Global Glance: Brazil Shocks, PartyPoker Apologizes

Global Glance: Brazil Shocks, PartyPoker Apologizes
Big deals, big glitches, and big votes dominated global poker news this week

The weekly Global Glance takes a look at the online poker scene around the world. What happens with online poker and gambling beyond America’s borders can and often does impact the state of online poker in the United States.

Brazil delivered a shocker this week with a defeat of its massive gambling bill in the Senate. PartyPoker had troubles of its own when technical issues booted players from the KO Series, ironically. On the poker business side of things, PartyPoker parent GVC Holdings received shareholder approval for a big acquisition. But the bright spot of the week was a special salute to women in poker from Unibet on International Women’s Day.

Brazil Online Poker Voted Down

The people of Brazil have long wanted legalized online poker, casino games, and sports betting, as well as land-based casinos and bingo. Legislators have been working on that legalization since 2014, but many concerns and delays kicked it down the road for several years.

The current version of the bill seemed to be a lock, as soon as the Senate would give it a vote. Finally, the time for a vote approached, though it was pushed one last time from February to March. And this week, the vote happened but not with the expected outcome. Senate Bill PLS 186/2014 was voted down by a vote of 13-2 in the Constitution and Justice Committee.

Much of the opposition to the bill came from members with concerns about gambling addiction, crime, and the effect that gambling may have on the low-income population. In addition, the Brazilian Ministry of Tourism may have thrown the vote by introducing a casino-only bill just days before the vote.

The broad gambling expansion bill is not completely dead, but it now faces more of an uphill battle than anticipated. Longtime bill sponsors and gambling advocates Senators Ciro Nogueira and Benedito de Lira will have to request a review of the bill and then push it to the National Congress. Another avenue will be to focus on an alternative bill that needs to pass a vote in the House of Representatives, but it will then take the same path to the Senate as the bill that was just voted down this week.

Online poker remains as distant a dream as ever for Brazilian players.

PartyPoker Stumbles on Glitches

As PartyPoker headed into a big week of tournaments with some new team pros on board, one of its servers malfunctioned and crashed the entire system.

Just a few weeks ago, PartyPoker announced a new KO Series, a series of solely progressive knockout tournaments with five levels of buy-ins to include players of all bankrolls. The entire series boasted of $10 million in guarantees, and it was going to lead in to the new Power Series, weekly tournaments that increased from $4 million in guarantees to $10 million per week.

And then the crash happened. The malfunction in one of the servers crashed the entire system at 8pm GMT, according to PartyPoker Managing Director Tom Waters. He issued a public apology that explained what happened and how they planned to rectify it.

First, the operator immediately began processing refunds for all players kicked off the site in the middle of tournaments and cash games. Second, nearly $2 million was added to Sunday’s guarantees, including $1 million alone to the $5,200 PKO tournament. In addition, the three cancelled ladies’ KO events will run this Sunday to replace similar events scheduled for the Power Series. And finally, PartyPoker identified the problem and implemented procedures to keep it from happening again.

According to Waters, “It was a disaster for us as well as the players, the night of our biggest ever PKO tournaments and on the eve of the launch of our new Power Series. I understand that some players may not immediately return to PartyPoker given their experiences in the last 24 hours and I expect to see some sizeable overlays in the new Power Series MTTs…” He then added, “We can only apologize for ruining what was a huge Sunday for you and us.”

PartyPoker Parent Nears Deal Day

GVC Holdings has been working for a long time on a big deal. While rumors began early in 2017, it wasn’t until December 2017 that GVC formally announced it was pursuing the acquisition of Ladbrokes Coral.

There have been roadblocks, but GVC indicated it was willing to do whatever it took to make the deal happen. And most obstacles have been overcome thus far, with the biggest one coming this week when GVC shareholders voted in favor of the acquisition. The next hurdle is the UK’s High Court, which must approve the deal.

The court is scheduled to issue its final decision on or near March 23, and the merging of GVC and Ladbrokes Coral should become effective before the end of March in one of the largest mergers in online gambling’s history.

Unibet Puts Queens Over Kings

Unibet parent company Kindred Group is no stranger to campaigns for equality. The company has been setting and achieving goals regarding diversity and gender equality at its offices for several years, with larger objectives set for 2020.

That made this International Women’s Day an ideal opportunity to spread the word. Its idea was to launch a global campaign called Queen Rules (or #queenrules in social media lingo) to urge people to think about gender bias in various facets of everyday life, including poker. That was why it launched Queen Rules, wherein all traditional poker rules apply with the exception that Queens beat Kings instead of the reverse that has always been the case.

New decks of cards were featured in live games around the globe. The limited-edition decks featured illustrations by 16 women, and they would be available at a special website, along with other merchandise from the women. And all proceeds were set to go to HeForShe, an international charity established by the United Nations to promote gender equality.

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