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Archive for September 5th, 2018

Biggest EPT Barcelona Main Events over the Years

The EPT Barcelona has long ago become a staple event within the European Poker Tour. The sunny Spanish city of Barcelona has been a stop to an EPT festival in each and every of the popular poker series’ fourteen seasons and this will not change anytime soon, given the massive and growing popularity of EPT Barcelona.

The 2018 edition of the EPT Barcelona Main Event saw a record-breaking field as another manifestation that the tournament is getting bigger and more attractive with every year passing. The €5,300 buy-in Main Event drew 1,931 entries from all over the world this year. That record-breaking field generated a prize pool of €9,365,350. The money was split into payouts for the top 296 finishers.

Poland’s Piotr Nurzynsky bested the behemoth field to collect a first-place prize of €1,037,109. The player would have been awarded more than €1.6 million in prize money, but he struck a four-way deal with the other final three players left in contention, which reduced the first-place prize in favor of bigger payouts for the other three players.

To celebrate this massive tournament that is loved by players from different parts of the world and of different level of poker skill, Casino News Daily has looked back at previous editions of the EPT Barcelona Main Event to compile the following list of the largest ones to have taken place in the 14-year history of the series.

EPT Barcelona Season 13

The Season 13 edition of the EPT Barcelona drew 1,785 tournament entries. Of them, 359 received a share of the prize pool. And the prize pool itself totaled €8,657,250. A Polish player topped the field of that event, too.

It was Sebastian Malec who emerged as the victor. The young Pole collected €1,122,800 for his important accomplishment. Germany’s Uri Reichenstein was the player whom the tournament champion had to face heads-up. The German scooped €807,100 for finishing second.

It is important to note that the Season 13 EPT Barcelona took place in 2016. PokerStars, the owner of the EPT, announced later that year that it would retire that particular brand as well as several more from its live tournament roster and would replace them with the PokerStars Championship and PokerStars National brands. It can be said that the experiment might have not proved as successful as the poker operator might have expected as the EPT was brought to live this year, and it seems that its more than one-year hiatus has not affected its popularity.

EPT Barcelona Season 12

The Season 12 edition of the EPT Barcelona took place late in August 2015. The tournament built a 1,694-strong field. A prize pool of €8,215,900 was generated as a result and the lucky top 247 finishers received a share of the money.

The lion’s share went to John Juanda. The player, who is also a five-time WSOP gold bracelet winner, took home a hefty payout of €1,022,593. He played against UK’s Steve Warburton in the concluding heads-up match. Warburton was awarded €941,613 for his efforts.

It is also interesting to note that Juanda was vying for his second title from the series during this year’s edition of the EPT Barcelona Main Event. However, the player eventually left in ninth place after being eliminated by another former EPT Main Event champ looking to claim his second title – Bulgaria’s Ognyan Dimov.

EPT Barcelona Season 11

The 2014/Season 11 edition of the EPT Barcelona saw its Main Event swell up to 1,496 entries, of whom 240 received a share of the €7,255,600 prize pool. Germany’s Andre Lettau took down the tournament for a first-place prize of €794,058.

The German played against his fellow from the US Sam Phillips. It was actually Phillips who collected the lion’s share of the prize pool of €1,021,275, but that was the result of a three-way deal, which involved Hossein Ensan, another German, as well. The third participant in the deal took home €652,667 for rounding out the tournament’s podium.

EPT Barcelona Season 10

The 2013/Season 10 edition of the EPT Barcelona saw 1,234 entries flock to the poker tables at Casino Barcelona to take part in the €5,300 Main Event. A prize pool of nearly €6 million was generated as a result. Payouts were distributed to the top 183 finishers.

UK’s Tom Middleton was the king of that edition of the tournament. The player emerged as the victor to receive all the accolades a champion deserves as well as a first-place prize of €942,000. His payout was determined in a two-way deal with the second-place finisher – Finland’s Kimmo Kurko, who took home €750,000.

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Sports Betting Companies Dominate Google Searches in Kenya as MPs Reject Gambling Tax Cut

Sports betting companies were the most popular search terms on Google in August, according to data recently released by the major search engine. ‘Sportpesa’, ‘betpawa’, ‘betika’, ‘betin’, ‘forebet’ were found to have been the most popular terms typed by Kenyan users of Google.

It is also important to note that the latest results reflected a continuation of a persistent trend showing the popularity of sports betting in the East African country. In July, for example, the ‘How to withdraw from sportpesa” search was the second most popular one in Kenya, according to Google data. Information from previous months and recent years has, too, shown that sports betting has been dominating searches and that Kenyans are interested in that particular industry and what gambling operators servicing Kenya have to offer.

In a separate round of news, it became known that the country’s Parliament has rejected a proposed cut of the tax rate on gambling from 35% to 15%. The proposal came from the Finance and National Planning Committee and was voted down by the House over the weekend.

The proposed amendments regarding the current taxation of gambling services provided in Kenya was tacked onto the Finance Bill 2018. A similar proposal was added in June to the Tax Laws (Amendment) Bill 2018 but was rejected by Kenyan MPs.

How Did Kenya’s Gambling Taxation Drama Started?

The Kenyan Parliament approved last summer a proposal that saw the introduction of a 35% tax rate on all forms of legal gambling services provided in the country. Different products were taxed at different rates prior to that proposal. The new regime came into effect on January 1, 2018 to great discontent from the industry.

It resulted in major sports betting operators withdrawing their sponsorships of local sports clubs and leagues, arguing that the new tax rate represented a heavy blow to their income. Companies have been lobbying heavily for the introduction of a more reasonable taxation reform, but to little success, as it can be seen.

The latest rejection of a proposal for a tax cut saw comments from MPs who argued that they cannot lower gambling taxes at a time when countries are introducing blanket bans on gambling advertising, referring to Italy. Other MPs expressed surprise that the Finance and National Planning Committee had succumbed to pressure from betting companies.

As mentioned above, the latest proposal included a reduction of the existing tax rate of 35% to just 15%. As part of the proposed amendments to the current taxation regimes, lawmakers have also offered for the current contributions made by gambling operators to good causes to be reduced from the current 25% on the companies’ local revenues to just 5%. That proposal, too, was rejected by House MPs.

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Finnish Teen Who Scammed Malta Online Casino Gets 20-Month Suspended Sentence

A tech-savvy Finnish teenager who defrauded a Malta-based online casino out of €138,000 was given on Monday a suspended sentence of one year and eight months, local news outlet Yle reported. The young man’s parents were charged with money laundering and were too slapped with suspended sentences.

All three sentences are yet to be enforced as the defendants have the right to appeal the court’s rulings, Yle added in a Monday article on the topic.

As Casino News Daily reported last month citing Yle, the observant teen was found to have spotted and exploited a technical glitch at an unnamed online casino, based and licensed in Malta. The gaming operation’s system was set up to allow customers to cancel the return of their funds and to receive their refund into an online wallet or their bank accounts.

The young individual, who hails from Forssa, Finland, opened an account with the casino using fake information, more specifically a fake date of birth, and was reportedly able to take advantage of the technical bug for over a month. Over the course of that period, he managed to transfer more than €138,000 in casino funds into his personal bank account.

According to prosecutors, the teenager, who was aged 16 at the time, managed to carry out 417 transactions in the period between April and May 2017. The fraud was discovered by an employee of the casino in July 2017.

Teenager’s Parents Found Guilty of Money Laundering

The teenager, now aged 18, appeared Monday before the Häme District Court to hear his sentence. He was charged with aggravated fraud as a minor and was given a suspended sentence of one year and eight months. He will also have to pay back the €138,000 he transferred from the casino and to cover the casino owner’s legal fees of €3,000.

The teenager’s parents were, too, found to have been involved in their son’s actions. According to court filings, investigators have found €14,500 in money transferred from the casino in the bank account of the young man’s father. The parent was slapped yesterday with a suspended sentence of five months for aggravated money laundering.

The teenager’s mother was given a more lenient 60-day suspended sentence for money laundering after she was discovered to have been transferred €2,300 from the stolen money into her personal bank account and to have been in possession of a €5,000 motorcycle believed to have been obtained with a portion of the stolen money. She was also ordered to repay the ill-gotten gains.

As mentioned above, all three defendants will be able to appeal the charges and sentences. It is yet to be seen whether they would indeed appeal the court’s ruling from yesterday.

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Macau Casino Workers Protest Against Tobacco Law Violations, Ask for Better Controls, Fines for Casinos

A group of Macau casino workers – mostly dealers – participated in a demonstration on Monday, calling for stricter control on smoking at the city’s gambling venues. The protest was organized by the New Macau Gaming Staff Rights Association. It started at 4:30 pm local time at the World Trade Center in Zape. Protesters marched all the way through the Government Headquarters in Nam Van.

In a petition handed to the Smoking Prevention and Control Office of the Macau Health Bureau, workers requested stricter controls on smoking at casino premises and argued that the city’s recently introduced Tobacco Prevention and Control Law has been violated repeatedly both by casino players and the casinos themselves.

The new law took effect in January this year, but some of its provisions are set to be enforced on January 1, 2019 or precisely a year after its original implementation. Generally speaking, the new law bans smoking at the gaming floor except for specially adjusted smoking lounges.

Prior to the implementation of the latest version of the law, smoking at the gaming floor was allowed in smoking areas and smoking lounges only. It was banned in mass-market areas, while VIP players were allowed to smoke in designated areas in the VIP rooms.

Following the enforcement of the amended law, casinos were given one year (until January 1, 2019) to set up special smoking lounges that meet the new standards.

New Law Repeatedly Violated

Workers said during yesterday’s demonstration that they believe casinos will allow players to continue smoking in prohibited areas, despite the new regulations. Staff members further pointed out that some casinos currently allow patrons to smoke in places around the gaming floor where smoking is prohibited and that workers are even prohibited from telling customers that the areas they smoke in are actually prohibited ones.

Demonstrators asked for stricter controls and for penalties for casino operators that violate the new law. Under the new rules, customers who breach them are facing penalties of MOP1,500. The petition filed by the casino workers asked for operators to be penalized, too, if violations are spotted at their gambling venues. The introduction of a MOP15,000 fine on gambling companies was one of the measures staff members asked for in their petition to the Health Bureau.

Protesters also handed a petition addressed to Macau Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On. That petition dwelt on the fact that tips from customers are no longer publicized by casinos. Workers said in their petition that back in the 2000s the practice was for casino companies to disclose how much tips workers had collected and to use those for organized activities for their employees. That practice was later on abandoned.

Casino staff members asked the city’s top official to review the issue and address it so that shared tips are brought out and distributed among workers.

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