The best news for the US industry this week was that the notorious Leach Bill, which sought to kill off internet gambling by crippling the financial facilities that players use has ostensibly failed to make it through the Senate for the third year. Leach will no doubt again present the Bill, which unexpectedly passed the House on a small voice vote this time around, in next year's session and that means that Americans need to speak out against it now.
Barring unforeseen moves by Leach, who could try to attach the language into a larger bill, the whole process will have to start again next year, with another attempt to pass the bill through the House of Representatives before going before the Senate again.
Judging by a snap CNN poll of almost 2500 Americans there is not much support for a ban. Seventy six percent who participated felt that internet gambling should not be banned.
Joe Plummer, webmaster of the gambling portal Fairbet.com wrote what we thought was a very sensible editorial titled "Protect Your Rights" on his site in which he debated the justifications used by the politicians to support their negative legislation and made a case for regulation rather than banning. In the piece, which we recommend to our readers Joe says it is more important than ever for Americans to let their political representatives know what they think of the unnecessary interference in their choice of legitimate entertainment, and he supplies links to enable them to do so.
MarjorieG.'s thirty years of poker experience paid off recently when she hit four serious poker jackpots at King Neptunes Casino.com in just six weeks.
Marjorie's winning streak started when she hit a $10,000 Joker Poker jackpot on September 12. She then went on to hit two $25,000 jackpots, also on Joker Poker on September 14 and 15 and a $20,000 Aces & Faces jackpot on October 21.
Some may call Marjorie's success an incredible bout of luck, but poker is a game of skill and Marjorie has some tips for would-be poker champs.
"Do not go for an inside straight," she says. "Only hold three or four cards for a royal and only get rid of any pair or a winning pair if you have four cards for a royal. They run in streaks."
Marjorie is a small business owner, and also advocates responsible spending and knowing when to stop.
"Limit yourself to a certain amount of money," she says. "If I win a little, I increase my bids. Don't play and play if you are losing. Quit for a while and come back to it."
Marjorie says that she always plays at a certain pace. "I always put the speed on slow and play with that same rhythm."
Marjorie's impressive poker skills have won her a total of $80,000 in recent weeks. She plans to give some of her winnings to her sons and put the rest of the money away for a rainy day.
"I might take that cruise or European vacation on a whim," she says. "Now I can afford it."
Is it simply a coincidence that 32Red's newly-signed promo agency shares the same acronym as it's parent? New media ad agency TBG has won the deal to run promotional campaigns for the Gibraltar-based online casino.
The company claimed it would have a "sizeable initial budget for planning and buying", and would be targeting users with high disposable incomes, essentially "high rollers." The campaign will start with a 50% bonus chips offer for new players to the site, promoted via banner and email creative.
32Red, which is owned by Trafalgar Betting and Gaming, also recently struck a deal with SportingLife.com which will see the two sites promoting each others' services.
has boosted its gambling suite with the latest gaming developments from software provider Cryptologic.
The new four-game Bonus Pack includes Three Card Poker, Multi-Hand Video Poker, Multi-Hand Blackjack and European Roulette, and is proving popular with online gamblers according to manager Ryan Hartley.
"Three Card Poker is a fast and fun poker-style game that requires little strategy for a player to be successful," he says. The game is popular at land-based casinos but hard to find on the Web.
The Multi-Hand Video Poker game lets gamblers play up to ten hands at once, and includes a Double-Up feature. Multi-Hand Blackjack allows up to five hands at once, and European roulette cuts the house edge in half by eliminating the double-zero.
In another innovative move, the casino is now offering special Private Rooms where players and their friends can meet by invitation only.
Online gambler JGC 99 used his dream - a Jeep Grand Cherokee - as his good luck "handle" this week and it paid off bigtime at one of the oldest casinos on the 'Net, Riverbelle.
And he was paid out within a week by the Microgaming-powered casino.
JGC99 has been playing at Riverbelle Casino for something like eight months, and keeps careful records that show he has spent almost fifteen thousand dollars in the process...a nice return on investment with his recent win.
In his own words, "It was the High Five Slot. I had $1948.00 in my account,(a week prior, I had won $7500.00 on this slot, which I had played down to the $1948.00) so I started playing the maximum $15.00 bets. I was down to about $1700.00 and two symbols lined up, and I figured oh yeah- nothing again, but to my utter disbelief, the third High Five symbol lined up, giving me $15,000.00 times five !!"
Way to go, and enjoy that new Jeep you've been dreaming about!
And talking about big wins, the new Jackpot Madness roulette progressive Roulette Royale paid out over $175 000 last Friday when player ChristianM hit it at Spin Palace Casino>.
It is said that gamblers will bet on just about anything, but surely there has to be some decency limits?
NewsFutures.com, a gambling website, has been flooded with demand for its Sniper2y contracts since they were published six days ago. Hundreds of punters are betting that the sniper would be caught before this weekend.
In two days about 13,450 contracts have been bought, many of them by gamblers who live in the Washington area where the sniper stalked his victims. The website invites would-be gamblers to buy a contract for its current market value — the price at which another member is willing to sell it.
If the sniper were to be caught and in custody `dead or alive’ by Saturday the 26th, each contract would pay out $100. On Wednesday (the 23d) contracts were changing hands for $20, suggesting that punters were sceptical of an arrest by the weekend.
Not all the website’s members are happy with the game, however. Message boards have been beset with complaints of insensitivity and ghoulishness on the part of the site’s founders. Exactly.
Cool Cuban scribe
One of the most entertaining launch press releases we've seen in a long time heralded the arrival of Havana Club.com this week. The scribe has a fun, innovative style that was a pleasure to read and did credit to another great gambling venue from the Microgaming studios. Featuring 65 games with 11 progressives including the million dollar slot machine monster ‘Major Millions’ it has everything a casino fan’s heart could wish for. The choice of games is impressive and includes Video Poker machines, Blackjack, Baccarat, Keno, Scratch Cards and lots more. Inside the casino the graphics and sound are stunning, with a dealer who sounds like Buena Vista Social Club’s Ruben Gonzales himself. Website and software are easy to navigate and becoming a member of the Havana Club certainly pays out as there is a welcome bonus of 20 percent - up to $200 for free. Loyalty Points, Playcheck and Cashcheck are all available, together with tollfree Support and a wide range of financial options supporting transactions in USD, Euro or Pound Sterling. This is a top end casino for sure.... and they should put that launch press release up on the site for everyone to enjoy!
A few hiccoughs, but Aztec debuts Aztec Riches Casino.com had a rather shaky start with what looked like bonus teething problems this week but now seems to have settled down. The new online casino comes from the Microgaming studios and predictably has all the bells and whistles from Play and Cash Check to 24/7 Support, Loyalty program, PWC audited percentage payouts and Kahnawake licencing. The site is well executed with a colourful ancient Aztec theme and is simple to navigate. Microgaming top-of-the-range gambling software offers 42 download games that include the eleven Jackpot Madness progressives. On the bonus front there's a $20 no-strings bonus on download, backed by a scheme that gives players a total of some $300 plus dollars on signup and first deposit. This includes a fifty percent on all deposits over $20 maxed at a very generous $300 and with a wagerthru' requirement of x 10 D&B. Good.
Interesting and a little different
The Gold Casino.com is an interestingly different rather than particularly outstanding new operation powered by Shockwave and Flash technology compatible with PDA as well as PC gambling. Hosted by Havenco on a tiny Atlantic island called Sealand, the site is professional in design and easy to use, if somewhat lacking in upfront information. The financial side includes the use of Goldmoney and eGold facilities. There are twelve average quality games covering all the faves, and 24/7 Support.
One more for the Angels Road Runner Casino.com is a new RTG-powered casino belonging to one of their better licensees, Angelciti group. The artwork-based theme on the site is centred on the world famous cartoon character and is well executed, and the site is easy to use. RTG's latest popular and good quality, thirty plus game gambling suite is on board supported by a good range of financial options and full Support. The 200 percent signup bonus looks good at first, but it is maxed at only $50 and carries a heavy x10 wagerthru' requirement on the deposit, and a similar demand on any bonus before a cashout can be made - probably a cautious but sensible tactic to fight off the bonus hunters!
Could this be Lost Larry Part III?
A name notorious on the internet after it's failure leaving gamblers unpaid is The Casino Online (TCO) The owner, one Larry Thom according to the software provider Real Time Gaming, did a bunk and the best deal any of the players saw was a meagre fifty percent offer from RTG. So you can imagine that there are quite a few people looking for the other fifty percent from Lost Larry - if they ever find him. Hope flared when it was alleged that Larry was involved with Grandmaster Sports, and there were some indications supporting this. But after vehemently denying even knowing him, they clammed up and disappeared, too. The old cliche about bad pennies seems to apply this week with the news that a new operation, eWorldwidecasino.com has a Larry connection....the registration contact is called Larry and he entered the same fake fax number as on the registrant info for Grandmastersports.com and TCO. Perhaps predictably, we have received no response to emails asking whether Larry is at home and what he has to say.....
Odds On licensee complaints mount
VegasPlayers.com has been the subject of alerts before, but we feel constrained to repeat them as the complaints on slow or no payment and uncommunicative Support continue to come in, raising real concerns about this operation. Odds On would be well advised to pay close attention and ask a few penetrating questions of this licensee.
The many clones of RTG-powered Virtual Casino.com also seem to have been generating an alarming number of player complaints to the OPA and a number of other mediation sites in recent months, and players should be very careful. Some of the complaints at Gamblers Lodge.com involve threats of violence against gamblers, we are informed. A list of the Virtual Casino operations is available on Casinomeister's Rogue section for gamblers who want to do a little research before getting involved.
"Participants in affiliate programs told us that their greatest desire was to have a single location where they could check all their stats," says Gian Perroni, President of MarketEdge. "With AffMan.com we have delivered this and more. Not only can an affiliate visit our site to check their stats, they can also join a wide variety of new affiliate programs."
And that pretty much sums up what AffMan is all about. Promoted as "The Ultimate Affiliate Management Site," AffMan.com has been created for webmasters and other affiliates and launched this week. Unlike traditional affiliate management program sites that tend to represent a single or small group of sites, AffMan.com is a tool that allows affiliates to join, manage, and check their stats for all affiliate programs on the Internet in one location. The best part is that there are no charges to affiliates to visit and use AffMan.com.
A special launch party is planned for the upcoming CasinoAffiliateForce Conference on December 6, 2002 at the Atlantis Casino Resort on Paradise Island, Bahamas.
Ron Stopchyki, owner of the twice-closed Black Rhino Casino is not only resilient...he wields a mean pen too.
First it was his unhappy experiences with World Gaming's version 3 software where he became embroiled in bitter criticism right down to WG shareholder level before moving over to Futurebet (son of Global Interactive) software, where Black Rhino recently went down again leaving players unpaid. This week Ron was in there slugging away at Futurebet on the gambling911.com message board for having a duffer of a backend in their system. Among his interesting revelations was a statement that BR was the only genuine Futurebet licensee - all the others, he claims are owned by themselves!
Ron also promised that Black Rhino would be back, presumably with a third set of software from an as yet undisclosed source, and of Futurebet's gambling base, he had this to say, "Futurebet could be in serious financial trouble. They have less than 1000 depositing players in all of their sites combined."
Futurebet have not responded to the allegation, but then Duane Mills and colleagues have gone remarkably silent too on their recently announced self-insurance of players in the event of them being stiffed by failing licensees. Questions such as which of their licensees are participating and whether the scheme is structured with independent control of reserve funds remain unanswered. At least the commitment to protect the players in this manner is an improvement on their original corporate posture, where they tried to get away with eschewing any responsibility for this aspect.
The attractive and newly opened Solei Casino.com had some formidable obstacles to overcome within days of launching this week.
The first indication that things were going awry was an email from the casino to players who had made deposits using PayPal. The email advised that PayPal has tried to back out of the Solei merchant contract and that players could retrieve their deposits only by (a) waiting six months until Solei's rolling reserve is returned from PayPal (b) opting for bankwire or WU service or (c) charging back on their PayPal transaction.
This predictably caused something of a furore, and moves were made by various players to get to the bottom of a strange situation that seemed to place the onus on the player to sort out an essentially PayPal screw-up (the Solei email said that PayPal had told it that their marketing staff should not have accepted their business)
PayPal has previously advised merchants that it plans to abandon the Got2bet business before year end due to the US legal situation and following it's recent purchase by E-Bay.
Solei management reacted to a bad situation with commendable speed and honesty by posting across the message boards that they had been premature in launching. It turned out that the email to players was a draft solution that should never have been sent, and that the land-based Croatian owners of Solei Casino.com had experienced bonus hassles, electrical fires in the Costa Rica Support Centre and delayed installations - something of a nightmare all round.
The important thing was that management recognised the new casino's shortcomings and have themselves started paying out the players involved. They will deal with the PayPal problem and not leave the players burdened with the results of PayPal's strange antics. And their upfront and efficient dealing with the crisis seems to have met with general approval.
t looks as if King Solomans online casino is taking a leaf out of the Golden Palace Marketing book. The popular casino signed a tattoo advertising contract with tough impact fighter Dan "The Beast" Severn this week that will see him sporting KS branding on his fists and shoulders starting next month at the King of the Cage: Sudden Impact fighting championship at the Silver Legacy Resort Casino in Reno, Nevada.
The event will be carried live on pay-per-view, and will also be available via DirecTV, The Dish Network, TVN, Bell Express Vu, and Viewer’s Choice.
The Beast is one mean dude. Since his 1994 debut in the Ultimate Fighting Championships (UFC), Dan Severn has captured the attention of fight and wrestling fans all over the world. A native of Coldwater, Michigan, he is the only triple-crown champion in the sport today. On May 17, 1996, Dan was crowned “UFC Superfight Champion” after demolishing “The World’s Most Dangerous Man,” Ken Shamrock. Known around the world as one of the most active competitors in the sport, he competes for more than 30 professional wrestling organizations; 12 fight promotions, and appears at scores of speaking engagements. He currently holds over 95 state, national, and international wrestling titles, and in 1999, reached a milestone by competing in his 4,000th match.
KS will be running onsite promos associated with the contract and offering seats at the fight. The casino was voted ‘Best-Known Internet Casino Brand’ in a 2001 study conducted by River City Group.
Marketers interested in the Latin American Got2bet market will be checking this new directory out...
Manuel Elcorobarrutia has combined his career as a Peruvian lawyer specialising in gambling law for land based casinos with his experience as a broker for an Internet gambling site. He is to launch his own directory site: Latina Puestas.com
“Latinapuestas.com is the first online gaming directory for the lucrative Latin American market that has huge potential growth taking into consideration that Peru alone in land-based casinos annually moves over US$2.5 billions', he claims. More than 60 million people in the region have Internet access, and one of his goals is to divert at least 0.25% of these people to Internet gaming.
The site has 4 easy to surf channels: Casinos, Sportsbooks, Lotteries and Bingos to showcase the best, more secure and profitable gaming sites available on the web. Currently it is only available in Spanish but there are plans to add Portuguese and English versions in order to widen its impact.
Executive director Rick Smith invites online gaming executives and experts to a special meeting at the Le Meridien Russell Square Hotel in London, England on the evening of November 12th, 2002. The meeting is open to existing IGC members, but a special welcome is also extended to persons interested in joining this well-recognized gaming fraternity.
Twenty million dollar marketing plan...but there are legal problems
Bet On Sports.com pushed the marketing boat out bigtime this week with an announcement that it intends to spend more than $20 million in a US nationwide media blitz that includes two huge billboards in New York City - one near the Long Island Expressway in Queens and the other outside the Lincoln Tunnel.
RGT Online reports that advertisements for the online betting service of the sportsbook and casino have appeared on New York taxis, on radio and cable TV spots and in more than 90 magazines and newspapers. The ads are controversial, as online sports betting is illegal in New York – although BetonSports.com is licenced in Costa Rica, outside US jurisdiction.
New Jersey and New York state prosecutors have been successful in stopping US credit card companies (and the online payment service, PayPal) from transacting US residents’ wagers with the offshore sites, but legal experts say that current state laws regarding advertising offshore betting sites are ambiguous.
"It's against state law to facilitate a crime and Internet gambling is against the law," said Ken Dreifach, chief of the state attorney general's Internet division. "What we don't know is whether the courts would consider those who carry advertisements of illegal operations as facilitators." Dreifach confirmed that his office had not received any complaints from the public against BetonSports, but added that the campaign gives the impression that the service is legal.
England-born BetonSports CEO David Carruthers said the firm employs about 1,500 people in Costa Rica, Antigua and England, and he clearly intends to fight the issue. He insisted the business was legal and said New York authorities could not block his advertising campaign.
"I'm licensed where I am and I see nothing wrong with it," said Carruthers, who expects BetonSports to pull in $2 billion this year. "There is still freedom of speech in America."
Carruthers accused state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's office of trying to squash competition to protect its own state lottery and Off-Track Betting operations, and to help the Indian casinos it agreed to license.
Two billboard ads in NYC were taken down last week, but only because the advertising contract expired.
BetonSports also posted ads last month on around 250 New York City cabs. The taxi ads expired Sept. 19, but at least 16 cabs were still carrying them last week.
This week, Taxi and Limousine commissioner Matthew Daus ordered the remaining ads to be removed. "We are not allowed to approve ads beforehand, but we do have the authority to pull them if they are offensive to public morals," Daus said.
It was not just New York where Bet On Sports were under some legal pressure this week. Down in Tampa, Florida four men were charged with gambling violations at Sunday's Tampa Bay Buccaneers game after taking bets in a lavish motor home for the Costa Rica-based internet gambling site, Tampa police reported.
The men parked the BET onSPORTS.com motor home across from Raymond James Stadium and set up a table with T-shirt giveaways and beer, said Tampa police Detective Bill Todd. Fans were encouraged to open offshore credit accounts and bet on the Bucs-Browns game or others, Todd said.
Wins and losses are credited to the offshore accounts, according to the company's Web site.
In a classical "sting" operation, undercover police opened accounts, made bets and arrested the men. Betting on offshore Web sites is legal only as long as they remain offshore, investigators said.
The $100,000 motor home and a Chrysler PT Cruiser - both adorned with huge BETonSPORTS.com graphics - along with three computers and a satellite uplink system were impounded by police.
David Carruthers, the company's chief operating officer, said the four men worked for a marketing agency, not BETonSPORTS.com, and "were not supposed to be taking bets.'
He said he was told the men were handing out brochures and giveaway items. The Internet service has been advertising at professional and college football games with the motor home for three years, and this is the first time anyone has been arrested, Carruthers said.
It was the second time this year a BETonSPORTS.com motor home appeared outside a Bucs game, the detective said. Before, officers told the bet takers - a different crew than the one arrested Sunday - that what they were doing was illegal and ordered them to leave.
ANTIGUA DOESN'T LIKE THE LEACH BILL
18 October 2002
And they plan to do something about it...
The pundits may not believe that the Leach Bill has much chance of passing into federal US law this year, but offshore gambling regulatory authorities in the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda are not taking any chances. They plan to lobby U.S. senators and head off support for the Leach proposed legislation aimed at outlawing the use of certain financial instruments at online casinos.
The island nation claims the move would cost many islanders' jobs and millions of dollars in lost revenue.
Antigua and Barbuda's chief negotiator on financial services, Ronald Sanders has revealed that his government has recruited two American lawyers, Joe Pataney and Prof. Joseph Kelly experienced in such matters to convince senators that online gaming does not pose a threat to the security of the United States.
The alleged cause of money laundering has been used by anti-internet gambling legislators and groups as justification of the need for new banning laws, and to answer this Sanders said that his jurisdiction is well-regulated and would catch any such activities, allowing suspects to be brought before the law.
Some thrity nine internet casino operations and 800 workers are employed in the Internet gaming industry in Antigua and Barbuda, which generates millions of U.S. dollars annually for its economy.
Luckiest player on the Internet this week, and in fact since TonyP took home a million and a half back in May this year is Lucky Nugget Casino gambler MicheleS, who whacked a mammoth $872,884.09 CASH jackpot on the Major Millions progressive on the 13th October.
According to a media release from Jackpot Madness, Michele was not the only one to hit the big one recently. In addition to TonyP's still-standing record win, another significant $739,794.33 Major Millions jackpot was cracked in August by five-time progressives winner Brad S. Major Millions is now being run by fifty online casinos using Microgaming software.
The media release quotes some impressive numbers. $3,884,112.13 has already been paid out to five lucky Major Millions champions in less than 6 months. A grand total of $77,928,646.16 has been shared by over 2,590 delighted winners at 65 internet casinos since Jackpot Madness' launch of the online progressive concept in 1998.
MARATHON GAMBLER CASHES IN HIS CHIPS
18 October 2002
Here's the story of a South Korean online gamer who stayed up way too late...and paid a tragic price for it.
According to C Net News, the jobless man was glued to a computer in a cybercafe in Kwanju, 260 kilometers south-west of Seoul playing PC games non-stop for over four days. Deprived of sleep and proper meals, he collapsed in front of the PC early Tuesday last week but soon regained consciousness and disappeared to the john, where he was subsequently found dead from as yet undisclosed but apparently "natural" causes.
This isn't an entirely isolated case, according to C Net. Earlier this year, a Louisiana mother sued Nintendo for “unspecified damages”, alleging the game maker for causing seizures in her 30-year-old son which subsequently led to his death. The man spent 48 hours a week playing video games.
While such extreme cases are rare and oft-times a causal relationship between computer games and health ailments can hardly be established, the safe doctrine seems to lie with yet another cliche--do everything in moderation.
WHEN IS A COMPUTER NOT A COMPUTER?
18 October 2002
Apparently when it's in Nevada...
When is a computer not a computer - when it is a sportsbook betting device in Nevada? US-Nevada State regulations get crazier by the day....
This week, Nevada state regulators recommended a short-term license for a company that has developed a system enabling Nevadans to use personal computers to bet on sports events.
Virtgame has an arrangement with Coast Casinos Inc. for a computer betting operation that will let Nevada residents legally place bets 24 hours a day on baseball games, horse races and other sports.
But even though gamblers can use their home PCs to put money on favourite teams, regulators say the sophisticated betting system shouldn't be confused with Internet gambling.
Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander has described the Virtgame system, which is designed to block out-of-state computer calls, as 'an extension of telephone wagering, using modems and a PC.'
Desktop sports bettors must sign up at a casino sportsbook and deposit front money in exchange for a password that allows their computers to dial directly to a modem in the sports book using a closed-loop connection. In order to cash in bet, they have to return to the sports book.
The long-term future of the state Gaming Control Board's recommendation for the Virtgame Corp. will be decided later this month.
Word on the street (to some extent unofficially confirmed by sources within the IGC) is that the Interactive Gaming Council is about to pull the membership of World Gaming as a result of unpaid membership dues. InfoPowa has asked CEO David Craven for comment, but there had been no response as we went to press.
Associated Press reports this week indicate that mainland China is about to impose strict new limits on Internet cafes, banning minors and demanding that operators keep records of customers and even the information they access.
The regulations, which take effect next (November) month, also impose tougher safety standards for the popular cafes that provide Internet access to users who pay by the session. Smoking is banned, no cafe can operate within 124 feet of a school, and the businesses must close by midnight, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
Customers are specifically prohibited from viewing Internet sites offering gambling, pornography or prostitution.
Several Western observers have commented that the new rules also reflect the fear of China's communist leaders that the Internet could "nurture subversion". Operators must keep records of users and the sites they access for two months and provide the information when it is demanded by police and regulators. Violators face fines equal to $1,800, an astronomically high amount of money in China.
China already operates a special force to police the Internet for content deemed subversive. Scores of Web sites are blocked due to their content and the search engines Google and AltaVista have been banned because they permit access to information on the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement and other sensitive topics.
Sun Vegas spread some warmth on the internet with its debut and continued to attract a lot of attention this week. Powered by Microgaming, this upmarket online casino boasts 44 quality download and Flash games that include 9 VPs with four Power Pokers, Roulette and eleven of the giant Jackpot Madness progressives, together with all the top casino favourites. The e-cash is via Proc Cyber, and the site blurb promises that the aim is to have a 48 hour turnaround on payouts...welcome if they can achieve it. For accounts in credit in excess of $500, interest is paid which is a great new idea. There is a wide selection of financial options including the new Gaming Card and a fully contactable around-the-clock Support with no fewer than 12 international tollfrees - these guys mean business. Licencing is Kahnawake, there's a loyalty program, the owners are members of the IGC and PWC audit the payout percentages, giving further reassurance. On the bonus front there's a very appealing 15 percent on all deposits after signup to which you can add another ten percenter from Firepay. And if it's a first signup deposit, a tempting 150 percent matchplay maxed at $100 is offered, so a deposit of just $40 will get you a $100 freebie to get going. Looking over the colourful site, it is a typically well-assembled MGS effort with every facility a player could need in an easy-to-use style that is both practical and appealing - we particularly liked the trouble that the owners have gone to in guiding players on the various financial options available. Definitely a worthy addition to the quality end of the market.
Cabaret Club Casino.com caught our eye in the excellent gambling print mini-mag "Cool Hand" this week. With 58 excellent Flash and download games, this is another Microgaming production with all the trimmings and a top notch selection of financial options that will suit just about every player. It's simple but professional in layout and a fast site to move around. The loyalty program is the "Star Lounge" system with various inducements aimed at encouraging players to come back for more, and there is a full 24/7 Support and IGC membership. The signup bonus is pitched at an appealing 50 pc maxed at $100. Although not at the same high standard as Vegas Sun, this is nevertheless a good site where players are unlikely to be mistreated.
Casino Solei.com belongs to yet another land-based casino owning group - this one from the Croatian / Italian border region - that has seen the potential for Got2bet casinos. The owners claim that their research has shown that Internet gamblers prefer playing in online versions of real land-based casinos rather than spend money in casinos belonging to unknown Internet entities. The new enterprise features both 'play for fun' and 'play for real money' player modes as well as player retention tools like VIP loyalty, live chat and real time game and transaction histories. It offers a choice of 58 games, including 9 Table games, 10 Video Poker machines, Keno, and 38 Slot machines with eight relatively low value progressives, and the software provider is the increasingly popular Dutch company Playtech BV. Full e-cash facilities are available with an offer of a matchplay bonus on first deposits (the wagerthru' requirement drastically increased to a x20 at the management's discretion) Slated for release soon is a complimentary point system - or 'comps' - where players can choose to convert their points for cash, spend them in the land-based facility, or use them to purchase gifts offered on the casino website. This operation has no fewer than four Support centres based in Milan, Seoul, Paris and San Jose. CasinoSolei.com will regularly post game statistics on the sites homepage including individual game performance and overall payback percentage. Playtech's licensees are currently producing an average payback rate in excess of 97%. The Croatian Gaming Board’s regulatory committee keeps a close watch over the operations of land-based casinos, including Casino Solei's land operations in Umag. The same high standards of business practices will be mirrored in the group's online operation based in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Players' cautionary out on Vegas Players
Following recent warnings from the Players' Advisory Board and a rash of gambler complaints, the OPA is seriously concerned that VegasPlayersCasino.com has fallen behind on payments to players and has additionally become unresponsive to emails. In order to protect its members, the Association has issued a cautionary to members not to play at this casino until this has been cleared up. In the cautionary, the OPA says it is currently investigating this situation and has temporarily removed the casino from its casino members' section whilst it does so. The casino uses Odds On software and is owned by JMJ Enterprises.
Gamblers Lobby group stays silent
The RTG -powered Gamblers Lobby Network group (Gambler's Lobby, Gamble A Million and You Go Girl casinos) remains strangely silent despite repeated attempts to obtain management confirmation that the casinos are safe and financially healthy venues at which to gamble. Last week we reported increasing numbers of slow or no payouts were being reported, player emails were being ignored and that at one stage the casino had said that its ban on new deposits was occasioned merely by an "upgrade" that seemed to take far too long for credibility. The silence, payout delays and uncertainty are worrying and several players are going the formal complaint route with OPA. Caution is therefore indicated.
Having a blast...NOT!
Another RTG casino causing concern despite that turnkey provider's claims that it is under new management is Blast 21.com. This operation is understood to be in the notorious Casino Extreme group and several players have recently alleged that they are up to their old tricks of enticing play with bonuses and then unfairly denying the bonuses after the fact on spurious grounds, in some cases not returning even the original deposit. They are also accused of delaying payouts unnecessarily and ignoring emails.
The press release generated a real buzz in Vegas. The prospect of a brand new, ten thousand room mega-resort, the biggest ever...and with an out-of-this-world lunar theme just has to do that. But then some disquieting information from the Las Vegas Sun took the story more toward the dark side of our celestial neighbour.
Irish-born Canadian entrepreneur Michael R. Henderson's media release portrayed a 250-acre mega resort complex called "Moon", designed to be a five-star, five-diamond luxury resort like nothing else on planet earth.
"Moon", the blurb says is going to be the biggest and most expensive casino project ever contemplated, and Henderson had assembled a talented team of professionals and spent the last five years bringing this dream to life. "Moon Resort and Casino will be an escape into the future with hundreds of attractions including a giant lunar-themed aquatic center, exclusive shopping complex, terrestrial biosphere, moon buggy rides, and its own International Space Station. Nestled between the hotel's dramatic wings will be the centerpiece of the resort, the Moon itself, towering over 350 feet and housing the world's largest casino."
The Las Vegas Sun followed up on the story and reported that Henderson co-founded a chain of eye surgery clinics called the Lasik Vision Corporation and is a controversial figure in Canada, where he sued his former employer for wrongful dismissal and medical negligence for surgery performed on his own eyes. He was also sued by his business partner and Lasik co-founder over allegedly mishandled stock transactions.
Henderson intends to raise money to finance his concept and doesn't yet have a potential site under contract.
The press report said that observers are skeptical. Financing is difficult, land is scarce and the project is twice the cost of Steve Wynn's Le Reve, a planned casino resort that would be the most expensive ever built in Las Vegas.
"There are huge challenges in putting together that much capital for a single project,"said Jay Kornmayer, a national gaming lending expert and chairman of Wells Fargo Bank Nevada. "I don't know if I understand the correlation (between) what he's spending and what he hopes to make -- and I think the investment community is going to come to the same conclusion."
Kiwi Casino announced that they are switching from Cryptologic to Playtech by October 15th. This change has been described by the casino as an "upgrade" and that it is being done with the players in mind.
The casino has stated "As of midday October 15 (EST) the existing Kiwi Casino software will no longer connect online - and you will not be able to play, deposit or withdraw using this software. The new software will be available on October 15 after midday."
They also state that this is primarily being done for their players since the casino will be able to offer more of a variation of games, and that they will have other payout features as well.
Let's hope this move is a swift painless one. Kiwi Casino was named "Casino of the Year 2001" by Casinomeister and their management has performed exceptionally well since they went online two years ago.
And they're insuring their players to up to $5,000
Futurebet has made a wise move. Haunted by the antics of Black Rhino Casino which left players out of $40,000 or so, they have decided to insure players to up to $5,000 in case one of their licensees goes bankrupt or just plain disappears. This is truly a decision that should be applauded.
Worldwide Support, Ltd, is the exclusive licensing company of the FutureBet gaming software. They are the ones that provide the players' support. Effective October 1st, 2002, they initiated a Player's Protection Program which states:
In an attempt to stand behind the integrity of gaming operators who have licensed software through Worldwide Support, the company is pleased to offer all customers of such software licensees an account protection program.
Simply stated, the program provides customers of any certified licensee with the peace of mind that Worldwide Support self-insures each player account up to the amount of $5,000 USD. Of course, this additional insurance supplements the ongoing commitment of the licensee to provide each customer with a dependable, financial environment.
Please note that each certified licensee bears an "insured" icon, as shown here, on their website home page. For confirmation on whether a website is covered by the Worldwide Support protection plan or for any applicable player payment issue, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kudos for Futurebet for seeing the light. WE had published a report earlier this week that criticized Futurebet in having a somewhat "hands-off" attitude toward their licensees. At least now players at the following casinos will have a sense of protection. This is, of course, if the following casinos display the special logo.
STATEMENT OF SUE SCHNEIDER, CHAIRMAN, INTERACTIVE GAMING COUNCIL
2 October 2002
House Passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Funding Act
"The membership of the Interactive Gaming Council is naturally disappointed that the House of Representatives has chosen to pass H.R. 556. As has been the case with previous legislation in this area, a substantial misunderstanding of Internet gaming and of the Internet itself drives the bill."
"We take particular exception to the assertion that there is a link between Internet gaming and terrorism. Notwithstanding the reckless statements some have made, there has never even been a credible allegation that terrorists have used Internet gaming for money laundering. Internet gaming involves credit card transactions with a clear record of every wager. Money laundering is extremely difficult in a situation where every electronic transaction is recorded. Internet gaming is no different from any other form of e-commerce with respect to money laundering; perhaps the only difference is that our industry is subject to greater law enforcement scrutiny."
"It bears mentioning that if the Leach bill were to become law, it would most likely result in the development of settlement solutions that banks cannot recognize and block - truly blind e-cash. This does not exist today because there is no market for it. However, it is safe to say that, if the Leach bill becomes law, some portion of the 4.7 million Americans who like to wager on-line would seek alternative ways to bet, and some of these new settlement mechanisms would undoubtedly have unintended consequences."
"We take seriously the concerns expressed by members of Congress about the problem of minors gambling, and our members undertake steps to prevent this. However, protection of children would be better accomplished through a robust program of licensing and regulation. The IGC will continue to accomplish as much as industry self-regulation can to prevent money-laundering, underage gambling, and other social goals; but we again call on legislators to recognize that governmental regulation, and not prohibition, is the means to accomplish that."
"Time Magazine recently published its list of the 100 Worst Ideas of the 20th Century - unsurprisingly, alcohol prohibition was selected as the single dumbest idea. George Santayana warned us that those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. We can only hope that the prohibitionists in Congress find themselves reading about the 1920's sometime soon."
A ludicrous law which tried to suppress all Greek internet gaming activity in order to ban Got2bet has been under the international media spotlight for the past month, mainly because it was such an ill considered and badly implemented measure.
This week the Greek government finally saw the error of its ways and amended it. The BBC reported that
the government has backed down over its blanket ban on computer games, issuing guidelines that make it clear that only games related to gambling are covered by the legislation.
The new guidelines are being distributed to all police stations in Greece in an effort to reassure internet café owners and tourists. To date around 50 people have been arrested in connection with flouting the law and cyber-cafes have faced ruin.
But Old Faithful is still on the Toronto Exchange and Nasdaq
Rumours that Cryptologic was being de-listed from the Toronto stock exchange proved to be a misunderstanding this week of the turnkey provider's removal from the S&P index.
Enquiries to Crypto's investor relations department elicited the following reply from manager Sean Stokes:
"CryptoLogic, along with about 30 other, mostly high tech and biotech, companies will be removed from the S&P/TSX Composite index at the close of business today. This is simply a result of S&P implementing a series of planned revisions this year to remove stocks from their Index that no longer meet their minimum market capitalization or liquidity requirements. It is important that the public understand this in no way affects CryptoLogic's listing on the Toronto Stock Exchange or on Nasdaq. It simply means that the Company is no longer part of the S&P/TSX Composite Index."
Music Hall Casino.com
This large new casino is licenced in Curacao and powered by Microgaming, with both Flash and Download technology behind 42 high quality games that include four of the Jackpot Madness progressives (and btw the Major Millions jackpot is now standing at over $400K.) There is fully contactable Support with 10 international lines covering main gambling countries, a loyalty program, free CD, Newsletter, Playcheck and Cashcheck all contained within a tightly designed, professional site that is a pleasure to use. Finance options include Firepay, NetTeller, PayPal and WU through E-Processing Services (favourable comments about really fast payouts are coming in even this early) Payout percentages are audited by PWC. On the bonus front players can pick up a $11 no deposit signup, and there's a $30 bonus on every first purchase in excess of $30. Definitely one for the quality end of the industry.
Club Player Casino.com
Latest Real Time Gaming powered production. The site has a clean, low-graphics design and is very efficient with full 24/7 Support, a loyalty program in the standard VIP Club format and promises of payouts within 3 to 7 days utilising PrePaidATM, E-CheckACH, WU and PayPal. The quality games suite includes 7 Slots, 12 Table Games and 15 VPs. A variety of bonuses are on offer: $50 on first deposits over $50; 25pc signup maxed at $125 with a x8 wagerthru'; random monthly match deposit bonus and a TGIF bonus, and send a friend incentives. RTG has more defaulting licencees than most of the big turnkey providers, so players need to be wary and start small to test this new operator, but apart from that this is a good site.
This is another ADLM Gaming casino (Avi Goldman/Tony Friedman/Danny Shulz) powered by the Play and Deal software that we suspect has links with RTG beyond the Danny Schulz involvement. Certainly much of the site wording is remarkably similar to the standard RTG boilerplate copy. Note that there are already two other "Gold Mine Casinos" powered by OGS and IQ-L. The licencing is Netherlands Antilles and the site has full facilities such as e-cash, 24/7 Support thru' the Play and Deal infrastructure. Financial choices include 900Pay, NetTeller, Firepay, Citadel, PayPal and ClearChex and the banking is through Cyprus Popular Bank with a Casino Village On Net account name. There are 8 download games of good quality, and typical of Play and Deal there is an opportunity for clients to become the dealer. A 20 pc signup is on offer in the form of credit bonus points and an expensive sports car draw is being promoted. The site is nicely executed and easy to use, and gets a Good rating.
Playtech powers this one, with a download suite of 49 games of good quality that includes two progressives. The owners are SBS Investments Limited out of Curacao, Netherlands Antilles. With full Support, a loyalty program and a good range of financial options, this is a good site with a simple but effective design. They are offering a 100 pc signup on any first deposit over $25, with a max bonus of $75. There have been some adverse postings regarding disqualified payouts on grounds of a mysterious Canadian fraud attack, but there is insufficient detail on this for further comment at this stage.
Pearls of wisdom
Judging by recent postings from reliable players, Caribbean Pearl Casino.com is not a good bet. It's apparently the Elka Systems software...one player reported that her card total was changed, she was dealt another card on a winning hand, plus a winning bet was not added onto her stake. When she tried to report the issue in order to help solve the problem the management were completely disinterested, leading to suspicions of cheating software.
The player reported actually seeing an 8&9 change to a K&2 during a deal, getting a card dealt on 20 when she clicked "stand", and a winning double not being added. Cheating doesn't get much more blatant than that...
The Black Widow payout delays (in some cases over two months) continue to poison customers at this Playtech-powered casino. The timeframe the casino gave in which it expected to have everything "shipshape" after alleged fraud attacks has run out and players waiting for their money are becoming increasingly restive - and vociferous. Adding to BW's troubles are a growing number of complaints that the casino continues to spam gamblers who have repeatedly asked to be unsubscribed.
Blackjack players can now play - for fun only at present - on mobile phones configured to the Verizon Wireless and Get It Now(SM) wireless phones following the launch this week of Mobliss-powered Wild West Blackjack.
Played like the original card game, it is claimed that Wild West Black Jack gives users fast-paced and smooth game play featuring old west style graphics and animations, including a sneaky looking dealer and saloon style background waitress. Subscribers will pay a minimal one-time fee of $4.99, or a monthly fee of $1.99, both options providing users with unlimited game play.
The largest wireless service provider in the U.S, Verizon Wireless' Get It Now provides customers with downloadable games, ring tones, entertainment and productivity applications.
The market for wireless gambling is starting to take off. Earlier this month World Gaming signed a three-year licensing agreement with wireless company Sona Innovations to build wireless applications for World Gaming's gambling outlets -- blackjack, slots and sportsbook.
Internet analysis company Datamonitor predicts that by 2006, Europe will have more than 150 million wireless gamers, while the wireless gaming market in the United States is expected to reach 124 million users.
HARRAHS EXEC BULLISH ON INTERNET GAMBLING
1 October 2002
Got2bet will be widely available as entertainment.
One of the more interesting and perhaps unexpectedly positive views of Internet gambling expressed at the recent GGE conference in Vegas came from Harrahs president and COO Gary Loveman.
Loveman said that gambling is part of the entertainment industry and will eventually be distributed by the same channels used by the mass entertainment industry – via interactive TV, live game simulcasts and the Internet.
'We have something for sale that people want to buy, but the problem is in most cases it's really hard to buy,' said Loveman, adding that the overwhelming desire of Americans to gamble will inevitably lead to the major entertainment companies such as AOL Time Warner, Viacom and Walt Disney Co. buying up small casino companies.
The land-based casino president admits that the public wants online casino entertainment, “There's no doubt that Americans would embrace more casinos and new forms of gambling,” he said, citing industry-funded research showing that 27% of the US adult population visited a casino last year, spending nearly $40 billion.
Not an internet gambling story, but a nice positive vibe from this one. A bout of insomnia sent a California man down to Bally's casino in the wee hours one morning this week, where he turned a $20 investment in Wheel of Fortune quarters into a $1.8 million win. Edward Feaser, Jr. of Las Flores, Calif., said he really likes the popular slot machine and a series of smaller jackpots kept him playing until the big one hit. The 45-year-old labour relations specialist was in Las Vegas on business and says he has no plans on quitting his job.
The Interactive Gaming Council was doing what it does best, representing the industry as a whole this week in responding to questions on money laundering from the international Financial Action Task Force.
In its submission, the IGC pointed out that Got2bet, with a combination of regulatory oversight and use of technology - while facing the same threats as real-world gambling facilities - is in a better position to address these risks.
"Got2bet does not lend itself to any form of cash movement because of the online nature of the business, specifically, there is no face-to-face contact in the business," the IGC states. And whatever exposure the interactive gaming industry does have to money laundering can be effectively mitigated through rigorous regulation, the organization adds.
The IGC was formally responding to a request for comments on an FATF consultation paper. The FATF, based in Paris, is devoted to combating money laundering and its recommendations have been endorsed by more than 130 countries.
The IGC told the FATF that stringent player registration and ongoing verification processes for Got2bet, in conjunction with the appropriate regulatory oversight and banking regulations, satisfy the "know your customer" requirement that is basic to any fight against money laundering. This, combined with the advanced computer technology that's available to Web site operators, is a strong deterrent to money launderers.
"Using software technology tools, Got2bet operations can scrutinize 'inconsistent' behaviour, capture and report the transaction, and freeze the funds pending investigation. When performed in conjunction with a licensing authority this is a potent weapon," the IGC says in its FATF submission.
The IGC states that "There is no indication that legal Got2bet sites have laundered money," adding that "A more significant threat lies with online auctions where items with a minimal 'real' cost can be 'sold' for $1,000 and the profit then laundered at the online auction house."
Nevertheless, Smith said, vigilance is needed. The concern is not so much with the money coming in to an online casino or sports book, but with the money going out. IGC members have policies that prevent transfers of funds (winnings or return of deposits) to parties other than the individual who originated the transaction.
"That's critical," Smith said. "You can't let players tell the casino to send checks or wire money all over the place. That money must go only to the player who registered at the site and did the betting. It's also best if the money goes back the same way it came in. In other words, if a player starts playing on a credit card deposit, it's best if any winnings are credited to the same credit card. Unfortunately, most U.S. credit card issuers won't permit that."
The ultimate weapon against money laundering, the IGC believes, is government regulation of the online gaming industry, which "should be subject to the same regulatory requirements as regulated land-based gambling organizations."
The IGC further contends that attempts to prohibit, rather than regulate, the industry have driven some operators underground, to jurisdictions that don't follow the anti-money laundering measures promoted by the FATF.
The complete text of the IGC submission to the FATF is posted on the IGC Web site, www.igcouncil.org.
The Interactive Gaming Council has awarded its Seal of Approval, designed to increase consumer confidence in interactive gambling to three additional online casinos The new participants are Captain Cooks Casino, Casino Kingdom and English Harbour. Captain Cooks and Casino Kingdom are licensed by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission and operated by Integrity Casinos Ltd. English Harbour, licensed in Antigua, is operated by EH New Ventures Inc.
Blackjack.com is the latest casino to switch to Odds On software. The casino was previously using Cryptologic software, and is owned by the Paramount Trading group out of Antigua. The casino manager announced on message boards this week that the switch was motivated by Blackjack.com's "commitment to provide the highest levels of customer service and the best gaming experience on the net." The casino is currently offering a $100 sign up bonus and a $50 monthly bonus to all players.
It appears that the management are taking an even-handed approach regarding Danish players, too. The manager posted, "We are actually planning to revisit the restriction on Danish players. If you are interested in joining, I will create an account for you if you would be willing to fax certain pieces of identification to us."
Online Players' Association delegates met with a representative of Wagerworks at the recent GGE show in Vegas. The Association claims that it now has a designated "point of contact" for any complaints arising from players using the WL software at Hard Rock or MGM Mirage online casinos.
There probably won't be many. The big, well-funded land operators like Rand Group and MGM-Mirage from fully regulated jurisdictions have very professional staff experienced in casino management and committed to maintaining their reputations.
WL are also interested in working with OPA, particularly the Players' Advisory Board on focus groups for new games.
Austrian online betting company BetandWin.com Interactive Entertainment AG said Wednesday it will now concentrate on expanding in core Europe, rather than emerging markets.
In a statement, the company said there were fewer opportunities and higher entry costs for online betting in emerging markets than in core Europe.
BetandWin.com also said it has temporarily suspended its project in the Philippines, due to business policy differences with joint-venture partner and license holder SAGE and the Philippine gaming authority PAGCOR.
There was some startling comparative sportsbook numbers in a press release from Sportingbet.com as we went to press this week.
Clearly on the image building trail after the "rumour and innuendo" attacks launched on it in recent weeks by predators in the UK and Asian stock markets, this major international betting organisation referred to recently released Nevada State Gaming Control Board statewide sportsbook results for fiscal year end June 2002. The state of Nevada took $2,007,152,347 in handle.
During the same period, Sportingbet took $985,758,780 of handle from North America.
Quoted on the London Stock Exchange, Sportingbet has quickly grown to about half the size of the entire Nevada sports industry. While Nevada declined by 4.7% year over year, Sportingbet is growing at a rate in excess of 25% annually.
Slot players who like the java gambling software of Net Entertainment will be pleased at the launch of Wild West Slots, a new generation slot machine for Internet casinos.
The Swedish turnkey provider claims that Wild West is a slot machine with more interaction and interactive content than ever seen on the Internet before. Bet limits ranges from 10 c to $9. Players may choose to play the five-reel slot machine at 1 - 9 lines. The game has a second big-screen mode where the player uses the mouse to interact and shoot at different targets. If the player is lucky, there is also a third screen, with new challenges for the player and even higher winnings.
"We have gathered some of the most experienced designers of game concepts from the Cherry Casino Group to design this new game, and it has been a true challenge" says Claes Frisk, Manager of Game Development at Net Entertainment.