This week’s Inside Gaming highlights a number of international stories, including the sudden withdrawal of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker from numerous countries, while also looking in on this week’s Global Gaming Expo.
PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker Say Goodbye to the “Gray”
It was a week full of headlines from around the world with numerous breaking stories involving significant legislative maneuvers by different nations sure to affect future gaming — as well as one big story of a gaming business making a decision with current legal situations in mind — with PokerNews on hand with reporting on all of them.
On Wednesday came news of Amaya Gaming’s decision to adopt a new strategy regarding the operations of both PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker in markets where online gambling is not specifically regulated.
Poker players in 30 different countries were abruptly informed of the plan to disallow real-money games on both sites going forward, along with instructions for withdrawing their funds. Many players located in such “gray markets” swiftly took to the forums, with some likening the suddenness of the decision to Black Friday.
For a list of affected countries and more, see “PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker Withdraw From 30 Countries.”
Legislative News from Europe
Meanwhile poker pros and others in Belgium have learned that authorities there intend to change markedly the way winnings are taxed. By distinguishing poker winnings from other kinds of gambling — as not an “exceptional event” but an ongoing endeavor — poker players may be taxed as much as 75% for their winnings if considered “a professional income.”
Learn more about the decision in “Poker and Taxes: Belgium to Tax Professional Players Up to 75%.”
On the subject of taxes, the European Union General Court has recently delivered a ruling allowing Denmark to continue to regulate and tax online gambling independently from land-based gambling, thereby giving regulated online sites a better chance to compete versus other markets — including those “gray markets” noted above — with a more competitive tax.
Find out how the ruling affects both Denmark and its potential consequences on the rest of the European Union in “EGC Rules in Favor of Differentiating Tax Rates in Denmark.”
And from over in Greece comes news this week of another court ruling, this one confirming that the Greek gambling monopoly OPAP (Greek Organisation of Football Prognostics S.A.) is legal and currently operating in compliance with all EU treaties, ending a decade-long legal battle.
Is it all Greek to you? Find out about the case and ruling in “Greece’s Betting Monopoly Declared Legal.”
Industry Gathers for G2E
Meanwhile in the United States, this week’s Global Gaming Expo (G2E) at the Sands Expo and Convention Center focused the gaming industry’s attention squarely on the future with a packed three-day schedule of exhibits, seminars, and speakers providing much food for thought about what might be come.
G2E attracts gaming industry representatives from around the world, including executives, management, tribal leaders, and others currently working in casinos or gaming establishments, as well as those looking to break into the industry or with special interests in its development. It also provides a showcase for introducting new games, machine designs, and technology of relevance to the industry.
Among the many headlines emanating from this year’s conference were the results of a study by the American Gaming Association conducted by Oxford Economics showing that U.S. casinos (and game-creators) had a $240 billion combined economic impact on the communities in which they are located, employing 1.7 million people.
The total included the $38 billion paid by the industry in local, state, and federal taxes including gambling-related fees, income taxes, property taxes, among other forms of payment. The study combined figures collected from both commercial casinos and Native American-owned casinos while also considering the impact of the gaming industry on other related businesses, in particular tourism.
Commentary on the report highlighted the question of the industry being able to sustain such an economic impact going forward, with talk of regulatory changes being needed in order to allow for further innovation. The sudden rise in popularity of fantasy sports in the U.S. was also discussed.
Speaking of regulation and legislative impact on the industry, the always hot-button topic of online gambling in the U.S. received attention at G2E this week as well, including affording opportunities for opponents of its growth to share their positions.
Sheldon Adelson, the multibillionaire CEO and chairman of the Sands Corp., gave a wide-ranging talk Wednesday night touching upon a range of topics including a reiteration of his well-known opposition to online gambling. The prospect of being unable to prevent underage gambling served as a familiar starting point for Adelson's commentary, with the talk receiving a “lukewarm response” as reported by Nolan Dalla in a critical rejoinder, “Lies, Lies, and Videotape — Sheldon Adelson Skewers Poker Players Again.”
In attendance for Adelson’s talk was casino operator Steve Wynn, who the night before likewise voiced a kinship with Adelson’s opposition to online gambling in response to a question following his keynote speech (pictured above). As Howard Stutz reports for the Las Vegas Review Journal, Wynn more explicitly references financial concerns when expressing his reservations, including noting “his advisers told him his company needed ‘to spend $30 or $40 million’ to establish an Internet gaming presence ‘or be left behind.’”
Read more about gambling’s impact on the U.S. economy and jobs in U.S. News and World Report.