By Haley Hintze
BALLY TECHNOLOGIES, IGT RECEIVE NEVADA ONLINE-POKER APPROVAL
Nevada’s first licensees connected to the state’s upcoming intrastate online-poker offerings were issued in late June to in-state slot machine manufacturers, Bally Technologies, and International Game Technology (IGT). Both Bally and IGT have positioned themselves to provide infrastructure for online sites, and will partner with existing brick-and-mortar casinos. Bally has already inked a deal with the Golden Nugget, and ShuffleMaster, while IGT previously acquired the Euro-facing Entraction Network, giving the company a ready-made poker platform.
PINNACLE ENTERTAINMENT ACQUIRES HPT IN EPIC POKER BANKRUPTCY AUCTION
Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc., operators of a handful of casinos nationwide, scooped up the Heartland Poker Tour and a scattered handful of Epic Poker League assets in a two-part, early-June, bankruptcy auction. Pinnacle was the largest credit holder on the EPL’s books, owed more than $2 million by the EPL’s two related entities, Federated Sports & Gaming and Federated Heartland. Pinnacle bid $4.2 million for the HPT rights, and an additional $300,000 (charged against the debt) for the EPL’s scant remains. The HPT is expected to continue under its new ownership while the fate of a million-dollar freeroll promised to participants in the EPL’s first three events remains uncertain.
POKERSTARS INKS RAFAEL NADAL TO ENDORSEMENT DEAL
Celebrity endorsement contracts are scarce in poker these days, though PokerStars made a significant exception by signing top tennis star Rafael Nadal. Nadal, the grass-court specialist, famed for his skein of French Open titles and on-court battles with Roger Federer, becomes the second tennis legend to sign a Stars deal, after Boris Becker in 2007. The move bolsters PokerStars’ recent entry into Spain’s new protected online-poker market, which will include sites serving only Spanish players.
DELAWARE SENATE SCHEDULES ONLINEGAMBLING VOTE
A measure authorizing several forms of online gambling for Delaware residents, including online poker, moved to that state’s Senate for full consideration after an amended version passed the Delaware House. The bill calls for protection for Delaware’s three existing “racinos” and horseracing industry, and another provision would also allow for online parlay betting on NFL games. The bill is scheduled for a full state Senate vote on June 26, but may face further amendments and delays.
PLEA DEAL FOR “BLUE MONDAY” PROGRAMMER
A Vancouver-based programmer, indicted as part of the “Blue Monday” seizures by Maryland-based authorities, has accepted a probationary sentence as part of a plea deal with the US government. David Parchomchuk, of ThrillX Systems, faced charges resulting from a sting set up by the District of Maryland US Attorney’s Office, which involved creating an undercover payment processing firm (Linwood Payment Solutions, Inc.), and resulted in the seizure of about $470,000 and the failure of online sports betting site, BetEd.com. Several then-US-facing poker sites were also affected by the sting’s account and domain seizures, including Doyle’s Room. Parchomchuk will serve no time under the deal.
FERTITTA ANNOUNCES ‘ULTIMATE POKER’ FACEBOOK APP
Fertitta Interactive, a division of Station Casinos parent Fertitta Entertainment, has announced a new play-money Facebook application called “Ultimate Poker” with branding tied in to Fertitta’s popular UFC mixed-martial arts franchise. The site’s naming ignores possible damage tied to the word “Ultimate” related to poker’s UltimateBet online-poker cheating scandal, which is unconnected to the new offering. Company execs plan to roll out a real-money version for Nevada residents in the coming months.
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.