In the US today Google Places has been replaced by Google Plus Local. Check here: google plus local
Google continues its drive to supplant Facebook with its own social media system, and this is a big nail in the Facebook coffin. No longer can any local business ignore Google Plus as part of their local SEO strategy.
I used to quip that Google Plus was Google’s third failed attempt at beating Facebook, but it appears that they will go to any ends to make this happen – and I now think that eventually it will (when my 12 year old god daughter switches it will be ‘game over’, so not quite yet)
My advice: get a presence on Google plus, start building content on there, and sacrifice yet more of your time to the social media gods to keep them happy by keeping content refreshed. Someday soon we’ll have no time left to spend on our businesses themselves!