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Kevin Smith

Golden Palace Breaks New Ground: Joins Race to Space

5 August 2004

First it was temporary tattoos on the backs of boxers. Then it was streakers at major sporting events around the world. Most recently it was Dennis Rodman and his Running of the Bulls in Spain and the purchase of the ball David Beckham used to miss his penalty shot in the Euro 2004 competition. And now it is a rocket ship hoping to make it to the edge of outer space.

Just when it appeared officials with Golden Online Casino had left no stone unturned in efforts to promote their site, they pull another rabbit out of the hat.

Golden Palace became the official sponsor on Thursday of the Canadian da Vinci Project Team that is trying to win the Ansari X Prize competition. The $10,000,000 Ansari X Prize will go to the first privately funded team to finance, build, and launch a spaceship carrying three people to a 100 kilometer altitude (62.5 miles), return safely to Earth, and repeat the launch with the same ship within 2 weeks.

In addition to announcing Golden Palace as its official sponsor the de Vinci Project team also said on Thursday that it scheduled October 2, 2004 as its launch date for its rocket ship Wild Fire.

The de Vinci Project team is part of a field of 26 teams from all over the world. The Golden Palace sponsored Canadian team is going up against some heavyweights in the field. The American-based team is funded in part by Paul Allen, one of the founders of Microsoft, but that isn't tempering the excitement from Golden Palace CEO Richard Rowe.

"This is truly a ground-breaking deal for us," he said. "We will become the first online casino to be played in outer space. We are David going up against Goliath and I like our chances."

As part of the sponsorship Rowe said Wild Fire's pilot, Brain Feeney, will take into space with him a computer laptop equipped with the latest version of Golden Palace's online casino. While in space Feeney will spend some time gambling on the Golden Palace site, an event that will be broadcast on the Internet.

"Everyone will be able to see him playing on Golden," Rowe said. "This is a momentous occasion that will really place on the world stage."

Also as part of the deal the Golden Palace logo will appear both on the interior and exterior of Wild Fire.

The Ansari X Prize is intended to promote the Space tourism industry through competition among the most talented entrepreneurs and rocket experts in the world. The prize money is being put up by a private foundation in California.

The contest is similar to one Charles Lindberg won more than 100 years ago when he became the first to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Lindberg only won $25,000 though and Rowe insisted that this competition isn't just about the prize money, it is more about making history, just like Lindberg did.

"This will go down in history as one of the key moments in humankind's race to Space," he said. "Years from now, children will be learning about this event in school along with the moon landing."

Rowe also said Golden Palace could be making a name for itself that will last long into the next century.

"Who knows, maybe 100 years from now when they are doing gambling junkets to outer space they will be talking about what it was like the first time Feeney played Golden Palace from his rocket ship," he said.

Rowe also drew comparisons to the space mission with the first Las Vegas-based casinos that turned up in the Nevada desert and transformed a remote area into a gambling Mecca.

" hopes to do the same in the final frontier just as we pioneered the online casino industry in 1997," he said.

Rowe said Allan's Scaled Composites team intimidates neither him nor the de Vinci Project team. Despite having a larger budget Rowe said Feeney has assembled a team of 600 specialized volunteers that have the ability to win the historic competition.

"Brian has an exceptional team working for him and I have every confidence in this project and the successful flight of the Wild Fire," said Rowe. "From a marketing perspective, this is an incredible opportunity for us but it is also a way to give something back to the hundreds of volunteers that have worked so hard and committed 150,000 hours to make this dream a reality."

While the rules of the competition state that all ships must have three passengers on board, Wild Fire will have special cargo on its trip.

After purchasing the infamous Beckham ball through an online auction, Golden Palace has decided to take the ball into space with Feeney.

Even with the ball on board Feeney said the Wild Fire crew is excited to have Golden Palace as a sponsor and is confident that his team can get a surprise win in the race to space.

"We're very close to achieving our mission, thanks to the organizations and individuals that understand the significance of this race," he said. "The da Vinci Project is on the cusp of a new era of space travel for humankind. Our team is proof positive that ingenuity and innovation can overcome the impossible."

Rowe said the sponsorship of Wild Fire is just the tip of the iceberg for Golden Palace's involvement in private-space projects.

"As this technology progresses, we want to set up junkets so players can enjoy our games from high above the Earth," said Rowe. "We are going to be the first casino to visit Space; we also want to be the first casino 'in' Space. Then you'll really see some casino action that is out of this world."

Golden Palace Breaks New Ground: Joins Race to Space is republished from
Kevin Smith
Kevin Smith