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Mark Balestra

Nambling Notes - Oct 27, 2000

27 October 2000

A Tidbit from the Caribbean -- Antigua and Barbuda, home to 94 Internet gaming sites, all licensed in the last three years, says it is preparing to tighten legislation before the end of the year. The chairman of its regulating board says underage and compulsive gambling will be addressed, as they are in Australia.

Tidbits from the UK -- A massive amount of wagers taking place backing the election of Michael Martin to the office of Commons Speaker has generated controversy in the U.K. The Daily Mail reports that Labour MPs and their associates could have won as much as a combined £1 million, with one MP possibly winning as much as £200,000. Tory and Liberal Democrat MPs are calling for an investigation, claiming that MPs profiting through votes clearly creates a conflict of interest. It's been rumored that a coup based in Glascow, home to Martin, laid most of the bets. Graham Sharpe of William Hill, the bookmaker which accepted most of the election bets, says, however, that a total of £50,000 had been bet by punters across the U.K. and that most of that money came from London. Martin emphasized that he did not bet on himself.

It's back to business for the U.K. Lottery Commission now that a new chairman has been named in Lord Terry Burns. First, Camelot, the current operator of the National Lottery, recently squeezed out of the bidding battle for the lottery's next contract and then brought back in, submitted its revised bid Tuesday, although the company would not rule out the possibility of legal action should it fail to get a fair hearing. The company has expressed disappointment that the four other commissioners haven't been replaced as well. Camelot owns the rights to operate the lottery until September 2001.

On Wednesday, Burns laid out a plan of progress for the awarding of the license. The Commission will soon evaluate the revised bids of Camelot and its competitor, the People's Lottery. If the Commission concludes that only one of the bids has the potential to meet the criteria, an announcement about the preferred bidder could come as early as mid November. If it concludes that both revised bids have the potential to meet the criteria, it will consider which revised bid would secure the most proceeds for the National Lottery Distribution Fund and make an announcement hopefully by mid-December. Also on Wednesday, Burns asked the four additional commissioners to stay on.

In the Courts -- According to an Associated Press story, the Internal Revenue Service has gone to court to seek records on U.S. taxpayers with credit card accounts in the Bahamas, the Cayman Islands and Antigua and Barbuda. The tax evasion probe could effect thousands of people. Credit, debit and charge cards at banks in all three tax havens are covered by federal court petitions filed Wednesday against American Express Travel Related Services Co. and MasterCard International. The headquarters for the Caribbean operations of both companies are in the Miami area, and IRS lawyers say that their records are legally accessible without a court hearing. The court hasn't yet ruled on the issue.

The Earth Fund, a Prince Edward Island-based charitable organization licensed by the Province of Prince Edward Island to conduct and manage a charitable lottery and to sell its tickets via the Internet, announced this week that it will "vigorously oppose" attempts by the Interprovincial Lottery Corporation (ILC) to shut it down, Lottery Insider reports. The ILC went forward with legal actions in September 2000 to keep the Earth Fund as well as all other charitable organizations from offering their tickets to the public. The case is expected to be heard December 20 in Toronto.

PlayStar Wyoming Holding Corp announced this week that the law suit received in March 2000 by Cyberstation Limited, Joseph Alves and Alicia Da Conceaceo and the counter suit issued by PlayStar in June 2000 have been settled out of court. According to a PlayStar news release, all parties have signed an agreement releasing each and all from proceedings relating to the suit and counter suit. The company also says that development of the new Shockwave PlayStar Casino is on schedule and will be released next month.

A Tidbit from the Far East -- The South China Morning Post reports that the Hong Kong Jockey Club has installed its betting system for online wagering and plans to make the service available to holders of telebet accounts in the near future. "Everything's ready to go," says Steve Beason, the club's executive director of information technology. "The system's up; it's installed; it's running." The next stage is internal testing.

Makin' Deals -- Silicon Gaming, Inc., a gaming machine manufacturer on the brink of busting into the online gambling business via its creation of a free-play Internet casino for MGM/Mirage, reported this week that it has engaged in merger discussion with International Game Technology (IGT), a gaming machine manufacturer that recently fell off the same brink when it sold off its ownership interest in Sydney-based gaming software developer Access Systems in December 1999. Under the terms of the proposed $45 million transaction, Silicon Gaming would become a subsidiary of IGT. IGT would also receive a 5 percent interest in WagerWorks, Silicon Gaming's Internet technology subsidiary.

Australia-licensed online casino operator Gocorp Ltd announced Tuesday that it has signed an agreement to become a value-added reseller of gaming software by Gaming and Entertainment Technology Systems Pty Ltd. Gocorp's SpinCycle Ltd. will be recognized as an accredited implementation partner. SpinCycle has to date completed three online casinos and has developed a library of over 15 interactive games. One of the casinos,, operated by Gocorp, is operational, and two additional casinos are, according to the company, available for delivery.

Gaming Internet Plc announced this week the signing of joint venture agreements with, and (all part of News Group Newspapers of News International);, the online site of EMAP's FHM magazine;, the quoted provider of sports news services;, an online games site; and Premiumserve, a provider of premium rate internet services. The partnerships have been formed to increase traffic to Gaming Internet's websites.

Wiremix Media Inc., a marketing firm that handles marketing for Starnet and casinos, announced last week at the World Gaming show in Las Vegas the launching of, a gaming news, information and entertainment portal. Wiremix Media will be providing marketing and development services for the site on behalf of Starnet Communications International Inc., the operator of The new site offers consumers daily updated content on a variety of gaming topics including odds, scores and stats for all major sports.

The big news out of Las Vegas this week was the formal launch of a free-play online casino by Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. To boot, the company also announced that it has named IBM as the technology architect for Harrah's newly re-launched website. Harrah's credits IBM working closely with the casino company and its technology partners to design the new site, which enables customers to update their Harrah's Total Rewards accounts, obtain in-depth information on all Harrah's properties, and access the play-for-fun online casino.

Tropika International Limited has announced a significant strategic marketing partnership with direct marketing company RedResponse Inc. in which RedResponse will help Tropika's subsidiaries increase their user revenues and profitability. Tropika Chairman and CEO John Ashbee says Fairplay Casino ( will be the first site to receive marketing help. "RedResponse has said that it can deliver our offer to 10-to-20 million qualified, opt-in e-mail addresses over the next eight months," explained Ashbee. "Even at the conservative acceptance rate of 0.5 percent, this could generate a significant number of new gaming clients. This is the first synergistic agreement to arise out of our recent arrangement with, which owns 20 percent of RedResponse. With this agreement, we think we can increase the size of the Fairplay Casino database by as much as 400 percent, driving significant revenues and cash flow."

Firstake plc, an OFEX-traded retail and online sports betting company, announced that it has signed an exclusive deal to take over the customers and telephone betting operation of Multi-Sports Bookmakers. The acquisition marks Firstake's first major development since the launch of its online service during Euro 2000 earlier this year. Through the deal, Firstake doubles its number of customers by acquiring more than 3,500 betting accounts. The company says the acquisition will add a£3 million to turnover and £400,000 to income. The deal will also give the company access to Sky Digital and Channel 5 text services. Multi-Sports offers a range of sports betting products via Teletext services on Sky Digital and Channel 5 covering golf, rugby, cricket, tennis, snooker, soccer and horse racing.

New Stuff -- The publishers of DoubleDown magazine have debuted a new print publication, Gaming Express magazine, that will focus exclusively on Internet gambling. "We continue to add gaming information to our portfolio because of increased demand from gamblers," said Publisher and CEO Reginald Ware. "We already have the top gaming-entertainment magazine hosted online by one of the top gambling-related websites ( Now we have a magazine dedicated exclusively to online gaming."

Can the free lottery game business possibly get any bigger. The mass of the whole thing was exclaimed this week by eLotteryFreeWay upon debuting what the company has proclaimed the Internet's first ever instant $1 million lottery game. Players can participate in the PIK 6 Lotto game and see results immediately on their screen up to six times a day. The big-prize, free-lottery phenomenon makes you wonder how lottery operators will be able to continue coaxing players to purchase tickets when they can play take multiple cracks at dozens of other virtual lotteries for free.

Nambling Notes - Oct 27, 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.