May 24, 2012

Australia to allow online Poker & Sportsbook?

Australian online gambling sites may soon be allowed to bet on live sporting matches and offer real cash poker games. The gaming sites could run trials of both sportsbook & Poker within a year as the Federal Government tries to combat unregulated overseas gaming sites.

Documents have revealed the Federal Government recently briefed the Australian gaming industry on measures enabling online in-play betting.

Live betting, currently offered only by telephone and in person, could be a boom online industry – worth $300 million a year – given its accessibility on smartphones and tablets.

However this is in sharp contrast to the Government’s tough stance on advertising betting during sports televised events.

Betting during horse races is already offered by at least one gaming site, but it is not a popular option, given the brevity of races.
A recent gambling reform committee report recommended against legalising online poker and in-play betting, but said the live sports betting rules could be loosened to allow betting on end results live.

MP Andrew Wilkie supports legalising local casino-style gaming such as poker, roulette or blackjack on the basis of it being a lesser risk, as it would help punters avoid problems with overseas sites not paying Corporate teaxes.

Bwin.Party awarded Schleswig-Holstein license has announce it has been awarded a licence to operate online sports betting by the Ministry of Interior in Schleswig-Holstein.

The license is effective immediately and is valid for six years. Revenues generated under the license will be taxed at the rate of 20% of gross gaming revenue. In 2011, the group generated total pro forma gross sports betting revenue of approximately 96.1m from Germany. Co-chief executive Rorbert Teufelberger said: “Schleswig-Holstein’s regulatory regime represents an important step in building a vibrant and competitive German online gaming market. “This EU-compliant regime is a fundamentally important step to protect consumers and keep out black market operators in Germany.” has submitted separate applications to offer online poker and casino games and anticipates receiving the requisite licenses from Schleswig-Holstein in due course.

Russia plans Vegas in Vladivostok

Russia is planning to build a gambling and entertainment zone near the port city of Vladivostok will lure investors who have spent big money on casinos for Asian gamblers in Macau and Singapore.

It will, however, also face competition from Asian nations such as Vietnam and the Philippines, which are setting up similar tourism and entertainment zones.

Russia’s state-owned Nash Dom Primorye is set to announce at the Global Gaming Expo in Macau on Wednesday that it is seeking private investors and/or companies to build casino resorts in a six square kilometre area near Vladivostok.

Vladivostok is one of four official Russian government zones where casino gambling is legal but is the only one that has formally initiated plans to lure foreign investors.

Known as the Integrated Entertainment Zone, the project has space for roughly five large resorts.

A report from Gaming Market Advisors, which conducts casino market research, estimates the zone could rake in revenues of $2 to $7 billion when completed. By comparison, Singapore’s casino area which is similar in size, took in more than $5 billion in 2011.

Nash Dom Primorye has appointed Las Vegas-based Galaviz & Co as lead strategic adviser for the tender.

The tender will be initiated in June, giving potential international operators 60 days to send in a pitch and budget estimates. The government will then enter into discussions with potential investors by the end of October.

Marina Lomakina, general director of Nash Dom, said in a recent interview she hoped the zone would be fully completed within five years.

“We want companies who are well known and will help create amenities that are more than just casino gaming,” she said, adding that the zone would require a total minimum investment of $2 billion from private investors looking to develop properties.

The master plan includes luxury hotels, a yacht club, shopping malls as well as outdoor sports such as golf. As it stands now, the zone is 2.6 square kilometers, but can be extended to six square kilometers.

The project, which will focus on drawing in Asian money, comes at a time when China’s economy is slowing and Macau’s once turbo-charged monthly growth rate is falling to near single digits.

Russians would also contribute to the total revenue spent in the Vladivostok zone, Lomakina said. Unlike Asian countries such as Vietnam where it is illegal for citizens to gamble, Russians are allowed to gamble in designated local zones.

“We hope most of the customers will be from China, as well as Korea, Japan and the United States. We have very strong ties with these countries and expect to have their interest in the project.”

Vladivostok is two hours by plane from Seoul and Tokyo.

The Russian port city has invested $7 billion over the past five years to develop infrastructure, including a new airport, bridges that resemble San Franscisco’s Golden Gate and a new university ahead of the APEC summit. It is constructing more roads and transport links for the resort zone.

PokerStars break records

With the main completed & the final registration numbers in, Pokerstars announced on Monday that this year’s Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP) has broken new records & can be classed as a major success.

The amazing performance was achieved despite the difficult economic situation and the absence of the US market following Black Friday.

Pokerstars claimed a new record, with funds paid out to players across 40 events, each with three levels of stakes, totaling $65,332,179, besting the previous SCOOP record of $64,230,010 set in 2010.

SCOOP 2012 also broke the record for the highest participation ever in a PokerStars Championship of Online Poker series (SCOOP, WCOOP, TCOOP), with a total of 526,154 entries, easily surpassing the previous best of 461,936 in SCOOP 2010.

The inaugural PokerStars MicroMillions tournament festival, which took place in March this year, holds the all-time record with a total of 1,294,883 entries, and still no US players.

“The fact that this year’s figures have now eclipsed the amount of participants & prize money awarded from before the US market exit, shows the continued growth of poker throughout the world, with 156 countries represented in SCOOP 2012,” a Pokerstars spokesman declared.

Social gambling a $100 billion industry by 2017?

According to new research by Juniper, they estimates that mobile gambling could reach a global figure of US$100bn by 2017, driven by social gaming and the development of mobile wallets.

The new report from Juniper, ‘Mobile Gambling: Casinos, Lotteries & Betting’, has found that, in five short years, the global figure for wagers made via mobile devices annually could rise from just under US$20bn (2011) to US$100bn.

This increase is expected to stem from a surge in social gambling activity, which has seen some companies adapt to capitalise on this growing market. “Social gaming companies such as Zynga are seeking to move from play-for-fun casino games into real money gambling, while pure-play mobile casinos, including Probability, have begun to integrate with the Facebook mobile platform,” said Dr Windsor Holden, author of the report. “In this way, consumers will be able to use their social networks to register for casino games, substantially increasing both the reach and engagement of such services.”

Several UK-facing sportsbooks are already seeing around 20pc of online wagers coming from mobile devices, like smartphones or tablets. While sports betting currently accounts for the largest share of mobile gambling, the report predicts that casino gaming will catch up by 2017.

Social media integration and the rise of social gaming has helped these figures along thus far, and the future holds more potential with the increasing deployment of mobile wallets, offering a viable alternative payment method for mobile gamblers.

May 23, 2012

Germany’s Mario Gomez favored to win Euro 2012 Golden Boot

Now that the European soccer season has come and gone, the continent turns its attention to the UEFA Euro 2012. A lot of people will say that this tournament isn’t as prestigious as the World Cup – rightfully so because the South American powers won’t be competing – but it’s another thing entirely to mistake it as a B-level tournament.

The best of the best from Europe will be locked, stocked, and ready to roll when the opening ceremony takes place on the 8th of June at the two host nations, Poland and the Ukraine. We already touched on the championship odds for all the participating teams, not to mention a shot-at-the-moon €25,000 wager at 66/1 odds by a BetVictor customer for Sweden to win the whole enchilada.

In this space, we’re going to take a good look at the lines for arguably the most popular prop bet heading into the tournament: the Golden Boot Winner.

Four years ago, Spain’s David Villa won the Golden Boot after scoring four goals in the tournament. Those who backed the Spanish striker cashed in handsomely, too, thanks to the 15/1 pre-tournament odds given to him. This year, Villa’s status for tournament is still up in the air after tearing his ACL in the La Liga season. With the defending Golden Boot winner out of the picture, a new crop of football studs and some old favorites have taken his place to make up the top of the 2012 Golden Boot list.

On top of that list is German striker Mario Gomez, checking in at 7/1 odds. Gomez is just coming off of a devastating Champions League tournament after his squad, Bayern Munich, lost to EPL club Chelsea in the Finals. The question now is how much effect will that have on the same man that scored a total of 41 club goals for the season leading up to Euro 2012?

Next up is the Netherlands’ Robin Van Persie at 9/1 odds, followed by Portugal’s Christiano Ronaldo at 12/1 odds. These two have been stalwarts for their respective national teams and their recent club forms – Van Persie had 37 club goals for Arsenal this season whereas Ronaldo scored an astonishing 60 goals for Real Madrid – suggest that they’re going to find the back of the net a whole lot more than they did during Euro 2008, where they combined for a total of 1 goal, coming from Ronaldo.

After Ronaldo are three names that we’re also all familiar with: Germany’s Miroslav Klose and Spain’s “Fernan-duo” of Fernando Torres and Fernando Llorente. All three have been given 14/1 odds to win Euro 2012′s Golden Boot Award, around the same line that Villa had when he won the award four years ago.

Rounding out the top 10 favorites for the award are France’s Karim Benzema (16/1), the Netherland’s Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (16/1), and Poland’s Robert Lewandowski (20/1).

Noticeable names that are not in the top 10 but could give a good showing at the tournament include Germany’s Lukas Podolski (22/1), England’s Wayne Rooney (25/1), Italy’s Mario Balotelli (25/1), Spain’s Cesc Fabregas (33/1), and the Netherland’s Wesley Sneijder (33/1).

May 22, 2012

Sportingbet to pay up to €17.2m to settle Spanish tax

Following yesterday’s slump in the value its share price caused by the company’s announcement concerning discussions with the Spanish tax authorities, Sportingbet has confirmed that it is making a €17.2m (US$22m) payment in settlement of past tax liabilities.

The company said Tuesday that it has completed self-assessment tax returns and will make a payment of €14m plus surcharges and interest of up to €3.2m for its previous activities in the Spanish market.

Shares in Sportingbet fell by more than 7 per cent on Monday after the company disclosed that it was in talks with the Spanish tax authorities, but failed to give details of its potential tax liability.

The company, along with all other major operators in the Spanish market, has recently learnt that its previous activities in the market are liable to taxation under laws dating from 1966 and 1977, although the laws have previously not been applied to offshore online gaming operators.

In order to meet the tax liability, Sportingbet has completed the sale of 7 per cent convertible bonds due in 2016 totalling £15m. The bonds will be issued on May 25th and will be convertible into ordinary shares at a conversion price of £0.4775.

Sportingbet said that payment of its tax liability “maximises the likelihood of securing a Spanish eGaming licence”, with the issuance of licences scheduled to begin on June 1st. The company added that upon receipt of licence, it would immediately apply to Commercial Court no.10 in Madrid to cancel the current injunction over its Spanish facing business.

Rank deal will not cannibalize the UK casino biz

Following Rank’s deal to acquire a number of Gala’s casinos last weekend it was interesting to try and work out why the deal was being done.

It was talking to my grandmother I discovered Rank’s entertainment business career started far away from the casino in the salubrious surroundings of the local cinema. Post-war times were obviously very different and back then the cinema was likely a lucrative way to make some money through entertainment. Rank’s latest deal shows they mean business in an industry that, although the critics don’t like to say so, is just as deserving of the “entertainment” tag as any other. Big changes have been afoot in the U.K. based casino industry for some time and last weekend the straw broke the camel’s back as Rank decided to enough was enough and they wanted the market all for themselves.

Things have hotted up ever since Aspers spent big to open the continent’s largest casino and there will be some that think Rank’s hand was forced by the opening of such a lavish venue. The £250 million deal means Rank has another 23 venues in their vast catalogue of casinos, taking them to a total 58 venues in the UK. There haven’t been alarm bells ringing around this deal and even the analysts have kept quiet so why is this the case?

In a lot of industries this would be seen as a prime opportunity to consolidate. Casino companies see it completely the other way though and you only have to look at Rank’s future plans. Organic growth was already proposed with 25 new locations earmarked to see a Rank casino by 2015. This remains unaffected and there is no sense that expansion is simply being done to put others off. There’s a general feeling at Rank that if one casino firm sees visitors go up the others will also see the benefits.

While the above is definitely the case in an urban centre like London, Birmingham or Manchester, it’s when you look further afield that you start to think this isn’t the case everywhere. The best way to illustrate this is to look at Wales’ second city Swansea where Aspers have just this week started a consultation that could eventually see the shuttering of the venue. It’s no coincidence that a Grosvenor Casino is already there and demand in a place like this has seen to its demise.

So while it’s all well and good there being multiple casinos in some cities others just can’t sustain more than one and it goes to dispel the myth that they’re all there to help each other. What the move won’t do is close Gala venues and jobs wise that is definitely some good news for a country that is still deep in recession.

For Rank this eliminates the one large-scale competitor they had and gives them a free run at the industry. The only problem that will come for them is the larger Aspers casinos in a small number of locations and independent casino that will still be a staple of some towns. Then they could find themselves in same place that Aspers found itself in Swansea although the amount of venues they possess would offset it.

Rank deciding to acquire Gala Casinos is a good thing. No jobs are likely to be lost, no venues are being shut and it will only give the casino industry a better reputation as an entertainment venue to trust.

May 21, 2012

Betfair to launch fixed-odds betting website

Betfair is set to launch a new fixed-odds betting website to compete traditional bookies, The Telegraph newspaper reported Sunday. Nick Hagen, Betfair’s sports operations director, said: “We know from our own research that we lose 30pc of our customers’ sports betting wallet to the competition. Why should customers have to go elsewhere and why would we willingly let this large chunk of business walk out the door?”

David Loveday, OpenBet’s chief executive, said: “We think this will help Betfair penetrate new markets. There are certain markets that don’t really know what an exchange is. Offering fixed-odds will give them a way in.” Ivor Jones, an analyst at Numis, said Betfair’s new service would “dramatically expand the range of bets available”.

The new site will apparently be ready for action in time for the Euro 2012 football championship, & will widen the internet betting company’s offering into an area where it perceived itself to be at a disadvantage.

White House leaves Online Poker to US States

The Obama administration has finally responded Friday to the American people’s online petition to license and regulate Internet poker.

Brian Deese, deputy director of the National Economic Council and a special assistant to the president on economic policy, issued a four-paragraph response on the issue. The first paragraph was introductory and the final paragraph a short conclusion, leaving only two paragraphs with any real content for people.

The second paragraph acknowledged that many Americans play online poker and that there is no federal law preventing them from doing so. It goes on to say that it’s up to each state to determine whether it wishes to authorize online poker. That’s an agreement on what the Justice Department in December said for states to move ahead on the issue alone, without Federal backing.

The third paragraph lists the areas of concern for online gambling, that the administration has, such as preventing minors from playing, fraud and money laundering. To that end, the response states:”The Administration will continue to examine this issue and is open to solutions that would help guard against the use of online gambling sites as tools for conducting illegal activities or preying on unsuspecting individuals to the extent that online gambling is permitted.”

So it is quite clear that The White House is not going to push this on a Federal level, but the US States can go for online poker.

Below is the statement in full:

Thank you for taking the time to participate in the “We the People” petition process. We launched this online tool as a way of hearing directly from you, and are pleased to see that it has been effective in soliciting your feedback. We understand your interest in the petition to support the legalization of online poker, and appreciate the opportunity to share President Obama’s concerns about this issue.

The Administration understands that many Americans engage in paid online poker games for entertainment purposes. Online gambling on sporting events or contests violates federal law. The legality of other forms of online gambling is dependent upon the law of the states where the bettor or gambling business is located. It is left to each state to determine whether it wishes to permit such activity between its residents and an online poker business authorized by that state to accept such wagers, but online gambling that is not authorized by state law may also violate federal statutes.

The rapid and anonymous nature of the internet distinguishes online games from onsite games, such as those in casinos, and creates distinct challenges. For example, there are many means of technologically circumventing restrictions on online gambling that can allow individuals from countries where gambling is illegal — or even minors — to play using real currency. Online games also have greater potential for fraud because gambling websites are much cheaper and easier to establish than on-site locations, and like telemarketing scams, can appear and disappear overnight. Finally, online gambling can be used in money laundering schemes because of the volume, speed, anonymity, and international reach made possible by internet transactions. The Administration will continue to examine this issue and is open to solutions that would help guard against the use of online gambling sites as tools for conducting illegal activities or preying on unsuspecting individuals to the extent that online gambling is permitted.

Thank you once again for signing the online petition. We appreciate hearing your opinions and look forward to hearing from you again soon. receives a tax shock has received a letter from the revenue-hungry Spanish tax authorities – it’s costing the firm 33m euros. This will be painful for but, as it says in today’s announcement, the idea is “to secure the group’s position in Spain in the context of its application for eGaming licences”.

The debt-crippled country is expected to issue lucrative online gaming licences at the beginning of June but has now ordered operators – like – which already have customers in Spain to pay back-taxes.

Having completed a self-assessment, the company says it will be handing over €33m.

May 18, 2012

Paddy Power is ready for move to online poker in US, says chief

Paddy Power chief executive Patrick Kennedy insisted yesterday that the internet bookie is not in danger of being left behind in the United States as a number of states there move closer to legalising online poker.

Mr Kennedy said the bookie remains in discussions with a number of potential partners there. It's still awaiting approval from the Nevada Gaming Commission for a licence to supply and operate mobile betting equipment in the state, home to Las Vegas. The state is due to issue the first online poker licences next month.

But as other states including New Jersey and California mull legalising online poker, internet betting firms such as London-listed Bwin have been teaming up with casino giants including MGM Resorts in anticipation of new laws.

Mr Kennedy conceded that companies such as Bwin and Gibraltar-headquartered have the technology platforms to provide online poker operations that Paddy Power doesn't possess.

"What we're showing potential partners is deep e-commerce expertise that other global companies don't have," said Mr Kennedy. "We know how to run, better than anyone, I would argue, an e-commerce business. So there are different parts to the value chain."

Importantly, Paddy Power could also benefit from an untarnished legal reputation. Some online poker operators have been previously been charged by the US Justice Department with illegally offering internet gambling to US-based citizens.

Mr Kennedy declined to name any of the potential partners. He was speaking after Paddy Power's annual general meeting in Dublin.

The company said yesterday that its total net revenue was 28pc higher in the year to date, with revenue from online services 31pc higher and turnover at its retail units up 26pc.

Online sales rose 37pc at Paddy Power's Australian operation and 28pc on its website. In the UK, total like-for-like net revenue climbed 13pc, while in Ireland, the amounts staked fell 4pc but like-for-like net revenue rose 15pc.

The company is diverting more resources to growing its business. Mr Kennedy said it has been hiring 30 people a month for the past four months at its Dublin headquarters. The company's online service in Italy also went live this week following a soft launch.

Mr Kennedy brushed aside concerns about the health of the eurozone. He said with Italy, Paddy Power is taking a long-term view of the market there.

Shares in Paddy Power were trading as much as 2pc higher yesterday following its upbeat AGM statement.

May 17, 2012

Bulgaria changes tack

Bulgaria’s government are to halve the country’s proposed gambling industry tax rate after realizing that no foreign companies would pay the 15 percent of stakes originally proposed. Instead operators will now pay 6 to 8 percent of stakes after a source from the Parliamentary Budget and Finance Committee told Bulgaria on Air: “No foreign operator would come to Bulgaria, because the taxation would be very high. In practice the tax in Bulgaria is twice bigger that in France or Malta”. A Blacklist will still be in place for firms that don’t have a licence with ISPs facing £8,500 fines if they fail to prevent players using banned sites.

May 16, 2012

Spain’s Acrismatic selects Kambi for online sports betting

Unibet’s business-to-business division, Kambi Sports Solutions, has been selected by Spanish casino group Acrismatic to deliver an online sports betting solution for the newly regulated Spanish market.

The two-year agreement will see Kambi provide a technical platform to Grupo Acrismatic together with odds compilation, risk management and customer profiling services for web, mobile and retail channels.

According to Kambi, the service is expected to launch before the start of the new Spanish football season in late August.

“It is excellent news for us that, in competition with other suppliers, we have been selected as a supplier to one of Spain's leading casino groups,” said Kambi CEO Kristian Nylén. “By using Kambi’s sportsbook solution, Acrismatic will be perfectly positioned to compete profitably and successfully in the re-regulated Spanish sports betting market.”

Grupo Acrismatic owns and operates a number of casinos on the Mediterranean coast as well as 2,600 points of sale in the autonomous community of Valencia.

Shares in Unibet Group plc (Co. Data) (OMX:UNIB) gained 2.93 per cent in Stockholm Tuesday to close at SEK193.50 per share, close to their 52-week high of SEK200.00 per share set on May 9th. sales inch up, bullish on Germany license digital, the world's largest listed online gaming company, said first-quarter revenue edged up and that it expects to be offered a licence to offer online gambling in Germany soon.

The company, which was formed by the merger of Austria's Bwin and PartyGaming last year, on Wednesday said revenue rose 1 percent to 215.9 million euros ($275.8 million) in the three months to the end of March as growth in casino and gaming offset weakness at its poker and bingo businesses. It added that April trade was in line with last year.

The Gibraltar-based firm said it expects to be offered a licence to offer online gambling in Germany from the state of Schleswig Holstein.

The northern state, whose centre-right coalition government voted in favour of relaxing its gambling laws in September, said last week that it had awarded three licences valid to 2018 - one to Britain's Betfair for sports betting, one to Germany's Jaxx AG and one to the state lottery.

"Whilst the political situation remains unclear, we expect more licences to be issued by Schleswig-Holstein shortly and that we will also receive a licence," said.

In Spain, where the licensing process has been delayed following the change of government, operators have now been told to expect licences to be issued from the beginning of June 2012, it said. last week prepared the ground for a possible relaxation of U.S. internet betting laws by signing a deal with a Native American tribe which operates gambling in California.

The company said the amounts wagered in sports betting rose 11 percent in the quarter to 1.08 billion euros but that margins were down on last year which was particularly strong.

"With the imminent launch of our download casino product on the bwin platform, the Euro 2012 football tournament starting next month and the integration of our poker liquidity in the second half, we remain confident about the group's full year prospects," the company said in a statement.

Gaming software group Playtech On Wednesday said the strong performance experienced in the first quarter had continued in the six weeks since the end of March.

May 14, 2012

Gala sell Casinos to Rank for £205m

Gala & Rank concluded the deal – which includes the sale of 23 UK-based casinos and three non-operating licences to Rank – over the weekend.

Rank, which is 74.5pc-controlled by Malaysia’s Guoco Group, will become the country’s leading casino operator once the deal completes in September, which is needed to pass the approval of the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

The takeover of the casinos is conditional on approval by Rank’s shareholders and the receipt of UK merger control clearance.

Gala Coral, which has been through a tough financial restructuring, said it had not taken a final decision on what to do with cash from the sale, although it expects to “reduce the group’s leverage”.

“This transaction will crystallise significant value for our shareholders and debt investors,” said Carl Leaver, chief executive of Gala Coral, which is controlled by a largely private equity shareholder base comprising of 21 different investors.

The deal excludes Gala Coral’s casinos in Dundee and Gibraltar and also the casino freehold properties owned by Gala’s property vehicle. Under Rank’s ownership, Gala’s former casinos will remain the tenants of the freehold properties.

Rank has made no secret of its interest in buying Gala Casinos, but announced on March 29 that earlier talks were off after it balked at the “proposed terms”. The talks resumed last week after the previous discussions broke down over lease agreements, this has now been overcome and Rank will look forward later this year once the OFT agree to be the biggest UK Operator ahead of Genting.

La Française des Jeux launches a new instant game to support the French Olympic Team for the London 2012 Olympic Games

On May 10, La Française des Jeux (FDJ) launched a new special event instant game tied to the London 2012 Olympics : ’Avec l’Equipe de France Olympique à Londres en 2012’ (With the French Olympic Team in London in 2012).

The ticket costs €5 and features 4 games involving 4 emblematic Olympic disciplines in which the French have high medal potential: 100 and 200 meter sprint (athletics), handball, judo and swimming. Players can win up to €25,000 on each game and cumulate winnings of up to €100,000.

This new game is part of a partnership between FDJ and the French National Olympic and Sporting Committee (CNOSF) built more than 10 years ago. This cooperation has enabled FDJ to launch its 4th instant game based on Olympic Games after the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000, Athens in 2004 and Beijing in 2008.

FDJ will host a booth at the ‘Club France’ in London and will support the athletes of the FDJ Foundation’s ‘Challenge’ program including nearly forty athletes that could play at the Olympic Games. On that occasion, FDJ Foundation will allocate an additional grant of 5,000 to the Challengers medalists. At the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008, French challengers won 23 medals.

For 30 years, La Française des Jeux has been strongly committed to sport. The company contributes every year to financing the sport for all in France, with nearly 2% of stakes allocated to the National Sport Development Center (CNDS), i.e. €212 million in 2011; €4 billion in thirty years. Since 1993, FDJ has set up a corporate Foundation dedicated to sport patronage and has launched a Challenge’ program aimed to encourage each month young athletes showing high potential in the early stages of their careers by allocating them a grant of €15,000.

Last minute tax surprise

Weeks before online gambling licenses are to be handed out, Spanish authorities have sprung a potentially game-changing surprise. They are demanding that applicants pay backdated tax for the last four years.

The poker information site Pokerfuse reports that some of the largest operators in Spain could face massive financial demands as a consequence, naming Bwin.Party (Euro 60 million), Sportingbet/Miapuesta (Euro 50 million) & PokerStars as much as Euro 200 million. Sources have told the poker information site that whilst Pokerstars is considering paying up, other operators could find the demands too heavy & withdraw their applications for licenses.

The new four year tax requirement now being imposed by the political changes of a new Spanish government will obviously impact the financial & business calculations & plans of licensees.

May 11, 2012

Belgium Adds To Online Poker Blacklist

The Belgium Gaming Commission has expanded its blacklist of companies which internet service providers in the country must block.

New additions to the list include,,,,,, and, all of which offer online poker.

These companies join the likes of,, and

Belgian authorities claim the blacklist offer opportunities to legitimate operators who apply for licences while protecting players from ‘illegal’ sites which operate without a licence in the country.

Charity Boosts Bingo Players

Usually it is the hard work and effort of bingo players that helps a charity to raise important funds for worthwhile causes but in South Ealing, bingo players have been on the receiving end of some good work. This is because the bingo players who gather for games at Lindsey House have been left in the lurch by a machine that was very old. It was old that it managed to fail safety tests and had been classed as dangerous. Many of the bingo players were keen to keep on playing and just hope for the best but this is not the sort of attitude that is helpful in the long run.

However, after an appeal was made in a local newspaper, the bingo players are smiling again after a reader donated a brand new machine to ensure the bingo games go on. The machine that was being used by the players was 40 years old and causing a lot of problems. After the initial story in the local paper, the only correspondence the club received was from the local council instructing them not to use the faulty machine. This is the sort of response that councillors excel at but better news was on the way for the bingo players.

Miss Dannell of East Acton was responsible for running the games and she was determined not to let people down and it was her letter to the local Gazette that eventually sparked a reaction from the local community.

Miss Dannell, after receiving the new bingo machine, said : “We got a call from a lady who sent a brand new one to us, I think it cost her £260. I was shocked. We thought maybe someone might have a second-hand one or sent us a bit of money but I never imagined anyone would pay for a new one.”

“It’s so generous. The residents are so pleased we could start the games again. Everybody loves the new machine it’s nice and quiet – the old one was really noisy – and it’s all electronic. It’s brilliant. It just goes to show there’s some really nice people in the world. We can’t thank her enough. I never thought we’d get another machine and that was their social life out the window.”

It just goes to show that sometimes there is good in the community and bingo clubs are a great example of this.

May 09, 2012

Bodog UK focuses on technology

The clearest shifts in the UK gaming landscape recently have been technological with mobile, rightly, taking most of the plaudits. But there are also many other areas both from a platform point of view and an operator perspective that have been neglected. Oddly, the online gaming operators most profitable platform, the casino, has been the one that has suffered most from a lack of innovation despite the arrival of mobile and tablet to the party.

Following Bodog UK’s receipt of a remote gambling software licence from the UK Gambling Commission in July of last year, technological development has been a key focus of Bodog UK’s business objectives and it’s latest step forward in this regard sees Sathish Seshadri appointed Software Development Director having held several roles previously including Director BI Development. Sathish said ‘this is a great opportunity to realign development with business priorities and objectives’. One of Sathish’s core projects will be to work closely with the newly appointed Head of Casino, Adam Joseph, to expand this key product offering.

CTO, Stefan Matthews, enthused: “Mixing the innovative nature of the existing members of the business with a strengthened tech team will see a huge change in our business model and underpins fundamental improvements in our sportsbook and casino production systems as we approach Euro 2012. Sathish has the experience both from a gaming background and an IT background to take these platforms to the next level.”

France: sports, racing and mobile betting up, but youth ditching regulated sites

Figures released by French gaming regulators ARJEL show an uptick in sports and horseracing betting at regulated online operators in Q1 2012, but poker continues to slide. Sports betting turnover rose 14% to €175m, while gross gaming revenue was up 7% to €37m. Racing produced turnover of €291m (+13%) and revenues of €69m (+20%). Turnover from poker cash games fell 5% to €1.69b, but tournament entry fees were up 26% to €367m, reflecting players’ desire to seek relief from the steep government-mandated rake imposed by the regulated sites. The net result was a 3% overall poker revenue drop to €83m.

Mobile betting has increased in popularity over the past year, with the percentage of sports bettors wagering on the go more than doubling (from 7% to 15%) and almost quadrupling for poker players (from 4% to 15%), spurred by France’s recent approval of gaming apps from a variety of operators. The mobile surge wasn’t enough good news for operator Société Jeux 365, who decided last week that it had had enough and requested that ARJEL revoke its gaming license. Of the 41 operators who once held French gaming licenses, 32 are still holding out.

A closer look at France’s numbers reveals a generational divide taking place, with younger bettors increasingly choosing to wager with online operators not sanctioned/burdened by French regulators. Horseracing, which has never quite caught on with younger bettors, saw the number of active accounts rise 9%. But the number of active sports bettors fell 3% overall, and betting with regulated online operators fell 44% among the 18-24 age demographic. Poker accounts held by this same age group dropped to 230k from 340k in 2011. Players under the age of 35 now constitute 55% of the total pool, compared with 61% in 2011.

Spain to issue first online gaming licences on June 1st

Spain’s Ministry of Finance said Tuesday that the country’s new online gaming regulatory regime will come into force on June 1st.

The Ministry said that the General Directorate of Gaming will publish relevant resolutions on its website and communicate licence approval to applicants on June 1st, with the country’s sanctions regime against unlicensed operators also coming into force on that date.

Regulation of the Spanish online gaming market was scheduled to come into force on January 1st but was postponed in late December by the government for a period of up to six months ending June 30th.

May 08, 2012

Bet365 extends Stoke City FC shirt sponsorship

Online gaming operator bet365 has extended its shirt sponsorship agreement with Premiership football club Stoke City FC for a further three years.

From next season, bet365 will enter into its fifth season of Premier League football as sponsors of the club.

Stoke City also confirmed an extension with its partner Britannia, which is part of The Co-operative Bank, who will become the official Banking and Community Partner and also retain the naming rights for the Britannia Stadium.

Stoke City said that the sponsorship agreements were “geared” to maximise the opportunities available locally, nationally and globally as a direct result of the progress made by the club since winning promotion to the top flight of English football in 2008.

The club said that bet365 would be able to benefit from the Premier League’s global TV exposure which now reaches more than 650m homes across the world.

City’s chief executive Tony Scholes hailed the two new “lucrative” sponsorship agreements which have put the club in a strong position to move forward in the future.

“This is a very exciting development for the Football Club which gives us every chance to continue progressing forward,” he said. “We have the opportunity now to work closely with two very successful local companies on two different fronts.

“The Club is already hugely indebted to the support from bet365 and its owners, the Coates family. Whilst Britannia and The Co-operative Group focus more on local and national markets, bet365, who are the largest private sector employers in the area, operate on a global basis.

“This agreement with bet365 means that we have been able to maximise the international element of the Club’s exposure. We received a number of offers from potential sponsors, but bet365 were the highest bidders, arguably further underlining their commitment to the Club.”

Denise Coates, joint CEO of bet365, added: “We are delighted to have reached an agreement to become Stoke City’s shirt sponsors. It is a perfect fit for us as a Stoke-on-Trent-based company with a global reach and international markets to become shirt sponsor of our local Premier League club.

“This builds upon the extensive sponsorship, LED and advertising we are already committed to at many Premier League clubs and within the sports industry in general. It also further demonstrates our long term commitment to the Club.”

Unibet leaves Spain, but not for long

Unibet has announced its withdrawal from the Spanish market in relation to the forthcoming implementation of new online gambling regulations for the country.

The news reported on Spanish online poker website Red Poker publishes an e-mail reportedly sent to customers this week advising that Unibet will allow customer account access to request withdrawals but will no longer offer its services after May 14, 2012.

The e-mail announced a partnership between Unibet & Swedish operator Paf , who has applied for & anticipates receiving a Spanish license, offering its customers an alternative following its exit from the market.

The email says:

Information about upcoming changes.

Dear user,

In order to comply with the new gambling law online Spanish, Unibet suspended its activities in Spain on May 14, 2012. From this date, you can still access your account, but only to request withdrawals, & check your history, you can not access Unibet products.

The good news is that Unibet has partnered with Paf, which will have license to operate in Spain in order to continue providing the best service possible, including sports betting.

Following a few simple instructions, from May 14 you can continue playing sports betting & poker & casino.

Very soon have more information & we’ll tell you exclusive promotions that are preparing to welcome Paf. For now you can still enjoy Unibet products, as usual.

888 Online is under fire over high pay to executives

888 Online is the latest company to face sharp criticism over its executive pay.

The gambling firm, founded and controlled by Israeli brothers Avi and Aaron Shaked, is under fire from Pirc, the corporate governance consultancy, for failing to give any details on the targets its bosses have to hit to guarantee huge bonus payouts.

Pirc is also unhappy at the way executives who quit can still gain access to big payments, including bonuses, after their resignations.

The watchdog, which advises some of Britain’s biggest pension schemes, has urged its members to vote down the company’s remuneration report. It says the price at which shares are granted under the company’s “long-term incentive scheme” is not detailed.

It says performance conditions were not disclosed for awards to finance director Aviad Kobrine and attacks the remuneration structure for promoting “high payouts”.

“In 2011, Aviad Kobrine received 2.6 million nil costs options, of whose value cannot be ascertained due to lack of disclosure of the underlying share price at grant date,” Pirc said. It also criticises a pay-off to former chief executive Gigi Levy.

Caesars $610m deal

Caesars Entertainment Corp. has announced that it is selling Harrah’s St. Louis to Penn National Gaming, Inc. for $610 million in cash. “Harrah’s St. Louis is a quality property with a talented team. We are grateful to our colleagues in St. Louis for their commitment to providing excellent service to our customers. The sale of this property exemplifies our strategy to maximize returns from our mix of assets through investments in new markets as well as occasional divestitures,” said Gary Loveman, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Caesars Entertainment. “We are committed to expanding our distribution network into growth markets that have the potential for high returns.”

The transaction is expected to close in the second half of 2012, subject to regulatory approvals. According to a press release, the property will continue to operate as Harrah’s St. Louis until the transaction is closed. Deutsche Bank Securities Inc. served as financial advisor to Caesars Entertainment on this transaction.

Unibet´s acquisition of Bet24 business finalised

Following the satisfaction of conditions precedent, Unibet Group plc has today finalised the acquisition of the business and certain assets of Nordic Betting Ltd, trading as Bet24. The acquisition price was EUR 13.5 million (GBP 11.25 million), of which 80 per cent has been settled in cash. The final 20 per cent is scheduled for payment around the end of June 2012 subject to certain conditions.

Bet24 will continue to trade under the existing brand and through the current platform for an interim period and its customers need take no action as a result of today’s announcement. Further information will be provided to Bet24 customers on a continuous basis.

Unibet Group plc will integrate the operations of Bet24 with its own Maltese operations in due course. and United Auburn Indian Community enter poker agreement digital entertainment plc and the United Auburn Indian Community (‘UAIC’), which owns and operates the Thunder Valley Casino Resort near Sacramento, California, announced yesterday that they have entered into a formal agreement to offer online poker services in California if suitable intrastate legislation is enacted in the state.

As a federally recognized California Indian tribe that already operates a casino resort within the state, UAIC would be a qualified license applicant under legislation proposed in the California State Senate and would secure and maintain the necessary licenses to operate online poker services in California. would provide the technology and operations expertise to power the services plus related support. The Agreement would be for a 10-year period from the date that online poker services are launched.

Commenting on the announcement, Jim Ryan and Norbert Teufelberger, the Co-CEOs of, said: “California is the largest state in the U.S. in terms of population and is known to have a significant number of poker players who like to play poker online. Combining our own significant assets and resources with those of UAIC will create a strong partnership that is well-placed to seize the opportunities that will arise if appropriate online poker legislation is enacted in the Golden State.”

David Keyser, Tribal Chairman of UAIC commented: “We see the legalization of Internet poker and other Internet gaming as being inevitable. Having met with representatives from a number of different online gaming companies, was our first choice as partner. With its unrivalled expertise in online poker, proven technology and player loyalty we are confident of being able to maximize the revenue opportunity from a regulated online poker market in California and to continue to enhance the long-term prosperity of our community.”

On 24 February 2012, Senators Wright and Steinberg introduced legislation to regulate online gaming within California. The Internet Gambling Consumer Protection and Public-Private Partnership Act of 2012 (SB 1463) proposes, inter alia, to regulate license and tax internet poker within the state of California. The current proposed rate of tax is 10% of gross gaming revenue.

Sports betting provider mybet heads into Bundesliga 1 with SpVgg Greuther Fürth

The sports betting provider mybet will be sponsoring the football team Greuther Fürth from the 2012/2013 season. Fürth had already sealed promotion to the top tier of the Bundesliga with four matches to go.

Mathias Dahms, Management Board spokesman of mybet parent JAXX SE, remarked: 'We congratulate Trainer Mike Büskens and his team on what must be the most notable achievement in the club's history. And we look forward to plenty of exciting top-flight matches next season for the team with the cloverleaf emblem.'

The sponsorship package for SpVgg includes TV-relevant advertising areas on the stadium's perimeter bands as well as extensive promotional opportunities. Mathias Dahms added: 'In mybet, we have an excellent brand that we aim to continue bolstering through a measured approach to sponsorship and well-paced branding measures. Our partnership with the cloverleaf gives us the opportunity of a presence in the Bundesliga through an especially likeable club. With its attractive football and a young, motivated group of players, the team is bound to make its mark on the first division, too.'

mybet has been involved in the sports betting market since 2003 and is today one of Europe's leading providers, with over half a million Internet customers and more than 500 betting shops. In the increasingly liberalised German market, which is now being opened up to private sports betting providers, mybet is aiming to be comprehensively involved in sport.

Alongside its new association with SpVgg Greuther Fürth, mybet is already premium partner of Fortuna Düsseldorf, sponsor of the Germany national handball team and supporter of 'Republik Fussball', an initiative of FC St Pauli for amateur and recreational players. Through its licensing in Germany, mybet will moreover be making a major contribution to mass sport through the tax revenues and licence fees it generates for the state.

May 07, 2012

Two players banned in Turkish match-fixing scandal... but Fenerbahce and co cleared

Turkey's football federation has cleared all 16 Turkish teams, including Fenerbahce, of involvement in an alleged match-fixing scandal - but it also has banned two players for up to three years and imposed disciplinary measures on eight players or club officials.

The announcement came a week after the federation said an independent football ethics committee looking into the match-fixing allegations concluded that there was no evidence that alleged attempts to fix games had altered the course of the matches.

A total of 93 officials, players and coaches, including the president of reigning champion Fenerbahce, are on trial, accused of helping fix matches last season.

Ibrahim Akin of Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediyesi has been banned for three years for allegedly fixing the result of a game when his team lost to Fenerbahce 2-0 on May 1, 2011.

Serdar Kulbilge of Genclerbirligi was slapped with a two-year ban for allegedly attempting to fix the result of a game that Fenerbahce won 4-2.

Fenerbahce was barred from this season's Champions League as a result of the investigation.

May 06, 2012

Lock Poker to acquire, assimilate Cake Poker Network

Online gambling affiliate Gambling911 is reporting that Lock Poker is in the process of acquiring the struggling Cake Poker Network. According to G911 publisher Chris Costigan, the deal would see Lock leave its current home on the Merge Gaming Network and “re-branding the [Cake] network, driving technology, marketing, player rewards, implementing a more aggressive tournament schedule and incorporating a new company philosophy, essentially restructuring the entire Cake Poker Network.” Costigan goes on to say that Cake and its marquee brand Intertops Poker won’t be integrated, but will continue on as separate entities.

Neither Lock nor Cake have as yet confirmed the substance of Costigan’s article, but G911 is a prominent affiliate of both companies and Costigan is reportedly close to Lock CEO Jennifer Larson. While it may seem odd to think of a poker room acquiring a network instead of the other way around, Cake has had a rough ride of late, routinely skewered in online poker forums for lengthy payout delays over the past year or more.

And there’s another Cake/Lock connection to consider: among Lock’s current legal team is noted industry scammer Bryce Vincent Geoffrey, who formerly acted in a similar capacity at Cake, where he gained a reputation for alienating Cake’s B2B clients. As for Lock and Merge, the pair recently got into a public squabble over Merge’s decision to cancel the heavily promoted Lock Ops tournament before it could get underway. Merge imposed an end to rakeback programs on its skins shortly after Black Friday, but Costigan claims rakeback will not only be returning to Lock’s new incarnation, but will return with “an even higher percentage rate.”

May 04, 2012

Gambling revenues could again play role on proposed Minnesota Vikings stadium

The on-going plans for a new Minnesota Vikings stadium is finally moving along after a floor vote in Minnesota’s state Legislature has been scheduled to take place next week.

The latest development in this on-going saga comes after Republican legislative leaders pulled their proposal to finance a new $975 million off the table. With one proposal dead, an old one resurfaced, one that involves the use of gambling revenue to pay for the share the state will carry in financing the building of the stadium. The House has scheduled a vote next Monday to determine whether this new proposal has the legs to carry on the wishes of replacing the old Metrodome, the home of the Minnesota Vikings, in favor of a brand-new stadium.

House Speaker Kurt Zellers, an opponent of the new bill, officially served notice to Gov. Mark Dayton that the ball is now firmly in the latter’s hands. “The fate of the stadium is now in the governor’s hands…This is his top priority,” the speaker said.

For his part, Gov. Dayton is now asking residents of Minnesota to make their voices heard in support of this new proposal. “I ask all Minnesotans, who care about the stadium, to contact their legislators and urge them to vote “Yes” next Monday,” the governor said in a statement.

It’s been no secret that the Metrodome is one of the most out-dated stadiums currently being used in the NFL. It’s roof actually collapsed spectacularly a few years ago from the immense weight of snow that had fallen on top of it. The Vikings have, for the longest time, pursued the building of a new stadium that will be subsidized by tax money and the pressure for a decision has been ratcheted up now that the team is out of a lease binding them to play in the old stadium. If nothing comes to pass, the Vikings have been considered as a prime candidate for relocation.

The existing proposal that’s scheduled for a vote next week would involve the team putting $427 million in private financing on the table with the rest of the money to be collected from sales taxes derived in the city of Minneapolis, as well as gambling taxes that will be collected by the state. If this bill pushes through, bars and restaurants that are currently offering small gambling operations would be given allowed to expand their establishment’s gambling choices, which would then increase profits, leading to more state money that could be used in financing the stadium.

However this soap opera plays out, you can be sure that there’s going to be animosity on both sides of the fence. Stadium politics has become an increasingly contentious topic for a lot of states and the on-going debate on how to finance a project that could hit the billions is something state leaders aren’t taking lightly. Opinions will clash, lines will be crossed, and principles will be tested.

But for the sake of everyone who loves and supports the Minnesota Vikings, we’re just hoping that something is done to ensure that the team stays where they belong.

And if the state can generate enough money from gambling revenue, then it’s an avenue that’s certainly worth looking into – again. capitalises on unique Kentaro offering

Global sports marketing agency Kentaro has struck a deal with online bookmaker for LED advertising at all five of the German national soccer team’s 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifying matches.

As the marketing partner of all of Germany’s qualifying group opponents – Sweden, Republic of Ireland, Austria, Kazakhstan and the Faroe Islands – Kentaro is able to offer the unique opportunity to sponsors looking to reach millions of German viewers through the country’s state-owned free-to-air broadcasters such as ARD and ZDF. is the first company to snap up the sponsorship opportunity.

“It is obviously very pleasing for Kentaro as the marketing partner of all five of Germany’s group opponents to be able to offer this unique package to the market,” said Kentaro’s chief executive Philipp Grothe.

“It is a hugely persuasive opportunity to be able to secure such a significant advertising presence at the Germany away games, which are traditionally the most important qualifiers. We are delighted to welcome as our first partner.”

“To be able to sponsor the away games of the Germany national team is a very important opportunity for an international company such as,” said the company’s chairman Jochen Dickinger.

“With all of our sponsorship decisions, we place a great emphasis on ensuring that the overall package suits us. Our motto is quality, not quantity, and this commitment confirms that once again.”

The first of Germany’s five away games takes place on 11th September 2012 in Austria.

May 03, 2012

Schleswig-Holstein issues online sports betting licences

The German state of Schleswig-Holstein has issued its first three online sports betting licences to online betting exchange Betfair, JAXX subsidiary myBet, and state lottery operator NordwestLotto, with licences for casino and poker expected to be issued later this year in summer.

“Stringent requirements ensure that only serious and commercially viable enterprises are allowed in the market,” said Klaus Schlie, Schleswig-Holstein’s Interior Minister.

Schlie said that operators wishing for a licence will have to produce extensive documentation to prove economic efficiency and transparency, as well as procedures to secure payment processing, combat money laundering and prevent fraud.

The Minister added that a collaboration between gambling providers and sporting associations was “desirable”.

“The sports federations have to do everything in their power to ensure that sporting events take place without manipulation,” said Schlie.

He confirmed that there were 23 remaining licence applications from sports betting operators, as well as 14 applications for casino and poker licences. Further licences will be granted in the coming weeks, according to Schlie.

In a statement to the London Stock Exchange this morning, Betfair said that following the receipt of its licence to operate its betting exchange, the company intends to pay 20 per cent of gross gaming revenues derived from Germany to Schleswig Holstein.

Based on current revenue run-rates, Betfair envisages that this payment will reduce Core Betfair's gross margin by approximately one per cent.

“We are delighted to have been awarded one of the first three licences to operate in Schleswig Holstein,” said Betfair's chief legal and regulatory affairs officer, Martin Cruddace. “We look forward to making a significant and sustainable contribution to the newly formed market there, offering consumers innovative products in a safe and responsible betting environment.

“Schleswig Holstein's government should be applauded for its efforts to implement a regulatory regime that will provide security for consumers, transparency for regulators and the freedom to compete for EU operators."

The German state also issued a sports betting licence to PEI Ltd, which is part of the Schleswig Holstein-based JAXX SE Group. The licences will come into immediate effect and will expire on April 30th 2018.

In a statement released this morning, JAXX said that it will now be able to launch its website, offering customers sports betting and live betting on sports such as football, tennis, handball among others.

“Bearing in mind that we are based in Schleswig-Holstein, we are of course proud to have been granted one of the first Schleswig-Holstein sports betting licences,” said Mathias Dahms, management board spokesman for JAXX. “The permit for myBet is a document of historic importance because it represents a trailblazing approach to the regulation of the gaming industry.

“The regulatory authorities in Kiel conducted an exhaustive and very demanding examination that in certain respects exceeded the standards applied in other European countries. But Schleswig-Holstein is the only German state to have understood how to go about drafting legislation that complies with both European and constitutional law and takes account of the interests of players, providers and the state in equal measure.

“The draft State Treaty of the other 15 federal states is clearly a shabby compromise that has lost its way in a bureaucratic jungle at federal level. The opposition in the Kiel state parliament, too, will now discover that having its own gaming law is good for the state, and good for its finances.”

JAXX confirmed that myBet had also applied for an online casino and poker licence, but because of the large number of applicants and the exhaustive examination process, Schleswig-Holstein’s Ministry of the Interior has indicated that these licences are likely be issued later this year in summer.

ESPN fires mysterious sports gambling columnist after fraud and extortion allegations surface online

ESPN has unexpectedly ended its relationship with freelance sports gambling columnist Sarah Phillips on Tuesday, just hours after a story surfaced online alleging that Phillips was involved in a fraud and extortion scheme.

Phillips, a self-described hard-core gambler, was hired by ESPN in August of 2011 to write for its Page 2, now known as Playbook, after getting exposure for her work at the gambling site

According to the website Deadspin, no one at either Covers or ESPN ever met Phillips personally, and it is not clear whether ESPN conducted a background check before taking her on as a freelancer.

The report published by Deadspin claims that Phillips and her partner, Nilesh 'Nick' Prasad, received thousands of dollars from two men identified as 'Ben' and 'Matt.' The article also raised the possibility that the name 'Sarah Phillips' may be an alias.

According to the story, 19-year-old 'Ben' was the founder of the Facebook page NBA Memes. Phillips recruited him for a business partnership, promising major returns, but then she and Prasad allegedly scammed 'Ben' into giving them the administrator rights to his page.

Within days, the duo deleted 'Ben's' name from the list of administrators and took over the memes page, turning it into a getaway page to their own site, according to Deadspin.

Deadspin also claims that Prasad misrepresented himself to 'Ben,' falsely claiming that he was the managing director of

Meanwhile, 'Matt,' a Covers reader in his 30s who corresponded with Phillips, told Deadspin that he began working with the writer on her proposed start-up site and agreed to give her $2,100 to help her buy ad space.

Later, 'Matt' said, Phillips began harassing him and demanding more money. At one point, Phillips allegedly threatened to have the Los Angeles Police Department 'rob' him to recoup $3,000 she said she lost on a bet she placed on 'Matt's' advice.

'I told her I don't carry cash and kept a hunting knife by my bed for three weeks,' 'Matt' told Deadspin.

Phillips' meteoric ascent to online sports reporting stardom has long been raising doubts about her identity and credentials among readers, doubts which were only exacerbated by the wide variety of photos Phillips posted of herself.

According to Deadspin, Phillips used images of other women which she claimed depicted her.
The photo of a blonde woman Phillips used in her Covers debut article has later been identified by some as Ivy Smith, a hairdresser from Eugene, Oregon.

The Ivy Smith MySpace profile shows a girl who went to Sheldon High School in Oregon between 2001 and 2005. However, it appears that the 'real' Phillips also has a link to Oregon.

According to the site the Sports Brewery, Phillips is a 2007 graduate of Sheldon High School, where she played soccer and basketball. Some online reports have suggested that Phillips' alleged accomplice, Prasad, also graduated from the same school, but three years earlier.

The photos of a young Sarah Phillips from Oregon also appear to match the photos that accompany the Sarah Phillips Twitter and ESPN Page 2 profiles.

On Tuesday, after ESPN released a brief statement announcement that it had ended its relationship with Phillips, the woman wrote a series of posts on her Twitter account, saying that she made poor choices and concealed her identity.

Phillips, however, declined to directly address the allegations against her or shed light on her true identity.

'I need to get back to being a 22-year-old,' she wrote.

William Hill signs in-play betting deal with Score Media

Canada’s Score Media Inc. has signed a partnership with UK bookmaker William Hill, which will allow UK-based users of the company’s ScoreMobile FC app to bet on live football matches at the touch of a button.

The ScoreMobile FC free-to-download app allows customers to access information such as live scores, stats and standings from over one hundred football leagues and competitions across the world.

The deal with William Hill will enable ScoreMobile FC users to place bets with their iPhone or BlackBerry smartphones via an integrated William Hill mobile tab. In addition, Windows Phone users will soon be able to access the service.

“The ScoreMobile FC app allows our users to keep right up-to-date with the scores in more than 100 leagues across the globe – and now they can place a seamless bet via the UK’s number one bookmaker, William Hill,” said Benjie Levy, executive vice president and chief operating pfficer of Score Media Inc. “We’re really excited about this new partnership – and we believe the integration of betting into our app makes ScoreMobile FC a must have for all football fans across the UK.”

Score Media’s core business is the Score Television Network, a national television service providing sports news, information, highlights and live event programming in more than 6.8m homes across Canada. ScoreMobile FC is one of three mobile apps from Score Media, alongside ScoreMobile and SportsTap, which together receive some 3.6m unique visitors every month.

“We’re delighted to be partnering with ScoreMobile FC, an innovative product with huge relevance for our own customer base,” said William Hill’s head of UK affiliation David Bazak. “Being able to stay up-to-date with the latest news, statistics and scores is crucial during live in-play betting, which makes ScoreMobile FC a perfect companion for William Hill and our customers.”

May 02, 2012

Intralot introduces Tap’n’Play solution for lotteries

Greece’s Intralot has introduced a new integrated solution for lotteries which utilises Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to allow customers to take part in interactive lottery games through a single touch from their smartphone or tablet devices.

NFC technology has been developed to allow customers to make transactions, exchange digital content, and connect electronic devices with a single touch from their smartphone or tablet devices.

Intralot has incorporated the technology into its newest solution, Tap’n’Play, which the company claims will be the “next big step for a paperless lottery.”

Tap’n’Play uses any surface as a portal to an interactive gaming experience, with customers able to access games through their NFC-enabled smartphones or tablets.

“I am excited to introduce “Tap’n’Play” as a prime example of what the Universal Gaming Experience means to us at Intralot,” said Vali Bouligaraki, general director of games & marketing at Intralot. “Lottery games and entertainment convergence are realized within a gaming community that connects players, games, mobile devices and brick ‘n’ mortar retail in a natural and seamless way.

“We are offering exciting games to build relationships with those players that seek multi-channel experiences at any given time where technology enables but does not interfere.”

Intralot said that Tap’n’Play will enrich land-based lotteries’ existing game portfolios with interactive games currently inaccessible to the land network, and reduces the lotteries’ dependence on paper.

The solution will also allow the lottery to “connect with a younger demographic by tapping into their needs for interactivity and fast paced connectivity at the places they frequent to meet and socialize”, the company said.

Intralot’s Tap’n’Play solution will initially be available on two lottery games, GameTrails and GameSpot, and is expected to be unveiled later today at the European Lotteries’ Industry Days event in Amsterdam.

Leaked Tapie e-mail talks of new poker site

An email reportedly leaked by Diamond Flush Poker appears to show Laurent Tapie of Groupe Bernard Tapie (GBT) talking about setting up a new poker site, with the help of the FTP employees, claiming he has the money to do so.The e-mail also defends his tactics for player repayment, in the aftermath of last week’s PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker HUGE revelations. The e-mail was apparently sent to 6 upper-level employees of Full Tilt Poker.

The leaked e-mail reads:

Dear All,

Considering the work we have been doing together to relaunch FTP over the last 7 months, I feel it is my duty to inform you on the current situation, and my plan, before I release a press statement in the coming hours.

The deal with DOJ is off, and the negotiations are terminated. Ultimately, DOJ refused to accept GBT’s proposal for repayment of the ROW players – a proposal that we thought had been accepted – and, on 14 April 2012, informed my lawyer that they could only agree on an agreement where GBT would repay 100% of the 184M$ value of ROW players balance in a maximum of 90 days.

That clearly made the deal unworkable. And I believe no one would accept such terms.

I continue to believe that our plan for repayment was fair. We would have made all ROW players’ balances available for play on the relaunched site immediately. Furthermore, we would have repaid (allowed withdrawal of funds for) 94.9% of ROW players day 1, 4.9% of ROW players in 18 months and only 0.2% of these players in more than 18 months, with a maximum of 5 years for the very large balances. In addition, we agreed to a DOJ proposal to allow ROW players to submit petitions to the DOJ for compensation as well, and agreed both to reimburse DOJ for those players and to compensate those players for any amounts DOJ did not reimburse.

According to (finance employee’s name redacted by diamondflushpoker) last report, PK has enough funds to pay the april salaries but not May. Therefore, as an alternative to the purchase, I offered Ray Bitar to license the assets on a temporary basis, in order to relaunch the site, preserve the value of the assets and participate in an eventual auction as a bidder in the future.

Ray required DOJ’s aproval to do this. My own understanding of the situation was different : I thought that since the companies were clearly in insolvency, as a legal representative Ray should have immediately accepted this licensing offer which was the only concrete offer to preserve the jobs, the cash, and the value of the assets of the companies. Futhermore the DOJ is not the owner of the assets until it decides (if it ever decides) to forfeit them.

But Ray stayed on its position that DOJ’s aproval was necessary.

So we made the offer to DOJ but despite our best efforts, and with no surprise on my side, DOJ was unmoved and, on 20 April 2012, reaffirmed that its decision was final, that no licensing agreement of any kind would be accepted by them, and that our negotiations were ended.

I met Ray last friday and suggested him to place the companies into insolvency in each of the countries where they are (my understanding of the situation is that he legally should), and inform the staff that he can no longer guarantee their jobs.

Considering he has always required US DOJ’s aproval before taking any decision for the last 7 months I have been observing him, I don’t know if he has or if he will.

But on my side, I am unwilling to allow 7 months of effort to go to waste, to see 200 employees lose their jobs and to witness former FTP players around the world go unpaid.

For that reason, I have decided to devote a significant portion of the funds that I was planning to use for the acquisition of the FTP assets instead to launch my own company, under the auspices of Game Cubed, the company I have created in Ireland. I will do this only if I can attract ALL OF the Pocket Kings KEY STAFF to join me. With your help and know-how, we will launch a new website that will be best of breed in 6-7 months.

I know that any such step requires a leap of faith, so here is my offer: as of May 1, I will hire the entire Pocket Kings key staff – every single one of you – at your current salaries and with your accumulated benefits intact. I also will include stock options in the new company, so that weall will share in what I believe to be the exciting upside this opportunity represents.

We will write a new poker software platform based on your knowledge and relaunch using a new brand, with an offer to former FTP ROW players that will allow them to recover their lost balances if they come to our new site, just as we had planned in our agreement with DOJ.

I have the money to make this happen and am working with the Alderney licensing authorities on obtaining a license and getting their help on the repayment plan.

I am also negotiating with Poker Strategy to resurrect an affiliate arrangement similar to that which I was negotiating with FTP.

In order to make this work, I need commitments from you all very quickly. I am sorry to put this pressure on you, but timing is critical if this is to work. I need to know whether I have sufficient critical mass to move forward no later than the end of THIS WEEK.

If I do, I will schedule a meeting in Paris with the top 5-10 key peopleat the end of this week. We will take care of your travel and accomodation.

I look forward to partnering with each of you to help build the best poker site in the business.

Laurent Tapie
Directeur Général
BLT Développement

In response to this, PokerStrategy said:

“Due to the recent publication of an allegedly leaked email from Laurent Tapie to key Pocket Kings stakeholders and employees, can confirm that representatives of our company previously visited with GBT and the Full Tilt Poker staff in Dublin to discuss potential partnership, consulting, and liquidity building initiatives for a re-launched Full Tilt Poker brand.

Prior to its closure in June 2011, Full Tilt Poker had been a major business partner of, with over 30% of Full Tilt Poker’s active players having originated from our website. As such, a large number of our community members are currently unable to access the bankrolls they held with Full Tilt Poker. Although we were only at the preliminary stages of our discussions, we hoped to be instrumental in ensuring that a re-launched Full Tilt Poker would allow for swift repayment of previous player balances, incorporation of an open and transparent approach to the segregation of player funds, and the elimination of possible future cash flow issues.

We at frequently review partnership opportunities from a wide variety of poker rooms with the ultimate goal of adding value for our users. Since the news that their deal fell through, our conversations with GBT have been limited and we are unaware of their actual plans for establishing a standalone site.”

PETA: Pigeon Racing Is A "Blood Sport"

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals is in a huff after the group's 15-month "investigation" revealed that pigeons often die during pigeon races. In most cases, however -- as even PETA admits -- the animals aren't killed by their handlers, but by things that would kill the birds if they were in the wild and not involved in racing.

There are, however, some sickos who intentionally kill the birds, as you can see in a video (provided by PETA) embedded below.

According to PETA, the birds are often raised in captivity and then taken hundreds of miles away and expected to race home. Along the way, many of them are killed by things like hawks, weather, or starvation. PETA argues that because the animals are raised in captivity they're not prepared for life in the wild.

The group says that only about 40-percent of the birds involved in pigeon racing finish the races. During a race in Queens, the group says only four of 213 birds made it to the finish line. Keep in mind, we're talking about pigeons -- perhaps a few just decided to head to Central Park rather than return to life in captivity. In other words, there's no way to know whether the missing birds died or just didn't return home.

Alleged animal abuse aside, PETA claims that pigeon racing generates $15 million a year in illegal gambling proceeds and involves felony violations of federal gambling, racketeering, and tax-evasion laws.

As we mentioned, there a few creeps who actually kill birds that perform poorly in the races. One man is caught on tape saying that "the first thing you have to learn [about pigeon racing] -- how to kill pigeons." He goes on to say drowning and suffocation are his two preferred methods for killing birds. See video below. Click here for more on PETA's investigation.

Hodgson appointment a bitter pill for sportsbooks

Roy Hodgson has been announced as the new England manager and will take over after his current side, Bodog-sponsored West Brom, have played their last two games of the Premier League season. Hodgson comes into the job as one of the only managers to be handed the poisoned chalice with significant experience at international level. He has guided both Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates with the former reaching a high of third on the FIFA world rankings whilst boss.

The bookies haven’t had the best of times since Fabio Capello was sacked back in February and needless to say, today’s appointment wasn’t a particularly good one as far as they were concerned. Picking long-time favorite ‘arry Redknapp would have been a winner for a number of firms with SkyBet one of those that were worried about Redknapp not being appointed back in February. Today Helen Jacob was in somber mood.

“Harry Redknapp would have been a brilliant result for us. As Redknapp had been such a short price for such a long time, customers had looked at bigger priced alternatives. The best backed and most realistic of which was Hodgson, who came in for consistent support at around the 16/1 mark in recent months.”

Stan James was in the same camp, with spokesperson Rory Jiwani telling us: “In the end, Roy Hodgson turned out to be a five-figure loser for Immediately after Fabio Capello’s resignation, we decided to keep Harry Redknapp on our side, as he looked a certainty for the job. But in the last month, we were best price Redknapp and hardly took a bet as the uncertainty mounted.”

William Hill spokesman Graham Sharpe believed the FA took the easy option by picking Hodgson over Redknapp.

He said: “Harry was always favourite – largely because the media would not hear of anyone else getting the job and gave the impression they ‘knew’ it was a matter of when, not if. Personally, I always believed that the FA would probably revert to ‘Brian ‘Too Hot To Handle’ Clough-mode, and that even if they didn’t, Harry, a man who appears to love to be loved, might believe that a couple of England defeats may undo all the work he has done over the years making himself popular with pundits and punters alike.”

Sharpe also added that Hodgson wasn’t alone in receiving support from the punters, adding: “Roy Hodgson was not without punter support, however, so it was not one-way traffic in the market, with Stuart Pearce also coming in for a fair amount of betting support.”

Heading into the European Championships, the sportsbooks are split on what effect the appointment of Hodgson will have on the attitudes of bettors looking to get behind the team. Charlie McCann from BetVictor spoke to us earlier and was far from glowing of the new boss, his belief being that the “punter in the street” won’t be getting behind Roy.

He added: “Roy Hodgson has never captured the public’s imagination and I just wonder if punters will desert England as a result of what has generally been perceived as a conservative/unimaginative but safe appointment.”

Jiwani at Stan James commented that the former West Brom boss has his “work cut out to convince England fans that he is the right man for the job”.

Last hands dealt at O’Sheas 1989-2012

O’Sheas, on the Las Vegas strip, is to be demolished to make way for a $500 million Linq Project, an outdoor food and shopping resort. The last drinks were bought and punters placed their bets for the last time at the Irish themed casino. Massive, glitzy resorts have popped up all around it, but O’Sheas has remained largely the same for the past 23 years. O’Shea’s Casino closed at noon Monday after urging patrons to “drink us dry” over the weekend. In preparation for its big plan, Caesars have already placed 90% of their 300-strong staff at its other venues.

“We think now is a great time for this project,” says Rick Mazer, with Caesar Entertainment. “We are starting to see the economy rebound, and visitors return. It’s time to give people another reason to come to Las Vegas”.

Building the new Project Linq, is generating 3,000 construction jobs. It will also offer 1,800 permanent jobs once it opens. The new complex will feature a scaled-down version of O’Sheas.

May 01, 2012

William Hill on US track

Ralph Topping has continued to refute rumours of their delayed online gambling license. It was previously reported in the Guardian newspaper that there may be a delay in attaining a license. However, Ralph Topping, Chief Executive Officer of William Hill, said while discussing William Hills’ strong first 2012 financial results with analysts that the applied for application “to complete [our] US acquisitions is progressing well and remains within the timetable.”

Topping, also explained the company’s online gambling success, “Our investments in marketing and innovations continue to deliver benefits, with our Sportsbook exceeding £50m in turnover in a single week for the first time during the quarter and mobile turnover reaching almost £11m in a single week,” Topping continued, “Our mobile performance is now benefitting from our Sportsbook app being available in the Apple App Store, giving us access to thousands of new customers who have never bet with William Hill before, highlighting the growth potential of these new channels and their importance to our multi-channel offering.”

It’s thought that a licence may be awarded during summer 2012.

Betfred bets on online expansion

Fred Done is reportedly considering expanding into eastern Europe. It’s been speculated that Done is also looking to grow his online business in a bid to keep up with the rapidly evolving online sector. He won the North West Ambassador Award at The Business Desk’s North West Business Masters awards last week and said he’d want to move his online business from Gibraltar to the north west if taxation is changed.

The Business Desk reported that Done confirmed the company has been offered a business in eastern Europe, but that the big growth for story is going to be the online business. Over the last three years Betfred has grown 80 per cent, 85 per cent and 60 per cent, but Done said that the online business “should be in this country” rather than in Gibraltar and that taxation has to be changed to allow the company to bring jobs back to where it is based.

Betfred last year acquired The Tote for £265m, the integration for which was completed by January, two months before the initial target was set.

PurpleLounge closed

Online poker and casino website has been pulled offline by parent company Media Corp. The short-notice move by the company happened when it became, “…clear that the Purple Lounge is trading materially behind the same period of the previous financial year which will result in increased losses for the division and, as a result, the Company as a whole,” according to a trading statement issued by the company on Friday.

Media Corp, which earlier this month announced its intention to explore taking over its parent company Gaming Media Group, also said, “The directors believe that Purple Lounge has suffered as a result of negative trade press (much of which the directors consider totally unfounded) particularly surrounding the litigation brought against one of the Company’s subsidiaries by CD Limited.”

The reason for the litigation is unknown.

It has been reported that Media Corp loaned the online poker room £900,000 in the last few months; it also claimed it never received cash dividend from Purple Lounge. moved from the Microgaming poker network in January 2012 to Entraction (now International Game Technology).

Poker players with money on the site now have a nervous wait to find out what happens next.