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Anne Lindner
 

Nambling Notes - Nov. 9, 2001

9 November 2001

A Tidbit from Mexico -- Could the next gambling hotspot be in Mexico? This week at a tourism convention in Acapulco, Mexican President Vicente Fox endorsed the idea of legalizing gambling in Mexico. The country's tourism industry has long supported a change in Mexican law to allow for gambling, mainly in the popular tourist destinations along the coasts. Fox said he would prefer a cautious approach: "I am in favor of casinos in a controlled way, above all if they are in areas frequented by foreign tourists," he said.

Tidbits from the Far East -- The student union Web site at the University of Hong Kong has a new homepage, thanks to an article by the South China Morning Post. Two weeks ago the Post reported that the student union homepage contained advertisements for gambling as per a deal with an Internet company to provide discussion forums to the site for free. Since then, the forum pages, and the gambling ads, have been taken away. The president of the student union, Biby Ngai Wing-yin, said students have given positive feedback since the site was changed. The newspaper reports, however, that union sites from Chinese University, Lingnan University and the University of Science and Technology still carry gambling advertisements.

South Korea's Ministry of Finance is cracking down on Web sites that promote pornography, suicide, bomb manufacturing, fraud or gambling. Ministry spokesman Yoon Dae-hee said the campaign's aim will be to wipe out cyber culture that seeks to "destroy social order." The ministry is encouraging people to notify the Consumer Protection Board about any such sites they come across during Consumer Protection Week, which is Nov. 29 to Dec. 5. Sites that are deemed illegal by the agency will be shut down, and their operators could face criminal punishment. The ministry is offering prize money for those who report illegal Internet sites.

Macau casino mogul Stanley Ho is setting up a new company to bid on one of three casino operation licenses that will be given out in the territory. Ho's Sociedade de Turismo e Diversoes de Macau (STDM), has had a monopoly on gambling in the enclave for 40 years, but its license will expire at the end of the year. The name of the new company will be Sociedade de Jogos de Macau (SJM). At a general meeting of the STDM, Ho said the new company will be 10 percent owned by him. STDM will own 80 percent of it, and the remaining 10 percent will be sold to the company's upper management. Twenty-two companies from Macau, Hong Kong, Britain, Malaysia, the United States, New Zealand and the Philippines have registered for the three licenses. American companies MGM Mirage, The Venetian and the Crown Group are also said to be interested.

Makin' Deals -- Britain's leading bingo hall operator, Gala Group, is entering a deal with Carlton Interactive to buy Carlton's online gaming site. Gala, which runs 170 bingo halls in the United Kingdom, will buy Jamba.co.uk for an estimated £1.5 million. The play-for-fun site offers 20 games including quizzes, bingo and darts. Gala, which is seeking to enter the online gambling market, will convert the games to a pay-for-play format. A new company devoted entirely to helping land-based casinos move online launched its services this week. Muse Gaming, based in the United Kingdom, said it can help companies with every aspect of starting a gaming site, from marketing and branding to security and technology. Gaming Insight plc's online casino subsidiary ZapCasino.com is partnering with Rivals.net, the United Kingdom's No. 1 sports portal. Rivals.net will promote ZapCasino.com to its 1.1 million unique users per month in exchange for a share of the betting revenue.

Breakin' Deals -- Despite a Canadian TV news report that would seem to suggest otherwise, CryptoLogic Inc. said this week that it has severed all business with Bill Scott. Scott, the I-gaming software company's first licensee, spent three years in U.S. federal prison on racketeering charges. Crypto cut its contract with Scott in 2000. However, in a recent report by Canadian news magazine, "The Fifth Estate," footage shot at Scott's office, where he runs World Wide Tele Sports, an online sports book, showed CryptoLogic's phone number prominently displayed on a white board.

Formula One team Arrows has filed suit against Coral for allegedly breaking a £21 million, two-year sponsorship contract. The managing director of Arrows, Tom Walkinshaw, who is a 45-percent shareholder in the team, is also starting legal proceedings against Morgan Grenfell Private Equity for its part in the process. Arrows is suing because Coral left its sponsorship agreement with the team before the contract was to expire at the end of this month. MGPE is a shareholder with both entities. Coral representatives have called the suit "a load of rubbish."

A Tidbit from Iceland -- Iceland's economic intelligentsia met this week to consider making the country a tax haven. Brains from the Institute of Economic Studies at the University of Iceland and the International Policy Network invited economists, lawyers and public policy analysts to examine how countries like Switzerland and Luxembourg have become wealthy by offering business-friendly laws and tax rates to individuals and corporations.

New Stuff -- Internet portal MSN.co.uk launched its first-ever gambling channel in the United Kingdom today. The channel will be accessible by a link from MSN.co.uk's homepage, which has 13 million unique visitors per month. By following the link, users will be able to peruse the latest odds as they are provided by Bet Genius. "Gambling is the biggest growth area on the Internet and we believe its true potential as a traffic and revenue driver has yet to be fully realized," said Amanda Anthony, an MSN business marketing manager.

A Tidbit from the U.K. -- British betting site ukbetting is about to rid online sports service Sportinglife of half its staff. Since being acquired by the sports book two months ago, Sportinglife has seen its staff of 43 trimmed by 18 people. In addition, the former newspaper spin-off's content will be merged with that of Sportal, which ukbetting purchased last week. Only 10 of Sportal's staff of 70 were retained by ukbetting, which plans to use Sportinglife's staff to maintain the editorial side of the business. A ukbetting official said the Sportal site will aim for a theme that's "funky and younger, with a greater emphasis on football," while Sportinglife will remain "a premium, authoritative sports brand."

New Faces -- British racetrack owner Arena Leisure plc announced Wednesday that Roger Withers will be its new non-executive chairman. Withers replaces Martin Pope, the former executive chairman, who resigned to pursue other business interests. Arena owns the Royal Windsor racecourse in southeast England.

Quote Worthy -- "We knew that Harry Potter would generate a great deal of excitement, but we never anticipated that city traders would be more interested in Harry Potter than in the footsie."

-- Dominic Croshwaite, business manager at Cantor Movies, a division of spread betting firm Cantor Index, on the rampant popularity of betting on the profits of the Harry Potter film.

Nambling Notes - Nov. 9, 2001 is republished from iGamingNews.com.
Anne Lindner
Anne Lindner