.

The biggest setback for the legislation this year was the failure of the Republican majority to reach a consensus, something that denied the Senate the chance to take an action. Fortunately, work on the issue will continue behind the scenes as legislators like Highfill prepare legislation that will be approved by all proponents of sports betting in the state.

Everyone Wants a Piece of the Action

It seems that there is an insanely high amount of interest when it comes to sports betting in Iowa – perhaps the highest in any state. Highfill pointed out that other than casinos, other entities such as the convenience stores, grocery stores, and retail outlets all want to in on sports betting. The state’s retailers want in specifically because they believe that the industry could lead to increased sales in their stores.

As expected, professional sports leagues have not been left far behind – they are still going after the so-called ‘integrity fees’ they have been lobbying for since earlier this year.

The casinos and the state lottery will still have a considerable portion of the sports betting market in Iowa especially considering the fact that a huge chunk of global sports betting is conducted through the lottery. Currently, the Iowa Lottery is currently in charge of games like scratch tickets and Powerball while the Racing and Gaming Commission oversees casino gambling.

UK Gambling Commission Expands Child Protection Plans

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The UK Gambling Commission has laid out plans to better protect children and young people from the risks of being exposed to online gambling. There is already some work underway in this area, but the commission hopes to build on the existing regulations and measures so as to ensure they are as effective as possible.

The commission employed advice from expert advisers with regards to the critical themes of children, young people, and gambling. It further brought together all the existing work in this area while acting on advice from the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board (RGSB) and this resulted in a strengthened focus on the implementation of the right protections in order to effectively reduce the risk of harm to children and young people.

In addition to this, the gambling regulator has asked all parties that are responsible for safeguarding children to corporate with them as they try to address some of the critical issues that were identified by the RGSB. This will help in laying out feasible action plans for preventive education and treatment, handling digital and online risks, evidence collection and consumer engagement as well as preventing access and exposure to gambling services.

“We have a strong commitment to protecting children and young people from the harm gambling can pose – it’s at the heart of how we regulate. We asked our expert advisers, the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board, to consider this critical theme. The advice helps us to refocus and reinforce what we are doing already, and what we need to do next. For example, this year we will be carrying out targeted compliance and enforcement activity to identify and tackle any weaknesses in the age verification processes,” Tim Miller, the executive director of the UK Gambling Commission said.

“Safeguarding children in a digital age is complex, and what both RGSB and our research has highlighted is that it takes a multi-faceted approach by us, government, educators, gambling firms and parents. It will take firm ongoing commitments from the Commission as gambling regulator, but also from all of those with a part to play,” he added.

Worrying Statistics

The Responsible Gambling Strategy Board (RGSB) recently conducted a study that revealed that 31,000 children are classable as problem gamblers and 45,000 more are at a risk of becoming the same. The study also found that 91 percent of the 11-15 years old children who had recently gambled had seen gambling adverts on social media platforms or on TV – 2 percent of these children said that the adverts had either increased their gambling rates or prompted them to try it out.

“Ideally, children and young people should not be exposed to marketing and advertising for gambling at all, let alone in the quantities now prevalent,” the report stated. “The potential longer-term effects of what has been a relatively recent phenomenon are unknown. There is good reason to think they might be harmful.”

Poker Central Rescues Poker Players Alliance and Rebrands It

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The Poker Players Alliance released a statement last Wednesday announcing that the organization had been revived by funding from Poker Central, a company that deals in offering poker new and live event streaming via its PokerGO app. Also, as part of the new arrangement, the Poker Players Alliance has since been rebranded to Poker Alliance, but its goal of advancing poker on behalf of the poker playing community in the United States and around the world remains intact.

Formed in 2005, the Poker Players Alliance began its activities by lobbying against restrictions such as the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act in Washington. Unfortunately, prior to being picked up by Poker Central, the group has had a rough couple of months that even included being dropped by PokerStars, one of its earlier corporate backers at the end of 2017. This subsequently led the lobbying group to a bit of a hiatus as donations got scarcer over the years.

New Leadership

The rejuvenated Poker Alliance will take on the activities of its predecessor albeit under new leadership – the new president is Mark Brenner, a “longtime business development and government relations executive.” Still, the group will retain two of its formers presidents, Rich Munny and John Pappas, as members of the Poker Alliance’s advisory board for at least three months.

“I’m very optimistic about Poker Alliance’s potential to bring new innovations and a different skill set to the fight for poker, serving its membership and consumers in general. Along with my fellow advisors to the new leadership, I look forward to advocating for the great game of poker as part of Poker Alliance,” Rich Muny commented while confirming his new role.

It will certainly take some time to develop a definitive direction for the Poker Alliance but for now poker enthusiasts can rest assured that there will be a tight focus on poker. Also, even though the organization is removing the “Players” from its name, it will still very much try to uphold its core values that are supported by most poker players.

“Poker Alliance will be a dedicated voice for the millions of Americans who support expanding the sporting world of poker, in particular, the players seeking to enjoy safe, well-regulated, and fair games in myriad locations and formats. The revamped association will prioritize advocating for consumer protection and states’ rights in the context of poker and internet gaming,” reads the Poker Alliance press release.

Considering Brenner’s neat management and lobbying portfolio, and the experience of John Pappas and Rich Muny as advisory board members, the Poker Alliance is certainly bound to spawn a new era for the poker community.

FanDuel Seals Sports Wagering Deal with The Greenbrier

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Renowned daily fantasy sports operator, FanDuel has recently inked the first sports betting deal in West Virginia and will, therefore, be offering sports wagering services to The Greenbrier, one of the state’s luxury resorts that also happens to be owned by Governor Jim Justice.

As per the terms of the agreement, FanDuel will be providing retail, online and mobile sports betting services to the casino which already has plans underway to launch an on-premises offering under the umbrella of The Greenbrier Casino Club brand. This deal marks FanDuel’s first sports wagering-related venture in the United States – the company is primarily recognized for its daily fantasy sports offerings and the move to sports betting is indeed a huge step for the company.

It is, however, not the company’s first stint at sports betting. Earlier this year, FanDuel merged with Paddy Power Betfair, a European bookmaker which has similar deals with Tioga Downs in New York and Meadowlands Racetrack in New Jersey.

“We are honored to be chosen to provide sports wagering services at the Greenbrier, an iconic resort in the US,” said FanDuel CEO, Matt King. “As we work towards building out a top sports betting product for the upcoming NFL season, we look forward to bringing West Virginia residents, sports fans, and visitors to the Greenbrier the best interactive sports experience on the market.”

The West Virginia-based Greenbrier plans to include an onsite wagering platform right inside the private casino that is being referred to as The Casino Club. It also has plans for a FanDuel-branded online site and mobile applications by fall. Unfortunately, no specific dates have been forwarded so far but they seem to be dependent on when the state finally decides to put its sports betting regulations in place.

“We’re excited to be able to offer this service to those guests who are interested,” said Dr. Jill Justice, President of The Greenbrier. “The Casino Club at The Greenbrier has been an attractive destination for our guests and members since its opening, and sports betting provides yet another element to the casino experience.”

Where Sports Betting Stands in West Virginia

The state had already made a move to legalize sports betting through an initial law that was passed shortly before the United States Supreme Court ruled to repeal PASPA. The law allows sports betting services to be offered at the state’s four racetrack casinos and The Greenbrier. The licenses also allow the participation of third parties who will be required to operate skins under the licensees – FanDuel is the first third-party operator to do so.

State officials have confirmed that all the casinos are in the process of working on their own sportsbooks. Each of the casinos is also allowed to pick whoever they want to run their sports betting services.

32Red Caught Red-Handed In a Problem Gambler Scandal

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British online casino brand 32Red had been slapped with a £2 million penalty for having failed to uphold the industry’s problem gambling practices. After a meticulous investigation conducted by the controlling body, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), have revealed that there’s still more to be desired when it comes to integrity from the industry’s best-known names.

The UKGC had been forced to pursue this course of action as a result of identifying 22 cases where the casino had failed to conduct basic money laundering checks or advise a customer exhibiting reckless gambling habits against playing, even though they had been reaching out with their qualms about their habits.

The investigation examined a period spanning the time between November 2014 and April 2017. During the said period, there had been multiple indicators that the customer exhibited symptoms of reckless gambling, which should have been looked into earlier.

In fact, 32Red only looked into the proceedings of the customer in January 2017 when the customer managed to win £1 million. The provenance of the customer’s money was also unknown, which indicated serious breaches in 32Red’s anti-money laundering practices.

All the Signs of a Problem Gambler

What’s unnerving on this particular occasion is that the customer may have been aware of his condition. On one occasion, he even shared with 32Red staff that he had wagered too much, which in turn failed to elicit an action from the operator.

When the operator finally began to examine its customer’s finances, it took it nearly five weeks and the produced written proof was disconcerting insofar as it showed volatile finances, but also glaringly indicated that the customer neither has the means to support his gambling habits and that he has far exceeded his net salary of £2,150.

His income in the submitted document was shown as £13,000 and at the same time, the average monthly deposits exceeded £45,000. Of course, some of this amount was won at the casino, but the UKGC has refused to accept the furnished proof as credible.

The UKGC was even tougher on 32Red, arguing that “The source of the customer’s wealth was not known to 32Red because they failed to fulfill their anti-money laundering obligations. We cannot comment on any other proceedings that may be active”.

UKGC Executive Director Richard Watson has been vociferous about the case arguing that what 32Red did was exactly the opposite of what they were supposed to be doing. A failure to help a customer and to check the origin of the money wagered indicated grave lack of accountability within the structure of the operator.

Furthermore, it showed that 32Red would only care to help its customers if they seem to be winning and willing to withdraw. Why was a check not initiated earlier but only after the customer managed to score £1 million is anyone’s guess, but if the answer is obvious, that doesn’t bode well for the operator’s reputation.

Meanwhile, the proceedings from the fine constitute £709,046 divestment of the financial gain, £1.3 million allocated to the National Responsible Gambling Strategy, and £15,000 covering legal expenses.

Mobile Betting Drives Growth in Australian Online Wagering

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According to Roy Morgan, an Australian market research company, the country’s mobile gaming industry is currently thriving. More and more Australians are using mobile devices to place bets at a steadily increasing pace year-by-year. However, the report also reveals that despite the tremendous rise in the number of bets placed using mobile devices, the overall number of punters has seen a not so slight decline in the last few years.

The Specifics

Roy Morgan reveals that a total of 3.4 million Australian punters wagered on sporting events, horse racing, greyhound racing, harness racing and many other events in the past year. In comparison, between March 2011 and March 2012, over 3.7 million Australian citizens placed wagers on the same or similar events. Interestingly, the report reveals that more of these punters seem to be shifting to the online space for their gambling needs as mentioned earlier – the number of people who placed bets on the internet increased by over 50 percent which sums up to about 34.1 percent of the total number of Australian gamblers.

The massive increase in online gambling, as reported by Roy Morgan, is all thanks to the increasing popularity of mobile devices especially mobile phones, or to be more precise, smartphones. To be more specific, more than one-fifth of Australians use their mobile phones to place bets. On the hand, the number of people who still prefer to place bets online on their computers has remained unchanged when compared to the figures that the research firm reported in 2012, that is, 15.1 percent.

“What is clear from these figures though is that a majority of Australians who bet still don’t bet via the Internet. Over two-fifths of Australians who bet have not used the Internet to place a bet and these are the key market companies offering online betting need to target to grow their revenue,” the Roy Morgan chief executive officer, Michele Levine said in an official statement.

Consolidation in the Australian Gambling Market

As it stands, the Australian gambling industry is undergoing a period of elongated consolidation and therefore, the numbers presented by the Roy Morgan report are encouraging to say the least. In fact, there is a lot of great things ahead including more technologically up-to-date options and products.

Roy Morgan reports that the Australian betting market is being dominated by two operators. The two market leaders include Tabcorp Holdings whose online betting site boasts of nearly 18 percent local customers. Tabcorp Holdings runs a decent number of betting websites each offering various kinds of betting services to the market.

The other operator dominating the Australian gambling market is that is used by close to 13 percent of the Australian gambling markets. Coming in third is Crownbet which caters to about 6.5 percent of the Australian gambling population.