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Mark Balestra

Nambling Notes - March 16, 2001

16 March 2001

Tidbits from the Mediterranean -- Malta Finance Minister John Dalli told The Malta Business Weekly this week that despite Great Britain's recently introduced tax break for bookmakers, he doesn't expect British betting companies to bail out of Malta. "It is not up to me to decide whether the English companies will stay in Malta or not since they have their own marketing strategies," Dalli said, "but I believe that Malta is still competitive in this sector especially following their experience here."

George Debrincat, general manager of, agreed. "I doubt that there will be an exodus from Malta," Debrincat told The Malta Business Weekly. "The local scenario is still attractive and companies here benefit from lower costs and cheaper services. In reality the 15 percent tax on gross profits has been calculated to be around 19 percent. In Malta, each transaction is charged 0.5 percent. Calculating the total revenue to the government, this works out at around 12 per cent on gross profits. So Malta is still a better deal."

Ten out of Malta's 19 offshore betting companies are from the United Kingdom.

The government in Gibraltar, meanwhile, will be meeting with the Rock's nine British bookmakers in coming weeks to discuss their plans. Trade and Industry Minister Keith Azopardi shrugs off the suggestion that the possibility of the British bookmakers leaving is a potential crisis, citing that betting was not a mainstay of the economy. Opposition leader Joe Bossano, however, contends that the arrival of bookmakers was a significant boost for the economy. Panorama reports that as many as 200 jobs could go if the bookmakers leave.

New Stuff --, an online sportsbook based in Antigua, announced this week the launching of its mobile betting service at All of the options available to bettors at are now also available at the new wireless site. In addition to the introduction of WAP betting, the sportsbook also this week began accepting in-running wagers.

Canadian gaming software company CryptoLogic has introduced a new software feature that enables licensees to handle transactions in multiple currencies. The new feature makes its debut at Crypto-powered William Hill Casino. Players at can now choose to carry out transactions in either U.S. dollars or British pounds. "The addition of pound sterling functionality will appeal to this major licensee's strong U.K. player base and supports CryptoLogic's focus in the burgeoning European market," CryptoLogic President and CEO Joel Noelting said. "This is the latest step in CryptoLogic's global commitment to make Internet wagering a simpler and more pleasant experience and is in keeping with our continued international expansion."

Betting company Surrey Sports announced this week plans to offer multiple-platform access to single betting accounts, meaning that customers will only have to register once to be able to access the same betting account through the Internet (, interactive TV or a WAP phone ( Surrey Sports is making the move to meet the needs of increasingly mobile customers who want to access their account from a number of sources. Customers can register either by phone or online through the Internet or interactive TV and will then have access to the same account through any of the platforms.

The Israeli national lottery, Mifal Hapais, announced last week that it will begin regularly broadcasting its lotto draws live over the Internet. The lottery's SuperLotto draw was bumped from TV by election coverage February 6 and subsequently aired on the Internet instead. According to Lottery Insider, the Internet draw was so successful that it will become a regular program at, Mifal Hapais's website.

Makin' Deals -- has announced that it has signed an endorsement deal with LPGA golfer Laura Davies. The Antigua-based online sportsbook says it will sponsor Davies through the rest of 2001. "We are extremely excited to be working with Laura Davies,'''s Daniel Fitz said. "Our logo can be found in baseball fields, football stadiums, boxing rings, Nascar tracks and now on the golf course. Golfing is a natural fit with our business and we hope to make a greater commitment to the sport over the years to come.'' Davies will display the logo on her visor, shirt and golf bag. Davies called the partnership "an expression of our mutual belief that gaming, whether in your home or casino, is a personal responsibility.''

The latest acquisition in the shake-up Down Under goes to of Alderney. The online sports betting firm this week announced its purchase of Number One Betting Shop for £11.6 million. The deal gives a highly sought after presence in the South Pacific. Depending on Number One's performance over the next two years, could have to pay another £24 million. "The acquisition of Number One is an important acquisition for Sportingbet and completes the platform from which we can deliver our global offering with a substantial presence in each time zone, Director Mark Blandford said.

Oberthur Card Systems, a developer of smart card technology, has announced its acquisition of Logica Impresora S.A. The FRF 66 million (USD $9.06 million) purchase puts Oberthur in an excellent position as a leader in the payment card market throughout Spain and Portugal. Logica Impresora is currently ranked No. 1 in the manufacturing and personalization of banking cards in Spain and No. 9 worldwide in the shipment of Visa and MasterCard cards .

Webraska, a provider of wireless navigation services and technologies, and SureFire Commerce Inc., a leading global provider of secure online transaction processing services, have formed a partnership to develop wireless location-based mobile commerce (m-commerce) services. The two companies will provide technology and m-commerce solutions for merchants and wireless carriers. The solution will combine SureFire's proprietary e-commerce solutions with Webraska's Personal Navigation API. The initial offer will enable merchants to target selected customers, through mobile phones, with personalized purchase offers based on their proximity and individual profile. Furthermore, customers would be able to receive turn-by-turn directions and street-level maps to guide them into the store, providing the merchants with a virtual wireless sales force.

Tidbits from the US -- A plan being considered in the Minnesota House of Representatives would make NCAA betting pools legal and, more importantly, taxable in that state. The bill, introduced by Rep. Phyllis Kahn, would enable bars and/or convenience stores to take wagers on sporting events. Through the taxation of these wagers, the state would apply an estimated $120 million in tax revenue toward funding amateur sports programs or recreational trails.

After months of delays, Al Ross of Island Sports has been sentenced for his violation of the Interstate Wire Act, the law that makes it a crime to accept wagers over state or national borders using a wire communication facility. Ross, who pled guilty to the charges last year, was among 21 Caribbean sportsbook operators targeted in 1998 by U.S. Attorney Mary Jo White in a shakeout that eventually led to the highly publicized conviction of World Sports Exchange President Jay Cohen. Ross was sentenced this week to six months home confinement, three years probation and a $20,000 fine by U.S. District Court Judge Kimba Wood.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota recently found that the drug naltrexone, a medication commonly used to treat alcoholism and drug addiction, helps compulsive gamblers stop gambling. Forty-five compulsive gamblers took the drug and 75 percent of them said that their gambling urges were reduced.

Tidbits from the Caribbean Basin -- The Caribbean IT industry honored Antigua Prime Minister Lester Bird yesterday by presenting him with the "Caribbean Information Technology Award" at the Caribbean Information Technology Forum and Economic Summit in Antigua. The award is given to persons for positive contribution to the Caribbean in the areas of information technology and/or e-commerce.

Costa Rica's fiber optic connection to the United States Internet backbone has been made operational, reportedly improving ping times to the States by 100 percent to 200 percent (depending on local peering).

A New Face -- Lottery equipment supplier GTECH announced Monday the hiring of Howard S. Cohen as chief executive officer. Cohen, who will report to the GTECH board of directors, has over 30 years of extensive service and technology experience in the domestic and international markets. As previously announced, W. Bruce Turner will continue as chairman of the board and devote much of his efforts to shareholder activities.

Quote Worthy -- "If it (Internet gambling) is clearly a legal act, I think it's appropriate that Nevada licensees engage in it. Gambling is certainly one of the mainstays of our economy, and if licensees in other jurisdictions can do it, then it certainly makes sense that Nevada licensees should be involved in it."

--Nevada Resorts Association (NRA) President Bill Bible, as quoted in the Las Vegas Sun, commenting on legislation that would enable Nevada casinos. Members of the NRA voted unanimously in favor of supporting the bill. Bible, the former chairman of the Nevada State Gaming control Board, headed the Internet gambling subcommittee on the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, which in 1999 recommended prohibition as the only acceptable policy for online gambling.

Nambling Notes - March 16, 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.