A Look Back at 2004

7 January 2005

See Also:

Top Stories of 2004

The Best and Worst of 2003

A Glance at 2004


The Golden Palace Streaker - Mark Roberts might have made a bigger splash at the Super Bowl had Janet Jackson not stolen the show at halftime.


Will Parliament resolve the European cross-border gambling debate?


British TV racing coverage as of March 30.

Super Bowl XXXVIII: Poker, Streaking, Hacking . . . and Maybe a Little Football

January 12 - A report published by Ladbrokes confirms what many in the industry already knew about online poker: the market is about to explode.

January 14 - The New York Racing Association brings the international war on betting exchanges onto U.S. soil.

January 14 - Woodbine Entertainment Group introduces Canada to interactive race wagering.

January 16 - The European cross-border wars continue with a standoff between British bookmakers and Scandinavian gambling monopolies.

January 28 - Sen. Kyl announces his intentions of moving the Internet Gambling Funding Prohibition Act in 2004.

January 29 - The British attheraces consortium terminates its £307 broadcast rights agreement with England's Racecourse Association.

January 29 - DDoS attacks form a dark cloud over hopes for a huge Super Bowl weekend.

January 31 - The World Poker Tour makes its mark on Super Bowl Sunday.

January 31 - The year's biggest sports betting event is marred by DDoS Attacks.

Europe's Perfect Storm

February 5 - The European Commission moves--albeit very slowly--toward implementing laws governing remote gambling services across all of its states.

February 13 - The pan-European "EuroMillions" lottery makes its debut.

February 13 - A Dutch court rules that Betfair is operating illegally in the Netherlands.

February 19 - The Isle of Man takes steps toward regaining its stature as a leading I-gaming jurisdiction.


March 1 - Woodbine's online gambling services come under Justice Department scrutiny.

March 1 - New cases heard in Germany could bode well for supporters of cross-border gambling.

March 8 - European Parliament considers whether Denmark's gambling laws are consistent with E.U. policy.

March 16 - Winner Online is granted the first ever online sports betting license in Israel.

March 17 - Another race-fixing allegation in the United Kingdom raises further concerns about betting exchanges.

March 23 - The government of Costa Rica debates a law that would introduce a new tax structure explicitly dealing with I-gaming companies.

March 24 - A WTO dispute panel delivers a clear victory to Antigua and Barbuda in its case against the United States, declaring that U.S. domestic policy on interactive gaming is in breach of the General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS).

March 23 - Jay Cohen is released from prison and mounts another challenge to his conviction.

March 30 - attheraces goes off the air, leaving British racing with no nationwide broadcasting agreement.

I-Gaming AIMs High

April 2 - AIM-listed British bookmaker Sportingbet Plc reports record Q1 profits in what's shaping up to be a very productive year for the company.

April 5 - The European Commission voices objections to gambling restrictions in Denmark and Greece, possibly pointing to a shift in attitude toward cross-border interactive gambling. (Interactive Gambling News quietly posts is 5,000th article.)

April 5 - Yahoo and Google announce plans to stop taking advertising from gambling-related Web sites.

April 7 - England's Joint Scrutiny Committee for the draft Gambling Bill delivers a 306-page report of its findings to Parliament and urges the government to introduce the bill as soon as possible.

April 9 - The broadcasting rights picture for horseracing in the United Kingdom begins to clear as Channel 4 announces an 18-month contract with the Racecourse Holdings Trust.

April 14 - Transaction processor NETeller floats on the Alternative Investment Market in London. The company is valued at £240 million, making it the biggest IPO ever on the AIM.

ARGO, Sumo and the Fossilman

May 3 - Amid legal threats from Australian racing interests, AusTOTE debuts in Norfolk Island, becoming the first new Australian TAB in decades.

May 13 - European betting interests announce the formation of ARGO (the Association of Remote Gaming Operators). The new association will take over the role previously filled by an Internet subcommittee of the Association of British Bookmakers.

May 19 - The first ever GIGSE fundraising event--a series of "sumo grudge matches" featuring high-level industry execs--is an overwhelming success.


The gaming titans clashed at GIGSE during the charity Sumo Grudge Matches. Pictured are Anthony Novak of 1X Inc. (right) and Steve Ives of Betfair.


"You've got mail!" - AOL's compromised user base was on the receiving of an online casino spam.

May 26 - Nevada reexamines the issue of remote, intrastate gambling.

May 28 - For the second straight year, an Internet qualifier takes the top prize at the World Series of Poker. Greg "Fossilman" Raymer parlays a $150 entry fee at PokerStars.com into a $5 million grand prize at Binion's.

May 29 - Racing UK launches the "The Horse Racing Channel," ending a two month void of race broadcasting in England.

A $3.25 Million Discovery

June 2 - The Dutch Court in Arnhem rejects De Lotto's attempt to block Ladbrokes from offering online gambling services to Dutch residents.

June 2 - News leaks reveal that U.S. marshals in April seized $3.25 million from Discovery Communications, the company whose television network, The Travel Channel, broadcasts the World Poker Tour.

June 14 - Tropical Paradise Enterprises, the Costa Rican operator that filed a lawsuit against Discovery Communications Inc. to regain $3.25 million from a canceled advertising contract, files a notice of dismissal without prejudice with the court, thereby dropping its case.

June 14 - It's not a legally binding decision, but the Advocate-General's opinion regarding database rights is a sign that William Hill might lose its legal battle against the British Horseracing Board.

June 15 - The U.S. Chamber of Commerce expresses its concern over the Unlawful Internet Gambling Funding Prohibition Act.

June 24 - An AOL software engineer and an online gambling operator are busted for obtaining the e-mail addresses of AOL's entire subscriber base (30 million in all) and spamming them with online casino ads.

Welcome Back Sir Richard and Pack

July 1 - The United States reaches an agreement with Antigua and Barbuda to suspend litigation in the two countries' World Trade Organization dispute over the provision of online gambling services. Representatives for both parties are negotiating toward a compromise.

July 8 - Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group launches "Virgin Games," its first foray into gambling since an ill-fated bid in 2000 to run the U.K. National Lottery.

July 12 - Australia's federal government completes its review of the 2001 Interactive Gambling Act and opts to leave it as is. The decision leaves the decision of whether to license betting exchanges in the hands of the state governments.

July 14 British bookmaker Stanleybet announces that it will lodge a formal complaint against Italy with the European Commission in response to the Italian Supreme Court ruling that the government's restrictive gambling policies are legal.

July 21 - Britain's National Hi-Tech Crime Unit and Russia's Ministry of Internal Affairs arrest three men in Russia who are believed to have played a large role in the wave of distributed denial of service attacks that have plagued online gambling operators for nearly a year.

July 22 - Germany's second online casino, based in the state of Hessen, opens its doors for business.

July 23 - Kerry Packer's media conglomerate reenters the Internet gambling business through a partnership with Betfair.


Sir Richard Branson finally broke through in the I-gaming space with the launch of the "Virgin Games" online casino.


Chilena de Beneficencia gives Chileans their first taste of online gambling.


BetOnSports.com takes to the streets with its grassroots "Right to Wager" media campaign.

July 26 - A British study draws some unflatteringly conclusions for the interactive gaming industry and its ability to block minors from accessing services. Several leading operators fail to pass tests of their blocking systems.

July 29 - The Atlantic Lottery Corporation prepares to launch the first ever Canadian Internet lottery.

Casino City Fights Back

August 4 - Despite pulling online gambling ads in April, Google and Yahoo are targets of a class action lawsuit alleging that 13 different search engines and portals had illegally accepted advertising revenue from online casino and sport books.

August 5 - Polla Chilena de Beneficencia, the state lottery operator of Chile, rolls out the country's first online sports betting application.

August 5 - Golden Palace sponsors a spaceship.

August 9 - Casino City files a law suit challenging the U.S. federal government's position on advertising for online gambling services.

August 16 - The Interactive Gaming Council parts ways with most of its members who are involved in the bookmaking business.

August 30 - The Nevada Gaming Commission meets again to discuss options for implementing an intrastate gambling system for the state. Most involved in the process are confident it will happen sooner rather than later.

A 'Fine' Month

September 2 - The Australian Racing Board files papers with the Australian Federal Police in hopes of getting a formal investigation into British exchange Betfair's business model.

September 2 - Costa Rica-based sports book BetOnSports launches an aggressive TV advertising campaign in the United States calling on viewers to voice their disapproval of proposed federal legislation to ban online gambling.

September 8 - The Ontario Racing Commission files papers with the federal court asking it to decide whether Woodbine's race wagering site is legal.

September 13 PayPal says it will penalize users who violate its acceptable use policy with fines of up to $500.

September 20 - The Republic of Cyprus says it will adopt new regulations through which it will begin hosting online gambling services.

September 24 - U.S. Rep. Michael Oxley, R-Ohio proposes adding the Unlawful Internet Gambling Funding Prohibition Act to anti-terrorism legislation, but Congress isn't going for the idea.

September 27 - A St. Louis-based media company agrees to pay more than $158,000 to escape criminal charges for airing advertisements for online gambling sites.

Betfair's Battles and Sportingbet's Paradise

October 5 - UK-based ROK Corporation and Fingerprint, a Brazilian-based lottery ticket and game product provider, team up to offer mobile lottery games to Brazilians.

October 6 - William Hill TV debuts as a free channel for digital cable subscribers throughout the United Kingdom.

October 11 - A Dutch court hears Betfair's appeal of a February verdict declaring the betting exchange illegal in the Netherlands.

October 13 - British Columbia Lottery Corporation launches "PlayNow," Canada's second licensed Internet lottery.


BC Lottery Corporation launches its SportsAction site, and Canada's West Coast enters the Internet gambling age.


Richard Branson's new Web Site wasn't the biggest "Virgin" to appear on the Internet gambling stage in '04.

October 14 - Thoroughbred Racing Associations' executive vice president suggests that North American tracks should consider creating a betting exchange.

October 19 - The final draft of the U.K. Gambling Bill is introduced in the House of Commons. If passed, the bill will liberalize England's gambling laws and, among other things, set up a regulatory framework for online gambling services.

October 21 - The Australian racing industry threatens to ban all foreign-owned horses from racing events if betting exchanges aren't outlawed in Australia.

October 28 - Sportingbet announces that it's acquiring the world's third largest poker site, Paradise Poker.com, in a deal reportedly worth US$297.5 million.

The Border Wars Heat Up

November 1 - Sportingbet prepares to launch a French-language site, and French government officials threaten to arrest officers of the company who set foot on French soil.

November 4 - A Swedish court ruling in favor of the Swedish National Gaming Board bodes well for the country's gambling monopolies.

November 8 - Ryanair, the Irish-based low-fare airline, indicates that it's getting closer to launching in-flight gambling services.

November 9 - The European Court of Justice rules against the British Horseracing Board in its effort to block bookmakers from using race fixtures without paying royalty fees

November 11 - The World Trade Organization releases its findings in the Antigua/U.S. dispute to the public. As expected, the WTO recommends that the United States nix policies prohibiting licensed foreign online gambling operators form offering their services to U.S. residents.

November 15 - In a move that could signal the beginning of the much anticipated consolidation of the betting exchange industry, all betting activity is suspended on the Sporting Options Web site as the company goes into administration.

November 16 - Betfair responds quickly to the collapse of Sporting Options by offering a bailout plan.

November 18 - Rumors have Harrah's and WagerWorks planning to launch a World Series of Poker-branded Web site offering real-money poker action.

November 19 - The Dutch Minister of Justice declares Dutch gaming laws are consistent and coherent. The Advocate General of the Netherlands' Supreme Court offers a similar opinion.

P2P Back in the Spotlight

December 1 - The Isle of Man considers allowing its I-gaming operators to take U.S. bets.

December 9 - Betting exchanges stir debate in the U.S. racing industry.

December 13 - Australia's federal government says it will not stand in the way of any state that wishes to license betting exchanges.

December 17 - Despite rumors that Betfair will receive a license in Australia's Northern Territory, government officials from the territory say there are no such plans.

December 18 - Channel 4 and Betdaq partner to create a new online betting exchange.

December 22 - In the latest stage of the cross-border wars, Hungary's largest gambling operator takes on European bookmakers.

Mark Balestra

Mark Balestra is the Managing Director at BolaVerde Media Group. He previously worked at Clarion Gaming and the River City Group where he was the publisher of iGamingNews. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri.