by Haley Hintze
DELAWARE OFFERS PLAY-MONEY ONLINE POKER AS LIVE ROLLOUT DELAYED
Delaware Lottery officials announced a linkup to a play-money Facebook poker app as a stopgap measure while development continues on the state’s upcoming real-money online poker and casino offerings. The state’s three racinos – Dover Downs, Huffington Raceway and Delaware Park – are now offering links to the play-money DoubleDown Casino suite of play-money gambling apps offered by DoubleDown Interactive, a division of IGT. IGT is, in turn, a long-term “strategic” partner of Scientific Games, one of three firms selected as the Delaware Lottery’s primary vendor for the state’s online gambling launch. The play-money signup came as the state faced its original projected launch date of September 1st for real money play, which state officials confirm will not be met. Instead, Delaware officials now list October 31st as the new target date.
MOHEGANS PLAN BILLION-DOLLAR MASSACHUSETTS CASINO
The Mohegan Sun Tribal Gaming Authority has reached a tentative deal with city officials in Palmer, Massachusetts, near Springfield, to build a billion-dollar casino destination resort, pending approval by city residents and state legislators. The Mohegan nation, which operates the giant Mohegan Sun complex in Uncasville, CT, and smaller locations in the Poconos (NY) and Atlantic City (NJ), has been in negotiations with Palmer for some time. The projected complex will include two separate hotels and 300,000 square feet of entertainment and gaming space. The deal needs to be approved by both Palmer voters, via referendum, and by Massachusetts gambling officials, who must choose to award the Mohegans one of three new casino licenses available under the state’s casino expansion plans.
CAESARS, BOSTON REACH CASINO PACT
The Mohegan nation’s plan to build a casino complex in central Massachusetts isn’t the only deal ready to go, pending regulatory approval, as US casino giant Caesars Entertainment, Inc. has reached a deal with the city of Boston to build a billion-dollar casino complex near the city’s Suffolk Downs racetrack. As with the Mohegan deal, Caesars’ complex requires both referendum approval from voters and a thumbsup from Massachusetts legislators. One complicating factor for Caesars is that they will compete against Wynn Resorts for the juicy Boston metro market, where there is no guarantee that more than one of the state’s three pending licenses will be awarded. Wynn has plans for a similar complex in the Boston suburb of Everett.
CASH-GAME LEGEND BOBBY HOFF, 1939-2013
Poker veterans were saddened by news of the sudden passing of highstakes cash-game pro, Bobby Hoff, in late September. Hoff, 73, was one of numerous Texas poker players who migrated to Nevada when the game took hold in the state’s casinos. Hoff played the role of Goliath in one of poker’s classic legends, finishing as the runner-up to unknown amateur Hal Fowler in the 1979 World Series of Poker main event. Hoff was a feared cash-game no-limit hold’em player for decades and played tourneys only sporadically, though he did log 13 WSOP cashes and two second-place showings in his long career. Hoff suffered a stroke in 2010, but recovered to return the game, which he enjoyed playing right up to his passing.
MORE PLEA DEALS IN NYC SPORTSBETTING / POKER BUSTS
Two more plea deals have been announced by USAO prosecutors in the crackdown against a New York City-based sportsbetting and poker ring. One of the recent plea deals was agreed to by noted online and live pro Justin “BoostedJ” Smith, who pled guilty to a single charge of the use of financial instruments connected to illegal offshore sportsbetting, which were traced to one or more bets Smith helped place on behalf of other gamblers via offshore sites controlled by the ring’s leaders, which include 2009 WPT winner Vadim Trincher. Smith was the fifth of 34 defendants in the case to plead out, and the biggest poker name to do so to date.
Veteran poker-industry writer/editor Haley Hintze is the author of an upcoming book on the Absolute Poker and UltimateBet online cheating scandals, to be released later this year.