California poker bill offers racing a $60m carrot

California poker bill offers racing a $60m carrot

California’s font online poker regulatory hopes showed flickers of life this week following the release of new draft legislation and a meeting of key tribal gaming groups.

Late last month, California Assemblyman Adam Gray filed amendments to his AB 431 online poker legislation that would offer state racetracks up to $60m in annual payments in exchange for giving up the opportunity to be an active participant in the state’s proposed regulated online poker market.

AB 431, which until last month had been a shell bill with little in the way of detail, now specifies a 15% tax rate for online poker licensees, which would be limited to established tribal casinos and state card rooms. Licensees would have to ante up $15m deposits, from which future tax payments will be deducted. Licensees would be able to operate up to two online poker sites.

Gray’s plan calls for the tracks to receive the first $60m of the state’s annual online poker revenue, 95% of which would go toward racing purses and pari-mutuel employee retirement plans, while the other 5% would support state agricultural fairs.

The bill has been deemed an urgency statute, meaning it will require a two-thirds favorable vote in both of the state’s legislative chambers. Assuming that happens, the state would have 270 days following passage in which to craft the necessary regulations.

I WAS TOLD THERE WOULD BE NO MATH The tracks’ desire to add online poker to their existing advance deposit wagering sites has been fiercely opposed by the state’s tribal gaming industry, which maintains that the tracks have never offered poker in any form and to do so now would violate the exclusivity provisions of tribal-state gaming compacts.

On Thursday, Gray convened a meeting of tribal leaders in the hopes of garnering support for his plan. Longtime tribal gaming reporter Dave Palermo’s recap of Gray’s meeting indicated some tribes came away thinking they’d made progress while others felt they were no further ahead.

A representative of the tribes that have inked a partnership with Amaya Gaming’s PokerStars brand said they had “agreed not to oppose” AB 431 although California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA) chairman Steve Stallings expressed concern that the financial provisions of Gray’s bill would have to be “rolled back.”

Stalling maintains that the expenses associated with launching the state’s poker market will make the sites unprofitable for the first four years, meaning “there’s not going to be any income to tax.” Despite his support for Gray’s efforts to buy off the tracks, Stallings believes “the total economics of the bill don’t work.”

This latter sentiment was echoed by the tribal coalition that has historically been the biggest barrier to online poker legislative progress. David Quintana, a lobbyist representing tribes led by the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, expressed his belief that AB 431’s figures “aren’t real world.”

But Quintana rejected suggestions that the Pechanga coalition had given up its opposition to ‘bad actors’ like PokerStars participating in the state’s online poker market. Quintana said the Pechanga coalition would insist that the matter be resolved before the bill came up for a vote on the Assembly floor.

It remains to be seen whether the tracks will accept Gray’s bribe. Just prior to Gray’s meeting, Assemblyman Mike Gatto told PokerNews that he put the odds of California passing online poker legislation in 2016 at less than 10%. Gatto, who filed his own poker bill last year, said stakeholders were “too focused on their own power politics or egos to come together.”

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Latest round of fund-raising for DraftKings falls short

Latest round of fund-raising for DraftKings falls short

DraftKings Inc. recently raised about $70 million from investors, according to two people briefed on the terms, a sharp drop from the company’s previous investment rounds as it fights regulatory battles across the country.

Investors did not assign a fixed valuation to the company in this funding round, which happened in the past few months, said one person. Neither person was authorized to discuss the financing deal publicly.

But the new investment round prompted 21st Century Fox Inc. to cut the value of its $160 million investment in DraftKings by about 60 percent, the people said.

Fox reported to federal regulators on Monday that it reduced the value of its roughly 11 percent stake in Draft-Kings by $95 million “based on information concerning DraftKings’ current valuation in a recent financing transaction,” but declined to provide more detail.

It was not clear if Fox was among the investors in the new $70 million round. Fox and DraftKings declined to comment Friday.

Boston-based DraftKings collected about $500 million in a pair of investment rounds that were completed within weeks of each other this summer. The latter investment round, in early August, was worth about $200 million and valued the company at about $2 billion.

The money helped DraftKings compete with its chief rival, New York’s FanDuel Inc., as the two companies spent heavily on advertising in a drive to attract new customers during the NFL season., a company that tracks commercial airings, has estimated that DraftKings spent about $156 million on TV ads last year, airing 25 different ads more than 46,000 times. From late August to mid-September — the period around the start of the NFL season — DraftKings ran more TV commercials than any other advertiser in America, said.

That flood of marketing spending was followed by a surge in regulatory scrutiny that has hampered the industry’s growth prospects and prompted the companies to hire prominent legal advisers.

The most serious challenge is in New York, where Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has asked a judge to ban DraftKings and FanDuel. The companies are fighting that lawsuit, and have embarked on a lobbying push to secure regulatory laws in several states that would explicitly allow daily fantasy sports to operate.

Fantasy sports contestants assemble mythical rosters of real-life athletes, scoring points based on those players’ actual statistics. In daily fantasy sports, the variety popularized by DraftKings and FanDuel, those contests can span just one day or one week’s worth of real-life games.

That short turnaround dramatically increases the number of games that are played and the number of players who pay entry fees, which are recycled as cash prizes that can exceed $1 million.

Some states have said fantasy sports contests aren’t clearly addressed by local gambling laws. In Massachusetts, Attorney General Maura Healey is finalizing a broad set of consumer protection regulations that would ban players under 21 and restrict the companies’ advertising practices, among other steps.

DraftKings also has expanded to the United Kingdom, potentially giving it access to a new pool of paying players in a country that has much more liberal gambling laws than the United States.

But the domestic legal questions have threatened to restrict the flow of money into daily fantasy sports companies.

Vantiv Inc., a company that processes player entry fees and prize payouts, said it plans to drop daily fantasy sports clients at the end of February. Two large banks, Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp., have blocked their customers from paying for daily fantasy contests in New York amid Schneiderman’s lawsuit.

In court filings, DraftKings has said being shut out of the New York market would be “devastating” to its business and cause it to lose the support of key investors and business partners. The company has said it collected about $100 million in entry fees from New York players in 2015.

DraftKings’ previous investors include Boston financial giant Wellington Management, the Kraft Group, Major League Baseball, the National Hockey League, and the owners of the New York Knicks, New York Rangers, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Dallas Cowboys.

Fox isn’t the only investor that has reassessed its stake in DraftKings in recent months. Mutual funds owned by John Hancock Financial and Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. recently reported that they cut the value of their stakes in DraftKings’ August financing round by about 15 percent, from $7.67 per share to about $6.52 per share.

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NBA All-Star Odds — Total Indicates Free-wheeling Affair Expected

NBA All-Star Odds -- Total Indicates Free-wheeling Affair Expected

Out with the old, in with the new. Is that going to be the theme of this year’s NBA All-Star Game? Maybe. Certainly there is a member of the “old guard” leaving, as Kobe Bryant has announced that this, his 18th All-Star Game, will also be his last. Will he play enough to have an impact? Will they vote him the MVP award just for the hell of it? That could be, because normal rules don’t often apply in this event. Remember when Magic Johnson played in the game, despite not having played at all during the regular season, and won the MVP? Of course, he also scored 25 points in that one; we doubt that Kobe will. But this should be entertaining, as the game gets underway at 8:30 PM ET at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. It comes by way of TNT, and BetAnySports customers can watch that live and place their wagers in real time through the innovative invention called Live Betting Extra.

It tells you a lot about today’s NBA that when voting for the starting lineups, fans didn’t even have to worry about putting a center or even a power forward specifically into the game. And as a result, these are very small starting lineups. When you look at it, LeBron James is the biggest guy for the East, while Kevin Durant would be his counterpart with the West. So while we will, almost without question, see some isolation in the halfcourt, you may see a swift pace much of the time in the early going while these teams eschew pivot play.

When it comes to the big men, we will see an passing of the torch to some of the young guys, namely Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons, who has taken over, it seems, as the NBA’s rebounding king. By the way, he leads the league in offensive rebounds by a very wide margin, and blocking out underneath is not necessarily a fundamental they concentrate on in this individual showcase.

In the reduced juice NBA All-Star odds for this contest, as they are currently posted at BetAnySports, the West is the favorite, on the road, so to speak:

West All-Stars -6 (-103) East All-Stars +6 (-107)

Over 321 points -103 Under 321 points -107

Another sign of today’s NBA is that there are players with non-contenders who have actually sat out regular season games in order to be rested enough to play in the All-Star Game. Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks comes to mind, and perhaps that is as good an explanation as any as to why they are with non-contenders. But make no mistake about the fact that this is like a schoolyard game, and that is why a guy like Russell Westbrook, who has no conscience at all when it comes to throwing the ball up toward the basket, could win an MVP award with 41 points, as he did last year, and why he could do it again (he is currently listed at +950).

BetAnySports has priced Bryant at +120 to win the MVP, and the general consensus is that he’ll get every break imaginable, not just from the players but the voters too. Some of the things he has said during the week, however, would seem to indicate that going after his fifth All-Star MVP trophy isn’t exactly a priority for him. And would Gregg Popovich of the Spurs, the West coach, give this VERY fragile star so many minutes that he overworks him, which would not make the Los Angeles Lakers (who have built their season around his farewell) too happy?

Look at the total on this game. It was already the highest in All-Star history, and has been rising throughout the day. Now it is at 321, which is 21 points higher than last year’s over/under, which was the highest to that time. is this an over-reaction to the last two years’ point totals of 318 and 321? It looks a little “blown up” to us.

BetAnySports has great All-Star betting options, and there is also reduced juice available, just like there will be the rest of the way! Get in the action in a number of different ways, including your Visa card, a person-to-person transfer or the virtual currency of Bitcoin…..And away we go!

NBA All-Star Betting — Curry Defends Three-Point Title

NBA All-Star Betting -- Curry Defends Three-Point Title

This appears to clearly be the year of Stephen Curry. The Golden State Warriors star, who is also the reigning Most Valuable Player, rolled to a victory last year in the Three-Point Shootout, then went on to win an NBA title, and is now the league’s leading scorer, as well as the top three-point marksman. And he is back, not only as a starter in Sunday’s All-Star Game, but also as someone who is going to defend his Shootout title, as the event is part of the All-Star Saturday, which will all begin at about 8:30 PM ET at the Air Canada Centre, which will be the site of Sunday’s game as well. The 3-Point event takes place sometime afterward, as the Skills Challenge will happen first.

BetAnySports customers know that Curry has been dominating the category of three-point shooting this season, as he has made far more than anyone else from beyond the arc. Curry has drained 245 triples, which is well ahead of teammate Klay Thompson, who is also a participant in the contest. Curry is also 45.4% accurate, which is fourth in the NBA. Interestingly enough, Curry is not only behind JJ Redick of the Los Angeles Clippers (who is also in this event), but also Kawhi Leonard, the league leader in accuracy at 48.2% and is an All-Star starter, and Jared Dudley of the Washington Wizards, who is not involved in this event.

Who is going to be the guy who gets hot? That really becomes the question here, doesn’t it? Who is most likely to do it? Curry is the guy who has been most prolific, but the percentages posted by some of these other participants, by definition, make them viable contenders. Can they handle the “spotlight,” which is much greater than most people imagine, because a clock is attached to it?

Here are the NBA All-Star Betting odds on the Three-Point Shootout, as they are posted by the people at BetAnySports:

Stephen Curry (Warriors) +150 Klay Thompson (Warriors) +400 JJ Redick (Clippers) +400 Devin Booker (Suns) +1100 James Harden (Rockets) +1250 Kyle Lowry (Raptors) +1150 Khris Middleton (Bucks) +1500 CJ McCollum (Blazers) +2300

Curry is the only guy in this field who has actually won this event before. So he has a certain advantage right there. The argument might be made by some that a player like Redick, for example, might even be a better pure shooter. And there will be a majority of people, we assume, who will be pushing for Kyle Lowry, the Toronto Raptors’ point guard who was voted in as a starter for Sunday’s All-Star Game. Lowry has been 39.2% accurate from three-point range this season, and he has made 145 from downtown.

Will the rookie feel the most pressure, or the least? Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns has been through a rough maiden voyage, as he has been through a stretch where his team has lost 24 of 26 games. He has had his moments, however, when left open beyond the arc, hitting 40.3% from there. James Harden of the Houston Rockets is generally known as the most liberal player when it comes to heaving the ball in general, as he is the league leader in field goal attempts. But this four-time All-Star, who is +1250 in the NBA betting odds at BetAnySports, is the least accurate three-point shooter in this lineup, at 35.5%. Please take note as well that Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat, an original participant, had to remove himself from this event, and the All-Star Game itself, with a calf injury, so CJ McCollum of the Portland Trail Blazers, who is a 39% shooter from beyond the arc, is the replacement, and also the longshot here, presumably because he has really had not time to prepare.

The Slam Dunk Contest is the most sensational event in the All-Star Weekend, but there are only four players involved. The overwhelming favorite is also the defending champion. Zach LaVine of the Minnesota Timberwolves, the explosive leaper who won the Slam Dunk as a rookie, says that he didn’t even use all of his best stuff last year, and he is aiming to become the fourth back-to-back winner, following Michael Jordan, Jason Richardson and Nate Robinson. And he is the -235 favorite to do so. Aaron Gordon of the Orlando Magic (+450), Will Barton of the Denver Nuggets (+550) and Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons (+1375), who is also in the All-Star game itself, are the other contestants.

BetAnySports has the biggest selection of All-Star props for you when it comes to the Saturday and Sunday action! Get on board now and enjoy reduced juice on NBA action, as get your account open with a Visa card, person-to-person transfer or the virtual currency of Bitcoin!

GPL Draft List Revealed

GPL Draft List Revealed

We now know the draft picks for the inaugural Global Poker League, and it’s good news for poker fans, as the very best players in the game come out to support the initiative in their droves.

Global Poker League Draft: The Quality is IncredibleIf the first season of the Global Poker League (GPL) falls on its ass, it will not be down to a lack of playing talent.

The top ranked 1,000 players in the Global Poker Index (GPI) had the opportunity to apply, and 201 of them thought the contract was worth a dab of ink.

12 teams.

12 team managers.

Three picks per team.

When you go through the list what strikes you immediately is how difficult it will be for the Team Manager’s to choose the players they believe will propel them to glory. The quality of players is astounding. In all honesty, the only disappointments for me are the lack of Steve O’Dwyer and Joe McKeehen, and that’s a minor quibble.

The list is very North American heavy with players from the USA dominating. 103 Americans have applied, and 13 from Canada. The Russians also have a keen interest with 10 players applying; 8 females are in the mix. There is also a broad selection from the live and online worlds, both cash games and tournaments, and a great spread of ages. Nations from 36 different lands are involved.

Here are some gems from the draft list.

Phil Galfond

Fedor Holz

Dzmitry Urbanovich

Dani Stern

Martin Jacobson

Vanessa Selbst

Shawn Buchanan

Jason Mo

Chris Moorman

Antonio Esfandiari

Remembering the action will be heads-up and six-max online, live heads-up, and a new format of 3 v 3 live in the Playoffs/Finals, here are my picks.

Phil Galfond Shawn Buchanan Vanessa Selbst The GPL Draft will take place Fri, 25 Feb. All the action will be streamed live on Twitch. On Feb 18, the GPL organisers will draw the order the Team Managers will pick for each of the three rounds.

The excitement doesn’t end there.

In the week that follows the draft, the 12 team managers have to choose two wildcards to make up their team quota of five players. There are so many outstanding poker players, both regarding skill, and marketability – that didn’t even make the draft – the one thing we know for sure, is all 12 teams will be bubbling over with talent.

We have the teams.

We have the team managers.

We have a GPL draft chocked full of top quality players.

What could go wrong?

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DraftKings acquire Kountermove Fantasy MMA

DraftKings acquire Kountermove Fantasy MMA

Daily fantasy sports operator DraftKings has made an effort to change its negative narrative by acquiring mixed martial arts fantasy operator Kountermove Fantasy MMA.

Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed, but Kountermove’s estimated 30k registered users have already found themselves redirected to the DraftKings site and asked to transfer their accounts.

DraftKings cofounder Matt Kalish told MMAjunkie that he expects an additional 5k paid users to migrate to the DraftKings platform to take advantage of the larger MMA prize pools.

DraftKings, which already has an exclusive partnership with the Ultimate Fighting Championship, said it was excited about expanding its combat sports offering. Kountermove, which became the first MMA DFS site when it launched in 2011, also offers DFS contests on non-MMA dustups like boxing, kickboxing and jiu jitsu.

Kountermove CEO Brian Knapp said the deal represented the “perfect culmination of our earliest vision” of “hoping to contribute to the sport in some meaningful way.” Knapp said his group had “gotten to know the DraftKings team” since the latter site launched its first MMA contests in 2014 and looked to them “as a partner for growing the overall space of MMA.”

DraftKings has now pretty much cornered the DFS MMA market. Rival FanDuel has chosen to offer a more limited DFS menu, in part over concerns that some sports (golf, NASCAR) may violate the fantasy sports carveout of the 2006 Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, but also because many of these sports are DFS niche markets.

Whatever its effect on DraftKings’ bottom line, Thursday’s acquisition at least marks a positive story in a week that has been largely negative for the company and DFS in general. The week saw DraftKings make an awkward exit from its pricey marketing deal with ESPN while 21st Century Fox publicly announced that its DraftKings stake had lost 60% of its value in six months.

Things weren’t much better for FanDuel, which was forced to lay off most of the staff at its Florida offices while both companies got taken to the woodshed by PBS’ Frontline investigative series and some influential California tribes offered a broadly negative public opinion on the state’s DFS regulatory push.

Meanwhile, the past two Fridays have brought negative news from financial firms looking to cut their ties to DFS. Will this Friday prove any less freaky? Watch this space…

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PokerStars withdraws heads-up cash games

PokerStars withdraws heads-up cash games

Amaya-owned PokerStars has opted to pull regular heads-up cash game tables from its service offering.

In an email distributed to customers, PokerStars confirmed from today (Friday), players will no longer have access to No Limit Hold’em, Fixed Limit Hold’em and Pot Limit Omaha Heads-Up regular tables.

Such games will be replaced with Zoom pools, a format where players compete against a different opponent on each hand.

Despite the withdrawal, PokerStars did reveal that it intends to introduce a new $50/$100 option in order to cater for higher stakes customers.

Eric Hollreiser, head of corporate communications at PokerStars’ parent company Amaya, said in a statement: “These changes are part of PokerStars’ ongoing strategic plan to improve the poker ecosystem and enhance the player experience.

“We expect these changes to incentivise more players to be focused on playing poker and less focused on selecting opponents.

“Ultimately we believe this will raise the competitive bar and help increase a fun and fair playing experience for everyone.”

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