Weekly Poker Roundup: February 11, 2018
WPT Partners with Zynga
The World Poker Tour (WPT) announced a branding partnership with Zynga in which it will “bring the WPT experience into Zynga Poker,” whatever that means. Actually, it seems to mean that Zynga Poker will host WPT-themed tournaments, starting later this year.
Zynga Poker is an immensely popular free-to-play “social” online poker game. It is available via mobile app as well as on Facebook. As mentioned, all games are played with play money chips; the social aspect comes in with features that encourage players to bring their friends onboard and share their results with friends. It is possible to spend real money for play money chips and believe me, Zynga does not hide this – everywhere you turn in the game, there are ads and buttons and what-not to lead people to real money purchases.
“We’re incredibly proud to bring the World Poker Tour to Zynga Poker,” said Adam Pliska, CEO of the World Poker Tour, in a press release. “Zynga has built the largest social poker game, and we are confident their millions of players will enjoy their experience even more with the introduction of WPT-themed tournaments in Zynga Poker.”
John Pappas Leaving PPA Executive Director Role
On Wednesday, the Poker Players Alliance (PPA) announced that John Pappas will be leaving his position as the group’s executive director at the end of February, turning the reins over to PPA VP of Player Relations, Rich Muny.
“There has never been greater momentum than right now for the advancement of sensible internet gaming policy in the U.S.,” Pappas said in a news release. “Whether lawmakers are considering poker, casino gambling or even sports betting, a strong and organized grassroots effort will be critical to legislative success. I am proud of the work I have done with the PPA board of directors and the amazing PPA staff to bring us to this point. I will miss working for the poker community on a day-to-day basis, but I am confident that the PPA will continue its great work with Rich Muny at the helm.”
Linda Johnson, the most senior member of the PPA’s Board of Directors and a Poker Hall of Famer, praised Pappas, saying, in part, “For almost a decade, he has been the political voice and face of the poker community and regulated internet gaming advocates. He leaves the organization in a strong position to continue to ensure that consumer voices drive the internet gaming debate.”
Pappas will remain on the Board. As part of the announcement, the PPA also said it is considering adding sports betting to its advocacy goals; it sent a survey in that regard to its members on Thursday.
Hard Rock Atlantic City Tabs Gamming Innovation Group as Online Gaming Provider
The New Jersey online gambling market will soon see new sites in the mix, as Hard Rock International and Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) has signed a five-year pact that will have GiG be Hard Rock’s online gaming provider for Hard Rock Atlantic City. The casino is the former Trump Taj Mahal and is set to re-open this summer.
GiG has a number of online gambling products, including online poker via its site, Guts.com. If GiG offers poker through Hard Rock, one would assume the New Jersey product will be branded to match the casino. This will be GiG’s first venture in the United States after focusing mostly on Europe.
The company discussed the agreement briefly in a Monday press release:
The agreement will see GiG furnish Hard Rock with a state of the art digital consumer portal, as well as the back-end platform to manage their operations. GiG has communicated ambitions to expand its platform services, focusing on larger clients by utilizing platform scalability. The agreement is a breakthrough for GiG’s platform services as it marks the first agreement with a major global brand and land based casino chain. GiG will also supply Hard Rock with its new front-end casino service, GiG Magic.
UK Online Gambling Operators Agree to More Customer-Friendly Promo Rules
In June 2017, the United Kingdom’s Competition and Markets Authority [CMA] launched an investigation into the advertising and promotional practices of Ladbrokes, William Hill, and PT Entertainment after it had received complaints about how the sites ran their deposit bonus promos. This month, the CMA announced that the three operators had agreed to make changes to the way they did business to make their promos more customer-friendly.
At the time of the investigation, the CMA said that “people often don’t get the deal they are expecting as the promotions come with an array of terms and conditions that are often confusing and unclear and, in some cases, may be unfair.”
“Customers might have to play hundreds of times before they are allowed to withdraw any money, so they don’t have the choice to quit while they’re ahead and walk away with their winnings when they want to,” added the CMA. “Even when players haven’t signed up for a promotion, there are concerns that some operators are stopping customers taking money out of their accounts. The CMA has been told by customers that some firms have minimum withdrawal amounts far bigger than the original deposit, or place hurdles in the way of them withdrawing their money.”
And much the time, the terms and conditions were difficult to find on the site – particularly before a player signs up – or just simply hard to understand.
The key rules that the operators agreed to now abide by are:
- Players won’t be required to play multiple times before they can withdraw their own money
- Gambling firms must ensure that any restrictions on gameplay are made clear to players, and cannot rely on vague terms to confiscate players’ money
- Gambling firms must not oblige players to take part in publicity
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