Virtual Reality Casinos, Amaya Scandal and March’s Gambling Review
We were searching for the perfect topic to kick start our monthly re-hash of the top casino and gambling industry stories, and the last day of March did not disappoint.
Per reports, GAN (previously referred to as Game Account Network), an online gaming tech company, has revealed its first virtual reality product using Facebook’s Oculus Rift technology.
Giddy up. While certainly not the first of its kind, GAN’s toe dip into the mixing of virtual reality and the online casino world reminds all gambling enthusiasts of the endless possibilities the online gaming scene have to offer. While playing in a real live casino can’t normally be beat, doing so from the comfort of your own home is hard to argue against, as well.
That is precisely what GAN aims to do here, having launched a virtual reality version of its free-play Simulated Gaming product, which happens to be compatible with home computers that are equipped with said Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets.
The first tester? New York’s, Empire City Casino.
The who, why and what isn’t what is grabby, but the sheer reminder that virtual reality-driven concepts are arguably the future of the world wide web. GAN CEO Dermot Smurfit certainly agrees, suggesting that virtual reality in general is the “next major internet platform”.
That’s tough to debate against, especially with people not being able to or not wanting to go to events of all kinds live and in person. Putting the power (and the experience) of sporting events, concerts and of course online gambling is a total game-changer.
More went on in the gambling community in March, and no news was bigger than Amaya being hit with some pretty rough allegations.
Amaya CEO Charged
It’s old news by now, but it’s still relatively shocking that Amaya Gaming CEO David Baazov has been charged with insider trading. Baazov since has taken a paid leave of absence and suggested it is “business as usual” at Amaya, but the news is rather startling.
Baazov’s chargers stem from Amaya’s takeover of Rational Group, the parent company of popular poker brands, Full Tilt and PokerStars. The move vaulted Amaya Gaming to the top of the online gambling spectrum, but due to a surge in Amaya’s share price before the deal went down, an AMF investigation followed.
Among Baazov’s charges are aiding with trades while possessing priveleged information, influencing Amaya’s market price and communicating priveleged information. If convicted, Baazov could face “stiff fines as well as prison”.
New York Lawmakers Talk Online Poker
New York is starting to get serious about online poker. Well, maybe not serious, serious. There was language in a recent $154 million New York budget proposal, however, that touched on the possibility of legalizing online poker to help the state financially.
If regulated and done the right way, it certainly would be profitable, as the New Jersey launch this past month already showed on a small scale just how big online poker could be again.
It’s still a ways away, and may never come to fruition, but the mere chatter in a budget proposal is at the very worst encouraging. It could clash directly with New York’s current bid to take down daily fantasy sports in the state (on temporary hold until July at the earliest), but if the state suddenly recognizes the benefits from a financial perspective, it could be a game changer.
The big question here, as Lee Davy suggests at CalvinAyre.com, is whether the stance against online poker – as well as DFS, sports betting and all online gambling – is motivated by money or morale. It’s an ongoing debate, but this latest news could give new light to that theory in the near future.
DoubleDown Suit Tossed
DoubleDown Interactive survives to fight another day. Per reports, a class action suit against them was tossed this month that accused the company of taking advantage of one Margo Philips.
An Illinois resident, Philips filed the suit, citing DoubleDown as “nothing more than camouflaged unlawful games of chance”. Philips attempted to sue using the Illinois Loss Recovery Act (ILRA), but with DoubleDown not actually “winning” from the supposed victim’s loss, the suit was dismissed.
Philips admitted to losing over $1,000 in real cash gambling with virtual currency she had purchased at DoubleDown over the course of two years. Philips tossed the rest of Illinois gamblers into the mix, suggesting DoubleDown had “illegally profited” from all of the other Illinois residents that had also lost money playing at the social casino website.
Per the ILRA, DoubleDown would have had to literally be profiting from Philips’ losses to be deemed in the wrong. With no findings of that being the case, a federal judge threw the case out. This marks the second time this year a citizen has attempted to file a suit against a gambling operate using the ILRA, but both have now been unsuccessful.
BetBright, Fruity King Exercise Poor Judgment
Sometimes marketing can go really wrong. Really, painfully wrong. That was the case for BetBright this past Easter, as they sent out a promo email making light of the death of Jesus Christ.
Per reports, the UK gambling operator made some poorly chosen cracks about Christ dying so long ago that he/God probably wouldn’t care about gambling anymore. Specifically, one quote suggested that God “probably wouldn’t mind anymore”.
It’s tough to say, but we know for sure a lot of their members weren’t too keen on the joke, as the email base quickly replied with a sea of negative comments about the promo. BetBright quickly extended sincere apologies following the incident. It’s worth wondering if their gaffe could have any long-term impact, while Fruity King is still recovering from a recent brush of making light of the Holocaust.
Note to self: don’t talk about religion or horrific historical happenings in promotional emails.
Sands in South Korea?
South Korea has just one main casino it allows its locals to gamble in. Every other casino resort in the country is legally only allowed to cater to those visiting the country. Sands wants to change that.
We dove into it more in depth earlier this month, but in case you missed it, the skinny is that Las Vegas Sands isn’t giving up on putting together a casino that can allow South Korea locals in to gamble.
So far South Korea has taken a very strong stance against allowing their citizens to gamble in casino resorts, citing a negative public reception.
Japan Says No
The story is much the same in Japan, where a bill to attempt to legalize gambling in the country is officially dead. Japan disbanded a 30-member group that was working on legislation to argue for legal gambling in Japan.
The soonest a new bill could pick back up is in the fall, and that too will be met by intense resistance from Japan. Japanese officials and public perception to this point have been the biggest deterrent, as Japan is more concerned about the morality harm of gambling than it’s potential positive financial impact.
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