Illinois bans Daily Fantasy Sports

December 28, 2015

chicago-illinoisIllinois has become the latest state to ban daily fantasy sports (DFS). Attorney General Lisa Madigan made the announcement while declaring that DFS is “illegal gambling” under Illinois law.

“Absent legislation specifically exempting daily fantasy sports contests from the gambling provisions, it is my opinion that daily fantasy sports contests constitute illegal gambling under Illinois law,” wrote Madigan.

Much of this directive is aimed at DraftKings and FanDuel, which are the world’s two biggest DFS sites. And Madigan expects DraftKings and FanDuel to abide by her wishes.

“We expect that both Fan Duel and DraftKings will amend their Terms of Use to include Illinois as an additional state whose residents are not eligible to participate in contests unless and until the Illinois General Assembly passes legislation specifically exempting daily fantasy sports contests,” Madigan stated.

This is no doubt a big blow to DraftKings and FanDuel because Illinois is the fifth largest state in the U.S. with 12.9 million residents. Obviously DraftKings and FanDuel are not happy with the ruling, and the latter offered the following statement on the matter:

“Chicago may be the best sports town in the country. So why the attorney general would tell her 13.5 million constituents they can’t play fantasy sports anymore as they know it — and make no mistake, her opinion bans all forms of fantasy sports played for money — is beyond us.”

It remains to be seen whether FanDuel and DraftKings will challenge the declaration that DFS is illegal in Illinois. They are currently locked in a legal battle with New York after Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent cease-and-desist letters to both sites. DraftKings and FanDuel were granted temporary access to the New York market until the case is decided in January.

Brett Richey quits Poker to work on DFS App

December 22, 2015

brett-richey-dfsA number of professional poker players have left the game in recent years to pursue daily fantasy sports (DFS). For example, 2015 November Niner Max Steinberg now dedicates most of his time to DFS, despite a $2.61 million WSOP score this past summer. And now you can add Brett Richey to the list of poker pros who are venturing into DFS…only Richey isn’t doing so as a player.

Instead, Richey has developed an app called “BlitzPick,” which is compatible with FanDuel and DraftKings. BlitzPick offers alerts, player news, stats and a lineup optimizer to help DFS users take their skills to the next level.

As for what motivated Richey to quit poker, he tells PokerNews that a lack of tools for the casual DFS users is what pushed him in this direction.

“I created BlitzPick because when I surveyed the landscape of helper tools for DFS users they were almost all web-based tools geared toward serious users, there really wasn’t anything for the casual mobile user,” said Richey. “There were nights I would be going to a poker game or out with my girlfriend and I didn’t have time to spend hours on my computer researching, but I still wanted to play DFS that night. Even if I managed to set a lineup I would end up constantly checking my phone for injury news.”

Now that he’s focused on BlitzPick, Richey doesn’t believe he’ll be venturing back to the poker world any time soon.

“I’m definitely done playing poker at a professional level,” he said. “Playing live poker for a living is not enjoyable or mentally stimulating for me and when you factor in the travel and late hours it’s something I’ll never do again. I really enjoyed playing online professionally but I haven’t played in over four years and it’s banned in the U.S. so I feel pretty comfortable saying that ship has sailed as well. I love poker – it’s a beautiful game but I never envisioned it as a long-term career. I ended up staying with it as a career longer than I originally anticipated but overall it was very rewarding.”

Richey has made $1.38 million in live poker tournaments and lots more through online poker. However, it looks like his winnings will halt here as he pursues other opportunities.

Tony G challenges Canadian PM Justin Trudeau to Poker Game

December 17, 2015

tony-g-pokerBefore entering European Parliament as Lithuania’s rep, Tony “G” Gouga was one of the most-fiery and passionate players in poker. And he feels just as strongly about his home country and the entire Baltic region. So he was none too happy after hearing that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau didn’t even know the “Baltics” was a real area.

Tony G joined in a video with reps from other Baltic nations to offer colorful responses to Trudeau, who, after being asked what is favorite Baltic nation was, said “That’s not a real thing.”

Gouga said, “Justin, we’re sending you a very merry Christmas, for America, and also Australia.”

After the mic went around to other Baltic natives, Tony got another chance to take a shot at Trudeau’s lack of geography knowledge.

“Or if you prefer, Justin, just come and play poker with me – I’ll take everything you have,” Tony joked.

The video was pretty lighthearted and served as a way for the five celebrities involved to display their Baltic pride. But it also shows that Tony still reps his background as a poker player, despite not really playing any more since he’s embarked on a serious political career.

During his poker days, Gouga became famous for his witty banter and rants against opponents. He famously berated Ralph Perry and Surinder Sunar during televised games and frequently had back-and-forth exchanges with the late Dave ‘Devilfish’ Ulliott.

So it should be little surprise that Tony G is still able to find the cameras when he wants to get a message out these days. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he were the mastermind behind the video aimed at Trudeau.

DraftKings, FanDuel win Temporary Reprieve in New York

December 12, 2015

draftkings-new-yorkDraftKings and FanDuel both got a minor court victory in New York state. Appeals Court Judge Paul Feinman granted both daily fantasy sports (DFS) sites a temporary reprieve to continue operating in New York through the New Year. This reverses a temporary injunction issued by New York Supreme Court Justice Manuel Mendez earlier this week.

Mendez did not rule on whether or not daily fantasy is a skill game or pure gambling. However, he did make it clear that he believes New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman can prove DFS is illegal gambling.

Now FanDuel and DraftKings will be allowed to continue operating in New York until at least Jan. 4. At this point, a panel of judges will rule on whether or not Mendez’s injunction to stop both sites from operating in N.Y. was valid.

“This is a necessary first step on the road to an appeal,” said Randy Mastro, one of DraftKings’ attorneys.. “We are confident we will prevail in appeal because daily fantasy sports are legal in New York.”

Schneiderman sent cease-and-desist letters to both DFS sites, telling them to stop taking bets from New Yorkers. FanDuel has since complied with the letter, but DraftKings continues to take bets from the Empire State until this case is sorted out.

In both cases, though, DFS traffic has taken a major hit since the court proceedings. FanDuel’s traffic is down around 25 percent while DraftKings’ traffic has fallen by 12 percent – despite still taking wagers from New Yorkers.

Whether or not DFS should be legal has been a hotly debated topic as of late. Many contend that DFS is just like any other form of gambling while others point to its skill element and believe it should be legal.

Andy Bloch Mansion for Sale at $9m

December 1, 2015

andy-bloch-mansionBack in the mid-2000s, Full Tilt Poker pros fully enjoyed the wealth and riches that online poker had to offer. Case in point, even Andy Bloch—who’s not exactly Phil Ivey or Patrik Antonius—built a massive mansion worth millions of dollars. But now, Bloch has decided to put the home up for sale for the bargain price of $9 million.

Listed with Realtor.com, this Las Vegas house features six bedrooms, 10 bathrooms and 10,591 square feet. As you can see to the left, this also includes a really sweet poker room/lounge area. And if you check out the Realtor listing, you’ll see a giant walk-in closet and plenty of custom furnishings. Here’s an excerpt from the listing:

“Truly a one of a kind home in the most exclusive enclave of Vegas – The Pointe. Stunning, unobstructed city views from 3 levels, incredible level of finish quality, outstanding interior design, high ceilings and lots of light. Huge kitchen, family room, separate dining room, movie theater, 6 big bedrooms, office, loft, as well as an amazing game room and bar. AMX controls everything in the house, there’s an elevator too.”

Andy Bloch got his start with the famed MIT Blackjack Team, before transitioning to poker during the boom and taking full advantage. All told, he’s won over $5.3 million in tournaments and a WSOP bracelet. But the winnings and sponsorship money have dried up over the past few years, which may be a reason why he’s selling his giant mansion.

Whatever the case is, Bloch’s house again shows just how great is was to be a sponsored Full Tilt player. This glory age is now long gone, thanks to Black Friday, and this Vegas mansion is a relic of that time period.