October 30, 2008

PKR and LoveStruck.com Launch Singles Poker

PKR.com, the 3D online poker room today announced it has partnered with online dating site LoveStruck.com to hold a series of poker tournaments where single men and women can meet and play poker this November.

The series will be launched at the Hoxton Pony bar in London on Thursday Nov. 6. Then from Nov. 17 the nights will feature a freeroll followed by three low buy-in tournament. To attend players must register at LoveStruck.com and PKR.com.

PKR marketing director, Simon Prodger said, “Poker is a very social game and we know our players actively chat both in the game and on our forums. We’ve seen romance bloom on PKR and so partnering with a site like Lovestruck that caters to young, outgoing professionals is perfect for us.”

October 29, 2008

Valencia signed shirt deal with Unibet

Spanish Valencia signed a new shirt sponsorship deal with Swiss based online gaming company Unibet, which will replace the current sponsor Valencia Experience.

The club and Valencia Experience are currently in a legal dispute due to the company's lack of payment.

Both companies, Valencia Experience and Unibet, will be featured on the club's playing kit to the end of the 08/09 season, and Unibet will become the sole sponsor starting from the 09/10 season.

According to Spanish news reports Unibet will pay EUR 1.5 million for the remaining of the current season, and EUR 6 million for the 09/10 season.

Bayern and Bwin work around advertising ban

Through a partnership formed with German Bayern Munich, bwin has found a way to work around the advertising ban stemming from German restrictions. The sports betting company was forced to remove itself from the world of sponsorship last year, as the result of a working relationship with Werder Breman.

The company will now advertise its website, free-bwin.com, during Germany-based games, as well as competitions taking place outside of the country. Bayern Munich Chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge expressed his delight at the newly-formed partnership to gamingintelligencegroup.com, referring to the two partners as a perfect match.

bwin has been involved in various German court cases revolving around operation rights. Within the past month, bwin has gained the right to present its services to Mecklenburg-Vorpommern residents through Gibraltar and East German licenses, while losing its ability to legally offer online gaming goods in Germany.

The German Football Federation (DFL) has indicated that the State Treaty on Gaming causes millions of Euros to be lost in sponsorship revenue each year.

October 25, 2008

Dutch Minister of Justice Adamant: Poker is a Game of Chance

Poker will continue to be considered a game of chance as far as the Dutch Ministry of Justice is concerned. And even if it were to be officially recognised as a game of skill, which it will not, it should never be deregulated.

This is a summary of the answers given by Dutch Minister of Justice Hirsch Ballin to fellow lawmakers after a leading professor of probability and mathematical statistics offered a formula to support poker's classification as a skill game.

As reported by Gaming Intelligence Group, Professor Van der Genugten challenged the Dutch Supreme Court's 1998 decision that poker is a game of chance after developing a formula which showed that poker required a higher degree of skill than many other so called games of skill, leading to calls on the Supreme Court to reconsider its classification.

Several Dutch politicians submitted written questions to Hirsch Ballin as a result, asking whether the status of poker should be reconsidered or not.

In his response the Justice Minister said the Dutch state will continue to take action against illegal poker operators, referring to research conducted in 2007 by both the Dutch Gaming Control Board and the University of Twenty which confirmed that poker has a relatively high risk of addiction. As a result, he said the state monopoly of Holland Casino remains valid from the point of view of player protection.

Ballin added that he sees no reason whatsoever to request the Supreme Court to revise the status of poker, and pointed out that poker is currently considered a game of chance in 33 European countries.

Not only will poker in Holland remain a game of chance despite evidence to the contrary, but restrictions on online poker will also become more draconian. Mr. Ballin said discussions between financial institutions and the Ministry of Justice on blocking transactions to and from illegal gaming providers was making steady progress.

He said that the large number of parties and intermediaries involved in transaction processing as well as laws relating to privacy made the process extremely complex, however a satisfactory result was expected.

Ballin added that if gambling operators and their intermediaries do not 'assume their responsibility' in this matter, the Ministry of Justice will lodge a complaint against these organisations.

October 24, 2008

UK Government Delays Tote Sale As Recession Looms

The UK government announced yesterday that it will not proceed with the open market sale of the state-owned Tote this autumn due to current market conditions. Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe said the Tote would be brought to market 'when conditions are likely to deliver value for the taxpayer and the racing industry'.

In a written statement to Parliament, Mr Sutcliffe said it was not appropriate to pursue a sale of the Tote in the current market conditions, and had decided that the Tote should remain in public ownership for the medium-term.

Mr Sutcliffe said: “It is right that the Tote is now given time to grow the business so that any future sale will achieve maximum value. In particular, I would expect the Tote and racing to continue to work closely together for the benefit of the sport and the punter.”

"The government would like to place on record again its warm appreciation of the loyalty and dedication of the Tote’s staff whilst its future has been under consideration,” he added.

The government had previously attempted to sell the Tote to a racing trust in 2005 until it became clear that a sale on that basis risked being denied approval under European state aid and competition rules, as the sale would have been below open market value.

Earlier this year the government confirmed that talks with a racing industry consortium had ended due to the bid not meeting the Tote's market value of £400 million, as set by independent consultants Pricewaterhouse Coopers.

With more than 4,000 employees, over 540 shops and a major presence on the 59 racecourses in Britain, potential suitors for the state-owned bookmaker are thought to include The New Football Pools operator Sportech plc, Gala Coral, Betfred, and Paddy Power plc.

Mr Sutcliffe reaffirmed the government's view that it should remove itself from detailed involvement in the affairs of the racing and bookmaking industries.

Bwin Enjoys a Hat-Trick of Favourable Court Rulings

The long-running legal dispute between bwin Interactive Entertainment AG and Omnia Communication-Centers GmbH which last month led to accusations of industrial espionage by both sides has finally ended in a settlement.

Omnia announced yesterday that they along with Gert Schmidt, the individual at the centre of the spying allegations, had agreed before the Commercial Court in Vienna to stop making untrue statements about bwin illegally offering online gaming services in the Austrian market.

In May 2007 the same court rejected an application by Omnia for a preliminary injunction against bwin that would have prevented it from offering games of chance online in Austria under its Gibraltar gaming licence.

bwin also scored a victory last week in the Higher Regional Court in Munich, which ruled that the State of Bayern cannot legally prohibit bwin from offering sports betting to the State's citizens via the internet.

Finally, a court in Schwerin in the State of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern has ruled that bwin e.K. can offer its products to citizens of the State under the East German licence which it acquired prior to reunification. The court also specifically ruled that the licence held by bwin e.K. authorises it to also provide its services via the internet.

Pay-per-click battle hots up as Google changes gambling ads policy

Search engine giant Google has overturned a long-standing global ban on advertising by online gaming companies on its sites to allow UK and EEA-based gaming companies to advertise their wares to its users in England, Scotland and Wales.

Google UK’s industry leader for entertainment & media, James Cashmore, said the decision to remove the ban, self-imposed in 2004 following a settlement with the US Department of Justice after accepting adverts from online gaming companies, followed a detailed review of its gambling advertising policy “to ensure it is as consistent as possible with local business practices.”

A spokesperson for the company added that a key driver behind the decision had been to bring this policy into line with the relaxed advertising guidelines for online gaming companies introduced under the UK Gambling Act late last year.

The revision of its AdWords policy to allow pay-per-click advertising by all UK companies registered with the Gambling Commission and all EEA companies licensed to advertise by their national regulator is predicted to provide more than £100m in additional revenues per annum for the online search giant.

Google already has between 73% and 85% of the UK paid search advertising market, and would increase its stranglehold on the global market still further if a deal to sell advertising on behalf of ailing rival Yahoo clears the hurdle of a US Department of Justice investigation into whether it would create unfair competitive conditions.

Robert Allan, online marketing manager for Ladbrokes Poker, said that the feeling from within the industry is that MSN and Yahoo will initially lose a lot of revenue as gaming companies reorganise their budgets and strategies to take into account being able to advertise on Google, with its dominant market share of around 80%.

“All gambling companies, which have a set budget for pay-to-click advertising, have now got to decide whether to take away 80% of the money currently allocated to MSN and Yahoo and spend that on Google, or retain that spend on MSN and Yahoo and ask for a substantial increase in the overall budget in accordance with Google’s market share.

"Google is also going to be comparatively more expensive than MSN and Yahoo, as more sites are going to want to appear higher up at Google, because there are so many more clients you can get from it,” he added.

As there were previously no gambling terms allowed on Google, effectively making it a brand new proposition, Allan said Ladbrokes will be keeping a close eye on its competitors over the coming weeks. “We are watching what 888 and all our competitors are doing, gauging whether or not we want to be above them in the sponsored links and finding out how much extra this will be compared to the cost per depositor,” he said.

Speculation rises on Crypto-Party poker tie-up

CryptoLogic's deal to provide PartyGaming with its casino gaming suite is set to usher in a new strategic direction for the company founded on its casino licensing business, according to the software firm.

The company also revealed this strategic shift would involve a partnership with another major poker network, “to increase liquidity while reducing expenses substantially”. PartyGaming is thought to be the operator currently in talks with CryptoLogic.

A spokesperson for PartyGaming:: “We are keeping our options open and this may include seeing whether there is any merit in combining our two businesses.”

Yesterday’s announcement that CryptoLogic had entered into a five-year casino licensing deal with PartyGaming represented welcome news for the company and its shareholders, coming as it did on the back of an earlier announcement that it had lost the contract to provide William Hill with its poker and casino gaming platform to Playtech.

CryptoLogic said it expects the games to be launched in the first quarter of 2009, contributing significantly to next year's revenue streams. PartyGaming is CryptoLogic’s ninth new casino customer so far this year, joining brands such as 888.com, Sky Betting and Gaming and Gaming Media Group (The Poker Channel).

CryptoLogic’s chief executive Brian Hadfield said: “This is one of CryptoLogic's biggest customer wins of the year and an endorsement of the branded games element of our new strategy.” PartyGaming's chief executive Jim Ryan added: “This agreement reflects PartyGaming’s strategy to broaden our product base - and grow our player base - through innovative alliances.”

CryptoLogic announced its new strategy will also involve developing branded casino content based on top entertainment brands and expanding its business and relationships in China, Korea and Singapore.

October 22, 2008

PartyGaming adds Wheel of Fortune

PartyGaming, the world’s leading listed online gaming company, today announces a five-year agreement to license a number of branded slot games from WagerWorks Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of International Game Technology Inc. (“IGT”), a leading global provider of land-based and online gaming solutions. The games to be added under the agreement are Cleopatra®, Monopoly with Pass "Go" Bonus, Cluedo and Wheel of Fortune® Hollywood Edition.

Online versions of each of these games will be added to PartyCasino.com and PartyBingo.com as well as a number of PartyGaming’s other gaming sites over the coming months.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Jim Ryan, Chief Executive Officer of PartyGaming said:

“We are delighted to have secured these market-leading games from WagerWorks for our product suite. Having already established their appeal and performance with players around the world, we hope that through our gaming platform these new games will prove to be popular additions to our games portfolio. The games will complement our other market-leading branded slots, such as The Godfather, Saturday Night Fever, Top Gun, Mission:Impossible and The Terminator that each form part of our ongoing strategy to offer unique and exclusive themed content and provide our players with the best entertainment experience online.”

Paul Mathews, President of WagerWorks, added:

“PartyGaming is one of the world’s leading online gaming companies with a broad product suite. We are pleased to have been selected to provide a number of top performing games to help PartyGaming deliver its long-term strategy. This agreement shows that we have quality games to suit the biggest players in the market. PartyGaming has identified that our games fit well within their portfolio and support the continuing evolution of their product strategy.”

October 18, 2008

Sports revenues help Sportingbet record 23% rise in NGR

Strong sports betting revenue growth helped Sportingbet post a 23% increase in net gaming revenue to £147m for the six months to 31 July, up from £119m a year ago. Operating profit more than trebled to £22.7m, which the company said reflected its successful restructuring following withdrawal from the US market in 2006.

Sports betting revenues, the key driver of the Sportingbet business, rose 45% on the back of an increased product range and a strong performance in Europe and Australia, where net gaming revenues rose by 43% and 54% respectively. Sports betting represented 61% of the group's income, up from 52% last year, which the company said reinforced its strategy of continued investment in that area.

Operational highlights included significant contributions from its investment in emerging Eastern European markets, with the key markets of Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria growing by an aggregate of 79% year-on-year, to generate 13% of Group NGR. Investment in the Latin American market also saw Sportingbet establish its business in the region, with Brazil as the focal point.

Chief executive Andy McIver said: “It has been an exciting year for Sportingbet. The completion of the group's restructuring resulted in a more than three-fold increase in adjusted operating profit and leaves us well positioned to capitalise on the strong position we have in many of our markets.”

The company said it had seen no evidence of its business having been impacted by the recent turmoil in the financial sector, and that it anticipated the imminent launch of live sports streaming on its websites alongside other new product launches to continue to drive customer yields and retention throughout the year.

Sportingbet also announced yesterday that the second of its two employees that were detained by the Turkish authorities back in May has been released pending trial, provisionally set for 26 January 2009. Charges have yet to be formalised. The first of the employees was released in July without charge and allowed return to the UK. Sportingbet no longer has any operations in the territory.

October 17, 2008

French Sport's Governing Body Demands Say in Online Gaming Regulation

The French National Olympic and Sports Committee (CNOSF) yesterday laid out its position with regard to the proposed liberalisation of the French online gaming market, presenting a list of demands that it wants to see incorporated into future legislation.

At the inaugural meeting of the Action Committee on Online Sports Betting, established by CNOSF to represent its interests at a national and European level, the committee demanded a "legitimate financial return" from online sports betting operators.

It said it wanted to see a tax of 2.5% levied on sports bets for the benefit of French sports, comparable to that which is currently applied to the state-owned La Française des Jeux.

The committee, chaired by Christian Bîmes, head of the French tennis federation, also said that the legislation should enable organisers of sporting events to retain the exclusive rights to their exploitation, similar to the system currently in force in the French sports code. This would allow organisers of sports events to sell sports betting rights in the same way as they do TV broadcasting rights, and on an event-by-event basis.

The CNOSF added that as a regulator of French sports, it would also expect to be included in any regulatory body that will be established to oversee the online gaming market in order to ensure that the integrity of sports was maintained. Such a body is expected to be established in early 2009 and to subsequently oversee the licensing process.

Française des Jeux to float next year

State monopoly La Française des Jeux (FDJ) is set to float on the French stock exchange next year. The French government has asked Rothschild to advise on a listing, but has not decided on how much of the company’s capital will be made public.

The French state holds 72% of FDJ, war veterans and other charities own 9.2% of the company, investors own 3% of FDJ, with staff holding 5% of the firm’s capital.

FDJ is preparing for the competitive online betting market place that should be implemented by the end of next year in France. It has already redesigned its lottery product and added extra weekly draws and a higher jackpot for a higher stake of €2 per player. The firm plans to increase its lottery profits by 20% and add 4,000 points of sale by the end of 2010.

ECJ sides with Portuguese monopoly in case against Bwin

Yves Bot, the Advocate General of the European Court of Justice (ECJ), said a European state gambling monopoly could be maintained if it met the following four conditions: "That the legislation is justified by overriding reasons relating to the public interest, if it is appropriate for ensuring the attainment of the objectives which it pursues, if it does not exceed what is necessary for attaining them and if it is applied in a non-discriminatory way".

Bot was giving his opinion on the case between European sports betting operator Bwin and Portuguese gambling monopoly La Santa Casa de Misericordia (SCM), over which the ECJ will publish its verdict in early 2009 and refer it back to the Portuguese court in Porto to make a final ruling on.

The ECJ is considering for the first time whether an EU member state can extend a gambling monopoly to the internet and its verdict on the case could be pivotal for the European egaming sector. The case against Bwin and the Portuguese football league, which Bwin has sponsored since 2005 (Bwin Liga), was brought by SCM and referred to the ECJ by the court of first instance in Porto.

SCM argued that sports betting services should only be offered by state-approved monopolies and imposed a fine of €74,500 and €75,000 each on Bwin and the Portuguese football league. The Advocate General said the fine was invalid as the European Commission had not been notified that the Portuguese authorities were applying the European directive 98/48/EC that applies to organising betting through electronic means of communication and could not rule on the issue. SCM has been ordered to refund the fines to Bwin and the Portuguese football league.

However, the Advocate General added that the aim of community law was not to open European countries to gaming and betting services; and an EU member state’s right to restrict the provision of gambling and betting services to a state-approved monopoly could be extended to "all electronic means of communication, in particular the internet”.

Commenting on Bot's opinion, Siegbert Alber, former vice-president of the European Parliament and a former Advocate General of the ECJ, said any restrictions placed on private operators by European states had to be “applied according to EU law principles". He added: "The problem is not a legal one. It is a matter of interpretation of the conditions; this is not a legal issue but one that has to do with political and legislative beliefs."

Alber added that monopolies should not be maintained for the sole motive of profit and that if they were maintained, marketing and advertising activity should be restricted in a major way. Referring to the interpretation of the legislation, he said member states referred to their marketing messages as "information". Alber added that all the controls and obligations currently operated by the state in relation to gaming and betting could be applied by private operators.

October 15, 2008

Betfair gets its 2 millionth customer

Betfair has grown from strength to strength over the past 8 years since it was formed and has not celebrated having customer number 2 million. What makes this even more impressive is that they have made the jump form 1 million to 2 million in only 20 months.

Customer number 2 million was a 59-year old Civil servant from Sweden who had a flutter on the US presidential election and on Wall Street going up or down and he won himself a VIP weekend in London for 2.

“You have to back yourself in life and when my brother showed me the site I could see instantly that it gave me a wide range of choices and I could pick my own odds,” said Ohrman.

“It’s certainly more fun betting on Betfair than it is betting on the stock market at the moment.”

5 million transactions a day are held which is more than all of Europe’s stock exchanges which is very impressive and this is why they are set to win their second Queen’s Award for Enterprise on the 20th of October.

“In a year when we won a Queen’s Award for International Trade, it is fitting that Betfair’s two millionth account comes from outside the UK,” said David Yu, Chief Executive Officer for Betfair.

“Our international customers are already an essential part of our business and they are growing larger in number every day. So, congratulations to Mr Ohrman, he’s joined the world’s biggest online betting community.”

Mangas Capital to acquire NordicBet

Mangas Capital Gaming, the investment firm that acquired a 75% stake in sports betting operator Betclick earlier this year, is in contact with NordicBet with a view to acquiring a majority stake in the Scandinavian-focused site.

According to French media, Mangas Capital chief executive Stéphane Courbit is in exclusive negotiations with the management of NordicBet with a view to completing the acquisition by the end of the year. Once the NordicBet acquisition is completed, Courbit is believed to have his eyes on another European listed operator.

The acquisition of NordicBet, which is strong in Scandinavia and the Baltic countries, would be the second such transaction by Courbit’s company and would complement the geographic reach provided by Betclick, which has a strong presence in France, Italy and Spain.

Courbit is pursuing his strategy of creating a strong European-wide network of sports betting operations capable of taking advantage of online betting regulation on the Continent. With strong links to media organisations throughout Europe through his past role as chief executive of Endemol France, Courbit plans to be at the forefront of the industry once it is allowed to operate in European markets.

October 10, 2008

Redbet to Transfer Gaming Operations to Malta

Sweden's Redbet says it will transfer its gaming operations to Malta now that it has received the necessary licensing approval. The company's Maltese subsidiary, Redbet Gaming Ltd, will take over its sportsbook, casino and poker operations, although certain brands will continue to operate under the existing UK licence.

Jonas Sundvall, CEO of Redbet Holding AB, said the Maltese business would be operational before the end of the year and that the company would benefit from a reduced tax liability going forward.

The company also this week announced revenue figures for the month of September, with total revenues increasing 14.8% month-on-month to SEK20.2 million (€2.1 million). Revenues for the third quarter improved 4.12% versus Q2 to SEK54.9 million (€5.7 million).

Bodog Loses Appeal Against $46 million Judgement

Online gaming operator Bodog has failed in its attempt to set aside a $46.6 million judgement against it in the patent infringement suit brought by 1st Technology LLC. With interest, Bodog must now pay 1st Technology over $50 million following yesterday's ruling.

Bodog was sued by 1st Technology for patent infringement based on Bodog's distribution of software used for online gaming. A default judgement was issued against the gaming operator on August 1st 2007 after it failed to answer the allegations made against it in the suit.

As part of the ruling, the registrar of Bodog's domain name was ordered to remove all nameservers associated with Bodog and founder Calvin Ayre, rendering them useless. Bodog subsequently changed its name to NewBodog before finally settling on its current name of BodogLife.

Despite numerous challenges by Bodog against the original judgement by the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit yesterday affirmed the lower court's ruling.

"We are extremely gratified for our client that the Court of Appeals saw the merits exactly the way we did," said Mr. Greenspoon, the lawyer representing 1st Technology.

In August of this year, Parlay Entertainment settled a similar patent infringement lawsuit with 1st Technology. The terms of that settlement remain confidential and there was no admission of liability by either party.

ASA Bans 'Irresponsible' Partouche Ad

The UK Advertising Standards Authority has banned an online ad by French gaming operator Partouche which suggested that gambling could provide an escape from personal problems.

The internet ad for Partouche Betting showed a banner which read "Bet to forget", "Click or regret". A second version of the ad featured the same text alongside a photograph of French footballer Eric Cantona dressed as a knight.

The complainant suggested that the ad was irresponsible, because it exploited the susceptibilities of vulnerable people by suggesting that gambling could provide an escape from personal problems.

In its defence, Partouche said the campaign was based on the irony of enticing people in England to bet on the Euro 2008 championships despite the fact that England had not qualified for the final phase. The company said the ad was intended to be taken in the light-hearted context of asking people to forget their disappointment that England had not qualified, not to forget life's difficulties or personal problems.

Partouche had been warned by the CAP Copy Advice team that the "Bet to forget" claim might suggest that gambling could provide an escape from personal problems, however the company chose to ignore the advice.

The CAP Copy Advice team had also advised their agency against using the claim "Bet or regret", because it could portray gambling as indispensable or as taking priority in life. Partouche said they followed that advice and instead used the claim "Click or regret", which they considered was different because it was merely an enticement to visit their website.

In its assessment, the ASA said it considered that the context of asking people to forget their disappointment that England had not qualified for Euro 2008 would not be clear to consumers initially viewing any version of the ad and the claim "Bet to forget" was therefore likely to be interpreted, particularly by vulnerable people, as suggesting that gambling could provide an escape from personal problems.

"We were therefore concerned that it could exploit them," said the ASA, concluding that the ad was "irresponsible". The ASA added it was concerned that Partouche had ignored the advice from the Copy Advice team not to use the claim "Bet to forget".

The advertisements were found to have breached CAP Code clauses 57.2, 57.4b and 57.4c (Gambling). Partouche was ordered not to repeat the claims.

Tabcorp calls for strict regulation

Australian bookmaking giant Tabcorp has called for the government to step in and stop bookmakers from offering tote services in direct competition to state-licensed totaliser organisations, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. Tabcorp currently holds an exclusive licence for totaliser betting in NSW and Victoria. Tabcorp’s managing director of wagering Robert Nason warned against the government allowing a situation similar to that in the Northern Territory to develop elsewhere. "Every Northern Territory bookmaker has the capacity to offer tote product and tote services that are identical to ours at a better price. While they can do that, advertise freely, and have a presence in the market it has to damage the future of tote betting and industry returns, because the tote is the major funder of racing.” Nason called for tote betting to be restricted to tote operators, but for fixed odds betting to be deregulated.

888 Increasing CryptoLogic Titles

Dublin-based online casino software developer CryptoLogic Limited has announced that three of its most popular games are now available at 888.com following the signing of a three-year licensing agreement in May.

Gibraltar-licensed 888.com, which is one of the world’s leading online gaming entertainment sites, now features Spider-Man, Fantastic Four and Bejeweled from CrytoLogic and has also signed an agreement to license ten additional titles.

'It's exciting to see one of the world's premier gaming brands recognise that CryptoLogic delivers a gaming experience that's truly innovative by deepening its relationship with us,' said Brian Hadfield, President and Chief Executive Officer for CryptoLogic.

'We expect CryptoLogic's new games on 888.com and other planned sites to be highly popular among players and profitable for our business.'

CryptoLogic’s casino suite boasts more than 200 games including popular casual titles such as Sudoku, Cubis and Bejeweled alongside multi-bonus and multi-jackpot games featuring some of the world's most famous action and entertainment characters.

'CryptoLogic's industry-leading games and 888.com's reputation and marketing strength are a perfect combination,' said Justin Thouin, Vice-President of Product Management and Business Development for CryptoLogic.

'We are thrilled to have built a great relationship with one of the world's true household names in igaming.'

Betbull granted licence to launch w1nners brand in Spain

Betbull announced today that the Community of Madrid had issued a retail betting licence to Betbull Bwin Espana (BBE), its joint venture with Bwin targeting the Spanish market. BBE will operate under the w1nners brand, and will now start a roll-out of own and third-party retail premises across the Province of Madrid.

BBE launched its new w1nners logo and colour scheme at the Madrid gaming fair last week, where it also demonstrated the products that will be available in its retail units, including in-running betting. The company will operate out of headquarters situated on Madrid’s famous Gran Via.

Simon Bold, director of Betbull, said the company saw the licence as a platform from which to launch a business in the market it rated as the most promising in Europe, and that BBE would be applying for licences in other provinces “as and when legislation permits.”

“Betbull is in good shape and reported a positive set of figures in Q2, over the last year we have built a strong team in Spain and developed a retail concept which we believe will be successful in the Province of Madrid and throughout the country as a whole,” said Bold.

Formoapuestas closes as Argentina debates egaming clampdown

Argentine online betting operator Formoapuestas has confirmed to eGaming Review it has been forced out of business by the sudden withdrawal of its licence by issuing authority Loteria Nacional.

Managing director Ignacio Aguero said the Loteria was yet to provide an explanation of its decision to revoke the licence with 12 of its 15-year term still remaining.

However, the news coincides with the Buenos Aires provincial government indicating it may be preparing a clampdown on online gaming, as its lower house debates a bill which would effectively outlaw all forms of remote gambling.

If introduced, the measures would require telecommunications providers to block access to all gambling sites and impose penalties on network providers and operators receiving bets from within the province.

The Loteria’s decision to issue a cessation order had taken everyone at the company by surprise, said Aguero. “This usually happens to companies that operate in grey areas. Formoapuestas has been working hard for years to comply with their rules and operate in a transparent and open way, so it was a great surprise to us,” he explained.

Aguero said he was now overseeing the winding down of the company’s operations, including negotiating its exit from a recently-signed agreement with Microgaming to provide Formoapuestas with a casino offering.

The operator has launched a legal challenge to the Loteria’s decision, but Aguero said that the likelihood of the process taking a minimum of two or three years to reach a conclusion had left the company with no option other than to cease trading with immediate effect.

October 03, 2008

Former WSOP champion behind Ultimate Bet cheating scandal

Former World Series of Poker main event champion Russ Hamilton has been identified as the main perpetrator and beneficiary of the Ultimate Bet cheating incidents.

The Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC) revealed 1994 WSOP winner Hamilton’s involvement over a period spanning more than three and a half years as it published the initial findings of an independent audit conducted on its licensee Ultimate Bet.

“The Commission found clear and convincing evidence to support the conclusion that between the approximate dates of May 2004 to January 2008, Russell Hamilton, an individual associated with Ultimate Bet’s affiliate program, was the main person responsible for and benefiting from the multiple cheating incidents,” said the statement.

The cheating incidents were initially uncovered by members of the Two Plus Two online poker forum in January of this year, who alerted Ultimate Bet to the abnormally high winning statistics in high-stakes games by a player with the online handle “Nio Nio”.

The KGC said it intended to fully cooperate with relevant law enforcement agencies in the prosecution of Hamilton and other individuals involved in the cheating incidents.

The statement also revealed the sanctions the KGC would be imposing on Ultimate Bet, which included a US$1.5m fine, the enforced removal from involvement in the company of all individuals deemed as “unsuitable” by the KGC, and the commencement of refunding of all player accounts found to have been adversely affected by 3 November. The KGC said it estimated Ultimate Bet had to date reimbursed players to the tune of US$6.1m.

The Commission warned that Ultimate Bet’s failure to comply fully with the sanctions would result in “immediate revocation of its KGC gaming permit.”

Playtech adds fourth licensee to Italian poker network

Playtech has signed up Italian online and land-based operator Cogetech to its Italian ipoker network.

Cogetech, which provides sports betting white label solutions to several industry-leading Italian and global operators, is the fourth operator to have joined Playtech’s newly launched Italian network in recent weeks, following the deals signed with Snai, Sisal and Gala Coral’s Eurobet.

The poker client is now available in play-for-fun mode, with a real-money version planned for launch later this year. Playtech has tailored its product to specifically appeal to the Italian market and to comply with all Italian regulatory standards.

Playtech’s chief executive Mor Weizer said the deal demonstrated how the company was increasing its profile in the Italian market and also its commitment to expanding its presence in regulated European markets. “We look forward to a long and productive partnership that will be mutually beneficial for both parties, and to providing new and exciting gaming opportunities for Italian players,” he added.

Fabio Schiavolin, Cogetech’s chief executive, commented: “We chose Playtech over other providers because they are one of the leading players in global management platforms with a very strong and liquid poker network.”

Parlay and Microgame unite to launch two new bingo networks

Parlay Entertainment and Microgame have announced they are to join forces to launch two online bingo networks powered by Parlay’s front-end bingo product and Microgame’s back-end administration system.

The first network to be launched will offer bingo to the Italian market, where Microgame presently offers sports and poker wagering, once the Italian government has added bingo to its list of regulated internet games. Microgame said it anticipates this to happen in the first quarter of 2009. A second network, most likely to be based in Malta, is slated for launch in the second quarter of 2009, and will offer Parlay’s bingo and other soft game products to an international marketplace.

Parlay’s chief executive Scott White said: "We are delighted to partner with Microgame to offer our leading-edge games in Italy, which will be a new regulated marketplace for Parlay and for bingo. We view the opportunity with Microgame, making use of their existing relationships, infrastructure and large customer base in Italy, as an excellent way to enter this new market for bingo."

Fabrizio D’Aloia, managing director of Microgame, added: "The agreement will allow Microgame to offer Italian gaming operators served by it the opportunity to immediately enter this new market as protagonists and with success by combining the powerful characteristics of Parlay bingo with the functionalities of Microgame’s regulated gaming service provider.”

October 02, 2008

Regulatory News

Some of the biggest and most controversial companies in the online poker industry including Pokers Stars and Full Tilt could be stripped of their internet domain names after state officials in Kentucky won a seizure order from a US court. The order has been served on domain name registrars for 141 gambling sites that take custom from US players. The case will be heard on Tuesday 7th October.


Senator Barney Frank’s bill, the Payment Systems Protection Act, was passed by the US House Committee on Financial Services. Frank’s bill would stop any regulations under UIGEA from coming into force apart from those relating to sports betting. The bill now moves on to be discussed in the House of Representatives, although this is unlikely to be until November and is likely to run into timetable difficulties with the presidential election also taking place in November.


Political observers now believe that a much-watched proposal that could bring about the introduction of legal intrastate online poker in the state of California is likely to fail due to the costs of a complicated study that would be required to determine whether legalisation would be beneficial to the state.