Author Jennifer Newell's poker week in review for Oct. 14-20.
Our consolidation of the week's news is quick and to the point — seven stories, to be exact — for the week ending Oct. 20. Let's go.
No. 1 — Garden City Group Will Not Honor FTP Bonuses, Points
Former Full Tilt Poker players in the United States garnered hope last week after it was announced that claims administrator Garden City Group would consider claims from FTP affiliates. Since then, GCG revealed another decision, this one not so positive for players. With regard to questions posed by many players, as well as the Poker Players Alliance, GCG said that it will not honor any Full Tilt Points, Iron Man Medals, bonuses, or tournament tickets as part of any claims. Those who accumulated a great number of those items with the promise that they could be redeemed for cash value will not have that luxury.
GCG's website updated its Frequently Asked Questions section to deal with the issue: "Full Tilt Points were a marketing tool and have no monetary value — they will not be refunded and are not reflected in account balances. Iron Man Medals and similar bonuses will also not be redeemed for their cash value and are not reflected in account balances."
No. 2 — Golden Nugget Closes One Door, Opens Another in New Jersey
News emerged last week that Oct. 10 marked the closing of the Golden Nugget's live poker room in Atlantic City. The jackpot money was distributed, and the room was no longer available for players. No reason was given for the closure, according to US Poker.
Days later, however, the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement announced that the Golden Nugget received the second online gambling license awarded for the state's emerging Internet gaming industry. Should its software partner, Bally Interactive, receive its license as well, the site may begin its trial period on Nov. 21 in preparation for a public launch on Nov. 26. It changed nothing with regard to the Golden Nugget live poker room, but all efforts seem to be focused on the Internet casino.
No. 3 — Trump Receives Two New Jersey Licenses
Soon after the first New Jersey online gaming license went to Borgata and the second to Golden Nugget, the Trump casinos were next on the list. The third and fourth licenses were awarded to Trump Plaza and Trump Taj Mahal by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement so that they may begin preparations for their own soft launch on Nov. 21 and public launch — if ready — on Nov. 26.
Trump Plaza is partnered with Betfair, and the Trump Taj Mahal is working with Ultimate Gaming in order to release their online casino products in New Jersey. Both of the software providers have yet to receive their official approvals for the state, but there seems to be no shortage of confidence on the part of Trump Entertainment Resorts that it will happen. CEO Robert Griffins said, "We are very pleased to get the third and fourth permits. We think this is a significant move for Atlantic City and the Trump company. We're going to make the deadline of November."
No. 4 — Nevada Online Operators Request More Time
Quite some time after a number of companies were awarded licenses to operate online poker in Nevada, only two of them have launched — Ultimate Poker and WSOP.com. While Treasure Island is said to be next and somewhat prepared to go live with their real-money online poker, four major companies have requested a second six-month extension on their licenses in order to get ready. Boyd Interactive Gaming, Golden Nugget, MGM Resorts Online, and Reno's Z4Poker submitted extension requests to the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
The Nevada Gaming Commission must approve the extension requests on Oct. 24, which will give the operators another six months to prepare. It is not known at what point in the launch process the companies may be, nor whether it is the regulatory requirements or other issues preventing the four companies from meeting their original and once-extended timelines.
No. 5 — Mizrachi Ends Lock Sponsorship Deal
Lock Poker has had its share of troubles over the past year, especially with regard to continually worsening payout times for players. Many players have waited months for withdrawals to be processed and have been unable to obtain answers from Lock regarding their funds. Players like Chris Moorman and Paul Volpe ended their sponsorship deals with Lock Poker months prior due to these issues, and Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi joined that group this week. He announced to Bluff that he ended the deal and will release a statement "soon."
Other popular poker players remain associated with Lock Poker as sponsored pros, including Annette Obrestad, Melanie Weisner, Eric Lynch, Felipe Ramos, and Casey Jarzabek. Most of them do not address the payout issues with the site and continue to promote Lock's online poker cash games and tournaments.
No. 6 — Betfair Prepares New Jersey Marketing
As the Nov. 26 launch date for New Jersey online casinos approaches, Betfair is getting ahead of the pack by preparing its marketing campaign. LetsPlayNJ.com announces that "Betfair is coming to New Jersey" and allows players and interested parties to sign up for the mailing list that will release updates on the upcoming launch of the site. Social media accounts are up and running, as well.
Betfair has yet to win approval from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement and admits on its website that the availability of its Internet gaming services is based upon the "necessary approvals." However, its partner in the state, Trump Plaza, was awarded its license last week, which indicates that Betfair may be closing in on its own licensing approval.
No. 7 — PokerStars Severs Skrill Loyalty Ties
Skrill has long been a favorite payment option for online gaming companies, especially the Rational Group, which formed a number of business partnerships with the company. But last week, PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker opted out of the Skrill loyalty points program and confirmed the news with Pokerfuse. The terms and conditions part of the Skrill website has also specifically excluded PokerStars and Full Tilt.
PokerStars gave no specific reason for the dissolution of the partnership, only saying, "Rational Group is unusual in the online poker world for offering a range of free deposit and withdrawal options in many countries around the world."