Friday, December 02, 2011

Facebook To Enter Into Real Money Online Poker? - 1st December 2011

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Rumors were abuzz yesterday about the possibility of the social networking behemoth Facebook entering into the online poker arena, but it may be that was the extent of the issue…simply rumors.

According to the popular blog “Friending Facebook” written by Emil Protalinski on ZDNet.com, Facebook has been rumored to be in discussions with several outlets regarding the future of online poker on the site. Currently, Facebook only offers “credits” that players can purchase to use to play a multitude of games that the site promotes, but it hasn’t stepped into the realm of a “real money” offering. Protalinski details out how some of the buzz regarding the possibility of Facebook stepping into online poker has gotten started.

Apparently, clandestine meetings were held over the summer between Facebook and “approximately twenty online gaming experts, consultants and social gaming entrepreneurs,” according to Protalinski. If this were to become a reality, it would happen at some point within the first three months of 2012, with the potential for up to eight licenses to be offered to potential online gaming operations through Facebook.

Protalinski notes, via eGaming Review Magazine, that two of those potential outlets have already been named as potential licensees. One of the top game developers, Gamesys, is potentially in the running for one of those licenses. Gamesys, which has been in the online gaming industry since 2001, offers bingo software as well as games based on television shows such as The Price Is Right and Deal or No Deal. The company also has a contract with Caesars Entertainment for CaesarsBingo.com.

The other operation named specifically as a potential suitor for Facebook also has connections with Caesars Entertainment, the owners of the World Series of Poker. 888 Holdings PLC, founded in 1997 and the ownership behind such offerings as 888Poker.com and the Caesars Entertainment owned WSOP.com online poker site, is rumored to be one of the companies at the front of the line for a potential Facebook partnership. 888Poker is currently the fourth ranked online poker network in the industry, having a seven day average of 2150 cash game players, according to PokerScout.com.

Protalinski points out several issues that will have to be overcome before any such partnerships can reach fruition. Age verification issues, something that anti-online gaming zealots have said would be problematic, are something that Facebook would have to deal with, as people do not always put their year of birth on their Facebook record for privacy reasons. Finding an outlet that could process real money transactions at a bulk rate would also be problematic as well as how Facebook and any partners would divvy up the proceeds.

In looking at how Facebook handles its “credits” transactions, Protalinski points out some significant numbers. Protalinski states that Facebook takes a 30% cut of revenues earned through the purchases of Facebook Credits, with the remaining 70% going to the developers of the games. To possibly see how much money is potentially involved in this partnership, PartyGaming – before it joined forces with Bwin early this year – pulled in $497.9 million in revenue in 2010. If that type of activity was seen with a Facebook gaming site – and using the same percentages as Facebook currently operates under – it would mean Facebook would make approximately $149.3 million and their partner company would pull in $348.5 million.

For American citizens, however, there is no glimmer of hope. Real money online poker through Facebook isn’t an option per the current status of online gaming in the United States. The offerings would first be done in the United Kingdom and potentially branch out to the rest of the world, Protalinski reports.

Then again, this could all just be conjecture. Protalinski contacted Facebook officials regarding this issue and quoted a representative of Facebook as saying, “We’re always in discussions with companies about lots of different ideas, but we don’t comment on future plans or speculation.” After the ringing in of the New Year, however, we may learn if these plans are true or false. (Credit: Poker News Daily)

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Thursday, December 01, 2011

Facebook Gamblers Taking Bigger Risks Than They Know, by Greg Tingle - 1st December 2011

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A massive loophole in Australian - federal gambling legislation is allowing an online casino to receive funds from Facebook punters but not pay out winnings in cold hard cash, leaving punters in the lurch, out of moolah, and angry - and there's not much they can do about it at present.

Only recently have media companies such as Media Man and Fairfax Media been able to warn punters of the dangers of betting - especially on some Facebook affiliated websites.

Media and gaming commentators are advising gamblers to only bet with websites they can trust, and to avoid Facebook gambling websites until loopholes have been fixed up. Big name gambling brands which are considered ethical and trustworthy by most media and igaming experts include Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment, Virgin Games (not available in Australia), Betfair, Centrebet and PKR.

The DoubleDown casino on Facebook is one brand in question. They "give" players "free" chips - but once they are used up, punters are required to purchase credits to continue to play online casino games such as poker, blackjack, slots and roulette (not Russian Roulette) - even more dangerous then the website in question.

As they say - always read the fine print! The terms and conditions explicitly say "regardless of the terminology used, Virtual Currency and Virtual Goods may never be redeemed for "real world" money, goods or other items of monetary value from the Site or any other party."

A wave of complaints has hit independent senator Nick "Mr X" (satire) Xenophon. A Facebook page condemning the site and warning others has also been established by anger players. A constituent contacted Senator Xenophon after he attempted to withdraw the chips, made a complaint, but was subsequently blocked from the site by administrators. So much for ethics and consumer confidence.

Senator Xenophon wrote to the Australian Communications and Media Authority complaining that the US-based website was misleading and was in breach of online gaming laws.

ACMA told Senator Xenophon the website's content is not prohibited because it was not possible to win 'money or anything else of value' from playing the games provided, so it does not in fact constitute a gambling website.

The Senator yesterday wrote to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy requesting an urgent meeting to discuss "a loophole in the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 which has allowed hundreds of Australians to lose money".

"People are paying real money to gamble on these sites," Senator Xenophon advised. "But because these gamblers are forbidden by the sites from converting that virtual money back into real money, the sites aren't technically breaking any laws. This needs to change."

A review of igaming - online gambling laws commenced earlier this year and Senator Conroy's spokesman advised online casino games were prohibited and could not be provided to Australians.

"Consumers participating in games purporting to be such things should think carefully as they are not regulated by Australian law," he said.

A spokesman for DoubleDown Casino said it took great pride in having established the world's largest virtual casino game on Facebook.

"We couldn't have done that without the millions of customers who return every day to enjoy free chips and our entertaining game. Casual gamers can play every day for free and it is entirely up to the user to decide if they wish to purchase virtual chips to play longer," he said.

"There are hundreds if not thousands of games on Facebook which accept virtual currency in the form of Facebook credits and we're proud to be one of Facebook's top 12 game partners."

Established gaming companies such as Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment, PKR, Virgin Games, Betfair and Centrebet offer both play for free and play for money options, and have not received complaints like the ones directed towards DoubleDown.

Those who enjoy a punt are advised to bet with their head, not over it, and to have fun. If gambling stops being fun, its a strong sign to stop playing and seek help.

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire told to ease off high stakes poker, by Greg Tingle

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Tobey Maguire Ben Affleck Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon

Now we know another reason that movie stars Leo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire have enjoyed quite a bit of their time in 'Sin City' Sydney, Australia - they like a punt, and are fans of Australian land based casinos, with The Star being at the top of their list for the meantime. It's not known for certain if the twosome have played poker or gambled on Australian soil, but take a wild guess.

Many Hollywood (and AussieWood) stars love to gamble, and high-stakes poker is one of their favourite games. Privacy is high on their priorities and it's known that some forms of gambling don't sit well with the law in some parts of the world, including in the United States.

It's understood that Tobey Maguire and mates Leonardo DiCaprio and Ben Affleck are long time high stakes poker fans and may have participated in quite a few private games played mainly in Los Angeles and New York.

The word is that the FBI is probing into alleged Russian mob connections to those big dollar games.

A few months ago there was a lawsuit filed against Maguire claiming a big Wall Street investment guy paid his gambling debts with funds inappropriately acquired from his firm’s investors.

A longtime associate of both DiCaprio and Maguire is understood to have said "As much as those boys love to gamble, they don’t need this kind of hassle...It seems clear that a number of very unsavory people have used their own huge wealth to weasel their way into those games.

"No one needs a Frank Sinatra problem these days," added the leak, referring to the Mafia connections that followed Ol’ Blue Eyes most of his life.

DiCaprio and Maguire are currently enjoying a working holiday of Australia and both gents have been spotted at The Star (entertainment complex and casino - ex Star City Casino) more than once.

'Our Leo' is staring in The Great Gatsby. Maguire is not working Spider-Man, but has a number of exciting projects in the works. May the best player, er, actor Win.

All of this while online gaming companies such as Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment, which owns the World Poker Tour, attempts to get the green light from the US government to offer Americans totally legal online poker games.

Media Man is following up the story, and understands that McGuire is close to coming to terms with prosecutors on the Hollywood Poker investigation.

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Frank Sinatra Film May Get Up With Martin Scorsese And Leonardo DiCaprio, by Greg Tingle - 27th November 2011

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Industry talk is that the Frank Sinatra bio pic that Martin Scorsese pitched around town a few years ago is still very much on the cards to become a reality.

It was during the promoting period of his Hugo, genius director Scorsese slipped in that he was indeed going to get back to a new version of a Sinatra movie script he's had on the back-burner for a while.

DiCaprio was mentioned by name to play the lead. Rumours state Leo would not sing, as no one could ever do Frank better than Frank, so Leo would just lip sync the singing parts - not something Leo is all that much of a custom of doing, so hopefully the public (and investors) will buy into that.

Much like Sinatra, Leo likes to gamble at casinos a bit too, most recently spotted at The Star (formally Star City Casino) in Sydney, Australia, and last year Leo played some Hollywood poker for high stakes with friends including Tobey Maguire (Spider-Man), that made international headlines when the legalities of the games came into question.

It's understood that the Sinatra family have final script approval.

The first script presented too much of Sinatra's dark side to get to the next round, whereas this time around things appear to be sailing more smoothly.

The Sinatra Family have been interested in further developing their Frank Sinatra Enterprises, with games (via Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment) and memorabilia (Mattel etc) also part of a solid business model, and a movie deal would certainly get things to the next level.'

The Media Man agency, based out of Australia, will be following up the story in the coming weeks. As Sinatra said 'Hell hath no fury like a hustler with a literary agent.'

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