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Mark Balestra

Nambling Notes - Nov. 2, 2001

2 November 2001

Tidbits from Down Under -- Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd. (PBL) Chairman James Packer this week at the company's annual general meeting identified January 2002 as the projected launch date for the company's long-awaited Internet casino. "Crown Online," the virtual version of PBL's land-based Crown Casino in Melbourne, will be operated out of the South Pacific state of Vanuatu. Packer, the son of Australian media mogul Kerry Packer, said Vanuatu wasn't the company's first choice. "We tried very hard to establish Crown Online in Australia, which would have created Australian jobs," he said. "However, the regulatory hurdles were simply too difficult." Packer also said that the new site will not accept bets from Australia or the United States. The site will be operated by Ecorp Ltd., of which PBL is an 80 percent owner.

Most in the Net betting industry have written off the prospect of Australia adopting a friendlier policy toward online gaming, but the country's first virtual casino operator still has hopes that things could change. Following Lasseters Oline's announcement that it was doubling the number of games offered at its online casino, CEO Peter Bridge intimated that the reversal of a recently implemented federal policy making it illegal to offer online casino gambling to Australian bettors is not beyond the realm of possibility. And, he said, such a reconsideration could come much sooner than expected. "The federal government has indicated they'll be reviewing that in a couple of years time and, you know, we're very thankful to the Labor Party on their views on online gaming," Bridge said. "They've got a very sensible approach, as have the Democrats, and hopefully we'll see a bit more sense coming out of Canberra after November."

A Tidbit from Way Down Under -- Rising concern over the rapid expansion of gambling in New Zealand has prompted the University of Auckland to establish a new center for studying its economic, social and health impacts. Director Peter Adams said research is much needed because there's very little hard data available on the effects of gambling on New Zealand citizens.

Makin' Deals -- Swedish online gambling software supplier Boss Media on Wednesday announced the signing of a software licensing deal with Macau casino operator Stanley Ho. Through the deal, Ho's online casino will feature games deigned by Boss Media. The agreement was reached in mid September, at which time Boss Media disclosed that it had signed an unnamed land-based casino operator.

ukbetting plc announced Thursday the acquisition of sports content portals and by its subsidiary, SportingLife Bets Limited, for £1. The company has additionally acquired the Sportal trademark for the United Kingdom from Sportal International Limited. ukbetting will not be acquiring any of the operating assets of Sportal International Limited. Last month, the company acquired PA SportingLife Limited and Sportscard Group plc. reported this week that The Racing Network International (TRNi) has appointed plc's Euro Off Track arm as a strategic European totalisator transmission hub. Euro Off Track, as a hub, will place totepools directly into the totalisator systems at tracks broadcast by TRNi.

Gaming Insight Plc's Racing Network horse racing betting advice service has inked a five-year marketing agreement with Victor Chandler International (VCI) through which Racing Network will promote Victor Chandler betting services to its registered users and visitors to VCI will give Racing Network an undisclosed share of revenues brought in through the marketing relationship. In September the two companies struck a similar agreement through Gaming Insight's digital television greyhound racing business, gobarkingmad., a company that develops intellectual property for the commercial market, and Global Cash Access, a supplier of cash access, financial management and customer relationship marketing technologies to the gaming industry, have signed a letter of intent to develop a proprietary payment system for Internet gaming. The letter outlines the use of GCA's technology related to cash advance and cash access services and the development of an application program interface with's patented method of live remote wageringTM. Additionally, GCA has become the exclusive payment technology provider for licensees. The rollout of the companies' joint product is slated for the first quarter of 2002.

A Tidbit from the UK -- Online sports betting firm Sportingbet reports that it has bounced back strongly from the decline in turnover that followed the Sept. 11 attacks in the United States. The AIM-listed company said that it lost £13 million in turnover (resulting in a loss of margin of £700,000) during the three weeks following Sept. 11, mostly due to the cancellation of sporting events. However, thanks in part to a £500,000 marketing blitz, the company's numbers are stronger now than they were before the attacks. The company said turnover for the third quarter of 2001 was £293 million, up from £114 million in 2000. On a side note, the company reported this week that it has still not received any court papers from the state of New Jersey, which announced last month the filing of civil complaints against eight online betting services, including Sportingbet properties and The company said in a statement: "Sportingbet has no U.S. subsidiaries or physical operations, personnel or other assets within the United States. Accordingly, the company does not believe that the State of New Jersey has jurisdiction to bring any such actions against Sportingbet or its subsidiaries."

Legal Stuff -- The United Nations' World Intellectual Property Organization Arbitration and Mediation Center (WIPO) handed down a decision this week blocking an offshore online gaming company from using the domain name "," a site with no affiliation to The Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino in Las Vegas. David Friedman, assistant to the chairman of the board for Las Vegas Sands, Inc., The Venetian's parent company, warned that the company will aggressively protect its intellectual property against cybersquatters. "We've invested money and time in preserving our good name and we are not going to allow a cyber pirate to tarnish our image and reputation," he said. ". . . They (cybersquatters) should not doubt our resolve and determination to protect The Venetian mark in connection with our world-renowned resort, hotel and casino." He added, "The ruling is not only precedent-setting, but adds to our legal arsenal as we expand our presence worldwide through our Web site marketing." The company said it searched four continents to track down the cybersquatters and bring them to arbitration before WIPO.

Names and Faces Changing Places -- With its sights set on getting prepared for entry into the Internet gambling market, Park Place Entertainment on Tuesday appointed veteran Peter George as its senior vice president and managing director of the company's international group. George, the chief executive officer of Hilton Group PLC, formerly Ladbroke Group PLC, from 1994 until last year, will be responsible for evaluating and developing Park Place's international business, as well as supervising senior management for the company's existing international operations. Additionally, the company stated, he will coordinate Internet technology initiatives, "including international Internet gaming opportunities in appropriate jurisdictions that are consistent with standards established by Park Place and its regulators." During his lengthy career at Ladbroke, George served in a variety of positions, including managing director of retail betting, chairman of consumer electronics retailing and chairman of the gaming division. Most recently, George has served as a consultant to Park Place on international gaming issues. Reporting to George will be Michael Stirling, senior vice president for international operations, and Tom Sears, vice president for Internet initiatives.

Arena Leisure Plc announced Wednesday the appointment of Roger Withers, 59, as non-executive chairman of the company. Roger succeeds former Executive Chairman Martin Pope, who resigned after 10 years as a main board director to devote more time to other business interests.

Coinciding with its purchase of, ukbetting on Thursday appointed Sportal International Limited's Mary MacGregor as head of advertising sales and sponsorship.

Nambling Notes - Nov. 2, 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.