October 29, 2013

Albania to shut down online gambling

Albania will shut down all overseas online gambling sites in the countries effort to stop the outflow of money from one of the poorest regions in Europe.

Prime Minister Edi Rama said the government would prepare legislation to block gambling on websites based abroad, where Albanians are estimated to be spending spent €500 to €700 million ($690-965 million) a year, according to calculations from domestic and international gaming observers.

Since the new government party took charge with a landslide victory in June of this year, it has been busy closing down casinos and betting shops totalling 1,300 across the country for operating without proper licenses and tax evasion.

October 17, 2013

Harry Wilson's grandfather makes £125,000 on Wales debut bet

The jubilant grandfather of young football star Harry Wilson is set to bank £125,000 after betting the teenager would play for Wales – back when Harry was only 18 months old.

The 16-year-old Liverpool academy star made his international debut last night – scoring a big win for his grandfather the moment he came on as a substitute.

Peter Edwards, 62, walked into a William Hill betting shop in Wrexham in 2000 and bet £50 on the teenager one day playing for Wales, at odds of 2,500-1.

The teenager scored one for the record books himself during last night's World Cup qualifier against Belgium, becoming the youngest player to represent Wales.

But one life-changing moment instantly gave rise to another when Edwards decided he would retire with immediate effect on the proceeds of his win.

He made the decision in his caravan in Buckingham, where he was working, nervously watching the international clash on his iPad.

The electrical contractor of Corwen, Clwyd, North Wales, works away from home most of the year, spending one weekend a fortnight with wife Dorothy, 58.

"She is over the moon. I retired immediately. I told my manager yesterday that if Harry plays I wouldn't be coming back," he said.

"I've retired one year early. I have come home now and will not be going back. Not bad for a daft bet."

He said he put on the original bet on a whim after seeing how Harry liked playing with a football even as a toddler.

"He used to chase the ball around the front room on his hands and knees even before he could walk, that's what gave me the idea. But I hoped the bet would come up."

He said after Harry enrolled in the Liverpool FC academy his skills quickly developed and he returned to William Hill in the hope of placing a second bet.

"Harry was about 12 then. But they turned me down and said I already had a substantial bet with them. But they threw in England as a gesture of goodwill."

It meant even if the teenager had opted to play for England, something he could have done because his grandmother was born in Chester, the pay-out would have been safe.

Harry himself will also benefit from the win, which Edwards said will ensure regular lengthy journeys to and from Liverpool will be made easier.

He said that as a teenage player with the academy his earnings are still modest and travel costs can be high.

"This means I will be able to help Harry out. You can be quite sure that he will get a share of it," he said.

October 10, 2013

Mystery buyes takes a £37M stake in Ladbrokes

A mystery buyer has taken a £37m stake in the UK bookmaker Ladbrokes, prompting the share price to jump to 188.80p, as speculation over a potential bid escalates.

Intriguing gambling news from the Telegraph as they report that a mystery buyer – thought to be the Playtech founder Teddy Sagi – has acquired a near 3% stake in the UK bookmaker Ladbrokes.

Shares jumped 10.8 when the purchase was made on Wednesday to 179.8p after a buyer spent £37.1m on 21.8m shares at 170p, and that continues to rise with the price pegged at 188.80p at the time of writing.

The deal – which was made through Shore Capital – was just below the 3% disclosure limit, but the Telegraph report that an informed source reliably confirms that the mystery buyer is Teddy Sagi.

Sagi is no stranger to the Ladbrokes team. It’s his company, Playtech, that Lads are pinning all their hopes on for a return to form that will see the digital division over turn an operating profit that is currently looking likely to fall £17.5m lower than anticipated.

It seems a sound move for Sagi as he seemingly has his fate in his own hands, and should his company fail to make the digital division shine then he can also benefit should anyone – like CVC for example – come in with a bid.

The news comes just a day after we reported changes in the Ladbrokes board with David Martin coming in from Arriva to replace John Jarvis as a non-executive director.

October 08, 2013

Gambling Commission rebukes Coral Bookmakers

The Coral bookmaker has been rebuked by the UK Gambling Commission over a recent incident involving money laundering within their retail units.

A man in his thirties that is currently awaiting trial on drug charges spent over £90,000 in the betting shop without being challenged on where the money came from. The Gambling Commission say the operator will have t0 pay back the money as it is almost certainly from illegal activity.

The betting shop in the North East of England is supposed to record and challenge any gamblers that spend in excess of £10,000, a suspicious activity report was filed by Coral staff but nothing else was done in relation to the customer and his high spending rate.

Instead the commission said Coral chose instead to “recognise the significance of the customer from a commercial perspective” – and gave him a complimentary day at the races as a valuable customer.

There are calls in the EU Commission to lower the reporting rate from currently £10,000 to £1,700 however this has not been implemented at present in the UK.

Bulgaria issues online license to billionaire national

Bulgaria is becoming a very frustrating environment for European online gambling operators since the March 2012 laws regarding online gambling to regulate the market. The law was believed to offer the chance for operators to enter the market in Bulgaria but one and half years later not one European online gambling operator has been issued with an online license except for Eurofootball that is based in Malta but interestingly the owner of the company is Bulgarian billionaire Vassil Bozhkov Krumov.

Most if not all of the European operators have been placed on the Bulgarian black list for the country and most of the major operators which would like to enter the market also sit on that blacklist so barring them to apply.

With Bulgaria struggling with economic woes and with the opportunity to gain much needed revenues from taxing online operators the government continues to lock out the Europeans.

Analysts in the European market say that the tax revenues for the government in Bulgaria could be as high as $200 – $300 million per annum, but point to possible corruption and the entire lack of foresight within government to allow operators in the market.

What continues to happen is customers in Bulgaria continue to play online illegally on Europeans gambling websites and the government in Bulgaria loses out on taxes.

October 03, 2013

Jim Ryan back in the game

California will be the key to success for online gambling companies in the US should they pass laws to become the fourth state allowing online gambling. That could be sometime in 2014 and for the 38 million residents, tribal casinos and interested online operators would mean that the largest US state would be able to call the shots on any interstate compacts.

No surprise then that former CEO of bwin.party Jim Ryan has joined up with arguably the best poker player in the world Phil Ivey, former director of bwin.party Michael O’Malley and the Pala Indian tribe in California to form Pala Interactive LLC.

The new company will work on bringing an online poker offering in the state with the backing of the Pala Indian tribe who own the Pala Casino resort spa. Bringing in Phil Ivey as their ambassador will offer a very recognizable face to the company and with Jim Ryan as CEO who many observers say did a fantastic job while at the UK online gambling company during the merger of party gaming and bwin, the new start-up will have a very safe pair of hands to guide it through its passage into online gambling.

Michael O’Malley who has a wealth of experience in the poker industry with Card Player magazine, Wynn Las Vegas and Harrah’s will bring the expertise and skills needed to ensure the company are successful and highly competitive.

Robert Smith the Chairman of the Pala Band of Mission Indians supports online gambling in the state and wrote a letter in May of this year encouraging the other Californian tribes to back the Tribal iPoker Bill.

California is the key state to success in the online gambling market and some of the most recognized faces and names in the business are now firmly in position to push the state into the fledgling sector.

Holland Casino close to bankruptcy

Holland Casino the state-owned gaming group is under threat of going bankrupt after being put under direct supervision after piling up debts of over €60m and soon to hit €100m.

In a move to stave off bankruptcy the company have cut 150 jobs and taken away benefits for employees, Holland Casinos has a monopoly in the country with 14 casinos in operation.

The operators woes are put down to lower visitor numbers and lower spend per head of those still visiting the casinos. Also some observers in Europe place the blame on management of Holland Casinos to not adapt quicker to changing circumstances within the sector and customer needs.

Only in June CEO of Holland Casinos Dick Fink resigned because of poor results, the future of the state owned casinos are now in the balance.