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Thursday, March 28, 2013

NY court OKs tax on online sellers like Amazon | Crain's New York Business

NY court OKs tax on online sellers like Amazon | Crain's New York Business

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Expensify adds Bitcoin support, lets companies reimburse international workers without the PayPal fees | VentureBeat

Expensify adds Bitcoin support, lets companies reimburse international workers without the PayPal fees | VentureBeat


Expensify adds Bitcoin support, lets companies reimburse international workers without the PayPal fees

Expensify adds Bitcoin support, lets companies reimburse international workers without the PayPal fees
Popular expense report startup Expensify now lets employers reimburse international workers with virtual currency Bitcoin, another step that shows Bitcoin’s influence is growing.
Expensify was founded in May 2008 with the promise of offering “expense reports that don’t suck.” It makes the expense report and reimbursement process easier for companies with simple-to-use iOS, Android, and web apps. The company has attracted 1.4 million users across more than 200,000 companies to date.
But one of the company’s biggest issues is with reimbursement for international employees — PayPal and wire transfers to employees outside of the United States can entail fees of 4 percent or more. Bitcoin — a completely virtual currency that is decentralized — can solve that problem because it doesn’t cost anything to make transfers.
“Bitcoin is perfect for international transfers,” Expensify CEO David Barrett told VentureBeat. “It’s secure, instantaneous, and totally free. We support PayPal, but it is expensive. A four percent charge on a large reimbursement can really add up.”
Bitcoin support and prices have surged in the past few months, with several major newly-announced business deals giving it a boost. Mt. Gox, the largest Bitcoin exchange, struck a deal to let Seattle startup CoinLab handle its U.S. operations to give Bitocin a bigger foothold with institutional investors. On top of that, news-sharing siteReddit started accepting Bitcoin as payment, the Internet Archive began accepting Bitcoin donations, and Bitcoin startup Coinbase announced it is selling more than $1 million in Bitcoins per month.
Barrett said Bitcoin might not be well known just yet, but he doesn’t mind being on the forefront.
“Hardly any Expensify users know what Bitcoin is, but we believe this is a really great option for them,” Barrett said. “Bitcoin is clearly on the rise.”
San Francisco-based Expensify has raised $6.7 million in funding to date from investors including Hillsven Capital, Baseline Ventures, SV Angel, and Travis Kalanick.

Read more at http://venturebeat.com/2013/03/27/bitcoin-expensify/#H86TbCYWYQAUOC34.99 

Anarchy roils $67 billion games market as developers move to mobile - The York Daily Record

Anarchy roils $67 billion games market as developers move to mobile - The York Daily Record


Anarchy roils $67 billion games market as developers move to mobile

By Cliff Edwards, Bloomberg News

Video game enthusiasts attend the Game Developers Conference, in San Francisco. The schedule for the 2013 GDC held March 25-29, illustrates the dramatic changes that have reshaped the gaming industry in recent years, an evolution that's as much about business models as it is about pixels. GDC organizers have added a summit on free-to-play games, planned talks on topics like crowd funding and micro-transactions and coordinated panels with such titles as "Making Money with Mobile Gaming" and "Why Won't FarmVille Go Away?" (AP Photo/Ben Margo, Filet) (Ben Margot)
Ben Cousins used to make the kind of action-packed video games for Electronic Arts that played on dedicated machines and sold for $60 each. His next project promises console-quality action for free to anyone with an iPad.
Cousins's journey reflects the turmoil roiling the $67 billion video-game industry more than 40 years after "Pong" lit up black-and-white screens. The largest U.S. publishers face a talent drain as big-game veterans like Cousins bring their skills to cheaper and easier-to-develop mobile platforms including Apple's iOS. and Google's Android.
"It's anarchy out there, and these big companies are finding it difficult to steer their supertankers," said Cousins, 38, now general manager of Tokyo-based social-game maker DeNA Co.'s Scattered Entertainment.
Consumer tastes have shifted at warp speed away from higher-priced packaged discs, and developers are following. Fifty-eight percent of North American developers are planning their next games for smartphones and tablets, based on a survey of 2,500 for the Game Developers Conference, which started here Monday. Just 11 percent expected to work for Sony or Microsoft's upcoming consoles, and 6.4 percent for Nintendo's Wii U, out since November.
Newer products such as Cousins's horror-themed shooting title, "The Drowning," threaten to undermine console sales before big publishers like Electronic Arts and Activision Blizzard can move to new platforms.
Revenue from free mobile games and

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those downloaded to computers surpassed annual sales of packaged titles in 2012, when follow-on spending for weapons and other in-game items are included, according to a December survey of U.S. gamers' playing trends by Frank Magid Associates.
Changes in player preferences recently forced publisher THQ into bankruptcy and Electronic Arts CEO John Riccitiello out of his job. Former Electronic Arts executive John Schappert, who became chief operating officer at Zynga when social games on Facebook were gaining popularity, stepped down last August as momentum shifted to mobile.
Google's Android operating system is the latest big threat. Three of four handsets sold in the $260 billion global smartphone market are powered by Android, and developers are moving to capitalize.
Adding momentum to the shift are coming machines that give Android developers an outlet for more powerful features and add mobility to PC game-play.
Ouya, a $99 Android console, will be released Thursday. Handhelds from Nvidia, Wikipad and San Diego-based Razer will appear before the next PlayStation or Xbox arrives. In Seattle, closely held Valve Corp., which has built its Steam online store for PC games to more than 50 million members, is working on a home hub for games and media, CEO Gabe Newell said in January.
Cousins left Redwood City, Calif.-based Electronic Arts in March 2011 after working on console and free-to-play versions of "Battlefield." EA, which calls the title one of its core franchises, is expected to unveil a new version on Tuesday.
Cousins's "The Drowning" will be released by midyear, first for Apple's iPad and then for Android mobile devices. Developers on the title helped create blockbuster console and PC titles such as Microsoft's "Halo," Ubisoft Entertainment SA's "Far Cry" and "Crysis" from Electronic Arts, Cousins said.
"With consoles, you're only in front of the TV for a couple of hours in the evening," Cousins said. "The main platform for games will be where it's most convenient, and that's fast becoming everywhere, on mobile."
Traditional software and hardware makers are trying to maintain a balance. Electronic Arts, Activision and Take-Two Interactive Software have slashed the number of costly console titles and diverted resources to newer platforms. They continue to work on big games with built-in audiences, such as "Call of Duty" and "Grand Theft Auto," which cost as much as $50 million to make.
By comparison, mobile games are mostly created by teams of up to 10 and can be funded out-of-pocket for as little as $100. A typical independent mobile game costs up to $20,000 to make; some cost as much as $10 million.
The competition means larger studios, with higher fixed costs, have less leeway for mistakes. Riccitiello was ousted this month after Electronic Arts lowered its sales and profit forecast, waylaid by bets on expensive games that didn't attract enough users.
His departure "underscores the industry's difficult transition to new platforms, business models and genres," Sean McGowan, an analyst with Needham & Co., said in a research note. "Its profits are a shadow of what they were a decade ago."
The company's scale and major franchises like "FIFA" and "Battlefield" allow Electronic Arts to compete in all markets and lets "us smooth out the valleys of the console transitions, said Peter Moore, the company's chief operating officer.
''Job one for us is to nail this transition here over the next couple of years, but it's nice to have this little safety blanket of tablets and smartphones," Moore said in an interview.
Tokyo-based Sony, which plans to begin selling the PlayStation 4 before the holidays, has added flexibility. Players using its new console will be able to pause the action and pick it up later on the PlayStation Vita handheld or Xperia smartphones and tablets.
The PlayStation 4 will allow for game self-publishing, mimicking the open architecture of smartphones, and Sony will provide upfront payments, publishing and marketing support to encourage smaller developers to create titles, said Adam Boyes, the vice president of publisher and developer relations for Sony Computer Entertainment.
"The first thing is to start to think like a developer, figuring out what is most important to them and making it easy and simpler to partner with them," Boyes said.
The company has also signed onto San Francisco-based Unity Technologies' video-game engine and tools that let game makers develop a title and publish to multiple platforms.
Nintendo, based in Kyoto, is hosting a booth on the show floor and holding development workshops on Wii U and its Miiverse social network. In January, the company cut its sales forecast for the console by 27 percent for the March-ending fiscal year.
Microsoft, which hasn't revealed its next-generation console plans, won't have a booth, a spokesman said. The company is said to be planning its own event in April.
Small-fry Razer will be handing out free units of Razer Edge, a Windows gaming tablet that can play Steam and other PC games at home, said Kevin Scarpati, a spokesman. Facebook, Intel and Google will host workshops.
They are likely to draw crowds. The developers survey logged more interest in tablets, smartphones and Android-based consoles than in next-generation Sony and Microsoft machines.
"I see more and more people moving toward Android," said Momchil Kyurkchiev, chief executive officer of the mobile applications company Leanplum. "A lot of people who have neglected Android, over the last few months, they've figured they're missing the train."

CHART OF THE DAY: Mobile Gaming - Business Insider

CHART OF THE DAY: Mobile Gaming - Business Insider

The Myth of Money Laundering and Online Poker

The Myth of Money Laundering and Online Poker


The Myth of Money Laundering and Online Poker in The EU

Every consultation, in every country which has considered regulating online gaming, includes a major focus on the problem of money laundering. The opponents ofonline poker use money laundering as a bulwark of their arguments. Until recently, the politicians and poker regulators seem to have taken such arguments at face value, however, recent events show that the tide is turning, and online poker may not pose the risk that its opponents suggest.moneywashed
Mid March saw an extraordinary meeting take place in Brussels to discuss the regulation of online poker. The “workshop” was attended by national regulators, social science researchers, and industry representatives together with members of the European Parliament and Eurocrats from the European Commission. A detailed report of the meeting was published by gaminglaw.eu.
The meeting was billed as “Online Poker – Need for European Safety Standards?” In his opening address, meeting organizer Jürgen Creutzmann – MEP and key committee member for gaming regulation – suggested that the particular regulatory requirements of poker had been addressed only superficially. He pointed directly to the money laundering risks of online poker as an area that had been neglected.
Dr. Friedrich Schneider, an expert in the shadow economy, and Professor of Economics at Johannes-Kepler-Universität in Linz summarized the results of his extensive research into the prevalence of money laundering in unlicensed gambling sites.
In short, he opined: “Money laundering via online poker is not worthwhile.” He points out that even if all the money used for online poker was devoted to money laundering, its total volume would still be so small relative to other economic areas that it would not be attractive to criminals.
Detlev Henze, CEO of TÜV Trust IT GmbH was critical of the arguments made by online poker’s opponents that money laundering is a problem.
He announced that TÜV Trust IT was carrying out a study to “examine the actual relevance of money laundering activities in the area of online poker.” Preliminary study results have prompted the creation of a checklist for the assessment of the risk matrix of online gaming so that;” “Regulators and customers will then be able to judge the quality of the poker provider’s in-house safety measures.”
His organization has already carried out a detailed and influential study of German gambling looking at “the potential risk of addiction of online poker in its most popular variant No Limit Texas Hold’em.” That study has also produced a risk based matrix for assessing the effectiveness of poker sites’ problem gambling policies.
Sven Stiel, Director Northern Europe for PokerStars weighed in with the opinion that money laundering risks are barely relevant in online poker: “Online poker is usually played with relatively small sums which have no relevance with regard to money laundering. High stakes are only placed by so-called “high rollers”, professional players with large stakes who usually are personally known.”
Mr Stiel added that almost all poker deposits and withdrawals are made through licensed banks who have already subjected the funds to strict anti-money laundering checks. Although it is possible to deposit with pre-paid cards, he explained that such cards have very low limits, typically a maximum of €100 to €150.
All real money players have to verify their identity before they can cash out, and game servers track stakes and play so that dumping money to another player cannot be done regularly without being identified as potential fraud. “Due to the complete traceability of the transactions and gaming processes, we achieve a significant deterrent potential.”
Jürgen Creutzmann followed up on these presentations by proposing that, online gaming regulations to combat money laundering should follow a risk based approach. The fourth EU Anti-Money Laundering Directive (AMLD) was published by the EU Commission in January and adopts just such a risk based philosophy.
“It acknowledges that the levels and types of action required to be taken by member states, supervisors and firms will vary according to the nature and severity of risks in particular jurisdictions and sectors, and clarifies the types of situations in which simplified customer due diligence will be appropriate, as against those where it is necessary for firms to conduct enhanced checks.”
Six weeks ago the EU Commission proposed that the AMLD be applied to internet gambling. The European Betting and Gaming Association (EGBA) welcomed the proposal. Sigrid Ligné, Secretary General of the EGBA, said:
“Today’s changes will improve the legal certainty of the sector by being incorporated into another piece of EU-harmonised legislation. They will also improve market access for regulated operators as some Member States today still use the fight against money laundering as a justification to prohibit online gambling services.”
And a few days ago, the Draft Report on online gambling in the internal market (2012/2322(INI)) published by the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection contained this recommendation:
“17. Stresses the fact that online gambling is a non-cash-based environment and that – given the dependency on third-party financial service providers – additional safeguards against money laundering can be found in the EU’s regulatory framework for establishing and licensing financial service providers;”
The main author of that report is British MEP, Ashley Fox. In EU bureaucratese, he is the “Rapporteur” for this issue, which means that he presents the committee’s report to the EU Parliament and does most of the legwork involved in getting it published.
Mr Fox has a political interest in the issue of online gaming as he represents the South West England & Gibraltar constituency. Even so, his committee is extremely influential and will play a role in shaping the future EU wide regulatory framework envisioned in the current EU Action Plan for Online Gaming.
Slowly but surely, online poker is ridding itself of the reputation that it provides a safe harbor for drug money and terrorist finance.

The Status of Online Poker in New York | Online Poker Real Money

The Status of Online Poker in New York | Online Poker Real Money

Monday, March 25, 2013

888's Nevada License Could Usher In New Era of Online Gambling | Business | E-Commerce Times

888's Nevada License Could Usher In New Era of Online Gambling | Business | E-Commerce Times


888's Nevada License Could Usher In New Era of Online Gambling

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888's Nevada License Could Usher In New Era of Online Gambling
Nevada has licensed a London-based company to offer online gambling within its borders, but chances are pretty good that once it sets up shop, residents of other states will find ways to play. "The tech challenges are interesting, and it will be a never-ending process of new technology for protection, and then breaking that protection or duping the protection," said gaming attorney Rick Geiger.

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888 Holdings announced last week that it had become the first Internet gambling company to be awarded a license to operate in the U.S., possibly opening the door to further online betting opportunities in the States.
With its new license, granted by the Nevada Gaming Commission, 888 could launch an online gambling offering in the state.
It would be the first such offering since Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in 2006. The new law sent companies such as 888 fleeing elsewhere to conduct business.
888's new license is one of the signs of a shift in public opinion about online gambling in the U.S., however. Many cash-drained states are eager for the tax revenue that can come with Internet betting sites.
In addition to Nevada, Delaware and New Jersey -- home to casino hub Atlantic City -- recently passed legislation allowing online gambling.
Neither 888 nor the Nevada Gaming Commission responded to our request for further details.

Enforcement Efforts

With a subtle shift in public opinion toward online gambling and more states appreciative of the kind of tax revenue the business could bring, it's likely that Nevada, New Jersey and Delaware won't be the only states to pass laws that allow companies like 888 to operate in the U.S., said Rick Geiger, attorney at Geiger Gaming Law.
"The Department of Justice policy change from over a year ago just fell in line with the inevitable," he told the E-Commerce Times. "Gambling has mostly been a state-regulated issue."
That could change if Congress should decide to enact overarching legislation. For now, though, it looks like states will continue to be free to pass their own laws regarding the business, said Anthony Axisa, CEO of Cybergaming Consultants.
"The big question remains whether online gaming will be regulated nationally or if it will be state by state, with some potential of cooperation to a certain degree," he told the E-Commerce Times. "Currently, it looks like federal isn't happening."
That freedom will come with its own challenges, said Geiger. At this point, online gambling is allowed only within the confines of the licensing state -- or within other states that may enter into an agreement with it.
It might be difficult from a technological standpoint to make sure gamblers in other states aren't finding ways to play, however.
"The tech challenges are interesting, and it will be a never-ending process of new technology for protection, and then breaking that protection or duping the protection," Geiger predicted.

Playing Nice

The challenges that come with allowing online gambling in the U.S. aren't just on the technological side, Geiger pointed out. The movement is also facing opposition from big gaming companies based in Las Vegas.
The rise of online gaming has spooked some of the traditional gambling institutions -- much as big players in other industries have been rattled by transformative technologies.
Eventually casinos are going to have to figure out that online betting can help the gambling industry, not hurt it Geiger said, recalling that there was a great deal of angst in the film industry when home video players became available, but that revolution ultimately spawned a whole new prosperous segment.
In the long run, learning to play nice with the online newcomers can only help casinos and states that open themselves to the new revenue opportunities, he suggested.
"What Nevada needs is for the big gaming companies to put their egos in their pockets and start understanding what online gaming can do to be additive to their businesses and accretive to their earnings," Geiger advised.
"The bottom line is that if Nevada wants to really be a player, they need to start understanding the true technology," he said, and "change their gaming floors to get the younger demographic in social gaming into gambling by new means -- and stop trying to kill the business they can't own." 

As casinos struggle through downturn, Connecticut Indian gaming tribes seek more federal aid | StarTribune.com

As casinos struggle through downturn, Connecticut Indian gaming tribes seek more federal aid | StarTribune.com

Friday, March 22, 2013

You Bought It. Does That Make it Yours to Sell? - Larry Downes - Harvard Business Review

You Bought It. Does That Make it Yours to Sell? - Larry Downes - Harvard Business Review

Feds tell Alabama Indian games off limits

Feds tell Alabama Indian games off limits


Feds tell Alabama Indian games off limits

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – The federal agency that oversees Indian casinos has told Alabama’s attorney general that tribal casinos can operate games that don’t follow the state’s definition of bingo.

The acting general counsel for the National Indian Gaming Commission, Eric Shepard, stated the views in a letter to Attorney General Luther Strange. Shepard said Indians casinos aren’t bound by a state’s definition of bingo. He said that so long as a state allows bingo, like Alabama does, then tribes can operate games as defined by the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

Strange said he disagrees with the federal agency’s position on the electronic games in Alabama’s three Indian casinos, and a suit he has filed in state court against the three casinos will determine who is right.

Online poker bill in a holding pattern despite optimism for federal action - Las Vegas Sun News

Online poker bill in a holding pattern despite optimism for federal action - Las Vegas Sun News

Monday, March 18, 2013

Manila makes global gambling foray - The Japan Times

Manila makes global gambling foray - The Japan Times
Roll the dice: Casino models pose at the slot machines during a media tour of the Philippines' new Solaire Casino on Thursday in suburban Pasay. Michael French, chief operating officer of Solaire Resort and Casino, said studies not commissioned by his company project Filipino gaming revenue could rise from $1.9 billion to $6 billion, equivalent to Singapore's revenue, in about five years.

'Entertainment City' may dent poverty but critics say move sends dangerous signal

Manila makes global gambling foray

Solaire may dent poverty but critics say move sends dangerous signal

BY CECIL MORELLA
AFP-JIJI
The Philippines makes its biggest bet this weekend in a high-stakes bid to join the world’s elite gaming destinations, with the launch of a $1.2 billion casino on Manila Bay.
Solaire Manila Resorts is the first of four enormous entertainment venues slated to rise over a giant chunk of prime, reclaimed land that industry and government leaders expect will attract millions of cashed-up Asian tourists.
“What Solaire brings is an entertainment and gaming experience that doesn’t exist in the Philippines today,” its American chief operating officer, Michael French, said in an interview ahead of Saturday’s opening.
“It will be like going to Las Vegas. This raises the scale, the excitement and the . . . glamour.”
Controlled by billionaire Philippine port operator Enrique Razon, Solaire has 300 gaming tables, 1,200 slot machines and seven restaurants. The building also has 500 hotel rooms and 2,000 parking slots.
It features glass ceilings filtering abundant tropical sunlight, huge chandeliers, thick red-themed carpets, blown glass wall-to-ceiling panels, water pools and an army of cocktail waitresses in tiny red dresses.
Another wing is being built to add 300 all-suite hotel rooms, 30 to 40 high-end shops and a theater where French plans to host traveling Broadway shows as well as local and foreign lounge acts.
Meanwhile, preparations are under way for the launch of the other three big casinos, which all involve major foreign backers. The four will together make up “Entertainment City,” situated near Manila’s airport.
The Belle Grande — a joint venture with the Philippines’ richest man, Henry Sy, Australian billionaire James Packer and Macau gaming tycoon Lawrence Ho — is slated to open next year, with its golden facade already having been built.
Japanese gambling magnate Kazuo Okada and Malaysia’s Genting Group are involved in the other two, each in partnership with local Chinese-Filipino tycoons. Both are expected to open between 2015 and 2017.
Cristino Naguiat, head of state regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. said he expected Philippine gaming revenues to double this year to $2 billion because of the Solaire opening.
When all four are open, Entertainment City is expected to boost the poverty-ridden country’s annual gaming revenues up to $10 billion, he said.
The nation’s existing gambling revenues come from 13 relatively small casinos around the country run by Pagcor, the gaming regulator, and a bigger one in Manila run by Genting and a Filipino tycoon that opened in 2009.
While Macau counts $38 billion in annual revenues, Naguiat is confident the Philippines will eventually have one of the biggest gambling industries in the world, comparing it with the Las Vegas strip’s roughly $6 billion turnover.
“We will beat Las Vegas. I’m pretty sure of that,” he said.
Naguiat said the casinos were mainly targeting gamblers from Asia, pointing out that Manila was a mere 3 to 4 hours away by plane from any point in China, Japan and South Korea, where many of the world’s high rollers live.
“Actually it’s a no-brainer. The big market is here in Asia,” he said.
Naguiat said that to make it easier for the foreign gamblers, a skyway roadlink to Manila airport is due to open in two years that will allow them to avoid the city’s notorious gridlock and reach Entertainment City in just five minutes.
The government has further sweetened the offer by taking just 27 percent in taxes off winnings for normal gamblers, compared with Macau’s 40 percent, according to Naguiat.
High rollers have it even better, with winnings taxed at just 15 percent.
Naguiat said he saw Entertainment City as the key to the government’s ambitious bid to attract 10 million tourists a year and create more jobs in a country where a fourth of the workforce is unemployed or underemployed.
He said Entertainment City should easily employ 40,000 Filipinos when all four venues are open.
Over 50,000 Filipinos, some of them among 9 million working abroad , applied for 4,500 Solaire jobs last year, French said.
About 400 Filipino expatriates were brought back, including dealers and pit bosses from Macau and Singapore who were given managerial posts. Others were chefs and hotel staff, including more than 20 from the Emirates Palace of Abu Dhabi, touted as the world’s most opulent hotel.
However the casinos are stirring controversy in the mainly Roman Catholic nation, with critics saying the government’s embrace of gambling to solve the country’s financial woes is a dangerous signal.
“It gives false hope to people that they can find solutions to their financial problems by gambling,” Catholic priest Rolly Flores, whose Our Lady of Sorrows church lies 3 km away, said.
“Only gambling lords thrive when people lose money by gambling.”