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Archive for February, 2019

Viet Vo Claims WSOP Circuit Rio Las Vegas Main Event Title

A Main Event title eluded Viet Vo a couple of time until last night when he outlasted 952 entries at Rio Las Vegas for $274,030 and a gold ring

Viet Vo entered a tough final day of the WSOP Circuit Rio Las Vegas Main Event with former WSOP gold bracelet winners and multiple-time gold ring winners, but remained unfazed by the stats, played his game and took down the $1,700 buy-in tournament.

Vo scooped his career’s largest cash last night and his second gold ring from the series. The player collected the top prize of $274,030 for taking down the Main Event at Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. He emerged victorious over a field of 952 entrants, including a number of decorated poker professionals.

Over the course of his poker career, Vo has come really close to winning a WSOP Circuit Main Event title several times. However, that title has kept eluding him until last night. The player told WSOP Circuit staff after his triumph that it felt really good to “finally close it out.”

Prior to quitting his daily job and dedicating his undivided attention to poker, Vo had played just for fun every night after work. He found out that he was really good at the game and decided to become a full-time player four years ago when he finished second in a WSOP Circuit Main Event in Chicago. He never regretted his decision.

A Tough Day

The final day of the tournament kicked off with 23 survivors returning to the host casino on Tuesday. The hopefuls were led by one-time WSOP Circuit Main Event champ Jared Jaffee. The player kept his momentum for the greater part of the day, but eventually busted in 7th place.

Vo did not have the best start of the day and even though he made it to the official final table, things got really stressful for him during that stage of the game. The player survived all the way down to three-handed play. The final three players battled it out for four levels before someone hit the rail. And Vo was the short stack for the greater part of those four levels.

Eventually, he turned out to be one of the final two survivors, the other one being Sohale Khalili. The two-handed match began with the eventual champion being the short stack. However, a key hand that saw Khalili’s eights full of fives run into Vo’s eights full of sixes changed the course of the game forever.

Vo doubled through his opponent, leaving him down to just 14 big blinds. The soon-to-be-champion never looked back from that point on. On what turned out to be the final hand in play, Vo shoved and Khalili called for his last 3.1 million.

Khalili tabled [Ah][10s] to Vo’s [Jd][10h]. The board ran out [Js][8c][6c][4h][Jc] to end Khalili’s run. The player collected $169,497 for his runner-up finish. As for Vo, aside from his second gold ring and the first-place prize, the player also secured a seat into the season-ending Global Casino Championship.

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Paul Phua Acquitted of Illegal Betting Operation Charges

Macau court sides with Paul Phua, clears the Malaysian businessman of charges of being the mastermind behind an illegal betting operation

The Macau Court of First Instance decided on Tuesday to acquit Malaysian businessman and poker pro Paul Phua of charges of running an illegal betting ring at Wynn Macau during the 2014 World Cup, the Macau News Agency reported citing Mr. Phua’s legal advisor.

The businessman turned a professional poker player was arrested along with 24 other people by the Macau Judiciary Police in the summer of 2014 on suspicions that he was the mastermind behind an illegal scheme for taking wagers on World Cup matches.

Mr. Phua had illegal gambling charges leveled against him but his case only came to trial earlier this month, nearly five years after his arrest. Back in 2014, he was released on bail shortly after he was detained and flew to Las Vegas where he stayed at Caesars Palace.

The businessman’s villa at the luxury Vegas resort was raided by the FBI and he was arrested yet again on suspicions that he ran an illegal gambling operations. The US Department of Justice accused Mr. Phua of running the betting group, transmitting wagering information as well as of organized crime connections.

His lawsuit in the US was later on dismissed as the presiding judge in the case deemed FBI’s raid violation of Mr. Phua’s privacy.

How Mr. Phua’s Macau Trial Unfolded

It took nearly five years after the Malaysian businessman’s initial arrest for the Court of First Instance to take on the case. It took just a couple of weeks for the court to issue its ruling.

The suit was initiated on February 12, the Macau News Agency reports, and the court heard witnesses over the course of the next two days. As mentioned above, the final verdict was issued this past Tuesday.

The Malaysian businessman was acquitted of all charges. The other 14 remaining defendants in the case were, too, cleared of guilt. The presiding judge said on Tuesday that Macau police and the city’s Public Prosecution’s Office failed to obtain sufficient evidence that the equipment and documentation seized during the raid conducted at Wynn Macau rooms belonged to the defendants or was used for the operation of illegal bets.

According to a statement emailed by Paul Phua Poker, Mr. Phua’s poker tips website, to the Macau News Agency, Mr. Phua was arrested at Wynn Macau in the summer of 2014 by mere chance. The businessman happened to be at the resort for a business meeting when he was apprehended by law enforcement officers. The email further stated that the prosecution was not able “to identify any evidence that he had engaged in any illegal activity.”

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Consolidation to Wash Over Sweden’s Gambling Market, Svenska Spel CEO Says

Svenska Spel’s CEO believes Sweden’s gambling market is not big enough for 70 licensed operators, expects wave of consolidation

A wave of consolidation will wash over the Swedish online gambling sector as the local market is adjusting to the new regulatory environment, the CEO of state-owned gambling operator Svenska Spel told Bloomberg.

Patrik Hofbauer took over the CEO role at the company last December, joining from a Chief Executive position at the Swedish branch of Norwegian telecom Telenor.

The executive told Bloomberg earlier this month that he believes only 5 to 10 licensed online gambling companies will prevail in the newly regulated Swedish gambling space. The local gambling regulator, Spelinspektionen, has so far issued nearly 70 licenses for the provision of gambling services under the country’s new law. However, according to Mr. Hofbauer, the Swedish market is not big enough for all those new entries to thrive.

Svenska Spel’s top official further elaborated that a wave of merger and acquisition deals should be expected as operators are adjusting to the new regulatory conditions.

Sweden’s new gambling law took effect on January 1, 2019. The new rules opened the local regulated market to international operators as long as they have obtained a license from Spelinspektionen. The Nordic nation was previously an attractive destination for unregulated operations, with internationally licensed operators targeting local gamblers with tempting offers and spending heavy budgets on aggressive marketing.

Times Are Changing

While Svenska Spel has remained holder of the largest market share in Sweden, the unregulated market has exploded over the past several years, hitting heavily the state-owned entity’s profitability.

Up until this year, Svenska Spel was the exclusive regulated provider of multiple gambling services. Following the liberalization of the local market, the company is now seeking to make its offering more attractive to local gamblers and is focusing more on its digital arm. It is competing with the likes of Kindred Group, Betsson, LeoVegas, and a number of other internationally recognized brands.

Svenska Spel currently offers about 200 online casino games and plans to further extend its online gaming footprint. However, international operators have complained that the state-owned entity will use its land-based casino operations to market its digital business to its existing customer base.

Mr. Hofbauer told Bloomberg that he is confident Svenska Spel’s marketing activity is acceptable under the country’s new regulations.

The overly aggressive advertising of gambling services has become an important topic over the weeks after the re-regulation of the local market. The nation’s Minister for Public Administration held a meeting earlier this month with executives from the locally licensed operators to discuss the issue. There have also been suggestions for limits on how gaming and betting products are advertised to be introduced.

Mr. Hofbauer said that the heavy spending on different forms of marketing would likely subside after the first half of the year partially due to the 18% tax on revenue licensees are required to contribute in exchange for the right to operate in the field.

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Nevada Fines Wynn Resorts $20 Million to Settle Sexual Harassment Scandal

Wynn Resorts faces a record $20 million fine after admitting to have covered up multiple sexual harassment incidents involving its former boss

The Nevada Gaming Control Board slapped yesterday a record $20-million fine on casino giant Wynn Resorts for its part in the sexual harassment scandal its founder and former CEO, Steve Wynn, was embroiled in last year.

The Nevada gambling regulator issued its fine after it entered into a settlement with the gaming and hospitality company earlier this month. Back then, the board informed Wynn Resorts that it would announce its decision on the size of the fine the casino operator would be imposed at a later date.

The gaming and hospitality giant admitted its participation in covering up multiple settlements with employees who claimed that they were sexually harassed by Mr. Wynn. The Nevada Gaming Control Board also found out during a probe on the matter that members of the company’s management team “facilitated sexual relationships” between the company’s founder and employees at its Wynn Resorts’ properties.

The Wall Street Journal published last January a shocking report detailing a decades-long sexual misconduct pattern by Mr. Wynn and multiple private settlements between the businessman and company employees. One of the sexual harassment incidents involved a former manicurist being paid $7.5 million in order to keep quiet about being subjected to unwanted sexual advances by Mr. Wynn.

Management Overhaul

Mr. Wynn resigned from his CEO role in the company he found shortly after the publication of the WSJ report. He also sold his stock in Wynn Resorts and vacated his private villa at Wynn Las Vegas.

The businessman was replaced by Matt Maddox as CEO of the gaming and hospitality giant. Wynn Resorts also appointed gambling industry veteran Phil Satre as its Chairman. The company conducted a massive managerial overhaul in the months after the publication of WSJ’s shocking revealings, firing a number of top executives, including former General Counsel Kim Sinatra, who were believed to have covered up the multiple alleged sexual harassment incidents involving Mr. Wynn.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board said during a hearing held yesterday that the hefty fine, four-times larger than any other ever imposed by the regulator, was slapped on Wynn Resorts for failing its employees and for failing the state.

The settlement with Nevada regulators will enable Wynn Resorts to focus its full attention on addressing its troubles in Massachusetts where it is building the $2.6 billion Encore Boston Harbor integrated resort.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission is currently assessing the company’s suitability to operate the luxury hotel and casino complex. It was expected to publish a report based on the findings of a lengthy probe into the sexual harassment allegations leveled against Mr. Wynn last December.

However, the businessman sued the gaming regulator and the company in a Nevada court, arguing that Wynn Resorts communicated improperly information about him to MassGaming. The presiding judge temporarily blocked the publication of the regulator’s report until she made a decision whether it indeed violated Mr. Wynn’s rights, as he claimed in his complaint.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission voted last week to settle the legal dispute with the embattled former casino boss in order to avoid protracted litigation that would prevent it from weighing on whether Wynn Resorts is suitable to operate Encore Boston Harbor before the property’s planned late June opening.

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Jared Jaffee Leads 23 into Final Day of WSOP Circuit Rio Las Vegas

Jared Jaffee is leading 23 players into the final day of the WSOP Circuit Rio Las Vegas Main Event, eyeing his second gold ring

The WSOP Circuit Rio Las Vegas Main Event is heading into its final day with 23 survivors from an overall field of 952 entrants. Poker pro Jared Jaffee is leading the pack of hopefuls and is attacking the top for his second gold ring from the series.

The $1,700 buy-in Main Event kicked off at Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas this past Saturday with the first of two starting flights. As mentioned above, a total of 952 contenders registered into the tournament during its two Day 1s. Of them, only 202 made it into Day 2, which was played on Monday at the host casino.

The event’s field generated a prize pool of $1,442,280. The prize money was split into payouts for the top 99 finishers. The money bubble burst during the fourth level played on Day 2. Layne Flack became the unfortunate bubble boy after opening with queen-jack suited and clashing into his opponent’s aces. Each of the remaining 99 players at that point in play was guaranteed min-cash of $2,957.

Day 3 action starts today at 1 pm local time with the 23 hopefuls who are still in contention. They will all leave with a cash of no less than $10,038. However, they are certainly eyeing the top prize of $274,030 and the accompanying WSOP Circuit gold ring.

Jared Jaffee Vies for Second WSOP Circuit Main Event Title

Jaffee won his first piece of WSOP Circuit gold back in 2017 when he bested the field of the Main Event at The Bicycle Casino. Apart from the piece of jewelry, the player scooped a $211,220 payout.

Jaffee is also a proud holder of one WSOP gold bracelet. He won the gold during the 2014 edition of the popular poker series. He took down a $1,500 No-Limit Hold’em Mixed Max tournament to claim the bracelet and a first-place prize of $405,428.

The poker pro from New York is now heading into the final day of the Main Event at Rio to test his skills and do his best to add another trophy to his collection. Jaffee is leading the final 23 players with a stack of 2.36 million, good for 47 big blinds.

The start-of-the-day chip leader is closely followed by Roger Campbell with 2.325 million and Dan Park with 2.075 million. Kent Lundmark with 2.035 million and WSOP Circuit regular Nick Pupillo with 1.925 million round out top five of the temporary leaderboard.

There is just one more former gold bracelet left, aside from Jaffee, and multiple former gold ring winners. Kyle Cartwright, a holder of one gold bracelet from the WSOP series, is vying for his ninth WSOP Circuit gold ring. Three-time ring winner Steven Snyder is also still in contention.

Action resumes at 1 pm local time at the host venue. The remaining 23 players will play down to a champion.

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