January 31, 2012

myBet.de partners Fortuna Düsseldorf

Online sports betting firm myBet.de has become a premium partner of 2.Bundesliga side Fortuna Düsseldorf.

The multi-year deal, brokered by sports marketing company Infront Sports & Media, begins with the resumption of second-tier German domestic soccer in early February after its winter break.

Under the terms of its second-tier sponsorship, myBet.de will receive advertising within the view of television cameras at Düsseldorf’s Esprit Arena, hospitality at home matches and other promotional opportunities.

While financial terms were not disclosed, the deal is likely to be worth around US$650,000 per year.

Mathias Dahms, spokesman of the board at JAXX SE, the parent company of myBet.de, said: “Fortuna Düsseldorf is a strong and competitive team – an ambitious club that has a fantastic fan base and suitably ‘good fortune’ as part of its name. It is our ambition to be alongside the team when they get promoted to permanently play in the 1.Bundesliga.”

Peter Frymuth, chief executive of Fortuna Düsseldorf, added: “Through the agreement with myBet.de, Infront has won one of the leading companies in the field of sports betting as a partner for our team, one that will stay committed to the club beyond the current season. The significantly increased popularity of our team has contributed to this achievement, allowing us to announce a new premium partner in our sponsorship landscape already at this point in time.”

The current 2.Bundesliga leaders recently won the 2012 Stadtwerke Düsseldorf Winter Cup, an friendly event they hosted as a warm-up for the continuation of the league season.

Gladbach get gaming deal

Bundesliga side Borussia Mönchengladbach have signed a deal with online gaming company Bet-at-home.

From this weekend, Bet-at-home will become a second tier, co-sponsor of the north west German side, currently exceeding expectations in German soccer’s top division.

The company, which also has a deal with Borussia’s local rivals Schalke 04 and has offices in nearby Düsseldorf, will receive extensive branding positions within the team’s stadium.

The sponsorship, which, according to sponsors.de, will run until the end of the 2012/13 season with an option to extend, is thought to be worth just under €1 million per year.

Zimbabwe rocked by matchfixing bans

The Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIFA) has suspended 67 players from the national team after revelations of widespread matchfixing.

A member of the coaching staff, Joey Antipas, also admitted to having accepted bribes from an Asian betting syndicate led by Wilson Raj Perumal, a man jailed in Finland as a result of his involvement in match fixing.

According to the Associated Press, ZIFA uncovered that players and the coach were paid sums of money to lose exhibition matches on trips to Asia from 2007 to 2009.

Notable players that have been banned until further notice are Method Mwanjali, Daniel Vheremu, Benjamin Marere, Thomas Sweswe, Nyasha Mushekwi, Khama Billiat, and Ovidy Karuru.

The decision to suspend the players came during an emergency board meeting to determine the causes for Zimbabwe’s elimination from 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifying.

The suspended elements will be unable to represent their country unless they are able to clear the body’s ethics committee.

Players and coaches have not been the only ones affected by the probe as ZIFA was forced to suspend three of its own board members for their possible involvement in the scandal.

January 30, 2012

bwin.party caught up in Megaupload case

bwin.party Digital has defended its link to the recently indicted Megaupload.com, saying it was unaware of any of the company’s alleged illegal dealings.

The colourful founder of megaupload.com known as Kim Dotcom, formerly Kim Schmitz, aka Kim Tim Jim Vestor and Kimble is an internet entrepreneur who was arrested along with four others earlier this week and remains in police custody in New Zealand on suspicion of heading a global criminal conspiracy that involves copyright infringement and money laundering related to pirated films, music and TV programmes through his website megaupload.com

U.S. Authorities are seeking his extradition to face charges in the United States and if found guilty, he could face up to 20 years in prison. Dotcom (Schmitz) has previously been convicted for an array of charges ranging from hacking offences, insider trading, and embezzlement amongst others.

Unfortunately for bwin.party Digital, PartyGaming and its poker arm PartyPoker were named in the indictment under “Third Parties” for paying over $3 million for advertising on the megaupload site. A contract which was initiated around mid-November 2009 before its March 2011 merger with Bwin and was “still active on or about March, 18 2011″. Other’s named included PayPal and Moneybookers.

bwin.party was quick to respond with John Shepherd the company’s director of communications saying the company had terminated the contract once the news broke and that it “had no knowledge about any of the alleged activities undertaken by Megaupload.”

January 18, 2012

Payment processor Rubin pleads guilty to DoJ charges

Payment processor Ira Rubin has pleaded guilty in Manhattan federal court to money laundering, bank and wire fraud, and gambling offenses in connection with a scheme to deceive U.S banks into processing hundreds of millions of dollars in online poker transactions.

Preet Bharara, the U.S Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said that Rubin helped process payments for three of the largest internet poker companies, Pokerstars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker, by disguising transactions so that they would appear to be on behalf of non-gambling merchants selling clothing, jewellery, sports equipment and other items.

Rubin, a U.S citizen who had been residing in Costa Rica since 2008, was detained in Guatemala on April 26th 2011, and then transferred to the U.S in connection with the indictment unsealed on April 15th that charged him and ten others with crimes relating to the illegal operation of three internet poker companies.

According to the indictment, Pokerstars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker turned to third party payment processors following the enactment of the UIGEA as U.S banks were largely unwilling to process internet gambling payments. These third party payment processors, including Rubin, were willing to disguise the payments so they would appear to be unrelated to internet gambling.

The DoJ said that in mid-2008, Rubin, together with co-conspirators, created dozens of phony e-commerce websites purporting to sell everything from clothing and jewellery to golf clubs and bicycles. In reality, these sites were used to disguise Pokerstars’ online poker transactions.

Between 2008 and March 2011, Absolute Poker also used Rubin at various times to process echecks disguised as, among other things, payroll processing, affiliate marketing, and online electronics merchants.

Rubin committed the charged offenses while in Costa Rica where he has been living since 2008.

Rubin, 53, pled guilty yesterday before U.S Magistrate Judge Gabriel W Gorenstein to one count of conspiracy to violate the UIGEA, one count of conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud, and one count of money laundering conspiracy.

He faces a maximum sentence of 55 years in prison, and is scheduled to be sentenced by U.S District Judge Lewis A Kaplan on May 17th 2012.

Four other defendants charged with Rubin have appeared in the U.S to date, including Bradley Franzen, Brent Beckley, Chad Elie, and John Campos. Franzen and Beckley pled guilty on May 23rd and December 20th of last year respectively, while Elie and Campos are scheduled to go to trial before Judge Kaplan on April 9th 2012.

The remaining six defendants charged in the superseding indictment remain at large.

January 16, 2012

888 launches new Big Brother branded online bingo site

nline gaming operator 888.com has joined forces with Endemol and Channel 5 to launch a new online bingo site based on popular reality TV show Big Brother.

Coinciding with the new series of Celebrity Big Brother currently being broadcast in the UK on Channel 5, Bigbrotherbingo.com is a new interactive online bingo site offering players exclusive Big Brother prizes including behind the scenes access, task props and VIP passes to eviction nights.

“The opportunity to offer the Big Brother brand to our online bingo fans is a perfect match, we are building an offering that truly takes online entertainment to the next level,” said Maurice Karpes, 888.com’s vice president of bingo marketing.

Bigbrotherbingo.com offers games including 75 ball, 90 ball & 5 line bingo, free bingo, penny bingo, as well as daily guaranteed jackpots. The site also offers instant win games such as Bejeweled, Fluffy Favourites and Monopoly.

“Big Brother fans love to immerse themselves in the show via its many different platforms and this deal with 888 and Channel 5 offers another exciting and entertaining way for them to do so,” said Jurian Van Der Meer, managing director of Endemol Games UK.

Agostino di Falco, partnership director at Channel 5, added: “This deal with 888.com and Endemol enables Channel 5 to show how we can create strong partnership deals that offer incremental value to the advertiser.”

In the UK, Big Brother will launch its thirteenth series of the hit TV reality show later this year on Channel 5, having recently moved from Channel 4, while the ninth series of Celebrity Big Brother is currently running on the same channel.

January 11, 2012

Danske Spil beats Ladbrokes - and gains the rights to the trademark for "Danske Spil"

The High Court in Denmark has just now sentenced the English game provider Ladbrokes for having violated the marketing law in a lawsuit filed by Danske Spil. Ladbrokes was sentenced because Ladbrokes from May to September 2008 completed a comprehensive marketing campaign in Denmark under the slogan “Danske spil Engelske odds (meaning ”Danish Games English Odds”). The following text was among other things a part of the campaign:

“Hvad er Ladbrokes) (What is Ladbrokes?)
Danske spil (Danish games)
Samme spil/Samme tryghed (Same games/Same safety)
Engelske odds (English odds)
Større gevinst/Bedre service (Bigger winnings/Better service”

At the same time, Ladbrokes stated in a press release that one is overcharged when gambling with the state’s gambling monopoly, and that Ladbrokes offers exactly the same games with equal high safety standard as the state monopoly, however providing far better odds and chances of winnings.

In the sentence, High Court has just now established that Ladbrokes’ campaign was unlawful, and that Ladbrokes thus must accept to having acted against regulations of the marketing law on good costumes and comparable advertisement.

“We are very satisfied with the sentence and welcome the liberalised gambling marked. However, it is important to us that our new competitors play by the rules. Consequently, it is fine that High Court now has defined fair play within the marketing”, says CEO H. C. Madsen, Danske Spil.

At the same time, High Court determined that Danske Spil has the right to the words “Danske Spil”. Although being two common words – “Danske” and “Spil”, which normally would not gain exclusive rights, High Court has resolved that the Danish people associate these words with the business and products of Danske Spil.

Finally, High Court decided that one particular scene from one of Danske Spil’s previous commercials not quite met the requirements of the marketing law. Danske Spil has, however, long since changed the scene in question.

Furthermore, Ladbrokes wished to have Danske Spil sentenced for having violated the EU regulations by encouraging the market to buy Danish. However, High Court acquitted Danske Spil of all charges.

January 10, 2012

bwin.party loses Portuguese court battle

Gaming giant Bwin.party digital has been ordered to remove all advertising and sponsorship from Portuguese sports competitions after a court ruled its activities are illegal.

Bwin.party has a major presence in the country’s football market and Reuters reports that Monday's ruling, covering tax and regulatory issues, could set a precedent for sponsorship deals between other online gambling companies and sports clubs and associations. Betclic sponsors a range of Portuguese clubs including Sporting Braga, while Betfair is also present in the market.

Bwin.party currently sponsors the Taca da Liga competition to the tune of Eur4 million. The deal with the Portuguese Football League (LPFP) is now under threat, but the League has signalled its intention to appeal the decision by claiming the judgment could threaten the health of the national game. The LPFP said: “As of Monday, the Portuguese professional football league is obliged to remove all advertising that refers to Bwin.”

Monday’s ruling stems from a court battle which began in 2005. The Portuguese Casino Association joined forces with national lottery operator Santa Casa to complain that Bwin.party has an unfair advantage as it is not taxed or subject to Portuguese gambling legislation.

Bwin.party has stated the court’s decision goes against European law, with a spokesman adding: “One cannot aggressively advertise and expand games on the one hand and keep foreign competition out on the other hand.” Bwin's lawyer, Eduardo Serra Jorge, said: “It is time for the state to legislate and tax online gambling instead of banning it. Regulating it is in the interest of the consumer, the economy and the state budget.”

January 09, 2012

Ladbrokes in technology supply talks with Betdaq

Following aborted acquisition talks with 888 and Sportingbet and a flirtation with Playtech, a spokesperson for Ladbrokes has confirmed to The Telegraph that the company has now begun discussions with Ireland’s Betdaq to buy in technology from the betting exchange operator.

Ladbrokes has set aside £50m to overhaul its underperforming online operations. The company has already improved its trading systems and a new Ladbrokes.com is scheduled for launch in February, but there is still much that it can do if it hopes to catch up to and overtake rivals such William Hill and Paddy Power.

According to The Telegraph, Ladbrokes believes that the betting exchange operator has “good up-to-the-minute pricing technology” which the company can benefit from.

Betdaq, the trading arm of Global Betting Exchange, operates a peer-to-peer betting exchange and recently launched Betdaq 1Bet, a traditional bookmaker style betting product. The company had not responded to a request for comment at the time publication.

Justice Department ruling allows for possibility of online gambling in New York

Imagine super-sized online poker games with seven-figure jackpots. Gambling apps on your smart phone that let you pull the lever on a virtual slot machine while your boss isn’t looking.

The U.S. Justice Department last month cracked open the doors for these options and many more. Quietly, with a legal opinion, the federal government cleared the way for online gambling Dec. 23. And they began a race between states to create games and generate billions in revenue, gambling experts and legal scholars say.

For decades, the Justice Department has opposed online gambling in all its forms. But when New York and Illinois asked the federal government to clarify the rules for online lottery ticket sales, the opinion went farther: The only thing illegal under federal law was sports betting over state and federal lines.

Now states are starting to sort out what to do with a new freedom that could give them the potential to make billions.

Some states are already poised to go. Washington, D.C., has already legalized Internet poker to be run by the lottery there. Nevada has legalized Internet poker. Three other states: California, Iowa and New Jersey will likely approve online poker and other games this year, said I. Nelson Rose, a lawyer and expert on gambling law at Whittier College of Law in California.

At first, states will likely limit the games so only state residents can play. But it won’t take long for states to develop compacts, as they have with Powerball lotteries, to form multi-state games and larger jackpots, Rose said.

In some cases, the states will run the games. In others, casinos will. Either way, states will be taking a cut of the money.

When New York Lottery Director Gordon Medenica received the opinion letter from the Department of Justice the Friday before Christmas, he said, he was happily surprised. It had taken two years to get an answer to his question: Can the state sell single lottery tickets online without violating federal law.

Now the state offers online subscription sales of Lotto and Mega Millions tickets. The lottery wanted to add single-ticket online sales of Sweet Millions and Powerball. The opinion was that yes, the state could do this, and much more.

“It is really up to the states and the policy makers within those states to decide what they can do,” Medenica said.

In New York, the plan is to be cautious and watch the market, he said.

Medenica said the state plans to add the single ticket sales of Sweet Millions and Powerball in the next few months. He said the state asked its longtime games vendor, GTECH Corp. of Rhode Island, to develop a computer system to sell those tickets several years ago, but GTECH and the lottery wanted to be sure it was legal. The state asked the feds for guidance in 2009 and have been letting that system sit idle since then.

Medenica said the governor, legislature and customers will dictate what the lottery does with its new freedom.

State law clearly allows the lottery to sell tickets online. But whether it allows instant online games is unclear. Poker and Quick Draw would require the legislature to act, Medenica said. Quick Draw is an online, instant game that is played in bars and other outlets licensed by the lottery. Patrons buy tickets and the winning numbers pop up on a TV screen every few minutes. Online games could transfer that game to laptops and smart phones.

None of those options has been ruled out by the lottery, Medenica said.

“It’s something we need to study and stay open to the possibility and see where the marketplace goes,” he said.

Fran Fiorito, whose Euclid restaurant in Clay does more than $500,000 in Quick Draw business a year, said he doesn’t worry that online games would cut into his business. People play Quick Draw as part of an evening out with friends, he said.

“Those people are not going to sit home and play online,” Fiorito said.

He thinks the state would be smart to offer online games. “We need the money,” Fiorito said.

The legislators who oversee the lottery and other gambling are less sure.

State Sen. John Bonacic, R-Mount Hope, chairman of the Senate Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering, prefers developing “brick and mortar” casinos. In his State of the State Address, the governor asked lawmakers to consider an amendment to the state Constitution that would legalize gambling and allow new casinos off of Indian land.

Assemblyman Gary Pretlow, D-Mount Vernon, chairman of the same committee in the Assembly, said he opposes online gambling.

“It’s too easy to cheat,” Pretlow said. He said he’d like to see other states legalize online games such as poker and watch the scandals unfold.

Poker is likely the first game to go online, said Bill Eadington, a gambling expert at the University of Nevada. It’s seen as a game of skill, unlike simpler casino games and slot machines. And it has a nostalgia that people like.

“Every president has played it. It’s the game of the Old West,” Eadington said.

Not to mention that it’s worth a lot of money. A study in California said legalizing online poker would generate $1.5 billion for the state government over the next decade. And once federal authorities shut down several popular online poker sites in March, that number went up to $2.5 billion, said Rose, the California gambling expert.

Eadington said slot machine games will be the most politically difficult for states to get online. They’re perceived as skill-free and highly addictive.

But Eadington also said that with the economy struggling, states will follow the pattern of the past three decades. When they have money, “gambling is an evil thing. They won’t consider it,” he said. “But when times are tough, morality takes a backseat.”

As the states begin to make their decisions, the casino industry is trying to move Congress to create federal regulations to bind states. That way, the casino operators wouldn’t have to deal with 50 different sets of laws. Or lobby 50 different legislatures. Under one congressional bill proposed in 2009, a single state would act as the regulator for the entire country. The bill was set up so a state that already has gambling, like Nevada or New Jersey, would be in charge of regulating everyone, Eadington said.

Jeff Gural, owner of the Vernon Downs and Tioga Downs racetracks, doesn’t want to see New York legalize online gambling. He watches his teenage grandchildren text and play games on their smart phones. He worries what would happen if gambling were readily available there, too.

“We’ll open a Pandora’s box,” Gural said. The casinos’ jobs will erode, he said, and people will become more addicted to gambling.

“I’d like to see it tried in another state,” he said.

William Hill agree England and FA Cup deals with the Football Assocation

Bookmakers William Hill have agreed a two-and-a-half year deal with The Football Association to become an ‘Official Supporter’ of the England football team, and ‘Official Supporter’ and ‘Official Betting Partner’ of the FA Cup.

The deal with the FA, the first of its type for the betting industry, comes into effect on January 7th and continues through to the end of the FA and FIFA World Cups in 2014.

The agreement features a wide and unique range of image rights, advertising and promotional opportunities.

Ralph Topping, Chief Executive of William Hill told Crunchsports.com: “We have been looking for sponsorship opportunities from which we can reward and engage with our customers for the events they most enjoy.

“This deal with The FA will help us to achieve our objectives of developing the prominence of our brand and increasing market share in all our business channels.

“Our ‘Official Betting Partner’ status of The FA Cup complements our existing partnership with the Scottish Football Association and our sponsorship of the Scottish Cup with which we are already extremely delighted and it becomes a welcome addition to our quality range of sponsorships within darts, snooker and racing.

“The next two and a half years are an exciting time for UK football and we’re delighted to now be part of all of those events.”

Kristof Fahy, Chief Marketing Officer for William Hill, added: “This is an excellent deal for both parties and it gives us some very good opportunities to develop our brand across a wide variety of channels.

“The England and FA Cup branding and imagery will enable William Hill (including via williamhill.com) to promote its services and products that we can offer to our Casino, Games, Sportsbook, Bingo and Poker customers.

Henry Birch, Chief Executive Officer of williamhill.com said the deal with the FA is an provided the company with “a strong platform for our brands and products both in the UK and internationally.”

Peter Daire, the FA’s Head of Sponsorship said William Hill will benefit from an association with two of the highest-profile football sponsorship properties in the world.

“We are delighted to have William Hill on board,” he said.

“They have a strong track record in sports sponsorship and a considerable online and high street presence that will enable us to strengthen our communication platforms for England and The FA Cup.”

January 04, 2012

Paddy Power rapped by ASA over Luis Suarez ad

The press ad, featuring an action shot of Suarez, promised Paddy Power customers would get their money back, if Suarez scored in the Liverpool v Manchester United match towards the end of last year.

The ad, which appeared in The Sun on 15 October, received one complaint on the grounds it was socially irresponsible for featuring Suarez, who was under 25 at the time.

Paddy Power and News International confirmed Suarez was 24-years-old when the ad appeared, but said they did not believe the ad would have particular appeal to young or vulnerable people, or would encourage young people to gamble on the basis of his image.

They said he appeared in the ad because he was the subject of the bet and featured in his role as a professional footballer, rather than in connection with the act of gambling.

The ASA said Suarez was likely to be seen by consumers as playing a significant role in the campaign as he was pictured individually and was the focus of the ad.

It ruled the ad had breached the CAP Code rule, which states gambling ads should not feature people under 25-years-old gambling or playing a significant role in the ad.

The watchdog ruled the ad must not appear again in its current form and Paddy Power was not to use under 25-year-olds in its advertising in this way again.

Suarez was recently handed an eight-match ban by the FA for racially abusing Manchester United footballer Patrice Evra.

London Olympics: UK to target betting syndicates

With the fear of betting syndicates looming large over the upcoming Olympics, Britain will set up a dedicated intelligence unit to target fixers, especially from Asia, to counter the menace which has overtaken doping as the biggest threat to the Games.

The specialist team will monitor suspicious betting patterns and share intelligence on those who attempt to bribe athletes into fixing events.

The new intelligence unit will target syndicates who may try to "spot fix" events or outcomes within matches. It will comprise the International Olympic Committee, Gambling Commission and if required, the police.

Explaining how the unit would operate, UK's Olympic Minister Hugh Robertson said: "We have a very sophisticated information sharing system, so the moment there is any spike in betting activities that is recorded and investigated.

"We're reasonably clear that we can police the UK end of it. The much more difficult element is how you police illegal syndicates probably operating a long way away from these shores," he told the BBC.

He said fixing had overtaken doping as the biggest threat to the July 27 to August 12 London Olympic Games.

Robertson believes the minutiae of competition is where betting scams are most likely to occur, given the growth in spread betting.

Gamblers can now stake money on the smallest detail in an event rather than the overall outcome, making illegal acts of fixing potentially difficult to detect, the Daily Mail quoted him as saying.

January 03, 2012

Is Gambling More Addictive Online?

Before the advent of online gambling, a person with gambling addiction usually had to leave their house and go somewhere to indulge their habit.

But when gambling becomes accessible online, simply passing the computer at home can trigger the impulse to place a bet, said Marvin Steinberg, executive director of the nonprofit group Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling.

Earlier this week, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced that he was exploring the possibility of legalizing various forms of online gambling in Connecticut. The announcement drew mixed reactions, some wary of the state getting involved in anything that could foster more problem gambling.

Researchers have studied the psychology of gambling for decades. The field of online gambling research, though, is still new, and researchers say there are a number of questions about its potential dangers and whether online gambling poses psychological problems different from those related to traditional forms of gambling.

Nancy Petry, a psychologist at the University of Connecticut, said a few patterns have so far emerged.

"We're finding that only a small proportion of gamblers do so online, but of these people, the vast majority do have gambling problems," said Petry.

She said one of the main questions is whether online gambling is creating more gambling addiction or simply serving as another outlet for addicts. Petry, one of the first researchers to study online gambling, said gambling addicts may have problems that parallel those of problem drinkers.

"It's similar to drinking — when you're developing a drinking problem you're doing it socially," she said, but many alcoholics eventually turn to drinking alone at home. When gambling at home on a computer, "there are none of the social sanctions" of real-world settings, she said, and that makes it easier to go overboard.

One of her studies looked specifically at online gambling and adolescents. She and fellow researchers found a strong parallel between the young gamblers and binge-drinking among teenagers. While those who did partake in online betting had a higher rate of gambling addiction — just as young drinkers have a higher rate of binge drinking — those problems didn't necessarily lead into adulthood.

David Hodgins, a professor of psychology at the University of Calgary, said one of the next questions to tackle is what role online gambling has in a developing an addiction. "It's not clear where the chicken or the egg is," he said.

More online gambling, he said, will likely complicate the treatment of those with a gambling addiction.

"It makes [gambling] more accessible, and when people are struggling to overcome gambling, putting distance between you and gambling online makes that difficult," he said.

Steinberg said online gambling tends to attract the same personality type who gravitate toward slot machines in casinos — a subset of gamblers particularly susceptible to gambling problems.

"Problem gamblers are people who like to escape and isolate themselves," he said. "When they get into casinos, they go to slot machines where they're in their own world and don't get interrupted. Online gambling is pretty much you and the machine and you're alone. People don't have parties to gamble online — psychologically, it's more isolated."