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Mark Balestra

Nambling Notes - May 11, 2001

11 May 2001

New Stuff -- went live Tuesday with its highly anticipated Internet sportsbook, The service, offered through a partnership with Ladbrokes eGaming Limited, is available only to sports bettors outside the United States. To celebrate the launch, has announced a sign-up bonus special as well as a special that will land the first European bettor who places the largest authorized bet by May 13, 2001 at Playboy founder Hugh Hefner's 75th birthday party in London later this month.

Boss Media this week announced the launching of the online version of Svenska Spel's Casino Cosmopol. The new site was created exclusively for the Swedish gaming market and can be downloaded only by registered members of Svenska Spel. The games are currently being offered in free-play mode. Real-money wagering will commence in July. has contributed once again to the digitalization of lottery games in the United States. The company has launched a new service that invites lottery players to check on winning numbers via cell phones and palm pilots. Visitors can sign up at to receive unique alerts on their wireless devices. The alerts notify users when their specified lotteries' jackpots reach specified amounts of money. The system, created through a partnership with Oracle Mobile, should give an excellent opportunity to stock its database with many new players.

Makin' Deals -- Gaming Internet of Great Britain has won a 10-year Independent Television Commission license for its planned 24-hour gobarkingmad greyhound racing channel. The Internet version of the service will be launched later this month, while the ITV version will debut in June.

Tote Ireland this week announced a plan to increase its turnover from £28 million to £90 million within the next five years. The £2 million investment entails a "key objective" strategy in which money will be pumped into racetrack facilities, brand identity and sponsorships. "Our aim is to create a major brand in Irish wagering on track, tele-betting, Internet and in betting offices on the high street." Tote Ireland General Manager John White explained.

British Sky Broadcasting Group plc, the U.K.-based pay-television broadcasting firm, on Wednesday completed the acquisition of HSBC's and Matsushita's shareholdings in British Interactive Broadcasting Holdings Limited (BiB). BSkyB has gained full day-to-day control of BiB through its 80.1 percent interest in the group. Immediate plans call for the consolidation of all interactive and online activities within BSkyB's Sky Interactive division to manage BSkyB's interactive services across all platforms. "With this deal Sky has taken control of its interactive future," BSkyB CEO Tony Ball said. "We will now consolidate all our assets in one division, Sky Interactive, which will allow us to make cost savings, generate extra revenues and integrate more interactive content with television programming. Interactive services give Sky the means to enhance and differentiate the experience on its digital platform thereby increasing customer satisfaction and maintaining strong retention levels."

eLOT Inc. subsidiary eLottery, Inc. announced today that it has launched a co-branded lottery results website with Terra Lycos at eLottery is utilizing its content to offer users easy access to state lottery results and additional lottery information. Lycos will place links on relevant portions of its network, which will seamlessly connect users to the eLottery and Lycos co-branded lottery website. Under the terms of the deal, eLottery and Lycos will share advertising revenue on the site with Lycos responsible for selling all advertising.

The boards of directors for Inc. and Proxite, Inc., a website and Internet software developer, have unofficially agreed to enter into a letter of intent to merge the two companies. According to the terms of the agreement, Proxity's shareholders will receive $8 million of newly issued shares of restricted CasinoBuilders voting stock in exchange for the cancellation of all of their ownership interests in Proxity. CasinoBuilders says that it plans to acquire additional Internet technology companies.

A Tidbit from the UK -- The Racing Post reports that the implementation of England's tax-free betting laws could come as early as October. Upon the March announcement of the new policy, Chancellor Gordon Brown said that it would likely come into effect in January 2002. However, Customs and Excise at that time indicated that it would accept an earlier introduction if the necessary preparations were made.

Tidbits from the US -- The announcement that the Walt Disney company is preparing to launch a pay-to-play online games venture next month, with a multimillion dollar promotional blitz, has "raised the eyebrows" of Senator Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., according to his press secretary, Andrew Wilder. The Los Angeles Times reports that Disney executives say they aren't worried. The new games, they say, involve pure skill or knowledge, and are not games of chance. The executive vice president of Disney's Internet group says the new enterprise, called Skillgames, "has been incredibly carefully vetted, and we want to be as far away from any sort of gray area as we possibly can." The games will carry $1 million in prizes, and came from the "idea factory" of founder Jay Walker.

The latest development in the war over wagering in Nevada on college sports comes as a hard blow to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the primary supporter of the prohibition effort. The NCAA's top lobbyist, Doris Dixon, stepped down Monday following a Senate committee hearing in which the bill landed one vote away from being killed. Dixon says her decision had nothing to do with the hearing or the increasingly negative outlook for the legislation. She says she instead is leaving to pursue a job as president and CEO of VSA Arts, a group that puts children with disabilities in contact with writing, dance, music and visual arts programs.

Members of Harrah's Entertainment's award-winning "Total Rewards" players club program will soon have the option of owning Total Rewards credit cards. Harrah's announced this week that it has signed a deal with credit card company MBNA Corp. in which MBNA will issue credit cards using the Total Rewards brand. By charging things on the cards, consumers will accumulate Total Rewards points, which can then be redeemed for cash and comps at Harrah's properties. The cards are slated to be issued by the end of the month.

Tidbits from Down Under -- Petrice Judge, a senior Western Australia public servant, this week warned that her state's government will lose millions of dollars in revenue if the federal government succeeds in prohibiting Internet gambling. Judge says the ban would jeopardize the health of the WA racing industry, which would lose revenue earned through the WA TAB, as well as potential revenue from selling lottery tickets over the Internet and called for exemptions for both lotteries and horse racing. "The inclusion of the TAB, bookmakers and lottery services in a permanent ban will not only impact consumers, service providers and revenues raised by these industries," Judge said, "but indirectly affect the wider community, jeopardizing the health of the racing industry and funding of community projects by the lotteries industry."

Meanwhile, another Australian betting firm has voiced intentions of setting up elsewhere if the federal government bans online sports and race wagering. Mark Read, chairman of Darwin-based betting firm International All Sports, expressed in a report to shareholders that his company may set up shop in Malta, where a handful of Internet betting services are already operating successfully. Read said in the report that the group has already received a wagering license issued by the Maltese government.

A Tidbit from the Caribbean -- reports that Antigua & Barbuda High Commissioner Sir Ronald Sanders has entered into discussions with officials from both the U.K. and U.S. governments to persuade them to lift the financial advisories imposed on the islands in April 1999. The U.K. and U.S. governments imposed the advisories because they were concerned with what they considered to be lax money laundering laws on the part of Antigua. Since then, Antigua Prime Minister Lester Bird has been leading an effort to improve Antigua's anti-money laundering policy so that they are up to speed with U.K. and U.S. requirements. An amended money laundering law in Antigua aims to levy a 3 percent tax on gross income and gross handle of businesses regarded as financial institutions, including both land-based and Internet gambling businesses.

This Week in Cyber Crime -- Bookmakers continue to offer illegal gambling services in the Far East and authorities continue to crack down on them. The last crime operation to be exposed, according to HKiMail, is a Honk Kong group that put an ad in Sing Tao Daily, a local publication, for a job with a "mainland soccer promotion agency." Those who interviewed for the job were asked to accept wagers from European soccer bettors for an $8,000 salary (plus commission). The penalty for participating in illegal gambling in Hong Kong is a maximum fine of $3 million and nine months' jail.

The Associated press reports that nine Philippine members of an alleged gambling ring were arrested in Saudi Arabia. The suspects have been accused of using the Internet to advertise their services and connect to a Thai gambling website. Authorities described the gang as "very proficient" and said that it "took steps that made it extremely difficult to break into the site." Ten computers, several photocopy machines, flyers advertising the gambling services and 85,000 riyals ($22,666) have been seized.

Authorities in Ottawa arrested and charged eight men in a $200-million inter-provincial bookmaking scheme following raids on several homes and businesses in the city. The suspects are accused of using cell phones pagers, e-mail, Palm Pilots and storefronts to take illegal sports bets. Authorities say that the money collected from betting services was being used to fund other criminal activities such as drug networks and gun running.

Nambling Notes - May 11, 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.