September 30, 2011

Microgaming forms management board for poker network

Online gaming developer Microgaming has established a network management board, a body which will control the development and operational running of the Microgaming Poker Network, comprising of representatives from primary operators on the network.

The board comprises of a single representative from the primary operators on the Microgaming Poker Network, a representative from Microgaming’s network games team and a chairman, sourced from within the industry.

Operators and Microgaming will share votes on key decisions, with proportional shares determined by a formula agreed by the voting members of the board. The board members will additionally determine the criteria for membership to the board, with the chairman and industry experts to be non-voting members.

The responsibilities of the board will include the construction of the development roadmap, the setting of network-wide policies for marketing and rake-back, including penalties for breaches, and the planning of network-wide promotions.

“Poker is a difficult industry to be in, and that difficulty is heightened when operators are not in control of their own destinies,” said Lydia Melton, head of network games at Microgaming. “By establishing the Network Management Board, we are essentially ceding control of the Microgaming Poker Network to the primary operators on the Network.

“Microgaming is a technology company with over 15 years of experience in this industry, and we will continue to develop and progress our poker software, as guided by the NMB, with no reduction in resources or drive. When others are slowing down, it is full steam ahead at Microgaming.

“The industry needs this, and we strongly believe that we are the only network willing to make such a fundamental change to how we operate.”

Microgaming said that the formation of the board was one part of the project to change the Microgaming Poker Network to what the company referred to as a Sportsbook Poker Network, in which all members contribute towards the success of each other and to the network as a whole.

The first meeting of new board will take place in early November, with members expected to include the likes of Ladbrokes, Stan James, Unibet, Triobet, Digibet, and 32Red amongst others.

German Court blocks chances of online gaming

Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment Plc, Betfair and others lost a top appeals court case over Germany’s ban on online gambling.

The Federal Court of Justice, Germany’s highest civil court, said in five suits brought by state-owned lotteries that the prohibition is justified to combat dangers associated with gambling. Shares of Bwin fell as much as 12 percent.

“Because of the greater dangers of the Internet, above all anonymity, lack of social control and accessibility at any time, this sales venue can be subject to stricter regulation,” Presiding Judge Joachim Bornkamm said after the rulings.

The European Union’s top court ruled last year that Germany’s betting monopoly, which allows most sports betting to be done only through state-controlled companies, violates European laws. Germany has faced criticism for allowing private horse betting while outlawing other forms of private sport bets. The EU court ruling didn’t bring an end to the various suits pending in Germany over the issue.

Bwin e.K., the company’s German unit that was involved in the lawsuit, said it will consider whether to file a constitutional complaint. Any such step wouldn’t yield a ruling until the end of this year when the current rules elapse anyway, the company said.

‘Won’t Last can’t last’

“The ban violates European rules and won’t last,” Bwin e.K. said. “A regulated market opening is the only way to combat the black market in Germany and to comply with EU requirements.”
German states are debating on how to revise their state treaty that sets current rules. The state of Schleswig-Holstein has decided to open its market. The state treaty, which took effect in 2008 and is elapsing on Dec. 31, was an effort to take earlier rulings by the EU court and the nation’s constitutional court into account.

Bwin shares fell 6.7 percent to 119.2 pence at the close of London trading after falling as much as 12 percent following the ruling.

Today’s decision matches a June ruling by Germany’s top administrative court, which also cleared the online ban because it covers private offers and government-owned lotteries.

“When looking into whether a regime is coherent, you don’t have to look at the total market,” Bornkamm said. “The online sector is a marked-out area that can easily be viewed as isolated.”
While the states tolerate private horse race betting on the Internet in practice, the volume of those bets is so small they don’t make the whole system incoherent, the judge said.

The court rejected the arguments that Bwin e.K. could make use of a license issued by the former East German government or that exceptions need to apply to companies who hold license from other European countries.

“Our ruling is valid only for the rules that apply until the end of this year,” said Bornkamm.

September 29, 2011

Full Tilt Poker license revoked

Full Tilt Poker has had its license revoked by the Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC)
The Post will release behind the scenes information on the mystery investors and how FTP operated soon.

Here is the full statement from the AGCC:

AGCC Commissioners, sitting as a tribunal, have today revoked the licences of Vantage Limited, Filco Limited and Oxalic Limited, trading as Full Tilt Poker (FTP), with immediate effect. This follows the earlier suspension of the licences on 29th June 2011.

At a hearing held in London over six days, it emerged that FTP had fundamentally misled AGCC about their operational integrity by continuously reporting as liquid funds balances that had been covertly seized or restrained by US authorities, or that were otherwise not actually available to the operator. Serious breaches of AGCC regulations include false reporting, unauthorised provision of credit, and failure to report material events.

At the commencement of these proceedings on 26th July AGCC made clear its preference tohold the hearing in public, to the benefit of players and media alike. However, the tribunalwas persuaded that the hearing should be held in camera on the basis of claims by FTP thatthis would maximise the chance of a commercial rescue of the business for the benefit ofplayers. For this reason an adjournment of 54 days was allowed.

It is important to note that the revocation of FTP’s licences does not, as has been suggested,prevent a reactivation of the business under new ownership and management.

Unresolvedclaims by players against FTP become a matter for the police and civil authorities. Now thatFTP’s licences have been revoked, AGCC no longer has jurisdiction over these companies.The licence of Orinic Limited, a recently added geographic sub-division of the FTP pokerroom, remains suspended.

Indian Tribe sues to stop gambling vote

The Narragansett Indian Tribe has gone to court to try to prevent the privately owned Twin River slot parlor in Lincoln in a November 2012 referendum from winning the distinction beating the tribe to the first casino in the state. The Indian tribe failed in its own attempts years ago.

Before heading home for the summer in June, state lawmakers approved legislation calling for the statewide vote that Twin River’s owners were seeking on their bid to add blackjack and other traditional casino games, currently banned in Rhode Island, to their gambling menu.

The legislation did not specify how much, if anything, the state would get in return for the award of this first, and potentially, only casino license. But the financial institutions that acquired Twin River, when it emerged from bankruptcy late last year, called the introduction of table games critical to the slot parlor’s ability to compete against the increasingly likely threat of competition from Massachusetts for the region’s gambling dollars.

In a lawsuit filed in Superior Court on Wednesday, the tribe contends the law calling for the referendum is both “unconstitutional and vague.”

The tribe hung its legal argument on the same requirement in the state Constitution that tripped up its first two efforts to get a Harrah’s-backed casino proposal for West Warwick on the state ballot. It says: “All lotteries shall be prohibited in the State except lotteries operated by the State,” which has been broadly interpreted to include most traditional games of chance at a casino.
In an earlier appeal to Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin for help, Narragansett Chief Sachem Matthew Thomas quoted the Rhode Island Supreme Court’s own words in an earlier case: “If … the question and legislation are void as unconstitutional, then members of the public will waste much money, time, effort and energy to familiarize themselves with the controversial issues that the proposed casino has raised.” (Kilmartin’s office declined to intervene.)
In its plea, the tribe said: “The voters of the State of Rhode Island are being asked to vote on … the expansion of gaming without any definition of what state operation of this expansion will consist of, what specific table games are going to be operated and what entity or personnel are going to operate them.”
“The statute is unconstitutional because the State must have the power to make decisions about all aspects of the functioning of any state casino, and this statute either provides no standard at all or allows a private entity unconstitutional control over certain aspects of the operation of the casino.”
Offered an opportunity Wednesday to respond, Twin River spokeswoman Patti Doyle said: “We’re not going to have much to say today.”

She said Twin River’s owners had just learned of the lawsuit, which “will take some time to review. That said, we are quite comfortable in the process in which we are engaged … as defined by the governor and General Assembly, and look forward to having the question put before the voters” in November 2012.

Twin River is currently home to about 4,750 electronic gambling machines, including virtual blackjack, placed at the former greyhound racetrack by the state Lottery under terms where the state gets to keep roughly 61 cents out of every dollar a gambler leaves behind.
The state expects $275.5 million from the video-slot play at Twin River this year alone, and another $28.7 from the smaller of the state’s two slot parlors, Newport Grand.

Twin River, especially, draws a significant number of its customers from Massachusetts. A survey released by the UMass Dartmouth Center for Policy Analysis in mid-September suggested that Massachusetts residents accounted for 56 percent of the visits by New Englanders to Twin River and Newport Grand during 2010 — up from 37 percent in 2006.

In a special report last month on the high likelihood of casino gambling and slots finally coming to Massachusetts, Moody’s Investors Service predicted: “Twin River could sustain a major blow.”

In their lawsuit, the Narragansetts, who saw their last Harrah’s-financed casino proposal rejected by voters in 2006, recounted their tribe’s decades of failed efforts “to gain economic self-sufficiency for its members” since passage of the 1988 Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

The tribe’s 1994 West Greenwich casino proposal was defeated by voters. Subsequent proposals got snagged by legal wrangling in the state and federal courts, and passage by Congress of the so-called “Chafee amendment.” It effectively barred the tribe from putting a gambling hall on its own settlement lands in South County without the same statewide and local approval that any other would-be casino-developer would require under state law.

The tribe’s last major push to open a Harrah’s-financed casino in West Warwick was reviewed, twice, by the R.I. Supreme Court: in 2004, at the behest of the governor and, in 2005, at the request of the House of Representatives. As the tribe recounts this history, the court essentially held both times that the proposed casino-referendum legislation was unconstitutional because the state would not have sufficient operational control over the gambling facility.

September 27, 2011

Betclic launches iPhone app, joins Everest Poker network

Having launched a number of applications for Android and Blackberry devices, Betclic Everest Group subsidiary Betclic has introduced a new sports betting app for the Apple iPhone, while the company’s Betclic Poker offering has switched to the Everest Poker network from Boss Media's International Poker Network.

Betclic’s iPhone app allows customers to place bets across the company’s entire sports betting portfolio, including bets on more than fifteen different sports, eighty competitions, as well as up to seventy live betting events.

The app also features updated news and information, allowing customers to bet on live events while on the move.

Meanwhile, Betclic Poker confirmed yesterday that it has joined the Everest Poker network, as it looks to ensure continued growth and improve players’ experience. The poker site has moved from Boss Media's International Poker Network (IPN).

“We are thrilled that BetClic Poker joins the Everest Poker network,” said Tarquin Henderson, head of poker and casino at BetClic Everest. “The growing Everest Poker Network is a popular and trusted place to learn and experience the fun of playing poker online. BetClic Poker will bring poker knowledge, passion and liquidity to our network and this will ensure the best experience for all players involved.”

As part of the Everest Poker network, Betclic Poker players will be able to enjoy overall guaranteed prize pools of more than $1.25m every month, as well as access to the $75,000 Big Prime tournament on October 2nd, $25,000 more than the regular Sunday guarantee.

According to the poker tracking site PokerScout, the Everest Poker network currently ranks sixteenth in the worldwide ranking, below the likes of Bodog, Boss Media’s IPN and Microgaming.

IG Markets launches Android trading app in Australia

IG Markets, one of Australia’s leading CFD providers and a subsidiary of IG Group, has launched a new trading app for Android devices, adding to the company’s existing suite of mobile functionality which includes iPhone, BlackBerry and Nokia apps, as well as its tailored mobile trading software.

Available free of charge from the Android Market, IG Markets' clients can place CFD trades on a range of markets including forex, shares, stock indices, commodities and options, all from their Android handset.

Customers also able to view real-time balance information, along with their open positions and watchlists, as well as set and edit working orders, and generate a range of charts. Prospective traders can also access live market data as well as open an account.

“The popularity of the Android smartphone has been extraordinary, and we're thrilled to be able to pass this increased functionality on to so many of our clients,” said Tamas Szabo, head of IG Markets, Asia Pacific. “This release reflects IG Markets' commitment to innovation and offering clients the best trading tools for their CFD trading.

“In June 2011 we released Australia's first iPhone App offering DMA CFDs, allowing traders to trade inside the market spread and straight into the order book of global exchanges, as well as view full market depth and liquidity.

"Also accessible from BlackBerry, and a range of other smartphone handsets, our powerful and secure PureDeal trading platform enables clients to access our wide range of markets, manage their portfolios, set working orders and much more.”

According to figures from Kantar's ComTech WorldPanel, the Android is the leading the Australian smartphone in the market, with a 42.9 per cent share of all smartphones sold in Australia in the 12 weeks to August 7th.

September 26, 2011

Irish Government announcing tougher rules for online

The Irish Goverment are to introduce time delays on the use of credit cards for online betting, under plans being drafted by Justice Minister Alan Shatter to protect the vulnerable and young.

Advertisements that promote betting as a fashionable or trendy pastime will also be banned under strict measures being drawn up to overhaul the current gambling laws.

Online gambling operators will be required to operate “due diligence checks” on customers. This could include enforcing a 12-hour delay between when players register and when they are allowed actually to play.

This would, the Irish goverment believe help deter under-18s from attempting to use their parents’ credit cards and players could be required to provide online confirmation of their identity or age or register for PIN numbers.

The new laws, not expected to be implemented until next year, will for the first time govern online gambling and betting providers through licensing and tax measures.

Mr Shatter last week said “shortcomings” in current laws dating back to 1931 were exposing young people and other vulnerable persons to “unacceptable risks”.

Restrictions being considered include a time delay between when players present online with credit card details and when they can actually start gambling.

It remains to be seen exactly how Department of Justice officials intend to police online betting and gambling operators, particularly those based outside Ireland.

Bookies Paddy Power point out that only two of the top 10 online bookmakers are based here and it would be unfair if competitors based outside the state could escape restrictions.

Restrictions on advertising for gambling or betting are also being ironed out.

A system of fines and possible prison terms are also being considered for offending gambling providers.

Ed Wray leaving as Betfair chairman

Ed Wray the Betfair co-founder has announced he is to step down as chairman.

In a statement at the companies AGM held at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in London, Wray said the company had now started a search for a deputy chairman of the board.

Mr Wray also thanked shareholders “along with our longstanding investors” for their support during a 12-month period in which Betfair “completed a key step in the evolution of the business through the Company’s listing on the London Stock Exchange in October”.

With the departure of CEO David Yu already announced in June, Betfair are now looking for another senior level placement.

FBI ordered to seize accounts of Bitar, Lederer, Ferguson

Following the Ponzi scheme allegations made last week by the New York District Attorney’s office against online poker operator Full Tilt, a Judge in New York has authorised the seizure of US and overseas bank accounts belonging to Raymond Bitar, Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson and others.

The warrant signed by District Judge Leonard B. Sand authorises the Federal Bureau of Investigation to seize the property, which includes both personal and business bank accounts.

They include a Natwest bank account in the name of Raymond Bitar, chief executive of Full Tilt, the Lloyds TSB account of poker pro Howard Lederer, and the Citibank account of fellow poker pro Chris Ferguson.

The warrant also targets two corporate accounts, one in the US in the name of HH Lederer Consulting LLC and a second Swiss account in the name of Telamonian Ajax Trust.

September 21, 2011

Denmark licence applications due within four weeks

Having received approval from the European Commission to implement its new gambling legislation, the Danish Gambling Authority (Spillemyndigheden) has given operators less than four weeks to submit applications for betting and online casino licences in Denmark, which will be valid from January 1st 2012.

Operators wishing to provide gambling services from January 1st must submit their applications no later than by midnight on October 17th. Any applications received after the stated date and time will mean a later starting date.

The Gambling Authority said that as it only has a short time to consider each application and evaluate the conditions for gambling have been met, it will issue all licences with a time limit of one year. The licence holder may expect that the licence will be changed to a five-year licence if the conditions are met after a complete examination of the application.

“It will be stated specifically in the one-year licence that it has been issued on the basis of preliminary examinations and that the applicant can expect the licence to be changed to a five-year licence if the requirements are met after the complete examination,” said the Gambling Authority in a statement Tuesday.

“Furthermore, it will be stated that the Danish Gambling Authority may revoke the licence if as a result of these further examinations or other circumstances it appears that the applicant does not meet the requirements of the Danish Gaming Act.”

Yesterday the European Commission gave Denmark the green light to press ahead with implementing its new gambling legislation after concluding that the proposed lower taxes for online casinos compared to traditional land-based casinos was in line with EU state aid rules.

Under the notification provided to the EC last July, online providers of casino games and slots would be subject to a flat tax of 20 per cent on the gross gaming revenue (GGR), compared to up to 75 per cent for land-based casinos and gaming halls.

The recently formed Danish Gambling Association told Gaming Intelligence that it will make its legal counsel, Moalem Weitemeyer Bendtsen, available to assist operators with the licence application process.

Full Tilt Poker called 'global Ponzi scheme'

An Internet poker company that was blocked from operating in the United States in the spring as part of an online gambling crackdown was "not a legitimate poker company, but a global Ponzi scheme," federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

The popular Full Tilt Poker website illegally raided player accounts to fund operations and make lavish payments to its owners, Justice Department lawyers said in a revised civil lawsuit filed in New York.

Over four years, the company used $444 million in player money to pay board members, including well-known professional poker players Christopher Ferguson and Howard Lederer, investigators said.

The poker site had promised players that their accounts were protected and wouldn't be touched. But authorities say that, as of March, the company had only $60 million left in its bank accounts to cover the $390 million it owed to players. It routinely mingled player money with its own finances and took cash from some customers to pay winnings due to others, prosecutors said.

"Full Tilt was not a legitimate poker company but a global Ponzi scheme," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. "Not only did the firm orchestrate a massive fraud against the U.S. banking system, as previously alleged, Full Tilt also cheated and abused its own players to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars."

A lawyer for the site, Barry Boss, was traveling Tuesday and not immediately available for comment.

Federal authorities sued Full Tilt Poker in April as part of a broad crackdown on the most popular online poker sites. They also filed criminal charges against the company's two top executives, Nelson Burtnick and Raymond Bitar.

Those charges are pending and authorities are seeking the men. Previously, they have issued statements condemning the charges as unfounded.

Executives at two other sites, PokerStars and Absolute Poker, also face charges and civil suits seeking millions of dollars in gambling proceeds.

U.S. lawmakers made it a crime to accept money in connection with unlawful gambling in 2006, but some big card-playing sites continued to operate anyway, saying their off-shore status or methods of processing payments put them outside the law's reach.

Many of the companies had gamblers deposit money in special online accounts that were used to pay losses and receive winnings.

In its revised lawsuit against Full Tilt, Justice Department lawyers said that even though the company had assured players that those accounts "are segregated and held separately from our operating accounts," they were drained regularly for other purposes, including paying the company's owners and board members.

Bitar got $41 million and Lederer got $42 million, the lawsuit said. Ferguson was supposed to get $87.5 million, federal prosecutors claimed.

September 20, 2011

First German State to legalise Online Poker

The German state of Schleswig-Holstein today passed legislation to legalize and regulate online poker.

It is the first German state to do so and the online gaming industry now hopes the other 15 states in the country will follow suit and incorporate the law into their statute books.

There will be an unlimited number of licenses issued in the state and tax will be levied at 20 percent of gross profits, which is not overly burdening to operators and offers a decent margin to work within.

The legislation was supported by PokerStars whom will certainly move in heavily on the new market.

The biggest question is wether licensed operators with the legalised state can take bets from German Nationals outside that state and how the mechanism would work for this.

It will now be very interesting with the other 15 states in Germany to also legalise Online Poker now the ressure has been put on by Schleswig-Holstein.

Nicolas Beraud leaves Betclic Everest

One of the most high profile CEOs in the Online Gambling Industry has stepped down from his role at Betclic Everest.

Nicolas Beraud who founded Betclic in 2005 and then become CEO of the combined group following his company’s 2008 acquisition by Betclic Everest when it was known as Mangas Gaming.

Mr Ignacio Martos, CEO of travel comparison website Opodo has been named as his immediate replacement. Mr Martos resigned from Opodo in July of 2011 after five years with Opodo.

The merger of Opodo, eDreams and Go Voyages was completed this year, Martos said at the time he is handing over power of the now merged group to eDreams CEO Javier Perez-Tenessa. It seems Mr Martos was already lined-up for Betclic Everest after his departure from Opodo.

Please click here

Martos said: “I chose to join the Betclic Everest Group because I am convinced that in a context of markets opening in Europe, this sector has strong potential for growth. Internet has already revolutionised our lifestyles and our patterns of consumption and there is a real place to be taken to further enrich the range of leisure and feed the passion of users, in sport as in poker.”

September 02, 2011

Betclic receives eCOGRA accreditation

Independent player protection organisation eCOGRA has announced that Betclic Everest Group subsidiary Betclic has successfully achieved the required standards for eCOGRA’s software certification, with 146 online gaming sites now accredited by the organisation.

eCOGRA chief executive Andrew Beveridge said that Betclic had demonstrated a practical commitment to higher standards of operational conduct, fair gaming, integrity and player service through the organisation's Safe and Fair seal, which Betclic is now entitled to display on its websites.

“The Betclic management is highly experienced and well established in the industry,” said Beveridge. “Betclic was the founding company when the Mangas Gaming Group, which subsequently became the Betclic Everest Group, was formed. It has also achieved compliance with the European Gaming and Betting Association’s (EGBA) standards, and it is therefore not surprising that the management met all of our requirements despite a rigorous on-site inspection and review process.”

The audit and inspection leading to accreditation was carried out by Bradley Khoury, a Chartered Accountant and Information Systems Auditor, who reported to the eCOGRA Seals Compliance Committee.

“The cooperation and dedication of the Betclic compliance personnel accompanied by unrestricted access to knowledgeable staff and transparent information facilitated a highly comprehensive review,” said Khoury. “The organisation demonstrated strong resilience and noteworthy commitment to compliance.”

Lisa Lombardi, Betclic’s licensing and compliance director, said that the accreditation initiative had been both informative and challenging.

“We consider the investment in time and resources to have been very well spent, giving us the opportunity to review all of our procedures and gain the benefit of a totally independent, practical and expert view of the manner in which we conduct every aspect of our business," she said.

Betclic has become the 146th online gambling site to receive the Safe and Fair seal from eCOGRA.

Last week eCOGRA said that it had successfully qualified as a testing agency with the Italian regulator AAMS, and also had its systems approved by ISO (International Organisation of Standards), the Geneva-based international standards authority after meeting stringent systems-oriented requirements and standards.

The accreditation by AAMS empowers eCOGRA to act as a testing and monitoring agency for remote gambling platforms, random number generators and gaming operator applications for compliance with the technical standards issued by AAMS.

“Promoting the values of commitment and self-regulation, and preparing remote gambling companies for the national regulatory systems now evolving, remains a critical part of our business, and eCOGRA will continue to pursue testing agency approval in other emerging jurisdictions to ensure that we can provide a full-service offering which meets all of our client’s regulatory compliance needs,” said Beveridge.

Beveridge added that eCOGRA expected to announce further jurisdictional approvals soon.