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Mark Balestra

Nambling Notes - Jul 13, 2001

13 July 2001

Tidbits from the UK -- It has been speculated for several weeks that Great Britain will initiate its new tax-free betting policy early. Financial Secretary Paul Boateng made it official this week by announcing that the new rule will come into effect October 6, three months ahead of schedule.

British betting group Stanley Leisure has added itself to the expanding group of U.K. firms to close down their offshore betting offices and come home. The company will move its Malta-based sports betting service back to the United Kingdom, where it will soon be able to operate under the new British system, which will no longer impose a betting tax on sportsbook operators.

iTV News -- Two British groups, Ladbrokes and BSkyB, have formed a 50/50 joint venture that will develop and provide a fixed-odds interactive television betting service. reports that the venture will have "exclusive rights for five years to offer interactive betting on a range of Sky sports channels and Internet sites." Sky's digital service users will be able to use their accounts with the joint venture across all telephone, Internet and mobile internet betting services operated by the two groups.

Canal+ Technologies (U.S.) announced Tuesday that a 38-year old CANALSATELLITE subscriber from Paris won FF 1,800,000 (US$232,750) through iTV betting on the Grand Steeple Chase with the Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU), the French state Gaming Agency. "This is an example of true, enhanced television benefiting subscribers as well as the network operator," said Jean-Marc Racine, CEO of Canal+ Technologies' North American subsidiary. PMU has offered its subscribers two-way iTV through Canal+ Technology since April 2000 and generated 61 million euros in the first year of the service.

Tidbits from the US -- A spokesperson for Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., told IGN this week that Goodlatte plans to reintroduce his online gambling prohibition bill before Congress recesses in August. Goodlatte hasn't determined yet whether the new version of his bill will contain language to coincide with the "good neighbor" clause in Australia's recently passed Net betting bill.

Even with Nevada's new online gambling law in place, it'll still be many months before Vegas casinos go live with real-money betting on the Web. MGM Mirage, a company that has been quite vocal about its intentions of taking its business to the Net, might not be interested in waiting. Jim Murren, CFO for the company, told the Las Vegas Sun that operating out of another jurisdiction is a possibility. They're currently researching international online gambling jurisdictions in an effort to determine whether any of them have regulations that are tough enough to meet their standards. Murren stressed, however, that they won't step on any toes. "We won't do anything that would jeopardize the billions of dollars we have invested in the ground (across the United States), the billions of dollars in equity in our brands and our licenses," Murren told the Las Vegas Sun. "We're taking an extraordinarily conservative approach to this. But again, we're a leader in this industry, and there are certain responsibilities that come with being a leader. It would be equally irresponsible of us to do nothing and not to understand this. I don't think that's what leaders do."

Harrah's Entertainment Inc. announced today that it has filed a lawsuit asking the U.S. District Court in Nevada to bar Station Casinos Inc. and its subsidiaries from infringing on patents that protect Harrah's groundbreaking customer-loyalty program, Total Rewards. The lawsuit alleges that Station's "Boarding Pass" rewards program provides benefits at five Stations properties in Las Vegas, all in violation of the patent protections granted to Harrah's by the U.S. Patent and Trademarks Office. The lawsuit seeks a permanent injunction prohibiting Station from continuing to infringe on Harrah's patents as well as additional remedies.

A Tidbit from Quebec -- Prompted by lawsuits filed by the state of New Jersey against three online casinos, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission met during the last week of June to discuss the issue of blocking underage gamblers from accessing Kahnawake-licensed gambling sites. The commission determined that new measures have to be taken to further prevent underage gambling, although it hasn't yet decided on a particular course of action. One of the three casinos that was sued,, is licensed by the commission. Among several allegations, the defendants are accused of accepting bets from minors located in New Jersey.

On the 'Skills' Front -- The latest company to offer pay-to-play games of skill online are Flipside Inc. and of California., a multiplayer games developer, announced this week the launch of online games enabling players to participate head to head in games of skill for cash prizes. According to President and CEO Leonard Shneyderman, the company's website already hosts over 23,000 games of skill and has more than 325,000 registered members. "We are experiencing massive consumer demand for the opportunity to play for money," Shneyderman said, "and most importantly, we're able to satisfy this demand online. By adding a cash element to our popular classic games of skill, we are greatly enhancing our players' enthusiasm and creating a viable, high-margin business model." Currently, chess, checkers, gin rummy and backgammon are available for free play at, with cribbage and dominoes on the way. The pay-to-play tournaments will be in Swiss, mini-tourney and double/single elimination formats. has replicated the real-world tournament-playing environment by utilizing a standard ELO rating system, reflecting players' skill level. All money-based tournament games will be recorded, and players' rating statistics will be kept current. The company's multi-player gaming technology has undergone rigorous 11-month beta testing during the development of pay games. Fees will range from $0.50 to $15 via credit card. Winners will collect cash prizes of 90 percent of the tournament prize pot. The company said Wednesday that more than 650 players have already registered to play in more than 900 pay-to-play tournaments.

Meanwhile, WorldWinner (, a developer of online games of skill, announced Wednesday that it has signed an agreement with Internet games and entertainment destination Flipside Inc. to distribute its skill-based games. Through the deal, WorldWinner will power the skill games for a real-cash section of Flipside's, and provide the site with its suite of 16 skill games, including Chess, Checkers, Solitaire and Free Cell. WorldWinner will handle all aspects of backend fulfillment, including customer service, credit card processing and prize disbursement. Players can win real cash fast by strategically beating the odds based on their skill level. The site awards more than $25,000 per day, with more than 7,000 tournaments completed daily.

A Tidbit from the Far East -- Hong Kong might be on its way to banning offshore gambling, but it apparently won't prohibit offshore bookmakers from advertising their services. According to HKiMail, the government told the Legislative Council Bills Committee "that under planned amendments to gambling laws, it would not be illegal for offshore bookmakers to establish outlets in Hong Kong as long as they did not accept or collect bets in the territory." The decision comes as good news to bookmakers in Macau, which is easy to reach from Hong Kong.

Miscellaneous Tidbits from Europe -- Expected changes to Ireland's Horseracing/Greyhound Act of 2001 would allow Irish bettors to participate in British Tote pools. The law is expected to go in effect early in August. British punters are already able to participate in Irish pools on a number of selected meetings.

Authorities in Åland Island, an autonomous Finnish territory, have voiced their disapproval of a recently passed Finnish lottery law that forbids Finns from mainland Finland from gambling at the website of PAF (the Åland Islands Slot Machine Association). They have referred the issue to the Finnish Chancellor of Justice and the ministry of justice. The bill has not officially become a law yet.

A Problem Gambling Problem -- In an article about the growth of online gambling, the Austin American-Statesman reported Monday that the Texas Council on Problem and Compulsive Gambling has seen calls about online betting rise from one per month in 1998 to 15 per month this year.

A Tidbit from Oz -- It became quite clear upon the passage of Australia's Interactive Gambling Bill that Lasseters Online, the country's only legally operating online casino, would have to cut off its 37 Aussie customers. The new law will make it illegal for Australia-licensed virtual casinos to take bets from Australians, and the company this week told the small group of players that it will have to cease business with them when the bill is enacted. The customers will still have the option of gambling with hundreds of non-Australian casinos, very few (if any) of which are regulated as strictly or as thoroughly as Lasseters.

Makin' Deals -- Omni Casino has signed a deal to become the first online casino ever to officially sponsor a major Tennis Tournament on the ATP Tour. ''The Hamlet Cup International Series," a warm-up tournament for the US Open, will take place in Commack, New York August 18-26, 2001. The sponsorship will include national television commercials, prominent signage on stadium court and the exclusive title sponsorship of the event's casino night. "Omni Casino is proud to be a Grand Slam sponsor of the 2001 Hamlet Cup," Omni Casino Public Relations Officer Alex Roberts explained. "In light of the legislation recently passed in Nevada that will legalize online gaming, we felt it was the right time that our company sponsored such a major event.'' In conjunction with the sponsorship, the casino will be giving away $1 million in the "Omni Casino $1 Million US Open Challenge" to any customer who predicts the winner and loser of this year's Men's US Open tennis tournament and the exact final score.

Online entertainment gaming and Internet solutions provider Jarvis Entertainment Group, Inc. has signed a deal with Zootec that will result in users of the Jarvis network ( having access to real-money, head-to-head games of skill developed by Zootec.

New Stuff -- Zetters Group plc announced this week that its IFX Financial spread betting division is now accepting financial spread bets from the private retail market. The company was previously only allowed to accept financial spread bets from institutions. reports that Bloodstock Research Information Services has entered the fray as the latest racing group to accept wagers over the Internet. The company's site,, will enable U.S. account holders to view odds and wager online or by telephone on races held in North America. "Bets will be placed through America TAB Ltd. and co-mingled into the wagering pool at the host track. reports, "According to the announcement, has joined to become a member partner of America TAB, which operates an account wagering facility in Oregon that is licensed by that state's racing commission." has announced that the "proof of concept" demo being developed by 3V Graphics Inc. of Las Vegas Nevada, has entered the beta (testing) phase. "We are very pleased at the progress that has been made by 3V as they have fully undertaken this project with the idea of being able to supply a turnkey application to operators who have seen the demo and want to license the ( subsidiary) Home Gambling Network method of live remote wageringTM," President Chris Almida explained. "Their expertise in the rapid deployment of Internet-based applications and their methodology of providing intuitive functionality coupled with an eye-pleasing interface really shines in this project."

On the Sports Betting Front -- The Victor Chandler Organisation informed customers at Marketbet, a financial betting site for which it provides funding, that the site is shutting down today for maintenance. The telephone and Internet bookmaking firm stated, "We have new plans for MarketBet and as part of our ongoing program of product development; we are looking to bring you a whole new MarketBet service in the near future. In order to facilitate the development of the site, the current MarketBet product will be withdrawn by end of business on Friday, 13 July, 2001."

New Faces -- Gambling software supplier World Gaming plc announced this week the appointment of David Pasieka as its chief operating officer. Pasieka, who has been acting COO for the past two months, will oversee all of the company's day-to-day operations, with an immediate focus on business planning and product development. He will also spearhead World Gaming's global expansion strategy. Pasieka joins World Gaming from 724 Solutions Inc., where he held the position of senior vice president, application hosting and IT. has announce the appointment of David Koyle as vice president of marketing. Koyle will assume the role effective immediately. He will spearhead the marketing operations of the company pertaining to the television game show format TriviaBingo. This will be a key role as a result of demand for the show and the four recent licensing agreements the company has signed since February of this year. Koyle will oversee ongoing communications with the licensing companies in addition to exploring new partnerships and strategic alliances.

Nambling Notes - Jul 13, 2001 is republished from
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.