May 29, 2013

Cantor Gaming lawsuit against William Hill

Cantor Gaming has expanded their lawsuit against William Hill PLC for poaching trade secrets when they purchased the Brandywine sportsbook business last June for nearly $16 million off former employee.

The previous lawsuit two years ago was focussed solely on former employee of Cantor Gaming and now current CEO of William Hill US, Joseph Asher.

Ashers attorney says he cleared the Brandywine business plan with Cantor before going ahead with it “because he was interested in physical sportsbook locations,” not the mobile sector which Cantor focussed on during his time at Cantor.

Asher said he was subjected to “tirades” from his former boss at Cantor during a difficult final year of employment with the Wall Street investment company that owns books at The Venetian, M, The Cosmopolitan and the Palms in Las Vegas.

When Asher started Brandywine in 2008, after his unfriendly departure from Cantor in 2007, he then built a network of 16 sports and race books in Nevada.

In court papers from Cantor attorneys it says that, William Hill “has participated in, and plans to benefit from, Asher’s usurpation of business ideas and opportunities that belong to (Cantor). (Cantor is) informed and believes that the William Hill defendants have acted in concert with Asher and Brandywine for this unlawful objective.”

Bwin changes from shirt to digital with Real Madrid and Spanish football giants Real Madrid have announced they are in the final stages of a new deal to replace their current shirt deal that expires at the end of the current season.

It has been 6 years since bwin first took the option on the shirt sponsorship of Real Madrid, but at the end of the current season they will not be shirt sponsor anymore, but will become the official digital partner of the club.

The deal which is believed to be a multi-year agreement, follows the decision to move to a new digital partnership reflecting a shift in consumer behaviour over the past few years which has led to an evolution in’s sponsorship strategy to focus on social media and social gaming, online and mobile integration, as well as exploiting the Group’s extensive content and media rights catalogue.

It is in these areas that both parties are now looking to extend their relationship going forward.

This new deal will see bwin at the centre of promotional activities for one of the world’s most popular football clubs and includes the integration of the bwin brand into Real’s website, social media and mobile apps.

It will also see the creation of co-branded gaming products, match day perimeter board signage and access to players for marketing campaigns.

Group CEO of, Norbert Teufelberger said: “Our decision not to renew the shirt sponsorship brings to an end one chapter in our relationship with Real Madrid which has delivered six highly successful years of brand promotion for bwin on the shirts of one of the world’s truly global football brands.

We now look forward to beginning the next chapter by leveraging our brand strengths to drive revenue and create premium content for our customers and Real Madrid’s millions of followers. We remain committed sponsors and wish Real Madrid every success in the club’s pursuit of more trophies.”

Playtech launch eight new slot games

Playtech have announced the launch of 8 new slot games for mobile bingo. The games are mini-embedded in the Bingo pages on mobile and also available in full screen mode across the HTML5 and native offering.

Rhys Owen, Head of Bingo at Playtech, commented: “As our mobile Bingo is growing exponentially, it has become a key focus in our product development this year. With the launch of the HTML5 solution along with Native iOS and Android operating systems, we have begun rolling out the product to our customer base. Using an HTML5 template we are able to quickly plug in existing assets from our popular catalogue of games, bringing us much closer to completing a consistent offering between our web and mobile solutions. If you want mobile Bingo, Playtech’s Virtue Fusion is the best provider in the market.”

May 10, 2013

Turkey to fine players who visit online gambling sites

Turkey is proposing new legislation to put teeth into its fight against illegal online gambling, including stiff financial penalties for gamblers who bet with the sites. Turkey has long campaigned against online gambling, passing laws expressly outlawing the activity in 2007. The uncertainty surrounding the market led Sportingbet to sell its Turkish-facing Superbahis operation to GVC Holdings in 2011 and the new proposed measures could take a serious bite out of GVC’s future earnings.

On Wednesday, Turkish newspaper Hurriyet revealed that parliamentarians were intent on targeting not just operators, but affiliates, financial institutions, media companies and even players. Under the draft law’s terms, agents of the online sites who reside in Turkey would face prison sentences of several years. Similar sentences would await those who assist the sites in processing payments, while media companies that carry advertisements for the sites would face sentences of one to three years.

It will be up to the Turkish Banking Regulation and Supervising Agency to ensure that online gambling firms cannot process payments by debit cards or credit cards. The Telecommunication Communications Agency would be responsible for imposing IP-blocking of online sites.

Players, meanwhile, would face fines of between 100k-500k Turkish lira (US $55k to $278k). In a country with a median annual income of less than $6k, this proposal marks a serious escalation of Turkey’s fight against unauthorized sites. Just as Greece’s war against online gambling sites was viewed as a way to boost the value of betting monopoly OPAP, Turkey is planning to privatize its sports betting lottery this summer, and eliminating the lottery’s online competition might help Turkey realize the $10b sale price it’s seeking.

May 09, 2013

Paddy Power in wholesale rethink of corporate brand

Paddy Power has launched a wide-ranging review of its UK comms operation as it seeks to boost its voice in corporate Britain.

The Irish betting firm’s relationships with Powerscourt for UK financial comms and Weber Shandwick for public affairs are both under review following the arrival of Brunswick director Catherine Colloms as its first director of corporate affairs in January.

It is thought the brand has held early-stage discussions with both multidisciplinary and specialist agencies, some of which are exploring pitching for the diverse work as a consortium. However, Colloms said no official brief had yet been issued and all options remained on the table.

‘We are thinking about how we tackle some of the bigger issues affecting both the company and the industry and exploring how we deliver messages across the whole suite of communications,’ she explained.

The review will encompass public affairs, regulatory comms, CSR and corporate comms to transition Paddy Power into a more issues-led comms approach.

It is understood that regulatory issues and governmental comms in particular will play a more fundamental part in the company’s strategy.

The news comes amid a legal row between the company and the Government over the use of gaming machines in betting shops, after Newham Council turned down an application for a new Paddy Power unit on the grounds that it would not be a traditional bookmaker.

The brand is well known for its headline-grabbing PR stunts, but Colloms wants to grow a stronger corporate voice in the UK.

‘The consumer brand is so strong that it can dwarf everything else,’ she said. ‘But as one of the largest online bookmakers in the UK we want the corporate brand to compete with the consumer brand.

‘In Ireland Paddy Power has the premium corporate reputation of a Waitrose or John Lewis, but that has been slightly lost in translation in the UK.’

Agencies that work for other major gambling firms, including William Hill's PR agency Brunswick, are certain to be conflicted out of any pitch process.

Paddy Power is listed in the UK and Ireland. Drury Communications, which handles the company's financial comms in Ireland is unaffected by the review as are the brand's consumer agencies.

UK Gambling Bill Moves Forward as Online Participation Stagnant

The UK government will follow through on its plans to introduce new online gambling legislation in the current session of Parliament, possibly as early as next week. On Wednesday, the Gambling (Licensing and Advertising) Bill was one of 15 pieces of legislation mentioned in the Queen’s Speech, the blueprint for the government’s immediate legislative intentions that accompanies the opening of every new parliamentary session.

The Gambling Bill’s main features are the effective scuttling of the so-called White List, which allowed online gambling firms to advertise their wares in the UK under licenses issued by Alderney, Antigua and the Isle of Man. Under the new scheme, white-listed operators – as well as those licensed in Gibraltar or other European Union territories – will be required to hold a license issued by the UK Gambling Commission if they wish to promote their product in the UK. Operators doing business in the UK will also be required to alert the Commission if they detect suspicious betting patterns.

The Gambling Bill also proposes a point of consumption (POC) tax, the specific rate of which has yet to be formalized, although 15% appears to be the Treasury’s target. A week ago, the Culture, Media and Sport Committee published a report on the Bill warning the government not to make the tax so steep that operators cannot offer a product that’s competitive with unlicensed operators. UK bookies William Hill, whose online operations are based in Gibraltar, stated last year that even a 10% POC tax would drive 27% of cost-conscious punters into the arms of unlicensed operators. Most operators have proposed a tax more in the range of 5%-8%.

While estimates have put the UK government’s potential annual tax windfall as high as £386m, the Bill’s authors insist that boosting tax collections is a consequence of the legislation, not the primary aim. But then they have to say that, as legislation that made tax collection its primary aim wouldn’t pass muster with EU watchdogs. Critics of the legislation point to the fact that the government’s own representatives admit that 95% of all online wagering conducted in the UK is done with regulators with which the UK gov’t had no complaint to make, suggesting claims of consumer protection were a smokescreen designed to camouflage a naked tax grab.

The Gambling Commission has released the results of its latest gambling participation survey (read it here), which show gambling habits remarkably stable. The percentage of Britons who’d engaged in any form of gambling (including the National Lottery) in the year to March 2013 was 58%, virtually unmoved from 57% the previous year. Online gambling participation was equally predictable, unchanged at 8% (once you strip out those whose only online action is the National Lottery). Online gamblers are more likely to be male (18%) than female (12%) and 41% of all online gamblers are between 25-44 years old.

Online sports betting and casino games were the most popular form of online-only wagering at 46% participation, followed by ‘betting on other events’ at 41%, horseracing (30%), football pools (22%), National Lottery draws (16%), other lotteries (11%) and bingo (11%). Online betting exchanges accounted for 11% of horserace wagering, 10% of sports betting and 5% of non-sports betting.

Sports bettors were evenly split between land-based and online, with 46% claiming to exclusively patronize one form or the other. A mere 8% reported splitting their wagers between betting shops and online betting sites. Casino games were similarly divided, with just 9% claiming to split their time between brick-and-mortar and online casinos. Horserace betting remains a predominantly in-person phenomenon, with 58% opting to place their bets at a wicket, and just 12% splitting their time with online shops.

May 08, 2013

Holland Casino struggles with increasing losses

Holland Casino the State owned gambling group announced a loss of €652,000 for 2012 and seems to be under more pressure with results looking worse for the first three months of 2013.

It is reported that the state run company is seeing lower visitor figures than ever before and is also unable to meet agreed payments on loans to supporting banks

Visitor numbers fell 2% to 5.6 million last year while average spending per client fell by €2 to €96. The company said in November it would make redundancies of 400 of some 3,000 jobs but now that figure is believed to be increasing to be able to sustain their falling revenues.

‘Our focus is on further reducing costs and making the organisation more efficient and effective,’ chairman Dick Flink is quoted as saying.

Phil Ivey sues Crockfords

Phil Ivey is taking legal action against Crockfords Casino in Mayfair for allegedly withholding money he won playing punto banco last August. The American poker ace is believed to be the world’s sixth-highest earner from punto banco tournaments, amassing winnings of $14.6m (£9m).

Ivey said he was “deeply saddened” to file a writ at the High Court but he had been left with no alternative. He continued: “Over the years, I have won and lost substantial sums at Crockfords and I have always honoured my commitments.

“At the time, I was given a receipt for my winnings but Crockfords subsequently withheld payment. I therefore feel I have no alternative but to take legal action.”

Ivey who is 35, was with a female companion last August when he started a winning run at the table and over two days of gaming, he is thought to have ended his first night £2.3m ahead, rising to £7.3m by the end of the second night. But bosses as the casino which is owned by gaming giant Genting, allegedly withheld his winnings and opened an investigation.

The Independent understands that investigators have flown to London from Kuala Lumpur to interview staff – including a croupier working on the nights Mr Ivey played – and to review surveillance video footage and examine the cards used.

Mr Ivey’s lawyer, Matthew Dowd of Archerfield Partners, said: “It is with great regret that Phil has been forced to issue court proceedings against Crockfords to secure payment of his winnings.”