The Isle of Man has become the first online gambling jurisdiction to adopt changes to its regulation that will permit the use of Bitcoin and other virtual currencies for online gambling.
The face of Satoshi Nakamoto revealed at last: Australian entrepreneur Craig Wright admits he created Bitcoin in a one-time BBC interview.
In the same week that Bitcoin’s shadowy creator, known as Satoshi Nakamoto, was confirmed to be an Australian entrepreneur named Craig Wright, the island’s Gambling Supervision Commission (GSC) and Treasury approved changes to laws that will allow digital currencies to be accepted as cash deposits for online gambling sites.
The island will also permit the licensing of online gambling companies for the purposes of dealing in digital currencies.
Under the terms of the new regulations, digital currencies are defined not as currencies, but as ‘property.’ The GSC has proposed that wherever the phrase ‘a deposit of money’ occurs within its gambling legislation, this should be changed to ‘a deposit of money or the deposit of something which has a value in money or money’s worth.’
The GSC said that operators will be subject to regulatory safeguards on the protection of value and the security of the way value is stored. Operators’ currency exchanges will also have reporting requirements to a credible financial intelligence unit.
The Isle of Man’s acceptance of Bitcoin-friendly businesses has earned it the nickname ‘Bitcoin Island’ over the last couple of years. As early as 2014, authorities began building a regulatory framework that would allow not just gaming companies, but any company that wished to operate within a compliant, Bitcoin-friendly environment to set up shop within its purview.
Isle of Wright
Regulatory developments on the Isle of Man are likely to be closely watched by the aforementioned Mr. Wright, who created Bitcoin digital currency in 2009. Many saw the crypto-monetary method as subversive to the long arm of the law, as it initially, at least, was able to bypass financial regulators and institutions.
Those days, however, seem to have come to an end.
Wright was first named as a possible fit for Nakamoto late last year, when transcripts of interviews between the Aussie and the Australian tax authorities were leaked to tech news outlets Gizmodo and Wired. The transcripts appeared to record him admitting to his involvement in the creation of Bitcoin.
Wright went public this week in a prickly interview with the BBC, in which he provided cryptographic keys linked to the same blocks of Bitcoin that Nakamoto had used to make the first-ever transaction in 2009. He also emphasized that this was the only interview he would ever give to the media.
‘There are lots of stories out there that have been made up and I don’t like it hurting those people I care about,’ he said of his motivation to finally unmask himself. ‘I don’t want any of them to be impacted by this.
‘I really do not want to be the public face of anything,’ he added. ‘I would rather not do it. I want to work, I want to keep doing what I want to do. I don’t want money. I don’t want fame. I don’t want adoration. I just want to be left alone.’
From this, we gather he has no dreams of ever being the equivalent of a George Washington face as a Bitcoin symbol.
Macau Casinos See Revenues Slide 9.5 Percent in April, Making for 23rd Straight Red Month
Macau casinos have now seen their revenues drop for the 23rd straight month, as the special administrative region in China continues to struggle to find ways to offset disappearing income from VIP junket operators being forced out by government policies.
Macau casino revenues continued their tumble in April, but weren’t as dire as originally predicted. Economists are noting indications that the Asian gambling mecca is showing signs of stabilizing. (Image: umac.mo)
The Asian gambling epicenter, Macau generated just 17.3 billion patacas ($2.2 billion) in April, a 9.5 percent drop from the same period in 2015. Considering that in 2013, Macau collected $45.2 billion in revenue, or about $3.76 billion each month, it’s clear that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign is working.
At least for him, it is.
From 2003 until 2014, VIP junket operators catered to high-stakes gamblers by bringing them to Macau casinos, often from Hong Kong, and lending them money. These operators acted as facilitators with the region’s casinos, offering players free lavish accommodations and other perks as additional lures.
China’s ‘socialist’ leaders began cracking down on junket operations in 2014, as the scheme is also allegedly used by wealthy citizens and small and medium-sized companies to move money out from under the government’s control.
The irony of Xi’s brother-in-law and other top officials being called out as a Panama Papers topic recently cannot be lost on any of those who have lost money because of the president’s so-called ‘anti-corruption’ policies.
Bad News Could Have Been Worse News
Now nearly two straight years in the red and with revenues down almost 10 percent, there wouldn’t seem to be much reason for optimism. However, the latest Macau casino revenues report isn’t all gloom.
That’s because gaming estimates had actually predicted an even worse outcome, predicting that April would be down some 13 to 14 percent.
‘The casinos produced another reasonable monthly revenue performance in what is a seasonally slower shoulder month,’ Bloomberg Director of Asian Research Tim Craighead told the financial media outlet. ‘It still looks to us that the business is [actually] stabilizing.’
Macau casinos brought in $28.8 billion in 2015, which was 34 percent less than the market did in 2014, when it generated $43.9 billion.
‘April 2016 actually notably outperformed what we’ve seen on a sequential basis the last three years,’ Union Gaming Asia Equity Research Director Grant Govertsen told GGRAsia. ‘The stability story is clearly intact.’
Once largely focused on gambling and gambling alone, Macau is slowly but surely beginning to take a page out of the Las Vegas playbook in an effort to make the region more diverse and less dependent on gaming only.
The Las Vegas Sands-owned Sands Macao, Venetian Macao, and Sands Cotai accounted for 57 percent of the company’s 2015 revenues. CEO Sheldon Adelson’s fourth Macau property, the Parisian Macao, will feature a half-scale Eiffel Tower when the new resort opens later this year.
Adelson’s billionaire colleague Steve Wynn is also heavily invested in the area. In addition to Wynn Macau and Encore at Wynn Macau, the Wynn Palace is scheduled to open next month. The new venue will try to entice tourists with its air-conditioned SkyCab, a cable car ride that traverses an eight-acre ‘Performance Lake.’
Though VIPs still represent a critical component of Macau casino revenues, junkets are also rethinking their marketing strategies and beginning to venture away from only catering to the ultra wealthy, in favor of a more middle class tourist-centric audience.
Bloomberg’s Craighead theorizes that the government’s suppression on junkets could actually be beneficial to Macau in the long run. He believes forcing operators and casinos to gear their efforts toward a more widespread base will lay the foundation for a ‘sustainable mass-market business’ model, much as it has in Las Vegas, where the strategy has been instrumental in the city’s post-recession bounce back.
Wynn Boston Harbor Land Deal Defendants Acquitted
The Wynn Everett land deal fraud case in Massachusetts ended with the acquittal of all three defendants by a federal jury in Boston on Friday.
Wynn Boston Harbor defendants sail away from charges: Charles Lightbody, seen here, left, with his attorney Tim Flaherty, was acquitted on Friday, along with two other defendants in the land deal case. (Image: Chitose Suzuki/bostonglobe.com)
Charles Lightbody, Anthony Gattineri, and Dustin DeNunzio stood accused of fraudulently profiting from the sale of the contaminated former chemical plant in Everett that is destined to become the $1.6 billion Wynn Boston Harbor, formerly known as the Wynn Everett.
Prosecutors alleged that Gattineri and DeNunzio had attempted to conceal Lightbody’s role as a co-director of their company, FTB Realty, prior to the sale of the land. It was alleged that they did so because they feared Lightbody’s checkered past and alleged Mob connections would scuttle the deal, as Massachusetts law states that no convicted felon may profit from the operation of a casino.
Lightbody has previous convictions for assault with a dangerous weapon and for organizing an identity theft ring.
The three men were arrested on charges of fraud two weeks after the Gaming Commission awarded the license to Wynn, following a protracted bidding war with the Mohegan Sun.
Wynn’s the Winner
Prosecutors attempted to prove that the defendants had falsified documents to make it look as though Lightbody left the company prior to Wynn’s offer to purchase.
But the defense successfully argued that Lightbody had, in fact, transferred his financial interest in the plot several months before a deal was reached. And it wouldn’t have actually mattered if he hadn’t. Lawyers for the defendants convinced the court that the law relating to ‘convicted felons’ had been misinterpreted not only by the prosecution, but also by the defendants themselves.
It seems there is no law that would have prevented Lightbody from benefiting financially from the Wynn deal, a fact that blew the charge that the Massachusetts Gaming Commission and Wynn Resorts were victims of fraud completely out of the water.
Which means the real big winner in this saga is Wynn Resorts, which was able to drop its initial offer of $75 million for the plot to $35 million, once it realized there was an investigation into Lightbody’s interests in the sale.
No Godfather in Lightbody
This investigation initially arose when Lightbody was heard boasting about the good fortune of the casino deal in a recorded phone conversation with Darin Bufalino, an alleged Mafia soldier, during a prison visit by the former to the latter.
But according to the defense, Lightbody’s mob connections had been exaggerated by prosecutors.
‘I hate to tell you, but Charlie Lightbody is not Marlon Brando,’ his lawyer, Charles Rankin, told the court. ‘He didn’t strong-arm his way into FBT. He borrowed money from a bank.’
The FTB affair was also used by the City of Boston in its attempt to sue the gaming commission for violating the Gaming Act in awarding the license to Wynn https://myfreepokies.com over the Mohegan Sun.
Had the latter bid been successful, the city would have qualified for payments of $18 million as part of a ‘host community’ compensation agreement. That case was thrown out by a judge in December, who branded it ‘spurious.’
Leicester Wins English Premier League and Bookmakers Lose Millions
Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez (left) and Jamie Vardy, who have caused bookmakers countless sleepless nights over the course of the season. (Image: caughtoffside.com)
Leicester City won the English Premier League on Monday night as Tottenham’s title challenge melted into mathematical impossibility following a bad-tempered 2-2 draw with Chelsea. The Foxes championship win is being hailed, without very much hyperbole at all, as ‘the greatest sporting achievement ever,’ or at least the most unlikely.
Up and down the UK and across the world Foxes fans and neutrals alike were celebrating the wonder of it all. Bookmakers, meanwhile, were less enthusiastic, and with good reason: they may have made one of the grossest miscalculations in betting history.
The odds were 5000-1 at the beginning of the season. To put that into perspective, PaddyPower is offering odds on the discovery of the Loch Ness Monster this year at just 1000-1. And while Leicester prepare to lift the trophy after their game against Everton on Saturday, Nessie remains conspicuous by her absence.