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January 18th Poker news ... The Poker Adventure at thepokeradventure.com
HIGH STAKES POKER PLAYER DOWN $1.3 MILLION
GOOD NEWS FOR SPORTECH PLC (Update)
There was good news for UK retail and online gambling group Sportech plc Friday....an estimated GBP 80 million-worth of it.
The company announced that the First Tier Tax Tribunal (FTT) has refused to give HM Revenue and Customs permission to appeal a decision made earlier this year in favour of Sportech.
The issue centred on the payment of Valued Added Tax (VAT) which Sportech claimed back from the government (see previous InfoPowa reports) in a case where around GBP 80 million in refunds is due to the gambling group.
"HMRC have the option of applying to the Upper Tribunal for permission to appeal against the decision of the FTT and have until 1 July 2013 to make such an application," the Sportech notification advised.
LOCK POKER OWNER DISCUSSES COMPANY ISSUES (Update)
The much-hyped Gambling911 exclusive interview with Jennifer Larson, owner of the reportedly troubled Lock Poker enterprise, went up on the information website over the weekend, but interest was blunted by prior leaks which left little new in the way of disclosure.
In summary Larson told Gambling911:
* It's impossible to assuage fears of Lock Poker's financial security through an independent third party verification, because the US Department of Justice is in the wings waiting to take legally questionable action that could see funds seized.
"We have spoken to a number of companies that provide such audit services, however, they are unable to state that if pressured by the US Government they will not disclose the details of the Lock accounts they audit," Larson claims.
They have been frank and acknowledge that they want to be able to conduct business with US companies and admit that the threat of being "black listed" by the DOJ, even if informally, cannot justify their taking on Lock as a client. No other online gaming site has or can publicly open its "books".
* The player-to-player transfer facility provided by Larson's poker site was abused, with an investigation showing that funds were moving around without play taking place. The company therefore introduced a policy demanding that players accumulate at least 15 percent in GGR on the funds received via P2P transfer before these funds are cashed out.
The policy change was put in place explicitly to put an end to money laundering via Lock's player transfers, and players withdrawing winnings are not affected.
* Slow-pay complaints result from a number of obstacles, Larson claims; the volume of P2P transfers without playing taking place imposed strain on pay-outs to bona fide players; Lock also services US players, and that entails careful and discreet use of payment processors faced with the threat of US enforcement actions.
Larson said that her employees are constantly trying to find new processors and methods to speed up the process, which has triggered claims from some players that they have waited for months for payments.
* Turning to the Lock Poker association with the Revolution poker network, Larson denies that she owns Revolution, and claims that there has been too much misinformation and confusion regarding this aspect.
"In the spring of 2012 Lock entered into negotiations to purchase selected assets from the Network," Larson reveals. "One of the conditions of the purchase was the rebranding of the Network and this step took place. Ultimately the proposed purchase was not completed and Lock never became the owner of the network.
"A company [which Larson did not identify] completely independent of Lock made the purchase. The Network team does work very closely with Lock based on Lock being the largest room."
Larson also commented on software problems which her company has encountered, implying that Revolution had difficulty handling the volume generated by Lock players; work is still in progress trying to improve this critical operational aspect.
Another challenge was "balancing the poker ecology" - an issue addressed by other operators in the industry. Larson says that on Revolution, Lock was the only operator investing millions in new player acquisition, and that prompted tactical decisions to create a more recreational player-focused environment on Lock.
* Asked about the controversial Lock Poker jolly to Portugal, Larson justified the confidentiality surrounding the trip by saying it was to protect the privacy of those attending, including Lock staff, consultants, members of the Lock Pro team and suppliers. The trip was for legitimate and budgeted business purposes, paid for from company profits.
Gambling911 has announced that the second part of the Larson interview will deal with company communication, the departure of professional players from the company and whether the Cyprus banking crisis impacted Lock Poker.
Check out the interview in full here: http://www.gambling911.com/poker/gambling911com-world-exclusive-lock-poker-ceo-jennifer-larson-interview-051213.html
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