You’ve Read the Rest…Now Get the Real Best of 2013 in Gambling

Written by:
Ace King
Published on:
Jan/01/2014
You’ve Read the Rest…Now Get the Real Best of 2013 in Online Gambling

So all the websites have come out with their annual “Best of in Online Gambling” looking back at the eventful year of 2013.

Gambling911.com is happy to present what is likely among the more edgy year in review listings. You won’t find Daniel Negreanu having another banner year among our top 10 (yawn).  It's all about sex, crime, religion, lawsuits, bitter old billionaires, suicides, box office bombs, denial, war and an important milestone for legalized Web gambling.

We will now look at the top 10 stories of 2013 based on feedback, popularity and overall newsworthiness. 

10. The Year of Dan Bilzerian – Every now and again a poker pro catches the attention of the community with his or her outlandish behavior or ability to become a trendsetter. 

Enter Dan Bilzerian.

“I think he pretty much cemented his position in our top 10 list after being cited for his unique role in helping to make Instagram one of the biggest crazes of 2013,” suggests Jenny Woo, Senior International Correspondent for the Gambling911.com website.  “There were stories popping up about this poker stud throughout the year.”

In addition to the Intagram photos showing Bilzerian flanked by sexy babes, driving expensive sports cars and showcasing his affinity for piles of cash, the poker pro also made headlines after suing the producers of the recently released film “Lone Survivor” for cutting his “acting” role down from 8 minutes to under one minute

He claims to have bankrolled the film for $1 million in exchange for the 8 minutes of anticipated fame.  “Lone Survivor”, a movie about four Navy SEALs on an ill-fated covert mission to neutralize a high-level Taliban operative, has received mostly positive feedback from both critics and audiences alike.

Bilzerian may have lost out big.  Despite the film opening in only two theatres Christmas Day, it did start off solid at the box office grossing $92,468 in two runs for a $46,234 average. Universal will take the picture nationwide in the coming weeks.

And Bilzerian was not the only one caught being naughty by way of his smartphone in 2013. 

Gambling911.com has an honorable mention for Arizona Republican Senator John McCain, who was photographed playing online poker (not for real money, so he claims) during a hearing on whether the US should bomb Syria.   

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9. The Pope and Gambling – Time Magazine named Pope Francis “Person of the Year”.  But before he was even selected as the new pontiff, gamblers went gaga over who would ultimately be named.

In Ireland alone, the country’s largest wagering firm Paddy Power took in over $7 million in bets on who would be named the next Pope.

"We are expecting this pope betting to be the biggest round of non-sporting betting in Patty Power history," a Paddy Power spokesperson predicted at the time of the offering.

Paddy Power, by the way, also made headlines in 2013 for sponsoring two of former NBA star Dennis Rodman’s trips to the "Hermit Kingdom" North Korea.

8. Poker Pro Phil Ivey Sues London Casino for Withholding Winnings – One of London’s oldest casinos, Crockford’s, refused to pay out $12.1 million in winnings to Phil Ivey, claiming the poker player cheated during a session of Punto Banco.

Ivey filed a lawsuit to recover his winnings once Crockfords made it known they would not be paying him.  He would later admit to exploiting flaws in cards as a way of detecting the value of those cards.

7.  World Sports Exchange Co-Founder Steve Shillinger Kills Himself, Leaves Customers High and Dry – In what might be the first stiff job of online gamblers as a result of a stiff, one of the industry’s first and most prestigious websites, World Sports Exchange, lost what appears to have been its last standing of three co-founders, the other two MIA.  Steve Schillinger (pictured below) took his own life by blowing his brains out last spring.   In recent years, WSEX.com had fallen on bad times.

“This was once the most adored online sportsbook out there,” notes Payton O’Brien, Senior Editor of the Gambling911.com website.  “In the late 90’s, World Sports Exchange graced the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Talk about a fall from grace.  In the end, well over a million dollars was still owed to players, some of whom were waiting more than two years to be paid.

6.  Highly Anticipated “Runner, Runner” Bombs at Box Office, Silence Regarding “Money Talks” – Two gambling-related film and television projects failed badly in 2013.  The Matt Damon/Justin Timberlake film "Runner, Runner" was widely panned by critics and audiences alike but name recognition alone should have propelled this feature to big time box office numbers.  In the end, the film fell victim to reported studio in-fighting and a reluctance by its top stars to promote “Runner, Runner”. 

Meanwhile, the controversial “Money Talks” debut on CNBC kicked off to very low ratings and little fanfare.  The “reality” series centers on a supposed Vegas handicapper that several big name gambling figures in that city insisted they had never heard of.  Furthermore, it was revealed that the central figure of the show, Lee Stephens, had been convicted in a telemarketing scam that bilked elderly investors out of at least $234,000 nearly 15 years earlier.

To date, there is little indication that CNBC has cancelled “Money Talks”.  The show remains in hiatus for now however. 

5.  PokerStars Denied Entry Into US Market – PokerStars high hopes for entering the New Jersey gambling market came crashing down with a failed attempt to acquire the bankrupt Atlantic Club Casino.  New Jersey’s Gaming Commission offered the final blow by denying Stars entry into the state’s lucrative online gambling market. 

PokerStars ended the year by proclaiming it will be sparing zero expense in hiring lobbying firms to drum up support for Web gambling in neighboring New York State.

4.  You Say You Want a Revolution, And We Got One – Warring factions, Lock Poker and the Revolution Network ended in late 2013 with Lock leaving the network.

Lock Poker dealt with highly publicized payment processing issues throughout much of 2013 but the company insists business should be back to normal beginning this month.  Players are receiving calls, being told cashout times will return to between 7 and 10 days starting this month (January 2014). 

We can only wait and see and hope for the best.

The Revolution Network entered 2013 as the top trafficked US-facing poker network.

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3.  Sheldon Adelson’s Take On Legalized Internet Gambling in the USA – “Poison”, “Toxic”, “The End of Society as We Know It” – One of the world’s richest men and a major donor to the GOP party, casino billionaire Sheldon Adelson, declared war on Internet gambling in 2013. 

Adelson wrote a series of editorials blasting the move towards legalized Web gambling in the US.

Among his more memorable quotes: “My moral standard compels me to speak out on this issue because I am the largest company by far in the industry and I am willing to speak out. 
“(Online gambling) is a threat to our society—a toxin which all good people ought to resist."

Well said Mr. Adelson.....NOT!!!

2.  So Many High Profile Gambling Arrests, One Needed a Score Card – In Canada, we kicked off the year with the raid on a Super Bowl party hosted by what local law enforcement authorities claim is one of the nation’s most “mobbed up” sports betting companies, PlatinumSB or Platinum Sports Book.

Canadian authorities learned from their neighbors south of the border the power of pulling a website offline by seizing a domain name.  In the case of PlatinumSB, this action didn’t quite stop the betting organization from operating.  They were temporarily offline but were taking bets once again via the Web 24 hours later.

Police said Platinum was a lucrative marriage between the Mafia and the Hells Angels.

A few months later, US Federal authorities announced the arrests of nearly three dozen individuals in connection to running what they deemed to be a $1 billion online sports betting business based primarily in Panama City, Panama.

LegendsSports.com, one of the oldest US-facing betting shops, shut down as a result, transferring all player accounts to WagerWeb.com.  Certainly a rare happy ending for gamblers caught in the crossfire.

The investigation into Legends Sports reportedly started as part of an unrelated drug probe that snowballed into something much bigger.  A long-time former employee of Legends Sports, fired for embezzlement, is believed to have become the US Government’s star witness in the matter.

Then there was the raid on an art gallery located within the prestigious Carlisle Hotel in Midtown Manhattan.  This investigation featured a potpourri of Russian Mob-tied figures, sexy high stake poker games attended by celebrities and professional athletes, big name art dealers behaving badly and throw in a sexy poker hostess for good measure.  The case was so far reaching that a producer of the Showtime hit “Ray Donovan” got sentenced to six months home confinement for his role in the enterprise.  

In 2013, one of South Carolina’s biggest bookies was convicted for murdering his wife, then later convicted again along with his father for illegal bookmaking.  The murderous bookie, Brett Parker, is serving a life sentence.

Poker personality and former “Baseball Wives” star Anna Benson plead guilty to a home invasion and attack on her former Major League Baseball player husband Kris Benson while the ex-girlfriend of World Series of Poker Main Event champ Jonathan Duhamel also received a sentence for invading the poker pro's home a few days prior to Christmas of 2011 and stealing a number of his prized possessions.  She also orchestrated an attack on Duhamel by two other accomplices. 

The year ended with a raid of Bodog’s Philippines offices following extensive coverage on the Gambling911.com website of alleged attempts by a former political figure to steal their online casino code. It's business as usual there, we should note.

1.  The Launch of Real Money Online Gambling in the USA – 2013 started off with Nevada launching the first real money online poker site, Ultimate Poker, based in the United States.  Little Delaware, the First State, followed a few months later.

But the big news came the final month of 2013 when New Jersey, with a population three times that of Nevada, began accepting bets from within the Garden State on, not just poker, but casino games such as blackjack and slots.

The results have been impressive, to say the least.

2014 could be a year in which we see even more populous states begin to offer Web gambling.  Multi-state compacts appear to be in the cards as well.

- Ace King, Gambling911.com

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