Poker headlines in 2014 varied from legal scandals and political jockeying, to corporate takeovers and international crime.
Though plenty of stories surfaced over the last 12 months that will influence the game for the foreseeable future, we boiled it down to the top five most newsworthy articles to land on the front page.
December 13 – Iranian hackers retaliating against billionaire casino mogul Sheldon Adelson hijack his Las Vegas Sands Corporation computer network.
The infiltration was reportedly in response to Adelson’s comments in October of 2013 regarding the reopening of talks with Iran regarding its nuclear program.
“What are we going to talk about?” the outspoken magnate asked. “You want to be wiped out? Go ahead and take a tough position and continue with your nuclear development.”
Iranians didn’t respond favorably to Sheldon’s remarks.
Sands computers, servers, and networks were comprised, with data including high-roller credit card information being stolen.
President Michael Leven ultimately decided to remove Sands’ entire operation from the Internet, costing the company an estimated $40 million.
November 9 – One of the greatest and most influential players the game’s ever seen, Daniel Negreanu deservedly entered the Poker Hall of Fame as its 47th member.
Kid Poker was an easy choice for the organization’s governing council. “It’s an honor to be inducted alongside so many great players that have come before me,” Negreanu said.
Daniel’s storied WSOP career includes six bracelets, 31 final tables, and an 11th place Main Event finish. He’s also poker’s all-time money leader with nearly $30 million in winnings.
July 15 – A story not just confined to the poker industry, the FBI’s raid of Paul Phua’s Caesars Palace villa this summer landed on news outlets around the world.
Investigators entered the residence by shutting off his Internet service and posing as technical support personnel. While inside, agents spotted evidence that Phua was running an illegal sports betting operation.
The legality of the tactics utilized by government officials has been highly questioned. The Feds are planning to go after nearly $13 million in assets, but to date Phua has maintained his innocence.
December 10 – Sheldon Adelson’s second appearance on the list, the tycoon suffered a serious blow to prevent online gambling from expanding when Congress omitted the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) from its $1.1 trillion spending bill.
RAWA would have killed virtual gaming, but despite heavy lobbying for its inclusion into the Cromnibus/Omnibus bill, lawmakers opted to leave it out. Adelson, whose properties include The Venetian and Sands resorts, is a stark opponent of online casinos.
RAWA’s exclusion means Internet gambling will continue to operate in 2015 as it did in 2014.
August 1 – Without question, the most monumental story in 2014 was Amaya Gaming Group’s $4.9 billion purchase of the Rational Group, the parent company of both PokerStars and Full Tilt.
The deal, which was put in place in June, became official on August 1st.
Traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (ticker symbol: AYA), Amaya shares soared 340 percent during the year.
It was the hottest investment in Canada until Amaya headquarters were raided by Quebec financial regulatorsÂ seeking information on the company’s securities trading leading up to the buyout of Rational. On December 12, AYA fell nearly 20 percent.