Casino Watch - January

26 December 2005
Flood of UK Casino License Applications

New government restrictions on casinos will take effect in the United Kingdom in April 2006, after which time only an initial 17 licenses will be available for new leisure venues--one of which will be a Las Vegas-style supercasino. Until then, however, the owners of Britain's 140 casinos can still apply for casino and leisure licenses under the current 1968 law. As of early December, the Gambling Commission had granted 15 licenses that still needed approval by local authorities while another 21 licenses had been approved at both levels but were not yet operational. Another 38 license applications were still under consideration.

Malta-Based Online Gaming Firm to Acquire Venetian Property

Maltese registered online betting company Sportalnet will become the new owners of the CasinĂ² di Venezia (Venice Casino), which is almost entirely owned by the city of Venice. Vittoriosa Gaming owns the concessions and will retain its shares. Sportalnet will pay $7.8 million over the next two years to buy 60 percent of Vittoriosa Gaming and will buy the remaining 40 percent in the next 10 years. Sportalnet is also buying the renovated Scamps Palace hotel next to the casino. In return, the city of Venice will guarantee a supply of clients for hotel to the tune of US$590,000 a year for the next 10 years.

Mexico's Casino Legislation Fails Again

Legislation to reintroduce casino gambling in Mexico is fated to fail once again in 2006. The Tourism Committee of Mexico's federal Chamber of Deputies has decided not to move the casino reforms out of committee in order that it may instead focus on passing a new Tourism Law before the current legislature leaves office. Elections for president and both chambers of the legislature will take place on July 2, 2006; the legislators will take office on Sept. 1, while the president will take office on Dec. 1. Tourism Committee Chairman Francisco Lopez Mena stated, "It is a complicated matter, especially in an election period, which is why we decided not to advance a bill that run the risk of polarizing the parties (involved) as happened with casinos." Casino gambling has been banned in Mexico since 1934, but there have been efforts to pass legislation to reintroduce them for the last 10 years to no avail.

Team-Play Poker

Online poker site has introduced a new team-play feature that enables players to join or form teams of five to 10 players. Each team has a manager, who registers the team and sets up events in which the team plays. He also monitors the team wallet, which uses a percentage method to calculate how much money individual members can withdraw (ensuring that no one takes out a larger portion than he deposited).

WPT Gets Social

WPT Enterprises, Inc., the parent company of the World Poker Tour, has teamed up with online poker social network Chipleaders Inc. to produce what they hope will be the world's largest online poker community. Chipleaders will provide a global network, accessible from, which will enable users to connect with other players thought blogging, photo sharing and e-mail, among other features. Membership will be free.

Mansion Launches Mobile Casino Games

Gibraltar-based online gaming company Mansion has debuted a suite of 12 casino games for mobile phones (available for free download) at Mansion Mobile Casino's suite of games includes blackjack, baccarat, video poker, casino war and slots. "These games are so much fun," said Mansion Head of Casino & Games David Knipe. "Players may forget they can still use their phone for calling!"

CryptoLogic Delivers Greek

Internet gaming software developer CryptoLogic Inc., through its wholly owned subsidiary, Wagerlogic Limited, has launched a new Greek-language Internet poker site for U.K.-based William Hill Poker. The new site,, is the first European language offering from CryptoLogic and it supports multi-currency transactions (in euros, U.S. dollars and U.K. sterling).

New Kiwi Site

New Zealand gaming company Kiwi Gaming has launched a new site that offers over 80 online casino games. FastWin Online Casino features multi-line and progressive online slots, blackjack and video poker and boasts the look and feel of a land-based casino at which users can sit and play in a virtual room with other players. "FastWin is all about fun," a spokesman for Kiwi Gaming explained. "We had a lot of fun bringing FastWin Casino to life, and this has carried over into the site."

Favorabal Cybersquatting Verdict for Foxwoods

A U.S. District Judge ruled this month that a man from Massachusetts who registered the domain name engaged in cybersquatting in violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act. The man apparently tried to profit from Internet surfers who went to the seeking information about Connecticut-based Foxwoods Casino. He also tried to sell the domain name to the Mashantucket Pequot Native American tribe for $19,999,999 but has been ordered by the court to turn the site over the Pequots.

Record Win and Wagers in Nevada

Nevada casinos collected a combined win of US$1.06 million in October--the biggest monthly win ever recorded in the state. The win is a 14.4 percent improvement over October 2004 and marks the 15th positive month in a row for Nevada casinos. Gamblers wagered a record $14.6 billion during the month. The increase has been attributed to the mailing in early October of more than $270 million in vehicle fee rebates to residents of Nevada.

Expansion in the Baltic States

Olympic Entertainment Group, the largest casino operator in the Baltic states, has acquired Latvia's second largest casino operator, Baltic Gaming A/S, for an undisclosed price in a transaction that took effect upon signing. The deal boosts Olympic's market share in Latvia's gaming market to 15 percent, just five percent less that the market leader, by giving it Baltic Gaming's 33 casinos in the country. Olympic has invested about 9 million euros into Latvian operations in the last three years and plans to invest another 8 million euros in the next year.