Online Casino News Monthly Recap – August 2005

WTO ANNOUNCES DEADLINE FOR USA COMPLIANCE
26 August 2005
April 2006 is the final date

Associated Press reported this week that the United States has until April 2006 to comply with a WTO ruling on US restrictions on cross-border gaming on the Internet.

Quoting a World Trade Organisation official announcement on the issue, which has been running since March 2003 the report reveals that the global trade referee is allowing Washington enough time to adapt its legislation to comply with its ruling, which was issued in April, 2005.

At the conclusion of the WTO-arbitrated dispute, the US was given a “reasonable period of time” for Washington to adapt its legislation in line with the ruling, which was issued in April this year after the island state of Antigua and Barbuda brought the US before the 148-nation WTO.

Antigua argued in its complaint that US prohibitions were harming its online gaming business, which is aimed at reducing the island’s economic dependence on tourism. The island, with a population of about 68,000, is a centre for offshore Internet gaming operations, attracting large numbers of US residents to its virtual casino-style games and betting services.

US officials contended Internet gambling is illegal if it involves activity on US soil, and have vowed to prosecute those involved in the practice.

Both sides claimed victory in the dispute.

In its ruling, the WTO accepted that prohibitions in some US states on cross-border gaming were valid and agreed with Washington’s argument that some federal laws could “protect public morals or maintain public order.”

However, the appeals panel ruled that the United States had not been able to show that US laws on horse-racing bets were applied equitably to foreign and domestic online betting suppliers, a key condition of global trade rules.

Antigua has said it expects changes in US rules to unlock opportunities to advertise online gaming products on US Internet sites or media without the threat of legal action by authorities. There have thus far been no prosecutions against advertising media despite widespread “advisories” from the US Department of Justice, which is itself embroiled in litigation with Casino City on the issue.

Trade partners who fail to implement WTO rulings often find themselves hit by sanctions, usually in the form of extra tariffs on their exports.

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WTO TURNED DOWN TIMEFRAME PROPOSED BY USA TO MAKE CHANGES
26 August 2005
WTO arbitrator says time given is sufficient

The World Trade Organisation’s recent action (see InfoPowa report last week) in giving the United States just under a year to get its house in order regarding Internet gambling came after attempts by the federal authorities to gain more time.

Washington has until next April to comply with a ruling about US restrictions on cross border gaming on the Internet, a WTO arbitrator ruled last week.

The arbitrator, Claus-Dieter Ehlermann, set the ?reasonable period of time? for the US to adapt its legislation in line with the WTO ruling, which was issued in April this year after the Antiguan government brought the USA before the global trade referee to argue interference in Internet gaming by the federal government.

The US had argued that it would need a minimum of 15 months to implement the recommendations, citing a lengthy and complicated legislative process.

Ehlermann said the reasons given did not ?suffice to discharge the United States? burden of persuading me that 15 months would be a reasonable period of time for implementation in this dispute, particularly given the acknowledged flexibility in the United States legislative process.?

Had Washington?s request been granted, the US would have had until the end of July 2006, instead of 3 April 2006, to implement the recommendations.

?I am pleased to see that the arbitrator has decided in favour of our cogent arguments that the shortest possible time period be given to the US to implement the recommendations,? Dr Errol Cort, the finance and economy minister for Antugua and Barbuda who also has overall responsibility for this issue, said.

?We believe that in his decision to grant the US a time period of eleven months and two weeks from the date of the adoption of the WTO?s Appellate Body Report, or approximately eight months from today?s date, the arbitrator has sent a clear message to the US that it is expected to comply fully with the recommendations and rulings of the DSB (Dispute Settlement Body,) and to do so within a clearly defined timeframe? he added.

?Ideally, we would have preferred even a shorter timeframe,? Mark Mendel, Antigua & Barbuda?s legal adviser said.

?At the end of day, in this case, April 3, 2006, we hope that the US will present to the Appellate Body, a comprehensive plan on how it intends to grant full market access to our gaming operators,? Ms. Kaye MacDonald, Antigua’s director of gaming said.

?Before anyone forgets, this after all, is the primary reason we brought the case to the WTO in the first place,? she added.

US officials contended Internet gambling is illegal if it involves activity on US soil, and have vowed to prosecute those involved in the practice.

Antigua and Barbuda?s delegation to the WTO will now have to ensure that the US regularly informs the meetings of the DSB on steps it is taking, to implement the recommendations and rulings of the Appellate Body, the Antigua government said in a statement this week.

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RED LETTER AUGUST FOR TRIDENT CASINOS
26 August 2005
More awards, great new video poker and slots with rewarding bonuses.

August has truly been a red letter month for Trident group casinos King Neptune’s (www.kingneptunescasino.com) Trident Lounge (www.tridentloungecasino.com) and Vegas USA (www.vegasusacasino.com) with top independent awards, and the launch of 4 brand new games.

The awards come from the respected gambling publication Strictly Slots and include first prizes for Best Video Poker and Slot Tournaments, together with third placing for Best Online Casino For Slots, Best Sign Up Bonus and Best Customer Service from a group. The latter includes Trident Poker in its accolade.

Trident spokesman Scott Gaines said that awards from major publications like Strictly Slots were motivational for Trident staff, and were always received with enthusiasm. “The Trident people behind the scenes in the Support, Technical and Accounting departments always get a big charge out of significant medals, despite the many we have earned from different entities over the years,” he said.

Gaines went on to link the new games for August with the latest awards. “One of the reasons for Trident’s success is that we constantly keep our games fresh and entertaining, and this year that has meant launching 4 new games every month.”

This month’s flagship, the Chain Mail 5 reel, 20 payline video slot will give hours of entertainment and open many doors of bonus opportunity as it presents several exciting new concepts in slot rewards for the first time.

With Wild and Scatter symbols complemented by a brand new bonus feature that can bring royal reward or be stopped dead in its tracks by the angry Uncle Mordread, Chain Mail is full of the twists and turns of Fortune.

The brightly coloured graphics feature a zany mix of medieval icons and modern elements such designed to intrigue and amuse, and the maximum jackpot in currency on the base game is an appealing $15 000 (30 000 coins)

The popularity of the recently introduced Golden Goose bonusing program is the basis for the fourth video slot game in this imaginative bonusing series, branded Crazy Chameleons. This is a 5 reel, 10 coin, 20 payline with an additional 5 coins for the special and very generous bonus feature. Red and green chameleons trigger Wild and Scatter rewards teamed with the optional Golden Goose bonus program.

With a carefree, bright and breezy seaside holiday vibe that uses surfboards, suntans and seagulls interspersed with those winning chameleons the game has an entertaining theme. The base game has a generous maximum jackpot of $5 000 coins or 10 000 in currency, however once the Golden Goose feature is selected by the player, 250 coins come into play which with free spins can yield a jackpot of 300 000 coins or $60 000 in currency.

Video players have not been overlooked this month as the latest in the popular 50 Play Power Poker series, Deuces Wild debuts.

With big jackpots that pay up to $50 000, the Deuces in the deck are wild and substitute for any card to complete a winning hand. Deuces Wild operates on the facilities-rich Viper software platform, where in addition to autohold, the analyzer tables give guidance on current odds and cover permutations to help gamblers make the right decision. Razor sharp, clean and lean graphics allied to generous pay tables, ensure that this new 50 Play game will feature high on the play lists of most VP fans.

August’s final game is truly Out of Africa. Branded Bush Telegraph, this 5 reel, 15 payline video slot duplicates the fast play and thrilling, big free spins bonus and reward features of Tomb Raider, presented in a uniquely African setting that captures the vibrancy, colour and exotic wildlife of the jungle.

With the right combinations, a maximum jackpot of $37 500 can be achieved, and with the free spin x 3 multiplier feature that reward can soar to $112 500.

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PROGRESSIVE APPROACH TO INTERACTIVE GAMING IN THE LAND OF THE LONG WHITE CLOUD
26 August 2005
In New Zealand, significant future potential for the industry

Computer World reported this week that New Zealanders could be legally playing interactive gambling games from home within a year, with the blessing of New Zealand Lotteries following a recent agreement.

The lottery inked a deal with US-based provider Gtech that includes the future introduction of new products, including “remote interactive gaming”, or RIG.

“Where RIG has been offered overseas, it has often been provided over the internet as well as through dedicated networks,” Lotteries spokeswoman Helen Morgan-Banda is quoted as saying. “Whether it is offered over the internet here (in New Zealand) will be the subject of further negotiation, but we have the legal right to offer interactive gaming, under the Gambling Act.”

It could be the start of some exciting industry developments in the Land of the Long White Cloud.

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CASSAVA IPO SPECULATION HOTS UP
26 August 2005
UK media full of speculative reports on London listing next week

Reuters and other reports on the public listing of Cassava Enterprises permeated the UK media this week as speculation continued (see previous InfoPowa reports) that the major Internet gambling operator was planning a GBP 700 million flotation late next week.

Cassava subsidiary 888.com, the world?s largest internet casino operator in terms of visitor numbers with 20 million registered player accounts is reportedly aiming to make its debut in London next Thursday. Listing experts HSBC bank has been advising the companys management.

According to the Financial Times in London, a listing would value 888.com at more than GBP 700 million, marking a major windfall for the two Israeli families that control some 90 percent of the firm. Avi and Aharon Shaked are said to own about 70 percent of the company in a family trust, with the Ben-Yitzhak family holding around 20 percent.

Gibraltar-based 888.com, which operates Casino-on-Net, Reef Club Casino and Pacific Poker generates significant revenues through its well-established and highly successful operations in the online casino and poker sector.

Cassava has remained tight-lipped on the speculative reportage.

Late last week a report in Britain’s Sunday Express newspaper suggested that Cassava was considering making a bid for its rival PokerStars, but again the company declined to comment.

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CASINO CAUTIONS
26 August 2005
Joyland dispute rolls on

Last week InfoPowa reported on the Playtech-powered Joyland Casino dispute, in which an over-generous comp point offer, apparently as a result of an error by casino staff led to some very questionable winnings disqualifications. It is thought that many players were affected by the casino’s unilateral action in merely returning deposits, and the leading message boards were red hot with irate condemnations. The casino exacerbated the issue by bad communications and altering transaction log entries.

This week, the furore showed little sign of cooling down, and Joyland made an appearance with a statement offering to review any complaint re-submitted to it by aggrieved players. A number of players had not taken up comp point offers, yet had been penalised and several of these submitted their appeals. In at least one case, winnings were reinstated, but this did little to retrieve the situation, and complaints were being made to independent mediators like Casinomeister as we went to press this week.

The incident showed up shortcomings in Playtech’s new disputes channel which will need to be addressed, and Joyland faces almost universal condemnation for its handling of the situation, which is widely seen as a case of an online casino trying to make its players pay for an in-house error.

 

ANOTHER INNOVATION FROM PADDY POWER
26 August 2005
“Squares” launch will bring novel numbers game to the public

Irish betting group Paddy Power has teamed with Dynamite Idea and Orbis Technology to launch a new betting game branded ?Squares’.

Players must draw six balls from a grid containing 36, on which a variety of bets can then be made. The game features multiple betting options, odds or evens, positions on the grid, combined value of the numbers selected, higher or lower and predicting whether a sequence of six will be drawn or not.

Simon Caddy of Dynamite Idea said, ?We first developed Squares three years ago and this new on demand version has evolved. Squares remains a top performer as a simple game with diverse bet options.?

Paddy Power offers a selection of innovative new games from the same supplier, all of which have proved to be popular with the playing community.

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FORTUNE LOUNGE FIGHTS AFFILIATE SPAM
26 August 2005
Following the Spamhaus mess, a move to stop irregular conduct

The dangers of unquestioned acceptance of anonymous “spam-police” complaints was illustrated recently when the large Fortune Lounge group of online casinos had to endure an expensive suspension offline by domain registrar GoDaddy, allegedly on complaints of spamming by the unofficial spam monitor SpamHaus, an anonymous organisation that is remarkably hard to contact.

Early reports suggest that GoDaddy acted without first contacting FL with the complaints. FL outsources its email marketing, awarding the contract on warranties against spamming by the contractor.

This week the incident had a sequel, as the FL affiliate arm, Fortune Affiliates circulated prominent portals, asking them to assist it in stamping out irresponsible affiliate-generated spam by reporting it. The FA circular said the following:

“Recently there have been spam reports concerning Fortune Lounge casinos – some of the affiliates have been implementing spam campaigns.

Fortune Affiliates would like to streamline the complaints process by having all spam mails received by players and attributed to Fortune Lounge operations to be forwarded to this email address: Spam@FortuneAffiliates.com

This includes the following properties:

7Sultans Casino
Desert Dollar Casino
Fortune Room Casino
Havana Club Casino
Platinum Play Casino
Royal Vegas Casino
Vegas Palms Casino
Vegas Towers Casino
Vegas Villa Casino
7Sultans Poker Room
Royal Vegas Poker Room

The circular does not elaborate on what FA intends to do with affiliates who continue to send uninvited and unwelcome spam to players, but management’s mood after having their sites taken down in the last incident is unlikely to be lenient.

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WATCH OUT FOR WORLD PLAYER
26 August 2005
New online gambling magazine due next month

One of the larger online casino operators, the Fortune Lounge group has a treat in mind for online gamblers starting 1st September – the launch of a magazine dedicated to the fun and lifestyle of online gambling.

Titled World Player, the publication will be delivered by mail to registered players of Fortune Lounge?s online casinos and will be available at a select number of casino resorts in Las Vegas.

World Player will help Internet gamblers keep track of personalities, happenings and lifestyle trends relevant to this form of entertainment and the editorial team promise that it will be packed with everything and anything. It is laced with trendy sections like fashion, sport, stylish new gadgets, celebrities and spas and has all the qualities that make up the ‘high life’.

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BETCORP TO USE GAME ACCOUNT SKILL GAMES
26 August 2005
Skill game trend continues to attract player attention

The major skill game provider GameAccount has been chosen by the Australian public company Betcorp to power skill gaming additions to subsidiary online sportsbooks, BetWWTS.com and CyberSportsBook.com.

The order is based on the clear trend that the addition of skill games like Backgammon, Gin Rummy and Hi-Lo Solitaire attracts a wider demographic of player, as well as appealing to an already registered core of recreational and serious gamblers.

“Big cash tournaments and P2P skill games like Backgammon resonate with sportsbook clients that visit our site as they are able to wager in a secure environment that offers the opportunity to back themselves to win,” said Andy Bell, Head of Casino & Games at Betcorp.

The integrated sites offer the opportunity for CyberSportsBook.com and BetWWTS.com customers to win a share of the more than $2,000,000 worth of monthly winnings paid out within the GameAccount network. This includes a share in the world’s biggest skill-based tournament, SuperCash, offering over $36,000 in prize money.

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SIR CASHALOT LIVES UP TO HIS NAME
26 August 2005
Progressive jackpot has almost reached $900 000

The King Cashalot Jackpot, a progressive slot available at Belle Rock Gaming group casinos reached a player-pulling $882,700.00 this week and could be ready to pop.

The last time it was won at a Belle Rock Gaming casino was back in March this year, with an exciting $618,857.39 jackpot scooped by Debbie T, from California, whilst playing at the River Belle Online Casino.

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TOP POKER PROS INVEST IN CARD PLAYER MEDIA
26 August 2005
Experience galore for Card Player magazine

Some of poker’s most successful players and top Hollywood talent have become investors in the first private equity placement of Card Player Media, publishers of Card Player magazine.

Phil Hellmuth, Daniel Negreanu, Todd Brunson, Jennifer Harman, and Thomas Keller, along with Hollywood stars Laura Prepon, Danny Masterson, and Chris Masterson have all invested, and will serve as strategic business and media advisors.

“This talented group brings significant poker and media expertise that will be invaluable as we continue to execute our plan of growing the Card Player brand,” says Card Player Media, LLC Chairman Barry Shulman. “These strategic advisors will help Card Player greatly expand its reach.”

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MONEYGAMING SKILL GAME PORTAL REELS ‘EM IN
26 August 2005
New portal signs 35 000 members in first week

It seems that everything to do with skill gaming, including portals is attractive to the gambling public. This week UK companies Game Trust, Inc. and The Money Gaming Corporation, Ltd. (“TMGC”) announced record sign-ups in the first week of operations.

Since launching this week, more than 35,000 players have joined with 125,000 pre-launch sign-ups to play over 40,000 games on MoneyGaming.com, with up to 15 percent of players depositing money and playing cash tournaments.

MoneyGaming.com claims to set new standards of quality in skill gaming with a host of innovative features powered by the Game Trust platform.

TMGC has selected nine hit skill games from the Game Trust catalogue of 45 titles to launch on MoneyGaming.com, such as Multiplayer 8 Ball, Chess and Backgammon. Players enter these skill game tournaments through a new “linear lobby,” allowing contestants to easily sort games by prize amounts and other key criteria.

“We have been overwhelmed by the response from players worldwide at the launch of MoneyGaming.com. The level of play and interaction on the site confirms that players are responding to the secure and flexible design of the environment and the superior quality of play on offer,” said Liad Shababo, CEO of The Money Gaming Corporation.

The worldwide market for online games will reach $9.8 billion in 2009, representing a 410 percent increase over 2003 revenue of $1.9 billion, according to recent research company projections.

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PHANTOM FIBER TO PROVIDE TECHNOLOGY FOR LOTTERY PROJECT
26 August 2005
New Media Lottery Services in 5 year technology agreement that includes $2 million jackpots.

Wireless technology specialists Phantom Fiber Corporation has signed a five-year license agreement with News Media Lottery Services Inc., a management firm expert in new applications for the lottery industry. The deal is for Phantom to facilitate the use of lottery games on mobile lottery terminals owned and operated by state governments.

New Media Lottery Services (NMLS) will use the technology to provide state authorised lotteries with all the accounting, distribution, sales and management tools necessary to effectively and efficiently sell lottery products via Mobile, Internet, and Interactive TV devices.

NMLS plans to offer a wide range of video lottery games plus multi-million dollar progressive jackpots in contracted countries across mobile, Internet, and retail channels with jackpots in excess of $2 million per week. Initial mobile plans involve the deployment of mobile lottery terminals powered by Phantom Fiber’s Advanced Wireless Platform to capture immediate lottery revenue using NLMS lottery management systems and game products. Mobile lottery terminals will be used in retail and public locations to sell lottery tickets to consumers in a number of select markets.

A recent Juniper Research report has concluded that mobile gambling revenues will total $19.3 billion by 2009, and will exceed the forecast of $2 billion for 2005. Lotteries will account for the largest portion of revenues totalling $7.9 billion since governments are less troubled about lotteries, as noted by Dr. Windsor Holden from Juniper who concludes that the ubiquitous nature of the lottery culture requires only a small percentage of players to use mobile handsets in order to generate the revenues forecasted for this segment of mobile gambling.

Randy Brownell, COO for New Media Lottery Services Inc. said, ” The total addressable international lottery market of $120 billion is wide-open for both our companies to capitalise on the emerging mobile lottery segment with core competences that other competitors cannot even entertain for the foreseeable future.”

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ASPINALLS PICKS PHANTOM, TOO
26 August 2005
Internet arm of gambling firm to go mobile

In the same week that it clinched an agreement to provide technology to a major lottery mobile venture, wireless technology company Phantom Fiber also announced a significant deal to provide mobile gambling power to the well known Aspinalls gambling group.

Aspinalls online casino Aspinalls.com is an established brand set up by Damian Aspinall, heir to the founder of the glamorous land-based Aspinalls of Mayfair, London. The online casino will use Phantom Fiber’s advanced wireless platform to deliver mobile wagering to its customers worldwide through a dedicated site branded Aspinalls Mobile Online.com.

The service will offer entertaining casino-style games, which also include features such as mobile banking and mobile account registration for Java-enabled phones, and for mobile devices powered by Microsoft’s Windows Mobile PocketPC Phone Edition and Smartphone series, Palm, Symbian, and RIM Blackberry 7000 series. The result is mobile casino support which is compatible with a mobile device market of more than 600 models worldwide.”

Damian Aspinall, CEO of the Internet operations of the group said, “Many of our VIP clients have been demanding a mobile product for some time. We feel that 2005 is the right time for Aspinalls.com to enter this new channel and extend its market leadership before the mobile gaming breakout in 2006?.

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GETTING TO THE GOLFERS
26 August 2005
Party Poker reaches out to 80 000 potential new poker players

The innovative marketing team at Party Poker this week announced a new initiative in collaboration with GPS Industries aimed at promoting an online poker tournament to some 80 000 potential poker players.

GPS is a specialised Wi-Fi wireless and GPS-enabled multimedia communications and management company active on the international golfing scene. Under the pilot program, golfers at 15 golf courses that use GPS Industries’ portable handheld and cart-mounted units will receive promotions for the upcoming tournament with Party Poker paying an agreed rate for every player that signs up.

Depending on how successful the pilot venture delivers, there are plans to expand this type of program globally to golf courses worldwide, said Robert C. Silzer, Sr., Chairman, CEO and Director of GPS Industries.

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PLAYERS ONLY PROGRESSIVES CURRENTLY OVER THE HALF MILLION MARK
26 August 2005
Sportingbet subsidiary expects the big hit soon

The Free Ride Progressive Jackpot at Sportingbet subsidiary PlayersOnly.com soared over the half a million dollars mark this week, prompting speculation from the management team that they were overdue for a big hit from a lucky player.

Until a truly fortunate player hits it, the progressive will continue to grow. As recently as June 2005 the casino had its last big progressive jackpot winner. James L of New Jersey won $285,000.00 playing Bermuda Poker on June 11th. Erik K. won $357,777.00 on March 3rd and many others won $10,000.00 to $100,000.00 jackpots in between.

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ONLINE GAMBLING IS ON THE RISE, SAYS RESEARCH COMPANY
26 August 2005
60 percent of UK population gambles

Online gambling is on the rise, and increased by 46 percent last year according to ORC?s annual GamblerTrack study, which reveals that 60 percent of the UK population still participates in gambling.

Regarding the trend for major online gambling companies to launch IPOs, the study points out that pessimistic comparisons with the dotcom “bubble” that burst in 2000 are not appropriate.

Online gaming companies are trading at very high price-to-earnings ratios, more commonly reserved for blue chips with an excellent track record. The major difference between the two sectors is that the currently dominant firms such as PartyGaming and Sportingbet, generate healthy earnings returns and have good growth prospects.

However, most analysts concede that the current double digit growth rates are probably unsustainable and this is likely to trigger widespread industry consolidation.

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WPT VIDEO GAME
26 August 2005
Famous faces, impressive places and hot poker in new production

WPT Enterprises Inc., the entertainment firm behind the international World Poker Tour franchise, is to enter the video gaming business, competing with imminent poker productions such as Daniel Negreanu’s “Stacked”.

The group has announced that an impressive list of familiar faces who will appear in the game, which currently has the rather unimaginative working title of WPT2K6. The list includes WPT Champions Erick Lindgren (the 2004 WPT Player of the Year), Michael “The Grinder” Mizrachi, Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari and Phil “The Unabomber” Laak.

All will be featured prominently in the game together with poker professionals like Evelyn Ng, WPT Chairman of the Board Lyle Berman, celebrity and poker star Mimi Rogers and WPT announcers Mike Sexton and Vince Van Patten.

Six major international casinos used at WPT tournaments will feature prominently in the game. The Bicycle Club and the Commerce Casino in Los Angeles, Bay 101 in San Jose, the Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut, the Borgota in Atlantic City and the Aviation Club in Paris, France have all agreed to be represented. Early reports suggest that the virtual replication of the casinos is already being applauded for its accuracy, from the carpeting to the lighting and the d?cor of each world famous casino.

Poker video gaming is already a competitive arena, with other poker related video games set to come out this Fall. Daniel Negreanu’s “Stacked” has yet to hit the streets and Crave Entertainment’s “World Championship Poker” featuring Howard Lederer and Activision, is due out too.

It was not all good news from WPT this week. The company said on Monday that it had recorded a second-quarter loss as the costs of putting on its shows and tournaments nearly doubled. Losses totaled $426,000, or 2 cents per share, compared with last year’s profit of $887,000, or 6 cents per share. Revenue rose 40 percent to $6.6 million from $4.7 million.

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LADBROKES POKER MILLIONS WON BY OUTSIDER
26 August 2005
Fave Helen Hells Bells loses out to relative novice

Like many other poker followers, InfoPowa (see earlier reports) thought that Helen “Hells Bells” Chamberlain would walk away from the Ladbrokes Poker Millions this week with the main $1 million prize…but we were wrong.

A little known, 42 year old factory worker called Tony Jones surprised us all by beating ?Hell’s Bells? in a close-run finale after 5 hours of play. Adding to the magic is the fact that Tony has only been playing poker for 18 months!

The Romford, UK father-of-three kept his cool in a head-to-head showdown with Helen to walk away with the $1million prize. ?There is no way I am a poker player,” he said. “I came here thinking I was making up the numbers and to win the competition is overwhelming.?

The event was the biggest televised poker tournament in Europe thus far.

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NOW LOOK WHAT YOU HAVE STARTED
26 August 2005

Rent-a-body the new advertising fad

A certain high-profile online casino that pioneered human tattoo advertising has spawned a new type of agency, it appears – recruiting people to walk around with temporary advertising tattoos plastered on various body parts.

One of Lease Your Body.com’s recent recruits, Pittsburgh model and waitress, Sarah Dee has been contracted to wear a temporary tattoo. The logo sits on her forehead and boldly promotes the website Lease Your Body.com. The company hopes to persuade many others to rent out their bodies for advertising tattoos.

“Lease Your Body is a new concept where companies can contract members to advertise their logos,” says website creator Alex Fisher. “We are the largest company of this kind with over 2500 members in every major city in the US.”

Tattoo wearers can choose the location of the ad and financial rewards ranging from $100 to $5,000 to don a particular logo, depending on its location. The period of the contract is 30 days.

Fisher believes, “This form of advertising will get you attention for the simple reason that people will want to know more instead of wanting to turn the channel.”

Sarah Dee comments that she has received a barrage of questions and a multitude of inquisitive looks regarding the tattoo.

It’s not just online casinos using the new media, either. Big companies like Toyota and Dunkin’ Donuts have been experimenting with the technique.

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MORE ON 32 RED LISTING
26 August 2005
GBP 25 million in new capital for expansion will be sought

InfoPowa now has more information on the listing of 32 Red parent Trafalgar Gaming reported last week. The company aims to raise some GBP 25 million in new capital next month when it becomes the latest Internet betting company to float in London.

The IPO should be worth GBP 100 million, according to knowledgeable analysts. In contrast to some other recent floats in the sector – most notably PartyGaming, whose four founders pocketed the entire proceeds of the float and cashed in on a percentage of their shares – none of the shareholders will sell their holdings.

Affable 32 Red general manager Ed Ware, who quit his job as head of Ladbrokes’ international division in 2000 to set up 32Red.com, has a 36 percent share in the business but is not intending to sell down his stake.

“The float is about raising money to invest in the business and our growth plans, and not about raising money for shareholders,” he said.

The popular and highly respected company is on course to see its profits treble over the next 12 months, rising from about GBP 2 million this year to GBP 6 million in 2006, projected to GBP 12 million by 2007.

“We have come to the point where we can carry on growing organically or we can try to accelerate things. We decided we wanted to get out there and float,” Ware said.

Investor roadshows for the float will begin in the next two weeks, with the issue of new shares expected early next month.

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BIG BINGO PLANS FROM WORLD ENTERTAINMENT
26 August 2005
Media 5 gets the contract for mobile promotions

Vancouver-based World Entertainment Corp., seems to have some big plans for mobile bingo via the Internet, judging by an agreement it has just signed with Media5, LLC.

The latter has been enagaged to develop and promote bingo-related interactive mobile marketing, entertainment, and information services and products and in building and developing a community of mobile users.

The total value of the global mobile games market is expected to reach nearly US$ 5.6 billion in 2005 according to Jupiter Research. By 2009, mobile gaming services in the US alone are expected to generate $1.8 billion annually from close to 200 million wireless subscribers according to the Mobile Consumer Data & Multimedia Services.

Louis Dion, President and founder of World Entertainment says: “With the content, prizes, marketing, advertising sponsors, and promoting the mobile services and products through our website World Bingo League.com, this is absolutely exciting!”

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SOFT GAMES FOR NINE.COM
26 August2005
Recently rebranded group commissions VS Gaming for content

Costa Rica-based sportsbook operator Nine.com plans to launch a range of soft games through a deal with UK software firm VS Gaming.

Robert Evans, president of Nine.com, said the games were a vital part of the recently launched re-branded site. ?To our customers a virtual race can be as enjoyable as a real event and these products complement our core sports betting,? he said.

VS Gaming provides soft games and mobile solutions to a range of egaming operators including the major European betting group and public company BetandWin.

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SKILL GAMES WORLDWINNER PARTNERS WITH UNITED ONLINE
26 August 2005
31 million visitors to be accessed.

US skill gaming company WorldWinner has partnered with United Online?s properties, including Juno, NetZero and Classmates.com to extend its reach.

It is claimed that the sites collectively reach around 20 percent of the total Internet population. “Partnering with United Online dramatically extends WorldWinner?s reach to nearly 31 million unique visitors,” Stephen Killeen, president and chief executive of WorldWinner, claims.

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GOOD BUSINESS FOR E-CASH PROCESSOR
26 August 2005
Profits double as poker boom continues

E-Cash processor and e-wallet company Firepay has experienced massive growth and is making a substantial contribution to Canadian parent company Fireone, which has seen first-half profits double.

The firm, which listed on the London Stock Exchange?s AIM market in June, posted a pre-tax profit of US$13.3 milllion in the first half of 2005.

The majority of the firm?s revenues, 84 percent, come from the US where credit-card payments continue to present difficulties to operators.

Many issuing banks continue to block egaming transactions, which has forced consumer to use ewallets such as Firepay and NETeller.

Fireone makes 90 percent of its profits from its Firepay ewallet, despite nearly 40 percent of its transaction volume coming from credit card processing.

Firepay recently introduced a guaranteed payment option for merchants, which has led to an increase in revenues.

The value of Fireone shares has doubled since listing in June, echoing the success of rival firm Isle of Man-based NETeller.

Mitch Garber, executive chairman, said he expected revenues of US$32.5 million to be exceeded in the remainder of the year. ?We anticipate further opportunities resulting from future expansion into new geographical markets and from the ongoing additions to features and functions of our Firepay wallet offering,? Garber said.

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UNIBET QUARTERLY PROFITS DOUBLE
26 August 2005
Strongest month yet for poker, and a major takeover

Scandinavian sportsbook operator Unibet posted much-improved quarterly earnings this week, with profits doubling thanks in part to strong growth in its poker room.

The company reported a post-tax profit of GBP 2.8 million, a jump of 100 percent on the same period last year and a rise of 12 percent on the previous month.

A bad run of football results in the first quarter saw Unibet?s profits fall and its sport-betting margin fall to 4.2 percent.

However, the firm recovered in the second quarter with a gross win in its sports-betting wing of GBP 4.5 million at a margin of 8.2 percent.

Total gross win for the three months ending June 2005 was GBP 9.2 million, with gaming continuing to be a strong source of revenue.

Unibet owns a 50 percent stake in poker operator B2B poker and revealed that June was its strongest yet month for poker.

B2B’s televised tournament, Pokermiljonen was broadcast in Sweden during April and the company added 24,000 new poker customers during the quarter.

Online casino gaming was another strong revenue generator for the company, with its online casino reporting an average of 2,000 customers a day.

The company is currently planning to expand its influence in Spain, CEO Peter Nylander says.

Unibet followed the announcement of its successfl quarter with the news that has bought Malta-based sportsbook MrBookmaker for US$ 136.3 million.

MrBookmaker is a significant player in the growing French gambling sector, which was recently named as the most active online gambling country in Europe by Nielsen//NetRatings.

The firm, owned by management and Belgian venture capital funds, posted a 2004 turnover of US$59.2 million, with gross winnings of US$10.7 million and an operating profit of US$5 million. The company has also experienced strong growth in the first half of 2005 with turnover up at US$51.1 million, a gross win of US$11.2 million and an operating profit of US$5.8 million at the half way mark.

32,000 active sports-betting customers will join Unibet?s database as a reslt of the takeover. MrBookmaker also offers casino gaming, using the same NetEtertainment software as Unibet, but has yet to launch a poker room.

The deal agreement specifies an upfront payment of US$40 million in cash, US$40 million in loan notes and 2.4 million shares in Unibet.

The present management at MrBookmaker?s will take up senior positions in Unibet.

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THE INTERNET AT WORK
26 August 2005
Private usage can add up to significant time losses for employers

How much time do you spend at work on non-business activities like personal emailing, instant messaging, web surfing and….online gambling?

That’s a question that prompted a company called Accountstemps to commission a survey recently, which found that on average, employees spend 56 minutes each day doing their own thing.

The Victoria Advocate reports that the survey was carried out across 150 senior executives in a variety of industries as part of the financial staffing company’s workplace trends research.

The numbers are shocking when those 56 minutes are projected over time, a company spokesman said. 56 minutes a day translates into just under 19 hours a month, and 228 hours a year, or 28.5 work days each year lost to personal Internet use. Per employee.

Most companies have now adopted some sort of e-mail and Web use policy for employees, the survey found. Violation of such policies carries consequences ranging from verbal warnings to termination.

The majority of companies don’t mind the occasional private e-mail or even appropriate use of the Web, especially during a lunch break or before and after work, but what a businesses defines as appropriate use can vary greatly.

In most cases limits are imposed, and employees are forbidden to access sexually explicit material, any sort of gambling or activities that would require an excessive amount of bandwidth, such as downloading a movie. Educational usage, especially on company relevant subjects is usually encouraged if it is disciplined and focused.

Some companies took a draconian approach to personal emails, imposing bans and reserving the right to inspect and read all emails sent or received using the system, however most took a lenient view providing the privelege was not abused, productivity didn’t suffer and clients were effectively served.

The Accountsemps survey found that 65 percent of firms monitor employee Internet activity very closely. Only 4 percent said such activity wasn’t monitored. The majority of people did not know that technology makes it possible to maintain a permanent record of their personal e-mail and Internet usage at work without them being aware of it.

The study showed that most companies are taking extra measures to make employees conscious of what policies are in place, and how they are monitored.

Accountemps offered some advice to employees with Internet access in the office.

Instant messages are almost always inappropriate.

Don’t write anything in an e-mail you don’t want your boss to read.

Avoid checking your personal e-mail account.

And above all else employees should remember: “If you have to pause to consider if your activity is inappropriate, it probably is.”

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MORE MALAY GAMBLING MALAISE
26 August2005
These gambling debts are tough to recover

From the land gambling industry comes the story of a Malaysian socialite with too much money (or maybe not enough) and too little sense.

The divorced wife of a member of local royalty, Datin Arina Abdullah, lost a cool GBP 2 million at London’s Ritz Club casino last year, and is being sought by yet another London casino for a further GBP 1 million debt.

Early this year, Grosvenor Casino Ltd sued Abdullah in the London High Court to recover the sum after she went on a gambling spree in London last August brandishing a credit guarantee from a Malaysian bank, reports the Malay Mail.

She lost the money on roulette, blackjack and stud poker in a single night having issued several cheques to the casino that bounced.

The casino also sued a Malaysian bank ? which had guaranteed her credit through a reference letter ? to recover the debt, and it is believed that the bank is trying to negotiate an out-of-court settlement for a third of the value of the debt.

Grosvenor Casinos is owned by Rank Group Plc. It has 33 casinos in Britain.

The Malay Mail also reported last November that Abdullah, who was divorced from her husband in 2002, lost GBP 2 million at the casino.

The club granted her a GBP 1 million cheque-cashing facility on her first visit to the casino but Arina lost all the money in a single night.

She returned two weeks later and asked for another GBP 1 million and lost GBP 976,000.

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B&W ASSISTS HARVARD ON RESPONSIBLE GAMING
19 August 2005
Euro 1 million allocated to joint venture with medical school

The Austrian listed betting group Bet and Win has signed a commendable joint venture to assist Harvard Medical School in the field of addiction research and prevention.

Making its quarterly report to the stock exchange, the company said that it has been cooperating with Harvard Medical School in researching new approaches to the problem of potentially addictive customers. The company has entered into the joint venture with the goal of developing an effective, innovative and responsible gaming strategy.

In view of the remarkable opportunities offered by the Internet, the goal of the research project is to develop a set of measures that seek first and foremost to prevent gambling addiction. Using documented empirical information, it will be possible to detect behavioural patterns earlier than was previously the case, and to take appropriate steps quickly in each case. A responsible gaming officer has been hired with a view to ensuring the most efficient, close co-operation with Harvard Medical School/Cambridge Health Alliance. The latter will also be responsible for developing the necessary problem awareness within the betandwin team.

Regular employee lectures given by the Harvard Medical School project management will help to ensure that the insights gained are incorporated quickly and timely in all betandwin?s decision-making processes. betandwin has since allocated a million euros to this project with the Harvard Medical School/Cambridge Health Alliance, initially scheduled to run for three years.

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TRIDENT LOUNGE LAUNCHES MULTIPLAYER CASINO
19 August 2005
Latest technology now available

Readers who enjoy the action and ambience of multiplayer poker gambling online, and want to try it out on casino games now have the opportunity at Trident Lounge, which has just launched the latest technological breakthrough in Internet gambling – Multiplayer Casino.

Imagine competing against other players in a blackjack tournament, or spinning the slots with someone half way across the world, at any time day or night. It’s all possible now, thanks to this cutting edge technology from Microgaming that has been honed in the demanding world of online poker.

The gameplay is fast, fair and smooth, and the interaction with other players outstanding. Players can test both skills and good fortune on European, Atlantic City and Vegas Downtown blackjack and community, standard and pots slots like Double Magic, Fantastic 7’s and High 5, all using the latest gaming technology available, with great sound effects and razor sharp graphics.

Navigating has been made uncomplicated and easy from a special lobby. Top faves at present are the slots, which come in three categories.

Multi-Player Standard Slots is a global slot bank game where players gamble in company with others.

The slot rooms have eight slots and a player is only able to sit at one slot machine per room. All slot machines are visible to all the players.

Multi-Player Community Slots is a global slot bank game where slots have regular and community payouts. Players are only paid out for community wins if they are seated at a slot machine and have placed a bet on the winning spin.

Multi-Player Pot Slots is a global slot bank game where gamblers play against each other for a central pot. The player with the highest points at the end of the spin, wins the pot.

In blackjack gaming there are many tables to choose from with different betting limits and all the most popular American and European rule variations. Players can chat to each other during the game and can play together to try and beat the house. Players can play at a table of their friends or just sit down and meet other Blackjack Players from all around the world. There are 3 and 5 seat tables.

There are plans afoot to introduce Multiplayer Blackjack Tournaments into the MPC structure in the near future.

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POKER ROOM.COM PARENT TO LIST
19 August 2005
Ongame confirms the rumours

Swedish software company Ongame has confirmed persistent rumours that it intends to list on the London AIM market next year. The company owns Poker Room.com, one of the largest online poker companies in the industry and operates the burgeoning Poker Network.

CEO Partick Selin has been quoted as saying, ?We are going to go to the stock market, but it takes time to do it right and how it looks now we will be doing it next year.”

Ongame posted an operating profit of US$18.25 million for the year ending December 2004, from revenues of US$55 million. It is believed that the company has grown a further 60 percent in the first half of 2005.

Ongame was founded by Oskar Hornell and Claes Lidell. The former’s brother Karl, a Java programmer, designed poker software and the site launched in 1999.

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YOU’VE GOT JAIL
19 August 2005
ex-AOL spam thief sentenced

The long-running saga of the AOL employee who used another employee’s access code to steal 92 million email addresses and sold them to spammers has finally been concluded with a jail sentence for the accused.

MSNBC reported this week that 25-year-old former America Online employee, Jason Smathers was sentenced to a year and three months in prison.

“I know I’ve done something very wrong,” the soft-spoken and teary eyed Jason Smathers told U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein as he apologized for a theft that resulted in spammers sending out up to 7 billion unsolicited e-mails.

“The Internet is not lawless” was the lesson of the case, said Assistant U.S. Attorney David Siegal.

Smathers’ lawyer, Jeffrey Hoffman, called the theft a “dumb, stupid, insane act” that his client feels terrible about.

Earlier this year, Smathers pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in a plea deal which had called for a sentence of at least a year and a half in prison.

In a letter from Smathers to the court that was read partially into the record by Siegal, Smathers tried to explain the crimes that AOL has said cost the company at least $300,000 and possibly millions of dollars.

“Cyberspace is a new and strange place,” Siegal said Smathers wrote. “I was good at navigating in that frontier and I became an outlaw.”

The judge imposed the reduced sentence of one year and three months, saying he recognised Smathers cooperated fully but lacked information to build other criminal cases.

In December, Hellerstein said he was not convinced Smathers had committed a crime, but he accepted the plea in February when he said prosecutors had sufficiently explained why he had.

Smathers admitted accepting $28,000 from someone who wanted to pitch an offshore gambling site to AOL customers, knowing that the list of screen names might make its way to others who would send e-mail solicitations.

The judge has recommended that Smathers be forced to pay $84,000 in restitution, triple what he earned. He delayed the order to let AOL prove the damages were higher. The judge suggested the $300,000 damage figure was speculative.

Prosecutors said Smathers had engaged in the interstate transportation of stolen property and had violated a new federal CAN-SPAM law, short for Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act, which is meant to diminish unsolicited e-mail messages about everything from herbal penile enlargement pills to mortgages.

America Online Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Time Warner Inc., has since launched a major assault on spam, significantly reducing unsolicited e-mails.

Smathers was fired by AOL a year after stealing the lists and allegedly selling them to Sean Dunaway, of Las Vegas, who used same to send unwanted gambling advertisements to subscribers of AOL, the world’s largest Internet provider. Charges are pending against Dunaway.

The stolen list of 92 million AOL addresses included multiple addresses used by each of AOL’s estimated 30 million customers. It is believed to be still circulating among spammers.

The judge refused a Probation Department recommendation that Smathers be banned from his profession as a software engineer, saying he trusted Smathers had learned his lesson.

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FOXWOODS THREATENS LITIGATION OVER PLAYAWAY DECISION
19 August 2005
Tribe has a different view to the Division of Special Revenue

Associated Press reports this week suggest that Foxwoods is far from happy with the Connectict state ban on their new PlayAway Internet game (see InfoPowa bulletins last week) and is prepared to resort to litigation if necessary.

Officials at Foxwoods say they will delay but not cancel the game’s launch and suggest the issue might have to be settled in court.

George Henningsen, chairman of the Mashantucket Pequot tribe’s gaming commission, wrote a letter to the state Department of Special Revenue, saying the tribe hoped the issue could be settled “…without the necessity of litigation.”

The game allows players to buy keno tickets at the casino, then check online to see whether they won. That much is already legal, but the new software simulates casino games such as poker, blackjack or slot machines instead of simply displaying a winning keno number.

The state says that’s an illegal expansion of gaming off the reservation. The tribe argues it’s just a fancy way of displaying keno results, which are like lottery drawings. Gamblers can’t influence the results and all the bets are placed on the reservation.

“It is apparent we have different views on virtually every aspect of your analysis/conclusions,” Henningsen wrote.

The tribe shut down the “PlayAway” game shortly after launching it last month. They had planned to restart it August 15. Henningsen said that date has been delayed to allow more discussion with regulators.

“To that end there is no ‘new’ restart date, and you will be advised of any proposed restart at least 72 hours in advance,” he wrote in the letter.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said earlier that he’ll go to court to keep the game off-line, saying it’s a slippery slope toward unregulated Internet gambling.

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PACHISLOT A BIG JAPANESE HIT
19 August 2005
But when will it appear online?

Pachislot, a fancier version of the classic slot machine is enjoying enormous popularity with Japanese players, begging the question which games developer will license and produce an online version first, a course Microgaming pioneered with it’s Tomb Raider slot.

Machines featuring games like “Yoshimune” are similar to the familiar “one-armed bandit” in that the game starts when a lever is pulled or a spin button pressed, but in Japan’s version, players also press buttons to stop the reels, adding an element of skill.

The pachinko industry, including both pachislot and the older pinball-like pachinko game, rakes in about 29-trillion yen ($315-billion) each year from specialised parlours throughout Japan, the government estimated last year. That’s nearly four times the revenue from legal casino gambling worldwide, as estimated by PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Yoshimune, is the longest-running hit in Japan’s pachislot industry, where machines are normally replaced every two to three months.

Gambling is illegal in Japan, but pachinko and pachislot are not technically considered gambling because users can only win merchandise such as food, beer, shampoo or small appliances. But the great popularity of this genre clearly offers opportunities to offshore Internet gambling sites when and if the software providers translate the concept to the online arena.

Yano Research estimates that pachislot machine sales jumped 32.5 percent in 2003 to 525.5-billion yen ($5.7-billion).

The increase was spawned by two games: Daito Giken Inc.’s Yoshimune and Sammy Corp.’s “Hokuto no ken”, despite the fact the former was not launched until July of 2003 and the latter came out a few months later. Of the 1.8 million pachislot machines in service, 45 percent operate one of these two games.

Most machines feature a video screen where animated characters hint at coming fortune. Yoshimune adds shutters that open, close, tremble or reveal shadows of characters, depending on how close a player is to a big win.

Hokuto turned a popular 1980s comic about a fighter into a pachislot game. Offering smaller but more frequent winnings, it lets players improve through experience. Yoshimune may be the longest-running game, but Hokuto is the best seller. Sammy, Japan’s largest pachislot maker, has sold 620,000 of them. A game is considered a hit if sales reach 20,000.

Both companies sell Sony PlayStation and cellphone versions of their games, as well as branded merchandise ranging from cigarette lighters and action figures to instant noodles and mini refrigerators.

Daito Giken has released two Yoshimune CDs and contributes to a compilation CD of popular pachinko music.

“High-school girls who don’t know the music came from a pachislot game are dancing to it,” said Daito Kiken spokesman Yasuhiro Yamada.

The company’s revenue last year was about 40-billion yen, most of it from Yoshimune-related sales. Mr. Sasaki said Sammy’s Hokuto-related sales, including the machines, have earned the company about 300-billion yen in total.

The legal situation regarding the pachislot industry could persuade the originators to consider online deals. Under Japanese regulations, pachislot machines must be taken off the market after three years.

 

$3 MILL FOR A CENT
19 August 2005
It’s a land casino win, but a feel-good story anyway

A lucky American gambler won nearly US$3-million last week playing the one-cent slot machines in a Nevada casino, scoring a world record in the process.

Shigeko Ide Stein, 61, won $2,99-million last Wednesday after popping penny coins into the Twilight Zone Video Slots in a casino in the Nevada town of Laughlin, near Las Vegas, which she visits three times a week.

Stein said she took her seat at the machines in the AVI Resort and Casino because it was the only place available but immediately had a premonition she would win.

“I just had a good feeling after seeing a woman had a winning combination but didn’t have a max coin bet,” she said in a statement issued by slot machine maker IGT.

However the resident of the small California town of Needles, near the border of Nevada, famed for its gambling cities, had no idea just how much cash she would go home with.

Her win of the MegaJackpot broke the previous world record of $2,06-million set earlier this year, according to IGT.

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LADIES AT THE BICYCLE
19 August 2005
WPT Ladies Night lll set to go on August 31

The now famous excitement and tension of World Poker Tour (WPT) Ladies Night will be on the cards at California’s Bicycle Casino this August 31, giving entrants the chance to win a seat at the WPT Championship, and raise money to fund breast cancer research in the process.

Buy-in for the event is $125 dollars, 20 percent of which will be donated to charity.

The poker tournament is two tiered, starting off with a qualifier game, tagged as ?Ladies Poker Party.? The winner of the Ladies Poker Party will win a seat to WPT Ladies Night III, slated for the following evening. The winner of Ladies Night, in turn, will win a seat at the WPT championships, worth over $25 000.

Notable female poker players expected to turn up for the prestigious event include celebrity poker players Jennifer Tilly, Shannon Elizabeth, Jennifer Parker, and Sarah Rue, as well as current title holder Isabelle Mercier, Aidily Elviro, wife of Michael ?The Grinder? Mizrachi, and more famous names.

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ZONE4PLAY GROWTH UP 127 PERCENT
19 August 2005
Second quarter mobile gaming revenues up x 4

Mobile and iTV technology company Zone4Play had plenty to crow about in releasing its second quarter results this week.

The company has posted quarterly revenue growth of 127 percent to US$343,457, with licensing income now comprising half of total revenues.

Mobile gaming was the star of the Zone4Play show with revenues soaring upwards by almost 400 percent during the quarter. “Zone4Play’s continued growth reaffirms our commitment to maintaining our position as a leader in the delivery of gaming software across multiple platforms”, Shimon Citron, chairman of Zone4Play, said.

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LVFH BENEFITS FROM STRONG POKER DEMAND
19 August 2005
Canadian poker software provider on a roll

Continuing strong growth in demand for online poker has produced bumper results for Canadian software developer Las Vegas From Home (LVFH) according to its quarterly report issued this week.

The company showcased a rise of 28.7 percent in revenues for the second quarter – an impressive increase of 849 percent over the same period last year at Canadian $2.68 million, generating earnings of Canadian $385,773.

LVFH estimates that the total poker market has grown at just over 20 percent during 2005. The cpmpany operates the Action Poker Network, whose major licensee is Tiger Gaming.

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TOUGH TIMES FOR BOSS MEDIA
19 August 2005
Swedish software company profits fall dramatically: Bertilsson on the way out

There was little to cheer about for Boss Media shareholders this week as the turnkey provider posted an 82 percent fall in half year profits to US$2.8 million, despite poker driving royalty revenues up 63 percent to US$11.5 million, with more than 50 percent of the increase coming from the Boss online poker network.

And further strife could lie ahead with reports that Sportingbet is expected to reduce its usage of Boss in moving customers onto the Paradise Poker network.

The termination of a video lottery terminal joint venture with Norwegian firm EssNet was part of the reason for the drop in profits, causing a 192 percent dive in licensing revenues.

Boss remains committed to the land-based gaming sector, which it has targeted as an area for recruiting future licensees, says a company spokesman. ?There are around 140 WLA members around the world, of which about 60 are in Europe, plus some 500 land-based casinos that all constitute potential customers,? he said.

The firm recently signed a deal to provide an online casino and poker room for land-based operator Princess Group, which operates casinos in Eastern Europe, Turkey, St Maarten and Belize.

The firm also announced that its president and chief executive Peter Bertilsson is stepping down. Bertilsson is leaving for family reasons, and will remain with the firm until a replacement is appointed in the autumn.

?Peter has done an excellent job and it is regrettable that he has now chosen to leave,? Bjorn Nordstrand, president of the Boss Media board, said.

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32 RED PARENT SET FOR IPO?
19 August 2005
Trafalgar Gaming group hires listing experts

The UK media is speculating that Trafalgar Gaming, the Gibraltar-based online casino operator, is preparing for a US$145 million IPO on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) in the near future.

Trafalgar operates the popular and widely respected 32red.com online casino and poker site, and has reportedly retained investment bank Numis to advise on a listing.

Profits in the region of US$7million are anticipated by analysts, although it seems likely that Trafalgar will be over-shadowed by Cassava Enterprises, owner of 888.com, scheduled to list in September at a valuation of US$1.5 billion.

The proposed Trafalgar listing could net a US$52 million fortune for its co-founder and chief executive Ed Ware, who owns a 36 percent stake in the firm.

Ware is a former Ladbrokes executive and was a contemporary of Nick Rust, now director of gaming at UK digital TV giant BSkyB.

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RECORD PERFORMANCE FROM B&W
19 August 2005
Turnover soars 204 percent at Austrian public company

The Austrian listed gambling group Bet & Win has enjoyed another record quarter following a substantial marketing drive this year.

Turnover at the sportsbook and online casino group soared 204 percent to US$693 million and profits went up to US$3.25 million.

The number of active sports betting customers rose to 297,221, as the firm spent almost US$9m a month on an increasingly brand-focused campaign designed to improve long-term positioning rather than solely maximising the number of customers in the short term.

Sports betting gross win was up 184 percent to US$31.3 million, with a solid margin of 9.1 percent from a mainly recreational player base. The gaming side had the most impressive quarter with casino gross win up 199.3 percent to US$9.7 million and soft gaming gross win up 297 percent to US$1.33 million.

Poker was also successful, with the new poker room showing a gross win of US$2.47million, a rise of 74 percent.

BetandWin now boasts a turnover of over US$1 bilion for the first half of the year.

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CASINO CAUTIONS
19 August 2005
Should players pay for a casino screw-up?

Hottest dispute in casino-land this week swirled around Joyland Casino, a Playtech-powered operation owned by Crown Solutions Gaming and licensed in Antigua.

It seems that casino personnel screwed up in setting the comp points formula, and when this was discovered a week later sought to limit the damage by changing transaction records and confiscating winnings, assuming that all would be OK if they merely returned deposits.

The casino claimed that it had only targeted what it quaintly described as *comp abusers who had only played no-risk games* but this was clearly not the case as player reports came in.

This did not sit well with players who had gambled under the T&Cs and demanded to paid out in full for their patronage, and the issue was then further exacerbated by inoperable contact numbers on the site and, it is alleged poor to non-existent communications.

As the dispute built up a head of steam from growing numbers of players, the casino tried to communicate with some complainants by phone (usually not welcomed by online gamblers) leaving garbled messages but no return call numbers.

A week into the furore Joyland made a belated appearance on a message board to present its case that return of deposits was all it needed to do, and that certain players had taken advantage of its error on the comp points.

This was strongly rejected, with players presenting their cases to the contrary.

As we went to press the row continued, damaging reputations and business.

When does inefficiency escalate to deceptive marketing?

Another casino catching flak this week was Colosseum, an MGS-powered operation that, unusually for a Microgaming licensee is not regulated by eCOGRA.

Players have noted with some acerbity that Colosseum has a habit of sending out personalised promotional emails only to inform the gambler that it was sent to him/her by mistake – often after he or she has wagered – and that this absolves the casino from meeting its obligations.

This has happened so frequently to some gamblers that they now take the precaution of calling the casino before they put their money down to ensure that they haven’t been the subject of yet another “mistake.”

Several players have made the point this week that to err is human…but not consistently and with a long history. Some go so far as to say that this “mistake” is so repetitive that it can be classed as deceptive marketing.

Or is it just rank and ongoing inefficiency at the marketing agency for Colosseum that is causing such an outcry and so much bad feeling amongst the customers?

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SPORTINGBET CHOOSES FUN FOR ITS SKILL GAMES
19 August 2005
Pay for play skill games to be provided by subsidiary SkillJam

Lorne Abory’s FUN Technologies plc started the week with the positive news that subsidiary SkillJam had closed a lucrative deal to supply skill games to the giant British gambling group Sportingbet.com.

The multi-year agreement calls for SkillJam to develop, host and manage a private-label, pay-for-play, customised skill-gaming platform for Sportingbet, which is a publicly listed company on the London Stock Exchange AIM.

Operating under fully regulated licences in the UK, Australia, Antigua and Curacao, Sportingbet provides services to over 2.5 million customers in over 200 countries, who place over 1 million bets (casino, poker, sports and virtual games) per day via its 30 brands across the world. Total bet volumes show the group now takes 14 bets per second, and deals over a million games of poker every day on the Paradise Poker site.

FUN Tech subsidiary SkillJam is enjoying significant success in the skill gaming sector and this year alone has signed up over 15 deals with leading global brands, including Virgin Games and eBay. It develops and distributes private-label gaming solutions for a broad network of partner destination sites in the US and abroad, including AOL, MSN’s Zone.com and Disney’s Go.com.

Sportingbet’s Director of Strategic Marketing, Andrew May said, “The addition of skill gaming further facilitates our strategy of innovative product development and excellence in marketing to existing and new customer groups.”

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UKRAINIAN MOBILE
19 August 2005
Wireless Casino ready for deployment by QArea

Ukrainian mobile outsourcing provider QArea has revealed that its Wireless Casino software product is now ready for test deployment on PDAs and cellular phones.

Compatible with a range of mobile platforms, including Palm OS, Pocket PC, J2ME-enabled phones and other popular mobile operating systems, as well as Windows and Linux for desktop computers, the software is expected to attract the attention of online casino operators.

QArea claims that the suite is easily converted to accommodate other platforms, with estimated conversion times of 30 hours or less.

The suite includes a variety of games traditionally popular in online casinos, including Baccarat, Blackjack, Casino War, Joker Poker, and Oasis Poker. The product includes all of the standard online casino features, such as sounds, characters, animation, and real money play.

QArea has significant experience designing software for mobile platforms, including the BugHuntress Test Suite, which is used for automatic testing of PDA applications. QArea has been designing software for Palm, WinCE, Symbian, Brew, RIM (blackberry), and J2ME-enabled cellular phones since 2001.

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POKER SUPERSTARS MEET THIS WEEK
19 August 2005
Ladbrokes brings big names together in Superstar Showdown

What is claimed to be the “greatest single table tournament in online poker history” is scheduled for Wednesday 17 August 2005 at 14:00 BST, hosted by Ladbrokespoker.com and entitled Superstar Showdown.

The all star line-up includes the 2005 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Champion, making his first major appearance since his win; the highest placed European at the 2005 WSOP; online poker?s biggest ever money winner and Ladbrokes Poker Million?s surprise celebrity finalist alongside four online qualifiers, for a winner takes all cash prize of US$80,000.

The runner-up will win a place on Ladbrokes Poker Cruise 2006, worth $11,000.

Competeing for the big money will be:

“Australian Joe” Joseph Hachem: 2005 WSOP Champion (who will donate any winnings to charity)

Andrew Black: a top Irish player and the 2005 WSOP 5th placed player.

Eric ?The Salmon? Sagstrom: The most successful online poker player ever The Swede is a winner of over $1 million at Ladbrokespoker.com in the last year alone.

Helen Chamberlain: Sky TV presenter and Ladbrokes Poker Million Finalist and the first woman ever to make the last six in the tournament?s history having won three consecutive TV table heats against top pro?s.

The showdown comes in the same week as the final of Ladbrokes Poker Million 2005, arguably the richest televised poker tournament in Europe, with $1,935,000 of prize money. $855,000 has been added by the sponsors, Ladbrokespoker.com ? the most money added by a sponsor in the history of poker.

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US CHILD PROTECTION
19 August 2005
Heavy fines and energetic policing to strengthen state initiative

American agencies and the local police have combined to launch an electronic version of the Do Not Call registry that allows parents to keep e-mails advertising inappropriate services or products from reaching their children.

The Michigan Children’s Protection Registry and Garden City Police describe the new service as an effective blocking mechanism that stops adverts or links to pornography and obscene material, tobacco and alcohol.” Prohibited e-mails also could relate to illegal drugs, firearms, gambling and lotteries.

“Lately, we’ve seen kids get messages from gambling sites. It’s a shock for the parents to find out the kids have been playing poker online using their credit card,” Police chief Mel Maier said.

Parents can register their children’s e-mail address at www.ProtectMIChild.com. The address registrations are in effect for three years or until the youngest child with access to the e-mail address turns age 18. Registrations may be renewed at any time for an additional three years.

“The spammers are going to have to comply – the fines can be pretty hefty,” Maier said. “Michigan and Utah are the first states to do this. Parents need to trust the state of Michigan to put the information out and keep it safe.”

Penalties for marketers who don’t comply with the new law could face criminal penalties of up to three years in jail and criminal fines up to $30,000.

Additionally, the law includes civil penalties of up to $5,000 per message sent in violation of the law up to a maximum of $250,000 per day. Civil suits may be filed by the Michigan Attorney General, Internet service providers and parents on behalf of their children.

Marketers can apply for access to the state children’s protection registry scrubbing mechanism that will clean their mailing lists to comply with the statute.

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FORTUNE LOUNGE GROUP LAUNCHES SKILL GAMES
19 August 2005
GameAccount has major contract from online casino group

The addition of skill games to online gambling sites is clearly a strongly growing trend, and this week the large online casino group Fortune Lounge, assisted by GameAccount as its supplier of choice launched a skill games suite.

A new site has been added to the FL portfolio to carry skill gaming. Royal Vegas Games.com is to carry the full GameAccounts range of skill games including Backgammon, Gin Rummy, and Pool. The games will subsequently be made available throughout other properties in the FL group.

Fortune Lounge?s John Hughes commented, “Securing a partnership with a proven global player like GameAccount means we can provide our customers with the best skill gaming services available. The company?s real-time back office tracking and reporting solutions, as well as the ability to white label the site throughout fulfilled our key requirements.?

According to Matt Welch, Business Development Manager at GameAccount, the deal with Fortune Lounge is a lucrative venture for both parties that signals GameAccount?s ability to service the needs of premier casino operators.

?It is a fantastic achievement for us to be working with an established casino group that is so well recognised and highly respected in the online gaming business,? he said.

?We?re providing the Fortune Lounge group with the ability to acquire a complementary group of online skill game players while earning attractive incremental revenues from recognisable games including Gin Rummy, Backgammon and 8-ball pool.?

Fortune Lounge operates nine online casinos: 7 Sultans, Desert Dollar, Royal Vegas, Fortune Room, Havana Club, Vegas Palms, Vegas Towers, Vegas Villa and Platinum Play.

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SPAMMING LEVELS DOWN
19 August 2005
Mortgage and loan spam the worst

It’s still way too intrusive and prevalent, but general email spam levels have dropped, according to the US research outfit Ipswitch in a report released this week.

The company says that spam is down by over 20 percent on the previously recorded period. But with 74 percent of e-mail received over the summer period classified as unwanted spam, (down from 93 per cent over the Easter period) it is still unacceptably high.

Although mortgage and loan spam held on to the top spot, it fell from 44 percent – a third of spam e-mails this time. Second remained unwanted e-mails offering various types of medication or ‘pharmaspam’ (up from 18 percent to 22 percent).

Next was the new trend of e-mails attempting to ‘phish’ recipients’ banking details with spurious claims of Lottery wins and online gambling accounts (12.5 percent up from 9 per cent), with various pornographic offerings rising to the occasion at number four. Last was spam offering pirated software with 9 percent of the total spam received.

“Although the percentage of spam arriving in e-mail inboxes can vary substantially, the importance of having efficient filters in place is as relevant as ever because productivity can be adversely affected by even small amounts of messaging spam,” said Ipswitch’s vice president of marketing, Alex Neihaus.

“Businesses lose countless man-hours a week in staff having to sift through the deluge of e-mail in their inbox to get to those that have a real affect on the bottom line. Collaboration is a cornerstone of doing business in the 21st century and companies cannot do enough to protect this vital part of their business communications.”

Quocirca analyst Clive Longbottom said, “Although the user is becoming more knowledgeable in their approach to spam, the spammers are at least one step ahead. The rise in phishing spam is the most worrying, as this is often quite sophisticated – and has the highest financial repercussions for users. It is of massive importance that users have suitable anti-spam capabilities in place.”

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MORE LOCATION TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPED
19 August 2005

US developer is looking for funding

InformationWeek writer John Soat offered a good story this week, prefacing it with his opinion that “….it’s only a matter of time and technology until online gambling is legal in the United States.”

Soat reports that continually improving technology will play a role in convincing US legislators that regulation is more practical than an unpopular ban. Apparently a company called Global Cyber Licensing LLC has been knocking on doors recently, trying to get funding for technology that may solve one of the issues holding back Internet gambling.

“We see ourselves as a tool of the regulators,” says Paul Siegel, VP of product development for Global Cyber.

The company says its technology allows a gambler’s location to be verified by the global positioning system, which solves one of the regulators’ thorniest problems: how to keep online gambling within state lines (gambling is regulated on the state level).

Nevada legalised intrastate gambling a couple of years ago, but regulators have been stuck on how to enforce it. Also, Native American casinos, which are on tribal land and not subject to federal laws, are looking for ways to ensure the identities and location of potential online gamblers.

Siegel’s company needs about $6 million to finish the software work necessary to make the system compatible with multiple Internet gambling devices, and to get an “associated equipment” license from Nevada gambling officials. The company is in discussions with “a Fortune 500 company that’s invested a lot of money in online stuff over the last six to eight months,” says Siegel. Maybe he’ll hit the jackpot.

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KING OF SPAM SETTLES FOR $ 7 MILLION
19 August 2005
Hotmail litigation nets cash compensation for Microsoft

A $40 million U.S. civil action lodged by Microsoft Hotmail against spam company chief Scott Richter earlier this year has recently been finalised with a $7 million settlement.

Richter’s company, OptinRealBig, grossed $19.6 million last year but the company spent over $500 000 on lawyers in just the first three months of 2005 according to American media reports.

In addition to settling the lawsuit with Microsoft for $7 million, Richter has reportedly also agreed to withdraw the bankruptcy filings he’d made for himself and his company – bankruptcies it is alleged were intended solely to consolidate lawsuits and reorganise the company so it could keep on spamming.

This settlement, along with Richter’s removal from the ROKSO (Registry of Known Spam Operations) list, makes it look like he may have finally chosen legitimacy.

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AUSSIE GOOGLE INVESTIGATED?
19 August 2005
Authorities reported to be investigating for breaches of interactive gaming laws

Australian media are reporting that search engines with Australian domains, including Google, are being investigated by the authorities for possible breaches of interactive gambling laws.

The Interactive Gambling Act 2001 in Australia prohibits advertising of gambling services on Web sites where “…it is likely that the majority of that site?s users are physically present in Australia”. Banned services include online casino-style gaming services such as roulette, poker, craps, online poker machines and blackjack.

Breaching the Act carries a maximum penalty of AU$220,000 per day for individuals and AU$1.1 million per day for corporations.

Alexandra Mason, spokesperson for the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, told ZDNet Australia the alleged illegal practice by Google and other search engine operators were being looked into.

Google Australia displays advertising links to online gambling sites when certain keywords are misspelt. But the Internet giant isn’t alone — little-known Melbourne-based search engine company Web Wombat has admitted to such activities.

Justine Munsie, senior associate at leading Asia-Pacific law firm Mallesons Stephen Jaques, told ZDNet Australia that she found “a lot of potential breaches of the Act” on sites such as Google Australia and Web Wombat.

According to Munsie, any gambling advertisement which appears on an Australian Web site is considered published in Australia.

“If a Web site that is targeting Australian users publishes an advert for a Web site offering online gambling services, regardless of where that gambling site is located, because the advert is published in Australia, the law is broken,” she said.

Michael Tancredi, Web Wombat managing director, confessed that his Web site contains links that are illegal. However, he claims the company is “fire fighting” all the time in order to keep the site above board.

“What we are trying to do is fire fight, we know it is illegal and we are trying to get rid of them as they come out,” said Tancredi.

Tancredi said the problem stems from an automated feature on Web Wombat which online gambling sites have abused. “This feature was originally designed for companies outside Australia to sponsor links on our site and attract Australian eyeballs.

While looking into potential breaches, Munsie discovered that although Google Australia did not display any sponsored links to gambling Web sites when results for terms such as “online casino” were displayed, such companies had managed to sponsor links for misspellings.

Google spokesperson Debbie Frost said the company will not comment on the issue, and there have been no prosecutions to date.

Peter Coroneos, chief executive of the Internet Industry Association, told ZDNet Australia that he believes the law is generally being adhered to.

“This is the first time this has come to our attention. The law is largely being adhered to. I am not aware of any interactive casino sites in Australia that are offering services to Australians,” said Coroneos.

Google’s closest competitor in Australia, Yahoo.com.au, displays search results for gambling sites but not advertisements.

“Although our Directory site does include links to gambling-related sites, our legal department has said that they are “editorial links” and “fall under the exemptions” provided by the Act,” said Tamsin Smith, Yahoo Australia and New Zealand spokesperson.

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CHARITY KUDOS FOR BLUFF AND FULL TILT
19 August2005
Final accounting shows companies raised over $125 000 for charity

Final accounts on the Full Tilt Poker and Bluff Magazine sponsored Wynn Las Vegas Charity Gala and Celebrity Poker Tournament show that a praiseworthy $125,000 was raised for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Las Vegas.

Held at the La Bete Nightclub in the prestigious Wynn Las Vegas, the stars came out to test their skills against the pros and bid on rare poker memorabilia. The lavish event – the first of it’s kind at La Bete, brought out the Las Vegas business and political elite, celebrity poker pros and stellar pokerheads willing to put their skills and their money up for a worthy cause.

Team Full Tilt, the poker pros behind fulltiltpoker.com led the way at the charity poker tournament and were joined by poker luminaries Daniel Negreanu, Marcel Luske, Annie Duke and others. Rounding out the table were notable Hollywood celebrities including, Ron Livingston (Sex and the City), Nicholas Gonzales (The OC), Jennifer Tilly (Liar Liar), Joe Reitman (The Perfect Storm), Erik Palladino (ER), Omaroso Manigault Stallworth (The Apprentice), Comedian, David Brenner and others.

Items auctioned off included an autographed poker table signed by Team Full Tilt — one of only three in the world, autographed Full Tilt Poker basketball jerseys, and private lessons from the pros.

In addition to the charitable $100,100 raised during the auction, Full Tilt Poker donated another $23,000 that was split between the winners of each table for the charity of their choice.

Actor Erik Gonzales (ER), who won the final table, took home $10,000, the lion’s share of $23,000 for his charity, the orphanage Friends of El Faro. During the course of the evening, Full Tilt Poker raised and donated close to $125,000 benefiting various charities.

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ANOTHER CELEBRITY TOURNAMENT FROM WILL HILL
19 August 2005
GBP 450 000 in the prize chest at inaugural William Hill Poker Grand Prix

Williamhillpoker.com this week announced its first land-based poker tournament, and a star-studded line-up of poker professionals who will play in the inaugural GBP 450,000 William Hill Poker Grand Prix later this year.

The tournament differs from those currently being played out to satisfy the thirst for televised poker, by incorporating a tournament structure that aims to put the skill back in to game, rather than quick-fire blinds designed purely for speed, and to satisfy TV producers.

Phil Quayle, Poker Room Manager at WilliamHillpoker.com said “The calibre of player that has responded to our invites, clearly demonstrates that the top poker players view this event as a truly prestigious new tournament in the poker calendar.

“‘Bad Girl’ Xuyen Pham is currently the World Pot Limit Champion, whilst Andy Black won no less than $1.7 million in the recent World Series Of Poker in Las Vegas. Our tournament is almost exclusively restricted to professional players, it’s the ‘Tournament of Pro’s’ if you like and we expect many other players to confirm their presence for the tournament shortly.”

The following players will be playing for a first prize of GBP 150 000 and will be joined in the select field of 56 by just 8 online qualifiers.

Andy Black

Xuyen ‘Bad Girl’ Pham

Dave Colclough (Current William Hill European rankings number one)

Jani Sointula (Monte Carlo Million winner)

Brian Wilson (2005 WSOP Bracelet winner)

Dave ‘Devilfish’ Ulliott (WSOP Bracelet winner)

Roland De Wolfe (2005 WPT winner)

Joe Beevers (Frequent tournament winner and member of The Hendon Mob)

Barny Boatman (Major tournament winner and member of The Hendon Mob)

Ross Boatman (Major tournament winner and member of The Hendon Mob)

Tony G (Current European Champion)

Steve Vladar (Over 30 top ten European tour finishes)

Julian Thew (3 Time EPT finalist)

Juha Helppi (WPT winner)

Roy Brindley (Frequent European tour winner)

Peter Costa (Previous Late night poker winner)

Ram Vaswani (EPT winner and member of The Hendon Mob)

Christer Johansson (WPT winner)

To play for one of the eight on-line qualifying positions in the William Hill Poker Grand Prix, (for as little as GBP 7) readers should click through to: www.williamhillpoker.com/tournaments_grand_prix.htm for details.

The William Hill Grand Prix is a televised tournament that will be filmed between Oct 17th 2005 and Oct 25th 2005. The tournament will be broadcast later this year.

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NEW POKER NETWORK FROM CHARTWELL TECH
19 August 2005
Micropower acquisition opens new possibilities for Canadian turnkey company

Chartwell Technology has launched its new community poker offering PokerNexus following the acquisition of Micropower Corporation in May (see earlier InfoPowa reports).

Initially launched with two European client companies, Chartwell expects to grow its community with further clients attracted to the features, functionality and back-end tool-set, essential to successfully compete in today?s innovative poker environment.

Managed by Eliteclub Management, Poker Nexus.com is supported by poker players and experienced gaming operators. The network of independent online poker rooms enables each member to retain full control and confidentiality of their own players and data such as the use of existing payment systems.

Darold Parken, President and CEO of Chartwell said: ?By adding advanced poker software and a greatly expanded poker team, we have enabled the company to launch a feature-rich, scalable product that meets the needs of all of our clients. We anticipate poker related revenues to be a substantial contributor to Chartwell’s overall revenues in the years to follow?.

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IS EXPEKT LEAVING PRIMA POKER?
19 August 2005
Rumours denied by Swedish company

Rumours circulating for the past two weeks that the Malta-based Expekt online sportsbook, casino and poker room operator is about to ditch Prima Poker software for the Tain product out of Sweden have been denied by the company. Tain currently powers Expekt?s casino and sportsbook, and provides poker software to several smaller egaming sites.

Expekt has rejected speculation circulating around the online gaming market that it is to leave the Prima Network and its Microgaming software.

A company spokesperson said that the poker software is constantly under review. ?We are pleased with our co-operation with PrimaPoker and they remain our poker provider until the day we feel otherwise,? he added.

The Swedish operator is one of the largest members of the Prima Poker network, which experienced growth of over 300 percent in 2004. Prima has over 30 top poker rooms in its network including companies like Bet365 and the large casino groups Carmen Media and Fortune Lounge.

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GAMBLING COMPANY CHIEF CHARGES EXTORTIONISTS
19 August 2005
Three men in custody for trying to profit from threats

Israeli media were following an interesting criminal case laid against three men by Empire Online CEO Noam Lanir this week.

Motti Menashe, Benny Bracha and Israel Guetta appeared in the Ramle Magistrate’s Court on remand pending the completion of investigations, where it is alleged that the accuseds tried to get a slice of Lamir’s multi-million dollar company by threatening him and his family with violence.

They chose the wrong man to intimidate. Lanir, the 38 year old son of an Israeli war hero immediately laid charges with the police and an elaborate undercover operation resulted in the arrest of the accuseds.

Police suspect that the arrested persons are affiliated with local criminal gangs with gambling interests. The police put Lanir under close protection, concerned that he might be attacked.

Lanir sold $63 million worth of shares in Empire Online as part of its recent IPO, and now owns 21.4 percent of the company, which recently tripled profits. The price of Empire Online shares has risen by 35 percent since the IPO, and the company is currently valued at more than $1.2 billion.

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POKER FOR SHARES
19 August2005
Gibraltar start-up has a new incentive scheme for players

MarketWatch reported on a novel approach to marketing this week when it took a look at PokerShare.com, an about-to-launch online poker site based in Gibraltar and owned by an outfit called Playit Ownit Limited.

The CEO of the company, Lucan Toh is trying to woo players by offering them stakes not just in their cards but in the company itself. PokerShare.com promises to give its gamblers ownership positions that pay quarterly dividends and conventional shares if a public offering takes place.

“There is a big expense in getting players to your site, but the bigger expense is keeping them there,” said Toh. “In the economics of online poker, you either had to be in at the start or be a little bit clever.”

Offering oownership stakes is an innovative approach to marketing and customer retention, and it works like this: 40 percent of the company is owned by a Gibraltar-based trust, with the other 60 percent held by partners and principals. Gamblers earn “share points” linked to the length of time they play and the number of pots they contribute to as well as from tournament entry fees. The points are held by the trust, which then distributes dividends each quarter based on the company’s overall profit.

The company will also offer an array of perks comparable to the loyalty incentives that are popular with online and off-line competitors, such as points toward cash rebates, trips, and merchandise.

Although PokerShare player-owners will be entitled to dividends, they won’t have shareholder rights in managing the company, nor will they be allowed to trade their stakes, at least not until it goes public.

Like other poker game operators and casinos, PokerShare generates revenue by taking a “rake,” or cut, of each pot. Players can’t lose share points but can become ineligible for dividend distribution if they don’t play in that quarter; one hand alone would suffice to keep the share active.

While the number of share points held by players can only increase, as more get with the program the percentage held by each will decrease.

“There will be a dilution,” Toh said. “But as more players come in, revenue will increase significantly, which means profits will also increase, so players will end up with smaller pieces of a larger pie.”

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ID THIEF ARRESTED
19 August2005
Crook funded his online gambling from other people’s accounts

There was another reminder on the importance of safeguarding personal information this week. More than 100 Central Illinois residents had their identities stolen and their money diverted by Robert D. Crutchley (31) who was arrested this week and charged with two counts of felony theft.

DeWitt County Sheriff Roger Massey did not disclose the modus operandi, but said that Crutchley is accused of setting up debit accounts and electronically transferring funds that were used on telephone or Internet gambling sites.

Most of the victims are from the Bloomington-Normal area.

The DeWitt County sheriff said he became involved in the investigation of Crutchley following a complaint about missing funds from a bank account. McLean and Dewitt County investigators joined forces after a relative of Crutchley who lives in McLean County went to police with a similar complaint.

Massey arrested Crutchley in May while the Bloomington man was using a computer at the Bloomington Public Library. Charges had not been filed then, however, because police were still investigating the thefts.

The U.S. Marshals Service finally arrested Crutchley in Plano, Texas.

Massey said Crutchley created bank accounts and then transferred money into them from other people’s accounts, having stolen their identities through undisclosed means.

Crutchley used Certegy Check Services, the nation’s leading check processor for online gaming, as his clearinghouse for a series of gambling transactions, according to court records.

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WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP OF ONLINE POKER STARTS SOON
19 August 2005
Prize money could top $8 million this year

One of the world’s largest online poker tournaments will start next month, pitting players from around the world for a total prize pool of at least $8 million.

Costa Rica based online poker room PokerStars.com, ranked number 2 in the size stakes by Poker Pulse, will host its fourth-annual World Championship of Online Poker.

The tournament, scheduled for September 4 to 18 has 15 individual poker events including a final tournament of no-limit hold ’em, and is expected to draw more than 10,000 players. The prize pool for the final event starts at $2.5 million.

The number of players competing in the final event of last year’s World Championship of Online Poker was second, if considerable smaller only to the World Series of Poker. Prize money for the online tournament ranked 9th worldwide for a single event, falling short of World Poker Tour events at the Bellagio, Mirage, Foxwoods and Commerce casinos.

The online tournament is run much like the World Series of Poker, with poker games held daily and winners to each event receiving a gold bracelet. Entries to the final event cost $2,500, and an estimated 40 percent of players are expected to be from outside of the United States.

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VYING FOR THE THIRD SPOT
19 August 2005
Prima and Poker Room go head to head in online poker

It seems just yesterday that Poker Pulse ranked the extensive Prima Poker network as number 3 in size behind market leader Party Poker and number 2 site Poker Stars, but this week Poker Room were claiming to have unseated Prima.

The Swedish company issued a press release to announce that it is now the third-largest online poker site in the world, quoting industry information site PokerPulse.com.

The Poker Room release says that the online poker sector has grown into a $2-billion (USD) industry with more than 200 sites worldwide, and claims that Poker Room’s network now boasts more than 4-million players from 150 countries, growing three times as fast (323 percent) as the entire online poker industry (156 per cent) in the last year alone.

The company points to innovative achievements as the source of its success. In April 2005, PokerRoom.com revolutionised the online poker category with the launch of its Mobile Poker – the first interactive, real money mobile phone poker that enables users to play Texas Hold ‘Em from mobile phones against other PokerRoom.com members playing from a mobile or a computer. It was also named Online Poker Site of the Year by the readers of the poker trade magazine Inside Edge.

The release goes on to highlight the companys commitment to responsible gaming and player-protective operational practice through the G4 and eCOGRA organisations respectively.

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NEW BETTING EXCHANGE LAUNCHES
19 August 2005

Poserfish allows P2P bets on anything

On August 13th, 2005, poserFish.com started taking live bets, marking the official opening of a network that claims it will change the way peer-to-peer betting is defined.

We’re not quite sure that what they are offering is industry-changing, but the thrust seems to be that bets on anything are permitted. There is no house, no bookie and the members have complete control over the details of their bets.

The companys commission has been set at 5 percent commission on winnings only – losing bettors will not pay any fees.

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IN THE MONEY
19 August 2005
Four online billionaires in latest Forbes list.

Forbes magazine recently reported the newest gaming billionaires are four Gibraltar-based online gamers who took their company, PartyGaming, public last month. They are worth a combined $8 billion.

The four are founders Anurag Dikshit, 32 and Vikrant Bhargava, 33, both graduates of the Indian Institute of Technology, who own the company with American husband-and-wife team Ruth Parasol and Russ DeLeon, both Harvard Law School graduates. They retain 77 per cent of the company post-listing.

Also in the magazine’s gaming industry billionaire’s club: Sheldon Adelson ($11.9 billion), Kirk Kerkorian ($9.5 billion), Steve Wynn ($1.9 billion), Bill Boyd ($1.6 billion) and Phil Ruffin ($1.3 billion).

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UK SOCCER CLUB TO LAUNCH ONLINE CASINO
19 August 2005
First fully branded football club Internet casino

British football club West Ham United is about to launch a new source of income in the form of an Internet casino according to UK media, and club fans are being urged to take a gamble to support their team.

Hammerscasino.com is claimed to be the world’s first fully branded online casino from a football club, and the site will use graphics to take punters on a tour of the stadium to reach the game of their choice. From the lobby area, the site will simulate walking into areas of the ground where gamblers will then be able to play blackjack, roulette, slots and poker.

The venture presents a new marketing niche for West Ham, and the club hopes to reach wider areas with the potential for cross-marketing sales of Hammer’s shirts and other merchandise.

ONLINE CASINO FOR SPORTS CAFE
5 August 2005
International restaurant franchiser to go online with Boss Media

The attraction of the online gaming business is proving irresistable to many companies, and this week the international restaurant chain Sports Caf? joined the throng, with plans to launch an online casino powered by Boss Media.

The plan is to launch an appropriately branded online casino and poker site sometime next month, powered and operated by Boss Media in a joint venture agreement. Depending on returns from the investment, this involvement in online gambling could be extended in the future.

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MEGA JACKPOT FROM GOLDEN PALACE
19 August 2005
5 million dollar slot incorporates some of this casino’s zany purchases

The biggest jackpot ever offered on an online casino slot machine is now available at Golden Palace.com, following the launch of a new Five Million Dollar Slot Machine.

Feedback from the player community is reported to be positive, and the company has rather cleverly woven into the design some of the off-the-wall purchases they have made at online auctions in order to generate publicity.

All the reels on the new game have pictures of Golden Palace.com’s marketing campaigns such as the Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese Sandwich, Beckham Ball, Running of the Bulls with Dennis Rodman, and more.

“In addition to the enormous jackpot, we wanted to make the game even more distinctive to Golden Palace,” said a company spokesman. “Since our campaigns have made headlines worldwide, we thought they would be perfect to brand this one-of-a-kind game.”

Established in 1997, GoldenPalace.com is one of the pioneers of the online casino industry. Their software offers over 60 classic casino games, powered by Playtech.

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VARIATION ON A BLACKJACK THEME
19 August 2005
Washington State Gambling Commission approves new games

Ex-blackjack dealer Warren Montney (31) has put a Texas Hold’em twist on blackjack, and he’s hoping it’s a winning hand for casinos and customers, reports the US media this week.

The Richland, Washington resident who dealt blackjack in Nevada and Washington for nearly 10 years, received approval from the Washington State Gambling Commission in June for two new blackjack games he’s invented – Texas 21 and Bonus 21.

Two local casinos have opened tables for Montney’s game, and a Spokane casino will be dealing Texas 21 within a week.

The game, which blends basic blackjack with Texas Hold’em, is a bonus blackjack game, meaning players have to place a minimum $1 side bet to play the Texas Hold’em portion.

After players are dealt a basic blackjack hand, the dealer takes four more cards out of the shoe and places them face up on the table.

The players use the dealer’s top card, which is always turned up for players to see, their cards and the four community cards to create the best poker hand.

Any player with a three-of-a-kind or better gets paid if he or she is playing the bonus bet. A three-of-a-kind pays 1-to-1; straight, 2-to-1; flushes, 3-to-1; full house, 4-to-1; four-of-a-kind, 8-to-1; five-of-a-kind, 40-to-1; straight flush, 50-to-1; royal flush, 150-to-1; and a suited five-of-a-kind pays 500-to-1.

Jokers Casino in Richland and Celebrity Bowl and Casino in Kennewick have started dealing Montney’s Texas 21 and another game he licensed called Bonus 21.

In Bonus 21, players must also place a minimum $1 bet. If they are dealt a blackjack, they receive the bonus. A nonsuited blackjack pays 10-to-1; a suited blackjack pays 20-to-1; and if the player is dealt the ace and jack of spades, he receives 30-to-1 odds.

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ECOGRA LAUNCHES MAJOR RESPONSIBLE GAMING INITIATIVE
12 August 2005
Underage and problem gamblers the subject of new regulations

Barring under-age aspirant players and protecting addicted gamblers from harming themselves financially is at the centre of the latest initiative launched by self regulatory body eCommerce and Online Gaming, Regulation and Assurance (eCOGRA)

The 56 major online casinos and poker rooms bearing the organisation?s seal will be implementing specific in-house policies and a comprehensive range of independently enforced requirements designed in collaboration with the G4 responsible gambling group.

The introduction of the regulations follows an intensive training session for seal casino managers which took place recently, and cover a wide spectrum of problem gambling activities from warning under-aged players off to excluding gamblers with a problem.

All sites will be required to carry a prominent Responsible Gaming section in which the dangers of under-age and problem gambling are explained. 7 day ?cooling off,? 6 month self-exclusion or deposit limiting mechanisms will be provided for gamblers who suspect they may be in difficulties. Staff will be on the alert for playing and financial patterns that may indicate an addictive gambler.

Scientifically developed, short self-help diagnostic questionnaires will be included together with links to problem gambling assistance bodies around the world.

Training programs are being set up at each casino to give staff tuition on how to identify and handle problem gamblers, and the use of ID verification technology as part of the registration process has been formalised, although this is already in use at many operations.

Special attention is being devoted to preventing underage gamblers from getting through the casinos? screening processes, using the latest technology, ID techniques and strong warnings that underage players will be disqualified and barred.

The new requirements caution marketing departments of seal casinos against sending any promotional or marketing literature to any player who may be a problem gambler, or those who are underage, or using media primarily targeted on teenagers.

?Play for free? games on the sites will be linked to the same age restriction, responsible gaming and player protection information as the ?real money? sections.

eCOGRA has taken the position that players must be of legal gambling age in their home jurisdictions, but has in any case set an absolute minimum of 18 years.

CEO Andrew Beveridge says that the new initiative is one of the most comprehensive and widespread responsible gambling efforts yet seen in the online gaming industry.

?We?re very serious about this, and have the full backing of our seal casinos. Knowingly allowing or enticing under-age or problem gamblers to play is morally wrong, and once the regulations have been implemented the independent accounting firms on our Audit Panel will be paying particular attention to the consistent application of these rules by seal casinos,? he said.

News of the initiative travelled fast, illustrating the media interest in responsible gaming; CEO Andrew Beveridge was interviewed on mainstream media such as The Daily Telegraph and the UK’s BBC.

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HAS CRYPTOLOGIC LOST BETFAIR POKER?
12 August 2005
Speculation that Betfair may be doing its own thing

The Cryptologic share price took a 25 percent turn southwards early this week on news that its profits may be affected by the news that it could lost Betfair as an important poker customer.

Late the same day, the shares staged something of a recovery, prompting some analysts to opine that the investor reaction had been somewhat over the top.

Just before stock markets opened Tuesday, the Toronto turnkey provider company announced that Betfair, a British gambling group that uses CryptoLogic’s poker product, is considering developing its own software.

Poker software has been a major revenue driver for CryptoLogic as the popularity of online poker has boomed. The industry has grown from about $100 million three years ago to $3 billion today, chief executive Lewis Rose said.

“It has to be the fastest growth business in the history of the Internet.”

Rose said discussions with Betfair are continuing and no decision has been made on that company’s Internet poker site.

CryptoLogic has nine licensees that connect online poker players around the world to its central online poker room.

“While Betfair has launched a successful, profitable site using CryptoLogic-developed software, Betfair’s long-term strategy and practices in its core business has been built on technology solutions designed and developed internally,” CryptoLogic said. “Decisions consistent with this strategy could result in Betfair establishing its own poker room and the termination of its contract with WagerLogic Ltd., the licensing subsidiary of CryptoLogic, in early 2006.”

WagerLogic, established in 1996, is a wholly-owned subsidiary of CryptoLogic that has sold gaming software — including casino, bingo and poker games — to blue chip customers including William Hill, the Ritz Club London, Littlewoods Gaming, Ukbetting plc and Betfair.

Online poker accounted for 30 per cent of CryptoLogic’s second-quarter revenue.

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BETBULL SWITCHES TO GBE
12 August 2005
Betting exchange migrates in wake of FUN Tech change

Team changes were in the air this week following FUN Tech’s recent decision to distance itself from the Betbull project.

Betbull announced that it has signed an agreement with The Global Betting Exchange, and has migrated www.betbull.com and www.betbull.de onto a new technology platform, sharing markets and liquidity with other exchanges, including betdaq.

The benefits for Betbull?s partners include: ready to go White Label capability, the flexibility to implement their own business model and the deal also allows Betbull to operate existing betting exchanges at lower cost.

Commenting on the deal, Simon Bold, director of Betbull, said. ‘We are very pleased with the deal. It allows us to quickly move on to the next stage of our co-operative strategy, with the best exchange platform available.’

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NO MORE VENETIAN GOLD.COM
12 August 2005
Virginia judge lowers the copyright boom on internet casino

It’s been awhile since we’ve seen major brand defence actions against Internet tiddlers by large land based casinos, but this week a good one from Virginia surfaced with a ruling against the operators of Costa Rican based Venetian Gold Casino.com

Federal judge Gerald Bruce Lee of the US District Court for Virginia ordered an Internet gambling business to stop using names on its web sites that are similar to the trademark owned by The Venetian on the Las Vegas Strip.

The Global DIP, a Costa Rican corporation, violated the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act of 1999 by using the names without The Venetian’s permission, ruled the judge.

Global DIP websites named in the action included VenetianGold.net, VenetianGold.com, VenetianGold Casino.com, VenicianGold. com, VenetianGoldCasino.net, VenecianGold.com and VeniceGoldCasino.com.

“The court finds that defendant domain names are confusingly similar to (The Venetian’s) service marks because a reasonable consumer might think that they were used, approved, or permitted by (The Venetian),” Lee wrote in an opinion.

The Venetian hired Alan Fisch, a prominent Washington attorney who specializes in intellectual property cases, for its lawsuit against Global DIP.

“This should be a signal to any entity that they will not be able to profit off The Venetian brand,” Venetian spokesman Ron Reese said.

Mark Evens, another Washington attorney who represented Global DIP and its chief executive officer, Vincent Coyle, in the Venetian lawsuit, has filed notice of appeal to the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, Va.

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BLACK IS WILL HILL’S TOP PLAYER
12 August 2005
Irishman is this month’s winner

Irish poker whiz Andy Black is the latest recipient of the coveted WilliamHillPoker.com European rankings (powered by PokerinEurope.com) player of the month award.

His fantastic 5th place finish in this years $10,000 buy in at the World Series of Poker main event, earned Black over $1.7 million in prize money and was voted the outstanding performance in an exceptional month for European poker.

Andy played his way through a field of over 5600 players to take his share of the historic $56 million prize pool. His $1.7 million prize is the biggest single cash in WSOP history by a European player.

Phil Quayle, Poker Room Manager at williamhillpoker.com said, “Andy’s performance in the main event was an outstanding one, with a little more luck in some of the crucial pots at the final table, and European poker could have been celebrating its latest and greatest bracelet winner. This made Andy a deserving winner of the WilliamHillpoker.com European Rankings Player of the Month Award.”

Other individual performances of note came from the 2004/2005 European Rankings number 1, Willie Tann, who claimed a bracelet and $180,000 in the $1000 hold ’em event and Roland De Wolfe, for his fantastic win in the WPT event in Paris, earning him over Euro 400,000.

Previous winners of the WilliamHillPoker.com European rankings player of the month award include Rob Hollink, Paul Maxfield, Peter Gunnarsen and Lawrence Gosney.

Current rankings can be viewed at http://www.pokerineurope.com/frontpage/index.php

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‘ON THE FELT’ A HIGHROLLER
12 August 2005
Poker broadcasts will flight on Internet radio show

The fast growing High Roller Radio.com signed a poker broadcasting agreement with Major League Poker, producers of ?On The Felt? poker radio show this week.

The privately owned Internet-streamed sports talk radio format station was launched earlier this year and has enjoyed significant growth in its productions featuring online gaming. In terms of the agreement, it will carry Major League Poker’s ‘On The Felt’ poker content.

On The Felt was created for poker players and became the first online show to broadcast live from the World Series of Poker Lifestyle Show at the Rio in Las Vegas this past July. ‘On The Felt’ was streamed live from the Major League Poker booth directly to the show’s sponsor, Gaming Club Poker.com, so that poker players could listen in on the WSOP action while playing online.

Produced in a sports talk radio format, ‘On the Felt’ is hosted by Mark Arum, a poker player and radio personality who leads fast-paced, lively discussions and short features on all topics of interest to today’s poker player. ‘On the Felt’ delivers interviews with big names in poker, tips to improve poker skills, as well as the latest poker news, tournament standings and much more. HighRollerRadio.com will begin stream casting the program starting Monday, Aug. 15, 2005.

?We are very excited to add ‘On The Felt’ to our line up. I think that our listeners will enjoy the poker discussions and tips to improve playing skills.? said Miguel Dotres CEO of IEPNetwork Inc. which owns and operates HighRollerradio.com.

 

INTERNET BAN MAKES PHONE BETTING APPEALING
12 August 2005
Czech are betting millions

The Prague Post carried an interesting story this week that claimed buoyant gambling business among the Czechs, with telephone wagering on the rise as a result on Internet betting bans.

Quoting Martin H?jek of online service provider esazeni.cz the article revealed that, “‘The Czechs like betting, and the online form allows them to place bets virtually any time from anywhere. However, the government has outlawed betting via the Internet because it is a non-transparent business where money flows are hard to track. Phone betting is quickly taking its place.”

The report also quotes a recent report by Hospod?rsk? Noviny that the volume of phone bets is tens of millions of crowns a year and the market is growing quickly. And according to Milan Jelinek of Erika, the industry is attractive because providers don’t need to build up a network of terminals as regular odds-betting and lottery providers do.

Prague Post concludes by reporting that over the past few years, the gambling industry has been growing. Last year Czechs spent a record 84.6 billion Kc on legal betting ? 8.5 percent more than the year before, according to Finance Ministry statistics. The 2004 betting market included around 400 lottery and betting firms.

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CANADIAN CALLS TO HALT POKER TV COVERAGE
12 August 2005
Close the play money loophole, say critics

Online poker operators using the “play money” loophole to get publicity in the States and Canada (see earlier InfoPowa reports) may have to rethink their strategy if Canadian critics get their way. This week the Globe and Mail newspaper reported calls for broadcasters to close the loophole that allows online poker rooms to advertise on Canadian television.

With poker’s recent surge in popularity, sports channels are filling their broadcast schedules with Texas Hold ‘Em tournaments, and poker websites are eager to advertise. The Criminal Code makes it illegal to advertise Internet gambling in Canada, but many broadcasters welcome advertising from ‘play money’ versions of popular casinos like PartyPoker and PokerStars.

The play money sites typically have the same name as the real casinos but use a .net suffix instead of .com. These sites don’t allow real gambling, but use e-mail to refer interested consumers to sites where they can actually gamble.

Rick Broadhead, a Toronto-based Internet consultant, said the practice makes Canadian regulations look ridiculous because online casinos and broadcasters have found a way around them.

Most private television broadcasters submit commercials to a self-regulatory industry association called Telecaster Services before they’re aired.

The Globe and Mail says that material for seven ‘play money’ sites has been approved by Telecaster, while many ads have been rejected, quoting Jim Patterson, president and chief executive officer of the Television Bureau of Canada.

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FOXWOODS “PLAYAWAY” DECLARED ILLEGAL
12 August 2005
Indian tribe ‘reviewing’ official decision

Foxwoods’ attempt to introduce the Internet-based PlayAway game suffereed a setback as we went to press on the news that Connecticut Division of Special Revenue has ruled that the game violates state and federal gambling laws.

The state informed the Mashantucket Pequot tribe, which owns and operates the successful southeastern Connecticut casino, that it may not offer the game on the casino’s Web site and may not offer any other game online.

State Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said he’s prepared to defend the decision in court. “This game is a new game. It is a departure from the existing gambling practices that exist on the reservation,” Blumenthal said.

The PlayAway promotion was advertised by Foxwoods as, “Our exclusive new way to play slots, card games and your other favorite games anytime you choose, anywhere there’s a computer!”

It allowed gamblers to buy keno tickets with an Internet access code at the casino, check the tickets’ status at home, and then play a number of games such as simulated slot machines or a hand of blackjack or poker. The results were predetermined by the keno numbers.

The state said the game illegally expands gaming off the reservation, promotes gambling to minors and deceives players into believing they’re playing games of chance, such as poker, when they’re actually playing a game based on predetermined results.

“The Web site play added nothing to the outcome, though it did appear to mislead the player to believe that he or she was controlling the outcome and the amount won,” Paul A. Young, executive director of the Division of Special Revenue, wrote in a letter to the casino. “Simply put, PlayAway is a keno-based interactive game played on the Internet, off of the reservation, for promotional purposes. We have concluded that PlayAway, which utilizes the Internet, would be illegal in Connecticut.”

The PlayAway Web site did not explain that the fancy blackjack and slot machine graphics were just a way to heighten the experience of checking for a winning keno ticket.

George Henningsen, chairman, Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation Gaming Commission, said they were reviewing the state’s ruling. He declined further comment.

Foxwoods is the first casino in the country to try this type of Internet venture. If it ultimately succeeds, members of the National Indian Gaming Association expect the idea will attract other interested tribes. Casino regulators in New Jersey have said they are also watching the Connecticut case.

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CASINO CITY VS DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
5 August 2005
Latest arguments in freedom of speech case

The legal battle between online gambling publishing house Casino City and the US Department of Justice continued to attract attention this week as the former submitted its argument against the DoJ’s latest contentions (see recent InfoPowa reports).

The battle started when Casino City took the government to court for a declaratory judgement on the DoJ’s *advisories* to US advertising media that accepting online gambling ads could be contrary to the law. Many companies backed away from such advertising in moves that resulted in the loss of millions of dollars.

Casino City lost that first appearance, which involved the First Amendment to the US Constitution regarding freedom of speech, on the grounds that it had not been among those warned or in danger of prosecution by the DoJ action and therefore had no grounds for presenting a case.

The publisher immediately launched an appeal in the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the DoJ answered that appeal using the same “no standing” arguments as before, and now Casino City has responded in a final statement.

The document is a succinct point by point rebuttal of the DoJ argument and now goes before the Appeal Court for a decision.

CC makes the important point that its challenge is based on whether the US statutes are being correctly interpreted by the DoJ (that online gambling and accepting online gambling advertisements is illegal) and whether the threats that these will be applied were carried out in an unconstitutional manner.

In answer to the DoJ contention that it has no standing, Casino City claims that it is not necessary to allege that it has violated a statute. It asks the court to determine whether the DoJ has unconstitutionally abused its authority to stifle protected speech, and claims it is not necessary for a company to allege that it has broken the law in order to issue such a challenge.

The DoJ contention that more than a year had passed between the time the threatening letters were sent to the date litigation was launched is countered by CC’s riposte that it is of no constitutional importance in the freedom of speech context that CC had not been specifically addressed by the DoJ letter, and that not a single prosecution had been launched against any advertiser.

CC claims that its First Amendment rights are ongoing and it has not waived those rights because of the time necessary to file an action, and it in any case disputes the DoJ timeframe.

As CC’s document says: “It is particularly troublesome from a constitutional standpoint if the DoJ does not intend to effectuate prosecutions. If successful with this posture, the DoJ would be able to effectively immunize itself from judicial review of a course of conduct designed to stifle free speech. Such a course of action goes to the very core of the chilling doctrine.”

Another area of disagreement is the DoJ claim that Congress has the power to prohibit advertising for illegal gambling, which CC counters with the statement that whilst this may be so, Congress has in fact not – it has only prohibited certain forms of gambling.

CC emphasises throughout that it is not challenging statutes – it is seeking judgement on the manner in which the DoJ is interpreting and applying them.

CC also takes issue with the manner in which the DoJ worded its warning letters, pointing out that the DoJ made no distinction between legal and illegal online gambling and pronounced all forms of online gambling to be illegal:

“Such a blanket posture regarding the legality of online gambling is erroneous. This court has held that online casino gambling is not prohibited by [the Wire Act]. . . . And there is an absence of case law applying [the Illegal Gambling Business Act and the Travel Act] to online gambling. . . Thus, the conclusion by the DoJ and by the district court that online gambling is per se illegal is overreaching to say the least.

“Such a posture ignores principles set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court, which has ruled in multi-jurisdictional First Amendment advertisement cases that an advertiser may not be prohibited form disseminating truthful information about an activity that is legal in another jurisdiction.”

The company’s brief concludes:

“To the extent that the DoJ criticizes Casino City for not presenting lesser restrictive means as alternatives to the district court, Casino City points out that the record in this case is not yet developed. Moreover, if there is any pertinent omission pertaining to this point, it is that the DOJ has failed to show why it has chosen, contrary to United States Supreme Court precedent, to address the asserted harms by regulating speech rather than the underlying activity.”

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FORTUNE LOUNGE GROUP DOWN
5 August 2005
Anonymous spam allegations shut online casino group down over the weekend

The dangers of unquestioned acceptance of anonymous “spam-police” complaints was illustrated last weekend when the large Fortune Lounge group of online casinos had to endure an expensive suspension offline by domain registrar GoDaddy, allegedly on complaints of spamming by the spam monitor SpamHaus, an anonymous organisation that is remarkably hard to contact.

Early reports suggest that GoDaddy acted without first contacting FL with the complaints, something which FL management were investigating as we went to press. FL outsources its email marketing, awarding the contract on warranties against spamming by the contractor.

The incident could have far-reaching consequences for all of the companies involved.

Affiliate sources told InfoPowa that they were surprised at the allegations levelled at the casino operator, explaining that the FL group went to some lengths to discourage affiliates from this practice, especially since the advent of the CanSpam Act.

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GETTING TO KNOW YOU
5 August 2005
New UK Gambling Commission will be at 2005 Betting Show

Britain’s new controlling body for gambling the Gambling Commission is to be officially launched in October this year and is already planning to meet the industry at the next Betting Show, scheduled for 19 and 20 October at the Birmingham NEC Pavilion.

Its presence at the event will be close to home, as the new body will be located in the city of Birmingham.

In addition to a presence on the exhibition floor, the Gambling Commission will play an active role in the accompanying seminar.

Peter Dean, current chairman of the Gaming Board for Great Britain, will make one of his first public addresses as chairman of the Gambling Commission, describing the structure and objectives and explaining its new scope and regulatory approach in terms of licensing, codes of practice and the ongoing consultation process.

The transition team charged with managing the changeover from Gaming Board to Gambling Commission believe that this year?s Betting Show provides them with an ideal opportunity to widen the process of continuous dialogue with the betting industry, as decreed by Government when the Act was passed.

Spokesman Andrew Fraser explained: ?The Commission will begin regulating the betting industry in 2007 and it is our remit to listen and learn, as well as helping industry professionals understand and act upon the changes taking place. Having attended the Betting Show as visitors last year, we decided that it is an excellent forum at which to meet formally and informally with operators, and service providers.?

Fraser added: ?Peter Dean will speak about the key issues facing the gambling industry and the Commission when he addresses the seminar audience, and we will be on hand on the exhibition floor for the duration of the show to meet and greet the industry?s grass roots to offer our help and support on any regulatory issues they may have.?

Further details on the Gambling Commission and the Gaming Board for Great Britain can be found at www.gamblingcommission.org.uk and www.gbgb.org.uk respectively.

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BETFAIR CFO LEAVING
5 August 2005
Some say to make way for a more experienced IPO-oriented manager

Owen O?Donnell, chief financial officer of Betfair is about to leave on 31 August according to a company announcement which is being interpreted as a move to strengthen Betfair’s management team before a possible IPO in the first quarter of 2006.

The gambling company recently appointed Morgan Stanley and Goldmann Sachs to advise it on a possible flotation at the beginning of next year, with O’Donnell rumoured to be making way for a more high-profile finance director.

Stephen Hill, chief executive of Betfair, said O?Donnell had made “…a significant contribution to Betfair?s development during the past two years. In particular we owe our strong controls environment and efficient financial reporting system to his tenure. We are grateful to him and wish him well in his future career,”Hill added.

There was no indication as to what O’Donnell’s future career will entail.

The company said it would announce O?Donnell’s successor as it ‘entered its next stage of development’.

Softening the pain of departure somewhat came the news that O’Donnell has 245 000 Betfair share options as part of his package on joining the betting exchange.

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FOXWOODS LATEST
5 August 2005
Re-start date for “PlayAway” now pushed out to August 15

Foxwoods representatives last Friday agreed to suspend the resort’s controversial online “PlayAway” game until Aug. 15, following a meeting with state regulatory authorities.

This is 13 days later than the original Aug. 2 restart date promised by the resort management. A spokesman for the casino said the tribe will use the extra time to provide detailed information to the state.

Foxwoods, which is owned by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, is the first casino in the country to try such a venture. If it succeeds, members of the National Indian Gaming Association expect the idea will attract other interested tribes.

Casino regulators in New Jersey are also watching. The Casino Control Commission is considering allowing Atlantic City casinos to use such software and spokesman Dan Heneghan said regulators will monitor the Connecticut dispute.

Foxwoods believes the issue is merely a matter of appearance. The PlayAway Web site never explained that the fancy blackjack and slot machine graphics were just a facade, a way to heighten the experience of checking for a winning keno ticket.

“Clearly the impression when you first went onto the Web site was that this was online gambling,” said George Henningsen, chairman of the tribe’s gaming commission. “It looks like you’re playing. I know you’re not, but I can’t argue that it looks like it.”

From a gambling standpoint, Henningsen said, it’s the same game they’ve been running for years in which players try to guess series of random numbers. Visitors can buy keno tickets for future games, go home, miss the drawings, check the winning numbers and return to Foxwoods to cash in.

Henningsen said the tribe is tweaking its software to tell people that, despite the animations, they aren’t actually playing games. They also plan to add a button to skip the graphics and just check the keno numbers.

Attorney General Richard Blumenthal says the software crosses the line into Internet gambling, which is illegal. If this promotion is approved, he said there’s nothing to stop the tribe from coming back for another slight change later.

“The slope is so slippery,” Blumenthal said. “Once Internet gambling is allowed, almost any form of Web site gaming will occur.”

The Internet gambling market is expected to generate nearly $17 billion in yearly revenue by 2009, according to the American Gaming Association. But Foxwoods officials say that’s not their market. They don’t want people sitting at home. They want players driving to the casino, which is what a winning PlayAway game forces them to do.

Internet marketing is big in every industry, Henningsen said, and casinos must keep up with the times. “You’re crazy not to be using the Internet,” he said. “It’s a personal link to someone who you know already has an inclination to gamble.”

Steve Kane, CEO of GameLogic, the Massachusetts-based company that wrote the software, wouldn’t discuss where else he’s pitching his product but said it would be a good fit in any market. He said Connecticut’s concerns are “imminently solvable.”

Blumenthal said the tribe hasn’t formally proposed any software changes but he said he can’t foresee anything that would make the game acceptable as long as people are playing casino games online with a profit attached.

While the Mashantucket Pequots said they’re eager to reach a compromise, they said they expect the game to be online soon.

“At this moment,” Henningsen said, “I can’t see any way this will be withdrawn.”

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ANOTHER INSTANT INTERNET MILLIONAIRE
5 August 2005
Intercasino logs its first million dollar plus winner

Although there have been several players who have won million dollar and more progressive jackpots in recent years, it is still a rare enough occasion to shout about, and this week Intercasino was doing the shouting.

11h10 on the July 27th was the magic hour for new millionaire Richard R., the lucky winner of a golden bonanza in the shape of the $1,067,836.00 jackpot on the Millionaires Club slot game.

It was the first million dollar and more jackpot won at Cryptologic-powered Intercasino, and it will be paid out in one cash amount.

?All I can say is ?Yeah Baby! I still can?t believe this is real,? said the grateful 49 year-old winner who has been an InterCasino.com regular for the past two years.

?I have watched this jackpot for a while and every time I logged in I would see if some lucky person won it. I can?t believe I turned out to be that person.?

When asked about his online gaming philosophy he was quick to reply, ?Play, play, play! These are not just ?dream? games. Someone is going to win and it might as well be you. It just takes that one lucky click of the mouse.?

The enormous jackpot comes on the heels of another major win. Intercasino regular, Ronald B, recently hit it big with the Rags to Riches Progressive Jackpot that delivered a $162,080.86 windfall.

?At first I didn?t believe it. I kept thinking it was going to stop,? said the lucky winner to Casino Manager Ryan Hartley. ?All I can say is that it was very tough going into work on Monday morning.?

 

PROFIT AND REVENUES UP AT CRYPTOLOGIC
5 August 2005
Performance better than analysts’ predictions

Gambling software developer and turnkey provider CryptoLogic Inc. has reported higher profits and revenues for the latest quarter.

The company reported that it had earned US$4.7 million for the quarter ended June 30. That compared with a profit of $3.2 million for the same 2004 period. The results exceeded analysts’ performance predictions.

Quarterly revenue grew 33 per cent to $19.9 million from $14.9 million, Cryptologic said. This was despite a traditionally softer seasonal period for online gaming, as it grew internally from existing customers in the company’s primary Internet casino and Internet poker markets.

“CryptoLogic continues to benefit from both the right products and the right strategy,” Lewis Rose, CryptoLogic’s president and CEO, said. “That’s why we’re achieving positive returns through solid casino performance and 17 per cent sequential quarterly growth in poker, well ahead of the Internet poker industry.”

Looking ahead, the company said it expects third quarter revenue to range between $19.4 million to $19.7 million, with earnings of between $4.5 million and $4.7 million.

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POKER STARS MOVING TO ISLE OF MAN
5 August 2005
And inevitably, rumours that a London listing is planned

Following UK media speculation this week, InfoPowa contacted the management at second ranked online poker site Poker Stars to ask for confirmation that the company was moving to the Isle of Man. We also asked whether speculation that a London listing was planned had any foundation, who the broker would be and what sort of listing price we might expect.

In a prompt and courteous response, the company confirmed that it has obtained a license in the Isle of Man and would be moving to that jurisdiction in the near future. However, the response emphasised that the company would not comment on speculation regarding a listing – a fairly standard response under these circumstances.

Poker Stars is owned by an Israeli family called Scheinberg and has been based in Costa Rica. It is understood that a new CEO who will operate from the Isle of Man is currently being sought.

It is believed that the IOM’s action in removing bans on its licensees accepting US bets was an important incentive for Poker Stars to make the big move.

The company reportedly has an estimated 8 percent share of the market, compared with PartyGaming?s 54 percent, and Cassava Enterprises (Gibraltar) Ltd.?s 6 percent (through its PacificPoker brand). ?The Times? says PartyGaming has obtained a license from the government of the Isle of Man and plans to move to the island later this year as well.

Founded in 1999, PokerStars is considered a pioneer of online poker, together with ParadisePoker, which currently has a 5 percent share of the market. Media sources claim that PokerStars? rake (commission from players) is $400,000-500,000 a day, its annual turnover is $150 million, and its net profit margin verges on 50 percent.

If PokerStars holds an IPO, it will reportedly be at a company value in excess of $1 billion.

Analysts covering public online gaming companies believe a listing would enable Poker Stars to become one of the industry?s main consolidators. One analyst said, ?There are more than 1,000 internet poker sites, but in three or four years I would expect there to be no more than 50 or 60. As growth slows, so consolidation will become the name of the game.?

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INTERAGE TO HANDLE PARTY GAMING MARKETING
5 August 2005
Aggressive new marketing strategy planned

What is likely to be a lucrative online marketing contract for the multi-billion dollar market leader Party Gaming was awarded to UK company InterAge Limited this week.

The CEO of InterAge, Kobi Freund says that his new client has made a decision to become significantly more aggressive in its marketing following detailed market research that shows substantial growth potential despite the already considerable success of the sector.

Following its recent successful listing in London, PartyGaming has a more than adequate war-chest for the new marketing thrust, which is likely to include additional effort in both the poker and online casino fields. The group currently own brands in all three major gaming areas: poker, casino, and bingo.

PartyPoker, is the world’s largest online poker business based on ring game revenue and number of active players. The company’s main casino property, Starluck Casino, was launched in 1997 but recent announcements by the CEO have indicated some exciting moves in that direction. PartyBingo, the newest addition to the company’s family of gaming brands, launched in 2003, and is already one of the top five online bingo sites.

In 2004, casino and bingo games represented approximately 29 per cent of the online gaming market, and poker represented approximately 13 per cent.

“This is an exciting and challenging new market for InterAge,” says Freund. “I believe that we are very well equipped to meet the challenge to help PartyGaming continue its significant growth pattern.”

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TOP NAMES FOR WPT ‘S LONDON OPEN
5 August 2005
Brunson, Pescatori among the contenders

The World Poker Exchange announced today the first round of professional poker players who will be joining celebrities Willie Garson, Nicholas Gonzalez, Mimi Rogers and Jennifer Tilly for the $2 million London Open Tournament 2005 this August 3-6.

World Poker Exchange-sponsored player Max “The Italian Pirate” Pescatori will be joined at the first-ever lifestyle poker event by international professional poker players Tony “The Lizard” Bloom, Doyle “Texas Dolly” Brunson, Harry Demetriou, Antonio “The Magician” Esfandiari, Scott Fischman, Chip Jett, Karina Jett and Robert Williamson. The event will be held at the 19th century landmark Old Billingsgate Market.

Born and raised in Milan, Italy, Max Pescatori is a professional tournament poker player who has won various titles and enjoyed 24 money finishes in 2004 alone. Pescatori, who wears his signature Italian flag bandana to every tournament, is often referred to as the “Italian Pirate.” To date this year, he has placed second at the Mirage Poker Showdown $2,500 No Limit Hold’Em leaving the table with $75,000. Pescatori won several tournaments at the 2005 World Series of Poker. Pescatori is well-known for appearing a record eight times at the final table of the television show, Ultimate Poker Challenge.

Tony Bloom is a Hedge Fund manager and former sports bookmaker from London, England. Bloom has won numerous titles in his short career of professional poker playing and is known for his love of travel, making him a prolific international poker player. Currently, Bloom ranks 1,323 overall and has estimated total winnings of $38,465.

Doyle Brunson, 71, is the Babe Ruth of poker. He basically invented the game of Texas Hold ’em and was star of the infamous band of traveling poker sharks, the Texas Rounders. He was the first of the high stakes hotel poker players in Las Vegas. Brunson has won ten World Series of Poker events, including the two back-to-back world championships.

A retired clinical scientist from London, England, Harry Demetriou is a respected international poker player and formidable opponent. This professional from the UK had his first major win in July 2004, taking 250,000 Pounds Sterling and first place in the Victor Poker Cup. He has already won more than $1 million in his worldwide tournament play.

A current resident of San Francisco, Calif., Antonio Esfadiari was born in Tehran, Iran and with his win in the 2004 L.A. Poker Classic, he is the youngest player to ever pick up a World Poker Tour championship and win a prize exceeding $1 million in a tournament. Antonio first got into the world of professional poker when he was invited to a game of Texas Hold ’em while working as a professional magician. Since winning the World Series of Poker Pot Limit Hold ’em, and World Poker Tour L.A. Poker Classic No-Limit Hold ’em in 2004 among other tournaments, Esfadiari has become a popular player within the poker circuit and had winnings totaling more than $2 million.

Pennsylvania native and former poker dealer, Scott Fischman, is relatively new to the professional poker circuit but has already won two, back-to-back World Series of Poker bracelets. Fischman’s first professional tournament was in January of 2004 at The Grand American Poker Classic in Tunica, MS where he placed 4th. Since then he has appeared at nine final tables, including those at the Orleans Open, the Mirage Poker Showdown and the coveted World Series of Poker Events. Additionally, Fischman is the spokesman for “I’m All In Wear,” a clothing line inspired by the poker phenomenon, and a columnist for Card Player Magazine.

Former lifeguard Chip Jett began his poker career in 1992 when a friend took him to a casino in his native Arizona. That trip led to jobs as a poker dealer, floorman and shift boss before becoming a proposition player. After winning numerous games around Arizona, Chip Jett went on to win his first major tournament, Best All-Around Player award at the L.A. Poker Classic at Commerce Casino. Chip Jett has won numerous titles and tournaments since then, including Phil Hellmuth’s Champion of the Year Award in 2003

Karina Jett first arrived on the Las Vegas poker scene at the age of 10. With both parents avid poker players, Karina Jett quickly followed in their footsteps, and, at the age of 18, played her first poker game in a casino. With her marriage to poker tournament player, Chip Jett, Karina Jett switched her focus to larger poker tournaments. Though Karina Jett’s tournament career has been a short one, she has already won or made final table appearances at many prestigious events, including the World Series of Poker, Poker Royale, and the L.A. Poker Classic.

Robert Williamson III was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. Williamson has been practicing his poker playing skills since the age of 10 but did not start playing professionally until the early 2000s. After detours into restaurant management and real estate development, Williamson found his calling in professional poker and is now ranked the number one all-time tournament earner in Omaha. Williamson’s earnings already total more than $1.5 million.

More professional poker players and celebrities are expected to join Pescatori and the other players and confirm their attendance at the London Open. “With the UK activities of late, a great number of players have expressed intent to play but are waiting to see if things quiet down a bit before committing. This makes the gauging the final number of pro players difficult to assess, and therefore the players that compete may have extremely favorable odds due to the guaranteed minimum pot,” said World Poker Exchange Managing Director Haden Ware.

The high stakes gaming event to be staged in London on the banks of the River Thames features a $2 million guaranteed prize pool and distinctive cultural, entertainment and dining experiences. A pinnacle of the four-day style-heavy event will be a private concert, a separate charity tournament and VIP Reception featuring South London-based funky pop act Dirty Vegas, international chanteuse and “Queen of the Nightclub” Grace Jones, and celebrity club and party DJs Guy Preston and Jason Moore.

The London Open will be broadcast as a Bravo primetime TV special “World Poker Exchange London Open.” Off-camera, the competitors will enjoy high-stakes fun as they partake in the private concert and VIP Reception, exclusive tours of Kensington Palace, gain backstage access to the hit show The Producers, and enjoy the most lavish of culinary experiences in London’s finest restaurants.

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NINE.COM MAKES AN IMPRESSION
5 August 2005
Watch out for these guys on the poker scene, too

It was difficult to miss the visually prominent bright orange Nine.com brand this week as the sportsbook and casino group changed up a gear, putting the old Costa Rican-based GCS group identity (Betcom.com and MyBookie.com) under one easy to see banner.

The new site is intended to be the firm?s flagship brand, and will feature original entertainment content alongside the betting and gaming products. ?By focusing on one super brand, we will provide our clients more exciting and valuable content,? Robert Evans, president of Nine.com, said.

The group celebrated the event by signing an agreement for a poker site with software firm Las Vegas From Home. Nine.com will join LVFH?s Action Poker Network sometime in August.

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POWERFUL COMBO – AOL AND BINGO
5 August 2005
Bingos.co.uk has big ambitions

Any operator who can get into bed with America Online and its massive membership has a right to be hopeful for a bright business future, and that was the case for Bingo operator bingos.co.uk this week.

The company has signed a deal with AOL UK to provide bingo to users of AOL?s games channel. The service will only be available to players over 18 years, and will be accessible through the AOL keyword bingo.

Ambitious Jan Jensen, a spokesman for the company, said the agreement could position Bingos.co.uk to become the “…number one site in the UK.”

There’s some stiff competition – the Gibraltar licensed operator St. Miniver partnered with Yahoo to launch a bingo service earlier this year.

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AND TALKING ABOUT ST MINIVER…
5 August 2005
Parent could be looking at a major London listing (who isn’t?)

The rumour mill was working overtime this week as IPO fever continued to dominate discussions in the Internet gambling business – the latest company tipped for a public listing is St. Miniver parent St. Enodoc.

It’s a Gibraltar-based egaming white label firm, and the word is that a public listing worth around GBP 30 million is a possibility later this year. The company is playing a coy game, with spokesmen commenting that an IPO is among several options “….under consideration.”

What is known, however is that St. Enodoc has retained stockbroker Panmure Gordon to advise on its “options.”

St. Enodoc has been around for the last two years, originally under the St. Miniver banner, where its owners picked up the Gala Interactive business from UK bingo firm Gala.

The chairman is a highly experienced attorney and businessman called Tony Wollenberg and in addition to its casino and soft gaming products it operates the Boss poker network and certain mobile gaming services for m-gaming operator Probability Games.

The client list is impressive, and includes some of the UK?s biggest online names such as Yahoo!, FHM, ivillage and lastminute.

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ANOTHER SPORTS LICENSEE FOR CHIMERA
5 August 2005
Sportsbook, casino and maybe mobile, too

Chimera Technology’s latest licensee is the Nevada-based 777 Sports Entertainment Corp, which has just soft launched its new sports betting and casino website 777betz.com.

One of Chimera’s latest products – a mobile gaming platform – is also in the final stages of testing and is scheduled for a late August 2005 inclusion in 777’s activities.

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GBP 40 MILLION CORAL DEAL
5 August 2005
Bet365 sells off its chain of UK betting shops to concentrate on the Internet

Following in the footsteps of the big High Street betting shop purchases earlier this year by William Hill and Ladbrokes, UK bookie Bet365 has sold its chain of betting shops to Coral Eurobet for an estimated GBP 40 million in a strategy to consolidate its online and tele-betting operations.

John Coates, Bet365?s chief executive, told the media that the sale would provide welcome capital for future expansion for his company. “Remote betting and gaming has become our core business, with over 90 percent of our expected GBP 700 million turnover this year coming from that area,? Coates said.

Bet365 has had a high street presence in the UK for more than twenty years, but in recent times has seen rapid growth following the introduction of an online business in 2001.

It is one of the few UK-based operations to accept bets from the US market, and has recently witnessed strong growth in turnover following the addition of poker and casino gaming facilities.

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MORE DETAILS ON ULTIMATE BET DEAL
5 August 2005
Listing could deliver GBP 200 million

Last week InfoPowa reported on speculation surrounding the possible listing of one of the largest online poker sites around – UltimateBet. This week further details of the moves came to light in the UK media, revealing that Canadian-based operator Excapsa hopes to raise GBP 30 million on the property, which is valued at GBP 200 million.

Our report that investment bank Canaccord Capital has been engaged to advise on the listing has been confirmed, and the word is that a London listing is likely to happen before the end of the year. Following a successful listing it is likely that Excapsa will seek to expand its operations by buying a large and viable online casino operation.

Excapsa has been managing UltimateBet for almost a year following its purchase of the site from the original software provider ieLogic. The firm is run by ex-CryptoLogic chief financial officer Jim Ryan, and recently launched a UK version of its site at Ultimate Poker.com.

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PLAYERS EDGE MAGAZINE LAUNCHED
5 August 2005
Not much information, but this looks good!

InfoPowa is trying to get more detail on a new magazine for the online gambling industry called “Player’s Edge,” the premiere issue of which is currently in circulation. We understand that the magazine is published by Cryptologic but this has not been confirmed.

This entertaining publication looks at the casino, poker and sports betting sectors, with advice, strategy, NFL picks, plus other great features, including Trivia Contests, Top 10 lists and Player’s Edge Awards.

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ANTE UP RADIO GAINING IN POPULARITY
5 August 2005
US newcomer to the airwaves building a solid listenership

Ante Up Radio joined the manifold media broadcasting on poker two or three months back, but is already attracting a impressive listenership, mainly in the southern United States thanks to an interesting and varied line-up of interviews and news.

Hosted by Brady Goodman, the show has featured WPT commentator and expert player Mike Sexton, poker pro Thomas Keller, Fox Sportsnet poker reporter Michael Konik and the man from ESPN Poker, Norman Chad among its entertaining interviews.

The show airs every Monday evening to talk poker with professionals, novices, and poker business spokespersons, covering 5 different stations across the Tennessee area like WKVL AM 850, WGAP AM 1400, WMTY AM 670, WLOD AM 1140, and WATO AM 1290.

And if you can’t tune in to the radio waves, try accessing the show at Ante Up Radio.com, where the archived series is available.

The show is dedicated to anything and everything to with poker, says host Goodman, “I want the show to be fun to listen to whether you are a novice or a pro, at this point I think we are doing that.”

Ante Up hopes to reach more stations as its popularity and appeal grows. “At this point we are just a small radio show that is trying to build an audience,” Goodman says. “Without a doubt going national is a long term goal. We are also looking at web casting the show live, too.”

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WHAT’S NEXT – AN IPO FOR CORAL EUROBET?
5 August 2005
British bookie the latest centre of speculation

Online gambling people in the know and investment gurus alike were talking about the latest listing speculation this week – that Coral Eurobet is setting itself up for a GBP 800 million stock market flotation.

According to the Sunday Times, the British group operates 1260 betting shops in the UK, and has reportedly appointed London investment bankers Lehman Brothers to advise it on a public listing.

The newspaper speculates that the Coral executive team, which owns 16 percent of the stock could reap a golden harvest from such a listing if it is as successful as the recent Empire Online and PartyGaming initiatives.

The majority stock holder is private equity house Charterhouse.

A flotation is said to be its preferred option, although a trade sale has not been ruled out. However, the company?s GBP 1.2 billion debt means any prospective buyer would have to find GBP 2 billion to fund the deal.

Coral was founded in 1926. As well as its retail outlets, it has a telephone betting operation, an online betting arm and greyhound racing tracks. The company makes annual operating profits of around GBP 145 million on sales of GBP 5.4 billion.

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ONLINE CASINO FOR POKER GIANT
5 August 2005
Empire Online diversifies

In the build-up to its recent London listing, poker marketer Empire Online hinted that it may be in the market for an online casino, (see earlier InfoPowa reports) and that ambition became reality this week.

The company, which owns Empire Poker, disclosed that it has agreed to buy the Playtech-powered online casino site Club Dice.com and poker site Noble Poker.com for US$ 40 million. It is understood that Club Dice boasts a gambling base of some 70 000 active, real money players.

The Club Dice acquisition embraces three casino brands and one bingo brand, including Monaco Gold Casino.com, Carnival Casino.com and YouBingo in addition to the main Club Dice Casino.com brand.

Noble Poker is the largest member of Playtech?s emerging iPoker network, and will be further marketed by Empire Online.

CEO Noam Lanir says he wants his company to be less reliant on any one technology provider. ?In Club Dice and Noble Poker we have bought running businesses which achieve a strategic objective of diversifying our base of technology providers,? he said.

Empire Poker provided around 4 percent of industry leader Party Gaming?s 2004 operating profit, but is thought to provide as much as 20 percent of its liquidity, according to analysts.

Empire, which floated on the London market six weeks ago, had $47 million cash in the bank. Its shares have raced up from the placing price of 175p to 223p.

Finance director Yossef Pereg declined to disclose the two individuals selling their businesses, and said the group could take up to three months to complete due dilligence.

First-half profits from Empire jumped 87 percent to $25.5 milion on revenue virtually doubled to $49.7million.

It could take another three months to complete the deal, as due diligence and shareholder approval formalities have yet to be finalised.

Analysts speculated last month that it would make sense for Party Gaming to buy up Empire Online due to its high contribution possibilities.

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MILLION DOLLAR TOURNEY FOR NOBLE POKER
5 August 2005
Quest for the world’s best Sit & Go player

Breaking simultaneously with the news of its pending takeover by Empire Online, Noble Poker.com this week unveiled a new million dollar global poker tournament that commenced on August 1.

The rapid-fire Sit & Go style games are normally played in less than an hour, creating pace and excitement, and have been chosen for the tourney.

Players will compete against each other, with the first competitor to win seven consecutive $10 buy-ins taking home the $1 million top prize. It’s likely to attract thousands of players, making for a challenging environment with lots of pressure.

For the runners-up there is still a possibility to win big – there are to be $75 000 and $25 000 play-offs for those who manage to win five and six consecutive Play & Go’s. Furhter prizes in the $300 range are available further down the log.

The quick nature of Sit & Go tournaments has made these events increasingly popular with players, and Noble appears to be exploiting this trend to the full. The site is also currently running a Maui tournament on these lines with $15 000 and $25 000 jackpots.

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THE BROADBAND BOOM
5 August 2005

It’s cheap, it’s powerful and it’s changing the way we use the Internet

Businessweek carried an interesting story on the growing popularity, huge impact and low cost of broadband Internet services this week.

With charges in the GBP 20 a month range, UK Internet users are reaping the benefits of fast broadband connections for streaming music, sending high quality graphics and photographs, surfing the Internet…and online gambling.

More than 14 million Western Europeans have signed up for broadband access in the last year alone, the article reveals quoting PricewaterhouseCoopers statistics, bringing the total number of subscribers to 44 million.

That’s more users than in the United States. Some 25 percent of European households now have high-speed Net access – enough to qualify as a mass-market phenomenom. “Broadband has become mainstream” in Europe, says Charlotte Davies, an analyst with London-based telecom researcher Ovum Ltd.

PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts that European clients will spend something like GBP 20 billion this year alone for zippy cable and DSL connections, rising to an estimated GBP 40 billion by 2008.

More important, broadband is a rocket booster for the rest of the Net economy. London-based Continental Research found that when British Web surfers upgrade from dial-up service, they’re more than twice as likely to download music, use instant messaging, or frequent online auctions.

Use of Net radio stations and online games more than triples. And while a quarter of dial-up users buy books and DVDs online, the figure jumps to 40 percent for high-speed subscribers. “Broadband changes customer behavior and makes it possible to do things that weren’t realistic before,” says Nick Hazell, alliances director for Yahoo! Europe.

The surge of super-surfers is helping plump up results for companies across Europe. Telcos such as Deutsche Telekom and Britain’s BT Group are signing up DSL subscribers as fast as they can. France Telecom, for instance, boosted its DSL subscriber base by 65 percent in one year, to 3.4 million as of the end of March, yielding record quarterly broadband revenues of $ 410 million.

And in the Netherlands, which leads Europe in broadband penetration at 47 percent of households, market leader KPN saw a 51 percent first-quarter rise in DSL revenues vs. the same period in 2004, to $ 131 million.

The broadband effect is most dramatic for companies that specialize in digital content and services online — music, games, gambling, and the like. These companies all use online advertising, and PricewaterhouseCoopers predicts the spread of broadband will help drive European Net advertising to $8 billion in 2008.

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LATEST RESULTS FROM WORLD GAMING
5 August 2005
Wagering volumes up

Highlights from the latest quarterly and half yearly reports for the period ending June 30 2005 include:

* Quarterly royalty revenue increased by 55.5 percent to $1 530 000;

* Six monthly royalty revenue grew by 54.7 percent to $3 530 000;

* Wagering volume up by a billion dollars at $3.6 billion over the same period last year;

* Net working capital up 34.0 percent to $19.9 million;

* Two new licensees signed in the second quarter and poker software successfully launched;

* One of the new licensees will shortly launch Gambling.net – a WG dedicated portal.

* A successful AIM debut raising GBP 2,499,000 from a placing of 4,760,000 ordinary shares;

* Operating expenses decreased 55.0 percent to $2,326,000 compared to $5,173,000 for the same period last year.

The report emphasises that World Gaming is in the industry for the long run, developing its revenues, commercial relationships and products to the benefit of licensees and shareholders.

Daniel Moran, World Gaming’s CEO commented: “The second quarter is seasonally the industry’s least busy period in the year and the company has utilised this time well to pursue new licensing opportunities and implement robust software and hardware upgrades. We are delighted with the results of these efforts which have resulted in new licensees and greater system speed and capacity. We look to the third quarter with confidence and a resolve to continue to deliver on our strategies.”

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MOBILE IN THE NEWS AGAIN
5 August 2005
Annual revenue levels of $1.2 billion to reach US$7.6 billion by 2010, say analysts

Mobile, and specifically cell-phone gambling received major coverage this week thanks to an article from vnunet.com which was picked up by the mainstream wire services, consequently appearing across a wide range of international media.

The article quotes industry analysts, who predict that the global market for mobile gambling is poised to rocket from current annual revenue levels of $1.2 billion to reach US$7.6 billion by 2010.

And in five years there will be more than 200 million consumers gambling using their mobiles, according to Informa Telecoms & Media’s latest report, “Mobile Gambling.”

“Mobile gambling is already generating significant revenues, but there is room for sharp growth in the years ahead,” said Stuart Dredge, the report’s author.

“Operators recognise that there is a strong demand for mobile gambling services, and there is no shortage of companies looking to provide them. However, the industry must keep in mind its responsibilities to tackle underage and problem gambling.”

Mobile gambling on casino games will be popular, particularly as internet casinos migrate their games to mobile. However, Informa predicts that sports betting will be a niche sector by comparison, although bookmakers have been keen to launch mobile applications for their customers to bet on the move.

Europe is likely to remain the largest market for mobile gambling, generating $3.2 billion of annual revenues by 2010. However, it will be closely followed by Asia-Pacific, which is forecast to generate $2.7 billion by 2010.

North America is described as “the great unknown”, as the size of the market there depends first on mobile gambling being legalised in the US, and then on which restrictions are then placed upon it. Nevertheless, the report predicts $979 million of annual revenues for the region by 2010.

Agence France Presse was also active with the mobile survey report, saying that Asian punters will drive sharp growth in the mobile gambling industry over the next five years, with global revenues forecast to top seven billion dollars a year by 2010.

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CASINO CAUTIONS
5 August2005
Abusing the Marines

Many outraged US players were critical of a new arrival that was energetically spamming everyone in sight this week, with emails from one “linda@semperficasino.net.”

It wasn’t just the spam – it was the fact that an operator in Costa Rica had the effrontery to (mis)use the proud name, motto and crest of America’s elite USMC. It was later confirmed that this excuse for an online casino belongs to RTG-powered Connect To Casino, which has had its fair share of brickbats from the player community in the past. InfoPowa invited the operators to comment, but as at going to press there had been no response, although the site was taken down as a result of complaints.

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INTERESTING INDICATORS
5 August 2005
The poker boom spin-offs

MarketWatch gave examples of some poker spin-offs that underline the size and power of the poker juggernaut currently showing no sign of slowing down.

The publication pointed out that extensive TV, radio and print coverage of the game has resulted in:

* Purses and player counts in the 2005 World Series of Poker more than doubled from the previous year.

* To accommodate the throngs of participants and spectators alike, Harrah’s Entertainment had to move the event to its Rio resort, just off the Strip.

* The U.S. Playing Card Company produced more than 1 billion poker chips in the last three years – nearly half of them in the past year alone. Sales of chip sets increased tenfold, hitting $10 million in 2004.

* Worldwide online poker revenue jumped to more than $1 billion last year, up from $365 million in 2003 and is expected to hit $2.4 billion this year, according to Christiansen Capital Advisors.

* Bluff Magazine launched last fall with a circulation of 90,000, a figure that has since more than tripled.

MarketWatch comments that the game, long seen as a pastime for “old folks” or an occasional night out, has finally hit it big with people of all ages and demographic profiles.

“Ten years ago, the average demographic of a casino poker room was 60-to-dead,” said Todd Steele, chief financial officer of WPT Enterprises Inc. “There has been a complete transformation of the sport.”

In its first season in early 2003, the tour had 1,400 players with $12 million in prize money, a figure that has since ballooned to 7,200 players and $70 million in prize money. Last December, during what Steele called “the Poker Christmas,” its branded products chalked up $40 million in retail sales alone.

Poker’s popularity has spawned a retail revolution in merchandising, too with tables, books, apparel and DVDs. In addition, WPT has licensed its name for candy, clocks, a videogame from Take-Two Interactive Software – even Zippo lighters. Building on Americans’ desire to play for high stakes, the company runs a lucrative poker “boot camp,” charging world champion wannabes $1,500 for a two day course in how to play with the pros.

Aware of the trend, some marketers are seeking to hitch a ride on the card craze.

Canadian Club whiskey, recently acquired by Fortune Brands as part of the break-up and sell-off of Allied Domecq, is using a poker theme to attract younger consumers.

The program was designed after examining and rejecting several other sports and leisure tie-ins, said brand manger Susan Kilgore.

“Poker was the best fit for a number of reasons,” she said. “It is very hot, with over 50 million people playing it on a regular basis. And its also doesn’t alienate our current customer – male, 45-plus years old.”

Eric Morris, publisher of Bluff, said his magazine is garnering ad money not only from makers of poker paraphernalia and online gambling operators, along with Harrah’s and MGM Mirage, but mainline companies including Oakley, Disney’s, ESPN (which broadcasts the World Series of Poker), and Activision Inc.

“The mainstream companies are really starting to take an interest now. It is like dial-a-deal,” he said. “We are sold out of advertising through November.”

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GAMBLING ON THE BANK
5 August 2005
An ATM where players can gamble, too!

Japanese banks have introduced an innovative idea that could catch on – Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) fitted with slot games.

Starting this month, Ogaki Kyoritsu Bank will introduce slot games in ATMs to attract clients, and give them a chance to win back bank fees or cash. Bank officials say they hope the new ATMs, reportedly the first of their kind in Japan, will give customers a sense of “excitement.”

Here’s how it works. Once customers have withdrawn money, the numbers on the slot game automatically begin spinning. When a triple seven or the “gold” or “super gold” pictures appear together, the 105-yen after-hours bank charge is reversed.

And when pictures line up on the slot game, the customer also wins 1,000 yen cash, which can be received from the bank counter at a later date. The chance of getting three sevens is about one in 10, while customers have about a one-in-500 chance of the pictures lining up.

The service will begin at 10 branches in Gifu and Aichi prefectures, but it will spread to 135 branches across Gifu, Aichi, Mie and Shiga prefectures by Aug. 12.

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A NEW SPIN ON LOYALTY
5 August 2005
Innovative pomotional idea from Belle Rock group

Carmen Media’s Belle Rock group of online casinos launched a new player incentive scheme this week, following up on their successful Buddy customer service IM communication facility.

The latest addition to Belle Rock player benefits enables gamblers to bid online on a wide variety of interesting and collectable items. The auction currency will be free auction points that players will earn by playing at any of the Belle Rock casinos.

“Our players will still be awarded Cash Back Points for use in their gaming accounts, but from today they will also earn a free auction point for every cash back point. Using these to bid on any of the auction items, they can now also experience the thrill and excitement inherent to any bidding process,” said Tim Johnson, CEO of Carmen Media Group, owners of Belle Rock.

The items on auction can be acquired at a fraction of the real cost without players having to spend any money. Items on offer cater for a wide variety of preferences and include electronic equipment, jewelry, appliances, travel and tickets, home wares, sports equipment, and rare collectables. New items will be added regularly and an average of 10 new auctions will be hosted every day. One of the hot items on offer during August is a brand new off-road vehicle.

“Irrespective of the value of the bid, the highest one wins. So the winning bidder can walk away with anything from a SUV to limited edition music collection for as little as 1 auction point if that was the only bid received,” said Johnson. “auction points are updated daily so as they play, their auction points balance will be growing, allowing for so many more opportunities to win.”

Players will also earn bonus auction points for a variety of interactions such as:

* installing and logging into Belle Rock Gaming’s Belle Rock Buddy
* opening additional real Belle Rock Gaming casino accounts
* updating or verifying their details
* linking their accounts in the Belle Rock Buddy and
* taking part in selected research surveys.

The auction process is easy and straightforward. Belle Rock Gaming Auctions are accessed via the Belle Rock Buddy.

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GOOD THINGS COMING FROM SPORTINGBET
5 August 2005
Brit sportsbook predicts better profits

Online gambling group Sportingbet was in buoyant mood this week, predicting that profits in the final quarter of the year would be better than it expected, fuelled by growth in customer numbers and solid sports, casino and gaming margins.

Releasing a trading report, the group said it made good progress across all parts of its business during the seasonally quiet final quarter of its financial year, and it expects operating profit before goodwill amortisation for the year ended July 31 will be at least GBP 60.5 million.

Sportingbet reported that it has bought Antigua-based ISC Entertainment, the owner of U.S. sports betting and gaming marketing operations, including mysportsbook.com and worldwidegamble.com, for an initial outlay of $33 million or GBP18.6 million, and a possible further $6 million depending on performance.

“We are pleased that Sportingbet continues to perform strongly,” said chief executive Nigel Payne. “The global reach, the scalability of the business model and the diversified product offering are all working to provide solid organic growth in our business.”

The group’s poker sites, led by Paradise Poker.com continued to perform very well, despite the seasonally quiet final quarter of the year, and early indications from the recently introduced “shared purse” are encouraging.

This means customers need only register and leave their bank details once when playing more than one of its websites.

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STRIP POKER
5 August2005
National Lampoon has a sexy new TV project

The zany National Lampoon company has introduced a new form of TV poker that combines the world’s most popular game and probably its most sought after past-time – sex.

It’s pay-per-view TV with a difference, and it’s a cert to catch on through a combination of exciting games, top comedians, useful player tips and some exceptionally lovely ladies playing that old college fave, strip poker.

The episodes are filmed at an upmarket nudist resort in Jamaica, each featuring six super-sexy female models battling for poker supremacy. Adding to the mix is the customary NL craziness in the form of trendy music, animated cartoons and special guests that include big names in comedy.

On debut last weekend the show featured professional wrestling with the red hot Monday Night Raw starlet, Alexis who lost bigtime and was seriously naked after losing to legendary Playboy model Taylor Kenedy.

Scheduling information is on the NL site.

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PREMIER BET CHANGES HANDS
5 August2005
Good deal for IGH

Online bookie Premier Bet Limited has been bought by Interactive Gaming Holdings this week for GBP 1 million paid in a combination of shares, a convertible loan and share options.

A spokesman for IGC said that the company believes the acquisition could lead to an annual turnover of over GBP 25 million and will allow Premier Bet to develop and increase to other betting markets.

New gaming products, such as online poker and other casino games are also on the horizon and are expected to further advance the company. IGC?s Chairman and Chief Executive, Thomas Taul?, says their strategy has been to expand by acquisition. ?This is a seminal development for the enlarged group and it now has a radically enhanced earnings profile.?

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WILL C.O.N. LIST NEXT MONTH?
5 August 2005
IPO speculation continues – big money for the top man

Industry observers and analysts continue to predict an imminent listing for Cassava Enterprises, owners of the leading Casino On Net and 888.com online casino brands.

This week, London analysts were speculating that the CEO of Cassava Enterprises could make $60 million when the company floats on the London Stock Exchange next month.

Cassava Enterprises? IPO is expected to be worth over $1.5 billion, which in turn will provide an estimated $70 million in gross earnings. HSBC investment bank has been hired to guide the company through the IPO minefield.

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EMPIRE ONLINE POSTS RESULTS
5 August 2005
More players, tripled profits

Recently listed Empire Online Ltd., an online marketer that directs users to Web sites such as PartyPoker.com, released good first-half results last week, revealing that profit almost tripled.

Net income jumped to $21.2 million from $8.6 million a year ago as gaming sales advanced to $42 million from $17.3 million, the Tortola, British Virgin Islands-based company said in a statement.

The number of active players – those who played for real money in the last 90 days, according to Empire Online – rose to 126,507 from 51,367.

The companys shares have risen 32 percent since it sold stock in an IPO last month, and is likely to perform well as the size of the online poker market continues to increase – from $90 million in 2002 to $1 billion in 2004, according to Christensen Capital Advisors.

At the end of July, Empire Online had a market value of almost GBP 680 million and last week the company started spending some of its windfall with the acquisitions of the Club Dice and Noble Poker gaming platforms for $40 million (see earlier InfoPowa bulletins).

Empire’s statement revealed that it has plans for an online, multiplayer backgammon site, too. The ancient game is enjoying a significant renaissance on the Internet, and Empire is working on the launch of its in-house 65.com site later this year.

?When we looked at Backgammon we looked at the providers in the industry and decided the best option was to do it ourselves,? said a company spokesman.

And he said Empire would continue to be acquisitive, although he discounted buying a sportsbook in the near future. ?I don?t think we would rush into sports betting in the short term, and I?m not sure we are entirely taken with skill gaming.”

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BAD NEWS FOR WILL HILL
5 August 2005

Betting group has to shed 76 betting shops

British betting group William Hill was on the wrong end of an Office of Fair Trading ruling this week when the government body insisted that the company sell 78 of the 624 betting shops it bought from Stanley Leisure earlier this year as a condition of clearing the deal.

William Hill’s CEO David Harding may have foreseen problems when he said at the time of the purchase that he thought he would have to sell between 30 and 50 shops to satisfy the competition authorities. He said yesterday that he was “disappointed” by the OFT’s decision.

The group spent GBP 504 million on the shops.

The concern is that William Hill, as a forced seller, will not be able to get a good price for the shops it has to sell. It sold 28 of them to the Tote last month for GBP 15 million, an average of GBP 536,000 each shop or a 34 percent discount to the average price of GBP 808,000 it paid Stanley. Analysts were pessimistic about the price it is likely to achieve for the rest.

However CEO Harding insisted this would not be the case. “The market for betting shops is very competitive. We will get a healthy price for them,” he said. He also insisted that he was “very happy” with the price that the Tote paid.

William Hill will start converting the Stanley shops in the next few weeks and insisted that the OFT decision did not derail the company’s plans to make GBP 13 million of savings from the deal.

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UKBETTING.COM GOING FOR MOBILE
5 August 2005
Partnership with Monstermob to re-launch sportsbook

UK Betting plc, a Brit publicly listed online gambling group has unveiled plans to re-launch the Sports.co.uk site with a mobile gambling mission.

Group subsidiary TEAMtalk Media is running the project with Monstermob Group which specialises in mobile entertainment in an initiative designed to maximise mobile revenues from TEAMtalk Media’s monthly internet audience of 8.5 million users.

Monstermob will assume responsibility for direct marketing, delivery and billing of mobile sports content across TEAMtalk Media’s network of sports websites that include Football365, TEAMtalk.com, SportingLife, Planet Rugby, Rivals.net and Planet F1.

Sports fans will be offered TEAMtalk Media’s range of mobile content for SMS, MMS, WAP and 3G, complemented by Monstermob’s own sports and non-sports mobile content.

Sports.co.uk is due to launch in September.

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SWEET SMELLING POKER TRAINING
5 August 2005
Deodorant company backs education venture

When do you bluff? Should you bet on the river? What are the essential questions to ask before going All-In?

US deodorant company Degree For Men and Phil Gordon, two-time winner on the World Poker Tour and host of Bravo’s Celebrity Poker Showdown, are going to help you find these answers in a new poker boot camp venture across big cities in the USA.

Degree All-In Poker Experience is a series of six free tutorials at ESPN Zones across the country during August and September.

“In life, and in poker, you need to take calculated risks to win big,” says Gordon. “At the Degree All-In Poker Experience, poker fans will learn the skills they need to take calculated risks — whether it’s bluffing, betting or going All-In.”

Gordon will share his strategies during the 45-minute tutorials, which will be followed by a series of stations that let guests test their skills: Risk Before the Flop, Risk Calculation, Risking it All, Risking a Bluff and Risk at the River.

Guests can then cash in their correct answers for a chance to win a seat at the 2006 World Series of Poker (WSOP). The grand prize winner at each event will also nab an exclusive chance to meet with Gordon in Las Vegas prior to the 2006 WSOP.

Poker fans can test their skills and enter for a chance to win a seat at Degree Deodorant.com.

The Degree All-In Poker Experience will be held at ESPN Zones across the country.

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GOOGLE ROCKS!
5 August 2005
With 69 percent of all searches in the UK, and 58 percent in the States, this search engine dominates.

If your looking for information on the Internet, chances are your going to “google” for it – yes, the search giant’s brand has even become an adverb!

Latest search engine survey out from Hitwise has a wealth of really useful stats for the SEOP guys including this core information, based on the numbers for the four weeks up to 21 May this year.

Google’s nearest competitor in the States is Yahoo.com with 29 percent of the action, but in the UK the gap is even wider with Google’s closest opposition being MSN.co.uk on only 7.07 percent.

In Britain, Google and MSN attract the more upmarket folks, and they spend an average of 13 minutes on the site when they are searching for stuff.

Hitwise has been around since 1997 and monitors the largest assembly of Internet users – 25 million users on 500 000 sites across 160 global industries.

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BETFAIR’S MOBILE WILL BE FROM ZONE4PLAY
5 August 2005
Fourth quarter target for completion

Technology provider Zone4Play signed up market leading Betfair this week for a mobile exchange betting system to be operational by the fourth quarter 2005.

The service will be marketed to the 350,000 registered Betfair users as well as to new customers who use mobile phones as their primary exchange betting platform. Zone4Play will charge a monthly subscription fee of Betfair’s existing customers who opt for the mobile betting service. Additionally, Zone4Play will participate in a betting revenue sharing agreement for new users who use the service.

Idan Miller, Zone4Play’s Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sales said, “This agreement represents an opportunity for Zone4Play to significantly enhance its position in the multi-billion dollar mobile sports betting arena. By partnering with the world’s leading online betting exchange company, Zone4Play will now have the ability to expand its customer base.”

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GAMBLING GUIDANCE FROM THE AGA
5 August 2005
Responsible gaming TV ads scheduled

Readers in the United States may soon be seeing some hard-hitting advertisements on responsible gambling from the American Gaming Association.

The land casino Association will soon launch its first public service announcement on this important topic, which is to air during World Poker Tour tournaments as well as other gambling-related programming on the Travel Channel.

The AGA has just completed a Responsible Gaming Education Week to raise awareness in Nevada and in other states where its members do business, and the 30 second insert was introduced.

The advertisement carries a clear message: “Keep gambling what it should be … entertainment.” It features statements by gamblers against a casino backdrop and goes on to caution, “Without setting limits, it’s easy to get carried away,” and “You don’t have to take big risks to have big fun.”

TheAGA is also carrying what the advert describes as a “free guide to responsible gaming” on its site. This reminds gamblers that “the odds of winning are with the house” and that responsible gamblers play “for limited amounts of time, both in frequency and in duration.”

“Responsible gaming always has predetermined, acceptable limits for losses” and should be avoided when money for gambling is borrowed or to try and make up for prior losses, the AGA guide advises. People shouldn’t gamble if they are “feeling lonely, angry and depressed or under stress; when coping with the death of a loved one; to solve personal or family problems or to impress others,” it says.

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FREE SITE IN U.S. FROM SPORTSBOOK.COM
5 August 2005
TV adverts will target new free play site

Sportsbook.com is following a now established advertising trend of using a free play website to heighten U.S. awareness of their operations without transgressing complicated American gambling laws.

The US facing company has launched a play-for-fun sports betting site at Sportsbook.tv that offers live odds and sports information, alongside play-money casino and poker games.

Sportsbook’s ambitious plans include using the new site as a target venue for a series of TV shows currently in development. ?The model for advertising a branded poker education site and enjoying the accidental cross-sell is well proven,? Alex Czajkowski, marketing director of sportsbook, said.

The company has developed 30 minute television programs in different formats that will direct traffic to the play money site. Play-for-free sites, commonly termed ?dot nets?, have become one of the most frequently used legal marketing techniques by poker sites in the US. With no links to real money operations, these allow operators to advertise more freely within the US sector including on television.

Czajkowski said that offline advertisements were currently running in core test markets to boost viewership for the TV programs, rather than directly advertising the site itself.

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KY’S iTV POKER TO LAUNCH IN 2007
5 August2005
British TV giant awaits introduction of the new UK Gambling Act

The gambling subsidiary of Britain’s major BSkyB TV group, Skybet has revealed that it will launch the UK’s first interactive TV poker venture once the UK Gambling Act comes into force in 2007.

?The Act will permit the launch of true casino games such as poker, in addition to the fixed odds games already available on SkyBet,? the firm said in a statement.

Skybet has generated considerable profits from fixed-odds game such as roulette on its range of interactive TV channels. A spokesman said gross margin for SkyBet had increased from 8 percent to 10 percent, largely on the back of the success of its roulette and slots games.

Total SkyBet revenue for the year was GBP 261 million, a 37 percent increase on the comparable period last year.

SkyBet operates its gaming operations from Alderney, and is now one of the largest UK bookmakers without a high street presence.

In a recent senior management re-shuffle ex-managing director Nick Rust, who is also chairman of the newly formed Remote Gaming Association became Director of Gaming at BSkyB. The former commercial director, Richard Flint is now md of Skybet.

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CONFERENCE CORNER
5 August 2005
EIG speakers list shaping up

The 2005 European i-Gaming Congress and Expo (EIG) is gathering momentum with the publication of an impressive preliminary speaker’s list.

This key European online gambling conference takes place 7-9 November in glamorous Nice and sessions cover all the key challenges for the remote gaming sector, ranging from a focus on the hot areas of poker and skill gaming, to the latest legal barriers facing operators and with a particular focus this year on practical business and operational issues.

The speakers and moderators are drawn from some of the biggest online, mobile and iTV players and include:

John Barker, Partner, BDO Stoy Hayward
Miles Benham, Isle of Man Advocate, MannBenham Limited
David Briggs, Commercial Director, Ladbrokes eGaming
Tony Coles, Partner, Jeffrey Green Russell
David Conroy, Operational Performance Analyst, Betfair
Peter Cowley, Head of Interactive UK, Endemol
Malcolm Graham, Managing Director, The Ritz Club London Online
Gabriele Gresta, Deputy Chairman, Digital Magics
Wulf Hambach, Partner, Hambach & Hambach
Ben Hirsch, Head of Third Party Services, Orange
Simon Holliday, Research Partner, Global Betting && Gaming Consultants
Heather Hopkins, Senior Analyst, Hitwise
Tim Jones, Managing Partner, Freshfields
Brian McSweeney, Director Gaming && Gambling, Victoria Real
Oscar Nieboer, Managing Director, Virgin Games
Ole Pflug, Business Development Director, NDS Denmark
Richard Segal, CEO, Party Gaming
Peter Speight, Managing Director – Internet Casino, Storm International
Martin Sychold, Senior Legal Advisor, Swiss Institute of Comparative Law
Marcus Wareham, CEO, Mfuse
Micah Willbrand, Division Leader – Authentication Services, VerifyME
Andre Wilsenach, CEO, Alderney Gambling Control Commission

About the Author... Total Posts Written: 1,900
Brian Cullingworth

Brian Cullingworth

Infopowa news was a staple of Casinomeister’s news from 2000 until 2019. Brian Cullingworth was the main writer, contributor, and was one of the most knowledgeable persons I have ever known involved in the online casino industry.

We first met in January 2001 at the ICE in London where I observed him going booth to booth interviewing online casino, software, and licensing jurisdiction representatives. Brian was also heavily involved with our forum as “Jetset“, he was involved as an informal consultant to eCOGRA, the OPA, and was a player advocate who assisted countless aggrieved players with his connections to industry folks. He also published “Casino Cautions” via Infopowa news for quite a number of years. These can be found in our news archives.

His passing in February 2019 was a dark day for us. He will be forever missed.

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