November 29, 2007

Boris Becker will be the new face of PokerStars

Tennis legend Boris Becker will be the new face of PokerStars. The three times grand slam event winner will represent the poker site during live events and online tournaments and will star in a new TV advertising campaign for the company. Becker will take part in a training programme to improve his poker skills and will then compete in PokerStars’ European Poker Tour events in Dortmund in late January and Monte Carlo in April next year. Tamar Yaniv, director of marketing EMEA at PokerStars, said: “Boris Becker is a world-class sportsman who became famous for his competitive spirit and aggressive, entertaining playing style, so we’re delighted that he has become an ambassador for PokerStars.”

November 27, 2007

Bodog seeks new judgement in internet domain name dispute

In its domain name court dispute in the state of Washington, Bodog is arguing that internet domain names are not property which can be seized by any court.

Lawyers for the company have suggested there is no previously established case law in the state which permits internet domain names to be seized under Washington law.

Bodog lost its domain names following legal action from a company called First technology, which Bodog insists is a “patent troll”.

Defence lawyer James Nguyen, a partner at internet legal specialists Foley & Lardner, has suggested that the court in Washington should look to the law established in Virginia which holds that domain names should not be subject to seizure.

The defence team also argues that Bodog domain names cannot be transferred, because those names could not be used by third parties without infringing on Bodog trademarks. The Bodog motion argues that if the court does not have the power to permit seizure of trademarks, “it likewise should not have the power to seize or transfer domain names which contain those trademarks”.

Bodog insists that the company named in the First Technology action, Bodog Entertainment Group SA, is a “defunct ex-supplier of data entry and domain management services”.

Calvin Ayre, Bodog founder, said: “This is a groundbreaking case in the muddy waters of internet law, and we are confident that we have many aspects in our favour to potentially solidify some clarity on this issue and our domains returned to us.”

Unibet to attempt to raise €100m to fund acquisition spree

Unibet is looking to raise up to €100m (£72m) on the bond markets to finance possible acquisitions.

In a statement issued today, the company said it had hired Swedish financial advisors Ohman Fondkommission to advise the board on possible sources of capital of up to €100m.

The statement added that the firm had been in discussions with “a number of parties regarding strategic acquisitions” and that in the opinion of the board “one or more of these acquisitions may be realised”.

Party boss cancels planned share sale

Mitch Garber, chief executive at PartyGaming, has cancelled a planned sale of shares and said he will not be off-loading any more shares in the company this year.

Back in March, Party announced that Garber had agreed to a programme of share sales at the end of each calendar quarter. The company gave no further reasons for the decision. However, the news could spark speculation that Party is close to signing off a deal with the US Department of Justice regarding its previous activities in the US.

According to the March plan, in June Garber sold over 4.3 million shares at a price of just over 39p, netting approximately £1.7m US$3.4m), while in September he netted approximately £1.2m from the sale of 5 million shares at 24p.

Under the agreement with the board reached in March, Garber must retain a holding of at least 3.5 million shares. After the announcement yesterday, Garber has a holding in the firm of 8.75 million shares.

November 16, 2007

Duplicate Poker: It’s Online, and It’s Legal

Duplicate Poker is different.

From the moment the download is complete and you find that there is already real money in your account, to playing one of the games for the first time, there is no doubt that it is a new experience. From the ability to play with real money by using your Visa, Mastercard or American Express account to transfer funds, to the fact that winning is based on skill, not luck, Duplicate Poker is a concept that has been a long time coming.

The online poker site launched on September 1, 2006, but only began its expansive marketing blitz this year. Now, its logo can be seen on numerous poker-related websites as the word spreads about this new phenomenon called duplicate poker. The concept and its premise are catching on quickly.

While still in the beginning stages of building a customer base and introducing the idea to card players, the minds behind the concept have already conducted a trial live tournament and are looking to create a tour of live duplicate poker events culminating in a championship event. But it all starts with the success of their already growing website.


France ready for March 2008 opening?

France and the European Commission hope to reach agreement over the provision of online betting and gaming services top French citizens by March 2008.

The news follows French budget minister Eric Woerth’s visit to Brussels to discuss a controlled opening of his country gambling market with European internal markets commissioner Charlie McCreevy.

One diplomat told French press sources there was still some way to go and the government’s representatives had not been in Brussels “to negotiate (with the Commission) but to discuss” a potential liberalisation of the French market.

France will assume the presidency of the European Commission in July 2008 and will want to have this issue cleared up when it takes up its position.

Bwin cuts losses but markets respond negatively

Bwin’s results for the third quarter and nine month periods of 2007 were badly received yesterday by analysts across Europe.

Although the company reduced losses to €5m for the three month period to the end of September, compared with losses of €22.6m over the same period in 2006, according to Bloomberg, analyst Christine Reitsamer from Sal. Oppenheim issued a neutral rating and said: “Bwin doesn't seem to be able to show profitable growth. Investors don't like that.'' Wolfgang Matejka, chief investment officer at Meinl Bank in Vienna, told the news agency: ``Bwin has not made the profit some people were waiting for.''

However, Bwin co-chief executive Norbert Teufelberger remained optimistic about the European market. He said: "Who would have thought six months ago that France would move politically? There is movement now. We hope that we will have more clarity in a few months. There won't be a European Union-wide solution, but in individual countries. The UK already has a solution. Our goal is to find one in one or several major countries. If that's going to happen, there will be a landslide."

The company generated gross gaming revenues of €86.2m for the quarter, up 20% on the €71.8m produced in 2006, sports betting revenues rose 15.3% to €47.3m, compared with €41m in 2006 and sports betting margins were 8.5%. Total group revenues for the quarter were €90m, a 34% rise on €67.3m for the same period in 2006. EBITDA for the quarter was €15.2m, compared with a loss of €5.2m in 2006.

Gross gaming revenues for the nine month period were €248m, a 20% increase compared with €206.7m for the same period in 2006. Total group revenues for the period were €252.7m, a 34.5% on €188m in 2006. EBITDA for the nine month period was €49.7m., compared with a loss of €8m last year.

Quarterly net gaming revenues came in at €75.5m, a 22% increase compared with €62m in 2006 and 13.8% rise compared with the previous quarter. Bwin said this was due mainly to an increase in net gaming revenues from poker to €18.5m, a 51% rise compared with 2006 and for sports betting to €40.5m, up 17.2% compared with the same period for 2006.

Bwin’s poker, casino and games divisions all strong performances during the quarter, rising respectively 46.2% (€20.7m), 4.9% (€14.4m) and 32.5% (€4m), while sports betting margins were up on the second quarter of 2007 (7.5%), but down on last year’s figures (9.2%).

Marketing expenses for the quarter were down 44% to €29m, compared with €52m in 2006, the company said it had concentrated on customer acquisition marketing and account reactivations during the period and bonuses totalling €8.5m, 10% of gross gaming revenues, were issued to customers.

November 15, 2007

A Recipe For Success?

On the back of fans’ community website MyFootballClub agreeing to take control of Conference side Ebbsfleet United, internet based sportsbook is offering a range of odds on what will be achieved.

With due diligence now set to take place, it is expected that the 20,000 members will take control of a 51% stake in the club in the next few weeks. Edging closer to the January transfer window, the members may decide on bringing a big name to the club to really put them on the map. If they do indeed decide to go down this route, you can get 20/1 on Teddy Sheringham joining the club, whilst Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink is 50/1. Anyone fancying an outside bet can take advantage of odds of 500/1 that Jens Lehmann will be an Ebbsfleet player by the beginning of next season.

Instant success will be something that the members will be hoping for to attract more people to invest, as well as raising the profile of the club. Ebbsfleet are 15/1 to win promotion to the Football League this year, while it is a 250/1 shot that they will steam roll their way to the Premiership in the next five years.

A spokesman said, “This is a really novel concept with such a huge number of members having equal voting rights on everything from formations to which players to sign. It really is all about the small guy taking on the world and for that it would be brilliant if the MyFootballClub story is a success.”


Ebbing on Success
Can Ebbsfleet achieve their dream?
Ebbsfleet to be a Premiership club in the next 5 years 250/1
Ebbsfleet to be a Premiership club in the next 10 years 50/1

Ebbing closer
Can Ebsfleet gain promotion this season?
Ebbsfleet to be promoted in 2007/2008 season 15/1

Aiming High
Can Ebbsfleet attract the big names?
To Be a Ebbsfleet player by start of 2008 season
Ray Parlour 15/1
Teddy Sheringham 20/1
Robbie Fowler 50/1
Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink 50/1
Jens Lehmann 500/1

High roller contribution makes the difference for Ladbrokes

Ladbrokes has reported a rise in gross win of 33% for the four month period to the end of October, with profits increasing 84%, with the company’s telephone betting high rollers contributing most of the growth. Excluding high rollers, total gross win increased by 7%, while profits decreased 12%, factoring in the £3.7m cost of Ladbrokes’ recent TV advertising campaign and the cancellation of many racing meetings due to bad weather this summer.

Telephone betting revenues reached £91.8m, with strong high roller activity continuing into November, the company said. Online gaming net revenue grew 5%, customer sign ups rose 21% and unique active customers grew 11%, despite the impact of the World Cup in 2006. Ladbrokes Bingo benefited from a TV advertising campaign.

Net revenue grew across the sportsbook, casino and games divisions but “was partially offset by slightly weaker margins and lower poker net revenue in a very competitive market”, reflecting the continued competitiveness of the European online poker market.

John O’Reilly, head of Ladbrokes eGaming, said the current business environment was challenging for high street bookmakers but Ladbrokes was looking to invest its profits into developing the business. "That means expanding into Europe, which we are doing in Italy and Spain. We are also focusing efforts on our online poker platform, with the launch of a 3D poker interface available in players on our 2D network in the near future.”

Ladbrokes’ UK retail gross win increased 4%, with average weekly gross win per gaming machine increasing 25% to £586, compared with £467 for the same period in 2006. The company said it was difficult to compare football betting activity in July with 2006 being a World Cup year, but said amounts staked since the start of the 2007-2008 season had been considerably higher than in 2006 but the margins had been poor due to unfavourable results.

Ladbrokes has 17 shops operating in Italy, with more expected soon and an Italian language website due for roll out shortly, while in Spain shop premises are being fitted out in anticipation of an operating licence for the Madrid region in the near future.

The levy was still being discussed with the UK government and the deadlock with Turf TV over UK horse racing pictures was ongoing, the company said.

November 09, 2007

Svenska Spel barred from expanding net poker

Sweden's state-owned gambling monopoly, Svenska Spel, has been forbidden from expanding its net-poker services - for the time being at least.

On Thursday, the Swedish government rejected Svenska Spel's request to expand its existing licence to organize and distribute net-poker services.

Instead, the government asked Svenska Spel to devote more time to an internal, ongoing investigation into the existing licence, which is now due on June 30th 2008. Until the results are in from that investigation, the government will not allow the company to expand its net-poker services.

The government emphasized that Svenska Spel must consider the social effects of gambling, before profits.

Svenska Spel reaped a profit of nearly 1.4 billion kronor ($215 million) in the third quarter, as reported by The Local in October. Svenska Spel controls 35 percent of the Swedish market, as internet gambling including poker is growing rapildy. Overall profits for the first three quarters were more than 4 billion kronor, up 19 percent compared to 2006.

Betsson announces record revenues

Sweden-based betting and gaming group Betsson has reported record revenues and profits according to the company’s third-quarter results statement.

Revenue rose to SEK117m (£13m), up 147% over the period. Operating profit rose to SEK54m (£4m).

The company said the revenue increase had been achieved despite difficulties in the Turkish market following the passing of anti-online gaming legislation. “The gaming volume from Turkey declined significantly, which resulted in Turkey’s share of the group’s total revenues during the third quarter only amounting to 10%.” The company attributed the 4% decrease in active customers to just over 90,000 to the problems in Turkey.

The Scandinavian market remains Betsson’s key markets, however, the company said it had launched Italian, Spanish and Greek language websites over the period.

Since period end the company has also launched a financial betting website, Betsson Trader.

Absolute Poker admits 40 days of ‘unfair playing’, pays back US$1.6m

Absolute Poker has admitted that the perpetrator of the so-called ‘pot-ripper’ scandal won US$800,000 during a “known period of unfair playing” amounting to 40 days. According to an interim statement released while the Kahnawake Gaming Commission is still completing its enquiry into the ‘pot-ripper’ scandal, the company said it has paid back players known to have been adversely affected by what it calls the “security breach” to the tune of US$1.6m.

In the statement, Absolute adds that it is cooperating fully with the KGC in its enquiry. It adds: “We would like to assure our players, once again, that the security breach, which resulted in unfair play, was resolved immediately after it was discovered and confirmed, and Absolute’s sites are absolutely secure.” (sic)

It said the “known perpetrator... no longer has access to Absolute”. “The system breach was the result of a recent internal software release impacting internal reporting. The breach was exploitable only by an authorised AP person that manipulated the internal reporting software, together with the AP gaming software. The security breach was not, therefore, the result of an external action, and no individual outside AP could exploit the breach.”

The statement added that there is no evidence of the past or current existence of a “super-user” account with the ability to see other players’ hole cards.

The statement concludes: “AP regrets the damage that has been done to its players and to its own reputation by this incident. We are absolutely focused on doing the right thing for our loyal customers, employees, consultants and business partners and we will continue to work with the KGC and Gaming Associates to bring this incident into the full light of day and to right any wrongs done to innocent victims of this unfair play.”

Diwali betting a boon for punters

Bookies and gamblers are likely to engage in hectic activity during the second one-day international match between India and Pakistan on Thursday. The fact that it is being held during Diwali when betting activities form part of traditional festivity in the country is only adding to it.

Some local bookies, according to sources, have already thrown offers open accepting bets on favourite India, which is pegged at around 75 paise against the visitors arch-rival Pakistan’s 80 paise. "Initially, India would be a favourite but fluctuations are likely to take place as the match progresses," said an insider. "The toss would be crucial and lot of bets would follow the toss decision in the morning," added the source.

Though most of the bookies have preferred to remain underground or shift outside the city limits, the gambling season has thrown them an opportunity of making big business prior to Diwali.

"Lots of gambling enthusiasts have already started preparing as a part of the traditional festivity. The match between India and Pakistan has only enhanced the mood before Diwali," said a source.

Apart from cricket betting, sources claimed that gambling would be a major activity in the city over the Diwali weekend. "Several enthusiasts are booking hotel rooms, resorts and also organising parties at private premises to gamble. An astronomical amount of cash is likely to change hands," said an insider.

November 08, 2007

PartyBets doubles up with Sporting Index

PartyGaming, the world’s leading listed online gaming company, has launched a comprehensive fixed odds horse racing service on its platform through an alliance with Sporting Index. The new service features full coverage of UK, Irish and premier international race meetings including unique early prices, ante post markets and specials.

All horse racing odds compilation and associated trading advisory services for are being provided by Spin Services, a newly created wholesale division within Sporting Index. The PartyBets racing service launch is also being supported with an innovative promotion where winnings are doubled on the first and fifth bet for all new customers.

A spokesman for PartyGaming said: “The traders at Sporting Index are well known for being amongst the very best in the industry and have made the company the recognised world leader in spread betting. Teaming up with Sporting Index to expand our fixed odds betting services is a winning combination.”

Richard Glynn, CEO of Sporting Index, said: “Spin Services has been designed to assist the wider gambling and gaming industry with all its trading needs. We are delighted to be enabling PartyBets to offer its customers a first-class comprehensive horse racing service.”

November 07, 2007

Party in German TV deal

PartyGaming has entered into an exclusive arrangement with German media giant RTL to provide an German-language dotnet poker site.

The move represents a significant step in one of PartyGaming’s major markets.

The deal with RTL Interactive will see the launch of a new website containing advertorial links to, Party’s free-to-play website. The website has over six million users per month.

This is the second media-related deal signed with the past few months following on from the deal signed with UK broadcaster ITV in September.

RTL Interactive will also promote its poker offering and poker school via TV spots on the leading German TV channel RTL TV.

A PartyGaming spokesperson emphasised this was “more than a white label”.

PartyGaming chief executive Mitch Garber said: “We are thrilled to have been chosen by RTL Interactive to provide an online poker school to their users. This is a hugely exciting opportunity for us to work with the German internet division of Europe’s leading broadcaster.”

November 05, 2007

Las Vegas Sands Falls

Shares of Las Vegas Sands Corp. dropped Friday as investors reacted to the casino operator's weak third-quarter results.

On Thursday, Las Vegas Sands reported a loss of $48.5 million, or 14 cents per share, compared with a profit of $97.3 million, or 27 cents per share, a year ago. Revenue climbed 19.5 percent to $661 million.

Adjusted net income fell to $41.8 million, or 12 cents per share, from $117.6 million, or 33 cents per share.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expected earnings of 31 cents per share on revenue of $783 million.

Las Vegas Sands, which is run by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, blamed the loss on high costs related to the opening of the Venetian Macao in August and an unlucky run in its casinos.

While investors were spooked by the results, analysts remain confident in the company's operations.

Steven Kent, an analyst with Goldman Sachs, said investors should capitalize on the buying opportunity.

"Few casino openings go smoothly and management has already put a plan in place to boost results. October looks to be off to a good start," he wrote in a client note.

However, Kent lowered some earnings estimates based on the third-quarter report. He cut his 2007 profit estimate to $1.05 from $1.45 per share and trimmed his 2008 forecast to $4 from $4.45 per share. Kent also reduced his 2008 earnings estimate to $6.25 from $6.75 per share.

Stifel Nicolaus & Co. analyst Steven Wieczynski said investors need to remember that Macau is a work in progress.

"We think a lot of investors are going to lose sight of the fact that the Venetian Macao was only open for 34 days during the third quarter and is still not operating with all its amenities. In our opinion, these results are meaningless and tell us nothing so far," he said in a client note.

Wieczynski lowered his full-year earnings estimate to $1 from $1.38 per share and cut his 2008 forecast to $2.07 from $2.64 per share.

Shares of Las Vegas Sands fell $8.53, or 6.8 percent, to close at $116.77 Friday. Over the past year, the stock has traded between $71.15 and $148.76.

888 announces Blue Square sportsbook deal

Casino and poker giant 888 has announced a tie-up with Blue Square for a sportsbook offering.

The deal will see the pair develop a multi-national offering to be launched across Europe in the first quarter of next year. The details of the revenue-share agreement between the two have not been disclosed.

Martin Belsham, managing director at Blue Square, said the deal “strengthens both parties”. “We will benefit from 888’s international experience and liquidity as we extend our reach beyond the UK; and 888 will complete their customer offer by adding Blue Square’s innovative range of betting products.”

The two companies will work closely to tailor the content for each European territory. 888 will now provide Blue Square with a payment processing platform as the latter looks to expand further into Europe.

Gabi Campos, senior vice-president, at 888 said the company’s research had shown that a significant proportion of its players bet on sports events occasionally. “The inclusion of sports betting in our offering is in line with our focus to aid customer acquisition and reinforce 888 as the entertainment destination of choice.”

Last month, 888 announced its first sportsbook offering in Italy.

Blue Square parent group Rank said the deal would not have a material affect on group earnings in the coming financial year.

November 01, 2007

Unibet chief released on bail by French

Unibet chief executive Petter Nylander was released by the French authorities yesterday evening following his hearing in Nanterre just outside Paris. Nylander was transferred from Holland to France during the course of the day and set free on bail of €200,000 following the hearing.

In a statement, Nylander said: “The fact that there are numerous legal proceedings ongoing against responsible operators such as Unibet doesn't make sense at a time when the French government has publicly referred to the opening of its online gaming market. Such proceedings serve only one purpose - the commercial interests of France's two State-owned monopolies.”

Nylander said Unibet had always abided by the law and acted in a transparent way and pointed to the “urgent need for reform of this market where these monopoly operators' actions are in complete disregard of EU Treaties and the interests of French players”.

He added: “It is Unibet's strong belief that the French consumer should have a choice regarding online betting and gaming, with specific regulation. France has everything to gain from the controlled opening of its market, and La Fran├žaise des Jeux, the PMU and French casino operators alike have an opportunity to be co-leaders together with private operators in the European online gaming market.”

Nylander was detained by the Dutch authorities at Schipol airport last week under a French arrest warrant and held for two nights. He has spent the rest of his time in a hotel in Amsterdam. Yesterday, Unibet released interim figures that showed third quarter pre-tax profits sliding year-on-year to £6.9m from £7.5m the year previously.