Thanksgiving daily fantasy DraftKings FanDuel

Daily fantasy CEOs Jason Robin of DraftKings, left, and FanDuel’s Nigel Eccles, have much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. (Image: Reuters/

Thanksgiving is a time when families and friends spread across the country gather at the same table for a meal and camaraderie, an occasion to look back on the year and give thanks for all of life’s blessings.

Traditions abound consume the holiday, from running a turkey trot in the morning to the ceremonial cooking of the turkey, the day is a solemn affair.

One of the most popular traditions is watching football on television.

The Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys, the latter so-called “America’s Team,” have both played on turkey day every single year since 1966.

In 2006, the NFL added a third game for the country’s viewing pleasure. Today, the Philadelphia Eagles play at the Detroit Lions, the Carolina Panthers travel to the Dallas Cowboys, and the Chicago Bears wrap things up in Wisconsin against the Green Bay Packers.

The three-game holiday would have been expected to greatly increase daily fantasy sports (DFS) contests on DraftKings and FanDuel, but the recent controversy and public scrutiny may keep weary players on the sidelines.

Which is why this Thanksgiving could be a major factor in forecasting the future of the daily fantasy market.

How We Got Here

Last Thanksgiving, few casual NFL fans were talking about daily fantasy sports, and the topic certainly wasn’t causing any state or federal lawmaker to lose sleep.

Much has changed in the last 12 months, DFS now one of the most covered issues in American media.

During its first five years in business, FanDuel acquired $88 million in venture capital. Not exactly chump change, but small for a company attempting to reach millions of bettors across the country.

In July of 2015, FanDuel struck gold when it landed a $275 million investment led by the private equity firm KKR in conjunction with Google, Time Warner, Turner Sports, NFL, and NBA.

That same month, DraftKings also had its own payday, the current DFS frontrunner securing $300 million from Fox Sports and the Kraft Group, owners of the New England Patriots.

Armed with hundreds of millions of dollars, you know what the two companies did next: bombarded televisions with commercials.

The invasive marketing paid off by way of rapidly increasing pools of players.

Unfortunately for DFS fans, it also led to the industry coming under the perilous eye of legal analysts and government officials.

DFS With All The Fixins

Today needs to kickoff, pun intended, a successful week of daily fantasy for operators to regain a bit of optimism after sustaining one penalty after another over the last few months.

A strong performance could aid in DFS making its case that millions of Americans and “hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers” want to play daily fantasy contests as FanDuel asserted following New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman declaring the games illegal.

Thanksgiving is a day to be thankful. DFS operators might be smart to express a little gratitude for their legality loophole to date, and say a prayer that their market continues to be recognized.

Because in the end, DraftKings and FanDuel are hoping to become part of your holiday tradition.

John Payne Pennsylvania online gambling

Online gambling legislation is moving forward in Pennsylvania thanks to State Rep. John Payne and his wishes to protect residents and adolescents from rogue Internet casinos. (Image: Jan Murphy/PennLive)

State Rep. John Payne (R-District 106) says he hasn’t been pushing Pennsylvania lawmakers to legalize online gaming but to simply regulate it as he believes residents in the Keystone State are already gambling on their computers and smartphones.

On Wednesday, the House Gaming Oversight Committee passed HB 649, an act to authorize and control interactive gaming, by a vote of 18-8.

Payne, who also chairs the committee, said in a press release, “Thousands of Pennsylvanians who are playing these games online are at risk for fraud and abuse. This strong regulatory framework is necessary to protect our children and our citizens and to help shut down black market sites.”

HB 649 would authorize Internet casinos for residents over the age of 21, with taxes generated directed to the state, local government, and problem gambling programs.

Line in the Sands

The majority of Pennsylvania’s 12 land-based casinos seem to support the notion of legalizing online gambling.

Penn National’s Eric Shippers even called it a “vital tool” to remain being competitive against neighboring states and estimated authorization could bring in $250 million in the first year.

But in the northeast part of the state stands the $800 million Sands Bethlehem owned by Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson, a man who needs no introduction to the iGambling community due to his notorious pushing to ban the market on a federal level.

Adelson’s influence extends to Washington, DC, by way of his enormous campaign contributions to Republican candidates. He gave around $100 million during the last presidential election cycle, and is likely to do so again in 2016.

The Sands Bethlehem is the second most profitable brick-and-mortar casino in the state behind only the Parx Casino in northeast Philadelphia.

Adelson believes online gaming is a moral issue he must defend. He’s backed the Restoration of America’s Wire Act in Congress to prohibit Internet betting and financed the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling’s campaign against Payne.

The vote this week by the House Gaming Oversight Committee is presumed to force Adelson into opening his wallet even more so as the issue makes its way to Harrisburg’s House floor.

What’s Next?

HB 649 still has a ways to go before Pennsylvanians are able to begin playing poker, roulette, slots, and various other games online. The legislation will need to be heard first in the state’s House of Representatives, voted in favor of, then make its way to the Senate where it will undergo the same process.

In the unlikely event that no amendments are made to the language and both chambers approve the measure, it would be then sent to Governor Tom Wolf’s (D) desk for his signature.

Legalizing a bill that is in any way controversial is often a lengthy process. However, HB 649 appears to be bipartisan.

During the committee vote, 73 percent of Democrats voted in favor of moving the bill forward while Payne’s Republican colleagues backed it at a rate of 63 percent.

“Today’s bipartisan committee vote is the first step toward ensuring Pennsylvania consumers can safely participate in interactive gaming,” Payne concluded.

What’s Next?

HB 649 still has a ways to go before Pennsylvanians are able to begin playing poker, roulette, slots, and various other games online.

The legislation will need to be heard first in the state’s House of Representatives, voted in favor of, then make its way to the Senate where it will undergo the same process.

In the unlikely event that no amendments are made to the language and both chambers approve the measure, it would be then sent to Governor Tom Wolf’s (D) desk for his signature.

Legalizing a bill that is in any way controversial is often a lengthy process. However, HB 649 appears to be bipartisan.

During the committee vote, 73 percent of Democrats voted in favor of moving the bill forward while Payne’s Republican colleagues backed it at a rate of 63 percent.

“Today’s bipartisan committee vote is the first step toward ensuring Pennsylvania consumers can safely participate in interactive gaming,” Payne concluded.

Republican Jewish Coalition 2016 presidency

Texas Senator Ted Cruz is just one of the many GOP presidential candidates scheduled to speak at an upcoming Republican Jewish Coalition forum. (Image: Reuters/

GOP presidential candidates will convene in Washington, DC, on December 3 to make their case to the deep pockets of the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC), most notably casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson.

The 2016 Presidential Candidates Forum has already received commitments from all of the leading candidates including Donald Trump, Dr. Ben Carson, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and Texas Senator Ted Cruz. In fact, 14 of the remaining 15 candidates are set to attend, former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore the loner in a play that’s given his campaign the most publicity to date.

“Jewish voters are a growing and increasingly important segment of the Republican coalition,” RJC Communications Director Mark McNulty told “We are having this forum … to make sure that our members, influential leaders in the Jewish community, are provided the opportunity to hear directly from the candidates.”

All Hail Adelson

The RJC isn’t your run-of-the-mill political organization. The lobbying group has 44 chapters throughout the United States whose shared goal is “fostering and enhancing ties between the American Jewish community and Republican lawmakers.”

Entrance prices for the luncheon and forum clearly demonstrate this isn’t an affair catering to the middle class. Individual tickets start at $500, with the Chairman package ringing in at $50,000.

Chump change for the million and billionaires associated with the RJC, most notoriously Sheldon Adelson, the Las Vegas Sands $30 billion dollar man who greatly wants online gambling outlawed in America.

The discussion will likely serve as Sheldon’s own primary for the White House hopefuls, the casino magnate still unsettled on which candidate he prefers and will financially back.

Aside from Trump who isn’t accepting donations from political action committees (PAC), instead funding his efforts through his own riches, the rest of the field will be appealing to the RJC and Adelson’s checkbooks.

Adelson and his wife spent $55 million on Mitt Romney’s unsuccessful bid for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in 2012.

It’s Just Lunch

With 14 candidates and hundreds of attendees, this won’t be your typical half-hour lunch break.

The forum will heavily focus on the United States strengthening its relationship with Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, as well as economic policies and how each aspirant would reduce the size of the federal government.

While the meeting will have an agenda and specific topics to be covered by the leading GOP presidential candidates to take on assumed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, the reality is all eyes will actually be on Adelson.

If it were only up to him, Sheldon would possibly choose Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) to call the Oval Office home as he’s championed the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA), the bill that would ban Internet gambling.

But since the rest of the country is entitled to his or her own vote, making Graham a long shot at the very best, Adelson is opening his hears.

Rubio appropriately positioned himself for Adelson’s favors last June when he co-sponsored with Graham the reintroduction of RAWA into the Senate. Rubio’s recent string of strong debate performances and consistency on backing Israel makes him a prime candidate for Adelson.

Rubio also landed the support of billionaire Paul Singer, a businessman who serves on the RJC’s Board of Directors along with Adelson.

World Series of Poker November Nine

The Main Event of the World Series of Poker airs live on ESPN this Sunday, the 46th champion set to be crowned on Tuesday night. (Image:

The World Series of Poker (WSOP) is ready to host the nine hottest poker players on planet Earth beginning this Sunday when the Main Event’s November Nine reconvenes at the Rio in Las Vegas.

The three days of action put cards in the air live, albeit on a 30-minute delay, on ESPN beginning November 8 at 8:30 pm ET.

The coverage resumes at 8 and 9:30 pm on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.

The 46th WSOP $10,000 No Limit Hold’em final table brings players from four countries and four states to compete for a total of $24.8 million and a first-place prize of $7,683,346.

The first player eliminated will still be handsomely rewarded for their efforts to the tune of $1,001,020.

Keen on McKeehen

24-year-old big stack Joe McKeehen from North Wales, Pennsylvania, owns 63.1 million chips, or nearly 33 percent of the remaining chips in play. That total is also more than double his nearest competitor Ofer Stern’s bank.

McKeehen’s commanding position has placed him as the favorite at the Rio sportsbook with his latest line at 7/5 to win the November Nine.

On the other side of the spectrum, short stack Federico Butteroni possesses just 6.2 million chips, or less than 16 big blinds. Butteroni is the long shot on paper and on the books, Vegas listing him at 25/1.

Here’s where the others stand:

NameChip CountVegas Odds

Ofer Stern29.8 million4/1

Neil Blumenfield22 million6/1

Pierre Neuville21.075 million6/1

Max Steinberg20.2 million7/1

Tom Cannuli12.25 million12/1

Joshua Beckley11.8 million12/1

Patrick Chan6.225 million25/1

Gender Inequality

Once again the November Nine is free of a female player. In fact, Barbara Enright is the only woman to reach the final table of the Main Event in the history of the tournament, her feat coming back in 1995 when she placed fifth.

While it’s seemingly surprising that only one female contestant has made it to the final felt in 46 years, it’s actually perhaps more shocking it happened even once.

In 2015, a total of 6,420 players paid the $10,000 entry fee for the Main Event. 252 were female, or just four percent.

Kelly Minkin was the lone female making it to day seven. She was knocked out in 29th for a win of $211,821.

In the 45 years of the WSOP, professionals have won 30 times, or 66.6 percent. The poker boom came in 2003 after amateur Chris Moneymaker did the unthinkable by winning the Main Event on a $39 PokerStars satellite.

Amateurs went on to win the World Champion bracelet the next five consecutive years, but pros have regained the momentum by winning the last six. That has led to a dip in the game’s popularity.

8,773 entrants bought into the 2006 WSOP Main Event, but the tournament has been below 7,000 since 2011.

It would do the game good for a woman to reach the final table in the coming years, as the currently untouched demographic could possibly ignite poker’s second boom.

Until then, we’ll have to watch nine men go head-to-head. And with millions of dollars on the line, that of course will be anything but boring.

Paul Ryan House Speaker

Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan is your new Speaker of the House, a plateful of important yet contentious matters already sitting on his desk including daily fantasy sports. (Image: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) is the 54th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, the nine-term congressman replacing outgoing and retiring Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).

It’s a position few sought on the Republican side, a host of issues facing the legislature that will force Ryan to likely take difficult positions in order to pass any sort of meaningful legislation.

The first and most contested topic is that of raising the debt ceiling.

The House passed an agreement on Wednesday to increase spending by $80 billion and lift the debt ceiling through March 2017 in order to avoid a government shutdown.

Unpopular with hard right conservatives including 2016 candidates Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), Ryan voted in favor of the measure.

“We are going to move forward. We are going to unify,” Ryan said Thursday. “Our party has lost its vision, and we are going to replace it with a vision.”

Daily Fantasy Mounting

Though a host of pressing subjects faces the country including ISIS, $19 trillion in debt, and a polarized political climate, another topic gaining momentum in Congress and state governments across the country is that of daily fantasy sports (DFS).

During the Republican debate on Wednesday, DFS took center stage when asked by a CNBC moderator to former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.

After playfully answering and referencing his own fictitious daily fantasy roster, the son of 41 and brother of 43 replied, “Effectively, it’s day trading without any regulation… And when you have insider information, which apparently has been the case, where people use that information and use big data to try to take advantage of it, there has to be some regulation.”

“I have no clue whether the federal government is the proper place. My instinct is to say, hell no,” Bush concluded.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, one of three governors to sign online gambling or poker into law since the Department of Justice released an opinion in 2011 contrasting the scope of the Wire Act and effectively permitted states to authorize Internet betting, quickly jumped in.

“Are we really talking about getting government involved in fantasy football?” Christie asked. “Secure our borders, protect our people, and support American values and American families.”

“Enough on fantasy football. Let people play, who cares?”

Rubio’s Big Night

According to the majority of political observers, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio had the best debate performance along with Christie. That could be good news for online gambling proponents worried about the conservative ticket.

Everyone knows Christie likely wouldn’t do much to prevent the continued expansion of iGambling in the US. Nor would Trump, a longtime friend of the industry.

Dr. Ben Carson’s views remain unknown, but the emerging favorite among the Republican Party’s base is Rubio, a once-supporter of the Restoration of America’s Wire Act.

Rubio seems to be slowly backtracking on that position.

Talking with the Las Vegas-Review-Journal earlier this month he said, “On the issue of Internet poker … it involves an element of skill… So that’s the one area that distinguishes it a little bit.”

The DFS debate boils down to the contests being skill-based, Rubio’s comments seemingly in support of poker advocates arguing the same.

The architect of poker's Black Friday, US Attorney Preet Bharara is now diving into the daily fantasy market to see whether it too is in violation of federal laws. (Image: Getty Images/

The architect of poker’s Black Friday, US Attorney Preet Bharara is now diving into the daily fantasy market to see whether it too is in violation of federal laws. (Image: Getty Images/

US Attorney Preet Bharara knows a thing or two about online gambling. The Southern District of New York (SDNY) federal prosecutor appointed by President Barack Obama was the lead architect in bringing charges against 11 individuals associated with PokerStars and Full Tilt on what became known as poker’s Black Friday.

Bharara is now directing his attention to the Internet’s newest and most popular form of wagering, daily fantasy sports (DFS). The SDNY has not confirmed whether its office is indeed examining the industry, but several media reports have surfaced claiming as much including the Wall Street Journal.

DraftKings and FanDuel, the two DFS market leaders, have remained rather mum on the rumored investigation by Bharara, with only DraftKings addressing the issue.

“We strongly believe the games on our site, and daily fantasy sports in general, are legal,” DraftKings said in a statement. “We are seeing a number of state regulators and other authorities taking a reasoned and measured approach … and hope that trend continues along with due consideration for the interests of sports fans across the country who love to play these games.”

Legal Questions, Legal Loophole

The DFS debate boils down to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA), a federal bill that blocked Internet betting but omits addressing fantasy sports mainly because at the time fantasy games were largely confined to friendly leagues amongst friends.

The emergence of daily contests instead of yearlong leagues has led to immense growth. Paired with DraftKings and FanDuel’s persistent marketing techniques, DFS have come under attack by an array of states trying to determine if the platforms violate federal law.

Nevada has already forced DFS to cease operations until operators apply for and obtain interactive gaming licenses. Arizona, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana and Washington all have made the practice illegal.

DraftKings Employee Cleared

DFS has garnered much attention from fans and legal analysts in 2015, but the market suffered perhaps its most serious blow when a DraftKings employee won $350,000 on rival FanDuel by allegedly using insider knowledge to gain an unfair advantage.

Both networks maintained no wrongdoing, and an independent investigation found no evidence the employee used data on which NFL players were most commonly chosen in selecting his fantasy roster.

“DraftKings is fully committed to operating our daily fantasy sports games in a manner that is completely transparent and fair,” DraftKings CEO Jason Robins said. “We will also continue to work with all relevant authorities to ensure that sports fans can continue to enjoy the daily fantasy sports experience they love.”

Relevant authority #1 is unquestionably Mr. Bharara. From successfully prosecuting the Madoff family to insider trading and white-collar criminals, Bharara has become known as the enforcer of Wall Street.

In the poker world, he’s known as the industry’s assassin.

Bharara indeed knows much about Internet gambling and its relationship to the law. He effectively imposed a countrywide ban on playing poker online back in 2011, and with DFS now on his radar, DraftKings, FanDuel, and the many other networks should certainly be concerned.

Pennsylvania online gambling Rep. John Payne Sheldon Adelson

State Representative John Payne has long wanted online gambling, and with the ongoing budget impasse, his wishes might just come true as support is mounting. (Image: File photo/

Pennsylvania has emerged as the country’s frontrunner to join Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey and become the fourth state to legalize online gambling.

Governor Tom Wolf (D) is aiming to increase the state’s budget by nine percent to further invest in education and to begin paying down a multi-billion dollar deficit.

Approaching 110 days without an approved budget, Wolf and the Republican-led legislature seem to have little interest in compromise, though both sides claim they’ve made concessions.

The months-long deadlock is due to conservatives refusing to sign a budget that raises taxes on citizens in order to fund additional public school spending.

That’s led to many politicians scouring for untapped sources to pump new revenue into the capitol, and so far online gambling seems to be the odds-on favorite to accomplish such a goal.

Case for Internet Gambling

While little bipartisan movement has recently taken place in Harrisburg, the House Gaming Oversight Committee is one group gaining support from both Democrats and Republicans.

Led by State Rep. John Payne (R-District 106), the committee’s overall chairman, and State Rep. Nick Kotik (D-District 45), the Democratic chair, the Gaming Oversight is pushing legislation that would license operators to provide interactive table games in the Commonwealth.

Payne and Kotik argue that legalizing iGambling allows the state to capture proceeds currently being sent to offshore networks. “Right now millions of Americans, including Pennsylvanians, participate in illegal online gaming where no regulation currently exists,” Payne said last February.

According to a recent study, Pennsylvania could earn $120 million in year one, primarily due to licensing fees online operators would be required to pay.

Moving forward, officials say $300 million or more each year could be taken in as a result of authorizing Internet betting.

“I think it’s important we consider all responsible options to boost revenue before we consider asking our taxpayers for more money to fill that deficit,” Payne said.

Cautionary Words

Online gambling is unquestionably gaining momentum among lawmakers and the Pennsylvania public.

That doesn’t sit well with Sheldon Adelson, the billionaire Las Vegas Sands chairman who owns a land-based casino in the city of Bethlehem in the eastern part of the state.

Adelson is furiously against Internet gambling, citing moral reasons for his continued crusade against the industry and willingness to spend “whatever it takes” to stop its expansion.

Wolf doesn’t stand convicted on either side of the online gambling discussion, saying he’d be willing to listen but he doesn’t think it would provide substantial or reliable revenues.

State Rep. Dave Reed (R-District 62), the House Majority Leader, doesn’t necessarily disagree with Wolf. “It doesn’t solve your revenue problem, but it’s potentially a couple hundred million dollars that doesn’t have to come from taxpayers,” Reed said during a town hall.

Adelson and his team believe online gambling won’t just allow minors to bet through their computers and smartphones and create additional hurdles for problem gamblers, but also hurt the already present brick-and-mortar casinos.

“This world belongs to a precious few,” Andy Abboud, an executive at Adelson’s company told PennLive in April. “There’s only going to be one or two companies that will make money … they will clean your clock.”

DraftKings and FanDuel DFS daily fantasy sports online gambling

Ethan Haskell’s $350,000 daily fantasy sports win has brought DraftKings and FanDuel criticism from the public and New York Attorney General, with Congress the next entity expected to enter the discussion. (Image:

DraftKings and FanDuel stress the ease of winning daily fantasy sports (DFS) contests in their ever-persistent commercials, but winning over the public’s perception as it relates to the market might be a bit more challenging.

After months of DFS growth, televisions laded with fantasy sports ads and the two industry leaders raising hundreds of millions in capital from investors, the platform trailblazers are in the midst of controversy after DraftKings employee Ethan Haskell placed second in FanDuel’s “NFL Sunday Million,” a score that netted the content manager $350,000.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has tasked his office with investigating whether Haskell cheated his way to the payout by studying his company’s data before selecting his fantasy roster at competitor FanDuel.

The heavily reported developments have taken DFS from the unregulated online gaming environment to the front pages of leading news outlets across America, ultimately bringing the casual questions of legality recently raised into the center of the media arena.

Congressional Intervention

Schneiderman is wasting no time in diving into the world of DFS to examine precisely how it operates, or more importantly, how it protects customers.

With the vast scrutiny surrounding the industry, many believe it won’t be long until Congress also takes a look.

“We need a Congressional hearing to review the legal status of fantasy sports and sports betting,” US Rep. Frank Pallone (D-New Jersey) said in a statement this week. “Daily fantasy sports is functioning in a Wild West void within the legal structure … these issues are ripe for Congressional review.”

NFL daily fantasy contests involves selecting a roster of players using a criteria of predetermined salary cap guidelines. Points are awarded to each professional player based on his performance that week, and whichever DFS roster accumulates the most points receives the largest chunk of the prize pool.

Reports have claimed that Haskell exploited insider information to his own gain by selecting players on FanDuel that were less chosen on DraftKings.

Forming the best talent of players that were the least selected overall gives a user a greater chance of winning big.

DraftKings and FanDuel both denied any wrongdoing, the platforms releasing a joint statement declaring they “have strong policies in place to ensure that employees do not misuse any information at their disposal and strictly limit access to company data.”


What will the future for daily fantasy sports hold? As of now, that seems like a bet few would wager on.

Regardless of whether it’s revealed Haskell did or didn’t cheat, reviewing the merits of DFS is likely to continue.

New Jersey State Senator Ray Lesniak (D-District 20), the leading lawmaker who brought online gambling to his state and a likely frontrunner to become its next governor, says DFS and sports betting should be legalized and regulated to combat these issues.

Lesniak has moved to authorize sports betting in Jersey as well, but the issue was ruled against after the professional sports leagues and NCAA sued the state.

“I hope this blatant hypocrisy will light a fire under Congress,” Lesniak told the Sporting News before adding that the DFS networks will “rely on the inertia of Congress.”

PokerStars Full Tilt New Jersey DGE application approval

After a lengthy delay, New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement has granted PokerStars and Full Tilt with access to its online poker market. (Image:

PokerStars and Full Tilt are returning to the United States for the first time since the federal government seized the assets of both online operators on April 15, 2011, poker’s “Black Friday.”

New Jersey finally approved the iPoker networks now owned by Amaya Inc. following a long and drawn-out application analysis by the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE).

The department was recently the recipient of criticism after DGE Director David Rebuck revealed the investigation took his division around the world on the taxpayer’s dime.

“We are very pleased to add New Jersey to the long list of regulated markets that have found PokerStars and Full Tilt suitable to offer real-money online gaming,” David Baazov, Amaya CEO said in a press release. “I want to thank the DGE for their thorough and fair review of our business.”

Joisey News Noisy

The news from Amaya sent shockwaves through the gambling industry and is unquestionably a huge win for proponents of Internet poker.

Since its return to the US, poker has struggled in Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey to reach pre-market economic forecasts.

The isolated nature of each state’s card rooms has been largely to blame, sufficient player pools absent to support a robust online poker environment.

Nevada and Delaware reached an interstate compact to share liquidity, but the rather small populations of the two states hasn’t led to any tangible impact.

PokerStars will provide a much-needed boost of interest to iPoker and is expected to open up the floodgates to a new bounty of players, primarily those who competed on the network before April 2011.

“We look forward to bringing our popular brands, innovative technology, marketing prowess and world-class security and game integrity to the growing New Jersey online gaming market,” Baazov expanded. “We anticipate providing additional details of our launch plans in the near future.”

Atlantic City Impact

The re-entry of the world’s largest online poker network certainly gives optimism to the Garden State’s iPoker potential, but it also might bring a bit of enthusiasm for the struggling east coast gambling mecca Atlantic City.

Partnered to offer Internet gaming through an agreement with Resorts Casino, the land-based venue says it plans to build a “world-class poker room” and welcome “worldwide tournaments to Atlantic City.”

Morris Bailey, a Jersey native and now real estate mogul, seems to be all-in on revitalizing the city.

“I had my formative years there, I loved it,” Bailey said when he acquired the resort in 2010. “I thought the Boardwalk was paradise.”

Always looking for a deal, Bailey believes his $35 million purchase and $70 million renovation of Resorts is a steal considering Resorts was sold in 1996 for $301 million.

“Atlantic City has always been a destination resort on the east coast,” he said. “It’s always been No. 1, going back 100 years. It is an extraordinary beachfront, Boardwalk and tourist environment, even absent gaming.”

Now armed with the kicker in PokerStars, Bailey’s investment seems to be an odds-on favorite for a substantial payout.

DDoS attacks online gambling operators China United States

President Obama will stress the importance of stopping cyber and DDoS attacks on American citizens to Chinese President Xi Jinping when the two meet this week. (Image: Jewel Samad/ AFP)

A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is the process of manipulating hundreds or thousands of infected computers that are virus-ridden and used collectively to flood a targeted website with excessive traffic.

DDoS overloads the Internet site’s available bandwidth with massive amounts of data, causing legitimate requests to fail and essentially sending the website offline.

These types of assaults are common during exceptionally busy online commerce days such as Black Friday.

Online casinos are operational 24/7 and a second delay is dire, making iGambling platforms attractive targets for rogue dark web criminals. Gold Security, an IT security firm headquartered in Sweden, says in its recent study that DDoS incidents are of utmost concern for gaming operators.

“The growing popularity of the online gaming and betting industry has attracted a lot of attention worldwide, of which not all are favorable to say the least,” the company states in its “DDoS Versus the Online Gambling Industry” report.

“With online gambling in particular, it’s like experiencing Black Friday several times a year,” Anthony Khamsei, Gold Security CEO says. “A half-second delay renders a site unusable, unlike shopping where the tolerance for imperceptible delays may not make or break a sale.”

Hacker for Hire

Perhaps most startling in the examination of DDoS attacks on gaming operators is the fact that 40 percent are being performed by botnets-for-hire.

Hackers, once restricted to their deep web origins, have slowly approached the surface of public dealings, now looking to capitalize off their criminal activity by selling bots.

Hacker classified listings place the cost of hiring a botnet at just $40 per hour, with every hour of DDoS costing the targeted business an average of $40,000 per 60 minutes.

DDoS are nothing new, but the practice is becoming more prevalent as even unskilled computer users can now acquire the bots:

In December 2014, Las Vegas Sands Casino computers were halted in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, by an Iranian hacker allegedly angry at Las Vegas Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson’s pro-Israel views.

Also in December 2014, DDoS was used to disable Sweden’s largest telecommunications company, Telia, and sending poker offline.

Last July, New Jersey suffered its first successful DDoS attack when four online casinos went down, the state’s Division of Gaming Enforcement saying they were able to identify the culprit after he demanded a Bitcoin ransom.

5.6 Million Finger Discount

In addition to being the most frequent origination of DDoS attacks, China is also being accused by the US government for stealing 5.6 million fingerprints of federal employees.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled to arrive at the White House tomorrow, with President Obama saying cybersecurity will certainly be one item of discussion and that online espionage by the Chinese government and its proxies is “an act of aggression that has to stop.”

“Federal experts believe that, as of now, the ability to misuse fingerprint data is limited,” the US Office of Personnel Management (OPM) said in a statement. “However, this probability could change over time as technology evolves.”

In what is a rather comical development in an otherwise serious subject, OPM says it will begin notifying those employees affected by “mailing notifications” through the US Postal Service.

But the government’s decision to take the slowest way possible to alert its impacted staffers could highlight its concerns of digitizing further private information on who China obtained records on, further emphasizing the importance of developing more advanced safeguards not just for online gambling sites but also federal databases.