Senate confirms Robert Wilkie for Veterans Affairs secretary

The Senate on Monday confirmed Pentagon official Robert Wilkie to be secretary of Veterans Affairs, charged with delivering on President Donald Trump’s campaign promises to fire bad VA employees and steer more patients to the private sector.

Wilkie won approval on a bipartisan vote of 86-9, securing the backing of many Democrats after insisting at his confirmation hearing that he will not privatize the government’s second-largest department. It was a moment of respite from the sharp political divisions engulfing Trump’s other nominees in the final months before congressional midterm elections.

Wilkie is Trump’s third pick for the job in 18 months. The longtime public official says he will “shake up complacency” at VA, which has struggled with long waits in providing medical treatment to millions of veterans.

In a statement released by the White House, Trump applauded the confirmation vote and said he looked forward to Wilkie’s leadership. “I have no doubt that the Department of Veterans Affairs will continue to make strides in honoring and protecting the heroic men and women who have served our nation with distinction,” he said.

Trump selected Wilkie for the post in May after firing his first VA secretary, David Shulkin, amid ethics charges and internal rebellion at the department over the role of private care for veterans. Trump’s initial replacement choice, White House doctor Ronny Jackson, withdrew after allegations of workplace misconduct surfaced.

Wilkie, a former assistant secretary of defense under President George W. Bush, has received mostly positive reviews from veterans’ groups for his management experience, but the extent of his willingness to expand private care as an alternative to government-run VA care remains largely unknown.

Trump last year pledged he would triple the number of veterans “seeing the doctor of their choice.” Currently more than 30 percent of VA appointments are made in the private sector.

Under repeated questioning at his hearing, the Air Force and Navy veteran said he opposed privatizing the agency of 360,000 employees and would make sure VA health care is “fully funded.” When pressed by Sen. Jon Tester, the top Democrat on the panel, if he would be willing to disagree with Trump, Wilkie responded “yes.”

“I have been privileged to work for some of the most high-powered people in this town,” said Wilkie, currently a Pentagon undersecretary for Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. “They pay me for their opinions, and I give those to them.”

Wilkie’s main task in the coming months will be carrying out a newly signed law to ease access to private health providers. That law gives the VA secretary wide authority to decide when veterans can bypass the VA, based on whether they receive “quality” care, but the program could face escalating costs.

Some Democrats have warned the VA won’t be able to handle a growing price tag, putting it at risk of budget shortfalls next year. Major veterans’ groups want full funding for core VA medical centers, which they see as best-suited to veterans’ specialized needs such as treatment for post-traumatic stress.

As VA secretary, Wilkie also will have more power under a new accountability law to fire VA employees. Lawmakers from both parties have recently raised questions about the law’s implementation, including how whistleblower complaints are handled and whether the law is being disproportionately used against rank-and-file employees rather than senior managers who set policy.

“The tone has been set by President Trump on the direction of VA reforms,” said Dan Caldwell, executive director of the conservative Concerned Veterans for America. “There have been a tremendous number of bills passed in the last year and half, and all will require a lot of work to make sure they are properly implemented.”

Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia, chairman of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, praised Wilkie as “eminently qualified,” saying he will “bring stability and leadership” to VA.

Wilkie served as acting VA secretary after Shulkin’s firing in March, before returning to his role as Pentagon undersecretary.

He will replace current acting VA secretary Peter O’Rourke, who clashed with the VA inspector general after refusing to release documents relating to VA whistleblower complaints and casting the independent watchdog as an underling who must “act accordingly.” Under pressure from Congress, the VA agreed last week to provide documents to the IG.

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College football Heisman Trophy odds update

Here’s something you probably can’t remember seeing: A player as a co-favorite on the Heisman Trophy odds who might not even begin a season as a starter on his team.

Odds courtesy of

College Football Heisman Trophy Odds UpdateSaid player is Alabama sophomore quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, who is +700 on the futures odds to win the Heisman along with Stanford senior running back Bryce Love. With all its tradition, one might expect Alabama to be among the leaders nationally in Heisman Trophy winners, but the Tide have had just two and only since 2009: running backs Mark Ingram and Derrick Henry. Of course, the most famous former Alabama QB is a guy named Joe Namath.

Tagovailoa barely played last regular season as a freshman but rescued a struggling Alabama offense by taking over for Jalen Hurts in the second half of the national championship game against Georgia. Tagovailoa, from Hawaii like former Oregon Heisman winner Marcus Mariota, threw one of the most memorable passes in NCAA history in that game: a walk-off 41-yard touchdown to DeVonta Smith for the 26-23 overtime victory.

Nick Saban has yet to reveal whether Tagovailoa or Hurts will be his 2018 starting quarterback and Saban has no reason to reveal that before the team takes the field Week 1 against Louisville. Better to keep the opposition guessing, and if Saban makes a choice too early the loser might decide to transfer. Or, he could play both guys as Tagovailoa is the better passer and Hurts the superior runner. Hurts is not available on the Heisman prop currently, but Tide running back Damien Harris (+4500) is on the board.

There’s another young quarterback among the Heisman favorites who might not start for his team, either: Clemson true freshman Trevor Lawrence, who is +1500. He’s battling senior Kelly Bryant, who had a fine 2017 season until struggling mightily in the College Football Playoff loss to Alabama. Lawrence obviously has no collegiate experience but has a much higher ceiling and was the No. 1 rated prospect in the country by some services. Bryant is +4000 on this prop, with Tigers running back Travis Etienne at +7000.

Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray was a first-round pick by the Oakland A’s in June’s Major League Baseball amateur draft, but he’s putting off baseball full time for at least one college football season. Murray is +2000 to give the Sooners their second straight Heisman-winning quarterback after Baker Mayfield last year. Oklahoma also has running back Rodney Anderson (+4000) as a Heisman option.


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Fernando Habegger challenges Doug Polk to a boxing match

While the feud between poker’s William Kassouf and Shaun Deeb has remained strictly verbal, an on-going argument between Doug Polk and Fernando ‘JNandez’ Habegger could be taken to the next level. Agitated for what he perceived as unfair treatment as part of Polk’s Upswing Poker organization, Habegger took to social media to vent his frustrations, to which Polk was only too ready to respond. The battle has been heating up and now Habegger has challenged Polk to a boxing match.

From verbal to physical jabs: Fernando Habegger challenges Doug Polk to a boxing matchThe two have been going at each other in a series of videos and interviews, which has included Habegger accusing Polk of owing him money for his stint with Upswing. Habegger, who was the site’s Pot-Limit Omaha coach, left Upswing after a year. The battle began before that, however, after Polk suggested that Habegger was not the best business partner and accused him of stealing customers to use on his own training site, JNandez Poker.

This past Sunday, Habegger published a video that included a number of allegations launched toward Polk. He said that Polk owed him as much as $100,000 for his Upswing involvement. Polk fired back in a video of his own, detailing his business and the contract Habegger had signed.

On Monday, Habegger put up another video, extending a challenge to Polk. He said, “I’m challenging you to a $50,000 boxing match. If I win this boxing match against you, Doug Polk, I’m going to spend the $50,000 that I’ve won and get as many people as I can into the Colossus event of next year’s WSOP. I’m trying to protect the poker industry, and I’m trying to create justice for the situation others have encountered and myself.”

Later that day, Polk made an appearance on Joey Ingram’s Poker Life Podcast. After shooting the breeze for all of ten minutes, the two began talking about the fight. He said that “nothing proves that you’re right like challenging people to a fight,” subsequently adding, “I’m going to disappoint a lot of people here, but I am not going to accept the JNandez challenge. I know I’m letting some of you down, but I care more about my business and my name in this community than fighting someone.”

What a shame – that could have been an interesting battle. Nonetheless, there is still a possible battle brewing. Polk has indicated that Upswing is considering taking legal action against Habegger. Habegger has indicated that he had contemplated some type of legal action, but changed his mind. Ostensibly for a pugilistic preference.


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WATCH: Parents record 11-year-old son's battle with rage, depression, anxiety and seizures

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    Central European panel discussion at CEEGC2018 Budapest to be moderated by Dr. Robert Skalina (Senior Advisor at WH Partners)

    Budapest – 23 July 2018 – With just 64 days left until the third edition of the Central and Eastern Europen Gaming Conference and Awards will kick off, the organizer are anticipating the 3rd sold out event in their portfolio this year. With over 60% of the tickets already the sold, the most prestigious boutique-style gaming seminar is very much awaited by the industry, but also by the organizers.

    Central European panel discussion at CEEGC2018 Budapest to be moderated by Dr. Robert Skalina (Senior Advisor at WH Partners)The third edition of CEEGC will be held at the Ritz-Carlton in Budapest on the 25th of September and promises to once again bring quality networking and learning opportunities for industry shareholders from all around the world.

    The organizers are also honored to announce that the “Focus on Central Europe – Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland” panel discussion will be moderated by Dr. Robert Skalina (Senior Advisor at WH Partners).

    The panel discussion will feature experts of the industry such as Bartosz Andruszaniec (RM Legal Kancelaria Radców Prawnych), Gabor Helembai (Bird&Bird), Štefan Švec (Playtech) and Jan Rehola (PS Legal).

    You can browse the full agenda and already confirmed speaker list on the following link.

    Make sure you grab your seat in time and attend the most prestigious boutique style gaming event which gather C-level executives yearly in one of Europe’s most visited city. Register here!

    About Robert

    Dr. Robert Skalina is a Czech Advocate as well as a Registered European Lawyer in Malta. He is based in Prague and works in Malta regularly.

    He is a financial services and corporate lawyer and provides advice to wide range of investment managers, advisors and funds, including private equity and hedge funds. Robert also regularly advises clients in the gaming/gambling industries and has vast experience in the area of mergers and acquisitions and complex cross border transactions.

    Robert has previously held the position of head of legal of a London based investment advisor active throughout EMEA region. Prior to that, he served as legal counsel for the largest retail bank in the Czech Republic.

    Robert graduated with an LLM cum laude from the London School of Economics. He holds a Master of Laws degree from the Charles University in Prague. He provides advice in English, Czech and Slovak.

    To catch this unique opportunity to learn about how to invest or leverage from the Central European gambling industry, be among the delegates in 2018. Register here!

    Quotes about CEEGC Budapest from attending delegates

    Rafal Nowak – iGaming Sales Director at Mobiyo

    “A week after the Budapest Gaming CEE conferences, I’m still discussing the topics brought up there with fellow delegates. Thank you Zoltan Tundik for organizing an informative an well shaped event on this, often underestimated iGaming territory and good luck with the next one!”

    Roy Pedersen – CEO & Chief Editor at All In Translations

    “For All-in Translations’ 10 Year Anniversary Tour we decided to attend more smaller conferences. Zoltan and Betty are much of the reason for this. They have a unique way of giving a personal touch to the events they organise while at the same time keeping them highly relevant. CEEGC Budapest was another great example where we felt truly welcome, and at the same time it was great for business.”

    About the organizer, European Gaming Media and Events (formerly EEGMedia/EEGEvents)

    European Gaming Media and Events is a leading media and boutique event organizer company in the European Union which produces the prominent conferences in the region such as CEEGC (Central and Eastern European Gaming Conference), Prague Gaming Summit, Mare Balticum Gaming Summit, EGC (European Gaming Congress) and VIGE (Vienna International Gaming Expo).

    The live events/conference division is in charge of organizing boutique style executive gaming events that focus on bringing inside information from the top gaming experts in the European Union and beyond. Their first event was held in Budapest on the 19th of September 2016. Since then the team have implemented more destinations into their event portfolio.

    In short, they cover most areas of Europe with international events that serve the local and global industry, optimize networking opportunities and bring the hottest topics into scope.

    The event destinations in 2019 will include a further expansion for the company in their quest to enter the Western European region and bring their expertise to produce local gaming events.

    For more details about the calendar, agendas and locations, visit the Live Events/Conferences section on


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    Anthony Zinno takes down $2M guarantee CPPT Venetian Main Event

    The Card Player Poker Tour (CPPT) Venetian Main Event found a winner last Wednesday. Anthony Zinno, who was the CPPT Player of the Year in 2015, held on to take the victory, outlasting 546 opponents for the first-place prize of $466,670. He has now picked up over $8 million in live-action tournament winnings in his career.

    Anthony Zinno takes down $2-million guarantee CPPT Venetian Main EventThis summer proved to be fairly successful for the U.S. poker pro. He cashed 11 times during the WSOP, making three final table appearances. He took third in both the $10,000 NLHE Championship and the $565 Pot-Limit Omaha online tournament for a combined $186,000 before picking up some more WSOP cash on his way to the Venetian.

    With the huge win behind him, Zinno said that it’s time for a vacation. He stated, “I’ve been looking for a good excuse to take a break. I’ve been grinding, almost nonstop, for the past few months. I had just one night off the entire WSOP. I was on a mission to get another win. So this feels like a good opportunity to take a nice, long vacation. I pulled out a win, and now I can reward myself and focus on things I’ve been neglecting while I’ve been concentrating on poker.”

    Zinno has picked up three WPT titles and one WSOP bracelet, which he won at the $25,000 Pot-Limit Omaha High Roller tournament in 2015. In 2013, he made it to the final table in the same CPPT tournament and the rest is history. “My first pretty big score came in this tournament in 2013. I didn’t have a large enough bankroll to put up $5,000 myself back then, so my buddy was nice enough to go halves with me. I ended up getting fourth place ($86,964), which basically started my live career. Shortly after that, I won the WPT at Borgata,” he explained.

    The win didn’t come easy for Zinno. At the final table, he was up against players such as Dan Shak, Martin Jacobson, Stephen Chidwick, Ben Jones, Bryan Piccioli and Jay Farber. Chidwick has had an incredible run this summer, reaching the final table in 18 events. He won four titles this summer and has now amassed over $7.3 million. He made it to fourth at the CPPT Venetian Main Event to add another $177,091 to his wallet.

    Piccioli fell next, taking home $237,808 in the process, leading to a showdown between Zinno and Jones. On the final hand, Jones, who was down in chips, responded to a Zinno three-bet by shoving all-in. Zinno felt confident and immediately called. Flipping the cards over, Jones was holding A-K against Zinno’s A-J, giving Jones the slight edge. The British player found lady luck on the flop when a K-6-6 appeared, and he was already beginning to see his chip stack double to take over as leader. However, lady luck is a fickle creature. She produced a J on the turn and another on the river to give Zinno a set and the win.

    Jones, who took down the $1,600 six-max NLHE WSOP event in June, was awarded $390,956 as a consolation prize for his second-place finish.


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    South Korean lawmakers charged over Kangwon Land hiring scandal

    Two South Korean opposition lawmakers have been charged in connection with their alleged involvement in the hiring scandal inside the Kangwon Land casino.

    South Korean lawmakers charged over Kangwon Land hiring scandalKBS World Radio reported that Rep. Yeom Dong-yeol and Rep. Kweon Seong-dong, members of the conservative Liberty Korea Party, were indicted for abuse of power and business interference following allegations that they wielded their influence to ensure the employment of their acquaintances in Kangwon Land.

    The case against Kweon and Yeom stemmed from the investigation conducted by South Korean prosecutors against former Kangwon Land CEO Choi Heung-jip, who was accused of hiring hundreds of people based on their political connections.

    The hiring scandal, which rocked the governing Democratic Party, was dubbed ‘Kangwon Land Gate.’ It was also described as “a crime which would have been possible only in the 1960s or ‘70s.”

    During their investigation, prosecutors alleged that Kweon’s former secretary, only identified in local news reports as Kim, bagged a managerial-level job for checking water quality at the casino after the politician pulled some strings.

    Kangwon reportedly had a list of applicants—33 job seekers to be exact—but Choi ordered officials to hire Kim.

    The state lawyers found that a total of 50 individuals landed a job at the casino because of their ties to Kweon and Yeom. The prosecutors earlier sought to have Yeom arrested, but parliament refused to hand him over to the authorities. Kweon managed to get a judge to quash the arrest warrant request against him.

    Last year, Kangwon Land’s operator issued an official statement admitting that 493 of the 518 people hired between July 2011 and February 2014 got their jobs primarily on the strength of their ties to politicians or other influential figures.

    In March, South Korean President Moon Jae-in ordered the dismissal of 226 Kangwon Land employees after learning that they secured their jobs through unlawful means.


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    WATCH: HPV test may be better than Pap smears at detecting early cervical cancer: Study

    Transcript for HPV test may be better than Pap smears at detecting early cervical cancer: Study

    We want T Tur to a “Gma” health alert. A new stu could make the pap smear a thing O the past. Everyan said halleluj more than 1000 women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer th year and now a Massi clinical trial finds that the HPV test is better than the traditional pap smear in detecting early signs of the disease. Good morning. Tell about the study and whathis could really mean. Ts appeared in journal of the American medical association.” A study done inanada and followed W over a fourear period and divided them into three groups. Wo screened using jus the HPV, THA the human papillomavirus test ane and women screened with tonal liquid bas pap and aafety ground the women sned just with the HPV test had a lower chance ofeveloping the precancerous lesion that we rry about passing to cervical cancer again the ce of the virus tended to trump the abnormal cells on the pap smear. Nicole wrote in to us on Twitter asking why isn’t HPV testing standard during a pap if so much of the populatioas it? The good new for women listening for the most in this country already is. Womeould ask if there I autic reflex HPV testing. Notomething thetor has to say now I’ll check you F HPV. It’s done wi same instruments as the P. These are the instruments use a traditional pap smear. Nothing scary here, same instruments are done to do the hpest. Pap smear looks a cells and Ng look at DNA of virus which sexually — Next time we go to the doctor do we ask for an HPV St? Yhould ask if reflex test something done when they geteened with a pap smear Beuse this is not going away. We still need more long-term follow-up and data they need to ask when my rest is back is it Normal O abnormal and ask for th specificerminology and management of abnormal pap smears is based on whether or not there’s HPV there, T age of patient and that patience’s pticular pap history. Anyth else women can doo lower their risk? There is and the single test advance for cercal is aside fromheap smear screg is the HPV vaccine. This ishat prove the majority O cervical cancer which is cau by this virus. So getti vaccinatedor women and mento the age of 26, very important and thensmoking, it’s bad for the whole body but ‘S really bad for the rvix. Gre informati as always. Gi.

    This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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    Early NFL week 1 odds roundup: Betting lines and trends

    NFL handicappers and oddsmakers will tell you that the first week of the regular season is the hardest to pinpoint because no one really knows what teams truly are yet.

    Odds courtesy of

    Early NFL week 1 odds roundup: Betting lines and trendsThe NFL has the most parity of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States, and every year a few clubs that were supposed to be good aren’t and a few that were supposed to stink don’t. Just look at the Philadelphia Eagles. In 2016, they were last in the NFC East. Last year, they won the franchise’s first Super Bowl.

    The biggest Week 1 home underdogs for 2018 are, to no surprise, the Cleveland Browns as they are +6.5 against the AFC North rival Pittsburgh Steelers. The Browns come off the second 0-16 season in league history and have one victory in 32 games under head coach Hue Jackson.

    In addition, Cleveland hasn’t won a season opener since 2004. Last year, Cleveland also opened at home against Pittsburgh and managed to cover a 10-point spread in a 21-18 loss. It was only the Browns’ fourth cover in their past 20 season openers.

    One interesting game is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the New Orleans Saints, which we will call the Suspension Bowl. That’s because Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston is suspended the first three games of the season for an off-field issue and Saints running back Mark Ingram is banned the first four because he failed a drug test.

    The Saints opened at -7 but that line already has moved as high as 9.5 points at some sportsbooks in the wake of the Winston news. Veteran journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick, barring injury, would start in his place.

    There is one game currently listed as a pick’em on the Week 1 NFL betting board: Washington Redskins at Arizona Cardinals. Both teams will have new starting quarterbacks: Alex Smith for Washington and, presumably, Sam Bradford for Arizona, which also has an entirely new coaching staff.

    The first Sunday night game of the year is Chicago Bears at Green Bay Packers, the NFL’s oldest rivalry. That had the biggest spread on the board at Packers -8 but has been passed at some books by Bucs-Saints.

    Aaron Rodgers is the early betting favorite to win a third NFL MVP Award. He missed a big chunk of last season due to a broken collarbone and the Packers missed the playoffs. Green Bay has been a good Week 1 bet in recent years, covering eight of its past 11.

    And it’ll be the head coaching debut of former Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy for Chicago. The Bears were busy this offseason adding offensive weapons around second-year quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.


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    Income Access to exhibit at inaugural iGB Live! conference in Amsterdam

    Paysafe company to showcase marketing technology and services at new gaming industry event featuring Amsterdam Affiliate Conference in mid-July

    Montreal, QC. 11th July 2018 – Income Access, Paysafe’s marketing technology and services provider, will exhibit at the inaugural iGB Live! event, held at the RAI Amsterdam Convention Income Access to Exhibit at Inaugural iGB Live! Conference in AmsterdamCentre from 17th to 20th July 2018. Senior company executives will attend iGB Live!, which combines existing European B2B gaming conferences, the iGaming Super Show and EiG (Excellence in Gaming), with the Amsterdam Affiliate Conference (AAC).

    Exhibiting at iGB Live! at Stand N28 with other Paysafe companies NETELLER, Skrill and paysafecard, the Income Access team in Amsterdam will include Vice President of Strategy Sarafina Wolde Gabriel, Director of Marketing Erica Anderson, Global Head of Sales Jonathan Vintner and Head of Business Development Sarah Robertson. The team will provide demos of Income Access’ technology products, including its affiliate platform, which has won eGR’s ‘Affiliate Software’ B2B Award four times since 2013, as well as its Ad Serving tool and mobile app-tracking solution.

    Income Access will also showcase the company’s diverse suite of digital marketing services for iGaming operators and land-based casinos attending the Amsterdam event. From dedicated affiliate programme management, media buying and search engine marketing (SEM) to app store optimisation (ASO) and content marketing, these services saw the company win its fourth-straight eGR North America ‘Acquisition and Retention Partner’ Award in Philadelphia last month.

    At the AAC 2018 affiliate event, Erica Anderson and senior members of the company’s in-house affiliate team will be meeting with leading affiliates promoting Income Access-managed programmes as well as new marketing partners. The team will also be promoting the Income Access Network, iGaming’s longest-serving independent affiliate network, to affiliates and operators alike.

    Tara Wilson, General Manager at Income Access, Paysafe Group, said: “We’ve had a long-standing presence at the iGaming Super Show and AAC in the summer and EiG in the autumn, and look forward to exhibiting at iGB Live!, which brings all three conferences together. Continental Europe’s newest and biggest gaming event will be a great opportunity for our team to discuss industry trends with operators and affiliates as well as gain valuable feedback on our products and services.”

    To schedule a meeting with the team in Amsterdam, please contact Income Access.

    About Income Access

    Founded in 2002, Income Access is a technology company, affiliate network and digital marketing agency servicing the global gaming and financial trading industries, including regulated iGaming, lottery, social gaming and land-based casinos as well as online forex and financial market trading. Through its award-winning marketing software and a partnership-centric approach, Income Access delivers comprehensive data and strategic insight on marketing campaigns across all digital and offline channels.

    In September 2016, Income Access was acquired by Paysafe Group, the company behind the digital wallet brands NETELLER and Skrill. Income Access is partnered with over 300 gaming and financial trading brands worldwide. These include: Betfred, Bet Victor, BGO Group, Caesars Interactive, Coral, ETX Capital, GAIN Capital, Gala Interactive, IGT’s Lottomatica, Jackpotjoy, Lottoland, Michigan Lottery, Pennsylvania Lottery, Pinnacle, Sportingbet, Stan James, and Tote Ireland.

    Follow Income Access on Twitter / LinkedIn / Facebook / Press Room / Content Hub

    About Paysafe

    Paysafe is a leading global provider of end-to-end payment solutions. Its core purpose is to enable businesses and consumers to connect and transact seamlessly through industry-leading capabilities in payment processing, digital wallet and online cash solutions. Delivered through an integrated platform, Paysafe solutions are geared toward mobile-initiated transactions, real-time analytics and the convergence between brick-and-mortar and online payments. With over 20 years of online payment experience, a combined transactional volume of US $56 billion in 2017 and approximately 3,000 employees located in 12+ global locations. Paysafe connects businesses and consumers across 200 payment types in over 40 currencies around the world. For more information, visit

    Follow Paysafe on Twitter / LinkedIn / Google + /

    Contact Information

    Nick Say

    Communications Manager

    Income Access, Paysafe

    Tel. +1-514-849-8595




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