Venezuelan Underground Poker Scene Booming, Caesars Entertainment Begs for Rent Holiday, and partypoker Expands into Portugal

Venezuela is the place to be if underground live poker is your thing. Online poker has been enjoying a public renaissance during 2020 but the underground scene is booming as well, particularly in the midst of the chaos found in Venezuela.

By: Mark Patrickson

Bloomberg recently ran a feature on life in South America’s most troubled nation, and to say it was an eye-opener would be a massive understatement.

Gambling in the countries only permitted in the five regulated casinos, with online poker sitting squarely in a legal grey area, as is fairly common around the world.

Alex Vasquez wrote how since the pandemic began there are now queues forming outside the illegal poker clubs, which are something of an open secret in the country.

In fact, the police recently arrived en-masse to one of these gatherings, but it turns out that they were only offering a little hired muscle to a high-ranking politician who was enjoying a spot of PLO.

This game was inside a restaurant where plenty of customers with deep pockets were lining up for a seat to become available. The owner, who requested anonymity, said he was considering adding another table.

Vasquez later wrote that the second table idea was shelved in favour of taking over a new venue. A former night club with professional dealers and uniformed service staff. Of course the security has been updated too, with a marked police car parked right outside the front door.

Caesars Beg for Help

Caesars Entertainment has gone cap in hand to Missouri politicians to ask for help with their rent. Harrah’s Kansas City Hotel & Casino is owned by the group but they pay the state rent on the land—$2 million or 2% of the gaming revenue, whichever is the greater.

This should be chump change for a brick-and-mortar casino. Caesars are not doing the industry image any favours here by putting their snout in the trough expecting a handout.

General manager Julie Sola said: “We were closed for 75 days. And clearly that was very, very hard for us. During this time due to closure, we did not have any revenues. Yet we still had a significant amount of expense.”

Public record shows that the property made $7 million from gamblers in less than three weeks before the shutdown. Since reopening they have posted year-over-year revenue increases in June, July and August.

The committee looked on the request with disdain, as they should. Councilman Anthony Saper said: “It’s not reasonable for us to do it. And from their balance sheet, they don’t seem to be in need of it. They’re simply putting it forward because it’s a possibility.”

We should admire Sola’s sheer nerve for spotting this freeroll, as any good gambler should, but it is still a joke for a company of this size to be syphoning off local government funds that should be used for proper causes.

Caesars might be in serious need of an injection of funds after all, as they have sold off the rights to the Bally’s brand to Twin River Worldwide Holdings. Bally’s Las Vegas Hotel & Casino will remain a part of Caesars Entertainment and they are allowed to keep the branding for this property alone.

Twin River will now be able to keep the Bally’s name on the casino they are taking over in Atlantic City, New Jersey. The other nine casinos that the group own or manage will be rebranded with the more recognisable name.

partypoker Moves into Portugal

GVC Holdings, the owner of the partypoker brand, has acquired the Portuguese online sportsbook Bet.pt. The move, whether intentionally or otherwise, could smooth the path into that ring-fenced market.

GVC is on a high right now, posting record financials continuously. GVC CEO Shay Segev said: “This has been another strong period for GVC. We have delivered our nineteenth consecutive quarter of double-digit online growth.”

Bet.pt was the second platform to acquire an online sports betting license back in 2016, and was third for providing games of chance. Online poker is missing from this list but it will be a lot easier for partypoker to move into this market through this purchase rather than applying from scratch.

Segev continued with: “The momentum that we are seeing across the Group is a clear testament to the resilience of our highly diversified business model, the attractiveness of our brands and products, the power of our proprietary technology platform, and the hard work and dedication of our teams around the world,”

It’s great to see partypoker expanding where possible. They are now a serious threat to the market domination of PokerStars who seem to be actively trying to piss off their customers on a daily basis.

US Presidential Election Gambling

The upcoming election in the United States is making quite a stir in the gambling world. More than $150 million has been wagered in Europe alone, with 70% of those bets being placed on Joe Biden.

The bookies are always a good place to look when you’re not sure which way an event is going to turn out. They’re not always right, but we’ve never seen a poor bookie, and assume you haven’t either.

Opinions are divided throughout the US poker community. Matt Glantz is shouting from the rooftops that Trump is done, while Dusty “Leatherass” Schmidt is telling his Facebook followers to back Trump quickly because the market is about to turn in his opinion.

With no end of controversy in this run up to election day we can be sure that there are still some surprises left to come. The Biden campaign is under serious pressure over this email leak, but they probably have some ammunition remaining themselves.

It’s time to do your own digging and take advantage of the great odds available.

 

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