Hit and Run: Hard Times for Atlantic City and Macau, WSOPC 2015-16 Season Complete, SCOOP Main Event Final Tables Today

Alex Weldon : May 24th, 2016
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Atlantic City bailout package brought to Gov. Chris Christie. Macau shifts tourism marketing away from gambling. Final event of WSOPC season won by David Hubbard. John Juanda headlines SCOOP-High Main Event final table. PokerStars New Jersey to run special promotion for former Full Tilt players.

Hard Times for Atlantic City and Macau

A lot of attention has been paid lately to the future of online poker, as that’s where the most rapid changes are taking place, but live casinos are struggling as well. As the global economy continues to stagnate, well-heeled gamblers are fewer and farther between, while the influx of new players is likewise drying up as today’s young adults find themselves with less money but far more options for inexpensive entertainment than those who came before.

Among the hardest-hit gambling destinations has been Atlantic City, New Jersey. Having begun its life as a health resort in the 19th century, Atlantic City became an infamous but hugely popular destination during the Prohibition era, as local law enforcement generally looked the other way when it came to alcohol sales and gambling. Later on, the city struggled, and in the 1970s, New Jersey approved the construction of legal casinos in the city in an attempt to recapture the roaring 20s, just in an above-the-board way.

That strategy worked for a time, but with the development of the Las Vegas strip, affordable air travel and tourists’ preference for more southerly beaches in Florida or the Caribbean, it wasn’t long before the city began to fall on hard times again. That’s been compounded by the opening of casinos in nearby states, allowing many of its habitual gamblers to scratch their itch closer to home, The city now teeters on the verge of bankruptcy, and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has been threatening a state takeover of the city since 2010.

Now, a last-ditch bill has been put together by New Jersey lawmakers which would give the city a chance to present a five-year plan to get its finances in order. Even if Christie agrees to the deal, however, the city’s fate will likely hinge on a November referendum, in which state voters will decide whether to maintain Atlantic City’s monopoly on legal gambling in the state, or open the door to the development of casinos elsewhere.

Atlantic City isn’t the only tourist destination faced with declining gambling revenues. Macau, China, has long been known as the home of the world’s highest-stakes gambling, due to the status it enjoys as a “Special Administrative Region.” Although only a fairly narrow range of games are legal to be played there, including baccarat and Texas Hold’em, it’s one of the few legal gambling options available to Chinese businessmen – some of whom are extraordinarily wealthy. Poker players like Phil Ivey and Tom Dwan have been staying there nearly full time in recent years, due to the exceptionally high-stakes games that run there.

Nonetheless, Macau’s gambling revenues have been nose-diving in recent years, and the city’s administrators have indicated in their recently-released five-year plan that the plan is to attempt to scale back on gambling and emphasize other forms of tourism in future.

Quick Hitters

- The World Series of Poker Circuit 2015-2016 regular season has wrapped up, with only the invitational Global Casino Championship left to be played. The final event of the season took place at Harrah’s New Orleans, and was won by an amateur player from Texas by the name of David Hubbard. The top spot in this seasons WSOPC National Leaderboard was claimed by Cody Pack, who managed an impressive 3 rings, 13 cashes and $177,496 in earnings.

- Meanwhile, the Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) is also wrapping up today, with only the final tables of its three Main Events (Low, Medium and High buy-in tiers) left to play. A few of the names at the High tier final table should be familiar to fans of either online or live poker, including John Juanda, who was inducted into the WSOP Hall of Fame last fall.

- Although most pre-Black Friday Full Tilt users have been reimbursed for their account balances, no credit was given for unspent Full Tilt Points (FTPs), which for some players would have had a redeemable value of thousands of dollars. PokerStars New Jersey has announced that it will offer some consolation to any of its users who played on Full Tilt by running a promotion that will involve their former FTP balances in some way. No details beyond that will be available until some time in June, however.

- PokerStars has also announced the signing of a publicity contract with London-based Gravity Road, a small but award-winning international ad agency. The focus of the deal will be making use of the endorsement deals PokerStars has in place with soccer stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar Jr.

- Cate Hall gave a refreshingly honest interview with Jen Newell at PokerUpdate in which she openly discusses her ego, insecurities and “insanely” competitive streak. You’ll likely hear Cate as a guest on the PartTimePoker Podcast at some point in the future; we’re just waiting for the perfect story to present itself.

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