NV Licensee Profile: American Casino & Entertainment Properties

This is one of a series of profiles covering companies that hold a license to participate in Nevada’s online gambling market.Contents
1 Details and Timeline of ACEP Nevada License
1.1 Partnerships and role in Nevada market
2 ACEP: Company Overview
2.1 American Casino & Entertainment Properties: Power Players
3 Potential in other US markets
4 LinksAmerican Casino & Entertainment Properties (commonly referred to by the much simpler to remember and say acronym, ACEP) is a subsidiary company of Whitehall Streets Real Estate Funds, which purchased ACEP and its assets in 2008 from American Real Estate Partners.The best known asset of ACEP would be the Stratosphere Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, which the ACEP Company picked-up after the original Stratosphere owners declared bankruptcy in 1996. When Whitehall entered the picture they paid $1.3 billion for land and casino assets which were valued at about $1 billion in 2007, and since the acquisition ACEP has been operating in the red.Details and Timeline of ACEP Nevada License
ACEP wasted little time in filing their application for a Nevada online poker license, formally submitting their application in February of 2012. Acep was the fourteenth company to apply for an iGaming license in the state.
On September 6, 2012 ACEP received preliminary approval for an online poker operator license from the Nevada Gaming Control Board in a formal hearing. Just a couple of weeks later ACEP’s license application was approved by the Nevada Gaming Commission.
On September 20, 2012 American Casino & Entertainment Properties saw their license application accepted by the Nevada Gaming Commission. ACEP’s license allows them to host online poker games in Nevada.As an online poker operator ACEP will be allowed to host and operate an online poker site in the state of Nevada, following the regulations set by the NGCB and the NGC.Partnerships and role in Nevada marketAs stated above, ACEP has formed a strategic partnership with Bally Technology and has already launched the OnGame powered AcePlay.com poker room. While their deal is with Bally, Bally has also entered into a strategic partnership with Amaya Gaming, which allowed Bally to lease out the OnGame software to ACEP as well as the Golden Nugget.AcePlay was launched in February of 2013 and at this time AcePlay.com is currently only available in play-money format, but it appears that ACEP and Ballys are well on their way to launching real-money online poker in Nevada.ACEP: Company OverviewWhitehall Streets Real Estate Funds is an equity firm managed by Goldman Sachs, but so far Whitehall seems to have overpaid for ACEP, apparently banking on a parcel of land around the Stratosphere Hotel to increase the valuation of ACEP’s holdings. Currently the properties controlled by ACEP are losing money, and Whitehall has sought to restructure their debt, which means the Stratosphere could very well be a massive failure twice-over.In 2009 ACEP restructured its debt with Goldman Sachs and laid-off some 600 employees, but the Stratosphere and other assets of ACEP have continued to bleed money. Online poker may very well be the tourniquet the company needs.As mentioned above, the Stratosphere is considered one of the biggest flops in Las Vegas history as its location is simply too far down the Las Vegas Strip to appeal to many tourists. When the hotel opened in 1996 it was considered one of the nicest properties on the Strip, but its poor location has failed to attract visitors and the Stratosphere has fallen into disrepair, unable to keep pace with their competitors farther south on the Strip.According to an article in Cardplayer Magazine, ACEP’s Director of Gaming Development Alec Driscoll, sees online poker as a “player acquisition tool”, bucking the conventional wisdom that online gaming will detract from land-based gaming.Here are the four properties controlled by ACEP:
Aquarius
Arizona Charlie’s Decatur
Arizona Charlie’s Boulder
Stratosphere Las VegasIn February of 2013, along with their partner Bally Technologies, ACEP launched the free-play version of their online poker site, AcePLAY.com. AcePLAY will have a familiar look and feel to online poker players as the site is using the OnGame client to host their online poker games.OnGame is currently owned by Amaya Gaming, which entered into a agreement with Bally Technologies earlier this year, with the three players making for one of the most convoluted partnerships in the market.American Casino & Entertainment Properties: Power PlayersThe head honcho at ACEP is the company’s CEO and Board of Directors member Frank V. Riolo. Riolo has been in his current position since 2008, and has been an executive in the gaming industry since 2002.Other key people in the ACEP hierarchy are:
CFO, Treasurer and Board Member: Ned Martin
Board Member: Alan Kava
Board Member: Peter WeidmanAnd here are the people at the helm of each of the four properties controlled by ACEP:
Executive Vice President, General Manager Arizona Charlie’s Decatur: Ronald P. Lurie
Senior Vice President, General Manager Arizona Charlie’s Boulder: Mark Majetich
Vice President, General Manager Stratosphere Casino, Hotel & Tower: Paul Hobson
General Manager Aquarius Casino Resort: Sean HammondPotential in other US marketsACEP does have casino properties in other states, but at the time being their role is limited to the Nevada market. For ACEP to jump into a newly regulated market where they have no physical presence they would likely have to see new laws introduced as well as needing to comply with the imposed regulations.Links
American Casino & Entertainment Properties Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/company/american-casino-&-entertainment-properties
American Casino & Entertainment Properties Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AcePlayPoker
American Casino & Entertainment Properties Twitter: https://twitter.com/acePLAYpoker
American Casino & Entertainment Properties Corporate page: http://www.acepllc.com/
*Resources: www.wikipedia.org, www.acepllc.com

NV Licensee Profile: American Casino & Entertainment Properties

PokerStars Deal for New Jersey Casino Dead

After reports yesterday that PokerStars missed a key conditional deadline in its pending deal to purchase the Atlantic Club Casino, word today from the ACC indicates the deal is dead – at least for now.The story was first reported by John Brennan:Excerpt from a statement by Atlantic Club Casino COO Michael Frawley:There has been no confirmation or statement from PokerStars.Timeline of PokerStars’ attempt to purchase the ACCThe timeline of PokerStars’ (apparently failed) attempt to purchase the ACC is a strange one:
Dec 2012 – Reports emerge that PokerStars is in negotiations to purchase the ACC.
Jan 2013 – PokerStars confirms they have reached a conditional agreement to purchase the ACC.
Jan 2013 – Reports from several sources indicate that PokerStars filed their application for an Interim Casino Authorization license with NJ state officials at the end of December. The filing of the application would trigger a 90-day review window.
March 2013 – AGA files a brief opposing PokerStars’ interim application. PokerStars files a brief in response.
March 2013 – PokerStars asserts that Caesars had offered to sell them the Rio and the WSOP.
March 2013 – Reports reveal that PokerStars’ Interim Authorization application – thought to be already filed – is actually not complete.
April 2013 – PokerStars actually completes the Interim Authorization application. No word on what caused the delay.
April 2013 – The WSJ reports that PokerStars’ deal for the ACC has “expired without a new contract in place, according to people familiar with the matter”. The expiration was due to a condition in the contract that required PokerStars to have secured the Interim Authorization by April 24th.
April 2013 – The ACC announces the contract to purchase has been terminated.Deal “really” dead? PokerStars done in NJ?While certainly not a positive development for those who wish to see PokerStars operating in New Jersey, the news is hardly a death knell for the site’s chances to be a part of regulated online gambling in the state.For example, this news could simply be part of a negotiating ploy on the part of the Atlantic Club Casino. It’s also possible that PokerStars could participate in the state as a software provider in partnership with a licensed operator, a role that does not require ownership of a land-based casino. Finally, PokerStars could always seek to purchase another NJ property, although the list of bargain-priced gambling halls looks pretty thin after the ACC.Not everyone is certain that the deal has completely fallen through. Howard Stutz of the LVRJ tweeted these responses to the news:… and in a story on NJ.com that preceded Brennan’s, online gambling proponent State Sen. Raymond Lesniack said:Again, note that Lesniack’s comments were in response to the WSJ story about the missed deadline, not Brennan’s report that the deal is dead.I will update this story as events warrant.

PokerStars Deal for New Jersey Casino Dead

NV Licensee Profile: Central Account Management System

This is one of a series of profiles covering companies that hold a license to participate in Nevada’s online gambling market.Contents
1 Details and Timeline of CAMS Nevada License
1.1 Partnerships and role in Nevada market
2 Central Account Management System- Company Overview
2.1 CAMS Power Players
3 CAMS: Potential in other US markets
4 Additional CAMS-related LinksCentral Account Management System (commonly shortened to CAMS LLC) is a Los Angeles-based id verification and payment processing company is a subsidiary of the massive Verifi umbrella. CAMS duties in the newly regulated Nevada market will be payment connectivity and regulatory compliance. Verifi was formed in 2005 and since then the company has been at the forefront of the verification industry, and has numerous subsidiary companies similar to CAMS under its sway.Details and Timeline of CAMS Nevada License
In November of 2012 CAMS LLC received preliminary approval from the Nevada Gaming Control Board (The NGC is a three person panel) to receive a Class 2 Service Provider license in Nevada. With the NGCB’s approval CAMS would simply need to receive approval from the Nevada Gaming Commission, which occurred two weeks later.
On November 15, 2012 CAMS was rewarded with a Service Provider license after passing the scrutiny of the Nevada Gaming Commission. At the time they received their license CAMS was the first company to receive a license that allowed them to process payments for the Nevada market.As detailed above, CAMS will play a very specific role in the Nevada market, focusing on player verification checks and payment processing. This role will allow CAMS to partner with as many casinos as they wish.Partnerships and role in Nevada marketCAMS has already partnered with Fertitta Interactive’s Ultimate Poker website to provide ID and geo-location verifications. As more and more online poker rooms come online CAMS will likely form many strategic partnerships, performing either “Know Your Customer” checks, or to process deposits and withdrawals for online poker sites.Central Account Management System- Company OverviewCAMS itself was only created in 2012 by Matthew Katz, and according to the site’s Linkedin page the company now boasts from 51-200 employees –not too shabby for a company that has only been around for about a year.The simplest way to describe what CAMS does is through their mission statement that can be found on their website: “Offering lottery and online wagering operators the ability to collect and manage player information, assist merchants and operators to monitor and comply with internal and external regulation policy, facilitate payment deposit and withdrawals, and enforce operator business rules.”In addition to their usual role, CAMS will be tasked with the all-important “Know Your Customer” checks that must be run on every player that registers at a Nevada online poker site, as well as being the first payment processor to receive a license from the Nevada Gaming Commission.CAMS is one of the numerous niche companies that has applied for and received an online poker service provider license in Nevada. Unlike all-encompassing service providers like 888 or Bally Technologies, CAMS has two specific, and extremely important, roles in the Nevada market; to provide verification systems for online poker operators and to process payments.The lists of services CAMS will provide to the online poker industry in Nevada include:
Know Your Customer ID checks: including age verification
Geo-Location and Device ID verification
Payment Processing
Payment processing fraud detection and security
Problem Gambler self-exclusion lists
Player deposit limit checksUnfortunately, CAMS got off to a bad start in Nevada when they contracted work related to verification to Iovation, the company founded by former Ultimate Bet executive and partial owner Greg Pierson.When news of Iovation’s involvement in the new Nevada market came to light CAMS was forced to drop the company, but a bad precedent had been set, as poker players wondered if the new “regulated” market was simply the same as the old unregulated market that oversaw the Super-User scandals. Thankfully, Ultimate Poker and CAMS quickly severed their relationship with Iovation.CAMS Power Players
Matthew Katz, CEOMatthew Katz, the CEO of CAMS was also the founder of the company and sees a bright future his company, especially as he makes major inroads into the burgeoning online gaming market in the US. Katz started his first business while he was still enrolled at Washington University in St Louis, where he later graduated with a degree in Economics. CAMS is simply the latest endeavor in a long line of successes for this young entrepreneur.CAMS: Potential in other US marketsWith their ability to process payments and take on the very difficult process of player verifications, CAMS has a future in virtually every market in the country. This can be seen by the simple fact that CAMS is not even located in Nevada, yet still received a Nevada online poker license to act as a verification company and payment processor.Additional CAMS-related LinksCAMS Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/company/cams-llcCAMS Corporate page: http://www.centralams.com/*Resources: www.centralams.com

NV Licensee Profile: Central Account Management System

Annie Duke: I Was Never Shown Any Non-Public Hole Card Information

Annie Duke took to Facebook this week to clarify her knowledge of and involvement in the Ultimate Bet superuser scandal.Both Duke and fellow ex-UB pro Phil Hellmuth made statements concerning Ultimate Bet last week in response to the recent release of secret recordings made by Travis Makar that detail the attempt to cover up cheating at Ultimate Bet.But an apparently unintentional ambiguity in Duke’s initial statement caused her to offer additional clarification yesterday.Before we get to that, some quick background.Tapes imply Duke had access to God ModeComments allegedly made by Russ Hamilton on the tapes – which are at times inaudible and subject to interpretation – suggested that Annie Duke had some level of access to the so-called “god mode” that allowed UB insiders to cheat opponents by viewing their hole cards.Duke’s initial response seemed to support this version of events. From her Twitter: Duke unambiguously states she had no such accessBut her subsequent statement removed any doubt about whether or not she ever had access to “god mode” on UB:

Annie Duke: I Was Never Shown Any Non-Public Hole Card Information

Lock Poker Expediting Cashouts For CardsChat Players

Lock Poker has been the subject of myriad player complaints during its existence.The most serious complaint pertains to cashout speeds, which are among the worst in the online poker industry. Players in the U.S. have waited as long as six months to receive their requested cashouts. Players in the rest of the world wait 1-2 months for their withdrawals.But it seems that members of CardsChat.com do not suffer from these same delays.Dozens reportedly jumping to front of Lock’s cashout lineA thread was started in the CardsChat forum on May 5, 2013. The original poster challenged the fact that CardsChat ranked Lock Poker as the second best U.S. facing online poker room.On May 10th, a CardsChat moderator asked members to contact her if they were waiting for a Lock Poker withdrawal. Twelve members immediately contacted CardsChat about their delayed Lock Poker withdrawals and these complaints were forwarded to the poker room’s management. Lock Poker processed all legitimate requests within just hours of receipt.CardsChat has now reportedly helped dozens of players receive their Lock Poker cashouts.Immediate backlash from other playersThis may seem like good news, but it was not taken well by the online poker community.A link to the Cardchat discussion was posted in several Lock Poker threads at Two Plus Two. There is a subforum there that specifically deals with Lock Poker issues. The forum was formerly a promotional and support forum, but this privilege was lost when players approached Two Plus Two management about the lack of support provided by Lock Poker and the massive delays in receiving withdrawals.Lock Poker is clearly showing preferential treatment to CardsChat over Two Plus Two. A total of 41 Two Plus Two players have reported over $100,000 in delayed withdrawals and this is just a small sample.One conclusion that could be drawn: Lock Poker is trying to save face on a smaller poker forum at the expense of players on a larger forum in an attempt to keep their room actively promoted somewhere its reputation has not yet been damaged.Do not applaud CardsChat’s actionsIt is easy to thank CardsChat for its help in getting players paid, but there are, in my opinion, multiple issues with that conclusion.I believe CardsChat got itself into this situation by putting affiliate commission above the safety of players. Lock Poker was ranked number one on CardsChat’s recommended U.S. online poker rankings in 2012, even after many scandals that went beyond just slow cashouts. CardsChat promoted Lock Poker as its number one choice for U.S. players as late as August 2012.Lock Poker was already processing payments slower than the industry average at that time and the outlook was negative.Lock Poker eventually lost its number one position at CardsChat. It was replaced by BetOnline, a company that has a history of harassing or outright not paying big poker winners. This further demonstrates the inability of CardsChat to rank US facing poker rooms properly. The company eventually named Bovada its number one choice earlier this year, which is appropriate, but still ranked Lock Poker number two until the thread addressing Lock Poker’s problems appeared in its forum. It is still ranked number four today.After being challenged about the unfair actions of moving its players to the front of the line, bypassing players that have waited longer, a CardsChat representative claims “You have no way of knowing if these handfuls of withdrawals have caused any delay at all in anyone else receiving their withdrawals”.It does not take much common sense to know that is exactly what is happening. If Lock Poker had the cash or processing capacity to pay all of its players on time then there would be no need for CardsChat to intervene. CardsChat requesting preferential treatment for their players does not make cash magically appear in Lock Poker’s bank account.What is an affiliate’s responsibility to players?Affiliates have a responsibility to players. Trust builds loyalty in online marketing and poker in no different. It seems clear CardsChat has ignored that responsibility and includes commission in their ranking formula. The only other excuse is that they are completely ignorant about their industry.CardsChat provides apparently false BetOnline information on siteIgnoring the fact that BetOnline should not be in anyone’s top ranked U.S. facing room list, CardsChat goes a step further in their promotion of it. BetOnline is currently ranked number two in Cardchat’s ranking of online poker rooms and held the number one spot for about five months in late 2012 and early 2013.Under “BetOnline Poker Bonus” the review page states “25% Unlimited on ALL deposits.”BetOnline does not offer a poker bonus at all. I confirmed this with BetOnline through multiple channels.The bonus is in fact a sports book bonus and not a poker bonus. There is no poker bonus for CardsChat or any other affiliate beyond the Promo Bucks available to all players that may be used to enter tournaments. A search through Archive.org shows that this has been advertised for two years on CardsChat’s site, even though no such poker bonus exists.This may seem like making a big deal out of what may potentially be a typo, but players have fallen victim to claiming this bonus and then being subjected to a wager requirement in the sports book or casino before being allowed to cashout. BetOnline players interested in only playing poker should immediately contact support and have any bonus removed. This may prevent withdrawal problems down the road.Past Lock Poker issues that should impact rankingWhile still on the Merge Gaming Network, a Lock Poker pro was caught cheating in the Bluff Pro Challenge after receiving an obvious $100,000 chip dump on the last day of the promotion. Lock Poker seemed complacent in the cheating until the online poker community demanded the disqualification of Jose Macedo. He was eventually stripped of the win and the second place player was awarded the prize.Lock Poker was known to bend the rakeback rules on Merge Gaming before it left the network in May 2012. Lock Poker offered a promotion where players would receive extra rakeback into their casino accounts without any wager requirement. The funds could then be transferred to the poker room or withdrawn. This promotion was marketed heavily after Black Friday. Many players accepted this deal, but Lock changed the terms retroactively on more than one occasion, making the promotion virtually worthless.This is just a sample of player complaints attributed to Lock Poker. There have been a number of support and cashout complaints surrounding the online poker room over the past two years.Author Disclosure: I have been a volunteer moderator at Two Plus Two since 2006. I was once contacted to do freelance work for CardsChat but the topics assigned to me were outside of my expertise so I declined the work.Ed. note: OPR does not endorse playing at US-facing online poker rooms. Playing at US-facing online poker rooms is simply too risky from a financial (and potentially legal) point of view.

Lock Poker Expediting Cashouts For CardsChat Players

A Modest Proposal For Rebutting Online Poker’s Critics

Sheldon Adelson’s recent broadside against online poker – and the response that it generated – got me thinking about some of the underlying issues involved in how advocates for online poker regulation approach criticism from the likes of Mr. Adelson.I put some of those thoughts together in an article for QuadJacks: “Please Stop Writing Responses to Sheldon Adelson.”The gist of the article is that rebuttals – at this point – are likely counterproductive and only serve to strengthen Adelson’s influence.And I propose the foundations of a response strategy to his criticisms – and the myriad like his sure to follow in the months and years ahead – that I hope will be more effective than the temporarily-satisfying act of directly responding with a rebuttal.One point that I think is especially important comes at the end of the article, so I wanted to quickly highlight it here:Read the whole thing.

A Modest Proposal For Rebutting Online Poker’s Critics

CardPlayer Halts Promotion of Unregulated Poker Sites in Nevada

It’s only a matter of time until affiliates and poker media sites based in the U.S. drop advertisements for unregulated US-facing sites – either due to mounting regulatory concerns or because promoting regulated rooms becomes a more profitable / sustainable business model.And at least one major site took a small step in that direction recently.CardPlayer no longer shows advertisements for Lock Poker (or apparently any unregulated U.S.-facing sites) to visitors from Nevada.Different regions of U.S. see different versions of CardPlayerVisitors from Illinois (for example) still see banners for Carbon Poker, and a list of the “Best Online Poker Room Bonuses” that includes Lock and Bovada.But Nevada visitors see banners for Ultimate Poker – no Lock, no Carbon and no list of “Best Bonuses.”Additionally, another “best bonus” list on the top left of the page shows Lock, Bovada and other rooms to Illinois traffic, but only lists the free-play CardPlayer game for Nevada traffic.Both visitors still see the “2013 Player of the Year Sponsored by Lock Poker” banner. And, interestingly, both can still click on that banner to be taken to Lock (through CP’s affiliate link).Compare the screenshots below.As seen from Illinois (note highlighted areas)As seen from NevadaLock and Carbon banners have been replaced by Ultimate banners, and the “best bonus” list is gone entirely. And h/t to Dan Michalski for pointing this out to me.

CardPlayer Halts Promotion of Unregulated Poker Sites in Nevada