Casino Watch - September

15 August 2007

World Poker Tour Heads East

World Poker Tour Enterprises has reached a five-year agreement with the China Leisure Sports Administrative Center to promote the country's first-ever national poker competition. Due to Chinese policy on gambling, however, it is not clear what form the competition--or the game--will take.

According to The Register, a British technology tabloid: "The Chinese authorities look askance at gambling, much as their soul mates at the American Department of Justice do. As such, no betting will be allowed. Since the stake involved determines much of the strategy and psychology of the game itself, it’s hard to understand how this would qualify as 'poker' or, even more importantly for the World Poker Tour, just why anyone would want to watch."

Playtech PKR

Playtech has agreed to supply poker operator with its made-to-order online casino product, which will be fully integrated with PKR's three-dimensional poker software. With the deal, PKR hopes to up its revenue-generating potential, Playtech CEO Mor Weizer observed, though the site, in its first year of operation, has seen as many as 7,000 customers playing concurrently during peak hours.

Sands Online Coming Soon

The Las Vegas Sands Corporation has announced that it will launch its long awaited online casino, Sands Online, in early 2008. The Alderney-licensed Web site will target European players and will be powered by technology from Cantor Gaming, an affiliate of financial services company Cantor Fitzgerald. Cantor will provide software featuring Sands brands such as the Pallazo, the Paiza, the Venetian and the Sands. The site will not take bets from U.S. players.

Christchurch Given the Boot

New Zealand land-based casino operator Christchurch Casino has given seven months to leave the Internet gambling business following an investigation by the country's Internal Affairs Department (IAD).

The IAD in 2006 warned the casino operator that by operating its online businesses, which include two online casinos, an online poker room and an online bingo site, it was in violation of the Gambling Act of 2003. The Act prohibits organizations other than the TAB from accepting bets from New Zealand citizens over the Internet.

Christchurch said it told IAD in October 2006 that it would sell its online properties, and followed up with a letter dated March 2007 confirming the company's intention to sell.

Companies Move to Comply with Ad Ban

Several companies have announced plans to move their online gambling operations to jurisdictions within so-called "white-listed" territories before the implementation of the U.K. gambling ad ban.

William Hill, Betfred, Intercasino and Littlewoods Casino are all currently licensed in the Netherlands Antilles, which did not make the U.K. government's list of territories permitted to advertise gambling products in the United Kingdom, in accordance with the Gambling Act 2005.

The white list, released on Aug. 9, included only two jurisdictions outside of the European Economic Area (EEA), Alderney and the Isle of Man.

A spokesman for William Hill confirmed that its online business would be moving to an EEA territory in order to gain exemption from the advertising ban.