Daily Nambling Notes

10 June 2002

World Cup Update -- Malaysian authorities have detained more than 100 suspected bookies in connection with World Cup betting, reports the Agence France-Press in Kuala Lumpur. Police said the bookies collectively handled bets worth 12.5 million ringgit (about US$3.3 million). Soccer betting is illegal in Malaysia; police say more arrests are sure to come. Just in case Hong Kong's new ban on offshore gambling isn't enough of a deterrent, the Hong Kong Jockey Club is increasing this week's Triple Trio pools to distract would-be World Cup punters. Wednesday's jackpot is to be increased by $10 million, and Sunday's will be upped by at least $38 million. Lawrence Wong Chi-kwong, club chairman, said the organization's revenue has already fallen 10 percent because of World Cup betting. Hong Kong police have arrested seven people in connection with two illegal soccer bookmaking centers, the Irish Examiner is reporting. Police seized betting slips worth 67,000 euros and found records indicating betting turnover of almost 7.5 million euros. Those convicted of illegal bookmaking could receive a maximum of seven years in jail and a fine of 680,000 euros. Meanwhile, Thai police are finding it nearly impossible to control Internet gambling, according to the Bangkok Post. The newspaper quotes banking experts as saying that 10 percent of Thai soccer bets are placed through major online bookmakers. An Assumption University study recently showed that about 9 billion baht, about US $212 million, would be bet in Thailand on the World Cup. An executive at a major Thai bank is saying that commercial banks did not noticed increased transactions during the first week of the World Cup. Many gamblers prefer to pay for gambling via the online retail fund transfer (ORFT) system available at ATMs, thereby lessening the need for cash. Still, OFRT transactions were at a normal level, the executive said.

US Tidbit -- Rep. Bob Goodlatte's, R-Va., Internet gambling prohibition bill is likely to be marked up on Thursday, says a sage insider in Washington, D.C. Last week consideration of the bill by the Judiciary Committee was postponed again. The official reason for the bill being pulled last week was scheduling conflict, although Capitol Hill sources say the bill was in danger of being stripped of its exceptions for the lottery and horse racing industries.

New Stuff -- Rimpac Resources Ltd. today launched a Spanish language version of InternetLOTO.com, its promotional lottery Web site. According to the company, the site allows Spanish speakers to use the lotto site to both learn about Internet lotteries and purchase tickets for a variety of lotteries around the world. Thomas M. Johnson, president and CEO, said Rimpac has set its sights on Latin America, where sales of lottery tickets reached $4 billion in 2001.

Makin' Deals -- Online financial transaction security provider SSP Solutions Inc. is announcing the formation of SSP Gaming LLC. Game Base of Nevada Inc. will partner with the company; it will receive a non-exclusive license to SSP's security software in exchange for an investment of $2 million and access to its more than 7.3 million active players. Richard DePew, SSP Solutions' president and COO, said SSP Gaming is already getting inquiries from casinos in Nevada about securing Internet gaming portals. DePew said he could not identify those casinos yet.

Tidbit from Asia -- Two Cambodia islands are to be home to a new American hotel and casino resort. The Island Development Group is leasing the islands, Kaoh Rung and Kaoh Rung Sanluem, for 70 years at a cost of $3 million, to be paid over the course of three years. According to ABC Radio Australia News, construction on the complex, which will include a zoo, banks and medical facilities, will begin in 2004.

Tidbit from the UK -- The interactive digital television channel attheraces is attracting a larger audience than its founders, Arena Leisure, British Sky Broadcasting and Channel 4, expected. An average peak audience of 50,554 was recorded during May 1-18. Ian Penrose, managing director, said the results were promising. "We are confident of seeing growth in these audience figures and have every expectation that the attheraces channel will be the premier place to watch and bet on live racing action," he said.

Say What? -- "One gets the impression that the real motive of anti-gambling legislation isn't protecting against crime or protecting vulnerable individually against the unscrupulous, but the desire to legislate behavior and control others. But it's not the job of politicians to hector constituents about morality of finances."

- Clyde Wayne Crews Jr., director of technology studies at the Cato Institute, in an editorial on CNSNnews.com on June 10.

Anne Lindner can be reached at anne@rivercitygroup.com.