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Anne Lindner
 

Weekly Nambling Notes - June 10-14, 2002

15 June 2002

Tidbits from the UK -- At its annual general meeting on Thursday, the British Horseracing Board addressed allegations that many U.K. horse races are fixed. The allegations resulted from a television documentary called "Kenyon Confronts." The show featured interviews with three trainers who said horses could be stopped from winning to affect betting handicaps. The House of Commons' committee for culture, media and sport heard testimony on problem gambling this week as part of its examination of the government's proposal to liberalize gambling laws in the United Kingdom. Paul Bellringer, director of Gamcare, a charity that helps people with gambling addiction, told the MPs that gambling reform should not happen unless more cash is available to fight gambling addiction. Bellringer said that unless more help is targeted at gambling addiction, the United Kingdom could see an upswing in gambling problems much like what happened in Australia after its gambling laws were liberalized.

Makin' Deals -- Television Games Network announced this week that it has bought 16.6 percent of Youbet.com's outstanding common shares. TVG, a subsidiary of Gemstar-TV Guide International, was given the option of buying 3.8 million shares of Youbet.com as per a licensing agreement made on May 18, 2001. It has a second warrant to buy up to 51 percent of Youbet.com's outstanding common shares, which expires on May 18, 2004. Interspace Enterprises Inc. is partnering with iMustPlay.com to market Planetlotto to European players. Planetlotto is a weekly progressive lottery site. Y3K Secure Enterprise Software Inc. this week announced an agreement with Carib International, an online casino and sports book company. Y3K will be providing Carib with secure instant messaging software to be used for corporate communications within the company.

New Stuff -- U.K.-based horse racing group attheraces launched a telephone betting service on Wednesday. Customers will be able to use the same account number to bet via attheraces' Internet platform, digital television platform and telephone platform. Cirsa Interactive is planning a debut for its new for-fun wagering application, Cirsagames. The company specializes in developing games for the Internet, interactive TV and mobile phones. Dukesgaming.com, one of CryptoLogic's newest licensees, is up and running. As part of its launch strategy, the site will give away a $1 million to one lucky player on Dec. 31. Players will receive one sweepstakes entry for each point they gather under Duke's rewards program. iCrystal Inc. is calling the newest edition of its online casino software a success. iCrystal Virtual Casino 4.01, which was released to the company's licensees earlier this year, has increased licensees' revenue on average by 20 percent, iCrystal said. Magna recently introduced Betty, its voice-recognition phone betting system that replaces the need for a live operator to take calls. Magna XpressBet president Ron Luniewski said the system was developed by the New South Wales TAB. The company's Web site is still its most popular betting forum, though. "This could be for the bettor who is out on a Saturday afternoon, isn't near his computer, and only has a second to take a bet," Luniewski said. Rimpac Resources Ltd. this week launched a Spanish language version of InternetLOTO.com, its promotional lottery Web site. According to the company, the site allows Spanish speakers to use the lotto site to both learn about Internet lotteries and purchase tickets for a variety of lotteries around the world. Thomas M. Johnson, president and CEO, said Rimpac has set its sights on Latin America, where sales of lottery tickets reached $4 billion in 2001. Online financial transaction security provider SSP Solutions is announcing the formation of SSP Gaming LLC. Game Base of Nevada Inc. will partner with the company; it will receive a non-exclusive license to SSP's security software in exchange for an investment of $2 million and access to its more than 7.3 million active players. Richard DePew, SSP Solutions' president and COO, said SSP Gaming is already getting inquiries from casinos in Nevada about securing Internet gaming portals. DePew said he could not identify those casinos yet.

Names and Faces Changing Places -- Global Entertainment Holdings/Equities Inc. is appointing Richard Orcutt as the sales director of its subsidiary, Interactive Gaming & Wagering. Orcutt was most recently a regional vice president of sales at ProcureNet/ePlus Systems. Patrick Kehoe, a senior adviser to New York Gov. George Pataki, is being appointed as general counsel to the New York Racing Association. He starts July 1.

Legal Stuff -- New York regulators have determined that PayPal is operating illegally as a bank. The New York Banking Department is urging the company to apply for a license to be a money transfer agent, which PayPal said it would do by the end of June. Almost 7 percent of PayPal's business comes from New York state.

World Cupdate -- New Zealand TAB is reporting a record amount of bets on the World Cup. Spokesman Joe Locke said Tuesday that $7.4 million has already been wagered on the soccer tournament, easily surpassing the $5 million bet on the last soccer contest in France. "This Cup is only about halfway through so we would expect to double that and hit about $15 million. New Zealand has gone soccer crazy," he said. A Christian group held a public prayer session in Hong Kong this week to protest possibility that soccer gambling could be legalized there. The Rev. Siu Yu-fat, the leader of the rally, said more people are interested in soccer betting now because of the World Cup. "We have seen more people discussing bets on the World Cup. Betting odds are also highlighted in the media. This may encourage more illegal betting activities and the public to support the legalization of soccer gambling." Since the beginning of the World Cup on May 31, Hong Kong police have arrested 34 people in connection with soccer betting and seized more than $32 million in betting slips. Malaysian authorities have detained more than 100 suspected bookies in connection with World Cup betting, reports the Agence France-Press in Kuala Lumpur. Police said the bookies collectively handled bets worth 12.5 million ringgit (about US$3.3 million). Soccer betting is illegal in Malaysia; police say more arrests are sure to come. Just in case Hong Kong's new ban on offshore gambling isn't enough of a deterrent, the Hong Kong Jockey Club is increasing this week's Triple Trio pools to distract would-be World Cup punters. Wednesday's jackpot is to be increased by $10 million, and Sunday's will be upped by at least $38 million. Lawrence Wong Chi-kwong, club chairman, said the organization's revenue has already fallen 10 percent because of World Cup betting. Hong Kong police have arrested seven people in connection with two illegal soccer bookmaking centers, the Irish Examiner is reporting. Police seized betting slips worth 67,000 euros and found records indicating betting turnover of almost 7.5 million euros. Those convicted of illegal bookmaking could receive a maximum of seven years in jail and a fine of 680,000 euros. Meanwhile, Thai police are finding it nearly impossible to control Internet gambling, according to the Bangkok Post. The newspaper quotes banking experts as saying that 10 percent of Thai soccer bets are placed through major online bookmakers. An Assumption University study recently showed that about 9 billion baht, about US $212 million, would be bet in Thailand on the World Cup.

General European Tidbit -- EUROMAT, the European Federation of Coin Machine Association, decided at its annual meeting at the Hilton Hotel in Berlin last week to finalize its position paper on telecommunications-based gaming by the end of June. The paper, titled "Telecommunications Based Gaming - Bases for an Enforceable Regulation," covers emerging gaming technologies, including Internet gambling, that can't be governed by traditional gambling laws. The group's president, Eduardo Antoja, said EUROMAT wants to eliminate any unfair competition. "Any activity taking place at a public location must comply with the applicable regulations and be subject to the appropriate controls," he said.

Say What? -- "One gets the impression that the real motive of anti-gambling legislation isn't protecting against crime or protecting vulnerable individually against the unscrupulous, but the desire to legislate behavior and control others. But it's not the job of politicians to hector constituents about morality of finances." - Clyde Wayne Crews Jr. , director of technology studies at the Cato Institute, in an editorial on CNSNnews.com on June 10.

Anne Lindner
Anne Lindner