PokerStars new VIP programme for 2011

PokerStars is planning some changes to their VIP Programme for 2011. These changes may come in response to a recent bug at their VIP programme that modified the value of the loyalty points and some players have taken advantage of the situation.

The new VIP programme establishes that the Reward Bonuses purchased from the VIP Store are instantly transfered to the player’s account. This promo is actually active since October 1st, 2010, and the announcement confirms it also for 2011. The other changes that are supposed to become active from January 1st, 2011 are:

The standard gain rate for VPPs is still 6x for cash tables with 8 or more seats, and 5.5x for the rest of the games, except for certain micro-stakes games. Depending on the stake at No Limit and Pot Limit No Limit Holdem, some changes will increase the VPP multiplier, making them quickly earnable:

$0.01/$0.02: 10x
$0.02/$0.05: 8.5x
$0.05/$0.10: 7x
€0.01/€0.02: 12.5x
€0.02/€0.05: 10.5x
€0.05/€0.10: 9x

This change is not just a promotion, it will be permanent. PokerStars mentions that “some older tables awarding the previous VPP rates may still exist until the first server restart of 2011.”

Further changes will be applied to the Supernova Elite programme as well. If a player earns the SNE status in 2011, he/she will receive numerous significant discounts through the VIP Store on packages to many of PokerStars’ sponsored main events such as EPT, NAPT, LAPT and APPT tours. The most important discounts are available for the Grand Finale packages at PCA or EPT. Players who have already earned SNE status, will still receive rewards as presented above. Supernova Elite VIPs will continue to receive 5 FPP per VPP if they have the SNE status, plus a free entry to the WCOOP Main Event.

Another change is applied to the Milestone Cash Credits whose prices will be reduced from 50,000 FPP to only 1 FPP, putting it in line with VIP Stellar Rewards. In order to simplify the programme, each Milestone Cash Credit is now $800 smaller but this doesn’t mean a change in value.

The new 100,000 VPP VIP Stellar Reward (valuing $200), will replace the 100,000 VIP Milestone Cash Credit. In addition, the first Milestone Cash Credit will be awarded at 200,000 VIPs and all the 20 VIP Stellar Rewards will total $1200.

Below is a list of Miles Stone Cash Credits available to Supernova VIP players for 1 FPP each:
$2,600 at 200,000 VPPs
$2,800 at 300,000 VPPs
$3,000 at 400,000 VPPs
$3,200 at 500,000 VPPs
$3,600 at 600,000 VPPs
$3,800 at 700,000 VPPs
$4,200 at 800,000 VPPs

Next, the Milestone Cash Credits for Supernova Elite players cost also 1 FPP each as you can see below:
$20,000 at 1,000,000 VPPs
$9,200 at 1,250,000 VPPs
$9,200 at 1,500,000 VPPs
$9,200 at 1,750,000 VPPs
$19,200 at 2,000,000 VPPs
$9,200 at 2,250,000 VPPs
$9,200 at 2,500,000 VPPs
$9,200 at 2,750,000 VPPs

$19,200 at 3,000,000 VPPs

Daniel Negreanu -‘kid poker’ and ‘kid golfer’

Daniel Negreanu has put to good use his golf and poker skills at PokerStars EPT Vilamoura as he managed to win this exciting and innovative competition. This poker tournament combined golf fairways and poker tables into a splendid mix against the backdrop of the exotic sea-side resort of Vilamoura in Portugal.

On Day 1 the competition was held on the golf course. Depending on their performance at golf, each competitor had their score converted into equivalent chips for Day’s 2 poker confrontation.

After years of improving his golf techniques, Negreanu’s efforts are finally paying off. At the end of Day 1 his chips stack rose by $2,500.

The ‘Kid poker’ proved that he is just as talented in poker as in golf, if anyone would still doubt his poker skills after he has been a WSOP bracelet winner 4 times. On Day 2 he lasted until the final table where he went heads up against Pieter De Korver whom he eliminated, Negreanu holding Q-J against his opponent’s J-2.

The prize money from EPT Vilamoura is not something Negreanu would boast on but he has surely enjoyed this tournament. His passion for golf and poker surely brought him more satisfaction than the modest €8,000 that he received for his victory.

Full Tilt Poker signs a partnership with a new F1 team

While PartyPoker hired the young Spaniard F1 driver Jaime Alguersuari as an ambassador for its poker room, Full Tilt Poker went further by signing a sponsorship deal with Virgin Racing Team, on the eve of a new Formula 1 season in Europe.

The news was made public at the Barcelona Grand Prix and it finalized discussions initiated last November between Full Tilt Poker and Virgin Racing, an all-new racing team registered for its first Formula 1 world championship.

Full Tilt logo will visibly appear on two drivers’ cars – German Timo Glock and Brazilian Lucas di Grassi. The replacing pilots and other team members will also brand the logo.

“We are really delighted to welcome Full Tilt to Virgin Racing. We are proud to add an industry-leading brand to our healthy partnership portfolio and I am particularly pleased that we have worked hard together with a partner who has seen the team develop from its birth through to our first competitive steps”, said Virgin Racing’s Chief Executive Officer Graeme Lowdon.

Chris Ferguson, one of the leading figures of Full Tilt Poker, confirmed these statements: “The partnership between Full Tilt and Virgin Racing is the brilliant result of many efforts of mindful consideration by both brands. With two leaders in their respective fields coming together, this is sure to be a groundbreaking partnership on the global canvas, providing yet another level of excitement for all fans.”

Taking into account this agreement, it is now clear that in the online poker rooms’ war, Full Tilt will benefit from a beautiful cover, for the event is worldwide broadcast and many European countries are about to officially open theirs online gaming markets.

Gambling experience is safer with two new online services

The online gaming industry has enriched itself with two new services that will make the gambling experience safer and more secure.

Let’s first talk about the “Safe Gaming System” (SGS). This is a new service designed to protect players against excessive gaming. It is based on the principle of external control corroborated with player’s will power. In fact, SGS is conceived on a dual approach. It assists players on gaming sites, establishing affordable spending limits. These are established in advance and “away from the atmosphere of a gambling venue”, which will allow players to think rationally.

In the second stage, SGS also provides a mechanism for financing accounts at online casinos. Players charge their SGS account in the limit of their budget and on a pre-established period. Then, they will deposit money at online casinos using a debit card issued by SGS. Once players run out their “affordable limits,” SGS will not accept any more money from them during the “current budget period”.

The other service was created by ImpulsePay and its role is to verify the player’s age. That’s how it works: once an online casino uses this service, it displays a “Buy Now” button on its website. The player has to click on the image and enter his mobile number. He then receives a secure PIN by SMS and after introducing the code on the site, the casino is informed if the phone number is assigned to an adult user. If it results that the player is minor, he will be redirected to a help page. Otherwise, the process is completed and the casino allows player to register.

Both services have just been advertised and are not yet integrated into the online casino industry.

UK gaming companies turn to French market

UK gaming companies have been hardly hit by the economic downturn. Some big names of the online industry have even chosen to move out from UK and establish operation servers in other jurisdictions, with more lenient taxation systems.

In order to counter the slowdown in British industry, the national operators are turning to the closest markets likely to be soon regulated. Party Gaming, William Hill or 888 Holdings could take a breath of fresh air if they extend their operations in France.

A bill on French market opening will be examined by the nationalParliament on 7 and 8 October. After the law enter into force, local and foreign operators wishing to run poker or sports betting sites will be able to apply for a license to the competent authority.

Jim Ryan, the CEO of PartyGaming manifested big interest for this “great opportunity”. According to the consultancy company H2 Gambling Capital, sales in online gambling will be more than doubled in 2010, the growth being guaranteed by the legal framework. “France is the single largest market on the horizon,” nods Simon Holliday, Head of H2.

France decided to open its market after the authorities had realized that the prohibitory legislation encouraged the illegal offers. This was also a positive response to the pressures made by the European Commission. The EC has several times cautioned UE member states to reform gambling legislation and open their markets. In numerous European countries, the prohibitive legislation is a bar to the free movement of services, a principle set forth in EU Treaties.

Online casinos could be legalised in Canada

British Columbia Lottery Corporation announced on 20th August 2009 it would launch online gaming sites in order to generate an income of not less than $ 100 million per year.

The games offered by the Canadian company, such as blackjack, roulette and poker would be available on its website PlayNow from March 2010. If the project is fulfilled, there would be a first on the North-American continent, where online casinos have been banished so far.

“This is not really an innovative project, but if it was officially legalized by a north-american government, it would be indeed a great innovation”, said Bill Thompson, Professor of public law at the University of Nevada.

The Lottery hopes to get its part of the $ 87 million amount spent by residents of British Columbia on offshore sites. Michael Graydon, the Lottery Corporation CEO, stated: “Rather than let all that money slip away in some tax-paradises like Antigua, we seek to benefit from the opportunity that is giving to us to bring this money back in the country”.

Unfortunately for the company, this comes after a controversial statement made on 17th August, by which it was announced that the weekly limit on PlayNow deposits could be established between $ 120 and $10 000.

Some politicians ans especially those from Social Democratic Party, didn’t hesitate to strongly criticize the decision, which “was made without taking into consideration people with addiction problems”. But the Lottery responded to these attacks, stating that a security system would be put in place to prevent customers from depositing money in their accounts before 24 hours from another deposit.

If the proposal is approved, this could be a gateway for the introduction of online casinos in the United States.

Chinese Government tightens its anti-gambling policy

On June 9th, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs made an important announcement: the Government was “hoping” to work with China’s neighbors for more effective border controls and notably for putting a limit on the gambling development along its borders.

According to recent reports, several citizens of the northern province of Shanxi have been kidnapped and held in wait for a ransom, after being lured to casinos located in Myanmar (ex Burma) and the Yunnan Province.

“The Chinse Ministry of Foreign Affairs has asked our embassy in Myanmar to verify this information, and requested the Government of Myanmar to investigate the matter and to take measures to ensure freedom and security of Chinese citizens”, spokesman Qin Gand said.

In China, casinos and games like poker, blackjack, slot machines or bingo, are prohibited. Nevertheless, the Chinese Government is forced to accept the extraordinary growth of gambling industry in the independent Province of Macau. In this part of Asia, Macau is the gaming capital, a paradise for both players and investors.

The online casino field doesn’t submit to a better regime. Online casinos are also prohibited in China; moreover, as from July 1st, all personal computers sold in China will be endowed with software blocking web surfers’ access to gambling sites and other sites designated by the authorities.

William Hill bookmaker to launch a French poker room

Strengthened after the merger with Playetch, the British company William Hill continues its advance in Europe, by launching a French version of its site, modernised and with some new improvements. The story of the English bookmaker goes back to the interwar period, when William Hill created a society for sports betting. This society recently became the first betting company in UK, ahead of its number one competitor Ladbrokes.

Meanwhile, it has developed by offering on its website casino games in addition to sports betting. Its reputation increased when the company proposed William Hill Poker Grand Prix, a show broadcast since 2006 on the British channel SkySports.

William Hill and Playetch merged on January 2009, on the basis of a contract for a period of 5 years. This allows Playetch to own 29% stake in the new entity created by the project “William Hill On-line”. This transaction, having amounted $250 million, is a boon for William Hill, because since then profits are steadily increasing.

In view of the forthcoming opening of the French market, the site has benefited from a makeover and has been integrally translated into French. Thus, the site has undergone some revisions of graphics and ergonomics.

Many tournaments will be available each day for all the members of IPOKER network. Sit’n Go’s, freerolls and many other tournaments will be offered on a regular basis.

The economic downturn hits Lucien Barrière group

The global financial crisis and the economic downturn keep on striking hard even the French game industry. In addition to American groups like Harrah’s Entertainment, which have been heavily affected by the decline in sales of gaming rooms, a prestigious group from Europe also announces loss of income. The group in question is Barrière, whose officials reported publicly a fall of their profit. After a fall of 15% of their activity in 2008, since the beginning of this year until now, the first French group, in terms of gross gaming revenue, evoke a decline of 12% of its turnover. The information was provided by Dominique Desseigne, the chief of the Supervisory Board. The total turnover of 1.2 billion euros achieved in 2008 risks not to be reached this year. As for the Partouche Group, the main challenger of Barrière and one of the leaders of the industry, this announced its first loss of 8.5 million in 2008.

However, besides gambling, Barrière has a fairly diversified business. Apart from its 35 casinos in France, the group is also the owner of sixteen luxury hotels and more than one hundred restaurants. Thus, to cope with the crisis, the company announced that no recruitment of staff would be made to replace the previous departures. In casinos, apart from the fall in income of games such as poker, the slot machines have also turned down. The opening of the gambling market in France, from 1st January 2010, as announced in the draft, provides more optimism for online casino operators.

French casinos

Terrestrial casinos should connect to the services that the expert groups in this matter have to offer, ensuring the success in the matter. This strategy is the best for the two protagonists. The land casinos will benefit from the expertise and knowledge network of the casinos already in place. On the other hand, the online casinos will not have to worry about making the necessary in order to obtain a licence, since the french land casinos are well known as the white wolf by the authorities. This shocking partnership and the legalization of french market should encounter an explosion of connections in 2009. The french should rush to the casinos proposed by the mastodons of terrestrial casinos where the online sites should be a pure wonder.
This strategic alliance between the french terrestrial casinos and the marketing societies performing on the Internet is the sine qua condition for a quick success in the middle of the online game.

The land casinos are not the only performers interested in the online casino affairs. For example, major names as Vivendi, Orange, SFR and TF1 also have a eye on the virtual world. In addition, Stephane Courbit, a former pillar of Endemol, bought the online betting company Betclic. This company of online betting does not focus only on sports betting, but also on the online casino and virtual poker rooms.

The world of online games will take a 180 degrees turn in the coming months and the stakes are valued at several billion euros. The actors who wish to embark on this adventure have already taken their lead to the image of the important groups. The competition will be fierce and those who are the best could catch a train to a virtual world that is evolving with a high speed, not waiting for anybody.
Meet you at the and of 2009 to make a tour of horizon of the online games market which is rich in events and twists. case to follow.