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Mark Balestra

Nambling Notes - Oct 13, 2000

13 October 2000

Tidbits from the US -- It appears that MGM Mirage may no longer be Las Vegas's only big-time casino corporation with a play-for-fun Internet casino. With its recent purchase of a stake in massive free-play games provider and its highly acclaimed player-tracking database, Harrah's Entertainment for weeks has been our choice as the company most likely to take the plunge next. Although no major announcement was made, they appear to have added a free-play online casino to their website at Only members of Harrah's Total Rewards players club can log in and play, and the staff at IGN, equipped with a membership card, was unable to get in due to a technical problem. Phone calls to Harrah's officials for verification and further details went unanswered, so very little about the new games is known. Look for the lowdown on this development in coming days here at IGN.

Now that the moratorium on the issuing of new online gaming licenses in Australia has (for the moment) given way to a moratorium on the presence of chaos amid the Net betting industry Down Under, all eyes turn to Capitol Hill in anticipation of Rep. Bob Goodlatte's next move. Goodlatte wants his Internet Gambling Prohibition Act, which was shot down in July, brought up for another vote before the session ends and he's reached the bottom half of the 11th hour. All has been quiet, and many contend that the legislation is as good as dead, but Goodlatte maintains that his bill will see the light of day before it's all said and done. The Congressman says he's very close to working out a deal with the Rules Committee's most influential member, Chairman David Dreier, for another House vote. "We anticipate that this will happen soon because we are running out of time," Goodlatte spokeswoman Michelle Semones told reporters earlier this week. "We're very close to a compromise." The session could adjourn as soon as early next week. reports that gambling regulators in Nevada have proposed a $550 betting limit on college games as an alternative to federal legislation that would make wagering on amateur sports illegal. "We feel we're better equipped to regulate the gaming industry in Nevada than Washington," Nevada Gaming Commission Chairman Brian Sandoval explained. "I hope they (Congress) will be receptive."

Tidbits from the UK -- Last week's forced resignation of the U.K. National Lottery Commission's chairman, Helena Shovelton, has a lot of people worried that the situation there is totally out of control. Some speculate that the lottery, riddled with one controversy after another, will have to shut down for a while so it can piece itself back together. That won't happen, says Culture Secretary Chris Smith, who announced Tuesday that he would appoint a new commissioner within the next few days. "Whatever arrangements are put in place," he said, "there must be no interruption in the running of the lottery so the interests of good causes and players are protected." On Thursday, Smith came through as he said he would, naming Lord Terry Burns, the former Treasury boss and the man who headed the recent investigation into fox hunting, as the Commissions next chairman.

A £400 million bid last week from Carlton Communications appeared to doom Arena Leisure's chances of winning the internet, interactive and terrestrial television rights for British horse racing, but Arena fired back by announcing Wednesday the signing of agreements with British Sky Broadcasting Limited (BSkyB) and Channel Four Television Corporation in which the parties will form a joint venture that will try to come up with a better offer. Arena's existing bid, made Sept. 20, lapsed at midnight Oct. 10, however, the newly formed company will make a revised bid. "Our partnership with Channel 4 and BSkyB combines all the necessary broadcasting, technology, interactive gaming and racing experience, expertise and contacts to develop U.K. racing as a truly global media and gaming product," said Arena's Ian Penrose. "We are confident that the U.K. racecourses will appreciate this partnership is best placed to maximize enhanced revenue streams to racing."

Tidbits with a Maltese Flavor -- MaltaMedia reports that Ireland's largest bookmaker, Paddy Power, has announced plans of moving its Internet betting operations to Malta if the Irish government doesn't include further tax cuts in the December budget. The company, which was awarded a betting license in Malta last week, may also move its telephone betting operations there as well. The Irish government cut the betting duty from 10 percent to 5 percent last year, but another reductions is necessary for Ireland to compete with Malta as an offshore betting jurisdiction. The Maltese government has licensed at least 15 foreign online betting companies.

While Malta looks to be well on its way to becoming Europe's hottest offshore betting locale, one company that apparently won't be licensed there, according to Las Vegas Sporting News, is NASA Sports International. LVSN reports that NASA applied for a gaming license there, but was advised by the Malta Financial Services Centre to withdraw the application because of concerns about the Costa Rica-based sportsbook's involvement in a dispute over its claiming to be insured by Lloyd's of London. LVSN also reports that NASA has received a license in the U.K., but that it's status in the U.K. is now in jeopardy as well.

New Stuff -- Starnet Communications International Inc. announced this week that its World Gaming Services Inc. subsidiary has launched the wagering module for horse racing on its website. The implementation of the module also facilitates wagering on jai alai and greyhound racing. The launch of the wagering module follows the introduction of live horseracing audio/video feeds and other complementary services earlier this year. The company additionally announced that it has signed a simulcast agreement with Monticello Raceway for its signal., the online gaming portal with a domain that has the Net betting industry salivating buckets, this week unveiled a new interface and that includes a snappy new look and many new features. Highlighting the new features and contributing to the site's 28 unique attractions, is the " Rat Pack," a free program the offers members exclusive premiums and encourages them to collect points for prizes.

A Tidbit from Australasia -- In an effort to thwart illegal gambling, the Malaysian government last week outlawed all video game arcades, and according to ZDNet Asia, their next target for banning is cyber cafés. Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the ban was necessary to curb rampant slot-machine gambling and because the games had become "like an opium" for the younger generation. Owners of legitimate cyber cafés admit that some of their counterparts are setting up illegal gambling shops, but are asking the government to opt for better law enforcement instead of an all-out ban. Cybercafes offer a cheap means for people who can't afford computers to access the Internet," says Lim Kah Hai, owner of Net Surfing Zone. "I have parents who bring their children in here on weekends and nearby college students who need them to complete assignments."

Makin' Deals --, Inc. has announced that its Casino Marketing S.A. subsidiary has sold a new casino license to Atherton Investment LLC of Belize, bringing the total number of licenses sold to date to 14. Customers who play at the new site ( will be able to various online games such as blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat, pai gow, Caribbean poker, video poker and slot machines. additionally announced that it will be attending the 14th Annual World Gaming Congress and Expo, October 18-20 in Las Vegas.

e-Success Incorporated, a developer of fraud detection and prevention services for e-commerce businesses, today announced the forming of a strategic partnership with Frank Catania and the Catania Consulting Group, Inc. Catania, a former director of the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE), served as the vice president in charge of compliance for Players International, Inc. where he was instrumental in resolving compliance issues the company had encountered throughout the United States, prior to his appointment. He also has served as the chair and vice chair of the International Association of Gaming Regulators (IAGR) and was a co-founder and past chairman of the Forum of American Casino Regulators (FACR). "Frank Catania's extensive background and reputation in both the traditional and Internet gaming industries is a great addition to the e-Success team," Michael Meeks, president of e-Success said. "His efforts will be important to the continued success of our marquee products, Citadel and Integrity, and his understanding of varying regulatory requirements from around the world will be essential as we move forward."

e-Success additionally announced the introduction of a software intrusion and change detection module for its Integrity continuous monitoring system. Through an agreement with Tripwire Inc. of Portland, Oregon, e-Success will incorporate Tripwire's industry leading technology for software intrusion and change detection of target gaming systems into its Integrity product. Tripwire's data and network integrity solutions empower the user to determine exactly what has changed on a monitored target system.

Coming and Going -- Canadian software supplier CryptoLogic Inc. announced this week that Paul Gragtmans has been named the company's vice president of business development. Gragtmans, who brings 20 years of sales, marketing and operational experience in the technology sector, having held progressively senior positions throughout an extensive career at IBM Canada and with PBSC Computer Training, will focus on strategic sales execution and new business opportunities.

Go Call Inc. has announced the election of Michael Meyer to its board of directors. Meyer has been a chartered accountant since 1974 and a senior partner in the firm Good, Meyer, Litt, and Schwartzentruber of Stratford, Ontario, Canada since 1977.

My Casino Limited announced Monday that it has accepted the resignation of Klaus Eckhof as a director of the company. Eckhof was appointed to the board earlier in the year at the time of the acquisition by the company of the internet gaming business and is retiring so he can pursue other interests.

An Important Clarification -- IGN reported September 29 that Jack Banks and Larry Weltman of Ltd. were convicted and sentenced for defrauding a British bank. The news instantly triggered criticism of the Interactive Gaming Council because GalaxiWorld is an IGN member in good standing. A consultant to the company has informed IGN that Banks and Weltman were convicted on personal charges that were unrelated to the operation of GalaxiWorld and that the two execs no longer have anything to do with the company. The last IGC member to find itself in such a bind, aside from the Online Players Association's ongoing crusade to bring down Golden Palace, was Interactive Gaming & Communications, which was forced to give up its membership because it previously operated a Sports International, a sportsbook that folded without paying many of its customers.

Nambling Notes - Oct 13, 2000 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.