Weekly Poker Roundup: December 18, 2015
Alex Millar Quits Team PokerStars Because of VIP Changes
The fallout from PokerStars’ VIP program changes continues as British member of Team PokerStars Online Alex Millar has announced his resignation from his sponsored position. Via Twitter, Millar said:
I’d like to apologise to the players for my complete failure to be able to help in any way with the recent pokerstars VIP changes. With @RealKidPoker eventually failing as well I no longer feel I can represent the company and I have now left Team Pro Online.
“@RealKidPoker” is Daniel Negreanu, who is a member of Team PokerStars Pro and has basically become the face of the site. Negreanu was interviewed by Joe “ChicagoJoey” Ingram on Ingram’s podcast at the end of November and said he largely agrees with the direction PokerStars is going with the VIP program, but scolded the company for its lack of communication. He also felt that the elimination of the Supernova Elite program, slated for 2017, and the reduction of benefits starting in 2016 is wrong and amounts to PokerStars breaking a promise to its players.
With the slashing of benefits to the upper tier VIP players, including the complete elimination of VPPs in high stakes cash games, it is estimated that PokerStars will save between $25 million and $50 million next year. The site claims that the changes are meant to benefit recreational players and improve the overall health of the poker economy, but many players are not buying it.
Kentucky Judge Hands Down $290 Million Judgment Against Amaya Gaming
Amaya Gaming, the parent company of PokerStars, has been hit with a massive $290 million judgment by Franklin County (Kentucky) Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wingate. The judgment, issued November 20th, has to do with PokerStars allegedly offering illegal online poker to Kentucky residents from 2006 to 2011.
Amaya, which did not even own PokerStars until 2014, issued a press release Thursday, calling the court action “frivolous and without merit.” Continuing to fire shots at the court, Amaya wrote:
This civil proceeding was initially filed in 2010 under an antiquated 18th century Kentucky statute. The Commonwealth claims that it is entitled to recover alleged losses of Kentucky residents who played real-money poker on the PokerStars website during the period between October 12, 2006 and April 15, 2011. A similar action filed against PokerStars in Illinois was dismissed by that court earlier this year.
During the five year period at issue, PokerStars generated aggregate gross revenues in the Commonwealth of Kentucky of approximately US$18 million. Nonetheless, the Commonwealth sought an award as high as US$290 million and requested it be trebled. The trial court subsequently indicated that this amount is incorrect and has not yet entered a final order awarding damages. Any such final order would be subject to appeal.
According to Flushdraw.com, which obtained a copy of the judgment, the primary reason for the judgment and related outlandish sum of money is the failure of PokerStars founder and former owner Isai Scheinberg to appear for a deposition. Scheinberg was named in the 2011 Black Friday indictments and is one of the few who have yet to come to settlement with the U.S. government, instead opting to stay out of the country.
Judge Wingate seems to feel that Scheinberg’s reluctance to appear in court and PokerStars’ argument that he shouldn’t have to since he is no longer with the company amounts to “a pattern of delay and obfuscation throughout the course of this litigation.”
Poker’s Public Enemy #1 Buys Nevada’s Largest Newspaper
CEO of the Las Vegas Sands Corp. Sheldon Adelson, most notable to poker players as the billionaire who wants to use his so-called “Death Star” to eradicate online gambling from the United States, has been revealed as the buyer of Nevada’s largest newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal. For about a week since the sale was announced, the identity of the buyer was kept a secret. It was not until this Thursday that sources confirmed to Dan Primack of Fortune.comthat it was, in fact, Sheldon Adelson who was the new owner of the paper.
In the days leading up to the revelation, the Review-Journal’s James DeHaven wrote a couple pieces showing evidence that it was very likely Adelson, but it wasn’t until Primack’s article that it was all confirmed.
Adelson, through News + Media Capital Group LLC, bought the Review-Journal and its sister papers for $140 million, an extremely high dollar amount for a newspaper in this digital media day and age. He apparently REALLY wanted the paper, too, as he paid $38 million more than Stephens Media LLC did for the Review-Journal plus more than 70 other daily and weekly newspapers.
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