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Vicky Nolan

Nambling Notes - Aug 25, 2000

25 August 2000

Tidbits from Europe -- The U.K. National Lottery licensing debacle continues as officials from Camelot vow to fight their disqualification as a candidate. Earlier this week, the licensing committee announced that neither Camelot nor The People's Lottery, is receiving the seven-year license to run the U.K. lottery. Camelot, the current license holder, was dropped from consideration due to concerns about its technical supplier, GTECH, for hiding technical problems affecting thousands of payouts. Meanwhile, the People's Lottery consortium, led by Virgin's Sir Richard Branson, has been given an extra month's time to clear up concerns raised by the licensing committee. Branson has already agreed to provide a £50 million financial safety net for the lottery. Stay tuned for the next round of the battle.

U.K. bookmakers were hit hard by punters who won big on Euro 2000 events. The three-week soccer tournament attracted a huge betting spree by punters around the world, who won in equally huge amounts, reports the Independent. Even though Ladbrokes' customers bet L20 million during Euro 2000, the six month profit levels were L13 million less than expected. Meanwhile, a Bet Direct spokesman called the experience "as comprehensive a slaughter as one could possibly imagine." William Hill's Graham Sharpe was more philosophical about bookmakers' losses during the tournament. "Occasionally, you do get the odd Tiger Woods or Frankie Dettori who wins everything," said Sharpe. "But the next time, someone else might come along and beat them. And besides, if punters didn't get the better end of the exchange from time to time, we would be out of a job."

Irish bookmakers and horseracing executives are facing a grim reality: High taxes and new Internet betting sites are siphoning money away from the traditional betting sources on the Emerald Isle. A recent article in the Irish Times warns that foreign licenses and the Internet is drastically affecting betting in Ireland, hurting both the betting services and the taxman squarely in the pocket. Last year, the Irish Horseracing Authority, the Turf Club and the Association of Irish Racing jointly earned more than £50 million from off course tax revenue, which will fall drastically thanks to all the competition offshore and on the Internet. The Irish government recently dropped tax rates from 10 percent to a more reasonable 5 percent. Nonetheless, Irish firm O'Halloran's Bookmakers has reportedly received a license in Malta and moved its betting service there. Malta is already hosting bookmakers Heathorns International and Stanley Leisure Group. While the Irish government is look at taxation and betting, no changes are likely to be made before the next budget is announced.

The Gaming Regulators European Forum (GREF) introduced its new website this week at Through GREF, European gaming regulators can meet, exchange views and information and discuss policy on gaming matters. Membership is open to gaming regulation organizations throughout Europe.

New Stuff -- Visitors to Boss Media's latest creation can enjoy steel drum music, listen to the ocean and relax at the table in the casino. Jamaica Bay Casino is Boss Media's 20th casino to go live and offers multi-player blackjack, video poker, roulette, and progressive slot machines.

Tidbits from North America -- While U.S. Congress is drawing quite a bit of spotlight as it prepares to reopen the books on three Internet gambling prohibition bills--3125, 4419 and 5020--the state of California is progressing quite nicely with a prohibition measure of its own. AB 2179, sponsored by Assemblyman Herb Wesson, cruised rather quickly through the Assembly and has spent recent weeks bouncing from committee to committee in the Senate. It was placed on Appropriations suspense file August 15, and a vote could be imminent.

Upon the reporting of Magna Entertainment's quarterly results, Magna Interactive President and CEO Mark Feldman last week announced that the company's strategic focus will be on "branding initiatives . . . and the development of our interactive television and Internet programming service, scheduled to launch in the first quarter of 2001." The company showed net income of $2,752,000 on revenues of $53.8 million for its latest quarter.

Success Stories -- The World Online Poker Association (WOPA) has given its first ever Fairplay Award to's poker room licensee. WOPA is a U.K.-based organization of professional poker players from around the world who have joined together to act as an independent watchdog over the online community and better serve the needs of poker players. The group's site is

While IGN typically covers information about real-money wagering sites, we couldn't help noticing that several free-play sites have been touting their success in attracting eyeballs. Netvalue, for example, rated online lottery site Bananalotto as the 36th most popular site in the U.K.; it was visited at least once a month by nearly seven percent of Internet users there. More than half of the site's visitors came back two to five times per month. Nielsen//NetRatings called, a business that originally set its sights on the real-money gambling market, the "Stickiest Site on the Internet" for gaining nine hours of visitors' time during the month of July. The industry average for time spent on websites is less than four minutes per month. was ranked No. 113 as the most frequently visited website, based on early August figures from PCData Online. also boasted an industry-high three-month average loyalty rating of No. 69,based on May to July PCData numbers, with a 54 percent user retention rate. Visits to soared with nearly 7.7 million page views recorded per day.

New Faces -- Frank Ricciuti has joined dot com Entertainment Group, Inc. as vice chairman and director of corporate communications. He already serves on the company's board of directors.

Go Call Inc. announced this week the election of Steve Vanderford to its board of directors. Vanderford, an executive with IBM, replaces James Hammer, who has asked to be relieved because of time constraints brought on by other projects.

Makin' Deals -- Blue Square, one of the largest online bookmakers in the U.K., announced that it has placed its target marketing campaign with Kana Communications, Inc. Kana will target Blue Square's permission-based marketing programs for quicker, more efficient implementation. Kate Flanagan, marketing manager for Blue Square, commented, "We use Kana's solution to precisely target customers in a controlled and efficient manner with each campaign serving to refine our database further. This is good news for our customers, who receive only information in which they are interested, and we have a higher opt-in and success rate since our customers trust us to send them relevant information."

Nambling Notes - Aug 25, 2000 is republished from
Vicky Nolan
Vicky Nolan