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Emily D. Swoboda
 

Nambling Notes - Feb 9, 2001

9 February 2001

Tidbits from Europe -- Holland Casino is inching closer to going live with its Internet casino. The site, developed by Access Gaming Systems of Australia, is currently available in free-play mode. It will switch over to real-money play when the government completes the creation of new rules for operating such a business. A government source told IGN that this can be expected in March. Once the casino goes live, Dutch gamblers will be able to wager online from bars. The games will be available only to players in the Netherlands.

More than half of all French gambling sites that offer lottery games are operating illegally, Lottery Insider reports. Gambling regulations in France require that lottery sites post rules and regulations, information about the organizers and exact dates that the lottery is in operation, details many sites are lacking. Plus, this information must be provided to a legal representative. Violators face fines of €38,000.

A Tidbit from the Far East -- Efforts to prohibit Internet gambling in Hong Kong have fallen short, at least for the moment. Legislators there have sent a bill that would ban offshore gambling, including gambling through websites based offshore, back to the government and has asked the government to pursue further public consultation. Despite the government efforts to get the bill passed immediately, it will be on hold for two months. Legislators have cited the bill's failure to outline an effective means of banning Internet gambling as a major problem.

Tidbits from the US -- In the last few weeks MDI Entertainment Inc. announced deals with several state lotteries to offer second- and third-chance games available over the Internet. Among those was a second-chance SPAM(r) drawing for the Hoosier Lottery from Indiana that attracted nearly 12,000 Internet entries out of the 35,000-plus received during the first day's drawing. The Hoosier Lottery is the first lottery in North America to offer players the opportunity to enter a second-chance drawing for one of MDI's properties both electronically and by mail. The registration infrastructure was provided by eLottery's IMARCS system, which is servicing the Hoosier Lottery's VIP Players' Club.

Trump Casino executives were said to be “enthusiastic” after seeing a demonstration of Home Gambling Network’s “live remote wagering” system, according to news reports. CEO Mark Brown and other executives from Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts Inc. reportedly attended the demonstration, along with Assemblymen Kenneth LaFebre (R-2nd) and Nicholas Asselta (R-1st), and gaming attorney Lloyd Levenson. The HGN system, which has yet to attract any licensees, would let players place bets on casinos’ actual live table games via telephone, the Internet or other devices. "If you were to walk through the casinos today, half of their tables are not being used. This would allow tables not being utilized to be used for the (home gambling) system, so obviously there would be greater revenue," LeFevre said. “At first blush, it does look interesting. I'm trying to find something that might be wrong about it,” he admitted.

A growing number of teens are getting caught using Mom and Dad's credit card to pay for their online gambling, reports the London Sunday-Times, which quotes a recent study from the American Psychiatric Association. The APA study shows that nearly two-thirds of American teens have made some kind of wager during the past decade, while nearly 10 percent of all 15 to 20-year-olds in the U.S. are potential gambling addicts. How do so many teens manage to bet on the Internet without their parents' knowledge or consent? Many parents mistakenly believe their kids are just playing computer games, when they're really gambling online. "Parent's don't really know what's going on," said Dr. Kimberly Young from the Pennsylvania Center for Online Addiction. "Lots of these kids are not just playing games, they are betting at blackjack and roulette, on horses and sports."

Last year was another record-setting season for horse racing in North America. Figures from the Jockey Club published in Daily Racing Form show that a whopping $14.7 billion was wagered on all Canadian and U.S. horse races last year, a modest 3.7 percent increase over 1999’s $14.2 billion total. Since 1995 wagering had been increasing at an average of 6.8 percent. The decline in growth rate is attributed to the domestic simulcast market nearing saturation point. Most new betting came from off-track sites, with 84 percent ($11.9 billion) of handle coming from American off-track sites. Off-track wagering in Canada, meanwhile, brought in 68 percent or $325 million of total handle there.

New Stuff -- TAB Limited is about to introduce a new method of betting that News.com.au reports will "revolutionize punting in Australia." Through the service, to be called Flexi-Bet, gamblers will be able to invest a percentage of the usual cost of a bet. Winning bets wil be paid in proportion of the outlay. The service, to launch February 22, will be available for exotic bets (Superfecta, First 4 and Trifecta) only.

Poker.com, Inc. announced yesterday the launch of its new gaming portal. The new site--a work in progress for over three months--offers visitors the opportunity to wager for real money in both casino and poker style games. It also offers free games and the ability to search and inquire about gaming activities.

The oddsmakers at William Hill announced plans to offer goldfish races twice daily starting in April. Punters can place their bets on one of six fishes racing past a bridge in their aquarium. If that's not exciting enough for you, then maybe the snail races recently offered by Blue Square are more your speed.

Tidbits from the UK -- Following a second battle-filled process to award operations of the U.K. National Lottery to a private organization, government officials are giving serious consideration to privatizing the lottery, similar to that of many American state lotteries. "It has been said to me by quite a number of people that an option could perhaps be to see a lottery that is effectively owned by the nation through the government but that each individual service for the running of that lottery is contracted out to suppliers. That is obviously a model that works in some other parts of the world,” Culture Secretary Chris Smith told Financial Times. He warned, however, that such a move would require caution, particularly following the government’s widely reviled role in the Millennium Dome.

In the meantime, the National Lottery is reportedly negotiating with Indicii Salus to sell lottery tickets via the Internet and interactive television. Indicii is considered one of the few companies capable of developing a system able to match the security standards as determined by the National Lottery Commission.

While British bookmakers are waiting to hear whether betting duty will be dropped this year, its potential affects are causing ripples in jurisdictions like Gibraltar where many bookmakers had fled for tax relief. The U.K. government has suggested that it will drop betting duty in favor of a tax on profits and would require the wayward bookmakers to come back onshore. The Gibraltar newspaper Panorama says that bookmakers are putting on a brave face, although operators like Victor Chandler and Simon Bold won’t have to make the move onshore because they don’t run any British betting shops. With more than 500 people in Gibraltar employed by British bookmaking operations, some officials worry that punters won’t feel the need to keep betting with the tax-free sites based there, forcing many out of a job.

A £5 million donation to the Tory party by IG Index head Stuart Wheeler is being called into question after his company began taking bets on the general election. "One of the basic rules of gambling is that the bookie does not get into bed with the horse. If this was going on in racing there would already be a stewards' inquiry under way into this arrangement but this is much, much bigger,” Labor MP Alan Simpson told Ananova. "It raises issues for the electorate, the integrity of Parliament and for a wide cross section of punters." Simpson has sent a written request for an investigation into what he calls a conflict of interest, and has also called for Tory leader William Hague’s resignation.

Tidbits from the Caribbean -- Internet gambling companies in Curacao will soon be the envy of many competitors thanks to the big chunk of bandwidth getting delivered there. A submarine optic glass fiber cable offering 960 gigabytes capacity will link the Netherlands Antilles with several countries in South America, the Caribbean and Miami. The cable, which boasts the first-ever "self-healing" capabilities against physical damage, may be the highest-capacity submarine cable ever laid.

Caribbean Cyber Online Casino (C3I) announced this week that it has handed out more than $1 million through its Jackpot Madness program. Plus, since its March 1997 debut, the Microgaming-powered site has awarded more than a billion dollars from all of its games. The site has won numerous awards, including “Casino of the Year” from Gambling Online magazine, Gambling.com Top Sites Award and a Gambling Excellence Award from Gamblink.com.

A Tidbit from Oz -- Australia's richest man may be embroiled in a gambling-related political scandal. A donation made by Kerry Packer's Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd. to the Victorian Labor party prior to elections is in the spotlight for possibly influencing later government decisions made about gaming. Although the ALP denies any connection between the donation and their decisions about gambling, Tim Costello with the Interchurch Gambling Task Force wants more information. “He (the Premier) actually needs to explain things that just may be circumstantial, unconnected strands. But when you put them together, maybe we're all into conspiracies too much, but when you put them together--it's a curious picture," Costello told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Makin’ Deals -- Virtgame.com Corp. this week signed an Internet casino agreement with a group led by Grupo Codere, one of the largest gaming companies in Spain with land-based gaming operations in Europe and Latin America. As part of the agreement, Virtgame.com will provide Internet gaming products in Latin American and European countries where Grupo Codere is licensed. The initial software developed will be for a national lottery sports betting portal in South America, which will distribute a government-endorsed lottery. The Grupo Codere sports lottery project will include eCodere, the e-gaming subsidiary of Codere, in a joint venture with a technology investment corporation in Latin America and LCIN LLC, a gaming development and management company based in San Diego.

Boss Media has signed on another client, Casino Names Incorporation, bringing its total number of licensees to 36. The newest member of the bunch is expected to go live this spring.

A New Face -- Filling the vice president slot for the information technology department at Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. will be Tim Stanley. He will be responsible for development of several of Harrah's leading consumer-marketing tools, including the Internet, casino management and guest services systems and other marketing-related projects such as the Total Rewards national customer loyalty program.

Nambling Notes - Feb 9, 2001 is republished from iGamingNews.com.
Emily D. Swoboda
Emily D. Swoboda