Sutton United’s inspirational ‘giant-killing’ run in English soccer’s prestigious FA Cup came to an end on Monday night when they crashed out in the Fifth Round to Arsenal, losing a respectable 0-2 to a team of multi-millionaires ranked 105 places above them.
Wayne Shaw eats a pie during the Fifth Round of the FA Cup against Arsenal on Monday. Why all the fuss? One overweight goalkeeper’s pie has come to represent the very integrity of the soccer itself. (Image: BBC)
For the semi-professional minnows, languishing near the bottom of the fifth tier, it’s a fairytale to tell their grandkids.
It would be a shame, then, if this fairytale was forever overshadowed by the image of a large man eating a pie.
Wayne Shaw is Sutton’s 300 pound reserve goalkeeper, a man of unusual girth for a soccer player, whose pie-eating antics have caused a storm of controversy and prompted a investigation by the UK Gambling Commission.
The Football Association is considering taking action against the goalkeeper, and on Wednesday, reacting to the criticism, Shaw swallowed some humble pie and announced he would quit.
But what harm is there in eating a pie, other than to your cholesterol levels, you may ask.
The plot thickens when we learn that SunBets, the betting arm of tabloid newspaper The Sun, was offering 8-1 against such an event occurring during the match.
Who Ate All the Pies?
But first, some cultural context for non-UK readers, who, we sense, are beginning to find all this a little baffling.
Pies, and invariably meat-filled pies, are synonymous at UK football grounds with being overweight. They used to be ubiquitous at food kiosks in stadiums, although not so much now because the British have since discovered they don’t taste very nice.
However, their legacy remains in the form of a chant. If a player appears to have put on even a small amount of weight, the chant of ‘who ate all the pies?’ rings round the ground.
So, the bet offered ‘Will Wayne Shaw be seen eating a pie during the game?’ is a needle about the goalkeeper’s size, a kind of inside joke bet that would be immediately recognizable to all British soccer fans.
The problem is, Shaw, known as the ‘roly-poly goalie,’ actually was eating a pie during the match (he was on the subs bench, not playing), which begs the question, did someone put him up to the stunt in order to profit from it?
Soccer players are prohibited from gambling on their own sport in the UK and this includes bets on all aspects of the game, even on the probability that someone will ingest a pastry-based delicacy during the match.
‘Integrity in sport is not a joke and we have opened an investigation to establish exactly what happened,’ Richard Watson, the UKGC’s enforcement and intelligence director, said in a statement.
‘As part of that we’ll be looking into any irregularity in the betting market and establishing whether the operator has met its license requirement to conduct its business with integrity.’
SunBets tweeted on Tuesday that it had paid out a ‘five-figure sum’ on the bet.
Caesars Merger Moves One Step Closer as Bankrupt Unit Prepares to Emerge
Caesars Entertainment Corp (CEC) has amended the terms of a forthcoming merger between itself and subsidiary Caesars Acquisition Company (CAC), according to a filing this week to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
A condition of CEOC’s reorganization is that CEC and CAC merge by the end of 2017. They took a leap closer to doing so this week with a sweetening of the deal for CAC shareholders. (Image: Erik Kabik/Caesars Palace)
Under the new terms, Caesars Acquisition shareholders will receive 1.625 shares of Caesars Entertainment for each share they hold.
The move represents a big breakthrough in the group’s court-supervised restructuring plans and paves the way for the emergence from Chapter 11 bankruptcy of its stricken operating unit Caesars Entertainment Operator Co (CEOC).
CEC and CAC will merge with the view of grouping its casinos and hotels together. The emerging CEOC will shave $10 billion off its $18 billion industry-high debt, while separating its US-based property assets from its gaming operations as it’s spun off into a real-estate investment trust.
A condition of CEOC’s reorganization is that CEC and CAC, both publicly traded holding companies, merge by the end of 2017, although its likely to happen sooner, as CEOC is expected to emerge from bankruptcy later this year.
$1.44 Billion Credit Line
On Tuesday, CEC announced that announced that CEOC had secured new credit facilities of up to $1.44 billion to help it through the restructuring process.
‘The proceeds from the Term Facility will be used to finance transactions in accordance with the Debtors’ plan of reorganization, including to repay existing indebtedness and to pay related fees and expenses,’ said Caesars in an official announcement.
CEOC filed for bankruptcy in June 2015, a staggering $18 billion in debt, an industry all-time-high. This was accrued when Caesars, then known as Harrahs, was bought out in a $30 billion leveraged takeover by hedge funds Apollo and TPG in 2007, just before recession kicked in
Its bankruptcy plans immediately fell foul of its junior creditors who believed they were getting a raw deal. Many of them sued in a bid to hold CEC to guarantees of CEOC’s debts.
They also accused the company of systematically stripping the bankrupt unit of its most prized assets for the benefit of its controlling private equity backers, an accusation that was tantamount to fraud.
Following sixteen months of bitter negotiations, that the last hold-out junior creditor agreed the terms of a radically altered plan in October 2016. The new deal offered junior creditors billions more in cash and increased equity in the reorganized company in return for the cessation of all litigation and allegations of fraudulent behavior.
Last week CEC announced a Q4 loss that was ten-times worse than analysts’ projections, largely due, it said, to a $426 million accrual related to the restructuring of CEOC.
Bases Loaded for Las Vegas Professional Sports, Big Four Grand Slam Possible
Las Vegas professional sports have been nonexistent since the town was incorporated in 1911, but that could soon change, as the gambling mecca now has the attention of all four major pro leagues in the United States.
Las Vegas professional sports landed the NHL last year, and now the NBA and MLB are also open to playing games near the Strip. (Image: Steve Ruark/Associated Press)
This week, Major League Baseball (MLB) Commissioner Rob Manfred expanded on his public interest in Sin City. Speaking at a press conference in Phoenix for the Cactus League, the spring training arm for 15 teams in MLB, the top official told reporters that Las Vegas could be an ideal home for a professional baseball franchise.
‘Las Vegas could be a viable market for us,’ Manfred explained. He added that the presence of legalized sports betting in Nevada shouldn’t ‘necessarily disqualify that market as a potential major league city.’
Three on, NFL at the Plate
Las Vegas is one of the largest cities in the US to never play host to a major professional sports team. The ‘Big Four,’ the NFL, MLB, NBA, and NHL, have long stayed away from the Mojave Desert due to the widespread legalized sports gambling markets.
Only three cities, all of which are in Texas, Austin, Fort Worth, and El Paso, have larger populations than Vegas and have also never been home to a major sports franchise.
The NHL has taken the lead and decided to expand its league with the Las Vegas Golden Knights, which will begin play in the 2017/18 season at MGM’s new T-Mobile Arena. Hockey going to Vegas has seemed to persuade the three other majors to slowly but surely change their gambling stances.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has spoken publicly about his opinion that sports betting should become a legalized activity throughout the country. ‘I think it should be legal; I think it should be regulated; it should be transparent,’ the basketball boss said last year.
With T-Mobile an ideal venue to host a basketball team, Vegas is turnkey ready for the NBA. That isn’t the case with the NFL, but according to new reports, financing is once again in place to build a $1.9 billion stadium to relocate the Oakland Raiders to the Strip.
Aussie Politician on Online Poker: ‘Screw the Government, Get a VPN’
If Australia’s online poker players are unable to convince politicians to call off a proposed ban on online poker, they should ‘screw the government,’ get themselves a ‘VPN and and an offshore account,’ and carry on as they were.
NSW Senator David Leyonhjelm does not mince his words when it comes to the government’s proposed amendment to interactive gambling laws. He is preparing his own amendment to have online poker excluded from the bill. (Image: Sydney Morning Herald)
These are the words of Liberal Democratic Senator for New South Wales David Leyonhjelm, a libertarian politician in the mold of Ron Paul with a reputation for speaking his mind.
A VPN, or virtual private network, allows internet users to disguise their location by connecting to proxy servers elsewhere in the world, thus circumnavigating geo-restrictions.
No Online Poker License Available
Leyonhjelm, who made the comments in a video uploaded to his Facebook page this week, said he was currently talking to the government about rethinking the proposed amendment to the 2001 Interactive Gambling Act. The amendment, which is expected to pass, seeks to make it harder for offshore, unlicensed operators to target Australians, but it has the added effect of banning online poker.
It clarifies that only operators holding a license in Australia will be able to offer their products to Australians legally, and since the country does not license online poker, just sports betting, respectable operators have no option other than to beat a hasty retreat.
The 2001 bill permitted only ‘licensed operators’ to engage with the market, but failed to clarify where those operators needed to be licensed, offering a legally gray area in which online poker sites could operate.
Paint it Black
The new amendment will make Australia a black market for online poker, and continuing to offer games in the country will result in hefty fines for operators, and could jeopardize their licensing in other jurisdictions.
888Poker has already exited, while PokerStars has said that it expects do so too, once the amendment passes. These are the two biggest online poker sites in the world and together account the vast majority of the Australian online poker market.
‘These interactive gambling laws are supposed to be about preventing match-fixing in sports, which makes no sense when applied to online poker because it’s not a spectator sport,’ complained Leyonhjelm, referencing one of the flimsier arguments that have been offered in support of the bill.
‘I’m talking to the government about reconsidering the legislation, but if they go ahead I will put forward amendments to make an exception for online poker and blackjack. In the meantime, it might be worth contacting Minister Alan Tudge and politely reminding him that you play online poker and you vote.’
And if that fails, crack out the VPN, says Leyonhjelm.
Idaho Anti-Slot Legislation Fails to Hit the Jackpot
A bill in the Idaho legislature seeking to prohibit electronic gaming machines at the state’s tribal casinos received a pounding this week from state AG’s office.
Idaho Representative Tom Loertscher’s bill to ban slots at Native American casinos is unlikely to pay out, according to the state AG’s office. (Image: AP/Otto Kissinger)
Under the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988, tribes have the right to offer class II gaming, defined as bingo and non-‘house-banked’ card games like poker, without permission from the state, provided that the state permits such gaming elsewhere within its borders for any purpose.
Class III gaming, defined as casino-style gaming and slots, is more complex and requires a special dispensation from the state in the form of a compact.
Since Idaho outlaws class III gaming, tribes were prohibited from offering slots at their gambling houses until someone had the bright idea to offer machines that were a bit like slots but not exactly slots.