October 30, 2012

Phil Ivey to open new poker site

The specualtion about what Phil Ivey will put his name too since leaving Full Tilt Poker is over, the worlds leading name in poker whom undoubtedly had numerous offers and many thought he might join PokerStars, is launching his own poker site called “ IveyPoker.com” a site dedicated to training aspiring players in the ways of Phil Ivey.

The site is currently under construction, but already Ocotober-Niner Greg Merson has been signed-up to represent the site.

While many have speculated that the site will become a full fledged money poker room – something which there is certainly potential for it to become in the future – will currently only be a poker training site.

Ivey said in a recent interview “I think a lot of people really don’t know how to play poker, and I think this is going to be an opportunity to play with the best players in the world.”

Also joining Ivey on the site will be former Full Tilt buddies, Patrik Antonius and Jennifer Harman.

When the site will launch and exactly what it will contain is unknown, but if it’s got Phil Ivey’s name on it then it will certainly attract a lot of interest.

Dutch coalition Government discuss sale of Holland Casino

The new Dutch ruling coalition of three political parties (the Liberal Party, Volkspartij voor en Democratie & the Labor Party) have announced their plans to modernise the gambling policies in the Netherlands aswell as reaching an agreement on the sale of the state-owned Holland Casino.

A gaming tax on land-based lottery & online gambling is in the pipeline for implementation in 2015.

Online gambling regulations will include:

Online gambling market to be legalised & regulated by the next termAn initial suggestion of a 29 percent gaming tax levied at online providers
Illegal providers currently providing services to Dutch residents to be excluded from the process

Licences withdrawn on non-payment of prescribed gaming tax

Modernisation of the Dutch online gambling policy will encompass regulation of the internet gambling, sports betting & poker sectors.

October 29, 2012

Couple ‘bet’ on mob: DA

An Arizona couple’s sports-betting software made them $20 million in licensing fees — and the mob more than $1 billion in illegal gambling proceeds, law-enforcement sources say.

Robert Stuart, 53, and his wife, Susanne, 50, accused of creating and licensing software used in illegal sports betting from California to New York, were hauled in handcuffs yesterday into a Manhattan court.

Each faces a single count of felony promoting gambling, although their company, Extension Software, licensed the software only to bookmaking operations based in Costa Rica, the Caribbean and Canada — where such betting is legal.

Susanne Stuart’s brother, Patrick Read, 53, is similarly charged. Prosecutor Michael Gates told Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Bonnie Wittner that the defendants made at least $2.3 million in three years — but their real haul is 10 times that, a source told The Post.

Sources say New York’s four crime families — the Gambinos, Bonannos, Luccheses and Genoveses — are among the biggest users of the software, even if they don’t license it directly from the Stuart family.

The software “allows the mob to move out of the back rooms of Bensonhurst and into offshore gambling and the 21st century,” a law-enforcement source said.

Kambi signs sportsbook deal for regulated Belgian market

Belgian licensed betting operator Napoleon Games has selected Unibet’s B2B sports betting division Kambi to deliver a fully managed sportsbook for both web and mobile in the regulated Belgian market.

Kambi Sports Solutions CEO Kristian Nylén said the agreement to provide sportsbook to Napoleon Games, a leading operator in Belgium, further demonstrates the success of Kambi’s strategy in regulated markets.

“I am delighted that Napoleon Games has chosen to partner with Kambi,” said Nylén. “This agreement is further evidence that Kambi’s Sportsbook allows its customers to go head-to-head with industry leaders from day one and of the growing success of Kambi’s strategy in regulated markets. Napoleon Games is an experienced gaming operator and is very highly respected by Belgian players. We look forward to working with Napoleon Games in its efforts to continue be a leading gaming operator.”

Dieter Vanlerberghe, sportsbook manager at Napoleon Games added: “This deal ensures we will have a world class Sportsbook service for our customers. Using Kambi’s Sportsbook, Napoleon Games will be provided with a constantly developing Sportsbook solution that, coupled with our marketing strategy, will leave us ideally placed to attract and retain both new and existing Sportsbook customers in the Belgian market.”

October 26, 2012

Illegal offshore gambling ring could hurt Nevada’s emerging online gaming industry

Just as the Internet gambling industry was building credibility in Nevada with strict regulations, taxation and reputable participants, along came Michael Lloyd Colbert.

Colbert, 32, the local Cantor Gaming sports book director and a Nevada gaming licensee, was among 25 people indicted this week in what New York prosecutors call a national illegal sports-betting ring that ran wagers through offshore Internet gambling sites.

The indictment is clearly bad news for Colbert and his co-defendants. But its effects on Cantor Gaming as a company, the sports book business as a whole and the emerging online gambling industry remain to be seen.

It could cause headaches for local people and companies entering the state’s new regulated online poker industry. That emerging sector has a dozen licensees so far with more in the approval pipeline, including giants Caesars Entertainment, MGM Resorts International and Wynn Resorts.

Any association with illegal Internet gambling by a Nevada licensee presents, at minimum, a public relations problem for online poker.

That’s partly because of online poker’s own troubled past, with cases such as the shutdown of illegal online poker operators on Black Friday in April 2011.

"Anything that doesn’t smell right is a negative for that effort," said Anthony Curtis, publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor, a gaming newsletter and website for consumers.

But David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at UNLV, said it’s unlikely legal online poker will be tarnished by the sports-betting scandal. That’s because the Internet is merely a tool for communication, he said, and no one would make a connection between legal online poker and illegal sports-betting if the sports bettors were using pencils and paper to execute bets.

Attorney Anthony Cabot, who chairs the gaming law group at the Las Vegas law firm Lewis and Roca, said the indictments illustrate the lack of regulation of most sports betting in the United States. Experts estimate that illegal sports betting could involve $250 billion annually. One of the purposes of legalizing online poker was to regulate and tax the common activity.

"It points to the need for greater transparency" in unregulated sports betting transactions, Cabot said.

As for Cantor Gaming, the company’s sports-betting customers likely were unaffected by Colbert’s alleged criminal activity, Curtis said. One of the key features of legalized sports wagering is that odds on games are posted publicly so gamblers can decide whether to bet and which bets to take.

That means that no matter what Colbert was up to, the lines his books posted were available for anyone to scrutinize, and those who didn’t like them could find odds they liked elsewhere, Curtis said.

Cantor Gaming now faces a public relations quandary with its seven partner casinos in Las Vegas and the potential new partners it hopes to gain as it grows locally. Still, the company should be able to continue operating successfully, as long as higher-ups weren’t involved, Curtis said.

"Right now it looks like it didn’t involve the company and he was putting out a shingle to work on his own," Curtis said.

It’s illegal for Americans to place wagers with offshore sports books but the practice continues — even in Las Vegas, where legal sports books are easy to find. It is particularly rampant among professionals or frequent bettors who want convenience and more favorable betting lines, discounts or rebates, Curtis said.

Cantor undoubtedly will face questions from regulators, even as it moves to distance itself from Colbert.

"Our investigation into this is ongoing and will involve any business holding a gaming license in the state — and that would include Cantor Gaming," Jerry Markling, chief of enforcement for the State Gaming Control Board, said Thursday.

Cantor officials said the arrests had no effect on the company's race and sports books.

"This case relates to Mike Colbert as an individual," Cantor spokeswoman Hannah Sloane said. "This case does not involve Cantor Gaming."

Cantor Gaming has aspirations to enter the Internet poker industry like many of its competitors. One of the questions the company will face is how its own internal compliance department failed to keep tabs on Colbert.

When it was considering selling stock to the public last year, a Cantor affiliate noted how important compliance with gaming laws is.

"We will be subject to disciplinary action by the Nevada Gaming Control Board or Nevada Gaming Commission if we engage in any activity or enter into any association that is unsuitable for us because it poses an unreasonable threat to the control of gaming in Nevada, reflects or tends to reflect discredit or disrepute upon Nevada or gaming in Nevada, or is contrary to Nevada gaming policies," the company said in a regulatory filing.

Colbert acted as one of the criminal enterprise's "money collector/agents'' who built a clientele of bettors for the ring, prosecutors said.

"It is alleged that the agents were the intermediaries between the bettor and the enterprise itself and were responsible for 'squaring up' or 'settling up' with the bettors — usually on a designated day each week — by collecting and paying out money owed," New York prosecutors said.

The ring allegedly collected $50 million in profits over an 18-month period.

October 25, 2012

bwin.party announce partnership with Zynga

Bwin.party has formed an exclusive partnership with social gaming provider Zynga to develop and operate real money online and mobile poker and casino services in the UK.

Under the agreement, bwin.party will deliver a solution that will include the necessary operating platform, software and related support, to power Zynga’s real money poker and casino services. These services will initially be focused exclusively on UK-based customers and will operate under bwin’s Gibraltar gaming licence.

Jim Ryan and Norbert Teufelberger, the Co-Chief Executive Officers of bwin.party, said: “Today’s announcement is a further example of our success in leveraging our assets through strategic blue-chip partners.

“Zynga is the world’s leader in social games with hundreds of millions of active players and a significant player base in the UK. We are delighted to have been selected as their chosen partner for this important step in their evolution and hope to expand our relationship into other products and markets.”

The agreement will see Zynga’s real money poker players join bwin’s liquidity pool. Bwin is also developing a FarmVille game slot for Zynga’s real money casino.

The new services will be Zynga branded.

Cantor Sports Director arrested

The Sports Director for Cantor Gaming & Sports Book Manager at the M Resort, Michael Colbert, was arrested Wednesday on a out of state arrest warrant, according to the Clark County Detention Center.

Mr Colbert, 32, was booked into jail Wednesday, with a hearing is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. Monday.

A Nevada gambling regulator said a total of eight Las Vegas area residents have been arrested in a New York City police investigation of illegal bookmaking and money laundering.

Gaming Control Board enforcement chief Jerry Markling said beside Colbert, the seven others are not involved with Cantor Gaming. A Cantor spokesman said the case doesn’t involve the company. A company spokeswoman said the company had no comment on Colbert’s arrest.

All those arrested faces enterprise corruption, money laundering and conspiracy charges in New York, Markling said.

Colbert has been the public face of Cantor Gaming since the company arrived to Las Vegas more than three years ago. He served as the sports book director at the M Resort, Cantor’s first property, from the day it opened in March 2009.

The M sports book found immediate, unprecedented success under Colbert’s watch. By offering the highest limits in town and an expanded betting menu that included Las Vegas’ first-ever in-running wagering, it became ground zero for the biggest bettors in Las Vegas.

Cantor grew from there and currently operates sports books at six other casinos — the Venetian, Palazzo, Palms, Cosmopolitan, Hard Rock and Tropicana.

October 23, 2012

EU Weighs Money-Laundering Curbs in Online Gambling Action Plan

The European Union may toughen safeguards against money laundering through online betting sites and promote hotlines against match fixing as part of a push to boost protection of gamblers and counter fraud.

The European Commission will also speed up probes into whether national restrictions on online gambling firms are legal in a bid to clarify market-access rules for the industry, according to an EU official.

The measures will be included in an action plan for the online gaming and betting industry to be published tomorrow by Michel Barnier, the EU’s financial services chief, said the official, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t yet public.

The EU’s top court in recent years has examined a series of cases brought by betting companies including Bwin.Party digital entertainment Plc, Ladbrokes Plc and Betfair Ltd. over whether it is legal for state monopolies to block them from operating freely across the 27-nation region. Online gambling firms have also called on the EU to take action against what they say are unjustified national restrictions on cross-border gambling.

Since 2006, the Brussels-based commission has probed whether national rules in states such as Germany, France and Italy comply with EU laws. Many investigations are ongoing.

The Brussels-based commission has received complaints about market-access curbs in 20 EU nations, the official said.

Nations tend to justify the curbs on the basis that they are needed to protect citizens from gambling addiction and to prevent crime.

Barnier has said that any moves at EU level to remove market barriers mustn’t harm these consumer protection and law enforcement objectives.

The commission has considered and rejected proposing legislation to clarify competition rules for the industry, the official said.

On money laundering, the commission will weigh whether to extend legislation for casinos to online gaming firms, the official said.

The law sets out identity checks and other monitoring that gaming companies must carry out on their customers. It also requires casinos to report suspicious activities to the authorities.

October 22, 2012

Mysterious Canadian online poker player making headlines with huge winnings

For all of the whispers and buzz Viktor “Isildur1″ Blom generated when he was an anonymous online poker player playing, and holding his own, against some of the most high profile poker players in the world, a new unidentified online poker player has become the talk of the town, thanks in part to this player laying waste to the high-stakes games in PokerStars.

The player, who goes by the handle 1Il|1Il|1il| and has been dubbed by the online poker community as “Barcode” is raking in serious profits at PokerStars, taking on some of the best online poker players, including, ironically, Viktor “Isildur1″ Blom himself.

According to PokerListings, Barcode even went bonkers on Isildur1, cleaning out the online poker legend for $173,000. More impressively, Barcode has already made $1.2 million in profit for the month of October – and last we checked, we still have over a week before November hits. This dude – or lady – is serious business.

The highlight of Barcode’s October rampage occurred last week when on a single day, he/she managed to obliterate the tables, racking up $500,000 of winnings on what we presume to be $200/$400 PLO games on Stars.

The real identity of Barcode has become a water cooler topic recently with plenty of speculation going around as to who he or she really is. The account is located in Canada, which could suggest that he or she is Canadian, although this has yet to be confirmed.

Be that as it may, there’s no denying that Barcode has been on the kind of heater run where legends are born. The player has had its share of losses – his/her initial go round when he/she first broke into the high-stakes online scene saw him/her drop $200,000 – but he/she also become more known for being the talk of the online poker world for being in the middle of one of the sickest runs we’ve seen in quite sometime.

Anybody that can win $500,000 on a single day playing poker certainly deserves the attention he or she is getting.

October 18, 2012

Bodog closes to UK customers

Bodog have closed their online site to players in the United Kingdom and Europe, who will now be unable to access the poker rooms. In addition to this, the main UK Bodog casino website has temporarily closed for the overhaul, with new sign ups not being accepted.

A partner brand of Bodog is reported to have said in a statement that the website will also be removing a number of features, including the sportsbook, racebook and poker rooms.

UK customers have been left feeling confused, as the BodogEU website recently shut down and redirected their online traffic to Bodog.co.uk. The freeze on this website has resulted in many UK players feeling dissatisfied with Bodogs treatment of them. In addition to this, Bodog removed their services from 20 European countries earlier this year; including some Eastern European areas, parts of the Middle East and Belgium.

BodogUK stated that upon the sites relaunch there would be no poker features available. They instead wanted to focus more on traditional casino games, such as baccarat, and live dealer games. If players are not satisfied with this service anymore than Bodog informs them that they can cash out and leave with their funds.

For those wanting to stay with the Bodog brand, then they can attempt to create a new account with the Asian facing website, Bodog88.com. However, the appearance and features of the website are designed to attract the Asian audience. The organisation is set to pour most of their focus on the Asian market, much to the negligence of their UK customers.

Robert Gustafsson, the Managing Director, stated There are estimated to be at least 100,000,000 Chinese living outside China and if you then include Thai, Malay and Vietnamese expats, you have more than just a niche market but one that has been ignored by other operators despite being far and away the largest consumer group of casino games on the planet…

He added, Bodog.co.uk can offer a totally different product to a totally different audience and while we still offers sports betting, the all important casino customer will be our main source of revenue.

Sportingbet set to agree takeover for £530 million

William Hill has increased its proposed offer for Sportingbet, valuing the online gaming company at £530m.

The offer from the British bookmaker and GVC Holdings includes the recently announced 48.9p a share in cash from William Hill, and 0.0475 new GVC shares per Sportingbet share.

William Hill submitted a £350m proposalwith GVC in September but it was rejected by Sportingbet’s board as undervaluing the company.

In a statement on Tuesday, Sportingbet said it had agreed to work with William Hill and GVC toward a firm offer, which if made, the board would unanimously recommend it to shareholders.

William Hill had been required to announce a firm offer for the online gaming company by 5pm today, but the Takeover Panel has extended this deadline to 5pm on November 13.

William Hill is after Sportingbet’s Australian business, which accounts for 90pc of its profits.

GVC, which last year bought Sportingbet’s Turkish business for £113m, would take on the more politically sensitive, unregulated operations.

October 09, 2012

PokerStars confirms stake in Hippodrome Casino

The Sunday Times reported that PokerStars, the worlds biggest online poker site had taken a stake in the recently opened Hippodrome Casino in London operated by Simon Thomas and his family, which would value the venue at some £100 million.

PokerStars Director of Communications, Eric Hollreiser:

PokerStars will refurbish and re-brand the poker deck at the Hippodrome Casino to create the UK’s first PokerStars’ poker room.

In 2013, the Hippodrome will become home to a range of new PokerStars’ sponsored tournaments and special events which the site will promote to its customer base of 50 million registered players.

PokerStars has also taken an equity investment in the Hippodrome as part of the deal. However not releasing the amount of the deal, PokerStars can say that the valuation reported in the Sunday Times is not accurate.

PokerStars will also provide poker for a future Hippodrome online casino site.

Guy Templer, Group Strategy Director for PokerStars, said “PokerStars’ expertise and success in both online and live poker makes partnering with Hippodrome a natural fit.” And continued, “the Hippodrome has dramatically raised the quality bar for the UK casino industry,” Templer said, “So together we will give poker players the same great poker experience, live 24/7 in the heart of London that they get from PokerStars online. We are looking forward to unveiling some great new live events for the UK poker market in 2013.”

Crockfords casino refuses to pay £7.3 million winnings

A source with close knowledge of the dispute described the situation as unprecedented.

Mr Ivey, a 35-year-old Californian, was playing Punto Banco, when he struck a remarkable winning streak.

The 184-year-old casino initially agreed to transfer the winnings to his bank account, but six weeks on it has returned only his £1 million stake.

Instead it began an exhaustive inquiry.

Staff, including the female dealers at the punto banca table, were interviewed at length amid fears there may have been some form of collusion.

This is thought to have been ruled out now since the enquiry.

While it is unclear what, if anything, Mr Ivey has been accused of, lawyers for both sides are said to be engaged in an increasingly tense stand-off. It is not thought that police have been alerted.

Sources said Mr Ivey played for two nights over the August bank holiday for about seven hours in all.

Suspicions over the win intensified when it was discovered that his companion’s membership of another Mayfair casino had previously been suspended.

The reason for this has not been revealed.

Crockfords, the oldest private gaming club in the world, is owned by Genting, company investigators flew to London from Kuala Lumpur to speak to everyone who was working on the two nights in question and to examine hours of film from surveillance cameras.

The cards used and the shoe they were dealt from were also scrutinised.

‘No imperfections, or marks, that would have given Ivey an advantage were found.

In any case, Ivey at no time touched the cards,’ said a source.

‘The shoe was also thoroughly inspected; once again the investigators drew a blank.’

Mr Ivey, who once picked up £10 million in a poker tournament in Las Vegas, was playing in a small private room on the ground floor of Crockfords.

He sat next to his companion.

The only other people in the room were the croupiers and an inspector.

All the action was recorded on ten cameras.

At the time of publication no comment was made from Crockfords about the incident.

October 08, 2012

Italian Online Poker Collapses

Italian state regulator, L’Amministrazione Autonoma dei Monopoli di Stato (AAMS) has released its annual report which shows clearly the serious decline in online poker revenue. From a high of €41m in January, gaming revenues have fallen 43% to just over €23m.

Tournament revenues are down almost 75% since regulation was first introduced having disintegrated from a high in January 2011 of €35.3m to an August 2012 low of €9.1m.

Cash games, which were first introduced just over 15 months ago and initially proved a boom for the market, are down 41% in the last year.

Italy’s poker problems can be put down to two inter-related issues: high gaming taxes and low player liquidity. The tax levy is the highest in Europe, which substantially increases the entertainment cost for recreational players and make the games an unviable source of income for professionals.

Additionally, the player pool is restricted to Italian citizens only. The artificial restriction means tournament prize pools are naturally lower, and a narrower selection of games run, which attracts fewer recreational players and, in turn, fewer serious players.

Recent discussion between Spanish and Italian regulators may result in a joint player pool at some stage next year. The discussions do at least point to the regulators being aware of the problem. Discussions with its French counterpart also continue, although ARJEL recently played down the possibility of shared liquidity between the two countries.

Italy’s experience with taxing and regulating online poker demonstrates more clearly than any rational argument that poker is different from other forms of online gambling and needs to be taxed and regulated accordingly.

Unfortunately the solution to the problem is political. In this time of austerity the probability of getting the political support necessary to cut online poker taxes and abandon the state monopoly is fairly low. The future of online poker in Italy is far from bright.

October 05, 2012

British Horseracing Authority charges 9, including jockey and 3 soccer players, over fixing

The British Horseracing Authority has charged a jockey and eight others, including three soccer players, with race fixing.

The charges follow an investigation into suspicious betting, focusing on wagers that horses would lose between November 2010 and March 2011.

Jockey Andrew Heffernan, who is licensed to ride in Australia, has been charged with five corruption offenses, including offering to receive or receiving a bribe and “intentionally failed to ensure that a horse ridden by him was run on its merits.”

Among the eight other people charged is Ipswich striker Michael Chopra, who is accused of offering a bribe to Heffernan and conspiring to “commit a corrupt or fraudulent practice by placing bets.”

Nottingham Forest midfielder James Coppinger and former Manchester United player Mark Wilson also have been charged.

October 04, 2012

Stoichkov to Be Questioned over Match-Fixing Statements

Bulgarian authorities are to question former Barcelona striker Hristo Stoichkov regarding his recent criticism of betting related match-fixing in the country, according to a local media report.

Stoichkov is to be questioned in Bulgaria's Chief Directorate for Combatting Organized Crime on Thursday, local media have revealed.

The authorities want the legendary Barcelona forward to shed more light on his statements that the Bulgarian state and the Bulgarian Football Union have failed to stop the illegal activities going on in the country's football championship.

Recently, Stoichkov, who is currently coaching the team of Litex Lovech, called upon Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov to deal with betting related match-fixing, suggesting that Tsvetanov may have been "afraid" to tackle the issue.

"I'm personally not afraid to speak, I'm not afraid of anything," Stoichkov declared earlier in September.

He further stated that several teams have been involved in match-fixing.

According to the Sega daily, Stoichkov will be also questioned regarding the May 12 game in which Litex smashed relegation favorites Kavarna 5:0. It is still unclear whether it is among the 16 games in the Bulgarian championship that UEFA considers suspicious.

At the end of August, a BBC investigation revealed that Bulgaria's football is deeply involved in mafia businesses, with match-fixing and money laundering being just the tip of a criminal iceberg that lurks beneath the surface of the game.

The BBC investigation was triggered by continuing reports that football in Bulgaria is riddled with corrupt practices including match-fixing and the illegal procurement of European Union passports for overseas players.

October 03, 2012

Legal complaints could impact OPAP value, says RGA

The Remote Gambling Association has alerted banks handling the sale of OPAP to three legal complaints that could affect the monopoly’s future value, as the lobby group maintains pressure on Greece to open its online sports betting market.

In the letter to Deutsche Bank and the National Bank of Greece, the world’s largest online gambling trade association provided details of three outstanding complaints against OPAP’s monopoly, two lodged with the EC and another with the Greek Council of State, “that could have a material effect on the future value of OPAP”.

Greece’s privatisation agency HRADF forged ahead with the sale process for its 33% stake in OPAP last week, despite a key legal advisor to Europe’s highest court casting doubts on the sustainability of OPAP’s monopoly and analysts projecting that a 30% tax on gross revenue and 10% on winnings on all of OPAP’s operations from 2013, introduced under pressure from the EC, could wipe up to €280m off annual profit.

The RGA’s letter has been sent on behalf of its members, which include bet365, Betfair, bwin.party, Paddy Power, Sportingbet, Unibet and William Hill, many of which have been impacted by Greece’s law and regulations designed to protect the position of its betting monopoly.

Chief executive Clive Hawkswood said that while Greece had been pressurised by the EC into withdrawing OPAP’s preferential tax treatment on its land-based operations, there were other issues that had yet to be resolved, not least the Greek state’s intention to extend OPAP’s sports betting monopoly online.

“[I]t is only right that we brought these to the attention of Deutsche Bank to ensure that they are properly reflected in the sale process”, said Hawkswood. He said that the RGA’s position may change if the online sports betting market was fully opened and all potential stakeholders were taxed and treated equally. “[T]he Greek Government, online betting customers and gambling operators will [then] benefit from a fair and competitive market that operates in compliance with EU rules.”

The RGA’s first complaint to the EC competition directorate concerns the retrospective taxes applied to EU-licensed operators since last August, when Greece passed its online gaming act. The RGA complaint argues that the tax regime amounts to a potential form of State Aid as it exempts the OPAP-controlled land-based sector in Greece.

The RGA has also submitted a joint complaint with its continental counterpart the European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) to the EC’s Internal Market and Services Directorate. This submits that OPAP’s offline sports betting monopoly is an unjustified obstacle to free trade within the EU, while also potentially being awarded the online sports betting monopoly.

Finally, the RGA has petitioned the Greek Council of State on the basis that the retrospective tax regime for online operators represents an unconstitutional restriction on the right to conduct a business activity in Greece. The case is set to be heard in December.

Sportingbet Slips to Loss in FY on One-Time Charges

London-based Sportingbet Plc, an online sports betting and gaming company, on Friday fell steeply into loss for the full year in contrast to a profit last year. The outcome reflected one-time items like Spanish tax settlements, property, plant impairment costs and costs pertaining to its Turkey market exit, among others.

For the full year, the company reported a pre-tax loss of 45.4 million pounds compared with a profit of 20.7 million pounds last year, while revealing a total loss of 52.3 million pounds from a profit of 21 million pounds in 2011. The company witnessed a sharp rise in charges pertaining to exceptional items that rose to 71.6 million pounds from 10.8 million pounds last year.

On a per share basis, the company reported a loss of 6.8 pence in 2012 compared with profit of 3.9 pence in 2011. However, on an adjusted basis, the company reported a profit of 5.3 pence per share in 2012.

Total revenue for the year also declined to 195.9 million pounds from 206.3 million pounds last year, with net gaming revenue slumping to 185.7 million pounds from 204 million pounds in the prior year.

Further, the company said its Board had proposed a final dividend of 1.1 pence, totaling a full year figure of 1.7 pence. The dividend may be paid on January 17, 2013 to ordinary shareholders on the record as of December 21, 2012.

"We are confident that the increased advertising opportunities, improved payment processing and stable business platform provided by our regulated market presence will drive profitable growth in the medium term. Whilst the economic outlook remains challenging, our robust position across a variety of attractive territories gives us confidence in the outlook for the current financial year," stated Andrew McIver, Group, Chief Executive.

The shares are currently trading at 51.45 pence, down 1.55 pence or 2.92 percent on the London Stock Exchange.

French sport star Nikola Karabatic held over match-fixing

French police have detained double Olympic gold medal winner Nikola Karabatic and several other players in connection with allegations of match-fixing and illegal betting in French handball.

At least seven players in the French league were placed under formal arrest, a source close to the investigation said, without naming the players.
A police source said eight players for Montpellier, including Karabatic and his brother, Luka, two players for Paris Saint-Germain formerly with Montpellier, a member of staff for Montpellier and a player's girlfriend had been detained for questioning in the probe.

Five of the Montpellier players, including Nikola Karabatic, Tunisian Wissem Hmam, Frenchman Mickael Robin, and Slovenians Dragan Gajic and Primoz Prost, were put into police cars and driven away in a convoy, an AFP journalist at the scene said.

The team's physiotherapist, Yann Montiege, also left with police.

The convoy was later seen arriving at the offices of the interior ministry's racing and gaming division in the Paris suburb of Nanterre.

The players were questioned in their dressing rooms at the Pierre de Coubertin stadium in Paris immediately following a match between Montpellier and Paris Saint-Germain, a source close to the players said.

An AFP journalist at the stadium earlier saw plainclothes police showing badges to guards to enter the stadium.

Three people were detained for questioning in Montpellier on Sunday on suspicion of placing illegal bets, a source close to the investigation said.

Karabatic, 28, is considered one of the greatest players of the game and won gold medals with the French team at this year's London Olympics and the 2008 Games in Beijing.

The French professional handball scene was thrown into turmoil on Wednesday after an investigation was ramped up into giants Montpellier over alleged match-fixing and illegal betting.

The south coast club has dominated French handball for 15 years, and officials were quick to protest the innocence of their players.

Suspicions were raised over a match that Montpellier lost 31-28 to Cesson-Sevigne on May 12. At the time, Montpellier were assured of a 13th league title in 15 seasons while the Breton club sat in eighth position.

Betting firm La Francaise des Jeux (FDJ) reported abnormal betting patterns up to five times greater than expected and suspended bets during the match.

Large bets reportedly came in at half-time on a loss for Montpellier, for whom the Karabatic brothers, Mladen Bojinovic, Vid Kavticnik and Samuel Honrubia were not playing because of injury.

France 3 television reported that police had discovered that wives or girlfriends of players and club members had placed bets in three betting shops in the Paris region, the western region of Brittany, and around Montpellier.

October 02, 2012

Sportingbet pressures William Hill to up bid

Online gambling firm Sportingbet Plc said a 350 million pound offer approach by bookmaker William Hill and GVC Holdings "significantly undervalues" it, but left the door open for a higher bid.

It had received a takeover approach at 52.5 pence per share, consisting of 45 pence in cash from William Hill and 7.5 pence in shares in smaller online betting firm GVC, Sportingbet said on Monday.

"The board of Sportingbet has responded that this indicative offer significantly undervalues the business and its future prospects," it said.

However, it did not say it was rejecting the offer outright.

The statement followed speculation in the weekend press that the board had received a letter containing the joint bid approach, which it had unanimously turned down.

Analysts expect the bidders to come back with a higher offer.

"We believe Sportingbet is worth over 60 pence per share, excluding any bid speculation, and expect Wednesday's full year results to show the business continues to make strong underlying progress," said Panmure Gordon analysts on Monday.

Sportingbet is forecast to report pre-tax profits of around 30 million pounds on sales of 200 million on Wednesday, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S estimates.

Sportingbet has seen its European operations struggle with the economic downturn and a changing regulatory map, but has a strong core Australian business that is attractive to traditional bookmaker William Hill as it expands overseas.

Numis said shareholders should hold out for 90 pence per share, citing the business growth potential and saying it was a chance for the bidder to snap up a bargain while trading was at a low point.

Shares have risen from a low of 26 pence in May to 44 pence just before the approach was announced last month, and have been trading at around the offer level since then.

The bidders have until October 16 to make a firm bid or walk away under UK takeover rules, although this deadline can be extended.

Sportingbet and William Hill both declined to comment further.

October 01, 2012

William Hill consider raising offer for Sportingbet

William Hill & GVC Holdings, is expected to raise its price after we reported earlier that Sportingbet had rejected a £350m approach. (see previous report)

The joint venture offerer a 52.5p a share bid to Sportingbet by letter, which was unanimously rejected by the Sportingbet board.

The £350m bid would have seen William Hill put up 45p a share in cash while Sportingbet investors would have received the remainder in GVC paper.

William Hill would not comment on the reports, but it is believed that Ralph Topping, William Hill’s CEO, and GVC boss Kenny Alexander will agree to raise the stakes before a Takeover Panel deadline on October 16.

Analysts expect the two joint bidders will have to offer more than 60p a share, even though the online bookie’s share price has not gone north of 52.25p since William Hill and GVC announced on September 19 that they were in exclusive talks about making a joint approach. A 60p a share bid would value Sportingbet at £400m.

William Hill is after Sportingbet’s Australian business, which accounts for 90pc of its profits.

GVC, which last year bought Sportingbet’s Turkish business for €142.5m (£113m), would take on the more politically sensitive, unregulated operations.

Sportingbet’s advisers at Lazard are trying to drum up interest among other operators in the sector, such as Ladbrokes, to spark off a bidding war.

But many analysts believe a rival approach is unlikely given that few others will want to take on Sportingbet’s unregulated assets.

Arsenal Lotto to support Arsenal Foundation

Arsenal Football Club is delighted to announce the launch of the Arsenal Lotto which will give Arsenal supporters the chance to win life-changing prize money twice a week and support The Arsenal Foundation in the process.

The Arsenal Lotto, the first of its kind in UK football, is set to be the biggest and most exciting fundraising initiative which allows fans over 18 to take part, win big cash prizes and make a difference at the same time.

The recently launched Arsenal Foundation, a grant making charity which transforms the lives of young people through sport and education initiatives, is set to benefit from all proceeds the Club receives from fans participating in the Arsenal Lotto.

To play the Arsenal Lotto, supporters will be invited to select six numbers online via www.arsenallotto.co.uk plus a ‘legend’ number from 0-9 to play this lotto the Arsenal way. Bets cost £1 per line and average jackpots of £4.7m with rollovers of up to £36m can be won.

The Arsenal Lotto draws take place every Wednesday around 6pm and every Saturday between 7pm and 10pm. Six numbers (the main numbers) are drawn, along with an additional bonus number plus the “Legend” number. The first draw for Arsenal Lotto players takes place on Saturday 29th September, the day Arsenal take on Chelsea at Emirates Stadium. Supporters can play online from Thursday 27th September to be in with a chance of winning.

Arsenal Football Club CEO and trustee of The Arsenal Foundation, Ivan Gazidis said: “We have been looking for ways to engage fans even more in the good work the Club does in its community and its charitable projects. Whilst some may wish to volunteer or participate in fundraising events, others may look for a more simple way to engage and raise money. The Arsenal Lotto gives them this option.”

Egidio Messito, CEO at MyLotto24 which powers the Arsenal Lotto said: “This launch is a game-changer for any organisation wishing to harness the power of lottery. Most important of all, thousands of young people will benefit from projects The Arsenal Foundation funds.”

bwin.party sells Ongame for an initial €15m

bwin.party has agreed to sell Ongame poker network to Canada’s Amaya Gaming Group for an initial consideration of €15m, with an additional amount of up to €10m becoming payable if regulated online gaming is introduced in the United States within five years.

The sale is subject to conditions including regulatory approvals and is expected to complete during the fourth quarter of 2012, at which time the management of Ongame will transfer with the business to Amaya.

Amaya will pay bwin.party €15m in cash upon completion, with up to a further €10m payable if regulated online gaming is introduced in the US within five years. The exact amount of the contingent consideration will depend on the extent of regulation in the United States based upon the number of states that regulate and the total population covered.

The terms of the sale are similar to those agreed between bwin.party and Shufflemaster before the latter withdrew from the deal, however, the overall consideration is now 15 per cent lower than that previously agreed with Shufflemaster.

bwin.party co-CEO Jim Ryan commented: “The sale of Ongame conforms to our strategy, especially as we move closer to launching our single, proprietary technology platform in the next few months. We believe Ongame will fit well into Amaya Gaming and has an excellent future ahead.”

“The acquisition of Ongame bolsters Amaya Gaming’s product portfolio, transforming Amaya into a leading provider of gaming platforms,” added Amaya CEO David Baazov. “Amaya looks forward to unleashing Ongame’s technology to its full potential through the leveraging of our many B2B relationships and delivering new partners and players to the network.”

Amaya said the acquisition of Ongame would position it to participate in the US market should the government decide to regulate online poker, while at the same time strengthening it's B2B interactive product portfolio.