September 26, 2015

Eldery Japanese in Kobe banned from playing pachinko

Elderly residents at day care centres in Kobe Japan have been banned from playing cards, Pachinko and other forms of gambling as the city’s Municipal Assembly voted to ban those forms of activities as they foster a self-reliance on the part of the elderly.

This week the Kobe Municipal Assembly unanimously adopted a local ordinance as the country’s first municipality to ban day-care centers operating under the public nursing-care insurance system from letting elderly people play such games.

Under the ordinance, day-care centers cannot regularly provide activities such as pachinko and mah-jongg that may “stir up the passion for gambling.”

Also companies offering those activities will be banned from advertising to the elderly there.

Kobe city officials said day-care centers pitching these “casino type” activities are springing up nationwide, running counter to the spirit of the public nursing-care insurance system, which is partly funded by taxpayers’ money.

September 25, 2015

Sport betting spawns Kenya’s newest brand of millionaires

George Mwangi, who earlier this week won the Sh29.5 million Sportpesa jackpot prize is a living testimony that sports betting is alive and well in Kenya.

Mwangi became the newest millionaire in town after placing a bet and rightly predicted the outcome of a series of football games. He spent a sum of about Sh16,00 before hitting the jackpot, having started placing bets in May.

“I do not consider this gambling otherwise I would not have wasted my money on it. I take it as a game of fortune where you combine luck and commitment to succeed,’’ said an elated Mwangi during the unveiling on Tuesday.

“I recall the starter was 2/13 and the most games I won were 8/13 in multiple bets. I deployed computation skills and analysed every game for three hours beforehand. There was no guesswork.”

He is just one of a growing crop of middle-class Kenyans who are taking up sports betting as a hobby and while at it making money. Besides Sportpesa, other recognisable betting sites in the country include Elite Bet, Kenya Gold Bet, Just Bet, Bet Yety, Royal Kenya Bets and Go-Bet.

The industry has grown in leaps and bounds overtime to become a money-spinner, attracting the attention of authorities with the National Treasury recently imposing tax on winnings.

Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich in his budget statement in June announced that there would be between five per cent and 12 per cent tax on gross earnings by every 20th day of the following month from participating bet firms.

The betting industry drives its business mostly through online platforms and the mobile telephony networks. Sportpesa, that has been in operation for just under a year, was established by Pewans East Africa at a cost of Sh300 million and commands around 800,000 registered users on its online platform.

It focuses on soccer only and has a variety of markets to choose from. One of its unique features is that unlike other Kenyan bookies, Sportpesa alongside Royal Kenya Bets has a jackpot. The Jackpot value keeps on increasing on weekly basis until there is a winner.

The approximate growth rate of the Sportpesa Jackpot is Sh2 million. Sportpesa Jackpot is played at a cost of Sh100 per jackpot pick. The sports betting industry arguably continues to earn hugely as a result of exceptionally well researched interest points.

In Kenya, the focus is mainly on football which has a large following, especially the English Premier League. According to Kiko Dewal, an industry expert, betting firms are shrewd in calculations and understand the market dynamics.

“The business has liquidity and is very fluid. Money is always moving in and out seven days a week and like traders in the stock market, firms understand the intricacies involved to detail,’’ he said.

From soccer to Formula One and even horse-racing, all punters and betting organisations know how to strike the right chord by offering such incentives such as a consolation prize to losers.

Skrill – from Online Payment Processor to Gambling Affiliate

Recently, online payment solution provider Skrill was acquired by Optimal Payments. The €1.1 billion acquisition deal will see two of the most preferred payment processors by online gambling customers – Skrill itself and NETELLER – being managed by one and the same parent company.

It could be said that both providers of payment services rely quite a lot on Internet gambling operations, as a substantial amount of their revenues is contributed by those same operations. Upon the transaction’s completion, executives for Skrill and Optimal Payments said that they intend to further increase proceeds from online gambling, as the market is known to be growing at an extremely rapid pace.

Since it was founded back in 2001, Skrill has undergone a number of changes in order to turn into what it is now. Although the company started as an online payment processor, it gradually became much larger and is now involved in other activities as well. The following paragraphs represent a somewhat brief overview of Skrill’s establishment, development and relations to one particular industry – online gambling, which, as already mentioned, has been gaining a lot of popularity over the past several years and is expected to further increase its influence and to attract the attention of more and more gambling customers of different nationalities and social status.

A Brief History of Skrill

Skrill, or Moneybookers as it was initially named, was founded back in 2001 by Daniel Klein and Benjamin Kullmann. Although registered that year, the online payment and money transfer website officially commenced operations in April 2002. Over the first year and a half of operations, Moneybookers had about 2 million registered users. In other words, it seems that the company gained popularity and customers’ trust quite quickly.

In 2008, or six years after Moneybookers started offering its services, it reported to be handling more than 6 million customer accounts and to be operating in a total of 200 countries around the globe.

In 2010, the company was ranked UK’s fastest growing private equity business entity based on its profits. In 2011, it announced that its customer base has reached a total of 25 million. As of 2015, Skrill employs more than 560 people from as many as 30 nationalities. Those work in the company’s London-based headquarters as well as in its offices across Europe and the USA.

Skrill currently handles more than 36 million accounts. Its customers are able to both receive and send money to and from 200 different countries and as many as 40 currencies. The website also provides its services to 156,000 businesses around the world.

Customers of Skrill are able to send and receive money, deposit funds on various international gambling sites, own and use Skrill’s prepaid MasterCard in a number of locations around the world, etc. Speaking of online gaming, the e-wallet was given the green light by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement to go live with its services in the state, which is only one of three to offer Internet gambling options. This happened in 2013, when six poker operators were allowed to launch such operations within the state’s borders. Thus, Skrill turned into an indispensable part of the gaming experience of New Jersey-located gambling customers.

As it could be seen, the online payments processor grew quite quickly and became one of the leaders in this constantly expanding niche. Over the course of its development, Skrill or Moneybookers went through a number of alterations and important changes that contributed and are to contribute to the company’s popularization and expansion. Two of those significant changes were the e-wallet’s re-branding announced in 2010 and its acquisition by rival Isle of Man-based online payments company Optimal Payments, which was finalized in August 2015.

Change of Name

As mentioned above, Moneybookers announced its planned re-branding in 2010. Back then, the company explained its move with the fact that everything in life changed and it considered it was the right time for such a major change. Its new name – Skrill – has a number of definitions in different slang dictionaries. However, it seems that it has been gradually coined as another term for money.

Moneybookers explained that it had chosen that particular name as a means to best introduce what it has always strived to offer to its customers – innovative and safe ways to pay for their online purchases and to send/receive money, flexibility, choice, “reliability and peace of mind.”

Back then, some assumed that the re-branding from Moneybookers to Skrill could be seen as the company’s attempt to further expand its services within the online retail sector and to limit its operations related to online gambling. Yet, it turned out that this was not the case at all. At the time of the changeover, Moneybookers was among the preferred payment methods on the websites of some of the world’s biggest gambling operators. Now, five years later, Skrill is among the preferred payment methods listed on the websites of even more online bookmakers and card rooms. What is more, it is generally considered by gambling customers among the most efficient providers of ways to transfer money for the purposes of Internet gambling.

Here it is important to note that being founded and headquartered in London, Skrill is administered through UK’s Financial Services Authority and is subject to the country’s financial laws. It also could be said that over the past several years, the site has been a direct competitor to giant PayPal and NETELLER.

In August 2015, Skrill’s competition with the latter e-wallet provider was put to an end after the completion of a key acquisition deal.

Optimal Payments’ Takeover

In March 2015, Optimal Payments, owner of renowned providers of various payment services, such as NETELLER, NETBANX, Net+, etc., proposed to buy Skrill for the amount of €1.1 billion ($1.2 billion). The deal was not finalized until August, as it has been subject to both shareholder and regulatory approval. The FCA gave the green light to the transaction as it considered Optimal Payments had met all the necessary takeover obligations. CVC Capital Partners, which bought a majority stake in Skrill Group for the total amount of €600 million back in 2013, also gave the nod to the acquisition.

Executives of the two business entities pointed out that the merger marked the beginning of “a global fintech champion” and “a powerful force” in “the fast growing digital payments space.” They also noted that deal is transformational not only because it creates a leader in the digital wallet services but also because it gives Optimal Payments the chance to further expand its presence in the constantly growing online gambling market.

Prior to acquiring Skrill, the company had said that revenue from services related to online gambling operations accounted for almost 46% of its overall revenue. Adding yet another leader in the provision of payment options for this swiftly and constantly growing market to its portfolio means that this figure has every chance to go up in future.

Analysts predicted that the acquisition deal will be quite profitable for Optimal Payments. The combined entity is expected to post annual EBITDA of about £117 million. The figure is expected to increase to £160 million in 2017. In comparison, Optimal Payments’ standalone EBITDA was £58 million.

The Many-Faced Skrill

Apart from the traditional services that every self-respecting e-wallet platform offers, the options offered by Skrill are not just limited to that. Being one of the most preferred providers of payment solutions for the online gambling industry, it is not a surprise that the company has made its foray into the world of gambling affiliate marketing, offering exclusive gaming and betting options and bonuses for some of the world’s biggest gaming sites.

But what exactly is affiliate marketing and how does it work?

Affiliate Marketing in a Nutshell

Generally speaking, affiliate marketing is a rapidly growing market and it is quite a useful means for retailers and other types of businesses to popularize their services and product offering through their affiliates or in other words, companies that advertise them on the Internet by means of various approaches. Those approaches could vary broadly – from the orthodox ones, such as organic SEO, e-mail and content marketing, etc. to less traditional ones.

This particular industry has four main players – the retailer, which offers certain services or products and seeks proper advertising for those, the network, which features a wide variety of affiliates to choose from, the publisher, also known as the affiliate itself, and the customer, whom affiliate marketing addresses. The affiliates’ purpose is to bring visitors to the retailer’s website and typically, they get rewarded for this.

Skrill as a Gambling Affiliate

A quick tour around Skrill’s website makes it quite clear that the company has not been involved only in the provision of payment solutions for individuals and business organizations. Yes, it is true that it gives customers the opportunity to quickly and conveniently send and receive money, pay what they need to pay via a 1-Tap mobile optimized payment solution, and many more. Yet, apparently, the company has also decided to delve into the world of affiliate marketing.

Skrill itself features its own affiliate program, which many consider quite alluring. The company promises money rewards to websites that have brought new customers to its own website. But Skrill’s involvement is not limited to this. Its recently introduced Promotional Centre or Exclusive Offers, as the section has been named after the website’s latest update, is just what a typical affiliate offers to customers.

Skrill’s Exclusive Offers is particularly oriented towards two groups of people – gambling customers and traders. For the purposes of this article, we will pay more attention to the gambling customer and what he or she could find in the section.

As a gambling affiliate, Skrill has resorted to a number of marketing approaches in order to draw the attention of people who are already into online gambling as well as of potential gambling customers. In the first place, the website features banners of some of the world’s biggest and most popular gambling operators that provide their services on the major regulated online gaming markets.

Skrill also provides comprehensive reviews on what they offer. Gambling customers as well as potential ones can choose from several gaming options, including sports betting, casino games, poker, and bingo.

Being an affiliate of some of the major online gambling companies on a global scale is quite indicative of Skrill’s involvement in an industry that is expected to further grow in the years to come. With operators constantly expanding their presence and introducing their services to new regulated markets, it seems that the future of the popular online payment processor and its new parent company Optimal Payments is to be even more closely related to the gambling industry. And as it turns out, this involvement is to be related not only to the provision of reliable payment solutions but also of securing operators with successful affiliate marketing activities.

Israel to open a casino in Eilat

Eilat in Israel could be the first to have a land based casino as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has started discussions on opening a casino in the southern resort city.

Netanyahu during his campaign election promised that he would look at the possibility of legalizing casinos to check the effects it would possibly have on the socioeconomic impact to the country and at the same time helping to boost the economy along with creating jobs.

The city of Eilat has for many years been the location where Israeli’s go to gamble on ships as they go out to neutral waters and offer gambling on board, so for a casino to be located there would make sense. Also with the continued accusations that these ships offer money laundering and rigged games would remove that problem with a legalised casino resort.

A casino did open in Jericho back in 1998 for some six years before closing in 2004, the casino was allowed as it stood on Palestinian Authority-controlled territory, however with the onslaught of the Second Intifada it never really was the success it had been hoped for.

Building a casino on Israeli land would cause opposition from orthodox Jewish sections of the community, whether it will be a reality is some way off thou.

Pentagon expenses scandal on casino & strip club visits

A major scandal could be ready to erupt in Washington after the Pentagon’s Inspector General was called in to investigate whether US military staff had used their official expenses account to pay for casino visits and strip club bills amounting to almost $1 million.

In May of this year, the Pentagon watchdog issued a report that Defence Department employees spent $952,258 at casinos and another $96,576 at “adult entertainment establishments.”

In September the Senate Armed Services Committee asked the Inspector General’s Office to make a full investigation into those expenses.

“Our objective is to determine whether (Defence Department) cardholders who used government travel cards at casinos and adult entertainment establishments for personal use sought or received reimbursement for the charges,” the Senate Armed Services Committee said in a memo to the Inspector General.

Paddy Power hires new ad agency “Brand Mischief”

Irish bookmaker Paddy Power have continued in the same vein with its mischief making advertising ways by hiring Amsterdam’s We Are Pi as its “brand mischief” agency for the Rugby World Cup.

Paddy Power CMO Gav Thompson says: “We Are Pi are our kind of agency; creative, restless and non-conformists. We went looking for a partner in mischief and they were the stand-out choice. Their ideas were clever and naughty in equal measure, and I am very excited about our future together.”

So of course Paddy Power wanted to make a statement with controversial “trigger happy American dentist.”

If the dentist pots a country’s animal ‘icon’ (which in New Zealand’s case seems to be a sheep) then they’re predicted to lose.

September 24, 2015

Brazil considers legalizing gambling

Brazil could legalise gambling to help stop increasing taxes on residents and to bring in revenues through gambling.

Presidnet Dilma Rousseff wants to raise personal taxes but lawmakers and congress want to look at re-establishing gambling in the country as an alternative revenue stream. The presidents chief of staff, Aloizio Mercadante, put the idea to lawmakers last week after they said the government will struggle to pass a controversial tax on financial transactions.

It has been nearly 70 years since Brazil allowed casino gambling back in 1946 and 8 years since bingo halls were also outlawed amid fears from the government that they encouraged money laundering. The only forms of gambling allowed is lotteries and horse racing.

Supporters of gambling say that Brazil could generate nearly $6 billion in gambling taxes a year and could have been much larger if the country had allowed gambling before the 2014 World Cup.

“When Brazilians want to gamble, they go to Paraguay, Montevideo, Las Vegas… and they leave all the money there,” said Mauricio Quintella, leader of the small, center-right Party of the Republic in the lower house of Congress and one of the lawmakers tasked with leading consultations on the idea.

However Brazil has a long way to go before any casinos are built, the country has seen major corruption scandals over the years and many Brazilians think that casinos and corruption go hand in hand. Convincing them that this will not be the case this time around will be an uphill task, but one many lawmakers believe is worth it for the taxes they can gain from casinos.

New poker malware sees your cards

According to findings from ESET security research a new malware program is infecting online poker players game time on PokerStars & Full Tilt Poker and taking images of their hands and then sending them back to the user so they have a huge advantage when playing against them.

The virus called Win32/Spy.Odlanor, or just Odlanor focuses solely on poker players online and allows the author of the virus to take screenshots of the unsuspecting opposing players hands.

Many players download the virus without knowing as it can hide itself in programs such as Tournament Shark, Poker Calculator Pro, Smart Buddy, and Poker Office, which many online poker players download.

Once downloaded it will search for the PC users poker software and send a screenshot of the players ID online so allowing the author to search for them online and sit against them on the same poker tables.

ESET say that at present they only know of PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker that is being infected by this new virus that was first spotted in March 2015.

Currently the virus is most active in Eastern European countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Kazahstan, Belarus, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic. There are no known cases in the UK and western countries but ESET says this does not mean it is not there.

September 16, 2015

William Hill is left chasing the field as tie-ups reshape sector

William Hill began the year as Britain's biggest bookmaker but a series of mergers is pushing it down the pecking order and putting it under pressure to react.

Driven by tighter regulation and tax pressures that are taking chunks out of profits, big betting names Ladbrokes and Gala Coral are combining, as are Betfair and Ireland's Paddy Power.

Online gambling firm GVC also agreed a £1.1bn (€1.5bn) deal for larger rival Bwin.Party this month - with the same factors fuelling consolidation.

The larger companies can divert savings into higher marketing spend and potentially offer a wider array of improved products to gamblers on smart phones and tablets. Smaller rivals are then squeezed out and these new groups' lower costs, enhanced market share and larger revenues all help to soften bigger tax charges.

High street shops where gamblers can bet on horse or greyhound racing have been a feature of British and Irish towns since the 1960s. Betting "in play" on televised football matches has also attracted a younger generation of tech-savy sports fans as the gambling scene has moved online.

William Hill grasped these trends before rivals but now appears to have ground to make up.

"William Hill could benefit from a potential partnering up with another operator, now it has more credible competition coming. But it's hard to see exactly who," HSBC analysts said.

Led by CEO James Henderson, a 30-year company insider who replaced veteran Ralph Topping last year, it was William Hill who made one of the first moves of 2015, tabling a £720m bid for online gambling firm 888.

That deal collapsed but the M&A wave since has narrowed the field, including the removal of Betfair, which analysts had tipped as a fit.

For William Hill, 888 remains the obvious choice. The firm has a market capitalisation five times smaller than William Hill's and would add leading technology, strong casino and bingo positions and a lot of cost synergies to its arsenal, analysts say.

The only other big player is Bet365, it is likely too expensive and has an exposure to unregulated markets William Hill wants to avoid.

September 11, 2015

Bet365 faces penalties for misleading novice punters over 'free' bets

Online gambling giant Bet365 faces heavy fines for luring new punters with a false promotion that required them to spend up to $1200 before they could recover $200 in "free bets".

Australia's consumer watchdog launched a lawsuit in the Federal Court alleging Bet365, one of the world's largest online betting providers, had engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct by offering the free bets to new customers in its 10-month promotion in 2013-14.

New gamblers were falsely enticed by the advertised "free bets", but were actually required to gamble $1200 before being able to withdraw any winnings, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

The Federal Court this week found in favour of the ACCC, ruling that Bet365's Australian and UK companies had misled and deceived customers.

"New customers who had not previously used such types of services were drawn into this web of deception," Justice Jonathan Beach said.
But the ACCC lost its claim against Bet365 Group Limited, the ultimate holding company of the other two businesses.

Court documents show that between March 2013 and February 2014, Bet365's opening webpage displayed the headline offer: "$200 free bets for new customers", and from February this year: "Up to $200 deposit bonus for new customers".

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said the offer meant potentially vulnerable consumers, such as novice gamblers and young people, were being lured to place bets.

"This judgment makes it clear that companies cannot use the word 'free' in offers to consumers where any conditions that seek to neutralise the 'free' nature of the offer are not clearly identified. Inducements like free bets run the risk of signing up new and inexperienced gamblers based on a deceptive claim," Sims said.

Penalties will be determined at a further trial in the Federal Court.

September 09, 2015

PayPal back in US online gambling business

After some 13 years from stepping out of the US online gambling payments sector it looks like industry giant PayPal is moving back into online gaming. When eBay purchased PayPal in 2002 it immediately pulled its presence from the online gambling payments sector in the US but now thirteen years on it has now been introduced again on the Caesars Interactive websites in Nevada.

Now that PayPal has been given its freedom from eBay as a separate entity, PayPal wants to prove itself and has recently hired some well-known online gambling industry payments professionals to ensure the success in the online gambling business US side.

Before it pulled out of the US online gambling business PayPal was generating more than 6% of its total revenues from online gambling and it sees the US market as a huge potential for growth again says industry watchers.

September 08, 2015

888 plans new acquisitions

Following the very bitter and failed acquisition of online gaming company by 888 Holdings the firm has come out fighting saying it has other “strategic” acquisitions lined up.

Speaking to the Times Newspaper 888 Chairman Brian Mattingley said that they had dropped out of the battle for because if they had raised their own offer there would not have been enough funds to ‘carry out the synergies and cost savings that it had identified ‘said Mattingley.

GVC was announced last week as the preferred choice of the board following an increased bid which then triggered 888 to withdraw from the process. But Mattingley has stated that the failure to acquire does not mean his own company is a target for takeover, with William Hill previously involved in purchasing 888.

“We are not a target,” Mattingley said. “We will do practical and strategic acquisitions particularly to build our sport betting.”

“It is going to be a challenge,” he said. “We will rise to it. We will not be cast aside. We are not an also-ran and we are not a one-trick pony. We have proved that we have got the critical mass.”

Unibet looking for new startups in Israel

Newspapers in Israel are reporting that European online casino operator Unibet is flying to Israel to possibly invest in new startups in the country. Senior exectuives from Unibet are expected to fly in this week to hold an event on Thursday where they will meet local entrepreneurs and consider investing in new technologies focussing on games of chance in the online world.

The event will see some 20 young companies pitching for twenty minutes each in the hope of securing funding from the online gaming firm currently valued at $18.7 billion.

Unibet is in the market for new companies and acquisitions as they bought Stan James in July and more recently in August purchased iGame Holding for $65 million.

Optimal to change name to Paysafe Group

Optimal Payments the giant online payments firm has announced it is to change its operating name to Paysafe Group PLC at an Extraordinary General Meeting later in September.

The move comes as the payment firm looks to be admitted into the London Stock Exchange main market for listed securities. Optimal Payments have been busy over the last year acquiring leading smaller payments companies with the most recent and notable being that of Skrill for 1.1 billion euros.

Betfair and Paddy Power agree terms for £5bn merger to create online gambling giant, but job losses on the cards

Gambling group Betfair and rival Paddy Power have agreed the terms of a £5billion merger to create a new Dublin-based online gaming giant to be called Paddy Power Betfair.

On completion of the merger, Paddy Power shareholders will own 52 per cent of the new entity, while Betfair shareholders will hold 48 per cent.

The merger will result in the creation of one of the world's biggest online gambling groups, with 7,000 staff and approximately £1.2billion in sales.

But with plans for around £50million in annual cost savings, job losses could be on the cards if the merger goes ahead, the firms warned.

The companies said that while no decisions on job losses have been taken, there is potential for cutbacks in some operational and support functions, which 'may involve some headcount reduction.'

Gerald Corbett, Betfair's chairman, said: 'The combination makes huge strategic sense by bringing together two industry leading and successful businesses and providing enlarged scale, capability and distinctive, complementary brands.

'Under the guidance of a strong and proven combined management team, this merger truly represents an attractive opportunity for both Paddy Power and Betfair to enhance their position in online betting and gaming and to deliver synergies, customer benefits and shareholder value.'

The deal - dubbed 'Betty Power' in the industry - will bring together Paddy Power's 336 shops in the UK and 252 stores in Ireland with Betfair's online betting exchange.

According to industry data, the new group would enjoy a 16 per cent share of the UK online gambling sector, surpassing that of the soon to be merged Ladbrokes Coral Group on 14 per cent, as well as current market leader William Hill and privately-owned Bet365.

Both companies will continue to run separate brands in the UK, Ireland and Italy after the merger.

Around 80 per cent of the newly merged group's annual revenues are expected to stem from online business.

Betfair boss Breon Corcoran will become the new group's chief executive and the firm will be listed on the London Stock Exchange and the Irish Stock Exchange.

The firms confirmed Paddy Power shareholders will receive a special dividend of £58million.

Shareholders are expected to vote on the deal in December, with the merger due to complete in the first quarter of 2016.

Against a backdrop of higher taxes in the UK and tighter regulation,the betting industry has seen a string of deals this year as firms bid to secure their slice of the competitive online gambling market.

Aside from the Ladbrokes and Gala Coral all-share deal agreed in July, GVC Holdings last week looked to have won a bidding war for online poker firm Digital Entertainment, squeezing out a rival bid from 888 Holdings.

Commentators have suggested that, as a result, a marriage of William Hill and 888 could now also be on the cards.

September 07, 2015

Jakarta police search for football gambling financier

The hunt is on for a man who authorities said is financing an online football gambling operation in Jakarta.

Police suspect the businessman from Sumatras Bangka-Belitung province—codenamed RD—was the source of funds of an international football gambling activity through website***, Antara News reported.

The operation was carried out by a man named Budi, who police arrested in North Jakarta last Aug. 31. Investigators said Budi has been RD’s agent since two years ago.

According to the media outlet, RD gave Budi a capital of IDR 2 billion ($140,352) for the operation, and Budi—acting as middleman—would take the bets he collected from participants to the organizer.

Indonesian authorities have been cracking down hard on the illegal online gambling operations in the country.

In the past month alone, police in Jakarta arrested a total of 24 people who they believed were involved in illegal gambling business in the city, Tempo reported. Officers seized IDR 51 billion ($3.6 million) from the series of raids.

Comr. Sr. Krishna Murti, director of general crimes of the Jakarta Police, told the news outlet that the illegal gambling ring was controlled by a man—with the initials LM—in the Riau province.

Authorities have also broken up an online gambling ring in the island of Bali last month. Thirty-five men and 13 women from Taiwan and China were arrested on suspicion of operating an illegal online gambling business in Jimbaran, a tourist resort in the island.

Immigration officials said some of the arrested people lacked proper documentation, while others had arrived on tourist visas but had already overstayed their welcome.

September 04, 2015

GVC to implement €120m savings on bwin party, marketing to be refocused

GVC will implement cost synergies of €120m in the next 24 months as part of its restructuring of bwin party but chief executive Kenny Alexander has stated that the group’s focus will be to grow the business significantly and ensure return on investment.

Alexander’s comments follow news of GVC’s offer for bwin party being accepted by the company’s board this morning as it withdrew its previous recommendation for 888’s offer. The deal values bwin party at around €1.4bn (£1bn) and will be financed by a combination of cash and shares.

GVC will deliver the €120m synergies on the enlarged group by 2017, Alexander said, with around 60% of the cuts implemented throughout 2016; these will focus on marketing, staff and sourcing and IT.

Some of the synergies will be in poker and casino but most of them will occur on the sportsbook vertical. “There is lots of duplication (on the sportsbook side of the companies) and there will be greater synergies than 888 (could achieve) because we run our own sportsbook,” Alexander said.

“We’ve done it before with Sportingbet, we don’t believe there is significant cross-over (of customers having accounts with both operators) and believe our customers will have a better experience (on bwin) because it’s a better platform.”

GVC will move its betting business on to the bwin platform, “it’s better, more scaleable, has had significant investment over a long number of years and we think it’s one of the market leading platforms. We intend to develop and improve the product in coming years,” Alexander added.

In terms of marketing, many of bwin’s sponsorship agreements with some of the leading football clubs in Europe will be terminated.

“bwin’s sponsorship deals have built up the brand and its brand recognition in Europe is second to none but we think we can scale it back now and focus on growing the business.”

The GVC boss was quick to point out that the group had “no intention of exiting bwin from markets they are currently working in. The bwin focus is on regulated markets and we will focus investment in the (regulated) markets where we think we can get meaningful return on investment: where we think we can get good profits and ROI. It’s not difficult to see which regulated markets we’re talking about”.

GVC will maintain investments but will switch marketing activities from territories and channels where it believes returns are not significant. It will also intensify CRM efforts to optimise efficiencies.

Alexander added that he was looking forward to motivating and reinvigorating the bwin party staff, and that Norbert Teufelberger was staying on as a non-executive director would be a great boost to the group.

With regard to the group’s non-core assets, GVC will continue to run bwin party’s bingo business on the Dragonfish platform, and look to grow its online poker and casino sites and assets such as the World Poker Tour. “Obviously if there is an opportunity to dispose of assets in the interest of shareholder then we will look at them,” finance director Richard Cooper commented. board accepts GVC takeover bid, withdraws 888 recommendation

The board of this (Friday) morning accepted a takeover bid from GVC Holdings and withdrew its earlier recommendation to accept an offer from rival online gaming company 888 Holdings.

The buy-out offer from GVC of 25 pence in cash and 0.231 new GVC shares equates to about 129.64 pence per share in, tagging the total value of the deal at just over £1bn (€1.4bn/$1.6bn).

The offer is at a 12.5% premium to's closing share price on the London Stock Exchange on Thursday and a 45% premium to its stock price since the company first started receiving takeover proposals in May.

“In recommending the offer from GVC, the board has taken into account many factors including, but not limited to, the headline value per share and the consideration being offered, the level, timing and deliverability of the financial synergies to be generated and the enlarged Group's growth strategy in an increasingly competitive marketplace,” chairman Philip Yea said.

“As a result of these and other factors, including the proven track record of GVC's management team in creating substantial value for shareholders, after a carefully managed and diligent review process, the board has withdrawn its recommendation for the 888 offer and is now advising shareholders to vote in favour of the offer from GVC.”

Kenneth Alexander, chief executive officer of GVC, added: “GVC is the natural partner for considering our strong sports betting and online gaming pedigree.

“Sports betting is in our DNA and leveraging GVC's experience of successfully acquiring and restructuring online gaming businesses, notably Sportingbet in 2013, we look forward to merging the two operations to deliver long term value for combined shareholders.

“GVC has been working closely with's management and has identified many talented individuals with whom it looks forward to working to ensure the future success of the enlarged business.” had accepted a £900m cash-and-share offer from 888 in July, despite being presented with a higher offer from GVC.

Earlier this week, announced that it had received a revised takeover proposal from 888, but then GVC chairman Lee Feldman insisted that his company was “not prepared to walk away” if his company’s bid was rejected in favour of a lower offer from 888.

September 03, 2015

Betfair used by gangland figure Horty Mokbel for money laundering

Leading online gambling agency Betfair is being used by underworld figure Horty Mokbel as an online bank and suspected vehicle for laundering millions of dollars of drug money, raising serious integrity concerns.

Fairfax Media has learned that Mokbel and his associates have been shifting funds between accounts linked to his associates and a Melbourne telecommunications company, Roctel. Mokbel controls a large chunk of the company, having invested at least $1 million.

The use of Betfair raises questions for the James Packer-owned gambling agency, as Mokbel, who is a convicted drug trafficker and the brother of jailed drug lord Tony Mokbel, has been banned by Victoria Police from all racetracks and Crown Casino since 2004.

But police are also in the spotlight for failing to ban one of Mokbel's key associates, Paul Sequenzia, from racetracks, despite the prominent owner of harness racers being linked to the cobalt doping scandal, and a race fixing syndicate.

Pictures have emerged of Sequenzia at Cranbourne on August 25, watching his horse Fake Smile win – the fifth win in five starts for the horse.

Sequenzia pocketed a share of $3848 in prize money on August 25, taking Fake Smile's earnings to almost $20,000. Fake Smile could become the most successful horse owned by Sequenzia since Sushi Sushi, which earned more than $1.1 million before it was put down last year.

Fairfax revealed in July that Sequenzia was linked to the cobalt scandal that is gripping the racing industry, as it is believed Dr Adam Matthews – the vet described as the "Stephen Dank" of the equine world for his links to horse doping – owed him money.

It was revealed in February that he had links to possibly doped horses in NSW.

On August 5, a cobalt inquiry heard that harness racing identity John "The Ghost" Camilleri sent a text message in January claiming that Sequenzia, who he called "Swayze", had placed a winning $25,000 bet on a horse after Camilleri told him it had been dosed with "a bag of magic", meaning cobalt. Camilleri later said he had lied in the text message.

Sequenzia, the brother-in-law of slain gangland figure Mark Moran, also owned the first horse to test positive to the substance EPO, and has been sanctioned by racing authorities for a string of offences, including misleading them about the ownership of Sushi Sushi.

He is a long-term friend of Horty Mokbel, who has been trying to rebuild his wealth since being released from prison in 2011. A court heard in early 2012 that Mokbel earned a paltry $368 a week working in a gym while he was on parole.

But, according to an underworld source, Mokbel has funnelled about $3 million through Betfair by using accounts opened by Roctel principals and their partners. It is suspected the funds are the proceeds of drug trafficking.

Roctel is based in a small office at a Northcote business park.

Mokbel was one of the first people banned from all gaming venues under special police powers introduced in 2004, but being added to the blacklist failed to curtail a keen interest in gambling and the races.

His latest criminal charge related to a 2011 prison fight which started because of a bet on an NRL match between the Melbourne Storm and North Queensland Cowboys. A pouch of tobacco had been wagered by prison inmates.

In 2007, assets from the $1.5 million sale of champion racehorse Pillar of Hercules were frozen when it was found the horse was bought with the proceeds of crime on behalf of a Mokbel syndicate.

The images of Sequenzia at Cranbourne show him freely associating with others trackside and in what appears to be an owners area, and gambling at on-course betting machines.

Another image from 2012 shows Mokbel and Sequenzia reuniting after the former was released from prison on drug offences.

Betfair, an internet betting agency, did not respond to a request for comment. Betfair Australasia is wholly owned by James Packer's Crown Resorts, which bought the firm from the London-listed Betfair last year.

Betfair claims to be the world's largest online betting exchange. Customers open online accounts using minimal personal information, and deposit funds to gamble. That money can be withdrawn to a linked bank account on the customer's request.

Victoria Police would not comment on why individuals had not been issued exclusion notices, but said the criteria for banning included being suspected of using racecourses for criminality, or whether it was considered to be in the public interest.

Those who are banned have their photos provided to racing authorities and track security staff.

A spokeswoman said the force was aware online betting accounts were being used to launder money. The gaming company said it worked "collaboratively" with law enforcement agencies

Paddy Power share price surge creates 207 millionaires

Last week’s 20% surge in Paddy Power shares has created a total of 207 ‘paper millionaires’. Prior to the UK August Bank Holiday weekend Paddy Power shares traded at €96.

The Irish Independent newspaper reported the shareholder figures following a review of Paddy Power Plc register, detailing that 207 accounts held 10,000 + shares which following last week trading gains would translate into a value of €1 million.

The surge saw big gains for the Power family (founding stakeholders) who are the largest individual shareholders with a 7.89% stake in the operator valued at a present €370 million.

Founding Paddy Power stakeholders John Corcoran and Stewart Kenny, saw their share price assets rise to €137 million and €38 million.

Former CEO Patrick Kennedy who left the operator in January, held shares worth over €55m at the end of last year. The Irish Independent further reports current Paddy Power CEO Andy McCue holds share bonus of 75,000 valued at a present +€3 million.

Having floated on the London FTSE exchange in 2000, Paddy Power continues its strong trading momentum which has seen its share price rise tenfold since the 2008 financial crisis.

If merged with online competitor Betfair, shareholders are set to own 52% of the new enterprise which is estimated will produce revenues of + £2 billion. At present the two operators have not agreed on whether the union will take the form of a merger or a takeover by one of the companies.

September 02, 2015

North Carolina will Introduce BBQ Scratch and Sniff Lottery Tickets

In the never-ending effort to make buying a lottery ticket new and fun, the N.C. Education Lottery has come up with this: Tickets that smell like barbecue when you scratch them.

Lottery officials will unveil their new BBQ Bucks scratch-off tickets Tuesday at Clyde Cooper’s Barbecue in downtown Raleigh and at Queen City Q in Charlotte. The $2 scratch-and-sniff tickets will bring a chance to win up to $25,000 and to enter a secondary drawing for one of 10 prizes of 100 pounds of pork and a Big Green Egg to grill it on.

It’s the first scented scratch-off game for the North Carolina lottery, as the state joins a growing number selling tickets with what are meant to be appealing aromas. Colorado began selling tickets with coffee, chocolate and bouquet scents as far back as 2008. Texas, Florida and Missouri have offered chocolate tickets, too, while Nebraska unveiled Sriracha-scented scratch tickets at its state fair over the weekend.

But pig products appear to be the hot thing in lottery tickets this year, with New Hampshire, Colorado and Indiana all introducing bacon-scented tickets. In Indiana, players of the Bringin’ Home the Bacon game can enter a separate drawing for a chance to win $250 worth of bacon each year for 20 years.

North Carolina lottery officials say their tickets will smell like “smoky BBQ,” side-stepping the issue of whether it is eastern or western style.

“I can tell you that there was intention to make sure the ticket’s scent didn’t try to live up to the real thing, which the lottery is content to leave to BBQ experts, like the folks at Cooper’s,” said lottery spokesman Chris Bushnell. “That’s why we went with a smoky scent.”

The odds of winning at BBQ Bucks, including break-even prizes, are 1 in 4.55, and odds of claiming one of the $25,000 top prizes are 1 in 888,000. The first tickets will be available at Cooper’s Barbecue on Wilmington Street from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday.

The state sold nearly $2 billion in lottery tickets in the fiscal year that ended June 30, providing more than $500 million for a variety of education programs. Many legislators want to goose those sales by increasing advertising for the lottery and making a version of instant tickets available on the Internet or smartphones.

September 01, 2015

888 raises the stakes in Bwin bidding war

Online gambling company 888 has upped the stakes in its £1bn takeover battle with GVC by raising its bid for Bwin.Party.

Bwin, which offers poker, bingo and sports betting online, revealed on Tuesday that 888 had made a revised takeover proposal and that it was now evaluating the bid. It must weigh the offer against a competing proposal submitted by Sportingbet owner GVC, which is gate-crashing a deal already agreed between Bwin and 888.

The terms of 888’s revised cash-and-shares approach have not been not disclosed, although it is understood that the company has lifted the paper element of its offer to increase the value of its bid to around 115p a share. Bwin said the proposal came with “a number of pre-conditions” that are thought include an increase in the break fee to about 1pc of the overall deal value.

GVC, which is much smaller than Bwin and so would need to structure the deal as a reverse takeover, is understood to have made its latest cash-and-shares bid on Friday evening. The gambling group said its offer valued Bwin at 131p a share and a spokesman for GVC said the bid "is without conditions which 888 has now introduced".

The latest twist in the takeover saga marks a success for Bwin’s board, which has effectively engineered a bidding war between 888 and Aim-listed GVC.

Although Bwin recommended an £898.3m offer - the equivalent of 104.09p a share - from 888 in mid-July, rival suitor GVC refused to concede defeat and made a takeover proposal worth about £1bn last month.

Bwin’s board and shareholders had concerns with GVC’s bid, including questions over whether the combined business will secure a main market listing on the London Stock Exchange and a New Jersey gambling licence. However, Bwin kept the takeover battle alive by working with GVC to overcome those worries.

Once satisfied with GVC's proposal, Bwin last Thursday incited another round of bids from both suitors by inviting the Sportingbet owner to make a formal offer on its “best terms”.

Bwin, which has been up for sale since last November, said it would now consult with its “key shareholders” over coming days to decide which of the two competing proposals is in investors’ “best interests”.