Winning Acquisition -- Betbrokers announced this morning that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has approved the acquisition of Las Vegas-based Winning Edge for $6.8 million. The retail and wholesale brokerage said it expects the acquisition, which has also received approval from Winning Edge shareholders, to be completed by Sept. 5.
On the Rise -- According to recent figures published by Nielsen NetRatings, the number of German residents frequenting I-gaming sites has increased by 76 percent over the last three years. Between May and July 2007, casual games portals like RealArcade topped the list, after 2.6 million different users spent an estimated 536 million minutes on the site. With Internet penetration on the rise throughout the country, German gamers during the three month period spent an average of 3.5 hours per visit, per site.
The People's Player -- Even at the center of a tennis betting investigation that began earlier this month, Russian tennis player Nikolay Davydenko has still found time to deny allegations that the Russian mafia is pursuing him. "I don't live in Moscow," he told reporters Monday after his victory over Jesse Levine at the U.S. Open. "I don't know really guys from Russian mafia. I live from 15 years old in Germany--I don't know German mafia."
Smoking Ban Could Be Bad News for Rank -- The Independent carries a report on U.K.-based Rank Group, whose Mecca Bingo business faces an uphill battle against the recently enacted smoking ban. Nigel Parsons of Evolution Securities told the paper that the group is on a "road to nowhere" and has subsequently downgraded its shares to "sell" status. "If experience from Scotland is any guide," the paper says, "the smoking ban could reduce bingo sales by up to 17 percent." Evolution puts pre-tax profits at £28.1 million, down 6.4 percent against figures from the previous year.
No Surprises Expected from Party -- The Scotsman reports client investment manager Bell Lawrie is predicting that half-yearly results from PartyGaming will do little in the way of surprising investors. Lawrie told the paper that while the group has seen a large increase in players, "a greater-than-expected cost of signing these players will hit profits this year."
Stock Watch -- On the LSE, PartyGaming was down 1.75p to 22.75, 888 was down 3.00p to 110 and Playtech was up 4.50p to 336.50. In Vienna, bwin was down 0.60 euros to 20.30 euros, and in Stockholm, Unibet was up SEK 0.50 to SEK 184.50 while Betsson was down SEK 2.50 to SEK 58.75.
Orwell (Still) Rolling in Grave -- On Sept. 1, the Beijing police will launch its Internet-based cartoon incarnation to steer Chinese browsers away from illegal Net content. The animated police officers (pictured below) will walk, bike or drive across the screen every 30 minutes on 13 of China's most popular portals, including Sohu and Sina. By the end of the year, however, the avatars will appear on all Web sites registered on Beijing servers, the Beijing Public Security Ministry said. China stringently polices the Internet for material and content that the ruling Communist Party finds politically or morally threatening. Despite the controls, the presence of nudity, profanity, illegal gambling and pirated music, books and film has proliferated on Chinese Internet servers.
Beijing residents, beware.