Weekly Poker Roundup: November 5, 2017
PokerNews.com Is Owned By PokerStars…Obviously
PokerNews.com, one of the largest poker news sites (obviously) in the industry as well as one of the largest online poker affiliates, admitted this past week that it is majority owned by The Stars Group. The secret that really everyone in the industry could have guessed was revealed in an intra-company conference call and then an article on the site.
Poker News, as management explained, was founded about 15 years ago by Antanas “Tony G” Guoga. Starting in 2010, Tony G began selling his stake in PokerNews to The Stars Group.
Though many of PokerNews’ stories are essentially transparent PokerStars fluff and its live tournament reporting (which, I might add, is generally excellent) tends to focus on PokerStars players, the company it has “always maintained an arms-length relationship with the Stars Group.”
Gah, Chris Ferguson is Doing Really Well at the WSOP This Year
Chris Ferguson won his sixth World Series of Poker bracelet, taking the title in the WSOP Europe Event #7: €1500 Pot Limit Omaha Hi/Lo Eights or Better. Unfortunately, this also means that Ferguson will likely win the 2017 WSOP Player of the Year race.
Ferguson now has 1,178.53 POY points, more than 100 ahead of John Racener, who barely missed the final table of the same event that Ferguson won.
As readers likely well know, Ferguson was one of the founders and executives of Full Tilt Poker. He and others allegedly paid themselves from player deposits and when Black Friday took Full Tilt down, players lost millions because their funds weren’t available. Ferguson has yet to apologize for his role, claiming that mistakes that were made were because of simple “mismanagement.”
More Absolute Poker Victims to Finally Get Their Money Back
Speaking of Black Friday, more former customers of Absolute Poker will soon be receiving their missing funds. In late September, the first $33.5 million went out to 7,400 players; another $3.7 million will be going out to 4,600 players this go-around, perhaps by the end of the year.
The Garden City Group, which is the Claims Administrator for the Absolute Poker refund process, said that e-mails will be sent in the “next few weeks,” communicating the amount of money players are due as well as instructions for how to submit the correct method of payment.
Those who have “a delinquent debt qualifying for collection through the Treasury Offset Program” will have some or all of their payment reduced in order to pay said debt to the government.
Israel Investigating Poker Players for Tax Reporting Issues
According to Israeli website Globes and reporter Ela Levi-Weinrib, the Israeli Tax Authority is investigating poker players for non-reporting or under-reporting of income and therefore possibly evading taxes. The Tax Authority says that poker income should be reported as business income and therefore taxed at 50 percent, while the poker players under investigation believe it should be taxed at the 35 percent rate for gambling income.
The Tax Authority and players also disagree on how expenses can be deducted from income. The government conceded that things like travel expenses can be deducted, but not tournament buy-ins and provable losses.
One case where this disagreement is important involves an anonymous player who, in 2010, was granted a free $25,000 entry into a High Roller event by tournament organizers. As part of the deal, after taxes and tournament fees were deducted, the player would receive 10 percent of the winnings, if he won anything (why not 100%, who knows). The player won $207,000, which Israel wants to count as his income, but because of the deal made, he said he only received $17,000. That makes for a big difference in potential tax bills.
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