story in 2006 may well turn out to be one of those issues.
U.S. prohibits, others regulate Internet gambling
steps to prohibit Internet gambling in 2006 with the Unlawful
Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. The law doesn't actually
ban Internet gambling, but it does prohibit banks and
financial institutions from processing transactions to
Internet gambling companies. As a result, several large
online operations, including PartyPoker, stopped accepting
U.S. play in October.
Many in the
Europe Union, meanwhile, have taken steps to regulate
Internet gambling. The UK, Spain, and Italy all made moves
toward regulations while France and Germany took stances
similar to the U.S. -- passing legislation to make Internet
British Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell led a conference
of 30 nations that discussed the best way to govern Internet
gambling (the U.S. did not participate). There was little
agreement from the group, except in determining that prohibitions
would do little more than drive the industry underground.
is here to stay for a while, and 2007 should provide plenty
of interesting developments as the world attempts to cope
with Internet gambling.
On Dec. 19,
two private-equity firms purchased Harrah's Entertainment
for $17.1 billion -- proving once again that land-based
gaming is one of the world's most profitable industries.
poker struggles through regulation issues, land-based
gaming is booming. Most of the major casino companies
are expanding. And televised coverage of poker tournaments
is at an all-time high, led firmly by the Harrah's owned
price is worth more than the entire online gaming industry
($12 billion). And Harrah's employs more than 80,000 people
in a network of 39 worldwide gaming destinations.
Harrah's New Orleans reopens post-Katrina
Orleans reopened on Feb. 20, just in time to welcome back
more than 1,500 employees for the tourist-rich Mardi Gras
Once a crown
jewel of the Harrah's Entertainment operation, the New
Orleans casino was forced to close its doors in August
of 2005 after flood waters from Hurricane Katrina shut
down most of the city.
There was a
time when people questioned whether New Orleans could
bounce back from the tragedy, but the reopening of employee-heavy
venues like Harrah's and the Superdome ended some of the
speculation and brought much needed revenue back to the
In May, the
largest poker room in the South played host to a successful
World Series of Poker Circuit Event, proving Harrah's
New Orleans and the city itself was back to business as
Sands opens online casino
Late in the
year, the Las Vegas Sands stunned the international gambling
world by announcing it was partnering with Cantor Gaming
to open an online casino targeted at the European market.
by the UIGEA, Internet gambling companies are crying foul.
While they risk arrest if they take U.S. players, the
Sands – a U.S. company – can enter European
and Asian markets freely. The Sands online casino will
not accept U.S. players when it opens.
brick and mortar casinos have opened online casinos in
the past (e.g., the MGM), but they have never found them
to be profitable. Clearly, the atmosphere has clearly
changed enough for the Sands to believe it's worth another
Portuguese colony grossed more gaming money than Las Vegas
in third quarter, according to Francis Tam, Macau's Secretary
of State of the Economy and Finance. It's the first time
the tiny Asian territory surpassed in that category. And
some experts have Macau beating Las Vegas, making Macau
the largest gaming center in the world for that timeframe.
saw more than $6.25 billion in revenue in 2006, and some
analysts expect that it will surpass Las Vegas –
which drew just over $7 billion in gaming revenue in 2006
– this year.
has 24-casinos and is expanding rapidly. Construction
is already underway for the $975 million MGM Macau. And
with major gaming brands like The Sands and the Wynn Casinos
focusing on Macau, it may be gambling's top destination
for years to come.
CEOs gone wild
nations were just taking steps to either regulate or ban
Internet gambling, France and the U.S. backed up prohibitionist
talk by arresting Internet gambling executives. The U.S.
nabbed David Carruthers, the former CEO of BetOnSports,
and Peter Dicks, the non-executive chairman of Sportingbet.
Dicks was later released when New York Governor George
Pataki refused to extradite him to Louisiana. Carruthers
is still awaiting trial in Missouri. France, meanwhile,
arrested the two chief executives of Bwin, Manfred Bodner
and Norbert Teufelberger. Both CEOs have been released,
but are unlikely to return to France anytime soon.
Seminole Nation rocks
Tribe of Florida in December purchased the Hard Rock Hotel
and Casino brand for $965 million.
the deal are four hotels, 124 restaurants and the world's
largest collection of rock and roll memorabilia. The Hard
Rock brand, one of the largest in the world, spreads the
Seminole Nation's interests throughout the U.S. and into
Canada, Europe, Australia and Puerto Rico.
More than 3,300
Seminole Americans receive profit sharing from tribe's
gaming interests, a large American-dream reversal for
a once destitute people.
have planted the seeds for the future of brick-and-mortar
casino poker in 2006, brokering deals with casinos in
Michigan, Australia, and even with Carnival Cruise ships.
The automated poker tables eliminate the need for a dealer
and increase the number of hands per hour by 50 percent,
garnering more rake for the casinos and more profit for
Rise of the WSOP brand
World Series in poker history proves the legitimacy of
poker as a sport and the viability of the WSOP brand.
Attracting massive numbers of players and immense prize
pools, WSOP officials crowned their first $12-million
champion and ensured profits for their merchandise, television
coverage, video games, and circuit tournaments.
The WSOP also
cemented poker's standing as an International cultural
icon. Players forced higher standards by questioning a
discrepancy in the number of chips in play at the 2006
Main Event and Main Event Champion Jamie Gold has been
sued for reneging on a deal with professional player Crispin
Leyser. Poker moves into a new age, shedding its image
as mere gambling and entering the realm of big-business
2006 WSOP embedded the idea of the coveted "gold
bracelet" into the consciousness of mainstream Americana.
Fanfare has followed Phil Hellmuth's quest for a tenth
gold bracelet and poker statistics, such as who has the
most gold bracelets and who are the sport's youngest/oldest
champions have become important water-cooler topics.
Hockey betting scandal
were underground gambling rings that were bigger than
the February bust of Phoenix Coyote assistant coach Rick
Tocchet. But there is no bigger name in hockey than Wayne
Gretzky. And while the Great One appears to have stayed
clear of the investigation, his wife appears to have placed
more than $500,000 in wagers during the period of the
investigation, including $75,000 on the Super Bowl.
are some of the stories that just missed making the list
Poker Tour Lawsuits
The WPT faced
two high-profile lawsuits in 2006. The first suit, which
is still ongoing, involved star players Chris Ferguson,
Andy Bloch, Joe Hachem, Greg Raymer, Phil Gordon, Howard
Lederer and Annie Duke refusing to play WPT events until
the WPT agreed to stop using a player's likeness without
compensation. The second lawsuit came when the WPT tried
to stop Shana Hiatt from hosting NBC's Poker After Dark.
Hiatt filed a lawsuit against the organization and the
two sides settled the matter out of court – kind
of like making a deal at the final table of an online
Blackjack Tour and the World Series of Blackjack took
tournament blackjack to a new level with an elimination
of Justice/Sporting News Settlement
agreed to a $7.2 million settlement in early 2006 with
the Department of Justice to end a messy case about Internet
gambling ads. The Sporting News was accused of promoting
illegal gambling sites – even after receiving a
letter from the Justice Department that said ads promoting
sports-betting operations were illegal. The story was
the biggest Internet gambling related news of the year
until the UIGEA passed in October.