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Archive for August 3rd, 2018

PokerStars Brings Innovation into 2018 WCOOP Schedule, Awards over $116 Million in Prizes

Online poker room PokerStars has finally announced this year’s schedule for the World Championship of Online Poker and it can officially be said that there will be a little something for players of all levels of skill and for every bankroll during the major online festival.

This year’s WCOOP edition is slated to take place on September 2-17. It will feature as many as 182 different tournaments across 61 events. It is also understood from a post on PokerStars’ official blog that there will be tiered buy-in levels for players sporting bankrolls of different size. The three tiers will be Low, Medium, and High and buy-in fees within those would vary from $2.2 to $25,000 for the highest buy-in events set to take place within the championship.

Commenting on the three-tier buy-in system, which is an innovation into this year’s WCOOP, PokerStars Director of Poker Innovation and Operations Severin Rasset said that their goal was to provide every player with the opportunity to participate and to take a shot at the Main Event title.

The 2018 edition of the WCOOP will feature more than $116 million in guaranteed prize pools, with over $70 million featured in WCOOP events alone. The schedule of the upcoming online poker festival is quite diverse, as well, with different poker variants including mixed ones such as H.O.R.S.E.

Two Main Events

As mentioned above, there will be 61 events, and each of them will involve tournaments in three tiers – Low, Medium, and High. Each of them except for the Main Event, to be more precise. It will feature two tournaments – a Medium and a High one. The former will have a buy-in fee of $55 and will offer $1 million in guaranteed prize money. The latter will feature a buy-in fee of $5,200 and a guaranteed prize pool of $10 million. Both events are slated to kick off on September 16.

Last year, Malta-based player Steven “SvZff” van Zadelhoff topped the field of the WCOOP Main Event to become a world champion. The player collected more than $1.6 million for his efforts. He emerged victorious after beating a massive field of fellow contenders from all around the world and surviving a tough nine-handed final table.

In fact, Van Zadelhoff pretty much made his victory look quite easy. The player entered the final table as the chip leader with a massive chip advantage over the rest of the finalists. He held 37,957,931 at the time that final stage of the event began, with joshuah333 from Canada being the one to hold the second largest stack with 12,695,898.

The 2017 WCOOP Main Event drew 2,183 entries, including 1,804 unique ones and 379 re-entries. The $10 million guarantee was surpassed and the prize pool nearly reached $11 million. The winner was originally scheduled to collect $1.5 million in prize money, but as mentioned above, he eventually took home more than $1.6 million.

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Saratoga Casino Completes Acquisition of Ellis Park Racetrack in Kentucky

Saratoga Casino and Hospitality Group completed earlier this week the purchase of the Ellis Park thoroughbred racetrack, officials at the gaming and hospitality company have confirmed.

The racetrack and simulcast venue is located in Henderson, Kentucky, not far of the state’s border with Indiana. Ellis Park was established in 1922 and is one of Kentucky’s historic race course properties.

Saratoga Casino previously owned a 30% stake in the property and most recently purchased the remaining 70% stake for an undisclosed amount. The company bought its initial stake in Ellis Park in 2012 from local businessman Ron Geary. As he himself told local media outlets, Mr. Geary was encouraged by his family to sell his ownership in the racetrack and “slow down” a bit.

The businessman purchased the property in 2006. Commenting on the recent completion of the deal, Mr. Geary said that they have had “some great successes” with Ellis Park and that he was convinced Saratoga Casino would continue that progress.

The racetrack’s new owner said that there would be no management changes at the property for now. The group, which is a subsidiary of Saratoga Harness Racing Inc., sent executives at Ellis Park earlier this month to explore the potential areas where improvement would be needed and to craft a plan for the overall enhancement of patrons’ experience.

Sports Betting a Long Shot in Kentucky, For Now

While lawmakers gave the legalization of sports betting some thought in the weeks after a long-running ban on the provision of that type of gambling service was struck down by the US Supreme Court, it seems that Kentucky bettors would not be able to wager money on sports events this year.

A sports betting bill surfaced in the Kentucky Legislature in June, but it is set to be considered next year. It was only pre-filed and is set to be introduced officially in the Senate during the next legislative session. Generally speaking, the bill calls for the legalization and regulation of sports betting, allowing betting on professional and collegiate sporting events.

Under the proposed legislations, licensed operators will have to pay a $250,000 annual license fee and a 3% tax on handle (turnover). The bill does not include integrity fees, which all major US sports leagues have been lobbying for.

With the legislative piece being slated to be tabled for consideration during the Legislature’s next session, it is not likely that sports betting will get legalized before the first half of 2019. And according to industry analysts, it is not likely that Kentucky bettors would be able to place bets before early in 2020.

New Jersey was the first state to legalize and launch sports betting in the wake of the SCOTUS ruling. Four of the state’s nine operational casinos and the Meadowlands Racetrack in East Rutherfort have already went live with sports books.

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European Poker Tour Returns to Sunny Barcelona This Month

One of the hottest summer poker festivals annually taking place on European soil is just three weeks away from kicking off in sunny Barcelona. The EPT brand is back now after a short hiatus and is ready to storm the popular Spanish city.

This year’s EPT Barcelona is slated to begin on August 21 and to run all the way through September 2. As usual, Casino Barcelona will play host to the major poker festival.

The event’s schedule includes 34 different poker tournaments and a number of other opportunities for players to take advantage of. And there is no doubt that players from all around the world will flock to take part in EPT Barcelona as the Spanish city has proved to be a favorite poker destination over the years.

This year’s edition of the festival is set to begin with an opening €1,100 No-Limit Hold’em Turbo event, which will also function as a qualifier to Event #5 on the schedule of the EPT Barcelona which is a €10,000 No-Limit Hold’em Single Re-Entry. It should not be a surprise by now that No-Limit Hold’em dominates the schedule of EPT events. However, it should be noted that there will be a little something for fans of Pot-Limit Omaha action as well.

Players who prefer that particular game will be offered the opportunity to play in the two-day €10,300 Pot-Limit Omaha starting August 29 and the two-day Single Re-Entry €1,100 Pot-Limit Omaha starting August 31.

Highlight Tournaments

The €5,300 Main Event is set to kick off on August 27. The tournament will feature two starting fights and five more days of action until the winner is determined on September 2. Sweden’s Sebastian Sorensson took down the PokerStars Championship Barcelona Main Event last August for a prize of €987,043 after a three-way deal with Bulgaria’s Lachezar Petkov and Italy’s Raffaele Sorrentino.

The tournament featured a guaranteed prize pool of €7 million last year. The guarantee was crashed due to great interest in the event. As many as 1,682 entries took part in the Main Event last summer to generate a prize pool of €8,157,700.

For yet another year, high roller players will have several opportunities to engage in quality poker action with fellow high rollers. The €100,000 buy-in Super High Roller is set to part of the upcoming EPT Barcelona. The tournament is slated to take place on August 25-27 and will certainly attract some of Europe’s and the world’s best players, as EPT’s Super High Rollers always do.

The Single Day €50,000 No-Limit Hold’em High Roller is another exciting tournament included in the EPT Barcelona schedule this year. That tournament will take place on August 28. Russian poker star Igor Kurganov took down last year’s edition of the event for a first-place prize of €1,084,100 and one of his many poker titles.

Last but not least, the two €25,000 buy-in events – the €25,000 No-Limit Hold’em Single Re-Entry – and the Single Day Single Re-Entry €25,000 No-Limit Hold’em – will too be featured as part of the EPT Barcelona schedule. The former will take place over two days, September 1-2, while the latter will run on August 30.

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Nairobi County Seeks 30% Casino Revenue Share

The Nairobi County government tabled a proposal that if approved would see the Kenyan capital receive a 30% share of the revenue generated by its legal casinos. The proposal is part of the Finance Bill 2018, which was introduced to Kenya’s National Assembly earlier this week.

There are 23 registered casinos in the capital city, according to official data. They are licensed and regulated under the provisions of the Betting, Lotteries, and Gaming Act of 2017 and their activity is overseen by the Betting Control and Licensing Board.

However, it is understood that the Nairobi County does not receive a share of the revenue generated by the gambling venues within its limits and that tax revenue contributions go to the national government.

The proposal for Nairobi receiving a share of its casinos’ annual revenues came as part of the local government’s attempts to secure revenue sources for the 2018-19 financial year. Nairobi County officials are looking to secure funds for a planned KES32 billion annual budget.

Kenya’s casino gaming sector has been on the rise over the past several years. The country’s licensed casino-style gambling venues generated the total amount of KES2.3 billion in revenue last year.

Nairobi County’s revenue sharing proposal comes four years after a similar plan was introduced by local lawmakers but was struck down by the High Court, following a complaint by a casino patron who had argued that the move would result in customers being subjected to double taxation.

Kenya’s New Gambling Tax

Kenya’s gambling industry has been making the headlines over the past year mainly due to the introduction of a 35% tax on all types of gambling revenue. The taxation regime took effect on January 1 and was part of the Betting, Lotteries, and Gaming Act. The legislative piece was approved by Kenyan MPs and President Uhuru Kenyatta last summer.

The country thus effectively became the most expensive African jurisdiction for licensed operators to provide their services in. Aside from the 35% tax on revenue, bookmakers also pay a 30% corporate tax and are required to contribute 25% of their sales to social causes.

Following great pressure from the betting industry, Kenyan MPs proposed earlier this year to replace the 35% rate with a 15% one, but the move was rejected. The proposal also included burdening customers with a 20% tax on their winnings, but that provision was, too, voted down.

Prior to January 1, betting companies had to pay a 7.5% tax on their revenues, casino operators were taxed at 12%, and lottery-like products and raffle competitions shared 15% of their revenue. Following the introduction of the unified gambling tax, the Pambazuka National Lottery, which had been launched only 18 months prior, had to shutter its operations thus being the first victim of the newly introduced regime.

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