Japan Police Make Historic Online Gambling Arrests Including US National

Kyoto police vehicle

Police arrest seven

Police in Japan have made history by arresting the country’s first online casino operator, with a US citizen among the seven taken into custody.

arrested the men and women on suspicion of gambling racketeering

According to the Japan Times on Wednesday, Kyoto Prefectural Police (KPP) arrested the men and women on suspicion of gambling racketeering.

The ages of the suspects range from the twenties to forties and include US national Randall Aaron Asher. Asher, 36, is an employee of Dora Mahjong, the online mah-jongg site authorities suspect of providing a platform for illegal gambling.

Officers in KPP’s cyber investigative division suspect the seven, including Asher, of operating the site between March and December 2023.

Cyber police on the case

According to The Asahi Shimbun, the alleged illegal site which is still live online, is registered to a company in the Isle of Man, UK. The arrests were made on Sunday after KPP’s cyber probe arm conducted cyber patrols. Investigators stated the Dora Mahjong site has over 70,000 registered members, and that the suspects made commissions of 10% to 15% from their customers’ winnings.

Investigators estimate customers deposited around ¥2.3bn ($15.3m) into the mah-jongg platform since its launch in 2011.

Police arrested the seven accused of involvement in the site on “an initial charge of allowing six Japanese customers to gamble” on mah-jongg online between March and December 2023 while collecting commissions from the players.

Three of the suspects including Asher, whose address is listed as the city of Urayasu in Japan’s Chiba Prefecture, admitted involvement in doramahjong.com.

The other four suspects, however, contested some allegations, claiming that while they participated in running the mah-jongg platform, they did not think the operations they performed were illegal.

While the suspects maintained the site is lawful, online gambling is illegal in Japan.

Gamblers face charges

The KPP stated its investigators are also currently looking at hitting the site’s users with potential charges.

Media reports cite data from Japan’s National Police Agency (NPA) that reveals police have arrested 307 individuals for online gambling-related offenses between 2020 and 2022.

As the central coordinating law enforcement agency for the Japanese police system, the NPA stressed the legal risks of online gambling and urged “the public to exercise caution.”

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Flutter & BetConstruct Collab; Extends Alliance With PMU

Flutter & BetConstruct Collab; Extends Alliance With PMU

Flutter Entertainment, a global gambling and sports wagering firm, is excited to reveal that it has officially extended its existing alliance with PARI MUTUEL URBAIN (PMU), the flagship operator from France, and entered into a fresh alliance with UK-based BetConstruct.

Partnership extension with PMU:

This extended alliance will only enhance the close relationship between the 2 firms. In addition, the first strategic alliance was officially signed back in 2010. Under that agreement, Flutter has agreed to supply risk management services, fixed odds pricing and event management to PMU, as PMU have a use from the international trading ecosystem and trading expertise applied to each of the Flutter’s B2B and B2C brands.

However, as part of this extended alliance, the provider will now offer its B2B multi-channel sportsbook platform with flagship client products and linked operational services to the French operator, in addition to the above services, according to the official press release.

Furthermore, PMU will become the 1st outer brand outside the Flutter Group’s wings to use the aforementioned B2B tech. In addition, the continued investment in the said platform and sports trading capabilities by Flutter will also greatly benefit to PMU, as the flexibility of the offering enables smooth introduction of the product across each brand that operates on the platform.

New partnership with BetConstruct:

According to the alliance with BetConstruct, the agreement includes official integration of BetConstruct’s gaming content on the platform of Betfair International, the crucial platform belonging to the portfolio of Flutter Ent.. In addition, this lucrative collaboration indicates that both firms share a common vision of establishing fresh benchmarks for greatness in the constantly evolving world of online gaming, as well as relentless innovation and boundary-pushing.

Examples of titles that will be hosted on the aforementioned platform are Pascal Gaming’s and CreedRoomz widely known titles, with titles from PopOK Gaming to be added soon.

Furthermore, these new titles pledge allies and players alike to expect a smooth and enhanced gaming experience, which shows constant devotion of Betfair International and BetConstruct to reshaping industry standards and fostering an unrivaled gaming experiences.

Commenting on the partnership, Betfair International Commercial Director Gaming, Stefano Busè, commented: “Partnering with BetConstruct marks an exciting milestone as we bring their engaging gaming lineup to Betfair International. This collaboration reflects our shared passion for revolutionizing the iGaming world and offering top-notch experiences for players worldwide.”

BetConstruct Chief Business Officer, Mikayel Sarukhanyan, added according to the source: “Integrating with a global leader like Flutter Entertainment presents a game-changing opportunity to expand our reach and leverage our combined expertise to redefine the iGaming landscape. It’s not just about offering players access to acclaimed titles; it’s about setting a new standard for excellence and player engagement.”

Flutter Entertainment delists from Euronext Dublin prior to US Listing:

In other news, Flutter Entertainment has revealed it has halted trading on Ireland’s Euronext Dublin just ahead of its projected debut on the NY Stock Exchange (NYSE) that will take place during coming week. The American listing was initially considered during February of the previous year, and the company said it would back up broader American growth plans. In this sense, shareholders validated the double listing at Flutter’s annual general meeting (AGM) held in April, which has the company working hard on it.

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Opinion: Is It Always OK to Call the Clock?

Shot clock at poker table

Vogelsang calls clock after 25 seconds

Last Sunday, I had a little altercation at the table with Dutch poker player and eye-candilicious fashionista Tom Vogelsang who called “clock” on me 20-25 seconds into my decision when we were bubble-adjacent, just three spots from the money in the €2,200 ($2,380) FPS Paris High Roller. In doing so, he broke my concentration as I was contemplating a very difficult spot with massive ICM implications. In my opinion, it was a rude, classless, and unsporting thing to do to a player at a key moment of a tournament right at the end of a grueling 14-hour day.

I immediately argued to her that this was “ridiculous”

Suffice to say I was irate. The floor person was called to our table to adjudicate and I immediately argued to her that this was “ridiculous.” She asked the dealer how long it had been to which he replied: “30 seconds.” She replied with “ok so not enough time then” and walked away. I composed myself and weighed up the spot.

The table chip leader had opened in the Hijack, as he had done any unopened pot for roughly an orbit. I was in the Cut Off with 26 big blinds. I saw in my peripheral vision that there was a player eliminated on an adjacent table. That meant that there were 190 players left with 188 paid. From the moment that the floorperson walked away, I took approximately 30 seconds before shoving all-in.

Vogelsang folded his button and immediately jumped out of his chair, laughing with another player at the table, saying: “he just did that to make a point.” I was even more furious. A comment like that is totally out of line, a knucklehead remark at best and an angle-shot at worst, as it could influence action. The blinds folded, as did the original raiser, and I called for the floor.

Heated words and a nosey-Parker

When the floor came over, I gestured to Vogelsang and, as reported by PokerNews blogger David Salituro, said: “Three from the money, a difficult ICM spot, and this dickhead calls the clock after 20 seconds.”

The floor person dutifully attempted to play the role of peacemaker, but there was no calming the situation down. Plenty of back and forth between myself and Vogelsang ensued, and I told him in no uncertain terms that he was in the wrong. The floor implored us to stop arguing so I said to him: “You were completely out of line, but if you apologize, then it’s over.”

He refused to apologize, at which point Parker Talbot weighed in from an adjacent table. The following exchange ensued between Talbot and myself:

“It’s never wrong to call the clock!”

“Stay out of it Tonka!”

“People don’t call the clock enough. I think it’s absolutely fine to call the clock whenever you want.”

“Pipe down Crystal Meth Santa!”

Which brings me to the question that I would like to try to answer in this piece. Is it absolutely fine to call the clock whenever you want, or are there circumstances when it is not okay?

The orbit before

Context is everything in poker and gratuitous stalling is certainly a thing, so in the interest of transparency, I want to go through what had taken place in the previous orbit during which we went from 210 players remaining to 190.

let’s just say a noticeable slowing down of the pace of play was occurring

Our table played nine hands in the 23 minutes leading up to this altercation, not particularly quick, but also not particularly slow for that point in the tournament. There were a couple of bigger stacks opening up their games as well they should, and pretty much the rest of our table was comprised of medium stacks (in the 15-30 big blind range). Quite a few of the medium stacks, myself included, were starting to take 10-12 seconds before folding pre-flop. There was certainly nothing egregious, but let’s just say a noticeable slowing down of the pace of play was occurring.

The fourth hand of that orbit (with roughly 202 players remaining), I was UTG1 and took about ten seconds before limping. Vogelsang raised one seat over and when the action got back to me, I tanked for one minute before shoving my 23 big blind stack. He folded.

Two hands later (with roughly 197 players remaining), I was in the big blind. The Cut Off opened, the Button three-bet, the Small Blind folded, and I went into the tank. I had just over 27 big blinds and I am happy to admit that I was light with the Ace-Five of diamonds. The thing is, however, there was a dynamic between the opener and three-bettor and this was a cool spot to potentially pick up ten big blinds without showdown.

Huge risk premium

Given the context, my shove would look really strong and it is the type of hand that has decent equity if I do run into Kings or Queens. It’s even possible that the original raiser would have to fold pocket Queens. As I mulled this over (and, in part, summoned the courage), Vogelsang called the clock. I had been contemplating the spot for roughly 100 seconds and so had no objection. Unable to pull the trigger, I folded halfway through the floorperson’s countdown.

it is nonetheless super-difficult to figure out optimal lines under severe ICM pressure

For the next two hands, I pretty much snap-folded pre-flop and then came the hand in question. There were 191 players remaining and we were 3 places away from a €3,300 ($3,570) min-cash. Decision making in poker is massively complicated by risk premium, which can turn the strategy on its head. I would consider this area to be a particular strength of mine thanks to my background in SNGs and satellites, but it is nonetheless super-difficult to figure out optimal lines under severe ICM pressure.

When I looked down at my hand, I was genuinely unsure what to do with a hand that is a slam-dunk three-bet induce under normal circumstances, but in this situation becomes a shove or fold. I’d have really appreciated a minute of uninterrupted think time, but unfortunately my tablemate had other ideas.

The stalling problem

There is a growing concern in poker that savvy players are taking the piss around bubbles, occasionally grinding the game to a halt, and that something has to be done to stop them. I empathize with tournament directors who have to police stalling and players who believe it both ruins the fun and is unsporting. It’s certainly problematic that the rules around this situation are arbitrarily enforced, half-policed by the players themselves at the table, half-policed by staff.

Shot clocks have become a bigger part of poker and their implementation during bubble time has become more popular. Matt Savage introduced a shot clock with time extensions system to the WPT World Championship when we were 30 players from the money last December and while I thought it was a bit severe, particularly for recreational players/qualifiers, it certainly made for a fast pre-bubble period.

On the $25,000 buy-in and higher circuit, shot clocks have been a mandatory inclusion for some time and that makes total sense in an environment where you want to sportify all aspects of the game. I would not, however, like to see a similar development in fields with a high amateur participation. Nonetheless, I acknowledge that their absence creates a problem.

It is not always okay to call the clock

I’m going to extrapolate here, but from what he said, I believe that Talbot’s position is that the way to solve that problem is to destigmatize and actually encourage clock-calling. I certainly think that players should call clock more than they currently do. However, I think that they also have a responsibility to do so judiciously. For example, a player facing a three big blind decision on the river in Level 2 of a tournament should be hurried along, whereas a player facing a river over-bet check-shove for their tournament life with 11 remaining deserves some leeway.

How much leeway? Well that is for the players in conjunction with the floor staff at the table to decide. Does that mean some amount of discretion? Yes, it does. I also would add that, of those players, there is a hierarchy of importance with the players with a live hand who have committed chips to the pot taking precedence over an observer. That is not to say that an onlooker can never call clock, but just that they should probably wait a little longer than they would if they were in the hand.

I do think that some punishment is apt.

Coming back to my hand, was Vogelsang entitled to call clock on me after 20-25 seconds on the virtual bubble of a tournament? Absolutely not. Given I was not perilously short and had put my stack at risk six hands prior, it was especially contumelious. Should there be penalties for players who behave like that? Perhaps that is going too far, but when you add his comments of “he just did that to make a point” right after he folded, I do think that some punishment is apt.

In summary, it is not always okay to call the clock and I think that this situation proves that. The moment that I shoved all-in, it should have been immediately clear to Vogelsang that he was in the wrong and the right response should have been to immediately apologize. Instead, he compounded his error with a reckless comment.

I guess when God was giving out good manners, Tom Vogelsang was in the queue for high cheekbones.

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