Casino Watch - July 2004

30 June 2004
Virgin to the Online Gambling Market

One of England's best known businessmen is entering the interactive gaming space. Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Group announced last week that it is partnering with I-gaming software developer Wager Works to launch "Virgin Games," an online casino accessible through the Web site. The venture will operate under an online casino license from Alderney.

Joining the new company will be gaming veterans Oscar Nieboer, a former vice president of MGM Mirage Online, and Simon Burridge, chief of Branson's £20 million People's Lottery bid.

Virgin Games also secured a fixed-odds betting license in Britain and will initially offer games ranging from roulette to black jack, bingo, poker and slots. The group is hoping to find a partner this year to add sports betting to the offering.

VIP Rolls out New Bonus Structure

VIP Casino has announced a new bonus system that the company hopes will change the way players are given bonuses.

Using the new 1-percent/10 percent bonus plan, players receive either 1 percent of their winnings or 10 percent of their losses in a retrospective bonus on the 1st of each month.

The plan, known as the "Ultimate Cash Reward Program," is being run in conjunction with a 100 percent match deposit bonus and Players Club bonus.

New Slot Games from WagerLogic

WagerLogic Limited, a provider of online gaming software, has released its "Bonus Pack 4" gaming system, adding 11 new video slots to its suite of games.

The themed slots include: 20,000 Leagues, Cash Caper, Cool Bananas, Dick Danger, Eastern Dragon, Free Kick, Kanga Cash, Love Bugs, Magic Carpet, Nothin' But Net and The Oracle.

The new games offer three to 20 pay-line games and some have animated bonus rounds that award cash, prizes and free spins. Each new video slot offers at least one bonus feature, allowing for chances at free games that can double or triple the prize.

Live Poker Coming To TV in July

The enormous boom in the gaming industry that is the poker craze will take another giant leap forward in July when the first ever live TV broadcast of a poker tournament is aired on Fox Sports Net.

The breakthrough will take place with final table action at the Oneida Indian Nation's Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, NY. Six finalists will battle it out live for $1 million in cash on FSN on July 14.

The network is predicting more than 70 million households to tune into the action. The event will feature a maximum of 108 players competing in a three-day $10,000 buy-in, No Limit Hold'em tournament. The field will be narrowed to 36 on day two, with the final six players competing live on Fox Sports Net during the final day.

The tournament will be held under the direction of Matt Savage, tournament director for the World Series of Poker as well as many of the stops on the World Poker Tour. Adds Net Entertainment Games

One of the largest French-language sports betting sites in Europe,, has announced that it will be adding casino games developed by Net Entertainment to its site

MrBookmaker CEO Didier Dewyn said the company decided to add casino games during 2003, but didn't find the right partner until Net Entertainment came along.

"It has not been an easy choice, but when we signed the agreement with Net Entertainment, we were very confident that we had made the right decision," Dewyn said. "In particular, we were very impressed by the powerful backend casino management tools, which will give us total control over our casino operations."

Octavian Announces Plans for Tabletop Games

Octavian International announced that it is developing its touch-screen tabletop gaming system to integrate multiple games and customer services on a single, space-saving slim-line terminal. The first-generation system, known as "TTR" ("Table Top Roulette"), was developed for the Gala Group to extend live roulette play into bars, restaurants and other areas beyond the traditional roulette wheel.

Betfair Poker Goes Live

The world's leading betting exchange,, went live this month with its online poker room, becoming the eighth leading gaming brand to expand into the online poker space using software from Toronto-based CryptoLogic Inc.

"It's exciting for CryptoLogic to work with the top global brands in gaming to capitalize on the spectacular growth of Internet poker," CryptoLogic's President and CEO Lewis Rose explained. "Betfair's entry into player-to-player online poker promises excellent synergies with its core person-to-person betting exchange business, and positions us well for increased market share, particularly in the U.K. and Europe."

Crypto reports that online poker has grown 10-fold in the past year and now accounts for more than 15 percent of the $5.7 billion global online gaming market.

Hilton Considers Reentering Casino Biz

Hilton Group said it is planning to get back into the casino business only four years after selling its casino interests. The company still owns Ladbrokes, England's biggest bookmaking chain and owner of more than 2,000 betting shops, but intends to reinvest in casinos now that the U.K. government is intending to liberalize casino law.

Hilton sold its 27 British casinos to bingo operator Gala Group for £235 million--a move seen at the time as a prelude to Hilton exiting the gambling market altogether.

Officials with the company said they are waiting for further guidance from the government over where casinos will be allowed, but hope to make a firm decision in the next three to four months.