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Mark Balestra

Nambling Notes - Aug 6, 2001

6 July 2001

A Tidbit from the US --With Nevada's Net betting bill in the books, it's time to move on to the next round. The U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Oversight and Committee on Financial Services will hold a hearing July 12 titled "The Financial Aspects of Internet Gaming: Good Gamble or Bad Bet?" The hearing, which will focus on the financial, legal, technical and social challenges associated with Internet gambling, could provide answers to questions about where the federal government stands on the Nevada law. Then on July 31 and August 1, the Nevada Gaming Commission will hold educational sessions related to Internet gambling.

A Tidbit from the UK -- The long-awaited review of Great Britain's gambling laws has at last been finalized by the country's Gambling Review Body. The report, due to be released to the public next week, is said to include a number of recommendations that will give people easier access to gambling in England. For starters, the panel will recommend that the rule requiring casino gamblers to register as casino members 24 hours before playing be abolished, that the maximum number of slot machines legally available at a casino (currently 10) be increased, that casinos be allowed to offer live entertainment and that the £1,000 limit on jackpots from fruit machines be raised. Further, there will be recommendations that will give stronger powers to consumers, including the enactment of a law that establishes a court-based system for dealing with bookmakers that allegedly fail to honor their debts. Further, bookmakers would no longer be able to fall back on "palpable error" as an escape for quoting the wrong odds for a race or event. Overall, it's expected that the number of casinos will double if the new laws are enacted.

Additional recommendations include the establishment of a new gambling regulator that would be responsible for handing out licenses (with a strict background-check process put in place) and regularly monitor betting companies financial books and the allowing of betting shops to have fruit machines with bigger jackpots and to sell lottery tickets.

The panel is also expected to make recommendations for Internet gambling policy, although there have been no indications yet of what those recommendations will be.

Tidbits from the Far East -- While the Hong Kong Jockey Club struggles with its highly publicized plummeting turnover numbers, nearby Macau Jockey Club seems to be doing just fine. The club reports that it's heading toward a record-breaking year, with turnover up 5 percent from last year. Kenneth Liang, the club's chief executive, however, suggests that their good fortune isn't as significant as the percentages suggest. "Of course, our turnover is small when compared with Hong Kong," Liang said, "so an increase of 5 percent is not too much. But we're happy with the way the tote is going.' Race betting turnover is expected to rise significantly in Macau now that the racing season in Hong Kong has come to a close.

All indications from the Stanley Ho camp are that his online casino has been hugely successful in the early going, however, the new site may have hit its first snag in the form of a lawsuit filed by rival i2corp's Home Gambling Network subsidiary owns a U.S. patent that covers the operating of online casinos using live dealers. Because falls under this category, i2corp is suing the Antigua-based online casino for patent infringement. Specifically, i2corp's patent covers "remote wagering on live games and events with electronic financial transactions." The patent has been applied for in Australia, Canada, and Europe. A European patent was published in November of 1999.

New Stuff -- Wireless Winnings, the self-proclaimed world's first wireless Internet casino has gone live with real-money betting. The site, launched in June 2000, now allows gamblers to bet real money on its two wireless casino games--blackjack and poker. The casino plans to debut a slots game this fall. To play for real money, customers must register online at

nGame Ltd., a leading channel, content and technology provider for wireless, PC-Web and interactive television community-based games, has announced an agreement with Bell Mobility, a division of BCE, to provide nine wireless games for Internet-ready phones. Among them will be three casino games: craps, roulette and "Fruit Machine."

Lottery News -- Do U.S. lotteries have a big presence on the Internet? According to numbers released Tuesday by Terra Lycos, they apparently do--at least the California Lottery does. In the last week of June, the California Lottery's largest ever jackpot--a whopping $141 million--was won. During that week the lottery's website landed at No. 6 on the Lycos 50(TM), a measurement of the week's 50 most popular user searches.

Makin' Deals -- Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. and TABCORP Holdings Limited announced this week that their casino services consulting agreement has been extended until January 2005. The two-year extension, which is subject to regulatory approvals, is designed to capitalize on the knowledge both companies have gained about emerging gaming and hospitality-industry trends from their operations in the United States and Australia. has announced the signing of a worldwide exclusive pay-to-play licensing agreement with IGL Gaming Ltd., of St. Johns, Antigua. Under the terms of the licensing agreement, IGL Gaming will feature FirstBingo's pay-to-play software system on all of its sites. With 300 gaming sites, including "" and "," IGL Gaming claims to have generated over $150 million in wagers since its inception in 1999.

An Egyptian Tidbit -- Egypt has become the latest country to condemn the popular TV game show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" for being a form of gambling. BBC reports that the Supreme Mufti's (Egypt's highest religious authority) office has issued a fatwa (religious edict), calling the show sinful and a form of gambling. The show is one of many primetime phone-in TV programs in Egypt.

New Faces -- Toronto-based gambling software supplier CryptoLogic Inc. announced this week the appointment of Israel Ben-Ishai to the position of chief technology officer. After 25 years of service to some of Canada's leading high-tech organizations, Ben-Ishai brings CryptoLogic a breadth of expertise in communications, encryption, reconnaissance and graphic imaging technologies. Israel has held progressively senior technology positions at Spar Aerospace, Bell Northern Research/Northern Telecom, Certicom Corp. and MGI Software.

Online gambling software supplier World Gaming plc (formerly Starnet Communications) has announced the appointment of John Harris as its managing director, Americas as part of the company's continuing reorganization. Harris will oversee World Gaming's operations in North, Central and South America and will assume responsibility for marketing, sales and business development. Harris joins World Gaming from EC Gate where, as senior vice president, sales, marketing and business development, Americas, he was responsible for all North American strategies, including marketing, investor relations, public relations, sales and business development. His initiatives included establishing regional directors in Atlanta, New York, San Francisco, Chicago, San Diego and Toronto.

Quote Worthy -- "The bill won't pass out of Congress. . . We'll kill it. I am confident. I wasn't confident last year but I am now. It has lost support."

--Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., as quoted by the Associated Press, on the outlook for Sen. McCain's college betting prohibition bill.

Mark Balestra
Mark Balestra is the Managing Director at BolaVerde Media Group. He previously worked at Clarion Gaming and the River City Group where he was the publisher of iGamingNews. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri.
Mark Balestra
Mark Balestra is the Managing Director at BolaVerde Media Group. He previously worked at Clarion Gaming and the River City Group where he was the publisher of iGamingNews. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri.