September 27, 2012

Ryan Tunnicliffe's Manchester United debut wins his father £10,000

After betting £100 on his son when he was just nine, that he would play for the first team, Mick Tunnicliffe makes a 100/1 profit - with a 350/1 wager on an England bow waiting

The 19-year-old came on to replace fellow debutant Marnick Vermijl at Old Trafford, which was not only a personal highlight for the former Peterborough loanee, but a family highlight as his father’s 10-year-old 100/1 bet finally paid out.

Mick Tunnicliffe was so certain that his son would make it as a professional footballer he put a £100 bet on at bookmakers William Hill that his son would play a competitive first-team game for Manchester United.

The bet was looking good as Tunnicliffe progressed through United’s youth set-up, even captaining the academy to a FA Youth Cup triumph two years ago.

With £10,000 already in his pocket, Mick Tunnicliffe will be hoping his son eventually makes an England debut as he put on another £100 bet at the same time but with odds of 350/1 which, if successful, would pay out a further £35,000.

“The last time a bet of this nature cost us £10,000 was when Chris Kirkland made his debut in goal for England, also landing a £100 bet for his father,” said William Hill's media relations manager, Graham Sharpe.

“We will obviously be paying close attention to the progress of Ryan’s career in the future.”

Greece offers more OPAP to get privatizations on track

Greece will sell almost all of its stake in gambling monopoly OPAP, the government said on Thursday, increasing the amount that is for sale in an attempt to convince foreign lenders that it is serious about selling off state assets. Athens, which owns 34 percent of one of Europe's biggest gaming companies, has launched a tender to sell a 33 percent stake in the company, the privatization agency HRADF said. Previously Greece had planned to sell 29 percent of OPAP, currently worth about 450 million euros on the Athens bourse. OPAP is central to Greece's plan to raise 19 billion euros from privatizations by 2015 - a key condition of its 130-billion euro bailout agreed earlier this year. It is the country's most profitable state firm with a sports betting monopoly stretching, for some games, as far as 2030. Greece is badly behind on privatization targets and the three-month-old, conservative-led government has pledged to do better as it struggles to convince the EU and the IMF to resume the bailout payments that keep the country afloat. "The fact that OPAP is being completely sold off shows the government's will to privatize," said Dimitris Mardas, an economics professor at Thessaloniki's Aristotle University. HRADF set an October 19 deadline for expressions of interest and said the tender would be carried out in two phases. After an initial declaration of interest, bidders will be called to submit binding offers, HRADF said. The agency has the right to introduce an intermediary phase of non-binding bids in order to evaluate bidders' business plans. "The complete privatization of OPAP will be carried out transparently, rapidly and with efficiency," HRADF's chief executive Yiannis Emiris said in the statement. A senior government official told Reuters earlier this month that Athens aimed to find a buyer for OPAP by January and that four consortia of Greek and foreign companies were interested in the company. Turkish conglomerate Dogan Holding said on Monday it would consider taking part in a sale tender for OPAP. Investment funds Fidelity and Silchester Inv. already hold 5 percent each in the company. Greece has picked Deutsche Bank and National Bank of Greece as financial advisers, it added. Athens has already moved to clear issues that might block the company's sale. Earlier this month, it settled a row with European Union competition authorities over how the company should be taxed and set a new 30 percent levy on gross earnings from next year. But investors' appetites might be dampened by an ongoing court challenge against the Greek company's monopoly brought by Britain's biggest bookmaker William Hill and online gaming companies Sportingbet and Stanleybet after they were denied gambling licenses in the country. A senior EU legal adviser raised questions about OPAP's right to control all betting in the country last week. Greece's highest administrative court is expected to issue a final ruling on the case in the coming months.

September 25, 2012

Tackling match fixing needs good governance

In the past two years, the world of sport and politics finally woke up to the fact that match fixing is a serious threat to the integrity and popularity of sport and the livelihoods of all those involved in sport, especially professional and amateur athletes. The result is a flurry of international dialogues and initiatives, including a number of law enforcement partnerships and the “Nicosia declaration on the fight against match-fixing” just approved by the European Union-Sportforum under the Cyprian Presidency. These are welcome steps. We now have serious political muscle brought to bear on a problem that has mushroomed globally, primarily because of the massive increase in sports revenues, international betting and the growth of organised crime in this area. But sometimes I fear that many of these efforts are primarily focused on blaming the athletes, without enough attention given to the problematic circumstances they face in their respective sports and that this focus distracts from the continued lack of good governance at the top of sport organisations. What sports organisations have not yet acknowledged and what the EU declaration points out briefly, is that there is a strong link between good governance in the bodies that run sports and the sport organisations’ credibility in the fight against match-fixing. This is important. Unless sport organisations are accountable and transparent they will not have the authority to tackle the problem and win the trust of those involved in sport as participants or fans. The “tone at the top” is decisive when confronting wrongdoing and everybody involved in compliance and anti-corruption work will tell you this whether it is in sports, government or business. Corruption within any sport can come in many forms. In football, for example, weak national sports bodies that do oversee best practice in their leagues often allow team owners to misuse players and thereby make them vulnerable to match fixers. We see sad examples of this in the FIFPRO black book for 2011 which documents case studies of players bullied or not paid for months. We also see this in the use of cash to pay players’ and officials’ expenses, and even huge sums for players’ transfers. Wherever there are cash transactions people can get used to not documenting payments transparently and there is room for illegal, off-the-books transactions. A culture of transparency and education are the best ways to prevent abuses. Players and officials need to know that their leagues and sports organisations are there to support them and this must be explicit in the form of codes of conduct that are put into practice every day. In my view, sports organisations must remain outside of government and function independent of political influence – because it is all too easy for politicians to co-opt sport for their own purposes. History shows us how bad this can be. But being accountable in one’s own affairs and therefore implementing good governance is a prerequisite for autonomy. The European Union has put it clearly in its communication on the European dimension of sport (January 18, 2011, 4.1 Promotion of good governance in sport): “Good governance in sport is a condition for the autonomy and self-regulation of sport organisations.” Sport organisations on all levels have to work on their governance. The EU is supporting this process by funding projects on good governance. Some sport organisations have started, some – like FIFA – forced to do so by major scandals, others – like the International Cricket Council – on their own. From the point of view of a civil society organisation that has spent the last two decades looking for ways to fight corruption, the Nicosia declaration on match fixing provided a welcome endorsement of the role of prevention and education and linked it to good governance within sporting bodies. At Transparency International we are closely watching how our first initiative in this area plays out in the field. The Deutsche Fussballliga (German professional football leagues I and II) teamed up with Transparency International Germany to develop a programme on preventing match fixing with workshops for players and coaches. In May 2011 an ombudsman was introduced to the league who will be a point person for whistleblowers. We are also in contact with the European Professional Football Leagues (EPFL) to use the German experience in other countries. To my mind, sport is moving in the right direction but the commitments to improve education and prevention now must be followed through, just as the reform processes with international sports organisations must be seen as more than just window dressing to stave off political meddling.

PokerStars publishes Full Tilt player repayment plan

With the relaunch of Full Tilt Poker on track for the first week of November, new owner PokerStars has published details of its US$184m repayment programme to former Full Tilt customers outside the United States. Since the company reached agreement with the US Department of Justice in July to acquire the assets of Full Tilt, PokerStars has been working with regulators in a number of jurisdictions to validate the rightful ownership of Full Tilt accounts and to ensure that all repayments are made in compliance with local regulations. As a result of those discussions, former Full Tilt customers in the regulated markets of Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, France and Spain are to be repaid via the locally licensed PokerStars platform in order to comply with local regulations. Players will be required to ‘pair’ a PokerStars account with their former Full Tilt account so as to be able to either withdraw or use their balances on the local PokerStars site. PokerStars said that it is also working with Italian regulators to determine the appropriate process under Italian regulations, and said that it would release details of the process as soon as possible. In all other markets with the exception of the US, players will have full access to their accounts when Full Tilt relaunches in the first week of November. As per the agreement with the DoJ, former Full Tilt players in the United States are to be reimbursed through a remission process administered by the US government.

September 21, 2012

IGT shuts down Online Poker Operation in Europe

One year after International Game Technology acquired Swedish-based Entraction Poker Network for $115m, the operation is scheduled to shut down due to regulatory changes. The company is advising online players to switch to an alternative network by Dec 11, 2012. The decision comes as some countries barred residents from playing with customers in other nations, but will not affect its operations in Nevada. In statement, Patti Hart, IGT CEO, said the poker shutdown was “purely focused on our European dotcom business and does not impact future decisions regarding entry into new markets.” “Change and uncertainty in European market conditions have diminished the expected returns in certain real money wagering products,” commented a IGT spokesperson, “As a result, we are consolidating our product development, We are maintaining our options for future changes in market opportunities.” IGT reconfirmed that it will continue to supply its industry-leading online gaming services to Europe, including slot machines, bingo and sports wagering. It said it will use the Entraction technology platform in conjunction with its Nevada online poker systems. The company acquired a Nevada internet poker license earlier this year. Skins that are currently operating on the Entraction Network are now looking at alterative networks. High on the agenda is the Microgaming Network due to low liquidity. Numerous poker rooms on Entraction have now e-mailed their customers informing them that they will be moving to a new network.

September 19, 2012

Greece agrees flat tax on gambling winnings

Greece’s finance ministry said on Wednesday it had agreed with the European Commission to set a flat 10% tax on player winnings from both online and slot machine games operated by state-owned betting agency OPAP from next year.

OPAP, one of the prime assets set for privatisation as part of Greece’s debt-cutting efforts, has been the subject of complaints by online gaming operators because of different tax treatments for online games and slot machines.

The finance ministry said it had agreed to harmonise tax levels at a flat level of 10% on all on all winnings from online and slot machines from Jan. 1, 2013.

William Hill & GVC to bid for Sportingbet

William Hill and GVC Holdings have confirmed they are in the preliminary stages of considering a possible joint offer for Sportingbet.

A statement – issued after the recent movement in Sportingbet’s share price – said it was currently envisaged that William Hill would acquire the Australian and certain other locally licensed businesses with GVC acquiring the remaining parts.

Any offer would be substantially in cash with an element of GVC paper.

The boards of William Hill and GVC believe that by acting in combination they represent a highly credible possible offeror for the entire Sportingbet business, substantially in cash. The statement added that no formal approach has been made to the board of Sportingbet yet.

September 18, 2012

Parliament mulls EU laws to fight organised crime in sport

Plans for an EU-wide legal approach to match-fixing and money laundering in sport are under way, with the European Parliament committee on mafia and organised crime holding a debate on the issue yesterday (17 September).

“Match-fixing might seem like a minor issue, but it is a serious problem in Europe” said Emine Bozkurt, an MEP (S&D) and author of a study on match-fixing and corruption in sport. “It is a form of crime with high revenues and excessively low sentences and detection rates.”

The complexity of sporting finances and illegal online betting rings offer ideal avenues for money laundering, with amounts running into the tens of millions of euros. However, the majority of member states do not have a definition of this type of fraud and match-fixing in criminal law.

Some countries have have minimum fines as low as €100 and maximum prison sentences as low as four years for those convicted.

European football’s governing body, UEFA, says it has undertaken official investigations in 19 of the 27 member states and four candidate countries.

The report by Bozkurt said "strong ties have been detected between the football establishment and criminal organisations, especially in Eastern Europe and the Balkans."

A study by the Institut de Relations Internationales et Stratégiques said that in countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Serbia, criminals have infiltrated the clubs and federations and operate from within, while using the clubs as covers for a number of criminal activities.

Bozkurt said sport presented a “permanent risk of corruption”, due to little regulation, a vast network of online betting markets, and direct links with organised crime. Furthermore, because of the disparity in criminal sentences between member states, match-fixers habitually move their operations to those countries with the lower sentences.

State of play

Bozkurt and a number of organisations are calling for a cross-border approach to criminalise match-fixing, proposing an EU-wide legal framework as well as agreements amongst the main stakeholders to coordinate investigations.

A number of organisations have begun work to combat organised crime in sport, including the Council of Europe, which has drafted a convention on match-fixing, football’s worldwide governing body FIFA and Interpol, which agreed a €20 million partnership aimed at fighting the problem in Asia. Eurojust and Europol are also carrying out investigations.

Androulla Vassiliou, the commissioner responsible for culture and sport, said her cabinet was asking for EU funds under the 2014-2020 budget to combat “international threats to sport”, including match-fixing.

Bozkurt suggested the European Commission play a role in coordinating the different stakeholders and provide a platform for discussion. She also urged member states to include a harmonised definition of match-fixing in criminal law and impose sanctions for match-fixing including fines and confiscation.

This month, Michel Barnier, commissioner for the single market, announced the publication of an action plan to discuss "How to regulate betting and gambling in Europe".

Sporting integrity

The parliament debate follows the news this week that Antonio Conte, coach of Italian football club Juventus, has had his ban extended for failing to report fixing during a spell at Siena in 2010-11.

This was not the only high-profile case involving fixing over the past few months. This summer, authorities arrested 11 footballers in Italy, some in connection with bribes of about €600,000 to fix the result of a top division game between Lazio and Lecce. Matches have also been rigged in Belgium (Ye case), Germany (Hoyzer and Bochum case) and Finland (Tampere case).

Last year Pakistani cricketer Mohammad Asif served six months in a British prison for his part in a fixing scam. A number of other cricketers had also been sentenced following the scandal.

Some commentators are calling these high-profile cases just the ‘tip of the ice-berg.’

September 17, 2012

Paf begins partnership with ”La Liga”

The gaming company Paf has signed a sponsorship agreement in Spain with the world’s premier football league, Liga Nacional de Fútbol Profesional (LFP), popularly know as La Liga.
The new partnership will give Paf the opportunity to offer their customers unique experiences in addition to bringing them closer to La Liga’s fans.

The Åland gaming company has been licenced in Spain for some time. The sponsorship agreement with LFP, signed earlier this week, gives Paf the opportunity to reach out to a wider audience than before.

”We are very happy to be able to align ourselves with the world’s premier football league. In cooperation with La Liga we have the opportunity to provide our customers with unique experiences and products. As relative newcomers to the market, this partnership also gives us greater exposure and credibility with the Spanish people,” says Paf’s CEO Anders Ingves.

The agreement covers the 2012/2013 season and gives Paf the opportunity to communicate with everyone who follows La Liga, using means such as social media, and to organize activities under a combined Paf and La Liga flag.

“We appreciate that LFP has chosen us as a partner. Paf is an event-oriented company and I am impressed by LFP’s activities with their sponsors,” says Anders Ingves.

“I firmly believe that this partnership will strengthen the growth of Paf, which already has gained momentum in Spain.”

Francisco Roca, LFP's General Manager:
"We are very pleased that Paf has decided to sign this agreement with the LFP because we share essential values, and Paf also understands that through this association they can offer their customers in Spain added value and unique experiences".

September 12, 2012

US DOJ gets tough on former FTP Directors

The US Department of Justice has launched another civil claim against former Full Tilt Poker (FTP) Directors & owners, seeking forfeiture of some $137 million in assets which it claims were acquired through the use of funds from an illegal business (Full Tilt Poker)

Former CEO Ray Bitar (now back in the US awaiting trial), along with Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson & Rafe Furst are named in the latest litigation, each are alleged to be the beneficiaries of tens of millions of dollars paid out in distributions by FTP.

The feds are using various statutes including the Illegal Gambling Act, the Wire Act & even the Travel Act to argue that the distributions constituted money flowing from an illegal enterprise & should therefore be seized.

Offences alleged include illegal online gambling, money laundering, bank fraud, travel, wire fraud & racketeering.

The addition of the Travel Act is especially interesting & is justified on grounds that the Act prohibits the use of interstate & foreign travel & transportation in aid of racketeering enterprises.

The Act also forbids the distribution of the proceeds of unlawful activity, as well as any act to promote, manage, establish, carry on or facilitate any aspect of the unlawful activity.

The DOJ have even divided up the total that each defendant should be forfeited:

Ray Bitar – $40.8 million

Rafe Furst – $11.7 million

Chris Ferguson – $42 million

Howard Lederer – $42.5 million

Court documents show that the authorities have carried out detailed research in attempting to establish where the money went over the four-and-a-half years prior to Black Friday, when the Department of Justice shut down Full Tilt.

Lederer is alleged to have used the Full Tilt money to fund his own personal accounts, along with buying some very expesive top-of-the-range luxury motors. Lederer also had the presence of mind to invest in his old age with some pension funds, buy upmarket properties & pay off various mortgages.

Bitar appears to have also been interested in property, with court documents listing two luxury homes & other investments.

The DoJ action also requests that their legal costs be carried by the defendants.

US Senators fight over online poker as time grows short

Nevada’s senators remained in turmoil and now in open attacks on each other Tuesday over online gaming, as time runs out for Congress to consider a bill sought by the casino industry and millions of card players to legalize online poker. The chance of a federal law passing allowing online poker now seems highly unlikely.

Republican Sen. Dean Heller insisted that industry players and Democratic Sen. Harry Reid had agreed on a strategy that would have the U.S. House act first on a gaming bill, until Reid “decided to change gears midstream.”

Reid said Heller’s statement was fiction, and accused him of “failure of leadership.”

Reid said he has never strayed from pushing the legislation through the Senate first, where as majority leader he has control over the voting process and schedule. Behind the scenes, Reid aides continued to charge Heller was masking an inability to attract Republicans after being asked to produce at least 15 GOP votes for the bill.

Finger-pointing between the two Nevada leaders surfaced as crunch time nears on a bill that seeks to legalize and regulate online poker on the federal level while toughening restrictions against other forms of Internet gambling. A legalized market for Internet poker in which most states would be expected to participate would mean millions of dollars in business for casinos that are positioning themselves for the next big thing.

But the bill faces opposition from states that were given the green light by the Justice Department in a reinterpretation of the 1961 Wire Act last December to pursue their own legalized gambling. More than 15 are moving to do so. In addition to states rights advocates, some Indian tribes and lottery interests remain skeptical of a gaming initiative they perceive as tilted in favor of Nevada.

In addition, strained relations between Democrats and Republicans in advance of the November presidential election has closed the floor to all but the most noncontroversial measures.

Nevada senators are feeling the pressure to deliver to the casino industry that represents their biggest financial backers, some lobbyists speculated. There are only days remaining before Congress recesses for the elections. Lawmakers will reconvene in November for a lame duck session that will represent a last-ditch opportunity to pass a bill this year.

Reid on Tuesday lamented that six months of work on a Senate gaming bill was lost after Heller sent him a letter Monday that said, “as discussed, it would be beneficial for the House of Representatives to first address this issue.”

“It’s really unfair to Nevada and I’m just terribly disappointed,” Reid said. “It’s too bad, because we have all been ready to move on this for a long time.

“But it’s really failure of leadership of my friend,” Reid said of Heller.

Heller said the poker bill has not been finalized or introduced, and until then it is unrealistic to expect senators to commit to a vote. He bristled that Reid’s office called on Friday and gave him a Monday deadline to round up 15 votes.

“This was never going to happen before the lame duck session, so why all of a sudden all the noise today doesn’t make sense to me,” he said. He maintained it made little sense to pass a Senate poker bill that could be ignored by the House.

Under Heller’s scenario, the Republican House would pass a bill to undo the Wire Act ruling and toughen laws against gambling on the Internet. Under that reasoning, when that bill reaches the Senate, an exemption for poker could be added.

Heller told reporters that Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, was preparing a Wire Act bill. An aide called reporters later to walk back Heller’s remark, saying there have been discussions with Smith but no commitment for such a bill.

Some lobbyists and gaming executives were scratching their heads about the “House first” strategy. House Republican leaders have shown little appetite for gaming, and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, an online gaming opponent, reportedly has the ear of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va.

“The House doesn’t want anything to do with this,” said a lobbyist involved in the issue.

A Las Vegas casino executive close to the issue said the House strategy had come up only peripherally in talks on the bill, and so it was a surprise to see it suddenly put front and center.

As recently as two weeks ago, strategists for both senators appeared focused on identifying potential Senate votes and procedural challenges of getting a bill through the Senate, said the executive who asked not to be named so as not to come between Reid and Heller.

“I was surprised that things fell apart, and surprised that there was an expectation that somehow this was going to start in the House,” the executive said.

But a Republican lobbyist said the House strategy was the only alternative to a Senate that has been badly polarized, particularly on a bill that would be submitted at the last minute, had not been vetted by a committee and was being forced to a vote.

“I have no idea what number of votes you would get on the Democratic side, but on the Republican side it wouldn’t matter if this was a bill to cure cancer… The instinctual reaction was going to be, ‘No, thank you,’” the lobbyist said.

Where online poker and its millions of fans go now is back to hoping for state by state legislation, as their leaders in Washington cannot seem to ever agree on anything.

Bwin.Party partner up in Social Gaming deal has today announced a further step forward in their strategy to get into the social gaming business with the signing of an agreement with Nordeus, to develop initially a social sports betting application.

“Having launched a new business unit called Win to drive our social gaming initiatives in May 2012, finding the right partner to help us exploit our strong presence in real money sports betting has been a key area of focus”. Said Bwin.Party.

Founded in March 2010 by ex-Microsoft engineers Branko Milutinovic, Ivan Stojisavljevic and Milan Jovovic, Nordeus has established itself as the market leader in social sports games. The company’s Top Eleven football management social game consistently features in the Top 25 list of games by daily average users on Facebook.

Top Eleven is the most-played online sports game in the World with more than 6 million monthly active users and 2 million daily active users on Web, Android and iOS devices. In addition to its popularity on Facebook, the Top Eleven game is available on Odnoklassniki, a Russian social network with more than 100 million users.

Nordeus was voted The Best Gaming Startup at the Europas Awards 2011 and was chosen as one of the 25 hi-tech European companies with ‘most potential and successful outcome’ by the European Tech Tour Association.

Norbert Teufelberger, Co-CEO of, said:

“Nordeus has demonstrated that there is great demand for social sports games around the world through its Top Eleven game. We will leverage our unrivalled sports brand and products as well as our online betting and gaming expertise. Nordeus and are two European companies with global footprints and share an aspiration to become clear leaders in social sports gaming.”

Branko Milutinovic, CEO of Nordeus, said:

“Following the successful release of Top Eleven, we recognised a huge opportunity for social sports betting games based on the feedback from millions of our customers. Since then, we have been seeking the right partner and we are thrilled to have an opportunity to work with, market leader in online sports betting and one of the most known brands in sports.

“With Top Eleven, we have proven that our unique approach in social games design is highly engaging and successful. With that in mind, we are convinced that leveraging our development experience in combination with’s expertise in real-money betting will lead to a highly successful title and establish our companies as the leaders in social sports gaming.”

September 07, 2012

Belgian Gaming Commission Adds More Online Operators to Ban List

Looks as though the Belgian Gaming Commission is keeping busy these days with the addition of ten new online operators to their blacklist of banned online operators. The newly formed list includes some well known operators bringing the list to 45 banned urls in total.

Please note that most operators added to this blacklist do hold licenses in other jurisdictions.

Here is the list of newly banned urls added Sept. 5th 2012