November 28, 2012

Apple to revolutionize gambling on TV

Apple is reported to be working on a television set that will change the way we watch TV and gamble.

According to business rumors, the launch of Apple’s highly awaited television set is “imminent.”, the gossip has been around for at least two years, but recent leaks from various sources suggest the expected debut is as near as the early first half of 2013.

Allegedly, the design will resemble Apple’s LED Cinema Displays, but much bigger. Imagine watching a horse racing broadcast in normal size, and not in an iPhone gambling app.

The new TV will come with built-in Siri enabling viewers to control it without a remote. Facetime will be used on the big screen for high-quality video chat. Apple is supposed to include a console similar to Xbox Kinect as well.

Maybe the most interesting is how Apple handles TV content. The boys in Cupertino want to offer TV channels as streaming apps on their television that one can stream content through. You could pay for each app channel individually instead of subscribing for a package as you would normally do at your cable provider.

You will be able to reach all sorts of extras including mobile gambling content on your Apple devices that are connected with the television set. Apple devices such as iPhone, iPod or iPad could control your TV using a version of AirPlay.

Apple has not even commented on its television plans. There are no known names for the new product. Possible guesses include iTV, “iPanel” or simply just “Apple TV.”

Whatever Apple’s choice will be, we can be sure that its approach towards television will change the rules as iPod changed the music business, iPhone transformed the mobile industry and iPads created a new category in personal computing, gaming and mobile casinos.

November 21, 2012

California approves exchange-wagering rules; implementation at least months away

The California Horse Racing Board approved rules allowing for exchange wagering in the state on Thursday, but the launch of such wagers is still months away and faces the potential of legal challenges, officials said.

The state’s Office of Administrative Law is expected to receive the rules and supporting documents from the racing board in early December, and will have 30 working days to review materials. If the rules are approved, the racing industry can move forward in early 2013 with the implementation of the oversight technology and training to administer exchange wagering in the state.

A racetrack and horsemen’s group would then need to reach a financial agreement with an account-wagering provider and receive approval from the board before exchange wagering could start.

If the Office of Administrative Law expresses concern about the 25 rules approved on Thursday, it is possible that the legal approval could be delayed extensively.

There is also the possibility of lawsuits that could challenge the legality of exchange wagering, which allows bettors to back or lay horses to win or lose. Exchange wagering was approved by the state legislature in 2010, pending the development of rules by the racing board.

Betfair-TVG officials told the racing board on Thursday that they need several months before they are ready to implement exchange wagering in California.

Betfair-TVG and approached the board for licenses to conduct exchange wagering. The board issued a provisional license to Betfair-TVG, subject to the opinion of the office of administrative law on exchange wagering rules. is expected to apply for a provisional license in the near future.

The two account-wagering providers were asked to purchase computer hardware and software that will be used in the racing’s board regulation of exchange wagering. The cost of the software is part of the account-wagering providers’ license fee to conduct exchange wagering.

The hardware, software, and training of staff has an estimated cost of $530,000 through the end of the fiscal year, on June 30, 2013. All exchange-wagering providers must pay for regulation of such wagers, according to the 2010 legislation.

November 14, 2012

Greece gives online operators until Dec. 6 to get lost or face blacklist, prison

Truly, this week is only a couple days old but the board of directors at digital entertainment likely already wishes it was over. As co-CEO Norbert Teufelberger beats an inglorious retreat to the UK following his detention by Belgian police, Greece is now telling and other unlicensed operators serving Greek punters to get the hell out of Dodge (and Athens) by Dec. 6 or face a decade in prison, up to €500k in fines and ‘severe administration penalties,’ which we assume means being forced to untangle the country’s messy finances using only a slide rule and a No. 2 pencil.

The Hellenic Gaming Commission issued warning notices on Nov. 5 to all operators currently serving the Greek market without the government’s say-so. These operators are being given a one-month grace period in which to wind down their affairs, after which any operators still serving the market will be put on a blacklist (much as in Belgium). Banks will be forbidden to process transactions for any company on the blacklist and IP-blocking will cut off punter access. The Commission’s notice said it was asking for support from other EU regulators “and will appreciate proactivity” by same “to inform and strongly advise” operators they regulate to comply with Greek wishes.

Greece passed a new gaming law in August 2011, which was supposed to be followed by a public tender for online gaming licenses. While that has yet to occur, Greece issued temporary permits to 24 operators – including Sportingbet and Paddy Power – on the condition that they ante up two years of back taxes (similar to what transpired in Spain). Other major European operators, including Betfair, Bet365 and William Hill, chose instead to file a grievance (via the Remote Gambling Association) with the European Commission over what they viewed as the Greek gaming law’s discriminatory provisions., reportedly Greece’s online gambling market leader, also chose not to apply for a license and filed its own EC complaint in November via its European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) mouthpiece. Unless has learned a lesson from Tuesday’s strong-arm tactics in Belgium, a business-as-usual approach in Greece would result in its name appearing on yet another blacklist and creating another no-fly zone for execs.

With’s Nevada online poker tech provider license application hearing expected sometime early in the new year, shareholders are likely starting to wonder if execs are treating the hearing as a foregone conclusion. If continued nose-thumbing at European regulators ultimately proves too blatant for US regulators to ignore and eliminates the possibility of adding a US revenue stream, could the next AGM be a bring-your-own-pitchfork-and-torch affair? (Entirely uncorroborated scuttlebutt has Teufelberger’s arrest the result of a tipoff Belgian authorities received from co-CEO Jim Ryan, who is presumably itching to ditch the ‘co-’ from his business card.)

Of course, the public companies currently doing business in Greece will eventually ‘choose’ to leave, much in the way one ‘chooses’ to keep breathing. Their shareholders have no appetite for risk and video clips of senior management being frog-marched away in handcuffs tend to have a depressing effect on share prices. Public protestations about ‘illegal’ laws don’t mean much in practical terms; it’s been seven years since the World Trade Organization declared the US anti-online gambling stance to be a breach of international trade rules yet Antigua still hasn’t received its rightful redress.

It will be interesting to see how the Greeks treat Playtech, which, via its partnership with German outfit Gauselmann, is one of eight prospective bidders for the Greek government’s one-third stake in lottery/betting monopoly OPAP. Playtech also supplies technology to a number of Greek-facing operators, including (for the moment) William Hill Online. If Playtech licensees choose to ignore the Greek blacklist, would Playtech escape criticism and/or legal action?

In the past, Playtech has taken an “it’s our clients that are breaking the law, not us” stance regarding its revenue streams from licensees operating in China, Malaysia and Germany, but much will depend on how broadly Greece chooses to define ‘operator.’ As with’s Belgian brouhaha, the fallout from the Greek clampdown may extend well beyond its borders. The fact that Playtech founder Teddy Sagi did time in an Israeli prison in the 1990s for stock manipulation was noted by Nevada regulators when William Hill’s sports betting license was being considered and further European controversy might eliminate any possibility of Playtech participating in a regulated US online poker market.

November 08, 2012

Microgaming heralds another win with Betsson move

The Microgaming Poker Network (MPN) has received another boost with the addition of to the network.

Betsson will offer its poker customers access to MPN alongside its existing offering on the Ongame Network, while its Euro Tables product powered by IGT Entraction will close down on November 20th as a result of IGT’s decision to close the network.

Microgaming said Wednesday that it has worked closely with Betsson and a number of other key operators in shaping the design and functionality of the new MPN lobby, with Betsson one of the first operators to go live with the improved interface.

“We are thrilled to have join the Microgaming Poker Network,” said Microgaming’s head of networked games, Lydia Melton. “The MPN has undergone a transformation this year, and we are delighted that our efforts have resulted in the signing of such major operators. We look forward to working closely with on the MPN and in the Network Management Board over the coming years.”

Henric Andersson, product director at Betsson Group, added: “The MPN is one of the world’s most established online poker networks; naturally we are delighted to be joining the MPN. At, we strive to create the finest gaming experience for our players and we are confident that by adding the MPN to our offering, we will deliver an exceptional experience to all of our poker players.”

November 06, 2012

Full Tilt relaunch – 22,000 players on site in one hour

The long awaited relaunch of the hugely popular online poker site, Full Tilt Poker started up for business just one hour ago, with tens of thousands of players jumping on the website to play, cashout and generally see what the new owner PokerStars had done to FTP.

Reports early on have said there are problems with players depositing on the FTP site, however there seems no problems for the players looking to withdraw the $184 million that has been frozen in their accounts since the previous owners left the company in almost collapse prior to PokerStars saving the online site and indeed the millions of poker players funds.

With so much traffic on the website there will be teething problems, but at present apart from the odd player having a problem depositing funds using credit card, it seems the FTP launch has been a huge success.

November 01, 2012

$181 million loss for MGM Resorts in Q3

MGM Resorts International on Wednesday reported its loss for the third quarter widened, however the gaming company posted improved revenue, led by its business in Macau.

The Las Vegas-based company lost $181.2 million in the three months ending September 30th compared with a loss of $123.8 million a year earlier.

Revenue rose 1% to $2.25 billion from the year-earlier quarter. The company attributed the increase to a 7% rise in sales at its Chinese subsidiary, MGM China in Macau.

The MGM China unit, which accounts for early 30% of the company’s overall business, gained approval earlier this month to build a $2.5 billion casino on the Cotai Strip, its second resort in Macau.

MGM Resorts Chairman and CEO Jim Murren said it will be a matter of months until the company breaks ground on the Cotai resort, with a completion date of three years. He didn’t believe the project would suffer from a slowdown in the Chinese economy.

“Gaming in Macau is a $36 billion to $37 billion industry today,” Murren said. “We are only scratching the surface. It’s a young market. We are helping to drive it to become a $50 billion plus gaming market.”

MGM Resorts competes with Wynn Resorts Ltd. and Las Vegas Sands Corp. in Macau, the world’s largest gambling region.

MGM Resorts’ revenues have improved over the last few years, driven by steady growth in Macau and improved figures from its Las Vegas hotels and casinos after a share downturn during the recession.

“Our third-quarter operating results are reflective of a challenging consumer environment,” Murren said. “But we had some bright spots with strong results from MGM Grand Las Vegas and The Mirage and record third quarters from MGM China and City Center.”

Murren said fourth-quarter “trends are improving at our domestic resorts and forward convention booking pace is showing growth in 2013 and is further accelerating into 2014.”

MGM Resorts, which owns a dozen casinos on the Strip and others cross the country, reported revenue at U.S. casinos increased 2%. However, room revenue was off by 3% as Strip revenue per available room declined 2% as the occupancy rate fell to 92% from 95%.

“We are still far from where we were in 2006 and 2007 in terms of spending patterns,” Murren said. “But we are getting there. The consumer is coming back to Las Vegas.”

Full Tilt Poker opens for play money

Full Tilt Poker has opened up for business again, albeit for play money but the once famous site has launched today without any PR for online players to enjoy the games prior to the real money launch on the 6th November.

Currently when going to press there were 990 players playing at the site and 13,539 tables including around 15 Rush Poker tables

Upon opening the old client players are prompted to upgrade their software before the site recommends choosing a new password. The cashier is accessible with this writer’s balance fully restored – the first time it has been viewable in 16 months.

The site is open primarily for beta-testing and has a host of new features including account pairing with PokerStars (which bought Full Tilt Poker in July 2012), double and triple chance tournaments, auto post on all tables, and preferred seat selection.

Macau gambling revenues rise over 3% in October

Gambling revenue in Macau rose 3.2% in October year-on-year, government data showed on Thursday.

October’s revenue of 27.7 billion patacas ($3.5 billion) was the strongest revenue figure this year. Analysts had forecast growth of around 2% during the month.

Slower economic growth in China and heightened political scrutiny as the country prepares for a generational power shift have been keeping many cash-rich Chinese gamblers away from Macau’s baccarat tables.

Spending by China’s expanding middle class has kept overall gambling revenues from dropping significantly, but growth rates have fallen substantially over the past six months.