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David Baazov, the genius behind the Amaya. How did he succeed the impossible

If you remember, a few months ago, we wrote an article about Mark Scheinberg, the former Poker Stars boss. You are certainly aware of the fact that Scheinberg received 4 billion dollars from selling the famous poker site. Today we will, however, find out the story of the one that made Scheinberg rich and I warn you, this is himself very young and very smart; if not, he wouldn’t have been capable to buy a company worth several times less than his with other people’s money…

In 2014, Baazov was known as the “king of on-line gambling” after the Amaya, a small company in Montreal, Canada purchased Poker Stars. I have to mention the fact that in 2012 or 2013 during one of our magazine’s visits to London for the ICE, we visited the Amaya stand without knowing who they are or who they were to become…

Who is David Baazov?

Doing my research for this article, I have found out many things about Baazov and I’m am sure that I have only found out very little from the public information available about him. I’ll try to focus on the beginning of his business career and the incredible story behind his company’s buying the Rational Group (company which held the Poker Stars brand).

David was born in Israel to a Georgian family and was raised alongside his other 5 siblings as a modern, Jewish, Orthodox family, his father working in construction. At the age of 1, his family moved to Montreal, Canada. He loved math, but didn’t have much interest in school and at he droops out of school at the age of 16. His parents did not agree with his dropping out and so David left home. For several weeks, he slept at friends or in parks, and finally succeeded in renting an apartment with his brother’s help. In time, his relationship with his family improved. He started selling discount coupons for chemical cleaning and clothing shops by mail. Then he started selling hardware, especially computers. For some time, things went really bad, until he managed to obtain a computer sell/re-sell contract with the Montreal public library worth 20 million dollars over 5 years. After having lost a valuable contract, he suddenly sold the company.

In 2005 he entered the software business, particularly casino software and created an electronic poker table, allowing people to play poker without a human dealer. He named this company Amaya. The company registered 6 million dollars in income and as to obtain more money for his future projects, he listed the company on the Toronto Venture Exchange market where one of his shares sold for less than 1 dollar. By selling a minority share pack to the public, he made 5 million dollars which he used to make various cheap acquisitions such as Chartwell Technology and Cryptologic, companies producing software for casino games for on-line operators. He also bought Ongame, an on-line poker software producer. Nobody understood what he was doing or what plans he had for the future, however, the first blow was to take place in 2012.

That is the year he bought Cadillac Jack, a slot machine producer, for 177 million dollars. Now, Baazov had cash-flows of approximatively 36 million dollars per year, which made him highly “liquid”. The evolution of the Amaya shares increased significantly, doubling their value from 3.50 dollars in November 2012 to over 7 dollars at the end of 2013.

However, he did not wish to stop here, he had another target in sight and it was a truly great “prey”: Rational Group (owner of the Poker Stars brand).

How does (sometimes) the little fish swallow the big fish…

Think about the fact that Amaya, at that moment in time, was worth at most 150 million dollars with shares under 7 dollars/share and wanted to buy a giant company – the world leader in on-line poker which had over 1.13 billion in income at that time and about 400 million dollars in profit annually. nobody thought this transaction could ever actually take place, there lacking many millions of dollars.. and besides, Poker Stars had legal issues with the American tax authorities.

Apparently, nothing and no one can stand in the path of Baazov’s ambition to seal the deal. With patience and abnegation, he started to put his plan into action step by step. The first thing he did was to contact the Scheinberg family (Isai – the father and Mark – the son). They were surprised at first and altogether not confident in David Baazov’s proposal. They ignored him for some time. However, they did not wish to rule out any proposals. Poker Stars was in the shadows during that time, in order to make money, they had to enter the American market, but here, only 3 states allowed on-line gambling: New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada. Cash-ins from on-line poker were too small, about 10 million dollars per month.. California seemed blocked and is to this day “at the point of building a sufficiently complex legislation for on-line gambling”, so in one word, a dead end.

And then, the idea of the Scheinberg family making an exit seemed plausible enough.

What did Baazov do? In short, he bought Poker Stars with other people’s money! Brilliant! With an extraordinary ability to persuade and a lot of perseverance, David Baazov gathered 4.1 billion dollars to buy Rational Group (which in the meanwhile bought Fulltilt Poker, its lifetime rival).

Until the end of the summer, he convinced the Blackstone Group (a large financial investment fund headquartered in New York) to pay 1 billion dollars and to buy Amaya shares, while other investors, including BlackRock, one of the greatest hedge fund companies in the world, managing values of over 5.7 trillion dollars! also bought a great deal of shares. For the rest of the amount of 2.9 million, Baazov and Blackstone went to the banks – including Deutsche Bank and Barclays.

Baazov did not only convince them through persuasion, but through numbers as well. The most important numbers from Rational Group or from the audit made by the other large investors found that at that time there were 89 million clients of which 5 million players rolled constantly every month, and 60% of income earned by Poker Stars was due to players registered between 2001-2010, which said a lot about the confidence in the brand.

Done! The deal was sealed! Mark Scheinberg became a very rich man, richer than Steve Wynn (at that time). And think about the fact that no real estate assets were being sold, only digital information and the promise that those 89 million clients of the Poker Stars and Fulltilt Poker sites could become consumers of other things as well, such as on-line casino games or what have you.

In that moment, the prices of Amaya shares sky-rocketed (they were worth 2600% more than at the time of its listing on the exchange), and the only 12.5% of Amaya shares held by Baazov were now worth 800 million dollars!

A true lesson on how to become very rich on other people’s money!

Epilogue

In the meantime, Baazov is the former CEO of Amaya, having sold the larger part of his shares to third parties. However, various issues have arose with the Canadian justice as a result of the Autorité des Marches Financiers (AMF) (Financial Supervisory Authority) in Canada sued David Baazov and some of his associates in March 2016, on grounds of their being implicated in a series of share transactions related to Amaya, including the acquisition of the Rational Group company in 2014. It was actually this month (e.n. – January 2018) when the judge on the case, Salvatore Mascia, rejected Baazov’s request to suspend accusations against the former Amaya CEO.

In Las Vegas, Poker Still Beats Sports Betting In Revenue Per Square Foot

By now it’s no secret that poker revenue for Las Vegas’ casinos has remained relatively flat in recent years while sports betting revenue has grown significantly in the 2010s.

However, the poker rooms still maintain a significant edge over the race and sports books in one category: revenue per square foot. According to figures released by Nevada casino regulators in the annual Gaming Abstract, the 43 brick-and-mortar poker rooms in Clark County generated about $1,120 per square foot in fiscal year 2017. Race and sports betting, which occurs in about 80 casinos in Clark County, generated $670 per square foot.

The poker rooms contained an average of 2,724 square feet, while the books averaged 4,718, according to the state’s figures released each year in January. The Nevada poker boom reached its zenith in 2007, a calendar year in which sports betting and poker revenues were nearly identical at about $168 million. Las Vegas casinos currently collect close to double the revenue from sports betting as they do from poker.

In FY 2008, there were 63 poker rooms in Clark County that generated an average of $1,170 per square foot. The sports books averaged $670 per square foot like did in FY 2017.

Both poker and sports betting trailed the other casino games in the most recent fiscal year. Pit games, which includes offerings such as blackjack, baccarat and roulette, generated about $2,700 in revenue per square foot, while slot machines took in about $1,200 per square foot.

There are more than 4,000 table games and more than 100,000 slot machines in Clark County. The state’s data comes from licensed gambling facilities that generated at least $1 million in gaming revenue in the respective fiscal year.

Sursa: Card Player

Oran Gragson, the mayor who gave life to Vegas

-Oana Mihalache

Even if many of the personalities that are associated with Vegas come from the arts or gambling area, the merits for an impressionistic number of reforms that changes this city are owed to people from politics. Such an example is Oran Gragson, the longest serving mayor of Vegas, a man who fought against corruption, initiated a wave of social reforms and started a project of systematization that drastically changes the city.

He first run for mayor in 1959, and then he stayed in this position for 16 years. Born in 1911, Oran Gragson grew amidst the Great Depression of the ‘30s in the United States, and in 1932 he was working for the construction of the Hoover Dam – located between the states of Nevada and Arizona, a project which was initiated by the president Franklin D. Rooseveld during the economic recession. His only fortune consisted then of $2.70, but he only got to work at the Dam for two weeks, and then he became a truck driver for a dollar an hour. In 1934, he married Bonnie Hanley – his high school girlfriend – and they spent their honeymoon in Las Vegas.

Intuitively, Gragson then told his wife, while he was trying to convince her they should live there, that he one day will be the mayor of Vegas. Shortly after, his road toward entrepreneurship started, precisely in 1937, when he worked as an associate for his first business called the Little Secondhand Store. After many other adventures in this field, he managed to owe his own store, at which he sold television sets. This is the moment when he started seriously to think about becoming a mayor – because the police in town repeatedly told him they had found the door at his store left open, even though he knew that he himself had locked it. The corruption was in full swing in those days in Vegas, and the policemen were controlling local businesses. Well, the spirit of justice characteristic of Gragson was to end this custom – or at least try to do it.

From a novice in politics to the longest serving mayor of Vegas

After he managed to eliminate the endemic corruption within the Police Department, then run by a group of officers accused of burglary and other illicit acts, Gragson started to plan the Fremont West Expressway, now part of US Highway 95 and also known as Oran Gragson Expressway. His road in politics started with the county elections in 1959, when he was not among the favorites for the electorate – as he was largely not known to the vast public, but at the elections in 1963 he managed to win. His electoral platform included, among other proposals, a radical reform in the Western side of Vegas, which was in a visible depressed state and had much to recover towards the rest of Vegas. A member of the Republican Party, his stakes for the mayor post were mainly the eradication of corruption among the local policemen and the initiation of social reforms meant to ensure equal chances for disadvantaged social and racial categories. One of the first measures he undertook as mayor and through which he managed so secure funds for his plans was to convince President Nixon to support legislation for a transfer of funds worth $1,6 million in order to enact an anti-poverty program in Vegas. In 1968 he proposed another measure that included a sales tax that would raise $6 million annually for Clark County. A year later he was recognized by the University of Nevada as a Distinguished Nevadan.

The long career of the mayor Gragson meant a total of four mandates, and it surely cannot be resumed to a few pages, but his initiatives did a lot to help Vegas become what it is today – an eclectic city, attractive for tourists around the world and for entrepreneurs as well. Even if he could have run again, Gragson decided to instead retire and he became the director of the association Downtown Progress, which he ran until 1986. His deep involvement in the social life of Vegas went beyond bureaucratic limits: he was part of a Committee to Employ the Handicapped and in 1976 he co-founded with his wife and other members the American’s Cancer Society’s Cancer Crusade – to mention only a few examples from his civic involvement. Gragson literally witnessed the development of Vegas, and he was the man to lay the foundations for what later became Sin City – now a well-established destination on the map of global gambling.

Gamblers bet record $558 Million at Nevada sports books in September

Boxing’s resurgence in 2017 helped propel Nevada sports books to another monster month in terms of betting activity. According to figures released by state officials, gamblers bet $558.2 million at the books in September, an all-time high for the only state (for now) with legal sports books. Around $30 million of that was bet on the Sept. 16 mega-fight between boxing stars Canelo Alvarez and Gennady “GGG” Golovkin.

The previous record for handle in a single month was the $557.0 million bet in November 2015. The Canelo-GGG boxing match followed the early August fight between Floyd “Money” Mayweather and the UFC’s Conor McGregor, which drew around $70 million in wagers. Just over $300 million was bet on sports in Nevada that month, about double the handle from August 2016.

The NFL season kicked off in early September. While boxing played its role, football is by far the most popular sport to bet on in the Silver State and thus dictates the industry’s fortunes. Nearly $370 million of the record $558.2 million handle came from football (around 65%), whether it was on the NCAA or the NFL.

Baseball accounted for $142.4 million. The rest of the handle came from parlay cards and pari-mutuel bets, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

As everyone is aware of, the handle isn’t what the Nevada casino industry keeps as its winnings. The 189 sports books in the state won $44.4 million on the $558.2 million handle, which represented a win percentage of nearly 8%. The winnings were also one of the best performances for the books in a single month.

The $44.4 million in revenue was up 8.3% compared to September 2016. Football accounted for a whopping $40.7 million of the revenue (91%).

But what about that Canelo-GGG boxing match that generated a lot of betting activity? Well, the sports books posted a roughly $5 million loss on the fight, the state figures show. What happened?

The highly-anticipated match ended in a controversial draw, prompting a lot of refunds on betting tickets. Furthermore, some gamblers were able to get odds as good as 30-1 betting on the draw. The result was disappointing for Nevada, especially considering the Mayweather-McGregor bout propelled the books to an incredible 1,650% year-over-year increase in winnings for August. The books won nearly $20 million on that fight.

There’s another positive to take away from September despite the judging screw-up in the Canelo-GGG fight. President Trump’s high-stakes feud with the NFL didn’t impact betting.

The beginning of the 2017-18 professional football season wasn’t without some controversy. A spat between Trump and the league reached such intensity that there were some calls to boycott games. The books were immune to the controversy.

Sursa: cardplayer.com

New Jersey Wants to be Worldwide Mecca of Online Gambling

State Sen. Raymond Lesniak said recently he’ll introduce a bill soon to allow gamblers in foreign countries, as well as Nevada and Delaware, to place internet bets in New Jersey. State law restricts internet gambling to people physically in New Jersey.

His bill, which has not yet been written, would let people in other jurisdictions where online gambling is already legal make online bets in New Jersey. It also would allow international operators to base their operations in New Jersey, and remove a requirement that computer servers be located within Atlantic City.

That would enable other jurisdictions to pool their players with New Jersey and expand both markets. That would enable other jurisdictions to pool their players with New Jersey and expand both markets.

“I’ve changed my mission from making New Jersey the Silicon Valley of Internet gaming to the Mecca of Internet gaming,” Lesniak said. “Online gaming has helped Atlantic City to revive its casino sector with a success that we can expand in ways that will generate more revenue, create jobs and fuel technological innovation in gaming.”

New Jersey began offering internet gambling in November 2013. Since then, online bets have steadily grown and have become a crucial part of Atlantic City casinos’ business models, with nearly $600 million won from gamblers playing online.

Last year, the casinos took in $196.7 million from internet gambling, up more than 32% from 2015. The money won from online customers often makes the difference between an up month and a down month for Atlantic City’s casino revenue.

New Jersey, Nevada and Delaware are the only states that offer internet gambling, with New Jersey having the largest market among the three. Several other states are considering legalizing it. David Rebuck, director of New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement, said he has not seen Lesniak’s proposal, adding he will study it carefully once it is introduced.

Sursa: gambling911.com

Kyle Busch, the pride of City of Vegas in motorsports

kyle busch

In less than two years Kyle Busch has already become the youngest race winner in NASCAR’s six-decade history of Cup racing, shortly after turning 20 years old.

Kyle Busch was born May 2nd, 1985 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Kyle is professional stock car racing driver, team owner. He currently drives the No. 18 Toyota Camry in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and the No. 18 Camry in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for Joe Gibbs Racing. He also owns Kyle Busch Motorsports, which runs multiple trucks in the Camping World Truck Series. Busch is the 2009 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion and the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion.

The races, an early love

His first driving lessons came at the age of six when he drove around the cul-de-sac of his family’s Las Vegas neighborhood in a makeshift go-kart.Although he could not reach the throttle, Busch still was able to pick up the basics from his father Tom, who controlled the gas pedal as Busch drove the vehicle.Busch worked in the family garage with his father and older brother Kurt as he grew, becoming crew chief for his brother’s dwarf car team at age ten.

From 1999 to 2001, Busch earned more than 65 wins in Legends cars as he earned two track championships at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway “Bullring” before moving up to Late Model stock cars. Winning seemed to come naturally no matter what Busch drove, as he captured 10 victories in Late Model competition at the Bullring in 2001.

NASCAR career

Still just a junior in high school, Busch made his Truck Series debut with Roush in 2001, then shocked the NASCAR world by bolting for Hendrick. Just as stunning was team owner Rick Hendrick’s decision to put the teenager in the #5 Chevy, replacing NASCAR legend and two-time Cup champion Terry Labonte, and racing as a teammate to four-time champ Jeff Gordon.

At age 19, Busch started the 2005 season with a record-setting pole at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., in just his eighth career Cup Series start. Busch, who was 19 years, 317 days old, broke the record previously held by Donald Thomas, who was 20 years, 129 days old when he won the pole Nov. 16, 1952 at Lakewood (Ga.) Speedway.

Finishing his rookie season with another victory in November at Phoenix International Raceway, Busch’s first year consisted of one pole, nine top-fives, 13 top-10s, two wins and a 20th-place finish in the standings. Busch bookended his Xfinity Series Rookie of the Year trophy from 2004 by winning the Cup Series Rookie of the Year title in 2005.

Records, Records, Records

Furthermore, Busch became the first driver to win a race and a championship in a Toyota in the Sprint Cup Series, winning at Atlanta Motor Speedway during the 2008 season and the 2015 Cup Series championship. Additionally, he is the only driver to win four straight spring races at Richmond International Raceway (2009–2012), and was also the inaugural winner of the first Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway, in 2011.

Busch, who began his NASCAR career in 2003, is the most recent of only four drivers that have won a championship in both the Sprint Cup Series and the Xfinity Series, and in 2005 became the 14th of only 28 drivers to win a race in each of NASCAR’s three national series. In 2009, Busch became the first driver to win two of NASCAR’s top touring series races in the same day (at Auto Club Speedway), followed in 2010 as the first driver to win races in all three of NASCAR’s top three touring series in the same weekend (at Bristol).

When Busch won the 2009 Crown Royal Presents the Russell Friedman 400 at Richmond International Raceway as he turned 24, he was the second of just three people to ever win on their birthday. His team, Kyle Busch Motorsports, became the first Camping World Truck Series team to win the owners’ championship in its first year after recording 8 wins, 16 top 5, and 21 top 10 finishes in 2010.

Family & Charity, the two most important things from his life, except the races

In addition to his aggressive nature behind the wheel of a racecar, Busch has a strong charitable drive. He formed the Kyle Busch Foundation (KBF). His foundation is committed to empowering children, families and communities to overcome hardship by providing essential tools – financial, material and experiential – to allow them to live their best lives possible.

In addition to children’s homes his foundation supports, Busch and his wife, Samantha, have a few initiatives they continue to support that are important to them. The first is North Carolina-based Pretty in Pink Foundation, as money raised at a charity dinner held each October in Charlotte, N.C. Along with support for the Pretty in Pink Foundation, the couple started the “Kyle and Samantha Busch Bundle of Joy Fund” benefiting in-need families struggling with infertility. KBF donates to costs associated with infertility treatment through the REACH Clinic of Charlotte. Busch, wife Samantha, and son Brexton reside in Denver, North Carolina.

Boxing and its role in promoting the entertainment through sports in Las Vegas

by Cristina Toder

Today, one of the most popular sport in Europe and America, and the origin of which is linked to the antics festivals when one of the tow players died at the end, is boxing. However, one can admit that US made a major contribution during the 20th century to the way how this sport is seen and looked currently. The city which supported the most boxing, turning it into a valuable industry very well-known today, is Las Vegas. Stars such as Muhammad Ali, ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard, Evander Holyfiled, George Foreman, Mike Tyson, Oscar De La Hoya and Flyod Mayweather are just a few of the legends that have brought fame and recognition to this sport, but also to the city.

But things have not been like this always. Before Las Vegas became the capital of boxing, New York City had had its glory time, when thanks to the radio and the television watching the boxing matches was a national fun of Friday nights. More than that, the first sport ever broadcasting was a boxing match, when Willlie Pep defended his title against Chalky Wright in 1944. Then, in 1960, after NBC refused to broadcast boxing matches, and also New York City to organise these kinds of fights, boxing was forced to find a ‘new welcoming home’, which was Nevada.

This is the Convention Centre in Las Vegas, a city that was looking for an ‘entertainment spectacle’ or for new ways through which the casinos could allure visitors in their gambling rooms. So, boxing became a massive sponsored sport by the casinos because they have figured out what huge profits they could obtained thanks to such events. For a better understanding of the casinos gains’ proportions when it came to boxing, it is helpful to know that every match of the Flyod Mayweather would bring to Las Vegas budget at least $ 100 million and other $ 11 million in related industries, such as restaurants and hotels.

Over the time, Las Vegas hosted many boxing matches, where fought famous pugilists, but also where the career of many others ended immediately after the game. The sport events were and are still making enormous income because they attract people from across the world who want to bet on the winner. Beside the sold tickets, the rented hotel rooms, the food, the entertainment, souvenirs and fully gambling rooms, another opportunity to increase tenfold the gains was to sell the rights to broadcast the matches, which also promoted the casino as being the place where the action was happening. So, in 1978, at Hilton, Muhammad Ali lost his heavyweight title to Leon Spinks by decision in front of an audience of almost 5,300 people and another 70 million viewers. The broadcasting rights cost CBS $ 3.8 million. Ali’s earn was $ 3.5 million and Spinks’ $ 320,000.  Other match with huge revenues is the fight between ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns promoted as the ‘Showdown’. For example, in the hall were 23,618 people and the TV audience was 300 million viewers. Then, Hearns gained $ 5.1 million, while Leonard gained over $ 11 million. Tickets revenues valued $ 5.9 million and the revenues from broadcasting worth $ 7.5 million. In the end, the gross revenues was over $ 35 million.

So, today one cannot say that matter so much the town where the pugilist was born. When one have something to offer to the world, Las Vegas becomes their town. How many do know that the 3 boxers that dominated the last 20 years in terms of earns, like as: Tyson, De La Hoya and Mayweather, are actually born in New York City, Los Angeles, and Michigan?

Muhammad Ali

One of the most known and, maybe, the most beloved pugilist of whole times, whose life was the subject of several films, even playing himself in the screenplay in 1977, and whose career was launched in Las Vegas, is Muhammad Ali. He debuted in 1961 with the name Cassius Clay, a match he won against Duke Sabedong at the Convention Center in Las Vegas. The casinos have noticed, even from the first bell, that the boxer had a strong charisma which helped him to easily please the audience, thing that they used to attract boxing fans.

During his whole career, Ali only fought 7 times in Las Vegas, but, even so, his relationship with the town is a special one which transcended sport. Beside having a natural showman character, Ali was an activist. He used the fans sympathy to reduce the racial conflicts in Las Vegas. The second fight in Las Vegas took place in 1965 with Floyd Patterson, whom Ali defeated through a KO in the last round. Then, in 1970, in Atlanta, immediately after the ban to box was over because he refused to join the US army, Ali won Jerry Quarry, as well as tow years later when they met in Las Vegas. He won the next 2 matches in 1973 with Joe Bugner and in 1975 with Ron Lyle. Then, in 1978, at the Hilton Hotel, Ali lost in front of Leon Spinks by decision, so that 7 months later he could take revenge in Lousiana. Two years later, he lost the match with Larry Holmes when his coach had to intervene to stop the match in round 10.

‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard

Like Ali, the next big star that felt at home in Las Vegas was Ray Charles Leonard. He became an attraction for both local and national press, after he had won 4 consecutive matches at the Caesars, in 1979. He became desirable famous after the game with Tommy Hearns in 1981, when he won. To the surprise of many, Hearns, who had spent the night before playing intensevely basketball, managed to lead the match in terms of points, while Leonard seemed overwhelmed by the situation. At the end of the match, when Sugar’s left eye was closed due to swelling and Hearns seemed to be one step away from a decisive victory, only the words of his coach ‘You are blowing it, son!’ triggered something in himself. Leonard entered very motivated into the ring and after a few punches he managed to pin his opponent to the strings, winning. After this harsh match, ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard didn’t continue to box in heavyweight. Throughout his career from 1977 to 1997, Leonard won 5 titles at various weight classes and at three of them retained his title.

Mike Tyson

Before becoming known as the youngest heavyweight champion in 1986, Mike Tyson fought at Hilton, Las Vegas, against Alfonso Ratliff, in 1985. Atfer that, Tyson’s success grew from year to year, so that, in 1988 he became the first boxer to reunite all three major boxing versions: WBA, WBC and IBF. Ten years later, Mike returns to Las Vegas thanks to a contract signed with MGM Grand, through which the boxer received $ 25 million, while the casino gained much more from this deal. So, in 1996, Mike Tyson boxed against Evander Holyfield, a match that he lost by technical knockout (TKO) in round 11. The revenge took place next year. It was the famous match in which Tyson bite Holyfield’s ears, a behavior that, finnally, disqualified him. And so, Tyson – Holyfield II became the first match in boxing history that ended with the disqualification of one of the sportmen.

Floyd Mayweather

In 2014, Mayweather became the new attraction of Las Vegas. And one year later the most anticipated battle of this century between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao took place. The two legend of the boxing confrunted each other after more than 5 years of negotiations over media coverage aspects. At the end of the match, Mayweather was declared victorious. During his career as a professional pugilist from 1996 to 2015, Mayweahter won 50 matches and became world champion en-titre in 4 different weight categories.

iGamblingul and the legal process in the USA: towards federal legalization?

-Oana Mihalache

The gambling landscape in the United States is pretty mottled, and the legalization process is far from being accorded to the gaming habits or the actual state of the industry, and this deficiency is rather visible in the case of online gambling. Nevertheless, the legislation in the field also has a complexity which is dictated by the fact that the laws have been made a few centuries ago, thus undergoing a lengthy process. The disadvantage of this development of the legal process is the irregularity: while some states legalized online gambling, others did not pass at all legislation in this field, and in those cases we can say that we’re dealing with a lack of adaptation to the current state of the industry or, firmly said, with a legislative void.

If states like Nevada, Delaware, of New Jersey were among the precursor regarding the legalization of online gambling, others followed suit, like Minnesota, Maine, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island. In the case of the three model-states, online gambling was legalized in 2010 in New Jersey, shortly after in Nevada, and in 2012 in Delaware. The attempt to rank the USA states according to this criterion is a hazardous one, given the fact that in some states the regulations for online gambling, for a legal point of view, are ambiguous – such as Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, South Carolina.

In the United States, the legislative system allow the adoption of laws at the local, state and federal level – in some states, for example, regulations in the field date for over two centuries. This also applied for traditional gambling, only that in this case the legislative framework is more liberal – there are 44 lotteries in the USA, casinos operating in more than 25 states, gaming rooms in almost all big cities and new forms of betting are allowed.

If we shift our attention towards online gambling, we will see tougher restrictions. This type of gambling is regulated at the federal level by three sets of laws, known as The Interstate Wire Act (adopted in 1961), The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (1992) and The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (2006). All three were initiated as attempts to prohibit online gambling. At the state level, some states were clearly in favor of outlawing this form of gambling completely – Indiana (considered one of the most restrictive states in the field of gambling), Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Montana, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, Wisconsin.

There is no need to seek for the opinions of experts in the field in order to claim that the standardization of the legislative framework, by making online gambling legal in each and every state, would be impossible. Nevertheless, many states are doing noticeable process in this regard. In Pennsylvania, many anticipate that online gambling will be legal by the end of the year – in the search for more incomes to the state budget, the most optimistic scenarios show how if legalization became a fact, the online gambling industry could bring half a billion dollars per year in the first five years. Another state that is recording visible progress in the direction of legalization is New York, aiming to legalize online poker – and the only way to do this is to classify it as a skill game. A bill has been introduced already and among the stipulations there is one asking 15% tax for operators and an initial payment of $10 million when applying for a license. California is another state that has been making steps to make this type of gambling legal, even though other representatives from the industry are clearly against. The bill in this case contains a point asking operators to pay $12 million for a license which is available for 7 years. Other states that are making steps ahead in this regard are Massachutes, New Hampshire, Michigan, West Virginia – where the first bill dedicated to online gambling was initiated this year. In some states pressure could grow from the bottom, as the growth of the traditional gambling sector could lead to a liberalization of the governors’ agenda, like in the case of the governor of Ohio, John Kasich.

Among the states that already adopted a piece of legislation dedicated to online gambling we can mention Colorado, Hawaii, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi.

If we consider the relation between federal authorities and the laws in the field, we can mention the attitude and public positions of FBI. In 2007, a press release on the site of the Federal Bureau was announcing in a restrictive manner – Don’t roll the dice and mentioned that the only types of online games that are allowed are fantasy, free online games and some sites that are not considered part of the online gambling industry. In 2013, after an investigation conducted by the FBI, the former CEO of the poker company Full Tilt – Raymond Bitar, was found guilty and charged by the Court of Manhattan for money laundering activities. Before having his license revoked, in 2011, Full Tilt was controlling together with PokerStars 70% of the online poker market in the USA and they had total incomes of over $1 billion per year each. Following the legal charge, the Full Tilt Company had to forfeit $731 million, with more than $100 million as compensation for clients turned into victims.

Like we already mentions, the year 2017 could bring new states in front of the pretenders to the status of liberal states regarding online gambling, but the perspectives for a legalization process at the federal level are extremely low, even in the most optimistic scenarios. Until this happens, it’s safe for operators to limit their endeavors to the borders of the states in which online gambling is allowed. And we say this because even though is seems to be pretty caught in the scandal regarding the allegedly Russian involvement in the elections that brought Trump to power, for sure the FBI institution will bring any new Full Tilt case in front of the Courts.

THE SECRETS OF CASINOS (XIX) The Big Bang moment of Vegas and the 8th wonder of the world: The secrets behind the Hoover Dam

-Oana Mihalache

Sometimes, the history behind some places hides details that are captivating and surprising. The fact that we are often used to consider the present developing phase of some places as being a natural and unquestioned one shows that we must look more often into their archive and expand our informational adventures. It is also the case of a construction near to Las Vegas that influenced the development of this gambling paradise almost as much as or maybe to the same extent to which casinos did. The Hoover Dam was built almost a century ago and those who contributed to its construction also represented a massive wave of customers for casinos and striptease clubs, then the dam helped the infrastructure to develop, became a touristic attraction in itself and then eased the process of Vegas becoming a ”gambling lighthouse”, visible from space. We promise you an exciting story about one of the secrets behind the Vegas casinos, but also many ”wow” details that will captivate you, in the paragraphs below.

The 8th wonder of the world

Sometimes called, not without a proper bombastic approach, the ”8th wonder of the world”, the Hoover Dam – with an architecture and magnitude that are truly impressive – was the most ambitious project of its type when it was constructed. Built between 1930 and 1936, the project worth then $175 million, became paradigmatic for the development of Vegas. In fact, the beginning of this project coincides with the legalization of gambling in the Nevada casinos, which was made in 1931, which meant that many of those working on the dam site had also become loyal customers on Fremont Street, the equivalent of that time for the Strip of Vegas and the only paved street in the city, but also for the brothels found then in abundance in Vegas. Beyond this legalization, Vegas was a city with only 5.200 inhabitants back then and was already known for its lax enforcement of laws during Prohibition – the so-called Nobility Experiment – through which selling and making commerce with alcohol was prohibited, which brought an infamous name for the city.

From hundreds of thousands to million visitors

Located at nearly 50 km from Vegas, the Dam initially called Boulder later received the name of President Herbert Hoover, in 1947. The fact that this dam then ensured cheaper energy for inhabitants in Vegas and eased water supply projects led to an extremely fast infrastructure development and in 1931 the population already reached 7.500 people. Incomes brought to Vegas which were related to the project reached $70 million in 1939. When it was opened, president Roosevelt said it was an ”engineering victory” and that ”It’s another great achievement of American resourcefulness, American skill and determination”. In fact, the dam facilitated the development of the now famous Strip of Vegas, an area which now consumes a huge amount of electric power and it is renowned for that fact that it became the brightest spot on Earth when looked upon from Space, and images captured by The International Space Station seem to confirm this fact.

From small casinos and brothels to mega-resorts like Mirage

The Dam became a touristic attraction in itself and in 1932 around 100.000 people visited the construction site, many of them also becoming a Vegas clientele. In comparison, the dam is now visited by 10 million people every year, and Vegas by 40 million. The construction of this dam turned an underdeveloped area like Vegas at the beginning of the 20th century into a metropolitan area with over two million inhabitants, and this thing wouldn’t have happened if the dam hadn’t provided water supply. The moment when the development of casinos in Vegas took shape was in 1941, when El Rancho Vegas Resort was open, soon many other important ones followed, and the section of highway that now hosts an impressive number of casinos became known as “The Strip”. The 1989 moment came, when the casino developer Steve Wynn opened the first mega-resort of Vegas, Mirage.

When the Hoover Dam was inaugurated, the colossus concrete construction built as a gravity-arch was the world’s largest power plant of its time. It stands 220 meters tall and it its 200 meters thick and now provides energy for California, Nevada, and Arizona. Specialists estimate that it the dam did not exist, it would now take an amount of $4 billion to build it.

Even if at that time the impressive development of Vegas, until reaching the stage it reached now was not predicted, the Hoover Dam is still is one of the most important constructions in the history of Vegas, which continues to influence its development. If at the beginning of the 20th century, when Vegas was founded during a land auction in the area, was known as an “underdeveloped dessert valley” between Utah and California, it is now one of the most important cities for gambling operators, for players and for many celebrities around the world. If those in the gambling industry are not able to imagine the world without Las Vegas, residents there are unable to imagine life without Hoover Dam.