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Inside Gaming: Prepares for Real-Money Launch, Illinois Gambling Bill Hits Snag


In this edition of Inside Gaming, the World Series of Poker lays $700,000 on the table for just signing up for its online poker site, Amaya Gaming Group reports a first quarter loss, and tax issues in Illinois delay approval of gambling bill. Prepares For Launch

The 44th Annual World Series of Poker isn’t just about winning bracelets this summer. WSOP will soon launch real-money online poker in Nevada, and Caesars Interactive Entertainment is taking the lead to promote its upcoming offering.

Simply by signing up for a free online poker account inside the Rio this summer, players will be eligible to snag a share of more than $700,000 in cash and prizes being distributed to players who pre-register for the real-money WSOP-branded online poker room.

Those who registered and are 21 years of age and older will automatically be entered into a “36-Seat Giveaway” in which 36 randomly-selected winners will win a seat into the next day’s first WSOP gold bracelet event. One of the seats up for grabs is for the $111,111 One Drop High-Rollers No-Limit Hold’em tournament that is expected to reach a $10 million prize pool. In total, $182,333 in WSOP seats, including a seat to the WSOP Main Event is being given during the promotion. is also featuring a “Hot Seat” promotion that will allow any player who registers for a account and wears a patch to be randomly selected to receive a $500 deposit into their online account. This promotion accounts for $32,000 worth of value to players participating.

Lastly, is introducing the “Online Nine” and the “ Online Championships" with $500,000 in added money to be given away.

The "$100K Freeroll” is available to anyone who signs up for an account at the WSOP who will then automatically be registered into the $100,000 Freeroll set for October. The winner of the event will become the first member of the “Online Nine” competing for an additional $100,000 as part of the offline WSOP Main Event “November Nine” festivities at the Rio Nov. 4 through Nov. 5, 2013.

For eight consecutive nights following the $100K Freeroll, will hold online tournaments with added money going into the prize pool. The combined eight tournaments will feature $300,000 in additional money from The winner of the eight events will be placed into the “Online Nine” and win their way to the “Online Nine Champions Freeroll," also taking place Nov. 4 and Nov. 5.

With a $100,000 Freeroll, $100,000 in prize money for the Online Nine Championship Freeroll, plus $300,000 in additional money added, the Online Championship will offer $500,000 in prize money just awarded from With the $182,333 in the 36-seat giveaway and $32,000 in the Hot Seat drawings, the WSOP is hoping that the $700,000 in incentives will help attract online players to the Nevada market.

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Amaya Gaming Loses $7.4 Million in First Quarter

On Wednesday, Canadian-based gaming operator Amaya Gaming Group reported a loss of $7.4 million in first-quarter 2013. Just a year earlier, it saw a five-fold increase in revenues in the same quarterly period.

The loss comes from a list of acquisitions with software developers CryptoLogic, online poker network Ongame and gaming device supplier Cadillac Jack, all of which were acquired by Amaya in 2012 alone. Costs associated with those deals resulted in Amaya posting a net loss of $7.1 million at year’s end.

For the first quarter of 2013, Amaya surged $38.1 million in revenue, marking a 496% jolt from the previous year. In addition, adjusted earnings plummeted from a $532,000 loss to $10.26 million (excluding $2.66 in one-time costs).

Aside from the acquisition costs which made up $6.2 million of the sum, it was also selling and marketing expenses that doubled to $3.73 million, while general and administrative expenses rose to $34.7 million due to amortization costs, consulting and professional fees and the termination of excess staff.

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Tax Issues in Illinois Delay Approval of Gambling Bill

Earlier this month, the Illinois State Senate passed a bill that would expand gambling in the state and give Chicago its first casino. However, the bill has been sitting untouched in the state’s House due to a disagreement in the tax structure.

“The tax rate is the big one,” Rep. Robert Rita, D-Blue Island, lead House sponsor of the expansion bill, said earlier this week. “We’ve been working on it, and we’re sort of stuck at that.”

As it stands in the state now, casinos are taxed depending on their revenues with those earning higher revenues facing bigger tax rates of as high as 50 percent. The gambling expansion bill (SB1739), however, includes a huge tax cut. Casinos earning between $200 million and $300 million a year would only be required to surrender 40 percent of their revenue rather than the 50 percent currently in place. The 50 percent tax fee will only stand for casinos earning more than $800 million.

Although the structure has been agreed upon in the Senate, the House has hit a roadblock with agreeing on the tax rate and the time when these rates will go into effect.

Aside from the tax rates, the house is also still in discussion as to how these funds will be allocated. The Senate approved that revenue allocations would go toward economic development programs for Latino and African American areas, as well as agriculture programs, and repairs to the Illinois State.

The legislation spring session ends on Friday so we’ll keep you updated as news progresses.

The Chicago Tribune has more.

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