Did you miss any of the top poker news stories this week? Well you've come to the right place to get caught up. We're covering PokerStars' completion of the deal to acquire Full Tilt Poker, Facebook launching real-money gambling, and more.
PokerStars Seals the Deal with DOJ
PokerStars' purchase of Full Tilt Poker through the Department of Justice was officially completed on Thursday, paving the way for the relaunch of FTP and repayment of "rest of world" customers within 90 days.
PokerStars made its initial payment of $225 million to the U.S. government this week. The remainder of the $547 forfeiture will be paid over the next three years, and PokerStars says the $184 million owed to non-U.S. FTP customers will be made available within the next three months.
The newly managed Full Tilt Poker will relaunch by Nov. 6, 2012. Shyam Markus, the poker-room manager at Full Tilt Poker, addressed several questions regarding the site in a thread at TwoPlusTwo on Thursday.
Read the story here at PokerNews.com for more.
Facebook Launches Real-Money Gambling
Facebook entered the online gambling scene on Tuesday by unveiling a bingo app in the U.K. The social gaming behemoth partnered with U.K. operator Gamesys to launch Bingo Friendzy for customers above the age of 18.
The game is the first created by Facebook's that allows gambling with real money instead of Facebook Credits. More real-money games are expected to follow, including a slot machine game in the coming weeks.
"People love playing new types of games with their friends on Facebook and real money gaming is a popular leisure activity in the UK," said Julien Codorniou, Head of EMEA Gaming Partnerships at Facebook Europe. "We're delighted to be working with Gamesys to enable them to offer their games on Facebook so that people can enjoy playing more games with their friends."
Zynga, Facebook’s longtime gaming partner, is also planning to venture into the real-money online gambling space by early next year. Zynga CEO Mark Pincus said last month that Zynga’s first gambling products should be released in the first half of 2013.
Read the full story here at PokerNews.com.
When PokerStars completed a deal to purchase Full Tilt Poker's assets last week, thousands of poker players around the world rejoiced upon learning that they would be refunded the money in their accounts. But there were more people affected by the announcement than just the players.
The Irish Examiner reports that 200 employees at Full Tilt Poker's Dublin headquarters had their jobs saved when the deal went through. Pocket Kings, Full Tilt Poker’s parent company, had laid off more than 450 staffers after the company had its operating license removed by the Alderney Gambling Control Commission last year. The employees kept on by Pocket Kings will be retained by PokerStars to help re-launch Full Tilt Poker as a separate brand in the coming months.
"It’s too early to begin disclosing many details about our strategic plans for Full Tilt, but our first order of business is to re-open the site, pay back all of the players and begin rebuilding Full Tilt’s reputation," said Eric Hollreiser, head of corporate communications for PokerStars. "Going forward, we will operate Full Tilt as a separate brand, giving players another leading and trusted platform to enjoy the game."
Hollreiser said in a statement last week that Full Tilt Poker’s headquarters will remain in Dublin, but regulatory oversight will be transferred to the Isle of Man.
Read more at the Irish Examiner.
Not So Fast, New Jersey
New Jersey's bid to introduce legalized sports betting is being challenged by the NCAA and the four major professional sports leagues in the U.S.
The National Football League, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, and NCAA have filed suit against New Jersey in response to a new state law that would allow sports betting at New Jersey's casinos and racetracks. The lawsuit was filed in Trenton on Tuesday.
The organizations argue that the New Jersey is not permitted to offer sports gambling under the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act which was passed in 1992. The law limits betting on collegiate and professional games only to Nevada, Delaware, Oregon and Montana.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is expected to fight this battle to the very end. Earlier this year, Christie challenged the federal government, saying in a press conference, "If someone wants to stop us, then let them try to stop us ... Am I expecting there may be legal action taken against us to try to prevent it? Yes. But I have every confidence we’re going to be successful."
The Associated Press has more.
NFL Tackles WSOP Issue
When Thursday's National Football League preseason game between the San Diego Chargers and the Green Bay Packers kicked off, Shannon Eastin became the first woman to officiate a game in the league's history. Eastin, 42, is one of the replacement refs hired as a result of the ongoing contract dispute between the NFL and its referees.
But according to a recent report by NBC Sports, Eastin's past as a poker player could have created some controversy for the league. A source close to the situation says that the locked-out NFL referees planned to bring attention to the fact that Eastin played in the World Series of Poker in 2006 and 2007. The NFL prohibits any form of gambling and has been a major opponent of the activity since the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) was passed in 2006.
The following text appears in the expired NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement, which applies to its replacement referees:
Gambling is an unacceptable activity for Game Officials in the National Football League. Such activity constitutes conduct detrimental to the integrity of, and public trust in, the NFL. Because it is the responsibility of the Game Officials to ensure the fairness of NFL play, including the complete confidence of the fans in the legitimacy of the game, it is critical that NFL Game Officials maintain the appearance of the highest ethical conduct.
The league issued a statement to Pro Football Talk on Thursday, explaining that a background check was conducted on all of its referees: “The NFL does extensive background checks on prospective officials, including the current group of replacement officials,” NFL spokesman Michael Signora said. “All of them have passed the NFL’s rigorous screening process, including Shannon Eastin. Past participation in an event such as a poker tournament does not disqualify a person from consideration as an NFL game official.”
Eastin has cashed twice at the World Series of Poker, with her best result coming in a $1,500 no-limit hold'em event in 2007. Eastin finished 17th after losing a head-to head confrontation against Phil Hellmuth, who went on to win the event and his 11th bracelet. PokerNews' reporting of her elimination hand can be found here. Eastin also took 67th place in the 2006 Ladies Event.
The initial report can be found at NBCSports.com.
South Point Casino Approved for Online Poker License
The race for real-money online poker in Nevada is on, and it looks like the South Point Casino could reach the finish line first.
On Wednesday, the Nevada Gaming Control Board granted tentative approval for the South Point to offer legalized real-money online poker as an operator, manufacturer and service provider. The South Point will next meet with the Nevada Gaming Commission on Aug. 23 for final license approval.
With the testing of its technology expected to be completed in the coming weeks, South Point anticipates its poker site to be up and running by October, which would make it the first intrastate real-money poker room in Nevada's history. South Point has been running a free-to-play site since last year in anticipation of Internet poker legislation.
Read more here at PokerNews.com.
Bodog Poker players from 20 nations will no longer be allowed to play on the site effective Sept. 1, 2012.
In the past week, Bodog's customer support team has sent emails to the affected players advising them to empty their accounts by Aug. 31. According to a company spokesperson, Bodog will be pulling out of the following nations: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Hungary, Israel, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Romania, Russian Federation, Serbia, Slovenia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan.
The decision is part of Bodog's plan to concentrate on its strengths and weaknesses in the market. The brand recently sold the Bodog Poker Network to its Asia-facing arm, Bodog88, seeking to benefit from the gaming industry's massive growth in Asia.
"The Bodog brand is known for its high level of customer service & spreading ourselves too thinly to try and cover a huge amount of smaller markets was proving logistically difficult," Bodog said in a statement on Monday. "Bodog.co.uk will concentrate on growing existing markets."
Read more right here at PokerNews.com.
Another PokerStars Milestone
PokerStars is about to hit another milestone en route to its “Road to 100 Billion” promotion. On Friday, the world's leading poker site announced that it will be dealing its 85 billionth hand in the near future. To celebrate the momentous occasion, PokerStars will be giving away up to $1 million in prizes!
More than 300 players will cash in on the promotion, with prizes being awarded to players dealt into every one-millionth hand from 84,700,000,000 to 85,000,000,000. The winner of the Mega Milestone hand will collect at least $20,000, so if you're playing in a regular ring game next week make sure that you keep an eye on the lobby for the real-time count on the number of hands dealt.
In May, Spanish player "funex700" was the lucky winner of the 80 Billionth Hand promotion. He made runner-runner two pair after getting all of his chips in with eight other players at a $.25/.50 no-limit hold'em table to collect a $179.88 pot, plus an additional $22,940 for the winning the promotion. Everyone else at the table collected at least $10,000 just for being dealt in.
For more information on the 85 Billionth Hand promotion, check out PokerStars.com.
EPT Announces High Roller Awards
Last week, the European Poker Tour renewed its partnership with Shamballa Jewels as the official bracelet sponsor of the EPT Season 9 High Roller and Super High Roller events.
On Thursday, the tour added even more incentive to partake in the High Roller tournaments. Starting this season, PokerStars will sponsor the EPT High Roller of the Year award. The honor will go to the player who produces the best results over the 16 events, which include three Super High Roller events in Barcelona, Monaco and the Bahamas.
“High Stakes poker action is as exciting as any sport in the world and features the best players competing against each other and those with enough confidence and cash to take on poker’s elite players,” said EPT President Edgar Stuchly. “These high stakes tournaments provide high-drama, deep strategy and potentially life-changing rewards.”
The first EPT High Roller will begin on Friday, Aug. 17 in Barcelona. As of Thursday, 37 players were confirmed for the event, and organizers are optimistic that at least 50 will participate.
For more on the European Poker Tour, visit PokerStars.com.
"Mad" Marvin Chasing Glory
There were no changes atop the Global Poker Index Player of the Year standings on Wednesday, meaning David "ODB" Baker occupied the top spot for the fourth consecutive week.
Baker claimed the pole position after a very productive World Series of Poker, but his reign could end next week. German poker pro Marvin Rettenmaier, who sits second in the rankings, won the World Poker Tour Merit Cyprus Classic on Thursday and could take over the top spot if Baker fails to add points to his total in the coming days. Rettenmaier won the WPT Championship at Bellagio in May and this week became the first player to claim back-to-back WPT titles.
The only new addition to the top 10 this week was Tommy Vedes, who cashed five times at the 2012 WSOP. Vedes' big score this year came at the WPT Seminole Hard Rock Showdown, where he claimed his second career WPT title and $779,520. Vedes knocked Erik Cajelais out of the top 10, but Cajelais is virtually guaranteed to return after finishing 7th in the WPT Cyprus Main Event this week.
Here's a look at the Top 10 of the Global Poker Index Player of the Year standings:
|Place||Player||Total Score||Change in Rank|
The Global Poker Index Player of the Year, presented by PokerNews, honors the player who has the strongest performance in live tournaments during the calendar year, according to the USA Today Global Poker Index point system.
For the full GPI Player of the Year standings, head on over to GlobalPokerIndex.com.
In other news, the GPI was sold to Zokay Entertainment this week. For a closer look at that development, check out the story at PokerNews.com.
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