An incredible run that many are comparing to Phil Hellmuth's historic WSOP achievements - far from stopping at 20 COOP titles, Benny Glaser has managed to add three more to his tally, surpassing all historical tables!
Not even a week has passed when we informed you about the historical record, which was set by the British professional BennyGlaser. In addition to the live scene, he's crushing the online scene as well, where he became the most successful player ever with a total of twenty COOP titles thanks to a double win at this year's WCOOP.
If you think that we forget what we are writing about, or that we are making fun of you with repetitive information, we must make clear right from the start. Benny has won three more WCOOP titles in the last four days, and according to his own words, he's not about to take his foot off the gas for the last ten days of the festival either!
Benny won his twenty-first title in his favourite event, 2-7 Single Draw, where he converted a $1,050 buy-in into a $19,489 prize. The very next day, he was undefeated in the $2,100 Omaha High-Low event, where he took home his 22nd title in addition to $44,201. Finally title came in the $1,050 5-Card Draw event, where none of his 23 opponents could keep up with Benny, allowing him to walk away with another title and a $14,207 prize.
The state of West Virginia couple weeks ago gained approval to enter the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement, a compact among states that will thus soon increase to five of them other than Pennsylvania that allow online poker across state lines.
Michigan’s entrance into that group has reportedly increased the volume of play substantially in that state and New Jersey this year because of PokerStars combining its player pools for shared liquidity in those two states, which are currently the largest by far in the MSIGA.
Put those three items together, and it sure sounds like iPoker operators would benefit from having still-bigger Pennsylvania join that compact, in addition to how it would help whatever percentage of 12.9 million Pennsylvanians would be interested in playing poker from home with like-minded residents of Michigan, New Jersey, Nevada, Delaware, and West Virginia.
But just if or when that might happen is anyone’s guess. It appears no closer today than when PokerStars launched the first online site in Pennsylvania in November 2019.
The state now has four operators: PokerStars, WSOP, BetMGM, and Borgata, but essentially just three player options since BetMGM and Borgata share their platform.
The $2.35 million in revenue they collectively generated from rakes in October 2023 was 5.8% less than a year before, 17.5% less than in October 2021, and the lowest amount since February 2020, when only PokerStars operated.
The question is if poker stakeholders — whether running the sites or playing on them — will ever find out.
For several years, the online poker volume in Pennsylvania has been stagnant or decreasing while overall regulated online casino revenue has surged. It’s possible the only thing that could boost iPoker is to join with the other states, creating broader player pools that would enable a wider range of cash games at different times of day and denominations and more tournaments with higher prize payouts.
It’s up to governor, not MSIGA or PGCB
Administrators of the MSIGA do not solicit additional states to join the existing ones — it is left up to each jurisdiction’s own elected officials.
“If someone wants to join, we stand ready and waiting [to discuss it],” Michael Morton, a Nevada Gaming Control Board official who helps oversee the compact, previously told Penn Bets.
Doug Harbach, spokesman for the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, said iGaming operators have poked the agency in the past about the state’s interest in joining the multi-state agreement. Doing so is not a decision left up to the regulatory agency, however, although it would certainly be involved in any discussions about it.
“We inform [operators] that the Pennsylvania Racehorse Development and Gaming Act requires the governor to agree to, and execute, any such agreement, and they are certainly aware of the matter,” Harbach said, referring to Gov. Josh Shapiro. “The last administration was not comfortable moving forward with such an agreement, and we have not heard otherwise from the present administration.”
Shapiro, a Democratic former state attorney general, this year succeeded Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf. His first year in office has been consumed largely by protracted budget negotiations involving a Democratic-Republican partisan divide in the legislature.
His office did not respond to a US Bets request for comment this week about the poker issue. It may not be a priority, considering the operators are from out of state and the 16% tax rate on iPoker generates little state revenue. Last month’s $2.35 million in operator revenue from the play was just 1.5% of the overall iGaming revenue, as slots and table games like blackjack and roulette are the big earners.
For the foreseeable future, Pennsylvania poker players who want to play from home instead visiting one of the state’s casinos have the choices offered by the four operators’ three platforms, with the PokerStars site clearly the busiest. It is regularly responsible for more than 60% of monthly revenue in the state.
But in a Pennsylvania plateau, the money being made by the four operators combined is typically no more than what PokerStars made on its own as the state’s sole site in 2020-21. And nothing matches the volume PokerStars saw in April-May of 2020, when the COVID outbreak confined most of the population to their homes and online poker revenue more than doubled.
Pennsylvania’s entry into the MSIGA wouldn’t necessarily match that kind of surge. It would certainly do something to boost play and revenue, however. The question is if poker stakeholders — whether running the sites or playing on them — will ever find out.
Poker professional Shawn Sheikhan, known for his World Series of Poker appearances, was sentenced to four years in federal prison Friday in the United States District Court, Southern District of California. Sheikhan pleaded guilty in 2022 to conspiracy to distribute marijuana, a federal crime. The veteran poker player faced a maximum sentence of 40 years in federal prison and a $5 million fine.
Prosecutors pushed for a 48-month sentence and the Honorable Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo agreed.
In addition to the prison sentence, Sheikhan voluntarily forfeited nearly $300,000 in cash, which consisted of casino chips from several poker rooms. No additional fines were imposed. He must surrender to the U.S. Marshal Service by noon on Jan. 1, 2024. Following his release, which is scheduled for 2028, Sheikhan will have three years of supervised release.
Pools for legal online poker games in the United States may get busier soon. West Virginia, one of seven US states with legal real-money online casino play, has joined an interstate compact that could allow players within its borders to play against people in other states.
West Virginia signing on to the compact is an important but preliminary step toward making that a reality. How soon and whether West Virginians will enter those pools is a matter of commercial interest now.
Timetable for West Virginia online poker is unclear.
Currently, none of the major online poker operators in the US accept players in West Virginia. According to a press release from MIGA, interested parties will have to obtain approval from its members, especially the West Virginia Lottery, to do so.
Although the five members states agree to the rules for player pools, the landscape of existing online poker differs from state to state. For example, players in Michigan have a choice of BetMGM Poker, PokerStars, or WSOP.com.
Meanwhile, Delaware players have a single option for online poker with players having access to WSOP.com interstate pools.
In Nevada, WSOP.com is similarly the only choice for interstate play. New Jersey players are akin to their Michigan counterparts when it comes to having a triumvirate of choices. At this point, none of the three mentioned online poker operators have publicly expressed interest in West Virginia.
All three may not find it difficult to gain approval to ramp up in the state. BetMGM Poker, PokerStars, and WSOP.com all have existing online casino counterparts currently operating in West Virginia:
- BetMGM Casino
- Caesars Palace online casino
- FanDuel Casino
West Virginia’s entry into MIGA was a necessary step before those conversations could begin. With its entry, MIGA now includes all but two of the states where legal real-money online casino play is currently active.
It could be years before that number increases again.
The Multistate Internet Gaming Association (MIGA) is a consortium of now five states’ gambling regulatory bodies that exists to administer the agreement between its members. Its sole purpose is to facilitate regulated online gambling in those states.
MIGA is not a regulatory body or a gambling licensee in any of its member states. A good way to think of MIGA is a moderator between the various gaming regulatory bodies in the five states that belong to the association.
Those member regulatory bodies are:
- Delaware Lottery
- Michigan Gaming Control Board
- Nevada Gaming Control Board
- New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement
- West Virginia Lottery
All those individual governing bodies regulate online poker in their respective states. That’s something the West Virginia Lottery could soon tackle, if any operators are interested in anteing up.
The NAPT will start its comeback tour this November at Resorts World Las Vegas. The kickoff stop is set to run from Nov. 4-12 on the Las Vegas Strip, with the series leading into what will arguably be the event of the year in Sin City: the first-ever Formula 1 Las Vegas Grand Prix taking place on Nov. 18. PokerStars’ partner Oracle Red Bull Racing will be among the contenders in that historic F1 race.
Some of the marquee events from the upcoming NAPT Las Vegas schedule include the $1,500,000 guaranteed $1,650 main event (Nov. 6-11), a $5,300 buy-in high roller tournament (Nov. 10-12), a $550 buy-in PokerStars Cup event (Nov. 9-12).
PokerStars is set to exit Norway at the end of this month. An email was sent to players last week informing them that starting Thursday, October 26, their online services will no longer be available.
In a statement issued on Friday, a representative from PokerStars acknowledged the impending withdrawal from the Norwegian market, citing “commercial reasons” as the driving force behind this decision.
In September, following consecutive years of legal conflicts, Lottstift, Norway’s Gambling Authority, declared that all unlicensed operators must discontinue their illegal offerings or face severe financial consequences.
The threat was made directly against 15 websites, primarily operated by Kindred, Betsson, and ComeOn. Lottstift made no mention of PokerStars’ market activity.
Lottstift stated that new rulings by Storting (Parliament) had granted the authority direct powers to block IP access to illegal websites and to demand that Norwegian banks and financial services terminate monetary transactions with unlicensed operators.
Before the enforcement, Lottstift had been involved in several lawsuits against European operators who disputed the gambling authority’s rules. They argued that these rules favored the monopoly practices of Norsk Tipping and Rikstoto, and were in breach of EU competition laws.
September’s announcement was deemed by Lottstift Director Henrik Nordal as a decisive victory for Norway, ending the activities of unlicensed operators, who will no longer be able to target national consumers.
“For commercial reasons, we have decided to stop offering our products to residents of Norway from 26 October 2023 and have informed our customers accordingly,” PokerStars told.
The operator assured its customers that they would still retain access to their accounts, and their funds would remain secure, allowing for withdrawals at their convenience. Real-money online poker play will continue to be available.