The name of the game these days seems to be....new games! Over the past several months players have been treated to an abundance of new games from the top providers, with Microgaming pretty much leading the way. This week the provider launched another stunner - Megaspin slots.
One of the first online casinos to offer this brand new and exciting slot was King Neptune's Casino.com in the Trident group, and they did it in style with special promos and a major fanfare. The new game, which takes the traditional three-reel game and makes it playable in 4, 6 or 9 game combinations on the user's screen at the same time was an immediate hit with players, we're told.
Megaspin represents the next generation of online slots with an revolutionary, patent pending rendition of the multi-play concept. It is based on the Viper platform, which gives a large range of playing options and facilities to players, adding to the enjoyment and practicality of gambling on the slot. King Neptune's will offer Megaspin play on the highly popular Double Magic, Fantastic 7's and High 5 slots giving players more speed and excitement on their favorite games by enabling them to play up to 9 games at once on their screen.
The individual games have similar pay tables to the originals and feature wild, multiplier symbols, with the exception of Fantastic 7's. Fantastic 7's will offer a 5-cent version. Jackpot values vary across the basic games as follows:
High 5 Megaspin - maximum jackpot 15,000 coins (x5 and x25 multiplier symbols) Double Magic Megaspin - maximum jackpot 1,600 coins (x2 and x4 multiplier symbols) Fantastic 7's Megaspin - maximum jackpot 2,500 coins (no multiplier symbols)
Scott Gaines, Trident's spokesman commented, "Our online players no longer need to be envious of their land-based counterparts who enjoy the thrill and excitement of playing several slot machines at once. Now, King Neptune's players can get the same exhilaration from Megaspin. Together with the outstanding facilities and player options on the Viper platform, the new Megaspin games are taking online slots to a whole new level."
To mark the launch of this outstanding new game, King Neptune's Casino is offering a special promo, details of which are available on the casino website.
New short range marketing campaign cost runs to six figures
Land-based and Got2bet group Ladbrokes changed up a gear in its online advertising this week with a hot new campaign aimed at new players and laden with prizes.
Faced with serious competition online, the gambling group has launched a reportedly six figure Internet short run marketing initiative aimed at boosting new signups for the Ladbrokescasino.com site.
The 10-day 'Casino Freeplay' campaign started on the 19th November, and is projected to bring in more than 55 million impressions or pageviews, with the ads ranging from standard banners to buttons and skyscrapers, with flash and animated content. The campaign closes 28th of November, offering newbies a chance to try out Internet gambling...and win prizes for doing so.
Advertising will be run in all major portals such as Yahoo, Freeserve and Tiscali, and other online gaming sites such as Lucky Surf and Daily Draw.
According to the company, the new campaign gives new customer registrants the opportunity to play their favourite casino game online every day for free for a period of 10 days, with more than 1,500 prizes up for grabs. Prizes include gift vouches from Amazon.com, Hilton hotel, brand new Mini, or a trip to Las Vegas, and with a mega-prize thrown in - the new BMW Z4.
Unique Digital, the casino's lead online agency for the last 15 months planned and is managing the campaign. The agency has a good track record with Ladbrokes, having previously run over 11 individual campaigns for the group.
Proceedings on the Ladbrokes/De Lotto case began this week, says a report from IGN. Ladbrokes is contesting the rulings of two lower courts that found that the company violates Dutch law by offering sports betting services in the Netherlands. The case is expected to last between one and two years.
Ladbrokes has argued that the Dutch law that prohibits it from offering its services is a violation of the free movement of services within the European Union. The courts have disagreed, opining that the laws are valid because they are based on social interests, such as preventing gambling addiction and fraud.
To prevent compulsive gambling and fraud, the Netherlands has constructed a licensing system that limits both the number of companies that may offer games and the number of games that may be offered. As a result of the licensing system, certain conditions are imposed on De Lotto and the other license holders.
And though Ladbrokes is licensed in the United Kingdom, the licensing regime there is relatively looser than in the Netherlands and Ladbrokes does not adhere to the same restrictions. The courts in the Netherlands have therefore ruled that Ladbrokes does not have the right to accept Dutch bets even though it operates from the United Kingdom. The Court of Appeals in its decision on Sept. 9, 2003 ordered Ladbrokes to cease offering sports bets to consumers in the Netherlands and also refused Ladbrokes' request to submit the matter to the European Court of Justice.
Ladbrokes, however, was not ordered to cease offering bets on casino games or horse-racing to Dutch consumers. De Lotto did not contest Ladbrokes' offering of such games because De Lotto does not have a license to operate them. Holland Casino, the licensed fixed-odds operator in the Netherlands, would have to succeed in having a similar judgment rendered by the courts before Ladbrokes would be ordered to cease offering bets on games of chance. Likewise, Scientific Games Corp., which is licensed to take horse-racing bets, would have to succeed in similar action before Ladbrokes would be ordered to cease accepting horseracing bets.
Together, De Lotto and Holland Casino, have so far begun lawsuits against several foreign operators that offer bets to Dutch residents, but the Ladbrokes decision is the first to reach such a high court. All other courts have found in favor of De Lotto and Holland Casinos, ruling that foreign operators must block access to players in the Netherlands.
The ruling by the Court of Appeals in September was considered by many to spell defeat for Ladbrokes and other foreign operators. At that time De Lotto's director Tjeerd Veenstra said, "This is the fatal blow to the illegal provision of gambling sites in the Netherlands."
Justin Franssen, an I-gaming lawyer from the Netherlands, disagrees. "Essentially, the proceedings so far are just quarrels, and the real war starts now with the guidelines set out by European Court of Justice in the Gambelli Case earlier this month," he said. "These guidelines need to be tested in the Netherlands, and the first chance is Monday."
Ladbrokes said in September that it was considering all of its options, but was determined to take the case to the European Court of Justice, either through litigation before the Supreme Court of the Netherlands or through the continuing full-scale court proceedings.
Gambling911 continued their coverage of the Gambling Portal Webmasters Association situation this week with allegations that there had been a significant withdrawal of sponsorship for the troubled webmaster's association.
In a news item entitled "Top Turkey This Season", the site reported: "That Zany Bunch at the GPWA just can't seem to keep their lies straight. Stalin claims all is well at the Cult even though more then 1/3 of her sponsors have pulled their support of the group. To further muddy the waters Stalin refuses to remove the casinos from the front page of GPWA even though those sponsors are now LOCKED OUT of the message boards and their private forums have been removed! Clearly Stalin would prefer the public and her few remaining sponsors believe everything was hunkey dorey."
911 has been reporting on GPWA affairs that are often contentious as a result of very public message board clashes regarding the reported lack of accounting for revenues received. Exchanges between rebellious ex-members and members have been aggressive at times, rising in intensity following a recent dispute over allegedly unpaid hotel bills at the GPWA Retreat at the Mohegan Sun.
GPWA owner Cynthia Carley (whom 911 tongue-in-cheek nicknamed "Stalin" following a statement to members that was leaked to the message boards) was under additional pressure last week when moves to create a new and "more democratic" association were made by a respected figure in the industry, Craig Miller, and were reportedly well-supported.
InfoPowa has reported on the extortionate Denial of Service attacks upon gambling sites before, but we thought the following report was a timely reminder that this criminal activity remains a very real danger.
Law enforcement agencies are reporting an increasing number of Denial of Service (DOS) assaults on Internet gambling sites, apparently carried out by organised criminal gangs with the intent to blackmail Got2bet and ecommerce websites.
A few weeks ago, we reported the DOS attacks that crippled the WorldPay system, affecting thousands of online casinos that rely on the processing company for their online transactions and payment services. In a copycat incident, Wordplay.com, and several other online businesses were also targeted by cyber blackmailers who demanded ?50,000 to lift the attack.
It is believed that organised criminals, rather than casual hackers are using the threat of disabling websites and disrupting online sportsbook, processing and casino operations in order to "persuade" the operators to pay "protection money" in order to stop or avoid an attack.
Technically, DOS attacks involve overwhelming the servers for a website with excessive, valueless traffic. This results in the site going down and frustrated customers, who take their business elsewhere.
Currently, Russia, large parts of Eastern Europe and now Brazil, boast high levels of programming talent allied to poverty and a paucity of legit employment. Because countries like this are largely unregulated with no cyberlaws or government monitoring, this talent can be harnessed by organised crime in order to present a credible threat to the victims.
DK Matai of MI2G, which monitors unauthorised computer hacking says criminal syndicates operating from Russia have targeted large online payment systems that either service or are owned by Got2bet sites.
Several companies, playing for high stakes in terms of revenues or large customer bases have surrendered and paid to protect substantial weekly revenues.
MI2G estimates that the damage to the global economy in terms of both denial of service and productivity losses reached over $10 billion in October 2003 alone. The agency works closely with the FBI and Britain's hi-tech National Crime Unit (NCU).
Despite determined efforts by law enforcement authorities in developed countries to halt this uniquely Internet crime, the victims frequently do not report an attack, as this might put them at risk and scare off customers.
If you're based in the UK and need an fast executive update on key events in Got2bet like the new UK Gambling Reform and European sovereignty issues, here's a date to diarise:
Lyceum Media, iGaming Business and Gambling Online Magazine have arranged an executive update session in London on the evening of Thursday December 4th, 2003 at Imperial College. This is an intensive briefing by interactive gaming industry insiders summarising last week?s announcement by the Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) on UK Gaming Reform. The session will also outline the recent decision from the European Court of Justice on the Gambelli Case, affecting the rights of gaming enterprises to compete within the EU.
This event is aimed at executives in the iGaming industry. The format is intended to provide executive-level information, not create an event for would-be newcomers to the industry. The intention is to serve the needs of busy iGaming executives who want the facts on specific issues in iGaming without having to take a day out of the office and spend thousands of pounds to get it. The evening timescale for the event is to avoid disrupting the busy days of gaming executives.
28 November 2003 Positive news on Warren Cloud
InfoPowa has often, and with justification been critical of the customer relations, history and casino practice of the now infamous Warren Cloud, so it is only fair that when positive news comes to us about this RTG casino operator we should carry it in our bulletins.
This week Bryan Bailey of Casinomeister reported to us that he has had some success in referring Crystal Palace et al player complaints to Cloud for reconsideration. Getting bad decisions reversed and fair payments made is always good news and we were delighted to hear it.
Bailey had another bone to pick with Cloud, however and that was the appallingly arrogant and abusive attitude of one Oliver Curran. There are conflicting views over whether Curran is just an uncontrollable Cloud employee, or another one of Cloud's several aliases but the fact is that players have been complaining about both his attitude toward clients and his unfair decisions, and he has made some pretty silly message board postings that have not enhanced his reputation or that of the casino group he purports to manage with Cloud.
Bailey has reversed the casino ID process to resolve this Cloud/Curran identity conundrum once and for all, and has asked Cloud to furnish authentic ID documents in respect of both himself and Curran. These will not be made public, but the 'Meister's verdict on this schizophrenic issue will be accepted by most! That's of course if the IDs are forthcoming.
Another InfoPowa contact, Eric Morris of Gambling Online Magazine was coincidentally also in contact with us this week to report that Cloud's looooong outstanding debt (we have it on good authority that some $40 000 was involved) to the magazine has just been paid. Again it is good to see this relic of Cloud's Rated Player Casino days some years back finally and honourably put to rest.
These events could be welcome harbingers of a new and more responsible attitude from this industry *character*, whatever his motivation may be. From a player's perspective it perhaps offers an opportunity to get genuine and legitimate complaints resolved, using Bailey's apparently successful communication channel with a hopefully reformed Cloud.
Energetic and straight-up webmaster Bryan Bailey, who owns the popular Casinomeister.com portal is usually happy to give free help to aggrieved players who "pitch a bitch" on his site, but there are a few places that are so intractable that he will not waste his time on them.
It seems that some players are confused by this practical decision and have assumed that Bailey will not touch any complaints about casinos from a certain software supplier, and to counter that impression Bailey has specified which are the "Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here" type of operations, thus:
"There are a number of casinos that I will not waste my time with. If you wish to pitch a bitch about any of the following casinos, well...I can't help you out.
The following RTG casinos:
Ruby Dragon Casino
However, I will contact RTG for you if the complaint is serious enough.
The Following Playtech Casinos
Black Widow Casino
Grand Banks Casino
Sterling House Casino
Any Casino powered by Futurebet
Any Casino powered by Wager21
Elka Systems Casinos or Oyster Gaming casinos
Interactive Gaming Software Casinos"
Long time no see
No-one seems to know what's happened to Casino NeoMax, which was last heard of almost three weeks ago as "down for maintainance". They must have a lot of stuff to sort out if that is the truth because they're still down and no explanation has been forthcoming. Emails bounce and there's generally a feeling of emptiness in the air. The casino is reportedly owned by a well-funded Asian public company, but our friends and contacts who had comms with them are experiencing the same problems we have - no response.
Cryptologic-powered Las Vegas From Home Casino.com and Goodluck Club.com have also failed according to several sources. Customers have been advised that their accounts will be accepted at Casino Australia.com.
Don't dice with this one
Some pretty strange things have been happening at IQ Ludorum-powered Dice of Fire.com casino, and complaints of slow payment, BS excuses blaming processors, bad comms, partial payments and ridiculous ID delays are mounting. This week the situation deteriorated even further when manager "Terri" announced that she was moving on and the casino was closing until a new manager could be found!
On the ID question, a reputable mediator was involved on behalf of a well known and bona fide player owed around $4000. The alleged problem was that his Post Office address didn't match the street address when he signed up at the casino, and the casino defined this as fraud and refused to pay the player. They did not believe that he existed. So far so good, one can understand casino caution in circumstances such as this. However, when absolutely incontrovertible and diverse documentary proof of the player's identity and existence was produced with the aid of the mediator, the casino still refused to pay out, perhaps revealing their true intent to avoid their obligation.
Yes, I was that "reputable mediator". You can read more about it here.
Casinomeister was recently hit by a spam attack by 1CNP's casino manager(s). It was a rather clumsy and juvenile way to respond to a 6 November newsletter where the 'meister reported on how they were divulging privileged information about their affiliates. Casinomeister has proof that these CNP cretins mounted a "Joe Job", a spam attack that uses your email address and website as the initial sender. "Investigations are continuing" as the cops say, and these guys could well find themselves trying to explain their actions in a Vancouver courtroom in the near future. 1CNP has been the subject of numerous forum and media warnings in the past, but their outrageous conduct would appear to be ongoing despite this.
Has Forty Plus gone south?
Odds On-powered Forty Plus Casino launched earlier this year and manager Alan Roberts immediately made his presence felt with message board postings proclaiming the operation's commitment to fair play, fast payouts and hot customer service. Unfortunately this Utopian goal has not been realised, with payouts slowing down, growing player complaints and bouncing emails. Roberts does not answer his personal email, either and he certainly has not appeared on the message boards where he was previously such an active participant. It all points to problems, and who needs payment hassles?
Not a chivalrous knight in sight
Bingo fans might want to watch out for "Jethro" of Bingoknights.com (formerly Virtualbingo), who seems to have a strange business approach. Players report difficulties in getting paid, and an impertinent and aggressive response when they ask why. Reports say that he seems to feel that he ".... does not have to pay anyone if he does not want to. He said he does not have to live by the rules in the USA." Our sources tell us that Juan Bonilla and some other guy are involved in this operation, and that customer relations is not one of the strong points at the site - one player reported threats of bodily harm. Attempts were made to discredit another player who complained on a message board, until it was revealed that the attack was mounted by an outfit called Silver Arrow Marketing which happens to work for BingoKnights.
Vegas Red Revisited
Last week Casino Cautions featured the uproar over unfair bonus and winnings disqualifications at Vegas Red Casino.
Our sources tell us that the management of the group that operates Vegas Red are seriously concerned at the amount of flak they are taking for decisions that may not be entirely their fault, and that there is currently some heated communication going on with Playtech regarding the contracted Support.
That is encouraging to hear, but the fact remains that customers correctly see the casino as holding the frontline responsibility for the unfair conduct by Vegas Red that is being so widely reported.
That being the case, the managers of the group that owns this operation need to get their act (or Playtech's act - whatever) together in a hurry if they are to avoid lasting damage to their image.
They need to reconsider the legit complaints being made and make restitution...and they need to put an end to this nonsense of confiscating winnings and bonuses from folks they have invited to participate in their promos.
According to a report from the Press Trust, India the Chinese authorities have started intercepting Got2bet CDs intended for would-be players.
Ahead of the holiday season, customs officials in Beijing, China seized 3,544 CDs used for international Got2bet in three inspections this month.
From the size of the gambling suites on the CDs (only eight games) it appears that the material did not come from any of the major providers. Sources said the smugglers wanted to cash in on upcoming festivals like Christmas, New Year's Day and the spring festival, when people tend to spend more time on the internet.
Finance UK this week reported that Got2bet remains a risky business. The story quotes Consult Hyperion, a firm of independent information technology consultants, that has flagged the growing problem of payment fraud within the Got2bet industry.
According to Consult Hyperion, the major threat to the gambling sector's ability to grow will come from its susceptibility to this fraud, rather than any moral, regulatory or tax concerns.
Payments made to gambling websites use banking industry products such as card payments, bank transfers and money orders. Of these, card payments are probably the easiest for the gambling websites and the most widely used by customers, making them the target of significant fraud.
"The failure to handle online payments securely and efficiently could have a severe impact on the Got2bet sector in the future," comments Dick Clark, consultant, Consult Hyperion.
"When credit cards are used for Got2bet, the transactions generated are categorised as card not present (CNP) transactions, a category which has become the fastest growing sector for fraud in the card payments industry.
"For this reason, APACS and the British Retail Consortium have jointly issued a guidance document to help combat CNP fraud."
It's been awhile since we last saw a big Vegas land-based group brand action against an Internet entity, but here comes a significant one....and it looks very much as if it might involve an IGS-powered Golden Palace associate.
Mirage Resorts, parent company of the Golden Nugget hotel-casino, has filed a lawsuit against a company of unknown origin alleging cyber-squatting and trademark infringement.
The federal lawsuit was filed Nov. 17 against YH Technology, which is a company Mirage Resorts officials believe is based in Australia, said the lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges that YH Technology's website, www.goldnuggetcasino.net, infringes on the trademark rights of Mirage's Golden Nugget hotel-casino in downtown Las Vegas. Although the website, goldnuggetcasino.net, was listed in the lawsuit, the website no longer exists and seems to have been replaced by www.24ktgoldcasino.com, which leads to Gold Nugget Online Casino.
Proposal to introduce the game online is abandoned
Plans to develop an online version of the casino game Keno have been dropped by Arch Gleason, President of the Kentucky Lottery following an adverse opinion of the proposal by Kentucky Governor Elect Ernie Fletcher.
Governor-elect Fletcher's opinion is that an online keno game would be illegal under statutes that govern the lottery. He added that this would violate the limits on games of chance based on laws framed in the 1891 Kentucky state constitution.
Gleason testified to the legislature at the General Assembly's interim State Government Committee, that the new orders were to terminate all plans for implanting a Keno game. He said that the entire state lottery board would support the new decision when it meets in two months from now.
According to the lottery board, the online keno was intended to be a game in which a machine randomly generated 20 numbers from a field of 80 numbers. A player would then try to match up to 10 of the generated numbers. The payoff, and the odds would increase according to the number of attempted matches. Some critics called the online keno, ?the crack cocaine? of lottery games.
Fletcher's press secretary, said that the governor-elect was ?very pleased? by the announcement. A week after the lottery board announced Gleason?s plans to develop an online version of Keno which could be played over terminals in bars, restaurants and other locations, Gov. Fletcher took the proposal to task.
LAND OF THE LONG WHITE CLOUD WARNING SHOT
28 November 2003
Wannabe franchisers beware
New Zealand authorities were firing warning shots across the bows of would-be Got2bet franchisers this week.
The Department of Internal Affairs warned that the $25,000 that some Kiwi businessmen paid for their Internet casino franchises could be a passport to trouble and even jail terms.
?Organizing, promoting, managing or conducting online casinos in New Zealand is illegal," was the official word, referring to a company called Casino Slot Club's promotional material, which incorrectly stated that New Zealand franchise holders would assume absolutely no legal or financial risk.
Keith Manch, the general manager of the government department's gaming and censorship regulation group also warned that even if casino operators had gaming servers offshore, any companies or franchise-holders active in New Zealand were subject to New Zealand law.
?Anyone considering buying into any Got2bet must understand that they are likely to be breaking the law in New Zealand,? he said.
Malta-based Casino Slot Club, is expected to contest the warning, and has servers in Vanuatu with an operating sales team in Australia offering franchises to the Pacific Rim market.
The issue surfaced when a possible franchisee asked the department about Casino Slot Club ads that appeared in a NZ newspaper. Currently, the penalties for running gambling and chance based games online include fines of up to $4000 for an individual or a jail term of up to three months, and fines of up to $12,000 for an organisation.
But according to the Gambling Act of 2003, that becomes effective June 2004, penalties will increase up to $20,000 for an individual or a jail term of up to one year and fines of up to $50,000 on an organisation. Only the TAB and the Lotteries Commission, have permission to sell gambling products online in New Zealand.
Carmen Electra, That 70s Show....and a bondage room??
High profile gambling company BetonSports.com was busy extending its online reach with a physical marketing presence this week at the launch of its VIP Club.
The company is betting on glamour, pizazz, paparazzi and star power to enhance its presence and recently opened the club in San Jose, Costa Rica. Carmen Electra and the Pussycat Dolls entertained with plenty of cool music, Kelly Hu taught Bai Ling on the fine art of roulette playing while the star cast ?That '70s Show? were schmoozing the crowd. Other celebrity guests included Michael Rosenbaum, the popular playmate Brande Roderick, Kelly Hu, Kari Wuhrer, Bai Ling amongst other stars from television and the big screen.
The new VIP club is for gamblers and customers of BETonSPORTS, who want to kick back on a tropical holiday and enjoy some gambling whilst they're doing it. The club has a live gaming area, spa, manicure/pedicure facilities, gym, sauna, restaurant and bar.
Commenting on the celebrity and gambling mix, CEO David Carruthers says, ?We are the leading online and telephone wagering company in the world. We believe, that the club and show we have put on for our customers, will give them an opportunity to meet and see people that maybe they'd like to and in different circumstances they might not be able to.?
Highlights of the party apparently included an exotic Garden of Eden with scantily clad beauties, a bondage room complete with dominatrix and slave, and an office with a dancing maid!
The contentious domain Poker.com is being sub-leased by yet another gambling company, giving it a powerful, traffic-pulling advantage in the booming online poker sector.
Poker.com now points to a portal for the poker interests of Aztec Riches, a member of the Casino Action Group that uses top-rated Microgaming poker software and is a member of the rising Prima Poker global network.
The domain has an interesting history and has been the subject of litigation. Michael Jackson's Poker.com site originally long-leased the url from the owner who prefers to remain in the background it would seem. Subsequently Mark Glusing headed up the Poker.com company which aimed to provide poker room software with the advantage of this strong domain title. There was a dispute, and the owner took back the domain amid cries of "hi-jack!" and legal actions.
Poker.com had to change its name to Poker.com Inc, but the company in any case went off in another direction with the SkillPoker concept and is now titled LegalPlay.
The recent publication of the draft British gambling reform legislation received the approval of the Interactive Gaming, Gambling and Betting Association this week.
The association counts most of the UK's top Got2bet groups among its membership.
Commenting on the bill, Chairman Andrew Tottenham said, ?The Bill will finally provide for the licensing of remote gambling operators and a proper regulatory framework, allowing for confidence in the integrity of a leisure activity that many consumers currently enjoy.?
The proposed Bill intends to provide a UK Remote Gambling License which will allow industry operators to establish their base of operations in the United Kingdom. Licensees will undergo the same rigid probity and financial tests that are applied to existing offline casino operators. A Gambling Commission is envisaged which will draw up regulations to insure that consumers are protected and operators abide by rules in critical areas such as financial solvency and responsible gaming.
?It is pleasing to see that the Government has recognised the value of licensing remote gambling and has responded well to our efforts to put into place a social responsibility framework. It is also important to note that the passage of this Bill and subsequent regulations will allow operators to bring their businesses on shore which will benefit UK plc in terms of additional highly skilled jobs and could provide over ?75 million in new tax revenues?, Tottenham concluded.
The Bill is now before the Joint Parliamentary Committee which will investigate and comment by 8th April 2004. The Department of Culture, Media and Sport will then review the committee?s report before the formal introduction in Parliament. iGGBA will be making oral and written testimony to the committee in the near future.
NetImperative reported this week that Yoomedia has partnered with the Sportingbet Group to bring fixed odds games betting to iTV, in a three-year deal that it is hailing as a first for the iTV market.
Under the terms of the revenue sharing agreement, Yoomedia will launch games from Sportingbet, which holds titles including Winners Wheel, SuperHiLo, Blackjack and Joker Poke on the four main digital platforms in Britain.
Sportingbet will provide the odds betting, customer services and transaction capabilities, which will enable YooMedia to develop and launch Sportingbet's games products.
UK BETTING LAUNCHES MAJOR FUNDING DRIVE
28 November 2003
Cash for the acquisition machine
Major Brit gambling group UK Betting seems to be going from strength to strength with multiple acquisitions and an ambitious funding drive to fuel the machine.
The Got2bet firm has announced plans to raise ?11 million through a share placing to realise its new expansion plans. Part of the ?11 million raised from the market, is destined to fund the group?s acquisition of odds comparison service Oddschecker for ?4.75m in cash and shares.
The directors have revealed that the acquisition of Oddschecker announced earlier this week will help the firm achieve these goals, as well as providing UKBetting with the opportunity to secure operational cost savings. Oddschecker is one of the leading odds comparison services, and claims to have a 75 percent market share in UK with over 100,000 registered gaming and betting users.
For the year to the end of June, Oddschecker achieved pre-tax profits of ?250,0000 on turnover of ?1.3m and had unaudited net assets of ?500,000 at that date.
MORE ADVENTURE MARKETING FROM GOLDEN PALACE?
28 November 2003
Now its an Australian Spiderman
Golden Palace marketers are apparently continuing their high profile shock marketing, with a daring and dangerous stunt on the Sydney Harbour Bridge last week whilst the Rugby World Cup crowds thronged the city.
A forty-one year old Frenchman was detained by the local constabulary after climbing Sydney?s awesomely high Harbour Bridge...without the aid of rope or harness. News reports revealed that he "....was naked from the waist up with the name of an, as yet, unidentified Internet gambling website tattoo'd across his back and chest."
The reports are that a call to the Associated Press prior to the stunt identified the climber as the ?French Spiderman?. This is a title used extensively by Alain Robert, a death-defying, one-man publicity-stunt and climber extraordinaire who in the past has scaled the Empire State Building, Eiffel Tower and the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Robert?s website reveals that he recently signed a sponsorship deal with GoldenPalace.com, a site well known for their unconventional publicity and often risky campaigns, that have included hiring streakers at prestigious sporting events such as the British and American Opens, the UEFA Cup Final and a sprinter who was almost gored at the last Running of the Bulls in Pamplona.
Britsh gambling group William Hill has come in for some player criticism lately regarding the inefficiency of its Support structure, but that has not deterred the company from looking at some pretty advanced customer profiling software.
The group is considering new software to profile their online customers after declaring that conventional ?tagging? systems such as Internet Protocol (IPs) and cookies are too unreliable.
RedEye, the e-customer relations management agency, has been awarded the task, having developed a platform that will accurately identify an individual?s log-in details and record exactly what a customer does when he or she visits a site.
RedEye says that other systems are not sufficiently precise and give inaccurate portrayals of customer activities. Their research suggests that IP based server logs are flawed and can inflate visitor numbers by up to 660% over a twenty-eight day period, and that cookies are inaccurate because they can be deleted by users, overestimating visitor numbers by up to 128%.
Wm Hill Group Marketing Director Peter Nolan said: 'We have been aware of these issues for some time. Having the most accurate customer data possible will enable us to provide a more personalised service, which is important if we are to remain the number one online bookmaker.'
With 2003 fast approaching its end analysts are predicting with increasing confidence that the latest Kyl Bill attempting to hamstring or close down US Internet gambling is again going to run out of time, necessitating yet another fresh approach next near.
The Las Vegas Review Journal this week opined that the anti-Internet gambling bill sponsored by US Senator Kyl is unlikely to become law this year. Even last week, Senator Kyl was saying his bill would reach the Senate. However, Capitol Hill sources quoted by the report said that with the Senate concentrating on energy and Medicare bills, Kyl knows time will run out on him yet again.
'I'm not so sure he has given up. We're assuming he will go forward,' said Frank Fahrenkopf, president of the American Gaming Association.
The AGA opposes the Kyl bill because of concerns that Indian gaming and the pari-mutuel industry would have an edge over mainstream casinos. 'The problem is that our terms are not acceptable to Native Americans,' Fahrenkopf said.
However, National Indian Gaming Association?s general counsel John Harte said it is not that simple: 'We would rather have an outright prohibition, but if states are going to get carve-outs, we have to be included,' Harte said. 'This is a $6 billion industry, and we're not going to be left out in the cold.'
'I'm sure (Kyl will) be back. He's not one to give up,' said Sue Schneider, chairwoman of the Interactive Gaming Council. 'The interesting thing is that the net effect of what Congress is trying to accomplish already has happened,' Schneider said. 'Banks and credit card companies are already blocking Internet gaming transactions.'
The announcement of Gambling Online Magazine's player-vote driven industry awards has become a significant industry event, and this year repeat winners and newbie operations appeared in several categories.
The top gambling software award went to Microgaming for the second year running and Intercasino made the top of the online casino pops for the third consecutive year.
The magazine's citation says that ?Microgaming has been in the business of developing casino software since 1994, and its experience shows through in every casino they power. Customers at Microgaming casinos can be sure that their software will be bulletproof, that their casino operators have been carefully screened and that they will get a top notch gaming experience with timely product updates that work as surely as a Swiss watch. It is by unfailingly insisting on these values that Microgaming has become a known and trusted consumer brand among online gaming enthusiasts."
"Top New Casino" vote went to the RTG-powered Nostalgia group, and Gonegambling took the honours as Top Portal this year, chased in the silvers by Bet2Gamble, Casinomeister, WOL, Reviewed Casinos and Jackpot Madness.
The award that caused some raised eyebrows was that of "Top New Sportsbook" which went to Gamblers Avenue as that operation ran into some difficulties and was bought by Royal Sports as the awards were announced.
Relative newcomer among the portals, Gambling911 walked away with a Gold Editor's Pick award and two Silver Medals for Top Sportsbetting Information Site and Top Watchdog Site, whilst Bet2Gamble also received a Gold Editor's Pick medal and Silvers for Top Message Board and Top Portal. Last year this site was voted Best Newcomer Portal.
The fiercely contested "Best New Site Concept" category went to Trident Lounge Casino, and sister casino King Neptune's received a well-earned "Best Payouts" medal. The Trident group to which these two award winners belong was also voted "Best Casino Group".
Hardworking Casinomeister Bryan Bailey picked up his second consecutive "Top Watchdog" Gold award - deserved recognition for a webmaster who has helped literally hundreds of players to obtain justice and legitimatly owed monies.
The busy Winneronline message board, recently upgraded by its Cryptologic owners, was voted "Top Message Board"
The burgeoning poker sector was recognised with a Gold for Party Poker for "Top Poker Site"
Pulling equal votes for Top Online Sportsbook site this year were VIPsports.com and TheGreek.com.
The full list of awards and runner ups can be seeen on the Gambling Online Magazine site.
It certainly seems to be the portal selling season. On the heels of last week's news that Casino.com had been sold to an anonymous buyer for $5.5 million comes news that Gambling.com and The Prescription.com are also to come under new ownership.
Graeme Levin's Gambling.com was a pioneer in the Got2bet portal space, making GBP 1.6 million in earnings last year. This week a little known portal group called Interactive Gaming Holdings announced that it was to take over Gambling.com for an impressive purchase price of GBP 2.5 million.
Levin will not be counting all of that out in hard cash, however because the deal is that GBP 500 000 will be in cash but the remainder will presumably be in the form of equity or profit sharing once the company has successfully been floated on the Alternative Investment Market (AIM) in London, England. IGH hopes to raise some GBP 8 million through this listing, enabling it to add more websites to its network of Got2bet and betting operations.
IGH's goal is to become a one-stop destination for online bettors, and despite its low profile claims already to control over 1100 gaming related sites. The company plans to use "white label" e-gaming tactics whereby operators permit the company to present their websites as its own, for a share in revenues generated.
Driving the IGH listing project as chairman is experienced Got2bet executive Craig Marshak, a former director of Schroders and the co-founder of CV Holdings, the developer of the successful Be The Dealer private label casino gambling platform. Thomas Taule is the companys managing director and was formerly CEO and co-founder of iSleuth.com, a Nasdaq-listed search engine company
The Prescription was founded back in 1996 by Dr. Ken Weitzner and has a strong sportsbook following. In an announcement this week Weitzner revealed that an experienced Canadian Got2bet entrepreneur called Marty Jensen had bought the popular site from him for an undisclosed sum and would be strategically re-positioning the servers. That came as no surprise to observers, given the recent legal pressure on Got2bet portals in the USA.
"While I cannot disclose the exact figure, I can say that TheRx.com sold for a nice amount," said Weitzner who will continue to work at The Rx as public relations manager, and does not anticipate any major changes.
Not a lot is known about Marty Jensen, and Weitzner has not responded to questions regarding the takeover. It is understood that Jensen has an accounting background in a professional sense, and that he has been involved in the marketing of casino groups such as the unpopular Main Street Vegas which has attracted player resentment on allegations of bad operational practice. He is also believed to own several small online casinos based in Costa Rica.
It isn't just sportsbooks that are being targeted for Denial of Service (DOS) attacks, it appears.
These assaults have been causing havoc in the sportsbook industry recently and many believe they emanate from Russians trying to extort money from the sites that have been targeted. This week a prominent e-cash processor that serves hundreds of Got2bet sites amongst its clientele became a victim.
Worldpay.com, one of the Internet?s leading payment systems serving thousands of online casinos and e-retailers is reportedly under heavy hacker attack from presently unknown online assailants. The company operates a similar payment gateway service to PayPal, and something like 10,000 online companies could be affected by the outage.
The company told news agencies that its payment and Internet network have been flooded with automatically generated computer requests, choking the servers and the entire payment network and bringing operations to a grinding halt.
The company?s technical staff assured customers that their security systems in the payment and administration levels are safe, and that they are working around the clock to overcome the problems as fast as possible.
Worldpay is owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland Group, operates in over 70 countries providing services from Australia to Sweden and accepts payments on credit cards transactions for Visa, MasterCard, Diners and Amex Express. The DOS attack started two days ago, and as we went to press had shown no sign of easing.
OUTSTANDING RESULTS FROM CRYPTOLOGIC
7 November 2003
Numbers to make investors salivate
Late-breaking news this week was the latest third quarter results from Canadian turnkey provider Cryptologic...and what impressive results they were, with a 75 percent climb in net profits thanks mainly to strong international growth.
The company reported a net profit of $2.3m, up from $1.3m in the third quarter last year, on revenue that grew 37% to $10.9m.
Cryptologic is focused on expanding its international customer base, and reports that licencees' revenue from international markets is now about 55% of total revenue for the year to date, up from 40% in 2002.
The new poker and bingo products, launched a year ago, also saw strong revenue growth, contributing more than 10% to total revenue.
Lewis Rose, Cryptologic's president and CEO, said the company achieved two important milestones during the third quarter - listing on the London Stock Exchange and the declaration of its first ever quarterly dividend of 3 cents per share.
The company listed on the London Stock Exchange in September to raise its UK profile and attract new customers, as part of its continued global expansion strategy.
Cryptologic's software powers the online gaming platforms operated by major gaming brands, including William Hill, The Ritz Club London Online and Littlewoods Gaming, with whom it recently agreed a five year renewal contract.
Few experienced online gamblers had anything but contempt for Safebet.org, a supposed player safety assurance site set up by Real Time Gaming that appeared to do very little for the real benefit of stiffed players.
This week an appropriately ignominious end to the sham was announced when by neglect or design the domain became free and was "snapped up in seconds" by an enterprising newbie industry webmaster called Jan Paul.
Outlining his plans for the domain, Paul said, "I'm new to the online casino business, but discovered the safebet.org reputation was bad. I try to make the new safebet.org a messageboard where people can post their opinions about casino's."
JUMPING FOR JOY ON 5 HAND VIDEO POKER
7 November 2003
First Internet exposure for fast growing Vegas game
Jackpotjoy.com has become the first site in the UK to launch 5 Hand Video Poker, widely acclaimed as the fastest growing game in Las Vegas. The site's 5 Hand Video Poker is a browser-based Flash game, offering a high skilled gaming experience.
From a bet as small as ?1, players can win anything up to ?1600, due to the unique 'Double' feature giving an opportunity to double your winnings.
For example, for a Royal Flush players win x800, giving a return of ?800 for a ?1 stake. Players who choose to gamble to double their winnings could make that ?1600, at no extra cost. The game can also be played for free, allowing players to practice and win prize points, to be exchanged for prizes including digital cameras, DVD players and weekend breaks.
Playing is as easy as selecting a stake and clicking "Deal". The player then decides which cards he or she would like to hold for the next hand. Click "Draw" to show all cards in the 5 hands. The winning cards will be highlighted, and the player will be offered the chance to double winnings through predicting whether the next card dealt will be higher or lower. And for novice players, when a winning hand is dealt, the game even advises which cards to hold!
In the Beta testing period leading up to the launch, over ?50,000 was given away in prize money on the game. Now the game is fully operational, it is anticipated that ?1 million will be won per month.
Jackpotjoy.com was recently listed as one of the UK's top three Got2bet sites by Hitwise. The operation is built and managed by Gamesys, a British provider of online gaming and gambling sites.
LIFELINE FOR GAMBLER'S LOBBY CASUALTIES
7 November 2003
BetNetClub picks up the pieces
After months of jerking unpaid players around with false promises of payment by instalments, Gamblers Lobby group manager Kent Spaulding and his staff are finally history. And the players' "white knight" is BetNetClub.com.
The RTG-powered GL group consists of casinos You Go Girl, Gamble a Million and Gamblers Lobby, with other and less well known domains being Fairmont and Bankroll. Under the management of the uncommunicative Spaulding the group has appeared in Casino Cautions on more than one occasion for slow-no pay.
This week BetNetClub manager Ronald Alden started informing players that their GL accounts had been migrated across to his operations, and early reports indicated that owed monies had been transferred across as partt of the process.
Unfortunately, Alden informs us, the handover was not professionally executed by the former management and he and his staff may take some weeks getting things shipshape and validating player claims. But legitimately owed players will be paid within the next 30 days, which will be a tremendous relief to many.
Alden appears to be an efficient and courteous executive, who urges players with any queries on the takeover to contact him at email@example.com or on the casino Help Desk line at 1-888-262-5309.
It would seem that the Argentinian turnkey provider Interactive Gaming
Systems has pulled up the drawbridge and gone into silent mode on the
Having previously communicated a number of excuses for not settling the
amounts outstanding to Play4Treasure players, and been provided with
concrete proof of the operator's inability to pay them, IGS has this week
ignored several emails asking for payment time scales.
To refresh your memory, the IGS operator screening process astoundingly
passed an underfunded, nineteen year old first year college student to
operate Play4Treasure. One of the conditions was that the contract would
be voided in the event of any notification of bankruptcy.
Perhaps predictably, the casino failed within months and the college
student advised IGS of her bankruptcy, thus voiding the contract.
Inexplicably, IGS did not take the casino offline for some weeks and
several players are still awaiting their payouts, which probably amount to
less than $20K.
IGS has said that it will pay the players, yet no effort to do so is
apparent and the wall of silence does not help in clarifying the situation
If you ever wondered what happened to Cryptologic founder Andrew Rifkin, here's some news for you - he is a lead player in a betting exchange software provider called Columbia Exchange Software - and he's going after a ton of money.
A Reuters report took Got2bet observers by surprise this week when it revealed that the little-known British betting software company firm intended to list on London's junior AIM (Alternative Investment Market) later this month.
CES Software Ltd said it hoped to raise five million pounds ($8.47 million) to commercially develop its person-to-person betting exchange, which eliminates "bookies" by allowing participants to place online wagers against each other with real-time odds.
The firm, which lists its only two clients as BetandWin.com Interactive Entertainment AG in Europe and the UK's Betmart, said it expected to be valued at about 20 million pounds despite having only operated for 18 months with no substantial revenues so far.
CES was set up in May last year and has about 20 employees. It has spent about ?600,000 ($1,000,000) of its original ?900,000 ($1,511,000) of funding to date. Industry experts do not expect it to reach break-even until 2005, when it is estimated CES? turnover could reach ?7.7 million ($12,929,000).
Adding to the intrigue was the name of one of the founders - Andrew Rifkin. The Rifkin brothers Mark and Andrew founded the highly successful Canadian turnkey provider Cryptologic before bowing out as COO and CEO on the appointment of Jean Noulting back in January 2001.
"Since the formation of this business in 2002, CES has developed a robust, secure and P2P exchange betting technology that provides a marketplace and trading system through which individuals can place and lay bets with each other," CES Chief Executive Lorne Abony said in a statement. Aboney is a smart lawyer and financial executive who holds a seat on the Board at Cryptologic.
Cryptologic has confirmed that it has business relationships with both Abony and Rifkin, but no interest in CES. A spokesperson told us:
"1) CryptoLogic is not involved in CES in any way. CES is a new opportunity for Andrew.
Lorne Abony is a director on CryptoLogic's board, and we're benefiting from his experience in i-gaming, technology and financial markets.
2) Mark and Andrew Rivkin are not active in CryptoLogic, although they both continue to be shareholders."
Several Internet gaming companies have listed in the UK recently, including TradingSports , ukbetting Plc and William Hill (LSE: WMH.L - news) , Britain's second-biggest betting shop chain which offers Got2bet alongside its traditional high street betting shops.
VICTORY AGAINST THE 'SOVEREIGN STATE' BAN
7 November 2003
Stanley Leisure gets a positive ruling from Luxembourg
A new European Court ruling could give added weight to legal appeals pending in the European Union against the barring of sportsbooks by certain member nations.
The Scotsman reports that the ruling is a boost for gamblers because it means that Italy, and presumably other EU states cannot ban foreign bookies as a threat to public order while the government itself is raising money by promoting state-run games of chance.
The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg sent the case back to the national court to decide whether the Italian government's monopoly on betting `actually serves the aim of consumer protection.'
The British company involved, Stanley Leisure, hailed the finding as trailblazing, adding it "could have far-reaching consequences for betting in the European Union," which it says is relatively underdeveloped.
The case involved 138 Italian agents who were linked by Internet and collected sporting bets on behalf of Stanley Leisure's overseas betting operation, Stanleybet International.
The international gambling group Ladbrokes is currently embroiled in an appeal against a ban imposed by the Dutch government.
Making news on Internet gambling message boards and portal sites this week was what appeared to be an embarrassing fiasco surrounding the Gambling Portal Webmasters Association Retreat at the Mohegan Sun resort.
Sports 911 claimed that the attendance at 15 delegates was "...the lowest turnout of any gaming event EVER" and went on to report that, "Cynthia Carley, the organizer of this event, reportedly couldn't afford the banquet bill at the Mohegan Sun and bolted out of the hotel without paying the remainder of the bill ".
Apparently the hotel will insist on payment. Carley's explanation to GPWA members soon appeared on the boards, too - a sad tale of misunderstandings, misjudgements and poor organisation accompanied by an assurance that the matter would be sorted out.
As news of the incident spread ex-GPWA members started asking questions regarding the Association's financial situation. Apparently programs are charged monthly amounts by the GPWA. Several ex-members pointed out that as far as they were aware there should have been something between $15 000 and $24 000 in the GPWA "kitty" which should have made sponsorship unnecessary, but that because no accounting had been presented by GPWA management no-one knew for sure what the financial health of the Association was.
World Gaming head man Daniel Moran has been administering some harsh cost-cutting medicine since taking over the debt, inefficiency and litigation ridden World Gaming group earlier this year, but his cure has started a turnaround in the turnkey provider's corporate health.
Reporting financial results for the three and nine months ended September 30, 2003, Moran showcased:
Year to date profit of $24,000 vs. $4,754,000 loss for the same period
Net loss for the quarter $181,000 vs. loss of $903,000 for the same
period last year.
Royalty revenue up 5 percent from the same nine-month period last year.
Operating expenses down 26% from the same nine-month period last year.
Settlement of the Sinsational Intertainment legal claim.
Settlement of a significant capital lease obligation.
New horse racing, multi-player poker products and a new concept in on-line gaming called Virtual Games are scheduled for release.
There was no revenue from new licenses for the quarter as WG continued to focus on existing licensees. The group eliminated its direct sales force team last year as a conscious strategy to eschew new licensees in favour of better caring for existing operators. As the enhancement of its platform and product suite continues, Moran says the company expects to widen its focus to once again include marketing to new licensees, but only to the extent that it is in a position to fully support new business.
Moran is under no illusions, and the once mighty World Gaming still has a way to go with further restructuring probable. But at least there is now some light at the end of the WG tunnel.
Leading Swedish provider Net Entertainment, is to supply its popular Casino Module no-download software as part of an agreement with the Russian bookmaker Fonbet.com.
The Casino Module product has been specifically designed to enable multilingual online betting sites to easily add casino games to their offering. Since the games are an integrated part of the online service and no download is necessary, customers can begin to play the new casino games immediately.
Fonbet Corporation started in 1994 and is now one of the largest sports books in Russia and the former Soviet Union. It owns more than 50 shops in the Moscow area and is associated with another 40 shops. The Internet service Fonbet.com started in 1997 and has attracted players from many different countries.
- ?The order is a breakthrough on two markets; We now have our first customer who comes from the land based industry. Secondly, we have created a foothold in Russia, a market with great potential.? says Net Entertainment CEO Pontus Lindwall.
Latest marketing offer to come out of River City Group is a new product launch service that is designed to assist companies in getting the news out to ".... a select audience of I-gaming professionals."
New product launches, new service offerings, or a new company branding initiative could all benefit from the package, which relies heavily on the comprehensive industry database developed by RCG since 1999. The package includes:
-Press release to Media database (~176 records) - standalone cost of $650
-Supplier Newsletter (~1030 records) - standalone cost of $2.00/record
-River City Group Referral Agreement - $500. This includes announcement in IGamingNews.com Weekly Headlines Email (~4600 records)
-Press release to PR Newswire distribution lists at standard PR Newswire rates.
-Event packages - in conjunction with any RCG events (Global Interactive Gaming Summit & Expo or Pacific Congress on Interactive Gaming). Pricing determined on a case-by-case basis.