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Online Casino NewsCasinomeister's News
October 2005

The leader in Online Casino News

Online Casino News courtesy of InfoPowa news service.

 
 
NO GROUNDS FOR PESSIMISM HERE 31 October
UK GAMBLING CHIEF CAUTIONS ON TAX 31 October
BIG NEW SLOTS AND MORE BONUSES AT TRIDENT 31 October
RECORD FOR INTERNET WIN 31 October
CIRSA TO HOST WSOP SATELLITES 31 October
GETTING MOBILE ON STREAM 31 October
CORAL AND CHELSEA FC TEAM UP 31 October
BRITS LIKE BETTING 31 October
ALL ABOUT ASPINALLS 31 October
PREMIERE AG HAS AMBITIONS AS AN ONLINE CASINO COMPANY 31 October
POKER ZONE MOVES TO SKY 843 31 October
PACIFIC POKER'S MAC INITIATIVE TAKES OFF 31 October
BLUFF BACKS POKER ODDS CALCULATOR 31 October
TEENPATTI DEBUT FOR INDIAN POKER 31 October
WSOP GEARED UP FOR 2006 31 October
INTERCASINO CHANGES VP PAY TABLES 31 October
SKILL GAMES FOR LAST MINUTE 31 October
NEW ANTI-FRAUD MEASURE 31 October
URU USEAGE GROWS 31 October
A MATTER OF REPUTATION 31 October
JUST IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS 31 October
MAJOR POKER TOURNAMENT TO MOVE TO CAESARS 31 October
NEW DIRECTION FOR WORLD GAMING WITH ACQUISITION OF SPORTSBETTING.COM 31 October
GAMEBOOKERS SIGNS UP FOR SKILL GAMES 31 October
M-GAMING WALLET 31 October
SPORTING INDEX CHANGES HANDS AGAIN 31 October
MOBILE OPERATORS WILL HAVE TO TAKE CARE 31 October
VIP MANAGEMENT CHOOSES RTG 31 October
BETFAIR EXTENSION OF POKER LICENSE 31 October
SWEDISH GAMBLING MONOPOLY EYEING POKER NEXT 31 October
ANOTHER MILLIONAIRE FREE ROLL 31 October
MORE EUROPEAN LITIGATION IN PROSPECT 31 October
PUBLIC INPUT INVITED BY UK GAMBLING COMMISSION 31 October
LATEST LOOK AT THE INDUSTRY NOW AVAILABLE 31 October
ONLINE GAMING MOVES A STEP CLOSER IN KIWI LAND 31 October
PINNACLE OFFERING BETS ON CHESS 31 October
SILVER FOXES RECRUITED THROUGH BOWLS 31 October
CARMEN MEDIA ACQUIRIES AFFILIATE PROGRAM 31 October
BETFAIR ANSWER SOON 31 October
ONLINE GAMBLERS WARNED IN SOUTH AFRICA 31 October
BIG MONEY AND HOT PLAYERS IN AUSSIE MILLIONS POKER 31 October
CONFERENCE CORNER 31 October
BETFAIR DENIES FLOAT 21 October
FORTUNE LOUNGE SPAM CAUSING SERIOUS WAVES 21 October
BLOOD IN THE BOARDROOM? 21 October
IS LADBROKES GOING AFTER RANK? 21 October
PLAYER FILES GBP 66 000 MALTA PROTEST 21 October
TOO MANY NOUGHTS 21 October
GERMAN POKER TOUR A SUCCESS 21 October
GOLDEN TIGER IN SPONSORSHIP DEAL WITH BRIT PREMIER LEAGUE FOOTBALL CLUB 21 October
NEW GAMES FROM CRYPTOLOGIC 21 October
EBAY CASINO WAS A SHELL 21 October
THE PROFESSOR IS MOBILE 21 October
RYANAIR PLANS FOR ONLINE CASINO 21 October
PARTY GAMING SHEDS 'SKINS' 14 October
GOOD NEWS FROM SPORTINGBET 14 October
POSITIVE MARKET REACTION TO SPORTINGBET'S RESULTS CONTINUES 14 October
MORE SPORTSBOOK ACTION FROM CASSAVA? 14 October
BRIT INTERCASINO HAS ANOTHER MAJOR WINNER 14 October
ENGLISH HARBOUR LAUNCHES NEW PROPRIETARY SOFTWARE 14 October
ASIAN TOUCH FOR AUSSIE GAMES 14 October
INDIANA COOL ON SATELLITE CASINO CONCEPT 14 October
POKERSTARS SIGNS UP WSOP CHAMPION 14 October
EGR EDITOR MOVES TO INSIDE EDGE 14 October
CYOPS CHINESE POKER SOFTWARE READY TO GO 14 October
BIG OVERSEAS EXPANSION PLANNED BY LADBROKES 14 October
IS PLAYTECH ON THE LONDON IPO TRAIL, TOO? 14 October
PLAYERS BUILD THEIR OWN COMPETITION 14 October
BIG WIN AT VIP CASINO 14 October
NAME CHANGE FOR POKER NETWORK 14 October
MEDITERRANEAN BRANCH FOR BEFAIR 14 October
NEW ONLINE POKER ROOM OWNED BY NEWSPAPER 14 October
MICROGAMING MOBILE CASINO LAUNCHED 14 October
GALA PURCHASE OF CORAL CONFIRMED 14 October
SCARY STUFF AT TRIDENT CASINOS 14 October
TV PROGRAM ON POKER PROS ALL SET TO GO 14 October
TRIDENT CONSIDERING LONDON IPO 14 October
CLOUD ONLINE OPERATIONS TO FLOAT ON LONDON STOCK EXCHANGE 7 October
FAIRGROUND LAUNCHES IPO 7 October
IS PLAYTECH ON THE LONDON IPO TRAIL, TOO? 7 October
JACKPOT FACTORY LAUNCHES RESPONSIBLE GAMING PROGRAM 7 October
SUPER-HEROES COMING FROM CRYPTOLOGIC 7 October
A NEW GIANT ON THE BLOCK? 7 October
WILL HILL ITV VENTURE LAGS 7 October
NIEBOER RESIGNS FROM VIRGIN 7 October
IS PARTY GAMING CHASING BETFAIR? 7 October
TALK TO US SAYS NEW BRIT GAMING COMMISSION 7 October
BET CRAZY BRITS SPEND GBP 1.5 BILLION A YEAR ON-LINE 7 October
COOL CASINOS 7 October
CASINO CAUTIONS 7 October
PHANTOM FIBER & TRIBECA TO DEVELOP WIRELESS POKER 7 October
UK GAMBLING ADVISORY PANEL FORMED 7 October
NEW LOOK FOR 7 SULTANS 7 October
EXCLUSIVE MAYFAIR POKER CLUB ON THE WAY 7 October
SENIOR BRITISH EXECUTIVE JOINS CRYPTOLOGIC BOARD 7 October
GOOD BUD FOR POKER 7 October
SKYPE FOR SALE? 7 October
BOOKS A PROFITABLE BY-PRODUCT OF THE POKER BOOM 7 October
MULTI TASKING AT KIWI 7 October
PERPLEXING LEGAL RULING IN NEW JERSEY 7 October
CONFERENCE CORNER 7 October



NO GROUNDS FOR PESSIMISM HERE
31 October 2005

Despite doubts and negative opinions, Party Gaming lifts revenues by 32 percent

A few weeks ago, Party Gaming CEO Richard Segal sent his own shares diving and threw online gaming stocks into turmoil with pessimistic comments about the poker market, followed by the group's announcement that it intended to exclude its "skins" and go it alone. It was a different picture today, as the company released its latest - very positive - numbers.

Announcing a 32 percent rise in revenues to $220 million (GBP 124 million) since the same period last year (the three months to 30 September), Segal said he was "...confident about the group's prospects."

"Launching the new platform and introducing new features for PartyPoker.com has had a significant and positive impact and, since the launch, daily gross poker revenue (excluding skins) has increased by 10 percent versus the average for the third quarter," Segal added.

Coming on the heels of the excellent performance reported by Sportingbet, his confidence should help create a more realistic investor perspective of the industry.

The demand for internet gambling has continued to drive growth despite concerns that earnings would slip after Partygaming stopped letting players from rival websites gamble at its poker card tables.

Party Gaming had warned that growth could be less than many analysts had predicted. Instead, the results have proved favourable.

Adding to Segal's optimism was evidence that poker players were using the company's casino games - such as blackjack and roulette - more than had been expected.

On the release of the results, investors in Party Gaming enjoyed a little relief, having seen their shares decline by over 40 percent since the IPO in July - shares jumped 6.25 pence, or 8 percent, to 84.25p in early trading in London, and by the end of the day the companys value was back over $6 billion.

PartyGaming controls 51 percent of the online poker market.

The number of days regular users played poker and casino games increased 53 percent, PartyGaming said. New players totaled 209,372 for PartyPoker.com and 19,991 for the casino business. The average user visits the Web site once every three days, the company said.

Customer retention rates are declining as more casual players come on line. PartyGaming spent 29 percent of revenue acquiring customers in the third quarter, the company said.

According to research company Christensen Capital Advisors, online poker grew to a $1 billion business in 2004 from $90 million in 2002. The industry's growth will slow to 60 percent in 2006 and to 30 percent a year later from 130 percent in 2005.

PartyGaming earns 87 percent of its revenue in the U.S.

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UK GAMBLING CHIEF CAUTIONS ON TAX
31 October 2005

"We can't force companies to come here...."

Peter Dean, chairman of the newly appointed British Gambling Commission did some straight talking aimed at the government's tax authorities in an interview with the Financial Times over the weekend .

Talking to reporter Matthew Garrahan, Dean warned that laws designed to modernise the UK gambling industry will fail to meet the objective if the Treasury sets a tax rate unattractive to online gaming companies currently based off-shore.

The government hopes that, under the Gambling Act 2005, betting businesses based in tax havens such as Gibraltar will relocate to Britain.

The Treasury has yet to set a tax rate for Internet gambling operators and Dean said companies would stay away if the rate was too punitive. "It behoves the Treasury to be mindful of the fact that we can't force companies to come here. The simple point is that if the [tax] rate is set at a level that deters companies from coming here then the Gambling Act 2005 will be frustrated," he said.

Referring to "the expectation of the government" Dean said this was that "operators will want to come here and will provide the British punter with an opportunity to gamble on the Internet".

But if operators did not relocate, punters would "not be able to gamble on a [web] site that is approved by the British regulator", he added. "It is up to the Treasury and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to set the public policy but the consequences need to be understood."

The Gambling Commission has replaced the Gaming Board as the industry regulator in the UK. It will have a range of new powers, including the right to hit miscreant operators with unlimited fines.

Dean added that the new laws were appropriate to the level of gambling in Britain, saying the "fuss" over Las Vegas-style super-casinos in the run-up to the election was "overdone".

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BIG NEW SLOTS AND MORE BONUSES AT TRIDENT
31 October 2005

King Neptune's and Trident Lounge load latest games

Feel like a luxurious vacation cruising in the Eastern Caribbean, the Bahamas, the Mediterranean, Alaska or even down to Mexico? The Trident Group online casinos are offering the opportunity of a cruise for 2 to the winner of a new $10 000 competition scheduled to launch in November to mark the arrival of some exciting new games. And it's not just the winner that scores - follow on prizes will range from $100 to a $1 000.

Trident Group is among the first to launch the latest superb casino games from Microgaming with a selection of three entertaining offerings covering a slot with some interesting new bonus features and a fun theme, a European roulette and the latest 100 Play Power Poker series, Aces and Faces.

King Neptune's Casino.com and Trident Lounge Casino.com have both loaded the new games, which are headed by a truly big, 25 pay line, 5 reel video slot with a honey of a theme - Pollen Nation. There are great reward opportunities from Wild, Scatter and a brand new bonusing concept in this fun bee-themed offering, creating plenty of excitement and action.

The unique Ba-bee bonus feature enables players to click on as many honeycomb rewards as possible before the stop light goes on, enabling the really lucky to boost winnings by over $16 000. In the base game, players can opt for bets as small as 1 cent, or as much as $125 and everything in between to get at the Honeypot, which delivers up to $300 000 when hit.

The graphics are stunningly sharp and very amusing - look out for the heavily laden worker-bees, the tough looking warrior-bees and maybe even the odd wanna-bee, and a host of pollen related goodies across the big 25 paylines.

Trident players will surely want to give the next release a whirl! Trident has enhanced its suite of superior quality table games with European Roulette Gold which has an innovative neighbour betting track feature and a call bets facility that will add to the convenience and enjoyment of play. On the new game, which features outstanding graphics that create an ambience of elegant quality, players can wager in a wide variety of chip sizes up to $50 in individual chip value.

European Roulette Gold takes this ancient and absorbing game to a new level of action using 21st century virtual technology to make bets easy to place and track.

The final game in the current suite of new offerings will appeal to those video poker players who like fast action and lots of it. To meet this demand, Trident is presenting an industry-leading new genre - 100 Power Play Video Poker.

The first of six game styles in this series is Aces and Faces 100 Play Power Poker, which expands the game to new levels of entertainment and reward by empowering gamblers to play up to 100 hands of video poker at a time with a wide choice of wagers.

Outstanding features include generous pay tables and an Auto Hold facility that holds the mathematically superior cards in the hand, but plays these only when the player wishes. In addition to autohold, the analyser tables give guidance on current odds and cover permutations to help the gambler make the right decision - a valuable player tool that enables faster and more accurate play. In Aces and Faces every hand is dealt from a separate and independent deck of 52 cards.

All games come on the Viper platform, adding the very advanced attributes of this outstanding software to the major appeal of the games.

These casinos can be found here
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RECORD FOR INTERNET WIN
31 October 2005

Playtech progressive Gold Rally pays out of work US player $1,966,000

When Marty Ogden of Brookesville, Florida lost his job at the end of September the future must have looked pretty dull, but as one door closed, another opened - in this case at Carnival Casino.com where he won a new Internet record progressive slots payout of US $ 1 966 000 this week.

Ogden (45) was an unemployed janitor when he decided to take his chances on the Gold Rally progressive slot at Playtech-powered Carnival Casino. He had $100 and a $10 bonus, bet $16 and then stared in disbelief as his screen lit up with a win worth almost $2 million.

InfoPowa is currently trying to confirm with Playtech that the big win is correct and will be paid out in one tranche. As we went to press the Carnival Casino site was giving the event prominence, with a photograph of Ogden.

Lady Luck continued to smile on Marty as we went to press this week - he hit another big win for $12 000 at the same casino!

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CIRSA TO HOST WSOP SATELLITES
31 October 2005

Plenty of action in Latin America for World Series of Poker

The giant CIRSA leisure and entertainment empire will be helping spread the word, and the WSOP satellite tournaments action, in Latin America this year following an agreement signed this week with the World Series of Poker owners, Harrah's Entertainment.

The terms of the deal call for CIRSA (Compania Internacional de Recreativos SA) to organise the Majestic Poker Tour in its terrestrial casinos in Latin America, and then opt to send the winners to the annual World Series of Poker grand finale. Harrah's management described the deal as an important step in their strategy to internationalise the WSOP.

This year, entrants to the World Series Main Event won more than US $52.8 million in prize money, and Joe Hachem of Australia captured the first-place prize of $7.5 million.

For readers who don't know CIRSA, some indication of it's size and scope may be of interest. Founded in Barcelona, Spain 26 years ago, the company as grown into a substantial group employing over 10 000 people in 60 mainly Latin countries. It has interests in almost every sphere of gaming entertainment including technology for Internet gambling, and runs 3 R&D centres with an annual budget of Euro 60 million.

CIRSA Corporation currently has 15 traditional casinos and 37 electronic casinos, which receive more than 13 million visitors a year. It also manages entertainment arcades (549 properties) 57 bingo halls with a total of 43 000 seats and 10 leisure centres visited by 8 million people a year. The group manages the corporate sector of Disney Europe.

The Caribbean and Latin America are the areas in which CIRSA is most active, and where it expects to continue to expand. CIRSA intends to inaugurate a second river-boat casino in Argentina and has presented tenders for new halls in Chile.

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GETTING MOBILE ON STREAM
31 October 2005

Mobile companies team up to go after global clients

T

he Finnish mobile technology provider European Game and Entertainment Technology (EGET) has partnered up with the British content firm Stream Group plc to develop mobile gaming in a variety of international markets.

EGET will provide Stream with its WinOne gaming platform, enabling players worldwide to enjoy a substantial portfolio of products, ranging from bingo to casino games. Players will be able to move seamlessly between mobile, internet and interactive digital television and enjoy the benefits of community-based gaming.

Gordon Robson, executive chairman of Stream, commented: “We are rapidly moving toward a world where mobile telephony is 'internet to go', where people will use their mobiles for Internet activities and gaming will be one of the biggest winners.”

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CORAL AND CHELSEA FC TEAM UP
31 October 2005

Two season Internet deal will give Coral access to more potential clients

Under the terms of a two season agreement signed this week Coral Eurobet's online betting arm, Coral.co.uk, will provide Chelsea's official website, ChelseaFC.com, with an exclusive co-branded microsite, containing a wide range of football and sports odds as well as a host of special Chelsea-related bets.

ChelseaFC.com will actively promote the dedicated Coral microsite on its homepage, as well as in a dedicated betting and gaming section, and will communicate topical Chelsea odds, specific Chelsea poker tournaments, and the latest casino product launches via its regular newsletter.

"This is a thrilling partnership between one of the world's leading betting and gaming companies, and one of the biggest football clubs on the planet, matching success with success," said Vaughn Ashdown, chief executive of Coral Eurobet.

Cas Knight, Managing Director of Chelsea Digital Media, added: "We are excited to be working with Coral. By working together in partnership with Coral we expect to give Chelsea fans a wide choice of fun online gaming opportunities, and to grow revenues in this area."

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BRITS LIKE BETTING
31 October 2005

New Cyberslotz survey has some interesting numbers

On the heels of the recent Virgin Games research on online gambling in the UK comes a new study with a similar conclusion - the Brits like to bet!

The survey suggests that the online gaming juggernaut has well and truly grabbed the attention of the British gambling public. Conducted by Cyberslotz.co.uk, a subsidiary of the Talarius gambling group, the survey claims that online gamers in the British Isles spend on average GBP 1820 a year gaming on the Internet.

Responses from more than 800 people showed that on average they visit an online gaming site at least once a fortnight. There, over a period of two and a half hours, they stake an average GBP 70 a visit.

Cyberslotz say it's not just online casinos that are attracting players - the bingo phenomenon is winning a big share of the desktop market too. Of those surveyed, 31 percent had visited a bingo hall within the year. And another 30 percent said they had played bingo online. Players staked less online, but perceived that they tended to win more often.

Brian Morgan, CEO Cyberslotz.co.uk said, "The statistics revealed in our survey shouldn't come as a shock, because we've been stating for a long time that online gaming is a growing community."

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ALL ABOUT ASPINALLS
31 October 2005

New Internet-streamed documentary sponsored by UK betting group's online casino

Readers who want to know all about the British betting group Aspinalls's new terrestrial casino in the UK can get the lowdown over the Internet.

Documentary production firm Vividas has created and built Aspers.tv, which uses video streaming technology at full screen TV quality over the internet and will be freely available to surfers this week.

Aspers Casino World, sponsored by the Aspinalls on line casino Aspinalls.com, can be viewed, without installing any special software, on www.aspers.tv. The presentation shows life behind the scenes at Aspers Casino - the first Aspers in the UK opening at The Gate in Newcastle.

The first of 10 weekly editions, “Training Days” describes how the Aspers Academy, which has recruited 60 young people with unpromising prospects, goes about training them to be Newcastle’s finest croupiers

Damian Aspinall, Director of Aspers, said “I’ve seen all the finished episodes so far and it’s been a real eye opener for me. It really gives a flavour of what Aspers is about. It’s fantastic that anyone around the world will be able to view the docusoaps and see what’s going on at Aspers ”.

Vividas’ Chief Executive, Geoffrey Hamilton-Jones, said “The series presents a new and compelling on-line experience, combining two of the principal applications for our technology - marketing communications and entertainment. This is the first time our streaming technology has been utilised by an internet gambling group”.

Created purely for the web, the episodes include the development of the casino, staff recruitment, training, fit out and the opening party itself, which occurred this week.

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PREMIERE AG HAS AMBITIONS AS AN ONLINE CASINO COMPANY
31 October 2005

Plan is to launch online casinos within next two years

The German online gambling scene could be about to get a shot in the arm, according to Sueddeutsche Zeitung, which this week quoted from company sources to reveal that Premiere AG has plans to enter the online casino sector, breaking into the German state monopoly.

The report says that Premiere has already engaged with major online gambling companies such as 888.com and Party Poker as it explores international possibilities but gives no further details. Premiere has had a dynamic few months, having recently launched a betting TV channel branded Premiere Win.

The report will no doubt attract the attention of the German authorities; the German Federal Constitutional Court sits in Karlsruhe soon to hear argument on whether the gambling market should be opened up to private companies.

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POKER ZONE MOVES TO SKY 843
31 October 2005

Viewing figures continue to climb...including Germany

Pokerzone is about to move to SKY Channel 843 to become part of the new Gaming and Dating section of the SKY programme guide.

A company spokeswoman said the recent increase in the popularity of gaming and casino television has prompted Sky to add this new dedicated area to their existing platform.

The changeover process has already started and a full channel move will take place on 29th November 2005, when pokerzone will be broadcast solely on Channel 843.

The program has experienced significant success since launching in May with weekly viewing figures now reaching in excess of 250 000, making pokerzone the leading gaming channel in the UK.

In August the program moved into Germany gaining a million viewers, and with expansion into Poland, Portugal and Canada imminent another 2.55 million homes will soon be watching worldwide. In addition, there are over 100 000 viewers who watch pokerzone via broadband each month.

Pokerzone’s flagship show, Poker Night Live is a broadcasting first and has played a significant role in the growth of pokerzone. The concept is an online poker show that offers players the chance to play live on television via the internet every night of the week, in front of up to 60,000 viewers.

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PACIFIC POKER'S MAC INITIATIVE TAKES OFF
31 October 2005

WSOP interest is bringing in the players

Significant numbers of new online Mac poker players are entering the online poker world at Pacific Poker's Mac-compatible online casino. According to media reports, interest in the World Series of Poker has been instrumental in bringing in "hundreds" of new players.

Pacific Poker recently upgraded its software to become fully Mac compatible with a full casino and Poker Room at Mac-Pacific Poker.com. The company plays off the interest in the popular WSOP series through satellite tournaments.

By using the no-download version of Pacific Poker's software, Mac players need not buy specialised conversion software in order to play.

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BLUFF BACKS POKER ODDS CALCULATOR
31 October 2005

And the Pro version is even more interesting...

Top poker publication Bluff Magazine is hosting a specially customised poker odds calculator from US company Pokulator.

Started in 2004, the technology company has created a variety of unique poker odds calculators and recently developed the customised version for Bluff Magazine's web site. Publisher Eric Morris seems to like the facility, and says: "It's the best poker odds calculator out there."

The calculator allows users to compare 2-10 hands in Texas Hold'em at each and every point in the hand. It also gives users the odds of making each possible hand for the cards selected.

But readers might find the recently launched Pokulator Pro even more interesting. This is a free poker odds calculator that assists online poker players by automatically reading cards and calculating odds scenarios in real-time as people play. Both products also feature interactive quiz games that are fun training tools for poker beginners and enthusiasts alike.

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MALTA CASE REVELATIONS
31 October 2005

Further allegations made

Following our InfoPowa report on complaints of a GBP 66 000 non-payment to a player by Euro Gaming's Bingos.co.uk site last week we were contacted by the complainants, Jane and Karl Long.

The couple alleged that non-payment was not their only problem with this operator, who apparently denied access to their gambling logs, tried to blame the software company, made changes to the T&C after the event to ensure it reflects a "winnings void in the event of software problems" clause and finally agreed that staff had changed the pay tables on the day of the dispute.

The complainants have a comprehensive dossier that includes a full record of the T&Cs pre and post the incident and email exchanges.

The Malta licensing authority has the case in hand, and a court case has been opened with its assistance in Malta. Parlay Entertainment have said that there was no software fault.

The case is a test of the Malta Authority's claim that it enforces honest and efficient business practice among its licensees, and InfoPowa will be monitoring the case for a full report in due course.

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TEENPATTI DEBUT FOR INDIAN POKER
31 October 2005

New poker site the first licensee for Lobo Gaming

"Namaste! Let's show them how Indians play poker," is the welcome on a new poker site designed by patta enthusiasts to bring online poker to the Indian market.

TeenPatti.com, has a definite but not overdone Indian theme and has teamed with LoboGaming Corporation for both software and facilities to become Lobo's first licensee.

Lobo will take an unspecified share of the profits of the venture, which hopes to capitalise on the potentially huge market in India, and among the many extensive Indian communities living abroad.

Unfortunately, there is not a lot of upfront information available on the new site, but it promises livechat and email 24/7 Support and a viable choice of financial arrangements. The operators, who are based in Costa Rica, claim that the RNG is independently tested but there is no certificate proving this and the blurb does not identify the testing agency.

Lobo Gaming is a subsidiary of Taj Systems Incorporated, who's CEO Jay Patel says he intends to capture the largest share of "the massive Indian market."

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WSOP GEARED UP FOR 2006
31 October 2005

The Rio will be the venue again next year

Players can expect more publicity buildup ahead following this week's announcement from Harrah's Entertainment on the details for the 2006 World Series of Poker event.

Harrah's will stage the world's richest poker tournament at its Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino. The finals will be supported by the Second Annual World Series of Poker Lifestyle Show July 27 through July 30. A trade show featuring exhibitors from around the globe, the World Series of Poker Lifestyle Show will showcase a broad array of new poker products, websites, books and clothing. Last year, more than 50,000 people, including celebrities and athletes, visited the show.

Satellites and live action begins June 25, 2006, and the $10,000 No-Limit Texas Hold'em World Championship Event starts July 28, 2006. In all, the 2006 World Series of Poker will consist of 44 separate events in which players can compete for coveted World Series of Poker gold bracelets.

Last year's World Series of Poker shattered all participation and prize money records for a live poker tournament. The 45 events generated 32,341 player entries and more than $106 million in gross prize money. Joseph Hachem of Melbourne, Australia, won the World Series of Poker Championship and an unprecedented $7.5 million.

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INTERCASINO CHANGES VP PAY TABLES
31 October 2005

This "upgrade" has a downside.

Disappointed players were shaking their heads this week after receiving an announcement from Intercasino.com that the online casino had "upgraded" its single hand Double Bonus video poker games.

Players were soon commenting that the upgrade had a downside, claiming that the new paytable has been reduced to 99.1 percent, where the old was 99.9 percent.

The passage "We trust that you will enjoy your improved Video Poker at InterCasino" used in the announcement was subsequently the cause for some caustic comment.

One player's succinct take on the situation was typical: "It's like 'Dear Player, come and play our new improved slots. Now paying out less than the old ones!'."

The casino communication said that the payout tables had been altered to "match that which is found in the land-based casinos."

Misleading graphics on the site which had not been removed to reflect the changes, were the result of an error and would be taken down shortly, a casino spokesperson said.

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SKILL GAMES FOR LAST MINUTE
31 October 2005

3 million users to have access to SkillJam games

Toronto and London listed technology corporation FUN Techologies plc has announced the award of a skill games contract to subsidiary SkillJam by Last Minute Network Limited.

The games will be incorporated into the Last Minute.com German website giving users access to popular online skill games such as "Bejeweled 2", "Zuma" and "Solitaire".

SkillJam has enjoyed considerable success in providing private-label gaming solutions for a broad network of partner destination sites in the US and abroad, including AOL and MSN's Zone.com. In 2005 alone, SkillJam has signed over 16 skill-gaming deals with leading global brands, including Virgin Games and eBay.

Lorne Abony, the CEO of FUN Technologies, commented, "Lastminute.com is one of Europe's most recognized online consumer brands, with a significant pan-European reach of over 3.3 million unique users per month. It is the perfect candidate for FUN's strategy of partnering with market-leading brands in their respective fields."

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NEW ANTI-FRAUD MEASURE
31 October 2005

Metacharge helps keep the under-aged out, too

A fast but expensive new ID verification and status process is now available to the online gambling industry - but it's pricey.

Out-Law.com reports that by adding less than two seconds to an e-commerce process, website operators can now check the age, identity and vital status of customers against the UK Electoral Roll, BT directory enquiries, a credit reference database and a mortality database.

The new service to reduce card fraud and assist compliance with legal age restrictions comes from payment service provider Metacharge. Working with 192.com it integrates the automated age and identity checking service with payment processing.

At the standard rate of GBP1.50 per query this is not a cheap service, but London-based Metacharge points out that fraudulent card usage is costing over GBP1 million a day in the UK alone.

Managing Director Scott Law says that online gaming "is a magnet for fraud". He said that the fastest growing form of identity theft is not phishing; it is taking the identities of dead people and using them to get credit. Thus a check against a mortality database tells an offshore internet casino if its latest poker player is in fact a corpse.

"Anyone with age-restricted goods or services or high value items, like consumer electronics, can benefit," said Law.

Out-Law points out that it is currently legal for British residents to bet or gamble online from home. About 800,000 adults do so every month, according to the Department of Culture Media and Sport. It is also legal to run a site in the UK that takes bets.

However, it is not at present lawful for a company to run an online casino if its equipment and payment processing are in Britain because the Gaming Act of 1968 requires punters to be present in person where the gaming is taking place. This is set to change, and the law will relax when provisions of the Gambling Act 2005 come into force around September 2007.

The Act also requires that systems be put in place to ensure that under 18s are excluded.

Using the Metacharge Verify Your Customer (VYC) system, merchants can automatically authorise or decline transactions based on the results. They can also set the system to hold a transaction, triggering a manual check. The customer might then be asked to fax a copy of his driving licence and a utility bill.

About two or three customers in 10 will trigger the need for a manual check. But Out-Law claims that before tools like this, all tests were manual, adding significantly higher running costs to gaming operations. The VYC system runs a geographic IP address lookup, and the accuracy of such checks has improved greatly in recent years. "It used to be that all AOL accounts looked the same, but not any more," the Out-Law report reveals.

The first six digits of any credit card identify the issuing bank and country. Metacharge's service reports this information to the merchant – together with the country and city submitted by the cardholder and the distance in miles, if any, from his IP address to his street address.

The system also reports the number of chargebacks received from the card in use and from the customer's IP address.

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URU USEAGE GROWS
31 October 2005

Operators are moving away from time-consuming manual checks

A company announcement from GB Group this week says that there has been a major increase in the volume of identity checks initiated by online gaming site operators.

The company is an electronic age and identity verification supplier, using the increasingly popular URU-British Telecom database and includes Betfair and PartyGaming in its client portfolio.

MD Rod Laurence is quoted as opining that the rising application of his system indicates that gaming operators are moving away from manual ID checks to the faster, cost effective and more comprehensive electronic ID systems such as those offered by his company.

URU works by cross-checking personal information provided by an individual at the point of acquisition against a comprehensive range of up-to-date UK and international population data sources to confirm the subject's identity.

Laurence revealed that the major betting exchange group Betfair had been spending in excess of GBP 1 million annually on verification, but that this had been "reduced significantly" by migrating to the URU online system. He did not say what current costs were.

GB recently inked deals with VIP Management Services, which manages nine major egaming brands and is part of the Leisure and Gaming group that acquired Stanley Leisure's online gambling interests last month.

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A MATTER OF REPUTATION
31 October 2005

Grand Virtual sorts out a four year old complaint

Kudos this week to Grand Virtual and its reputation conscious VP Marketing, Jennifer Miller Joyce who knows a thing or two about player-sensitive customer relations.

Grand Virtual is a Canadian turnkey provider that was taken over by the Taiwanese Giga group last year, and Ms. Joyce ventured onto the forum on the Casinomeister portal to correct some of the information being bandied about regarding her employers.

Seizing the opportunity of her presence to right a personal wrong, one poster commented that he had been shorted by $102 by one of the GV licensees, Casino Elegance....back in 2001!

The unphased Ms.Joyce asked for details, and within days had arranged to have the cash paid and the wrong undone.

Now that's a smart way to spend $102!

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JUST IN TIME FOR CHRISTMAS
31 October 2005

For the online gambler who has everything - 3 D and widescreen!

Gadget driven online gamblers will be intrigued by the latest thing in headware being reviewed by techiefreak sites this week - widescreen goggles.

The OLED 3D goggles are apparently capable of head tracking, so with software support a player's game view can shift depending in what direction he or she is looking.

The product delivers a 3D display by sending alternate frames to alternate screens, thus presenting the user with a full 3D point of view by showing a different image to each eye.

The visor weighs less than eight ounces, and although the OLED displays are only .59 inches diagonally, the picture gives you the equivalent of a 105 inch screen viewed at 12 feet, the company claims. It all sounds a little confusing....

The blurb concludes: "Add stereo sound and a noise cancelling microphone and you have a great gaming gadget that will make your gaming brain reel!"

And your wallet scream - we're talking 900 bucks here.

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MAJOR POKER TOURNAMENT TO MOVE TO CAESARS
31 October 2005

$1.5 million Harrah's National Heads-Up Poker Championship will be on NBC

Harrah's Entertainment has announced that the National Heads-Up Poker Championship, which brings together 64 of the world's best players competing in a unique one-on-one, single-elimination, bracket-style format, will move to Caesars Palace starting in 2006.

NBC will broadcast 10 hours of tournament action over six shows next April and May.

The first run of the tournament at The Golden Nugget in Vegas in March 2005 generated solid ratings on NBC and a strong buzz in the poker community. Television audiences grew as the tournament progressed, with a total audience of six million watching the finale on May 22, when Phil Hellmuth bested Chris Ferguson in the two-hour telecast.

The next event, featuring a total purse of $1.5 million, including a top prize of $500,000, will be contested March 3- 5 in the casino at Caesars Palace.

The 2006 TV coverage will be expanded to 10 hours over six shows to be telecast on Sundays in April and May. Hellmuth will defend his title against many of the sport's most prominent players, with the field expected to include legendary Hall of Famers Doyle Brunson and Johnny Chan, plus established stars such as Howard Lederer and 2003 Player of the Year Erick Lindgren.

Others expected to compete include 2005 Poker Superstars champion Gus Hansen; 2003 World Series of Poker champion Chris Moneymaker; 2004 Player of the Year Daniel Negreanu; 2004 World Series of Poker champion Greg Raymer; and 2005 and National Heads-Up Poker Championship semifinalists Antonio Esfandiari and T.J. Cloutier.

A blind draw will put the contestants into college basketball tournament- like brackets that, because of the quality of the invitational field, produce attractive match-ups between some of the best players in the world throughout the competition. Tournament officials will conduct the draw at Caesars Palace on Thursday evening, March 2, as part of a media event to be attended by the 64-player field.

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NEW DIRECTION FOR WORLD GAMING WITH ACQUISITION OF SPORTSBETTING.COM
31 October 2005

Biggest licensee group purchased for $96 million

World Gaming sent out a signal that it was back and expanding into the operator sector this week with the provisional acquisition of the Sportsbetting group for up to $96 million, to be paid 75 percent in cash and 25 percent by the issue and allotment of Consideration Shares.

The final price will depend on whether the group's profit before tax is not less than $15 million this year. In the event that the PBT is below $15 million, the deal will drop to six times the 2005 PBT, subject to a minimum consideration of $72 million.

The agreement involves certain of the businesses and assets of Real Entertainment Ltd and the entire issued share capital of DNI Holdings Ltd, together comprising the Sportsbetting.com Group, which is currently World Gaming's largest licensee.

Sportsbetting.com Group has established a number of popular Internet-based gaming brands since its inception in September 1999, including its flagship brand Sportsbetting.com and other primary sites like Racebook.com and Win4real.com. The Sportsbetting.com Group offers a full suite of sports betting, horseracing, casino, and poker products on each of its sites as part of the gaming software which it licenses and sublicenses from World Gaming.

The acquisition is conditional upon the World Gaming Group securing the required debt and equity financing as well as obtaining the consent of World Gaming's shareholders at the Annual General Meeting. The conditional purchase agreement provides that the vendors may terminate the agreement if these conditions are not met by 14 December 2005, unless extended by mutual agreement.

The transaction constitutes a reverse takeover for the purpose of the London exchange AIM rules and hence in accordance with these rules World Gaming has requested that its shares be suspended from trading on AIM until the AGM.

In the event that the conditions upon which the transaction is conditional are not met by 14 December 2005 World Gaming will be liable to pay Sportsbetting's costs in relation to the transaction not exceeding GBP 500 000.

World Gaming reports that, now that CEO Daniel Moran and his team has stabilised World Gaming and achieved profitability once again for the group, it is time to focus on leveraging key assets including the gaming software itself, the intellectual property and the associated infrastructure. Each of these establishes a strong platform to achieving the objective of moving up the industry value chain by taking ownership of the underlying customer database. This will allow the World Gaming Group to earn all of the revenue, or net win, on each gambling transaction as opposed to a percentage of revenue under existing licensing models.

Commenting on the proposed acquisition, Daniel Moran, Chief Executive of World Gaming, said:

"The acquisition represents the World Gaming Group's first step into Internet gaming operations in its core markets of sports betting, horse racing, casino and poker. Our existing business and assets combined with those of the Sportsbetting.com Group represent a robust platform from which we can continue with our strategy to grow and become a leading consolidator in the industry. We believe that this transaction better positions the Group to target global markets which will increase revenues and diversify risk".

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GAMEBOOKERS SIGNS UP FOR SKILL GAMES
31 October 2005

GameAccount gets the deal...

Skill game provider GameAccount has signed up Trident Gaming plc sportsbook subsidiary Gamebookers for skill games, giving access to its games to more European players.

The Gamebookers service will be powered by an integrated skill gaming solution supporting 3 key languages (English, German and French) alongside 4 currencies (Pound Sterling, US Dollars, Euros and Turkish Lira).

Commenting on the agreement, Trident CEO John O’Malia said: “We are excited to be adding skill gaming to our online portfolio. Gamebookers.com is offering skill games on a “dotnet” in order to be able to drive brand penetration in key markets ahead of the competition where local restrictions make it hard to advertise sports betting directly. This gives us a substantial competitive advantage, and will help Gamebookers grow substantially across Europe ahead of the World Cup in 2006.”

Gamebookers is said to be backing the deal with a substantial marketing budget, and has secured in-stadium hoardings at 1 FC Nuremberg in Germany and St Etienne in France, with further deals on the way. The deal will enable both companies to further expand their presence in France and Germany. The latter country in particular, has seen substantial growth as a gaming market over the past twelve months.

A subsidiary of Ise of Man-based Trident Gaming plc, Gamebookers is a successful European multi-lingual sports betting site with over 180,000 registered customers from over 100 countries using seven languages. The company processed in excess of 20 million betting transactions in the last twelve months alone.

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M-GAMING WALLET
31 October 2005

Technology provider now makes e-payments easier

Probability Games Corporation (PGC) is perhaps best known as a mobile gambling technology provider involved in several major contracts in the sector this year, and in collaboration with ePay it has now made the logical progression to an e-wallet product, allowing m-gamblers to use their hand-helds to effect immediate payments and withdrawals.

Branded "Cashish" the system enables anonymous transactions via select e-Pay terminals in newsagents, convenience stores and petrol stations throughout the UK.

A maximum limit of GBP 90 in the player's Cashish e-wallet at any one time is imposed, and the account links to the gambler's mobile phone account.

Charles Cohen, chief executive of PGC claims the product gives players an anonymous, safe, convenient and instant way to pay cash for content and services on a mobile.

Cohen's company can speak with some authority, having processed more than 5.5 million bets in just nine months for more than 20 UK and international m-gaming brands.

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SPORTING INDEX CHANGES HANDS AGAIN
31 October 2005

GBP 75.8 million deal yields a nice profit for Duke

Sports spread betting group Sporting Index has changed hands again.

The company has been bought by HG Capital from previous owners Duke Street Capital in a GBP 75.8 million deal, giving a substantial profit - Duke Street paid GBP 53 million for it in March 2003.

The UK media reports that CEO Richard Glynn will retain a “meaningful stake” in the company, which has a customer base of 45 000 and an estimated 70 percent market share in its sector.

Company sources predicted new acquisitions and an expansion drive into the Scandinavian, German and Italian markets.

The new owners had previously invested in Paddy Power and have an established track record in leisure and entertainment commerce.

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MOBILE OPERATORS WILL HAVE TO TAKE CARE
31 October 2005

New Gartner research poses hazards of Denial of Service and SMS storm attacks

A sobering thought for the burgeoning mobile gambling sector came to the fore this week with the release of a new report from analyst firm Gartner.

Reporting on the cautionary, ZD Net UK said that overcoming strict government regulations (in the UK) was not the only hurdle mobile sites would have to clear.

Criminal Denial of Service gangs were abroad, and network operators and companies looking to provide gambling-related Internet content for mobile phones may face the same extortion attacks that have plagued online providers.

Gambling is likely to be one of the largest revenue streams for the mobile Internet, Gartner predicted in its report, and the company warned that mobile service providers may fall foul of the same organised criminals who targeted traditional online providers of such content.

"These sites are often targets for DoS (Denial of Service) extortion attacks such as, "Transfer $5,000 into this Swiss bank account and we will stop bombarding your site," the report stated.

Gambling sites are often small, independent businesses which don't have the resources to cope with the levels of downtime these criminals threaten them with. For this reason these kinds of providers often pay up, according to Gartner.

"We recommend that mobile carriers prepare for DoS attacks, like SMS storms, against these kind of sites," the report states.

Last year, Betfair, along with several other online betting companies, was targeted by cybercriminals threatening DDoS attacks unless a ransom was paid.

Denial of service attacks work by inundating a site with traffic until the Web server can no longer cope and the site goes offline. In an SMS storm, mobile phone networks would theoretically be swamped by text messages sent to mobile phones from a broadband-connected PC.

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University warned earlier this month that an SMS storm could seriously affect network coverage if it bombarded mobile phones in a single cell.

ZD Net reports that security experts are sceptical. Speaking at the Virus Bulletin conference in Dublin, Graham Cluley of Sophos questioned whether malicious hackers would be able to target mobile phones in the same network cell.

Gartner also claimed that regulatory and legal restrictions will have to be overcome before "culturally sensitive" services can be offered.

"Providing gambling content for mobile phones is a sensitive issue," the report states. "Even though such services provide the potential for lucrative revenue streams potential providers need to understand the laws and regulations governing such services."

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VIP MANAGEMENT CHOOSES RTG
31 October 2005

Revamped online casino now carries Real Time Gaming software

Gaming and Leisure group's subsidiary VIP Management has relaunched its VIP.com online casino with a new gambling software suite from Real Time Gaming.

The improved VIP.com site now provides over 70 state-of-the-art games, including slots, multi-hand blackjack and high pay-out progressive jackpots – all supported by quality graphics. The new site was designed in consultation with players and boasts step-by-step information on how to get started in the new casino, game tutorials, improved navigation and fully contactable Support.

The site also offers 50 instant play games with the same hot RTG graphics and instant access to all the VIP products including a Sportsbook, Racebook and Texas Hold’em poker, together with loyalty points that are earned for all gameplay on all the products. These points are fully redeemable for gifts, prizes or cash at the group's VIP Rewards.com.

To celebrate the re-launch and the new look, the casino is offering players bonuses of up to $600, provided Terms and Conditions are met.

These casinos can be found here




BETFAIR EXTENSION OF POKER LICENSE
31 October 2005

Cryptologic comments on license continuation

Further to our InfoPowa report on Betfair's decision to extend its poker software license with Cryptologic, the latter company has commented on the arrangement.

The Canadian Press reports that Betfair provides as much as a tenth of the Toronto software companys revenue but that, "It is expected there will be no material effect on CryptoLogic's 2005 and 2006 results" as a result of Betfair's previously announced plan to develop its own poker software and cancel its arrangement with CryptoLogic's WagerLogic licensing subsidiary. CryptoLogic shares fell 17 per cent in one day in August after the company disclosed it could lose Betfair as a customer in early 2006.

CryptoLogic revealed this week that its arrangement with Betfair will not now end early next year as previously feared. Instead, the contract will continue until at least June and may be extended to January 2007.

The Betfair licence has typically provided five to 10 per cent of CryptoLogic's revenue, the Canadian company said. But revenue from poker licensees other than Betfair has doubled this year, and CryptoLogic's core business remains its casino software, which provides about 60 per cent of its revenue.

"We have enjoyed a mutually profitable relationship with Betfair and we are pleased that the relationship will continue in 2006," stated CEO Lewis Rose.

"CryptoLogic has grown into a well diversified organisation - in its customers, products and markets. This means continued growth from our core customers, continued financial strength to invest in new products, and the continued prospect of new partnerships."

London-based Betfair has about 300,000 registered customers and claims that Betfairpoker.com, launched in May 2004 using the WagerLogic central poker room shared by all of CryptoLogic's poker licensees, averages 18,000 active players a month.

Steve Ives, director of Betfair Games said earlier that it had always been Betfair's strategy to own and operate its own software for all core products. "We are pursuing ways to do this and will be ready to proceed when the current contract expires," he said in complimenting WagerLogic for its services.

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SWEDISH GAMBLING MONOPOLY EYEING POKER NEXT
31 October 2005

Boss Media may provide software and network for new online venture

Scandinavian press reports this week suggest that the major Swedish gambling entity Svenska Spel has plans to enter the online poker sector.

The reports revealed that the company is to apply for a government license to include online poker offerings on its Svenska Spel.se site, with Boss Media (also a Swedish company) partnering in the supply of poker room and network software.

Boss, which has previously worked with Svenska Spel on other ventures has confirmed its interest in the project, subject to Svenska Spel's success in getting official blessing for the project.

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ANOTHER MILLIONAIRE FREE ROLL
31 October 2005

Poker Millionaire Challenge open to all...and its free!

Both online and land poker players can compete for a prize pool of some $2.5 million in a new competition....and it won't cost them a cent.

Announcing the inaugural Poker Millionaire Challenge, president Ron Snodgrass said the free roll event will take place at Binyon's Gambling Hall in Las Vegas between April 21 and 28 next year.

"This tournament is designed to let every player get in on the action," he said. "We have arrangements with dozens of organisations including Free Bar Poker, Pub Poker, the APPA, and the Virginia Poker Club to name a few. Additionally, every poker player in the world may sign up to play at pmc06.com."

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MORE EUROPEAN LITIGATION IN PROSPECT
31 October 2005

EBA to take Spanish lotto to the European Commission

Yet more litigation on the "sovereignty" issue will be taking place in the European market shortly it appears.

The European Betting Association (EBA) has announced that it is to file a complaint against Spanish lotto operator Loterias y Apuestas del Estado with the European Commission. The complaint will detail allegations that the denial of access to the Spanish lotto market for private companies violates the free trade laws of the European Union.

Similar complaints have been filed previously concerning 8 other EU states such as Germany, Finland, Sweden and Holland - all states where state-run betting monopolies are excluding outside offers to their nationals. There are also a number of other cases going through various European courts and initiated by sportsbook and casino companies trying to gain access to these "closed" markets by asserting their rights to free trade under the EU.

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PUBLIC INPUT INVITED BY UK GAMBLING COMMISSION
31 October 2005

Draft of Principles on Licensing and Regulation published for comment

The new UK Gambling Commission, which will control all gambling licensed in Great Britain has published its draft Statement of Principles for comment and discussion.

The document sets out the high-level values and principles which will govern the manner in which the Commission will regulate gambling under the Gambling Act 2005. Among the issues it addresses are:

* the measures the Commission should take to keep crime out of gambling
* the ways in which the Commission can ensure gambling is fair and open
* the measures that gambling operators should take to prevent children and young people from gambling
* the restrictions that can be used to prevent children gambling online
* the measures that gambling operators should take to protect vulnerable people.

Gambling Commission Chairman Peter Dean said: “The Gambling Act 2005 will come fully into force by September 2007. It tasks the Commission with implementing and overseeing a rigorous new regulatory regime for commercial gambling in Britain.

“We will be setting new conditions under which licences are granted to gambling operators and staff and issuing new codes of practice, and we will have legal powers to monitor the industry and to prosecute illegal gambling.

“The Commission’s aims are to keep crime out of gambling, to make sure it is conducted fairly and openly, and to protect children and vulnerable people. Our Statement of Principles outlines the broad approach we intend to take to pursue these aims.

“We welcome and strongly encourage feedback and comments on the issues raised in the document. We will be actively consulting with the gambling industry, government bodies, charities dealing with problem gambling, consumer organisations, faith groups and with members of the public to ensure our approach is proportionate, fair and effective.”

The Statement of Principles is the first document to be launched by the Commission as part of a major consultation process which will continue next year with the publication of draft licensing conditions and codes of practice which will affect the industry in future.

A copy of the Statement of Principles is available to download from the Consultation section of the Commission's website at www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk.

Jo O'Driscoll is the Communications Manager, 020 7306 6265, email j.odriscoll@gamblingcommission.gov.uk

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LATEST LOOK AT THE INDUSTRY NOW AVAILABLE
31 October 2005

12 new authors, 13 new chapters and 23 updates - you won't want to miss this one.

The 2005 version of River City Group's popular annual report on the industry is now available and features 12 new authors, 13 new chapters and 23 updated chapters.

Authored by the world's top legal experts in the field of online gambling, this authoritative guide offers a thorough and updated review of the legal and political climate for Internet gambling throughout the world.

Readers can order by phone, fax, mail or online. For more detailed information, visit: http://www.rivercitygroup.com/interior.cfm/page/books#product72.

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ONLINE GAMING MOVES A STEP CLOSER IN KIWI LAND
31 October 2005

New Zealand could soon have online lottery facilities

New Zealand gaming authorities appear to be getting serious about going online, at least as far as lotteries are concerned, with new technology from GTech Holdings ready to go as soon as the middle of next year.

However, New Zealand Lotteries spokeswoman Helen Morgan Banda says it might be longer before internet versions of Lotto, Daily Keno and Instant Kiwi become available because a number of issues will have to be addressed first.

"It will be offered in a very controlled way with a lot of safeguards," she says. "A lot of checks and balances will be needed. One would be player registration and another would be proof of age."

Provisions allowing the organisation to go online with its products were included in last minute changes to the Gambling Act in 2003. The amendments were opposed by the Labour Party and anti-gambling lobby groups.

The chief executive of the Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand, John Stansfield says it is important that NZ Lotteries has the right safeguards in place before it introduces the online system because it is hard to predict the effects of online gambling.

He is, however more concerned about the effects of terrestrial pokie machines, saying they are the preferred form of gambling cited by more than 90 percent of addicts seeking help through his organisation.

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PINNACLE OFFERING BETS ON CHESS
31 October 2005

Online and over the air results on matches

According to its PR company, Pinnacle Sports has identified chess as a fertile ground for its betting business.

Apparently there is a full-on professional chess league in North America, the U.S. Chess League that includes eight pro chess teams: The New York Knights, San Francisco Mechanics, Dallas Destiny, Carolina Cobras, Miami Sharks, Boston Blitz, Baltimore Kingfishers and the Philadelphia Masterminds all slugging it out for the top spot.

Boasting "...just a huge following for the game." the company says that bettors can follow the matches via online video stream at chessclub.com and internet radio at chessfm.com.

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SILVER FOXES RECRUITED THROUGH BOWLS
31 October 2005

Slotland sponsorship designed to attract more mature players

Online casino Slotland.com has opened a new player acquisition drive with a $4 000 prize sponsorship for amateur bowling tournaments across western Canada.

The company aims to introduce primarily senior citizen bowlers to the thrill of competing for real money at its online casino facilities.

“A lot of novice players in our regular leagues are seniors,” said Ken Hayden, Manager of Varsity Lanes in Vancouver. “And most of them also love to play the slots. So the $200 bonus that Slotland.com gives to every contestant has nudged a lot of seniors to take their first shot at winning some casino money.”

Slotland has provided cash prizes and promotional assistance for amateur bowling tournaments in two large western Canadian cities, Vancouver, BC and Winnipeg, Manitoba. Winners of the four preliminary matches being played in each city win $300 and advance to the Championship Playoff in their city where Slotland is providing grand prizes. By setting qualifying averages low, the tournaments are designed for amateur bowlers to get their first taste of competition.

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CARMEN MEDIA ACQUIRIES AFFILIATE PROGRAM
31 October 2005

Former business partner now an integral part of the group

Global gaming and entertainment group, Carmen Media has expanded its business portfolio with the acquisition of one of its successful affiliate programs, ReferBack Limited. The company uses affiliate marketers to direct players to Carmen's eleven online casinos, three online poker rooms and a sportsbook.

ReferBack has been the Affiliate Program of choice for Carmen Media since 1999 and has played a significant role in the group's marketing activities. A spokesman for the group said that it planned to invest significantly in ReferBack's further development to complement "very ambitious plans for our online gaming brands."

One of the immediate benefits is the expansion of the ReferBack management team, headed up by newly-appointed Paul Gibbon as Affiliate Program Manager. Gibbon, who has 22 years of experience and was formerly with the international group 3M replaces Zane Green, who has taken up a new management position in Belle Rock Gaming. Marketing will be the responsibility of Leith Whitesman, and a carefully selected team of Affiliate Relationship Managers servicing different geographic areas is being assembled.

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BETFAIR ANSWER SOON
31 October 2005

Keenly awaited Tasmanian licensing decsion within next ten days

The Australian newspaper reports that the long-running dispute over whether betting exchange Betfair.com should be licensed by the Tasmanian government despite strong opposition from the horseracing industry could soon be over.

Tasmanian Premier Paul Lennon told Parliament this week that the government was close to deciding if it would grant Betfair its first Australian licence, and said he expected to be in a position to make a final announcement within the next ten days.

Lennon's willingness to consider the Kerry Packer-backed proposal has sparked outrage in the international racing community. Opposition racing minister Sue Napier tabled copies of letters to the premier from racing associations around the world, urging him to deny the licence.

Countries which had written included Japan, New Zealand, Canada, Ireland and South Africa.

Napier said in a statement the level of opposition was a "serious wake-up call" to the Premier.

"The time has well and truly come for the Premier to act in the best interests of the racing industry in Tasmania and the thousands of people who rely on it for their livelihoods, and rule out the licensing of Betfair in Tasmania before Tasmania becomes the pariah of the racing world," she said.

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ONLINE GAMBLERS WARNED IN SOUTH AFRICA
31 October 2005

But don't write off Internet gaming just yet....

Newspaper headlines in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa were cautioning online gamblers to beware this week, cautioning them that their entertainment was illegal and could bring the wrath of the provincial gambling authorities down upon their heads.

The warning came from the Eastern Cape Gambling and Betting Board (ECGBB) in the Daily Dispatch newspaper and emphasised that using a personal computer as a gambling device is a criminal offence, as is gambling at an Internet casino.

Only premises that are licensed by the ECGBB are regarded as legal venues for gambling in the province, said board legal advisor Advocate Keith Harvey
- even if the action is at Internet casinos licensed outside the country, it is still a contravention of the Eastern Cape gambling laws to gamble there
- even online from one's home. Internet casinos are not allowed to advertise in the province either, he said.

"Although online gambling is a global phenomenon, it is outlawed in South Africa," a lawyer specialising in Internet law, Mujahid Adams, confirmed from Cape Town.

Adams said that while online casinos were illegal in South Africa, many of these operations were set up in countries where Internet gambling was legal.

And there were moves afoot in South Africa "to try and create a situation where the process can be regulated - but the debate is who the regulators will be".

Exempt from the ban are bettors wanting to place a bet online with a bookmaker or a totalisator that is licensed in South Africa, Adams said. This was because people have for many years been betting on horse races over the telephone, "....and using the Internet is no different."

The ECGBB has been one of the most aggressive in applying the law as it stands and has played a role in closing down three online gambling operations in the Eastern Cape, Harvey said.

Supermarket chains recently removed publications from their shelves after the board advised them the publication contained an advertisement for an Internet casino and this was illegal in the province, claimed Harvey.

He added that at least one Internet casino had closed down soon after the board began investigating its activities - while, on another occasion, a business using a wide area network servicing clients through Internet cafés in the province was closed down.

"On a third occasion a business using a local area network was closed and the owner paid an admission of guilt fine."

The computers were later forfeited to the State and donated by the board to underprivileged schools in the Eastern Cape.

It appears that the ban on Internet gambling is not engraved in stone, however. An advertisement by the National Gambling Board in South African newspapers in May this year called for submissions on interactive gambling so that a committee could investigate the desirability or otherwise of this form of gambling. Comments had to be in by June 30.

And the investigating committee itself was much in evidence, looking and learning at the last GIGSE conference in Montreal, Canada.

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BIG MONEY AND HOT PLAYERS IN AUSSIE MILLIONS POKER
31 October 2005

CelebPoker promoting major Australian poker tournament

CelebPoker.com says that when the current World Series of Poker replays have ended the world will look to Australia in January 2006 for the most exciting poker event to ever take place outside the US.

The Aussie Millions is a tournament where players from all over the world will compete for a prize pool worth over $2 Million dollars. What makes the event so unique are the buy in options and levels and how many ways there are to qualify for a seat.

One option available to players and tournament hopefuls is winning a seat through CelebPoker.com. Every day players can get on the site and play in a qualifier for a mere $10 - good value considering the prize package offered by CelebPoker.com is valued at over $11,600.

CelebPoker's offer is for gamblers to play at one of the low entry tournaments for $10 and win a chance to part of the Crown Poker Championships this year.

The Australian Poker Championship is held at the world renowned Crown Casino in Australia. The 2005 main event pool was in excess of $2 Million Dollars, one of only a few tournaments outside the US to generate a seven figure prize pool. Next year looks set to be even bigger with a projected first prize of a million dollars.

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CONFERENCE CORNER
31 October 2005

EIG is nigh!

The fourth annual European I-Gaming Congress & Expo is almost upon on us, taking place in Nice, France for the first time over November 7-9 this year.

Building on the highly successful 2004 event which attracted over 450 delegates, EIG 2005 is likely to further cement its position as the must-attend event in Europe for I-gaming executives.

Online registration will end Friday, November 4 at 12:00 pm GMT, so visit the event website at www.eigexpo.com to register now and avoid onsite registration queues.

Make sure you set your agenda according to the new format for EIG 2005. EIG's conference sessions begin Monday afternoon, followed by a cocktail reception in the Expo area, sponsored by Mohawk Internet Technologies.

Tuesday opens with conference sessions, followed by lunch and then the afternoon is open for networking in the Expo. The day ends with cocktail party at the stunning Hotel Negresco, sponsored by Playtech.

EIG 2005 will finish on Wednesday with morning conference sessions and a closing keynote address by Peter Cowley, head of interactive at Endemol UK.

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BETFAIR DENIES FLOAT
21 October 2005

Quick response to media speculation

British online betting exchange Betfair issued a fast response to media speculation that it was planning an imminent listing on the London Stock Exchange this week. Asked by Sky TV News whether the rumours were true, a senior executive unequivocally denied that this was the case.

"We don't have any reason to go for an immediate flotation," MD Mark Davis said. "Why would we float? We have no reason to raise new money, and we don't have any shareholders who are agitating for an exit. We hired Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs to advise us on strategic options. They're still advising us, but we don't have any plans for an immediate flotation."

The denial followed an press reports that Betfair had planned a flotation, but had decided to wait until after next year's soccer World Cup in Germany before listing in London. The company, the reports said, believes a delay will allow time for its investment in international expansion to be felt.

Betfair was also named earlier this week as a possible target for a Party Gaming takeover to give the latter group more diversity. A spokesman refuted the rumour, saying it was news to Betfair.

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FORTUNE LOUNGE SPAM CAUSING SERIOUS WAVES
21 October 2005

Third party contractors are infuriating players with a flood of unwanted spam

Companies with a finger on the market's pulse will usually pick up seriously bad consumer vibes pretty quickly, so given the Fortune Lounge group's reputation for marketing prowess it is surprising that they have not moved faster to assuage the anger of players by curtailing the infuriating tactics of their outsourced email marketing people.

Over the past six to eight weeks complaints from many players have been rising in volume over material that is alleged to emanate from FL outsourced contractors. Savvy recipients have taken to publishing full traces on the material, which seeks to promote current FL marketing offers.

It is not only the volume - many players report having received numerous identical emails every day - it is the fact that in most cases the recipients have not signed up for this junkmail.

Exacerbating an already bad situation is the apparent impossibility of "opting out" or "unsubscribing" from the relentless flow of unwanted promotional email - no matter what a target does it just keep on coming!

And some of the offers are not even relevant - sending first time offers to already registered players, for example.

Recent legislative developments on spam in North America make this sort of unethical and unprofessional behaviour criminally dangerous to boot, so the outside contractors could be placing FL itself in peril quite apart from the considerable consumer antipathy it is generating in the market.

Astonishingly, company spokesmen have posted on several fora - including one where perturbed affiliates have been complaining - that Fortune Lounge has no control over what these outside spammers are doing.

Such statements have rightly been greeted with disbelief and not a little scorn. Other than that, there has been little FL official communication showing concern at this growing crisis, which is seen by many as arrogance at best and contempt for players at worst.

In desperation, some players have started reporting the spam to anti-spam sites and ISP or government and licensing authorities, whilst a growing number say they simply junk anything with Fortune Lounge's name and address in it...hardly productive for the company.

Several prominent and neutral industry people have brought the issue to Fortune Lounge management's attention on a number of occasions, yet still the barrage of emails continues unabated. One can therefore only surmise that the value of business generated by this stuff outweighs the ethical concerns that surround it.

But has management taken into account the customers it is alienating or the damage to its reputation?

It appears not.

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BLOOD IN THE BOARDROOM?
14 October 2005

Hill "abruptly" departs Betfair

The Times and other UK business media were marking the sudden departure of Betfair CEO Stephen Hill from the betting exchange group last Friday following the companys decision to postpone its plans for a GBP 1 billion flotation.

Hill, a former chief executive of the Financial Times Group, left "abruptly" according to the reports. His duties have been assumed by Sir Robert Horton, the former Railtrack boss, who became non-executive chairman in March last year ahead of a possible initial public offering.

The company said that Mr Hill had decided to leave after a board meeting at which it had been confirmed that the company had “no plans to float in the immediate future”.

The report says a source close to the betting firm revealed that Mr Hill had wanted to press ahead with an IPO in the first quarter of 2006, whereas the rest of the board had decided that there was “no good reason” to do so.

Analysts are suggesting that the reason is likely to have been the recent decline in sentiment towards online gambling stocks after PartyGaming’s warning of slowing growth prospects.

The biggest shareholders in Betfair are Andrew Black and Edward Wray, its founders, who between them have almost 30 per cent. Europeatweb, an internet-based fund controlled by Bernard Arnault, the LVMH boss, has about 10 per cent.

Betfair said that Mr Hill had left to pursue plans for a new venture that would invest in small and medium-sized companies, focusing on turnaround situations.

He is expected to get a payout equivalent to half his GBP 325,000 salary, and it is believed that he will retain the 3.13 million shares that are held in an employee benefit trust in his name.

The shares are technically owned by him already and he is expected to retain them until he can crystallise the value after an IPO. They would be worth more than GBP 20 million if Betfair were to attract a GBP 1 billion valuation as has been estimated.

A former colleague at the FT, Charles Pretzlik, the newspaper’s UK Companies Editor, said: “I think it is fair to say (Mr Hill) is not one of those people who necessarily makes friends wherever he goes.”

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IS LADBROKES GOING AFTER RANK?
21 October 2005

Or is the hunt aimed at Ladbrokes...

British betting giant Ladbrokes, the gambling arm of Hilton Group, is understood to be considering a bid for Rank Group, the GBP 2.5 billion owner of Mecca Bingo, Grosvenor Casinos and internet gambling interests, once its proposed demerger from Hilton’s hotel arm is completed.

However, The Times reports this week that there are strong speculative rumours that a number of top private equity firms were already preparing to approach Hilton about buying Ladbrokes, which is worth about GBP 3.7 billion and has 2,570 shops in the UK, the Channel Islands, the Irish Republic and Belgium. CVC Capital Partners and Charterhouse have been tipped as contenders.

The focus on the company comes after an announcement that Hilton Group, which owns the rights to the Hilton name outside the United States, is in talks to sell its hotel business to America’s Hilton Hotels Corporation (HHC) for an estimated GBP 3.6 billion.

Existing shareholders would retain ownership of a quoted Ladbrokes in the wake of such a deal.

The continued consolidation of the gambling industry could be a possibility if Ladbrokes went after Rank. The recent acquisition of Coral Eurobet by Gala, the casino and bingo operator, has created a gambling behemoth combining betting shops, bingo clubs and casinos, and buying Rank would turn Ladbrokes into a very similar company.

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PLAYER FILES GBP 66 000 MALTA PROTEST
21 October 2005

Parlay Entertainment software malfunction used as excuse for disqualifying winnings

The Malta interactive gambling licensing authorities could be facing their first big test from a player perspective this week following a judicial protest from a British national against one of its licensees.

The Malta Independent Online reports that one Karl Long filed a judicial protest against an online gaming company registered in Malta, claiming that he had been swindled out of GBP 66,000. The player filed against Euro Gaming Ltd, claiming that he used the site Bingos.co.uk and played a game called Trawling for Treasure, where he achieved winnings of GBP 66,000.

However, when he attempted to cash in his good fortune, Euro Gaming said it was not going to pay out because there was a fault in the Parley Entertainment software when he was using the site.

The software company, which is based in Canada, refuted the claims that the software malfunctioned. The complainant also pointed out that he had been playing the game for nine hours and the company did not say there were problems nor did it try to shut down the site.

He said he reported the issue to the relevant authorities in Malta, and the company offered him GBP 500 compensation, which he is refusing to accept.

The protest alleges that the gambling companys actions are clearly abusive and illegal and there should be strict surveillance of such companies to avoid abuse. He therefore appeals for the company to pay out the winnings and said he would be holding them responsible for any other damages incurred.

InfoPowa will monitor this story as it evolves, and has requested a comment from the Maltese authorities.

Stop Press: As we went to press this week another complaint of non-payment - this one for GBP 30 000 -had been made against Euro Gaming Limited. The Malta authorities confirmed that both cases were under investigation, and that in the GBP 66 000 case the player had been assisted to open a court case on the island.

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MALTA, WE HAVE A PROBLEM
21 October 2005

Another serious player complaint regarding Euro Gaming Limited

There has been a sequel to our earlier InfoPowa report that a British player is currently taking legal action against a licensee of the Malta licensing jurisdiction for non-payment of a GBP 66 000 gambling obligation.

Posters at http://www.jokersforum.com/showthread.php?t=3024 are currently mulling over a new allegation involving a refusal by the same company to pay out a GBP 30 000 win.

The company, Euro Gaming Limited, is licensed by the Malta regulatory authorities and operates the Bingos.co.uk website.

Legal sources in Malta assure us that the authorities have the issues well in hand.

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TOO MANY NOUGHTS
21 October 2005

Is this really a $ 100 million tournament?

Recent publicity from Noble Poker.com has raised the eyebrows of industry observers with its eyecatching claim that it can fund a reward of $100 million in an upcoming tournament.

Noble was recently taken over by the recently listed Empire Online, but the consensus is that $ 100 million is still a big ask.

Noble Poker announced that they will top the $1 Million dollar giveaway mark by having a $100 Million dollar Mega Tournament in April 2006 at Las Vegas, with qualifiers available online now.

While the Mega Tournament in Vegas has a direct entry fee of $10,000 with a $2 Million prize pool Noble is also apparently prepared and capable to give a bonus of $100 Million to anyone who hits a Royal Flush in spades at the final table, according to the following analysis of final table bonuses:

The Final table winning hands bonuses:

1. Spades Royal Flush- $100 Million
2. Any Straight Flush - $1,000,000
3. 4 of a kind Aces - $500,000
4. 4 of a kind Kings - $500,000
5. 4 of a kind Queens - $250,000
6. 4 of a kind Jacks - $250,000
7. 4 of a kind 10's - $250,000

Noble's parent, Empire Poker is respected for its innovative and effective marketing, but many in the industry are sceptical on the offer.

The qualifying tournaments are running around the clock starting at $2.50 and up to $58 buy ins. These qualifiers will get winners into the $125 000 Heat Tournaments where seats to the $100 million dollar tournament and cash will be given away.

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GERMAN POKER TOUR A SUCCESS
21 October 2005

German Poker Association shines

PR Newswire reports that over 200 German poker players from throughout Germany participated during September and October in the first German Poker Tour, sponsored by Ultra Internet Media's Everest Poker.com.

Everest Poker, which claims to be the first online poker room fully translated into German, sponsored 5 live tournaments across Germany featuring prizes worth over Euro 4,000. The finale was held in the Kalsruhe area last week, awarding the top 5 winners with prizes.

The tournaments were organised by the founder of the GPA, Horst Koch in collaboration with Everest management.

Qualifying tournaments took place throughout September 2005 in four selected German cities: Munich, Landau (Karlsruhe), St. Augustin (Cologne), and Berlin, with 16 players qualifying for the finale, also held in Landau. The GPA was founded in 1996 and is the only poker association in Germany.

"No distance is too far for a poker final with Horst Koch and Everest Poker" comments Dr. hc. Fischer, who drove cross-country from Berlin to Landau to attend the German Poker Tour final: "It's totally worth it for an exciting game and good prizes!"

Each qualifying tournament was played in "shootout" style, with the winner of each table advancing to the final table of the night. Up to 12 of these shootout rounds were played in each tournament, resulting in play throughout the night. The winners of each qualifying tournament received not only a seat in the final, but also prizes courtesy of Everest Poker.

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BINGO FOR MOBILES
21 October 2005

Scandinavian delivery of new games

Mobile games software provider EGET, has been busy this week with the delivery of a new range of single player and multiplayer bingo games.

The games were delivered to EGET's three major customers PAF, Spero and Spordiennustus, located on the Åland Island, Finland, in Sweden and Estonia respectively.

Online bingo in the north has apparently grown in popularity, prompting EGET to respond by expanding its product portfolio with an extensive set of Bingo games including free square, quick, pattern and triple bingo games. All of these different game types have features that make the game more interesting and compelling to play.

Martin Prantner, the CEO of EGET, says that one of the highest-praised additions to EGET's Bingo portfolio has been multiplayer bingo with a chat function backed by humorous graphics and sounds.

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GOLDEN TIGER IN SPONSORSHIP DEAL WITH BRIT PREMIER LEAGUE FOOTBALL CLUB
21 October 2005

Aston Villa to make club communication channels available

Premier League club Aston Villa has signed a sponsorship rights agreement with online gaming company, GTcasino.com, also known as Golden Tiger Casino and Poker in the Casino Rewards group.

As part of its associate sponsor package, GTcasino.com have become Villa’s official casino and poker room partner, offering fans the chance to play and win through a variety of communication channels available to the club.

Management appointed the sponsorship consultancy Lighthouse Communications Ltd to undertake a strategic review of football, before negotiating and managing the GT Casino associate sponsor package with Villa. In terms of the agreement GTcasino.com can use many of the club's communication channels including perimeter boards, programmes and online offerings.

InfoPowa is attempting to obtain further details and financial comment on the deal.

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NEW GAMES FROM CRYPTOLOGIC
21 October 2005

VIP and Inter Casino roll out a new gambling suite

VIP and InterCasino have just added 14 new games including multi payline Slots and a whole new range of Scratch Card from software developer, CryptoLogic.

“The eight new 20-line Slots, three new 9-line Slots, Rapid Fire Jackpot Slot Mr. Rich, and brand new Scratch Cards is a great addition to our casino games suite and offers something fresh for all our players,” says VIP Casino’s manager, Kate Berkeley.

The new offerings at VIP Casino include:

9 Line Slots: Barnyard Boogie, Millionaires Club, Jade Idol

20 Line Slots: Congo Bongo, Haunted House, Daily Horoscope, Emerald Isle, Masquerade Ball, Reel Renovations, Treasure of Isis, Around the World

Scratch Cards: High Fashion, Money Farm

Rapid Fire Slot: Mr Rich

The casino now has over 140 casino games including dozens of slot machines with both standard and progressive jackpots.

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EBAY CASINO WAS A SHELL
21 October 2005

Alert players expose con artist

Eagle eyed players spotted a would be eBay fraudster in quick order this week, exposing the "Playtech casino sale" he was offering as an empty affiliate shell.

The deception was elaborate in the sense that the seller put together an impressive graphics and editorial package which was more than capable of deceiving a prospective buyer on the auction site into believing that he or she was getting a fully equipped money-making concern at an extraordinarily cheap rate (an amount of $400 was involved)

When the eventual buyer realised the "casino" was a mere shell with no players or backend systems, recriminations began to fly, with an astonishingly bold and arrogant response from the seller. That did him no good, however and the deal was cancelled with the help of eBay.

Just another scam attempt on the popular auction site, but a reminder that prospective buyers need to keep their wits about them.

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THE PROFESSOR IS MOBILE
21 October 2005

Summus - Cingular deal brings Texas Hold 'em to your cellphone

A major US wireless company and a mobile media technology specialist have joined forces with one of the top personalities in poker, Howard "The Professor" Lederer to coach mobile phone users in Texas Hold 'em.

"Secrets of Hold 'em" featuring The Professor is a project involving Cingular Wireless and Summus Inc., and a maiden venture by the wireless provider into poker-based mobile applications.

The product is said to combine exciting action and coaching for players, enabling them to boost their Texas Hold 'em capability, and it can be played as a stand-alone or in conjunction with an existing mobile game. Features include expert hints, tips, and interactive strategy charts designed to improve the players' appreciation and use of the game, and an opportunity to play virtual clones of famous poker players.

Once they are confident in their ability as a result of the coaching, players can challenge several computer-simulated, top AI poker celebrities such as Annie Duke, Chris Ferguson, Phil Gordon, Matt Savage, and Greg Raymer. The game starts with $500 a player and gamblers enter a series of tournaments with buy-ins ranging from $100 to $10,000. The biggest prize of the game comes when players win the $10,000 and they get to face the professor himself in a head-to-head contest.

Lederer is impressed with the way in which Summus captured the spirit and feel of his tutorial products, integrating it into an entertaining and challenging mobile Hold 'em game. "We are excited at the prospect of imparting poker knowledge via mobile phones at any time or location," he says.

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RYANAIR PLANS FOR ONLINE CASINO
21 October 2005

Internet gambling possible by Christmas

For some time Ryanair has mooted plans to operate an online casino facility, and this week it appears that real progress is being made on revitalising this ambitious project.

The airline has revealed that it is now set to launch an online casino that will operate in tandem with a new in-flight entertainment service. The facility is designed to give a further boost to the airline's fast-growing ancillary revenues.

Plans are at an advanced stage to launch the virtual casino before Christmas on the Ryanair.com website. The website has massive traffic - chief executive Michael O'Leary recently told investors that the site had 15 million unique users per month, and that Ryanair was the fifth most recognisable company brand name on internet search engine Google.

He added that the company was seeking to leverage off the website's scale to enhance revenue streams including gambling, travel insurance, car rental, hostels, online advertising and car parking.

Ryanair, which will be partnered by an as yet unidentified technology provider in the gaming sector, is not expected to contribute any capital towards the project. Instead, it will provide distribution, steering a portion of its massive online traffic onto the site and taking a percentage of the business that is generated.

The low-fares airline is also expected to introduce gaming as a new onboard entertainment service. Earlier this year, Ryanair abandoned the in-flight entertainment it introduced in late 2004 after a slower than expected pick-up, but management is now more confident that gaming will be a bigger attraction than movies.

I

n the current year Ryanair will carry over 35 million passengers on 266 low fare routes across 21 European countries. The company has 12 European bases and a fleet of over 100 brand new Boeing 737-800 aircraft, with firm orders for a further 125, which will be delivered over the next seven years. These additional aircraft will allow Ryanair to double in size to over 70 million passengers a year by 2012.

Ryanair has not responded to a request for comment as we went to press this week.

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STANLEY LEISURE'S ONLINE GAMBLING INTERESTS SOLD
21 October 2005

GBP 1.86 million in cash, and another conditional GBP 280 000 the price

Starting the week with a bang is the news that Leisure and Gaming plc has acquired Stanley Entertainment NV, the online casino business of Stanley Leisure plc, for GBP 1.86 million in cash and a potential deferred payment of a further GBP280,000.

The purchaser will benefit from bigger UK and European revenue streams and an extended customer base for its international business. The acquisition also complements the VIP Group business, which Leisure and Gaming acquired in June 2005.

The agreement calls for a strategic partnership which will see Leisure and Gaming becoming Stanley Leisure's chosen partner for developing their brands and assets online, leveraging Leisure and Gaming's operational and product infrastructure.

Affiliate marketers will be glad to learn that the two companies have signed an affiliate agreement for an initial 12 months in which Stanley Leisure will drive its customers to certain Leisure and Gaming sites including the Acropolis casino business.

The partnership will include a poker offering and a dedicated slots offering. Under the agreement, Leisure and Gaming has committed GBP140,000 as a pre-payment against future affiliate revenues to Stanley Leisure.

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NEW ODDS ON POWERED CASINO
21 October 2005

Fire and Ice games certified by The Wiz

Players will probably have a high level of confidence in the new Fire and Ice Casino.com just launched by the Odds On turnkey provider for the owners, Gold Star Solutions out of Costa Rica. The reason? It's 65 games are carry a certification from Mike Shackleford aka the much respected Wizard of Odds.

In a visual sense the site is competent and workmanlike, with Neteller, Firepay, Moneybookers and other instruments available and banking by the Odds On subsidiary Virtual Exchange in dollars, pounds sterling and Euros.

W

hat we didn't like was the absence of an email or telephone number to contact the 24/7 Support - but then we've never been big fans of those blank on-site fields you're supposed to complete to get in contact with someone in charge.

Nevertheless, a casino spokesman is quoted in the blurb as saying: "'I enjoy having a close relationship with many of our players. I always listen to what our players are asking for, so that I can provide them with the best online gaming experience possible. Its great knowing that Fire And Ice has the chance to make all of their dreams come true and their goals a reality."

The casino boasts a player loyalty club and an Antiguan license logo which doesn't link to the Antiguan authorities as it is supposed to do.

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WILL HILL ITV VENTURE LAGS
7 October 2005

Yoomedia blames GBP 4.6 million losses on lacklustre revenues

Judging by UK press comments on Yoomedia's latest financial reportage, the iTV companys teamwork with Will Hill has not produced the sort of results that were anticipated.

The public iTV technology firm reported half year losses up at GBP 4.6 million as its joint venture TV project with the UK gambling group had not met expected revenue targets. Key Channel 425 developments were "...delayed in implementation," the the Yoomedia report revealed.

Taking a more positive perspective, however the report said that the company was confident that developments on the channel would get back on schedule in the coming months. "The outlook for the channel and our partnership with William Hill is very positive," it added.

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NIEBOER RESIGNS FROM VIRGIN
7 October 2005

Top exec to pursue own interests

eGaming Review reported this week that the managing director of Virgin Games, Oscar Nieboer is to leave the company to pursue other interests. His responsibilities have been taken over by Simon Burridge, chairman of the company.

EGaming Review quotes Nieboer as saying: "The last few years with Virgin have been highly rewarding and to work with a brand and culture as strong as Virgin has been a privilege. But the recent chance to pursue a number of opportunities outside the group was too hard to resist. I can’t give you too much detail about them just yet – let’s just say it will involve plenty of stamina."

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IS PARTY GAMING CHASING BETFAIR?
7 October 2005

One giant after another....

The UK and Australian press has carried speculative articles this week that online poker and casino giant Party Gaming may be pursuing a takeover bid on betting exchange leader Betfair.

It sounds an unlikely development, given PG's shares hammering recently, and InfoPowa has not been able to obtain confirmation of the story so far.

The reports suggest that PG will bid around GBP 800 million for Betfair, which was recently named (see previous InfoPowa reports) as the seventh fastest-growing technology company in Britain, and rumoured to be about to launch a high value IPO on the London stock exchange.

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TALK TO US SAYS NEW BRIT GAMING COMMISSION
7 October 2005

Chairman Dean favours consultative process on new UK online gaming licencing

Peter Dean, chairman of the new Gambling Commission - the body that will control online gambling in the UK - has again called on online gaming interests to contribute to the licencing regulations drafting process.

At the present time only sports betting firms may base their servers in the UK, with firms forced to locate gaming servers offshore, but all that is about to change with a more progressive approach to Internet gaming generally.

"The Commission is currently working on the licence conditions and codes of practice which will be relevant to the remote gambling sector. We will be consulting on drafts of these conditions and codes early next year,” Dean said.

"This is an exciting time for the industry, and I would encourage all those who have its welfare at heart to share your views and get involved."

The Gambling Commission was established under the UK Gambling Act 2005. It will be fully independent.

Richard Caborn, UK minister for culture, media and sport, which includes gambling regulation, said he was confident the commission will be seen as "...a model for gambling regulation around the world."

The Gambling Commission takes over the role of the Gaming Board of Great Britain, and comes into power on October 1 2005.

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BET CRAZY BRITS SPEND GBP 1.5 BILLION A YEAR ON-LINE
7 October 2005

New Virgin Money survey has revealed that Brit betting is on the rise.

A new survey commissioned by the Virgin Group, UK owners of Virgin Gaming shows that poker, casino, football, lottery and horseracing sites are the country’s big favourites - and Londoners have emerged as the biggest spenders.

Most Brits admit to staking between GBP 10 and GBP 20-a-week having a flutter while 40 percent of Scots spend GBP 50. But Londoners are the nation’s biggest gamblers with one in ten spending between GBP 300 and GBP 500-a-week.

Virgin Money polled more than 2,000 people to discover the scale of the nation’s online betting fascination – and an incredible 93 percent admitted they have had a crack.

More new punters are chasing the dream all the time with nearly half the people polled admitting they have started gambling online in the past six months.

Football sites are tops with men, 40 percent visiting them daily and the same number betting once a week. Lottery and casino games are men’s other big favourites.

But women provided the biggest shock. Their main gambling interest is the lottery, but second on their ‘must-bet’ list is horseracing, once regarded as a mainly male fascination.

Punters in the Midlands and East Anglia are the most frequent online betters with nearly one in three admitting to having a flutter more than once a day. People in the South West spend most time playing poker, backing horses or trying other sites on the web – one in 20 confessing to spending up to five hours online a day.

The vast majority of online punters, nearly 80 percent, will spend a minimum of one hour a week betting online – but that equates to more than a working week each year gambling on the web.

Most of the gambling population use their own computers at home to enjoy their new hobby and they pay for their fun with credit and debit cards. But up to 10 percent nationally admit to using computers at work, that figure rising to 18 percent in London and the North East.

And five per cent nationally confess to buying a PC or laptop specifically so they can bet. The seductive power of gambling has resulted in 10 percent of the online betting community insisting that having a flutter online is now one of their main pastimes. But that figure rises to one in five of online gamblers in Scotland and East Anglia.

A spokesman for Virgin Money said: “There’s no doubt online gambling and betting has become incredibly popular across the country – and these figures prove it. “The internet – as with so many other areas of life - has simply made something people already enjoy even easier to access and new sites are springing up all the time. Gambling can be both fun and rewarding but punters should only spend what they can afford to lose.”

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COOL CASINOS
7 October 2005

InfoPowa has previously reported on the choice of Playtech as software provider for the online casino website owned by the English football club West Ham United, and following the recent launch we visited the very professional looking and easy to use site this week.

Branded Hammers Casino.com (the club's nickname according to the site blurb)the new venture is not the first online casino launch by a football club - Manchester United claim that one. Nevertheless, this is a quality operation with over 70 games powered by one of the top industry names, Playtech and including progressives with a current potential win value of GBP 500 000.

As one might expect, the Antigua-licensed site offers fully contactable round-the-clock Support and a VIP loyalty program. The financial side is handled out of St. Kitts by IFUND INTERPAY and offers facilities from Click2Pay, ODF, Neteller standard and Instacash, Moneybookers, Switch, Delta and others, using GBP, Dollars and Euro currencies. For the bonus hungry there are a range of offers with various conditions, including a welcome bonus of up to GBP 200.

Taking a spin...
UK-Roulette.co.uk is a pretty cool site targeted on the growing British online casino market and sporting an impressive range of around 80 of RTG's latest games. Neteller, Moneybookers, Delta/ Switch, Eco and Click 2 Pay are all listed as financial options and the operation banks through the reputable NatWest organisation in London, with financial matters channeled through AquaPay. The licensing is Kahnawake and among the several bonuses on offer is a 100 percent signup maxed at GBP 100 and conditional on a x 20 D+B W/T.

Playtech poker release
Latest member of Playtech's iPoker network is Titan Poker.com, an attractive site that can be played in English, French, Italian, German and Spanish. There are a number of bonuses on offer including a generous "send-a-friend" at $75 and a 100 percent signup maxed at $500. The site is well presented and has plenty of content such as weekly $1000 freerolls, and a series of jackpots that go as high as $25 000 in sit and go games as well as tournaments. Three games are on offer - Texas Hold Em, Omaha and Omaha Hi Lo, Full 24/7 Support is available and there is a wide choice of financial options. The iPoints loyalty program is promised soon.

Everything's bigger in Texas
New RTG-powered arrival is Best Texas Casino.com, which carries the popular RTG gambling software versions of 18 VP, 16 card and table games and 23 slots that include 9 progressives. The site is rather plain but workmanlike and offers fully contactable 24/7 Support and a good range of financial options through BIMS Worldwide Ltd. Look out for the large list of excluded countries (these guys are taking no chances) and before taking bonuses like the $750 sign-up make sure you read the complex T&Cs very carefully.

It's been awhile....
Since we saw a new Grand Virtual operation, so Golden Lounge Casino.com will be welcome for the devotees of this aging gambling software suite. The site is competent if unspectacular, but all the facilities of round-the-clock Support, 18 language options and an average range of financial instruments are available. Grand Virtual has been around for years and is a Canadian company that was acquired by the Taiwan Giga Media group over a year ago.

Going Dutch...
Is the well established and fast growing Vegas Partners Lounge which now boasts a stable of almost ten gambling operations, The group has launched a Dutch language site to cater for the many online gamblers in that country, and it can be found at NL.Sun Vegas.com, powered by Microgaming.

One for the live gambling fans:
Casino Web Cam has added another "live-over-the-Internet" gambling site owned by a group of Toronto business people to it's stable of over 16 licensees with the arrival of Live Palace.com, which streams live gambling with real croupiers from studios in Costa Rica. The website is attractive and easy to use, and offers live Support together with a good range of financing choices through Secure Processing Ltd in the United Kingdom. Watch out for that 48 hour suspended withdrawal clause in the T&Cs.

Recently arrived poker sites...
Include Fair Poker.com (iPoker network from Playtech) VC Poker (Tribeca Tables software) Green Tie Poker.com (Excapsa network) Purple Lounge.com (Microgaming and Prima network) Two no-download operations that are going after the MacIntosh user market are MacPoker Player.com and B2B Poker.com, both using Java technology on proprietary suites. Expekt.com has dropped the Prima Poker network in favour of Tain software.

And in mobile-land there's plenty of activity, too:
Look out for Aspinalls Mobile Online.com - a Phantom Fiber powered mobile arm of the famous land and online casino company, and a new mobile casino service from Sportech-owned BetDirect using a combo of Boss Media and Mfuse technology. Sportech operates Littlewoods and has extensive iTV interests. Finally, the UK-based Cellectivity Ltd techno team are working with Party Gaming's Starluck Casino on a mobile offering.

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CASINO CAUTIONS
7 October 2005

Check your account!

The fora have been lighting up lately with player reports of unexpected, and frequently automatic bonuses. Where's the problem with getting some free money, you may ask?

The answer is because these bonuses carry wager-through requirements and in many cases the player didn't ask for them. The bonanza is frequently just credited to an account, and the first the player knows about it is when a cash-out is denied because the W/T has not been met.

A growing number of players eschew bonuses because these marketing inducements too frequently lead to nightmare hassles of extensive minimum wagering requirements, denied pay-outs, confrontations with ill-trained or briefed Support and even the danger of being unilaterally declared a "bonus abuser" and subjected to disqualifications and lock-outs. In short, many believe that bonuses are just not worth the trouble they can bring.

Some pretty surreal live-chats have taken place, where Support workers have said they are actually unable to remove these bonuses when requested, and there have been cases of bonuses being credited despite a player calling Support prior to playing and telling them to hold off on the bonus!

No doubt these bonuses could be reversed once a manager is involved, but who needs the trouble?

It's something that deserves attention at casino and maybe even software level. It should not be too difficult to give the player an opportunity to reject a bonus before it is credited, especially where it involves obligations on his or her part. And the player should definitely be advised when a credit is about to made.

In the meantime, players need to keep a close eye on the transactions going through their accounts in order to catch any *surprises* before they are used and that endless cycle of bonus arguments gets into gear.

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PHANTOM FIBER & TRIBECA TO DEVELOP WIRELESS POKER
7 October 2005

Five year exclusive agreement signed

Technology developer Phantom Fiber Corporation inked a five-year exclusive license agreement with turnkey online poker provider Tribeca Tables Europe, Ltd, this week. The goal of the partnership is to develop a wireless poker platform.

Tribeca Tables supplies the technology behind a growing range of online poker rooms, providing a global poker playing network. The Tribeca Tables Poker Network includes an impressive list of prestigious brands such as Victor Chandler, Blue Sq, BETonSPORTS, Paddy Power, G-Fed, Golden Palace and Doyle Brunson, as well as over 100 other brands.

Jeff Halloran, President and CEO for Phantom Fiber says, "The agreement is symbolic because Phantom Fiber's Advanced Wireless Platform was originally built around poker to demonstrate the proven speed, graphics and stability of our wireless solution.

"The growth and momentum behind Poker cannot be understated. Tribeca's strong management team, infrastructure and operations have proven to be a formidable force in the online poker world as a result of their critical mass of users, marketing and retention programs designed to create the necessary liquidity to keep players coming back.

"We are excited to be working with Tribeca Tables and look forward to deploying to their entire class of tier-1 brands in the very near future."

Steve Cook from Tribeca Tables commented, "We foresee rapid growth in 2006 for the mobile poker sector and expect to decisively execute on several key wireless poker brand launches early next year."

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UK GAMBLING ADVISORY PANEL FORMED
7 October 2005

Land casino advisory panel formed as part of the Gambling Commission

The British media are reporting this week that UK gambling minister Richard Caborn has announced the membership of an advisory panel, which will begin work towards the introduction of regional land casinos as part of the new Gambling Commission regulation of the UK gambling industry, including the Internet gambling sector.

The initiative to form an advisory panel came about as part of the Gambling Act 2005, which came into force on 1 October.

The Casino Advisory Panel will be chaired by Professor Stephen Crow – a former chief planning inspector and chief executive of the Planning Inspectorate – and includes Christopher Collinson, an independent planning and regeneration advisor and former deputy chief executive of Mansfield District Council; James Froomberg, commercial director of British Waterways; Neil Mundy, formerly director of finance and corporate services for ONE North East Regional Development Agency; and Deep Sagar, director of Glasgow Employer Coalition.

Its duties will initially be to invite expressions of interest from local authorities and then begin identifying the areas which could support either the one regional land casino or any of the planned eight large and eight small casinos.

It will investigate the social impact and potential for regeneration in each of the applicants’ regions. Regional planning bodies throughout England, Wales and Scotland will also be asked to identify a list of potential locations for the regional casino.

Based on the panel’s findings, the list of chosen locations will be approved in a Parliamentary Order in early 2007, with the relevant local authorities then able to invite tenders for casino premises licences.

“The panel’s priority is to get a proper assessment of the social impact new types of casino will have, particularly on problem gambling,” said Caborn, “I know there has already been a great deal of speculation over the location of the new regional casino – this isn’t surprising given the regeneration benefits it will bring – but the appointment of this panel shows that there are no favourites or front-runners. The slate has been wiped clean and every local authority will have the chance to make its case.”

Local authorities which are unwilling to licence a casino will not be considered by the panel. The regional casino will offer a minimum of 5,000sq m), large casinos a minimum of 1,500sq m and small casinos a minimum of 750sq m, with differing jackpot prize levels at each available.

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NEW LOOK FOR 7 SULTANS
7 October 2005

Fortune Lounge veteran will now give players a personal assistant

One of the Fortune Lounge group's oldest and most popular online casinos, 7 Sultans has been given an extensive revamp, offering more player services.

The website has received a dynamic make-over that is set to make it more appealing to the gambling public, using input from the players themselves in the project.

"Securing players is the art of our game and the upgrade of the 7Sultans site allows us to give players what they want and by so doing, we're making the player experience more memorable. That way players will want to come back for more," says the Director of 7Sultans Marketing, John Hughes.

The new presentation gives a more modern look to the Eastern getaway that is the 7Sultans Casino. The website's software has been upgraded and navigation is more player-friendly and easier to use.

But one of the new features will likely have special appeal to players. This is the introduction of a players' personal assistant, which will also be rolled out shortly across all the Fortune Lounge brands.

With the Personal Messenger, players will no longer have to open their installed casino software to view important gambling information such as casino account balance. Players will be able to link directly to the Fortune Lounge Players Club, review their points balance and redeem loyalty bonuses. Quick-link buttons are available to review the Fortune Lounge winners' wall and be kept up-to-date with all the latest news. The Personal Messenger has also been redesigned to make messages easier to read.

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EXCLUSIVE MAYFAIR POKER CLUB ON THE WAY
7 October 2005

Land poker room could be London's first licensed card room under the new Gambling Act

Look out for an up-market, member's only poker club that is set to open its doors in Mayfair, central London, in early 2006.

The Fox Poker Club, as it will be called, has applied to the Gaming Board of Great Britain for a casino license which will make it London's first fully licensed card room.

The club plans to have not only the first, but one of the largest card rooms in London offering absolute comfort in the surroundings of a listed Georgian townhouse. A dedicated "Platinum Room", with full TV studio facilities, will be available to Platinum Members and their guests. The Platinum Room will host high stakes no-limit cash games, and will be the location of the final table for major tournaments. Fox Poker Club Members will be able watch these games live from the comfort of the bar and lounge area on state of the art flat-screen televisions.

With limited membership, poker enthusiasts who are interested in joining are encouraged to express their interest in a pre-registration form on the club's website.

The poker club will be situated next door to its sister club, The Fox Club, which is an exclusive private members club. Both clubs are housed in elegant five-storey Georgian townhouses, which date back to the 1800s when Charles Fox, whom the clubs are named after, resided there. Fox was a leading Whig politician, and a well-known gambler.

The club will be run by a group of enthusiasts who have a track record in the gaming industry. Club founder Chris North said, "We wanted to open a club dedicated to poker that was legally allowed to offer the full range of Poker properly regulated and in a secure environment."

Fellow founder Brian Mattingley added, "The Fox Poker Club is owned and run by poker fans, for poker fans and we aim to make it the number one destination of choice for the capital's poker players."

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SENIOR BRITISH EXECUTIVE JOINS CRYPTOLOGIC BOARD
7 October 2005

Nigel Simon brings extensive European business expertise to turnkey provider

British businessman Nigel Simon has been appointed as a non-executive director to Cryptologic's Board. Simon, a veteran British executive, has more than 25 years of broad senior management and strategic experience in leading and managing international businesses. He has particular expertise in strategy, marketing, regulatory issues, sales, banking, corporate governance and mergers and acquisitions.

"Nigel Simon is an experienced executive with particular strengths in strategy and marketing, which will be an excellent complement to CryptoLogic's Board and leadership team," said Lewis Rose, CryptoLogic's President and CEO.

"Nigel's extensive background in international businesses - notably in the UK and Europe, CryptoLogic's core growth markets, and his familiarity with Asia - will add valuable insights as we continue to deliver some of the world's best Internet games to the world's best gaming brands."

Simon has led a multi-billion-dollar business in Continental Europe, as well as building Gallaher's substantial volume position in Russia, Kazakhstan and Asia. In doing so, he has demonstrated a track record for growing both market share and profits and has worked with leading investment banks, advertising agencies and management consulting firms around the globe.

Simon held senior management roles for 20 years with Gallaher Group PLC, an approximately GBP 4 billion FTSE 50 and NYSE-listed international tobacco company based in the UK, with sales in 68 countries and manufacturing locations in the UK, Austria, Kazakhstan, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine and Sweden. Some of Simon's most notable achievements at Gallaher included growing the company's international profits by more than 600 percent over a ten year period, and leading the Euro 2.1 billion European acquisition and integration of an Austrian manufacturer.

He served for seven years as a Main Board Director of Gallaher and held positions as Chairman of Germany's largest vending retailer, and as a Board member for Germany's largest convenience store wholesaler.

In addition to his business interests, Simon also serves as a trustee for a major UK charity and as a mentor for the Prince's Trust - a charity founded by the Prince of Wales to help less-privileged young adults get their start in business.

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GOOD BUD FOR POKER
7 October 2005

WPT clinches Budweiser sponsorship

WPT Enterprises, Inc. welcomed Budweiser this week as the “Official Beer” of the World Poker Tour in its fourth exciting season of riveting televised poker on the Travel Channel.

“As the WPT re-positions poker as a leading sport - not just a pastime - Budweiser is the ideal sponsor. Our long association with sports increases poker’s recognition by the sports-loving consumer and television viewer,” said Peter McLoughlin, Vice President, Corporate Media, Anheuser-Busch, Inc.

Budweiser television spots will air on Travel Channel’s broadcasts of Season IV. Additionally, viewers will see the Budweiser logo on the “table ring” around the Final Table arena and on in-show graphics for the WPT’s popular “hole card camera” segment. The winners of each WPT tournament will celebrate a toast with Budweiser as part of the WPT’s traditional closing sequence.

In jurisdictions where it is legal, Budweiser will support the sponsorship with retail promotions which will begin in December 2005 and will run through February 2006 with a “Texas Hold‘em tournament”, to feature a shortened elimination version of Texas Hold’em.

Players will begin each round with an equal number of chips and play until they “bust out.” Only the top chip winners will progress to the next round. Players will not pay or purchase anything to play in this tournament, but must be 21 or older.

The top two players at the National Finals will secure seats in the WPT Invitational, the World Poker Tour's celebrity pro-am tournament boasting 300 players vying for a $200,000 prize pool. Skilled celebrities such as Ben Affleck, James Woods, Jennifer Tilly and Tobey Maguire have joined the roster of WPT tournament winners and leading pros who participate in the WPT Invitational.

Steve Lipscomb, CEO and founder of WPT Enterprises described the deal as “....a great match of two iconic brands.”

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SKYPE FOR SALE?
7 October 2005

Will those calls remain low cost?

US media are reporting that the online auction company eBay is believed to be in early but ''active'' talks to acquire Skype.com, the European low cost Internet telephony provider. Media speculation is that the transaction could be valued at between $2 billion and $3 billion.

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PARTY GAMING SHEDS 'SKINS'
14 October 2005

Moves are part of a plan to provide a fully integrated operating platform

Speculation on the Internet was rife this week at the news that PartyGaming subsidiary PartyPoker was to shed it's client "skins" as part of a strategy to build a new, fully integrated PartyGaming site.

MultiPoker, Intertops, Empire and Eurobet are affected by the changes.

PartyGaming officials pointed out that the intention to ring the changes had been announced on a number of occasions, most recently in the companys half yearly reportage.

In a press release this week, the company said that it has taken a further step towards establishing a new, fully integrated PartyGaming operating platform which will, on launch early in 2006 offer a variety of different games but with a common systems architecture. This will allow each of its nine million registered PartyPoker customers to use a single account and a shared purse across all of the group’s gaming brands. These brands include poker, casino and mobile gambling interests.

The group has moved the PartyPoker.com brand and all of its players to the new platform with immediate effect.

Historically, PartyPoker players have shared the same poker-only system with players from each of the PartyGaming's four white label poker clients or “skins” namely Empire Poker, Coral Eurobet, Multipoker and Intertops.

Following the new plan, PartyPoker players will now play on their own private tables and benefit from a number of new and exciting products that are exclusive to the new platform.

The new platform includes non-poker games such as Blackjack, as well as added features to the poker product such as Side Bets and Deal-Making in poker tournaments.

Once the fully integrated platform is launched in the first half of 2006, players will be able to click through and play on PartyPoker, PartyCasino and other new PartyGaming products that are currently being developed, all using a common account and a shared purse.

The skins’ poker players will continue to have full access to the existing poker system. They will also now benefit from the release of several new product enhancements comprising “beginners’ tables” – these include “micro-limit tables” and low buy-in tables – and $50/$100 and $100/$200 tables.

PokerNOW.com, which was acquired by the group earlier in the year, will continue to operate on the existing poker system with the skins.

Commenting on the changes, Richard Segal, Chief Executive said: “We are on track to deliver our exclusive Party-branded integrated platform that will include additional products and services, enabling us to focus on optimising cross-selling opportunities. We believe that today’s development is an important step towards cementing together the inherent strengths of all the Party brands and is in the best interests of our customers and shareholders.

"In conjunction with this exciting development, we will continue to maintain and support the poker system we provide for the skins.”

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GOOD NEWS FROM SPORTINGBET
14 October 2005

A bright spot in a disappointing week for online gambling stocks

Top British online gambling group Sportingbet brought a breath of fresh air to the week's pessimism over Internet gambling prospects when it announced it's results mid-week.

The group, which includes online poker giant Paradise Poker.com among its companies shrugged off the collapse in confidence in the future of internet gambling, the UK business press reported, by posting a fivefold increase in profits and a 50 percent rise in the amount of gambling by its customers.

Referring to the market pessimism, which started with a comment from the Party Gaming CEO that the poker market was slowing down Sportingbet chief executive Nigel Payne said: "The whole thing has been overblown. From where I am standing, volumes up 50 percent this year after being in business for seven years is something any company in any industry in any part of the world would want.

"Our poker rake is up 71 percent year-on-year and 22 percent quarter on quarter. That is is not a slowdown."

Sportingbet, whose shares have fallen a fifth in a month, has been caught up in a GBP 5 billion sell-off of internet poker room and cyber casino stocks, which has seen some companies halve in value.

Sportingbet's pre-tax profits were GBP40 million in the year to 31 July. Almost half of that came from its poker operations at Paradise Poker.com acquired last year, with underlying profits from its sports betting business up 54 percent.

Payne claims that his 'multiproduct' business model works better than poker-only or casino-only websites.

He said: "The scale of the group's operations has increased significantly.

"We now have over 2.7 million registered customers who placed 400 million sports and gaming bets in the year - up 51 percent - and generated an 89 percent increase in the daily poker rate." He added that the trend had continued in the first months of the new financial year.

The average number of games played each day on Sportingbet's Paradise Poker site rose 66.3 percent in the year to July 31, while the cost of attracting each new player to Paradise Poker rose by $10 (GBP 5.74) to $139.

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POSITIVE MARKET REACTION TO SPORTINGBET'S RESULTS CONTINUES
14 October 2005

"The fastest growth period of our poker business has been in the last 10 weeks." says CEO

The welcome lightening of the doom and gloom of the past week over Internet stocks has continued as the business press pick up on Sportingbet's solid results this week.

Both online and traditional press were highlighting CEO Nigel Payne's positive comments and quoting figures such as pre tax profits jumping almost 500 percent to US$71.4 million, while operating profit climbed 291 percent to US$105 million.

The strong results pushed Sportingbet shares up 9.4 percent at the close of trading on the day they were announced.

Shares in rival firms also benefited from the feel good factor with PartyGaming and Empire Online both finishing the day up 9.8 percent and 8.8 percent respectively.

Sportingbet's chief executive discounted talk of limited growth, saying he saw no sign of a slowdown “in any area”.

The poker aspect of the reportage was especially noteworthy, because the massive rise in earnings at Sportingbet was in part due to a US$49.7 million contribution from Paradise Poker.com.

Paradise’s active customers rose by 88.5 percent to 212,000 during the reporting period with average daily rake jumping 88.8 percent to US$ 283,824.

Sportingbet also reported strong growth across the board with profits from the non-Paradise part of the group growing by 54 percent compared to the same period last year. Sports betting gross win was up 9 percent to US$125.3 million, but casino operations were the most impressive performer with gross win jumping 43 percent to US$79 million.

CEO Payne was widely quoted as saying he was delighted with the results from the first 10 weeks of the group's financial year, with current trading very strong. “New customer signups, sports bets and poker games are all at record levels. The fastest growth period of our poker business has been in the last 10 weeks."

Giving the industry a boost, too Payne said, "I can't call a slowdown in activity in any area," he said. "I talk to a lot of operators, and a lot of operators out there are very pleased about how poker has progressed."

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MORE SPORTSBOOK ACTION FROM CASSAVA?
14 October 2005

CEO says more focus likely on sports betting in the near future

Major online casino and poker group Cassava Enterprises (888.com) will be far more active in the sports betting sector in the near future as it seeks to broaden its business base, marketing across a massive database of millions of casino and poker room players.

In an interview with the British media the casino giant has revealed plans to ramp up the marketing of its previously low key sports betting operations. 888.com currently operates a white label of the Betdaq betting exchange under the Betmate banner, which does not accept bets from the US.

However, the firm is keen to grow revenues from the previously underexploited sportts betting section of its business.

“We will be focusing much more on sports betting in the near future,” John Anderson, chief executive of 888, said. “We wanted to get it bedded down and everything working well before we started aggressively selling it.”

He added that the firm would be focusing heavily on cross-marketing to its massive database of casino and poker customers, although there are no plans to offer bets to U.S. players.

The press reports that 888.com is not the only casino group to enter the sports betting sector, with rival operator Carmen Media already running a European-focused sportsbook. There were also rumours that PartyGaming was planning to enter the sports betting sector through the acquisition of betting exchange Betfair.....this was denied by a Betfair spokesman who dismissed the report, saying "That's news to us!"

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BRIT INTERCASINO HAS ANOTHER MAJOR WINNER
14 October 2005

Sussex man cracks GBP 225 793

October 13th was a lucky day for Alan Welton of West Sussex in the UK - he hit a GBP225,793 jackpot on the "Rags to Riches" progressive slot game at Intercasino.co.uk.

35 year old Alan has only been a member of the casino for three weeks and said, “I’m gob smacked it’s actually happened to me – I couldn’t stop staring at the screen and had to reach for the bottle of rum! I just can’t believe my luck, it’s all a dream come true. I have only been playing on InterCasino for three weeks! The format of the Rags to Riches game is brilliant. You can see the progressive jackpot rising all the time and when it went above GBP 200 000 I had to have a pop. I knew someone had to win it so why not me?”

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ENGLISH HARBOUR LAUNCHES NEW PROPRIETARY SOFTWARE
14 October 2005

Online casino group claims that new platform will "revolutionise online casino play"

The long established English Harbour online casino group, which has hitherto used Odds On software this week launched new proprietary casino software that it claims will revolutionize online casino play.

Based on the company's Vegas Technology platform, the state-of- the-art software is said to feature a smaller, faster download, simplified navigation, innovative 3-D lobby and unparalleled sound to create the most realistic gaming environment in cyberspace.

With over 70 games, including several that cannot be found anywhere else on the Internet, Vegas Technology offers a comprehensive suite of online casino games. In conjunction with the software launch, EnglishHarbour.com is introducing new slot games Cash Grab and Flaming 7's and features some of the Internet's highest value progressives.

The new 3-D casino lobby allows visitors to preview demos of casino games before playing and provides single-click convenience to view daily promotions. Available as a minimal 400Kb download, EnglishHarbour.com's new software package is one of the smallest available in the online casino industry for instant installation whether using a dial-up or high-speed Internet connection. Once installed, the Vegas Technology package offers users automatic software and game updates to maintain the highest level of security while providing the most current casino games available.

"Developing our own proprietary casino software was a logical progression to keep the company at the forefront of the burgeoning online gaming industry," said Paul Sudolski, President of EnglishHarbour.com. "After thoroughly examining player suggestions, hiring focus groups with gaming industry expertise, and partnering with independent third parties, we've introduced a casino product that accurately reflects today's marketplace."

EnglishHarbour.com will unveil several new games utilizing the Vegas Technology platform within the next three months, including new blackjack, American roulette, Pai Gow poker and several new bonus games, among others. The new software offers customers convenient payment options and unmatched 24/7 live online support.




ASIAN TOUCH FOR AUSSIE GAMES
14 October 2005

New slots released at AusVegas Casino

Players at AusVegas online casino can now take their chances on two new slots with a distinctly Oriental feel. The casino has added some eastern promise to its slot gaming range by introducing Eastern Dragon and Naughty Ninjas.

Both of the new slots are heavily influenced by eastern culture, the Eastern Dragon game draws on themes from Chinese Mythology and is a five reel, 20 line game, which has an attractive $12,000 top payout.

Naughty Ninjas has a more light hearted theme which features pirates, monsters and of course ninjas. This is also an entertaining 20 line game as well as having the added bonus of a $4,000 top prize.

The two new games bring the total number of different games available at AusVegas to 30. New players are offered a 400 percent sign-up incentive (there are conditions attached, of course).

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INDIANA COOL ON SATELLITE CASINO CONCEPT
14 October 2005

Kenilworth proposes "live-over-satellite" gambling

A proposal to deliver casino gambling via satellite to client homes or businesses has so far received a cool reception from state gambling authorities in Indiana, according to US press reports this week.

The Kenilworth Systems Corporation technology company proposed to broadcast an Indiana casino's roulette wheel, baccarat and other games to gamblers' homes through a microprocessor on a TV-top box or to racetracks, off-track betting parlors, lottery locations, hotels or other sites that another state or country might authorise.

The quid pro quo was that Kenilworth would allocate 2.5 percent of its revenues from wagers prior to expenses to the state, capped at $1 billion.

State regulators said that the company probably couldn't be licenced to do business in the state and might not be able to find a willing casino partner anyway. However, in a report requested by legislators the Indiana Gaming Commission did not explicitly endorse or dismiss Kenilworth Systems Corp.'s proposal.

The commission did make the point that the offer presents significant hurdles for state government, and said that Kenilworth failed to provide much of the information requested, making it difficult for the staff to evaluate the reportedly financially troubled company in full.

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POKERSTARS SIGNS UP WSOP CHAMPION
14 October 2005

Aussie press says Joe Hachem to announce sponsorship deal this week

According to the newspaper the Herald Sun, Aussie poker ace Joe Hachem, who won $10 million as the WSOP champ earlier this year will soon announce a lucrative sponsorship deal with an internet poker site.

Mr Hachem's brother Tony said Joe would become an ambassador for Poker Stars.com and would be used in advertising for the online poker website.

He said the deal was Joe's first since winning the World Series of Poker in July and more commercial deals were being negotiated.

Joe and Tony Hachem are in New York for the announcement. A documentary on the World Series of Poker, featuring Mr Hachem, is being edited in Los Angeles.

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EGR EDITOR MOVES TO INSIDE EDGE
14 October 2005

Scott Longley the new man

eGaming Review editor Alun Bowden leaves the publication this week for fresh pastures at gambling print magazine Inside Edge, published by the Dennis group where he has been appointed Deputy Editor.

Inside Edge is the UK's leading gambling magazine, and part of the same publishing stable as Maxim.

Stepping into the role of editor at EGR is Scott Longley, who was previously deputy editor of Bloomberg Money.

"It was a really tough decision to leave eGaming Review, and I hope to stay involved with the magazine on some level, but the opportunity at Inside Edge was too exciting to turn down," Bowden told InfoPowa.

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CYOPS CHINESE POKER SOFTWARE READY TO GO
14 October 2005

Market estimated at 7.4 Chinese poker players by next year.

Press material from gambling software provider CYOP Systems announces that the companys backend licenced CrediPlay financial systems and Poker games have been localised into Traditional and Simplified Chinese, allowing for the software to be deployed globally.

Chinese portals with access to markets in China, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia are being made a priority due to the high proportion of gamers, strong Internet growth and readily disposable income.

"We plan to aggressively licence our games to major portals and gaming companies in Asia," said Mitch White, CEO of CYOP Systems.

"The region has seen its numbers grow and gambling and entertainment research firm Christiansen Capital Advisors estimates the number of Asian online gamblers will grow from 4 million in 2003 to 7.4 million by 2006. Asia's fondness for gaming and a large population, which is inclined to spend its disposable income on leisure goods and services, makes it a natural objective for our growth."

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BIG OVERSEAS EXPANSION PLANNED BY LADBROKES
14 October 2005

Overseas branding has been built online

Major British betting group Ladbrokes is about to unveil plans for a massive overseas expansion that will see it open betting shops outside Europe for the first time, The Scotsman newspaper reported this week.

The bookies chain - part of the Hilton group is apparently in talks with a string of international governments keen to follow the UK's lead on gambling regulation. The aim is to set up joint ventures with local companies in overseas markets, and open shops under the Ladbrokes brand name.

Deputy chief executive Brian Wallace is quoted as saying: "We are talking about internationalising the Ladbrokes brand. A lot of countries would like to adopt our standard of regulation, and they are asking: How can we get help with this?"

Ladbrokes will provide expertise in a range of areas, including gaming technology, the layout of the shops and managing the book - all in return for a presence on international high streets.

Wallace added: "It's not like we will be spending hundreds of millions building shops, but we are looking to set them up properly, and to explain to joint venture partners how to run them. So, apart from running our business here in the UK, the Ladbrokes guys are currently flying around the world - trying to set up these joint ventures."

The company is expected to unveil the strategy to the market before the end of the year, and has yet to name the governments involved in talks. However, Singapore's prime minister gave the go-ahead for the state's first casinos this year and it is understood that the Far East is Ladbrokes' primary target.

The book-maker currently operates more than 2,250 betting shops in the UK and Ireland, and has a small presence in Belgium. It bought the portfolio from family firms in 1981, but has not since tried to expand its empire.

It has built its brand overseas through its online offering - launched five years ago with an investment of GBP20 million. Ladbrokes is targeting profits from the website of GBP50 million by 2007, while the company claims to attract gamblers from 160 countries.

Wallace said: "The online presence is what has given us the opportunity to export Ladbrokes."

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IS PLAYTECH ON THE LONDON IPO TRAIL, TOO?
14 October 2005

Spokesman says no, but the speculation persists

There was intense interest focused on the possibility of turnkey provider Playtech going after a London listing this week following speculation (see earlier InfoPowa reports) and an interesting article in the Israeli business press.

The article speculated that notwithstanding the slowdown in internet gambling share prices following Party Gaming's pessimistic opinion on the poker market a month ago, its principal shareholder Teddy Sagi was keen to list.

As previously reported, Playtech has been holding discussions with UK capital market financial advisors to examine various options, including an IPO. It is claimed that PlayTech’s shareholders prefer an IPO.

Word in the City is that the company expects to go public in November, but a PlayTech spokesman denied the rumours, claiming that the company has no plans for an IPO before the end of 2005. It could be that Playtech is waiting for the dust to settle on Party Gaming's pessimism, perhaps monitoring the recent IPO of 888.com and other online gambling companies before committing itself.

The Israeli press story included some interesting inside detail on Playtech, and claims that its IPO could exceed the GBP 195 million market cap achieved by veteran turnkey provider Cryptologic, a much respected company in the industry.

PlayTech was reportedly founded in 2000 by NAV New Age Investments Ltd., controlled by Sagi and three 30-something entrepreneurs from central Israel, with current PlayTech VP marketing incumbent Elad Cohen as CEO. NAV was delisted from the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) in 2003.

The other two founders are said to be Amnon Ben-Zion and CEO Rami Beinish. Ben-Zion and Cohen met during their compulsory military service in the Israeli Defence Force central processing unit. Ben-Zion sold his PlayTech stake a year ago.

The article reports that a valuation for PlayTech conducted for NAV in late 2002 found that NAV owned 68 percent of the company, Elad Cohen 19 percent, and the other two founders 6 percent and 7 percent, respectively. PlayTech was valued at $18.4 million, after deducting debts, a figure that now seems unlikely. The valuation was carried out for a failed attempt by Sagi to obtain capital for the company by issuing 10 percent of its capital to an external investor. The valuation indicated that PlayTech had $4.5 million in revenue in 2002, and an operating profit before financing expenses of $1.5 million.

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PLAYERS BUILD THEIR OWN COMPETITION
14 October 2005

Casinomeister gamblers combine with 32 Red in best progressives contest

For the past two weeks a friendly competition between players has been evolving at the Casinomeister portal, where an initially personal challenge between two gamblers has blossomed into a fun contest based on best results involving several players with many enthusiastic onlookers following the action on the players' forum.

This week the informal competition stepped up a gear when popular online casino site 32 Red.com offered a $500 prize to the winner.

This quickly escalated with some collaborative thinking into a regular monthly player-run competition using a low and a high value progressive to cater for a range of players. The emphasis is on friendly fun, and the best results each month will be rewarded with $250 prizes from 32 Red on each progressive.

In essence the simple rules will be:

1) 2 Progressives will be nominated each month
2) All players send the player/organiser their 32Red player number
3) All entrants all hit the nominated slots
4) If the Jackpot is won, the winner keeps 70 percent and all the others share 30 percent
5) 32Red will at the end of each month provide a printout with the number of spins each player made on each of the slots

The contest is an encouraging departure from the sometimes adversarial relationship between players and operators, and illustrates what can be achieved with some positive joint action with mutual benefit in mind.

For now, the competition will be confined to Casinomeister members, and the emphasis is on friendly banter and fun, rather than bonus hunting.

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BIG WIN AT VIP CASINO
14 October 2005

Half a million dollars in two days is pretty good going...

VIP Casino.com reports some outstanding good fortune for a regular player at the Cryptologic-powered online casino who won over $500 000 in a little over two days recently.

The casino's press release does not identify the player other than to reveal that he has been a regular visitor to VIPCasino for over a year, but took a break from playing last June.

Returning to the popular casino in September 2005, he resumed playing on ‘an occasional basis’ and, within a matter of weeks, struck gold by winning over $200,000 – equating to an impressive 660 percent return on his total $30,000 stake.

The lucky roll didn’t stop there. Placing just $10,000 from the winnings, the player went on to win a further $200,000 – bringing the total win in just 48 hours to an awesome $512,885!

“It’s a staggering achievement that has delighted everyone at VIPCasino.com” Casino Manager Kate Berkeley said.

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NAME CHANGE FOR POKER NETWORK
14 October 2005

And greater gaming diversity, too

Top Swedish gambling software provider Ongame has announced that it is introducing a new name and greater gaming diversity to its global poker network. Formerly titled Poker Network, the operation hosts almost 4 million regular poker players, mainly under Ongame subsidiary Poker Room.com.

The network branding has been changed to Ongame Network, and with it a new range of non-poker games has been made available, including Craps, Roulette, Blackjack, PaiGow Poker and Video Poker Multi-Hand. Slot machines will also be introduced offering seriously large progressive jackpots, for example the forthcoming Sultan’s Treasure slot machine game which will have a starting jackpot of $300,000.

Ongame Network’s director, David Flynn says, “Multi-player casino games and Blackjack tournaments, along with high quality graphics, will differentiate Ongame Network from the broad offering that currently exists in this part of the industry.”

The move comes at a time when online poker market leader Party Poker has also announced that games other than poker will be available to its network players. In distancing Party Poker's network from that of its white label partners this week, Party Gaming said that it planned a major new site to be launched early next year which would present not only poker but a variety of other games to its claimed 9 million players.

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MEDITERRANEAN BRANCH FOR BEFAIR
14 October 2005

Betting exchange puts its Maltese license to use

Online gambling licencing authorities on the Mediterranean island of Malta have announced that the British P2P betting exchange group Betfair is to open a branch on the island this week.

Having obtained a licence to operate in Malta earlier this year, the move will allow Betfair to offer new player-to-player games to their customers.

Betfair is a pioneer of P2P betting and one of the world’s top online betting companies, reporting annual revenues of GBP107.1 million in 2004, with over three million transactions a day, and over 12 000 bets a minute during big sports matches. In business since 2000, the group has won several awards for excellence, including Company of the Year in 2004 by the Confederation of British Industry.

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NEW ONLINE POKER ROOM OWNED BY NEWSPAPER
14 October 2005

Freeroll tournament to celebrate the launch

The latest poker room to enter the online poker sector is owned by British newspaper The Sun and operated by veteran gambling group Victor Chandler (see earlier InfoPowa reports)

Formerly titled Caribbean Sun Poker, Sun Poker.com is powered by Cryptologic and launched a freeroll tournament designed to send the final top nine players to the Grand Final at London’s Palm Beach Casino in December, where finalists will battle it out to win over GBP 30,000 in prizes, including a Mini Cooper car.

The site is the product of a deal signed between Sun Online and Victor Chandler. Sun Online’s Head of Commercial Development, Amy Copeland says the newspaper has planned to expand into the online poker market for some time. “VC Poker’s technology, marketing experience and large community of players, made them a natural choice for The Sun to work with,” she said.

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MICROGAMING MOBILE CASINO LAUNCHED
14 October 2005

Spin3 mobile technology behind new Wild Jack mobile casino

Spin3, the mobile gambling partner of top online gambling turnkey provider Microgaming launched a mobile casino for British company Wild Jack Mobile Casino (WJMC) this week.

Casino spokesmen said that the operation is one of the first fully mobile and commercially viable wireless casinos in the UK. The new casino utilises a state-of-the-art GameWire 2.0 wireless casino system from Spin3, which, together with the Microgaming Casino Management System, provides the most advanced mobile casino available in the world today.

Simon Johnson, spokesman for the casino said, "Featuring six classic casino games - Roulette, Blackjack, Video Poker, Double Magic Slot, Scratch Card and the progressive Treasure Nile slot - Wild Jack Mobile Casino will be among the first mobile casinos to deploy a mobile gambling solution which enables players to register, purchase and play directly and exclusively from their mobile phone.

"Action is available to any adult over the age of 18 in the UK who passes a strict verification age process.

"WJMC builds on the successful and established online presence of Wild Jack Casino. With additional launch activities scheduled for mid-November 2005, Wild Jack Mobile Casino delivers all the fun and excitement thousands of players have come to expect online and makes it available on a Java-enabled mobile device.

"The official launch will be supported by a series of marketing initiatives designed to highlight the unique game playing experience and the ease with which players are able to register and begin playing."

Johnson said that Wild Jack Casino, which is part of an eCOGRA-regulated online casino group, was the first brand to bring the Spin3 GameWire version 2 solution to the UK market.

"Unlike other initial offerings and technologies we have reviewed which have been available for the past few months, the Spin3 system we have selected is technically robust, simple to use, and highly entertaining and fun to play. We see this launch as a natural extension to our successful online presence, and by teaming with Spin3, our players can be assured of the best game playing experience available."

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GALA PURCHASE OF CORAL CONFIRMED
14 October 2005

GBP 2.18 billion deal to create a new European gambling top dog

The speculation last week (see previous InfoPowa reports) that British casino and bingo group Gala was about to purchase Coral Eurobet has been confirmed by a Reuters report that agreement has been reached at GBP 2.18 billion.

The report quotes Gala in saying that the deal will merge Gala's casinos and bingo halls with Coral's betting shops and dog tracks, creating Europe's leading privately owned gaming company worth more than GBP 4 billion, with more than 2.2 million customers visiting 1,450 outlets.

"Nobody rivals us now, because nobody has an integrated company with licensed betting offices, casinos, bingo and online gaming all in one group," Gala Chief Executive Neil Goulden told Reuters.

Analyst Robin Chhabra at Evolution Securities said the combined group was perfectly positioned to take advantage of the country's gambling deregulation, which allows casinos to advertise and loosens stringent membership rules. "This is a great vehicle to take advantage of deregulation, with a full suite of assets that will benefit," he said.

Goulden, who along with Chairman John Kelly keeps his job at the enlarged company, said betting and bingo would benefit from deregulation, with extended opening hours and bigger jackpots.

The group will now be Britain's third-largest bookmaker, with 1,267 betting shops, its largest bingo operator with 167 clubs, and one of the top casino operators, with 30 venues. Both companies have a strong presence on the Internet, which was where Goulden said the firm would receive its biggest boost from merging.

"We are going to combine their Eurobet business with our fledgling interactive business -- Internet, television and telephone betting," said Goulden. "If you put those together, plus our 7 million database of customers, you're going to drive significant online revenues," he added.

The deal is backed by private equity groups Candover, Cinven and Permira, all of which hold equal stakes in Gala. Each of them is increasing its investment in the enlarged company by GBP 275 million to help finance the acquisition.

Permira bought a GBP 200 million stake in Gala from Cinven and Candover in August, ending months of speculation Gala was planning to float on the stock exchange.

Coral Chief Executive Vaughn Ashdown and Finance Director Mick Mariscotti will stay on to help integrate the two companies.

Lehman Brothers and Royal Bank of Scotland are arranging the debt backing the deal. Banking sources told Reuters that the debt would total around GBP 3 billion and would be launched in the next two to three weeks.

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SCARY STUFF AT TRIDENT CASINOS
14 October 2005

Three new Halloween slots and Double Joker 50 Play Power Poker now available

Trident Group online casinos King Neptune's (www.kingneptunescasino.com) and Trident Lounge (www.tridentloungecasino.com) are in tune with the Halloween month of October this week with four new trick or treat games.

Witches Wealth offers a combination of reward and entertainment that's hard to beat, with two magical bonus features and plenty of other opportunities through wild and scatter symbols. It's a 5 reel, 9 line video slot where players can wager up to 20 coins per line. With a maximum bet and a little luck players can reap a $ 32 250 harvest.

The scene is a full moon night in a fantasy medieval town where the witch Serena and her cat Mr. Twinkles hold sway. Take special note of that cat, because extra cash can be made by rescuing him in one of the amusing bonus features. But first, players have to get the right hit on a "spin the magic wand" feature offering six opportunities to win cash, or the main bonus that leads to the witch's generous familiar.

This entertainment packed game has crystal clear sound effects and excellent, colourful artwork featuring witchly things like owls, potions, spell books, a really scary collection of evil eyes and weird looking spirits. The cute Serena herself is truly pretty Wild, and players will want to see a few of the bats, too because they are the Scatters in this game and multiply the bet.

Spellbound has brilliantly coloured fantasy graphics that have a distinctly mystical Celtic feel, and a bejeweled, green-eyed redhead of an Enchantress to guide players to wealth and entertainment on this 3 reel, 3 pay-line video slot with a $ 30 000 jackpot.

Finally, Halloweenies is an aptly named 5 reel, 20 line video slot sure to give a spine-tingling but fun feeling with its eerie sound effects and trick or treat combinations of candies and way-out ghouls in glaringly eye-catching colours. The game itself is based on the big, trendy and popular Australian-American style of slot play, packed with action, bonuses, free spins, wilds and scatters - all providing solid chances for reward and hours of sheer fun. Payouts can be as high as $ 97 500.

Major features include a 13 x free spin feature that triples all wins, and a Pick a Pumpkin bonus event when players win through to the patch and have a choice from several pumpkins offering different hidden rewards.

Outside of the Halloween theme...but still exciting and sometimes scary is the latest 50 Play Power Poker game! This month the new release in this genre is Double Joker. With a generous pay table (naturals pay 4 000 coins and RF's 500) Double Joker is played with a 54 card deck, one independent deck for each hand over the 50 separate hands available. Jokers are wild in this game, adding to its versatility and fast-paced excitement, and on the maximum bet a hit on the 4000 coin jackpot can yield as much as $ 100 000. The game offers a double up gamble feature up to $ 3 200 as an added reward.

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TV PROGRAM ON POKER PROS ALL SET TO GO
14 October 2005

Bluff magazine involved in production

Pokerbeat, a fresh new U.S. television show, is in the final stages of production in Las Vegas according to an announcement this week.

More than two years in development and orchestrated by gaming content experts, Pokerbeat claims to offer a stylish and unique glimpse into the world of professional poker play.

The episodes showcase top competitors and industry insiders delivering up-to- the-minute news in a fast-paced, magazine-style 30-minute format.

"We're not TV people making a poker show, we're poker people making a TV show," explains co-creator Michael Hochman. He, along with content developer Annie Adlin and co-creator Matthew Kaphan, are assembling some of the hottest names in the business.

"What makes this show unique is its level of insight," says Adlin. "This show is produced by poker enthusiasts for poker enthusiasts. We all knew what we were looking for, and were precise about the information being packaged. We are confident true poker fans will welcome this style of programming."

Dan Goldman of PokerStars.com explains, "There has been a lot of poker on TV in the past few years, but no one -- until now -- has managed to catch on to a fundamental missing piece: Covering poker as news in a light-hearted, TV newsmagazine format," he says. "Pokerbeat is as exciting and as revolutionary, in its own way, as the World Poker Tour."

Pokerbeat's first season features familiar names and faces: Daniel Negreanu, Greg Raymer, Barry Greenstein, Chip & Karina Jett, Russ Hamilton, Linda Johnson, Tom McEvoy, Matt Savage, and Evelyn Ng. Pokerbeat is primarily being filmed in Las Vegas at Wynn Las Vegas, Sunset Station, and The Plaza.

A studio-produced newscast adds up-to-the-minute tournament results and industry news to an impressive array of guests, events and comedy sketches.

Bluff Publisher Eric Morris voiced enthusiasm for the new television product. "Bluff is eagerly awaiting the Pokerbeat premier and is proud to be providing Bluff's player power rankings as content."

Pokerbeat producers include: Adlin, Hochman, Kaphan, and Lisa Tenner. The show premieres November 2005 airing on FSN New England Sundays at 4 p.m. EST, and on America One Sports on Wednesdays at 11:30 p.m. EST.

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TRIDENT CONSIDERING LONDON IPO
14 October 2005

Isle of Man licensed betting company planning on spring listing

Following its much-publicised aquisition of Gamebookers recently, Isle of Man-based Trident Gaming is now reported to be seeking expert advise on a London public listing - possible as early as next (UK) Spring.

The company hit the UK business press headlines earlier this year when it acquired Gamebookers, one of the top 30 internet gambling firms in the world, serving clients from 123 countries.

"We started out in 2001, building sports betting solutions," says chief executive John O'Malia. "Since then, we have been growing more or less organically and establishing our product, BetBug, which due to its unique design and regulatory profile is the only way to offer sports betting legally in the US market."

Trident's workforce has remained at 12 for nearly four years, but the acquisition of Gamebookers, which employs 65 people, has led to rapid growth. "Gamebookers will have turnover of about Euro 180 million this year and earn about Euro 11 million in revenue and Euro 5.5 million to Euro 6 million in profit," claims O'Malia, who began his career as a City trader.

Trident financed the move using a GBP 20 million convertible loan from a hedge fund. "It was very important for us to fund the deal in a way that allowed us to control all the variables and make sure it got done," he says. " Subsequent deals in the market have shown that similar assets are valued much higher than our acquisition price, which lends support to our reasoning on why the purchase was attractive.

"Now we are in a position where we would like to take the convertible debt and roll it into equity. After all, the cost of capital with equity funding in the current market is lower than the cost of the debt financing that we put in place."

He cites a further reason for looking at an IPO as an option: "A key challenge for Trident is keeping up with the consolidation in the market and remaining a player as companies jump from being worth $ 50 million to $ 100 million to $ 250 million via acquisitions of their own. We have to make sure we are structured in a way that we can take advantage of this and be part of that trend. In this climate, that in effect necessitates a public equity structure."

O'Malia says he has two main problems. "First of all, how do I manage the risk in the IPO process in order to roll with the punches of the market? Right now, gaming stocks are all the rage, but it will not necessarily always be so. How, then, do we manage that uncertainty?"

His second question is closely related. "Given that the industry is experiencing very rapid consolidation, how quickly should one feel compelled to make follow-on transitions and acquisitions?" he asks.

"Obviously, in this market, there are several potential targets. But should we run our business steadily and follow an - albeit rapid - organic growth path, or should we go out and leverage our listing very quickly into additional transactions?"

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WILL HILL ITV VENTURE LAGS
7 October 2005

Yoomedia blames GBP 4.6 million losses on lacklustre revenues

Judging by UK press comments on Yoomedia's latest financial reportage, the iTV companys teamwork with Will Hill has not produced the sort of results that were anticipated.

The public iTV technology firm reported half year losses up at GBP 4.6 million as its joint venture TV project with the UK gambling group had not met expected revenue targets. Key Channel 425 developments were "...delayed in implementation," the the Yoomedia report revealed.

Taking a more positive perspective, however the report said that the company was confident that developments on the channel would get back on schedule in the coming months. "The outlook for the channel and our partnership with William Hill is very positive," it added.

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NIEBOER RESIGNS FROM VIRGIN
7 October 2005

Top exec to pursue own interests

eGaming Review reported this week that the managing director of Virgin Games, Oscar Nieboer is to leave the company to pursue other interests. His responsibilities have been taken over by Simon Burridge, chairman of the company.

EGaming Review quotes Nieboer as saying: "The last few years with Virgin have been highly rewarding and to work with a brand and culture as strong as Virgin has been a privilege. But the recent chance to pursue a number of opportunities outside the group was too hard to resist. I can’t give you too much detail about them just yet – let’s just say it will involve plenty of stamina."

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IS PARTY GAMING CHASING BETFAIR?
7 October 2005

One giant after another....

The UK and Australian press has carried speculative articles this week that online poker and casino giant Party Gaming may be pursuing a takeover bid on betting exchange leader Betfair.

It sounds an unlikely development, given PG's shares hammering recently, and InfoPowa has not been able to obtain confirmation of the story so far.

The reports suggest that PG will bid around GBP 800 million for Betfair, which was recently named (see previous InfoPowa reports) as the seventh fastest-growing technology company in Britain, and rumoured to be about to launch a high value IPO on the London stock exchange.

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TALK TO US SAYS NEW BRIT GAMING COMMISSION
7 October 2005

Chairman Dean favours consultative process on new UK online gaming licencing

Peter Dean, chairman of the new Gambling Commission - the body that will control online gambling in the UK - has again called on online gaming interests to contribute to the licencing regulations drafting process.

At the present time only sports betting firms may base their servers in the UK, with firms forced to locate gaming servers offshore, but all that is about to change with a more progressive approach to Internet gaming generally.

"The Commission is currently working on the licence conditions and codes of practice which will be relevant to the remote gambling sector. We will be consulting on drafts of these conditions and codes early next year,” Dean said.

"This is an exciting time for the industry, and I would encourage all those who have its welfare at heart to share your views and get involved."

The Gambling Commission was established under the UK Gambling Act 2005. It will be fully independent.

Richard Caborn, UK minister for culture, media and sport, which includes gambling regulation, said he was confident the commission will be seen as "...a model for gambling regulation around the world."

The Gambling Commission takes over the role of the Gaming Board of Great Britain, and comes into power on October 1 2005.

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BET CRAZY BRITS SPEND GBP 1.5 BILLION A YEAR ON-LINE
7 October 2005

New Virgin Money survey has revealed that Brit betting is on the rise.

A new survey commissioned by the Virgin Group, UK owners of Virgin Gaming shows that poker, casino, football, lottery and horseracing sites are the country’s big favourites - and Londoners have emerged as the biggest spenders.

Most Brits admit to staking between GBP 10 and GBP 20-a-week having a flutter while 40 percent of Scots spend GBP 50. But Londoners are the nation’s biggest gamblers with one in ten spending between GBP 300 and GBP 500-a-week.

Virgin Money polled more than 2,000 people to discover the scale of the nation’s online betting fascination – and an incredible 93 percent admitted they have had a crack.

More new punters are chasing the dream all the time with nearly half the people polled admitting they have started gambling online in the past six months.

Football sites are tops with men, 40 percent visiting them daily and the same number betting once a week. Lottery and casino games are men’s other big favourites.

But women provided the biggest shock. Their main gambling interest is the lottery, but second on their ‘must-bet’ list is horseracing, once regarded as a mainly male fascination.

Punters in the Midlands and East Anglia are the most frequent online betters with nearly one in three admitting to having a flutter more than once a day. People in the South West spend most time playing poker, backing horses or trying other sites on the web – one in 20 confessing to spending up to five hours online a day.

The vast majority of online punters, nearly 80 percent, will spend a minimum of one hour a week betting online – but that equates to more than a working week each year gambling on the web.

Most of the gambling population use their own computers at home to enjoy their new hobby and they pay for their fun with credit and debit cards. But up to 10 percent nationally admit to using computers at work, that figure rising to 18 percent in London and the North East.

And five per cent nationally confess to buying a PC or laptop specifically so they can bet. The seductive power of gambling has resulted in 10 percent of the online betting community insisting that having a flutter online is now one of their main pastimes. But that figure rises to one in five of online gamblers in Scotland and East Anglia.

A spokesman for Virgin Money said: “There’s no doubt online gambling and betting has become incredibly popular across the country – and these figures prove it. “The internet – as with so many other areas of life - has simply made something people already enjoy even easier to access and new sites are springing up all the time. Gambling can be both fun and rewarding but punters should only spend what they can afford to lose.”

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COOL CASINOS
7 October 2005

InfoPowa has previously reported on the choice of Playtech as software provider for the online casino website owned by the English football club West Ham United, and following the recent launch we visited the very professional looking and easy to use site this week.

Branded Hammers Casino.com (the club's nickname according to the site blurb)the new venture is not the first online casino launch by a football club - Manchester United claim that one. Nevertheless, this is a quality operation with over 70 games powered by one of the top industry names, Playtech and including progressives with a current potential win value of GBP 500 000.

As one might expect, the Antigua-licensed site offers fully contactable round-the-clock Support and a VIP loyalty program. The financial side is handled out of St. Kitts by IFUND INTERPAY and offers facilities from Click2Pay, ODF, Neteller standard and Instacash, Moneybookers, Switch, Delta and others, using GBP, Dollars and Euro currencies. For the bonus hungry there are a range of offers with various conditions, including a welcome bonus of up to GBP 200.

Taking a spin...
UK-Roulette.co.uk is a pretty cool site targeted on the growing British online casino market and sporting an impressive range of around 80 of RTG's latest games. Neteller, Moneybookers, Delta/ Switch, Eco and Click 2 Pay are all listed as financial options and the operation banks through the reputable NatWest organisation in London, with financial matters channeled through AquaPay. The licensing is Kahnawake and among the several bonuses on offer is a 100 percent signup maxed at GBP 100 and conditional on a x 20 D+B W/T.

Playtech poker release
Latest member of Playtech's iPoker network is Titan Poker.com, an attractive site that can be played in English, French, Italian, German and Spanish. There are a number of bonuses on offer including a generous "send-a-friend" at $75 and a 100 percent signup maxed at $500. The site is well presented and has plenty of content such as weekly $1000 freerolls, and a series of jackpots that go as high as $25 000 in sit and go games as well as tournaments. Three games are on offer - Texas Hold Em, Omaha and Omaha Hi Lo, Full 24/7 Support is available and there is a wide choice of financial options. The iPoints loyalty program is promised soon.

Everything's bigger in Texas
New RTG-powered arrival is Best Texas Casino.com, which carries the popular RTG gambling software versions of 18 VP, 16 card and table games and 23 slots that include 9 progressives. The site is rather plain but workmanlike and offers fully contactable 24/7 Support and a good range of financial options through BIMS Worldwide Ltd. Look out for the large list of excluded countries (these guys are taking no chances) and before taking bonuses like the $750 sign-up make sure you read the complex T&Cs very carefully.

It's been awhile....
Since we saw a new Grand Virtual operation, so Golden Lounge Casino.com will be welcome for the devotees of this aging gambling software suite. The site is competent if unspectacular, but all the facilities of round-the-clock Support, 18 language options and an average range of financial instruments are available. Grand Virtual has been around for years and is a Canadian company that was acquired by the Taiwan Giga Media group over a year ago.

Going Dutch...
Is the well established and fast growing Vegas Partners Lounge which now boasts a stable of almost ten gambling operations, The group has launched a Dutch language site to cater for the many online gamblers in that country, and it can be found at NL.Sun Vegas.com, powered by Microgaming.

One for the live gambling fans:
Casino Web Cam has added another "live-over-the-Internet" gambling site owned by a group of Toronto business people to it's stable of over 16 licensees with the arrival of Live Palace.com, which streams live gambling with real croupiers from studios in Costa Rica. The website is attractive and easy to use, and offers live Support together with a good range of financing choices through Secure Processing Ltd in the United Kingdom. Watch out for that 48 hour suspended withdrawal clause in the T&Cs.

Recently arrived poker sites...
Include Fair Poker.com (iPoker network from Playtech) VC Poker (Tribeca Tables software) Green Tie Poker.com (Excapsa network) Purple Lounge.com (Microgaming and Prima network) Two no-download operations that are going after the MacIntosh user market are MacPoker Player.com and B2B Poker.com, both using Java technology on proprietary suites. Expekt.com has dropped the Prima Poker network in favour of Tain software.

And in mobile-land there's plenty of activity, too:
Look out for Aspinalls Mobile Online.com - a Phantom Fiber powered mobile arm of the famous land and online casino company, and a new mobile casino service from Sportech-owned BetDirect using a combo of Boss Media and Mfuse technology. Sportech operates Littlewoods and has extensive iTV interests. Finally, the UK-based Cellectivity Ltd techno team are working with Party Gaming's Starluck Casino on a mobile offering.

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CASINO CAUTIONS
7 October 2005

Check your account!

The fora have been lighting up lately with player reports of unexpected, and frequently automatic bonuses. Where's the problem with getting some free money, you may ask?

The answer is because these bonuses carry wager-through requirements and in many cases the player didn't ask for them. The bonanza is frequently just credited to an account, and the first the player knows about it is when a cash-out is denied because the W/T has not been met.

A growing number of players eschew bonuses because these marketing inducements too frequently lead to nightmare hassles of extensive minimum wagering requirements, denied pay-outs, confrontations with ill-trained or briefed Support and even the danger of being unilaterally declared a "bonus abuser" and subjected to disqualifications and lock-outs. In short, many believe that bonuses are just not worth the trouble they can bring.

Some pretty surreal live-chats have taken place, where Support workers have said they are actually unable to remove these bonuses when requested, and there have been cases of bonuses being credited despite a player calling Support prior to playing and telling them to hold off on the bonus!

No doubt these bonuses could be reversed once a manager is involved, but who needs the trouble?

It's something that deserves attention at casino and maybe even software level. It should not be too difficult to give the player an opportunity to reject a bonus before it is credited, especially where it involves obligations on his or her part. And the player should definitely be advised when a credit is about to made.

In the meantime, players need to keep a close eye on the transactions going through their accounts in order to catch any *surprises* before they are used and that endless cycle of bonus arguments gets into gear.

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PHANTOM FIBER & TRIBECA TO DEVELOP WIRELESS POKER
7 October 2005

Five year exclusive agreement signed

Technology developer Phantom Fiber Corporation inked a five-year exclusive license agreement with turnkey online poker provider Tribeca Tables Europe, Ltd, this week. The goal of the partnership is to develop a wireless poker platform.

Tribeca Tables supplies the technology behind a growing range of online poker rooms, providing a global poker playing network. The Tribeca Tables Poker Network includes an impressive list of prestigious brands such as Victor Chandler, Blue Sq, BETonSPORTS, Paddy Power, G-Fed, Golden Palace and Doyle Brunson, as well as over 100 other brands.

Jeff Halloran, President and CEO for Phantom Fiber says, "The agreement is symbolic because Phantom Fiber's Advanced Wireless Platform was originally built around poker to demonstrate the proven speed, graphics and stability of our wireless solution.

"The growth and momentum behind Poker cannot be understated. Tribeca's strong management team, infrastructure and operations have proven to be a formidable force in the online poker world as a result of their critical mass of users, marketing and retention programs designed to create the necessary liquidity to keep players coming back.

"We are excited to be working with Tribeca Tables and look forward to deploying to their entire class of tier-1 brands in the very near future."

Steve Cook from Tribeca Tables commented, "We foresee rapid growth in 2006 for the mobile poker sector and expect to decisively execute on several key wireless poker brand launches early next year."

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UK GAMBLING ADVISORY PANEL FORMED
7 October 2005

Land casino advisory panel formed as part of the Gambling Commission

The British media are reporting this week that UK gambling minister Richard Caborn has announced the membership of an advisory panel, which will begin work towards the introduction of regional land casinos as part of the new Gambling Commission regulation of the UK gambling industry, including the Internet gambling sector.

The initiative to form an advisory panel came about as part of the Gambling Act 2005, which came into force on 1 October.

The Casino Advisory Panel will be chaired by Professor Stephen Crow – a former chief planning inspector and chief executive of the Planning Inspectorate – and includes Christopher Collinson, an independent planning and regeneration advisor and former deputy chief executive of Mansfield District Council; James Froomberg, commercial director of British Waterways; Neil Mundy, formerly director of finance and corporate services for ONE North East Regional Development Agency; and Deep Sagar, director of Glasgow Employer Coalition.

Its duties will initially be to invite expressions of interest from local authorities and then begin identifying the areas which could support either the one regional land casino or any of the planned eight large and eight small casinos.

It will investigate the social impact and potential for regeneration in each of the applicants’ regions. Regional planning bodies throughout England, Wales and Scotland will also be asked to identify a list of potential locations for the regional casino.

Based on the panel’s findings, the list of chosen locations will be approved in a Parliamentary Order in early 2007, with the relevant local authorities then able to invite tenders for casino premises licences.

“The panel’s priority is to get a proper assessment of the social impact new types of casino will have, particularly on problem gambling,” said Caborn, “I know there has already been a great deal of speculation over the location of the new regional casino – this isn’t surprising given the regeneration benefits it will bring – but the appointment of this panel shows that there are no favourites or front-runners. The slate has been wiped clean and every local authority will have the chance to make its case.”

Local authorities which are unwilling to licence a casino will not be considered by the panel. The regional casino will offer a minimum of 5,000sq m), large casinos a minimum of 1,500sq m and small casinos a minimum of 750sq m, with differing jackpot prize levels at each available.

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NEW LOOK FOR 7 SULTANS
7 October 2005

Fortune Lounge veteran will now give players a personal assistant

One of the Fortune Lounge group's oldest and most popular online casinos, 7 Sultans has been given an extensive revamp, offering more player services.

The website has received a dynamic make-over that is set to make it more appealing to the gambling public, using input from the players themselves in the project.

"Securing players is the art of our game and the upgrade of the 7Sultans site allows us to give players what they want and by so doing, we're making the player experience more memorable. That way players will want to come back for more," says the Director of 7Sultans Marketing, John Hughes.

The new presentation gives a more modern look to the Eastern getaway that is the 7Sultans Casino. The website's software has been upgraded and navigation is more player-friendly and easier to use.

But one of the new features will likely have special appeal to players. This is the introduction of a players' personal assistant, which will also be rolled out shortly across all the Fortune Lounge brands.

With the Personal Messenger, players will no longer have to open their installed casino software to view important gambling information such as casino account balance. Players will be able to link directly to the Fortune Lounge Players Club, review their points balance and redeem loyalty bonuses. Quick-link buttons are available to review the Fortune Lounge winners' wall and be kept up-to-date with all the latest news. The Personal Messenger has also been redesigned to make messages easier to read.

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EXCLUSIVE MAYFAIR POKER CLUB ON THE WAY
7 October 2005

Land poker room could be London's first licensed card room under the new Gambling Act

Look out for an up-market, member's only poker club that is set to open its doors in Mayfair, central London, in early 2006.

The Fox Poker Club, as it will be called, has applied to the Gaming Board of Great Britain for a casino license which will make it London's first fully licensed card room.

The club plans to have not only the first, but one of the largest card rooms in London offering absolute comfort in the surroundings of a listed Georgian townhouse. A dedicated "Platinum Room", with full TV studio facilities, will be available to Platinum Members and their guests. The Platinum Room will host high stakes no-limit cash games, and will be the location of the final table for major tournaments. Fox Poker Club Members will be able watch these games live from the comfort of the bar and lounge area on state of the art flat-screen televisions.

With limited membership, poker enthusiasts who are interested in joining are encouraged to express their interest in a pre-registration form on the club's website.

The poker club will be situated next door to its sister club, The Fox Club, which is an exclusive private members club. Both clubs are housed in elegant five-storey Georgian townhouses, which date back to the 1800s when Charles Fox, whom the clubs are named after, resided there. Fox was a leading Whig politician, and a well-known gambler.

The club will be run by a group of enthusiasts who have a track record in the gaming industry. Club founder Chris North said, "We wanted to open a club dedicated to poker that was legally allowed to offer the full range of Poker properly regulated and in a secure environment."

Fellow founder Brian Mattingley added, "The Fox Poker Club is owned and run by poker fans, for poker fans and we aim to make it the number one destination of choice for the capital's poker players."

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SENIOR BRITISH EXECUTIVE JOINS CRYPTOLOGIC BOARD
7 October 2005

Nigel Simon brings extensive European business expertise to turnkey provider

British businessman Nigel Simon has been appointed as a non-executive director to Cryptologic's Board. Simon, a veteran British executive, has more than 25 years of broad senior management and strategic experience in leading and managing international businesses. He has particular expertise in strategy, marketing, regulatory issues, sales, banking, corporate governance and mergers and acquisitions.

"Nigel Simon is an experienced executive with particular strengths in strategy and marketing, which will be an excellent complement to CryptoLogic's Board and leadership team," said Lewis Rose, CryptoLogic's President and CEO.

"Nigel's extensive background in international businesses - notably in the UK and Europe, CryptoLogic's core growth markets, and his familiarity with Asia - will add valuable insights as we continue to deliver some of the world's best Internet games to the world's best gaming brands."

Simon has led a multi-billion-dollar business in Continental Europe, as well as building Gallaher's substantial volume position in Russia, Kazakhstan and Asia. In doing so, he has demonstrated a track record for growing both market share and profits and has worked with leading investment banks, advertising agencies and management consulting firms around the globe.

Simon held senior management roles for 20 years with Gallaher Group PLC, an approximately GBP 4 billion FTSE 50 and NYSE-listed international tobacco company based in the UK, with sales in 68 countries and manufacturing locations in the UK, Austria, Kazakhstan, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine and Sweden. Some of Simon's most notable achievements at Gallaher included growing the company's international profits by more than 600 percent over a ten year period, and leading the Euro 2.1 billion European acquisition and integration of an Austrian manufacturer.

He served for seven years as a Main Board Director of Gallaher and held positions as Chairman of Germany's largest vending retailer, and as a Board member for Germany's largest convenience store wholesaler.

In addition to his business interests, Simon also serves as a trustee for a major UK charity and as a mentor for the Prince's Trust - a charity founded by the Prince of Wales to help less-privileged young adults get their start in business.

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GOOD BUD FOR POKER
7 October 2005

WPT clinches Budweiser sponsorship

WPT Enterprises, Inc. welcomed Budweiser this week as the “Official Beer” of the World Poker Tour in its fourth exciting season of riveting televised poker on the Travel Channel.

“As the WPT re-positions poker as a leading sport - not just a pastime - Budweiser is the ideal sponsor. Our long association with sports increases poker’s recognition by the sports-loving consumer and television viewer,” said Peter McLoughlin, Vice President, Corporate Media, Anheuser-Busch, Inc.

Budweiser television spots will air on Travel Channel’s broadcasts of Season IV. Additionally, viewers will see the Budweiser logo on the “table ring” around the Final Table arena and on in-show graphics for the WPT’s popular “hole card camera” segment. The winners of each WPT tournament will celebrate a toast with Budweiser as part of the WPT’s traditional closing sequence.

In jurisdictions where it is legal, Budweiser will support the sponsorship with retail promotions which will begin in December 2005 and will run through February 2006 with a “Texas Hold‘em tournament”, to feature a shortened elimination version of Texas Hold’em.

Players will begin each round with an equal number of chips and play until they “bust out.” Only the top chip winners will progress to the next round. Players will not pay or purchase anything to play in this tournament, but must be 21 or older.

The top two players at the National Finals will secure seats in the WPT Invitational, the World Poker Tour's celebrity pro-am tournament boasting 300 players vying for a $200,000 prize pool. Skilled celebrities such as Ben Affleck, James Woods, Jennifer Tilly and Tobey Maguire have joined the roster of WPT tournament winners and leading pros who participate in the WPT Invitational.

Steve Lipscomb, CEO and founder of WPT Enterprises described the deal as “....a great match of two iconic brands.”

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SKYPE FOR SALE?
7 October 2005

Will those calls remain low cost?

US media are reporting that the online auction company eBay is believed to be in early but ''active'' talks to acquire Skype.com, the European low cost Internet telephony provider. Media speculation is that the transaction could be valued at between $2 billion and $3 billion.

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CLOUD ONLINE OPERATIONS TO FLOAT ON LONDON STOCK EXCHANGE
7 October 2005

Company valued by analysts at GBP 140 million

Well known online casino owner Warren Cloud and his RTG-powered Crystal Gaming group hit the Sunday Times of London headlines this week with a reported intention to list on the London AIM exchange with a value of GBP 140 million.

Cloud's group is the latest major online gambling group to seek a public listing in London, following the example of companies like Party Gaming and 888.com.

Crystal Group is, according to the Sunday Times report based on the Isle of Man and is believed to have appointed the respected investment company Seymour Pierce to advise on the listing, expected to put a value of GBP 140 million on the firm.

Crystal claims to be the third-largest online casino on the basis of the number of visits to its sites, which include Crystalpalacecasino.com. Warren Cloud, the 32-year-old South African founder of the business, and his family will retain a 45 percent stake in the company.

Seymour Pierce is confident that the group’s track record - in the 12 months to June 2005 the group made a pre-tax profit of US $20.4 million - and the fact that the management are not selling shares will attract investors.

The expected GBP 47 million raised from the float will be used by Crystal to develop an online poker business.

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FAIRGROUND LAUNCHES IPO
7 October 2005

London debut for investment company

Fairground Gaming Holdings plc, an investment company with reported Microgaming links (see earlier InfoPowa reports) has launched on the London AIM stock exchange.

In a press release this week from a London PR company, the newly-established investment company in the online gaming sector announced the commencement of trading in its Ordinary Shares on AIM, the market operated by the London Stock Exchange Plc, ('Admission'), under the EPIC symbol FGH.L.

Daniel Stewart & Company Plc is acting as Nominated Adviser and Broker.

Placing statistics:

Placing Price per Ordinary Share - 50p

Number of Placing Shares to be issued - 7,610,000

Number of Ordinary Shares in issue immediately following the

Placing and Admission - 21,335,000
Gross proceeds of the Placing - GBP 3.8 million
Available cash resources upon Admission - in excess of GBP 8 million
Market Capitalisation on Admission - GBP 10.7 million

The Directors will use the proceeds of the placing to provide Fairground Gaming with acquisition currency for future corporate activity, to meet the expenses of the Admission and Placing and to provide working capital for Fairground Gaming.

The Directors believe that Admission will assist in raising the public profile of Fairground Gaming and in future fundraisings.

According to the companys advisory, Fairground Gaming intends to build a broad-based, diversified gaming portfolio by acquisition and thereafter by organic growth by:

• acting as a consolidator of the fragmented online gaming sector;
• using the extensive sector and technology contacts of its directors
• to acquire majority interests in a portfolio of synergistic, cash-generative
• online gaming businesses;
• targeting smaller companies in areas such as online casinos, poker,
• bingo and skill-based gaming;
• working with Microgaming, the leading provider of software to online
casinos, to identify opportunities and to develop acquired businesses.

The Board of Directors of the company includes some impressive individuals with a wealth of experience:

Evan Hoff (35yrs), Executive Director, co-founded and served as co-CEO of ForwardSLASH from 1997 to 2000 which was responsible for launching and maintaining some of the world's largest online casinos. From the end of 2000 to 2002, he was the senior executive of Ludus Online, a company involved in the online gaming sector. Since 2003, he has served as co-CEO of Quest Limited, a London-based security and intelligence consultancy.

Richard Akitt (47yrs), Executive Director, was a co founder and director of WebTech Software Limited, which was sold to Marlborough Stirling Plc in 2000. Formerly, he held positions as both Financial Director and Commercial Director of several local Isle of Man and International companies.

Jonathan Morley-Kirk (44yrs), Non-Executive Director, is a chartered accountant and a non-executive director of Cardinal Resources plc and Shield Capital plc, both of which are traded on AIM. He is currently chairman of Fox-Davis Capital Limited.

John Webster (58yrs), Non-Executive Director, is a director of NETELLER plc, Conister Trust plc and the Isle of Man subsidiaries of a number of international companies. Currently Deputy Chairman of the Isle of Man Financial Supervision Commission, he was formerly President of the Isle of Man Chamber of Commerce and Economic Adviser to the Isle of Man Government.

Michael Hirst OBE, Adviser, currently the chairman of eCOGRA, the online gaming industry's regulatory and player assurance body, is a former board member of Ladbroke Plc and former Chairman & CEO of Hilton International.

Evan Hoff, Director of Fairground Gaming said:

"We see many positive opportunities for consolidation in the smaller end of the fragmented online gaming sector and today's listing gives us the right public profile and platform from which to rapidly grow our business through acquisition."

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IS PLAYTECH ON THE LONDON IPO TRAIL, TOO?
7 October 2005

Spokesman says no, but the speculation persists

There was intense interest focused on the possibility of turnkey provider Playtech going after a London listing this week following speculation (see earlier InfoPowa reports) and an interesting article in the Israeli business press.

The article speculated that notwithstanding the slowdown in internet gambling share prices following Party Gaming's pessimistic opinion on the poker market a month ago, its principal shareholder Teddy Sagi was keen to list.

As previously reported, Playtech has been holding discussions with UK capital market financial advisors to examine various options, including an IPO. It is claimed that PlayTech’s shareholders prefer an IPO.

Word in the City is that the company expects to go public in November, but a PlayTech spokesman denied the rumours, claiming that the company has no plans for an IPO before the end of 2005. It could be that Playtech is waiting for the dust to settle on Party Gaming's pessimism, perhaps monitoring the recent IPO of 888.com and other online gambling companies before committing itself.

The Israeli press story included some interesting inside detail on Playtech, and claims that its IPO could exceed the GBP 195 million market cap achieved by veteran turnkey provider Cryptologic, a much respected company in the industry.

PlayTech was reportedly founded in 2000 by NAV New Age Investments Ltd., controlled by Sagi and three 30-something entrepreneurs from central Israel, with current PlayTech VP marketing incumbent Elad Cohen as CEO. NAV was delisted from the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) in 2003.

The other two founders are said to be Amnon Ben-Zion and CEO Rami Beinish. Ben-Zion and Cohen met during their compulsory military service in the Israeli Defence Force central processing unit. Ben-Zion sold his PlayTech stake a year ago.

The article reports that a valuation for PlayTech conducted for NAV in late 2002 found that NAV owned 68 percent of the company, Elad Cohen 19 percent, and the other two founders 6 percent and 7 percent, respectively. PlayTech was valued at $18.4 million, after deducting debts, a figure that now seems unlikely. The valuation was carried out for a failed attempt by Sagi to obtain capital for the company by issuing 10 percent of its capital to an external investor. The valuation indicated that PlayTech had $4.5 million in revenue in 2002, and an operating profit before financing expenses of $1.5 million.

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JACKPOT FACTORY LAUNCHES RESPONSIBLE GAMING PROGRAM
7 October 2005

All group casinos to comply with eCOGRA’s new standards

The Jackpot Factory group has successfully implemented a responsible gaming program formulated by eCommerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance (eCOGRA).

The Microgaming powered casino group, representing All Slots Casino, All Jackpots Casino, First Web Casino, and Wild Jack Casino and Poker, says in the announcement that it feels that it is imperative for the online casino industry to act in a proactive and responsible manner on the issue of responsible gaming.

In compliance with eCOGRA, all Jackpot Factory group casinos offer advice on how to gamble in a responsible manner and how to detect potential gambling problems. The casinos allow players to take the National Opinion Research Center of the University of Chicago’s (NORC) confidential diagnostic test, a highly respected test used by psychologists across the country.

“The Jackpot Factory Group cares first and foremost about our players. As such, we take the issue of responsible gaming very seriously, and our managers have been in constant discussion with eCOGRA to learn how best to implement this program. We are pleased to be a part of this important effort,” said David Brickman, spokesperson for the Jackpot Factory group.

“eCOGRA strongly believes that the prevention of underage gambling and identifying and helping problem gamblers is a core objective in running an integrity-driven online gambling operation with player protection front-of-mind. Jackpot Factory is among the first to implement our suggested program, which includes staff training in this critical area,” said Andrew Beveridge, CEO of eCOGRA.

David Brickman further explained, “Our mission is to promote safe, fun responsible gaming and for this reason we’re committed to stopping underage gambling. Casino managers have been trained on the latest technology and ID techniques to detect red flags as soon as they happen.

“Gambling on video slots, or any other casino game for that matter, is a great form of leisure and entertainment, but for some it can potentially be dangerous. If a player needs a cooling off period, we’re going to encourage them to take one. As one of the largest online casino groups focusing on slots and roulette, Jackpot Factory is taking this bull by the horns.”

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SUPER-HEROES COMING FROM CRYPTOLOGIC
7 October 2005

Comic book heroes X-Men, The Hulk among new products licensed from Marvel

Online casino and poker room turnkey provider Cryptologic will be turning out some highly entertaining and novel slot games soon following the signing of an exclusive multi-year licensing agreement with Marvel Enterprises Inc., one of the world's most prominent character-based entertainment companies.

The new relationship, made through CryptoLogic's wholly-owned subsidiary, WagerLogic Limited, makes CryptoLogic the sole developer of Marvel-branded casino slot games on the Internet.

"CryptoLogic's new relationship with Marvel - home to some of the world's legendary entertainment brands - will strengthen our competitive edge through new, exciting Super Hero-themed Internet casino games," said Lewis Rose, CryptoLogic's President and CEO.

"By delivering big-name action like the X-Men and The Hulk to the Internet, we're enhancing the entertainment factor of CryptoLogic games - and helping our customers appeal to an even wider player audience."

In today's competitive and increasingly sophisticated Internet casino market, players want more choice. Under the agreement, an initial six Marvel-themed, multi-currency jackpot video slot games are set for release this autumn. Internet casino players will be able to experience big-screen excitement with their favorite Marvel characters - and win cash prizes in US dollars, Euros and Pounds Sterling.

Characters including The Hulk, Daredevil, The X-Men, Blade and The Punisher will swing into action in five new 9-line progressive jackpot video slot games. The new games offer multi-stage, interactive bonus levels with three separate jackpots available to be won - the first multi-level jackpot games ever to be offered on the Internet.

In addition, The Hulk will add his power to a new Hulk Fruit Machine - another in the series of British-style slot machines developed by CryptoLogic and favored by the strong UK player base of WagerLogic licensees.

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A NEW GIANT ON THE BLOCK?
7 October 2005

Speculation that Coral Eurobet the target for Gala

The intense interest in online gambling mergers and acquisitions continued this week in the British business press with reports that the major land bingo and casino group Gala may have its corporate eye on bookie group Coral Eurobet.

Some reports linked Gala with private equity group CVC Capital in speculation as to likely suitors for Coral, which is valued at some GBP 2 billion but is encumbered with GBP 1.2 billion of debt. The group has betting shops in the UK and a strong Internet brand in Eurobet.

Coral has been exciting interest since its owners appointed Lehman Brothers to prepare the firm for a flotation on the London Stock Exchange (see earlier InfoPowa reports). There has been persistent talk of an IPO in London before the end of this year, but equally strong rumours that an outright sale might be in prospect.

Talks between Gala’s three private equity backers, Permira, Candover and Cinven and the private equity group that owns Coral, are reported to be at an advanced stage.

A successful Gala takeover would make the Gala-Coral group the UK’s biggest betting and gaming group - a powerful new presence in the industry.




WILL HILL ITV VENTURE LAGS
7 October 2005

Yoomedia blames GBP 4.6 million losses on lacklustre revenues

Judging by UK press comments on Yoomedia's latest financial reportage, the iTV companys teamwork with Will Hill has not produced the sort of results that were anticipated.

The public iTV technology firm reported half year losses up at GBP 4.6 million as its joint venture TV project with the UK gambling group had not met expected revenue targets. Key Channel 425 developments were "...delayed in implementation," the the Yoomedia report revealed.

Taking a more positive perspective, however the report said that the company was confident that developments on the channel would get back on schedule in the coming months. "The outlook for the channel and our partnership with William Hill is very positive," it added.

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NIEBOER RESIGNS FROM VIRGIN
7 October 2005

Top exec to pursue own interests

eGaming Review reported this week that the managing director of Virgin Games, Oscar Nieboer is to leave the company to pursue other interests. His responsibilities have been taken over by Simon Burridge, chairman of the company.

EGaming Review quotes Nieboer as saying: "The last few years with Virgin have been highly rewarding and to work with a brand and culture as strong as Virgin has been a privilege. But the recent chance to pursue a number of opportunities outside the group was too hard to resist. I can’t give you too much detail about them just yet – let’s just say it will involve plenty of stamina."

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IS PARTY GAMING CHASING BETFAIR?
7 October 2005

One giant after another....

The UK and Australian press has carried speculative articles this week that online poker and casino giant Party Gaming may be pursuing a takeover bid on betting exchange leader Betfair.

It sounds an unlikely development, given PG's shares hammering recently, and InfoPowa has not been able to obtain confirmation of the story so far.

The reports suggest that PG will bid around GBP 800 million for Betfair, which was recently named (see previous InfoPowa reports) as the seventh fastest-growing technology company in Britain, and rumoured to be about to launch a high value IPO on the London stock exchange.

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TALK TO US SAYS NEW BRIT GAMING COMMISSION
7 October 2005

Chairman Dean favours consultative process on new UK online gaming licencing

Peter Dean, chairman of the new Gambling Commission - the body that will control online gambling in the UK - has again called on online gaming interests to contribute to the licencing regulations drafting process.

At the present time only sports betting firms may base their servers in the UK, with firms forced to locate gaming servers offshore, but all that is about to change with a more progressive approach to Internet gaming generally.

"The Commission is currently working on the licence conditions and codes of practice which will be relevant to the remote gambling sector. We will be consulting on drafts of these conditions and codes early next year,” Dean said.

"This is an exciting time for the industry, and I would encourage all those who have its welfare at heart to share your views and get involved."

The Gambling Commission was established under the UK Gambling Act 2005. It will be fully independent.

Richard Caborn, UK minister for culture, media and sport, which includes gambling regulation, said he was confident the commission will be seen as "...a model for gambling regulation around the world."

The Gambling Commission takes over the role of the Gaming Board of Great Britain, and comes into power on October 1 2005.

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BET CRAZY BRITS SPEND GBP 1.5 BILLION A YEAR ON-LINE
7 October 2005

New Virgin Money survey has revealed that Brit betting is on the rise.

A new survey commissioned by the Virgin Group, UK owners of Virgin Gaming shows that poker, casino, football, lottery and horseracing sites are the country’s big favourites - and Londoners have emerged as the biggest spenders.

Most Brits admit to staking between GBP 10 and GBP 20-a-week having a flutter while 40 percent of Scots spend GBP 50. But Londoners are the nation’s biggest gamblers with one in ten spending between GBP 300 and GBP 500-a-week.

Virgin Money polled more than 2,000 people to discover the scale of the nation’s online betting fascination – and an incredible 93 percent admitted they have had a crack.

More new punters are chasing the dream all the time with nearly half the people polled admitting they have started gambling online in the past six months.

Football sites are tops with men, 40 percent visiting them daily and the same number betting once a week. Lottery and casino games are men’s other big favourites.

But women provided the biggest shock. Their main gambling interest is the lottery, but second on their ‘must-bet’ list is horseracing, once regarded as a mainly male fascination.

Punters in the Midlands and East Anglia are the most frequent online betters with nearly one in three admitting to having a flutter more than once a day. People in the South West spend most time playing poker, backing horses or trying other sites on the web – one in 20 confessing to spending up to five hours online a day.

The vast majority of online punters, nearly 80 percent, will spend a minimum of one hour a week betting online – but that equates to more than a working week each year gambling on the web.

Most of the gambling population use their own computers at home to enjoy their new hobby and they pay for their fun with credit and debit cards. But up to 10 percent nationally admit to using computers at work, that figure rising to 18 percent in London and the North East.

And five per cent nationally confess to buying a PC or laptop specifically so they can bet. The seductive power of gambling has resulted in 10 percent of the online betting community insisting that having a flutter online is now one of their main pastimes. But that figure rises to one in five of online gamblers in Scotland and East Anglia.

A spokesman for Virgin Money said: “There’s no doubt online gambling and betting has become incredibly popular across the country – and these figures prove it. “The internet – as with so many other areas of life - has simply made something people already enjoy even easier to access and new sites are springing up all the time. Gambling can be both fun and rewarding but punters should only spend what they can afford to lose.”

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COOL CASINOS
7 October 2005

InfoPowa has previously reported on the choice of Playtech as software provider for the online casino website owned by the English football club West Ham United, and following the recent launch we visited the very professional looking and easy to use site this week.

Branded Hammers Casino.com (the club's nickname according to the site blurb)the new venture is not the first online casino launch by a football club - Manchester United claim that one. Nevertheless, this is a quality operation with over 70 games powered by one of the top industry names, Playtech and including progressives with a current potential win value of GBP 500 000.

As one might expect, the Antigua-licensed site offers fully contactable round-the-clock Support and a VIP loyalty program. The financial side is handled out of St. Kitts by IFUND INTERPAY and offers facilities from Click2Pay, ODF, Neteller standard and Instacash, Moneybookers, Switch, Delta and others, using GBP, Dollars and Euro currencies. For the bonus hungry there are a range of offers with various conditions, including a welcome bonus of up to GBP 200.

Taking a spin...
UK-Roulette.co.uk is a pretty cool site targeted on the growing British online casino market and sporting an impressive range of around 80 of RTG's latest games. Neteller, Moneybookers, Delta/ Switch, Eco and Click 2 Pay are all listed as financial options and the operation banks through the reputable NatWest organisation in London, with financial matters channeled through AquaPay. The licensing is Kahnawake and among the several bonuses on offer is a 100 percent signup maxed at GBP 100 and conditional on a x 20 D+B W/T.

Playtech poker release
Latest member of Playtech's iPoker network is Titan Poker.com, an attractive site that can be played in English, French, Italian, German and Spanish. There are a number of bonuses on offer including a generous "send-a-friend" at $75 and a 100 percent signup maxed at $500. The site is well presented and has plenty of content such as weekly $1000 freerolls, and a series of jackpots that go as high as $25 000 in sit and go games as well as tournaments. Three games are on offer - Texas Hold Em, Omaha and Omaha Hi Lo, Full 24/7 Support is available and there is a wide choice of financial options. The iPoints loyalty program is promised soon.

Everything's bigger in Texas
New RTG-powered arrival is Best Texas Casino.com, which carries the popular RTG gambling software versions of 18 VP, 16 card and table games and 23 slots that include 9 progressives. The site is rather plain but workmanlike and offers fully contactable 24/7 Support and a good range of financial options through BIMS Worldwide Ltd. Look out for the large list of excluded countries (these guys are taking no chances) and before taking bonuses like the $750 sign-up make sure you read the complex T&Cs very carefully.

It's been awhile....
Since we saw a new Grand Virtual operation, so Golden Lounge Casino.com will be welcome for the devotees of this aging gambling software suite. The site is competent if unspectacular, but all the facilities of round-the-clock Support, 18 language options and an average range of financial instruments are available. Grand Virtual has been around for years and is a Canadian company that was acquired by the Taiwan Giga Media group over a year ago.

Going Dutch...
Is the well established and fast growing Vegas Partners Lounge which now boasts a stable of almost ten gambling operations, The group has launched a Dutch language site to cater for the many online gamblers in that country, and it can be found at NL.Sun Vegas.com, powered by Microgaming.

One for the live gambling fans:
Casino Web Cam has added another "live-over-the-Internet" gambling site owned by a group of Toronto business people to it's stable of over 16 licensees with the arrival of Live Palace.com, which streams live gambling with real croupiers from studios in Costa Rica. The website is attractive and easy to use, and offers live Support together with a good range of financing choices through Secure Processing Ltd in the United Kingdom. Watch out for that 48 hour suspended withdrawal clause in the T&Cs.

Recently arrived poker sites...
Include Fair Poker.com (iPoker network from Playtech) VC Poker (Tribeca Tables software) Green Tie Poker.com (Excapsa network) Purple Lounge.com (Microgaming and Prima network) Two no-download operations that are going after the MacIntosh user market are MacPoker Player.com and B2B Poker.com, both using Java technology on proprietary suites. Expekt.com has dropped the Prima Poker network in favour of Tain software.

And in mobile-land there's plenty of activity, too:
Look out for Aspinalls Mobile Online.com - a Phantom Fiber powered mobile arm of the famous land and online casino company, and a new mobile casino service from Sportech-owned BetDirect using a combo of Boss Media and Mfuse technology. Sportech operates Littlewoods and has extensive iTV interests. Finally, the UK-based Cellectivity Ltd techno team are working with Party Gaming's Starluck Casino on a mobile offering.

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CASINO CAUTIONS
7 October 2005

Check your account!

The fora have been lighting up lately with player reports of unexpected, and frequently automatic bonuses. Where's the problem with getting some free money, you may ask?

The answer is because these bonuses carry wager-through requirements and in many cases the player didn't ask for them. The bonanza is frequently just credited to an account, and the first the player knows about it is when a cash-out is denied because the W/T has not been met.

A growing number of players eschew bonuses because these marketing inducements too frequently lead to nightmare hassles of extensive minimum wagering requirements, denied pay-outs, confrontations with ill-trained or briefed Support and even the danger of being unilaterally declared a "bonus abuser" and subjected to disqualifications and lock-outs. In short, many believe that bonuses are just not worth the trouble they can bring.

Some pretty surreal live-chats have taken place, where Support workers have said they are actually unable to remove these bonuses when requested, and there have been cases of bonuses being credited despite a player calling Support prior to playing and telling them to hold off on the bonus!

No doubt these bonuses could be reversed once a manager is involved, but who needs the trouble?

It's something that deserves attention at casino and maybe even software level. It should not be too difficult to give the player an opportunity to reject a bonus before it is credited, especially where it involves obligations on his or her part. And the player should definitely be advised when a credit is about to made.

In the meantime, players need to keep a close eye on the transactions going through their accounts in order to catch any *surprises* before they are used and that endless cycle of bonus arguments gets into gear.

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PHANTOM FIBER & TRIBECA TO DEVELOP WIRELESS POKER
7 October 2005

Five year exclusive agreement signed

Technology developer Phantom Fiber Corporation inked a five-year exclusive license agreement with turnkey online poker provider Tribeca Tables Europe, Ltd, this week. The goal of the partnership is to develop a wireless poker platform.

Tribeca Tables supplies the technology behind a growing range of online poker rooms, providing a global poker playing network. The Tribeca Tables Poker Network includes an impressive list of prestigious brands such as Victor Chandler, Blue Sq, BETonSPORTS, Paddy Power, G-Fed, Golden Palace and Doyle Brunson, as well as over 100 other brands.

Jeff Halloran, President and CEO for Phantom Fiber says, "The agreement is symbolic because Phantom Fiber's Advanced Wireless Platform was originally built around poker to demonstrate the proven speed, graphics and stability of our wireless solution.

"The growth and momentum behind Poker cannot be understated. Tribeca's strong management team, infrastructure and operations have proven to be a formidable force in the online poker world as a result of their critical mass of users, marketing and retention programs designed to create the necessary liquidity to keep players coming back.

"We are excited to be working with Tribeca Tables and look forward to deploying to their entire class of tier-1 brands in the very near future."

Steve Cook from Tribeca Tables commented, "We foresee rapid growth in 2006 for the mobile poker sector and expect to decisively execute on several key wireless poker brand launches early next year."

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UK GAMBLING ADVISORY PANEL FORMED
7 October 2005

Land casino advisory panel formed as part of the Gambling Commission

The British media are reporting this week that UK gambling minister Richard Caborn has announced the membership of an advisory panel, which will begin work towards the introduction of regional land casinos as part of the new Gambling Commission regulation of the UK gambling industry, including the Internet gambling sector.

The initiative to form an advisory panel came about as part of the Gambling Act 2005, which came into force on 1 October.

The Casino Advisory Panel will be chaired by Professor Stephen Crow – a former chief planning inspector and chief executive of the Planning Inspectorate – and includes Christopher Collinson, an independent planning and regeneration advisor and former deputy chief executive of Mansfield District Council; James Froomberg, commercial director of British Waterways; Neil Mundy, formerly director of finance and corporate services for ONE North East Regional Development Agency; and Deep Sagar, director of Glasgow Employer Coalition.

Its duties will initially be to invite expressions of interest from local authorities and then begin identifying the areas which could support either the one regional land casino or any of the planned eight large and eight small casinos.

It will investigate the social impact and potential for regeneration in each of the applicants’ regions. Regional planning bodies throughout England, Wales and Scotland will also be asked to identify a list of potential locations for the regional casino.

Based on the panel’s findings, the list of chosen locations will be approved in a Parliamentary Order in early 2007, with the relevant local authorities then able to invite tenders for casino premises licences.

“The panel’s priority is to get a proper assessment of the social impact new types of casino will have, particularly on problem gambling,” said Caborn, “I know there has already been a great deal of speculation over the location of the new regional casino – this isn’t surprising given the regeneration benefits it will bring – but the appointment of this panel shows that there are no favourites or front-runners. The slate has been wiped clean and every local authority will have the chance to make its case.”

Local authorities which are unwilling to licence a casino will not be considered by the panel. The regional casino will offer a minimum of 5,000sq m), large casinos a minimum of 1,500sq m and small casinos a minimum of 750sq m, with differing jackpot prize levels at each available.

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NEW LOOK FOR 7 SULTANS
7 October 2005

Fortune Lounge veteran will now give players a personal assistant

One of the Fortune Lounge group's oldest and most popular online casinos, 7 Sultans has been given an extensive revamp, offering more player services.

The website has received a dynamic make-over that is set to make it more appealing to the gambling public, using input from the players themselves in the project.

"Securing players is the art of our game and the upgrade of the 7Sultans site allows us to give players what they want and by so doing, we're making the player experience more memorable. That way players will want to come back for more," says the Director of 7Sultans Marketing, John Hughes.

The new presentation gives a more modern look to the Eastern getaway that is the 7Sultans Casino. The website's software has been upgraded and navigation is more player-friendly and easier to use.

But one of the new features will likely have special appeal to players. This is the introduction of a players' personal assistant, which will also be rolled out shortly across all the Fortune Lounge brands.

With the Personal Messenger, players will no longer have to open their installed casino software to view important gambling information such as casino account balance. Players will be able to link directly to the Fortune Lounge Players Club, review their points balance and redeem loyalty bonuses. Quick-link buttons are available to review the Fortune Lounge winners' wall and be kept up-to-date with all the latest news. The Personal Messenger has also been redesigned to make messages easier to read.

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EXCLUSIVE MAYFAIR POKER CLUB ON THE WAY
7 October 2005

Land poker room could be London's first licensed card room under the new Gambling Act

Look out for an up-market, member's only poker club that is set to open its doors in Mayfair, central London, in early 2006.

The Fox Poker Club, as it will be called, has applied to the Gaming Board of Great Britain for a casino license which will make it London's first fully licensed card room.

The club plans to have not only the first, but one of the largest card rooms in London offering absolute comfort in the surroundings of a listed Georgian townhouse. A dedicated "Platinum Room", with full TV studio facilities, will be available to Platinum Members and their guests. The Platinum Room will host high stakes no-limit cash games, and will be the location of the final table for major tournaments. Fox Poker Club Members will be able watch these games live from the comfort of the bar and lounge area on state of the art flat-screen televisions.

With limited membership, poker enthusiasts who are interested in joining are encouraged to express their interest in a pre-registration form on the club's website.

The poker club will be situated next door to its sister club, The Fox Club, which is an exclusive private members club. Both clubs are housed in elegant five-storey Georgian townhouses, which date back to the 1800s when Charles Fox, whom the clubs are named after, resided there. Fox was a leading Whig politician, and a well-known gambler.

The club will be run by a group of enthusiasts who have a track record in the gaming industry. Club founder Chris North said, "We wanted to open a club dedicated to poker that was legally allowed to offer the full range of Poker properly regulated and in a secure environment."

Fellow founder Brian Mattingley added, "The Fox Poker Club is owned and run by poker fans, for poker fans and we aim to make it the number one destination of choice for the capital's poker players."

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SENIOR BRITISH EXECUTIVE JOINS CRYPTOLOGIC BOARD
7 October 2005

Nigel Simon brings extensive European business expertise to turnkey provider

British businessman Nigel Simon has been appointed as a non-executive director to Cryptologic's Board. Simon, a veteran British executive, has more than 25 years of broad senior management and strategic experience in leading and managing international businesses. He has particular expertise in strategy, marketing, regulatory issues, sales, banking, corporate governance and mergers and acquisitions.

"Nigel Simon is an experienced executive with particular strengths in strategy and marketing, which will be an excellent complement to CryptoLogic's Board and leadership team," said Lewis Rose, CryptoLogic's President and CEO.

"Nigel's extensive background in international businesses - notably in the UK and Europe, CryptoLogic's core growth markets, and his familiarity with Asia - will add valuable insights as we continue to deliver some of the world's best Internet games to the world's best gaming brands."

Simon has led a multi-billion-dollar business in Continental Europe, as well as building Gallaher's substantial volume position in Russia, Kazakhstan and Asia. In doing so, he has demonstrated a track record for growing both market share and profits and has worked with leading investment banks, advertising agencies and management consulting firms around the globe.

Simon held senior management roles for 20 years with Gallaher Group PLC, an approximately GBP 4 billion FTSE 50 and NYSE-listed international tobacco company based in the UK, with sales in 68 countries and manufacturing locations in the UK, Austria, Kazakhstan, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine and Sweden. Some of Simon's most notable achievements at Gallaher included growing the company's international profits by more than 600 percent over a ten year period, and leading the Euro 2.1 billion European acquisition and integration of an Austrian manufacturer.

He served for seven years as a Main Board Director of Gallaher and held positions as Chairman of Germany's largest vending retailer, and as a Board member for Germany's largest convenience store wholesaler.

In addition to his business interests, Simon also serves as a trustee for a major UK charity and as a mentor for the Prince's Trust - a charity founded by the Prince of Wales to help less-privileged young adults get their start in business.

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GOOD BUD FOR POKER
7 October 2005

WPT clinches Budweiser sponsorship

WPT Enterprises, Inc. welcomed Budweiser this week as the “Official Beer” of the World Poker Tour in its fourth exciting season of riveting televised poker on the Travel Channel.

“As the WPT re-positions poker as a leading sport - not just a pastime - Budweiser is the ideal sponsor. Our long association with sports increases poker’s recognition by the sports-loving consumer and television viewer,” said Peter McLoughlin, Vice President, Corporate Media, Anheuser-Busch, Inc.

Budweiser television spots will air on Travel Channel’s broadcasts of Season IV. Additionally, viewers will see the Budweiser logo on the “table ring” around the Final Table arena and on in-show graphics for the WPT’s popular “hole card camera” segment. The winners of each WPT tournament will celebrate a toast with Budweiser as part of the WPT’s traditional closing sequence.

In jurisdictions where it is legal, Budweiser will support the sponsorship with retail promotions which will begin in December 2005 and will run through February 2006 with a “Texas Hold‘em tournament”, to feature a shortened elimination version of Texas Hold’em.

Players will begin each round with an equal number of chips and play until they “bust out.” Only the top chip winners will progress to the next round. Players will not pay or purchase anything to play in this tournament, but must be 21 or older.

The top two players at the National Finals will secure seats in the WPT Invitational, the World Poker Tour's celebrity pro-am tournament boasting 300 players vying for a $200,000 prize pool. Skilled celebrities such as Ben Affleck, James Woods, Jennifer Tilly and Tobey Maguire have joined the roster of WPT tournament winners and leading pros who participate in the WPT Invitational.

Steve Lipscomb, CEO and founder of WPT Enterprises described the deal as “....a great match of two iconic brands.”

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SKYPE FOR SALE?
7 October 2005

Will those calls remain low cost?

US media are reporting that the online auction company eBay is believed to be in early but ''active'' talks to acquire Skype.com, the European low cost Internet telephony provider. Media speculation is that the transaction could be valued at between $2 billion and $3 billion.

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BOOKS A PROFITABLE BY-PRODUCT OF THE POKER BOOM
7 October 2005

Tenfold increase in sales...and 60 new titles this year in the USA alone.

The extensive coverage and popularity of the game of poker has resulted in prosperity for authors on the subject and their publichers, says New York's Cardoza Publishing this week.

The publisher reported a tenfold increase in sales for its poker-related titles, and the daily newspaper USA Today estimates that 60 poker books will go to print this year.

Locally, one publisher has found itself ahead of the curve, another is trying to catch up and a third is sitting out the poker craze altogether.

Book store owner Howard Schwartz says his store now has 250 separate titles on poker, double the number in stock a year or two ago. Many of them are from the pens of Two Plus Two Publishing's Sklansky and Malmuth - between them, since 1987 the pair have published 26 of Two Plus Two's 43 poker titles and are widely respected.

Two Plus Two's business has prospered as a result of the intense interest in poker, too. In 2002, before the game took off Malmuth sold 45,000 books, and this has climbed to an estimated 500,000 books this year. The interest is illustrated by the growth of the pair's online poker site, Two Plus Two.com where at any one time, there can be as many as between 500 to a thousand people generating a staggering 10,000 posts a day.

For beginners, Huntington Press's "Kill Phil" is a new how-to book for beginners, aimed at those TV viewers who fantasise about playing against the big names in poker. Phil Hellmuth has endorsed the book, which carries strategies outlined by authors Blair Rodman and Lee Nelson.

"Regardless of what happens, it (poker) will still remain big," Anthony Curtis of Huntington Press says. "Poker will be a cool thing to do for quite some time. Will it continue its meteoric ascent? It can't. It's too expensive. Nobody wants to get their brains and their wallet beat out every time they sit down."

"We've been fairly steady over all the years," added Malmuth, whose poker-based publishing house well predates the current craze for Texas Hold 'Em and games of that ilk. "Obviously there will come a day when it peaks. There's probably too many tournaments right now and new ones continue to be announced."

Malmuth thinks the fever for poker will subside yet the sport will still maintain a higher temperature than it did a few years ago. He points to the generation coming of age, and into the workplace, picking up the green-felt virus in college.

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MULTI TASKING AT KIWI
7 October 2005

New player assistance system could have you wide-eyed!

Players at the New Zealand owned but offshore online venue Kiwi Casino.com are getting to grips with a new multi-screen help facility that enables them to engage with several actions at once, it appears.

The new Multi Window Support system now empowers players to play up to three games simultaneously, or to deposit more money at the cashier without having to risk losing their winning streak.

Part of the software upgrade also includes a Slots Auto Play function, which enables players to set their favourite slot game to Auto Play for up to 9999 games, allowing them to concentrate on more skilful games. With lots of helpful options like "stop on jackpot win," "stop when my winnings reach $X," "stop when my account reaches $X," the player is always in control.

Beefing up the gaming suite is a brand new Bonus Slots Game, Queen of the Pyramids, which features state of the art graphics, free spins, bonus rounds and a progressive jackpot.

The casino is part of the Kiwi Gaming family, an independent offshore operation which is wholly owned by Christchurch Casinos Ltd Group (CCL).

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PERPLEXING LEGAL RULING IN NEW JERSEY
7 October 2005

When is a non-law a law?

Even legal folk were scratching their heads a little this week as the already complex US legal position on Internet gambling took another puzzling twist thanks to a Superior Court judge who has upheld a recent decision to prosecute an alleged gambling site operator.

In essence, the judge ruled that operating an online gambling site was illegal...even though there is no law that specifically bans betting over the Internet in New Jersey.

Before the judge was a defence lawyer for Nicholas Drakos (48) who unsuccessfully tried to get Superior Court Judge Salem Vincent Ahto in Morristown to dismiss the indictment against his client, who is charged with promoting gambling, conspiracy to promote gambling and money laundering between January and April 2004.

Attorney Robert Dunn argued that the state Legislature has never passed a law that makes Internet gambling a crime. Drakos hosted the Web site known as International Net Casino.com, and instructed bettors on how to set up accounts to place wagers on professional and collegiate sports events without understanding it as a crime, the lawyer maintained.

Morris County Assistant Prosecutor Melanie Smith countered by suggesting that under state law, a person is guilty of promoting gambling when he or she knowingly engages in conduct that "...materially aids any form of gambling activity." And amendments to New Jersey's constitution have legalised certain types of gambling in New Jersey and prohibited the Legislature from authorising other forms of gambling "...unless the specific kind, restrictions and control ... are approved by public referendum," she contended.

Then came the judge's take on the debate: simply because the Legislature has not specified that Internet gambling is a crime does not mean it is lawful, he said.

There apparently is no legal precedent in New Jersey that explicitly prohibits Internet gambling.

However, Judge Ahto read passages from New Jersey's constitution, citing approved forms of gambling that include casinos, state-run lotteries and certain types of raffles or Bingo games that benefit civic groups, senior citizens, veterans, religious, educational, fraternal and other specified organizations.

He pointed out that there was no mention of Internet gambling.

The issue is still at an early stage, and although Judge Ahto would not allow a summary dismissal of the charges he ruled that a proper trial where relevant evidence is produced against Drakos was necessary.

The case is the result of a "sting" operation in which an undercover officer asked Drakos to set up an online betting account and they met in person in January 2004. During their meeting, the undercover official discussed establishing an online account as well as Drakos'"affiliate program," which was a commission incentive for bettors to recruit other bettors, the papers said. The officer gave Drakos $100 to fund his new gambling account, and it was set up in his presence.

The undercover officer later recruited other undercover officers to log on to the Web site and set up additional accounts under the "affiliate program."On two occasions, the undercover officers used the Web site and their new accounts to place bets that totaled in the $1,000 range, court papers said.

Drakos was arrested on April 1, 2004, at Newark Liberty International Airport, when he allegedly was carrying $1,632 in cash along with gambling records.

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CONFERENCE CORNER
7 October 2005

The regulators and legal eagles will want to start booking airfares to Brussels soon for the next European Gambling Briefing conference from ATE-Clarion.

If you want to be close to the action you may want to look for accommodation at the Conrad Hotel, Brussels between 24 & 25 April 2006,

Following on from the success of last year’s launch conference, Clarion ATE is putting together the second European Gambling Briefing, a gathering of leading gambling regulators, lawyers and industry stakeholders from across Europe and beyond.

This senior-level two day briefing will tackle both sides of the passionate debate about how gambling should be controlled across Europe, the latest legal challenges, the impact of the EC services directive and the honest opinions of the operators, suppliers and financial investors involved in this flourishing sector.

Here's where you get the detail and register: www.ateonline.co.uk/conferences

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Online Casino News courtesy of InfoPowa


 
 

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