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Mark Balestra

Nambling Notes - Dec. 24, 1999

24 December 1999

On the Move -- The migration to offshore tax havens in the U.K. continues as The Tote (the U.K.'s state-owned bookmaker) now has its sights set on moving its Internet betting operation, Totalbet, offshore to keep up with the competition. The operators intend to move the service to Alderney to avoid the 9 percent U.K. gaming tax. The U.K. Treasury has voiced its objection and says it will oppose such a move.

Wheelin' & Dealin' -- Xirtrix Gaming Technologies Inc., through its wholly-owned subsidiary Transnet Services, has signed licensing agreements with Jazbo Marketing Ltd. and Goldstar International Ltd. Both casinos are scheduled to go live in January 2000. The casinos will operate under a license from the Dominican Republic. Jazbo's site will be located at and Goldstar's will be found at

Online lottery provider Inc. announced Wednesday that it has retained the services of Technical Systems Testing (TST), a globally focused service provider specializing in information technology, gaming and Internet systems testing. TST will provide Inc. with a comprehensive, independently tailored testing and evaluation service.

Policy -- Newsbytes reports that the Australian Broadcasting Authority (ABA), which holds regulatory responsibilities under Australia's new online content legislation, has registered three Internet industry codes of practice developed by the Internet Industry Association (IIA). The codes, due to take effect January 1, will regulate offensive and illegal material on the Internet and the responsibilities of ISPs and Internet content hosts. They'll also encompass a wide range of online issues, including gambling. Sections of the codes dedicated to Internet content will be adopted instead of default provisions in the Broadcasting Services Act amendments, which would have included the blocking of overseas content at each ISP. With the registration of the IIA's codes, ISPs will be required to provide end-users with Internet content control information and filtering tools or optional filtered Internet access services.

More from Down Under -- Are there any gambling businesses in Australia that haven't considered a venture into cyberspace? The latest word from Oz is that the New South Wales club movement is setting up a task force to explore such a move. According to ClubsNSW Chairman Pat Rogan, the impact of the Internet can no longer be ignored. "Until now, the club movement has adopted a wait-and-see attitude to the Internet," Rogan said, "but with the technology and now the debate developing so quickly it is vital for our membership and their communities that we have a clearly defined policy." The task force is expected to convene in early 2000.

New Stuff --, Inc., has introduced a Linux version of its Java-based gaming software. Using the Linux operating system allows the company to offer "high performance, stable and cost effective infrastructure to our licensees and to end-users of the games." licensees will have a choice of either Windows NT or Linux deployment.

Promotional Stuff -- MicroGaming Systems announced this week that its Cash SplashTM progressive jackpots reached nearly a half million dollars in November 1999. The largest jackpot was $91,644.95 on a $3 bet on November 18.

Investors' Corner -- The trading symbol change for Venture Catalyst Inc., formally Inland Entertainment Corp., is official. The company now trades under the symbol "VCAT."

New Faces -- Tropika International Limited has appointed Alexander W. (Sandy) Murray as vice president, finance and David Prue as vice president, operations and business development. Murray has 15 years of diversified experience as a senior finance and operations executive. Prue was formally vice president, finance for Tropika.

Go Call Inc. has introduced renowned Las Vegas sports bookmaker Sid Diamond as gaming adviser to the company's advisory board. Diamond, the former director of race and sports for Circus Circus Enterprises, also becomes managing director of

Fun Fact of the Week -- The Nevada Gaming Control Board's report for fiscal 1999 reveals that the sports handle in Nevada has dropped by about $75 million from fiscal '98. For the first time since the industry began keeping records in 1969, the sports handle has dropped two consecutive years. Many, including MGM Grand VP of Race and Sports Operations Rich Baccellieri, believe that the Internet is the biggest contributing factor. "People are now able to open an account with $5,000 in the Caribbean and bet from that all year long," Baccellieri told International Gaming & Wagering Business magazine. "That hurts our churn. That's taking away somebody who might come to Las Vegas every week to bet 10 football games at $300 apiece."

What can the Board do to reverse this trend? Realistically, nothing, because it can't prevent Internet sportsbook operators operating outside of the state from doing business with potential Vegas bettors. Then there's American Wagering, Inc., a Nevada licensed sportsbook operator that also happens to run an Internet sports betting service, which has incidentally done all it can to keep its distance from Nevada bettors. You don't suppose the Board would react by trying to bully American Wagering (the only online sportsbook operator within its grasp), would it?

What Others Are Saying -- At a recent conference organized by the Cato Institute and Forbes ASAP, PSINet Chairman Bill Schrader predicted that in four years, 80 percent of the world's countries will permit online gambling, encryption, and sexually explicit material.

Quote Worthy -- "It's like saying that people will not, on the streets of a particular city in Australia, use a four-letter word at any stage. ... [A] very laudable sentiment, perhaps, but how can you possibly enforce it."

-Australian Capital Territory Treasurer Gary Humphries , as quoted in ABC News Online, responding to the Prime Minister's recommendation for an inquiry into a federal ban on Internet gambling.

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.