The Weekly Round-up – 19 April 2021:
The Tip Top Fox brings you the top poker and gambling industry stories of the week; A Decade On Poker Industry Looks Back At “Black Friday”; Kings Resort Owner Sues Facebook for $23M; Football Star Faces Ban Over Gambling Investments
A Decade On Poker Industry Looks Back At “Black Friday”
On 15 April 2011, the poker industry was rocked by U.S. Department of Justice indictments that effectively changed the future of the online game. The DoJ indictments were against the founders of the three largest sites at the time, PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Cereus – comprised of Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet.
Dubbed “Black Friday” by the online poker community, it would change the digital landscape of the game forever. Hundreds of millions of dollars were seized, player’s funds were frozen, and the DoJ seized the domain names Pokerstars.com, Fulltiltpoker.com, Absolutepoker.com, Ultimatebet.com, and UB.com.
Both Full Tilt Poker and the Cereus network would not recover. PokerStars bought the former and agreed to reimburse player funds after reaching an agreement with the DoJ. It took close to six years for some players to receive funds owed by some of the operators.
The End of an Era
Black Friday effectively ended the poker boom that began with Chris Moneymaker‘s 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event win. According to data from Poker Industry PRO the current online market is 60% less than it was at its’ 2011 peak.
Las Vegas Sports Agencies’ James Sullivan also notes how the industry has changed via his Twitter feed:
On the 10-year anniversary of a day no one wanted to remember, the poker industry looked back at how the landscape has changed. Ironically, poker news site PokerFuse celebrated its’ 10-year anniversary at the same time. The site is running an informative series of articles to commemorate online poker’s most infamous day.
Poker News’ Mo Nuwwarah has also posted an interesting feature looking back at the implications of Black Friday. Another great read is PocketFives Lance Bradley‘s interview with PokerStars founder Isai Scheinberg:
Those interested in taking a closer look at Black Friday as it happened should watch Jay Rosenkrantz‘s ‘Bet Raise Fold‘ documentary. This is a great look at the whole online poker phenomenon as a whole. The DeucesCracked co-founder also reflected on what he dubbed “the end of online poker in America” on a Twitter thread:
Players Relive The Moment
Several notable players also relived the memories via Twitter, with Kevin Mathers reminding everyone of just how it all started:
Current World Poker Tour commentator and two-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner Tony Dunst is another, reminding people why you shouldn’t keep your entire poker bankroll online:
Cardrunners founder Taylor Caby was another to post his musings on Black Fridays’ tenth anniversary:
Poker Shows Making a Comeback
It wasn’t just the online game that suffered the effects of Black Friday either. With online sites like PokerStars and Full Tilt bankrolling a fair few poker shows, and other backers unwilling to cough up money for a show about an industry in turmoil, good quality poker shows all but dried up.
While there is a great deal of poker content online, especially when it comes to training videos, poker television has only really started to make a comeback in the last few years. The latest season of High Stakes Poker and PokerGO’s High Stakes Duel being two notable examples.
Kings Resort Owner Sues Facebook for $23M
King’s Resort owner Leon Tsoukernik has filed a lawsuit suing Facebook for half a billion Czech crowns (~$23M). Tsoukernik is claiming damages for a series of fake casino advertisements running on the popular social media platform.
Tsoukernik announced his intention to take on the might of Mark Zuckerberg on the King’s Resort Twitter account. The King’s Resort owner cited Facebook’s failure to protect King’s Resort against false advertisements using images of the property to promote an online casino.
The Czech newspaper Hospodářské noviny was the first publication to break the story. In the article, Tsoukernik claims the lawsuit – filed in Pilsen Regional Court earlier this month – damaged the casino’s brand and reputation.
The bogus casino adverts featured the phrase “The best Czech casino is now online!”. It also used an image of King’s Resort to encourage potential customers to download a casino app and receive a CZK 3,000 (~€115/$139) sign-up bonus.
King’s Resort Not Online
“King’s Casino is not online, moreover, the resort is currently closed due to covid regulations,” Tsoukernik told HN. “Someone who can’t be traced and therefore doesn’t even have a license to operate has decided to use our name, our casino, and advertise on Facebook. As a result, a powerful medium here helps fraudsters and takes money for it. That’s why we’re suing Facebook for harm,” Tsoukernik explained.
According to Tsoukernik, Facebook was asked several times to take the advertisements down. However, he said he had heard nothing back from the company and the contested ads remained online.
Gambling remains strictly regulated in the Czech Republic, with only licensed companies permitted to advertise gambling services.
“In other media, if we want to advertise, they require us to prove the license, trademarks for the logo and the like. Even two years ago, Facebook demanded it from us, so I don’t understand how they can release such fraudulent advertising, “says Tsoukernik.
According to HN, a spokesperson for Facebook said the company takes the issue of misleading ads very seriously. Facebook advises users affected by them to voice their concerns but declined to comment on Tsoukernik’s claims.
Located in Rozvadov, the Czech Republic, King’s Resort boasts Europes’ largest cardroom. While currently closed due to covid restrictions, the venue is scheduled to host the upcoming 2021 World Series of Poker Europe (WSOPE), running from 19 November to 8 December.
Football Star Faces Ban Over Gambling Investments
Following the trend of famous sports personalities in hot water over gambling, one of Swedish footballs’ most iconic players is in a bit of bother with the sports’ governing bodies due to gambling investments.
One of Sweden’s most decorated professional players, AC Milan and Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 39, is facing a three-year ban from the sport due to business investments in a Malta-based online gambling company.
According to Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet, Ibrahimovic owns a 10% share of online sports book and casino Bethard via his Stockholm-based company Unknown AB. While Bethard Group LTD is licensed in Malta, according to the Dun & Bradstreet business directory the company is based in Stockholm, Sweden.
Ibrahimovic was announced as brand ambassador for Bethard back in 2018 and has been open about his involvement with the company.
However, Ibrahimovic is reportedly facing both the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) and the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) investigations. Both governing bodies forbid players taking part in their competitions to hold financial interests in gambling-based companies.
The FIFA investigation carries the potential of a three-year ban from the sport, which, given Ibrahimovic’s age, would effectively end his professional playing career. UEFA has yet to comment on the case.