Casino Watch - March

22 February 2006
Italy's Finance Act Bans Unauthorized Gambling Sites

Italy's draft Finance Act 2006, submitted to the government on Sept. 29, 2005, includes a section (Section 66) requiring Italian Internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to all gambling Web sites not authorized by the government. The stipulation limits Italian punters to only six betting Web sites. ISPs that fail to comply with the regulation are subject to a fine of between €30,000 and €180,000 (US$36,000-$215,000).

The European Betting Association (EBA), which promotes cross-border gambling businesses in Europe, and the Remote Gambling Association (RGA), an advocacy group for online gambling operators in Europe filed a joint resolution on Nov. 2, 2005 with the European Commission, warning the Italian government that Section 66 violates at least five categories of community rules or legislations of the EC Treaty.

For now any foreign operator wishing to offer its services to Italians must purchase an Italian license and adapt to Italy's rules. Further, such businesses will be subject to Italian taxes.

Lawyers for UK gaming companies Ladbrokes, Betfair, William Hill, Coral Eurobet and SkyBet are now threatening to take legal action against Italian regulators unless they reverse the law. A spokesperson for the RGA said the advocacy group is seeking an urgent meeting with Charlie McCreevy, the European Union single market commissioner, to discuss the Italian law and is likely to review its options at the end of this month.

Britain's Casino College

Britain's first "casino college" has opened at Blackpool and The Fylde College. The school has built a virtual casino for students to learn how to be the best Vegas-style croupiers coming out of England can be. The new courses will teach skills such as operating a roulette wheel and how to fix broken slot machines. Gaming company Gala Casinos is helping to bankroll the project. Unites Porn and Gambling

Touting itself as the "Sexiest Poker Game in the World," Adult Poker is a new adult entertainment-themed poker room that hit the Internet gaming market in January. Not to be confused with Party Poker, this site is hosted by adult actresses like Sunset Thomas, Nicole Sheridan and Rebecca Love and offers poker, sports betting, horse race wagering and a plethora of casino games.

Listed Gaming Companies Could Face Closer Scrutiny in Hong Kong

Concerns about money laundering are reportedly causing Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing, the holding company of the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong, to look into introducing additional guidelines for evaluating listing applications from gaming companies. The reform has been apparently triggered by Cambodian casino operator NagaCorp, owned by Malaysian tycoon Chen Lip Keong, which has applied to list in Hong Kong after being rejected by Singapore three years ago. The Monetary Authority of Singapore blocked NagaCorp's application because the company's operations did not include an adequate and supervisory framework for the regulation of casinos and prevention of money laundering.

Betfair's Threedom Pass Awards Satellite Winners' for Three Years

Betfair Poker launched a new tournament promotion Feb. 9 aimed at online poker satellite players, called the "Threedom Pass." Available to any player who wins entry into a tournament by winning a satellite on Betfair Poker, the "Threedom Pass" gives qualified players paid entry and travel to that tournament for three years. Launches Casino Hold'em Game

Safepay Internacional S.R.L., the Costa Rica-based owner and operator of, launched in January several new online slots and casino offerings including Casino Hold'em, a version of Texas Hold'em that combines the poker game with a fast-paced casino experience. "Casino Hold'em bridges the gap between online casino and poker by capturing the thrill and excitement of Texas Hold'em without the hassle of having to wait around for a good game to start," said Robert Gustavsson, spokesperson for