Weekly Poker Roundup: August 28, 2015
Downtown Vegas Casino Closes
The Las Vegas Club casino, one of downtown Las Vegas’ oldest entertainment venues, closed just after midnight on August 20th to little fanfare. Opened in 1930, the year before gambling was legalized in Nevada, it was the first hotel gambling property to display a neon sign. Considering Sin City is synonymous with neon, you don’t really think about that sort of thing anymore, but someone had to be the first.
The current Las Vegas Club property is on the west end of the famous Fremont Street Experience, across from the Golden Gate. It actually used to be across the street, but moved to the north side of Fremont in 1949.
PlayLV operates both the Las Vegas Club and the Plaza, the casino that sits at the head of Fremont Street, facing east. Many of the Las Vegas Club’s employees, as well as its slots, will be relocated to its sister property next door.
Online Poker Legend Chad “lilholdem954” Batista Passes Away
One of online poker’s original stars, Chad “lilholdem954” Batista, passed away on Thursday, August 20th, at the age of 35. His family made the simple social media post to inform the public of his passing, writing, “It is with the deepest sadness that we announce the sudden passing of our beloved son, nephew, cousin, brother and friend, Chad ‘lilholdem954’ Batista. Chad died suddenly this beautiful Thursday afternoon with his family surrounding him. We ask that our privacy be respected at this difficult time and we thank you for your prayers.”
Back in 2007 and 2008 he won big tournament after big tournament at the virtual tables and became known for his brash online persona. In person, though, he was regarded as an extremely nice, thoughtful guy. He dominated internet poker during those years and was ranked #1 on PocketFives’s charts for nearly an annum from late August 2007 to early July 2008.
Poker’s legal troubles in the United States took their toll on Batista. Batista’s aunt, who raised him after his mother passed away when he was 16, told the South Florida Sun Sentinel, “After Black Friday, things weren’t quite the same.”
She added, ““He didn’t like live poker because it was too slow-paced, and he didn’t like the crowds.”
Could Casinos be in Georgia’s Future?
The state of Georgia is a barren wasteland when it comes to gambling. Well, not as much as Utah and Hawaii, which have nothing, but unless you love playing the lottery, there’s really diddly-poo in the Peach State. Any legit poker game in a casino is a several-hour drive away. State lawmakers are finally taking small steps towards giving their constituents another form of entertainment, though, as two meetings have been scheduled for September to discuss the possibility of legalizing land-based casinos.
The meetings will be held by the Senate Preservation of the HOPE Scholarship Program Study Committee. The HOPE Scholarship is a lottery funded scholarship provided to students who enroll in Georgia colleges and universities and maintain high academic performance. Generally, students need to earn a 3.0 grade point average to earn the scholarship, which helps defray a few thousand dollars of tuition per year. The HOPE Scholarship has struggled financially in recent years, though, perhaps a consequence of its own success. As such, it looks like legislators are investigating a way to bolster the program.
State Representative Ron Stephens introduced a bill in March that would legalize casino gambling, authorizing as many as six land-based casinos, spread across five pre-defined gaming regions in the state. Region 1, which includes the Atlanta metro area, would be permitted two casinos, while the others would be allowed to have one. Nothing has happened with the bill since it was introduced.
In July, MGM Resorts International proposed a $1 billion casino resort for downtown Atlanta.
Paddy Power, Betfair to Merge
European gaming rivals Paddy Power and Betfair announced Wednesday that they will be merging, creating Paddy Power Betfair Plc. The new company will have annual revenues of €1.5 billion ($1.7 billion).
Gary McGann, Chairman of Paddy Power, will take the same position with the combined company. Breon Corcoran, CEO of Betfair, will become CEO of the new company, while Paddy Power’s CEO, Andy McCue, will become COO. The shares of both companies were up sharply on the news.
Cormac McCarthy, CFO of Paddy Power, told The Financial Times that each company brings something valuable to the table that will make the new company that much better. “Betfair is the leading exchange business in sports betting and that technology is something Paddy Power does not have,” he said. “We have a retail and mass market business and we have an Australian business that they do not have. If you look at the strategic rationale, synergies are not the first thing.”
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