Online Casino News Monthly Recap – November 2004

By Brian Cullingworth, Last updated Mar 5, 2021


26 November 2004
Move for dismissal rebutted.

It all started when the U.S. Department of Justice started sending out thinly veiled warnings (which it now terms “public service letters”) to companies carrying online gambling advertising. The letters advised these companies that carrying such advertising could be illegal.

The effect on the industry was immediate and profound, especially when Grand Jury subpoenas followed and many radio stations, publications and even important search engines backed away from what many have interpreted as a chilling intimidatory move by the U.S. authorities. Millions of dollars in advertising were lost.

Championing the industry in responding to these questionable official actions on grounds that it interfered with the freedom of speech rights enshrined in the Constitution was Casino City. The likeable President of the portal and media company, Michael Corfman is a rather studious, pleasantly mannered and very successful businessman who has shown that he has the courage and determination to take on the bureaucrats.

And he did just that, hiring a top lawyer in Pat O’Brien and applying to the courts for a declaratory judgement against the DoJ as to whether its threat of charging advertisers with aiding and abetting is consistent with the U.S. Freedom of Speech Amendment.

After some delay, the DoJ came back with what can only be described as a convoluted and circular argument seeking dismissal of the Casino City case. This week Corfman and O’Brien rebutted its claims with some confidence that either the DoJ backs off from its actions, or faces defending them before an impartial judiciary.

The Casino City memorandum is a highly detailed 28-page document exposing inconsistencies and contradictions in the DOJ’s position. According to Casino City’s memorandum, “The DOJ in a well orchestrated plan unabashedly set out to stifle the free speech of an entire sector of the advertising industry contrary to the U.S. Constitution. Now, faced with a challenge to its conduct, the DOJ is asking this court to effectively immunize it from judicial review.”

It continues “To protect itself from the harm of self-censorship, or worse yet, prosecution, Casino City seeks pre-enforcement declaratory relief from this Court … the U.S. Supreme Court and the federal circuit courts, recognizing the severity of content-based prohibitions that inhibit or chill expression, have … created a body of law that clearly allows for and recognizes First Amendment pre-enforcement challenges.”

According to Michael Corfman, “The arguments presented by the DOJ in their motion to dismiss were seriously flawed. We anticipate a prompt decision by the district court upholding our right to bring this lawsuit against the Department of Justice.” He said the memorandum of law filed by Casino City fully addresses every argument made by the DOJ. It shows Casino City has standing to bring the requested action, shows the case is ripe for judicial consideration, and shows Casino City has a valid claim for relief.

The stage is now set for an industry-significant face-off.


26 November 2004
Top accolades for the cream of the online gambling companies

Bluff Media’s Gambling Online Magazine has released the keenly anticipated results of this year’s Player’s Choice awards.

The awards, with 30 categories ranging from best casino to quickest payouts, are based on player votes which this year topped all previous records with a poll of over 35 000 voters.

Coveted top online casino spot was a dead tie between Cryptologic-powered online casinos Intercasino and Omni (but see Casino Cautions for a dark spot on the latter’s reputation) Runners up included King Neptune’s, Casino Fortune, Gaming Club, Golden Palace and, surprisingly in view of their predilection for spamming, Brandy casinos.

The hotly contested Best Online Casino group award went to Trident with its King Neptune’s, Vegas USA, Trident Lounge and Trident Poker operations.

Clearly the favourite gambling software, judging by the votes cast for it is Microgaming, which again took the lead position in this competitive category, followed by Crypto, RTG, Parlay, iGlobal and Playtech.

Best new casino was Bodog, largely unknown The Better Gambler took best new portal and top new sportsbook went to BetJamaica.

John Abbot’s popular Gone Gambling scooped the award for best portal for the fourth time, beating Casinomeister, Fairbet, Bonus Rating, Poker Pulse and Online Casino Reports to the punch. But the Aussie-owned GG played second fiddle to Casinomeister in the Watchdog category, where Bavarian-based Casinomeister was again overwhelmingly voted “Top Watchdog site.” On the sportsbook side of the business, Chris Costigan’s Sports911 took the watchdog medal.

The important category of “Top Customer Service” went to Sunny Group Support, closely chased by Intercasino, Trident group, Global-Player, Captain Cook’s and Fortune Lounge.

Best Message Board was this year won by Sports 911, leading Gone Gambling, Casinomeister, Major Wager, The Prescription and Winneronline.

With so many categories, it is difficult to cover all the awards, but readers can find them on the Gambling Online Magazine website.


26 November 2004
Customer care and professionalism the key…

The Trident group of casinos King Neptune’s, Trident Lounge and Vegas USA harvested a total of 15 quality medals in the 2004 Gambling Online Magazine (GOM) awards announced this week.

And King Neptune’s added to the haul with player-voted awards of Best Online Casino, Most Honest Casino and Top Site in the November accolades.

The GOM achievment included golds for Top Casino Group, Top Reputation for King Neptune, Top Casino Software for Microgaming, and Top Payouts, Quickest Payouts, Top Web TV and Top Progressives. Honourable mentions were also received, including one for Top Customer Support.

The Gambling Online Magazine Awards have become an industry standard and are based on player votes in various categories. This year’s competition attracted over 35 000 voters -almost double that of last year.

Trident spokesman Scott Gaines said that the management and staff were delighted with the recognition that the medals represent. “Our operational planning is based solely on what the customer wants and how best we can supply it,” he said. “Winning awards is not the main objective for us, but it sure is nice to receive these medals as an indication that we are doing meets the players’ needs.”

In acknowledging the medals and thanking players for their votes, Trident has taken a double page spread on the Gambling Online Magazine website at. The graphics introduce an amusing new character called Treg to represent the Trident group.

Further characters are being developed, and players will soon see a regal King from King Neptune’s, a curvy and glamorous blonde who will sashay out for Trident Lounge and a suave and hunky 007 type typifying Vegas USA.

Ending a busy but rewarding month Trident casinos are offering the latest new games from Microgaming. Reel Strike, a 5 reel, 15 paylines game with the added Bonus Game and Free Spins features that slot fans love, is the flagship of the new suite, which also includes four brand new bonus VPs and three other video slots in time for Festive Season entertainment.

The group is also offering special promotions to mark its success.


26 November 2004
English style pub games among thirty new offerings

Veteran gambling software company CryptoLogic has released a new array of internationally popular games with the latest version of its online casino software.

Exciting new card and slot game favourites have been rolled out in the sixth version of the company’s software, licensed through its subsidiary, WagerLogic Ltd. These recent choices bring to over 30 the number of new casino games that the company has introduced in 2004. “The market drives our products, and then our products drive the market,” said Lewis Rose, CryptoLogic’s president and chief executive officer. “CryptoLogic has now brought a United Kingdom pub tradition — the Fruit Machine, known as ‘Fruities’ — to the Internet for the first time ever. In the online casino business, it is about smart, market-oriented innovations that give players worldwide the games they want. We have done that in spades this year with a flow of new casino products, which are proving successful for our customers.”

CryptoLogic has enjoyed significant revenue growth from the thriving United Kingdom market, and some of its recently developed games are specifically designed to strengthen the product’s appeal to British players. The new Fruit Machines — Fruit Fight and Super Sideshow — recreate the entertaining experience of these games found in pubs and take-away restaurants, and are hugely popular throughout the United Kingdom.

WagerLogic’s Version 6 software also includes great classics as online casino table choices: Casino Solitaire and Casino War. Two variants of Blackjack complement the expanded casino suite with the addition of Pontoon, a British version of this well-liked card game, and Super Fun 21, a downtown Las Vegas favourite.

These new WagerLogic games are available at, and, with others to follow.


26 November 2004
Marketing push imminent

The British publication NetImperative reported this week that, an online casino indirectly owned by one of the Vegas land-based giants is about to launch a serious marketing campaign.

PlayMGMMirage has been keeping a low profile, and it’s parent is the only major Vegas-based casino company left with internet betting operations.

But the times they are a-changing, it would appear and the company this week announced that its online operation is about to begin its first major marketing campaign. It has hired new media advertising guru James Hilton to manage its marketing presence, including affiliate search marketing, online PR, and viral campaigns, all of which will be focused on the United Kingdom.

If this online casino venture prospers, it will be in a stronger position to target new international markets. This is important since MGM Mirage has in the past taken the view that the US will, in the long-term, open up its virtual borders.


26 November 2004
Sporting Options bail-out takes a new turn

In our reports last week we covered the spectacular failure of the British betting exchange Sporting Options, leaving thousands of players unpaid as a result of unsecured player deposits…GBP 4 million of funds should have been secure in clients? accounts, but the administrators for the crippled betting exchange discovered a mere GBP 100,000.

The dominant force in the betting exchange sector, Betfair was quick to offer a lifeboat to the players, but on conditions that did not appeal to everyone. Although professing concern at portraying a good industry image in making the offer, there is little doubt that the opportunity to add something like five and a half thousand active and qualified gamblers was factor in Betfair’s bail-out strategy.

This week saw an interesting development…a rival exchange pitched up with their own bail-out offer to Sporting Options players. has announced that all Sporting Options customers opening an IBetX account will receive GBP 1,500 in credit or 25 percent of their outstanding balance, whichever is the lowest. This improves on Betfair’s offer.

Meanwhile the UK press has reported that the biggest creditor at Sporting Options was one of the company?s founders, Kevin Griffiths, who is apparently owed over GBP 1 million. He is understood to have injected GBP 80,000 into the troubled betting exchange just weeks before administrators were called in to close it down.


26 November 2004
New from Gambling Federation
Latest Gambling Federation operation is Mickeys Club managed by one Mickey McLennan. It has the standard if unimaginative GF design layout with 15 language versions and full Support via GF. The GF proprietary software offers 70 download games of average quality and there is a range of bonuses available to players new and established. Wagering can be done in dollars or Euros. Firepay, Neteller, Citadel, Moneybookers, PPATM, ECO, Paysafe and Moneygram are all available. Various bonuses are offered, but read those T&Cs carefully first.

Poker for SBG?
Poker players, watch out for a new site currently in Beta test mode but due for launch mid-December. SBG Global is the muscle behind the new poker room branded Poker using Dobrosoft download software. Network affiliation has yet to be decided.

The professional looking site offers Texas Hold Em, Omaha, Omaha Hi Lo, 7 Card Stud and Seven Card Hi Lo in real and fun play. There is multi table and sit ‘n go technology, limited financial options and a slew of diverse bonuses starting with a signup of 110 percent maxed at $500. Other bonuses cover bad beat and high hand offers. A tourney program interacting with the big WSOP and WPT events is promised but not yet published.

Possible WSOP website.
Rumours were rife this week that a team comprising Harrahs Interactive and gambling software provider Wagerworks is planning to launch a World Series Of Poker web site, but we were unable to obtain confirmation or denial from tight-lipped executives.



26 November 2004
From the (i)X-files
Players tempted by the heavy bonusing available at newcomer Zex will find on doing a little research that gambling here might not be the smartest move they could make. This is a well executed but dangerous site, being powered by no download software from iX Entertainment / Start-Your-Casino, which openly promise potential casino clients that they can manipulate the product to the casinos advantage. The software ID on the landing page claims the site is powered by Casino Fat Cat, another of the iX operations, along with Club-Blackjack, iX Casino, Casino Du Web and Joker-Club. A good range of financial options is available – through iX Entertainment Corporation’s XL-Pay. It’s all registered in Panama City. Other suspicious elements on the site include nominating PayPal as a payment option, and a statement that “Payouts Reviewed By Independent Auditors”…on a dead button. Support is available only between 12h30 and 02h30 but without identifying the timezone. This is a good one to miss despite a matchplay signup maxed at $500 with 25 percent bonuses on all re-ups, maxed at $100 and with a x10 WT.

Nasty surprise
We’ve always thought of Cryptologic-powered Omni as the epitome of honest, professional casino conduct, but that perception is changing as a result of a three week old thread at leading forum Winneronline and other portals. Many players are posting complaints of bad bonus treatment at the online casino, which is part of the Peak Entertainment group. One player after another, many well known genuine gamblers have been posting similar experiences that involve Omni enticing them with specific bonus offers, only to declare them bonus abusers when they win…and refusing to pay winnings and bonuses. Poor communication with complaining players seems to be exacerbating an already bad situation.

Winneronline is owned by Cryptologic, so in addition to the complaints made to the casino direct, and even emails to the Cryptologic Head Office one could reasonably assume that the owners know about this. Yet there has been no communication, fostering continued posts and further erosion of what was formally a great reputation.

Not from the Land Downunder
Rumours that (Ocean Treasure Casino) and are new additions to the Warren Cloud online casino group have been denied by Warren. “We had a rogue affiliate trying to punt these casinos,” he said. “We are in no way affiliated however all bets and deposits will be honoured.”


26 November 2004
Lucky player gets $328 000 on Shopping Spree progressive.

Warren Cloud’s Cleopatra Casino claimed the biggest win at a RTG casino yet this week when a player hit a $328,669.77 jackpot on the Shopping Spree Progressive.

Mary T from Hartington, Nebraska joined Cleopatras in July this year. She was offered an immediate cash payout on her big win, but opted on tax advice to keep the money in her account and take $5 000 a week.


26 November 2004
Brit portal company posts 50 percent growth in turnover, 57 percent in profits

Gaming Corporation CEO Justin Drummond had reason to crow this week in releasing his portal company’s results for the year ended September 30, 2004.

Highlights included a 50 percent growth in turnover to GBP sterling 13 million (2003: GBP 8.6 million) yielding a 57 percent growth in gross profit, which more than doubled in the second half of the year. Cash balances of a million pounds sterling are currently held.

Gaming Corp owns the UK’s number 1 casino portal, and the rapidly growing Eyeconomy Limited.

In September 2004 was ranked the no. 1 casino portal and 6th most visited gambling site in the UK and received over 1 million unique visitors giving 15 million page views.

Commenting on the results, Drummond said: “Whilst these results show a marked improvement in all aspects of our business, we look forward to an even greater performance in the coming year and the Board is confident that forthcoming regulatory changes in the UK will further enhance the Group’s prospects.”

“The acquisition of Eyeconomy in the second half of the year has proven to be a great success, enabling the Group to accelerate the growth of its gaming operations and portal.”


26 November 2004
Big business at Paradise Poker

The recent purchase of Paradise Poker by received wide media coverage, but a deeper look into the arithmetic of this deal gives a glimpse of the enormous potential of these two companies.

Paradise, formerly the top dog in online poker is currently accepted as the third largest online poker operator worldwide, and Sportingbet paid US$ 193 million in cash, raised through a US$ 104 million loan through Barclays, and US$ 89 million from an issue of stock. 56.7 million Sportingbet shares were also agreed as part of the buying price.

Depending on PP’s performance over the next three years, up to a further US $ 50 million could be paid. If PP generates between $126.6 million and $150 million in profits over the next three years this payment comes into effect. If 3 year profits exceed $150 million, a bonus of 10 percent of the excess profit will be due.

IT integration is seen as the main problem and will take four months, starting in the US. The aim is to have all facilities in the Sportingbet group accessible through one client account.

Staff and management will be taken over in toto and in their current positions at common locations in Costa Rica, London and Vancouver, because cultural values of the two companies are seen as compatible.

Sportingbet estimate the online poker market is currently worth around US $ 1.5 billion per annum and rising, based on daily rake. The dominant market is the US with up to 80 million players, although Europe is showing good growth.

PP has 720 000 registered poker players, almost 100 000 of them active. Sportingbet has 1.2 million gamblers upwards – mainly sportsbook bettors. The synergy of cross marketing is believed to be considerable and major marketing investment is to be made with the objective of building a wider geographical base for PP.

There has been a significant increase in rake since December 2003, when multi-table tournaments were introduced, and a further growth surge has been apparent since January 2004. September 04 rake and tournament fee income reached $7 million a month, and with more concentrated planning and marketing investment this is expected to increase.

Overall rake and tournament fees in the seven months to end July 2004 stood at $37.2 million yielding a pre-tax profit of $21.3 million for the period. By way of comparison, the whole of 2003 produced $44.1 million giving a pre-tax profit of $24.6 million.


26 November 2004
And this one has age and ID verification systems, too

Another mobile gambling contender arrived on the scene this week in the shape of Arabian Nights Mobile powered by a Brit company with the interesting name MobVision.

MobVision has assured us that there is no connection with Arabian Nights Casino and its sister Eurovegas, both powered by Cryptologic.

The beauty of Arabian Nights Mobile is that not only are the games fast and fun, but they are backed by advanced age and ID verification systems to stop underage play and fraud. Combine this with the age verification methods employed by the cell phone networks, and MobVision are confident that their games will be used only by adults.

The company claims thhat this is only the start of MobVision’s mobile gaming services. The first 4 games to go live include Slots, Poker, BlackJack, and Hi-Lo. Virtual Horse Racing, Scratch Cards, Betting, Roulette, and others will soon follow.

A company spokesman said that MobWin can offer the right partner a fully licensed and UK operated Mobile Casino to promote to their users. “MobVision is particularly keen to attract large UK/European affiliates and also large brands who want their own white label branded mobile casino – with their own exclusive games,” he said.


26 November 2004
Celeb Poker aims for Britain with tourneys.

Celeb Poker is targeting the UK poker market with a tournament….and players could find themselves facing the infamous ex-rogue money trader Nick Leeson. is to host a star studded poker tournament at Southend on England?s South Coast this weekend. The UK celebs lined up for the Turbo No Limit Tourney include soccer stars, Paul Ince, Kenny Miller, Teddy Sheringham, Matthew Etherington, Simon Davies, with Scott Robinson, Chris Brooks, Nick Leeson and many more.

The GBP 1000 + 50 buy-in tournament, will take place at the Rendezvous casino this Sunday (28th November) to celebrate the launch of new Player Room software. The cutting-edge new package allows poker fans to play their favourite celebrities at games such as limit, no limit, pot limit poker, and multi table tournaments, with up to 10,000 players online at any one time and tournaments every hour of every day. It is also one of the few sites that enables Mac users to play, as well as Windows and UNIX.

?Our new software offers fantastic graphics with quick game play to ensure that the action and efficiency of our games is the best on the Internet, said David Donovan, CEO of CelebPoker. ?Key differences over other software is that players have the choice of downloading the software or playing our non-downloadable version which allows people to play at the office, at an internet caf?, in fact anywhere that has an internet connection.?


26 November 2004 behind multi-millions tournament

Another expensive land-based poker tournament for online operators to sponsor players was announced this week.

The World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) has entered the top ranks of non-web poker tournaments by offering the highest prizes and attracting the most players. This year?s event was attended by the second-largest number of players (10,085) and awarded the sixth-highest prize pool ($6,002,300), meaning the championship, hosted by, competes with the biggest television tournaments.

Three of the four major poker events with the largest number of entrants this year were WCOOP tourneys. Only the main event of the World Series of Poker attracted more players.


26 November 2004
From the bizarre to the ridiculous…but it grabs the headlines.

One wag coined the phrase “Cheez Louise” on reading about the latest trip into the marketing unknown by Golden Palace Casino – an unlikely combination of gambling and spirituality in which the online casino bid $28 000 for a decade-old, only bitten once grilled cheese sandwich purportedly bearing an image of the Virgin Mary.

The antique snack was viewed by thousands during its ten year tenure as a good luck talisman for the former owner, and apparently the GP plan is to tour the petrified sarmie around the country for charity.

Company executives said they were willing to spend “as much as it took” to own the 10-year-old half-sandwich with a bite out of it. The deal certainly made the news pages, which seems to be the main objective of the high profile gambling site.


26 November 2004
Isle of Man may be relaxing the rules…

Reports in the Isle of Man media this week indicated that useful developments may be about to take place on the licensing jurisdiction, situated half way between England and Ireland in the Irish Sea. The Isle of Man Today revealed that gambling authorities are discussing removing the restrictions on IOM-licensed casinos offering gaming to US players. Specifically that the Isle of Man may allow its licensed internet gambling operations to accept wagers from the American market.

Such a move could prove a financial fillip for the island?s struggling iGaming sector, and the Council of Ministers is due to meet soon to discuss the matter and consider implementing this important change in policy.

The proposal comes from the Department of Trade and Industry in an assessment to the Council that presented the arguments for and against changing the rules.

The newspaper reports that its sources are confident that the Manx government is likely to rule in favour of allowing individual companies to decide for themselves whether or not to accept US bets. The current legislation is a major factor in dissuading new iGaming business from setting up on the island, and the potential tax revenue from bringing in top operators in the world?s largest online gambling market would be tempting.


26 November 2004
Zone4Play launches casino games for mobile ‘phones

New mobile ‘phone based casino games for the Hutchison 3G network in the United Kingdom were launched this week.

The games come from Zone4Play, which has frequently been in the news pages with new products based on its multi-platform interactive game applications and solutions technology, and the new games are play-for-real, fixed-odds casino applications.

The launch follows collaboration between Zone4Play, DITG (Digital Interactive Television Group) through its wholly owned subsidiary Avago, and Hutchison 3G.

The new service is one of the first mobile fixed-odds services in the UK. and DITG, under an agreement with Hutchison 3G, will have Zone4Play providing Avago-branded play-for-fun games as well as fixed-odd real gaming solutions.

Hutchison 3G is a joint venture of Hutchison Whampoa, NTT DoCoMo (Japan) and KPN Mobile (Holland). It is one of the five major mobile operators licensed by the UK Government in May 2000 to run “third generation” (3G) mobile phone services.

The “Fixed-odds Games by Avago” were developed by Zone4Play and run by DITG, that also operates the successful Avago channel on Sky (channel 181). Zone4Play has been working with DITG for the past 18 months to extend its multi-platform experience and expertise to provide fixed odds and play-for-fun casino games leveraging the Avago brand on both TV and Mobile.

Damian Cope, Managing Director, DITG Gaming, said: “We are delighted to be launching this service on 3 in conjunction with Zone4Play, and are convinced that mobile gambling revenues will grow strongly over the next few years. We are confident that both existing and future Avago customers will enjoy the ability to play games via their mobile handsets.”


26 November 2004
Six figure spending on glossies

Players will be seeing a lot more Victor Chandler Poker advertising in the near future following a six figure deal with Dennis Publishing this week.

The main vehicles will be men?s print magazine Maxim and gambling glossy Inside Edge that will be used in a cross promotion deal with Victor Chandler Poker. The agreement will see Maxim hosting the Maxim King of Poker Tournament in London next June (2005).

Maxim is to offer a poker supplement featuring poker tuition and advice, and readers will be urged to enter a multi-table online tournament every week from January to June 2005. The aggregate winners of this series will qualify for a Grand Final tournament event.

Maxim has also promised weekly and monthly prizes leading up to the ultimate prize, which is to be crowned Maxim’s King of Poker.


26 November 2004
Share price decline will not be popular

Betonsports investors have had to bite the bullet recently as the company, which floated on the UK stock market earlier this year, has experienced a sliding share price.

Following a major profit warning, the share went into a scary 51 per cent slump. Floated at 140p, it declined rapidly to 79p. Company officials blamed a tougher U.S. Administration approach to gambling…the USA is a key market for the company, which has been high-profile in lobbying for U.S. regulation rather than bans.

The activities of the U.S. Department of Justice (see our lead story in this InfoPowa Weekly bulletin) have caused radio stations and other advertising media to cancel about $110 million worth of advertising campaigns during the football season.

Betonsports additionally suffered a big hit of $3 million on NFL games as 12 out of 14 matches went against the book.


26 November 2004
Surprising endorsement from responsible gambling body

Industry observers were this week surprised at the extent to which Gamcare official Michael Smeaton went in applauding a new mobile operator without detailing what is extraordinary about its underage player precautions.

In a press release, Gamcare endorsed mobile operator Million-2-1?s new set of Java based fixed-odds games and praised the company for their efforts in conforming to responsible gambling guidelines.

Million-2-1?s new additions to the portfolio, Dice and a Hi-Lo card game, are soon to be followed by Horse Racing and Lucky Balls, all of which employ strict but unspecified age verification technology and have capped play limits in the play for money versions.

Smeaton, said: ?Million-2-1 is adopting a number of innovations in its new java games. By setting fixed play limits, they are proactively helping to prevent the escalation of addictive gambling among adults. We will also be working closely with Million-2-1 to monitor how players respond to more stringent age verification checking, an area where we are always looking to improve standards.?

In a more commercial quote, Scott Davies, Head of Games at Million-2-1 added: ?According to analysts, java-based gambling will reach GBP 4 billion by 2008, outstripping the market for mobile lottery tickets and betting. But this growth will only happen if java games have appeal beyond hardcore games. Our games are designed to have universal appeal and reassure the ?fun? end of the market.?


26 November 2004
New opportunity for poker players to travel

North American online poker players have a new tournament that could send them to gambling’s mecca for a mere dollar buy-in.

That dollar could see a lucky player off to Las Vegas on an expense paid junket for two, courtesy of Sporting Bet USA. Starting immediately, and every night until December 18, is celebrating the launch of its new online poker room by hosting these exclusive “Vegas for a Buck” satellite tournaments.

The nightly tournaments run through December 18, 2004 at 10 PM EST. Winners will advance to the final event held on the 19th of December at 10 PM (EST). In addition to the grand prize package, runners-up will be awarded cash prizes.

The Grand Prize winner will spend an expenses paid weekend gambling with a friend at the fabulous Rio Hotel, the new home of the World Series of Poker, with a $1,000 cash wallet. Besides three nights in a suite at the Rio, the prize package includes flights for two from anywhere within the continental United States.

Vegas for a Buck satellite tournaments run on the following sites:, and Players


26 November 2004
Flagship “Reel Strike” offers new free spin opportunities

Arguably online gambling’s most prolific games provider, Microgaming this week launched eight new online games with wide appeal in time for the 2004 festive season.

The games cover video poker and a range of slots, with widely differing themes relevant to both the season and specific player demographics.

Flagship of the new offerings is Reel Strike, a 5 reel, 15 paylines game with the added Bonus Game and Free Spins features that slot fans love, backed by top quality graphics, intuitive game flow and intense sound effects that totally enhance the gaming experience. The zip and adrenalin-pumping thrill of blue water game fishing is the theme, carried through imaginative icons.

Innovative design has gone into the bonusing advantages on Reel Strike. When the right number of racing propeller Scatters appear, players can win up to six free spins, improving their overall chances. Those free spins can in turn be dramatically multiplied by picking one of six boat icons on a following interactive screen. The result is a dynamic and highly entertaining game with good win potential.

Video Poker fans who want fast and smooth gameplay and a comfortably familiar “feel” to the game will be more than pleased with Bonus Video Poker. Developed with player preferences in mind, this new single deck, 52 card game has generous pay tables and clean, straightforward graphics and speed …all on the player-friendly Viper software platform.

Two other variants of this game, Double Bonus Video Poker and Double Double Bonus Video Poker are also being introduced and as the titles suggest carry larger rewards.

There’s a definite feminine flair around the new Ladies Night video slot, a 5 reel, 9 payline game with a feature-rich format closely resembling the hugely popular Thunderstruck game. But the theme here has been designed especially with the important female gambler in mind, compatible with the excitement generated by the impressive free spins, scatters and gamble opportunities within the game. The bright and breezy graphics and sound effects include colourful purses, perfume, lipstick and cocktails….and even hunky Chipendale-style cocktail waiters.

Large numbers of online gamblers continue to favour the 3 reel, 1 payline slot format over the more complex multi-line video slots, and to meet this demand Microgaming has launched an up-to-the-minute version of this popular style of slot game humourously branded Bar Bar Blacksheep. The theme is based on the traditional nursery rhyme familiar to most players, and this has been amusingly presented with the added attraction of an innovative x 3 Wild multiplier symbol.

The top jackpot on Bar Bar Blacksheep is achieved when the name of the game is graphically presented on the single payline – for instance Bar, another Bar and the ‘Wild’ sheep’s face symbol as a combination.

Just in time for Christmas is Ho Ho Ho, an advanced new video slot that has a 5 reel, 15 payline structure with a feature-rich format reminiscent of Thunderstruck. 3 or more Christmas package icons trigger the thrilling Scatter bonus with a massive 20 free spins where all wins are doubled. And within those freebies players can win another series of free spins, any one of which could deliver a serious present.

Another opportunity to score is the Gamble feature, where the player chooses either the colour or the suit of the card – guess correctly and the win is doubled. The Christmas spirit is very obvious in this game, where warm and familiar icons such as Christmas trees and puddings, egg nog, candy, turkey and of course sleighs and reindeer abound, each with its own gift.

The latest arrival in Microgaming’s popular 10 hand Power Poker range of outstanding Video Poker games is Double Joker. Winnings of up to 100 000 credits are possible using a gambling suite that enables VP fans to play ten hands at once, with a different 54 card pack for each hand.

This new game features both Wild Cards and Gamble capability, so there’s plenty of flexibility and players can wager between 1 to 5 coins per hand, or up to fifty coins at a time in denominations ranging from as little as a cent to two dollars. On max bet a top payout of 100 000 is achievable, and even the second highest payout can reach 60 000 credits.

In common with all new games from Microgaming, the Viper technology platform is used throughout, giving the player a comprehensive range of assists and analysis tools.


19 November 2004
VIP Poker enters the market

Established sportsbook and online casino group VIP Management Services launched a new online poker room branded this week. Operated by United Poker Network, this cardroom allows all players from VIP’s flagship sites and to experience live, real money online poker with players from all over the world.

“UPN has done a fantastic job in delivering us this room, and the initial feedback from all our players has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Alistair Assheton, Managing Director of VIP.

Online poker is growing at a huge rate; according to independent studies, the industry is growing at a startling 10 percent per month. is built on brand new software architecture, developed by the team of professionals at AceKicker’s design is based upon the operational experience of the longest running online cardroom in the world.

CEO Randy Blumer said, “Our online poker solution is designed to meet the demands of the industry’s most reputable and respected gaming organizations. We share VIPpoker’s core values of honesty and integrity and are proud to be selected as their online poker provider.”

The cardroom will be extensively marketed in all the regions where VIP operates, including its European division which recently obtained a UK bookmaker’s permit, allowing it to operate a sports betting business from Great Britain.

“Obtaining our UK bookmaker’s permit is a natural next step for us in seeking global approval for our products,” commented Assheton. “We are committed to regulation of Internet gambling, and are also involved in the process of evolving the legislation in our home jurisdiction of Curacao in the Netherlands Antilles.”

The company was founded in 1997 and has grown into an international operation with 150 employees in 3 countries. Licensed in both the UK and Netherlands Antilles, the group recently appeared on the “Power 25” list of the 25 most influential global online gaming operators; published by eGaming Review. The company operates 9 distinct gaming brands and currently has turnover in excess of $750 million per year with strong growth.


19 November 2004
Five years on, and a “winning system” is yet to be found

“Infallible” betting systems are two-a-penny on the Internet gambling scene and few experienced gamblers have too much belief in these ” guaranteed winning” procedures.

Respected gaming expert Michael Shackleford aka The Wizard of Odds has had a challenge out there for five years or more for anyone to prove that their system works on his billion hand high speed simulator.

It remains unbeaten despite his generous bet that he’ll pay $20 000 against the challenger’s $2 000.

The challenge is exceptionally generous and open, too. Various gambling tactics can be negotiated in a legal agreement prior to the test and The Wiz even offers an independent source code inspection on his simulator if the challenger doubts its integrity.

In a recent response a gambler named Daniel Rainsong presented a “procedure” with such confidence that he suggested the stakes be doubled. Terms were debated back and forth and carefully written in a notarized contract. Half of The Wiz’s $40,000 and all of Mr. Rainsong’s funds were placed in the hands of a third party arbitrator, a professional card counter with a degree in statistics from U.C. Berkeley.

The Wizard reveals all the details of the challenge and the Rainsong affair on his site at

He reveals that Rainsong’s “procedure” is not a card counting strategy and deck penetration does not affect it. It also can be easily played on any blackjack game and requires no special skill. Mr. Rainsong says it is based on recent research in the area of genetics and has shown a profit of $8215 over 33,000 hands of actual casino play with a starting bet of $1.

Long story short, the 14 hours required to run a billion hand simulation was hardly necessary. The results after ten million hands made it clear that Rainsong’s procedure was not going to prevail, and like the great sportsman he is he paid up.

The challenge is still available for those with true confidence in their systems, and the detailed story on the Wizard’s site makes for fascinating reading for players and “systems sellers” alike.


19 November 2004
But watch this space!

There were interesting developments this week concerning the successful and popular RTG-powered online casino groups Nostalgia and Phoenician. Rumours circulated that Dean Mitchell, the very “hands on” and professional general manager was about to leave.

Mitchell has become a popular online figure due to his willingness to interact with players in the casinos and on the message boards, and the faster than average payout capability at his casinos appealed to many players.

He has just confirmed these rumours with the following statement:

QUOTE: This is correct i have decided to move on, i simply just have too many things on and i need to spend more time with my family so i have had to let a few things go. The business ( phoenician and nostalgia ) is in great shape and will continue to go from strength to strength i was only a very small part of a big team. I am not the sort of person who can take a passive role in a business so a full exit is the most appropriate course of action for me to take.Someone else will shortly file the gap i will leave behind.

It has certainly been an enjoyable 12 months in this industry and it has been a pleasure dealing with all players and affiliates alike , it has been a great learning curve for me. I will continue to stay in touch with the industry and will still particpate in forum discussions for recreation and as a player ( with a new ID ) . UNQUOTE

n a later email, Mitchell reveals that his business partner has taken over his interests and that he has no further involvement with the business. “This is a completely amicable arrangement (as my business partner is also my closest friend )and the Phoenician and nostalgia Casinos will continue to go from strength to strength ,” he says. “The group will remain a very strong and secure group to deal with as i think it has proven to be over the last 12 months. And looking ahead i am sure i will help them with things from time to time.”

The final sentence suggests to us that we have definitely not seen the last of Mitchell – watch this space for the further developments we feel sure will take place!


19 November 2004
32 Red’s CEO explains

Following our InfoPowa story last week on 32 Red Casino’s reversal of its “no US players” policy, CEO Ed Ware this week published the following rationale for the welcome change:

“With regards our return to America, I may be in danger of going over old ground now, but a lot has happened in the past few months, all related to our recent initiative. I am going to keep it brief but at the top of the list we considered the following

-The failure of more attempts to stop US citizens conducting online gaming transactions
-The UK progressing regulations for online gaming with no US player exclusions
-The success Antigua has had in relation to challenging the US authorities’ stance against gaming operators based on the island”

Judging by message board comments this week, US players have been visiting the site in numbers.


19 November 2004
More detail on $25 million Canadian litigation

More detail on the Bingoworx litigation that surfaced last week is now available. The Canadian media reports that online casino operator BingoWorkz names John Carbone, Daniel Kershaw, Gateway Financial Services, Gamewave Solutions and TGG Investments in a $25 million Toronto lawsuit.

The former officers of Costa Rica-based e-gaming company BingoWorkz filed a charge against Toronto-area businessmen and their organizations in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.

The company accuses John Carbone, Daniel Kershaw, Gateway Financial Services Ltd (GFSL), Gamewave Solutions Ltd and TGG Investments Inc of using illegal threats and economic pressure to gain control of their BingoWorkz business, and then unlawfully firing them less than one year later.

The defendants now face charges of fraud, conspiracy, breach of fiduciary duties and breach of contract.

The focus of the case is reported to be the controversial merger in August 2002 between BingoWorkz and gaming software developer Gamewave Solutions that is registered in the Turks Caicos Islands but operates out of Toronto. Together, the companies formed a joint venture called TGG Investments.

At that time BingoWorkz was a client Gateway Financial Services (GFSL), which processes hundreds of millions of dollars in deposits on behalf of online gamblers. According to BingoWorkz, the senior officer of GFSL John Carbone, who was also an officer of Gamewave, used his position to make threats and exert unlawful pressure on BingoWorkz in forcing through the merger with Gamewave Solutions.

Carbone appointed himself CEO of Toronto-based TGG Investments Inc. Using its Turks and Caicos registration, it is alleged that the company conducted management, accounting, and operational functions out from Toronto in an attempt to circumvent Section 202 (1) of the Canadian Criminal Code that prohibits operating unlicensed or unlawful gambling activities from a Canadian jurisdiction.


19 November 2004
Three managed casinos now officially part of the group

The major online casino group Fortune Lounge has announced an expansion to nine casinos with the addition of Desert Dollar, Vegas Towers and Havana Club. The fast growing group has paid out more than $27 million in progressive jackpots ($15,000 per day), and will leverage its size to provide larger jackpots and more winnings.

The company?s casinos are currently offering a 300 percent sign-up bonus to new players for a limited time period. The network promotion also recently offered the popular Vegas Road Trip in which $200,000 in prizes (including a new Ford Mustang) were given away.

The new additions become part of the overall FL loyalty and affiliate programs and offer a substantial range of high quality download and Flash technology games.


19 November 2004
Appeal a certainty

It didn’t take long for the United States to react to last week’s ruling by the WTO that the Americans have no right to ban cross border gambling on the Internet.

According to the Australian Financial Times, U.S. officials dismissed as “deeply flawed” the World Trade Organisation decision and said the federal government would appeal, that the decision set a new precedent for judicial activism at the WTO and could involve the 148-nation trade body in domestic issues over laws affecting moral issues such as gambling and prostitution.

The Administration “fundamentally rejects” the ruling that countries don’t have an explicit right to limit services affecting public morals, a senior US trade official said. The official added that even if the ruling was upheld, it would not force any change in U.S. federal or state gambling rules.

The case has attracted widespread mainstream media coverage and interest around the world, because it is the first time that the WTO has taken up a dispute concerning internet commerce.

The WTO ruling last week favoured the tiny Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda in its fight against the US over a 43-year-old law banning gambling payments across state lines. Antigua argued that the law violated a 1995 WTO agreement meant to open up parts of other countries’ service sectors.

At most, Antigua would be allowed to impose punitive tariffs on US exports. Antigua claims the industry employs about 3000 people, but no figures exist on the amount of online gambling online that flows through the islands.

Antigua argued that the Clinton administration did not list online gambling as an area it wanted exempted from the 1995 WTO services agreement. US officials say that at the time, such gambling posed no threat. US trade officials were particularly alarmed over parts of the WTO ruling that asserted member states had to consult other countries before modifying laws that affect public morals.


19 November 2004
Bluff hits WalMart
The editor of the brand new Bluff Media group, Michael Caselli had great news for us this week. The maiden issue of Bluff Magazine is to be carried by the vast Walmart chain with an initial order in excess of 50 000 copies – a remarkable achievement so close on the heels of the companys launch. Get a copy of the magazine if you can – it has excellent content.

8 000 players on-site claimed
New poker room arrival Hollywood conducted a clever publicity campaign in the run-up to its recent launch, and it appears to have paid dividends with reports of 8 000 players on-site soon after the debut.

Although initially coy about the software in use, it has now been established that this is from the respected Scandinavian group Poker Room, which has a rapidly growing reputation and a network to match.

Some of Hollywood’s top stars and professional poker players attended the virtual software premiere at the launch party last week. Starting this week James Woods and Vince Van Patten will be online exclusively playing real money games against poker players everywhere, and there are hints that promos may include a chance to attend an exclusive Hollywood Oscars party!

The new online poker software features stunning graphics, real-time player chats and interaction, fast action and advanced security features — all without having to download any software.

The games suite includesTexas Hold’em, Omaha, Omaha Hi/Lo, 7-Card Stud and 7-Card Stud Hi/Lo. With the reportedly strong funding, the ability to play multiple tables at one time, advanced software, daily, weekly and monthly player point promotions, multi-table tournaments, tutorials and Celebrity Bounties, it looks as if this one is here to stay.

Under new management
Winners Playground and Grand Royal Casino have been at the centre of controversy for their treatment of players in the past, but that could be about to change, and judging by the current actions of a new management it’s already happening, with aggrieved players receiving welcome payment surprises.

A new management team headed by David Powel took Grand Royal Casino in hand on September 15th and very recently Winners’ Playground as well. Powel emphasised that only the management team and certain staff members have been replaced and the owners remain the same.

Apparently the historical disputes were the responsibility of the former managers, as the owners were not hands on. This has now changed, and players are being supplied with a dispute email address that is only accessible by the owners and not by the management staff. Players can now email the owners directly if they feel that the casino management did not properly address any issue they may have had.

Both Grand Royal Casino and Winners’ Playground will stay on RTG software, Powel says. Both sites have been re-launched with a new look to go hand-in-hand with the new management and new management approach.

“We realize that the only way to restore the image of the casinos will be to review past disputes and resolve them. We have started this process and have paid a number of players that had winnings due to them. Players that may have had a dispute with Winners’ Playground or Grand Royal Casino are welcome to email me ( and we will investigate the matter,” says Powel.

Rifkins are back.
Watch for fireworks in the betting exchange field. This is an impressive partnership between the Vienna listed public group Bet and Win and a name that Internet gambling veterans will immediately recognise…Andrew Rifkin, one of the founders of the massively successful Cryptologic.

Working through his company Columbia Exchange Systems, it looks as if Rifkin has once again identified a sure thing and developed the software to make it fly. It is a pretty formidable partnership which is looking for quick growth through partnerships and affiliates in the P2P sector with Europe as the immediate target but a wide horizon of opportunities in the future.

Bet and Win has a current value of some Euro 350million and huge expertise in the European markets. The fireworks should be intense over the next twelve months when much of this activity will take place, because this sector is predicted to be worth 10 to 13 billion Euro in turnover, yielding commissions of 100 to 130 million Euro to the agile and good. The UK market last year alone enjoyed a turnover on horse racing action of some GPB 4.2 billion. Out of the frontline

Readers may remember the slow-pay shenanigans and bizarre behaviour of the casino manager Wade Reese over at recently. It now appears that the owner has stepped in to restore some sanity, approaching leading portals to set things to rights and communicating with aggrieved players.

Using the name Carlos Miranda the owner has wisely relegated Wade to the backroom and is himself arranging payment on outstanding debts. Miranda reportedly appears to be on the up-and-up and has already paid several instalments through Neteller.

As always, time will be the judge of his integrity.


19 November 2004
Too much client email
You would expect a household brand like Littlewoods to be one of the aces when it comes to customer care, but that was not the experience of a player this week.

Littlewoods emailed him a bonus offer, which he accepted and deposited on. No bonus. Thinking that this was a glitch he queried the situation. No response. So he hammered away at the Support and Management addresses a few more times. Silence…and still no bonus.

Deciding to go public with this extraordinary behaviour from a big brand, he sent a final email. Silence again. Good to his word, he went public with the issue and finally managed to prise the following *explanation* from Littlewoods:

Quote: Hello and thank you for contacting the Littlewoods Poker Support team. I am sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Unfortunately we are having a backlog on emails, so if you require an instant response, I would recommend you to call us at the number provided below. Unquote

Ignoring customer emails for days because you have a backlog? Someone needs a refresher in Customer Care 101 it appears.

The week saw an extraordinary example of sheer plagiarism in Affiliate-land when the owner of discovered that his entire site had been shamelessly copied at with links leading to

We’re not talking a little content here – the whole site had been copied across. Understandably irate, the owner was soon hot on the trail of the plagiarists, who had an almost insoucient response on being challenged, with an off-hand “sorry” and the dubious explanation that “…this(and a few other domains) was designed for me by an other person” is an anonymous registration by proxy, but is owned by:

Liliana Cebotari
str. Sprincenoaia 1/1
Chisinau, MD2028

There was no response to our emails as we went to press.


19 November 2004
But don’t depend on the guarantee!

Want to become a tennis star, a blackjack expert, a slots champion, a witch or maybe a guitar player? Perhaps you’re looking for a quirky apartment?

If so, Giancarlo Capuccio is your man, it seems. For months this tireless salesman has been trawling the Internet looking for trusting folks willing to cough up $47 for one of his useless *e-book* guides.

With a glib line in salespeak, backed by a supposedly ironclad guarantee, Capuccio is an expert in everything. Here’s a typical example of his spiel:

“Remember, I’m taking all the risk when you download my system! I want you to read it, understand it and try it out for a full 3 months completely RISK FREE. If for any reason my eBook doesn’t work for you, then send it back for a full, no questions asked, hassle free, money back refund!” and “You’ll see measurable improvements in your game and I will guarantee you make up to 500$ per day playing the slots machines in any casino worldwide.”

A number of players have been taken in with this nonsense, but once they receive the book, realise it is not value for money and try to return it in terms of Capuccio’s guarantee, the hassles start. One of the most common tricks is to steadfastly ignore all emails trying to claim a refund until 90 days have passed. Then, of course Capuccio cannot assist you.

Checking up on just one of his domains,, confirmed that he was the registrant, and that he is a resident of Burggasse 112/36, Vienna, Vienna 1070 AT.

His IP address also leads the enquirer to a number of other *ventures* such as:
Wisdom (an RTG powered white label operation)

Readers be warned.


19 November 2004
Government climb-down on super casino clause

Arts minister, Richard Caborn, has told a parliamentary committee that he is redrafting clause 7 of the UK gambling Bill, which pertains to the introduction of so-called super casinos to the country.

The revision limits the number of major land casino licenses to eight and introduces a three-year pilot scheme where the effects of the casinos can be closely monitored.

A DCMS spokesperson told the Scotsman newspaper this week, “…we are still reflecting on the points and concerns that have been raised about casinos…amendments are being put in place to assuage concerns about the proliferation of casinos.?

The government?s position is seen as a climb down following the powerful and at times almost hysterical media and political backlash which greeted the Bill.

Meanwhile, at the EIG conference last week in Sitges, Spain, the Chairman of the Bill?s Joint Scrutiny Committee, John Greenway MP warned iGaming operators that they could face a similar backlash.

?What has happened over the past two weeks regarding casinos could happen to you,? he said. ?It may appear to come out of the blue, but the media?s ability to manufacture a story should not be underestimated.?


19 November 2004
And new games coming, too.

The Canadian turnkey online casino supplier, Chartwell Technology, has revealed the identity of it’s latest licensee after hinting at the EIG conference in Barcelona that it was about to announce a major deal with an AIM listed company.

Chartwell said that it has reached an agreement with UK internet bookmakers UKbetting plc to provide a portfolio of Flash based in-browser casino and soft games across a variety of UKBetting’s online gaming sites.

UKBetting has become one of Britain?s biggest betting brands, not only through its flagship and sites, but also its sports content sites such as,,, and It has also shown an intention to move into traditional betting shops with the recent acquisition of seven Licensed Betting offices in south-east England.

Lee Richardson, Chief Executive of Chartwell Games, said “This important new signing delivers on our commitment to developing our European client base, and aligns us with an ambitious gaming operator, with a fast growing betting, gaming and sports-content client base, in both the UK and EU.”

Lee also intimated in Barcelona that four new games would shortly be announced.


19 November 2004
New games now available

William Hill Casino launched a new selection of games this week, including what they claim are the first ever online fruit machines.

The new suite features 90 games, giving the well established casino a stronger position in the competitive online casino market.

Cryptologic has developed the new games, and claims that the fruit machines are an innovative coup as they are the first “traditional style” games of this style to be made available online. The games include all the popular aspects of a real machine, including nudges, holds, feature games and extended play time, all to win cash prizes or move up the cash ladder.

Two Fruit Machine games are available through, Fruit Fight and Super Sideshow…both carrying a jackpot of GBP sterling 2,000.

Other new offerings available in Casino 2005 include Pontoon and Super Fun 21, both variations on the ever popular blackjack, Casino War (a casino version of the much played children’s game), and Casino Solitaire – a twist on a classic where players can win cash as they stack up the cards.

There are also 17 new slot machines for the reel fans. The new games will automatically be downloaded for existing clients when they log in, or for new clients as they sign up.

Andy Walton, casino operations manager for Hills said, “Our new 2005 Sterling Casino is the most advanced on the market. The world’s first online fruit machines will really strike a chord with British punters and are already very popular, but we also now have Pontoon, and that favourite of every card player, Solitaire.”


19 November 2004 director says he has supported Labour for years… director says he has supported Labour for years…

The British press has reported that figures published by the British Electoral Commission this week show the director of a large online gambling company gave GBP sterling 50,000 to the Labour Party some months before the Gambling Bill was attacked.

Peter Coates, a director of donated the cash in July of this year, while the controversial proposals to reform the gambling industry were being drafted. Coates claims the timing is coincidental and has nothing to do with the Bill.

An unrepentant Coates told the Daily Telegraph newspaper: “I have been supporting the Labour Party all my adult life. I believe in the party’s values and I shall go on supporting the Labour Party. It has nothing whatever to do with any gambling bill.?

Coates, who has given substantial cash donations to the Labour party in the past, warned that the government should not be too hasty to install Las Vegas style casinos in the UK, but that the Gambling Bill was not a slippery slope to damaging British society.

However, the donation has renewed the criticism of government opponents who have already pulled the Government up on links with US casino firms who lobbied Labour about gambling tax.


19 November 2004
DDoS becoming more prevalent

Media reports are growing on the need for Internet businessmen and consumers alike to take greater precautions against Internet crimes such as Phishing, Distributed Denial of Services and identity theft attacks.

Here’s a glossary of terms that come up increasingly in the mainstream media:

Distributed Denial of Service:
Hackers link thousands of computers and activate them to bombard a company website with bogus queries, jamming and paralysing normal operations before issuing a blackmail demand.

The rogue computer code used to initiate a denial of service attack. Most often planted on private PCs without the owner even knowing it. Bot “armies” as large as 30 000 or more can be mobilised by some criminals.

Using spoof emails or directing people to fake websites in order to fool them into divulging personal financial details so criminals can access their accounts

A hacker, frequently a teenaged computer geek, who disrupts a system for fun rather than financial gain

Net crime – the numbers

12.8 million homes in the UK have internet access – 52%

10 million UK citizens visit a retail bank or credit union website each month

GBP sterling 2.5 billion was spent by UK internet shoppers over Christmas 2003

43,000 UK citizens were victims of identity fraud last year – GBP sterling 1.3 billion was the total cost of these frauds

GBP sterling 195 million was lost through hi-tech crime at just 167 British firms last year, according to a survey of 201 firms. GBP 121 milion of that was through financial fraud

200 arrests have been made in 80 investigations by the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit since it was launched in October 2001

Don’t become another statistic!


19 November 2004
Prima player shows it can be done customer Thomas P. of Pennsylvania entered last week?s ?Beat The Mob? no limit Hold’em Poker tourney with one objective and after pulling pocket queens in the final hand, his goal was realized.

Thomas outlasted 397 other poker players in the PrimaPoker tournament and took home more than the $1990 prize ? but he left knowing he had taken down the entire Hendon Mob, arguably the hottest professional poker team in the world.

?I entered the tournament for the sole purpose of playing against The Hendon Mob. After watching Barney Boatman play in the World Series of Poker, I wanted to test my poker skills against him,? said Thomas P. ?I joined because of the opportunity to compete in online tournaments versus some of poker?s best. Winning the cash prize was a great, but beating Barney made the victory that much sweeter.?

Throughout his tournament run Thomas played tight but aggressive whenever he had a good hand. The turning point came when he went all-in with pocket nines and was called by a player holding ace queen. In his final hand, Thomas held pocket queens and was called on pocket threes, giving him the tournament championship and credit for taking down the entire Hendon Mob.

?We?re excited about Thomas? accomplishment and proud to tell the world that one of our own took down The Hendon Mob,? said Mark Thompson, manager of the poker room. ?Beating the Mob shows everyone that Thomas has the ability to beat the pros and who knows, maybe he?ll be the next Internet player to capture the WSOP title.? is the online poker room owned and operated by World Wide Tele-Sports (WWTS), a respected name in Internet gaming for over 10 years. A member of the network, offers players the chance to compete for free or real money in poker?s most popular games including: Texas Hold?em, Omaha, 5 Card Stud, 7 Card Stud and 1-on-1 Poker. Licensed and headquartered in St. John?s , Antigua , is part of the BetCorp group of companies that is publicly-traded on the Australian Stock Exchange.


19 November 2004
Branson ready to bet on a land casino

Making waves in Britain and the U.S. this week was a report in The Observer that Virgin’s entrepreneurial Sir Richard Branson was interested in getting into the land casino business.

The story had added interest for the online gambling community due to Branson’s Virgin involvement in online gambling through newcomer Virgin

The report revealed that Virgin is keen to open a chain of casinos in Britain, and that senior advisers have said that Virgin could open its first land operation in as little as 18 months, presumably if it was successful in obtaining a license.

The Virgin tycoon last week became a member of the British Casino Association, and he quietly launched an online casino recently that has already attracted 35 000 players with negligible marketing.

The Virgin brand, according to the company’s own market research, is said to resonate with potential gamblers. And Branson’s business advisers are excited by the potential synergies with his mobile phone business, his megastore business and a possible bid for a National Lottery licence.

His entrance would cause shockwaves in the UK industry, which is becoming increasingly certain it has seen off a foreign invasion by giant entertainment conglomerates.

The government is expected to announce soon that the first wave of so-called mega casinos will be capped at one venue per region, with no more than nine in total. The decision will be a hammer blow to Las Vegas operators who were hoping for more than 20.


19 November 2004
They had to change the law for this one…

Online roulette is the name of the game in Germany, and some 1800 people have registered at casino Spielbank Wiesbaden since the service opened in July this year, Heise Online reports.

Spielbank Wiesbaden operates Germany’s only licenced internet roulette operation.

With its filigree woodcarvings, golden friezes and crystal chandeliers the casino venue was famous at the end of the 18th century. Celebrity gamblers visiting the establishment included Otto von Bismarck, Feodor Dostoyevsky and even Elvis Presley, all contributing to the casino’s financial success.

Between 1991 and 1999 Spielbank Wiesbaden rose five places in Germany’s gross gambling revenue ranking (to reach seventh place), managing to increase its cash across the tables to DM61.7m ($40m).

The casino decided to enter the digital gambling business in 2002, but it first needed the State Parliament to change the Casino Act, which was achieved. It is still the only casino in Germany which offers roulette online after a similar venture in Hamburg failed when Hamburg’s Constitutional Court held that gamblers must be physically present.

Wiesbaden gamblers do not participate in a virtual game: the numbers are still determined on a real roulette wheel, with webcams broadcasting the event live. Participants must, however, either be residents of the State of Hessen or currently visiting the State.

The action has been fairly muted thus far, with an average of 200 gamblers playing online each day. However, Spielbank Wiesbaden believes the estimate of its gross profit of ?2m per year will be achieved and perhaps even exceeded.


19 November 2004
A betting exchange that didn’t last long…

It appears that a new acronym-ed trade association has entered the industry…and taken fast and decisive action against one of its members for not meeting its code of practice

Betting exchange body BETA (Betting Exchange Trade Association) this week revoked the membership of Sporting Options Ltd with immediate effect. The decision was taken by the BETA Executive Committee on the basis of Sporting Options Ltd having been found to be in material breach of the Code of Practice for Betting Exchanges.

Andrew Silverman, BETA?s General Secretary and a Betfair exec, said:

?BETA is committed to maintaining the highest standards of probity and integrity in the betting industry. That is why we have acted swiftly to revoke the membership of Sporting Options Ltd. There is no room in BETA for companies that fail to meet the standards set in the betting exchange code of practice.?

BETA was established on 9 September 2004 to provide a forum for communication between the exchanges and help to drive best practice in the fastest growing sector of the UK?s gambling industry. It also represents the betting exchanges in their discussions with Government and regulatory authorities, and briefs MPs and Peers on the Gambling Bill. It has said that it intends to cooperate with the Gaming Board and the new UK Gambling Commission.

The Sporting Options story developed over the week into a litany of woes at a company that had formerly enjoyed a meteoric rise in the British betting exchange business.

And it provided a great business opportunity for rival Betfair, too.

Sporting Options, was a small, 4 year old UK-based online betting exchange which enjoyed rapid growth. It had about 15,000 registered users but was known for taking very low commission rates and its accounts for 2003 showed losses of ?1m.

This week it was placed in administration and police are believed to have been called in to investigate possible misuse of gamblers’ accounts.

Three months ago, and for undisclosed reasons Blue Square, an online division of gambling group Rank, ended discussions with Sporting Options over a possible GBP 4 million acquisition of the privately owned business.

Founded by London options traders Robert Byrne and Kevin Griffiths, Sporting Options has been looking for a buyer for some six months and attracted considerable attention when it appeared to be matching bets worth between 10 and 15 percent of those matched by Britain’s main exchange business Betfair. Other rivals to market-dominant Betfair have struggled to achieve this.

Several rivals have speculated that the owners of Sporting Options were using their own funds to create the liquidity necessary to keep it growing, and this is not illegal.

But British media report that the police are believed to have been called in on the back of growing concern that gamblers’ betting accounts could have been used to support liquidity.

The appointed administrators to Sporting Options, Menzies Corporate Restructuring, have suspended all betting activity on the firm’s website. In a statement, they said: “At this early stage we are currently assessing the financial position of the company and reviewing its business operations.”

Sporting Options accounts filed for the year to April 2003 show a loss of almost GBP 1 million and the company was widely reputed to be under funding strain. The company`s official rules stated that all client funds were held in a segregated bank account at HSBC Bank, and there may be complications in this area. HSBC, has refused to comment.

The most important aspect, however is as always the welfare of the players and here Betfair appear to have scored something of a coup in stepping up to look after them…but on terms that will not appeal to the higher rollers in particular.

Some 5,300 Sporting Options customers are believed to be owed about GBP 3.5 million, but most could get all their money back if they open accounts with Betfair. Customers who have lost GBP 1,000 or less will have the equivalent sum paid into a Betfair account, and those who have lost more than GBP 1,000 will receive a minimum of GBP 1,000 or 20 per cent of their balance. A number of gamblers are reported to have well over GBP 20 000 in their now frozen SO accounts.

Betfair gets more customers and further strengthens its dominant position in the betting exchange business, and the players – all of the players eventually – get paid.


19 November 2004
Advice on website content

Sporting Options (SO) customers with up to GBP1000 in their account will have that amount credited to their Betfair account. Customers with over GBP1000 will receive a minimum of GBP1000 credited to their Betfair account, or 20 percent of their total SO account balance, whichever is greater. Thus, a player who had GBP 2000 in an account gets GBP1000, not GBP 400; one with GBP 20,000 will get GBP 4000.

Additionally, there is the opportunity, through continued activity on Betfair, to recoup a large proportion of the balance through rebates of 50 percent of the monthly Betfair commission. In effect Betfair will put half of the player’s monthly commission back into his Betfair account at the end of each month. This rebate scheme will last either until the player has been rebated the rest of his SO balance, or 30 November 2006, whichever is first. This means that in effect Betfair will allow the player to trade on Betfair at half price until he has earned back what SO owed him when it stopped trading

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19 November 2004
Sterling 400 000 raised for charity

Tim Johnson’s online casino holding group Carmen Media turned failure into a resounding success for a British charity this week, with the announcement of an impressive GBP sterling 400 000 in donations.

The annual fundraising Caudwell Cycle Challenge seemed to be in jeopardy until the online gambling company came to the rescue with a generous donation.

Caudwell Charity is a charitable trust that makes direct donations to special children suffering from sickness, disability or terminal illness. Funding is used to buy specialist medical equipment, treatments and therapies across the UK.

Every year The Caudwell Cycle Challenge is staged, with the 2004 challenge a ride from Athens to London, a 2,300 mile round trip.

However, just days before they were due to depart, two key sponsors dropped out and an appeal for help was issued by John Caudwell, CEO of Caudwell Group – an appeal which Carmen Media answered, providing a Land Rover and driver courtesy of their online casino and poker room, The Gaming Club.

The Gaming Club Land Rover then accompanied the team, providing backup all the way from Athens to the finish back in London on 29th October, with nearly ?400,000 raised for the Caudwell Charity.

Caudwell praised the Carmen effort, saying, ?The Caudwell Cycle Challenge is a fundamental part of our fundraising programme and without it we?d miss out on hundreds of thousands of pounds to help children. Without Carmen Media, this entire trip would have been in jeopardy and so we?re delighted they stepped forward when the appeal went out for support?.


19 November 2004
Dangers of eating disorders to be explained

Actress Jamie-Lynn DiScala of “The Sopranos” has entered an alliance with Casino in the Sunny Group to raise awareness and money for her eating disorders foundation.

A three-month campaign will include Casino Fortune informing its claimed 2 million North American players about anorexia, bulimia and binge-eating disorder.

Casino Fortune’s main communication tactics are opt-in e-mail solicitations and newsletters. Recipients can learn more about eating disorders or donate money to the Jamie-Lynn DiScala Foundation.

DiScala started the foundation after a portrayal of the character Meadow Soprano on the HBO show triggered an existing eating disorder.

The cause-related marketing may strike a chord. Casino Fortune claims its North American clients mostly are women, which is in line with online casino playing trends.

“Our 2004 player poll indicated that many of our recreational gamblers have problems with their weight,” Casino Fortune senior vice president Dennis Rose said in a statement. “We will raise awareness of eating disorders and draw new players to our casino.”

Editor Note: read how this backfired here

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19 November 2004
Orbis fast development system bags another big name

The Rapid Applications Development regime at Orbis has brought another important gambling group to its client list.

Orbis, a developer and supplier of interactive gambling software is to provide UK based Italian bookmaker Paradisebet Ltd with its OpenBet interactive gambling platform, completely redeveloping the existing Paradisebet website and back-office operations.

The fast Orbis RAD system of dynamic incremental development by highly competent and empowered technical teams working closely with the client has attracted business from many of the leading names in the industry.

Orbis will migrate the existing Paradisebet website to the OpenBet platform in order to meet and accommodate the privately owned bookmaker’s growing demands. The UK-based sports betting site will specifically benefit from OpenBet’s sophisticated risk management, betting-in-running and handicap functionality, in addition to its multi-lingual and multi currency capabilities tailored to service the bookmaker’s global customers.

The OpenBet software platform, deployed by the world’s leading bookmakers, is a complete gambling solution, with customers able to bet on all channels and all products from a single account, all controlled via a single back-office. Customers can place bets on a variety of products – a sportsbook, fixed-odds and scheduled games, P2P exchanges, lotteries or pari-mutuel pools – and over almost any channel – the web, mobile devices, retail outlets, call centres and interactive digital television – all using a single log-in.

Michele Martiradonna, CEO of Paradise Bet said: “We are experiencing huge growth in business at the moment, with annual turnover set to double this year, so it’s critical that we have robust and secure software to support our new products and growing customer base. We chose Orbis, as the OpenBet platform is a perfect fit for ParadiseBet and we have established a fantastic working relationship with Orbis, which is essential to us in this period of immense growth and change.

We plan to develop products beyond a sportsbook into games and a casino.”

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19 November 2004
More operations for Poker Network

Poker rooms just keep springing up on an almost weekly basis, and BetOnBet, Celeb Poker and Casinopenthouse are among the most recent on the no-download Poker Network.

Celeb Poker launched in April this year and has been conducting a vigorous press release marketing campaign with some success, whilst Casinopenthouse is a new Futurebet-powered online casino that has also just launched a poker room on this network.

BetOnBet is a multi-lingual betting exchange with an open market for trading of bets. Odds are not set by BetOnBet but the customers themselves. Registered in the UK, the site also includes a casino and is run by Norwegians. Their customers will benefit from the large Poker Network community which claims a registered membership of 2 million players. When we checked there were 1800 players simultaneously active online.

David Donovan, founder of CelebPoker comments ?We decided to change poker licensee because of the much higher quality software that PokerNetwork was able to provide us with.?

PokerNetwork also licenses its software to currently the world?s fifth largest poker site.

Patrik Selin, CEO of PokerNetwork comments: ?These are the third and fourth out of nine newly signed licensees to be launched with PokerNetwork, proving that we are on track to achieve our aim of becoming one of the largest poker software licensing companies in the online gaming market.?

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19 November 2004
Asia the target for German processor

The German-based e-cash processor Click 2 Pay is to expand its payment services into Asia according to a press release this week.

Having previously signed up an Asian based strategic partner, Click2Play can offer its merchants direct debit payments in China and Hong Kong starting December 2004. Asian Internet users will be able to fund their C2P account in Chinese Yuan and Hong Kong Dollars.

Developed by Wire Card AG, C2P claims it is the first alternative internet payment solution offering this degree of usability, and that it has positioned itself as one of the most dynamic internet money transfer providers.

Users from the following foreign countries are now able to fund their Click 2 Play account by wire transfer: Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK and USA.

The service will soon be available in Belgium, Ireland, Hungary and Turkey, too.

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19 November 2004
No obligation to do so, but betting exchange publishes accounts

In a move that has been interpreted as establishing its credentials as a fair and open entity, betting exchange Betfair has opened its books to a largely hostile Australian horse racing industry.

The unusual step revealed that Betfair ploughed 30 per cent of its profits into the British horse-racing industry last year, and is thought to be part of a campaign for an Australian gambling licence.

A private company that is not required to open its books, Betfair showed that it contributed GBP 3.9 million (A$9.32 million) of its net after-tax profit of GBP 11.9 million to the British racing industry, as well as paying almost GBP 9 million in taxes to the British Government.

“We have made the decision to release our results in the form of a proper annual report because there is so much speculation as to what we are doing and so little of it is informed,” said Betfair spokesman Mark Davies.

“The perception out there is that we are making hundreds of millions of pounds a year and we are contributing nothing. But the results show that we are in fact giving away a high percentage of our profit.”

Mr Davies said Betfair – whose Australian operations will be 50 per cent owned by Kerry Packer’s Publishing and Broadcasting Limited should it be granted a local licence – was prepared to make a similar contribution to Australian racing if it were granted a licence.

He said the company would match the fees paid by the TABs as well as contributing all unpaid fees since it began operating on Australian races early last year.

The release of Betfair’s results in Britain follows a meeting between Betfair representatives including PBL executive chairman James Packer and executives from the betting exchange’s most vocal opponent, Racing Victoria.

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19 November 2004
Kafelnikov, Campbell going after half million main prize

Some of the world’s best known sports stars are lining up to compete in the upcoming $1million all-star poker event. Rookies including former tennis number one Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Olympic champion Darren Campbell will pit their wits against established players like darts great Phil Taylor and snooker’s Matthew Stevens, Jimmy White and Steve Davis.

The former French and Australian Open champion will have his work cut out to win the first prize of $500,000 (GBP 270,000), with Davis and White having already made a name for themselves in the gambling game. Snooker legend White defied the odds two years ago when he won the Poker Million event and pocketed GBP 80,000.

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19 November 2004

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) criminals could be in for a fright on their next raid, thanks to an innovative new protection service offered by a British ISP and developed by experts in the field.

“Doomsday DDoS SWAT Team for Available for Hire” shouts the press release from Top Layer Networks, a provider of globally proven high performance intrusion prevention solutions that has signed a unique deal with mnet Internet (mnet)

mnet is one of the UK?s fastest growing corporate only ISP and co-location companies,and it is to deliver an on-call Doomsday DDoS Disaster Recovery Service to customers experiencing brute force DoS and DDoS attacks.

Under the scheme, customers will be able to call on a ?DDoS SWAT team? 24 hours a day to come and physically install a Top Layer Attack Mitigator IPS 5500, within an hour of logging the call. Attack Mitigators are being kept at a number of strategic locations around the City of London and Southeast ready for rapid installation into customer sites and co-location centres.

Top Layer’s Attack Mitigator? IPS is a family of high performance, ASIC-based intrusion prevention solutions with intelligent blocking and control against the most prevalent cyber attacks. Hybrid attacks such as HTTP worms, DoS / DDoS attacks, protocol and traffic anomalies, IP spoofing, SYN flood attacks, and more, are accurately detected, and stopped in real-time.

Fenton Bard, Business Development Manager at mnet says, ?We see this is an innovative way of protecting our customers from the threat of DDoS. In many ways it is another option to our disaster recovery offering ? but instead of a power generator, we are delivering a very robust, high performing intrusion prevention and anti-DDoS product and team that is proven to stop attacks in real-time.?

Paul Lawrence, General Manager EMEA and Asia at Top Layer said, ?The Doomsday scenario has hit many unsuspecting clients this last 18 months. One would be surprised at the number of times the IPS 5500 has been purchased over a mobile phone while the engineer was en route to the affected site. This service with mnet recognises the extreme and unique conditions some customers find themselves in; it provides them with an immediate solution to stop the attack while also introducing them to the power of high speed intrusion prevention, a message we have been trying to get across to the market for a long time now.?

Recent research shows that DDoS attacks have quadrupled over the last 6 months as companies rely on the Internet more and more to complete business critical functions.

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10 November 2004
Day One at EIG

The buoyant state of the European online gambling scene was underlined this week by a record attendance at the third European Interactive Gambling Conference in Sitges, Barcelona.

This charming medieval town close to Barcelona saw an unprecedented influx of over 500 delegates from 25 countries, an increase of over 25 percent from last year?’s attendance and a clear indication that this industry event has become an essential entry in business diaries throughout the industry.

Organised jointly by ATE of Britain and the River City group from the States, EIG is an important networking venue over and above the value of its industry-relevant presentation to a rapidly growing sector of the global gambling market.

Delegates from a wide range of countries were engaged in social and business get- togethers throughout the elegant and modern Melia Sitges hotel which was the venue for the conference.

Pre-conference, the Interactive Gaming Council hosted a stylish special function in the historical Palau Maricel to salute Sue Schneider, chairperson for some eight years who is retiring this year. A “Who’s Who” gathering of leaders from all sectors of the business were attracted to the unusual museum setting, with Moorish tiled roof terraces and water features overlooking the Mediterranean, and paid tribute to a businesswoman who has done more than most to promote and improve online gaming’s image and press for it’s regulation in the US market.

IGC execs Rick Smith and Keith Furlong praised her service and professionalism, and assured the audience that she would continue to give her knowledge through her “past chairman” status on the Board. IGC Board changes are expected to be publicly announced in the near future.

It was back to work on Monday – Day One of the conference. As the 22 exhibitors raced to get their stands up and ready in an adjoining hall, the conference started with a keynote address from Simon Burridge, chairman of Virgin Gaming which recently launched its online gambling Wagerworks-powered site.

Burridge’s speech concentrated on the importance of the consumer, which Virgin will use to differentiate themselves as a late arrival on a competitive scene which nevertheless has many similarities between competitors.

Quoting his chairman, Sir Richard Branson, Burridge said that the approach was one of “If the consumers are happy, the shareholders are happy” and that this was the key to distinguishing the Virgin operation from others in seven distinct areas. These covered the games on offer, the unusual and high value loyalty programs and millionaire prizes that could be redeemed across the very diverse Virgin group and keen attention to making the player’s experience the best possible through ease of use and outstanding customer service.

“We see ourselves as offering entertainment and reward rather than just gambling,” he said, and went on to describe the many attractions his company would be offering to players. As in all entertainment there was a cost to gambling, he said in the same way as there was a cost to watching football or movies, and the accent should be on providing a great all-round experience with the fair possibility of reward. Building a real sense of community was also a key priority to interact more closely with players and increase their sense of involvement, and Virgin’s answer to the competition would go beyond offering better bonuses.

Rounding off a very professional delivery with thought-provoking content, Burridge said that the cross-marketing possibilities across a group such as Virgin which has airline, wine, music, mobile phones and many other interests was considerable, and it would be applied with well-honed professional marketing of integrity.

Steve Clark, a technology expert from Clark Weiss Associates who has been working with leading British companies like SkyTV was next up with a well-rounded look at technology convergence through platforms such as television, mobile devices, kiosks and personal computers. He presented a significant and growing range of enmerging and existing technologies that offer challenges and opportunities to online gaming, examining how to choose the right business strategy using these dynamically evolving devices, the relationship between content and functionality and how to economically but effectively harness convergence as a business advantage.

Gareth Wong of Gamsure looked at how more and more non-gambling businesses are bringing gambling into their interactive product offerings

Midafternoon papers covered Investments concepts in a global industry where there was a need for sensible investment capital to develop or acquire businesses in the space. The presentations considered equity and debt market response to the requirement and the appetite for involvement in the future. Specialists Nigel Bland of Deloittes and Anton Kazsubowski of iGaming Business presented detailed projections and economic performance charts in highly professional but easily understood presentations.

Other papers dealt with setting up iGaming businesses and the importance of working with responsible gambling organisations for the benefit of the player and the industry.

Final presentations for Day One centred on the subjects of taxation and the advantages of harmonising a reasonable tax regime across Europe to achieve a genuine Pan-European market. I-gaming payment solutions and their differences from country to country were examined, together with payment preferences among European gamblers.

The full but high-value day culminated in a networking opportunity over drinks sponsored by turnkey probvider Playtech.

Day two

Networking, networking, networking is the name of the game at the European Interactive Gaming Conference (EIG) currently ending its second day in the Spanish coastal resort of Sitges near Barcelona.

The corridors and many private rooms in the ultra modern conference centre are humming with cellphones and intense discussions in a dozen languages, notebooks are working oveertime in Internt hot spots around the hotel, it’s like New York trying to get a taxi to a good restaurant and clearly business is being done.

When the delegates are not networking there are quality presentations on a host of topics effecting the industry, with the legal eagles at work on today’s starting roundtable session moderated by Belgian lawyer Philippe Vlaemminck.

Put together six top gaming lawyers from various European countries and it is inevitable that like economists you’re likely to get six different approaches and opinions. Post Gambelli, it is clear that the legal problems surrounding cross-border gambling, Pan European standards of taxation, access and regulation and the sovereignty of EC nations are far from solved and will be the subject of legal wrangling and interpretation for years to come.

With court actions flying thick and fast, the European gambling scene is certainly a stimulating and probably lucrative one for the lawyers trying to either negate or defend the State gambling monopolies and the millions in hard cash that is involved.

For the the layman it looked like continuing confusion, although one of the debaters made sense to us in suggesting that a common set of standards was needed, and that if countries possessed these standards this was an element of equality that could permit cross border gambling and the protection of the players.

Unfortunately, the cynic in us whispers that it’s probably all about political power and money rather than the claimed desire of the less progressive governments to protect players.

It was nevertheless an informative exchange by experts in the field, and lawyers Martin Arendts (Germany) Polo Van der Putt (Netherlands) Quinino Mancini (Italy) Thibault Verbiest (Belgium) and Olga Finkel (Malta) are to be congratulated on the amount of preparation which had clearly been done on a far-reaching and complex area of the industry.

Hard on the heels of the legal discussion came advice for success in the European i-gaming landscape with marketing men Raphael Arnold of Casino Agency UK and Jan Rodrigo of the Portuguese land’based casino group Amorim passing on their wisdom on how to market with cognisance of the legal stumbling blocks.

Arnold’s cool and professional presentation evoked memories of the keynote address from Simon Burridge of Virgin Games in that it strongly emphasised the importance of a customer centric approach…in fact both speakers suggested a model where customer needs should be the driving force in putting together business plans, all other elements falling into place from that starting point. Customer service and sensitivity is a key differentiating point in a market where many competitors have equivalent products and offers, and Arnold has a well prepared plan to achieve this, embracing a range of effective marketing and CRM techniques.

We predict that the conference circuit will see more of Jan Rodrigo, who unfortunately had to rush the end of his excellent presentation somehat due to time constraints. His address was highly professional and full of well researched solid information as he explored the problems and opportunities facing established land casino outfits that wish to make a belated entry into the crowded Internet market.

One of the frustrations of these conferences is that frequently there are other presentations of equal interest taking place at the same time but in different conference rooms, and this was the case with betting exchanges, which were addressed at the same time as the marketing issues decribed above.

This area of online gaming has enjoyed a meteoric rise second only to poker and looks set for continued expansion into the forseeable future. Betfair was as always front and centre but the new boy on the block, Betbull made a positive and very high profile appearance as a conference sponsor in distinctive corporate orange accented clothes and material and an excellent brochure.

Betbull is an impressive partnership between the Vienna listed public group Bet and Win and a name that Internet gambling veterans will immediately recognise…Andrew Rifkin, one of the founders of the massively successful Cryptologic. Working through his company Columbia Exchange Systems, it looks as if Rifkin has once again identified a sure thing and developed the software to make it fly. It is a pretty formidable partnership which is looking for quick growth through partnerships and affiliates in the P2P sector with Europe as the immediate target but a wide horizon of opportunities in the future.Bet and Win has current value of some Euro 350million and huge expertise in the European markets. The fireworks should be intense over the next twelve months when much of this activity will take place, because this sector is predicted to be worth 10 to 13 billion Euro in turnover, yielding commissions of 100 to 130 million Euro to the agile and good. The UK market last year alone enjoyed a turnover on horse racing action of some GPB 4.2 billion.

But bacl to the presentations, where Steve Donoughue of the Gambling Consultancy and Martin Bunge-Meyer of Betsson in Sweden analysed the P2P markets in Ireland and England and looked at techniques that can be deployed to apply this success to the somewhat more challenging continental market and build consumer confidence.

Discussions on software and internet poker took up the pre-lunch space. Pontus Lingwall of Net Entertainment gave a succinct address on the multitude of choices that using different suppliers and game types on a common platform could provide, but unfortunately did not dwell on what was felt by several listeners to be a critical issue in this sort of approach – integration.

The subject of Rapid Application Development (RAD) sounded like techie stuff but turned out to be a fascinating description by Max Francis of the UK?s Orbis group on how his companys highly empowered and focused teams use specialised tools to rapidly build gambling unique gambling software platforms in record time and incrementally deliver and modify to customer specs. These guys definitely have something right, because their client list across a variety of technologies reads like a Who’s Who of the big gambling groups. This is another presentation that should receive more air in our view. Orbis and Wagerworks are in the same Rupert Murdoch group.

The final sessions before a very classy luncheon sponsored by Geoffrey Green Russell were all about poker with addresses by Steve Donoughue, Yariv Ron and Gill Leivesley of Victor Chandler on this soaring industry sector that has seemingly still to reach its limits.The packed audience was evidence of the massive interest in this game and its online possibilities.

European growth is on the move although it falls short of the huge roll this game is on in the US, and the discussions covered hiow to tap into this market and find the right players. Once again the presenters produced a wealth of statistical and empirical information that gave stimulus for thought and action alike.

Verdict of the presentations today. Get a copy of these conference proceedings if your company has no delegates here – this is good stuff!

This afternoon the 22 exhibitors opened their stands with over half of the companies represented in the software provider side of the business. There was a good payment solutions representation and some very interesting ID verification through multi-database cross checking through a UK company called URU, a potentially very valuable anti-fraud aid for online gambling companies.

We talked with the affable Peter Kjaer of Dr Ho live over the internet operations, concluding that this form of ghambling is now catching on bigtime, with some thirty or more sites offering it. Playtech’s acquisition of master licensor status will no doubt expand the field further.

Chartwell Tech head honcho Lee Richardson has great ideas and hopes for the mobile sector and tells us we can expect some great new games to be announced this week, together with the acquisition of another major new licensee listed on the London AIM exchange. Chartwell has been delivering consistently good financial reports recently and has again been awarded a Top 50 accolade from Deloittes.

Over at Net Entertainment, John Ekman told us that their mobile plans continue on schedule, but that the Net Bug kiosk product being market tested in the UK through Contented Kiosks is proving popular but is currently the subject of some legal debate which they hope to resolve soon. NE currently powers some thirty online casinos.

Virgin Games provider Wagerworks will be launching new games soon, too including an innovative horse racing product named after Simon Burridge’s horse. There could be some console action in Virgin stores as part of the cross marketing initiatives.

Exhibits by Microgaming, Cryptologic and RTG as leading suppliers in the global industry who have been churning out sexy new products and games were missed at this event, but for the perhaps lesser known companies it was a great opportunity to show off their every-improving wares and talk to the customer.

Tomorrow is Day three and the close of this highly informative conference.

Day three

Big news from the conference on this last day was the announcement by player protection body eCOGRA of five new Seal awards to quality casinos, bringing members of this increasingly influential organisation to 49, comprising some seventy percent of the online casino gaming market internationally. The new Seal holders, who have had to pass rigorous independent inspections and will be monitored for ongoing compliance with regulations are –

All (
All (
Casino (
First Web Casino (
Wild (

Coincidentally, talk of player protection would seem right in line with a noticeable theme that has run through many of the presentations at the European Interactive Gaming conference here in Sitges, Barcelona.

Even technical and legal presentations, in addition to marketing addresses have emphasised the importance of assessing and meeting the needs of the customer and placing emphasis on retaining as well as acquiring clientele.

Paying lip service to the concept of looking after the guy (or girl) that puts the bread on the table for the industry is one thing…practicing what you preach is another, and it is to be hoped that operators in particular take careful note of the critical importance of the player as the industry continues to move forward.

The feeling that the player was not uppermost in all minds was inescapable in one of the panel discussions today which involved a bewildering array of acronyms used by various industry bodies. iGGBA, IGC, ARGO, EBA and eCOGRA all have industry interests in their membership, yet the only one that specifically identified its primary objective as the global protection of the player was eCOGRA.

That’s not to say that the bodies did not have lofty ambitions to interact with European, US and UK governments and other bodies on the formulation of government regulations friendly to their members. And ensuring that those regulations embraced practical underage and addictive gambling fears was certainly on the agenda, but the attitude to player disputes seemed to be to leave it to the regulators with the possible exception of eCOGRA which already has a self-imposed and independently monitored regulatory and dispute resolution regime.

Disappointingly, although there seemed to be a consensus that closer working relationships might be a good thing, our subjective perception was that this was not likely to be seriously pursued anytime soon by all those involved. And as the discussions continued it was clear that harmonising international regulatory proposals was not going to be easily achieved. Chairman of the discussion Sue Schneider revealed that yet another association, for betting exchanges, had also been recently formed, so look out for another unfamiliar acronym.

Taking a positive view, it is clear that these disparate bodies are putting an enormous amount of effort into getting a sound set of practical regulatory measures in place in the various geographical areas, and in the long term that has to be good news for players as well as the industry.

In between the presentations today the pace of networking never eased. Michael Corfman updated me on the Casino City Press position following the rather circular arguments for dismissal filed by the US Department of Justice in response to his action against their claimed acts against online gambling advertising media. Casino City will respond by the 19 November to the DoJ move for dismissal. After that the fight will go to court, and he appeared a very determined and confident man in that respect.

The editor of the brand new Bluff Media group, Michael Caselli was delighted with the news that their maiden issue of Bluff magazine is to be carried by the vast Walmart chain – a remarkable achievement on theheels of the companies launch. Get a copy of the magazine if you can – it has excellent content.

Andrew Beveridge of eCOGRA showed a number of operators and portal owners the new seal, which has been reworked to carry the organisation’s aggressive new pay-off loine “Play It Safe” Look out for an increased profile as their pilot information and marketing campaign kicks in this month, and there are plans for a bigger campaign next year.

In the exhibition hall, Boss Media were showcasing some very attractive mobile games on slots and VP and promise that more are on the way.

eGET out of Helsinki in Finland are into mobile games, too together with no download casino suites of up to thirty games, iTV and IVLT on their Winone gaming platform.

From Austria, Green Tube is offering a wide selection of cross-media soft games with full backend capability that will appeal to both global and specific national groups. The no download games offer a new and diverse dimension with everything from billiards to backgammon.

Alan Weinrib out of Dublin, Ireland has a potentially powerful product for the credit card starved internation online gambler with the new Cred E Card. Due to its well funded and independent nature and restricted community use there is no coding problems, and we are assured that the product is solidly assured, and fully compliant with the strict UK banking requirements. The anti-fraud capability is particularly powerful, we were told.

Starting today’s formal presentations, those up early enough were priveleged to listen to an outstanding and detailed paper on global economics from the highly internationally respected and London based economist Roger Bootle. Get his contribution to the conference proceedings if you can, because the meticulous historical research and logical conclusions are both fascinating and of value.

Delivering this impressive volume of knowledge with amusing and practised verve, Bootle said that China and India were the dominant economies that would shape global life in the next twenty years as they reached unprecedented heights. Westerners should see this as a good thing and a great opportunity rather than as a threat because it was all about growth of trade and industrial markets for huge populations whilst the Western countries had a flat and in some cases declining population growth.

China, he said has enjoyed an average GDP growth of 9 percent per annum since 1993 , India 6 percent and the trend would continue, presenting great business and trade opportunities. He felt that the American market would ease and was possibly overvalued, and that the dollar would decline, sterling would be unimpressive but the Euro would prosper although there was unlikely to be big upward movements in the European economy as a whole. Asian currencies would rise in line with the Chinese and Indian importance, but i-gaming was likely to grow at the expense of land-based gaming.

EIG scored something of a coup in having the chairman of the UK’s Joint Scrutiny Committee on the controversial Gambling Bill, MP John Greenway on the podium for a discussion on this high profile issue, together with eminent lawyer Tony Coles. One thing appears certain, the devil is in arranging the detail in this important UK legislation, and we are unlikely to see finality over the next two or even three years. Some of the remote gaming proposals cover licensing and liability to UK law if any part of a gambling operation rests on British soil and the composition of a “white list” of jurisdictions with acceptably framed and enforced regulations.

Andy May, the head of strategic marketing for the major British gambling group Sportingbet gave one of the most professional marketing addresses of the conference with his examination of customer centric practices and the benefits of an all-embracing CRM strategy that benefits the player and through him or her the company. With the emphasis on research, datamining and analysis his dissection of the many elements involved in customer care and CRM is well worth studying by any marketing executive in the business. A few gems from his presentation include the lifetime value of the average online casino customer ($600 to 800) the fact that spam accounts for a scary 68 percent of all email, acquisition costs are up tenfold and retention is therefore of equal importance, fraud is a real problem with unknown new clients, most revenue comes from the top ten percent of clients. Andy’s summary : “It’s all about caring for your customer – success and revenue flows if that is done correctly”

Closing presentation of this successful conference was on the major industry threat of criminal extortion through Distributed Denial of Service attacks, which have resumed after a short lull and now embrace payment solution companies as well as online gambling operations. An expert panel representative of ISPs, protective technology companies and operators examined the phenomenon and discussed effective protection models against a foe that is technically smart and totally unscrupulous.

DDoS attackers will often come up with counter attacks to preventive measures, but in general were discouraged when confronted with a determined management and effective screening, and the efficacy of such screening was improving all the time. A intriguing aspect was how to persuade the public to prevent their PCs being turned into attack zombies, an essential part of DDoS attacks. Recent surveys have shown 60 percent of PCs are “zombied” without the owners knowing it, and can be marshalled into 30 000 strong bot armies for assaults on e-commerce sites.

The advise is too have good and well protected ISPs, have good screening yourself backed by competent staff…and have a crisis plan that can be activated fast.

So ends EIG 2004, with many delegates this afternoon already heading for the airport whilst the more fortunate take it easy in this charming Spanish seaside town. It was good value, as an inspection of the soon-to-be-published conference proceedings will show. And as a networking opportunity for European industry people it has been invaluable.

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5 November 2004
Government backpedals to avert revolt

For the third week the UK Gambling Bill continued to generate millions of words in news reports as opposition to the land casino elements within the proposed law escalated.

But the legislation, which could allow giant Las Vegas-style casinos to operate in Britain cleared an important Parliamentary hurdle early in the week, despite fears that it could lead to a rise in gambling addiction.

Lawmakers voted by 286 to 212 to back the Gambling Bill and send it to a special House of Commons committee for further scrutiny. It faces a lengthy journey through Parliament’s upper and lower chambers and further votes, but the government hopes it will become law by the middle of next year.

Meanwhile, the media noise level showed no signs of diminishing, and in the face of a substantial revolt led mainly by Welsh Labour MPs the government indicated it was prepared to listen to objections and make concessions such as allowing regional authorities a say in the desirability of land casinos in their areas.

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5 November 2004
Pro-Gambling Bill MP says US needs to update legislation

New Media Zero reported this week that a pro-UK Gambling Bill Labour MP, Tony Banks, has challenged the UK government to apply pressure on the US government to rethink its Internet gambling laws.

Speaking on the Bill’s second reading debate in the House of Commons, Banks who sat on the original Gambling Bill scrutiny committee stated: “We should try to persuade the US to bring its gambling laws up to date.”

He praised the British government’s attempt to regulate online gaming and added, “It’s wrong that the Americans should have the right to refuse a business operation based in London, Gibraltar or elsewhere, and we should push them hard on that. If they’re to have access to our gambling industry, we should insist that they bring their laws in line with ours.”

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5 November 2004
“Circular arguments” cause amusement

As we went to press last week the U.S. Department of Justice was filing a motion to dismiss Casino City’s attempt to establish its First Amendment right to advertise online casinos and sports books.

The case revolves around what many see as questionable attempts by the DoJ to intimidate advertising venues by warning them that online gambling advertising might be illegal.

According to Michael Corfman, President of Casino City, a motion to dismiss has always been considered the most likely initial response from the federal government to the complaint. This expectation was confirmed two weeks ago when the Justice Department requested a ten-day extension to their deadline for responding indicating additional time was required to prepare their motion to dismiss.

The motion to dismiss argues that if the activities of Casino City are legal then there is no imminent threat of prosecution, and that in this situation the case should be dismissed. It further argues that if the activities are illegal then First Amendment protection of commercial free speech does not apply, and in this situation the case should also be dismissed.

Corfman said he got a real chuckle out of the circular nature of many of the arguments presented. He expects to have further comments after he has reviewed the motion in detail with the firm’s attorneys.

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5 November 2004
Jackpot Madness network has paid out $130 000 000.

Online gambling progressives pioneer network Jackpot Madness has joined the online poker explosion with the release of Microgaming’s newest progressive – Poker Ride, together with a new, improved favorite, WowPot.

Players started riding the poker wave at the end of October with the release of Poker Ride, a game that is similar to the popular land-based table game, Let it Ride in the United States. The combination of a popular table game combined with a progressive jackpot promises action and excitement for poker enthusiasts. High-quality graphics backed by hi-fidelity sound effects and fast, smooth play, are sure to make this new progressive a players’ favorite.

The progressive jackpot for Poker Ride is the first Jackpot Madness table game jackpot to pay ten percent of the jackpot for a Straight Flush, similar to land based casinos. Players of Poker Ride can enjoy progressive poker action and the many facilities of the Viper software platform.

Continuing Microgaming’s commitment to regularly update and improve its suite of online progressive games, Jackpot Madness is also launching a new and improved version of a long running fave, WowPot.

With a new 5-reel, 15 payline format this game is sure to please WowPot enthusiasts as players have more chances to win. The Wowpot symbol is still wild, and when 5 of them align on the 15th payline, a player wins the progressive jackpot.

Making the launch announcement, a Jackpot Madness spokesperson said, “There are now even more ways to win WowPot, as the additional paylines ensure that the game has a high hit rate. In addition to the wild symbol, the game has multiplier and scatter features. Like the original Wowpot, the game is particularly suitable for the beginner to intermediate player, although players at all levels are certain to love it.”

We haven’t had stats from Jackpot Madness for awhile, and it was therefore informative to see the latest payout number for the network quoted in the press release. Since its pioneering launch on the Internet, Jackpot Madness progressives have paid out an impressive $130 000 000 to online gamblers lucky enough to hit the many jackpots on offer at the seventy-some online casinos on the network. And all jackpots won are honoured through full, direct cash payouts – the only games on the Internet offering this benefit.

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5 November 2004
Top casino reverses “no Yanks” policy

One of the most reputable and popular online casinos on the ‘Net, 32Red Casino has reversed a policy decision to exclude U.S. players, made due to historical legal uncertainties in that country.

To mark the occasion, an appropriate sign up bonus of 32 percent bonus maxed at $320 free is being offered by CEO Ed Ware. However, readers are advised to check the T&Cs, where a 5 percent of deposit average bet size will not suit everyone. Ware says this is a precaution against bonus abuse.

The initial response of many US players was to visit 32 Red’s Gibraltar based site, but Murphy’s Law seemed to have raised its ugly head, with temporary technical glitches sending disappointed gamblers elsewhere.

32 Red has received many awards and, to the envy of formerly excluded Americans is frequently praised on the message boards for slick promos, fair and efficient operations and quality customer service. Perhaps the fact that Ware and his senior staff are all experienced gambling executives has something to do with that.

One poster summed it up this week and wrote: ” In the world of signup bonuses, free play blah blah blah – a casino that you feel comfortable, secure and happy playing at goes an awful long way in the real world!”

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5 November 2004
Captain Cook’s dispute open to negotiation

A large amount of money – believed to be around $60 000 – was at stake as we went to press last week following a dispute in the Prima Poker-networked Captain Cook’s online poker room.

Details were sketchy, but it appears that an unidentified player deposited a large amount of “dirty” money in playing against several gamblers on the site. There was also a suggestion that one player pretended to be female by using his wife’s identity in seeking a tactical poker advantage.

When the money was found for unknown reasons to be contaminated, the winnings of a respected top poker player were held back by Prima, leading to a growing furore.

The current position is that Prima executive John Docherty has suggested that the arguing parties agree on independent experts in the business to mediate a solution. The costs of the review will be borne by Prima.

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5 November 2004
Upgrade causes complications

The legions of online players that use Neteller as a payment option were left confused and frustrated over the weekend when what is believed to have been an upgrade caused other problems which did nothing for the processor’s reputation for efficiency.

Unfortunately, the management at Neteller did not immediately launch a communications initiative explaining the problem, and this exacerbated the situation.

Experienced players warned fellow gamblers to eschew deposits via Neteller until further notice. Transactions would appear to be rejected by the system, they reported but the funds were actually being deducted from accounts.

Some time after the problems surfaced, Neteller security chief Colin Francis belatedly gave us the following comment:

Growth Has it’s Issues

In response to some inquiries about intermittent system outages and user frustration, here is the situation.

NETeller has had unprecedented growth and has found it necessary to accelerate the upgrading of our capabilities to accommodate the increase. Some of the upgrading is underway at the present time. An example would be our server and network upgrade to the tune of $1,000,000 +. This multiplies our capacity by at least 5 times at the data base and makes us horizontally scalable to meet client and merchant demands.

As might be expected with the implementation of any new software/hardware, we are experiencing some glitches. We are aware that our applications are running unacceptably slow and we are working around the clock to correct this problem. Additionally, we are experiencing a tremendous demand on our call center. We apologize for the long delays that some callers may be experiencing.

Again, we are very sorry for the difficulties that the combined computer problems plus new system glitches are causing our clients. We ask for your continued patience and understanding as we resolve these issues and refine our applications. We are working diligently to correct all existing problems and to deliver solid online applications, and are confident that you will be pleased with the end results.

As we went to press the problem was resolved, but it is to be hoped that for the sake of players and operators alike, Neteller learns something from the incident and arranges a practical crisis response for the future.

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5 November 2004
Gambling age
The Australian-owned, RTG powered Kiss and Giant Vegas casinos have featured in player complaints before now, and have developed something of a reputation for “attitude” in their handling of disputes. Their latest showdown has been with a nineteen year old US gambler who claims that he fully disclosed his age when registering, gambled and lost without a peep from the casino management, but was then smiled on by Lady Luck and ended up with a $ 8 000 cash-in from a subsequent wager. Suddenly his age was a problem. Last we heard he had been promised but had not received back his deposit, and management were ignoring an outcry that is spreading around the fora that he should be paid his winnings. And as we went to press, Kiss Casino rubbed salt into this aggrieved player’s wounds by emailing him….another bonus offer!!!

This clone is connected
If you are one of the many online players who objects to the way RTG-powered Connect To Casino does business, be aware that it has a new clone out there called

Retroactive T&C hassles at Cirrus
Exercise great caution (and probably screenshot the T&Cs in force) id you’re planning to spend money at Cirrus Casino, which is reported to be up to it’s old trick of applying retroactive terms and conditions in disqualifications.

A change of software does not seem to have helped…
The operators of Indio and African Palace Casinos had their slowpay-nopay player problems when they were using Futurebet software, but assured the industry that those days were over when they changed to Playtech. However, there is now some doubt about this as news comes in that there is a substantial five figure payment outstanding to a player who has been waiting for six weeks. And alarmingly, the casino management has been unresponsive to player emails – all good reasons to exercise extreme caution.

Forgive us, says Lionbet
A guy called Mihai posted from Futurebet-powered Lionbet Casino this week assuring affiliates and players that all was well (now) at the casino, and apologising for “….all the problems and delays in the past. Now all problems are finally solved. All webmasters are in the process of being payed(i am waiting for their account information) and we have no unpayed players”

Lionbet came in for a lot of flak on payments and “attitude”, especially from affiliates earlier this year.

Mihai claims that there have been a lot of major positive changes in both software provider Futurebet as well in the casino, and goes on to talk about new games and more payment methods.

He closes with the startling admission that “….i know most of you will never promote my casino and sportsbook again (the said thing for me is that now when everything is ok i lost most of my affiliates)”

Which is probably true….

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5 November 2004
More facilities on this platform spokesman claims

Prestige Gaming, the operators of the Prestige, Diamond Club and Playgate poker sites, have announced they are migrating to the Playtech gambling software platform.

The company, which also offers numerous casino sites formerly powered by Boss Media, states that the move will greatly enhance the range and quality of their poker package.

?The new poker software,? explains a spokesperson for Prestige Gaming “supports a first-ever dual viewing mode functionality – 2D top-view or 3D side-view with animated avatars.

“Other features are multi-table gameplay, daily, weekly and monthly tournaments schedules, private and multi-tables tournaments, player notes, buddy lists, extra side games, real-time game histories, live support, refer-a-friend, and a VIP club.”

The spokesman also promised world class poker events and a new loyalty reward program in the near future.

Affiliates are to benefit from recent moves, too. Prestige has launched a new portal for its affiliate partners, The Partner, which boasts a 10-tier multilevel structure, a unique Affiliate Partner account designed to manage all Prestige sites simultaneously and generous commissions of up to 56 percent.

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5 November 2004
1,8 million i-cafes inspected, millions in fines.

Last year’s Greek electronics games ban at Internet cafes came to mind this week when Associated Press reported that mainland China had closed down 1600 Internet cafes and heavily fined owners for undesireable activities concerning child access to violent games and other offences.

The report received global coverage and revealed that China has closed 1,600 internet cafes and fined operators a total of $US12 million, according to a government announcement.

The announcement came amid a campaign launched in March to reduce or eliminate sex and violence in websites, video games and other material that Communist leaders consider harmful to public morality.

Investigators have inspected 1.8 million internet cafes looking for unlicensed operations or those that let children play violent games meant for adults, the Ministry of Culture said.

China encourages internet use for education and business but bans sexually oriented content on Chinese websites and tries to block access to foreign sites deemed pornographic or subversive.

The country has the world’s second-largest population of internet users after the United States, with 87 million people online.

“Porn, gambling, violence and similar problems have adversely affected the healthy development of the internet in China,” the official Xinhua News Agency quoted Zhang Xinjian, a Culture Ministry official, as saying.

In addition to those shut down permanently, some 18,000 internet cafes have been ordered to “stop operation for rectification,” Mr Zhang said.

The government said this month that 1,125 pornographic websites had been shut down since July and 445 people had been arrested.

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5 November 2004
Thais help game-addicted kids

And in a sequel to the Chinese Internet Cafe bannings, the Bangkok TNA reported that the Thai government plans to establish a rehabilitation centre for children addicted to computer and online games.

The centre will be based in the Department of Mental Health’s Rajanagarindra Institute of Child and Adolescent Mental Health, the department’s Director-General, Dr. M.L. Somchai Chakrabhand told TNA this week.

The centre will work closely with the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Ministry in an effort to reduce the addiction among children, Dr. M.L. Somchai said.

However, he admitted that the centre was not the complete cure for the problem.

The real cause of the problem was the fact that children were allowed to play computer games freely, without any time limits, he said.

“All the government agencies need to work together,” he said.

The ICT Ministry will soon propose tougher controls on Internet cafes and online game providers, according to Dr. M.L. Somchai.

One of the proposed measures would be to limit young people under 18 playing computer games to three hours a day.

Computer games arouse children’s desire to win and, in effect, is the same as adults being addicted to gambling, he said.

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5 November 2004
Jurors recommend nine years imprisonment in first ever spam felony case

Spammers beware! Associated Press reported this week that a brother and sister who sent junk e-mail to millions of America Online customers were convicted Wednesday in the nation?s first felony prosecution of Internet spam distributors.

Jurors recommended that Jeremy Jaynes be sentenced to nine years in prison and fined Jessica DeGroot $7,500 after convicting them of three counts each of sending e-mails with fraudulent and untraceable routing information.

A third defendant, Richard Rutkowski, 30, was acquitted of similar charges.

Sentencing was set for February. Circuit Court Judge Thomas Horne will have the option of reducing the jury?s sentence or leaving it intact.

Horne was still considering a motion from defense attorneys to set aside the verdict and will hear arguments on it at a later date. He had said previously that he had reservations about allowing the case against DeGroot and Rutkowski to go to a jury.

Virginia, where AOL is based, prosecuted the case under a law that took effect last year barring people from sending bulk e-mail that is unsolicited and masks its origin.

Prosecutors said Jaynes, 30, and DeGroot, 28, who live in the Raleigh, N.C., area, used the Internet to peddle sham products and services such as a ?FedEx refund processor.?

The refund processor supposedly allowed people to earn $75 an hour for working from home. In one month alone, Jaynes received 10,000 credit card orders, each for $39.95, for the processor.

?This is a snake oil salesman in a new format,? said state prosecutor Samuel E. Fishel IV.

Prosecutors had asked the jury to impose a maximum prison sentence of 15 years for Jaynes and to consider some jail time for his sister.

David Oblon, Jaynes? attorney, expressed shock at the sentence.

?Nine years is absolutely outrageous when you look at what we do to people convicted of crimes like robbery and rape,? he said.

Oblon had argued it was inappropriate for prosecutors to seek what he called excessive punishment because it was the first time the new law had been prosecuted. He also said that because his client was a North Carolina resident he would have been unaware of the Virginia law.

Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore applauded the convictions and called Virginia?s anti-spam law the toughest in America.

?Spam is a nuisance to millions of Americans, but it is also a major problem for businesses large and small because the thousands of unwanted e-mails create havoc as they attempt to conduct business,? Kilgore said in a statement.

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5 November 2004
We’re not familiar with the iGamingNetworks gambling software on new arrival Golden Cairo, but it offers a 30 item no download games suite that includes 8 jackpots and a progressive which they (erroneously) claim is the biggest on the ‘Net – the operators have perhaps not heard of Major Millions and others! The new casino is operated by InfoLot Holdings SA through a St Kitts and Nevis license held by Telton Limited. Toll free, livechat and email 24/7 Support is on hand, and using GCash Limited out of Gibraltar a wide range of financial instruments are available to players. There are several bonuses, notably a signup maxed at $300 and a twenty five percent re-up on second deposits; in both cases the WT is x10 D+B.

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5 November 2004
Beware the phishing email

Reuters reported a warning on internet banking fraud using email technology this week.

The report said that fraudsters have developed a potent new computer program that steals Internet banking customers’ details by duping them into opening up a bogus e-mail, according to a British security firm. Although to date attacks have been on Brazilian bank clientele, the company says that these attacks could be easily re-engineered with other targets.

Security technicians at MessageLabs fear it could become a favorite tool for “phishing” fraudsters, who lure computer users to a fake Web site and steal their banking and credit card details.

In the past, a phishing victim would have had to go through a relatively cumbersome procedure of opening the bogus e-mail and then clicking on a file attachment or Web site address located within the message to be conned.

Now, the trick starts the moment the victim opens the seemingly innocuous e-mail.

MessageLabs said that once a person opens the fraudulent e-mail, a tiny computer program known as a “script” immediately begins running. It embeds itself on the victim’s computer and overwrites bookmarked Web addresses or automatically redirects the victim from the intended banking site to an authentic-looking fake site that captures banking details.

Phishing frauds have become more and more prevalent over the past 18 months as more consumers do their personal banking on the Internet. British police recently estimated phishing scams cost UK banks an estimated 60 million pounds last year.

“Most banks have advised their customers to be wary of any e-mail asking for personal banking details, but in this case all they have to do is open an apparently innocent e-mail and their bank details could be silently sabotaged,” said Alex Shipp, senior anti-virus technologist at MessageLabs.

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5 November 2004

It’s not often that Gambling Federation issues new games to its licensees, but here’s one.

The older software in use by GF casinos was the iCrystal package, but a company spokesperson tells us that newer operations are equipped with proprietary software developed by the group.

This later software powers the new game, which is branded Lucky 888 and is a fully customized slot machine game reflecting a unique Asian theme. Unlike regular slots games, Lucky 888 features 25 lines to win. The odds at a 25 lines table are increased sixteen fold. ?With odds like these, we understand why our players love it? said Flaviano Fogli, CEO of Gambling Federation.

Gambling Federation claims that it’s game collection is one of the most extensive in the industry, with new offerings being continuously developed. The present software suite features more than 70 games including table, video poker, lottery and 1-8-9-15-20-25 line table slot games.

The group has been dogged by player allegations of bad communications and suspicious software in the past.

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5 November 2004
Launch scheduled before 2004 ends.

Casino Web Cam has signed up Betinternet for it’s live-over-the-internet casino solution, bringing to 16 the number of licensees for this increasingly popular form of remote gambling.

In a deal inked this week, a global on-line gaming group, and CWC Gaming, the licensing arm of CasinoWebcam, a leader in live online gaming, agreed a partnership which will lead to the launch of the betinternet Live Casino, an online casino with real tables, real dealers, and real cards broadcast over the Internet from Costa Rica.

The betinternet Live Casino will use CWC Gamings state of the art video and audio streaming technology and the Internet to bring the actual land based casino gaming experience to players homes. The betinternet Live Casino is anticipated go live in Q4 2004.

Games will include live blackjack, baccarat, sic bo, and roulette, with all games available using CWC Gamings second generation casino software. Using real time webcast, betinternet players will be able to see, hear, and play live casino games run by CWC Gaming’s croupiers and floor supervisors in accordance with industry standards for fairness and integrity.

Players will be able to use the same betinternet account login information for both the betinternet sportsbook and betinternet Live Casino, eliminating the need for duplicate account registration and cash transactions.

Paul Doona, CEO of, said: Our customers want the same level of fairness and integrity in an internet casino as they enjoy when betting on sports events with us. By partnering with CWC Gaming to launch the betinternet Live Casino, we will be able to provide our players with the same standards of fairness and integrity associated with regulated, land based gaming.

Adam Anhang, CEO of CWC Gaming, said: We are excited to operate this live online casino with has built a formidable presence in Asia, and given our experience in that region, we anticipate being able to assist betinternet in broadening their revenue potential. plc was founded in 1998, and has become a significant and respected player in the internet fixed odds sports betting industry. Services are offered to customers in over 130 countries, and the group seeks to differentiate itself by offering attractive product propositions to the changing profile of customers in the 20-35 age group through multiple or ‘exotic’ bets.



5 November 2004
Money to be made, but you’ve gotta be good!

An article by Rob Kaiser of the Chicago Tribune achieved wide international mileage this week on the back of the online poker phenomenon.

Kaiser gave examples of many American above-average poker players who have been cleaning up with significant income from their online poker activities – frequently exploiting less accomplished newbies to the game.

It’s a reminder that newbie players need to have their wits about them and polish their skills on free play before venturing into the lion’s den and facing opponents who could well be very experienced pros.

The article describes these new generation poker players who “…feast on the growing number of novices taking up poker after watching televised contests.

“While few players go to the extreme of quitting their jobs, many spend their evenings stalking sites such as Party and, pocketing an extra $20,000 or $30,000 annually on top of their regular salaries.”

And as more novices keep appearing, opportunity grows for experienced players.

“You’ll see people make terrible plays routinely,” says one experienced player. “For the most part these people call too much and play too aggressively.”

Another noted that the anonymity of Internet games often makes new players more aggressive. In land casinos, he says, “You don’t want to look too stupid so people play more conservatively.”

Kaiser reports that money wagered on poker sites will clear $1 billion this year, based on PokerPulse’s figures, which likely undercount total betting because they do not include popular online poker tournaments that charge entry fees.

Comparing the poker predators to day traders, he says that rather than making rapid-fire stock trades online, these gamblers seek profits by leveraging small advantages with their poker experience, discipline and statistical savvy.

Internet poker offers experienced players some advantages, particularly the ability to play at multiple tables at the same time. Online games generally go faster than casino games, and by playing three or four tables simultaneously, expert players can easily participate in more than 200 hands an hour.

Nobody tracks how many people play poker for a living, but the number appears to be growing. And this new breed will often take advantage of the global reach of the Internet despite the disadvantages this holds in terms of international time zones.

“Certainly at this point there are thousands,” said Greg Raymer, who left his job as a patent attorney at Pfizer Inc. after winning $5 million this year at poker’s biggest event, the World Series of Poker.


5 November 2004
First ever tourney win for Spiderman actor

Another Hollywood celeb won big at poker this week when Spiderman persona Tobey Maguire proved that he can score at the poker tables just as well as the box office when took his first major poker tournament.

Playing at Phil Hellmuth’s Poker Invitational at the Hollywood Park Casino, the $2,000 buy-in event netted him $95,480 for first place. The 13-hour tournament event was held as part of the casino’s eight annual National Championship of Poker tournament.

The actor outlasted a field of 123 players, with a prize pool of $246,000, including Danny Masterson of That ’70s Show. Other players that placed in the tournament include Reza Payvar, Marcel Sabag, Glenn Cozen, George Yutuc, Alex Papachatzakis, Lang Lee, Lance Allred and Stan Goldstein.

The Phil Hellmuth Invitation tournament was the eighth of 12 tournament events held during the National Championship of Poker at Hollywood Park Casino. The tournament draws players from across the nation and has an estimated $1 million in prize pool money up for grabs.


5 November 2004
Irish tax issue an expensive business

Irish media reports at the weekend indicate that the billion Euro a year betting exchange business may have to fight to retain its tax-free status in the Emerald Isle.

It appears that Betdaq, owned by businessman Dermot Desmond may be the target of an investigation by the Irish taxman in challenging the tax-free status it has hithertoe enjoyed.

The second biggest betting exchange in Europe, Betdaq is on course to process more than Euro 1 billion in deals in 112 countries this year through its server in Dublin. Tax inspectors are claiming that all the deals should be subject to a 21 per cent VAT service tax.

Betdaq contends that it has no outstanding tax liability in Ireland or Britain where the company principally operates, according to sources. The company’s managing director, Rob Hartnett, said: “We are having on-going discussions with the Irish Revenue. We are confident that it will become clear to all concerned that there is no such liability for VAT.”

The online betting exchanges, which allow punters to offer their own odds directly to other users, have changed the face of gambling. Their low-cost base and exemption from the 2 per cent betting duty allows firms such asBetdaq to offer odds that are 20 percent more attractive than those offered by traditional bookmakers.

However, the profits they are generating, within a grey area of tax law, have led to the current probe into Betdaq. It is expected the inquiry will extend to other online betting exchanges.

The law in this area is reported to be enormously complicated. “This will probably end up in the High Court. We are talking about potentially hundreds of millions of Euro, and it’s a legal minefield,” a source said.

Betdaq, an unlimited company that is not obliged to file annual accounts, has 25,000 clients in Britain, Ireland and Asia. Almost all of its transactions are conducted through the server located at the company’s headquarters in the IFSC in Dublin. It employs nearly 100 people in its Dublin office.

It is believed that the British exchequer has already conceded that transactions by British residents on Betdaq’s site are not liable to service tax. The company has argued to the Irish Revenue inspectors that such transactions are also not liable for VAT in the Republic of Ireland because they involve non-residents.

It has argued further that deals by Irish punters, valued at nearly Euro 80 million annually, are not liable for VAT.

It is believed that the inspectors have tried to argue that Betdaq’s tax exposure could extend to the entire business transacted on the server. This would amount to a 21 percent tax on deals for British and Irish punters. If the Revenue case is successful, Betdaq could be forced to move its operations abroad.


5 November 2004
Advice on website content

It is encouraging to note that the Vegas Partners Lounge online casino group is sufficiently interested in their potential and existing customers to ask for input on upcoming website revamps.

Posting on a popular online gambling forum, the group asked for straight-talking ideas and with the exception of the inevitable few off-at-a-tangent responses, there were some useful suggestions.

One of the more thoughtful and practical responses in our view was this one, from which gambling website owners might draw inspiration:

1) Give us USEFUL information on the “about us” page. Most casino’s “about us” page is either sorely lacking in useful information or altogether missing. The things we want to know are:

– How long has the casino been operational?
– Where is it physically located?
– Where is it licensed?
– What software type is it using?
– What other casinos / businesses are partnered with it?
– And most importantly, SHOW US the people in charge and provide an easy way to contact them. Give some real background on the owners / managers so that we may better relate to (and come to trust hopefully) them. Kudos to 32Red for doing the same.

2) Bonus offers:

– A variety (including a “no bonus” option) should be made available, and the current offers as well as all their T&C fine print should be made available clearly on the “promotions” page.
– When making a deposit the available bonus choices ought to be brought up front and center. Ideally with a nice little menu where the player can examine the fine print for each offer and make their choice as best suits them. That way there are no surprises for either the casino or the player.
– Make the T&C short and sweet. Put the important information at the top (wagering requirements, restricted games) and make it BOLD and obvious to the player that this is not simply “free money” but that there are some strings attached.

3) Annoyances:

– NO POPUPS. They suck, and any “gotta have it” type marketing information presented in them simply ought to be posted at the top/middle of the home page, NOT in a popup of ANY type.
– NO “Download the casino software now?” popups. They are still popups, and these particular ones are even more annoying. As was said earlier, if I become interested in your casino, I am perfectly capable of clicking the “Download casino” link myself.

4) More specific information about the available games:
– Game variations available including minimum and maximum bets on each. UNQUOTE

5 November 2004
How we love a good luck story!

Good fortune story of the week undoubtedly comes from Intercasino , where a new record for fast winning has probably been established by a 45 year old novice player who scooped a $286 609 jackpot after just 6 minutes of action.

As far as we know, no one has ever scored a really big hit so quickly. A just-out-of-the-box online gambler going by the username Silvana3, registered at two weeks ago, but didn?t start her play-for-real until this week.

The two-week wait between registration and play was well timed, because Silvana3 beat the progressive slot machine Rags to Riches after just $13 dollars and six minutes in play. Her $13 investment netted her a cool $286,609, or a remarkable 22,046 times return on investment.

Casino manager Ryan Hartley said. “We have had people hit Rags to Riches twice, we have had players who hit it on the first spin of the day, and we?ve even seen people who have never bet slots win on Rags to Riches. But we have never had someone who?s never gambled before in her life win over a quarter of a million dollars!?


5 November 2004
Cyberslotz claims “….exciting new dimension to roulette”, the British online fruit machine and games website, launched what is claimed to be the world?s first Multi Wheel Roulette game this week ? giving players up to six opportunities to win.

Part of the RAL Group of companies that owns 135 high street adult gaming centres Cyberslotz says that in debuting Multi-Wheel Roulette its selection of unique and classic online games now numbers 18.

Multi-Wheel Roulette is for gamblers who want more exciting game play than traditional roulette, by playing on up to six wheels simultaneously. Customers can play on one roulette table, which has a single ?0?, or choose to add up to five other wheels, simply by increasing their initial stake. So, a customer playing the main table plus two other wheels will have an outlay of three times their initial bet.

The new Multi Wheel Roulette game offers the same odds as traditional roulette. A single straight number pays out 35-to-one, two numbers split 17-to-one and red or black evens. However, customers who play the new game have the opportunity to win a further five times by selecting the maximum number of wheels.

Managing director Brian Morgan says, ?Owning our own software allows us to integrate dynamic new games easily as well as tailor them to suit our customers? needs. The opportunity to play on Multi-Wheel Roulette adds an exciting new dimension to one of the most popular casino games. It can be played purely for fun, or for cash with stakes starting from as low as 10p.”


5 November 2004
Trade body welcomes online casino group

The iGGBA welcomed the addition of Gambling Federation to its ranks this week as the most recent of 50 members.

Gambling Federation is an independent offshore company focusing on the provision of complete operational services for the online casino industry, bringing together all aspects of successful online gaming ? casino software, operator management & marketing tools, customer & licensee support, financial, billing & payment services, and hosting & technical support.

The group operates in 15 languages including most European and Asian languages, and features multiple currencies, working directly with companies interested in licensing the software platform and operating an online casino.

The iGGBA is trade rather than player oriented and believes in supporting a broad and diverse membership base, reaching from content developers over testing companies and law firms to operators. This premise has proven especially helpful in iGGBA?s latest efforts liaising between industry and government to further the developments of the UK Gambling Bill.

Flaviano Foglio, CEO of Gambling Federation, comments on the membership: ?We are delighted to join the iGGBA, an organization dedicated to improve the gaming industry. We look forward in working together to ensure that the industry achieves its true potential.?

5 November 2004
GSN adds Poker tournament to programming…and a $10 million prize

Based on it’s success in blackjack casino programming, the GSN games network is expanding into the poker business with Poker Royale: The WPPA Championship, an exclusive six-episode series sponsored by Pizza Hut featuring the country’s best players.

GSN’s foray into poker includes three World Series of Poker champions — Chris Moneymaker, Carlos Mortensen and Kathy Liebert. The show also includes other highly skilled players, and will feature an added bonus – the chance for the tournament champ and a GSN viewer to split an additional $10 million grand prize in the final episode.

During the telecast of the final episode on January 11, the winner will be dealt five cards, if it’s a full house or better, the player and the sweepstakes winner will split $10 million dollars.

The series debuts Tuesday, December 7 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT, and covers the first tournament organized by the World Poker Players Association (WPPA), headed by Louis J. Asmo, recently held at Las Vegas’ Orleans Hotel and Casino. The series follows the classic No Limit Hold’em rules established by the WPPA which reward skill over luck.

The over 50 million poker players in the country will enjoy the action of this event which features No Limit Texas Hold’em with buy-ins and blinds (a bet put in play before any cards are dealt) designed to emphasize skill over luck.

The tournament will showcase the true skill of the players, both professional and amateur, as they climb up the tournament ladder. POKER ROYALE will include a unique graphic enhancement, giving insight to each of the player’s hands and the strategy behind them.

GSN’s coverage will also center upon the skill and expertise of the player, highlighting player strategy, including bluffs and tells as well as the player tournament background. With 22 cameras covering the action at the featured table, viewers will have a bird’s eye view of how each expert plays his/her hand.

Reaching 57 million Nielsen homes, GSN is distributed in the U.S. through all major cable systems and satellite providers. The network is jointly owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment and Liberty Media Corporation.

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5 November 2004
Better sales, profits up for the Swedes

Net sales increased by 57 percent to SEK 157.2 (99.9) million at Boss Media, according to the latest January to September financial report released this week.

And sales for the third quarter were similarly buoyant at SEK 53.5 (33.7) million, an increase of 59 percent compared with the same period last year.

Other highlights were as follows:

* Profit after financial items was SEK 61.2 (22.3) million. Non-recurrent items during the first quarter affected the profit for the period by SEK 10.5 million. Profit after financial items for the third quarter was SEK 22.7 (8.2) million.

* Net profit was SEK 43.8 (15.8) million. Net profit for the third quarter was SEK 16.3 (5.8) million.

* Royalty revenues rose by about 44 percent compared with the same period last year. The increase for the third quarter amounted to about 15 percent.

* During the third quarter Norsk Tipping commercially deployed its first new interactive gaming machines from EssNet Interactive in Oslo.

In addition to online casino turnkey contracting, Boss Media develops gaming solutions for interactive video terminals, mobile phones and digital TV. Licensees are offered a customized gaming system, an integrated payment system as well as related services.

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5 November 2004
Live-over-the-internet gambling gets a boost

Turnkey provider Playtech has been made a master licensee by HGN-i2Corp which holds the patent in respect of “live-over-the-Internet” gambling.

The following release is from Playtech, which probably explains the absence of any comment on CasinoWebCam’s similar status and 15 users.

Playtech announced today the signing of a master license agreement with Home Gambling Network, a wholly owned subsidiary of (ITOO), for use of HGN’s patented live gaming technology. Under the terms of the deal, Playtech will sub-license live gaming services to its software licensees.

Playtech is currently the only major gaming solutions provider to offer operators a choice of both RNG-based games and live video stream games, where customers play opposite real dealers, in a single software application.

Based on the company’s acclaimed online casino platform, live gaming utilizes advanced video streaming technology to personally connect dealer and player, replicating online the human warmth and sociability of the land-based experience. Players can watch the dealer performs actions such as spinning the Roulette wheel, dealing cards and throwing dice and can engage the dealer in 1-on-1 live chat – all in real time.

HGN was formed for the purpose of marketing and licensing U.S. Patent 5,800,268, a business method for wagering on live games and events utilizing electronic financial transactions. Its patent has been applied for in Australia, Canada, and the European Patent Office. The European patent was published in November of 1999.

By awarding a master license to Playtech, HGN, whose licensees include and CompuRace Inc., have seen the total number of operators using their technology multiply considerably. Currently eighteen of Playtech’s licensees feature live games on their sites, and more are being added each month.

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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