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July 2004

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Online Casino News courtesy of InfoPowa news service.

W.T.O. LATEST 2 July

30 July 2004

Veteran portal to become a search engine

Since its million dollar or more sale last year by Graeme Levin to his managers, pioneering Got2bet portal Gambling.com has been pretty low profile, but that all ended this week with the announcement that it has a new purpose and a new direction...pay per click search engine.

Press material this week announced that the company has repositioned itself, after seven years of success, to become a gambling only search engine, filling a massive gap in the market since Yahoo and Google left the space. Capitalising on Yahoo and Google?s decision to withdraw from this market, the new Gambling.com represents a total relaunch of the site, with an initial sole proposition of Pay Per Click (PPC) search ? in a clean, easy to use, Google style interface.

With Google and Overture no longer taking Got2bet advertising, the need has arisen for a new concept in searching for the gamblers, the release says ? a fast, reliable and easy to use gambling gateway.

Gambling.com will provide users with the most accurate results possible, and advertisers with increased, pre-qualified, quality traffic. Gambling.com?s powerful domain name means that, through natural type-in traffic, it already receives thousands of unique visitors per day and is therefore uniquely positioned to provide this evolutionary, industry specific service. And because Gambling.com will be operating a PPC model, advertisers will be able to bid on keywords at a price that suits their individual budget, offering them the greatest possible value.

The new Gambling.com employs a strict editorial policy, ensuring a keyword search will yield only what the user asks for, and not a list of marginally related, ad hoc information. As a result, the end user receives quick, relevant, meaningful results, and the advertiser gets pre-qualified customers who are likely to return. Gambling.com?s proprietary search technology has been developed in-house over the last six months after the site was purchased from the website?s founder in a multi-million dollar deal at the end of December 2003, making this the biggest single industry bet on PPC search.

?Our new PPC engine is for anything gambling related, not just the traditional online casino listings. The Gambling.com vision is to become the primary destination for comprehensive and relevant search listing results encompassing all things gambling, from online casinos and sportsbooks, from Vegas hotels and poker chip manufacturers to land based casinos and industry watchdogs. Advertisers can register and start submitting their listings at https://advertiser.gambling.com?, said Tim Rosenberg, spokesperson for Gambling.com.

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30 July 2004

Child survey underlines the need for vigilance

Operators received a wake-up call on the need to be vigilant on underage gambling this week when children's charity NCH, GamCare and CitizenCard, revealed that only seven out of 37 gambling sites tested stopped a 16-year-old registering her details online.

The youngster from London was able to lie successfully about her age and register her details on websites under test conditions using her Solo card. Children as young as 11 can set up gambling accounts on a huge number of websites, new research reveals.

Many sites would also allow her to gamble in several ways, including interactive television, mobile telephones and telephone betting, using the same account set up online.

This is despite the existence of age verification systems specially designed to block accounts for under-18s at the point of registration.

Reacting to press material put out by the bodies, UK Minister for Gambling Andrew McIntosh said: "These are very worrying findings. Having already warned the industry that Solo cards should be treated with caution it is disappointing to find so many haven't taken this on board. I will raise this with them again, and I'm confident that they will respond positively this time. The banking sector should take some responsibility too.

"We will continue to prompt them to do everything possible to help the gambling industry properly identify whether their customers are 18 or not. But above all this shows that in the face of rapidly changing technology our gambling laws are unable to keep pace. We hope to introduce the Gambling Bill in Autumn and this will include powerful new protections for children including a requirement that remote gambling sites operating from the UK will, by law, be compelled to make proper age verification checks."

Following up on the story, Sky TV News interviewed David Briggs of Ladbrokes who said the industry was of course against underage gambling and took precautions, but that a system that involved the banks who issued the cards was necessary, too. Briggs said that the publicity would probably motivate operators to re-visit their underage precautions to ensure that they were at optimum alertness.

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30 July 2004

Sales manager gets a big hand

It was a great poker milestone for Ladbrokes Poker.com last week when a very special hand was dealt to UK sales exec Mike Ventham to claim a European record-breaking 100 millionth hand for the popular online poker site.

The hand won Mike, a lifelong Spurs fan, $10,000 in one of the biggest online table pots ever at Ladbrokespoker.com. Mike, known as ?Tricky? has been playing online at ladbrokespoker.com since its launch in May 2002 and has enjoyed a series of online wins totalling over $50,000.

When Ladbrokespoker.com informed Tricky he had made history as the 100 millionth hand, ?he said: ?As soon as the pot went to $10,000, the whole table went all-in. I had a ACE / 9 and knew no one was ever going to fold! It?s my biggest online win to date and I?m absolutely delighted!?

According to independent online Poker analysts, Poker Pulse, online Poker grew over 600% in 2003 and has already more than doubled again this year. Ladbrokespoker.com is dealing over 500,000 hands of Poker a day. At the busiest times over 5,000 people from 65 different countries are playing against each other on over 600 virtual tables.

With its? ever increasing association with Hollywood stars and Premiership footballers, Poker is the gambling sensation of the year. The A-list Poker room includes some of the biggest names in showbiz and sport such as Ben Affleck, George Clooney, Michael Owen, Teddy Sheringham and even the heir to the Goldsmith fortune, Zac Goldsmith.

The recent Ladbrokespoker.com Poker Million Masters 2 tournament saw a total of 72 players including 36 Ladbrokespoker.com online qualifiers and 36 Poker professionals and celebrities including a Rugby World Cup winner, a Darts World Champion and the current Snooker World Champion compete for the first prize of $300,000. The first prize and coveted title was eventually won by former Irish Olympic swimmer, Donnacha O?Dea who beat one of the most revered poker players of all time, Dave ?The Devilfish? Ulliott in a nail biting grand finale.

Ladbrokes eGaming Managing Director John O?Reilly commented: ?High stakes and the art of online bluffing have made online Poker one of the biggest sensations of the last decade. In just over a year, the industry has grown at a prolific rate. This time last year we were dealing around 170,000 hands a day, today that figure has reached over 500,000 a day ? it?s been astounding growth.?

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30 July 2004

US player hits the progressive bonanza at Jackpot City

Congratulations to Douglas W. from the USA who became the sixth (we think) Jackpot Madness instant millionaire when he won $1,066,961 on the Major Millions progressive slot this month. As a progressive jackpot winner, Douglas will also take home a 5,000 casino credit bonus on top his of jackpot win, courtesy of the casino management.

Don is the second player in just 40 days to win a jackpot of over $1-million at Jackpot City, which must constitute a new record somewhere.

Talking about his win-of-a-lifetime event, Douglas said, "It didn't sink in at first. I was only playing for 5 minutes when it happened. It shows if you keep playing it really pays off. You just need to try your luck!"

Jackpot City is a member of the Gibraltar-based Belle Rock Gaming group, a subsidiary of Carmen Media. CEO Tim Johnson sent his congratulations and said, "This shows more people throughout the world are enjoying online gaming now.... there has never been a better opportunity to win!"

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30 July 2004

Shark responds
Last week we reported on the unusual practice of linking "play for fun" gaming at Angelciti's Shark Casino.com with deposits for real money play - their website had the following rule:

"IMPORTANT NOTE: Please note that we changed the set up of our fun money. The fun money play is set to $10,000.00 (ten thousand dollars) for new accounts. If you spend all or want to increase your fun balance we will multiply any real money deposit by 100 and deposit that amount as Fun Money into your fun money account."

This attracted the not very flattering attention of players, but was reversed as "....a technical fault" by manager Laura Chacon when she was asked for comment.

Futurebet hassles
Sports911 reported more hassles with Futurebet this week in trying to resolve a player problem which escalated when the company ignored complaint emails. 911 reported that "We reached a very nasty receptionist who contacted Futurebet CEO, Ron Katz. She informed us that he simply stated to have all complaints sent to PLAYER SUPPORT and Ron refused to take our phone call."

This was probably not the smartest move, because 911 has communications with many useful contacts and prospective clients! The player has repeatedly attempted to contact Player Support via the email they provide to no avail...they simply do not respond.

911 says it for us when the editor concludes, "Hey Ron, get your act together. Sports911 and other reputable gambling information websites will no longer tolerate the shoddy service provided by your company. Sports911.com readers are advised NOT TO PATRONIZE THOSE SPORTSBOOKS UTILIZING THE FUTUREBET SOFTWARE PLATFORM."

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30 July 2004

Good range of games in new offering

Richmond, Canada based Fireswirl Technologies Inc., a software development company that specializes in online gaming applications, has launched the second version of its Poker Software System. Called Fireswirl Online Poker V2, the new product consists of a wide variety of games including Texas Hold'Em, 5-card stud, 7-card stud, Omaha and Hi/Lo - a variation of Omaha and 7-card studs.

Fireswirl says that operators want to distinguish themselves from the considerable number of their competitors, and that this implies more business for them. Fireswirl's software includes both Multi Table Tournament (MTT) and 'Sit & Go', two of the most advanced, feature-rich game attributes in online poker. Both of these features differentiate themselves among competing software solutions as they are more flexible, scalable, and expandable. The MTT aspect allows players to participate in real-time online poker tournaments with over 4,000 concurrent players from around the world.

Given that poker is the fastest-growing segment of the global gaming market, several established betting exchanges and online casinos are slowly integrating poker into their system.

"It is easy to convert an existing database with people who have an interest in gaming, (rather) than to recruit people out of nowhere to come and play" states Johnson Chandler, executive VP of Fireswirl. "We combined the best features from all the leading poker sites in the industry and added more features to our software in order to ensure that our clients have a sure hit on their hands".

Fireswirl was founded in 1997 and is dedicated to developing gaming solutions that are feature-rich, fast, reliable and enjoyable.

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30 July 2004

Marketing company closing

Green Room Media has rather suddenly informed business contacts that it is to close its doors at the end of the month.

Apparently founders David Dent and Ashley Lang, have accepted exec positions with an as yet unidentified new company focusing on the Asian market, and their team are in most cases joining them.

The mystery company will launch early August, and until then Green Room will continue to assist with any campaigns running as usual. After that contact details will be supplied to clients for all publishers where there may be outstanding campaigns.

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30 July 2004

Widely used system unable to assist at present

For three weeks now, reports have been coming in that Pre Paid ATM has been experiencing difficulties in finding credit card processors. There was a time when the conventional wisdom was that the company had the flexibility of several credit card processors and was therefore able to approve most cards.

Our sources report that the following message comes up when trying to fund with a credit card:

"We are currently experiencing difficulties with our credit card processor. Please choose another method or try back later." And staff advise, "...we don't know when the processors will be back up."

Other reports indicated that Betcris, CON/Pacific Poker and Absolute Poker have dropped PPATM.

PPATM has become one of the most widely used online casino payment solutions since the banks and major credit card companies in the USA lowered the boom on Got2bet transactions, but other alternatives have been quick to see the rewards of this market.

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30 July 2004

Casino Agency launches

The British HPS marketing group has launched Casino Agency, a marketing services agency specifically focused on the fast-growing online and land-based casino and sports betting industry.

The agency is off to a running start by the looks of it - the first piece of business is the launch of InterCasino Sterling, a pounds sterling online gaming operator and one of the industry?s longest established brands.

The multi-disciplined campaign for InterCasino launches this month and includes ambient (tube cards and 6-sheet posters), an outreach campaign involving CD distribution at mainline stations, direct mail, inserts and advertising, as well as perimeter advertising at selected televised football matches. The campaign is aimed at 25-35 year old, affluent London-dwelling males and is supported by promotional activity on Capital Radio Drivetime.

Raphael Arnold, who has worked in the online gaming sector since its inception in the mid-90?s, has been recruited to head up Casino Agency. Specialising in online casino start-ups, his experience includes working as an Internet marketing consultant at online gaming services provider Forward Slash, as well as involvement with the Sunny Group of casinos.

Arnold said: ?This industry is growing at a phenomenal rate, and we anticipate that this growth will accelerate with the (British) government?s new gaming legislation expected very soon. We believe there is a tremendous opportunity for a UK based specialist agency to service this incredibly dynamic market sector.?

Parent company HPS boasts an impressive range of clients including Mazda Motors, Discovery Foods, Esporta Health Clubs, Zurich, Weight Watchers, Sun Microsystems, Megabowl and Woburn Enterprises, and has four divisions : Creative Communications (advertising, DM, sales promotion, packaging etc), Press and Public Relations, New Media Solutions and Consultancy and Research.

The firm employs 38 staff at its High Wycombe head office and was the subject of a management buy out in 2001 lead by MD Mark Cornwell and CFO Richard Triggs

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23 July 2004

More Cloud casinos?

Several sources reported this week that the notorious Australian and Costa Rican based Real Time Gaming operator Warren Cloud has taken over another group of RTG-powered casinos. Cloud took over the infamous JC Jones "The Vegas Strip" group last year, adding four casinos to his Crystal Palace, High Roller Lounge and Vegas Riches casino group.

Reliable sources now report that Paul Jurgens's IPI Media group has been taken over by Cloud, too reportedly for a healthy seven figure price. The group underwent radical brand changes last year and currently comprises Lucky Coin (Onluck) Lucky Pyramid (Fortune Towers) Golden Nile (Golden Comps) American Grand (Five Roses) and Royal Circus (Riviera Gold)

Cloud aka Don Fortune aka Mr. X aka Richard Brooks has a colourful if not exactly popular past and has been previously involved with the (failed) Rated Player Casino and more recently the Casino Extreme group.

A Real Time Gaming spokesperson confirmed that the Jurgens group has changed hands but declined to identify the new owner or give any information on whether Jurgens and IPI are to leave the industry. He gave an assurance that all outstanding player payouts would be honoured.

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30 July 2004

The competition hots up

Leading sportsbooks are moving into the online poker room sector as the game continues to boom across both land and online establishments.

This week there was news of poker rooms starting in subsidiaries of the giant UK firm Sportingbet.com such as SportingbetUSA.com/poker and Playersonly.com/poker. The company uses World Gaming software and it is believed that this provider's newest product is poker and that this is probably being used to power up the new rooms. Unfortunately none of the operations concerned responded to emails asking this important question.

Leading poker portal Poker Pulse now showcases over 210 different online poker rooms in operation, yet the boom in this sector shows no sign of slowing down.

Software provider MicroPower has also revealed that it has a number of sportsbook clients moving into this sector including WSEX , ThePokerClub, TrueMoneyGames, Easybets and highly respected Bodog. The latter is particularly interesting because it uses RTG for its casino software but has not gone for RTG's poker partner Las Vegas From Home in favour of the MicroPower product.

It is understood that at least two other major books are in the market for poker software, and that there is serious competition for market leader PartyPoker on the way, too. MicroPower are getting some attention at present with an increasing number of clients and some positive coverage in this month's eGaming Review.

Tribeca is apparently making headway with its Apex Poker Network which now features 57 skins, and the Swedish Ongame powered Poker Room.com is apparently working well, too.

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30 July 2004

And there may be potholes in the road

World Gaming's May quarterly report and SEC filings make interesting reading in regard to its relationship with rescuer Sportingbet.com.

According to the report, 68 percent of World Gaming's total revenues are generated from its software license agreement with the giant UK public company and sports betting group...and that relationship may be subject to change two years ahead when the license agreement again comes up for renewal.

The report reveals that "During the quarter, (World Gaming) agreed in principle with Sportingbet Plc, a related party, to a two-year extension of its existing software license agreement. In the current period, this licensee represented 68% of total revenues.

"As previously disclosed, the licensee has indicated that it wishes to explore alternative structures to the existing relationship with the Company. The Company is working to resolve this issue with the licensee.

"However, to the extent that a solution may not be found there is a risk that this could have a material impact on future revenues from this licensee after the conclusion of the existing two-year contract period."

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30 July 2004

Could the Atlantic Lotto be the wedge?

In Canada, the Atlantic Lottery Corporation has announced that it will now be selling lottery tickets online. This will be the first Canadian government run gaming organisation to enter the Got2bet market. There will be six lottery games available to enter on Atlantic?s website by early August.

The corporation has made it clear that the decision to enter the online branch of the industry, is not one made as an attempt at replacing the existing method of dispensing tickets- that is via the retailers they currently use. Instead they are hoping to attract new customers who would be more tempted to buy a ticket in their lotteries by the web option.

Marketing manager Lara Wood did point out however that they expect the new market they attract to be quite limited, as she explained: ?Because this is a very specific type of person who wants to do this, we don?t expect the impact to be very great?.

Atlantic will be incorporating into their site validations that purchasers of tickets are over eighteen, and will also impose limits to the amount of money that any one person can spend on the tickets. These measures answer critics who feared that any such move by the corporation would encourage both under-age gambling, and people to spend beyond their means.

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30 July 2004

Poker tournament for WPC

Maryann Morrison's Women's Poker Club announced its first land-based tournament this week, scheduled for September 9 to 11 at Binion's Horseshoe.

The event will be an all female poker tournament hosted by two leading figures in the world of poker, Lou Krieger who wrote the books ?Hold?em Excellence? and ?Poker for Dummies?, and Barbara Enright, a member of the Women?s Poker Club who is also the first woman to make the final table at a World Series of Poker tournament.

On the Friday, 10th September two smaller tournaments will be held, with the main tournament to be played on the Saturday, 11th September. The buy in for the main tournament is US$125, with a prize pool of US$10,000. Online satellite tournaments are being held through the site RoyalVegasPoker.com, with the opportunity to win a place in the tournament being the prize on offer for winners.

The Women?s Poker Club currently has 700 members, and was formed with the aim of providing a non-threatening yet competitive environment in which women could learn and play the game. Maryann Morrison, the President of the Women?s Poker Club made the following comments regarding the purpose of her organisation?s tournaments: ?Many men seem to feel that women are easy targets at the poker table, our WPC tournaments have proven tougher competition than most mixed events I have ever participated in. Women are outstanding contenders in this sport.?

Morrison then went on to describe the event that is being planned, what will take place and what players can expect to get out of attending the tournament: ?It will be an exhilarating three days, with optional poker classes and social events built into the tournament agenda. For some of the women, the WPC Vegas Showdown will be their first major brick and mortar tournament. The members know each other from playing online and sharing strategy in our forum. The WPC Vegas Showdown will give them a chance to meet and compete face to face. This is the next step in encouraging more women to be immersed in poker and leveling the playing field.?

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30 July 2004

Poker with a bonus...

It may be awhile before we see this online, because the idea has been patented, but this week Mikohn Gaming Corporation, a provider of diversified products and services used in the gaming industry worldwide, launched a new proprietary table game -- Texas Hold 'Em Bonus Poker. Based on the "live" poker game Texas Hold 'Em, Mikohn's newest table game with patented side bets will bring a new level of excitement to the table game pit or poker room, they claim.

Mikohn's Executive Vice President of Sales Bob Parente stated: "The resurgence of interest in the game of poker as a result of the multitude of tournaments and televised events makes the introduction of Texas Hold 'Em Bonus(TM) Poker a natural. With its similarities to regular Hold 'Em, we expect Texas Hold 'Em Bonus(TM) Poker to attract both poker and table game newcomers, as well as cater to regular poker players waiting for a seat in the poker room."

An enticing "kicker" to the game is that Texas Hold 'Em Bonus(TM) Poker permits the player to make a Bonus Jackpot side bet, that will add a new dimension of excitement for the players.

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23 July 2004

Russian extortionists responsible for attacks on sportsbooks

Best news this week was from the BBC, which reported that international crime-busting teams had tracked down and arrested a group of twenty-something year old Russian blackmailers who have been disabling sites that refused to pay their "protection money"

Three men were seized in Russia after a police operation involving specialist crime units from Britain, Russia and four other countries. The men were part of a global extortion racket which began in October.

The authorities also revealed that 10 members of the same online extortion gang in Riga, Latvia were busted in November 2003. Those arrests led to the men in Russia. Money transfer agencies helped the NHTCU track the funds.

The gang targeted the websites of British and other bookmakers, causing the firms millions in lost business. They overwhelmed bookmakers' computer servers with thousands of requests for information - "denial of service" attacks - designed to paralyse them and prevent other users from being able to access their facilities.

Some leading betting websites ceased operating and were unavailable - sometimes for short periods but in extreme cases, for several days. Companies targeted included high street bookmaking chains such as William Hill, Ladbrokes and Coral and internet betting exchanges such as Betfair and BetDaq.

The gang demanded payments of up to $40,000 (?21,000) in return for stopping the attacks.

Three seperate arrests took place in St. Petersburg, Russia, and the Saratov and Stavropol regions of southwest Russia. The men are believed to be part of a ring that uses legions of compromised or "zombie" computers to launch denial of service attacks against online sportsbooks that refuse to pay protection money, says Felicity Bull, a spokesperson for the UK's National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU).

The NHTCU is a law enforcement agency that investigates U.K. computer crime. It worked with their counterparts in the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD), including the MVD's computer crimes specialist department and Investigative Committee, according to a NHTCU statement. The arrests this week follow a complaint in October 2003, by Canbet UK, which was forced to pay protection money to prevent its Web site from being attacked, Bull says.

NHTCU and Russian investigators used traditional investigative techniques and computer forensics to trace the extortionists back to Russia and identify them, using information on the source of the DoS attacks and money transfer records.

Agencies in Australia, Canada, Estonia and the U.S. aided in the investigation, the NHTCU says in a statement.

Authorities believe that organized criminal groups in Russia and other countries run the extortion ring. However, Bull notes that more arrests are possible. Russian investigators seized computer equipment from the men, which may provide further clues about the criminal gang, she says.

Authorities still do not know how much money the group collected from sports books--though the figure is believed to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars--or how many sports books it extorted, Bull says.

Many online sports books that serve the U.S. are based in small countries such as Costa Rica and Belize, which lack the resources or expertise to investigate extortion attempts.

If charged, the three men will be tried in Russia. NHTCU also expect more arrests to follow, Bull says, "We expect to find more people in the chain. Once you arrest somebody, you start to find out so much more," she says.

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23 July 2004

Would the law say this?

Time will tell, but this story from the Australian Broadcasting Corp just doesn't ring true - the Aussie national police are not some third world clown outfit, and it is difficult to imagine them giving this sort of advice to a DDoS complainant unless they intended to set up a trap....we may see follow-up stories on this.

Centre Racing's proprietor Terry Lillis felt he was caught between a rock and a hard place when extortionists threatened to close down his online betting agency if he didn't pay them US $20,000. Lillis says he went to the federal police to try and sort out the problem, only to be told that he would be better off paying the extortionists.

After employing an American security firm at significant cost. Centre Racing is still not immune from the perils of online extortionists.

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23 July 2004

More support planned for expanding business

Top Got2bet turnkey provider Microgaming has announced that it will soon move into new and larger business premises on the Isle of Man as a result of strategic restructuring to better support an expanding business.

Part of the restructuring plan will involve the transfer of the company?s sales and marketing functions to the extensively equipped new building in order to improve client support internationally and internal liaison.

"This move to the Head Office will allow these key functions to provide more comprehensive support for the Company's growing activities, says Microgaming CEO Roger Raatgever.

"In the past year Microgaming has seen a substantial number of new operators selecting its gaming software to power online casinos and poker rooms, and as a result, we will be expanding to meet support demand for the Company's growing customer base. We hope to move into our new building on the 1st October, 2004."

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23 July 2004

Rare big birds the winner in this race

Remember Ladbrokes's charity Big Bird Race reported in InfoPowa bulletins some months ago? This week the results were released.

A Tasmanian Shy Albatross named Aphrodite "sponsored" by model and ex-Rolling Stones spouse Jerry Hall won the epic 6000-mile race in aid of Albatross conservation across the Indian Ocean.

The Ladbrokes Big Bird Race began at the end of March, electronically tracking the majestic birds as they made their spectacular migratory journey from Australia to the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa.

Betting folk were encouraged to have a ?flutter? on their favourite bird and were able to keep track of progress via the Ladbrokes website. Each albatross was sponsored by a celebrity, ranging from Queen?s Brian May to Queen Noor of Jordan.

The event was organised to highlight the plight of the endangered seabird, thousands of which fall victim each year to longline fishing trawlers. The trawlers tow baited hooks, which ensnare the birds, dragging them for miles underwater.

Of the eighteen fledglings that started out, only two, apart from Aphrodite, are still emitting signals.

The project has also been an invaluable opportunity to closely study the migrating habits of the birds. All money made by Ladbrokes from the race will go to research charities.

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23 July 2004

Pay for your fun
Angelciti's Shark Casino has some pretty 'original' ideas about playing for fun, a facility most decent casinos offer unlimited and free of charge so that players can practice and get the feel of Got2bet. A player reported this week that he was told by Shark casino employees, "We have eliminated the Fun Money replenishment to make the Got2bet experience more life-like. Enjoy the casino." He pressed the issue, only to be told that to top up the fun balance he was required to make a deposit and Shark would "bonus" his fun fund by 100 times whatever he had deposited in real money mode. This has to be a new low in Angelciti management, who had not responded to our emails when we went to press.

Another instalment attempt
Connect to Casino made the Cautions list last week with the astonishing story that it not only kept a player waiting overlong for a payout, but tried to arbitrarily pay him at $500 every two weeks for 22 weeks. Clearly this was not a flash in the pan, because this week another complaint surfaced where after four months awaiting payment a stunned player was offered $500 instalments every 15 days. Fortunately for the player a mediator intervened and achieved what should have been the case right away - a one-time payment. One has to speculate how many other players have received this sort of proposal....and it's one helluva way to run a casino business.

Complying with the rules is not abuse
VIP Management Services exec Skip Allan was perhaps having a bad day during a tussle with a player owed $200 in a bonus dispute involving three casinos this week. Either that or he has little respect for those he terms "bonus abusers". Long story short, the player had bonuses disqualified and then emails ignored at this normally straight-up sportsbook and casino group. So a respected mediator got involved and was ignored too. Then it hit the message boards, and other industry people working behind the scenes contacted top execs at the group. Allan responded, awarded the $200 rather ungraciously and wrongly accused the player of only just meeting the T&Cs. (Say what? The casino draws up the rules, the player complied and more with them....and he's an abuser?) Rubbing salt in the already raw wounds, Allan then wrote in an email copied to the player, "...we have chosen to keep our rollover requirements low to attract the masses, of which most aren't out whoring bonuses like (the player). This is the sort of isolated faux pas that can cause untold damage even to a reputable group.

The final word goes to the player. "But in all fairness to Skip and his operations, the end result was fair but I doubt most other players would have bitched the way I did and got paid. In fact I received $15 over the $200 they owed me which I will spend tomorrow on a personalized t-shirt with the slogan, "I am a Bonus Whore"

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23 July 2004

Not enough being done to stop underage gambling

Responsible gambling charity GamCare, criticised service providers and mobile phone companies this week for not doing enough to discourage under-age gambling.

New Media Age quoted GamCare?s Michael Smeaton as saying that many operations do not stringently check user age or display sufficient age limit warnings.

"Age verification is still an absolutely massive problem," he said. "I'm stunned that no ISPs have been involved yet. Maybe they don't realise the extent of the problem."

Smeaton feels that the acceptance of debit cards such as Solo or Electron are a cause for concern, as these are often issued by banks to children as young as eleven. There are currently up to one million under eighteens in the UK with such cards.

It wasn't all brickbats for gambling sites, however. Smeaton praised many operations for sensitivity and commitment to the underage issue, and admitted it was hard to know the extent of the problem.

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23 July 2004

Some Client Care 101 needed

Making a purely subjective tour of the major portals this week, InfoPowa noticed an astonishing range of bad customer relationship incidents. And we were only visiting a few of the top fora!

We know that players as well as casinos push the envelope, but the offhand manner in which customers were being treated just seemed nonsensical in a highly competitive business with high client acquisition costs.

Some of these incidents make it into our bulletins as a wake-up call for those involved. But there are plenty of other disputes across the industry that do nothing for player-casino harmony leading to better business. And issues that could be resolved with a little honest investigation and common sense are allowed to escalate into full-blown public fights that help nobody.

This week we saw numerous examples of ignored complaints, deliberate slowpay with pathetic excuses (the old "audit" came up several times) and another ancient and equally unacceptable "The manager's away on leave". Then there were questionably disqualified bonuses and bannings - throwing the baby out with the bathwater it seemed in some cases. These often originated in poorly thought out promos from which the casino was clearly trying to back away by accusing players of bonus abuse.

And talking bonus abuse - it is not bonus abuse if a casino offers a promotion and a player legitimately accepts the T&Cs, is allowed to play and complies with those T&Cs laid down by the casino. If you don't like his action, pay him what is owed and then assert your right of admission by locking him out - don't screw him on what is owed up to the date of your decision...that is plain dishonest.

Exacerbating these issues were what seemed to be clumsy Support and even management decisions accompanied by attitudes that could be described as insolent, uncaring and in some cases downright arrogant.

Players are communicating with each other and with genuine player advocates more now than at any other time in Got2bet's short history. The competition is tough, and even the new players are learning that in this largely unregulated industry they need to research before giving their business to a casino.

It seems to us that more investment in efficient support infrastructure and training is indicated, not only for lowly CSRs, but for operational management too. A hard won reputation can be badly damaged by thoughtless or uncaring employees.

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23 July 2004

Low volumes in first week on AIM

Industry observers were surprised at the apparently lacklustre immediate response to Betonsports public flotation last Thursday, with a disappointingly slow reaction to the shares, which were put on at 140 p.

The betting company aimed to raise GBP 54.6 million in the exercise, calculating that the company would be capitalised at GBP 114 million at the placing price. Betonsports operates one of the world's largest US-targeted offshore betting operations, with $1.2 billion staked on sports bets by US gamblers in the last financial year.

Whilst observing that it was still early days, some observers felt that Betonsports' strong focus on the troublesome US market may have slowed interest down.

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23 July 2004

Watch out for information fraudsters

Security Pipeline carried an excellent article by Michael Cohn this week on criminal activity that is costing credit card holders millions in fraudulent transactions.

Termed "phishing" the modus operandi involves crooks sending fraudulent e-mail that appears to be from a legitimate organization such as a bank, credit card company, online merchant, or Internet service provider asking the recipient to divulge personal and financial information birthdates, Social Security numbers and PIN codes. Unlucky victims are then subject to identity theft, monetary losses, and credit card fraud.

In the USA, federal and state law enforcement has linked organised crime to phishing attacks that are increasing in both volume and sophistication.

"There's a lot of activity in the former Soviet bloc, the Eastern bloc, Latvia, and Ukraine," says John Curran, supervisory special agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Internet Crime Complaint Center. "It definitely looks like there are organised groups."

The U.S. Secret Service has also noted an increase in organized crime involvement in phishing. At AIT Global's Annual InfoSec Meeting at the United Nations in June, Robert Caltabiano, an official in the New York Field Office of the U.S. Secret Service, pointed to the increasing indications of organised crime in phishing attacks. Although Caltabiano recommended that victims first go to local law enforcement for help, he noted, "with phishing attacks, the information goes global."

There's even an Anti-Phishing Working Group. This industry forum, reported 1,197 unique attacks in May 2004, up from 402 attacks in March.

Making matters worse are hacker websites that sell phishing starter kits. "There's a whole underground economy of trading credit card information back and forth and the tools for doing credit card fraud," an official of the group says.

On the positive side, there have been several successful prosecutions. The Moscow Times reported in May that the U.K.'s National High-Tech Crimes Unit arrested 12 Russian-speaking people who had been recruited by the Russian mafia to participate in a phishing scam. The suspects, who came from Russia, the Baltic republics, and Ukraine, set up bank accounts where money stolen from phishing victims was deposited.

The New York Times recently reported that authorities in Romania had arrested 100 hackers involved with phishing attacks. The Romanian General Directorate for Combating Organised Crime, working with the Secret Service, arrested one hacker, Dan Marius Stefan, in September 2003. Stefan was convicted of stealing nearly $500,000 through phishing e-mails that claimed to be from eBay. He is now serving 30 months in jail.

In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission has worked with the Department of Justice and the FBI on filing complaints and prosecuting several individuals, including Zachary Keith Hill, of Houston, Texas, who pleaded guilty in May and was sentenced to a 46-month prison sentence. Hill had been sending e-mails claiming to be from the AOL Billing Center.

Phishing is clearly another growing danger, demanding increased alertness from casino and player alike.

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23 July 2004

Now it's a rock star tourney

The poker phenomenon shows no sign of slowing down, and this week the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) and Clear Channel Entertainment Properties announced the first Vegas Rock Star Poker Tournament and Sweepstakes.

Set for August 26th to 28th at the Palms Casino Resort, the tournament will be a one-of-a-kind, exclusive event headlined by rock greats Dave Navarro, Tommy Lee and the Goo Goo Dolls' John Rzeznik.

Winners and their guests will thrill to the excitement and unpredictability of playing side-by-side with three of the most animated and talented artists in the music world. The weekend begins with a tutorial to get players game-ready, followed by a private "meet and greet" session and dinner with Navarro, Lee and Rzeznik. After the tournament, the winners will attend an exclusive after-party in the infamous Real World Suite at the Palms. The 2,900 square-foot, three-bedroom suite has become the most sought after high-roller suite in town.

Winners will be chosen from registrations at the tournament's official Web site -- http://www.vegasrockstarpoker.com -- and from winners of radio promotions in New York, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The sweepstakes began July 5 and continue through August 12, 2004 -- the top prize is $10,000.

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23 July 2004

Press material from Floridita Club Casino.com tells us that after months of careful planning, the re-design and reconstruction of their new website has finally been completed. The operation has been around since November 2000, and is part of the Minivegas online gaming network. With a totally revamped image and claims of "...thousands of new players signing up every day", the site shows no signs of slowing down and anticipates more business with the new look.

Operation of the Queens Club Casino.com has reportedly been taken over by the Canbet organisation.

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23 July 2004

Wagerworks powers newest addition to Get Minted collection

Yet another celebrity-supported online poker site launched this week - this one in the UK. It's an impressive, Alderney licensed site powered by Wagerworks.

Cashcade, the company behind the first pound sterling poker room Get Minted Poker.com, has announced that it has signed up ex soccer star and hard man turned Hollywood star, Vinnie Jones as the chiselled face of its new marketing campaign.

Cashcade feels the actor, whose film credits include Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Swordfish, is just the man for the site?s smoky poker den image ? a departure from the glamorous Vegas themes of other poker sites.

Jones will appear on the CD and packaging of a 100,000 direct mail campaign, through Boost Communications who have further campaigns planned in the near future.

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23 July 2004

Betfair has a suitor

By ruling that legislation to curtail the operations in Australia of aggressive P2P betting exchanges like Betfair.com, the federal government in that country opened new opportunities for mega-successful gambling entrepeneurs like Kerry Packer.

He was quick to open negotiations with Betfair, and this week's big news in sports betting land is that his Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd has teamed up with Britain's Betfair in a local internet betting operation that threatens to shake up Australia's gaming industry.

The two companies have announced a 50:50 joint venture to develop an internet betting exchange - a development which has been staunchly opposed by established local gaming organisations such as the thoroughbred racing industry.

Internet exchanges like Betfair.com let gamblers create their own odds by betting against other punters rather than a bookmaker. They also allow bets on the loser in a multiple field.

The joint venture will join Melbourne's Crown Casino in PBL's gaming portfolio, and a bid for control of Perth's Burswood Casino, currently 40 per cent held by PBL, is also under way.

PBL's Betfair investment - which encompasses only the Australian and New Zealand businesses - depends on the granting of an operating licence by an Australian state or territory for the venture to proceed. An on-shore licence is required to allow a company to market, sponsor and operate from within the country.

Betfair md Mark Davies said while the terms of the joint venture had not been disclosed, part of Betfair's strategy was to be seen as an Australian company rather than a British invader.

"What (PBL) bring to the party is they make us Australian in a way we can't suddenly become Australian and they have tremendous means to distribute the product," he said.

"The relationships they have with sport, they are totally connected with people all across the sporting world, they also have distribution channels like Nine MSN and television operations."

Privately-owned bookmaking company Centrebet has said it would be interested in applying for an Australian licence for a betting exchange if they became available.

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23 July 2004

CEO bullish on Internet possibilities

Online casinos are set to take an even bigger share of the gambling market, says Manu Gambhir, CEO of Kismet International which operates Harrods Casinounder licence from prestigious London store Harrods Ltd.

In a bullish statement released this week, Gambhir says that without the huge costs of building and operating land-based casinos, online casinos can offer better odds and promotions and are consequently taking an increasing proportion of the regular gambler's spend.

Add to this the increasing security of online casinos, especially for those with recognised brand names and a wider choice of games, and you have a cogent proposition for the discerning gambler and occasional punter alike.

Online casinos have had a recent shot in the arm with the surge in popularity of online poker sites and games. Last year Got2bet on poker increased from ?6 million a day in January to ?38 million a day in December according to The Guardian.

New channels, too, are also contributing to the growth of online casinos. Interactive television is forecast to generate Euros 1.4 billion in online casino gambling in Europe by 2007 Screen Digest reports. New wireless technologies and handsets will play a prominent part in the growth of mobile gambling, and casino gambling via mobile phones is forecast to reach a global value of $6 billion by 2008 (Juniper Research Gambling Report).

"Online casinos have really come of age", Gambhir concludes. "Like the phenomenal success of betting exchanges, online casinos have put the fun and the odds back in favour of the afficionado gambler. Add 24/7 availability from the comfort of your own home and you can understand the compelling appeal of casinos like Harrods Online."

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23 July 2004

Washington realityTV gets on the gambling bandwagon

Regional media, The Everett Daily Herald asked this week, "Can a local casino reality TV program hit the jackpot?" And reported that local television network KIRO-TV certainly hopes so. "Tulalip Casino Night" is a new program of the reality TV genre that begins a six-episode trial run that kicks off at 10 p.m. tonight (Friday) and airs in that time slot through Aug. 27 on Channel 7. The show runs 10 pairs of players through a gamut of casino games, such as blackjack, roulette, Baccarat, slot machines and Texas hold'em poker.

At the end of each episode, the pair with the least amount of money left is eliminated. The team that outlasts the rest gets to spin a wheel for the chance to win $1 million.

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23 July 2004

A quick checklist for those diaries

28 - 30 July Bodog Handicappers Conference, Las Vegas

October 5 - 7 Global Gaming Expo, Las Vegas

November 8 - 10 European I-Gaming Congress and Expo, Barcelona

November 10 - 12 South American Gaming Suppliers Expo

January 25 - 27 (2005) International Casino Exhibition, London

March (dates tba) Pacific Congress on I-Gaming, Sydney, Australia

April 7 - 8 Casino Affiliate Conference, Amsterdam

May 3 - 5 Gaming and Casino World, Australia

June 13 - 15 GIGSE, Montreal

June 22 - 24 Asian Casinos Expo, Singapore

June 27 - 28 Alternative Payment Processing Conference, London.

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16 July 2004

Attacks continue on sportsbooks

Reports from research and analytical specialists Netcraft this week indicate that the threat of Distributed Denial of Service attacks continues.

Got2bet sites Eurobet and Coral experienced periodic interruptions following the completion of the European soccer championships and the Wimbledon tennis finals. The outages follow a number of attacks on Got2bet sites in the days preceding the major European sports events.

According to Netcraft, Got2bet sites continue to be targeted in electronic attacks, often precipitated after an extortion attempt on the site is made. UK-based Netcraft is currently monitoring the performance of twenty UK Got2bet sites.

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16 July 2004

Popular casino games to go out via TV

Newbie U.S. network Spike TV has introduced online casino programming via one of its shows.

?Midnight Spike? is largely aimed at a young male audience, in the twenty and thirty something age groups, a demographic the channel believes will be hugely interested in online casino gambling.

The show uses interactive technology provided by GoldPocket, to allow viewers to bet using virtual money on the results of certain challenges staged throughout the show. This has now been expanded to include Spike Casino which will allow viewers to gamble on traditional casino games including roulette, slot machines and craps.

There will be leader boards shown in real time, which will continually update points earned by players, and prizes will be awarded to winners, courtesy of the TV channel?s promotional partner, Sync Magazine. Participants who tune out of the programme automatically lose all accrued points.

Viewers can join the fun by using iTV-functional set-top boxes, or by using the more traditional online casino method, of logging in via the Spike TV website. It is in GoldPocket?s plans to eventually offer access to the interactive casino via wireless technology.

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16 July 2004

New owners and a software upgrade

To use a cliche, better late than never. That is what came to mind this week when we received a belated response to our questions put to both Mango and Black Dog casinos and their software provider Diamond Digital systems before we went to press last week.

We were trying to find out what was happening after a confusing series of closure and suspended services notices that were of little comfort to owed players.

In the responses, Black Dog and Mango advised that they were both undergoing ownership changes as well as a software upgrade, and Diamond reported that "....neither Mango Casino nor Black Dog Casino are closed. We are currently implementing a number of upgrades to the backend system, which make it impossible to register new players. We expect these updates to be completed by the end of the (July) month.

"We understand from BlackDog Casino support that all redemption requests outstanding as of yesterday have now been processed. Though there still are some outstanding redemption requests in Mango Casino, the casino owners have assured us that these will be paid shortly."

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16 July 2004

Kalpakian says players can benefit substantially

InfoPowa's Cool Casinos report last week featured the new Zero Rake.com poker room site, and this week LasVegasFromHome.com released further information on this innovative concept, which is being operated through LVFH's Antiguan subsidiary Action Poker Gaming Inc.

Instead of charging the industry standard rake or commission on every winning hand, players are only charged a fixed membership fee, a scheme that could benefit regular players substantially.

President and C.E.O., Mr. Jake Kalpakian says, "The savings the players will enjoy are incredible when compared to what an active player pays in rake per month, especially the higher limit players. "This is just the first step in the Company's plans to build and introduce other innovative products in the broad Internet gaming sector. In the past, we focused on launching recognized, but unique games to the internet.

"Now we will also launch other products similar to Zerorake, which should significantly change the landscape in respect to the games involved. This initiative will run parallel to the Company developing and licensing its conventional core of established games.?

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16 July 2004

Brandy Bucks...or is that sucks?
Playtech powered Brandy Casino.com raised the ire of many leading portalmasters this week with a promotion in which the marketing team came up with the questionable idea of offering players a monetary bonus if they would make Brandy-positive postings on gambling forums across the Internet.

It unleashed a flurry of generally amateurish and perhaps greedy spamming that abused the hospitality of forum sites and attracted severe criticism and spammer bannings from players and webmasters alike.

Urging participants on, Brandy offered cash prizes for those who posted the most messages, those who covered the most fora, the most 'vivid and artistic' posts, the most expert description of the casino, the most popular thread about Brandy casino started, the best ripostes to Brandy detractors and discoveries of new forums on which Brandy had not yet appeared.

Despite an ineffectual attempt to encourage bonus-seekers to 'abide by the forum rules, and not spam' this is exactly what happened, with posters indiscriminately cluttering up forums belonging to other people.

Summing it all up, one top forum manager described it as, "It boils down to Brandy offering nickles to bottomfeeders in return for bogus testimonials and recommendations. That kind of 'increased traffic' we do not need."

Strangely, Brandy marketers did not see the questionable side of the incident, and claimed that it increased forum traffic and that "Due to fresh and inventive methods Brandy Casino promos are always popular with our numerous players and raise heated disputes. Regarding your question it is especially necessary to make clear that our actions are ethical from both professional and universal points of view." They went on to quote an effusive but unknown webmaster praising their efforts.

The last word came from another leading webmaster, who said, "Well, they may be patting themselves on the back but anyone who posts spam here as part of this sleazy "Brandy Bucks" campaign is going to get the boot.

"Contrary to their self-congratulations the "new members" we've seen are nothing but disposable memberships created for the single purpose of posting their Brandy spam. All they post is Brandy spam under the guise of being happy players just helping out by offering friendly advice."

Payouts by instalments....
Speculation that there might be cashflow problems at Connect To Casino.com was inevitable this week when a player complained that the RTG-powered casino had not only delayed his payout unreasonably and overlong, but had unilaterally told him that it intended to pay him a mere $500 every 2 weeks. Given the amount owing to the irate gambler, it would take 22 weeks to cash him out. Adding insult to injury, a perhaps inexperienced employee told the player that the first payment would be sent soon....if he sent an email to remind them! The player lodged a complaint with RTG's new Montana dispute resolution service, but that did not seem to be endowed with a sense of urgency, he reported.

Montana could be working overetime
RTG's new Montana complaints centre in Panama could be in for a busy time judging by player reports appearing this week, alleging that Kiss Casino.com and Giant Vegas.com are both slowpaying beyond a month in several instances....and exacerbating the problem by ignoring impatient player emails. We had not received a response to our email requesting comment at press time.

Management vacations...
Complaints are becoming noticeable on leading online casino and sportsbook portals regarding very slowpay and silly excuses for it at Bet On Sports.com. In remarkably similar circumstances, players are being kept waiting due to "fraud checks" or "...because the manager is on vacation." It begs the question "What sort of operation comes to a halt because the manager is away?" As we went to press disturbing reports were surfacing that Betonsports has started its own watchdog site called ISBA - ironic when they are giving players the run-around. As at going to press we had not received a response to questions. This is a strongly funded sportsbook that is currently "going public" and it is likely that the fault is staff-related rather than money-based. That doesn't make the player feel any better.

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16 July 2004

And Leeson is still playing...

InfoPowa flagged the introduction of the celebrity poker site Celeb Poker.com earlier this year, and it would appear to be flourishing according to an interview with the BBC by founder David Donavon.

The site was launched in April, and offers online poker players the chance to challenge celebrities who join the site.

Currently players are also able to chat to celebrities they are playing online, and it is Donovan?s hope to enhance this with live video streaming, so that players can see each other while they play. The aim is to introduce this facility sometime this year. Live celebrity tournaments are also on the agenda, the first being scheduled for August where players will be able to play against their celebrity opponents in the flesh.

The latest celeb signing is movie star Lou Diamond Phillips. It is Donovan?s hope to add high profile poker fan Ben Affleck, who recently gained a seat in next year?s World Poker Tour Championship thanks to winning a poker tournament last month, as a Celeb Poker member.

Other sign-ups are mostly well known sports stars. Probably the most notorious Celeb celeb is convicted rogue banking trader Nick Leeson, who apparently attracts a lot of questions through the website from people curious about the funds he managed to siphon from Barings Bank.

Donovan counts the signing of Leeson as one of the proudest moments of his career, "....the first has to be our initial celebrity we secured at CelebPoker - who happened to be 'The Rogue Trader', Mr Nick Leeson. Considering he lost GBP 860 million sterling, asking him to play and hoping he doesn't lose our money was quite novel."

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16 July 2004

English club will advertise 888.com

What is probably the largest and most successful casino group online, Casino On Net is getting into the mainstream sports sponsorship field with a deal with English Premiership football club Middlesborough.

Using itsdistinctive 888.com, the group has signed a multi-million pound, three-year sponsorship deal that will see the Carling Cup Champions sporting the 888.com logo on their shirts as they enter Europe for the first time in their history next year.

Matt Robinson of 888.com said: '?We are delighted to be Middlesbrough's main sponsor. We see Middlesbrough as an ambitious team with a great future and are proud to be sponsoring a club with such a clear vision.?

"An exciting season lies ahead for Middlesbrough and 888.com. We will be offering a number of initiatives to Middlesbrough's over-18 supporters to promote online gaming and entertainment to the fan base."

Boro's commercial manager Graham Fordy said: "The deal brings together two very ambitious companies. 888.com are already clear leaders in their marketplace and are looking to cement that position through their involvement with Middlesbrough FC. We are determined to establish ourselves in the top half of the world's most challenging league.

"The deal is not purely based on media awareness but very much on the success of both brands. The financial benefits of us helping 888.com to achieve their targets are enormous. Together, we look forward to running some innovative promotions, not just for Boro but for everyone who follows the Premier League."

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16 July 2004

Sixty percent membership growth in 2004

PokerRoom.com, which has been operational for real money since 2001, has claimed it is the fastest growing online poker site in the world in signing on its 2,000,000th member. This represents an increase in membership of over 60 percent since the beginning of 2004.

?We are absolutely thrilled with our growth in the last six months, and celebrate our 2,000,000th member,? remarked Patrik Selin, Casino Boss of PokerRoom.com. ?We believe our superior service, offering users the option of playing for play money or real money without the hassle of pop-up ads or downloads, leads to word-of-mouth thus contributing to growth in both sales and the number of sign-ups.?

Focusing solely on the games of Poker, particularly the popular ?Texas No Limit Hold?em?, PokerRoom.com has become a favorite with men and women, experienced and novice.

?There is a renewed sense of interest in the game due the recent increase in celebrity players and American television shows such as The Casino, The World Series of Poker on ESPN, Las Vegas and Celebrity Poker Showdown,? said Ira Gladnikoff, PokerRoom.com?s Director of Marketing. ?This trend, in turn, is driving traffic to our site which is growing exponentially.?

Unconfirmed reports suggest that there are plans for Poker Room.com to go mobile in the near future.

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16 July 2004

Controversial company signs deal with famous bookie

World Games Incorporated inked a deal with the respected UK sports betting firm Victor Chandler this week, surprising some observers of this controversial group that has been accused by many (and was the subject of an investigation by the RCMP) of being a pyramid organisation.

The group has been active recently with press releases and message board postings from players who are presumably investors, with some pretty heavyweight claims regarding other online casino interests such as turnover of $380 million a year, and threats to sue the Norwegian lottery monopoly.

Announcing the Chandler deal, WGI points out that half a million members of World Games Incorporated will have a myriad new opportunities to win millions online following an affiliate deal with Victor Chandler.

In a ground breaking arrangement, Chandler is offering WGI members access to its wide ranging suite of major sports products including horse racing, football, golf, cricket and virtual games products in the Chandler Park suite. WGI members will be able to go directly from the members lounge suite to the VCI site and have access to the full suite of Victor Chandler products.

Victor Chandler Chief Executive, Michael Carlton explained ' We are extremely excited to welcome WGI members to Victor Chandler International as its chosen betting partner in this new venture. It's a great fit and we believe that the international forum and breadth of product offering will appeal hugely to WGI members.'

WGI President Greg Young says Victor Chandler is a well respected international bookmaking group with seven decades of industry knowledge and success. "This is an important partnership agreement for both organizations. It provides fantastic new products, services and opportunities to all WGI members with one of the most respected international betting providers."

Victor Chandler is a well established group offering its services in eight languages and trading in 17 currencies. The wide range of sports betting products and easy-to-play games have attracted more than 300,000 customers in 70 countries.

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16 July 2004

UK site features on ITV this week

Top ITV1 current affairs programme 'Tonight with Trevor MacDonald' will feature Jackpotjoy.com as part of an in-depth look at Women and Gambling tonight (Friday 16 July 2004).

The programme looks at recent research into the growth of women and gambling, especially the rapid rise in the number of female players of online games.

Andrew Dixon, Commercial Director of Profitable Play, the company behind Jackpotjoy.com features in the programme, offering expert opinion on the recent increase in women playing online games. Programme producers turned to Jackpotjoy.com due to the fact that the site is almost unique in the sector by having more female players than male.

Andrew Dixon tells the programme:

"Jackpotjoy.com did not set out to attract female players, and our marketing was never targeted as such, but within our first year of operations we saw a large number of women joining the site. Now we make sure we design a number of games with our female players in mind, such as our recent Footballer's Widows' game, which received even more hits and winners than it's 'male equivalent' Euro 2004 Penalty Shoot-Out.

"Our success in attracting and retaining female players, is also reflected in our commercial partnerships, including major brands such as femail.co.uk and gm.tv"

Launched in 2001, Jackpotjoy.com is one of the UK's top ten gambling sites, according to both Hitwise and .net magazine. The site offers 'soft' games such as slots, lotto, bingo and scratchcards, as well as casino favourites like blackjack and poker.

Jackpotjoy.com offers players an online community through a chat functionality that runs alongside the games. Visitors to the site can also play for free and win prizes such as holidays, Spa Days, electronic goods and flowers.

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16 July 2004

Keeping up with the times at eCOGRA

Several new provisions have been added to eCOGRA?s eGAP (Generally Accepted Practices) to ensure that they offer even better protection to players in line with player demands and emerging industry trends.

eCOGRA?s CEO Andrew Beveridge revealed that his organisation has had significant feedback from players who felt that certain necessary requirements were absent. In taking careful note of these comments, changes were made to the minimum acceptable requirements including the following:

Terms and conditions applicable to promotional activities must now be clearly displayed and shall not be unreasonably altered subsequent to the wagering activity.

To meet international demands for tighter controls the section on anti-money laundering has been revised to include requirements for preventative and detection controls addressing money laundering and fraud risks to be documented and implemented, and where appropriate for controls to be according to the relevant points in the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) guidelines. This has been addressed in order to accommodate the FATF's Forty Recommendations which were published last year.

Under "Fair Gaming", the Total Gaming Transaction Review requirements have been amended to incorporate additional tests that are being performed by eCOGRA?s audit panel members including independent inspection authority PricewaterhouseCoopers.

One example of this change is that wagering activity, including wins, should be distributed amongst an acceptable population of players. This test includes PwC verifying beyond question that a significant sample of the winning players does in fact exist, providing further assurance of data integrity.

Another noteworthy revision is that eCOGRA now requires all games and slots to have a combined average theoretical / estimated statistical return to players of at least (the minimum) 92%. This compares favourably to land-based jurisdictions, such as New Jersey, that requires a return of 83% on slots.

Elsewhere new addendums have been added which detail the requirements to be met when operators who have already been approved add new, or transferred foreign language and foreign currency casinos. These stipulate that seal holding casinos cannot simply add a new casino brand and legitimately display the eCOGRA seal - such changes or additions must go through a comprehensive compliance review by eCOGRA's independent inspection contractor.

Beveridge urges that players and operators alike communicate with eCOGRA with suggestions or problems, "We welcome a two way flow of ideas and suggestions, which make the organisation stronger and more relevant," he says.

"The release of this update on eGAP coincides with the next inspection cycle for previously approved operators, and it is therefore timely," says Beveridge. "Keeping our regulations up to date and in line with industry developments demands that we continually raise the bar for operators and software providers to comply with our standards."

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16 July 2004

Teletext on 4 partners with DITG

Interactive TV gambling in the UK added further diversity to its offerings this week with the announcement that Information and entertainment service Teletext has launched a games service on Teletext on 4 in partnership with the Digital Interactive Television Group.

The new service is available to subscribers of the popular Sky television service and is accessible via the text button thjrough Channel 4. Content is offered as multi-screen, video-based and console-style games and includes fruit-machine style games and virtual horse racing, provided by DITG's gaming division.

Users can play for free or place a bet and gamble through a range of financial instruments. Participants will be encouraged to register and play via cross-promotion from Teletext's other platforms, including half-page as on analogue TV, digital terrestrial television and banner ads on Teletext.

Damian Cope, managing director of DITG's gaming division, said: "This partnership enables both companies to focus on their core strength of producing successful and entertaining television services." He added: "Teletext was the original innovator when it came to recognising television's potential for being much more than a passive viewing vehicle."

Answering an InfoPowa query, London-based Cope said that the gambling software being used had been developed internally by his company. DITG struck a deal with William Hill recently, too.

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16 July 2004

No changes to Interactive Gambling Act required says Minister

Concluding its review of the three year old Interactive Gambling Act, the Australian federfal government this week said that betting exchanges were unlikely to boost problem gambling and did not need federal regulation.

Communications Minister Daryl Williams announced the Government had decided against regulating betting exchanges, which allow bets on a range of sporting events, with players betting among themselves.

Mr Williams said a report on the review, to be released soon, carefully examined the impact of betting exchanges.

"The report ... found no compelling evidence to suggest that betting exchanges were likely to contribute to an increase in the level of problem gambling. The review noted the potential for enhanced consumer protection measures to be introduced in an Got2bet environment. The Government's view is that this is best done through existing state and territory licensing arrangements."

The racing industry has lobbied the Government for the past year to change the Interactive Gambling Act, saying betting exchanges would hit revenue and undermine the industry's integrity. They argue British and Hong Kong racing have been damaged by internet betting and other forms of interactive gambling, which do not return revenue to the industry.

The exchanges have also been slammed by welfare and anti-gambling groups as targeting the vulnerable, including young people.

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16 July 2004

Sports group looking for GBP 55 million

Bet On Sports.com, a major online sports gambling company, is raising GBP 54.6 million through a placing on the AIM market, a company spokesman revealed this week. The placing price has been set at 140p a share, and the company will be capitalised at GBP 114 million at the placing price. The company operates one of the world's largest US-targeted offshore betting operations, with $1.2 billion staked on sports bets by US punters in the last financial year.

The placing is believed to be the third largest IPO fundraising on AIM this year, and admission to trading and dealings on AIM was expected to commence as we went to press.

Evolution Beeson Gregory is Nominated Adviser and Broker to the company and acted as adviser and bookrunner to the AIM admission

David Carruthers, the chief executive, said the listing would allow the company to consider acquisitions in other locations. "The worldwide Got2bet market was estimated to be worth in the region of $5.7billion in 2003 and we believe that the immediate future will be a very exciting period for Bet On Sports and the market in general," he said.

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16 July 2004

5 year partnership for mobile tech firm

It seems that barely a week goes by these days without mobile technology firm Phantom Fiber appearing in the news on a fresh deal, and this week it was a five year partnership with Digital Gaming Solutions, a provider of integrated gaming products.

The two companies have signed a five-year license agreement in terms of which Phantom Fiber will develop an advanced mobile wagering platform based on DGS software and marketed by DGS to sportsbook and casino properties.

DGS is a dominant software player in the Retail Wagering Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS), Sports Wagering Internet / Call Center and Internet Casino software industries. Its technologies provide gaming operators with the system flexibility that allows their customers to bet sports, racing, casino games or poker either on-line, by phone, at a kiosk, or at a teller. DGS claims to offer its customers the only true, one-stop-shop, multi-language, multi-currency wagering solution available.

Jeff Halloran, President and CEO for Phantom Fiber comments, "Digital Gaming Solutions has created an excellent platform for multi-channel betting. By adding mobile wagering to this equation, DGS creates the perfect wagering ecosystem which enables operators to provide customers with a wide range of betting options."

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16 July 2004

Asian market a great opportunity

Global Entertainment and Global Millennium Holdings have partnered to present a new online casino branded Casino Nepal Online.com, offering Indian Rupee and US dollar wagering on casino games and sporting events.

Sunil Thapa, General Manager of Millennium, said in Kathmandu, Nepal, "IGW offers the best value in online gaming software. Matching a broad product range, a feature-rich back office and a customized user interface, we feel we have a winning combination.

"Our players will be the real winners. The integrated IGW software allows us to offer some of the best customer service available at the lowest cost of operation and gives our players easy access to the Sportsbook and Casino, all under one account."

Bryan Abboud, President of IGW notes, "Enabling our clients to implement niche marketing tactics to create new business is strategic to our company. Our goal is to provide our licensees the opportunity to offer their players the best gaming entertainment experience in the industry regardless of the demographics."

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16 July 2004

Chinese Internet gamblers busted

Forty-seven people connected to an Got2bet scheme were arrested last Friday, but the set-up was somewhat less sophisticated than "live over the Internet" services offered by companies like CasinoWebCam!.

The players, from Yiwu city in the East China province of Zhejiang played baccarat online, using Internet connections and changeable codes to monitor and bet on live games at a physical location in Myanmar. While real players physically move cards and chips in Myanmar, gamblers in Yiwu, some 100 kilometres southwest of Hangzhou, the provincial capital, could view and participate on the games using PCs.

Players of the online casino then typed an Internet address and input a code, which enabled them to see the live action through Internet video. They would then telephone the organisers, who would have an agent place the bet on the table, the wager was confirmed and money transferred between bank accounts. Wagers were set at no less than 5,000 yuan (US$600) but could hit 200,000 yuan (US$24,000), police said.

The organizers earned 1.5 per cent of the take and a share of between 5 or 6 per cent of the gambling house's losses or profits. Police say more than 100 people played the game in Yiwu. One person lost as much as 4.8 million yuan (US$576,000) in three months.

Twenty other gamblers took to the hills when the bust took place, and are still being sought by police.

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16 July 2004

This is the big one - diarise ICE 2005

If you haven't already broken out those new 2005 diaries, this is a good time to do it and record the dates for the next ICE (International Casino Exhibition) show in London - a premiere industry event not to be missed.

Next year's big event is scheduled for 25th-27th January 2005 at London's Earls Court 2 Exhibition Centre, we are told by the show's organisers, ATE.

ATE are predicting an even larger showcase than the 2004 edition which hosted a record-breaking 166 exhibiting companies from 31 nations. By the beginning of July over two-thirds of ICE 2005 had been allocated with 113 companies from 26 countries confirming their space.

A significant aspect of next year's show will be an expanded i-Gaming Zone, complete with its own identity and differentiated from the rest of ICE by using colour-coded carpet tiles and shell scheme constructions.

For more information on ICE 2005 visit www.ATEOnline.co.uk/ICE or email Karen Cooke (kcooke@ateonline.co.uk).

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9 July 2004

Big prizes for satellite winners in Prima Poker tournament

PrimaPoker.com the sole sponsor of the Monte Carlo Millions poker tournament has announced that the much awaited poker showdown will be held November 6-13 this year in glamorous Monte Carlo.

The poker tournament will be the first ever to be held in Monte Carlo. During the week-long event, some of the world's best poker players, celebrities and the poker network's satellite winners will compete for an estimated prize pool of US$1,000,000. The highly successful Hendon Mob are expected to be present.

Full details on the tournament are available on the Prima Poker.com website.

"PrimaPoker.com has orchestrated the most exclusive and luxurious poker tournament in history. Monte Carlo Millions combines Hollywood style, the paradise of the French Riviera, with a chance to play world-renowned poker professionals and celebrities," says Matt Savage, the tournament director for the last three consecutive World Series' of Poker, who will direct the Monte Carlo Millions, adding to its star power.

All Monte Carlo Millions satellite winners will receive a US$20,000 package, including round-trip airfare for two to Monte Carlo, a 7-night stay at the exclusive Hotel Hermitage, meals at gourmet restaurants, a US$14,000 buy-in to the tournament and a guided tour of the French Riviera.

One of the InfoPowa staff stayed at The Hermitage a couple years back and reports that the hotel is among the best Monte Carlo has to offer - absolute class and luxury, with patios overlooking a Monte Carlo harbour full of the rich & famous's mini-liners, and the world famous casino just around the corner.

PrimaPoker.com will hold a separate tournament for all players who do not make the final table, in which every participant will win a cash prize.

Entry to the Monte Carlo Millions is by invitation or through a PrimaPoker.com satellite match, which can also be played at Montecarlomillions.com. Satellites began on June 21st and will last until October and will include free-roll tournaments.

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9 July 2004

Aruba chosen again for poker biggie

It wasn't just Prima that was putting big bucks behind poker this week. In a press release from Atlanta, Georgia UltimateBet.com announced their major annual promotion, too.

For the third year in a row, UltimateBet.com is taking their World Poker Tour event to Aruba. With a guaranteed minimum prize pool of $4,000,000 and with first place guaranteed to win $1,000,000, this is the largest World Poker Tour event to date, the release claims. The World Poker Tour will film the event as part of their 3rd Season on the World Poker Tour television show, which airs Wednesday nights on The Travel Channel. Season three will air in 2005.

Buy-ins are valued at $6,000 + 200 and the action starts on September 26th - October 1st, 2004

Entrants can win an Aruba prize package, which includes the $6,200 buy-in to the main event and airfare and hotel accommodation for two by playing online. Super satellites begin at just $25. Free Aruba package tournaments are also held monthly online.

Alternatively, well-heeled entrants can pay the $6,200 buy-in directly for the event up until September 26th when the first card is dealt. Players in this category can reserve rooms at one of the four Aruba hotels contracted for this event: The Radisson, Wyndham, Hyatt and Marriott. The main event and all side tournaments will be held at the Radisson Aruba.

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9 July 2004

Ladbrokes' Devilfish and Chips

Millionaire environmentalist, Zac Goldsmith and online qualifier, Fred ?Teddykins? Richardson are two of the surprise finalists at this year?s Ladbrokespoker.com Poker Million II.

With an estimated GBP sterling 300 million fortune, the heir to the Goldsmith fortune is keen to continue the family tradition established by his late father Sir James, whose notorious poker school included fellow ?big spenders? John Aspinall and Lord Lucan.

?Teddykins? Richardson has so far managed to beat 315 players after paying $12 to play online at ladbrokespoker.com. He now only needs to beat five more to win $300,000.

If 'Teddykins' wins the tournament he?ll emulate the famous Chris Moneymaker - the winner of the $2.5 million World Series of Poker Championships last year, after an initial online qualifying payment of just $40,

The final, live on Sky Sports 2 tonight at 8pm, will see both players putting their poker skills to the ultimate test by playing Texas Hold?em against some of the world?s best poker professionals. The final table will see former Olympic swimmer and Irish ace Donnacha O?Dea, Canadian investment banker, Nicholas Barbu, Dave ?The Devilfish? Ulliott and student, Jon Backman join ?Teddykins? and Zac as they compete for the $300,000 first prize.

Dave ?Devilfish? Ulliott is one of the most revered poker players in the game. Locking horns with ?the Devilfish? the main challenge. According to fellow professional, Roy ?The Boy? Brindley: ?the Devilfish harbours an ego that outweighs the prize on offer. His ferocious and insatiable appetite for victory feeds on a carefully formulated cocktail of card sense and speech play that can unnerve even the most accomplished players?.

Last year ?the Devilfish? won $600,000 in a three day tournament in Tunica, USA. However, in these rapidly changing times for Poker, more money is won in online games than in the traditional ?smoke filled? card rooms.

According to independent online Poker analysts, Poker Pulse, a total of $95 million was wagered on one day this week alone in online hands. Online Poker grew over 600% in 2003 and has already more than doubled again this year.

It?s the gambling sensation of the moment and everyone wants to be a part of it. Ladbrokespoker.com claims to be Europe?s biggest Poker site, dealing over 330,000 hands of Poker a day. At the busiest times over 5,000 people from 65 different countries will be playing against each other on upwards of 600 virtual tables.

This year?s Poker Million Masters II field saw 36 entrants pay a whopping ?10,000 each to take their seat at the green felt, a further 30 qualify online via ladbrokespoker.com and 6 exclusive seats for celebrities. This year?s celebrities included World Cup winning rugby player Mike Tindall, soccer star Teddy Sheringham, PDC Darts champion Phil ?The Power? Taylor, former footballer Tony Cascarino and snooker stars Mark Williams and Stephen Hendry.

Ladbrokes eGaming Managing Director John O?Reilly commented: ?Forget the tension of Big Brother on a Friday night, this year?s final looks set to be an exhilarating live spectacle. How many sporting finals would you expect to see a millionaire pitting his wits against five of Europe?s hottest hands? I for one can?t wait to see how Zac gets on against the ?Devilfish?, possibly one of the greatest poker players ever.?

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9 July 2004

Generous Fiesta good for Rosie

After only a few days online, the new five reel Fruit Fiesta progressive slot has delivered its first substantial jackpot - a US $24707.85 bonanza for Californian player RosieR.

Rosie clicked over to Trident Lounge Casino Thursday evening and decided to try the recently launched five reel Fruit Fiesta progressive, betting full coins and playing for around 44 minutes.

Having wagered some $118 on she suddenly found herself staring at the magic jackpot lineup on her computer screen, and excitedly called Support to confirm her good fortune.

"It was true, and everyone at Trident that I spoke to seemed as delighted as I was, they have just been sooooo wonderful," she says. Trident's latest winner plans to open a franchise with her winnings.

Trident Lounge spokesman Scott Gaines commented, "RosieR has been one of our members for just 6 days and we are very pleased for her - casino staff always get a charge out of a big winner - the excitement is infectious."

Five reel Fruit Fiesta is an up-to-the-minute version of one of the top Jackpot Madness progressives from Microgaming and now complements the original 3 reel version that has for several years been popular with thousands of players.

Fresh and brilliant graphics and high speed, feature-rich action on a five reel, fifteen line platform with wild and scatter symbols will appeal to Fiesta's many fans. The Fruit Fiesta symbol is still wild, with 5 of them on the 15th Pay line winning the major progressive jackpot. But there are more ways to win with this game than the 14 additional pay lines. The Scatter symbols for example, have a high hit frequency and more generous than usual payouts.

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9 July 2004

Respect for privacy...
The Naples News carries an alarming story that names certain Got2bet operations in allegations of releasing player details to unauthorised persons and fraudulent behaviour. The tale of invasion of privacy and fraud was carried this week at Sports 911, which reported that federal prosecutors have accused 14 Southwest Florida men who owned or worked for Player's Edge and National Sports Consultants, in Fort Myers, of offering expertise in sports betting through a pair of Web sites, a syndicated radio talk show under Rodney's alias "Dan 'The Man' Wilson" and telephone solicitations.

They allegedly referred bettors to the offshore casinos Fair Deal Sports and Five Card Charlie in West Antilles and SBG Global in Costa Rica, and it is claimed that the casinos in turn provided the men with access to clients' information and account balances, according to the indictment. Until the feds have completed their investigations and all the facts are on the table, caution is an obvious requirement.

Any Cloud zealots here?
Casino Zeal has been very active and at first glance seems to be a portal. However this, and a bunch of other urls eventually direct the unwary to Casino Zeal.com which is connected to Warren Cloud's Doloplex group. Unfortunately, the spotty reputation of this group has not improved, and this week several player complaints of bad bonus treatment were surfacing.

Indio returns...
It has not taken long for Indio Casino.com to resurrect itself, although the operators are being close-mouthed about it and do not answer press questions. Indio had a controversial life with Futurebet software, and several message board archives carry some not very flattering tales. We can however tell you that the new software is Playtech, which is another turnkey provider that is currently underwhelming many players due to an aloof attitude to licensee hassles.

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9 July 2004

Morris & Co get down to work...

In previous InfoPowa bulletins we reported on industry personality Eric Morris's departure from Highbury House Communications to set up his own group called Bluff Media. Accompanied by editor Michael Caselli and ex-RTG marketing exec Eddy Kleid, Eric has clearly not allowed the grass to grow underfoot.

Bluff Media is a full publishing company, which specializes in gambling based titles and gambling based web sites. Eric tells us that he is also in negotiation to purchase the market leading gambling magazine, Gambling Online Magazine. Until an agreement is made, Highbury has agreed to outsource this title to Bluff Media, so the successful editorial team remains in the saddle.

Bluff Media opens its doors with two initial projects, Fantasy Poker Challenge and Bluff Magazine. Fantasy Poker Challenge.com is a new skilled based game focusing on various televised poker tournaments. FPC is similar to the other fantasy sports games, where a person picks a team of professional poker players and competes against other similar teams. The winner will receive a prize of significant value. The first game is already up and running and is based on the Championship Poker event at Turning Stone Resort and Casino July 12-14, 2004. The final table will be broadcast live on Fox Sports. For rules, players are invited to visit the FPC site. As of now all entries are free of charge and the winner will receive an all inclusive trip for two to the Bahamas.

Morris's second project will be the launch of the hard copy, bi-monthly publication Bluff Magazine.com, will be the largest distributed poker publication and is due to launch September of this year. Distribution will be close to 100,000 copies, which is almost twice as many as the closest competitor. The target audience is both the established poker co-insurer along with the huge new generation of poker players, who have been influenced by the heavy mainstream media coverage achieved by the game.

Bluff's format offers practical advice on how to improve individual poker gaming and derive more enjoyment from it, and is aimed at the new breed of poker player who has final table aspirations and home game roots. With poker rapidly becoming one of America?s new favorite pastimes, the new publication fills the gap between novice poker manuals and professional poker journals.

?Poker is the new baseball? says Eddy Kleid, co-founder of Bluff Media, ?and there really isn?t anywhere for the pro-am or wannabe to turn to read about the issues, situations and strategies that effect him at his level of play. We have seen dozens of pro-am players winning seats at the world?s biggest tournaments, and Bluff Magazine is what those players, and players like them, want to read.?

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9 July 2004

Piggs Peak player hits the jackpot

A Pretoria, South African man is probably still celebrating this week after picking up the first ever South African Rand millionaire jackpot at Piggs Peak Casino.

GlenG was gambling on the Major Millions progressive slot in the early hours of the morning when fortune positively beamed on him. Relative to the SA Rand the US dollar is strong, with some SAR 6.26 to a dollar, but the win remains a substantial sum of money even in dollar terms at $176 061 and some change.

This is the second time a South African has won a big prize on Major Millions in one month. The last payout of Rands 503,283.50 ($ 80 396.72) was on June 3.

Major Millions is available in two versions -- a 5-Reel Video Slot with a total of 15 paylines including a 3x Wild Multiplier; and the 1 rand, 3-reel, 3-pay line slot.

Piggs Peak Casino has announced that it has paid out R2,547,144 in progressive jackpots since January 1 this year.

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9 July 2004

Andy Glazer mourned

Shock news of the week from the Detroit Free Press is that Andy Glazer died suddenly on July 4th, apparently as a result of a blood clot to the brain. As we went to press arrangements were in hand for a funeral on Thursday, July 8 at the New Montifiore Cemetary in West Babylon, Long Island, New York.

Andrew N.S. Glazer, AKA "The Poker Pundit," wrote a weekly gambling column for the Detroit Free Press, was a Tournament Editor for Card Player magazine, and is the author of a soon to be released book "Complete Idiot's Guide to Poker."

"Many people's enjoyment of the casinos in Detroit was enhanced by Andy's knowledge,' said Steve Grimmer, assistant features editor for the Free Press. Along with his writing, Mr. Glazer taught gambling seminars nationally for Casino Conquests International and was the author of the book "Casino Gambling the Smart Way.

Glazer was born in Massapequa, N.Y. He was a cum laude graduate of the University of Michigan and the Emory University School of Law.

Well liked and respected by most who had the privilege of knowing him, Andy will be missed - he was a great wider industry character and we offer our condolences to his family.

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9 July 2004

Phantom Fiber report ranks top nations

Wireless technology firm Phantom Fiber has entered business relationships with leading Got2bet companies such as RTG and Wagerworks, lending relevance to new research figures just out from the company.

Quoting EMC research, Phantom claims the world wireless market achieved a staggering 1.5 billion subscribers by the end of June 2004...and this will increase in 2004 and 2005 by as much as 240 million, pushing global subscribers to 2 billion by mid-2006.

China is the leading wireless growth market with 550 million subscribers expected by 2009. The U.S.A. comes in second, with a wireless market set to rise to 223.9 million subscribers by 2009 from 157.3 million in 2004.

India is expected to shift from the 13th largest wireless market in 2003 to the 3rd largest by 2009 (at 117 million subscribers).

By 2009, Brazil is expected to be the 4th largest market, jumping from 50 million subscribers in 2004 to over 100 million in 2008.

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9 July 2004

Diamond-powered casinos Mango and Blackdog have "we're closing" signs up, although there is not much detail, and the management do not respond to press queries.

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9 July 2004

Halfway there...

Last week we reported on the Montana dispute resolution service set up by Real Time Gaming as part of their recent initiative to improve their customer relations activities. There were mixed reports on the speed and success of the operation, which is still in the development phase.

This week Casinomeister, which has a monitoring arrangement on the project with RTG, gave a first report that indicates that some real progress is being made, with a little over 50 percent of all complaints resolved and a further 30 percent that should be completed over the next few days, delivering an 80 percent completion. Presumably this means that 20 percent of complaints were rejected as unfounded.

The 'Meister says "I am satisfied that some real action is occuring and this just isn't another attempt to sweep things under the carpet."

It appears that Montana has yet to get up to speed in every sense of the word, because the report notes that "This is a new project, so some patience is needed. The site states: 'Typically this process takes about three weeks but can take twice that depending on the volume of play or the number of operations involved.' so please bear this in mind."

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9 July 2004

No bull in this initiative

A very laudable charity initiative was announced by Golden Palace Casino.com this week...the company is to sponsor a multiple sclerosis (MS) sufferer in fund raising efforts at the famous Pamplona "Running of the Bulls" event in Spain.

Ray Sabbatini, a man stricken with MS, will realize a long cherished dream this week when he participates in the ?Running of the Bulls? at the Feast of San Fermin festival, Pamplona, Spain. Ray joins thousands of the brave and downright foolhardy as he risks being gored for a worthy cause.

?If this is what I have to do to bring MS awareness into the spotlight, so be it!' said Sabbatini, (36) from Wisconsin, who was diagnosed with the disease last year. He is attempting to raise US$100,000 for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (http://www.nmss.org/).

Multiple Sclerosis is a disease of the central nervous system in which the insulation around the nerves is damaged or destroyed, resulting in messages from the brain being lost or interrupted.

?I appreciate life more? just because you have MS, doesn?t mean you have to stop living your dreams,? said Sabbatini. ?We all should appreciate life and live each day to the fullest, no matter what our circumstances may be.?

Earlier this year, Sabbatini approached GoldenPalace, asking them to help him live his dream. The Golden Palace team were so impressed by his indomitable spirit that they decided to go a step further and send a team to Pamplona in an effort to raise more money. For every runner that wears its shirt, Golden Palace Casino will pledge $10 to the MS cause.

Joining GoldenPalace.com and running alongside Sabbatini will be a host of big names and stars, including legendary basket player, former NBA Champion and showman, Dennis Rodman. Rodman made a name for himself through his amazing talent on the basketball court, tie-dye hair colors, tattoos, and many body piercings. Rodman is sure to attract global media as he takes on the Pamplona bulls.

GoldenPalace.com feels it is leading a new trend for online casinos with a sense of social responsibility in an industry not traditionally associated with such values.

STOP PRESS: As we went to press this week news was coming in from Associated Press that Sabbatini and Rodman had successfully made their run. Although several people were trampled none were seriously hurt as thousands took part in the first bull run of the festival, dashing along the slippery cobblestone streets of this ancient city in northern Spain.

"Running ahead of bulls is life and I wanted to feel alive," said Ray Sabbatini.

The actual run is around 900 metres from the starting corral to the finish in the bull ring. Runners dress in the traditional white shirts and trousers with red scarves. The bull runs continue daily, starting at 8 a.m., through July 14.

The San Fermin festival, renowned for its all-night street parties, dates back to the late 16th century. The bulls were originally run through town to get them to the ring for bullfights held each afternoon of the festival. But over the years, it has become popular to run in front of the beasts.

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9 July 2004

Golden Palace advertiser happy to pay

The notorious streaker Mark Roberts (39), who bypassed security to jig onto the field at this year?s Super Bowl wearing little more than a gold thong and GoldenPalace.com emblazoned on his torso, was found guilty of ?misdemeanour trespassing? by an all female jury in the US and fined $1,000.

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9 July 2004

A great record

The massive portal Yahoo.com was praised this week by a number of players relating positive experiences with their free Yahoo email service in a discussion on the news that Yahoo has increased its free storage space to 100MB from 6MB.

Players spoke of long associations with the portal, some for between six and ten years during which time they had been shielded from unwanted spam....a rare and valuable feature. Posters wrote of conducting 'guerilla' tests carried out over the years designed to show whether endemic spam was getting through, and all reported positively.

WTG, Yahoo!

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9 July 2004

Sportingbet under the spotlight

The Hungarian business press speculated this week that Internet gamblers using the services of foreign-headquartered Got2bet operations may have difficulty in legally claiming their rewards, because such services are considered to be illegal under Hungary?s Gambling Act.

The reports followed a statement by an official at the Gambling Supervision (SzT) board which is investigating online betting sites, especially Sportingbet plc, which launched its Hungarian language Internet gambling service in mid-May.

?We believe the internet-based service violates the Hungarian Gambling Act in several ways,? said L?szl? Oravecz, head man of the organisation in Budapest.

The legislation says publishing offerings for gambling services via telecommunication devices and networks ? including the Internet ? requires the approval of the Gambling Supervision board. This licensing obligation apparently also applies to the local organizing, sale, marketing and advertising activities of foreign gambling services.

Thus far no licenses for the gambling services available at the Sportingbet website have been granted, rendering the operation illegal, the official warned."

And Hungarian players who avail themselves of such gambling services run the risk that their prizes cannot be legally claimed within the territory of Hungary. Participation ? in certain cases ? may also qualify as a breach of law and may lead to legal proceedings, he said.

?The supervision is currently investigating the case, in order to get a clear picture about the situation. Depending on the findings of the investigation, we will take the necessary steps,? he said. Whilst that is happening, Sportingbet will offer an alternative for local gamblers keen to try their luck over the web, says a Sportingbet spokesman.

?Currently, about 5,000 people are using our services in Central Europe, 500 of whom are from Hungary,? says Sportingbet spokesman George Hudson. ?We estimate that about 50,000 people in Central Europe use online betting on a regular basis.?

Hudson reports that the number of gamblers from the region has been increasing steadily, since the company launched its services in the local languages. The popular Euro 2004 soccer championship had added extra momentum to the growth in betting volumes. Hungarian visitors to the Sportingbet site typically bet on soccer games or play traditional casino games.

Sportingbet is officially registered in Antigua, a well known tax haven, and its revenues and payments are free from corporate or gambling tax. Hudson said the company can freely offer its services through the internet and its prizes are exempt from local taxes.

The State-owned gambling monopoly Szerencsej?t?k Rt. did not seem too phased by the development. ?Sportingbet?s service does not pose a real threat to Szerencsej?t?k?s operations,? according to spokesman L?szl? Somorai.

?For Hungarians, going to the betting shop is part of the gambling experience, so online betting is currently only a fraction of our revenues,? he said. ?On the other hand, we are planning to extend our online services in July.?

Somorai said 0.2% of Szerencsej?t?k?s total revenues of Ft 123.5 billion (Euro 488 million) last year came from Got2bet, although the vast majority of the company?s games are also available on its website.

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9 July 2004

Sportsbook Review comes to the party.

Last week we reported on the initiative of leading sportsbook watchdog sites to get together for a cohesive approach to bad business practice in the industry, and plans seemed to pick up speed this week.

SportsbookReview.com has joined the list of attendees and others are likely to follow. The founders of the initiative, Sports 911, TheRx.com, Majorwager.com and TheOffShoreWire.com will be pleased at the latest development. Many industry analysts look at this event as a truce in a bloodless but competitive war that has been carried on between these sites for some years. SBR had it right in stating, "This mostly fragmented group will meet for the first time to explore ways to work together."

All of the attending sites have one common goal in mind: to make the online sports betting industry safer for both players and operators alike.

Sports911 owner Chris Costigan says, "It is recognized that there are scammers in both the operational and player sectors of this industry. This issue will most certainly be discussed as both elements pose a serious danger to everybody involved in Got2bet."

There are a few items that will be stressed next month at the first gathering which takes place appropriately in Las Vegas. Among them are better communication and sharing of pertinent information whilst still respecting privacy between a network of participating websites, due diligence when taking on new advertisers, how to better assist in the BetPanAm situation and what remedies may be available to players during times of dispute and slow payment.

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9 July 2004

Some surprises in Yahoo study...

Netscape News.com carried an interesting Associated Press news report about a Yahoo research study on email spam.

The Yahoo! Mail global survey embraced 37,000 Internet users in 11 countries, and the "...dirty little secret" is that spam, unfortunately seems to work to some extent.

The astonishing fact is that while 78 percent of email recipients delete the billions of spam mails that clutter up e-mail boxes around the world, over 20 percent actually click on it, read it, and then even buy something advertised in it.

Some intriguing observations on spam from this story:

In Japan, almost half of all e-mail users actively express their displeasure with spam by sending the spammers angry replies.

Australians say receiving spam e-mail is more stressful than visiting the dentist, sitting in traffic jams, or Christmas shopping. But they did acknowledge that moving into a new house or going on a first date are both more stressful than unwanted e-mail.

Favorite ways to fight spam include using a spam filter, getting multiple e-mail addresses, and installing anti-virus software.

Even with the annoyance of spam, people worldwide are in agreement that the loss of their e-mail would be more devastating to them than going without radio or television.

Fully two-thirds of vacationers say they take email access with them when they go away.

According to another survey of 500 adults by San Antonio-based SBC Communications Inc., 50 percent of respondents said they couldn't possibly go an entire week without checking their e-mail.

But bosses, take heed: only 20 percent said they would check their business e-mail while they were on vacation, while 42 percent said they would e-mail only family and friends.

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9 July 2004

$8 million dollar price tag

Press material issued in London by CES Software plc, an Got2bet software firm announces that it has entered into an agreement to acquire the person-to-person skill gaming business operated by Game Universe Inc., which trades as SkillJam.

Based in Los Angeles, SkillJam creates diversified fee-based gaming products, including pay-per-play and subscription-based games, skill-based on-line games and downloadable deluxe games that provide multiple revenue models.

The business is being acquired for an upfront cash consideration of US $ 8-million. In addition there is a reducing net revenue sharing arrangement on SkillJam's European operations for five years following the closing of the transaction.

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9 July 2004

New risk management system will improve performance

iGlobal Media has taken on a new risk management system which should enable it to speed up accounts processing times and improve customer service.

In a press release this week, AccurateSoftware revealed that iGlobalMedia, a major e-gaming group that runs sites such as PartyPoker.com and StarluckCasino.com, has implemented its Operational Risk Management solution, Accurate NXG.

The solution enables iGlobalMedia to automate the reconciliation of all customer deposits and withdrawals against its global gaming systems. Accurate NXG will also enable iGlobalMedia to speed up processing times, identify anomalies more quickly and reduce exposure to operational risk.

Built on the four core competencies of reconciliation, exception management, workflow and business intelligence, Accurate NXG will enable iGlobalMedia to reconcile larger volumes than were previously feasible in a manual environment.

In addition, the faster identification of discrepancies will help iGlobalMedia to resolve errors much more quickly and deliver better customer service. Accurate NXG will also provide a complete audit trail of all transactions - essential for companies such as iGlobalMedia which need to be able to demonstrate maximum transparency.

Accurate NXG went live in January 2004 and will be used by the iGlobalMedia payments and finance team in Gibraltar. Users will also be equipped with Accurate NXG's business intelligence Dashboard enabling them to monitor trends and cashflows, and improve overall cash management across the company.

Alfred Ballester, managing director, iGlobalMedia, said: 'We were looking for an Operational Risk Management solution to help us increase efficiency and manage our exposure to risk. Given our global customer base we also needed a solution that could handle multiple currencies, and was scalable and flexible to expand with us as our business grows."

Accurate NXG's Driver Generator capability enables clients to interface with an electronic banking system, payment service provider or credit card processor.

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9 July 2004

Remote gambling body makes recommendations

The Interactive Gaming, Gambling and Betting Association (iGGBA) published its recommendations on remote gambling taxation by the UK government this week.

Although not too specific, the press release referred to a position paper that appears to base it's calculations on an optimistic 2 percent taxation rate.

The position has been released following recent statements from the UK Treasury on taxation of remote gambling services, and calls for a competitive low tax regime which will encourage companies to set up in the UK and come under the robust regulation of a UK license.

iGGBA has prepared this document in light of its upcoming dialogue between the Treasury and Customs and Excise over a future taxation regime for remote gambling operators. Andrew Tottenham, chairman of iGGBA states that "the UK will only be able to attract foreign remote gambling business, if its tax rates are globally competitive. More importantly it is critical to offer UK consumers the choice of using a UK-licensed service which comes with strong social responsibility and consumer protection".

Other critical points in the iGGBA position paper are:

  • The acceptance of GPT as a preferred form of taxation
  • A call for defining GPT and how it would be applied to remote gambling services
  • A single rate of tax for the remote gambling license
  • The application of tax on a country-of-origin basis
  • To support its position, iGGBA has collected information on the market size and the taxation and licensing regimes of other jurisdictions. iGGBA also responds to the Treasury's memorandum, to the joint scrutiny committee and an estimation of the effect of a two percent GPT regime on the movement of remote gambling companies to the UK. By highlighting successful regulation in other jurisdictions as well as examining errors that have been made, iGGBA believes that British decision-makers can learn from these examples.

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    9 July 2004

    New venue, new program for Barcelona

    The 2004 European I-Gaming Congress & Expo (EIG Expo), is introducing new features this year to attract an even larger audience than the previous two successful years of the event.

    EIG Expo will be held in a new venue that the River City Group organisers feel more accurately reflects the nature of the EIG audience - it's situated on the beach in a trendy town just south of Barcelona.

    The conference portion of EIG Expo will now span three days. Instead of two days of conferences mixed in with visits to the exhibition hall, EIG will now be set up to include three half days of seminars and two half days of exhibition time. Delegates who wish to attend only the exhibition can purchase passes for this section exclusively this year.

    Visit www.eigexpo.com for more information on the venue and the updated program, or to inquire about remaining sponsorship or exhibit opportunities.

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    2 July 2004

    Updated eGAP, website revamp and new developments at regulating body

    The quarterly report just out from online casino self-regulation body eCOGRA indicates brisk business for the full-time staffers at the head office in London.

    CEO Andrew Beveridge reports that the Board has approved new eGAP regulation updates, the website is undergoing a revamp, there are new information security guidelines and plans for a substantial advertising push are well advanced.

    The next cycle of Pricewaterhouse Coopers reviews starts this month for some of the previously approved operators, Beveridge says in the report, which was circulated to the 44 casino managements currently holding eCOGRA seals. Independent inspections and continuous monitoring to ensure eGAP compliance form part of the seal casino obligations.

    A new version of eGAP was approved on 15 June 2004 and has been distributed to the approved software providers and members. The latest version of eGAP includes new requirements which reflect the organisations commitment to continually raise the bar for compliance and player protection.

    With increasing numbers of casino members entering the poker sector, the drafting of eGAP requirements for poker has been a priority and is apparently coming along well. This important addition to the regulations should be finalised and approved by the independent directors in the near future.

    The information security policy prepared by Pricewaterhouse Coopers as eCOGRA's independent third party contractor has been distributed to all approved operators and represents best practice standards for the online gaming industry.

    Policy documents for additional eGAP requirements, to include areas like social responsibility and uniform industry accounting definitions are also in preparation.

    The eCOGRA website will have a more personal look, additional information and new facilities when it is relaunched in the near future.

    Taking on board comments and suggestions from the playing community and operators alike, the staff have been burning the midnight oil to make this important part of the eCOGRA image friendlier and more informative for the players. The target is to have the revamped site live before the end of July.

    On the marketing front, Beveridge reports that whilst the approval and compliance monitoring activity will continue apace, the Board is now focusing on the next phase of eCOGRA development, which is communicating to the players and the industry in general the benefits of safe, efficient and fair gambling at genuinely regulated casinos...and the desirability of joining a real organisation with practical regulatory requirements.

    The Board recently obtained legal opinion on potential marketing activities to be undertaken by eCOGRA as a self-regulatory organisation in key online gaming markets. A dedicated and highly professional player advertising campaign based on solid market research is being formulated using this opinion, which once implemented will have obvious benefits for players and approved operators alike.

    "However", Beveridge concludes his report, "...the best marketing, and the key to success for the eCOGRA initiative remains in the hands of the members: efficient and diligent application of the eGAP regulations for the benefit of players; fast Support response and courteous communication with the players at all times; fast and efficient accounts operations to ensure players are paid promptly and rapid attention to any complaints."

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    2 July 2004

    Fast response from Seal operators

    Thus far, it would seem that there are few complaints at eCOGRA-regulated casinos, which is as it should be if the eGAP regulations are being correctly applied. Since the announcement of the first seals earlier this year there have been some quickly resolved disputes according to a quarterly report from the organisation's Fair Gaming Advocate, Tex Rees.

    Rees reports that she has resolved 44 issues, most within 48 hours of the online complaint being filed.

    "41 percent of these were concerns regarding what the player felt was slow payouts, but on investigation turned out in most cases to be associated with slow response to requests for ID verification which were easily sorted out", she reports.

    "25 percent involved bonus issues, and were in the main misunderstandings by either player or Support representatives which were quickly settled. The remainder were frustrated players trying to have their names removed from spam / mailing lists, and this is an area where affiliate activities need to be better policed", she said.

    "Bearing in mind the massive volume of business transacted in the past few months by the 44 Seal holding casinos, the low level of problems is commendable."

    Rees went on to applaud the fast and cooperative responses she had received from seal casino managements in the resolution of complaints. "This has made my job very much easier, and the success of the mediations is reflected in some very positive player comments", she concluded.

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    2 July 2004

    Malta-licensed package is versatile

    Following detailed information from WorldMatch (www.worldmatch.com.mt), we're happy this week to provide clarification and more detail on the activities of this interesting newcomer to the Got2bet industry.

    WorldMatch is a Malta-based company which offers a complete and fully licensed online gaming system to clients and takes care of implementation and management at a technical, managerial, financial and legal level.

    The no-download proprietary gambling platform the company has developed is at present suitable for Internet gambling but is very flexible and has the capacity to operate fully in the multimedia environment.

    Plans are in train to release both interactiveTV and mobile gambling versions by the end of this year.

    WorldMatch recently inked a deal with the major Italian company Digital Bros which owns an interactive satellite TV channel, Game Network, entirely devoted to videogames and multimedia entertainment. In terms of the agreement, WorldMatch will develop a website branded Casino Game Network, which will bear the Game Network TV brand and will use the WorldMatch gaming platform. It is anticipated that this venture will go live by the end of July 2004.

    The gambling suite took two years to develop in-house and offers a wide and growing selection of games from BlackJack to Roulette; Baccarat to Caribbean Poker; Slots to diversely themed Multislots and a variety of Video Poker types.

    Cermet monitors and certifies the software monthly, whilst KPMG Malta provides accounting certification. Each game is offered in both play for fun and play for real money modes.

    The WorldMatch system is described as a turnkey, ready-to-use business tool that requires clients only to market and promote, with system management completely carried out by WorldMatch in every respect. The business model regarding payment for the service is disclosed in confidence only to clients for competitive reasons, and company services are based in Malta, where the head office is located in the prestigious Portomaso Business Tower building.

    During the start-up phase the company is concentrating its marketing and communication efforts on increasing the number of partners in the Western and Eastern European markets, although plans are being made for possible expansion of the business to the USA and Asiatic markets in the future.

    The management and betting platform has been developed to manage multi-currency denomination wagering, and integration with international banking systems has been put in place.

    A sportsbook version will probably be launched specifically for iTV early 2005, dependent on the acquisition of a relevant license.

    WorldMatch, which has ambitions to go public in 2005 offers casino games that comply fully with the new Maltese gaming laws. These impose strict and enforced regulations and controls, requiring checks on players, the fairness of games and strict anti-money laundering measures, according to a spokesperson.

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    2 July 2004

    Another Boss Media licensee closes

    Last week it was Privelege Casino changing software, this week the news is that Boss-powered Starclub Casino.com closed its doors on June 30.

    Starclub was licensed in the Netherlands Antilles and operated by Futura Internet Services out of Curacao. Players have been notified, and accounts are currently being cleared and paid out.

    It is not known at present whether there are any plans for Starclub to resurrect with another software, as the management has not responded to our press enquiry.

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    2 July 2004

    Indio resurgent...
    Indio Casino.com has resurfaced with Playtech software, having closed some weeks ago.

    The casino was the subject of considerable strife, with players claiming slow-pays and no-pays when it was operating on Futurebet software. Indio's owners left the Futurebet software stable after some acrimonious disagreements. Players were left unpaid with one side claiming the other was responsible for them in terms of a business agreement.

    In the end Jeff Hurley of Futurebet allegedly agreed to pay the aggrieved players out but under somewhat questionable circumstances. Their account balances were transferred to SportsbookUSA with a ten percent bonus....but were then subjected to a ten times WT.

    Bad destination...
    The player community was up in arms this week over a $10 200 winnings disqualification on "bonus abuser" grounds....when the player had not taken bonusing!

    Destination Poker.com manager Jeffrey Wallace deployed a questionable but well-used tactic to disqualify the player's winnings, ignored emails "...for weeks" and still holds the player's deposit to boot.

    Wallace claimed that the player appeared on a no-notification / no appeal and unidentified negative database as a bonus abuser. But he didn't seem to mind until the player got lucky. Despite being advised that the correct process is to either ban the player before wagering, or to pay all monies due before a declaration of bonus abuse, Wallace remained unmoved.

    This led to more fora recriminations and a Rogue listing at one very popular portal, although this did not seem to concern Wallace, giving rise to speculation that he may not be an experienced manager. As we went to press the row was a-building, and included some convincing indications that Destination is a member of the Connect To Casino / Portofino / Hampton group. This is denied by spokesmen. Complaints were also being made to RTG's new Montana dispute resolution facility and Neteller.

    As we went to press this week Wallace replied to our query, pretty much confirming the facts surrounding this case but insisting that his decisions are correct and he will stand by them. Asserting that, as a new operation Destination is concerned about bonus abusers taking them for a ride, he confirmed the use of a negative database on which the player had appeared, and the fact that on the specific transaction which led to the big win the player had not taken a bonus. Regarding the witheld deposit, Wallace claimed that he would pay $2400 "...if he calms down and calls us."

    A different approach to collecting We've been asked to reprint the following Caution and contact addresses, which appeared over a month back.

    Frustrated players are definitely getting smarter...and more determined. After over a year of trying to negotiate a payout with Warren Cloud's Vegas Strip Group (who own Crystal Palace) one player resorted to a very direct method that could set the tone in future. He hired a well connected lawyer in Cyprus where the casino is based, who charged him on a contingency basis at 10 percent of the money collected. And it worked - he finally received - in full - the money owed to him, and suggests this as a last resort alternative to going unpaid. The lawyers can be contacted through George Yiangou and Co. gyiangou@logos.cy.net or gyiangou@yiangou.com.cy.

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    2 July 2004

    Phantom and Wagerlogic to develop mobile gambling

    Mobile technology firm Phantom Fibre is a name that is becoming increasingly well known in the industry, and this week the company announced a powerful partnership with Cryptologic subsidiary Wagerlogic.

    The goal is the development of a new mobile gaming solution combining WagerWorks games and platform with the respected Phantom Fiber wireless framework.

    "A partnership with WagerWorks creates the perfect solution for clients to gain access to a mass-consumer market clamoring for wireless applications based on WagerWorks? client brand names and branded game formats," says Jeff Halloran, CEO of Phantom Fiber.

    In terms of the agreement, Phantom Fiber wireless technology will extend WagerWorks gaming platform to players anywhere, anytime using Java-enabled phones or wireless devices powered by Windows Mobile, Palm OS and Symbian OS.

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    2 July 2004

    Australian operations growing for TST

    Top software testing firm TST is meeting the challenge of a growing Australian business by relocating it's head office to a larger, new purpose outfitted laboratory in Rosebery, New South Wales.

    The company is an experienced Accredited Testing Facility (ATF) for both traditional land-based and interactive gaming operations.

    The new centre makes TST the only ATF in Australia with a fully equipped and staffed laboratory performing evaluations out of NSW, says Erdal Eskin, General Manager of Australian operations.

    "The close proximity of TST's Rosebery laboratory to most of the NSW based gaming manufactures and suppliers will enhance the speed and responsiveness of the service that we provide to our valued clients."

    The expanded operations showcase TST's determination to play an active role in the Australian and New Zealand gaming market, the announcement notes. The company will continue to maintain an office in Melbourne to meet the needs of its Victorian clientele.

    Internationally, TST maintains offices in Vancouver (Canada) and earlier this year expanded its operations through the establishment of a new London (United Kingdom) based office to better meet the needs of its rapidly increasing European client base.

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    2 July 2004

    Hawkswood becomes an ARGOnaut

    A top civil servant in the UK government Department of Culture, Media and Sport, Clive Hawkswood has been appointed General Secretary of the newly formed Association of Remote Gambling Operators (ARGO).

    A senior civil servant who for the past three years has been directly responsible for betting and racing matters at DCMS, Hawkswood has been a key figure in governmental policies on remote gambling.

    He would appear to be well qualified for his new responsibilities. He was employed as a betting office manager in the early eighties, and after taking a degree in politics at Lancaster University, he joined the Civil Service in 1988, starting at the Home Office and then moving to DCMS following the transfer of responsibility for gambling to that Department. He will take up his new position in mid-August.

    The increased importance and popularity of Internet and other forms of remote gambling led to ARGO being formed earlier this year. The Association is based in London and membership will be open to operators of Internet, telephone and inter-active platforms. ARGO is affiliated to the Association of British Bookmakers, but will operate entirely independently, with its own executive committee, staff and officers.

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    2 July 2004

    Joining Jane

    Well established and Cryptologic-powered InterCasino launched their UK Sterling version this week.

    Intercasino.co.uk will offer all the benefits and reassurances of its parent, as well as the services and gambling that have made it the gamiong venue of choice for thousands of online players.

    Key to InterCasino?s new site is Jane Bentley (Username JaneB), the new UK Casino Manager. According to Intercasino, she?s smart, sexy, sassy and knowledgable when it comes to online gaming. She will be at the tables every day where clients can chat live to her, answering gaming questions and offering help and advice if needed.

    More importantly though, if she?s sitting at your table at the weekend, say ?Hi? to her and you could win yourself a GBP 25 spot prize!

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    2 July 2004

    Nevada regulators assured that this sytem really works...

    The Nevada Gaming Commission in Carson City was assured at a public hearing this week that a GPS system offers a foolproof method for guaranteeing that prospective intrastate gamblers are truly situated within the state?s borders.

    The primary topic on the agenda involved the exploration of electronic means to regulate remote gambling that might take place within the state?s boundaries. Among the invitees before the commission was Global Cyber Licensing LLC of Denver, Colorado.

    Speaking on behalf of Global Cyber in front of the five commissioners were Bill White [CEO] and Paul Siegel [VP], who explained that the company?s Web-based service that employs the U.S. Global Positioning System was a highly effective method for establishing player location.

    Two years ago, Governor Kenny Guinn signed legislation that legalized Internet gambling in the state of Nevada. The process is now more broadly referred to as remote gambling as it encompasses a variety of play-for-pay options that can occur outside a land casino?s walls.

    This might include cell phone wagering and kiosk-type gambling from non-traditional locations, as well as the standard profile of at-home gamblers who play slot- and poker-type games on the Internet.

    As part of the original legislation, the state?s Gaming Control Board was asked to write a series of regulations that would govern participation and ensure that play was both fair and within the bounds of legality. One of the most important factors involves determining conclusively that registered gamblers are participating only from within the state?s geographic borders. Because the Internet is borderless, the Control Board has to date been unable to create rules or adopt the means for making this determination.

    Bill White?s opening remarks to the Commission included the statement, ?Remote gambling and land-based gambling are essentially the same. Only the methods of delivery are different. We are here today to show how you can extend the same sort of regulatory oversight to remote gambling that is currently enjoyed with casino-based gambling.? He went on to describe the GPS technology that governs Global Cyber?s service. ?With this mouse-sized GPS receiver plugged into a player?s computer, Nevada regulators can determine the exact location of any registered gambler.?

    Part of the 10-minute presentation involved a live demonstration of Global Cyber?s GPS system. The commissioners were able to see the data stream of GPS signals displayed on Mr. White?s laptop computer, as well as post-processed information that confirmed the location of the computer to within just a few meters.

    Afterward, speaking to reporters and other interested parties outside the hearing room, Paul Siegel explained the importance of Global Cyber?s service.

    ?Until now it was nearly impossible to accurately receive GPS signals indoors. We?ve spent more than $6 million and three-plus years working on perfecting this system, but only in the last four or five months has a reliable indoor GPS receiver been available on the market.?

    Global Cyber Licensing holds an exclusive license to deploy this system worldwide for use in Internet gambling operations.

    Siegel added, ?Our marketing strategy involves introducing this service to gambling regulators worldwide and obtaining their decisions to adopt it as the standard for providing border control within their jurisdictions. The availability of effective border control could open the way for Internet gambling to become a legitimate industry in many jurisdictions throughout the world.?

    For the next monthly meeting of the Nevada Gaming Commission, a summary of each of the presented technologies will be reviewed. In addition to Global Cyber?s GPS-based border control service, the group will also consider services that help determine that prospective remote players are of legal gambling age, which is 21in Nevada.

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    2 July 2004

    Much ado ...?

    There was more press release hype from Angelciti's chief George Gutierrez this week...this time about the acquisition of a poker site that does not seem to exist - like last week's announcement regarding Midas Entertainment, there's nothing on the citypoker.com url!

    The latest press release boasts that, "Fresh from its recent acquisition of Midas Entertainment, AngelCiti has announced that it has purchased CityPoker.com in order to ?further spearhead? its poker operations and take advantage of the expanding market.

    "AngelCiti has said that Midas will soon be trading under its own ticker symbol and that it is currently pursuing some ?attractive financing and strategic alliance opportunities, which should further enhance the value of the transaction'.

    "George Gutierrez, AngelCiti president, said of the new deal: 'The company's strategic vision continues to unfold with our acquisition of a world-class website from which to promote our online poker operations. CityPoker.com should provide a great deal more traction as we continue to promote and market our online gaming properties. We anticipate beginning a heavy marketing campaign into the fall season, when online gaming traditionally begins to pick up dramatically."

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    2 July 2004

    Cherry on top for UK betting exchange

    The parent group of turnkey provider Net Entertainment was in the news this week with a major investment in a UK gambling operation.

    Swedish I-gaming public company Cherryforetagen AB announced that it is to invest another 2.1 million euro in U.K.-based sports betting exchange Betsson.com.

    Cherry acquired 10 percent in 2003, and the new investment amounts to 17.3 percent. It also has an option to buy the remaining shares.

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    2 July 2004

    Gambling generates the best buzz because it's risky!

    Researchers in Montreal, Canada reckon that players get a buzz out of gambling because of the uncertainty of getting a reward.

    After extensive research, Canadian scientists believe they are closer to understanding why players gamble according to press reports last week. They have apparently discovered that the levels of dopamine in the human brain rises and falls most in situations such as gambling, where there is uncertainty as to whether there will be a reward....or not.

    ?Using a combination of techniques, we were actually able to measure release of the dopamine neurotransmitter under natural conditions using monetary reward,? said David Zald, an assistant professor of psychology.

    Dopamine has long been known to play a role in the way humans react to food and sex, but pinning down the precise conditions that cause its release have proved difficult. Zald says the research will lay the foundations for a clearer understanding of exactly what takes place in the brain during these ?unpredictable reward situations? and could help in discovering whether there is a chemical cause for problems such as gambling addiction.

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    2 July 2004

    New Act restricts Internet gambling

    Sweeping New Zealand law changes that will control the growth of gambling venues and restrict internet gambling come into effect this (July) month.

    It will harder to get gambling licences and easier to lose them, the Department of Internal Affairs said in a statement announcing the Gambling Act 2003.

    The Gambling Act, which was passed last year and is now in force, does not allow for any more casinos and stops the six existing operations from expanding. The act also allows interactive gambling by internet, cellphone and television, but only through the Lotteries Commission and the TAB.

    New Zealanders will be able to bet on overseas websites only.

    The Gambling Act 2003 replaces the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1977 and the Casino Control Act 1990.

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    2 July 2004

    Hostilities suspended - negotiations the plan

    Latest developments in the Antigua - USA confrontation on Internet gambling indicate that negotiations rather than confrontation will now take centre stage.

    Antigua and Barbuda successfully challenged the U.S. actions against Internet gambling, and at the time, the officials said the Bush administration planned to appeal the WTO confidential ruling.

    Got2bet is growing rapidly worldwide, with spending of around $7.5 billion this year, according to industry estimates.

    Antigua stands to capture only a small portion of that total. But the twin-island Caribbean country, one of the smallest in the world with a population of about 67,000, has been trying to build an offshore casino industry to offset declining tourism.

    The WTO panel found that the United States' ban on Internet, telephone and other remote gambling services violated U.S. trade commitments, according to sources last spring.

    While the WTO panel agreed that the American prohibitions were designed to protect public morals and public order, it faulted the United States for failing to negotiate with Antigua on alternatives to the ban.

    The latest development is that the WTO reports the parties in the gambling trade dispute "...have requested the (WTO) panel to suspend the panel proceedings...until 23 August 2004. The panel has agreed to this request."

    Antigua, with 10 days' notice, could revoke the suspension of the case, putting the dispute back on the WTO's agenda.

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    2 July 2004

    A small and informal start that could lead to bigger things...

    The industry was watching with interest this week an informal gathering planned by leading sports betting "watchdog" portals amid speculation that a small beginning could lead to a more cohesive approach on other sports disputes.

    Useful player-protection synergy could develop from the collaboration later this month when representatives of Sports911.com, Majorwager.com, newcomer TheOffshoreWire and TheRx.com gather.

    Top of the agenda will be player protection with a special focus on the situation with troubled BetPanAm and how each respective site can work to steer other companies from obtaining a license there as long as the current owners maintain the master license. Sports911 spokesman Chris Costigan said that "....the goal is to ensure not a single penny from Got2bet gets into their hands until all BetPanAm players are paid in full."

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    2 July 2004

    Playtech enters the big win league

    Seriously large, one cash payment jackpots have long been the province of major progressives networks like Jackpot Mania and Jackpot Madness, but this week Playtech's Winajackpot entered the field with the announcement of a very large win.

    Player Brenda J.?s life changed forever on 22 June when she scooped a record US $645,318 in prize money playing Gold Rally 8-line Slots at USA Casino ? a member of the WinAJackpot network of Playtech-powered casinos.

    Brenda?s windfall is the highest paid to date by a Playtech progressive jackpot to a single player, topping the previous record win of $603,212 claimed by David P., also playing Gold Rally Slots, in April of this year.

    Long a favorite among slots fans, Gold Rally is a progressive Wild West themed slot game revamped in a new 8-line format and featuring no less then two interactive bonus stages. Brenda won her $645,319 by wagering the $16 maximum bet ? a return on investment of 40,332:1!

    USA Casino Manager David Washington says ?We have paid out nearly one-and-a-quarter million dollars in prize money to two players alone in the past two months, and that?s not including the many other winners who took home five- and six-figure sums.?

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    2 July 2004

    Free offer to States from provider

    The best publicity ploy this week was the clever if somewhat contrived offer by Atlantis Internet Group to donate a license to use its online casino management software, free of charge, for one year to any U.S. state that passes an Internet gaming bill.

    "Casinos may pay anywhere from approximately US$250,000 to US$500,000 per year for a comparable license, and if a state charged only 10 to 15 percent of the gross wins of the Internet casino operations they could generate potentially more than US$600 million dollars a year," the press material informs. "For the first year following adoption of the proposed legislation, ATIG will make its software available to the applicable states without charge."

    States that pass the legislation could generate revenue from the untapped offshore Internet gaming industry, estimated to be worth US$6 billion, while creating virtually no negative impact to residents within the United States or breaking any current state or federal laws. With almost every one of the 50 states within the US facing their largest deficit since the Great Depression, this is a challenge to state and federal lawmakers to come up with real solutions to help solve the deficit problems of states across the country, says ATIG President & CEO Donald L. Bailey.

    The company claims that this is a viable solution to many problems. States could ease their cash deficits without raising taxes on residents or requiring a license holder to already be licensed within the US. It creates no negative impact on state residents since, under this concept, casinos could only accept monetary wagers from international customers.

    ATIG claims its software has the capability of filtering out wagers placed from within the US or other unauthorized locations and allows monitoring the activities of online casinos.

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    2 July 2004

    Attorneys, insurance brokers will be affected

    The European Commission has proposed widening the net to catch money launderers and terrorists with new transaction reporting rules for attorneys, insurance brokers and other businesses operating beyond the banking system.

    The European Union's executive arm in Brussels is seeking to require that businesses verify customer identities, watch for suspicious transaction patterns and report any cash purchase of more than 15,000 euros (US$18,000). The rules would cover businesses such as service providers, trusts, jewelers, auction houses and casinos in the 25 EU countries, officials said.

    The proposal aims to apply suggestions made last year by the Financial Action Task Force, a group of national law enforcement agencies and experts that meet under auspices of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

    The draft still has to be approved by EU governments and the European Parliament and then implemented by each member state.

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    2 July 2004

    Live coverage of pro tournament

    The New York Post reports that Fox Sports Net will air the nation's first live telecast of a professional poker tournament later this month.

    The American Poker Championship Live From the Turning Stone Resort and Casino will feature six players competing for as much as $1 million during the final round of a three-day no-limit Hold 'em tournament at the Oneida Indian Nation-owned casino in upstate Verona.

    The telecast will air July 14 and is scheduled to last for four hours. It will air with a five-minute delay, because of concerns over cheating. This will be the fourth poker program that Fox Sports has put on its schedule since poker shows became hot about two years ago.

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    2 July 2004

    More gambling television...

    GSN, the network for games is launching the new TV series Celebrity Blackjack, which premieres on Monday, July 5 at 10:00 p.m. PT/ET.

    The announcement was made by Joel Chiodi, Executive Director, Marketing and Promotions, GSN. Hosted by Matt Vasgersian (lead TV broadcaster for the San Diego Padres) and Alex Bornstein ("Mad TV," "Cat Woman"), Celebrity Blackjack features stars like Jason Alexander, Shannon Elizabeth, Snoop Dogg, Billy Baldwin, and Eddie Griffin.

    The six-episode series features five tournaments of five members with each respective winner advancing to the sixth and final episode. Each player will receive $10,000 for their charity and the winner of each game earns a $25,000 charitable contribution and the chance to make it $100,000 if they win in the final round.

    Reaching 54 million Nielsen homes, GSN is distributed in the U.S. through all major cable systems and satellite providers. The network is jointly owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment and Liberty Media Corporation.

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    Online Casino News courtesy of InfoPowa



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