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Happy New Year's Eve Gamblers!

Chasse Rehwinkel

I gamble, therefore I write...or I write, therefore I gamble...honestly, they're pretty similar professions…

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New Year's Eve in Las Vegas

Well, it's almost time to drop the ball on 2009 and welcome in 2010.

Before you close the door on 2009, however, let's take look back at some of the most important stories of the year in gambling...

The Top Ten Gambling Stories of 2009

10) "Negreanu Worth More Than Gold"

After his historic, and somewhat controversial, $12 million victory at the 2006 WSOP, Jamie Gold's reign at the top of tournament poker's all-time money list lasted a mind blowing 1,157days--just over three years. Mind blowing because in a post Poker Boom world, tournament records seem to fall weekly.

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Kid Poker has kissed a lot of bundles over the past few years

Well, it couldn't last forever--Gold doesn't play that much--,and just when Phil Ivey looked like a lock to take over the top spot with his run at the 2009 Main Event, "Kid Poker," Daniel Negreanu, finished second at the World Series of Poker Europe Main Event in late September, topping Gold, Ivey and the whole world for career tournament winnings.

The accomplishment is big for Negreanu, but might prove to be even bigger for poker. For while Gold is controversial, Negreanu is one of the more popular and well-liked players on tour.

9) "Vegas Still Suffering"

While pockets within America are beginning to show real signs of recovery from the devastation of the 2008 recession, the fabulous, once thought recession proof, City of Las Vegas is definitely not.

According to a Brookings Institution MetroMonitor study released in December, the tri-metro area of Boise, Phoenix and Las Vegas is currently the most financially troubled population center in the United States.

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The housing bubble hit Vegas real estate and construction particularly hard

The story is now very familiar to us: hyper growth in the early part of the decade created an economy built on expansion and real estate. This, in turn, created a large housing bubble, which burst in 2008...sending the Vegas economy spiraling downward.

The scary news in 2009 was how long this troubling period might last. The Brooking's report outlines a Las Vegas future that could be in financial ruin for some time...or as some analysts have stated, "this could be the end of 'Glitter Gulch.'"

8) "China's Gamble Pays Off"

Much like their Vegas twin, China's gambling Mecca, Macau, suffered through 2008's global recession wondering if they could ever recover. Well, while 2009's slow start didn't instill a lot of early hope for the new year in Macau, by May progress was being made.

That summer, Fernando Chui rose to become Macau's new leader, and major expansions made by the Sands and Wynn casinos injected potential Macau investors with a new sense of confidence in this semi-capitalistic Chinese territory.

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Chui is hoping to lead Macau into an era of unparalleled success

By December. stock in Macau's casinos was soaring, and while Vegas' future may look dim, Macau's, in some ways has, never looked better.

7) "Kentucky's Domain Seizure Case Moves to State Supreme Court"

At the tail end of 2008 the state of Kentucky seized 141 internet domain names that Kentucky officials claimed had connections to illegal gambling.

Among the names seized were prominent online gambling and poker sites,, and

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Kentucky tries to stop online gambling in the state by seizing 141 online domain names

The only problem for anti-gambling Kentuckians, the move might be 100 percent illegal. The case has since moved to the state supreme court, with officials from the Poker Players Alliance--one of the groups protesting the seizure--stating their full confidence that the domain names will be returned shortly.

This has turned into an important case to watch for those interested in U.S. gambling legislation, for it might show how much control states actually have over internet gaming.

6) "The WPT is Dethroned"

For five seasons the World Poker Tour was untouchable in the world of televised poker, save maybe the once-a-year craziness that is the World Series of Poker. But come season six, cracks began to show in the WPT's once unbreakable foundation.

Online poker's unstable future in America, coupled with the rise of the European Poker Tour overseas, pushed the WPT to its limits.


The WPT surpassed by EPT in 2009

Then, in season seven, it happened. The 13 event, 2008-09 WPT schedule managed to only attract enough players to have a total prize pool of $61 million, $4 million less than the 11 event 2008-09 EPT schedule.

The WPT made some big changes toward the end of 2009, but we may have witnessed a permanent passing of the torch.

5) "The WPT Gets a New Owner"  

The biggest of all the big changes the WPT made in 2009 was a complete change of ownership.

Facing declining attendance, declining ratings and the success of another major poker tour, World Poker Tour Entertainment was put up for sale and, after a bidding war with two other gambling entertainment entities, PartyGaming, perhaps best known as the parent company of PartyPoker, won the top prize.
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The move likely signals big changes for the WPT

PartyGaming's acquisition likely means big changes are in store for the WPT. Already, PartyGaming officials have stated that a push for more international events is in store for next season, this being just the first of many changes I'm sure.

4) "Russia and the Ukraine Can Agree on One Thing, No Gambling"

The online gambling ban in the United States is one problem, but for the citizens of Russia and the Ukraine, gambling could be gone altogether, for good.


Ukrainians, formally employed in the gaming industry, protest the ban on gambling

As the middle of the year approached, both Russia and the Ukraine passed legislation banning gambling in almost all of its forms. For Russia this meant even banning poker, a national pastime of theirs.

Protesters from both countries went to the streets after the bans, claiming that thousands of jobs would be lost if a ban on gambling were to continue. So far neither country has budged on their outlawing of gaming; time will only tell if a new age of bizarre "moral" lawmaking will take hold in Eastern Europe.

3) "The EU Tells the US to Stop It"

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act has caused a lot of tension within the United States, and probably resulted in the loss of at least a few hundred jobs. What sometimes gets lost in the discussion of the UIGEA is the international tension the act has created.

Antigua and the WTO have already come after the United States for banning online gambling, claiming that the move breaks international trade agreements, but earlier this year yet another major player in international trade came forward to condemn the UIGEA.

In March, the European Union published a report about the UIGEA that stated the act violated major international trade treaties and was in violation of WTO regulations. The report warned the US that if actions weren't taken by the US to rectify the problem, the EU would be forced to bring the case to the WTO.


If the UIGEA isn't dealt with soon the EU might take their case to the WTO

The EU has stated that it is not against limiting online gambling within US borders, but instead was worried about the many online sites based in Europe that would suffer as a direct result of the ban.

Said Member of the UK Parliament David Blunkett about removing the UIGEA, "This would provide not only fair competition, but protection for individuals and families, and a legal basis on which substantial revenue could be raised at a time of considerable pressure on public finances."

2) "The Battle Over US Online Gambling Intensifies"

Armed with PricewaterhouseCoopers' report released in February that reaffirmed their 2007 study that tens of billions could be made in taxes on online gambling in the US, anti-UIGEA legislators set to work early in 2009 to create a bill that would regulate internet gaming.

In May, Massachusetts Rep. Barney Frank introduced legislation into the House that would help combat problem gambling and in August, New Jersey Sen. Robert Menendez pushed an online gambling regulation bill into the Senate. Both new bills were designed to go against the provisions of the UIGEA.

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Frank is fighting for an end to the UIGEA

In November, just before the UIGEA was to go into full effect, a six month extension was granted, in order to continue the debate.

We seem to be entering the final stretch of the debate over online gambling in the US; 2010 might be the key year for the legality of US online gaming.

1) "States Turn to Gambling in Their Time of Need"

It all began with Delaware Gov. Jack Markell pushing for legal sports betting in Delaware, in order to create a new revenue stream for his troubled state. Then the floodgates opened. South Dakota, Wisconsin, Ohio and many other states across the country started to discuss gambling as a possible booster for their struggling economies.

Even Illinois, which has no sportsbook or major casinos, passed the capital bill in July, which legalized video poker in order to fund its public works initiatives. 

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Gov. Pat Quinn says he strongly supports all of the provisions of the capital bill

It's both one of the most interesting developments of the year and the funniest, for an industry that has been dogged for years in the legislature by calls for "moral enlightenment" is now being turned to as a savior. Don't you see the humor in that?

And Now For a Few Predictions About 2010

  • Daniel Negreanu's career earnings record won't stand a year - I'm looking at you Ivey
  • The WPT will add a stop in London, making it the only city in the world with an EPT, WPT and WSOP stop
  • One more state will legalize sports betting -  the writing's on the wall NCAA, NBA and NFL, just accept it
  • The UIGEA's implementation will be delayed once more - I'm banking on political precedent here
  • A player will win both a major backgammon and poker title - my pick would be Gus Hansen, but it could be any number of multi-game rounders
  • A major pro will win the World Series of Poker Main Event - poker analysts like making this one
  • In Russia, the Ukraine and the US online gambling will be completely legal
  • Russ Hamilton will be sued, indicted or otherwise arrested for his role in the Ultimate Bet cheating scandal - one can only hope
  • PartyPoker returns to the US

Happy New Year's Everyone!



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1 Comment

Qev_n_NY said:

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Thanks for this piece, especially numbers 1-3 which are of great interest to me. The UIGEA was nothing more than a gift from the previous administration to the radical Christian fundamentalist base (gambling is an evil, you see)that helped it gain and retain office. It is a supremely idiotic piece of legislation (go figure) and should be done away with.

I'm more of a horseplayer than casino games player, and my interest in the death of the UIGEA revolves primarily around whether or not Betfair will be allowed to take action from CONUS based customers with UIGEA's demise. Any thoughts on that?

Finally, nothing warms the cockles of my heart more than watching these self-righteous, hypocritical do-gooder politicos start to fold and back paddle the instant their 'own' stomachs get to gnawing.

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