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Wynn Las Vegas is looking to increase its revenue from its poker offerings on the Las Vegas strip. The company recently announced that it is in the process of revamping and opening out a new Poker Room that will include a number of new amenities and benefits for its patrons.
The company has also hired veteran Ryan Beauregard to be its new Director of Poker and one of his key tasks for 2016 will be to ensure that the new poker room at Wynn Las Vegas turns out to be a great success. The new poker room will have a gaming floor that is around 8,600 sq ft and will be situated adjacent to the Encore Players Club, Surrender and the Encore Beach Club.
The will be twenty eight new tables that will be fitted with special USB ports that players can use to charge their tables and smartphones without having to leave the table anymore. The new poker room will also have exclusive space dedicated to VIP gamblers who will be provided with world class benefits.
In a statement, Beauregard speaking of the new poker room said “We are excited to introduce an enhanced poker room and look to create the ultimate poker gaming experience at Wynn. The new room will incorporate carefully selected amenities specific to poker players that will set Wynn Las Vegas apart as a poker destination.”
Beauregard is a veteran in the casino industry and has spent most of his career working in some of the top casinos in Macau and Las Vegas. The new director of poker plans to have a grand opening for the new poker room and has promised to reveal more information in the weeks to come.
Daniel Negreanu made a reputation for himself by becoming one of the best poker players in history and winning over $32 million in prize money during the course of his career. The Poker hall of famer has been spending a lot of time playing Hearthstone, a game that is making a big impression on the poker community.
Negreanu recently played a game of Hearthstone against well known French poker player Bertrand “ElkY” Grosspellier at the 2015 BlizzCon and ended up winning 3-1. The legendary poker player stated that Heartstone is gaining popularity with the poker community because it requires a great deal of strategy for a player to be successful and forced players to outthink their opposition.
Negreanu stated that one of the features of Hearthstone is that the end result of the game still factored in an element of luck and that is what made the game all the more exciting. Unlike chess and poker which is based solely on skill, Hearthstone allows players with a weaker strategy to still have a chance of winning the game if they get lucky.
In a statement, Negreanu said “In poker, I’m going to obviously be doing some bluffing because psychology matters, but in Hearthstone, you can’t really do the same kind of bluffing. But you can bluff people with the cards you play early and create some uncertainty for the other player.”
Negreanu stated that while more poker players are bound to play Hearthstone in 2016, the game would not threaten the online poker community as it is currently very hard for Hearthstone players to make a living by solely playing Hearthstone.
London’s Savoy Hotel recently played host to the 9th edition of the Annual International Gaming Awards (IGA) and all of the biggest gaming enterprises were represented on the night, including PokerStars who bagged its fourth consecutive ‘Online Poker Operator Of The Year Award’.
PokerStars had to fend off competition from other well known companies such as Full Tilt Poker, Sky Betting & Gaming, Unibet, 888poker and WSOP.com. PokerStars was recognized with this award yet again for being the biggest contributor and influencer in the online poker market segment as the company introduced some of the most popular online poker tournaments in 2015 including the World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) which proved to be a great success with its players.
The parent company of PokerStars, Amaya Inc was also nominated for the Socially Responsible Operator of the Year Online but did not end up winning award. Eric Hollreiser, the vice president of Corporate Communications for Amaya and PokerStars stated that the company was extremely happy to be recognized at the IGA for its contributions to online poker.
In a statement, Hollreiser said “We are proud that the independent judging panel named PokerStars as the ‘Online Poker Operator of the Year. We are grateful to have earned the award, and dedicate this to the millions of players and thousands of staff who have contributed to PokerStars’ ongoing success.”
The Technology Provider/Supplier award and the iGaming Software Supplier awards at the IGA were sponsored by PokerStars.
Canadian based Amaya Inc is the owner of a number of premier gambling websites including PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, StarsDraft, BetStars and the European Poker Tour. Amaya Inc acquired the Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars brands back in 2014 after completing a $4.9 billion acquisition.
Amaya Inc CEO David Baazov has built a reputation for himself for taking major risks throughout his career and most of those risks have paid off very well for Baazov. He recently announced that he would like to turn PokerStars into a private limited company and has put forth a plan that will pay the company shareholders up to $21 per share, which is around a forty percent profit for shareholders.
The announcement was made at the beginning of February and immediately caused Amaya Inc’s stocks to rise to $19.75 but only for a few hours as they would later drop and stand at around $18 per share. Amaya Inc’s share prices has been volatile during the last 24 months as it once registered at $37 during 2014 on the Toronto Stock Exchange but has dropped considerably due to a slow down of the global economy and stringent online poker regulations and went as low as $13.73 at the start of January 2016.
The Amaya Inc board played down these reports by stating that it has not yet received an official proposal from Baazov. The board released a statement which said “There can be no assurance that Mr. Baazov’s intention will result in a formal bid or offer or that any such bid or offer will ultimately result in a completed transaction.”
Online poker pro Dani Stern has been the one of the key individuals behind the PokerStars protest and boycott due to the new policy changes that the online poker giant has rolled out this year. Stern had organized a player strike towards the end of 2015 after more than 2,000 PokerStars players came together and stopped playing online poker for three days.
The strike had little impact on PokerStars revenues but what it did emphasize was that there was a huge communication gap between the Amaya Inc owned PokerStars and its players. PokerStars organized a player meeting last week at its Montreal headquarters and players like Dani Stern, Daniel Dvoress, Daniel Negreanu and Isaac Haxton met with senior executives from PokerStars to discuss a number of issues, especially the termination of the Supernova Elite (SNE) and Supernova (SN) VIP bonuses.
PokerStars made it clear that the meeting was not to negotiate its new policy changes but rather to explain its stance and bridge the communication gap. The meeting went on for well over seven hours as PokerStars presented the group of players a lot of financial data to explain some of the rational involved in making their decisions. This data did not convince the players who felt that PokerStars was being dubious in sweeping the real issue under the rug by stating that it was a communication gap when in reality it was a breach of trust.
In a statement, Stern said “We did not feel that we were shown convincing evidence that any of the changes implemented so far would directly impact issues with the game ecology or the playing experience of recreational players. They did not offer any evidence to support the (rather counter intuitive) claim that taking more money out of the games would produce a benefit for any players”.
New York state legislators and its attorney general Eric Schneiderman are fighting the Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) industry on the basis that these games are not games of skill but games that are similar to gambling and hence must have a license to operate in the state. New York Assemblyman Gary Pretlow has a different opinion and believes that online poker is a game of skill and must be made legal in New York.
The assemblyman has campaigned hard for the last three years to get online poker legalized in New York but has not had much success so far. Pretlow recently submitted the bill AB9049 to be reintroduced which would legalize the online poker industry and bring in significant revenue for the state as Pretlow’s proposal will charge an upfront fee of $10 million for a casino license that will be valid for a period of 10 years and a 15 percent gaming tax on gross gaming revenues.
In a statement, Pretlow said “This bill will require such operators to take steps to protect consumers, combat compulsive gaming, and prevent minors from accessing online gaming sites. In addition, this legislation would create additional revenue for the State of New York by clearly defining certain variants of poker, ‘Omaha Hold’em’ and Texas ‘Hold’em,’ as games of skill and thus allowing licensed interactive gaming operators to offer these games to the public.”
Pretlow’s chances of gaining sufficient backing for this new bill remains slim as his timing of reintroducing the new bill coincides with the New York’s on-going lawsuit with DFS companies FanDuel and DraftKings. The attorney general wants a $5,000 fine to be imposed on these DFS operators for every violation of New York’s state laws and if the courts do rule against these DFS operators, they will have to pay a combined total that exceeds $3 billion. This makes it highly unlikely for
Pretlow’s bill to gain massive support amongst his colleagues and will most likely result in online poker continuing to be illegal in New York.