A Look Back at 2003

2 January 2004

Berliners, Americans, Racing Channel, Kerzner, Tattersalls: No I-Gaming for You!

January 7 - Rep. James Leach, R-Iowa, introduces his I-gaming funding prohibition bill on day one of the 108th U.S. Congress.

January 9 - The New Jersey Assembly's Tourism and Gaming Committee unanimously passes a bill that would establish a 21-person commission to study the feasibility of making online gambling legal in the state.

See Also:

Top Stories of 2003

The Best and Worst of 2003

A Glance at 2004

January 15 - Police in Berlin raid local Internet cafes in an effort to crack down on illegal activity, including unlicensed gambling.

January 16 - The Racing Channel ceases carrying British racing and announces plans to terminate broadcasting operations at the end of the month.

January 20 - Rank Group purchases Blue Square Interactive Development through a stock buyout.

January 28 - A Dutch court rules that British bookmaker Ladbrokes is obliged to block Dutch punters from gambling at its Web site.

January 29 - Kerzner International announces it will discontinue Kerzner Interactive's gaming operations.

January 31 - Officials with Tattersall's, Australia's largest gaming company, announce plans to close down the company's tatts.com online gambling division.

The Great Wall of Holland

February 10 - Holland Casino looks to expel foreign gaming operators.

February 12 - NY Attorney General Eliot Spitzer announces that 10 national and regional banks have promised his office they will no longer accept Internet gambling transactions from New Yorkers.

February 24 - One week after Costa Rica imposes a new tax law geared at improving the image of the country's I-gaming industry, one of the national banks cuts off nearly 40 accounts belonging to online gaming companies.

February 24 - Looking to the European Union for precedent, Ladbrokes challenges a Dutch court ruling aimed at blocking its business from going online in the Netherlands.

Antigua, Denmark, Missouri on the Attack

March 3 - After years of having to explain its relationships with gambling-related Web sites, the National Collegiate Athletic Association is finally ridding itself of VegasInsider.com.

March 5 - Lawmakers in Denmark consider new rules that would limit online gaming to protect the state-run betting company Tipstjeneste.

March 5 - Tabcorp Holdings announces it will purchase Jupiters Ltd., leaving the future of Centrebet in question.

March 5 - A wholly owned subsidiary of Las Vegas Sands Inc. receives an online gaming license from Alderney.

March 6 - Antigua and Barbuda explores bringing a complaint before the World Trade Organization against the United States because of U.S. actions to prohibit online gambling.

March 7 - Casino Lux, an online casino operating out of the Netherlands Antilles, has become the latest victim of a new ideology in the Netherlands to banish foreign Internet gaming operators from Holland.

March 12 - U.S. Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., introduces a bill that would create a commission to study the legalization of online gambling.

March 21 - BSkyB introduces casino-style games via interactive television.

March 31 - Third-party transaction processor PayPal reveals in its 10-K that it's the subject of a grand-jury investigation in a U.S. federal court.

Betfair Battles on Two Fronts

April 3 - The Australian Broadcasting Authority says popular P2P betting site Betfair could face fines of up to $1 million a day for targeting Australian bettors.

April 4 - BoDog Sportsbook & Casino is the latest victim of "insider trading" on wagers related to the outcome of reality TV shows.

April 10 - Against the wishes of high street betting shops, U.K.-based betting exchanges won't be subject to a tax on all of their bets. Nor will punters be forced to obtain bookmaker's licenses for betting against teams and individuals.

April 11 - A new bill in the Nevada State Senate would allow the state to license and regulate live casino broadcasts of gambling games.

April 15 - With an eye on becoming the international standard for gaming regulations, a U.K.-based non-profit organization called eCOGRA comes onto the scene.

April 30 - Despite heavy threats of stiff penalties, Betfair.com, says it's ready and willing to fight for its commercial right to do business in Australia.

Will Bachus Smack Us?

May 1 - A Finnish appeals court rules that the Aland Islands-based online operation, PAF, can continue to offer its services to Finnish customers.

May 6 - MasterCard International and banking industry groups lobby to prevent Australia's government from broadening the Interactive Gambling Act to include laws making it mandatory for banks and credit card companies to block card use for illegal online gaming transactions.

May 7 - Publishing and Broadcasting Ltd. shuts down its online gambling operation, CrownGames.com.

May 8 - The government of Denmark asks Australia to require its I-gaming operators to block Danish players.

May 20 - The U.S. House Financial Services Committee votes to report a new version of the Leach Internet gambling bill introduced by Rep. Spencer Bachus.

May 22 - Visa institutes a policy that will block some Internet gambling transactions that are being miscoded by site operators.

May 23 - The Advertising Standards Authority orders Betfair.com to discontinue a successful Internet-based advertising campaign.

Exodus from Isle of Man

June 4 - MGM Mirage announces it will shut down its Isle of Man-based online casino at the end of the month. Company officials said they based the decision on the "unclear political and legal climate" in Washington.

June 10 - The U.S. House of Representatives passes HR 2143, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Funding Prohibition Act.

June 12 - British exchange betting services Betfair and Sporting Options sign a memorandum of understanding allowing U.K. Jockey Club officials to access names and information about some of their users for races that cause concern.

June 18 - De Lotto's summary court case versus a group of Internet sports betting sites gets underway, but shortly beforehand, 62 of the 85 defendants agree to stop targeting Dutch punters by blocking them electronically.

June 23 - The Cagayan Economic Zone and Free Port, located at the northeastern tip of the Philippines, begins licensing online gambling.

June 25 - Romania enters the Internet gambling space with the launch of Danube Casino, the nation's first online casino.

June 26 - HardRockCasino.com says it will move its operations from Isle of Man to Alderney.

PayPal Pays

July 1 - Dutch games-of-chance-monopolist De Lotto wins its case against 21 foreign Internet gambling sites; the foreign operators have to make their Web sites inaccessible to residents of the Netherlands.

July 10 - Citing the nebulous legality of offering non fixed-odds games through the medium of digital interactive television, Sky Digital announces that starting July 21, it will not allow casino games to be offered on its platform.

July 10 Australia's Betting Exchange Task Force releases its final report and in doing so recommends the banning of P2P betting in Australia.

July 10 - Hong Kong lawmakers pass a bill that allows residents to wager on soccer matches.

July 15 - The U.K. Department for Culture, Media and Sport publishes the first set of draft clauses of the England's long awaited Gambling Bill.

July 22 - The U.K. Jockey Club announces rules forbidding horse owners, trainers and other stable workers from laying horses to lose races in which they have a vested interest. Ireland's jockey club follows as few days later.

July 25 - Nine months after cutting its ties with online gambling merchants, PayPal reaches a settlement with the U.S. federal government. The company agrees to pay a $10 million fine.

July 29 - One day after the publicizing of plans for a U.S. government-bankrolled online betting exchange, members of Congress convince the Pentagon to pull the plug on the scheme.

July 29 - Ladbrokes appeals the Dutch court decision requiring the bookmaker to block Dutch residents.


August 7 - PokerStars.com sees a surge in business when long shot Chris Moneymaker, who qualified through the site, wins the World Series of Poker.

August 11 - The PATRIOT Act is the basis for the latest I-gaming credit-card lawsuit, which targets Visa and MasterCard.

August 11 - A North Dakota man pleads guilty to a misdemeanor offense for online gambling.

August 19 - Betdaq rolls out a wireless platform that enables customers to access and place wagers on the company's betting exchange using mobile devices.

August 30 - Gold Chip Technologies, Tecnologia and four individuals associated with the companies face an indictment before a federal court for activity involving an online gambling operation.

Ladbrokes vs. Europe

September 2 - Racing officials in Asia sign a good-neighbor agreement.

September 4 - Sportech PLC, owner of Littlewoods Gaming moves its online casino from the Isle of Man to Curacao, Netherlands Antilles so that it can offer more games to its players.

September 8 - British bookmaker Ladbrokes files a legal complaint with the Finnish Attorney General, arguing that the Finnish government has spread information to unlawfully block Ladbrokes' attempts to advertise within the country.

September 9 The Dutch Court of Appeals in Arnhem rules in favor of state-run Dutch lottery operator De Lotto in its battle to block Ladbrokes from offering bets to Dutch.

September 10 - At least one portal site is subpoenaed to appear in a U.S. federal court in relation to advertising online gambling services. The subpoena is likely part of a wide-scale investigation.

September 11 - New Zealand adopts a new gambling bill that includes a clause permitting New Zealand's Lotteries Commission to operate on the Internet.

September 12 - A European court rules that Portuguese operator Anomar can't offer games of chance outside land-based casinos

September 19 - The Australian Federal Court rules that Sportodds System Pty Ltd cannot advertise its services in states where it is not licensed.

The Advertising Crisis

October 2 - Lawyers and industry observers believe a U.S. federal investigation into I-gaming advertising practices is cause for concern.

October 3 - The findings in a report from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia spell gloom and doom for betting exchanges Down Under.

October 7 - The Rehab Group, one of Ireland's largest companies in the not-for-profit sector, launches the country's first online lottery.

October 9 - U.K. Gambling Minister Andrew McIntosh reveals in a speech before the Future of British Gambling Conference in London that new consumer-protection measures will be included in England's new gambling bill. They will apply to all forms of betting, but McIntosh specifically cites concern over betting exchanges.

October 16 - Online casino and sports book operators scramble after a host of radio networks and programs in the United States pull I-gaming ads.

October 16 - Tab Ltd. and UNiTAB Ltd. confirm that they're negotiating a merger.

October 21 - The German constitutional judge rules that online roulette is not lawful in Hamburg, and the online version of the Hamburg Spielbank is forced to shut down.

October 24 - A week after the Howard Stern Radio Show announces it has pulled all interactive gambling advertisements, online sports book BetOnSports.com starts a petition drive.

October 29 - One of the oldest, and most easily found interactive gaming portals, www.casino.com, is sold by Boss Media to an unknown buyer for $5.5 million.

October 31 - MLotto is about to emerge on the I-gaming scene by giving England's 25 million-plus mobile phone users access to a real-time, instant-win interactive lottery.

Inside Pandora's Box: Piergiorgio Gambelli

November 6 - Seven months after the Italian court referred the criminal proceedings against Piergiorgio Gambelli and 137 others to the E.U. Court of Justice, the court rules that, "It is for the national court to determine whether the Italian legislation actually serves the aims of consumer protection and of public order and whether the restrictions imposed are disproportionate." The ball is back in the Italian court.

November 6 - Clear Channel Communications Inc. states in an SEC filing that it is cooperating with the U.S. Department of Justice after being asked to provide information related to Internet gambling advertisers.

November 7 - A day after Tabcorp issues a hefty buyout bid for Tab Ltd., Victoria's premier strongly criticizes the proposition and states that he'll take his concerns to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

November 12 - Harrah's Entertainment announces plans to launch a subscription-based online gaming network in the first quarter of '04

November 17 - The European Court of Justice rules that Finland cannot require its citizens to pay an income tax on lottery winnings from other E.U. countries.

November 19 - The U.K. DCMS releases the much anticipated draft version of the new U.K. Gambling Bill.

November 21 - The first session of the 108th U.S. Congress winds down with the Kyl bill on hold.

November 24 - Primary proceedings on the Ladbrokes/De Lotto case begin. Ladbrokes contests the rulings of two lower courts, which found that the company violates Dutch law by offering sports betting services in the Netherlands. The case is expected to last between one and two years.

November 24 - France's monopoly race betting network launches an Internet betting platform at www.pmu.fr. The system, developed by PMU, France Télécom and the Cap Gemini Ernst & Young Group, enables customers to place bets just before the start of each race.

November 26 - Numerous I-gaming sites are crippled by distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks.

The TAB Wars

December 2 - In response to yet another cross-border betting law suit, Ladbrokes makes its Web site and telephone betting services off limits to German residents.

December 3 - A group of private investors from the Las Vegas area purchase Las Vegas Sports Consultants, a B2B information network that powers many of the licensed sports books in Nevada. The sale completes nearly a yearlong process of SportsLine.com Inc.'s severing of ties to the gambling industry.

December 9 - The World Lottery Association pledges its support to the United States in its dispute against Antigua and Barbuda before the World Trade Organization.

December 11 - A classified ad placed by Sirbet.com in a Montana newspaper turns into a firestorm of trouble for the Curacao-based Internet sports book operator.

December 15 - Ladbrokes files complaint against Scandinavian governments for a breach of E.U. competition rules. The group is fighting for the right to offer its services to bettors in Denmark, Sweden and Finland.

December 17 - Baggy Green, the official Web site for Australian cricket moves its Internet server from Australia to the United Kingdom. Spokespersons for the group say they made the move to give users faster downloads and better performance, but The Australian reveals that the AFP had received orders to investigate the site for allegedly placing online gambling advertisements.

December 17 - BetWWTS is smacked for $40k in losses on what it believes to be insider betting on the results of television's "Survivor."

December 18 - An agreement between European Game & Entertainment Technology Ltd. and Spordiennustus AS will bring Internet sports betting to consumers in Estonia.

December 19 - The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission announces it will not prevent Tab Ltd. from merging with either Tabcorp or UNiTAB, and the bidding war between the two suitors heats up.

Emily Swoboda is the senior staff writer at IGamingNews. She lives in St. Louis, Mo.