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Mark Balestra

Nambling Notes - Dec 8, 2000

8 December 2000

Tidbits Down Under -- Today marked the end of the successful, but very short Internet casino venture by Federal Hotels of Tasmania. The company launched two online casinos accessible through a portal called shortly after the Australian federal government imposed its moratorium on the launching of new online casinos in May. The moratorium bill, which passed this week, left Federal Hotels with the choice of either shutting down the two virtual casinos or facing fines of up to $1.1 million per day.

Meanwhile, sports betting company Canbet has announced that it has nixed plans to expand into online casinos. Chairman Richard Farmer indicated, however, that the moratorium wouldn't likely affect plans for Sky City casino in Auckland. Sky City, which owns a 33 percent stake in Canbet, has been exploring an Internet venture.

Lottery Insider reports that South Australian Government Enterprises Minister Michael Armitage has opted to table legislation in Parliament to sell the South Australian Lotteries Commission. "With the ever increasing risk presented by the Internet and other emerging forms of gambling, the best interests of South Australian taxpayers are served by the government divesting itself of a risky gambling entity, which does not constitute a core government business," Armitage explained. ". . . Our political opponents cannot seriously expect SA Lotteries to compete with a company that is preparing to offer an online lottery prize of almost $2 billion." Armitage says the sale of the lottery will aid in reducing the state debt.

WWWagering & Gaming Consultants is seeking to challenge the assertion, made by an unnamed lobbyist, that Australia's moratorium on Internet gambling is consistent with the will of the people by setting up a one-questions online poll. Those who wish to participate can do so by going to

In a somewhat bizarre turn of events, recent scandals in which cricket matches were fixed could end up benefiting Australian bookmakers. According to the Age, Centrebet in Alice Springs has gained business from several big bettors who have ceased doing business with illegal bookmakers in India. Centrebet reportedly attracted $50 000 in wagers on the first Pakistan vs. England match, around 10 times the amount typically placed on a match not involving Australia.

On the Advertising Front -- plc, an Internet and telephone gaming operator based in the Isle of Man, announced this week that signing of a deal with Richard Branson's Virgin Atlantic Airways in which betinternet commercials will be aired on all Virgin Atlantic flights. "The commercial will be viewed by all passengers on several in-flight entertainment channels," betinternet Marketing Manager Mark McGuinness said. "This gives a unique opportunity for visibility of betinternet's brand in over 200 flights per week and 1 million passengers per quarter."

Tidbits from the US -- While the American Gaming Association hasn't changed its position regarding Internet gambling, says Chairman Frank Fahrenkopf, there may be a little room for Net betting supporters to hope for some softening in the association's stance. In fact, Internet gambling was a hot topic among attendees at this week's AGA meeting in Las Vegas, when the group met to plot strategy for the upcoming year. The AGA's original position, which it still maintains, has been "opposition to any form of gambling that is not subject to strict regulation and law enforcement oversight," Fahrenkopf said. Nonetheless, the group will keep a close eye on any new Internet gambling bills brought before the new Congress. The association supported the passage of Sen. Jon Kyl's prohibition bill in 1999, however, much ado has followed speculation that the many changes to Rep. Bob Goodlatte's House version aren't settling well with some AGA members.

Allan Ross, one of 21 sports book operators (including World Sports Exchange President Jay Cohen) on the receiving end of criminal complaints filed in 1998 by a U.S. Attorney in New York, will be sentenced December 15. Ross, affiliated with Island Casino and Sportsbook, pled guilty earlier to a felony this year.

Offshore Money Matters -- reported this week on a couple of offshore jurisdictions that are trying to legislate their way off blacklists of countries to avoid doing business with. First, the parliament in the Isle of Man is meeting this month to decide whether it will approve changes in the jurisdiction's tax laws that will bring them up to speed with the standards of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Isle of Man currently resides, a long with several other offshore jurisdictions, on the OECD's blacklist of uncooperative tax havens. The OECD will reexamine the blacklisted jurisdictions in July 2001.

Meanwhile, St. Kitts its reportedly amending its laws in an effort to get off the Financial Action Task Force's blacklist of countries deemed uncooperative in the international fight against money laundering. The country's parliament last week passed legislation to strengthen its anti-money laundering laws with hopes that the FATF will remove it from the list upon reassessment early next year. The new laws set up a financial intelligence unit to investigate allegations of money laundering and allow regulators to freeze questionable bank accounts for up to five days. Further, a Proceeds Of Crime Law establishes guidelines for reporting and seizing suspects' and convicts' money and property.

Makin' Deals -- Interactive gambling software developer Orbis Technology Ltd. has been acquired by NDS Group, a provider of conditional-access systems and interactive applications for digital pay TV. The deal will cost NDS $21 million in cash and between 320,000 and 1,110,000 NDS shares, worth up to $58 million. The number of shares to be issued will depend on Orbis's performance. NDS intends to expand Orbis's digital TV, Internet and WAP technology into the interactive TV market.

eLOT, Inc. subsidiary eLottery continues to build alliances with U.S. state lotteries. This week the company announced that has been awarded a contract by the Maryland Lottery to provide an Internet interface to the lottery's subscription system. The agreement will enable the Maryland Lottery to receive subscription orders over the Internet for the multi-state jackpot BIG GAME and Maryland's weekly Lotto Game. Maryland lottery players will be able to go to to complete an application form for subscription play. After the application has been submitted via email, the subscriber will be able to pick the games, numbers to play and the number of weeks to participate. During the initial implementation, subscribers will make payments by check or money order under separate cover. eLottery will generate revenue on a per-subscription basis.

Vanuatu-based My Casino Limited announced this week the signing of a new contract in which it will provide online gaming services in Far East Asia. Details of the agreement, including the identity of the partner(s), were not disclosed, however, My Casino reports that it expects to gain access to more than 120,000 customers through the deal. The company also reports that it previously signed contracts in Hong Kong, China and Thailand.

Trivanti, a joint venture between Psion and United News & Media, says it has reached an agreement with Coral Eurobet in which Eurobet will offer its wagering service to users of the PsionWAP portal. Bettors will be able to wager tax-free on a range of sports, including soccer, Formula 1, golf, boxing and American Football. Eurobet customers will also be able to access a range of account services.

e-Success Inc. has signed a contract to provide e-Success Citadel, eFraud protection, to UniCache Inc., a Las Vegas company with an e-commerce product designed to remove payment problems and security issues., an Internet sportsbook, announced this week that it's now offering its customers a unique form of currency called e-gold. The Web-based payment system is backed 100 percent by precious metal that acts as a currency over the Internet via the inexpensive transfer of gold, silver, platinum, or palladium from minute fractions of an ounce upwards. For more information on how this intriguing system works, visit

Go Call, Inc. announced Wednesday that it is acquiring 100 percent of the assets of Hollywood Online, Inc. ( for 750,000 shares of common Go Call stock plus additional shares based on various performance items. Hollywood Online, Inc. has three sites operating at this time. According to Go Call, a key part of the agreement provides contracts with well known celebrities from Hollywood and sports figures who have agreed to license their photos and names to the company and make personal appearances in promoting "their" sites and Go Cash, Go Call's operating subsidiary. The agreement also calls for Hollywood Casino President Matthew DiTommaso to join the Go Call as the director of celebrity promotions for Go Cash.

New Stuff -- The new Internet casino carrying the Harrods department store brand, announced last month, made its debut this week. The casino is located at and is operated by Gaming Internet PLC of Great Britain.

As long as the sun keeps rising, gaming software developer Boss Media will keep cranking out online casinos. Its latest creation, launched this week, is Wall Street Casino ( Gamblers are invited to download the free software and play blackjack, Caribbean poker, keno, Jacks or Better video poker, roulette and two different kinds of slots. The new site is owned and operated by Ltd.

A Tidbit from the UK -- U.K. parliamentary standards watchdog Elizabeth Filkin has completed her inquiry in to Commons Speaker Michael Martin's wagering on the outcome of October's Speaker election and will hand over the report to the Commons Standards and Privileges Committee December 12.

Quote Worthy -- "This is a state's rights issue. What right do they have to pass judgement on us? What right do a group of senators have to stop $350 million in investment and 250 jobs in this state and then turn around in the next breath and criticize us, saying we are a welfare-dependent State?"

-- Tasmanian Deputy Premier Paul Lennon on the Australian federal government's successful effort to impose a moratorium on interactive gambling expansion.

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.