The Malta Business Weekly
16 - 22 March 2000

Crockfords casino to operate online from Malta
by Anthony Manduca


The Liverpool based Stanley Leisure gaming group, which owns the well known Crockfords casino, is in talks with Maltese financial authorities to acquire a licence to operate online out of Malta, The Sunday Times (of London) has reported.

The operation out of Malta would mean that the company would bypass the British gaming duty tax. The Maltese government will only be charging a 0.5 per cent tax on each individual online bet.

Last week The Malta Business Weekly reported that Malta's betting regulatory authorities were processing a large number of applications from major international betting companies to set up international trading companies in Malta and offer their services online to non-Maltese residents.

Leonard Steinberg, chairman of the Stanley Leisure group, recently acquire two offshore internet gaming sites, which trade as of Acropoliscasinos.com and Avaloncasinos.com. Stanley intends to use the infrastructure to take Crockfords online. The venue is one of the top names in international gaming and is frequented by big players, including Kerry Packer, the Australian tycoon.

The company already owns a chain of regional gaming outlets and betting shops, but it will be the first British casino operator to set up a virtual reality casino.

The maximum stake allowed on the two sites is US$1,000, but this is likely to rise when the Crockfords site opens in about three months.

Stanley is also at an advanced stage in setting up traditional online sports betting products, especially for football, which now accounts for almost five per cent of the group's sales.

Analysts say the net is becoming a crowded sector for gaming operators, but those with strong brands that provide certainty of paying out winnings to clients will be the most likely to succeed. William Hill and Coral, Britain's two big independent bookmakers, are preparing flotations to capitalise on the high ratings awarded to net gaming groups.

Coral, which owns more than 860 betting offices and two greyhound stadiums, has appointed Credit Suisse First Boston and Deutsche Bank to advise on its flotation. Ladbroke, owned by Hilton Group, could also be spun off into a separate company having announced a set of net betting sites.

Wembley, the leisure group, last month announced a net gaming initiative when it revealed plans to set up a dedicated greyhound racing betting site.

Analysts say betting on the net and through interactive television will be a high-growth business.

They say it is particularly appealing to women who dislike going into betting shops and casinos.