RightCasino Newswipe 2015
Here is the RightCasino 2015 roundup of the year’s casino and gambling-related events.
Can 2015 really be drawing to a close? A look at the calendar suggests it surely can. But it only seems like yesterday that we were writing about the Birmingham man who won £2,500 from William Hill for the not inconsiderable feat of losing five stone.
January casino news
As is customary, January got off to a pretty quiet start. Still, within the first few days of the year it was clear that 2015 was going to be a tough year for Macau.
But it wasn’t all bad news. No, there was a man who won $500,000 courtesy of the New Mexico Lottery. Or, at least, that’s what retired heating engineer John Wines had originally been led to believe…
January 2015 also saw Bwin.party pull their social media betting game Sportsder. Little did we know then how often the Dutch gaming firm would be appearing on our news pages in the months to come.
For the most part, however, January was simply a case of trying to ignore the bad weather and the post-Christmas poverty. Surely more exciting time were around the corner…?
Cricket chaos in February
February began with Groundhog Day.
Yes, February began with Groundhog Day. After that, though, we stumbled upon one of the sadder stories of the year as a band of Atlantic City gamblers that had won $1.5 million had to return the cash after a card-shuffling catastrophe.
There was also something of a stink kicked up during the ICC World Cup when the opening game was subject to a ‘court-siding’ controversy.
Elsewhere a Boylesports’ punter won €24,000 from a €1.50 stake, and a Paddy Power advertisement concerning the Academy Awards was declared the most controversial ad of 2014. And with good reason.
Speaking of the Oscars, Birdman surprised everyone by winning big while Ladbrokes shocked a lot of people by declaring that it suffered its biggest ever loss on football betting the previous Boxing Day.
And with that, we bid February ‘adieu’ and, with a whiff of spring in the air, we set off in the direction of March…
A $13 million baccarat win in March
March is a month of renewed hope and a sense of better times ahead. So it was a bit of a surprise to discover on the second of the month that Brits were spending the better part of £17 BILLION a year at fixed-odds gaming terminals!
And the shocks continued to stack up as it emerged that the Iranian government were behind the Sands Casino cyber attack. Not only that but the signs that 2015 was going to be a year to forget for Macau continued to mount up.
March also provided gamblers with conflicting advice with one report exposing the infamous ‘gambler’s fallacy’ while another study insisted that poker is far more a game of skill than chance.
Speaking of fortunate so-and-sos, it was hard not to admire/envy the gentleman who won just shy of $13 million at the World Series Baccarat Championship. Still, at least we were all able to laugh at former Friends star Matthew Perry blowing $20,000 on poker in the time it takes most people to drink a cuppa.
And then, just as we’d begun to get the hang of March, it buggered off and April came along with a whole slew of new stories…
Bgo casino welcomes Paris in April
April means leaves on the trees, plants coming into flower and – in the case of 2015, at least – Paris Hilton joining the team at bgo Entertainment!
Coincidentally or not, another story broke the same day – 9th April – suggesting that people who gamble in the presence of ‘attractive men’ are likely to bet more heavily.
It was also a month of contrasting fortunes for, as an NHS worker scooped £250,000 courtesy of a misplaced scratch card, so celebrity pools winner Viv Nicholson (above) of ‘Spend! Spend! Spend!’ fame passed away at the age of 79.
With the year really beginning to pick up speed by now, April also saw international sprinter Richard Kilty bet Arsenal stars Theo Walcott and Hector Bellern £30,000 that he could beat them in a race, while a NatWest bank manager was ordered to repay the £185,000 he’d stolen from customers to fund his poker habit.
In international news, Ireland introduced its first gambling act and Paris looked into opening its first casino.
And it was also a big month in Dan Bilzerian news with the poker playboy throwing a safari-themed party while another man sought to wrestle the title of ‘gambling prince’ from his hirsute mitts.
Finally, a word of praise for the ballsiest/daftest decision made in April, for any Scot who’d stake £30,000 on a Conservative majority at the 2015 General Election is taking their life in their hands. We trust the person in question is enjoying their new life in hiding.
Royal birth, election makes for a busy May
Ah, marvellous May. Alas, it wasn’t so marvellous for the Riviera Casino, the Las Vegas stalwart which finally shut its doors 60 years after it first opened them. And a California lottery player also had reason to be aggrieved after a cashier error left him with $50 rather than the $50,000 he was entitled to.
Outside of the gambling bubble, the big news stories of the month included the birth of William and Kate’s second child. However, since a royal birth is a big deal for bookmakers, the arrival of Princess Charlotte didn’t go unnoticed by the likes of William Hill. And the somewhat more pressing matter of a General Election also impacted upon the world of wagering.
The other big revelations of the day included Iggy Azalaea revealing herself to be a huge blackjack lover, and Tony Toutouni upping hid bid for Dan Bilzerian’s crown. Blitz’s response? To announce his intention to run for the US Presidency!
In the shadow of such major developments it was tricky to get too worked up about Cristiano Ronaldo signing with PokerStars.
Far more thrilling was RightCasino’s list the 10 hottest female poker players. The product of rigorous research and great deliberation, we like to think of it as the definitive study of this, one of the key issues confronting gambling today.
June sees the start of football fever
With the British summer officially underway, things hotted up for technology giant Playtech with the acquisition of top spread betting operator Plus500. And you can imagine British pensioner Peter Congdon was somewhat hot under the collar when he found out that his £25 Lottery win was in fact for the somewhat great sum of £13.5 million!
Pearls of sweat were also clearly visible on Sepp Blatter’s forehead as his world came crashing down around him. Never ones to miss a trick, Britain’s bookies made hay as punters rushed to bet on when the Fifa cheat would be out of a job and/or in jail.
Elsewhere in the world, our former Soviet friends were busy putting a new spin on Russian roulette while, in Las Vegas, Christian Pham signed up for the wrong game at the World Series Of Poker but ended up pocketing $81,000.
Sure, there were serious news stories, too. Indeed, the first mention of Ladbrokes and Gala Coral merging came towards the end of the month. But it was not to be distracted by colourful tales concerning golf ace Phil Mickelson and the property developer who blames his massive gambling debts on the Devil.
And as for those who still had an appetite for something hot, we ran our list of the world’s 10 hottest male poker players. We’re pretty certain that, had he had his way, Dan Bilzerian would occupy places 1 to 8.
July gets hot for athletes and celebs
It wasn’t warmest July on record but things certainly hotted up for one punter when he staked £50,000 on Andy Murray to regain his Wimbledon crown.
July also saw wagering cited as one of the things that led to Jennifer Garner divorcing the two-time Oscar-winner Ben Affleck, while the Tour De France triumph of Kenyan-born Brit Chris Froome provoked discussion about whether we might soon be celebrating an African Tour champion.
The brighter weather also brought with it the news that British gambling was pumping billions of dollars into the UK economy, while the revelation that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was sinking cash into new eSports venture Unikrn pointed up the way in which a new area of the wagering industry was expanding.
July was also a decent month for crime with the imminent release of Kray twins biopic Legend giving us a good excuse to investigate the brothers’ reputation as London casino trailblazers even while we commented upon the latest instalment in the sorry Affactive scandal.
And before we could welcome August, 2015 also presented us with the latest episode in the whole GVC-888-Bwin.party affair, the end to which remained a long way out of sight.
007 exercises license to thrill in August
The summer holiday season brought with it the first wave of 007 fever as bets were placed on who’d be recording the theme for Spectre.
Elsewhere in the world of crime fighting, the net started to close on the Mafia and their Maltese links and the Serbian lottery’s head honcho was forced to resign over what can only be described as a “complete balls-up”.
With the football season only days old, a story broke concerning Leicester striker Jamie Vardy and an incident at a local casino, while on the other side of the world, revelations about the opening of the all-star Studio City gaming house couldn’t deflect attention from the sorry state the city-state found itself in economically.
But as there was bad news so there was also the chance to celebrate one of the more eccentric events of the world athletics calendar, the Stawell Gift. And as RightCasino wrote about the legal issues of today so there was also the opportunity to mark the heyday of Al Capone and the time when illegal booze and illicit gambling held 1920s America in thrall.
And August also saw our editor Richard Luck appear on BBC London News to promote the work of the Friends of Crystal Palace Dinosaurs, an excellent cause about which you can find out a lot more here.
Sponsorships and sports saga in September
With the passing of the golden weather came one of the most unlikely stories of the year, one which centred on the cash-strapped Illinois Lottery having to issue ‘lucky’ winners with IOUs until its finances picked up.
Elsewhere, the Bwin.party-GVC-888 saga moved forward at a glacial pace and Arsenal struck a deal with a top Chinese lottery company. Reports were also issued demonstrating that igaming’s now the biggest business of that fabled tax haven the Isle Of Man.
The beginning of autumn also saw us rundown the 10 biggest casinos in the world and recount the highly improbable tale of how Irish bookmaker Paddy Power came to sponsor the Tongan rugby union team.
All this and GOP Presidential nominees Jeb Bush and Donald Trump clashed over an old casino-related controversy – though the end might have been in sight, 2015 wasn’t going to go quietly.
Massive Mega Moolah jackpot win in October
October brought with it a flurry of global activity. So across the Irish Sea, this meant NetBet resuming normal service, while on the other side of the Atlantic, daily fantasy sports giant DraftKings forged a relationship with the NFL Players Association.
America also produced one of the year’s biggest wagering stories with the state of Nevada declaring that, contrary to the claims of companies such as DraftKings and FanDuel, daily fantasy sports betting is in fact a form of gambling.
Meanwhile back in Blighty, a soldier won £132 million courtesy of a Microgaming ‘Mega Moolah’ slot, and a brace of surveys revealed that, while more employees are using their mobiles to gamble at work, so – not surprisingly – gaming revenues have been going through the roof.
The first true month of autumn also saw speculation mount about who might win the BBC’s coveted Sports Personality Of The Year award. All Hallows’ Eve, on the other hand, provided the perfect excuse to once more ponder the powers of superstition, just as a new series of The Apprentice threw novelty betting into the harshest of spotlights.
Celebs launch Macau casino in November
November began – as it always does – with the Melbourne Cup, the horse race which brings Australia to a halt and which this year produced a highly unusual instance of betting fraud.
Meanwhile, in Macau, Martin Scorsese, Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert De Niro arrived to launch both a casino and, at $70 million, the most expensive promotional film ever made. Speaking of the city-state, it was hoped that the decision of Macau’s top gambling regulator to throw in the towel might make for happier times ahead.
Controversy was also in the air with an Australian newspaper investigation suggesting that Ladbrokes had been using LinkedIn to target problem gamblers, and top US TV show Last Week Tonight With John Oliver taking a good hard look at the daily fantasy sports phenomenon.
Things seemed far cheerier in the eSports field where Unikrn caught the eye, first by creating a well-received code of conduct and then by launching an all-female esports team.
The month was also swimming in massive personalities – not only did film director, gambling fanatic and all-round top bloke James Toback chat to us but Dan Bilzerian was out and about making a tit of himself, and against all odds, it seemed possible that Donald Trump might actually snag the Republican Presidential nomination!
Dreaming of a white Christmas
The last month of the year brought with it a sorry reminder that Australian con man Peter Foster is still alive and well. There was, however, good news on the crime front in Macau where it was hoped that efforts to address cyber crime might help reverse the city-state’s ailing finances.
Elsewhere in global affairs, there was good news for punters in Ukraine where gambling was to be legalised again following a six-year break but there was unfortunate news for the citizens of Nevada as ‘man band’ Take That on the verge of signing a deal to play a Las Vegas residency.
Closer to home, the UK Gaming Commission announced that it was to investigate the use and distribution of gaming machines. And no sooner had Tyson Fury shaken up the boxing world by defeating long-term world heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko than he was scuppering his SPOTY chances by saying some less than kind things about gay people.
Meanwhile, the announcement of the Golden Globe nominations and the betting speculation it sparked reminded us that the New Year wasn’t far away. It just remains to be seen whether we get a white Christmas beforehand…