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January 2006

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Online Casino News courtesy of InfoPowa news service.

 
 
Info Powa News ~ International Casino Exhibition London Report
ICE Day 1 24 January
ICE Day 2 25 January
ICE Day 3 26 January

UK GAMBLING TO HOST MAJOR INTERNATIONAL SUMMIT 20 January
LOW COMPLAINT LEVELS AT ECOGRA ‘PLAY IT SAFE’ VENUES IN 2005 20 January
BETFAIR LICENSED AT LAST 20 January
IVEY NAMED POKER PLAYER OF THE YEAR 20 January
GALA BINGO (update) 20 January
HOME OF GAMBLING 20 January
MILLIONAIRE WIN (update) 20 January
COOL CHRISTMAS PRESENT FOR VC GAMING 20 January
2006 AWARDS NOW UP AT CASINOMEISTER 20 January
INTERCASINO APPOINTS BAILEY AS INDEPENDENT ARBITRATOR 20 January
GOOD NEWS FOR TRIDENT GROUP 20 January
AUSSIE MILLIONS FINAL IN SIGHT 20 January
BE THE DEALER DENIES COMPANY IS IN MONEY TROUBLE 20 January
NEW GAMES FROM VEGAS TECH 20 January
MGN JOINS THE BUSINESS 20 January
HACK ATTACK ON MICRO-AD MILLIONAIRE 20 January
MARGOLIS THE MODEL HAS HER OWN POKER SITE 20 January
FRESH GAMES FOR A NEW YEAR 20 January
WHAT HALL OF FAME? 20 January
SIR CASHALOT PROGRESSIVE HITS 20 January
888.COM GOES FOR THE HIGH PROFILE POCKET 20 January
CHANGES AT THE TOP IN SPORTECH 20 January
BETINTERNET TO LAUNCH NEW SPORTSBOOK PLATFORM 20 January
U.S. REGULATION OF ONLINE GAMING TO BE INVESTIGATED 20 January
A.O.L. BLACKJACK 20 January
VC PLAYS WITH DYNAMITE 20 January
PLAYSTATION POKER 20 January
CONFERENCE CORNER 20 January
OFFERS FOR LADBROKES ABUILDING? 13 January
VOTE FOR THE BEST IN POKER 13 January
BIG LOSS FOR SPORTECH IN PREMATURE END TO TV CONTRACT 13 January
LYCOS AND SKILLJAM TEAM UP 13 January
BLAST FROM THE PAST 13 January
NEW DIRECTOR FOR PADDY POWER 13 January
STICKY GAMES FROM W.S.O.P? 13 January
SKILL GAMES FOR TOP PORTAL 13 January
HOW MUCH DO YOU WAGER? 13 January
CASINO CAUTIONS 13 January
SKY UNLIMITED FOR GAMING ACCOUNT 13 January
AND STAYING WITH P2P.... 13 January
COOL CASINOS 13 January
INSIDE GAMING SIGNS UP FOR CHARTWELL FLASH 13 January
A NEW IRISH POKER CHAMP 13 January
ALL ABOARD THE 'BELLE FOR POKER 13 January
SPORTXCTION AT BETDIRECT 13 January
ENDORSEMENT FOR WAGERLOGIC POKER 13 January
$2 BUY-IN FOR BRITISH POKER OPEN 13 January
CYOP CHOOSES LVFH POKER SOFTWARE 13 January
DANISH TV GOES FOR SKILLJAM 13 January
ENTRY TO THE BIG TIME 13 January
POKER PAYS THE BILLS FOR THIS STUDENT 13 January
TOP MANAGER FOR GAMEACCOUNT 13 January
RNG CERTIFICATION FOR PLAYTECH 13 January
VC PLAYS WITH DYNAMITE 13 January
BETFAIR FIGHTS OFF THE BADDIES 13 January
ANONYMOUS POSTERS, BEWARE! 13 January
CONFERENCE CORNER 13 January



PLENTY OF ACTION AT I.C.E.
24 January 2006

On Day One, InfoPowa's Brian Cullingworth visits the big names in Interactive Gaming

In the Interactive Gaming section of the International Casino Exhibition (ICE) in London, 186 exhibitors from 33 countries underline the truly global nature of Internet gaming. International companies outnumber British companies by two to one this year, with 32 new exhibitors from 18 countries on show.

The path to the interactive gaming section lies through the heart of the land casino industry's showcase for the latest products and games - a colourful feast of new games and technology with stunning graphics.

Not just casino games, either - Sega and other big players on the world entertainment stage are there with large high definition flat TV screens to capture every ear-blasting sound and gory action in a range of driving violence and shoot 'em ups of various types. It seemed that hundreds of *shooters* were all blasting away with sub-machine guns, knocking down everything from soldiers to risen from the dead, staggering zombies!

Not far away teams of perspiring but fit youngsters were demonstrating new footpad games in a choreographed but strangely robotic demonstration of human and machine coordination - the idea being to *dance* steps screened on a TV panel in intricate patterns, with the winners being those with least mis-steps. It is amazing how fast those kids can move!

But we were not there for the scantily clad hostesses, the land casino stuff or the general entertainment, so we headed for ICEi and the best that the online gaming industry has to offer for 2006.

One disappointing absence struck us immediately - the veteran turnkey provider Cryptologic, normally an impressive presenter, although the company is a joint sponsor for a major industry function later this week.

Nevertheless, this absence is especially noticeable among the other top names, so we started with Sweden's Net Entertainment on a big, cleanly designed exhibition stand with attentive staff.

Sebastian Johansson showed off some of the impressive no-download games that Net Entertainment has recently launched including Casino Hold Em, an auto play slot called Gold Rush, 5 hand Multiplayer Blackjack and 10 hand Jacks or Better VP.

The company is working on a new Bingo product together with a Pirate themed slot with 2 bonus rounds, with a launch expected before the end of February. Mobile gaming is still on the agenda with a three game offering, but player take-up has been disappointing (a view we heard heard expressed on several occasions) despite the intense publicity this gaming genre has enjoyed recently.

Boss Media manager Magnus Falk was next on our list, and pretty pleased with the rapid growth in his company's online poker offering. Last November Omaha and Omaha Hi Lo were introduced to the six language, multi currency poker network operated by this veteran online company from Sweden, which is now reporting 30 000 global poker players per 24 hours, with up to 7 000 online simultaneously over peak periods.

The development of a special poker product for the giant Svenska Spel deal is on track, a new bingo product is going well and operator interest in the Boss poker package is high. Despite rumour to the contrary, Boss remains committed to the online casino sector and in the coming months plans new games and improved gaming features such as bonus rounds and free spins.

Back end functionality is to be improved, especially in regard to player communication and promotions handling.

"Online casino gambling software is still very much a core business with us, and over the next year we expect to launch up to 20 new games," Falk told us.

The company continues to develop mobile gaming in partnership with a UK company, and has 3 licensees in this area, one of which is William Hill. The Boss suite for this application is 10 games, but the market has not matured and growth has been slower than hoped for.

Ongame's Henning Olsen told us that the company's acquisition by Bet and Win has had little impact on a strong production program. A new version of the company's outstanding poker software is planned for the near future. The 14 site network continues to grow rapidly and now claims 7 million players, 20 000 of whom play simultaneously in certain timeframes.

Ongame has 2 games available for mobile gambling, but again has found take-up to be less than exciting. On the casino front, players can look forward to a series of new games in a program of continuous improvement. "We're always planning new and exciting ways to play," said Olsen.

Over at Chartwell Technology, Director of Sales Mike Marandino was demonstrating the new 32 Card Poker, and said that players can expect some good new products by April - probably no-download poker and a network-style Bingo game to meet increased demand for this genre. A new *soft game* branded Spoof is planned, together with a highly entertaining 20 line slot.

The takeover of the MicroPower poker software company last year has gone smoothly, with good products flowing and the launch of a network branded Poker Nexus which is growing steadily. Look out for multiple games-on-screen which many poker players have demanded.

Chartwell Technology has come in from some flak from the player community recently regarding its *hands off* approach to player-licensee disputes, and this is being addressed by the company through its major sixteen site "middle man" group Elite Club Management, currently operating a wide range of services from Curacao but about to move to a new complex in Singapore.

Elite Club is now tasked with dealing with player complaints at its 16 licensees, and Marandino anticipates that through Elite's immediate involvement and close communication with Chartwell disputes will be dealt with fast and fairly.

"No player will be disadvantaged in the unlikely event of any licensee going under," he said.

Chartwell's new game releases output is to be stepped up to as high as 24 games a year in both download and no-download format, and the company is happy with its penetration into the important European market segment.

Using the International Casino Exhibition to good effect, Orbis-Openbet launched a new turnkey online casino product featuring a number of innovative features, the results of a recent merger with NT Media.

NT Media's founder and now creative director at Orbis, Nik Robinson said that 18 months work lay behind the new product, which offers 27 no-download games of impressive quality.

Robinson said that he planned to augment the casino product with two additional and unique games every month going forward, and that a no-download poker product suitable for multiplayer network play was envisaged this year.

"The big advantage of this product is its flexibility. Openbet Casino can be integrated into any sportsbook, mobile or poker site, including its single account and multiplayer - multilingual capability," he said. "We expect great things from it and from the online poker product we are developing."

Openbet Casino comes in English, Middle Eastern and Chinese language variations at present, and has a fully comprehensive back-end functionality. The games include all the casino faves, together with progressives and player on dealer poker variations.

Orbis’ pioneering OpenBet software platform has been chosen by several big names in interactive gaming, including Ladbrokes, Sky Bet, Blue Square, Victor Chandler, Macau-SLOT, Samvo Entertainment and Paddy Power.

Canadian Bingo specialist Parlay Entertainment is planning 2 to 3 new games a quarter for its bingo and casino clients, said Peter Trinz, commenting that the bingo player base was growing quickly in key markets. Parlay currently powers some 35 sites and new offerings will include slots.

The company is pleased with the recent partnership with Microsoft that launched UK bingo facilities for MSN Bingo using the Bingos.co.uk platform.

With 80 download and 40 plus no-download games in the inventory, Playtech is very active in development, sales director Iris Toledano told us. The new mobile suite of 5 games will be ready before midyear, and the company will be launching at least 1 new game a month in download and then no-download format.

The 25 game New Generation suite with autoplay has been very well received and is generating solid operator interest. On the poker front, major infrastructural improvements to the iPoker network architecture took place a few months back, giving the network a capacity of up to 50 000 players simultaneously.

Playtech is responding to Asian player demand with live dealer games streamed from studio facilities in Manila.

Answering questions regarding the inauspicious start of the Playtech player disputes channel, Toledano said that increased focus had been given to this facility and that licensees were now required to respond to her mediation queries within 48 hours. "My objective is to be in a position to resolve player enquiries within 72 hours, or at the very least give the player an update in that timeframe if further enquiry is necessary." she said, claiming that complaints had decreased.

Steve Moseley, client services manager for the Atlanta-based Real Time Gaming turnkey provider has had a busy year with little respite ahead. "I seem to be almost living aboard aircraft flying all over the world," he told us. With some major new clients like Leisure and Gaming's VIP group coming on board it's not hard to understand why. 30 clients and 80 sites are keeping RTG busy, and the company is hiring new game developers to keep pace with demand for more games to be added to the inventory of over 100.

Look out for 6 new slots (including some big Aussie style formats) a stunning Caribbean Hold Em poker game, Bonus Bingo and more (up to 10 games) by April and a slew of new Flash offerings.

Patents have been applied for on a concept to offer casino games to poker players, and 2 mobile sites are running in partnership with Phantom Fiber although this sector has yet to meet expectations.

The large and well presented Microgaming stand was InfoPowa's final stop on Day One, where Marketing Managers John Wheatley and John Docherty gave a summary of new developments.

The company will continue to release four (or more) new games every month as this has been well received by the player community (and seemingly followed by other providers!)

A new product tentatively branded Casino In Poker is nearing completion in answer to demand from energetic poker players who apparently like to have selected casino game choices accessible from their screens.

Prima continues to power ahead as a major global poker network and has some ambitious tournament and promotional plans in the year ahead following the amicable conclusion of the 2 year Hendon Mob partnership. Monte Carlo Millions will continue.

The full ICE roster boasts 311 exhibitors from 30 countries, and with 157 exhibitors drawn from outside the UK this is the first time that international representation has surpassed that of domestic exhibitors. A record 69 companies are making their first appearance.

InfoPowa will be talking to more exhibitors on Day Two.



DAY 2 I.C.E. DRAWS LARGE CROWDS
25 January 2006

It may be chilly out, but casino exhibition is hot stuff

According to the news channels, temperatures in London reached nine year lows this week, but that didn't stop the crowds arriving in droves, packing this huge Earls Court exhibition facility and creating a real buzz.

Two European licensing jurisdictions are prominent in the Interactive section of the display with well presented and well manned sites: Isle of Man and Malta.

Mario Galeo, the head of Malta's Lottery and Gaming Authority (LGA) which licenses 104 gaming operations from its Mediterranean base has been active in networking with many of the international visitors at the show. A friendly and gregarious man, he says the LGA is determined to maintain high standards of player protection.

The LGA recently took up a player complaint involving one of its licensees and conducted an investigation which ceased when the complainant withdrew the allegations after reaching a private settlement with the gaming company involved.

Throughout the incident, and in sharp contrast to many lesser jurisdictions the Maltese proved to be responsive, augering well for the future.

The Avantia and Bell Med services and hosting companies from the island were also active.

Isle of Man representatives were pretty busy too, selling their attractive tax and services advantages to encourage more gaming companies to license on the island. With its more practical regulations, which have lifted the ban on US gamblers at its licensees, there was clearly a lot of interest in their well presented exhibition stand.

New kid on the online casino block is Cantor Gaming, scion of the major New York brokerage Fitzgerald Cantor (although not operating from that country for obvious reasons!)

Cantor became active in September last year, offering white label turnkey casinos to the market powered by the Australian GET software. The download games suite is on large flatscreen display showcasing some very attractive graphics and smooth play on the 18 download games currently available, which cover most of the casino faves.

Cantor casinos will have to meet the Alderney licensing requirements.

Payments Manager Marcus Ford who is based in London told us that there was a high level of interest, although to date there had been no sign-ups. Cantor is working on a mobile offering that it expects to release in the near future, and the company is assessing various poker and network providers with whom it could partner.

TAIN is a name we're likely to be hearing more about in the months ahead. The Swedish company did a Bodog-style deal with poker software developer MicroPower before it was acquired by Chartwell Technology, and has used this source code to introduce its own unique modifications and improvements. There are 6 gamestyles.

The Australian head of betting, "AJ" Thompson told us that by attracting big international companies like Parbet, Expekt, IndoBet, CBN and InniGame among others TAIN has managed to build up a creditable critical mass in only three months of operations. The global player roster now includes over 300 000 individuals, and numbers simultaneously on-network swing between 3 900 and 9 000. TAIN has a Malta based Support which it is growing, and 12 major licensees.

It's always nice to see an old veteran coming back strong after a rocky patch, and World Gaming is certainly producing solid results lately under its dynamic CEO Daniel Moran.

Having acquired one of its major licensees, Sportbetting recently, there are now 13 companies using the WG proprietary platform which offers sportsbook (the core of their business) racebetting (a strong performer) and 19 download / no-download casino games. WG offers poker in a partnership deal with Boss Media and its network. With 3 million accounts and income last year likely to exceed 2004 levels of $ 6 billion it looks as if the company is headed for a bright future.

WG is "looking at" mobile gambling but feels it still has a way to go in terms of real commercial viability, director of Marketing Paul Botelho told us....but there is likely to be some additions to the games selection soon.

River City Group are as always very active at this major international event, with Sue Schneider and her organising team well prepared for three major conferences around the world, so make a note of the following:

20 - 21 February PCIG in Macau

16 - 18 May GIGSE in Montreal

27 - 28 June World Poker Congress in Stckholm, Sweden.

The latter will be the first major land and internet combined poker event.

Finnish company EGET (European Game and Entertainment Technology) seems to be attracting crowds, and Teija Rasanen, the marketing manager says they have been busy. Their casino software package has 20 no-download games with more on the way - mainly slots for the 5 licensees. A horseracing product in collaboration with the State racing monopoly is doing well and the sportsbook product has one licensee at present. The business is mainly Scandinavian, but EGET has developed mobile capability which it is partnering with the UK company Stream Group.

The Apex network operated by Tribeca Tables seems to have accumulated many licensees and players thanks to an aggressive marketing campaign and Murray Chisholm says the proprietary software which offers 5 games is about to be augmented by a new 7 card stud game, along with improved functionality and player tools. With 70 000 and some active players and simultaneous sessions often exceeding 10 000 players online through over 350 skins working for 9 major licensees, business is booming.

Tribeca are particularly happy with the fact that many of their major clients have signed long-term 5 year agreements with them.

InfoPowa reported on the Australian run but Costa Rican based live over the Internet gambling company Vuetec over two years back, and this company is still going strong with 2 casinos on its books and 3 more likely to join soon. Vuetec's "Distance Gambling" streams live gambling from land casinos in CR, and online casinos can buy this feed for use on Internet sites.

Gambling Federation is tucked away on a small and not very attractive stand which did not appear to be genrating too much action when we visited.

Tonight the networking will continue in the more relaxed ambience of a major party hosted by Lyceum Media, Cryptologic, New Generation and Bodog. Invitees are promised belly dancers and comic book heroes, decadent Middle Eastern delights, a Vodka Luge, and Heroes and Villains themes on three floors.

The event will also see the launch of the new European edition of Bluff Poker Magazine and a new bi-monthly title from the Gambling.com search engine and portal people, Gaming Corporation.


FINAL DAY STILL BUSY
26 January 2006

Impressions of the successful 2006 I.C.E. show

It may be the final day of the International Casino Exhibition at Earl's Court in London, but there is no slackening in activity or the large number of visitors, although it has to be said that following the "Fire and Ice" party last evening there were some late starters and decidedly bleary eyes!

The efficient organisation, particularly of the Interactive section of this massive exhibition is worthy of a special note. Karen Cooke of ATE and her team have been unfailingly helpful and courteous despite the considerable pressure of thousands of visitors and demands from exhibitors and the media.

The exhibitor roll was substantially bigger this year, with most of the top names in the business well represented. It is clear from their displays and conversation that online gaming is a dynamic, growing and high tech business which is using cutting edge technologies in processing and presentation in an extremely effective way.

The trend toward more games, more frequently is very noticeable among the major providers, creating an ever bigger choice of innovative games for the customer.

Also good for the customer is the growing recognition that in such an intensely competitive industry, efficient customer relations and support is often the main difference between competing companies - get it right or lose business.

Consolidation is predicted by almost everyone, and there is intense interest in mergers and acquisition opportunities, and in the likely 2006 crop of major IPOs - this is an industry that is maturing fast, and very large companies are becoming the order of the day.

It's an industry that is (certainly at the top end) concerned with more player-sensitive policies and a definite move toward consistent third party standards and regulation as a means of protecting the international player community and distinguishing the good from the not-so-good.

Another encouraging sign is that those providers who have traditionally and mistakenly taken the outdated position on casino-player disputes that a "hands off" policy is acceptable or wise in today's industry are reconsidering their policies.

Standards bodies and regulators like eCOGRA, Kahnawake, Alderney, Gibraltar and Malta have recognised that this is borderless business where consistency of regulation and enforcement can be better achieved by cooperation, and it is encouraging to see that this conversation is ongoing among the leading jurisdictions, priavte standards bodies and trade associations such as the RGA. This is leading to valuable collaboration and solid contribution to important new regulatory regimes such as the UK Gaming Commission.

Better standards of practice and respectability will likely have a beneficial effect among US politicans, although all bets are open as to what may happen in that country with it's often confusing approach to Internet gambling.

From a player point of view this is good news because the objective is better protection, but it also means better and more responsive channels through which players can pursue complaints.

Mobile gambling seems to have disappointed most industry people. As one observer put it: "Despite tons of hype, this has been disappointing in a business sense." There is a recognition that it is early days yet, and that it is important to be prepared and in this space, however.

Online poker is still going like a train despite pessimistic predictions in September last year that have been disproved by subsequent company results. The activity in promotional effort and technical development continues unabated and shows no signs of "running out of steam"

I.C.E. has always been a great networking opportunity as well as the ideal cross-over showcase for Interactive gaming, and 2006 was no exception. Just about everybody who is anybody in the business has been in London this week and benefited from the experience.



UK GAMBLING TO HOST MAJOR INTERNATIONAL SUMMIT
20 January 2006

Brit politicians worried about criminal infiltration

British politicians and gambling authorities have announced that they plan to host the first international summit on online gaming this year focused on the need to protect children and the industry's potential for criminal infiltration by rogue operators.

The UK Financial Times reports that last year the country became the only industrialised major nation to introduce a regulatory framework for the online gambling industry. It did so through the passage of the Gambling Act in the knowledge that counterparts in the USA continue to oppose the legalisation of online gaming.

The objective now is to ensure that agreed measures are in place to stop children from using online gambling sites and to prevent the possibility of money laundering.

Tessa Jowell, culture minister, said: "This is a global problem and requires a global solution, which is why this summit is important." Jowell's advisers were recently in a clash with the new head of the UK Gaming Commission, Peter Dean over the stringency of its future regulations and oversight of the industry.

The online gambling industry is growing rapidly, with revenues in 2004 of $9.3 billion (GBP 5.25 billion), according to research by Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein and Global Betting and GamingConsultants, which estimate that this will double by 2008.

Australia, South Africa and New Zealand have privately welcomed the summit following soundings from the British government. Online gambling jurisdictions such as Malta, Costa Rica and Antigua will also be invited.

But it remains unclear whether the US will send representatives. The legality of online gambling is uncertain in the US, even though it is the industry's largest single Internet gambling market, generating at least half of all revenues.

Successive attempts to ban internet betting in the US have failed, in spite of the efforts of Jon Kyl, a Republican senator, who has tried to introduce legislation outlawing the industry.

However, the Department of Justice continues to claim that the provision of online gaming to US residents is a violation of US federal law.

Further details on the summit will be reported as soon as the information is made public.

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LOW COMPLAINT LEVELS AT ECOGRA ‘PLAY IT SAFE’ VENUES IN 2005
20 January 2006

Fair Gaming Advocate’s report for 2005 details player disputes

The Fair Gaming Advocate for the international standards body eCommerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance (eCOGRA) has reported on player disputes with "Play It Safe" seal operations for the year 2005.

In her preamble to the report, FGA official Tex Rees remarks that the level of complaints remains remarkably low at seal venues and a minute percentage of the total volume of business involved.

The 66 major online casinos and poker rooms that hold the seal attract the majority of online casino business, making for billions of transactions every month.

Over 95 percent of disputes were dealt with in less than 48 hours, a general benchmark for the industry that remains unmatched by either individual webmaster 'watchdogs' or comparable channels instituted by other industry organisations, and one achieved due to the rapid cooperation of seal venue managements, says Rees.

In the current report, the Advocate reports that a total of 439 complaints had been received during 2005, although 103 of these were in respect of non-eCOGRA sites where players do not fall under eCOGRA protection. eCOGRA mediates only in cases where it has authority over the behaviour of the operation concerned.

Of the remaining 336 complaints, 114 were lodged over the past three months, an indication of the heightened profile of the player protection organisation, general increased levels of business and generous support of eCOGRA from leading online gambling portals.

"Of the 336 disputes that we received, 10 percent turned out to be valid complaints demanding redress," says Rees. " 70 percent of these were made up of bonus and cash-in issues, almost entirely to do with Terms and Conditions or Support errors."

Rees added that in the cases where the seal venue was at fault the issues were immediately redressed to the benefit of the player, and follow-up action suggested that remedial measures were introduced to avoid recurrences.

“My experience with the seal operators has been an extremely positive one throughout the year,” Rees reports. “The exceptionally low ratio of complaints to total business handled attests to the efficacy of the eCOGRA standards, and to the consistency in which these are being applied by the operators. Responses to my investigations have at all times been prompt, cooperative and in all ways compliant with the requirements of eCOGRA, making for the safe gambling for the playing community embodied in our “Play It Safe” seal”

Andrew Beveridge, CEO of eCOGRA commented: "The independent directors are pleased with the continued low level of complaints, which is largely due to the conscientious application of our standards. It is to the credit of "Play It Safe" seal managements that this trend continues. Since FGA operations commenced in April 2004, there have been a total of only 690 complaints, a miniscule percentage of the vast volumes of business handled over that time by some of the largest online groups in the business."

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BETFAIR LICENSED AT LAST
20 January 2006

It's been a long and at times dirty fight, but Betfair is now legal in Aussie.

The issue of Betfair's Tasmanian licence to operate dominated the Australian media early this week as reports indicated that the first internet betting exchange will be open for business in the country next month.

The Tasmanian Gaming Commission has issued a licence with betting exchange endorsement to Betfair Pty Limited, a 50-50 joint venture between the UK-based gambling exchange and the Packer family's Publishing and Broadcasting Limited (PBL).

The announcement follows amendments to the Tasmanian Gaming Control Act 1993 in November after some seriously intense political and interest group infighting.

Betfair co-founder Edward Wray said the licence heralded the beginning of a new era for Australian gamblers. "It is a great day for the punter, who will have more choice, better value and more control over the punting process than ever before," he said.

Betfair expects to start operating on February 7.

James Packer, executive chairman of PBL, said the licence was a significant step forward for the wagering industry. "We believe that punters will appreciate having access to an exciting new 21st century product and that racing and sport throughout the country will also benefit," he said.

Betfair will pay Aus$ 5 million to the government's coffers within the next 90 days. Director of Corporate Affairs Andrew Twaits says the news is a great relief. "It's wonderful news, it's news we've been waiting for about two and a half years; it's the culmination of a lot of hard work thorough investigation of Betfair's systems and processes by the Tasmanian Government and various departments and we're obviously delighted."

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IVEY NAMED POKER PLAYER OF THE YEAR
20 January 2006

$3.4 million in 2005 tourney earnings alone

Bluff Magazine has named Phil Ivey the 2005 Bluff Magazine Poker Player of the Year. The accolade is based on the accumulation of points in the popular Bluff/ESPN Power Ranking for poker players.

"Phil has emerged as one of the best players of this generation. His focused play and success at the table have earned him Bluff's Player of the Year," said Eddy Kleid, co-President of the publication, which has a circulation in excess of 250 000 copies in the USA and Europe.

Ivey is considered by pros and fans alike as one of the best professional poker players in the world. His unparalleled success at the tables in 2005 has earned him both wealth and respect.

His accomplishments include: Over $3.4 million in tournament earnings; 7 final tables; a World Series of Poker bracelet in $5,000 Pot-Limit Omaha; a top 25 finish in the WSOP Main Event and back to back wins worth $1.6 million at the 2005 Prima Poker Monte Carlo Millions and the Full Tilt Poker Invitational.

Despite these significant achievements, Ivey still considers himself a regular and accessible guy who can be seen at the Bellagio in Las Vegas playing in some of the biggest cash games in the world.

"I'm honored to win the Player of the Year award and to be recognized by such a great media outlet as Bluff Magazine," said Ivey.

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GALA BINGO (update)
20 January 2006

Musical chairs, or should we say "casinos"?

Further to our earlier InfoPowa report on the sudden demise of Gala Bingo, we now have a little more detail on the happenings at this group.

It appears that Gala operated two online casinos:

Gala Casino.co.uk powered by St Minver, and

Gala International.com by Boss Media.

The accounts at galacasino.co.uk were transferred to St Minver-powered VIP Casino Club.co.uk recently.

It now appears that the Boss Media-powered Gala International.com casino is to close down on February 8, according to emails received by several regular players.

On the website there is an advisory telling the world at large that a brand new online casino will be launched by Gala, using an unspecified gambling software that will provide over 60 casino games, monthly GBP 25 bonuses, competitions and "huge progressive jackpots."

Gala was left without an operational bingo website last week after it terminated its contract with provider St Minver.

A notice on the Galabingo site notified players the site was “going through a major upgrade” and a new site would not be launched until February.

The notice continues: “This is a significant development which has meant we have parted company with St Minver, our former bingo partner. As such we regret you are unable to play bingo with us until next month, and ask for your patience and understanding until then.” Industry insiders suggested the move has come about since Gala acquired Coral Eurobet, which has its own bingo site and software.

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COOL CHRISTMAS PRESENT FOR VC GAMING
20 January 2006

New customer activity grows

Casino operator Gaming VC enjoyed better business during December 2005, registering a 17.1 percent increase in its new customer activity - up from the 11.3 percent increase from October to November.

New registrations in December 2005 rose to 4,270 compared with 3,645 in November 2005, of which 2,012 were new depositing customers.

Steve Barlow, chief executive of Gaming VC, commented on the increase: “In November [2005] we committed to a 2 percent month-by-month growth rate and these numbers indicate we are exceeding that.”

The growth is probably the result of a strategic marketing programme launched in the second half of 2005 following disappointing results in the first. The company claims to hold the market lead position in Germany and Austria, where the majority of its customers are located.

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HOME OF GAMBLING
20 January 2006

A new slogan for 888.com

888.com's advertising agency has been busy with a new campaign for 2006 that identifies the giant Gibraltar licensed group as The Home of Online Gambling.

The campaign will go live in the British Isles this (January) month and will initially be flighted in outdoor and print media before being rolled out across other advertising venues.

888.com spokesmen said the new look reflects the “personality of the brand” and is a departure from more traditional online gaming campaigns.

Extensive research carried out by Millward Brown lies behind the creative, which is designed to have the 888.com brand stand clear of the older Casino On Net and Pacific Poker brands of the Cassava Enterprises group.

Drawing attention to the change, 888.com has launched a 1 year partnership with UK men’s magazine title "Loaded". The campaign begins in the February issue with a co-branded Las Vegas advertorial and the launch of the exclusive "Loaded 888.com Casino and Poker Room."

Loaded will carry a free DVD covermount carrying the 888.com software for readers to download and play in February.

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MILLIONAIRE WIN (update)
20 January 2006

Ohio teacher's disbelief when $40 bet made her a millionaire

More details are now available from the BelleRock group on the $ 1 216 556, 76 Sir Cashalot progressive win at Lucky Nugget casino recently (see earlier InfoPowa report)

Heidi B., a teacher from Ohio, met Lady Luck at one of BelleRock Entertainment's online casinos. Her fortunes changed forever on Saturday 14 January when she won the $1 216 556.76 King Cashalot progressive jackpot whilst playing at Lucky Nugget Online Casino.

"I've been keeping an eye on the King Cashalot total, but had only wagered $40.50 when it happened," said Heidi. "I couldn't believe I had actually won - it is still hard to believe! I've won smaller amounts during the 4 years that I have been playing online, but not even in my wildest dreams did I ever think I'll be able to call myself a millionaire! "

Players at Belle Rock Entertainment's casinos have been celebrating major wins over the past year with more than $ 10 million paid out in progressive jackpots alone between January 2005 and January 2006.

"We are delighted to welcome Heidi to the ranks of the many other millionaires who have found fortune at our casinos," said Tim Johnson, chairman of Carmen Media, the owners of Belle Rock Entertainment.

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2006 AWARDS NOW UP AT CASINOMEISTER
20 January 2006

The best....and worst of online gaming

Casinomeister portal owner Bryan Bailey has announced his 2005 picks for the best and the worst in online gaming.

The 26 categories in the awards, which readers can access at /bestworst2005.html make for an interesting retrospective look at 2005 and a reminder of some of the shenanigans that players and operators had to put up with.

The report is balanced with positive awards for top sites such as Best Casino (32 Red.com) Best Casino group (Trident's King Neptunes, Trident Lounge, Vegas USA and Trident Poker) Best Casino Manager (Emily Hanson at iNetBet) and Best Software Provider (Microgaming)

The downside shines a none-too-flattering spotlight on groups like Windows, Fortune Lounge, Chartwell Technology, iGlobalMedia, Gambling Federation and Captain Cooks for everything from unrestrained spamming to including malware in their downloads.

It's a good read!

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INTERCASINO APPOINTS BAILEY AS INDEPENDENT ARBITRATOR
20 January 2006

Independent rulings will be binding on Intercasino group casinos

Bryan Bailey's role in mediating problems for players on a free of charge basis as part of his Casinomeister services has been formalised by the well established Intercasino group this week.

A notice just up on all Intercasino sites announces the following:

"To further increase the protection and enhance the playing experience for all players The InterCasino Group has unveiled a unique programme in conjunction with top industry watchdog ‘Casinomeister.com’, that offers a completely Independent Arbitration Service.

"This service is a groundbreaking step by The InterCasino Group to further cement their solid programme of player protection and offer all players unrivalled customer service.

"In the unlikely event of a complaint, InterCasino players must follow a few simple rules before they can approach Casinomeister.com for an independent decision.

"The issue must first be discussed with the InterCasino Support Team and Casino Manager. If this process results in an unsatisfactory response for the player, the player can then approach Casinomeister.com for an independent decision.

"Players must contact Casinomeister.com using the application below. A response will be returned within 7 days. "Players that approach Casinomeister.com understand that all Casinomeister.com decisions are completely independent and final.

"Casinomeister.com has the ability to offer, if deemed justified, a resolution or financial compensation to a player who has followed the above procedures."

The arrangement is a welcome and transparent step forward in player dispute resolution which should speed up the passage of any disputes at both casino management and arbitrator level.

It will be watched with interest by other reputable online casino operators who are player-sensitive.

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GOOD NEWS FOR TRIDENT GROUP
20 January 2006

A top award and 4 new games to start the year

Trident group staff and players had plenty to celebrate this week with the news that the group had won the prestigious Casinomeister Award for Best Online Casino Group in 2005, the second occasion on which this accolade has been achieved. And boosting the buoyant mood was the arrival of four brand new games.

The Casinomeister citation states unequivocally that: "Trident Group takes this award hands down. This casino group has the best run casinos in the business. The customer service shines above their peers, and up and beyond this - this group has one of the most experienced managers in the business.

The citation continues: "Each one of these casinos are solid examples of how a casino should be run. They are creative and innovative with their loyalty programs - and one of the first casino groups that have come up with the "loyalty bonus coupon". Players are in excellent hands when they are playing at Trident Group casinos."

The Award covers operations at King Neptunes Casino, Trident Lounge, Vegas USA and Trident Poker.

Four new games are currently online at King Neptune's Casino (www.kingneptunescasino.com) and Trident Lounge Casino (www.tridentloungecasino.com) starting the New Year with a players' choice of innovative online games featuring a major video slot, the latest in the 100 Power Play Poker series, a new Multihand Blackjack offering and a simple but festive 3 reel slot.

Flagship of the new releases is a richly featured video slot called HARVEY'S which has a foodie theme guaranteed to whet the gambler's appetite, and not just for winning. This brand new 25 payline, 5 reel slot comes with Wild and Scatter rewards, a double or quadruple your money Gamble game-within-a-game and an exciting new style of Freespin with random and automatic rewards ranging from 6 times winnings to a huge 30 times. The game is also the first to incorporate a hidden mystery multiplier to intensify the thrills of surprise wins as high as x 25.

The graphics in this game deserve a special mention for high quality and the effective food theme. Harveys is an up-market dining and gaming experience with icons based on mouthwatering dishes that range from escargot and lobster to Creme Brule and blueberry pie.

Trident Group's multihand blackjack series of games has clearly struck a chord with blackjack players who like plenty of action, and the third in the series - MULTIHAND BONUS BLACKJACK - is as fast and exciting as its predecessors. The game is a multi-hand variant of a traditionally single-hand game, and will appeal to the many gamblers who like to play multiple hands of blackjack simultaneously - in the multi-hand version a player can bet on up to 5 hands at a time.

There are bonus payouts within the game for which the player can qualify by placing a bonus side bet. The bonus payouts are determined by the hand combination of the first two cards dealt.

T

rident is also launching a carnival-themed slot with a strong festive feel to it - MARDI GRAS is here! This is a straightforward, easy to use 3 reel, 1 payline slot on which players can wager anything from 25 cents to $5, and up to 3 coins at a time with a very generous jackpot in mind - 4000 coins or $20 000 .

Revelers in elaborate Venetian carnivale masks populate the theme, with intricate and fine graphics creating a great atmosphere, and play that is as smooth as a gondola sliding through the streets of Venice. This is traditional slot playing at its best.

Wrapping up this month's new releases is the latest in the 100 Poker Play series. Deuces Wild 100 Power Play video poker offers all the bigtime speed and thrills Trident players have come to expect from these outstanding games. This is the third of six game styles, which expands the game to new levels of entertainment and hopefully reward by empowering action-hungry gamblers to play up to 100 hands of video poker at a time with a wide choice of wagers.

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AUSSIE MILLIONS FINAL IN SIGHT
20 January 2006

36 players left....and world champ Hatchem is out

Australian press reports have be en following the progress of the Aussie Millions poker tournaments, currently being fought at the Crown Casino In Melbourne.

On day 4, 36 players were battling toward the final table with more than $660,000 separating the lowest trailing contestant from US chip leader Kenna James, who resumed play with $700,500.

The players are competing for a share of more than $US4 million ($A5.32 million) in the main event prize pool and the $US1 million ($A1.33 million) championship title.

Just over 50 percent of the remaining field are Australians, minus reigning WSOP poker champion Joe Hachem, who bowed out on day 2 in position number 56.

The field numbered 418 ambitious players at the start, each worth a buy-in of $10 500 to play in the No Limit Texas Hold 'Em competition and the endurance to play up to 10 hours a day

Fox Sports Net has been packaging the highlights for a 10-week television series to be beamed into 81 million homes in the US from March.

Poker in Australia is growing at an impressive pace, with some estimates that two million people or more play in some form. In the US, there are 88 million people who play Texas Holdem including TV, film, music and sporting celebrities who add glamour to the game.

Only 5 per cent of the world's players make a substantial living from the game. There is at least one million-dollar event each month somewhere in the world - in Europe, the US, South America or in the Asia-Pacific region. Travelling 12 months of the year can cost a player between $300,000 and $500,000 in entry fees and expenses.

STOP PRESS:

As we went to press this week, the news from the Aussie Millions was that further big names names had left the tables defeated, leaving just 7 players going after the big million dollar prize and the status that goes with it. Among those knocked out of the tournament were Michael Gracz, Kathy Liebert and Antonio "The Magician" Esfandiari. The multinational final table is now composed of two Aussies, a Canadian, a Kiwi, and three Americans. Expert observers were slating the biggest surprise as the performance of 20-year-old U.S. college dropout Shannon Shorr. With the third biggest chip stack he appeared to have a good shot at becoming the Aussie Millions champ.

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BE THE DEALER DENIES COMPANY IS IN MONEY TROUBLE
20 January 2006

Six figure chargeback has dislocated payments

Posters on fora across the Internet have for several weeks been asking anxious questions about rumours that the white label provider Be The Dealer.com company is experiencing financial difficulties.

The rumours were reinforced by some players reporting long delays in payouts, and this week a Be The Dealer manager reassured players that the company was in good health but working its way through processor difficulties occasioned by a large six figure chargeback. The reassurance was backed by payments to several players who had been complaining.

The following is the full content of the BTD manager's statement:

"BeTheDealer has acknowledged that it has experienced some delayed payments to players in recent weeks.

"This has been the result of a very significant chargeback, which has been contested by the company. The chargeback challenge has resulted in a major six figure sum being temporarily held by one of our payment processors, in line with normal processing guidelines.

"BeTheDealer has replaced the processor with alternative processing solutions. This has led to some disruption and manual processing during the changeover period.

"The core business remains successful and the situation has now been resolved. The payment backlog will have been completely eliminated by next week and all future payments will be processed promptly. The company has introduced backup processing solutions to eliminate the possibility of a recurrence.

"BeTheDealer is expanding its operations and currently recruiting an additional 16 staff to enhance its product offering and support.

"The company apologises to all players who have been affected by delays and thanks them for the patience and continued support."

That support could well wane if there is a recurrence of slowpays, and BTD will be under a player microscope for the immediate future.

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NEW GAMES FROM VEGAS TECH
20 January 2006

Odds On's new face launches three new games

In-house software provider Vegas Technology (see October InfoPowa reports) has launched its new games on the English Harbour group casinos, which were taken over by Leisure and Gaming plc late last year.

The release consists of 3 new Bonus Slot Games: Wheel of Chance, Monte Magic, and Cash Grab. The new Bonus Slot Games are exclusive to English Harbour Gaming Ventures group and available at Superslots.com and English Harbour.com

"We recognized the popularity of bonus slot games in the land based casino and wanted to bring that level of excitement to English Harbour," a spokesperson for English Harbour said.

"We selected themes slot players would be accustomed to playing with Wheel of Chance and pushed the bonus game in new directions with Monte Magic. The end result is a collection of interactive bonus slot games that we feel are currently unmatched on the market today."

Each of the new slot games are 3 reel bonus slots, and the spokesman revealed that a further 5 video slots were planned in the coming months, together with a new collection of table games to complement the addition of Vegas Strip Blackjack.

The Wheel of Chance bonus is based loosely on the popular Wheel of Fortune slot game found in most land based casinos.

Monte Magic is a card based bonus game where the player selects 3 cards from a collection of 12 having various prizing. The 3 selected prizes are then shuffled "3 Card Monte" style and the player selects their final prize.

Cash Grab allow for the selection of 1 of 12 bags of cash. The resulting prize can be collected or traded.

When the new Vegas Technology brand was launched in October last year English Harbour spokesmen claimed it presented a smaller, faster download, autoplay, simplified navigation, innovative 3-D lobby and unparalleled sound on a selection of over 70 games. The casino group introduced new slot games Cash Grab and Flaming 7's and promised further releases at that time.

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MGN JOINS THE BUSINESS
20 January 2006

Mobile Gaming Now enters the mobile gaming sector

MGN Technologies, trading as Mobile Gaming Now will not be familiar to many in the industry, but this new arrival has big ambitions in the mobile gaming software sector.

MGN is an online and mobile gaming software developer focused on the casino gaming market. The company operates its own gaming sites in addition to licensing its gaming platform to strategic partners, which it has not yet identified in its publicity.

To take advantage of the online and mobile gaming market, MGN is positioning itself as a new and sophisticated gaming portal for the casino player.

Mark Jensen, MGN's President and CEO said: "With millions of people visiting land-based and Internet casinos, we're the new place to go to get traditional online and mobile games.

"Our services will promote a player community that's entertaining and rewarding. We're unique because we feature three distinct levels of game play. We offer free games, games for prizes and gambling. People can risk it, play casually or simply play for fun. We also offer integrated play for the online gamer or the mobile player."

Mobile Gaming Now says its initial game product is MGN Limit Texas Holdem', which comprises all the basic aspects of an online Texas Holdem. MGN's Texas Holdem' is provided in three versions to accommodate the various "generations" of mobile platforms that deliver different levels of speed and capability.

The company claims it is also developing casino games to provide the complete casino experience. Black Jack, Roulette, Craps, Poker, Baccarat and Slots will be available in three gaming formats: Play-For-Free, Play-For-Prizes and Play-For-Money. In addition, MGN licenses their gaming platform complete with games to qualified operators.

Based in Kirkland, Washington, the company operates its own gaming sites and licenses its gaming platform to strategic partners.

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HACK ATTACK ON MICRO-AD MILLIONAIRE
20 January 2006

Russian techno-crooks launch DDoS blackmail

Most readers will be familiar with the ingenious marketing innovation that made 21 year old British business studies student Alex Tew a huge amount of money in a short space of time...but there have been bumps in the road to riches this week it appears.

The Financial Times reported that the FBI is assisting in investigating the hijacking of milliondollarhomepage.com - the website that earned US$1million (GBP 566,000) for its British creator - by hackers who demanded a ransom to restore the site.

The Times reports that Tew was sent an emailed demand for $50,000 by a hacker who is believed to be Russian. When he refused, the website crashed. The email read: "Hello u website is under us atack to stop the DDoS send us 50000$."

DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack is a common way to block internet users accessing a site, thus crashing it by flooding the website with traffic, often from "zombie" computers under the hackers' illegal control. Several gambling websites, as well as companies such as Microsoft, Ebay, Yahoo and CNN have been victims of such attacks.

Mr Tew initially thought the blackmail was a hoax and took little notice. However InfoRelay,the internet server of milliondollarhomepage.com, later told Tew that the website was experiencing very high traffic and there was a risk that it could break down.

Later still, as Tew sold the final 1000 pixels on his site for $38,100 on Ebay, reaching his goal of earning $1mllion, the hackers intensified their attack and hijacked the website.

The website was soon back online after InfoRelay upgraded the security system.

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MARGOLIS THE MODEL HAS HER OWN POKER SITE
20 January 2006

Second new poker room launch this week from Full House Entertainment

Full House Entertainment, the turnkey poker software provider has had a busy week, launching Touchstone Poker.com (see earlier InfoPowa reports) and now a new site for international model Cindy Margolis branded Cindys Poker.com.

Developed in partnership with Mercury Sports N.V. out of Curacao, the new venue promises an extensive range of poker-based games to suit all abilities and tastes, including ‘Texas Hold ‘Em’, ‘Omaha Hi/Lo’ and ‘7 Card Stud’.

The site features the sultry Ms. Margolis and is workmanlike but not especially exciting. It does, however have 24/7 fully contactable Support and a wide range of financial options such as Neteller, Instadebit, Click2Pay, 900Pay, Firepay and ECO.

The software provides advanced encryption, player tracking and anti-collusion protection that guarantees a safe and totally secure gaming environment, and the management is currently offering a 50 percent signup maxed at $200.

To mark the launch, Margolis is offering a trip for two to Los Angeles to join her and her celebrity friends at a special VIP celebration.

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FRESH GAMES FOR A NEW YEAR
20 January 2006

Top providers crank out new offerings

Reports coming in suggest that gambling software providers Real Time Gaming and Boss Media are starting to compete with the now established Microgaming policy of cranking out four new games every month.

This week InfoPowa was pointed to what look like new slots in a recent iteration of the Boss Media software available on the Sun Casinos group casinos Sunset, Metro and Jackpot Palace.

And there are also reports of at least six brand new slots from RTG at venues like Vegas Lucky, Geisha Lounge and King Solomans - and a feature called autospin has been noted.

There has been little fanfare for the new offerings, but with the important International Casino Exhibition taking place in London next week, any new offerings will almost certainly be on show.

RTG's top sales manager, Daniel Schultz has already announced that the interactive section of ICE will be used for the introduction of new features within the RealTime suite, from a new back-end interface to new platform integration opportunities and entirely new game offerings.

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WHAT HALL OF FAME?
20 January 2006

Or is this just another Sunny Group PR stunt...

A rather fulsome press release from Casino Fortine.com, a member of the Sunny group of casinos started doing the rounds this week but had editors scratching their heads.

Referring to something noone seems able to find called the Online Gaming Hall of Fame, the release said that Casino Fortune is "excited" to announce its induction, claiming that this is the first of an annual announcement by the Online Gaming Hall of Fame to honor trendsetters, ground breakers and visionaries in the online gaming industry.

Casino Fortune's President Dennis Rose is quoted as saying: "We are thrilled that the Online Gaming Hall of Fame has recognized us in this way."

Much of the rest is marketingspeak, ending rather breathlessly with: "This is one of the most thrilling days of my life. To be rewarded with this honor is incredibly thrilling and makes our huge efforts so worthwhile"

Casino Fortune's PR people have been known to come up with some pretty creative material in the past.

Editor's note: at press time it was revealed that the "Online Gaming Hall of Fame" is registered by the Sunny Group http://www.onghof.com/index.asp.

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SIR CASHALOT PROGRESSIVE HITS
20 January 2006

Lucky Nugget the lucky spot for online gambling's latest millions winner

The $ 1 216 557 jackpot on the King Cash-A-Lot slot progressive was won at Lucky Nugget Casino.com by player Heidi B on 14 Jan 2006, according to the casino site.

Full details are not yet to hand, but on past performance these very large Microgaming progressives are paid out fast and in one complete payment, accompanied by free financial advice.

Lucky Nugget Casino is a member of the well established Belle Rock Entertainment group of online casinos and poker rooms, owned by Gibraltar-based Carmen Media.

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888.COM GOES FOR THE HIGH PROFILE POCKET
20 January 2006

Look for this casino's advertising at the next World Snooker Championships...and there will be TV coverage, too.

This year's World Snooker Championships...and the next four after that will be sponsored by the huge online casino 888.com in a multi-million Euro deal unveiled this week.

The event will carry 888.com’s name after the previous sponsor, Embassy’s involvement ended last year due to the enforcement of new regulations regarding tobacco advertising.

Rodney Walker, chairman of World Snooker said: “This is a very exciting and important day for snooker. The World Championship is our premier event, and it is also one of the highlights of the entire sporting year.”

Walker added, “We have secured the future of the World Championship at the Crucible, the traditional home of snooker; we have signed a five-year agreement with BBC TV to ensure that the World Championship and the other main snooker tournaments remain on television, and now we are able to reveal this new multi-million pound sponsorship.”

John Anderson, 888's Chief Executive said snooker has tremendous opportunities. "I am personally delighted and it's an amazing opportunity to get into something big. We're looking forward to developing a beneficial and successful relationship,” he said.

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CHANGES AT THE TOP IN SPORTECH
20 January 2006

Matthewson out, Pottinger in

Effective February 1 this year, Sportech has appointed Piers Pottinger as its non-executive chairman. He replaces David Mathewson who has resigned his position as non-executive chairman with effect from 31 January 2006.

Pottinger has been the company’s non-executive deputy chairman since November last year, and is highly experienced with the media, gaming and horseracing industries.

Finance director Gary Speakman also moves up the Sportech totem pole with his appointment to Chief Operating Officer, a new post. He will retain his financial portfolio until a replacement has been appointed.

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BETINTERNET TO LAUNCH NEW SPORTSBOOK PLATFORM
20 January 2006

Additional cash from major shareholder

Isle of Man-based and licensed bookmaker Betinternet has cash in the bank for a number of what it calls "major strategic initiatives" following a further GBP 1.6 million investment from major shareholder Brunbrae Ltd.

The company’s new sportsbook platform, developed in partnership with Florida-based IGW, is “....on target to be functioning” ahead of this year’s FIFA World Cup, and the new software will be Curacao licensed, empowering it to target the US market with a comprehensive sports, casino and games offering.

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U.S. REGULATION OF ONLINE GAMING TO BE INVESTIGATED
20 January 2006

Bet On Sports CEO Carruthers leads

The high profile CEO of sports and casino group Bet On Sports.com, David Carruthers is believed to be the main mover behind a new initiative to form a non-aligned group that will be tasked with examining regulation of the online gaming industry

Carruthers wants to include as participants industry leaders, academics, social service agencies, members of the public and experts in mental health, technology and law enforcement.

The independent Advisory Council is to deal directly with concerns surrounding the social, economic and public aspects impacting the regulation of the online gambling industry in the United States.

Carruthers wants to ensure that council members will represent all sides of the issue from law enforcement to parenting groups and will address head-on the importance of creating a dialogue on and devising solutions to many of the issues facing the internet gambling industry in this country.

The Bet On Sports executive has been active in previous initiatives that addressed the confused regulatory issue in the USA.

The Advisory Council will be facilitated by neutrals affiliated with CPR – The International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution - pioneers and leaders in the area of dispute resolution. CPR is a membership-based, non-profit alliance of global corporations, law firms, scholars and public institutions dedicated to the principles of conflict prevention and solution through alternative dispute resolutions.

“In asking CPR to assist in establishing the Council, I thought it was important to have an impartial dispute resolution institute facilitate the framework for discussion and identify highly prestigious neutrals to mediate,” said Carruthers. “This reflects the interest of our industry to be responsible and respected contributors to this dialogue.”

“CPR has often served as an independent and impartial facilitator to discuss and resolve issues of broad public concern. We are enthusiastic about working with Mr. Carruthers and a diverse group of thinkers and leaders to address the many questions and concerns surrounding the advent of internet-based gambling,” said Thomas Stipanowich, President & CEO of the International Institute for Conflict Prevention & Resolution.

Carruthers believes the online gaming industry is at a pivotal time. He says that online gambling is a global multibillion-dollar industry and that fifty percent of the industry’s revenues come from within U.S. borders. As the business continues to grow and thrive, he feels that regulation and taxation is the solution to the ongoing debate about online gambling. A commitment to ethics and transparency is intrinsic to the BETonSPORTS plc business strategy, and Carruthers vows that he is committed to setting a high standard for online gambling operators that can, in turn, reshape America’s attitudes toward the industry.

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A.O.L. BLACKJACK
20 January 2006

The Internet's biggest client base to get a "blackjack hub"

The gambling enthusiasts among the millions of America Online users will be interested in an announcement from the giant service provider this week - it is to create a blackjack site for AOL.com.

AOL has partnered with the Game Show Network LLC on the venture, the latest addition in AOL's growing number of casino games.

The new "blackjack hub" is expected to launch in April 2006 and offer free playing of blackjack, tips from the pros, and, during GSN's World Series of Blackjack TV show in June, exclusive behind-the-scenes video.

In addition to the blackjack TV show, GSN is making its online and interactive TV games, such as Lingo and Ballbreakers, available on AOL Games.

"Casino games such as blackjack and poker have become wildly popular among mainstream audiences and that trend is reflected on AOL Games," Ralph Rivera, vice president and general manager of AOL Games, said in a statement.

AOL recently partnered with Harrah's Entertainment to create an AOL.com World Series of Poker site featuring free poker games. The World Series of Poker is Harrah's premiere poker event.

AOL also recently launched AOL Vegas, a site dedicated to casino games, travel planning and original programming related to the gambling mecca.

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ONLINE POKER SITE FROM FULL HOUSE ENTERTAINMENT
20 January 2006

Touchstone Poker enters the fray

Full House Entertainment NV, the turnkey poker software and site provider has made a professional if somewhat bland job of presenting Touchstone Poker.com which launched this week in the competitive online poker sector.

Operated by Curacao-licensed Global Fortune NV, the new poker room offers access to a wide selection of ‘play for fun’ or ‘play for real’ poker games such as No Limit Texas Hold ‘Em, Omaha Hi/Lo and 7 or 5 Card Stud, with no limit, pot limit and limit betting on a site that has 24/7 fully contactable Support and a wide range of financial options such as Neteller, Instadebit, Click2Pay, 900Pay, Firepay and ECO.

Management at the site is under the control of Wyatt Davison, who oversees a range of signup bonuses (matchplay maxed at $200) and tourneys designed to attract both experienced and newbie poker players.

With security a major priority, TouchStone Poker’s software provides sophisticated encryption, player tracking and anti-collusion protection that guarantees a safe and totally secure gaming environment.

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PLAYSTATION POKER
20 January 2006

Major technology innovations in new mobile poker product

The Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc. partnership with Steve Lipscomb's World Poker Tour will bear fruit this spring when the mobile version of World Poker Tour will be available for play on Play Station handsets.

WPT announced this week that the USA launch includes real-life professional poker stars and venues featured in the popular World Poker Tour television series with enhanced A.I. players, customizable characters and online capabilities compatible with PlayStation 2 consoles.

Greg Thomas, president of Visual Concepts and involved in the project says: "By partnering with the trusted World Poker Tour brand, we are bringing both gamers and poker fans alike the most realistic poker experience available. And now that World Poker Tour will be available on the PSP, gamers can enjoy the game wherever they go."

World Poker Tour for PSP allows gamers to take a seat at the world's most prestigious poker tournaments and make their mark in the virtual poker arena. The game will feature the virtual equivalents of real pros such as Antonio "the Magician" Esfandiari, Erick Lindgren, Evelyn Ng, Lyle Berman, Michael "The Grinder" Mizrachi and Phil "Unabomber" Laak.

Online connectivity is a major part of playing World Poker Tour on the PSP. Gamers will have the ability to connect wirelessly with other PSP systems or online to compete against players across the country on both the PSP and the PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system.

New enhancements to World Poker Tour for PSP include a completely new and innovative artificial intelligence system that allows gamers to challenge more than 1,200 different characters, all with their own unique playing styles and behaviors. Gamers who are able to bump up their career earnings can unlock custom clothes, accessories, and invitational events found only in the PSP version. Players can also create more than 4,000 custom variations of poker, and choose to play against computer opponents or take their custom poker game online to battle for poker supremacy.

World Poker Tour is currently available for the PlayStation 2, Xbox video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and Nintendo Game Boy Advance.

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CONFERENCE CORNER
20 January 2006

Investor information

The investment possibilities in the online gaming industry is the thrust of Gaming Investor 2006 : Seizing jackpot returns in the emergent gaming industry, an ATE organised conference scheduled for Wednesday 10th May 2006

Gaming Investor 2006 is the premiere pan-European conference for senior executives in venture capital firms, investment banks, stockbrokers, other financial institutions and gaming operators across all platforms.

It comprehensively covers essential topics designed to help delegates better understand the dynamics and opportunities for super returns in financing the gaming industry.

The organisers promise a jam packed day of interactive, lively and informative panel debates from first rate speakers in the finance and gaming sectors....and the inevitable networking.

More information will be available over the next fortnight at www.ateonline.co.uk/conferences.

Bodog.com Marketing conference at the Wynn in Las Vegas

Marketers love the razzmatazz and networking of the Bodog marketing conferences, so diarise this year's event, which is scheduled for July 23 to 25 at the Wynn Las Vegas.

Readers can register now to get the Early-bird Rate at http://www.bodogconference.com/register.html

The conference will focus on providing marketers with the knowledge necessary to get new customers, keep current clients engaged, and grow online businesses to full potential.

"Electric" debate on WTO

The International Gaming Conference & Expo (IGCE), slated to take place April 9 -11 in San Jose, Costa Rica, has announced that it will feature, among an already extensive and comprehensive program and roster of speakers, what has been billed as "an electric debate" on the impact of the World Trade Organisation Ruling on Cross-Border Gaming involving Antigua and the U.S.

Complete details and information are now available at IGConference.com

The Sports Network, which is organising this event called upon Mark Mendel, the lead attorney for Antigua in the case against the U.S. before the W.T.O., and renowned gaming law expert I. Nelson Rose, Professor of Law at Whittier Law School to debate and discuss what the ruling really means for the industry.

Licensing jurisdictions will also be under the spotlight as the legitimacy of offshore and online gaming debate continues and legal minds grapple with the diversity and the "complete lack of a standard, a guideline."

This conference has major sponsors in BetCRIS, Scientific Games and WSEX. It will gather together gaming attorneys, investors, analysts, legislators, regulators, marketing firms, advertisers, sportsbook operators, payment processors, as well as technology specialists to examine all aspects of the online gambling milieu.

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OFFERS FOR LADBROKES ABUILDING?
13 January 2006

Rumours of a GBP 3 billion bid

Following the Hilton UK sell-off of its hotel holdings, clearing the way for subsidiary Ladbrokes to expand significantly as a free-standing gambling group there has been intense City speculation in London as to possible attempts to buy the company.

Three operations were originally flagged as potential suitors by industry analysts - CVC Capital Partners, BC Partners and Blackstone.

Although no formal approaches to Hilton/Ladbrokes have yet been made, rumour suggests that Blackstone is losing interest but that the other two private equity firms are set to compete.

This weekend it was reported by the Sunday Times that CVC Capital Partners has strengthened its hand ahead of a potential GBP 3 billion bid, and has hired investment bank Greenhill to provide advice on how to structure an offer. It has also begun discussions with banks about putting together a debt package.

If CVC does make a formal approach, it is thought to be keen to retain Chris Bell, Ladbrokes’ chief executive, who is one of the betting industry’s most highly regarded operators.

Regardless of whether CVC succeeds in taking Ladbrokes private, 2006 is expected to be a frantic year for corporate activity in Britain’s leisure industry.

Rank Group, the gaming and casinos firm, is among the largest companies expected to be taken over, with William Hill, the bookmaker likely to revive attempts to pursue a GBP 4 billion merger. Analysts also expect the online gaming sector, which last year created dozens of paper millionaires, to produce a flurry of deals.

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VOTE FOR THE BEST IN POKER
13 January 2006

Bluff Magazine launches first Bluff Magazine Annual Reader's Choice Awards

Bluff Magazine publisher Eric Morris, who developed the idea of Readers Choice Awards for the online gaming industry during his tenure as the top man at Gambling Online Magazine has extended the concept to the poker sector.

Starting this week, Bluff will begin taking online voting for the first ever Bluff Magazine’s Annual Readers Choice Awards, with categories for 2006 including : Most Entertaining Player to Watch, Best All-Around Online Poker Room, Best Online Customer Service, Best Live Poker Tournaments and Best Poker Commentary.

Online voting commences Thursday January 12th and will close on June 1st. The results will be revealed in Bluff Magazine’s World Series of Poker preview issue that hits newsstands on July 20th.

The concept of readers voting independently for the top awards has already proved popular at GOM, where tens of thousands of people interested in the industry voted every year, generating significant interest in the winners. Companies honoured in the awards used their achievements to good effect in subsequent marketing and publicity efforts.

Readers and poker fans worldwide can participate in shaping the awards by visiting www.bluffmagazine.com/readersChoice/. There's a chance to win something for yourself, too - Bluff Magazine will be randomly giving away an IPod Nano to five voters.

“Bluff Magazine is giving its readers influence and a voice in shaping the future of poker," says Morris. “Never before have poker players been able to vote in “The best of the best,” in over 20 different poker categories and these awards will be a true testament to the companies who receive various accolades."

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BIG LOSS FOR SPORTECH IN PREMATURE END TO TV CONTRACT
13 January 2006

ITV and Sportech kill TV gambling channel project "by mutual consent"

Four years into its seven year term, ITV's interactive betting and gaming contract with betting group Sportech has been terminated "by mutual consent" leaving the TV broadcaster without gaming services.

The deal with Sportech was due to run for another three years but it was announced this week that it had been ended with immediate effect. By ending the contract early, Sportech will have to pay ITV an estimated GBP 14 million over the last three years of the contract, but has managed to avoid total repayments of GBP 22 million.

Sportech, the operator of Littlewoods betting pools, signed the seven-year deal with ITV in March 2002 to capitalise on the growth of interactive betting. However, since the deal was made, Sportech has lost money every year including an expected operating loss of GBP 4 million due to low revenues in 2005.

Analysts say the service failed to take off as gamblers looked to the internet for a wider variety of services offered by the likes of Sportingbet and Partygaming, the poker site.

British business press reports indicate that Sportech has been taking heavy losses on the contract, and it is understood that the company blamed lack of promotion of the service by ITV for very low use of the interactive services. Expressing a contrary view, ITV staffers said that Sportech's services, which used the Littlewoods brand, were simply not attractive enough.

A spokeswoman for ITV said: "Littlewoods' Gaming products did not capture the imagination of our mass-market audiences. We will be looking for another provider."

The Sportech services provided a betting facility for viewers to place wagers on the outcome of competitive hit shows such as I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here! and X Factor. It also provided sports betting for ITV viewers and a number of interactive games where prizes could be won.

Ian Penrose, who took over as Sportech's chief executive in October last year, said that the ITV contract would have landed his company with a loss of up to GBP 30 million over the next three years, in payments to the broadcaster and operating losses.

Sportech's services available on the BSkyB satellite platform and the attheraces horse racing channel are understood to be far greater than the returns achieved with ITV. Company spokesmen said that Sportech will continue to participate in the interactive betting market and have new launches in the pipeline for early in 2006.

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LYCOS AND SKILLJAM TEAM UP
13 January 2006

Gamesville channel to get skill games

Skill gaming provider FUN Technologies, through its wholly owned subsidiary SkillJam, has inked an agreement with Lycos to create and provide it with a white label casual gaming platform.

SkillJam will develop, operate and support the pay-for-play platform for Lycos Games and adapt it for the high profile portal Lycos gaming channel gamesville.com. The site is due to go live in first quarter 2006 and will feature traditional tournament-style games and advanced community features including avatars, leader boards and private gaming leagues.

Lorne Abony, chief executive of FUN Technologies, said: “This is the first ‘360-degree’ solution for skill-based casual gaming. For the first time, users will be able to play the game of their choice on a free, pay-for-play, subscription or download basis-all via a ‘one-wallet’ system. This deal marks our third agreement with a major portal, and is a true testament to our continued success in the casual gaming sector.”

Brian Kalinowski, chief operating officer for Lycos, added that the games would allow Lycos to offer its millions of users a complete integrated gaming solution with Lycos Games.

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BLAST FROM THE PAST
13 January 2006

Changes at the top and a flurry of interest for IQ Ludorum

It's not a name you hear that often these days, and it has seen its fair share of financial troubles in the past but this week software provider IQ Ludorum came into sharp focus again with changes in top management and ambitious new plans for an offshore data centre.

Mike Muscato, chairman of the US payment processor group Symmetrex has been appointed chairman at IQ-L. SymCapital, an associate of Muscato's company holds an 85 percent stake in IQ-L.

The company has announced ambitious plans to set up an Antiguan data centre through which it will support the e-gaming industry, and is currently looking over several potential acquisitions. The Antigua and Barbuda licensing jurisdiction is home to a number of online gaming companies.

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NEW DIRECTOR FOR PADDY POWER
13 January 2006

Ex-PwC man joins the board, and there's a new CEO, too

The new year started with some new faces in the Paddy Power boardroom this week as Patrick Kennedy took over as CEO following the retirement of John O'Reilly at the end of 2005, and the retired head of the Pricewaterhouse Coopers insolvency department, Tom Grace took his place at the table as a non-executive director.

Grace was a partner at PwC and brings 34 years of business experience to the Board. Fintan Drury, chairman of Paddy Power said that Grace brings a wealth of experience and practical business savvy to the group.

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STICKY GAMES FROM W.S.O.P?
13 January 2006

Glu Mobile deal to produce mobile poker

2006 could see the launch of some interesting new WSOP-branded mobile poker gaming following a deal between U.S. mobile entertainment company Glu Mobile and Harrahs (owner of the World Series of Poker brand)

The deal is believed to include a range of WSOP-branded mobile products that includes games, graphics, ringtones and other applications, all scheduled for roll-out over the coming year.

"Harrah's and the World Series of Poker are two of the biggest brands in the entertainment industry," says Greg Ballard, president and CEO of Glu Mobile in announcing the agreement.

"The ever-increasing popularity of poker and the emerging consumer excitement of multiplayer mobile games combine to make this a timely and powerful alliance."

This is not the first time that Harrah's has agreed to the use of its WSOP brand. The alliance with Glu Mobile is just one of the many major licensing deals Harrah's has signed in the past year. In 2005, Harrah's entered partnerships with America Online and Activision, both of which are now using the WSOP brand name for online poker gaming and console gaming, respectively.

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SKILL GAMES FOR TOP PORTAL
13 January 2006

Winneronline launches exciting new content

The top portal Winneronline.com, a subsidiary of turnkey provider Cryptologic has launched some exciting new skill games content at its http://winneronline.skilljam.com/front/front.asp site in partnership with major provider Skilljam.

WinnerOnline Cash Games offer nearly 100 exciting games, including favorites like Bejeweled2, PoolJam, Zuma, Solitaire and Collapse. The games are backed by fully contactable 24/7 Support on a professional and aesthetically appealing new website.

The portal is energetically promoting the new facilities, and players around the world are invited to select the games and compete for fun, cash or prizes. There are plenty of free “practice” tournaments as well as fee-based cash prize tournaments on offer.

Players who want to play for cash (skill games are regarded as legal in the USA) can fund their accounts through Visa, MasterCard, American Express or Paypal.

The features-rich site includes a community service for members with facilities such as special tournaments, leader boards and forums to increase communication between players and build up a community spirit among the thousands of players who are expected to sign up. Safety precautions include fully encrypted security, fair gaming measures and a sophisticated 'fraudulent gaming' activity detection system.

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HOW MUCH DO YOU WAGER?
13 January 2006

An interesting mini poll

The Casinomeister forum probably hosts as good a representative mix of gambling posters found anywhere, with casino and poker players and even a few bingo enthusiasts among affiliates, marketers, journalists and operators, many of whom are also players.

So a spontaneous mini-poll set up by the players on the site and asking "How much do you deposit per casino per visit on average?" was always going to be interesting and informative.

Most players (46.94 percent) chose the 50 - 100 (dollars or pounds sterling) level, with the 0 - 50 band next at (24.49 percent) In the 100 - 500 area 12.24 percent registered, dipping down to 2.04 percent for 500 to 1 000, and then rising to 8.16 percent for 1 000 plus and the rest.

You can check out the thread here: http://www.casinomeister.com/forums/online-casinos/10717-how-much-do-you-deposit-a-casino.html

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CASINO CAUTIONS
13 January 2006

Slooooow pay

The Chance group of casinos (Grand Banks, Black Widow and Sterlinghouse casinos, all powered by Playtech have appeared in Casino Cautions several times in years past for slow-pay tactics. The surprising thing is that this group continues to attract enough players to stay in business despite its notoriety as a venue where bonus players especially are made to beg and wait for payment for months.

This week there were more complaints about this group, illustrating that the Support personnel are seemingly unembarrassed by the delays, telling complainants openly that there was "a three month backlog!" If you do not have the patience of a saint, this venue is unlikely to appeal to you.

Bye bye bingo

Gala Bingo has apparently (and precipitously) withdrawn its online Bingo operation according to Internet events unfolding this week. The move has left players furious at the sudden disappearance of the service which was allegedly operated by the St. Minver gaming company. Initial reports suggest that individual emails were not sent out informing players in advance.

The website notification does not mince words: “If you have previously registered with Gala Bingo, your account has been operated by St Minver Limited. Please contact them at support@bingoresponse.com... This is a significant development which has meant that we have parted company with St Minver, our former Bingo partner. As such we regret that you are unable to play Bingo with us until next month, and ask for your patience and understanding until then.”

The UK’s leading bingo portal, OnlineBingo.co.uk, reacted by reportedly cancelling its promotion of Gala Bingo and has provided alternative bingo venues for players. Affiliates of Gala Bingo are currently searching for answers that have thus far not been forthcoming from either Gala or St. Minver concerning login areas, earnings and statistics.

Legal threats overcome slow-pay "technical difficulties"

Front Room Casino.com should be treated with caution until such time as the management communicate with the many players who are experiencing bonus-related problems with this relative newcomer.

During the recent holiday season the casino was offering a GBP 100 bonus to "any player" that made a GBP 100 deposit and played it through 10 times. Over three weeks on, players who took the offer and met the T&Cs have still not been paid, and in many cases the management has simply stopped responding to email enquiries.

More fortunate players have managed to get a response, but it was not encouraging: it uses "technical difficulties" as a reason for the delayed payments, but when threatened with legal action by several UK players payments miraculously appeared in Neteller accounts!

Unfortunately, this happens to be an operation powered by Chartwell Technology (see below) so there can be little expectation of assistance from that quarter.

Chartwell in the dog box

It has been common knowledge in the industry for some time that turnkey provider Chartwell Technology (based in Calgary, Canada with sales offices in London, England and big ambitions in Europe) has a conscious "hands off" policy when it comes to any dispute between players and its casino licensees.

The management has itself outlined this policy in both personal discussions and in writing as:

"Unlike many other software suppliers Chartwell Technology is strictly a software development company and only license the use our products for a variety of online applications. We do not participate in any aspect of the daily operations of our customers business, which includes hosting, customer support, database and money management."

That may have washed in the early days, but players expect more responsibility and help today.

After a number of complaints in recent weeks, the Casinomeister portal has cautioned its members about the dangers implicit in such a policy, publishing a list of Chartwell licensees and saying: "I am a firm believer that the software provider has an obligation to the player if their licensees go down the tubes. Chartwell provides gaming software to a number of casinos, but they refuse to get involved with player disputes or issues of non-payment.

"....their licensees are not immune to incompetent management, sub-standard customer support, cryptic terms and conditions, and bankruptcies. It boggles my mind to think that the software provider will put these casinos into operation, but won't do a thing to protect the player.

"Attitudes like this are archaic and useless to this industry. I am amazed that anyone in this business still subscribes to this train of thought. I guess they will leave it up to the licensing jurisdictions to take care of any screwed over players. But licensing jurisdictions are normally set up for tax purposes for the licensee - they rarely provide player protection."

Players who ignore the cautionary and find themselves in trouble should not seek help from the portalmaster - having issued the advisory, he will not fight their corner.

/rogue/chartwell_gaming_software.html

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SKY UNLIMITED FOR GAMING ACCOUNT
13 January 2006

Skill games for Gamestar portal

Getting 2006 off to a solid start this week, skill games provider GameAccount inked a partnership deal with Sky Bet, a division of British Sky Broadcasting Limited (BSkyB), to provide skill gaming services for the Sky Gamestar portal.

One of the world's leading broadcasters, with an impressive betting and gaming pedigree, Sky has chosen GameAccount to support its expansion into P2P games.

The deal means that Sky can offer customers legal skill games online such as Multiplayer Pool, Hi-Lo Solitaire, Mah Jong and the unique P2P Tournament Blackjack format, exclusively supplied by GameAccount.

GameAccount's global, custom branded, white label and fully integrated back-end solutions have been supplied to a growing number of sportsbook, casino and poker operators. As one of the only suppliers of an integrated P2P network linking players from around the globe, the company offers multi-currency and multi-lingual options, backed by international support and a single e-wallet accessibility.

“Sky is continually looking to enhance the range of services that we can offer customers’ says Ian Shepherd, Managing Director of Sky Interactive.

“Clients are consistently amazed at how fast and smooth the integration process is,” says GameAccount’s Chief Executive, John Jones.

Sky Bet joins a long list of betting providers who have chosen the Game Account skill games service, including SportingBet, Paddy Power, UKbetting, Gamebookers, Betwwts, BetCRIS and Cybersportsbook.

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AND STAYING WITH P2P....
13 January 2006

UBA Technology markets betting exchange software

UBA Technology Inc., is marketing its betting exchange software licensing business model, and has entered into initial negotiations to install its proprietary software in stand-alone self operating kiosks to traditional land-based casinos.

The company featured recently in an article in the Wall Street Journal titled, "System Would Let Gamblers Bet and Bet and Bet on Game" by Peter Sanders, in which the author explains that current advancements in wireless technology and engineered software solutions will enable sports bettors to bet on every play in a particular game, not just the outcome of that game.

UBA notes that this form of business is not limited to typical North American sporting events such as football, baseball and basketball; betting is now possible on the outcome of poker tournaments, such as the famous "World Series of Poker" that are televised globally. Any international live event with a consumer gaming interest is now a target market for betting exchange-style wagering.

There is no middleman or "house" that sets odds, the consumer decides the odds he is comfortable with and the amount, if an opposing consumer takes his bet, UBA's software controls and tracks the rest of the transaction for the site operator.

UBA's technology is compatible with interactive enabled television sets, P2P kiosks, mobile phones and the internet. In Nevada land based casinos are installing the kiosks in high traffic areas in an attempt to increase sports bets and the variety of bets during specific sporting events.

With the advent of high speed broadband and wireless services now available on a global basis UBA is well positioned to market its betting exchange platform to qualified online operators utilising the internet, the emerging kiosk betting sites in land based casinos and ultimately through to the hand-held wireless device offering 24 hour betting service to gamblers world-wide.

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COOL CASINOS
13 January 2006

igot-everything...

The iGot group (igotcasino.com, igotpoker.com, igotskills.com and igotsports.com) seem to be running an efficient and well integrated operation on professionally executed and cleverly linked sites. The group is using the popular Tribeca Tables poker software, with Digital Gaming Systems software powering up the casino and sportsbook side. It's an interesting exposition on the current trend for tightly integrated but diverse styles of gaming "under one roof," offering visitors plenty of entertainment through one e-wallet system. Director of Operations Kyle Gabriel is the accessible and informative man in charge, reporting direct to iGot Gaming Group company president Brad Mitchell. Firepay, Neteller and Instacash are all available, and the Costa Rica-based 24/7 Support is easily contactable and responsive. Licensing is through Antigua.

Free poker

River Belle's rather cool new free online poker play site, Riverbelle.info is supporting its arrival by sponsoring the telecast of the world's most elegant poker tournament, Monte Carlo Millions 2005 on Fox Sports Network (FSN).

Phil Ivey won the big bucks annual competition earlier this year, and his outstanding poker skills will be on display when the first FSN telecast flights at 9:30 pm EST on Saturday, January 14th 2006.

The series culminates with the showdown at the final table on March 18th 2006. The show will chronicle the action of 120 of the top professional, celebrity and online players competing for the largest prize pool in European history, $3 million, and a first prize of $1 million.

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INSIDE GAMING SIGNS UP FOR CHARTWELL FLASH
13 January 2006

UK consultants will recommend Chartwell flash technology to their customers


There was some bright news for Chartwell Tech this week (see "Casino Cautions") when Inside Gaming Limited, a UK based managed services operator and consultancy group, selected the Canadian company to provide its flash based gaming system to power the online gaming sites of their customers.
Inside Gaming has grown to be an important consulting group in the online gaming industry. Consisting of some longtime key players in the gambling industry, Inside Gaming consultants have both knowledge and experience in running and managing online gaming businesses, and pass this on to their customers. As a new initiative to complement IG's business, Inside Gaming has recently launched a new breed of managed services which allows companies with a suitable customer base or channels of promotion to develop additional revenue streams through online gaming, without the need to tie up in-house resources and personnel in the process.
Brian Mattingly, Chairman of Inside Gaming said; "We believe we have identified a gap in the market place for a business such as ours. Inside Gaming is committed to delivering the first fully comprehensive managed service to the market. To date the managed service sector has been about giving businesses the tools for an online gaming business but then not showing them how to use them. We aim to partner with businesses looking to enter the market place where gaming is not their core focus." Return to Top

A NEW IRISH POKER CHAMP
13 January 2006

And in a follow-on, the Brits beat Ireland's best...

This week saw the entertaining finale of the Boyle Poker.com Irish Poker Championships in Dublin, with a surprise win by Kieran Walsh, a young poker player from Cork, who walked away with Euro 150,000.

It was no mean feat, considering the quality line-up of professional poker players included The Hendon Mob, Andy Black and Roy “The Boy” Brindley with the first three prizes of Euros 150,000, 70,000 and 30,000 going to local lads from Cork and Dublin.

Barney Boatman, the only pro who made it to the final table, walked away with fourth prize and Euro 18,000.

The championships began in September with regional heats and finals nationwide. Over 3 000 people took part making it Ireland’s biggest ever poker tournament. Andy Black said, “It was a brilliantly run tournament, which was clearly as a result of all the effort Boylesports have put in over the past few months. All their hard work has paid off.”

After the main tournament, a Heads Up international *test* was played between England and Ireland. The Hendon Mob who represented England, convincingly defeated their Irish rivals Andy Black and Padraig Parkinson.

Paul Magee, spokesperson for Boylepoker.com was delighted with the weekend. “It was a fantastic weekend of poker with some of Ireland and the world’s best poker players competing. The event has been successful and is now the biggest poker tournament in Ireland and one of the biggest in Europe. We are already looking forward to next year”.

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ALL ABOARD THE 'BELLE FOR POKER
13 January 2006

Veteran online casino launches a poker room

It's taken a while for Riverbelle, one of the most successful and established online casinos in the business to enter the poker sector, but owners Belle Rock group changed all that this week with the launch of Riverbelle Online Poker.com.

Leveraging the group's casino reputation, the new and innovative online poker room delivers features-rich facilities to bring the excitement of weekly poker games online.

Multiplayer features make playing poker at River Belle Online Poker an experience. With the option to create their own private table, players can replicate weekly poker nights with good friends any time. Other features allow players to pre-select their seat and locate a specific player or search for their favorite table. For more advanced players, they can play at ten tables at once watching each game via the "Mini View" feature.

The new poker room uses the well tried Microgaming poker software and has joined the global Prima Poker network, giving its players access to tournaments and play against tens of thousands of online poker players around the world.

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SPORTXCTION AT BETDIRECT
13 January 2006

Extending play-by-play to mobile users

Global Interactive Gaming successfully launched its SportXction facilities on Sportech subsidiary Littlewoods Betdirect this week, the primary aim being to bring play-by-play betting to mobile phone users.

SportXction will offer play-by-play wagering on over 1,500 events in the coming year including soccer, tennis, golf, cricket, rugby and snooker. A key feature of the software is that it can offer odds on specific short term wagers that lend themselves to instant technology such as mobile phones, enabling gamblers to wager while viewing a live or televised sporting event. For instance, the outcome of a penalty kick could be bet.

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ENDORSEMENT FOR WAGERLOGIC POKER
13 January 2006

Ukbetting extends license to poker software valid to 2009

UK Betting, the British sports content and betting group gave Cryptologic gambling software subsidiary Wagerlogic a ringing endorsement this week when it extended its poker software license through to end 2009.

The British gambling group will continue to use WagerLogic's Internet poker software exclusively, and its casino software until 2008, on the ukbetting.com and totalbet.com sites, a CryptoLogic spokesman said.

Late last year the betting exchange Betfair extended its online poker license in a similar manner.

"CryptoLogic is proud that Ukbetting has reaffirmed its confidence in our award-winning Internet gaming software, particularly benefiting from the liquidity of our poker network," said CryptoLogic CEO Lewis Rose.

Rose went on to say that his company is growing its business with the world's blue-chip gaming brands - and ukbetting is one of the major European names on the list.

"By leveraging CryptoLogic's proven poker offering with ukbetting's extensive user base, we continue a winning combination to generate the highest returns," he said.

Poker has accounted for the majority of ukbetting's revenue generated from CryptoLogic-developed software, which has been driven by the strong crossover from ukbetting's sports content users to poker.

The contract renewal provides for WagerLogic's poker product to be integrated into ukbetting's single E-Cash wallet, to enhance the cross-marketing opportunities between ukbetting's 8.75 million monthly UK and European sports fans to its Internet poker services.

UK Betting CEO Eric Semel said that the relationship with Wagerlogic had been mutually rewarding: "I'm delighted that WagerLogic and ukbetting will continue this mutually rewarding relationship, which has contributed to a more than 100 percent year-over-year increase in our poker and casino revenue," he said.

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$2 BUY-IN FOR BRITISH POKER OPEN
13 January 2006

Online poker site running economical qualifier

The online poker room, PokerHeaven.com has started running exclusive qualifiers for the 2006 British Poker Open, to be filmed in London in March.

Founded in 2005 and featuring players of calibre such as Greg Raymer, Chris 'Jesus' Ferguson, Howard Lederer and Dave 'Devilfish' Ulliot the 2006 event promises to be even more popular and last year awarded a prize of GBP 100 000 to the winner, online American qualifier Adam Djumovic.

Poker Heaven is now sending players to this major tournament from as little as a $2 buy-in – a good return for winners of the $7,000 prize package which includes a GBP 3,000 buy-in to the No Limit Hold'em Freezeout tournament and $ 1600 for travel expenses.

With each heat being filmed exclusively on the Poker Channel, Sky Channel 265, the British Poker Open is widely regarded as one of the major European poker tournaments for 2006.

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CYOP CHOOSES LVFH POKER SOFTWARE
13 January 2006

Ten Seat Poker.com to drop CYOP proprietary poker software

Software provider and portal operator CYOP Systems International Inc. has signed up with Action Poker Gaming Inc. for an online poker system powered by Las Vegas From Home poker software with access to Action's growing network.

Action Poker Gaming Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Las Vegas From Home.com Entertainment Inc.

The software includes classic poker games of Texas Hold'em, Omaha and 7 Card Stud, as well favorites such as Omaha Hi. Players will be able to pick from ring game action, daily tournaments with entries to the World Poker Tour, the World Series of Poker and all the major events.

Under the terms of the agreement, Action will be integrating the software at Ten Seat Poker.com and will also be supplying CYOP with Chinese cash play versions of the software later in 2006.

The Ten Seat Poker.com poker software built by CYOP in 2005 will remain in use for its Chinese partner's play for fun site.

The CYOP press release quotes impressive online poker numbers sourced from research firm Christiansen Capital Advisors and quoting current projected online poker revenues of almost $5 billion for 2005. CCA numbers show growth from $82.7 million in 2001 to $2.4 billion in 2004.

Mitch White, CEO of CYOP, commented, "By outsourcing the software integration, we are able to commit more of our funds and expertise into marketing the final products, and driving customers to our sites. Combined with our previously announced acquisition of gaming software, CYOP now has a full suite of products available."

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DANISH TV GOES FOR SKILLJAM
13 January 2006

Skill gaming platform to be supplied for TV2 Denmark

FUN Technologies plc has announced another successful deal for its wholly owned subsidiary, SkillJam EU Limited. The company has signed an agreement to develop a private-label skill-gaming platform for TV2 Denmark A/S, Denmark's leading commercial television organisation.

FUNtech says that TV2 is the largest commercial broadcaster in Denmark, as well as one of the biggest Internet portals. SkillJam will have exclusive access to create, operate and support a platform that will be integrated into TV2's existing Danish gaming channel, "TV2 Spil" with one of the largest gaming communities in Denmark.

The two-year deal will offer TV2 audiences the chance to play tournament-style online games for cash and prizes, as well as gaming downloads and subscriptions.

TV2 will join other major companies like AOL, MSN's Zone.com and Real Networks in a broad network of partner destination sites in the US and Europe.

Lorne Abony, CEO of FUN Technologies, said, "This exciting continental European deal is in keeping with our stated goals of expanding globally, and presents both FUN and TV2 with an extraordinary opportunity. TV2 has tremendous media reach throughout Denmark, and has developed one of the largest online gaming communities in the region."

Martin Sandvad, Head of Games at TV2, commented, "FUN Technologies is a strong partner for us, and we are pleased to be working with its gaming division, SkillJam, to offer our customers the excitement and entertainment of tournament-based skill games."

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ENTRY TO THE BIG TIME
13 January 2006

VIP's latest gives $60K access to the world's major tourneys

Leisure and Gaming's VIP Poker.com has come up with the mother of all tourneys - it is hosting a one of a kind online poker event where the winner will receive an entry into the 4 most significant poker tournaments in the world.

The winner in this event will be sponsored for the World Poker Tour Bay 101 Championship in San Jose, the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas, the European Championship in London and the Australian Championship in Melbourne.

It's a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel the world while playing poker.

Satellite qualifiers are held daily at VIP Poker.com or players can buy directly into the final tournament on Saturday January 29 2006.

"The VIP Poker World Tour is a one of a kind tournament worth over $60,000 to the winner. Nowhere else can you win seats in 4 major poker championships by playing in one online satellite poker tournament," says John Olsen, manager of VIP Poker.

VIP Poker is operated by VIP Management Services, which is licensed in Curacao, Netherlands Antilles and holds a U.K. bookmakers permit.

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POKER PAYS THE BILLS FOR THIS STUDENT
13 January 2006

22 year old Canadian now has US$ 1.3 million in the bank

There was one Canadian college student with no tuition fee worries this week - he won more than US$ 1.3-million after seven days of poker in paradise.

Steve Paul-Ambrose (22) emerged in first place Tuesday from a pool of more than 720 players in the Third Annual Poker Stars Caribbean Adventure at the Atlantis Casino Resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas.

The third-year business and science student won $1,363,100 and captured a $25,000 seat in the World Poker Tour's championship tournament, which will be played in Las Vegas in April.

The tournament was organized by Poker Stars.com, the industrys second largest online poker site. Spokesman Scott Womer said the buy-in was $8,000 and "....it's one of the biggest tournaments out there that people can participate in."

But Paul-Ambrose only paid $102. The Kingston student earned his seat in the final by winning a series of online competitions through the Poker Stars website after playing online for only two years and only rarely facing opponents across a real table.

The Toronto Star reports that this outstanding young player leaves nothing to chance. The 22-year-old business and science major at the University of Waterloo spends up to four hours a day with roommate Aaron Coulthard, working at what they consider their part-time job: Internet poker.

The pair hone their playing skills and work out odds and strategies after classes, often for up to 4 hours a day and routinely tackle eight games at a time on two large computer screens. Starting two years ago and self-taught the two calculate every move they make and maintain spreadsheets to track wins and losses.

The tournament was based on the popular Texas Hold'em version of poker in which players get two cards they must use with five others dealt on the table to come up with the best hand.

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TOP MANAGER FOR GAMEACCOUNT
13 January 2006

Comins appointed Sales Director for skill game provider

Skill games provider GameAccount appointed ex-Tote Business Development Director Ed Comins to the newly created role of Sales Director this week as part of its expanding marketing strategy.

With more than 15 years industry experience, Comins has worked for gaming giants Coral Eurobet and Ladbroke Casinos. Part of his impressive sales management record is the launch of the high impact Tote ‘scoop6 bet’ before being promoted to General Manager of Tote Direct, a joint venture between Ladbrokes, Coral Eurobet and Tote.

In the financial year ending 2005, he returned a record turnover of GBP 100 million for Tote Direct and was subsequently promoted to Business Development Director with special responsibility for the organisation’s commercial affiliations with many gaming industry majors, including Ladbrokes, Coral Eurobet and Blue Square.

Managing a diverse team, Comins will initially focus on signing new licensees of GameAccount’s single wallet service, particularly sportsbooks, casinos and poker sites, as well as white labels.

Describing his appointment as a "...fantastic opportunity" Comins said: "Without doubt GameAccount is one of the most exciting and innovative service providers in the business, having already successfully managed to maximise crossover opportunities in the sportsbook & casino and poker space.

“I aim to build on those key achievements, by driving sales growth – particularly over the next twelve months - then securing and retaining new income streams that will further underpin the company’s commitment to sustainable, long term growth.”

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RNG CERTIFICATION FOR PLAYTECH
13 January 2006

TST happy with gambling software provider's fairness

Technical Systems Testing (TST) has issued a certificate of fairness to Playtech in respect of its RNG, the turnkey provider announced this week.

The certificate covers Playtech's casino, poker and bingo products as verified by TST, an internationally recognized Accredited Testing Facility (ATF).

Verification is achieved through mathematical and statistical analysis in accordance with strict standards, and certifies that the Playtech RNG distributes numbers with sufficient non-predictably, fair distribution and lack of bias to particular outcomes.

According to Iris Toledano, Playtech's Marketing Director, "TST is a highly-respected institution and has proven itself to be one of the leading testing facilities, mostly a result of its independent and impartial audits of online gaming platforms. We feel that with TST's certification we have taken another step forward in increasing operator-player confidence in our products".

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VC PLAYS WITH DYNAMITE
13 January 2006

Fixed odds developer to supply new games suite

Fixed odds internet gaming developer Dynamite Ideas has signed the Victor Chandler group up for a suite of games in conjunction with gambling system provider Orbis.

The agreement has launched a suite of six games on the VC Games.com website that includes Triple Chance Hi-Lo, Squares, Aces High, Hi-Lo Dice, Golden Clover, and Fortune36. The new package will allow players to explore and find the game types and playing styles that suit them. All of the games are rich in artwork, sound, and have compelling game play.

Simon Caddy, Managing Director of Dynamite Idea, said: "We are pleased that Victor Chandler chose to put a whole suite of our very best games on their site and we welcome them as a customer and look forward to working with them on future projects."

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BETFAIR FIGHTS OFF THE BADDIES
13 January 2006

Forewarned is forearmed at betting exchange group

The industry's original and major betting exchange group, Betfair has strengthened its defences against an increase in online fraudulent attacks according to an interesting article in "Computer" this week.

The article reports that the growth of e-commerce has brought with it an influx of criminals looking to get rich through exploiting the internet, and quotes Rorie Devine, IS director at Betfair.

"One of my core challenges is security. It is not something we just pay lip-service to; we put a lot of time and money into it," Devine says, revealing that Betfair has recruited a team of security specialists to monitor and respond to hacking attempts and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

"The size of these attacks is increasing and the challenge they pose is getting bigger," says Devine.

Among Betfair’s tactics are vulnerability management monitoring systems, which produce threat reports and carry out regular penetration tests to ensure the company’s defences are secure. One of the biggest threats the firm has faced over the past two years is the growth of DDoS attacks, where criminals take control of an army of infected "zombie" computers and, unbeknown to the PC owners, use them in an attempt to take down web sites for blackmail purposes.

Betfair saw more activity last year, especially during the final of the American football Super Bowl.

"Criminal gangs are like any other business in terms of adapting their approach so that they can be as effective as possible and make as much money as possible," says Devine. "This means that they are increasing the size and the sophistication of their attacks. These people are not stupid and they will realise that as an industry there are certain times that are more important than others."

Since the initial online attacks, bookies have invested heavily in technologies to try to combat them and have joined forces to form a forum where they can share their experiences. DDoS attacks are part of the landscape now; they have become something everyone has to live with by keeping abreast of the constant changes and new approaches used.

IT security in the online gambling industry is benefiting from businesses sharing their experiences and knowledge.

Betfair, Blue Square, Eurobet and the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit formed the Internet DDoS Forum in 2004 to share information on criminals’ tactics and to decide on steps to take to prevent attacks.

"One of the best things to come out of the first wave of DDoS attacks in 2004 was that the online gaming community came together to share experience," says Devine. "It got us all up on the learning curve very quickly."

By pooling information about attacks and discussing tactics, the industry has come up with a consistent way to respond to criminals’ blackmail demands, he says.

"We all take a very mature view. We all want to cure the problem by stopping these attacks from being successful. Rather than take a short-term view that it is our competitor that has a problem, we’re looking at the bigger picture," says Devine.

Security is also a key part of Betfair’s strategy for complying with regulations set out by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport for gambling businesses, as well as helping the organisation to comply with regulations set by the financial services industry.

From 30 June last year, Betfair and other firms that take credit and debit card payments have to adhere to a set of stringent security guidelines called the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard, which aims to limit the risk of financial information being stolen.

But regardless of regulations, companies with smaller IT security budgets can still do a great deal to improve their defences by looking around at what is going on in other organisations, says Devine. "You need to look at the knowledge that is out there. I suggest making contact with other companies that have been attacked and trying to learn from their experiences. This will not cost you anything if you speak to the right people," he says.

Internet service providers could also do more to reduce the impact of DDoS attacks and phishing emails by educating internet users and improving their own security, says Devine.

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ANONYMOUS POSTERS, BEWARE!
13 January 2006

Cloaked Internet annoying could be a federal offence....

Declan McCullagh, CNET News.com's Washington, D.C., correspondent caused a flurry this week with an interesting article on new American legislation signed into law last week and addressing the problem of annoying Internet behaviour by message board posting or email (spam).

According to the respected writer, annoying someone via the Internet is now a federal crime after President Bush signed into law a prohibition on posting annoying Web messages or sending annoying e-mail messages without disclosing your true identity.

"In other words, it's OK to flame someone on a mailing list or in a blog as long as you do it under your real name," says McCullagh.

The offences are apparently buried in the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act. Criminal penalties include stiff fines and up to two years in prison.

"The use of the word 'annoy' is particularly problematic," Marv Johnson, legislative counsel for the American Civil Liberties Union is quoted as saying. "What's annoying to one person may not be annoying to someone else."

The new federal law states that when US citizens annoy someone on the Internet, they must eschew the anonymous cloak of a "handle" and disclose their identity. Here's the relevant language.

"Whoever...utilizes any device or software that can be used to originate telecommunications or other types of communications that are transmitted, in whole or in part, by the Internet... without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass any person...who receives the communications...shall be fined under title 18 or imprisoned not more than two years, or both."

Buried deep in the new law is Section 113, an innocuously titled bit called "Preventing Cyberstalking." It rewrites existing telephone harassment law to prohibit anyone from using the Internet "...without disclosing his identity and with intent to annoy."

Sen. Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, and the section's other sponsors included the law in an unrelated, must-pass bill to fund the Department of Justice. The tactic worked. The bill cleared the House of Representatives by voice vote, and the Senate unanimously approved it Dec. 16, passing it to the President for signing.

McCullagh argues that there are perfectly legitimate reasons to set up a Web site or write something incendiary without telling everyone exactly who you are.

He gives as an example the hypothetical case of a woman fired by a manager who demanded sexual favors who wants to blog about it without divulging her full name, or a frustrated citizen who wants to send an e-mail describing corruption in local government without worrying about reprisals.

He points to the First Amendment that protects the right of Americans to write something that annoys someone else, and even shields the right to do it anonymously.

In a U.S. Supreme Court precedent, Justice Clarence Thomas defended this principle in a 1995 case involving an Ohio woman who was punished for distributing anonymous political pamphlets.

McCullagh concludes by suggesting that President Bush follow a course of action taken by his predecessor President Clinton a decade ago. Compelled to sign a massive telecommunications law, Clinton realised that the section of the law punishing abortion-related material on the Internet was unconstitutional, and he directed the Justice Department not to enforce it.

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CONFERENCE CORNER
13 January 2006

Last call for PCIG

The Pacific Congress on Interactive Gaming 2006 is just around the corner, taking place in the luxurious Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Macau on February 20 and 21.

PCIG is the only conference to address the many strategic and operational issues in the growing Pacific business region, and this event promises to provide opportunities to:

* Interact with top-level executives speaking in their areas of expertise,

* Improve operational efficiency and grow revenues with products and services from industry suppliers,

* Network with an in-demand audience of regional executives and prospective business partners entering the Pacific market.

Online registration is the quickest and easiest way to sign up to attend PCIG and can be accessed here: http://www.rivercitygroup.com/pcig/2006/?page=register

Gearing up for GIGSE...and a new BLOGSE!

It's not too early to diarise one of the industry's main networking and conference events - the eighth annual Global Interactive Gaming Summit & Expo (GIGSE) scheduled for the Palais des Congres in Montreal over May 16-18 this year.

Globally recognised as the main event for the I-gaming industry, this year's theme of "No Limits" hits on the industry's vast potential for growth and acceptance.

In response to exhibitor and delegate demand, exhibit hall hours have been extended to give exhibitors more time to meet and do business with the growing GIGSE attendance. GIGSE 2005 witnessed a 50 percent growth over the 2004 event in terms of total attendance and exhibition space and 2006 will be even bigger, say the organisers River City Group. The exhibit hall will be open from 11:30am to 6:30pm on Wednesday, May 17 and open from 12:00pm to 5:00pm on Thursday, May 18.

Once again the conference will wrap up with the third annual GIGSE Charity Event, with Gordon House, the provider of both the GamAid and GamStop programs based in the United Kingdom, selected as the recipient of the generous donations to the Silent Auction and all donations associated with the Charity Event. GIGSE Charity events have already raised over US $75,000 to promote responsible gambling charities and practices.

The exhibition portion of GIGSE has already received commitments from over 48 companies.

River City Group has also begun an event weblog (or blog) for GIGSE 2006, ludicrously named BLOGSE. Hoping to capitalise on the "sagacity and clever wit" of the RCG staff, BLOGSE is intended to deliver news and information about GIGSE in a more informal and hopefully comical way.

For additional event information, visit the event website at www.gigse.com or the event blog at http://blog.gigse.com.

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TIGHTER CONTROLS IN GIBRALTAR
23 December 2005

Strict rules on access to servers, responsible gaming and ownership details upfront promulgated

The BBC reports that the Mediterranean licensing jurisdiction for online gaming, Gibraltar has passed a new law to create a statutory licensing and regulatory framework for internet gambling, having already attracted fifteen gaming companies to its shores.

A ministerial-controlled Licensing Authority is to be introduced, while the current Gibraltar Regulatory Authority is to act as the Gambling Commissioner.

Computer equipment used for gambling must be kept in premises which are "secure and free from access by unauthorised persons," says the new law passed in the Gibraltar House of Assembly this week.

Under the heading 'Responsible gambling', any gambling website under licence in Gibraltar is required to contain a direct link to an organisation dedicated to assisting problem gamblers. "A licence holder must "designate a named person to be responsible for formulating responsible gambling policies, " says the law, which adds that persons must be warned that they should not gamble beyond their means.

A gambling website must display the full name of the licence holder and the address from which he carries on business, and avoid advertising which is "false, deceptive or misleading."

In an effort to curb any money laundering, the new law stipulates that if there is suspicion of money laundering, the licence holder is given 24 hours to inform the Gambling Commissioner.

Enforcement provisions, and the appointment of investigators, is also a feature of the new rules.

A Gibraltar Government spokesman said that the gambling ordinance provides a modern legislative framework for the licensing and regulation of Gibraltar's gambling industry. "This will ensure that Gibraltar remains the world's foremost reputable jurisdiction for virtual and online gambling," said the spokesman.

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AMBITIOUS TURNOVER CLAIMS IN NEW BOOK
23 December 2005

$125 billion in industry revenues by 2015 may be stretching

A press release from the Irish company Research and Markets this week includes a a revenue prediction that industry revenues could reach $125 billion by 2015, a staggering number that may be on the ambitious side given that 2005 revenues are generally expected to be in the $10 to 12 billion range.

Research and Markets was announcing the addition of The Online Gambling Market Research Handbook to their offering, which they claim is "The most comprehensive resource for online gambling market data available from any source."

Written by Terri C. Walker, an expert in the gambling industry for ten years, The Online Gambling Market Research Handbook claims to cover every aspect of the online gambling industry and is designed to be a "strategic business planning resource" for executives in all segments of the online casino and gaming business. The book provides information on market development strategies and competitor analysis, consumer trends and independent market data to support business planning.

The report provides a profile analysis of over 70 key players, and a future market outlook, advising that the increase in the number of online gamers continues to grow, keeping pace with the rapid escalation of people accessing the Internet. Quoting a March 2000 study of close to 30,000 Internet users by the Angus Reid Group the book reveals that the United States represents only 39 percent of the estimated 275 million Internet users worldwide. By the end of 2001, approximately 52 million people globally wagered over $3 billion on Internet gaming. Startlingly, it claims that on average, the (online) casinos keep about 75 percent of monies deposited.

According to Bear Stearns, online gaming was expected to exceed $8 billion in revenue by 2002. Datamonitor predicted online gaming worth $6.5 billion in 2002, reaching $8.25 billion in 2003 and (not far off current thinking) $11 billion in 2004. It is expected to reach $125 billion by 2015.

Datamonitor also predicted online gambling turnovers have the potential to dwarf those of other Internet services, with these turnovers tapping into an existing market valued at more than $700 billion in Europe and across the U.S. alone.

For more information visit http://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/c1915

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CAESAR'S POKER
23 December 2005

Another land casino joins the poker boom

Card Player reports that Caesars Palace will open a $12 million poker room this week, the casino's first poker room in 16 years and another illustration of the power of the poker phenomenon.

The famous land casino, now operated by World Series of Poker owner Harrah's Entertainment, will offer a permanent 30-table poker room next to the resort's race and sports book. Eleven original LeRoy Neiman paintings showcasing nearly 40 years of Caesars Palace history decorate the entrance to the poker room.

Caesars Palace follows other Strip and downtown casinos, such as the Las Vegas Hilton, The Mirage and the Golden Nugget, that have reopened poker rooms recently to capitalise on the game's growing popularity.

Poker is televised almost daily on various sports-oriented cable channels and the World Series of Poker this year drew a record 30,000 participants to 45 events.

"We are very excited to debut the Caesars Palace poker room especially considering poker's incredible rise in popularity over the past few years," Caesars Palace President Gary Selesner said in a statement.

The poker room consists of an 8,500-square-foot main playing area and an additional 6,000 square feet for tournaments that can accommodate 33 additional tables. The tournament area is expected to be used in March for Harrah's recently-purchased Heads Up Poker Championship and in April for the World Series of Poker Circuit.

Selesner said the tournament space allows Caesars Palace to have a tournament without shutting down regular play.

"Adding the additional 6,000 square feet of space for tournament play means guests at Caesars Palace will always be welcome for a game of poker," he said.

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PARTY GAMING ABOUT FACE
23 December2005

Pessimism in September - upbeat in December

Things change fast in online gambling, and the view from the top at Party Gaming seems in tune with that. In September CEO Richard Segal had a depressing effect on the share prices of industry public companies when he took a rather pessimistic view of the online poker scene; this week it was a different opinion, widely reported especially by the UK media.

In an interesting interview with Reuters, Segal gave a tantalising glimpse of things-to-be at Party Gaming, prompting the wire service to write that: "Thanks to the Internet and television, poker exploded outside its U.S. homeland in 2005, and PartyGaming Chief Executive Richard Segal sees technology boosting that boom further in 2006."

The report continues with a review of 2005, in which Internet poker took a firm hold, sparking three big London stock market flotations, generating revenues of around $2 billion and launching games and books that are now topping Christmas lists around Europe.

PartyGaming takes about half of that $2 billion pot, and it has big plans for further growth, Reuters reveals. And Party Gaming is assessing acquisitions and everything from mobile phones to interactive television to access more players.

"The beauty of it all is that we've invented nothing new," Segal told Reuters in a recent interview at PartyGaming's London headquarters. "We're just taking games that have been around for decades and putting them in people's homes."

After a high-profile 4.6 billion-pound ($8.1 billion) flotation in June, the owner of PartyPoker and Starluck Casino, saw its market value soar to more than 7 billion pounds ($12.3 million).

Cautious words in a September trading statement sent its shares into a dizzying fall from which it has finally recovered by taking a more aggressive stance against its competitors.

In 2006, PartyGaming plans to launch its new PartyCasino site to run alongside its existing Starluck Casino, as well as two new games.

"There will be two new products next year," said Segal. "In the first half there will be a person-to-person skill game and in the second half there will be another more akin to casino (gaming)."

PartyGaming will also launch a "shared purse," which will help players switch from game to game.

"If you want to go from playing on Starluck Casino to PartyPoker, it's currently the equivalent of going from eBay to Amazon," said Segal. "It's not just one click away, but that will change."

Apart from making life easier for players, the shared purse will make it easier for PartyGaming to cross-market its various games to them.

PartyGaming gets 80 percent of its revenue from the United States. But in the second half of 2006, PartyGaming plans to launch its games in six new currencies and languages.

"From an investor's point of view, it will do us well to reduce our dependence on the United States market," said Segal.

But he sees problems in Asian expansion with the regulatory environment, low penetration of broadband Internet and credit cards and with fraud. "I think Asia is more medium-term than short-term," he said.

Although casino games and sports betting are transferring to mobile phones successfully, poker is proving problematic because the games can take longer, during which time mobile signals can fail.

"A sports bet is very easy to place--it's just one text each way.," said Segal. "But imagine you're playing poker and have a royal flush in your hand, and then you lose connectivity ... We don't want disgruntled customers. It's early days, and we're still looking at test results, but the indications are not getting us overexcited about mobiles," he added.

Digital television, by contrast, is proving a promising medium on which players might soon interact.

"The more distribution channels customers have to play on, the better," said Segal. "And interactive television is something we're looking at seriously."

Asked whether PartyGaming was looking to buy a sports betting operation, he said they were not interested in acquiring companies that took sports bets from the United States, but they would consider opportunities elsewhere.

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POKER ROOM HAS A CASINO SISTER
23 December 2005

Casino Room.com launched

With the release of the all-new real money casino games Craps and Roulette, top online poker and casino operator PokerRoom.com has launched a brand new gaming site exclusively for casino players.

CasinoRoom.com features the entire line-up of existing popular PokerRoom.com casino games along with the two new games released in conjunction with the CasinoRoom.com site going live.

CasinoRoom.com caters to casino players of all ages and preferences offering card games such as Black Jack, Caribbean Pirate Poker, Pai Gow Poker and Baccarat as well as table games such as Roulette and Craps.

In the Slots and Video Poker area players can play classical games such as Deuces Wild and Fruits Slots alongside slot games like the progressive jackpot slot Sultan's Treasure featuring an initial jackpot value of $300,000. Through CasinoRoom.com players will also receive free access to an increasing range of revolutionary mobile games such Mobile Fruit Slots, Mobile Black Jack and also, courtesy of PokerRoom.com, Mobile Poker - all three playable either just for fun or for real money. CasinoRoom.com is seamlessly integrated with PokerRoom.com and players can easily cross over to PokerRoom.com and use the same account to play intense ring games and participate in massive poker tournaments.

Players on CasinoRoom.com will benefit from a bonus and promotions program that goes hand-in-hand with already established offers on PokerRoom.com. The site has an easy-to-use interface and there is no download requirement. Players simply log on, look up their favourite game and launch the games through a secure Java application similar to the one used on PokerRoom.com.

This JAVA solution opens up the CasinoRoom.com experience to all PC, MAC and Linux users.

Built on the successful PokerRoom.com platform powered by Ongame, all player transactions will be handled through the same secure transaction system as PokerRoom.com and players have plenty of payment solutions to choose from.

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SLOTLAND GIVES REAL MEANING TO THE SEASON FOR GIVING
23 December 2005

Educating a new generation

Slotland.com was into the spirit of the season this week with its announcement that it is about to start building a school in an impoverished village in Malawi, cental Africa.

Ground has been broken at the school in the company's “New Chance for a New Generation” project, and provided the rains don’t delay construction, the school will begin providing a better outlook for the children of Juma, Malawi early next year.

“Our players know what a big role luck plays in their lives,” said Hannah Morante of Slotland.com. “Those that live in areas where we can enjoy the luxury of online entertainment should remember just how lucky we are. We feel good about sharing our prosperity with those less fortunate.”

The school foundation was recently dug out by a local football team in exchange for one football and set of twelve football kits in the colors of Manchester United. As the rainy season is starting and prices will rise, the local organisers hurried to buy building materials and tools with the initial funding provided by Slotland.com.

Juma is near Blantyre City, the industrial capital of Malawi. The region is of little interest to both government and non-governmental organisations. Local people rely on growing maize and other vegetables, or occasional piecework when it can be found.

The “New chance for a new generation” project obtained support from local traditional authorities – both the village headman and the local chief, who gave the project land for building a preschool and for growing enough maize and vegetables for the school kitchen.

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CASINO CAUTIONS
23 December 2005

Not to mince words....this is a lie

Companies that lie or cheat can rarely be trusted, and this week a glaring example arose when an eagle eyed player spotted the unlikely presence of an eCOGRA "Play It Safe" seal on RTG-powered Magic Gold Casino. Unlikely, because RTG has not applied for or undergone the stringent eCOGRA inspection requirements necessary before any of its licensees can even think of obtaining the seal.

Busted out by the Casinomeister portal, the casino operator has yet to defend what is probably indefensible.

Certainly eCOGRA CEO Andrew Beveridge confirmed that neither RTG nor Magic Gold Casino had any right to use the "Play It Safe" seal, and they will no doubt be hearing from him shortly.

Check out this Magic Gold site copy, too:

"Magic Gold Casino is owned by the premier online gaming fund, Rising Star Gaming. Rising Star Gaming is a private equity fund specialising in the acquisition, finance and management of online gaming properties. In addition to Magic Gold Casino we own and operate several other casinos and multiplayer poker sites....

"Our company .....subscribes to the responsible code of conduct of the Interactive Gaming Council. Our games are tested for compliance by TST Global, the leader in electronic gaming compliance. Our E-Cogra certification is currently pending."

Rising Star has featured in InfoPowa bulletins before now - it acquired the Hampton and Portofino groups and the word was that they bought these from World eGaming.

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TRADE ASSOCIATIONS OPPOSE ITALIAN ISP PLAN
23 December 2005

Latest moves to curb online gambling could infringe five EU rules

Media reports from Italy suggest that the government in that country is planning to crack down on "unauthorised" foreign gambling websites by requiring Internet Service Providers to initiate filters against them.

Such companies will risk fines of between Euro 30,000 and Euro 180,000 (US$36,000 and $215,000) for non-compliance.Currently, only six gambling Web portals are authorised and compliant with Italian laws, the reports claim.

The reports allege that the purpose of the initiative is to perpetuate the state gambling monopoly; with 1.8 million gamblers recorded last year and national revenues of more than $1.4 billion, the Italian government has a real interest in maintaining control.

The proposal has triggered opposition from two European trade associations, the European Betting Association and the Remote Gambling Association, both representing the interests of several large betting companies. In a joint resolution in November, the associations stated the latest moves would "...violate no less than five categories of European Community rules or legislation" as follows:

Freedom of establishment and freedom to provide cross-border services: Articles 43 and 49 of the EC Treaty.

Freedom to supply telecommunication services: Directive 2002/20/EC on the Authorization of Electronic Communications Networks and Services.

Personal data protection: Directive 2002/58/EC on Privacy and Electronic Communications.

State aids: Article 87.1 of the EC Treaty.

Notification of technical standards and regulations affecting services of the information society: Directive 98/34/EC laying down a procedure for the provision of information in the field of technical standards and regulations.

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MORE ACCESS FOR MORE PEOPLE TO 888.COM
23 December 2005

New Flash facilities launched

888.com has made its games accessible to more online gamblers with the launch of a suite of no-download flash casino games compatible with Mac, Linux and Windows.

Linux users can now play at 888 by using the Linux specific landing page at 888.com .

Whilst introducing the Flash technology, 888 also upgraded its poker room at Pacific Poker, which is now available to Mac players through the use of the Java platform.

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MAJOR MAHJONG SITE TAKEN OVER BY GIGA
23 December 2005

Taiwan group makes another move in online gambling

Taiwan-based broadband and entertainment provider GigaMedia has acquired online Mahjong gaming site FunTown for US$45 million.

GigaMedia chief executive Arthur Wang said: “With FunTown we enter the fastest growing segment of online gambling. The acquisition is both highly strategic and highly accretive.”

Mahjong has been called the ‘poker of Asia’ and FunTown’s mahjong site is the largest in the world by revenue.

Giga Media bought the Canadian online gambling turnkey provider Grand Virtual earlier this year.

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IRISH FUN IN PADDY'S SURVEY
23 December 2005

Have you played in the buff?

The online poker division of Irish bookie group Paddy Power started the holiday season off with a little fun this week with a preview of the Paddy Power Poker survey, due for release early in the New Year.

The Emerald Isle-flavoured Paddy Power Poker study discovered that many poker players play nude, tell white lies, want to destroy their computers and would swap their partners for a $1 million win!

“Poker 2006: The State of Play” reveals that:

• Over 50 percent of all Internet poker players have played the game naked or in their underwear.

• More than 10 percent have injured themselves playing poker (the mind boggles!)

• Around 33 percent would forfeit their partner for $1 million.

• About 60 percent would rather play poker than have sex.

• Almost 40 percent have lied in order to play poker.

• Approximately 35 percent believe that the IRA's Gerry Adams would make the best poker player amongst British and Irish politicians.

The report includes a survey of hundreds of poker players across Ireland and the UK, together with information taken from the Paddy Power Poker database, and finds that most poker players in Ireland plan to vote for Fianna Fail in the next general election. New leader David Cameron will be delighted to hear that most poker players in the UK intend to vote Conservative.

When asked who would win a game of poker between George W. Bush, Tony Blair, Fidel Castro, Kim Jong Il and Saddam Hussein, Fidel Castro was voted the clear champ.

Given the choice of playing a game of poker with an historical figure, Elvis narrowly won out over gunslinger and poker legend Wild Bill Hickok and more than 70 percent of players confessed to wanting to throw their computer out the window after suffering a bad beat.

The report also reveals that:

• UK players are better than Irish players.

• The best players in Ireland are in Dublin, the worst in Cork.

• The Welsh are the best players in the UK, Londoners the worst.

The full report will be published in January 2006. Copies will be available from www.paddypowerpoker.com.

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TIME ON THEIR HANDS
23 December 2005

Strike trouble for NYC meant good online poker business

The Chicago Tribune reports that record numbers of people played online Texas Hold'em poker on the same day New York City's transit system was shut down by a strike this week.

Marty Wallace, chief operating officer for DoylesRoom.com, told the Tribune reported that the site usually has 3,000 to 3,500 people playing during business hours, but Tuesday, the count jumped as high as 6,500 players. "At first we didn't know what was going on with the flood of players we were getting from New York City," he said.

BetOnSports.com's poker room experienced a similar windfall: "30-35 percent increase in both free-play and real-money games, and it was a clear connection to the New York transit strike," said spokesman Kevin Smith.

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POKER GRAND SLAM SET TO ROLL
23 December 2005

Playing for reward and national honour

Top European poker players will battle it out in the Poker Grand Slam tournament (see previous InfoPowa reports) scheduled to take place in January at the Casino Star City in Birmingham - and representative players from the nations involved give the tournament added excitement as they battle it out to assert national poker dominance.

42 players from France, Northern Ireland, Sweden, Ireland, Scotland, England, and Wales will fight it out for two consecutive days, playing today's hottest game, No Limit Texas Hold'em.

Sky Sports will broadcast the event in March 2006 and the event will be segmented into six hour-long episodes.

Only three players will make the final tournament and the cash. First place will take home Euro 50,000 euros (US$58,600 ), second will earn Euro 30,000 ($US 35,100), and third place picks up Euro 20,000 (US$23,400).

To sweeten the pot, the hosts have offered the country team with the most accumulated player points by the end of the tournament Euro 110 000 (US $128,900).

Players can qualify through Paddy Power Poker.

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US NAVY OFFICER WINS MILLION DOLLAR FREEROLL
23 December 2005

Savvy sailor was chip leader throughout

US Navy officer Santino Sgambelluria won the Paradise Poker million dollar freeroll poker tourney this week, held in the Bahamas.

The savvy sailor, who took his place at the final table with over a million chips more than his closest competitor, rode his advantage right through to the end with some exciting plays.

Sgambelluria, who hails originally from Guam, is stationed in Hawaii with his wife and two children. Asked what he plans to do with the huge winning windfall, he said he intends to take care of his debts and invest the money wisely. He also hinted that the win might be a good way to start a new career in poker!

Almost 4,000 players signed up for the freeroll. Play was suspended when 10 players were left standing in the tourney, and these were flown to Nassau to play out the final table.

In a strange twist, the players finished in the same position in which they came to the final table. For example, John Medlin, Kevin McCann, and Stephen Fiske came to the table in seventh, eighth, and ninth place in chip counts, and that’s how they finished, respectively. All final tablers received $10,000.

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ONE HELLUVA HOBBY
23 December 2005

Good news for WSOP champ

The Age of Melbourne, Australia reports that World Series of Poker 2005 champ Joe Hachem was the recipient of really good news this week - he won't have to pay income tax on his $A 10 million WSOP winnings from Las Vegas due to a tax ruling that he was pursuing a hobby, not working.

The Melbourne father of four toppled American and European poker heavyweights by blitzing the World Series of Poker in July.

Hachem's lawyers said the Australian Taxation Office had found their client was not in the business of playing poker at the time of his win.

"As a result of this finding, the poker winnings were classified as income derived from a hobby, and thus not subject to Australian tax," his lawyer Peter Donovan said in a statement. "The distinction between the conduct of a business and the mere pursuit of a hobby is often a difficult distinction to draw. However, the fact that you excel at a particular hobby should not be fatal for tax purposes."

Hachem will be a featured player in the Aussie Millions tournament to be held in January at Melbourne's Crown Casino.

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FUTUREBET GAMES AND SOFTWARE BOUGHT BY CYOP
23 December 2005

$1.2 million the price for 40 online casino games and Sportsbook platform

CYOP Systems International Inc., a provider of online gaming software and operator of games portals executed an agreement with FutureBet Systems Inc., this week to purchase 40 online casino games and a sportsbook software and platform for $1,2 million on terms.

Some of the casino features are an icon driven menu system, an intuitive Quick Menu that allows the user to jump from games in a single click and high graphics resolution. The software is offered in an Instant Play/No download Flash version and a stand alone Windows application claimed to be the smallest download online.

The games, which cover casino and poker offerings have been translated into 9 languages: Japanese, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Italian, Korean, Russian, and English.

On the sports wagering side, the software accesses North American and international sports and events. The software purchase also includes a full suite of back end reporting tools designed especially for licensing to third parties.

With its cross platform of brands including flash casino games, downloadable casino games, sports betting software and skill games, CYOP says that it now has the opportunity to build a global presence.

The new gaming software and platform will be linked into CYOP's licensed CrediPlay tournament system, allowing for multiplayer use as well as single-player. CYOP has agreements in place with payment processors to integrate multiple online ecommerce options.

The newly purchased software will be integrated into the CYOP platform and will be operational shortly.

CYOP CEO Mitch White says: "By purchasing tested software, we are able to focus on operations, get to the market sooner, and at the same time continue our development of games."

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MOST BRITS NOW ONLINE
23 December 2005

New study shows widespread use of broadband is enhancing e-commerce

The British have taken to the Internet bigtime, with latest statistics indicating that 56.7 percent of the population are now online....and 73 percent of those are using broadband.

A new report from eMarketer says that rapid growth this year has significantly increased the number of households using the Internet (2004: 46 percent)

BT's broadband-enabling lines are now open to competing ISPs at wholesale rates, and this has meant that the UK is fast becoming the top broadband country in Western Europe in only three years.

"As a percentage of online users, eMarketer projects that the UK will catch up with the US by 2008," says James Belcher, eMarketer senior analyst and author of The UK Online report.

The prediction is that the market to provide broadband is now so competitive that ISPs will increasingly offer the triple play of Internet, TV and phone service from one provider.

This will position TV over Internet protocol (IPTV) and voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) as solid alternatives to existing television and phone options, suiting the 41 percent of customers who have said they want such services.

In addition, e-commerce is growing as a result of more broadband power.

"British users are getting more comfortable with completing transactions on their high-speed connections, and that's making for robust growth in e-commerce," says Belcher.

"As users gain even more experience, they buy higher-ticket items on the Web—even to the detriment of some physical High Street retail stores."

The full study is available through eMarketer.com.

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NEW DIRECTOR FOR PARTY GAMING
23 December 2005

M&A expert joins online gamibling industry

Party Gaming is clearly serious about corporate mergers and acquisitions - Nigel Birrell has been appointed director of M&A at Party Gaming, reporting to CEO Richard Segal.

Birrell was previously a senior executive at Hit Entertainment and was instrumental in setting up Sprout, Hit's preschool 24-hour digital channel joint venture with PBS, Sesame Workshop and Comcast. He also led Hit's acquisitions of properties including Barney the Dinosaur, Thomas the Tank Engine, Guinness World Records, Art Attack, Sooty, Fireman Sam and Pingu.

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SEC INVESTIGATING DOYLE'S DEAL
23 December 2005

WPT Enterprises manoeuvres to come under the spotlight

Readers may recall the flurry of interest on World Poker Tour Enterprises back in July (see earlier InfoPowa reports) in which a possible takeover by poker legend Doyle Brunson, backed by unknown financial interests became a public talking point at the Vegas championships then taking place.

The stock hit a record high of $29.50 amidst all the excitement and media speculation but rapidly fell back (this week's price is around $6.20) when the deal appeared to fall through. At the time the Securities and Exchange Commission expressed some reservations about the manner in which negotiations and statements had been done and hinted at a possible public investigation.

Such an investigation now appears imminent, reports Reuters. The SEC has filed an action for the enforcement of subpoenas issued earlier. Brunson's legal representatives had previously declined to offer up key internal documents requested in the subpoenas on the grounds of attorney-client privilege.

The scene now appears to be set for a court hearing, although venue and date have not yet been announced. The subpoenas could compel individuals involved in the deal to testify and furnish previously undisclosed documents relating to the offer.

Las Vegas law firm David Chesnoff and Chaka Henry were apparently the go-betweens in the deal, making an offer which was then taken off the table after a short period and without explanation. The company has not commented on the recent SEC activity., whose Las Vegas law firm removed the offer almost as quickly as they had made it, has declined comment on the case at the moment. Brunson himself has so far invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination and has declined to participate in the investigation.

According to the Reuters report, the SEC is investigating the legitimacy of Brunson's offer and whether its issuing of the offer violated securities, and anti-fraud laws. The subpoenas are set to further the investigations, as apparently the Brunson team chose to withhold certain documents and not to testify on critical pieces of the short-lived offer.

A World Poker Tour spokesperson has issued a brief statment on behalf of WPTE, claiming that the "The World Poker Tour is cooperating completely with this ongoing investigation."

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BLUFF MAGAZINE'S TOP TWENTY NAMES IN POKER
23 December 2005

Popular magazine releases results of a poll of poker industry heavyweights

One of the poker industry's most read publications, Bluff Magazine is to publish a list of the most powerful and influential names in land and online poker during 2005 in it's January 2006 edition. A panel of industry heavyweights and top poker pundits was polled to arrive at the "Poker Power 20" list, which ranks individuals and organisations based on demonstrated ability to be an evolutionary force in the business.

Editor Michael Caselli remarked that poker is a game of power: "The power to be courageous, the power to win with nothing in your hand but a fistful of determination and the power to turn rags into royal flushes.

"The Poker Power 20’ is more than a list of top money earners in poker. To truly reflect the juggernaut that poker has become, ‘The Poker Power 20’ includes the companies, the brains trusts and the innovators that have aided poker’s phenomenal commercial success,” he said.

The near exponential growth of poker can be measured in more than just financial terms. Poker’s success and influence is now felt all across the entire social spectrum and can be measured by the number of celebrities, heroes and respected entrepreneurs it has created, along with the huge number of new players it is attracting.

All those honoured in ‘The Poker Power 20’ have been adjudged to be integral to this redefinition of poker in the public consciousness.

The list of finalists includes modern-day poker heroes such as Doyle Brunson, Chip Reese, Chris Moneymaker, Daniel Negreanu, and Phil Hellmuth. It also includes behind-the-scenes poker movers and shakers such as tournament director Johnny Grooms, player agent Brian Balsburgh and WPT co-founders Steve Lipscomb and Lyle Berman. Additionally, ‘The Poker Power 20’ honours pioneering websites such as PartyPoker and PokerStars.

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HIGH ADDICTION RATE AMONG KOREANS
23 December 2005

Most gambling is done from work

The Korea Daily reported this week on worrying levels of "addiction" to online gambling, according to government statistics.

The Cultural Information Centre says that Koreans are increasingly engaging in online gambling, and that roughly 7 percent are addicted to online gambling. Average international problem gambling levels are between 1.5 and 2 percent.

The report noted that online gambling has resulted in job losses as well as deteriorating family relations in Korea. Among those interviewed, many admit they do most of their gambling while at work, sometimes using company credit cards to cover their losses.

An official from Korea’s Entertainment Commission told the newspaper that some illegal gambling sites make very substantial sums of money a year. Recent research has shown an increase in the number of online gambling sites, both in Korea and abroad.

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UK MARKETING AND MEDIA BUYING AGENCY LAUNCHES
23 December 2005

London-based firm will concentrate on Internet gambling services

Online gambling companies looking for marketing and media buying services in the UK have a new choice. Jack Media London has announced the launch of its new agency, specifically aimed at servicing clients from within the online gaming sector.

The company is off to a flying start, having landed clients such as William Hill, Mansion and Be The Dealer.

Jack Media London will offer marketing and consultancy services as well as online/offline media buying and planning to gaming operators wanting to promote their products to the UK, North American and European markets.

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A BIZARRE BET
23 December 2005

"Giving the finger" takes on a whole new meaning

In what must surely be one the most gruesome and bizarre bets seen in the industry, an alledgedly sane poker player has staked his own finger.

Carl Valentine came up with his strange idea after playing with some people he thought were friends. One of these is apparently a multi-millionaire who bet him a million dollars that he could not send 2 million unique visitors to a specific website by April 18 2006.

This is where it gets more than a little weird; because he did not have a million for the bet, Valentine offered his right index finger.

If by April 18 he has managed to drum up the 2 million visitors, Valentine will qualify to play online in a heads up poker match against his "friend." If he wins, Valentine says he gets a million bucks....but if he loses, his finger will be amputated.

Rather surprisingly, the respectable poker network Poker Room.com has agreed to host the match, or so Valentine claims. Rather strange behaviour for a usually reputable entity like this.

Or....it could be a cheap and even fraudulent scam. Time will undoubtedly tell.

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DON'T GET CAUGHT BY KENO
23 December 2005

Webmaster launches new keno odds calculator to help players

Jan Pedersen and his colleagues at Online-Casinos.com have a flair for figures, and that led this week to the site's launch of a useful player protective measure applicable to the popular game of keno.

"Online keno is - in terms of odds - one of the worst games in the casino," says Pedersen. "Despite this, there are many players who like the game, and my colleagues and I therefore decided to introduce a facility to help them to avoid getting hammered too hard.

The purpose of our new calculator is to help the players locate the best - or more correct 'least bad' keno bets."

Applying math and programming skills, the team developed a copyrighted unique tool that allows players to calculate the odds on up to 20 keno numbers picked, and this is available to players at no charge on the Online-Casinos.com site (www.online-casinos.com/keno/keno-calculator.asp.)

Pedersen said that the principle behind the concept is simple but elegant: "We took the keno outcome probabilities and put those numbers into our keno odds calculator. For every possible number of spots played in keno there is a probability of each outcome and the odds against that outcome happening. For example: you have roughly a 71-1 shot at hitting 3-numbers picked, while you are almost 85 percent likely to catch only 0 or 1 on the same keno ticket."

Thus far the calculator has proved to be a popular addition to the site, motivating Pedersen to develop further player aids: "We hope to be able to offer more free educational gambling programs in the future, as this will bring us to where we want to be with Online-Casinos," he says.

Using the calculator is simple; the player uses a pull-down menu to select the number of picks from 1 to 20, entering how much each hit pays. By clicking the "Calculate" button the total expected return for the game will appear, giving the player the choice of looking elsewhere or playing with a good knowledge of what the chances of winning are.

Pedersen quoted a typical example: Traditionally, if only one number is picked, hitting that number pays 3 to 1. So, by selecting "1" from the drop down menu and entering "0" for 0 hits and "3" for 1 hit, this will calculate a return of 0.75. That means that the house edge is 25 percent and the player can expect to lose $25 for every $100 wagered.

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HOT NEW POKER TOURNEY IN IRELAND
23 December 2005

500 players to take a shot at Euro 500 000 prize pool

UK poker fans will be able to watch the finals of a major Irish poker tournament on TV towards the end of January next year.

The Boyle Poker.com Irish Poker Championships will take place between January 6-8 at City West Hotel Dublin, and will be one of the largest such events held in the UK and Ireland with over 500 competitors and an estimated prize pool of 500,000 Euros.

The final will be televised on the January 27 on RTE, Ireland’s national broadcaster, a first for the channel and will then be repeated on pokerzone (SKY channel 226) in February.

Seasoned players such as Andy Black, The Hendon Mob, and Roy “The Boy” Brindley are confirmed to play, together with a list of well known celebrities and poker pros. Other players have qualified from local weekly satellites and via Boyle Sport’s new online poker site at Boyle Poker.com

Boylesports, Ireland’s biggest Independent bookmaker, has had great success at home with the poker product and will launch Boyle Poker.com into the UK poker market next year. They are currently running a concentrated advertising campaign in Manchester over the Christmas and New Year period.

Buy-ins for the main Euro 500 000 event are Euro 1 000.

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PIONEER CELEBRATES 10TH ANNIVERSARY
23 December 2005

First online sportsbet was for $50

Looking at today's $12 billion online global gaming industry it is easy to forget that it kicked into gear a mere 10 years ago. Celebrating its tenth anniversary this week, Intertops.com reminded us that Internet gambling has made huge strides forward in a decade, often in the face of formidable legislative and technical odds.

Intertops.com will proudly celebrate the occasion of the first ever online sports bet – which was placed on the Intertops.com website – on January 17, 1996.

Back then, the Internet was very much in its infancy and the notion of an ‘online gaming industry’ was a pipe dream. Intertops.com made the brave leap into the online world by accepting the first ever interactive bet on January 17 from Finnish gambling enthusiast Jukka Honkavaara.

Mr Honkavaara placed a US$50 bet on the outcome of a football match between UK teams Tottenham and Hereford United, which won him US$52 – a profit of $2. The first ever bet was a winner – small though it was!

The early success of Intertops.com saw the company create one of the world’s first Microgaming powered casinos to become a serious competitor in the burgeoning online gaming world.

In 2000, Intertops.com again showed itself to be an innovator with an in-house development team’s building of a WAP portal, giving the company the ability to accept the first mobile bet in the world. Three years later, the company had added online poker offerings to its capability as part of the PartyPoker Network.

Today, Intertops is a multi-million dollar business offering over a thousand online betting options each day to sports fans just like Jukka Honkavaara.

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ISRAELI COPS RAID MEDIA OFFICES
23 December 2005

Allegations of accepting advertising for illegal gambling sites

The Israeli business publication Globes Online reports that A raid took place this week on the physical offices of public company and Internet websites Walla! and Sport Line on suspicion that advertisements for illegal gambling sites had been accepted.

The computer crime department of the Israeli Police National Fraud Unit conducted the raid, in which a search was carried out in order to collect evidence and possible suspects and witnesses were interviewed.

The investigation was instigated by the Attorney General and the State Prosecutor’s Office, which instructed the Police Investigations and Security Department to act against advertising for gambling websites, particularly Internet advertising.

It was alleged that Walla! had advertised a number of gambling sites, such as BeTheDealer Casino, Stan James and King Solomon Casino, and that Sport Line had also advertised a gambling site.

Walla Communications advised the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange that it had no details on the investigation. The company also noted that its revenue from the advertisement of gambling sites was not significant.

The main shareholders in Walla Communications are Bezeq International (43 percent) and Haaretz Publishing (27.7 percent). Walla earned an NIS 8.1 million profit on NIS 54.2 million in revenue in January-September 2005.

It is not known whether any prosecutions are contemplated by the authorities.

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DUTCH GOVERNMENT UNDER PRESSURE
23 December 2005

EU and judiciary criticise monopoly moves on gambling

The Dutch authorities were under the spotlight this week by both the EU and its own judiciary in two issues.

In the first, European Commission Vice President Gunter Verheugen penned a warning that a plan to award Holland Casino with a three-year license to exclusively operate games of chance over the Internet as part of a state monopoly could cause trouble.

Verheugen's communication cautioned the Dutch against proceeding with a proposed monopoly scheme for online games of chance, and advised that such a policy would be incompatible with European Union regulations regarding freedom to provide services in other member states. The Netherlands courts have been the scene of bitter EU "sovereignty" litigation involving international betting groups in the past.

The second case, a ruling from the Netherlands Administrative Court of Breda has the potential to impact significantly on future gambling-related court rulings and policy decisions by the Dutch government.

The case revolved around government's claim that its state monopoly on casino gaming was coherent in achieving its intended goals. The court ruled that the Dutch Ministers of Justice and Economic Affairs had failed to prove their case, opening the way to further contest of the Dutch position that it has the right to exclude betting companies from other EU states from doing business with its nationals.

It is unknown whether the government intends to appeal the finding.

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TRIPLE SPLIT FOR CHERRY
23 December 2005

Serious restructuring taking place in Swedish gambling group

The Swedish public gambling company Cherryforetagen announced some serious restructuring moves this week that will split the company into three independently listed entities.

The board of directors determined that by restructuring into three operational branches, development could proceed more rapidly than as one single group. The Board opined that the restructuring gives added transparency to the different businesses, thereby giving shareholders the possibility to choose their desired risk level and area of operations.

Because the Internet-based operations will grow more quickly and with a higher profitability in their own companies, Cherry Casino will receive more investor attention, says CEO Pontus Lingwall.

The three new firms are likely to be:

* Betsson – presently Cherry Online with online gaming via Betsson.com and online casinos.

* Net Entertainment – development and sales/licensing of games and gaming systems software.

* Cherry Casino - traditional land casino games and gaming machines, mainly in Sweden, Denmark and on cruise ships.

Cherry, soon to be known as Betsson, is hoping to complete the split during 2006.

Cherry’s currently expected revenues for 2005 are SEK 435 million. The company is hopeful that Betsson (currently Cherry Online) will at least double its turnover during 2006.

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CONFERENCE CORNER
23 December 2005

Head for Macau next year

The Pacific Congress on Interactive Gaming (PCIG) has established itself as a leading conference when it comes to strategic and operational issues in the opportunity-rich Asia-Pacific region, so diarise the following dates for the 2006 event:

When: 20-21 February, 2006
Where: Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Macau

At PCIG delegates can:

* Interact with top-level executives speaking in their areas of expertise,

* Improve operational efficiency and grow revenues with products and services from industry suppliers,

* Network with an in-demand audience of regional executives and prospective business partners entering the Pacific market.

This year's event has the added value of taking place for the first time in Macau for the first time.

Online registration is the quickest and easiest way to sign up to attend PCIG. Click here: http://www.rivercitygroup.com/pcig/2006/?page=register

Gathering for the legal eagles...

Seminar Title: 2nd Annual European Gambling Briefing

Venue: Conrad Hotel, Brussels

Date: 31st May & 1st June, 2006

Following on from the great success of last year’s launch conference, the second European Gambling Briefing, a gathering of leading gambling regulators, lawyers and key industry stakeholders from across Europe and beyond takes place in Brussels between 31 May and 1 June 2006.

This senior-level two day briefing will tackle both sides of the passionate debate about how gambling should be controlled across Europe and looks beyond, to developments in the US, Asia and other emerging gambling markets.

Hot on the heels of gambling’s exclusion from the scope of the services directive, the Spring 2006 publication of the Study of Gambling Services Draft Report and a raft of court challenges and rulings around the world, this conference is designed to offer you the best chance in 2006 to question, debate and get to the grips with who and what is driving change in the still rapidly expanding gambling sector.

More information at: www.ateonline.co.uk/conferences



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