LATEST DISASTER INFO FROM THAILAND
31 December 2004
Gambling webmaster sets up information site
Kudos to Ted Loh of Got2Bet.com, who set up a comprehensive information site within hours of the awful natural disaster which struck SE Asia on December 26, when an earthquake-triggered tsunami took tens of thousands of lives and wreaked havoc on coastal areas.
OneThailand.com provides information, resources and other links relevant to the 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami which devastated southern Thailand.
Please bookmark this page and point your family and friends to the site in order to get quick information on this disaster in a mainly Thai context: http://www.onethailand.com/ The site contains really useful contact numbers and information, aid requirements and news updates.
A noteworthy public service from a committed webmaster.
Winward online casino group and Next Generation Entertainment joined this week in raising cash to assist tsunami relief efforts in the stricken SE ASIA region.
Spokesmen said the companies are very concerned for the tens of thousands of people affected by the earthquake and subsequent Tsunami.
The devastation caused in numerous countries is beyond what anyone could have expected, and in an effort to help all of the people berieved, injured or displaced by this disaster, Next Generation Entertainment and Winward Casino Group pledge 100 percent of revenue generated by all their websites on January 5th. The websites involved include Winwardcasino.com WorldwideVegas.com, Bingohall.com, BingoPalace.com, OnlineBingo.com, and Vicsbingo.com, typically generating upwards of $100,000 on a given week day.
The International Red Cross will be the recipient of the funds, with a request the aid be focused specifically on Tsunami Victims relief.
Next Generation and Winward Casino Group are separately owned gaming companies. "We teamed because we felt that as an Industry we should all come together and do our part," stated Andrew Truman, CEO of Next Generation Entertainment.
"We have done many charitable events with Next Generation in the past and wish more gaming sites would give back to the world community," said Jon Ramsey, President of Winward. "We are seeing sports book's like VIP and others come together. It is a small act of kindness and charity, that makes for a miracle for someone in need."
NO BLUFFING - POKER MAGAZINE GROWTH IS EXPLOSIVE
31 December 2004
Bluff Magazine hits 150,000 circulation on second issue
The latest evidence of poker?s continuing surge in popularity can be seen in the immediate and continuing success of recently launched Bluff Magazine, a print publication based in Atlanta GA.
In only its second issue, Bluff has exceeded 150,000 in circulation to become the largest per issue circulation poker publication in North America.
?I?ve never seen a new publication take off like this?, publisher and co-founder Eric Morris said this week. ?I?ve been involved in the launch of several successful magazines over the past nine years, and this kind of instant success is unprecedented.?
An 84 percent news-stand sell-through rate on Bluff?s premiere issue has opened the floodgates on newsstand demand. Bluff has gone from 7,000 newsstand copies at launch to over 70,000 with its second issue. Bluff is now carried by many of the major newsstand outlets across the country including Barnes & Noble, Borders, Walton Books, Books-A-Million, Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT), Albertsons (NYSE: ABS), and Kroger (NYSE: KR).
Bluff can also be found in over 100 card rooms in 21 states and at live poker events nationwide such as those produced by the fast-growing Amateur Poker League.com.
What?s the secret to Bluff?s success? According to co-founder and self-described poker junkie, Eddy Kleid, ?Poker is hot right now, and Bluff is providing the right mix of content to pique the interest of a new generation of poker player. Bluff is not just a compendium of poker strategy articles, it also focuses on the excitement surrounding the dream of becoming a professional poker player.?
With features such as ?Poker Like a Rock Star? (a day in the life of a hip 25 year-old poker superstar) and ?Dan?s Diary? (the ongoing saga of an aspiring professional who dropped everything to give it his best shot), Bluff is the first pop culture poker publication to hit the market. ?I think part of what makes Bluff so enticing is the fact that anyone can become the next star on the World Poker Tour, it doesn?t matter how old, tall, strong, or rich you are. Our goal is to get people excited about this poker.?
Presently a bi-monthly publication, Bluff plans to become monthly in late Spring 2005.
STOP PRESS: As we went to press the news was coming in that the publishers of Bluff Magazine will be on CNBC at 7:30 AM on January 4th, 2005 at 7:30 AM to discuss the popularity of internet poker.
Sportsbook.com has become famous not only for betting services in North America, but also for the beautiful women who grace their sought-after annual calenders, and this week the sports book embarked on another print initiative with the launch of the client-complimentary Playbook magazine.
The glossy magazine explores the world of sports betting, casino gambling and poker rooms, and features articles on gamblers' lifestyles. The pages are full of practical advice to help players, including articles like "Mix it Up" explaining betting terms for beginners,
to in-depth advice on betting boxing, playing blackjack and winning at poker.
Cutting edge analytical information on the latest sporting action is an important element of Playbook, as well as some of those beautiful women from their calender issues.
"PlayBook is the first of its kind in the online betting industry," says
Alex Czajkowski, Marketing Director Sportingbet PLC Americas Region,
"We launched PlayBook to help customers better understand all the opportunities the site has to offer. The message of the magazine is "Strategies for Winning," and our articles cover how to play better online and off."
Nolan Dalla, successful gambler, respected teacher and passionate gamblers'
rights advocate, is the editor of the new publication, which takes sportsbook customer relations to a new level.
Riding the crest of someone else's wave...
In an unregulated industry it appears that some operators, or perhaps *over zealous* and undisciplined affiliates are confident that an "anything goes" mentality is acceptable...it is not.
Such a case surfaced this week, we understand when a highly reputable and successful online casino group found their good name being used on spam for lesser casinos in the Trump Casino Group, believed connected with Slots Alley.com.
By using a recognised company name in the unsolicited spam title line, the spammer tried to defeat filter settings against his far less reputable venue, and open up his canned pork *newsletter* offerings. Adding insult to injury, and clearly indicating deceitful intent, these fraudulent emails even directed unsubscribe attempts to the reputable casinos unsubscribe page.
The fraudulently titled spam appeared to be part of a marketing drive launched by the Lucky Trump and Magic Trump casinos in late November.
Outraged, the reputable casino group has fired a warning shot across Lucky Trump Casino bows, along with the provider of its software, Casinova. The group has additionally alerted the Gibraltar licensing authorities, where Lucky Trump alleges it is registered.
Operators that pull this sort of stunt, or for that matter those that do not take the strongest action against affiliates that do so are hardly portraying themselves in an honest and trustworthy light, and the industry can well do without this dishonest nonsense.
Player rolled at Luck 'n Roll
A cautionary tale appeared on Arnold Snyder's Blackjack Forum Online this week in an investigative story by Radar O'Reilly, who warns readers to be cautious around Slots Alley, Casino Onliner, and LuckNRoll.
The forum, which is run by professional gamblers and is making a name for itself in addition to Snyder's much respected name, is becoming a popular venue for skilled players.
"The results we recorded on the Jacks or Better video poker at LuckNRoll online casino were mathematically impossible on a fair game." He then produces the mathematical analysis to support this assertion, which can be found under the title "Getting Rolled at Luck 'N Roll" on the Blackjack Forum Online.com site.
RAGS TO RICHES THE BIG PAYER THIS WEEK
31 December 2004
Cool win for Intercasino progressive player
Big winner this week is unquestionably LLCoolV, who took home a $231,015 Rags to Riches Mega-Jackpot from Intercasino after wagering only $33 on the high win progressive.
Intercasino points out that this is a stunning 7000 times return on investment, and enough to buy everyone on his Christmas list a new car, and still have plenty of change for the champagne on New Year's Eve!
LLCoolV has been a player at InterCasino.com for just under a year, and has taken to Rags to Riches like a fish to water. The progressive starts at $100,000 and frequently pays out well over $200,000.
The Bodog.com sportsbook, casino and poker group has been named the 2004 US Market Hot Shot by eGaming Review Magazine.
Known throughout the industry for extensive marketing programs, Bodog.com was chosen for top spot by one of the industrys top ranked publications.
?We have put in place a solid team of marketing professionals that are continuously looking for new and fresh avenues to promote the Bodog.com brand,? said Calvin Ayre, founder and CEO of the betting group.
With the 2004 year coming to end, Bodog.com has been accumulating a number of high profile awards this year, and the addition of the 2004 US Market Hot Shot Award further establishes the strong branding achieved by the team.
Recently, Bodog.com was ranked by Interactive Gaming News as the 5th Best Sportsbook for the top 10 of 2004. Also ranking Bodog.com in the top was Hitwise, which took data collected from over 25 million internet users, and listed Bodog.com in the Top 10 Entertainment-Gambling Sites. This ranked Bodog.com with the top US Lottery organizations.
It is not just the industry alone that has taken notice of the massive rise that Bodog.com is making in the industry. Gambling Online Magazine publishes a yearly Reader?s Choice Poll which landed Bodog.com a remarkable 9 awards. The awards consisted of 7 silver awards and 2 gold awards. eGaming Review Magazine also published the Power 25, for which Bodog.com acquired the 15th spot overall.
?These are all remarkable accomplishments that any company would be proud to boast about, and I would like to thank the entire Bodog.com team for the tireless efforts in getting us to this point,? said Ayre.
More betting service action from a prolific technology provider
Multi-platform technology company, Zone4Play has announced that its new advanced Cross Platform Back Office software, ZoneMAS has gone on the market.
ZoneMAS has already been deployed on Winner Channel, a new UK fixed odds service, soon to be launched on NTL and Telewest Broadband digital cable platforms. The new system enables the delivery of betting services on different interactive platforms (web, mobile and iTV) using a one-time registration process and a single account.
ZoneMAS supports, amongst other things, fixed odds games, lottery games, number games, bingo games and includes advanced marketing & advertising tools.
Idan Miller, Senior VP Marketing and sales of Zone4Play said: "This new launch positions Zone4Play as the sole provider of an end-to-end cross platform interactive betting solution in the market. We are happy to provide an advanced back office, game engines and front end development abilities for any iTV system, mobile devices and web services. ZoneMAS presents a new and fresh cross platform solution designed to meet the unique requirements of the service on each of the platforms."
CHECK 'N RAISE DOZEN FOR WSO 2005
31 December 2004
Getting the new poker year off to a flying start
Check 'N Raise Poker.com is out of the tournament gates for 2005 early with the announcement of their 'Lucky Dozen' January promotion, which will will give twelve online poker players entry into the 2005 World Series of Poker in Las Vegas.
Each week, 150 people (the top 50 from each of 3 categories) playing on the site will be entered into tournaments where the prizes are $10,000, $5,000 or $1,000, entries to the World series of poker plus $1,000 in spending money.
Qualifications will be based on players' total weekly play as measured by: Hands played in all real money games, Check Points earned and Frequent Tournament Points.
The leader in each category each week will receive an entry into a special freeroll tournament where the winner receives a $10,000 entry into the W.S.O.P. main event and $1,000 in spending money.
Players who finish 2nd to 10th will have a chance to play off for two $5,000 W.S.O.P. tournament entries and $1,000 in spending money.
The news stories in the online poker sector are usually positive, but this week there were some reminders that failure can supervene if poker networks are not well managed.
Prominent among recent negative happenings has been the Your Poker Network failure for reasons unknown. Among the poker rooms affected by the collapse were Check or Bet, Senior Poker, Pokeroo, Nutzpoker, Tipsy Poker, Poker Pot, Poker Dreams and Delta Poker.
MORE EBAY MARKETING FROM GOLDEN PALACE
31 December 2004
Now it's the naughty kids' pressies
Golden Palace marketers continued to capitalize on their eBay-based marketing over the festive season with the purchase from a Pasadena auctioner of his children's toys - they were too naughty to get them.
Associated Press reported that the latest whacky but highly publicised purchase cost GP a mere $5 300 for the naughty kids' Christmas presents
The Pasadena man who sold the presents said last week that he decided to auction the three Nintendo DS game systems because his sons, ages 9, 11, and 15, had misbehaved. The family?s decision made national headlines, intriguing GoldenPalace.com, casino spokesman Monty Kerr said.
Everyone (other than the Pasadena kids) could benefit from the deal. GP gets another load of mainstream publicity, and the Antigua-based casino agreed to bid on the game systems as long the family promised to donate the proceeds to charity. The family told him it will buy a new heater for its church and do other renovations.
The casino plans to donate the game systems to a needy Houston family.
The father, who has been identified only by his eBay seller name magumbo?2000, could not be reached for comment.
The casino has paid about $108,000 for eBay oddities in just more than a month, such as a cheese sandwich said to bear the Virgin Mary?s image and a cane sold to banish a young boy?s fear of ghosts.
MICROSOFT TO ADDRESS SPYWARE THREAT?
31 December 2004
How clean is your computer?
Last October, the U.S. National Cyber Security Alliance scanned computers in 329 homes in 22 states, then interviewed the owners. The survey found 80 percent of the PCs infested with spyware... and 90 percent of respondents had no idea what the programs did or even that they were there.
The deluge of spyware, which monitors Web-surfing habits and can steer users to sites they might otherwise never click to, has put the need to clean up the Internet in stark relief, reports a highly relevant story in USA Today this week.
What's more, it has set in motion the imminent re-alignment of some of tech's marquee players ? Symantec, McAfee, Microsoft, America Online and Yahoo, among them.
"All of these players stand to lose if consumers go offline due to frustration," says Gene Munster, tech security analyst at Piper Jaffray. "What we're about to see is a period of experimentation in redistributing the burden for making the Internet secure."
For most of the year, AOL, EarthLink, Yahoo, MSN and others have moved aggressively to bundle more basic anti-virus and anti-spyware protection into Internet subscription services. Meanwhile, tech security suppliers with well-reviewed products, such as Trend Micro and Webroot, penetrated deeper into the mass market.
This month, Microsoft weighed in by buying anti-spyware maker Giant Company Software, reinforcing speculation that it plans to stake out a hefty chunk of the consumer tech security market. Meanwhile, Symantec, the leading anti-virus vendor, agreed to buy data storage company Veritas for $13 billion, at least partly to hedge against Microsoft's grab for its core business, analysts say.
With ISPs circling and Microsoft on the move, pressure is mounting on Symantec and McAfee, the No. 2 anti-virus supplier. Each is closing out red-hot years in consumer sales. Yet, each is scrambling for a strategy to stay relevant in a tumultuous consumer market.
One scenario fast taking shape involves ISPs emerging as consumer suppliers of basic anti-virus and anti-spyware protection.
In a flurry of activity this month, MSN, Comcast and Cox Communications each moved to add free anti-spyware protection to basic services. Last week, AOL began supplying SpyZapper anti-spyware for free; it already includes McAfee's VirusScan service, normally a $50 annual subscription, gratis to all its 22 million U.S. subscribers.
It's unclear how Symantec, McAfee and security specialists, such as Webroot and Lavasoft, will make out. The best could thrive by supplying tech anonymously ? and at bulk rates ? to ISPs.
"Who's going to want to pay for all this different stuff, if you can get it for free elsewhere?" says John Pescatore, vice president for Internet security at Gartner.
A retreat from expanding retail sales seems inevitable. Symantec's consumer revenue vaulted 63%, to $315 million, in its most recent quarter. McAfee's jumped 127%, to $116.7 million. Privately held Webroot's revenue doubled in each of the past five quarters, CEO David Moll says.
Spyware this year began to mushroom across the Internet. The USA Today says that Microsoft is acutely vulnerable, because spyware writers mainly look to exploit a technology, ActiveX, built into Microsoft's ubiquitous Internet Explorer browser.
Capitalizing on tech users' dissatisfaction with Internet Explorer, a group of mostly volunteer programmers last month released the free Firefox browser. Because it doesn't use ActiveX, Firefox repels most spyware, though it won't eliminate spyware already in place.
Firefox has been downloaded 11 million times since its debut, eating into Internet Explorer's long immovable 96% share of the browser market. By early December, it had dipped to 92%, says Web analytics firm WebSideStory.
"The severity of the problem is growing, with many computers being rendered useless by spyware," says Chris Hofmann, engineering director of Mozilla, the non-profit creator of Firefox. "It is from the pool of users who've become extremely frustrated with (Internet Explorer) that we see the greatest Firefox adoption."
On Dec. 16, Microsoft moved to stop that pool from growing by snapping up anti-spyware maker Giant. It plans to re-issue a free version of Giant's $30-per-year anti-virus service next month. Mike Nash, Microsoft's security business corporate vice president, declines to discuss plans beyond that.
Some industry experts expect Microsoft to bundle Giant's anti-spyware product with anti-virus technology it brought in-house 18 months ago with the purchase of a small Romanian company, GeCad.
ssociated Press reports this week that Greg Raymer, the 2004 World Series of Poker champion, apparently knows how to wield more than a stack of chips when everything is riding on it.
The soft-spoken patent attorney from Stonington, Conn., fought off a pair of attackers Dec. 20 at the Bellagio hotel-casino after he had finished playing a cash game of poker, according to a Las Vegas police report.
Raymer was returning to his room about 2 a.m. when two men approached, the report said. As he opened the door to the room, they tried to push him in.
But the heavyset Raymer resisted and began struggling with the men, the report said. As he was fighting, one of the men pulled out a gun and said: "We just want the money."
But Raymer didn't give up, and yelled for security, causing the men to flee.
A security officer said one of the suspects was a poker player and also recognized him from a previous incident.
Police made an arrest in the case but the report didn't identify the person.
Raymer, known as the "Fossilman" in poker circles, won the WSOP Texas Hold'Em title and $5 million in cash. He beat out a field of 2,576 in May to win the prestigious event.
On a poker message board, Raymer recently wrote: "I don't write this to brag, I just want any robbery-minded people out there who hear about this to know that I'm a tough mark, and they won't get that much off me even if they succeed." Never a truer word written!
POKER TOUR INTERNATIONAL DATES ANNOUNCED
31 December 2004
Plenty of Caribbean fun and poker ahead
Poker Tour International (PTI), has announced the first quarter Texas Hold'em Poker tournaments for 2005.
Dates are as follows: February 7-13, 2005 at the Isle of Capri Casino, Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas; March 12-16, 2005 at Circa's Hispanola Resort and Casino, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and April 13-18, 2005 aboard the Norwegian Cruise ship Caribbean Spirit.
Rates for the trips, including buy-ins, travel, and accommodations, run around $2,999 and re-buys are available at $500.
Potential winnings include $250,000-$500,000 (depending on the number of participants), seats to other PTI tournaments, and seats to the Semi Annual Multi Million Dollar Classic Finals.
This year's PTI production team includes pro players Lee Watkinson, who has won $1,453,573 from final tables this year alone and is rated #1 in the World by Bluff Magazine; Ted Lawson, winner of this year's Las Vegas Omaha World Poker Series; "Unabomber" Phil Laak, winner of the WPT Invitation 2004; Humberto Brenes, known as "godfather of Costa Rican Players"; regular at final tables Steve Kates, partner of Royal Oasis Casino; and Tournament Organizer Burt Kravette.
Together, the PTI team has set plans in motion a series of multimedia poker events in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America sponsored in part by PartyPoker.com.
"PTI is a mid-range tournament series specifically designed for the guy next door to win big next to pro players," says Kates. Satellite tournaments for winners to win all expense paid trips will be held on PartyPoker.com.
From $50 to $58 000 makes for a real festive season!
Here's one of those winner stories we all enjoy so much - a woman who played a $50 bonus into $58 300 over the holidays at Microgaming-powered Vegas Joker Casino.com
The bonus came from Vegas Joker's "Christmas Free Bonus" and she started playing on Monday 27th after losing other bonuses over the weekend. About an hour or so after she started playing she whacked 4 Aces and a 4 on Double Double Bonus Poker for $500.00, followed by a Royal Flush on Double Bonus Poker for $2,000.00.
Now firmly on a roll, she kept playing to Tuesday evening and managed to hit several large jackpots leaving her with an account balance of some $58,300.00 at the casino.
REALTIME GAMING LAUNCHES WIRELESS WAGERING
31 December 2004
Good potential for the future says CEO Staw
Online casino software developer RealTime Gaming has announced the release of a wireless gaming platform.
The RTG press release quotes industry analysts who estimate that by 2008, the worldwide mobile device market will total more than 800 million units, 250 million of them smartphones, and 540 million of them feature and voice phones.
?As mobile devices expand to become total entertainment devices, today?s wireless platform helps meet the demands of tomorrow?s customers,? says Michael Staw, President of RealTime Gaming.
The Atlanta-based gambing software provider now offers a suite of mobile games on the Palm and PocketPC, with Java games and a Symbian suite to follow in the first quarter of 2005.
?We will also be adding other mobile platforms such as RIM Blackberry and Microsoft?s Smartphone,? adds Staw, who reportedly inked a deal with Phantom Fiber earlier this year.
It must be the silly season - Golden Palace buying old toasted sandwiches, Sunny bidding for baseball teams and now Poker Room.com offering to stage a poker game to resolve a national hockey dispute....
The press release from the Scandinavian company trumpets that in an effort to find a solution to salvage the 2004/2005 NHL hockey season PokerRoom.com this week offered its online services to NHL commissioner, Gary Bettman's New York office and NHL Players' Association (NHLPA) executive director Bob Goodenow's Toronto office, inviting them to settle a longstanding labour dispute like men - in a game of winner-take-all poker on PokerRoom.com.
In the spirit of their respective bargaining positions, the two-stage online tournament will feature a game of limit Texas Hold'em poker with a cap of four raises, followed by a heads-up, one-on-one game of no-limit Texas Hold'em. The first player to capture all his opponent's chips wins the challenge and the season is saved.
"Hockey fans in North America have had enough of the current high-stakes game of brinkmanship that led to and continues to disrupt the 2004-2005 NHL hockey season," says Patrik Selin, casino boss, PokerRoom.com. "If they can't resolve this dispute through traditional negotiations and compromise, then the PokerRoom.com tournament offers them the best, and quickest, way to declare a winner and let the fans enjoy hockey again before it's too late. With no downloads required to play and the tournament hosted on-line, Mr. Bettman and Mr. Goodenow can easily take on the challenge from their respective offices in New York and Toronto."
The marketing kicker comes in the final paragraph of the release.
We quote: If Mr. Bettman and Mr. Goodenow decide not to accept this challenge, and the season is lost, PokerRoom.com invites hockey fans across the country to participate in the next best thing: PokerRoom Night in Canada online tournaments. A perfect replacement to fill the Saturday night void, these tournaments run every Saturday night at 7:00 p.m. EST until February 19, with a final tournament on February 26. Unquote
The winner of the weekly PokerRoom Night in Canada tournaments will receive a ticket which entitles them to a seat in the PokerRoom Night in Canada Play-off Final on the 26th. This final tournament will be hosted as a single table, winner-takes-all-tournament, where the lucky player wins an all-expense paid trip to Sweden to see popular NHL stars actually play a game of hockey.
Now that the immediate media and political furore over the new British Gambling Bill has subsided a little after the government's back-down on super land casinos, new guidelines for licensing are emerging.
The Gambling Bill Standing Committee this week released details of a new system that will be used to decide the location and licensing regime for new casinos.
The first phase of the new system will limit the number of regional, small and large casinos in the UK to eight each. This limit will not increase until at least three years after the award of the first premises licence for these initial casinos.
The location for each new casino will be decided in a two-stage process, involving the government, an independent panel, the Scottish Executive, the Welsh Assembly and local authorities.
In the second stage, if there are more applicants meeting the regulatory tests than available licences, the local authority will run a competition.
Any operators chosen by local authorities will still require an operating licence from the Gambling Commission but there will be no limit on the number of operating licences that may be granted.
Minister for sport and tourism, Richard Caborn, said: ?The priority of this bill is to protect children and vulnerable people. That?s why we?ve adopted a cautious approach throughout.
?The new system will allow us to test the impact of new casinos on levels of problem gabling in a number of different types of locations and will provide an objective way of deciding the location of new casinos.? Details: www.culture.gov.uk
Thankfully, the online gaming provisions have not attracted any significant or controversial attention thus far.
Friends star is into online poker...but where does he play?
Former TV sitcom "Friends" star Matthew Perry has reportedly developed a passion for online poker playing, reports OK! magazine.
The actor, who played Chandler Bing on the now major hit American comedy, is becoming adept at betting over the internet - and he has been putting his poker-playing skills to good use by performing in charity tournaments all over Hollywood.
A friend tells Britain's OK! magazine, "He's obsessed with online poker."
Unfortunately, the report does not give any clues as to his favourite sites.
Kudos to the webmaster at Casinomeister, Bryan Bailey who is encouraging better communications between posting players and operators who take an interest in what they have to say. Bailey's top portal has attracted a list of 35 proactive casino operators and staff personnel who represent over 80 properties. Most of these individuals visit the forum on a daily basis or at least several times a week, answering questions and defusing contentious issues before they escalate. Several informative (for both sides) issues have been intelligently discussed instead of counter-productive trashing and bashing from the outset.
Bailey urges his members to PM the industry folks before posting complaints, and the additional avenue of communication seems to save most members a lot of hassle and time, in addition to presenting a different perspective on issues.
Well named new poker room and casino...
Online gamblers and poker players alike will be interested in the latest online casino and poker room, Swish Casino.com, a product from Playtech-powered Club Dice and CD Poker which is owned by Crown Solution Gaming Limited out of Antigua. The clean, professional looking site carries download software and a wide range of bonuses, prizes and tournaments, all supported 24/7 through Us tollfree, email and livechat facilities. On the poker side there's a $10 000 freeroll tourney for the first 1 000 players, advanced multiplayer tables and aids like game histories, player notes and rules. No limit and pot limit games and tournaments will be offered.Last time we counted them, there were eight poker rooms on the growing Playtech iPoker network.
Finding the poker tourneys
The continuing poker boom, and its essential marketing by-product of tournaments gets a new tool this week with the introduction of Chip Sharks.com.
This new site helps players to locate local poker games and players, and intends establishing itself as a premiere online poker service. ChipSharks provides event attendee management, poker group creation, statistical tracking of games, and local tournament promotion. Additionally, the service encourages smart, legal and safe gaming, and features resources and products for poker players to improve their skills.
"Being huge poker fans ourselves, we know playing at home is a great way for players to compete at the same level as in a casino without paying the expensive rake. Additionally, players can find games while away on vacation or business travel," says co-founder Kurt Beer.
1 x 2 = hassles
Casino and sportsbook 1 x 2 was in the dogbox with players again this week with complaints of slowpays that could evolve into no-pays. This Belize licensed operation has been the subject of complaints before, as a search on any of the leading portal archives will show, and caution is urged.
The recent demise of controversial RTG-powered Kiss Casino evoked little sympathy from the player community as a result of some pretty questionable management decisions at the venue. So there was some surprise this week when the casino, which officially closed its virtual doors on December 22, pumped out emails to players announcing that it would be back with new software in 2005. No information was available on the new software, which will be the third in this casinos life - Boss Media, RTG and now ??? Speculation is that it may be Playtech, which has been wresting a fair amount of business from RTG this year. Whatever. If the ownership and management remain the same, it is unlikely that attitudes will change.
What looks like an expensive albeit temporary shut-down of the "live-over-the-Internet" gambling facilities at a number of Playtech-powered operations seemed to be plaguing the group this week, with many players confirming non-availability of the service for well over a week.
Playtech spokesmen did not clarify what the problem was, saying only that it was "...an exceptional and temporary" problem that would soon be sorted out.
Industry insiders with experience in this field opined that such a prolonged hiatus was unlikely to have a technical root, but that wrassling with bureaucrats over licensing issues could be responsible. One observer, who wished to remain anonymous said, " The problem is that as far as the average licensing bureaucrat is concerned, live-over-the-internet operations do not really fit the classes or categories with which these folks are accustomed to working, and that can create delays."
Playtech recently became a master licensor under the HGN-i2corps patents covering this form of online gambling delivery, along with Casino Web Cam. Between them, the two companies are thought to provide some 30 sites with "live-over-the-internet" gambling from video studios in licensing havens.
STOP PRESS: As we went to press the Playtech sites "live" facilities were up and running again.
Million 2005 tournament looks like the biggest yet
Online poker market leader PartyPoker.com has opened its popular gambling tournament Million 2005 to poker aficionados. Pokerheads will have a chance to try their luck and skills at this event for the fourth time.
Party's experts predict that this year will bring significantly more participants since the tournament will accrue a record prize pool estimated to be worth over $7.5 million. The final winner will take home $1,875,000. The previous PartyPoker.com Million III event boasted a prize pool of $3,822,000 and was adjudged in many circles as the biggest tournament the World Poker Tour has ever seen.
The event will be televised on the World Poker Tour. Players of at least twenty-one years of age are allowed to enter the tournament by qualifying online through winning a Semi-final. The players, who pay a $10,200 entry fee for the Tournament, will cruise on a liner that sails from San Diego, California on March 19th and docks back at the San Diego port on 26th March, 2005.
The previous PartyPoker.com Million events created poker players who are now considered to be the real gurus of poker science. The 2004 winner of the Million III was Erick Lindgren who won $1,000,000. In 2003, Howard Lederer won the PartyPoker.com Million II and took home $263,850. In 2002, at the PartyPoker.com Million I, Kathy Liebert won the 1st prize of $1,000,000 and an additional $300,000 was shared by the other finalists, including 3 amateur players who qualified online.
There?s a poker cruise coming up on February 6, 2005 on the Mariner of the Seas from the esteemed Royal Caribbean line out of Port Canaveral, Florida. This is the second largest cruise ship on the high seas.
Stopping in Nassau, The Bahamas, Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Phillipsburg and St. Maarten this is a holiday opportunity to play some poker, have a ball, hit the shops or just relax and watch the action.
The poker will be an added bonus to the cruise for anyone who wants to play with some big names. There will be 27 tables, 4 tournaments, 14 hostesses and a film crew.
Chris Moneymaker, the 2003 World Series Poker Champion, will be one of the hosts. Games for the beginners , as well as "20/40" and even higher for the more experienced player will all be available, with teaching tables for those who want to learn. You can get the detail at World Poker Showdown.com
SPAMMING CASE BOGS DOWN ON LEGALITIES
24 December 2004
First it's a plea bargain, but then the Judge wants more information
There were a series of rapid and interesting developments this week in the high profile Smathers case - an AOL engineer who stands accused of misappropriating a massive list of AOL members' email addresses and selling them to spammers.
First came the news that Smathers was negotiating a bargain plea to ameliorate the possible penalties for his activities in stealing and selling an AOL email list...reports suggested that he and the prosecution had struck a deal that would put him in jail for a couple of years.
A day later, came the startling news that a guilty plea had been agreed....but the judge refused to accept it, saying he was unsure a crime had been committed and asking for more information due to the new nature of the anti-spamming laws.
U.S. District Judge Alvin Hellerstein stopped the hearing at which Jason Smathers was to plead guilty to conspiracy and interstate trafficking of stolen property, saying he had a "technical question" about the alleged crime.
At issue, the judge said, is whether the actions rose to the level required by a new antispam law, which states that spam must be not only annoying but deceptive.
"Everybody has spamsters, but mine is a technical question," the judge said. "I don't think it's deceptive or misleading to the recipient."
The judge, who said he once used AOL but quit the provider because of the amount of spam he received, asked prosecutors to submit a legal brief by January 12 with more information.
The judge also set a hearing for January 28 at which time he could decide to accept the plea.
"I need to be independently satisfied that a crime has been committed," he said. The case is among the earliest criminal prosecutions under the new anti-spam law, which went into effect in January.
The case by federal prosecutors charges that Smathers, of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, stole a list of 92 million customer screen names from AOL, a Time Warner Inc. unit, and sold it to an Internet marketer.
The marketer then allegedly used the list to promote his online gambling operation and sold the names to other spammers, according to prosecutors.
Smathers, 24, faces up to 15 years in prison on charges of conspiracy and interstate trafficking of stolen property, but was expected to receive a sentence closer to 18 to 24 months.
Full House has taken over all gaming interests and assets
Last week, InfoPowa reported on the business deals that brought the gaming assets and technology of Montreal based Clock Media under the control of Full House Entertainment Limited, a Netherlands Antilles registered turnkey provider group.
Marketing director Jean-Guy Leconte gave us more information on the direction and intentions of the company this week, "We would like to emphasize that we did not take over Clockmedia per-se. We purchased all its gaming interests. We do not now own or want to own Clockmedia. Clockmedia will be following a different path in its development. They will no longer be involved in any gaming operations."
Leconte revealed that the casino side of Full House operations at All Star Palace.com is using gambling software developed in-house and running on the Clockmedia platform. The casino games will be using most of Clockmedia?s game engine and database.
For the moment, Full House plan to own and operate their own casinos, although the development of strategic partnerships has not been ruled out. However, the group wants to stay away from the standard turnkey model since it is felt that it is necessary to maintain control of the operations to ensure that players will find as much security in their transactions as can possibly be offered.
"Industry experience has shown that allowing independent operators full reign over all
operations may at times prove to be a liability for the software house. Maintaining responsibility towards the players is our mission," said Leconte
After extensive research and collaboration with Clock, Full House is also developing an online poker product for launch in the New Year.
"We found that Clockmedia had been working on a communications engine for poker that rivaled anything that had been developed thus far," Leconte revealed. "Running on our proprietary communications engine it is capable of outstanding performance and in such a way that scaling can be accomplished by simply adding more hardware. What this means to the players is that they can be sure that disconnections will be far and few in between.
"Our software will allow players to create their own tables, all the while choosing whether or not to make them public or private simply by using a password they can give to their friends for access," he continued. "Our own technology further allows players to add different poker
variations to the site. Ranked by popularity, these variations may be adopted into the regular offering. Presently, there are thirteen poker variations that happen to be popular. We will soon be offering them all and allowing players to add their own."
The software ranks players based on their game history and their approximation to perfect strategy. Games where players degrade their ranking are flagged for close examination by anti-collusion software which then analyzes the game history as well as the other games where the same players have participated and looks for patterns that may be construed to have been collusion. Several levels of collusion have been identified;
involuntary collusion being the lowest level, full collusion for
the highest level.
The group is in the process of analyzing other ways to ensure that players will not fall victim to any type of collusion, and the software will include a button for players to quickly initiate investigations into a particular table and game where he/she believes that collusion may
be a possibility.
PHILLIPINES BANS FOREIGN CASINO MANAGERS
24 December 2004
But PAGCOR gets another extension
The Phillipines Star reported this week that the government's House of Representatives has approved on second reading a bill extending the franchise of the state-run Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) with restrictions against allowing foreigners to engage in the local gaming business.
"We stood pat on our commitment against allowing foreigners to engage in legalized gambling using Pagcor's franchise," Bukidnon Rep. Juan Miguel Zubiri said. "What we have approved is a short, simple, uncomplicated two-page bill that deals mainly with extending Pagcor's franchise."
Under House Bill 3409, which was passed last week, Pagcor's franchise was extended for 25 years after its expiration on July 2008 and may be renewed for another 25 years.
Zubiri, chairman of the House committee on legislative franchises, said the chamber maintained the same restrictions against foreign participation in the operation of casinos and other legal gambling enterprises stipulated in Pagcor's franchise.
The approved measure also widened restrictions in the Pagcor charter, disallowing the firm from engaging in jai alai and Internet gaming.
Helping the baseball business...with a $500 million deal
Party Poker's Empire Poker has offered to finance baseball club Expos move to a Washington D.C. stadium for $500 Million.
The somewhat cynical Washington media reported this week that with a seperate deal to bring Major League Baseball to Washington apparently cratering last week, a "....civic-minded and no doubt extremely respectable Internet gambling company has stepped forward to try to save the day."
The reports go on to reveal that Empire Poker, which describes itself as "North America's leading online poker site," announced late last week that it would provide up to $500 million to "...prevent the would-be Washington Nationals from becoming the Lame Ducks."
The company would finance the team's move from Montreal to a new District stadium.
In return the Empire wants naming rights to the team's new field and the exclusive rights to all the advertising hoardings inside the stadium. It has also apparently proposed to put Internet kiosks throughout the stadium so fans can play electronic poker before, during and after the game.
Reports are that Empire hasn't heard back from baseball or city officials yet. But it's questionable whether Major League Baseball or the District government will want to get into business with a gambling company. Online gambling companies have in fact long sponsored Expos games in Montreal.
Sunny Group's apparent search for marketing publicity continued this week with another PR announcement of an offer to purchase a headline-grabbing property.
The New York Post reported midweek that the group's Casino Fortune is prepared to ante up more than $5 million to put its name on "The Charging Bull," a 7,000-pound bronze sculpture near Wall Stree currently "for sale".
But city officials, who can veto the sale, may be uneasy about letting a gaming business put its logo beneath a statue whose image has been closely linked with capitalism and the stock market
The city fathers and artist Arturo Di Modica will have to approve the buyer, who will have to donate the bull and keep it in its current home at Bowling Green.
As we went to press there was indication on what the City's response was to the Casino Fortune offer.
Still on the "silly season" theme comes the tale - and attendant free publicity - of Golden Palace's latest purchase - a plate owned by a homeless man and reputed to come from Titanic.
The man, Jay Sherman's ship came in when he was trying to sell a plate he claims comes from the Titanic, and Golden Palace's marketers hove in sight. Sherman says the plate belonged to his great aunt, a survivor of the disaster and he was trying to flog it to buy a roof over his head. The online casino came to his rescue and has offered him $10,000 with another $10,000 if the sale gets enough publicity.
Although the manufacturer authenticated the plate as made for the famous ship, Jay could never prove his aunt Eva Freada Husted was aboard it.
GoldenPalace recently also bought a haunted walking stick and a ten year old cheese sandwich that allegedly carries an image of the Virgin Mary.
CELL PHONE ACCESS TO P2P EXCHANGES
24 December 2004
Ubetanything has the answer...
A press release earlier this week profiled a technology company that has developed a P2P betting exchange turnkey platform suitable for java-powered cell phones.
Ubetanything.com's UBA Technology expects its new software to corner a niche market that will put a new spin on the most popular gaming sites. As well as offering turn-key technology and secure internet transactions, UBA will for the first time allow online betting exchanges to access the mobile phone market, giving customers with java-enabled handsets direct access to the sites.
UBA president Rob Danard compared this opportunity to the eBay boom of the last two years, adding: ?We can privately brand a betting exchange site to suit our licensees' requirements, whether their interest is cricket, car racing, stocks or currencies. Our software comes fully supported with online payment systems, client database management, multi-currencies and languages, and customer support, leaving only the marketing to our licensee.'
The new software can host all the most popular gaming platforms, and will offer a unique version of ?sit and go? tournament poker, meaning an unlimited pool of players in a single game.
ex-WWTS exec brings experience to online casino group
The speculation has been going on for weeks - ex-WWTS CEO Simon Noble's choice of new employment. This week an announcement from English Harbour confirmed rumours that Noble had joined the online casino group, which operates English Harbour, Silver Dollar, Caribbean Gold, Super Slots, All Poker and Millionaire casinos.
Noble joins the group as Executive Vice President of Business Development and will use his extensive management and gaming experience to accelerate the company's strategic partnership initiatives, secure alliances for online poker and increase the company's market penetration into new markets.
The CV of Noble is impressive. He has been a pioneer in the burgeoning online gaming industry since 1996, as the Chief Executive Officer for two of the largest and most respected online gaming companies in the world. Most recently, with World Wide Tele-Sports (WWTS) he played an integral role in the company's acquisition by BetCorp Limited. Under Mr. Noble's direction WWTS experienced significant profitability, increasing EBITDA by 86.6% in 2003.
Prior to joining WWTS, Mr. Noble was Chief Executive Officer of Intertops.com, the company he co-founded, which became the first company to accept a wager over the Internet in January 1996. Under Mr. Noble's direction, Intertops.com experienced explosive growth to a registered user base of over 500,000 customers in nearly 200 countries worldwide.
CARIBBEAN POKER CLASSIC A BIG HIT
24 December 2004
Inaugural tourney pays out big and attracts 157 players
WagerLogic's first ever Caribbean Poker Classic concluded last week and appears to have been a a major hit with pros and online poker players alike
The cross-licensee land-based poker championship event was held on the beautiful Caribbean island of St Maarten after 157 entrants from around the world ? 110 online qualifiers and 47 $5,100 buy-ins ? descended on the island to bask in the sun and battle for an exciting prize pool in excess of $750,000.
The Caribbean Poker Classic title went to John Earle, a Betfair qualifier from Essex who won a cash prize of $213,205. He defeated Aleksander Vathne, a William Hill qualifier from Norway, in heads up play to take the prestigious title. Aleksander walked away with $137,061 for second place. Sharbel Koumi, representing Littlewoods, placed third and took home $83,760.
The Caribbean Poker Classic also featured a pro-am tournament held on December 9th where three World Series of Poker champions and three European champions faced off against three Internet hopefuls. This specially televised event included world-renown poker players, Chris Moneymaker, Robert Varkonyi, Russ Hamilton, Steve Vlader, Xuyen Pham and Simon Trumper. Steve Vladar took first place and won the $50,000 prize in that competition.
The Caribbean Poker Classic was an opportunity for WagerLogic licensees like William Hill Poker.com, Bet Fair Poker.com, Interpoker.com, Littlewoods Poker.com, Classic Poker.com, UK Betting Poker.co.uk, The Ritz Club London.com, Caribbean Sun Poker.com, Total Bet Poker.co.uk and Poker Plex.com to gain experience in a major land-based poker competition. The entire event was televised and is scheduled for broadcast in January 2005.
For two British gamblers, Christmas came early this week in the shape of big monetary rewards.
First was Peter, a sixty year old from Middlesex, who struck gold at the Playtech-powered At The Races Casino.com when a GBP 5 side bet on Caribbean Stud Poker displayed a Royal Flush and won him a staggering GBP 125,000. His main bet of GBP 150 won him an additional GBP 30,150 to take his total haul with a single bet to GBP 155,150.
He was so surprised with his win that he immediately placed a GBP 1,000 bet just to make sure it was true. To confirm his good fortune he even won that too. Peter said: "I normally play Blackjack but it wasn?t going as well as normal for me so I switched to Caribbean Stud. How lucky was that?"
Does he plan to spoil himself? "I just might buy myself a Mercedes CL 500," he hinted.
The second biggie went to a lucky chef will be able to afford to pay someone to cook for him this Christmas after winning almost a quarter of a million pounds from bookmakers William Hill with a GBP 20 football bet.
The man in his early thirties placed his bet at a William Hill branch in Exeter and successfully predicted the outcome of fourteen football matches played at the weekend, to serve up a tasty takeaway worth GBP 233,090.20.
?This is one of the biggest football bets ever landed? said William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe,?The man will be able to prepare caviar and lobster for his Christmas lunch and wash it down with the finest champagne. He tells us he will buy a house with his winnings.?
1243 websites closed in China after citizen informants complain
The Chinese authorities completed another of their Internet blitzes this week, closing down "undesireable" sites that included gambling venues, reports Interfax.
China Internet Reporting Center (http://net.china.cn), a special website launched by authorities for citizens to voluntarily report illegal and "unhealthy" online information, has to date shut down 1129 pornographic websites since its launch earlier this year. Zhang Jie, an official with the secretariat of the Information Service Working Committee under the Internet Society of China confirmed this in an interview with Interfax.
"We have received more than 95,000 reports from the public through this website." Zhang said. Besides, another 114 websites have been closed down for spreading cult information or providing gambling and superstitious information. "The center will continue to handle the reports on Internet pornography as a long-term project," Zhang said, "and we will also publicize related information once a week."
As Interfax previously reported, the Chinese government has launched a nationwide campaign to crack down on rampant Internet porn and other sites it deems *undesireable* this year. Following the half year campaign, the proportion of reports on pornographic websites in all reports received has decreased sharply from 67 percent to 17.4 percent at present. "The Internet environment has been greatly improved," Zhang said.
The center has also released a set of "self-disciplinary regulations" requiring search engine operators to stop providing links or any other connection services to websites with inappropriate content. Following this, Chinese policy will put more stress on "fighting against websites that promote gambling, fraud and superstition."
TOP INDUSTRY POSITIONING FOR BODOG
24 December 2004
Hitwise figures show dominant status of online gambling site
The Bodog.com combination of sportsbook, online casino and poker room has been ranked with the top lottery and gaming sites in the U.S.A. according to Hitwise.
The recently released Top 10 Entertainment-Gambling Sites, as published by Interactive Gaming News and gathered by Hitwise has positioned Bodog.com among the top gambling sites in the industry.
"Perception lags reality, but we have known for quite a while that we were the strongest brand in online gaming for companies facing the US market," said Calvin Ayre, Founder and CEO of Bodog.com Sports Casino Poker. "What the current quantified traffic rankings and industry influence awards are doing is confirming this to the rest of the world."
Hitwise, the organization that compiled the data from over 25 million homes, work and education internet users, has Bodog.com positioned as the 10th Entertainment-Gambling site in the continental United States. Bodog.com was listed along with the most powerful lottery web sites in the country.
On the list ahead of Bodog.com was the Florida Lottery, NY Lottery, California Lottery and the Powerball web site. Hitwise collects data on over 200,000 sites which are listed in their database, and provides an overview of the top performers, and fastest moving sites on the web.
Skill-based gaming is now a complementary offering within the online gambling market, with companies such as Golden Palace, Casino-On-Net, and The Sunny Group having taken up skill gaming initiatives by forming partnerships with SkillJam Technologies.
The reason for this is that games of skill are legal in the US market, and offer operators the ability to further penetrate this jurisdiction at a nominal cost.
SkillJam is a provider of diversified fee-based skill gaming solutions. The company, in addition to its portfolio of proprietary gaming sites, is a turnkey solutions provider to a network of premier distribution partners.
Currently SkillJam is working with online casino operators to broaden their gaming offerings and leverage the marketing capabilities of a skill based platform by up-selling and cross marketing to new and existing players of their casino partners.
Unlike casino games (games of chance), a skill based game is defined as a game whose outcome is predominantly determined by the respective skill level of a game's individual player.
"We are gaining significant inroads and growth among our casino partners, who are now able to offer a new channel to market and obtain players that might not initially be attracted to an online casino'" said Scott Philp, Vice President of Business Development for SkillJam.
The market for skill based gaming is believed to be virtually untapped, with only 3-5% penetration reached to date.
SkillJam has recently commenced focused initiatives with partners on a global scale.
Currently, the majority of interest has been from the North American market, but SkillJam is targeting Europe and Asia as a high priority in the near future. The company has set up offices in Europe to pursue these opportunities. Additionally they plan to launch a mobile offering in early 2005.
By 2006, DFC Intelligence estimates the non-casino skill gaming online market at US$5 Billion.
Internet casinos, sportsbooks, bingos, lotteries etc, are given a full service platform when SkillJam develops a custom white label site. Typically SkillJam manages all aspects of maintaining the site. These features include platform hosting, credit card processing, operations, customer care, and technical maintenance.
MOBILE GAMING CONTINUES TO EXPAND
17 December 2004
Go Vegas Go launches
Mobile Streams has launched Go Vegas Go, a fully licensed mobile gaming and gambling service, pdatoday.com reported this week.
Among the games offered by the operator are Poker, Roulette, Blackjack and several types of slots which can be played on Java-enabled mobile phones. A number of web-based games are also offered. Mobile Streams will rely on UK provider Virtue Fusion as a supplier of the gambling platform and games.
Customers can download the games to their mobile phones by sending an SMS message. The Go Vegas Go service is for adults over the age of 18, and conforms to the age verification processes currently being implemented by the mobile carriers.
Mobile Streams will also be making Go Vegas Go available to many of it's partners on a white-label basis, enabling them to introduce the service without the need to develop a costly infrastructure and issue a gaming licence.
Wireless technology company Terraplay Systems has signed an agreement with Endemol subsidiary company Overloaded, to provide a real-time, multi-player wireless gaming platform. The service is due to be launched January 2005.
Overloaded is a publisher and distributor of games for mobile handsets using Java, Brew, I-mode and Symbian technology, through major network operators, primarily in Holland, Belgium and Greece, and to a lesser extent, the UK, France, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Germany.
"Overloaded has been evaluating multi-player platforms for some time now and we found that Terraplay's powerful and flexible platform gives us the ability to offer multi-player gaming solutions efficiently and effectively over 2.5G and 3G networks today and tomorrow," said Ashu Mathura, Overloaded Managing Director.
"We are the first to roll-out real-time multiplayer mobile games to end consumers in the Netherlands, Belgium and Greece and we are sure that they will become a vital extension to our existing game services to end consumers and operators in these regions."
UK GAMBLING BILL UNDER NEGOTIATION
17 December 2004
Culture Minister reported to be taking a tougher view
Reports early in the week indicate that UK Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell is planning another major retreat over the Gambling Bill by agreeing a further cap on the number of casinos in Britain. The Culture Secretary has already agreed to limit the number of Las Vegas-style "super casinos" to eight.
But in a further concession, the Bill will be amended to cap the number of large and small casinos by a similar amount. She is expected to amend the Gambling Bill, currently in its committee stage, to limit the total number of new casinos in all categories to 24. The original legislation would have allowed an unlimited number of large casinos - those categorised as 1,500 square metres with 150 slot machines - and small casinos - those below 750 square metres with a maximum of 80 slots.
Ministers claim the cap on the smaller outlets was always envisaged once it was agreed to limit the number of "super casinos". It follows concerns that curtailing the top end would have produced an explosion of minicasinos on the high street.
Critics of the Bill have continued to focus on the land casino aspect, almost totally ignoring the online gaming provisions which will hopefully remain unscathed. The Bill has already been tightened up following criticisms from Church groups, charities and MPs that it would lead to an explosion in the number of gambling addicts.
A further storm was brewing in Scotland as we went to press, where the executive proposed to follow the English lead on the Bill, leading to demands that Scotland initiate its own investigation.
STOP PRESS: As we went to press news reached us that the total number of new casinos will be capped at 24 - 8 in each category - probably until 2012 but with a three year review. Arrangements are in hand to empower consultative groups to guide government on locations for the new operations. UK media reports used phrases like "apoplectic at the government U-turn" and "fury from UK gambling groups" to describe the development as public gambling company shares took a big hit and spokesmen openly criticised the government. Internet gambling provisions enshrined in the Bill remained in the wings, overshadowed by the furore over the land casino issue.
Sky high hopes
New kid on the poker block this week is Skybookpoker.com, a sister to the Skybook online casino and sportsbook sites that belong to Rio International Group Limited out of Costa Rica - Betrio is part of the same outfit. The download software looks like the new World Gaming poker product and features Texas Hold Em, Omaha and Omaha Hi Lo, 7 Card Stud and 7 Card Hi Lo. The site itself is rather bland but contains useful information on promos, bonusing and tournaments, together with a good range of financial options including the very popular Neteller Instacash. 24/7 Support is contactable by email and livechat. Interestingly, the Costa Rican registration is via a UK company - Main Street Vegas Limited out of Church Street, Birmingham.
Getting the name right
Bet and Win were ringing the changes at their online casino site The Croupier.com this week, changing the branding to Betoto.com. There is nothing sinister in the change; the casino is targeted on the Greek market (although there is an English language version) and we are told that the name Betoto is longer established and synonymous with betting. Growth in the Greek component of the gambling base made it desirable to rename the casino.
Stepping up several gears...
Feel like some thousand dollar trial play? Capital Casino.com
powers up next week with a major upgrade to the advanced Microgaming Viper gambling software platform.
The changes significantly boost the players? gaming experience with 167 games including all the latest releases such as Tomb Raider, Good to Go, Reel Strike and Ladies Nite. The new software significantly improves players? gameplay by offering more power and faster play, and outstanding graphics. A further bonus is the new personalized Player Lobby that notifies players about special offers.
Viper is Microgaming?s revolutionary gambling software that empowers players with optional advice, statistical information, gaming level choices and an autoplay facility. Players are given multi-purpose tools that can be set to their personal levels and preferences, leaving them in control of their gaming experience...and their funds.
To celebrate Viper, Capital Casino is offering its players a chance to share $1000 just to try the new Viper platform - details are on the site.
What can be more important to an online gambler than payment processing efficiency on his or her hard earned cash and winnings? That's why complainants this week were more than a little agitated as Click 2 Pay, which we understand is based in Germany appeared to be screwing up with unjustified debits from player accounts and an apparent inability to quickly sort the problem out. Readers are advised to double check their balances.
Omni comes right...well, almost
The bonus disqualification debacle at Omni Casino, which has generated heat for almost a month appears to have been resolved according to the Casinomeister, who has been in contact with management over the widespread complaints of unfair treatment by this long established and (formerly) impeccably behaved online casino. Certainly that seemed to be the case as the disgruntled players started posting that their bonuses had been reinstated.
But the fact that the management at Omni remained silent, not even taking the time to explain their position and apologise to a frustrated and angry gambling public tended to take the shine off the occasion. Omni could perhaps learn from the manner in which The Gaming Club handled a similar scenario - they were man enough to apologise. It's the decent thing to do.
Flagship of PokerProfit.com Network...but how accurate are those numbers?
Interesting newcomer Island Poker (www.poker.cn.st) caught our attention this week with what can only be described as very bullish claims.
The new site is the flagship of a network which was unfamiliar to us (and is not listed on industry bible Poker Pulse) called PokerProfit.com, with claims of having 45 000 + players registered.
We looked into this a little further and learned that Island Poker (Europe) Limited is a partnership between a British Virgin Isles investment fund called eMoney Invest and a well known publicly listed company called ADLM Limited with associations with Avi Goldman and Tony Friedman of Windows Casino. Another surprising claim was that ADLM is "Europe's largest online gaming provider."
The new site uses Las Vegas From Home software (part of an arrangment with the Real Time Gaming group) and sports a Kahnawake license. Email and livechat 24/7 Support is available and new signups are being enticed with a thirty percent bonus. Some rather pointless - and generally regarded as toothless - *watchdog* badges are displayed.
British bookie group William Hill were busy launching their latest online arcade game 'Quick Bet Darts' this week as we went to press.
This new game is exclusive to Hills and has been developed in conjunction with online games specialists Ash Luecker. It combines the fun of a roulette style game with the thrill of placing bets on the result - and just like real darts, players get three 'throws' and three chances to win.
Hills spokeswoman Jennie Prest said, "The dart board is brilliantly realistic and Sid Waddell would be proud! You can, among other choices, bet on the number where the dart lands, including the number of doubles and trebles, and guess the total score up to the magical 180!! Once you've picked your bets, it's the tension of the World Championship finals as you watch each dart thrown to see if you win!"
During this festive season, the promo "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" on Hollywood Poker.com has attracted both stars and players alike, quickly becoming a draw for the opportunity to play poker against some of the world's top celebrities.
Following the success of the Hollywood Poker Challenge which sent a player to the L.A. Poker Classic, the site has launched another innovative tournament titled "Oscar Night with the Stars" featuring an cash prize pool plus the exclusive opportunity for players to win a chance to party with the Stars on Oscar night.
In 2005, the Beverly Hills Hotel will be the location for the arrival of more than 100 Stars and celebrities who will attend the 'Night of 100 Stars' Black Tie Oscar Dinner Gala. Hollywood Poker's special prize will be worth $12 000 and consists of airfare for two to L.A, two tickets to the Oscar party, hotel accommodation for two nights, limousine service to the party and spending money. Thousands more in cash will be going to other top finishers.
"Asian Poker" Internet initiative...from a health industry company???
Industry insiders will recall the name Adriaan Brink, a South African with British citizenship who was a mover and shaker behind the Pluslotto project out of Lichtenstein. Adriaan surfaced again this week in an interesting deal to put the popular Asian game Mahjong on to the Web.
Health industry public company Events International Holding Corp. is clearly diversifying with the announcement that it has entered into a Letter of Intent with Mahjong Systems Limited ("MSL"), a Turks and Caicos Islands Internet software developer in which Brink is involved, to acquire all of its issued and outstanding paid up capital stock. This acquisition will be satisfied through the issue of 9,000,000 EIH common shares worth some $900 000.
The assets of MSL include the intellectual property, software and development work on the "Mahjong Mania" Internet gaming software, as well as software licensing agreements. Additional MSL assets include the source code and all software created under the URL domain name of "Mahjong Mania", as well as the Internet site entitled Mahjongclub.com and some 19 Mahjong-related URL domain names:
"Mahjong Mania" multiplayer Internet gaming software developed by MSL is claimed to be unique technology and will be considered the first to market of an aggregated multiplayer "Mahjong" gaming system developed for the Internet.
MSL has provided unaudited financial information showing that its activities to date have been entirely developmental against which total costs of $1.6 million have been incurred for research and development, professional fees, licenses and related expenses. MSL has not yet generated any revenue. The proposed acquisition by EIH comes at a time when MSL's first commercial Internet licensing agreements are soon to be finalized.
The full names and jurisdictions of residence of each of the MSL vendors, who directly and/or indirectly beneficially hold a controlling interest in and who otherwise control and/or direct MSL, and who will be receiving the following share issuance post-closing, are as follows:
i) Ian Sherrington (a British citizen): - 8,190,000 shares
ii) Adriaan Brink (a British citizen): - 810,000 shares.
It is anticipated that the required technology development and the delivery of the "Mahjong Mania" software to licensees will be completed in not more than five months following the "Closing".
Significant conditions required to complete the proposed transaction include the timely conducting and carrying out of due diligence, the negotiation of employment agreements for Messrs. Adriaan Brink and Ian Sherrington, now in the process of being formulated, and the execution by MSL of at least two (2) licensing agreements for its "Mahjong Mania" software technology, under satisfactory terms and conditions. Brink will become President of EIH in terms of the agreement.
"We are very excited about the prospects and potential of the "Mahjong Mania" Internet gaming software developed by MSL, as well as working with Ian Sherrington and his team of software developers", said Albert Barbusci, Chairman and CEO of EIH. "The "MM" multiplayer software will be the first of its kind to reach the audience that populates the worldwide Internet gaming marketplace and we are confident this will yield significant benefits for our shareholders".
Mahjong, often referred to as "Asian Poker", is the most widely played game in China and has gained widespread popularity in Japan, Taiwan, Korea and other Asian countries with surprisingly high levels of play in USA and Europe.
It is the basis for an enormous terrestrial gambling market in Asia, but has yet to translate into the Internet gaming space, says the announcement. With nearly a decade of experience in Internet gaming, MSL's principals are well positioned to establish partnerships with top level Internet gaming operators and leverage existing player bases through its aggregated model.
A report this week in the Australian media shows a fast and very practical about-turn by the horse racing fraternity on permitting betting exchanges following the Federal government's refusal to accede to demands that P2P exchanges be banned....
Chris Scherf, VP of the US Thoroughbred Racing Association has called on the organisation to draw up a plan to create an industry-owned betting exchange, adding that there is ?no time to dawdle?.
Speaking during the 31st Annual Symposium of Racing, Scherf said US Racing needed to adopt an "...if you can?t beat ?em, join ?em" approach in order to combat what he called, "...unfair competition that rides on the industry?s product without financially supporting it." He told fellow TRA members that they should be ready to release a report on the subject early in 2005.
Scherf first posed the betting exchange question several months ago and has been disappointed by the lack of response. He warned the TRA, which comprises 41 racetrack members: "We?re just sort of sitting and listening. We may, instead of controlling our fate, just see what happens. ?we shouldn?t just let this slide. This is something that is vital to all of us."
Increasing numbers of smart poker players have been talking about Poker Da Vinci, a cool software product for both newbie or seasoned player that compares various hands in order to fine-tune play.
General comments speak to super graphics and a smooth, simple but superior operational capability.....and it's apparently for free with no hidden adware, spyware or other encumbrances!
Da Vinci's designer / programmer is one of the Netscape founders and a thorough-going online poker fan, and this triggered the need for an easy-to-use but effective tool to enable a player to get the best out of his or her passion. You can get all the detail over at the Poker Da Vinci.com site.
Empire Poker.com hit the headlines early this week with the results of a fun survey to which 42 percent of it's player responded.
The pneumatic Baywatch actress-model Pamela Anderson was selected by the majority of online poker players as the celebrity they would most like to play against.
"Our players clearly think Pamela Anderson isn't too bright or maybe they just want to ogle her," Ron Burke, the company's marketing manager, is reported to have commented rather cruelly to Miami.com.
With an ample margin Pamela left Dennis Rodman behind (the former basketball player collected just 24 percent of the vote). Enigmatic actor James Woods picked up a mere 13 percent, Dave Navarro was favoured by 10 percent, and skateboarder Tony Hawk and actor Matt Damon each drew 3 percent.
Entrepreneur Donald Trump was selected by 2 percent and 1 percent said Ben Affleck was their choice. Hank Azaria, Michael Ian Black, Ron Artest, Clay Aiken and Teri Hatcher picked up only a small number of votes.
"Many of our respondents also said they felt they could read Dennis Rodman's expressions and didn't think he would be very competitive. Only 1 percent of our players said they would want to play against Ben Affleck. Apparently, his poker skills precede him," said Burke.
However, when asked which celebrity poker player would be most likely to cheat at poker, 37 percent of those surveyed chose Affleck.
"Our players clearly see Ben Affleck and James Woods as no-nonsense, hardcore poker players and it's quite interesting that they would seem to be the most likely to cheat," said Burke.
Can Casino Fortune afford the Cleveland Cavaliers?
It seems that Sunny Group's Casino Fortune has joined the trend toward "guerilla marketing" tactics so successfully used by the Golden Palace group to achieve widespread publicity in the media.
Amid it's previous claims is an attempt to buy into Donald Trump's casino empire and an offer to purchase a seat on NASA's space shuttle. Both came to nothing. In the past, the casino has also claimed an Internet prominence not supported by statistical information available on the Web.
Now we have an Associated Press report which has achieved wide publicity but been labeled by many publications as a stunt. The report tells of an offer to buy the Cleveland Cavaliers in a multi million dollar deal and it will be interesting to see whether a sale is achieved and at what price, whether Casino Fortune really can afford the hundreds of millions involved or whether this will be just another failed attempt that nevertheless grabs headlines.
The midweek AP report revealed that Casino Fortune was willing to outbid a Detroit businessman for the Cleveland Cavaliers in an apparent publicity stunt that could possibly open a bidding war for the NBA team.
Casino Fortune said it has submitted a letter to owner Gordon Gund that outlines its intent to buy the Cavaliers. Last week, Gund, who bought the Cavs in 1983 for $20 million, said he was in serious negotiations with a potential buyer.
That offer came from Dan Gilbert, founder of Quicken Loans, who reportedly offered Gund $375 million for the team and the operating rights to Cleveland's downtown arena.
Trinidad-based Casino Fortune claims it previously attempted to buy the Phoenix Suns for $380 million. It also sought a portion of Donald Trump's casino empire and tried to purchase a seat on NASA's space shuttle.
The company has not yet received a response from Gund's office or Cavaliers management.
Casino Fortune PR exec Kevin Mercuri said the casino company has proposed meeting with Gund and team executives next week.
"We will make it clear that we want this team, by outbidding Mr. Gilbert," Casino Fortune president Dennis Rose said. "Whenever we seek to buy a team, our efforts are repeatedly rope-a doped by the NBA. Today, we have our own bankers and backers. We are a global casino operation, we have the money and we want the team."
Mercuri said the NBA has been resistant to Casino Fortune's overtures into ownership in the past because of its association with gambling.
"The excuse is that our money isn't good enough for them," he said.
FIVE DIAMOND WORLD POKER CLASSIC STARTS
17 December 2004
376 players, $5.47 million in the prize pool...
The eighth stop on the World Poker Tour (WPT) hummed into action at the Bellagio, Las Vegas this week.
This year's event attracted 376 players for a $5,470,800 prize pool, a $2,426,050 increase over last year's event which drew 314 players.
The winner of this year's $15,000 buy-in event will take home $1,795,218 and will advance to the WPT World Championship when the Tour's season culminates at Bellagio in April 2005.
The World Poker Tour is the highest rated series in the history of the Travel Channel, airing Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
Season's Three's total prize pool has already topped the $30 million mark at $30,456,770, a $13,736,490 increase over Season Two stops to date. The high stakes No- Limit Texas Hold'em tournaments are increasing the number of players at every stop on the Tour and are averaging a "poker millionaire a month." This season's prize pool is anticipated to reach $70 million.
Many recognizable faces were spotted at the tables this week, including the likes of Annie Duke, Gus Hansen, Chris Ferguson, and John Juanda.
If you're in Vegas this weekend, the Five Diamond World Poker Classic concludes at Bellagio on Saturday, December 18. Admission for spectators is free and seating is first come, first serve; viewing party doors open at 3:30 p.m. and seating begins at 4:30 p.m.
The ninth stop of the World Poker Tour's 16-tournament season will be the PokerStars Caribbean Poker Adventure from January 5-12 at Atlantis Resort in Paradise Island, Bahamas.
Internet gambler's union will offer insurance, player help.
Press releases announcing the formation of a new player's association were going out this week, advising the media that:
Online casino players will have a strong ally in protecting their right to fair and efficient treatment with the launch this week of a new "players only" organisation titled Online Player's Union (www.onlineplayersunion.com)
Founded by experienced online players Damian Dunlap (President) and Mark Altland (Union Boss) the organization has carefully researched and compiled a list of trouble-free online casinos where players can safely expect to be well treated with fair games and promotions.
Members of the Online Player's Union (OPU) who experience any problems that cannot be resolved with these operations are covered by insurance up to US $ 500 by the Union.
"Membership is free and we have already experienced a surge of interest from players who feel that they need a totally independent representative body that is headed by players and works for players," says Dunlap.
"Our insurance policy is not ?loser insurance?, it is for legitimate player complaints with one of our sanctioned casinos. We only offer this policy to those who become a union member, and play at our sanctioned casinos through our links. We feel this gives players a level of protection and security when they play at an online casino."
Union boss Mark Altland says there is strength in numbers when it comes to upholding player rights and negotiating exclusive promotional deals.
"Whilst this would only be used as a last resort , negotiations having failed, the Online Player's Union is organized such as to deploy mass consumer actions," he reveals. "This is the very basis of our power, and something we feel will bring us the credibility we are seeking.
"The strike concept is quite simple. Upon a successful petition from union members, we will notify all union members via email of the proposed action. In the email will be a message and the email address of the offending casino, which may not necessarily be a "OPU-santioned" casino.
"The union member simply has to copy and paste the email and send it to the casino. We also encourage all of our members to close their accounts with the offending casino, and state to the casino exactly why they are doing so. The union membership is further encouraged to post the strike action on other forums, as well as friends and family who play online. This is not a joke, this concept is something that we take very seriously, and we expect our member base to comply with union actions."
Dunlap and Altland feel passionately that players need to band together in an unregulated industry to protect themselves from dishonest and badly run online casinos. Both speak in terms of solidarity and balance, and the OPU website carries a forum to encourage exchanges of information and a sense of community
Members are also encouraged to visit the OPU site frequently to keep up to date with weekly cash contests for members, prizes and cash giveaways.
The body will be exclusively for players for the forseeable future.
First Atlantic announced the launch of ecommerce payment solutions in Europe, leveraging the banking environment of Cyprus this week.
The launch was preceded by the successful accreditation of First Atlanic's CISP Compliant cGateRSecureVerify with Visa Europe and the company's 3-D SecureT Payer Authentication service for Verified by Visa and MasterCardR SecureCodeT.
Based on the Card Associations' 3-D SecureT technology, cGateRSecureVerify provides eCommerce merchants with protection from fraudulent transactions, chargebacks and unauthorized payments made online.
The new solution, which is available to all companies either existing in Europe or looking to expand in the region, has direct clearing services for US Dollars, Euros, Pounds Sterling, Cyprus Pounds and Swiss francs.
The CEO of First Atlantic Commerce, Andrea Wilson said, "FAC is well positioned to provide meaningful multi-currency processing to clients in the region with the added benefits of Verified by Visa and MasterCard SecureCode at reasonable prices."
POKER PRIZE POOL COULD TOP $25 MILLION
17 December 2004
Major online poker sites are sending more players to the big tournaments
World PokerToursatellite competitions were being announced this week and from Albuquerque, NM to Verona, NY casinos and international online poker rooms are getting in on the action by providing poker enthusiasts a low-cost way to play their way into the prestigious $25,500-a-seat World Poker finale. The event is expected to attract 1000 players with an estimated prize pool of $25 million.
The international online poker rooms currently interested include PartyPoker.com, UltimateBet.com, PokerStars.com, bodog.com, TigerGaming.com, and PokerChamps.com.
?Poker is the ultimate democratic sport; anyone can rise to the occasion,? says Steve Lipscomb, founder and president. ?We are pleased to bring the opportunity to win a seat in our World Poker Championships to so many properties across the country, enabling thousands more players to get a shot at our record prize money. We tip our cap to the satellite affiliates and thank them for helping us grow this grassroots entry system.?
In April 2004, Martin de Knijff of Stockholm, Sweden, prevailed over 342 players, to take home a first-place $2,728,356-cut of the $8,342,000 pie. However, he sat at a final table with three relative unknowns, including two college students who collectively took home $1,164,311, once again proving everyone has a serious shot at the WPT World Championship prize pool.
Should a player win one of the coveted satellite spots at a regional or online casino, he or she will receive from the hosting poker room the $25,000 + $500 buy-in, round-trip airfare and accommodations at the Bellagio.
The World Poker Tour, the show that reinvented poker as a televised spectator sport, will broadcast 16 new tournaments filmed at leading casinos and exotic locales from Las Vegas to Paris, beginning with the launch of its third season in March 2005.
Snooker champion Matthew Stevens has successfully conquered the poker game with a half a million dollars win in the final of 888.com?s Pacific Poker open. The 27 year old has used some of his winnings to jet off to New York for a pre-Christmas holiday.
The sports star beat tennis legend Yevgeny Kafelnikov and darts champion Phil Taylor in the final despite only starting to play poker 18 months ago. To get to the final Stevens had to beat poker professionals and online qualifiers that made up a field of 108 hopefuls.
World darts champion Taylor finished second and Kafelnikov, who has announced his retirement from tennis to concentrate on professional poker, came third.
Anti-online gambling legislation pipped at the post again
American media reports revealed this week that the U.S. Senate halted all pending anti gambling bills on December 12th. The U.S. Senate adopted an adjournment resolution which concluded the 108th Congress, leaving this year's attempts to ban online gambling out of time.
H.R. 21, H.R. 2143, and S. 627 have all effectively been "killed" by the adjournment, and any prohibition legislation will have to start the process from scratch with introduction and committee referral in the 109th Congress in 2005. Meanwhile. startling positive developments such as the UK Gambling Bill are changing the face of a global and growing industry that the American Gaming Association currently estimates at over $5 billion per year. That amount is expected to triple within the next five years according to some analysts.
Mark Stone, a lawyer and the chief financial officer of Creative Edge Enterprises, is the new chair of the Interactive Gaming Council. He is one of several new officers and directors who were recently elected and announced by the trade association.
Stone is only the second chair in the IGC?s eight-year history. Sue Schneider, a co-founder and original chair of the organization, decided to step down this year. Stone has served on the Board of Directors for most of the IGC?s existence. Creative Edge is a web development firm based in suburban Los Angeles.
The new chair said that he took over at an exciting time, with the UK providing First World recognition for online gambling for the first time, but staunch opposition still a feature of the US political scene. He said his goal was to provide new information to the US legislators so that their concerns were addressed in order to follow the lead of the British industry.
Stone went on to pay tribute to outgoing chairperson Sue Schneider. ?All of us in the interactive gaming community owe a great debt to Sue Schneider for her years of devotion to this organization and her unceasing efforts to advance the cause of a legal, regulated online gaming industry. Hers is a hard act to follow. I only hope that I can be half as effective as Sue was in this role.?
Schneider said: ?Eight years is probably more than most association chairmen are allowed to serve in that capacity. It?s simply time to turn the reins over to someone else, and the IGC is fortunate to have an experienced Board member like Mark who is willing to take on this demanding job. I will remain involved as needed as immediate past chair.?
Two new directors have been elected to the IGC Board: Flaviano Fogli and Alfred E. (Freddie) Ballester.
Fogli is general manager of Azur Media, an Internet marketing firm in Saint Laurent, Quebec. He is also the chief executive and a founder of the Gambling Federation, which provides services to online casino operators. A native of Italy, he moved to Canada, where he now lives, to complete his MBA.
Ballester was appointed managing director of Bay Management Ltd., the Gibraltar-based subsidiary of iGlobalMedia, in August 2003. He is a 30-year veteran of the betting industry, and until recently served on the Board of Directors of Sportingbet PLC. From 1975 to 2000, Ballester was the managing director of Rock Turf Accountants Ltd., a chain of betting shops in Gibraltar.
Another founding member of the IGC has returned to again serve on the Board of Directors. He is Robert C. Vermeulen, a Dutch citizen who lives and works in Curacao.
Vermeulen is director of Antillephone Services N.V., and co-authored the gaming legislation in Curacao. He is the gaming representative of the Curacao E-Commerce Platform, a private group that advises the government on e-commerce services.
In addition to Stone, John Chalmers, Murray Marshall, Martin Thorvaldsson and Roger Raatgever have been re-elected to two-year terms on the IGC Board of Directors.
Continuing in their terms as Board members are Micki Oster, Nancy Chan-Palmateer, Howard Yegendorf, John Anderson and Michael Lipton.
?The new directors and new chair reflect changes in the leadership of the IGC,? Smith said. ?But the continuing assistance of so many industry veterans assures that we will continue to play a major role in the growth and evolution of interactive gaming. We are truly fortunate to have so many talented individuals who volunteer their time to nurture our organization. Our members and our public ? the people who patronize Internet gaming sites ? are the beneficiaries of the efforts of our directors and officers.?
FIXED ODDS iTV SERVICES TO LAUNCH NEXT YEAR
17 December 2004
Zone4Play active again, this time in the iTV solutions role...
The interactive TV and mobile services specialist, Two Way TV, in partnership with interactive gaming solutions specialist Zone4Play, is set to launch two fixed odds interactive TV services across the UK on the ntl and Telewest Broadband digital cable platforms in the New Year.
The two interactive channels will be called The Winner Channel and The Roulette Channel. The first will provide a range of fixed odds formats, including Slots, Hi-lo, Keno and Dice and will also feature a headline jackpot of GBP 500,000 at launch.
The Roulette Channel will include a range of roulette-style games. The channels will provide digital cable viewers with their first opportunity to take part in many popular instant win, fixed odds games.
The new interactive channels will also offer viewers a customer loyalty programme and a variety of 'special events'. Viewers will be given the opportunity to accumulate loyalty points that can be exchanged for cash, prizes and other rewards.
The addition of these two new channels will build on Two Way TV's experience of running skill-based games channels on ntl and Telewest Broadband. These have proven to be a substantial revenue earners.
Zone4Play is providing the technology platform for the channels including a multi-platform gaming back office solution that enables the delivery of gaming applications on any platform.
Idan Miller, SVP of Marketing and Sales at Zone4Play noted, "Interactive betting has proven to be the most successful genre of applications on iTV in the UK and internationally. As well as a first for UK Cable, this also marks Zone4Play's first deployment of our end to end technology platform in the UK."
The two companies already run the "play4fun casino service", currently on ntl and Telewest within the Two Way TV Games Channel. This service offers viewers fantasy versions of Video Poker, Roulette, Baccarat, Blackjack and Sic Bo.
DDoS ZOMBIES COULD NUMBER 11 MILLION
17 December 2004
Busting the botherds and botnets could be the key...
The Independent newspaper carried fascinating new information on the criminal wave of Distributed Denial of Service extortion attacks that have become such a serious threat to all online industries.
Although many of the cases the newspaper used to illustrate the story have been previously reported, it contained interesting new information, for example the case of a US businessman (now a fugitive from justice) who hired a *botherd* with an army of 10 000 *zombie* PCs to attack a competitor's business in the States.
The revelation that there are an estimated 11 million zombie PCs around the world, and that 25 percent of the National High Tech Crime Unit's caseload in the UK is *bot* related is an alarming new statistic.
Detective Chief Superintendent Mick Deats, the head of the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU), has an impossible task, The Independent reports. How does he defend the UK against attacks from 11 million PCs around the world? The problem with "botnets" (as groups of these machines are known) is becoming serious. "One indication of the increase in organised crime groups' use of botnets is that 25 per cent of our work revolves around this area of criminality, and that looks likely to increase," Deats says.
So how do botnets work? A bot is a hidden remote-control program loaded on to your computer without your consent, and increasingly used for villainous purposes. Under the control of a "botherd", the botnet can be anything from few hundred to tens of thousands of machines. Large botnets pack a mighty electronic punch when the combined bandwidth attacks a website, denying access to legitimate users. Botnets send out spam, carry out identity theft, mount "phishing" scams (getting people to divulge personal information and data) or disseminate new malware (malicious software, designed to damage or disrupt a system).
"Botnets are attractive to hi-tech criminals because they can be reconfigured to commit different crimes and reprogrammed in response to new security developments, and particularly because criminals can use them to commit offences on a massive scale," Deats says.
A botherd may control different types of bot. They swap information, services or favours, and read underground hacker publications on how to make money from their botnets. Botherds will even patch your computer with the latest Microsoft security updates to prevent other botherds from stealing it. And one-line commands initiate massive attacks from as many as 75,000 bots simultaneously.
This is what the NHTCU is now afraid of: that serious organised crime will pay hackers to write more powerful bots. Worryingly, it has noted denial-of-service extortion attacks on other kinds of firm as the online gaming industry strengthens its defences and refuses to pay up. The NHTCU also strongly advises home PC users to install the latest software patches and anti-virus software and a firewall.
AOL does more than most internet service providers to curb the botnet menace. Broadband customers have free McAfee firewall software, backed by central virus and spam scanning. An AOL spokesman claims that other ISPs face problems: "Most ISPs could, at peak, be experiencing hundreds of compromised accounts each day; probably more among those ISPs that don't have a strong security focus."
The head of threat analysis at Symantec, Nigel Beighton (he's also the company's director of enterprise strategy) knows all about user laziness. The company reckons that 30,000 new machines are recruited as bots every day, although its Norton software products will repel viruses, worms and malware. "It's now quite common for us to see that denial-of-service attacks are sophisticated and can be controlling 30,000 bots at time," Beighton says.
Matt Sergeant, a senior anti-spam technologist at Messagelabs, also understands the problem. From its work in filtering spam and viruses, Messagelabs reckons that 70 to 90 per cent of spam is sent by botnets. Sergeant says his company works with law enforcement to seek justice, even though this runs the risk of becoming a target of some "particularly nasty" people.
The problems for law enforcement don't get any easier. Botnet technology has combined with phishing, another major concern for the NHTCU. Phishing fools 5 per cent of recipients into divulging bank details, credit-card numbers, user names and passwords. According to the Anti-Phishing Working Group, the number of spoof websites that are hosted on compromised broadband PCs has risen by more than 50 per cent. The sites are quickly switched around, suggesting that some degree of automation is involved. And the phishing e-mails are already sent out by botnets.
TOP OF THE POKER CHRISTMAS WISH LIST
17 December 2004
But you'll have to be fast - these are selling like hot cakes!
What do poker players want this Christmas? A product that has become a raging success as the result of the poker phenomenon.
Try to buy an "Official World Poker Tour(TM)" (WPT) Poker Set this holiday season. You might find one if you just happen to be there when the merchandisers bring out a new consignement, but don't wait too long because if your store is like most, the display will be empty in short order.
Scott Kling, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for the U.S. Playing Card Company, the manufacturers of the much covetted poker sets has had no problem selling, in fact the company is having hassles keeping pace with demand. "Poker products are the biggest hit of the holiday season and the WPT is sure making us feel like we played our cards right betting on this one," he reports.
The products, manufactured under a license from WPT Enterprises, Inc. have taken the retail marketplace by storm.
The "Official World Poker Tour(TM)" (WPT) Poker Set comes in a handmade wood presentation case with a suggested retail price of $199.99. It features 400 11.5-gram heavyweight, professional quality clay-filled poker chips (125 blue, 100 red and 75 black). The 11.5-gram chip, known as the "true" poker player's chip, is similar to those used by the top casinos on the WPT tour. An exclusive WPT spade design and casino stripes are molded into the chip using two colors. USPC WPT chips are easier to shuffle and manipulate than other poker chips in the market because they have specially designed rounded edges and a rough clay surface. Two colorful decks of casino quality WPT cards are included, along with Texas Hold 'Em instructions.
Internet search engine Lycos lists poker items as its No. 1 researched topic on its annual list of "Top 10 Most-Researched Toys of 2004," upending video games from 2003. In issuing the list, Lycos cited, "The popularity of poker gifts has been fueled by the global phenomenon of the World Poker Tour, which continues to average a 'millionaire a month' in its 16-tournament season."
Many of these products are also available online at http://www.worldpokertour.com. For more information, go to http://www.worldpokertour.com or http://www.usplayingcard.com.
Turnkey provider launches new online operation; poker in the pipeline
Full House Entertainment, the newest player in the turnkey provider sector is in the headlines again this week after taking over Clock Media last week.
The company has launched AllStarPalace.com featuring many additions meant to ease the online gambling experience by making it simpler, faster and more enjoyable. The development team has focused on creating an easily navigable site that will feature all the major gaming applications offered by Full House such as a sportsbook and an instant play Flash and downloadable casino.
The sportsbook and horse racing applications use IQ Ludorum?s Softech system, but the press release does not specify what casino software is in use, and we had not received an answer to this question at press time.
Full House has ambitions in the booming online poker sector too - a development team is currently putting the finishing touches on what seems to be proprietary poker software, which should be launched during the first quarter of 2005.
If you're planning to attend the 2005 Mobile Gaming Summit in London next month (it runs in the same timeframe as ICE) here's a chance to get an early-bird discount.
MforMobile have just announced a special Christmas discounted rate to the Mobile Gaming Summit ?O5. Book before Christmas Day and you can secure a significant GBP sterling 200 off the ticket price to attend.
The event takes place in London from January 27 - 28 and gives the latest hard-hitting case studies and interactive sessions with mobile gambling industry leaders such as Vodafone, O2, Orange, William Hill, Betfair, Betdaq, Nokia, Sony Ericsson. The latest business issues will be discussed and analysis will be given from a handful of the leading brands in the business.
Michael Setters, director of MforMobile said, ? The Mobile Gambling Summit '05 has been designed for the industry by the industry after months of research with your peers.? He added, ?There will be case studies, exhibitions, interactive debate, networking opportunities; all with one clear aim to build and operate a Mobile Gambling business that will deliver real profits.
ECOGRA SEALS FOR ANOTHER TWO ONLINE CASINOS
10 December 2004
Live Web group passes second regulatory review
Two more quality operations joined the roll call of online casinos awarded the eCOGRA Seal this week with the December 2 announcement that Kasino Grand Bay.com and Lake Palace Casino.com had passed independent inspection.
Five other casinos again passed the exhaustive eCOGRA review with flying colours at the same time and had their Seals renewed. These are Jupiter Club.com, Jackpot Wheel.com, Casino Grand Bay.com, Fortune Junction.com and Bella Vegas.com.
eCOGRA CEO Andrew Beveridge says that other operations are currently under consideration, and that the eCOGRA initiative to present the online gambling community with a wide range of safe, honest and efficient online casino venues continues to gather momentum.
"The latest seal awards bring to 51 the top-class casinos that have committed to our enforced self-regulation", he said.
eCOGRA requires that member casinos are financially stable and have adequate reserves to cover wagers. The probity of casino management is scrutinised, together with player protection measures, payout times and financial facilities, games fairness, responsive Support and general operational efficiency. Policies have to be in place for communicating with clients and dealing with player complaints, and satisfactory technical capabilities and anti money-laundering systems are critical.
eCOGRA is a non-profit, non-partisan body with a full time staff in London, England. The first online casinos were accredited in early 2004, and since then a steady stream of online casinos has committed to the eCOGRA ideals and achieved Seal status.
Approved casinos are identified by a Seal, and commit to a set of professional operational practices which are independently enforced through inspection and monitoring by major international business groups. The infrastructure includes a Fair Gaming Advocate for any player disputes that cannot be resolved at casino level.
World renowned poker pros, The Hendon Mob, host a 4 disc DVD series that teaches the secret of winning big hands playing Texas Hold?em, released this week.
"Win Big Playing Poker" is claimed to be the most complete DVD for learning how to play poker like a pro yet, taught by four of the masters of No Limit Texas Hold ?em.
The simple to understand, step-by-step videos deal with everything the poker player needs to know to go from novice to real tournament play, covering strategies, secrets and tips from four top tournament winning pro players as they take the viewer through Beginner, Advanced and Tournament level instruction.
Produced by Planet Easy.com in cooperation with The Hendon Mob, "Win Big Playing Poker"is now in wide release, with the recent initiation of marketing activities embracing TV commercials on ESPN, The Travel Channel, Bravo and Fox Sports and a wide range of web traffic.
The DVDs are currently available at the Planet Easy website, www.planeteasy.com.
Sherman Stall of Planet Esy says, ?So far the reaction to the series has been tremendous. We are looking forward to working closely with the industry in order to have these videos available for sale everywhere poker products are sold.?
Win Big Playing Poker is comprised of three fully detailed learning videos, available for purchase individually, plus a fourth bonus disc for those consumers who purchase the complete set of videos. With a total running time of more than 170 minutes, these step by step videos have been carefully crafted so that both the novice and advanced player will benefit from the contents. The discs include:
Disc 1 Beginners Edition
Disc 2 Advanced Strategy
Disc 3 Tournament Strategy
Disc 4 The Key Hand ? Free Bonus Disc
The Hendon Mob address a wide range of content in the four discs, including:
How Big to Bet
Tips for Beginners, Advanced and Tournament players
REAL-TIME CASINO BONUS AND PROMO FEEDS
10 December 2004
Casinofeed should be a boon to everyone...
Casino operators, affiliate program managers, affiliates and players too will benefit from
an innovative new service which tackles the frustrating problem of ensuring bonus offers
and promotions shown on affiliate sites are up-to-date.
Casinofeed.info allows this essential information to be displayed on third-party sites in "real-time" the moment they are published, and the system looks set to become an important tool for the industry's online marketers.
Ed Ware, CEO of 32Red Casino, has this to say about Casinofeed:
"The Casinofeed initiative represents a major step forward in the management and optimisation of promotions and campaigns through one simple and easy medium. It will make a significant difference to operators and affiliates alike".
ReferBack and Vegas Partner Lounge along with 32Red are already using the service to ensure that their affiliates are always showing the latest deals the second they are launched.
For the affiliates, who can sign up for the service free of charge, adding a simple line of
HTML will display hot-off-the-press offers to their audience the instant they become
available, thus removing the tedium of gathering and updating the information manually.
Casinofeed has it's full launch in January 2005 but is already being used by several
affiliate portals with data from the aforementioned casino groups. Each of these groups
has access to an administration area where they maintain and publish bonuses and promotions for their portfolio of properties.
Casinofeed allows them to run unlimited promotions, add new deals in advance of the release, deactivate or reactivate promotions as and when required, set expiry dates for a promotion and optionally target new promotions at different player markets including Europe, the US and the UK.
A welcome side-product of the Casinofeed system is that all promotions and signup bonuses are automatically pushed into various XML newsfeeds which are then fed out to portals including MyYahoo.com and other participating casino news websites, bringing more traffic to those casinos using the system.
For more information, to view a demo or to arrange to hook up with Casinofeed at ICE in January, readers can visit www.casinofeed.info.
Remember the InfoPowa story earlier this year about the hi-tech gang that tried to use techie gadgets to gain an edge over the Ritz land casino? There was an interesting sequel this week when the UK media reported that the accuseds will not be prosecuted....and they can keep their GBP sterling 1.3 million in winnings!
The three gamblers used a James Bond-style laser device to win over GBP 1 million at a London hotel casino, were arrested but will not face prosecution as they did nothing illegal, police said this week.
The trio who pulled off the audacious coup at the Ritz on March 16 used a laser based device to calculate where a roulette ball would land.
"All three persons that were arrested have been informed that no further action will be taken," a Scotland Yard spokesman told Agence France Presse.
"All the money detained by the police has been returned to the accuseds," he added.
Police seized the cash and froze the accused's bank accounts during a nine-month investigation into the alleged sting.
The gamblers, described by police sources as a "chic and beautiful" Hungarian woman, aged 32, and two "elegant" Serbian men, aged 33 and 38, were alleged to have used a laser scanner inside a mobile phone that was linked to a micro-computer. The scanner measured the speed of the ball as it was released by the croupier, identified where it fell and measured the decaying orbit.
The data was beamed to the micro-computer, which calculated on which section of numbers the ball would land. This information was then flashed onto the screen of the mobile just before the wheel made its third spin, by which time all bets must be placed.
Having reduced their odds of winning from 37-1 to 6-1, the trio placed bets on all six numbers in the section where the ball would definitely end up.
On the first night they won GBP 100,000, returning the next night to win GBP 1.2 million.
After the casinos security experts examined closed-circuit television footage, officers from the Police gaming squad arrested the trio at a nearby hotel on suspicion of obtaining their winnings by deception.
They were given bail but have now been told they are free to leave Britain.
Legal sources said the gamblers were let off because it was deemed they had not violated any law, since the scanner did not interfere with the ball or wheel.
TOP MARKETING EXEC FOR SOFTWARE FIRM
10 December 2004
London-based turnkey provider World Gaming has appointed a heavyweight marketing professional as Director for Sales and Marketing.
CEO Daniel Moran said that the appointment of Jon Moss was in keeping with the Board's stated strategies to reinvigorate sales and marketing efforts. Moss will commence as Director of Sales and Marketing on January 1, 2005.
Immediately prior to his appointment, Moss held the position of Business Development Director at WagerLogic Limited, the licensing and services subsidiary of CryptoLogic Inc., one of the industry's leading e-gaming software providers.
In this position he was successful in attracting high quality European brand-name clients to CryptoLogic's casino and poker solutions including Betfair, Littlewoods Gaming, The Ritz Club of London and ukbetting PLC.
The marketing expert has also played a key role in industry lobbying efforts related to the forthcoming UK Gambling Bill and is an experienced speaker at international e-gaming conferences.
Prior to joining WagerLogic, Moss was a director of a leading industry consulting group responsible for bringing the world's first regulated internet casino, Lasseters.com, to market in 1999. His international business experience includes successful careers with Unisys and Motorola, heading computer and telecommunications business units in Australia and the United States.
Moran said it is World Gaming's intention to actively participate in industry trade shows and the Company has begun to reserve positions at such leading events. These will be updated on the Company's Events Calendar.
Commenting on the appointment, Daniel Moran, CEO said:
"Jon's proven track record in the e-gaming industry fundamentally strengthens the Company's strategic direction to attract new high quality licensees and white label partners. In addition, Jon brings a wealth of experience to our management team. We are delighted to have Jon onboard," Moran concluded.
AND A SENIOR CRYPTOLOGIC APPOINTMENT, TOO
10 December 2004
Exec position indicator of poker's growing importance
The business importance of online poker is reflected in a Cryptologic executive appointment this week, where Andrew Goetsch became Vice President of Poker Software Development.
Goetsch's extensive strategic planning and poker experience will help the company continue the development of its software product plans in this fastest-growing segment of the global Internet gaming market, says the announcement.
The appointment follows the growth of Internet poker in the first three quarters of 2004 to more than 20 per cent of the Cryptologic?s revenue.
"The popularity of our poker technology continues to rise, and Andrew Goetsch will help CryptoLogic enhance its product strategy in this very dynamic market," said Lewis Rose, CryptoLogic's President and CEO. "As a smart business strategist, accomplished executive and serious poker player, Andrew will be a great asset to ensure CryptoLogic continues to hold a winning hand."
Goetsch is an avid poker player who has had several final table appearances, and more than 200 'in the money' finishes in tournaments held both online and around the world, including the main event in this year's World Series of Poker.
His gaming knowledge extends to both the online poker room environment and consulting for various Internet gaming sites. As a senior executive with 18 years experience in strategic planning, technology, finance and mergers and acquisitions, Goetsch has increased sales and profits for consumer goods and manufacturing companies and negotiated more than a dozen acquisitions. He obtained his Certified Public Accountant while working at one of the big accounting firms.
Established turnkey online casino providers Net Entertainment and Futurebet have signed up with the Poker.com network as licensees, adding to its growing status as one of the largest poker software licensing companies in the online gaming market.
Net Entertainment is a fully owned subsidiary of publicly listed group Cherry and equips thirty online casinos. The Swedish group has more than forty years of experience in the gaming service sector, employing over 600 people. Cherry offers gaming on the Internet, in land based casinos, and on gaming machines. The Internet casinos reach a global market. Net Entertainment is a leading provider of non-download Internet Casino software.
Futurebet is a Canadian software company that will license PokerNetwork?s software to their licensees in a third party agreement.
The PokerNetwork has an established base of more than 3,000,000 players worldwide. PokerNetwork is unique in that it offers Java based, no-download-required, poker software as well as downloadable clients for Windows. As the only product on the market to do so, this enables Mac and Linux users to play poker within the PokerNetwork community.
PokerNetwork also licenses its software to another Ongame subsidiary, PokerRoom.com currently the world?s fifth largest poker site.
PokerNetwork, a subsidiary of Ongame, was founded in 2003. The objective of PokerNetwork is to use its already established base of more than 3,000,000 players and license Java and Windows based poker software to high-end Casino and Sportsbook sites.
One for the quality end...
Top offering this week is Bet And Win's new multi-platform online casino, which has just soft-launched . The casino comes in two versions - downloadable Premium version powered by Boss Media, and an older no-download, thirty two game version powered by Chartwell Technology. The Boss games include La Partage Roulette in the 3.8 MB download.
The professional presentation, abundance of information and quality content of this site is what one would expect from a prominent betting group listed on the Vienna Stock Exchange and boasting almost a million registered users - a gambling base that will present excellent cross-marketing opportunities.
The site comes in 11 mainly European language versions and is operated by subsidiary BAW International Limited, with a Gibraltar license. On the financial side through Ralffelsen Meine Bank a wide range of options is available such as NetPay, DirectPay, Neteller, Betcard, PaySafe, Moneybookers and One.
There's a fully contactable 24/7 Support facility and links to other top B&W sites that include a Poker Lounge, a Sportsbook and an expanding range of 6 soft games. 26-year industry veteran Simon Bold started B&W back in 1997, and it has since grown to be one of Europe's biggest betting groups with an impeccable record, augering well for this quality addition to the world of online casinos. You can find it at https://casino.betandwin.com/casino.aspx
Stanley Leisure's Acropolis Casino has migrated to Playtech software from Intermedia. The rumours that the whole Stanley online casino group (Crockfords et al) is moving over to Playtech would appear to be confirmed by this.
Hit Casinos Online.com is a well-presented Java and Download online casino powered by Boss Media, with financials through Webdollar and a relatively limited selection of games. One Goran Mijatovic is the casino manager, and the licensing is through the Netherlands Antilles. Support is fully contactable 24/7, with a large number of mainly European toll-frees, and the site comes in English, Slovenian, German and Italian versions.
Japanese readers might like to check out Zipang Casino.com. Registered in the Phillipines, where it has 24/7 Support, this is a Japanese/English online casino owned by Zipang Group Inc out of Makati, Phillipines. The software is Playtech download, and the casino offers a wide range of bonuses and fiancial options. The signup is a matchplay maxed at $300 with a x20 D+B WT. Presentation is clean but unimaginative.
California Casino.com was at one time a top, Boss-powered online casino, but it seems to be in decline judging by player complaints of ignored emails and questionable slow-pays that are currently taking place. Because these faults are so often an advance warning of failure, increased caution should be exercised in considering this as a venue for enjoyable and stress-free gambling.
The software and Support is from the Argentinian IGS company with their lookalike Futurebet product. That could be bad news because these guys have a less than stellar reputation.
They licensed a teenaged college girl as a casino operator, and then heaven and earth had to be moved to get stiffed players paid. There are several documented cases of players who were fobbed off with the "we have to have owner's authority to pay" stories by *Paul* at IGS, only to be bargained down to a settlement weeks later...and even then they had to wait more weeks for payment by instalments.
InfoPowa emailed IGS and the casino regarding this issue. As at going to press we had not received a response.
Not a good start...
Net Entertainment powers a standard and mobile online casino called Gamrock.com operated by Opera Telecom SA and offering 4 games and sportsbetting, together with an online casino. The presentation is basic, to say the least but 24/7 Support is on tap and there are financial instruments such as Neteller, First Payment, Solo and Moneybookers. Although a new arrival, slow-pay and poor response complaints are already starting to surface from the player community. Fortunately, it appears that Net Entertainment has been rising to its obligations as software providers and assisting players.
Mystery of the week is the identity of an alleged Vegas-based, top online casino that is apparently about to benefit from a $50 million capital investment by an Israeli company.
The story appeared in the Israeli business media, where a NASDAQ listed company called TVG was reportedly involved in a joint project with *SuperCasino* to build a $3 million plant in Switzerland and a $6 million R&D establishment in Jerusalem as part of a major project. Part of the project was to supply the Las Vegas based online casino with $50 million in secure money transfer software.
The report described TVG Technologies as a secure smart card crypto interfacing systems developer, supplying a system branded SmartNet. This company had signed an agreement with "Las Vegas-based online casino company SuperCasino" to supply its SmartNet system. The report said that, "The value of the products to be supplied to SuperCasino, along with other customers in the deal who were not named, is estimated at $50 million."
SmartNet was developed by TVG Technologies in cooperation with Intel over a five year period, and will be supplied with software applications for online casino with multi users. SmartNet's main features include very high security protocols developed by TVG to transfer money with a smart card (Java card from Sun Microsystems) over the Internet using a mobile device.
TVG and SuperCasino agreed to jointly build a new plant in Switzerland at the cost of $3 million to produce TVG's SmartNet product. The customers and TVG plan to finance the project through special Swiss government tax-free programs and bank loans.
In addition, TVG is planning to build a new facility for R&D and software house in the Har Hotzvim high- tech park in Jerusalem, Israel at a cost of $6 million. TVG plans to hire approximately 100 new workers for the development of new software and applications to support this deal and others.
TVG is in negotiations with an $800 million investment fund, which was not named, to raise $6 million through a standby equity financing mechanism. The arrangement would allow TVG, at its discretion, to issue shares to the investment fund up to a maximum value of $6 million at any time over the next two years. TVG stated that it will be able to take advantage of periods of price strength to reduce the number of shares issued for the funding by executing a capital advance when TVG's stock price is high.
Such a high value business story merited more information, and InfoPowa contacted the head of TVG with additional questions. Unfortunately, 48 hours later and as we went to press there had been no response.
The ancient game of backgammon still attracts thousands of players, and a new software is now available that brings the game into the 21st Century and online.
Gammonempire (www.gammonempire.net) is all about bringing the excitement, strategy and enthusiasm of Backgammon to a worldwide audience, enabling professional and amateur players to play against each other in the Internet's geographically boundless environment.
Webmaster Jerry Luijk's passion for the game is reflected in the software, game-play and customer care: "We try to make every aspect as realistic and true-to-life as possible to maximize the gaming experience," he says.
Through GammonEmpire, players can learn more about the game, improve backgammon skills, meet other enthusiasts and last but not least: Make a lot of money by beating other people! Players can hone their skills in "play for free", too!
NORSKE EXPERT TAKES POKER CLASSIC
10 December 2004
Bellagio 7 Card Stud tournament won by veteran
Veteran Norwegian poker professional Thor Hansen scored again this week when he took event number the 7 card stud tournament in the Five Diamond Poker Classic, held at The Bellagio in Las Vegas.
Hansen picked up a $64,000 winner purse for his victory after he had a clear chip lead of 5 to 2 when heads up with David Feder, who took almost $37,000 as second place prize money.
Reports from Vegas claim that the closing stages of this tournament turned into a "crap-shoot" with players going all-in on almost every hand due to the high blinds, antes and bring in. At one stage, Hansen shrugged as he rivered Jeff Burdsall with a third four to beat Jeff's pair of sevens, as if to apologetically say "someone's got to win this thing".
The win is Hansen's best of 2004 after only last month scooping a $50,000 prize for 17th in the main event at The World Poker Finals in Mashantucket.
The final leader board looked like this:
1. Thor Hansen - $64,018
2. David Feder - $36,812
3. Jeff Burdsall - $19,206
4. Tom Edwards - $11,204
5. Scott Fischman - $9,603
6. Carl Brucker - $8,003
7. Bob Feduniak - $6,402
8. Michael Smirnov - $4,802
European Game & Entertainment Technology Ltd (EGET), a Finnish supplier of digital gaming solutions, has launched the WinOneTM Instant Game Platform after previewing this impressive technology at the EIG conference in Barcelona.
The new platform will enable any lottery operator to add mobile and Internet gaming facilities to their existing offering quickly and cost-effectively.
The technology runs on EGET?s established and robust WinOne? Gaming Platform, which already powers internet and mobile games of a range of large licensed gaming operators.
Classics such as Keno and Wheel of Fortune are including in the gambling suite, together with scratch cards and other original games, all offering the graphics quality and smooth game-play associated with the best online gaming operations.
California company NTN Hospitality Technologies has released a fully interactive, electronic version of Texas Hold 'Em on its North American iTV network, capitalizing on the game's widespread popularity by bringing the world's first fully interactive, skill-based electronic poker game to the hospitality industry.
The new interactive NTN Texas Hold 'Em poker game allows up to 10 players to participate, using the company's hand-held, wireless game devices at a virtual table displayed on televisions. Players can be ranked against other players at enabled sports bars and premiere casual dining restaurants.
The product is currently in limited release, with widespread deployment scheduled for the early part of 2005 throughout the company's new iTV2 dual channel interactive network. In addition to the game itself, consumer promotions are planned throughout 2005, subject to local and state legal compliance.
"As part of our commitment to bring fresh and interesting content to our interactive entertainment network, Texas Hold 'Em is the latest addition to our new NTN BLAST channel," commented Mark deGorter, President and Chief Operating Officer".
NTN Texas Hold 'Em was developed with insights from Phil Gordon, World Poker Tour Champion and host of Bravo's Celebrity Poker Showdown.
Mr. Gordon, a world-renowned poker expert and commentator, says: "The introduction of Texas Hold 'Em to the NTN iTV programming lineup marks an exciting time for poker fans nationwide, who will soon be able to participate in the first multi-site electronic poker tournaments of their kind. I'm pleased to be associated with NTN, both as a spokesperson as well as co-developer of the game, and am excited that fans now have a new venue in which to learn the game and test their skills."
The venture is expected to spread to the over 800 NTN BLAST-enabled sites. The company is currently striving to convert the balance of the over 3,600 sites located in North America to the new NTN BLAST platform allowing Texas Hold 'Em to be a part of the entire network programming line-up going forward.
NEW MANAGEMENT AND SOFTWARE IN JANUARY
10 December 2004
Serious revamp at Royal Dutch Casino
Players who had unhappy experiences at the "old" IQ-Ludorum powered Royal Dutch Casino.com will be watching it's Phoenix-like rise from the ashes with interest come January 2005.
E-Ingenium Gaming LDT of Costa Rica has taken over management, and there's a new, download gambling software suite from Diamond Digital which boasts 16 table and card games, 17 slots and 7 VPs.
Royal Dutch has been operational since January 2004 with mixed fortunes, but in January 2005 the new site will be re-launched with what E-Ingenium claims are much improved facilities. These include 24/7 Support via telephone, email and livechat, a good range of financial options for players, a loyalty program and a download and registration process that is fast and easy.
A company spokesman says the new games selection will include multi-hand blackjack, European roulette, slots, baccarat, and Caribbean poker, all with favourable characteristics. For example, in Blackjack players can double down on any two cards, double down after splits, split each hand up to two times, and split on any two equal valued cards. The dealer draws a hole card and holds on soft-17.
We are told that the sign-up bonus will be particularly atractive as Royal Dutch builds up its player base. A matchplay bonus will be available, maxed at a dangerously generous cap of $1 000. WT requirements were not available as we went to press.
The new-look Royal Dutch is promising a lot, and only time will tell whether they are delivering what the players really want - fast and reliable payouts, responsive management and fair gaming. Doubts have been expressed in the past about Diamond Digital software, and the company has been low-profile for most of this year...it is to be hoped that DDS has attended to the areas on which it was criticised.
Receiving wide attention this week was a story on ZD Net on the rise of phishing attacks this year.
The number of phishing attacks intercepted by MessageLabs has rocketed in 2004, says the report. The number of phishing attacks being launched each month has increased ten fold.
The company, which has intercepted almost 20 million phishing emails throughout 2004, said in its annual report that the number of phishing attacks has soared from 337,050 in January to 4.5 million in November. Interestingly, the rate rose most sharply between June and July -- from 264,254 to 2.5 million -- which could be due to the widespread use of zombie networks. In September 2003 the company intercepted only 279 phishing emails.
"Email security attacks remain unabated in their persistence and ferocity," said Mark Sunner, chief technology officer at MessageLabs. "The major development of the year has undoubtedly been the emergence of phishing -- in just twelve months it has firmly established itself as a threat to any organisation or individual conducting business online."
"We believe that the singling out of certain companies to be the victim of phishing attacks could signal the beginning of a wider trend," added Sunner. "Already particular businesses are threatened and blackmailed, indicating a shift from the random, scattergun approach, to customised attacks designed to take advantage of the perceived weaknesses of some businesses."
Fraudsters behind phishing attacks, dubbed phishers, have also refined their techniques to increase their catch. Recent scams have captured online banking details automatically without users clicking on any links. MessageLabs said that phishers have also tried to recruit unsuspecting users into becoming money launderers, by offering employment opportunities with legitimate organisations.
The company found the amount of spam and email viruses sent over the Internet has also risen since last year. This year, it found that one in 16 emails was infected with a virus, which is double the rate of 2003 when it was one in 33. It added that 73 percent of email was identified as spam in 2004.
MessageLabs said it also saw a rise in tailored malicious attacks on companies, such as denial-of-service attacks on Web gambling companies.
River City Group's long awaited report on the burgeoning Internet poker industry will be available for purchase today ( Friday December 10).
The electronic report will include statistical data on the market, information on the top providers and operators, recommended business strategies, a legal overview, marketing considerations, keys to success and more.
Finally, there are definitive answers to all your questions about online gambling's most exciting segment.
Of Hilton takeover rumours and a beefier Ladbrokes e-gaming division.
Persistent rumours this week that UK online betting group Sportingbet might be the target of a predatory takeover bid by Ladbroke's parent group Hilton sent the sportsbook's shares soaring this week....but remained unconfirmed.
Sportingbet rallied to a record high amid rumours that the online gambling operator may have attracted the attention of Hilton Group. The theory, though dismissed as speculative by some analysts, was given weight by suggestions that Ladbrokes has been beefing up its e-gaming operation, adding at least 50 new staff, some at senior management level, in the past six months.
The UK financial media speculated that Sportingbet, which is itself digesting the recent multi-million dollar acquisition of Paradise Poker, would provide a huge fillip to Ladbrokes? internet aspirations, although one potential problem could be Sportingbet?s big exposure to the US market, where the dubious legal position of online gambling has prevented Ladbrokes from entering the market so far.
There are similarly unconfirmed suggestions that Hilton has also been casting an eye over Betfair, the UK?s biggest internet betting exchange, although an IPO for the privately owned company currently looks the favoured route.
The Canadian financial press was bullish on Internet poker stocks this week article on Internet poker stocks, urging Canadian investors to "Ante up on poker stocks!"
Analysts are bullish on makers of online gambling software led by Toronto-based CryptoLogic Inc. largely because of the booming online poker industry. CryptoLogic beat analysts' expectations for the third quarter this year with earnings of US$2.9-million, up 32% year over year. The company said it made more than 15% of earnings from its poker business, up 55% from the previous quarter.
The company runs the fourth biggest network of online poker sites in the world, and reports that more than 3,000 players can be found on its international networks at any given time.
"Online poker is the fastest-growing segment in the history of interactive gambling, and Cryptologic has a great seat at the winning table," CEO Lewis Rose is quoted as saying.
Investors, too, are excited about poker stocks. CryptoLogic shares (CRV/TSX) are up 76% to $27.40 since January, and 52% since it reported third-quarter earnings.
Meanwhile, Toronto-based and publicly listed CES Software PLC is up 28% to $3.86 year-to-date with Calgary-based Chartwell Technology Inc. (CWH/TSX) up 145% to $4.90. Boss SS, an industry leader that trades on the Stockholm exchange, is down slightly on the year but up 23% since August. InfoPowa has previously reported on this CES Software, which was started by Andrew Rifkin, one of the founders of Cryptologic.
Driving online poker growth is the recent success of televised poker matches, such as "World Series of Poker," "World Poker Tour" and celebrity games.
The success of online poker players in the this TV-hungry environment has translated into tremendous growth for the online poker industry. Poker Web sites are expecting revenue of US$1.5-billion this year, compared to just US$100-million two years ago. In total, more than US$30-billion in bets will be laid in 2004.
Most analysts agree there is still room to grow. In November, Greg Harris, an analyst with Canaccord Capital, raised his fiscal 2004 revenue estimate for Cryptologic to US$62.3-million, from US$60.2-million, and earnings per share estimate to US94 cents, from US85 cents, based on growth of the company's poker business.
Analysts are calling for 38% growth in CryptoLogic's poker revenue for 2004, but Harris thinks it could be even higher. He upgraded his estimated poker revenue to US$12.7-million for fiscal 2004, up from his earlier estimate of US$10.5-million, and US$21-million for fiscal 2005 (previously US$16.4-million).
Robert Winslow, an analyst with Harris Partners, initiated coverage on CES last week with a $4.00 target price and "buy" recommendation. He said depending on successful merger and acquisition execution, CES could offer returns of 300% to 500% over the medium term.
InfoPowa note - CES is currently in a major betting exchange partnership branded BetBull.com with Viennese public company Bet And Win.
He expects the company to provide a viable model for P2P gaming -- a sub-category of online gambling that allows for multi-player poker and sports betting exchanges -- in 2005.
"Supported by a cashed-up balance sheet, we believe CES Software has significant opportunity to expand the company's P2P gaming network and create shareholder value," Mr. Winslow said.
Online gamblers at PlayersOnly.com will be receiving an early Christmas gift from the online casino that's as famous for its galleries of beautiful women as its sportsbook, casino games and poker rooms.
"We know our players love to browse through the thousands of photos of girls at PlayersOnly.com," says Alex Czajkowski, Marketing Director for Sportingbet Plc Americas Region. "We figured what they'd really want for Christmas is more girls - so that's what we're giving them."
The exclusive 2005 PlayersOnly Calendar features nine provocatively dressed women over thirteen months, posing at the beach, on the court and on the playing field.
"After an international search, we narrowed our selection down to about twenty girls, did photo sessions with each of them before choosing the nine beautiful women that ended up in the Calendar."
For admirers of the female form, the 2005 PlayersOnly Calendar is available free of charge only to PlayersOnly.com members. To qualify to receive it, players only need to wager $50 at PlayersOnly.com between September 1, 2004 and January 31, 2005. New players who want their copy for the New Year can get one by depositing $50 and making just $50 in wagers.
Betfair may have an Aussie licence within months...
There was another victory for betting exchanges in Australia as we went to press, with the final failure of the horse racing sector to ban Betfair.com from operating in that country.
Betfair is expected to gain a permanent wagering licence within six months after the Federal Government refused the racing industry's last-ditch bid to have the Internet-based company banned from operating.
With several states expressing an interest in licensing Betfair in the new year, Communications Minister Helen Coonan confirmed the Government would not stand in its way, rejecting the desperate pleas of the racing industry and gaming giant Tabcorp.
The imminent signing of a wagering contract with one of the state or territory governments will set in train Betfair's 50-50 joint venture with Kerry Packer.
Mr Packer's Publishing & Broadcasting Ltd has signed a deal with Betfair which is said to be worth A$30 million.
The first state or territory to license Betfair is likely to see the others follow suit, according to a well-placed source in the Northern Territory Government.
"At the moment it's a case of everyone standing at the edge of the cliff waiting for the first one to jump," the source told The Australian newspaper.
"Betfair would provide enormous revenue and none of us would want to see it lost to other states."
Betfair, which has been operating in Britain since June 2000, differs from traditional gambling outfits by allowing punters to bet directly against each other.
It allows punters to back horses to win as well as lose, sparking calls from the racing industry that it would foster corrupt activity.
Senator Coonan said the federal Government was satisfied its 18-month review of online gambling had not erred in leaving Betfair free to gain a state licence.
"Industry issues, including ... the integrity of the racing industry, are a state-based jurisdiction," she said.
Could the Israeli authorities be about to launch a blitz on Internet gambling? The following report from the Israeli business media would seem to indicate that this is a possibility.
The reports reveal that the Council for the Regularization of Gambling in Sport is demanding enforcement of the Penal Law Amendment (Prohibited Games, Lottery and Betting) Law (1964) against online gambling.
The Council on Gambling recently sent a letter to State Prosecutor Eran Shendar, Israel Police chief of investigations Commander Moshe Mizrahi, and Israel Tax Authority director Eitan Rub, calling for a "change in priorities to investigate and indict criminals in this area."
"Globes" business media has obtained a copy of this letter, in which the Council on Gambling emphasizes that the police estimate the volume of illegal gambling in Israel at NIS 1 billion a year. The Council on Gambling notes that illegal gambling involves control by organized crime, violence, and money laundering, and even led to the collapse of Trade Bank.
The Council on Gambling believes that these unwelcome activities are worsening, not just because they are not a priority target, but also because illegal online gambling is easily accessible.
Director general Shaul Schneider said, "This is a plague that harms the economy and society, and is accompanied by widespread criminality. In addition to reducing the Council's revenue, which harms Israeli sport, its estimated direct costs to the state is several hundred millions shekels a year. This is why we're calling on the law enforcement agencies to remove their gloves in all matters relating to illegal gambling, and to make it a priority."
Among the measures the Council for Gambling recommends to fight illegal gambling are a simple method of examining Internet servers to trace the people operating illegal websites, and enactment of a bill dealing with illegal Internet gambling, proposed by MK Ronnie Bar-On (Likud).
MORE ECCENTRIC BUT HEADLINE GRABBING BUYS AT G.P.
10 December 2004
Golden Palace marketers new direction is getting the coverage
Online casino GoldenPalace.com has purchased staplers autographed by Paris Hilton, Bill Gates, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Donald Trump, and NFL Quarterback Tom Brady, as part of the "Staplers of the Stars" online charity auction created by Staples.
The news did nothing to eclipse widespread mainstream media coverage for the second time in as many weeks over weird buys GP marketers have made on E-Bay.
Last week it was a ten year old, half-eaten toasted cheese sandwich said to bear a likeness of the Virgin Mary, and this week it was a haunted walking cane for an unbelievable $65,000.
ICE 2005 January 25-27, 2005 Earls Court 2, London, UK
Thousands of casino professionals across the globe are preparing to make the journey to London next month as the 2005 International Casino Exhibition (ICE) opens its doors at the Earls Court Exhibition Centre on 25-27 January.
What awaits them is another record-breaking event boasting no fewer than 169 exhibitors from 32 countries offering every conceivable product, device or service designed to maximise business opportunities throughout 2005 and beyond. Whether it?s for traditional land-based or offshore casinos and gaming parlours or state-of-the-art remote gambling systems, ICE 2005, together with its new interactive gaming section ICEi will feature all the latest developments.
Of the 169 companies exhibiting across 10,000sqm. (107,600sq.ft.) of net floor space at ICE 2005, 110 (65%) are based outside the UK with the USA (15 exhibitors) the most heavily represented overseas nation.
Recent trends in visitor attendance would suggest that ICE 2005 is set to continue on its upwards path, superseding the all-time high of 7,322 casino professionals from 101 countries recorded in 2004. Last year?s record attendance, including cross-over visitors from the co-located ATEI [soft gaming and amusements expo], of 17,775 is also on course to be broken once again.
No fewer than 31 companies drawn from 17 different countries are making their very first appearance at ICE in 2005, many of them in the i-gaming sector. This represents almost one-fifth (18.3%) of the total number of exhibitors on the show floor. Nine of the debutants are UK-based with three each coming from Canada and the USA and two from each of Argentina and Sweden. There are also first-time exhibitors from Australia, Austria, Belgium, France, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Norway, Russia, Serbia & Montenegro, Spain and Taiwan.
This year?s ICE will have the biggest on-the-floor presence of b2b gaming and gambling periodicals in the show?s history with no fewer than 25 publications from 9 countries setting out their stalls on the show floor. Over 50 casino industry writers are anticipated at Earls Court.
There?s more to ICE than just a selling show, behind the scenes there are a number of events designed to help shape future legislation and industry direction with key industry opinion-formers networking with political influencers, regulators and legislators. The following represents just a snapshot of events taking place off the show floor during ?London week?:-
Gaming Regulators Luncheon (around 60 regulators from 30+ gaming jurisdictions)
European Casino Forum Meeting
Casino Executive Luncheon
Off The Record Club (for international trade journalists)
Interactive Gaming, Gambling & Betting Association (iGGBA) Seminar/Meeting
European Gambling Briefing.
Reserve the 25th & 26th April 2005, in your diaries for the European Gambling Briefing conference at a venue to be advised.
Knowledgeable experts from the European Commission, leading lawyers, regulators and CEO's of major gambling companies will present their views and debate the future of gambling in Europe as this conference focuses on the legislative and business forces effecting gaming and gambling within the European Union.
Comprehensively researched with key players in the market, this is an important event, not just for lawyers and regulators, but all those interested in doing business within the European gambling sector.
The interactive and debating sessions will address the following key topics:
Directive of Services in the Internal Market: With many countries opposed, will gambling remain within the EU remit? Timetables and scope for gambling study and its impact on the Directive; Ramifications of amendment on sales promotions
The most recent challenges and findings in courts across Europe: Case studies from the Netherlands; Germany; Italy and others
What is the true situation for companies looking for cross-border business opportunities?
What is happening in the EU's newly admitted member states?
Latest on the UK Gambling Bill: What impact is UK legislation having on other key European jurisdictions?
Monopolies versus competition: serious debate from both sides
Advertising and marketing of gambling services - what's allowed and what's actually happening
Proposed new Money Laundering Directive: Know Your Customer and other implications
Intercasino just keeps on winning, it appears. Following it's tie for "Best Online Casino" in the GOM awards announced last week, the Cryptologic-powered operation has received further accolades from serious industry publications.
Two of the largest gaming magazines in North America made the awards. Strictly Slots, a magazine dedicated to slot enthusiasts, named InterCasino.com the ?Best Online Casino for Slots?; and Casino Player Magazine awarded InterCasino.com ?Fastest Payouts for an Online Casino?.
Strictly Slots is the authority on slot machine play, and the most widely read Slot magazine in the world with over 130,000 readers.
"InterCasino has invested heavily in Slots over the last few years, which has clearly paid off," says Casino Player and Strictly Slots Editor-In-Chief Adam Fine. "They have over thirty of the best Slots online as well as some amazing progressive jackpots. On top of this their introduction of Fruit Machines has set the Slots market abuzz so they truly deserve the Best Online Casino for Slots Award."
InterCasino.com?s ?Fastest Payouts for an Online Casino? award from Casino Player Magazine puts the casino in a very competitive position in an area regarded as extremely important by players.
Those Bluff Media guys are reportedly packing 'em in at the recently revamped Fantasy Poker Challenge.com site, home of the world?s first and only fantasy poker league.
For those readers not yet familiar with this innovative poker venture, the challenge was launched last summer by print poker publication Bluff Magazine and has been doing tons of fun business from what we hear.
It?s free to play and works along the same lines as any regular fantasy sports league. The player simply chooses four favourite fantasy poker players, who will then earn him or her points depending on the amount of prize money won at a designated tournament.
The player whose fantasy team has accumulated the highest number of points at the end of the tourney is the winner. After the first day of the tournament players can buy and sell players, like shares on a stock exchange, which gives the game the same mixture of strategy and luck as the great game of poker itself.
In order to celebrate the new look, Bluff is offering winners the ultimate poker players dream come true: The top 1000-point earners between December 17th (Five Diamond World Poker Classic II) and April 24th (WPT Championship at Bellagio) will compete in an invitation only online freeroll tournament with the winner earning a seat at the 2005 WSOP.
Were it not for the sound reputation of the merged Phoenician-Nostalgia online casino group, players might have been concerned this week when the fast-track Neteller payouts were suspended without explanation.
The speed of this group's payouts (literally within hours) was a major drawcard for gamblers, who were unsettled because the change was made immediately after one of the owners had sold to his partner.
Neteller added to the mystery by revealing that the change was operator-initiated and none of their doing, and then the casino site went down.
After much speculation, a new site appeared and all was revealed: Phoenician-Nostalgia were bound by confidentiality as they were in the process of changing from Real Time Gaming software to Microgaming on the Viper platform.
Early reports suggest that the group has been assimilated into the Casino Action Group, although Adriches will continue to handle affiliates.
As we went to press, notices were appearing advising that all outstanding player balances and loyalty points have been carried across and new accounts set up for all players, with confirmation emails about to go out.
Another Internet poker company has gone to the wall, it appears, after players in the Your Poker Network started to receive the following email from Nutz Poker:
Dear NutzPoker Players,
We am (sic) very sorry to inform you that NutzPoker will be closing effective December 30, 2004. All games and tournament activity will cease effective December 01, 2004.
Please cashout your remaining funds prior to December 30, 2004. We can process your cashout via NETeller, FirePay or PrePaidATM at this time.
We regret that we have been forced to take this action but we have been informed by YPN, the software provider of NutzPoker and the website, that they will be going out of business. We are very sorry for any inconvenience this may cause you. In no way or manner is NutzPoker responsible for this closing. We are being forced to close by YPN, the network, itself because they can no longer conduct business.
NBC had a complimentary word on Internet poker this week. Commenting on a story about a Tuscaloosa barkeep who has hugely boosted his business by starting a poker room and sponsoring a player to the WSOP, the US TV network reported:
"Gaming experts say the latest poker craze probably wouldn't be possible without the Internet. Last month, 1.3 million players wagered $136 million in online poker rooms."
This week's good luck story comes from Parley - DCEG powered Winward Casino.com, where a blackjack player turned a $1000 bet into an amazing $110,000 over the Thanksgiving weekend.
The man, who prefers to remain nameless, managed to multiply his money by one hundred and ten times in one run at a game of blackjack.
Winward Casino VIP Host Mark Bloom said, ?We?ve had big winners like this before on our slot machine jackpots, but I?ve never seen a player start with $1,000 and turn it into $110,000 playing blackjack. It was an amazing run!?
The man is not commenting on how he intends to spend his $110,000 windfall
It's casino number three - a European-targeted site - from Aussie group Lasseters this week.
After months of planning and production, Lasseters has launched their third online casino,
LassetersEuro.com, joining the respected Lasseters.com
With 27 games powered by OGS in both Flash and download format, and Euro the wagering currency there's no doubt who the Australian group has targeted with this new offering. The sign-up bonus is a remarkable 200 percent maxed at Euro 200 and with game and WT. Adding to the launch excitement is a Euro 15,500 draw towards the car of their choice, or a like amount in cash.
Lasseters is publicly listed on the Australian Stock Exchange and licensed by the Northern Territory Government of Australia, ensuring that players receive a fair and enjoyable gaming experience.
New rake information from the expert
The much respected online poker expert "PokerAddict" has launched a new idea and a new site that will undoubtedly prove popular for both players and affiliates, dealing as it does with profitable rake information.
Rake Rebate Review.com is dedicated to getting the online poker player the best rake back deal possible. By allowing affiliates to post their paybacks all in one place allows the online player to see all available offers without having to hunt all over the net.
There's a forum, a PM system, but most important unbiased information and feedback that can save players money.
This is how it works. Marketing affiliates get a certain percentage of a player's rake back every month from the poker room. Many affiliates keep 100% of this. This percent is usually in the 20-30 percent range of the money each poker room took out of pots players were dealt in.
On the new site, affiliates give the player a cut of this money they make in return for going through them. Players who go to
will see comprehensive tables that they can turn to their advantage at a number of poker rooms.
Kiss this one goodbye
There were few player tears at the passing of Australian owned and RTG powered Kiss Casino.com this week. The casino has for some time been thoroughly lambasted by the players for questionable operational conduct, and this week it seems that its unpopularity finally caught up with the owners.
Writing with "...a heavy heart" in an email to players, the management advised that it would permanently close its doors from 22 December 2004, although staff would remain to the end of the month to handle withdrawals. Players who leave money in their accounts after that will have lost out - the management will keep any balances remaining.
It is not known whether sisters Giant Vegas and Giant Slots will remain online.
Turkish delight....not. Casino Parabol.com has been the subject of adverse criticism regarding slow payouts and poor communications of late, and should be treated with caution. Powered by Net Entertainment and registered to an outfit branded Million Minds SA out of Costa Rica, the site is available in English and Turkish language versions.
Be on the look-out for a handheld poker device and game due for launch next week by Saitek Industries as the poker juggernaut keeps on rolling.
No Limit Texas Hold ?Em has been created by Saitek to give users an opportunity to experience the popular poker game through a new portable device. A favourite with veterans and beginners, the game offers a good balance of chance and strategy on a highly portable handset.
"We have been closely watching the poker craze and especially the popularity of Texas hold 'em," said Saitek executive Bill McMahon, who also drew attention to the unit?s unique features, including a poker table-shaped screen and a variety of realistic sound effects.
Retailing at $50, the game will be released early in the new year.
Betfair spokespersons have been briefing the media that the betting exchange company has been "inundated" with compensation claims from former Sporting Options customers in response to its offer of a "lifeboat" to unpaid gamblers at the failed company.
Reports are that a total of 615 applications have been received, the majority having already been processed and paid out.
The rescue package, which was offered to Sporting Options? customers who have been adversely affected by its surprise collapse two weeks ago has been the subject of a rival offering from competitor IbetX.com. The latter 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.
Some 5,342 punters have been left out of pocket and Betfair, as part of an effort to restore confidence in the betting exchange model, have pledged to reimburse in full punters who have lost under ?1000, while those who have lost over ?1000 to receive ?1000 or 20 per cent of their account balance, whichever is greater.
"We are delighted with the response so far to our rescue package and we look forward to helping more Sporting Options customers," Betfair's chief executive Stephen Hill said.
SPORTINGBET IN THE POUND (STERLING) SEATS
3 December 2004
Sound first quarter results from world's largest
Sportingbet, now widely considered the planet?s biggest internet gambling company, has posted impressive first quarter results this week, confirming a strong move into the black ink well before the recent multi-million dollar acquisition of ParadisePoker.com (see last week's InfoPowa report).
Results to the end of October reveal a pre-tax profit of GBP 2.6 million, compared with a GBP 400,000 loss over the same period a year ago, which included GBP 1 million of exceptionals.
Sportingbet delayed the publication of their financial results until after the announcement of the Paradise deal, and said that returns from its sports betting arm were lower than could normally be expected because of an unfavourable string of results which saw a higher than normal percentage of favourites winning ? a trend that affected the UK industry across the board.
However, an increase in the volume of bets taken (Sportingbet takes an average of ten bets per second) meant that the cost per bet fell to its lowest level of GBP 1.93. In Europe, the cost per bet fell by ten per cent, from GBP 1.80 to GBP 1.62.
Sportingbet?s poker and casino operations, however, proved to be in robust health, with a very impressive 89 percent rise in gross profits, from GBP 1.8 million to GBP 3.4 million. This figure will increase substantially following the acquisition of Paradise Poker, which is the third largest online poker room in the industry.
Strong rumours abounded this week that online gambling company Gaming VC Holdings plans to float on AIM in the near future with a market cap as high as Euro 200 million.
The group, which claims it is the world's third-largest online casino operator by user numbers, plans to raise between Euro 105 million and Euro 150 million via the float before the end of 2004. Gaming VC's top brand is Casino-club.com.
The founding shareholder, a German businessman who prefers to remain anonymous, is selling his interest to a group of four Americans led by former IBM/Lotus manager Steve Barlow, who will become chief executive.
YOOMEDIA GETS INTO MOBILE GAMBLING ACTION
3 December 2004
Digital Interactive Television Group sold for GBP 33.4 million
There have been some interesting developments at DITC - Avago, which was involved last week in the mobile gambling launch of Hutchinson G3 using Zone4Play software.
Internet entrepreneur Peter Wilkinson, who helped to create Freeserve, was GBP 7.5 million richer this week after selling much of his share of the DITC gambling business to Yoomedia, which is listed on the London AIM.
Wilkinson was the principal backer of Digital Interactive Television Group, owner of the Avago and William Hill betting channels, which was sold for GBP 33.4 million in cash and shares.
Wilkinson retains a 9 per cent stake in the enlarged business, an GBP 84 million company that is the arguably the leader in interactive television services with products including online dating, computer games, and now gambling.
Yoomedia?s present management, Michael Sinclair, executive chairman, and David Doherty, chief executive, will run the business.
?Together we have the brands, content, distribution, technical knowhow and the relationships with platforms and broadcasters to satisfy the increasing appetite for interactive applications in TV, radio, mobile and on the internet,? Mr Sinclair said.
To fund the deal, Yoomedia resorted to a deeply discounted GBP 25 million placing handled by Evolution Group. The placing of 166.7 million shares was priced at 15p, a third below the 23p Yoomedia?s shares were suspended at when news of the deal leaked two weeks ago.
Yoomedia?s shares closed at 19?p, after the stock had relisted.
NOW ITS HUNGARIAN SOVEREIGNTY HASSLES
3 December 2004
Another cross-border sovereignty fight was looming this week as The Budapest Business Journal reported that Hungary's Gambling Supervision Department had launched litigation against the Briitish online gambling group Sportingbet.
Sportingbet launched its Hungarian-language website in June of this year and is operating without the appropriate license, claims the Supervision. And, according to paragraph 267 of Hungary?s criminal code, organizers of illicit gambling can be sentenced to two years in jail.
Sportingbet, however, maintains that its activities are perfectly legal and conform to all applicable European Union regulations regarding the cross-border offering of services.
As usual in these 'territorial' disputes the heart of the disagreement lies in the fact that gambling is a state monopoly in Hungary, governed by the 1991 Gambling Act, which prescribes that gambling organizers must be majority owned by the Hungarian State.
The gambling supervision has already levied a fine of Ft 500,000 (around Euro 2 000) on Sportingbet?s Hungarian media buyer, Provimar Kft, and has called on the company to remove Hungarian-language content from the Sportingbet website.
Quoted by the BBJ, Nigel Payne, group CEO of Sportingbet, said he is not worried about the legal proceedings, and insisted that the company has no intention of ceasing to offer and market its services in Hungary.
?Hungary is one of a small number of countries where the government has a tax protectionist monopoly. It?s a treasury-driven tax strategy, as the government, through the state?s gambling chain, takes tax from citizens at source,? he said.
However, Payne noted that Hungary is now part of the EU, and as such is signed up to the EU Constitution. Free-trade policies within the union mean the Hungarian government is in no position to restrict other EU-based companies from offering their services to citizens, he argued.
?This is stated in the EU?s Constitution, and having talked personally with the responsible people within the EU, they will uphold this law if it is challenged,? he said.
L?szl? Oravecz, department head at the Gambling Supervision, nevertheless contends that Sportingbet?s internet-based service violates the Hungarian Gambling Act.
According to Oravecz, the act stipulates that publishing offers for gambling services via telecommunication devices and networks ? including the internet ? requires the approval of the supervision. He added that the licensing obligation also applies to local organization, sales, marketing and advertising activities of foreign gambling services.
?The supervision has not issued a license for the gambling services available on the website,? he said. ?So, as far as the available information is concerned, the website operates in a way that violates the law.?
Payne opined that the real issue is one of taxation, claiming that the desire to block his company?s activities in Hungary is driven by the treasury. As the sole licensed lottery and sports betting operator in Hungary, state-owned Szerencsej?t?k Rt is essentially a tax monopoly, he said, whereas Sportingbet?s activities are tax-exempt.
Szerencsej?t?k paid some Ft 57 billion in taxes into the budget in 2003.
Meanwhile, reacting to the fine levied against it, Provimar has requested the EU to look closely at Hungary?s gambling laws.
Payne observed that current legal proceedings in EU courts between another U.K. bookmaker, Ladbrokes Plc, and the Dutch state lottery are tilting in favor of Ladbrokes, and that he expects the bookmaker to win. The Netherlands operates a similar system to Hungary, with all gambling activity run by the state.
Payne said he is in no doubt that EU law allows his company to operate in Hungary, explaining that in such cases, EU law supersedes national law.
?I can categorically state that we will not stop our service in Hungary, nor should we, as legally we do not have to,? he said. ?A member country cannot pick and choose which parts of the EU Constitution and laws it applies.?
STOP PRESS: News coming in as we went to press was that the authorities in France are taking action against Sportingbet because the U.K.-licensed online bookmaker is targeting French-speaking bettors. Industry observers are asking why, then are the French apparently happy with Eurosport running ads for foreign online gambling services?
Following closely on the Hungarian sovereignty issue, Intefax reported further attempts in Slovakia to raise taxes through gambling and retain State control.
The Slovakian moves follow restrictive legislation proposals in the Russian Duma regarding gambling advertising, and the Hungarian moves to stop cross-border gambling interfering with its State monopoly..
Intefax reported that the Slovak Cabinet has approved a bill on gambling introducing new regulations for lotteries, betting, and games played on machines in gambling clubs, or on the Internet. The new law also raises the tax on gambling.
The law is part of a government attempt to better regulate gambling by replacing the current legislation, which has been amended several times and is open to interpretation. An estimated 19,000 workers are employed in the gambling industry in Slovakia. The sector posted sales of almost SKK 29 billion last year.
The Bill must now pass the Slovak parliament, but could become law early in the new year.
MECN's latest survey shows that returns on investment in gambling stocks are making many investors happy this year.
Conducted over the past few months, the survey shows that investors are beginning to focus on the gambling industry as a promising global growth opportunity.
But gambling, says the research company is in many respects, still one of the financial community?s best-kept secrets. The new report entitled 'Investing in the Gambling/Gaming Industry' will allow for a better understanding of the industry and its investment potential, it claims.
The survey shows the stocks of top performers, such as online operator Sportingbet or Wynn Casinos, rose by about 320 percent and 181 percent, respectively, in the past 12 months. About two thirds of the stocks of the 15 largest gambling companies increased
by over 40 percent in the past 12 months.
Close to 60 percent of the investors surveyed said that the performance of their investment in the gambling industry was "above expectations".
The MECN Gambling Industry Index, which tracks a representative group of 47 gambling companies, increased by 39% in the past 12 months. With this performance the Gambling Index outperformed most indices, including the Dow Jones, FTSE, and many other industry-specific indicators.
Europe seems the place to be: 7 out of the top 10 performers are European companies, and close to 60 percent of the investors surveyed said that the performance of their investment in the gambling industry was ?above expectations?.
Full House Entertainment N.V., a licensed Internet based gaming development and management firm, has inked a deal to acquire all of the assets of Clockmedia Inc for an undisclosed amount.
These assets include source code for all fully and partially completed games, all agreements, and gaming intellectual property.
Mr. Jorge Mijares, President and CEO of Clockmedia Inc. declared
??working with Full House [Entertainment N.V.] to bring this deal to
it?s final stages has been a daunting project, stressful at times and now
after ten months of hard work we have a deal we can all be happy with.?
Mr. Joe Mulligan Operating Manager of Full House Entertainment N.V said,
?I?m very happy to announce the closing of this deal. The acquisition of Clockmedia?s gaming properties will solidify all of the development and software needs of Full House Entertainment N.V.
In saying "Clockmedia?s software never reached its full potential in the market? Mulligan is probably correct, for the Montreal based company had many ups and downs in its four year history, and never reached the ranks of the leading gambling software companies.
CELEBRITY POKER WIN FOR FOOTBALL STAR
3 December 2004
Teddy takes the top prize
Winners in the UK-based Celeb Poker Classic tournament reported last week by InfoPowa have been announced.
47 finalists assembled at the Rendezvous Casino in Southend near London, England for the event, and celebrity poker players competed with professionals and the poker-loving public to see who would win the inaugural tournament.
The strong footballing contingent of Teddy Sheringham and Matthew Etherington of West Ham and Simon Davies of Spurs all put up GBP 1000 buy-ins to pit their skill and luck against the likes of Channel 4 and At The Races pundit John McCirick, Rogue-Trader Nick Leeson and former Eastender Michael Grecco.
After 4 hours of play, the numbers had been reduced to just 10 players. From the celebrity squad only one was left ? Matthew Etherington, who had played a very tight game.
Whilst the final 10 battled it out to the finish, a free-roll was being conducted. 12 players had the opportunity to share in the CelebPoker GBP 1000 Texas Hold ?Em Free Roll.
Competition was fierce and uncompromising in the final, but Teddy Sheringham won through to the first prize of GBP 600 after a hard fought competition. Chris Brooks of Capital Radio came second winning GBP 300 and Elkan Allan won GBP 100 in taking the third spot.
The spanking new, $250 million Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa in Cabazon, California has been tapped to host Fox Sports Network's (FSN) second annual Poker Superstars Invitational Tournament, where 24 of the world's top players will compete.
Among those anteing up are poker legend Doyle Brunson, 2003 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Champion Chris Moneymaker, two-time WSOP Champion Johnny Chan and numerous other WSOP bracelet winners.
Starting with a specal two-hour premiere on March 13, 2005, the series will air weekly on Sundays at 8:00 p.m. for 34 episodes, culminating in the final hand being dealt during a two-hour on Oct. 30, 2005.
In order to qualify for the invitation-only tournament, players must have a history of successful cash game play for at least 10 years or been involved in a string of final tables at major poker tournaments in the last three years. These top players will compete in a five-day, $40,000-buy-in, no limit, Hold'em tournament, beginning at 10:00 AM PST on Thursday, December 2.
The field will be narrowed down to sixteen after three days of competition and eight after the fourth day. On the fifth day, the eight quarter finalists will compete in two groups of four and the winners along with the runner ups from each group will advance to the semi-finals. The semi-final will be two head-to-head matches with a best two-out-of-three format to determine the finalists. The two finalists will again engage in a heads-up match with best two-out-of-three winner capturing the championship of the Poker Superstars Invitational II.
The tournament will be held under the direction of Mori Eskandani and Eric Drache.
Offbeat event of the week was an extraordinary Sports 911 story in which Bodog's high profile, larger than life CEO *Cole Turner* turns out to have been a figment of the imagination of the real CEO, one Calvin Ayre!
In a "confession" this week, Ayre reveals that the Bodog creative team have been having fun with the deception for years, and that the Turner persona was designed to be a fun character in promoting the Bodog.com brand.