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It’s a Full House For Rank, Mecca Bingo and Blue Square
Monday, 13 February 2012 16:46

Rank is the operating company for Mecca Bingo, both land bingo clubs and online; Blue Square is another one of their gambling operations with a land as well as online presence. It was recently Full House for this company, and we'll bet a penny to a pound that their CEO stood up and shouted B I N G O! The European Court of Justice has ruled in favour of their VAT claim. This matter has been continuing for rather a long time, and in essence it concerns the fact that Rank has been overpaying VAT for a specific type of bingo offering (mechanised cash bingo) as well as for certain other gaming machines. The claim was in an amount of £253.4 million including interest!

Now…how's that for hitting the jackpot?

This news rose Rank shares by approximately 10% which is great news for shareholders. The company made comment that the new ruling confirms findings of consecutive UK courts in regards to Bingo VAT claims. They are also considering the implications of this ruling in respect of an amusement machines claim – a claim which is peanuts in comparison, but still at £30.8 million plus interest, is not to be sneezed at.

The long-running dispute with HMRC, saw the tax and customs agency appeal to the European Court of Justice, after – as we said – more than one consecutive ruling by UK courts on behalf of Rank. The European court is in agreement with Rank's argument, but has reservations regarding the VAT claim for games machines. This is a complex legal position, but does come about after the ECJ issued a sequence of clarifications over VAT legalities for bingo and slots

Not only were rebates forced for Rank, Gala Coral, Whitbread, Top Ten Bingo and JD Wetherspoon has also all benefitted. However, in terms of the position for slots machines, HRMC is expected to attempt to rake-back over £100m in VAT rebates it has allegedly already paid to bingo halls and pub operators - under the guise of unfair tax treatment.

WagerWorks – New Launch - Siberian Storm
Wednesday, 08 February 2012 10:41

If truth be told, some of the best online slots to be found today come from the design desk of WagerWorks. This super development company was also quite recently acquired by American firm IGT. Although IGT is chiefly a land casino games developer, they are trying hard to establish a foot-hold in the online gambling industry, and quite honestly they could not have landed themselves a better winner than WagerWorks. One of the most recently launched online slots games to come out of the WagerWorks stable is the super Siberian Storm.

We have already seen this game at Virgin Bingo and Virgin Casino as well as a couple of other sites. It has been creating a storm of interest in no deposit casino, and the wait is over for us to play it online. It is a feature-rich slot game with a rather unique reel structure, which is not something we see every day. Graphically it is fantastically presented with a windswept back-drop of the Siberian landscape – what else? The Siberian Tiger is the featured icon, and it does not get more beautiful than this stunning beast – what a pleasure to play?

Various head-shots of this majestic tiger are valuable to play, and the slot features both a yellow and black and black and white avatar representation. The tiger claw is highly valued, and there are several talismans used of the tiger-claw, as well as the eye of the tiger which are also highly placed in the game. The top paying symbol of all is the Siberian Storm logo.

As well as being graphically gorgeous, sounds are in keeping with the tiger theme. It offers spellbinding background music which is punctuated by the roar of what else, but tigers?! WagerWorks slots traditionally offer a MultiWay feature – that is 243 different ways to win, and although we confess we don't really understand how this works, the one thing it does is keep you winning. As well as the 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 x 3 = 243 ways to win, the Siberian Storm slot also offers the Xtra Feature.

This means reels 1 and reel 5 have the usual three winning spots, while reels 2 and 4 have four winning spots and reel 3 has five spots to win. It is this which creates the unique and very attractive hexagonal reel structure, so, basically as well as 243 ways to win; there is 3 x 4 x 5 x 4 x 3 ways to win also. In total this means 720 ways to win with the MultiWay Xtra feature. This game can be played in either the normal 243 ways to win format or the Xtra 720 ways to win.

It offers a rewarding free spin bonus game with stacked wilds, and between 8 to 240 re-triggered free spins; a coin size which varies from £0.50 to £150, and a maximum payout of a staggering £250,000. WagerWorks has also advertised that the average return to player is 96%. No need to wrap up warm to play, a chilling Siberian wind might be blowing, but this is a very hot game.

American Online Gambling Advocates Argue "This Should Be Legal"
Monday, 05 December 2011 15:14

Although online gambling is to all intents and purposes illegal in the USA, it is estimated that approximately 16 million Americans gamble for real money prizes online, and wager more than $6 billion annually. This is at offshore casino, poker, sports betting and other websites. These websites are out of the reach of US law enforcement but not entirely - look what happened to PokerStars and Full Tilt - and are not subject to US tax.

The loss of this potential revenue is the deal that advocates use in their attempts to get online gambling games legalized and regulated. There are several bills before congress, but nothing much ever seems to happen, apart from speculation. There is massive outrage in opposition to online gambling, under the pretext of protecting the vulnerable. For example; Stop Predatory Gambling, a nonprofit group says that the legalization of online gambling would open a 24/7 casino in every home, office and dorm room in the US, and that E-gaming "represents the purest form of predatory gambling."

We believe that people should have the freedom to choose and this is what living in the USA is supposed to be all about. Legalization and regulation would protect the vulnerable too, not only the vulnerable however, every online gambler in America. There is no debate about the fact that this industry could potentially change the budgetary yield of both federal and state government coffers quite substantially.

Right now the US government is losing billions in dollars worth of tax, licensing and other revenue, for fear that they won't be able to have complete control of an industry which is basically business without borders. But what is better a slice of the potential revenue pie, or nothing at all?

Even the American Gaming Association (AGA) who were dead set against any form of online gambling, has changed their tune. The recent Full Tilt Poker fiasco has been an incredibly expensive lesson in what US regulation could have prevented from taking place. Instead the DoJ closed down the site - robbing thousands of members from what was owed to them in their accounts, and essentially uncovering a whole hornets’ nest of deceit and scandal. Whether or not this scandal will prove to be fact still remains to be seen, but it opened the AGA's eyes, because the technology now exists to have all the potential 'correct' safeguards in place.

Online gambling has become a mainstream industry and this means it is driven by 'corporate' companies. These businesses are subject to company law and are therefore not allowed to operate under the radar, like some private companies have been known to do. It is for this reason that it would be such a good idea to legislate and regulate this industry NOW in the US. Cash-strapped states would live to have access to this industry revenue, but in reality intrastate gambling probably won't work all that well. It needs to be federally governed in order to have the right fiscal impact.

Liv Boeree talking about female charm and success in poker
Wednesday, 26 October 2011 14:08

Channel 4 is launching a new documentary called Poker's Million Dollar Girl. It the next episode, we will see the British model and poker pro Liv Boeree, now 26, who won £1.1m in the European Poker Tour last year. And did Liv use her looks to make her way up in the poker world? She says yes, at the beginning. After that when she became real good, it was not necessary any more. And she says it might still sometimes be difficult to sit at one table with male players since many tend to underestimate girls in poker. And she encourages every woman who found a taste for poker to let themselves not get harassed and go on. And win like Liv Boeree did!

Online Poker Pros In the US, Also Forced Offshore
Tuesday, 27 September 2011 14:13

As if the fact that online poker sites were forced offshore in 2006 by UIGEA was not bad enough, professional online poker players in the US are also now being forced offshore. Life has changed for these professionals since the 15th April 2011, or Black Friday, when many players had their only means of income taken away. The signs of imminent departure were showing early in May when a number of online poker pros were already looking at countries from where they could still comfortably play and make a living without undue hassles or harassment. Not only did online poker in the US build a whole industry around the game; it also grew an entire generation/population of online poker professionals.

These players perceive themselves to be "hardworking American individuals", the Government does not see them in the same light, but by the same token, also cannot provide enough jobs to keep people off the streets. We would call this one of the strangest paradoxes of all time. If people have a way to earn money online and pay their bills and taxes, then honestly, what is the problem? However, players such as Isaac Haxton are looking to leave the so-called 'land of opportunity' and migrate to more conducive shores. Malta, Mardrid and Melbourne are three of the locations on his short-list. He says that ultimately it does not matter where he ends up - all he needs is a good internet connection.

In a Time Magazine report – written by Matt Villano on the 10th May, 2011 - Vanessa Peng, also a 28-year-old Las Vegas resident and online poker professional, planned to leave the USA for good. She says she "thought this was a country of freedoms" and knows better now.

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