Tidbits from the US
-- The U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments for World Sports Exchange
President Jay Cohen'
's appeal case May 21. A panel of appellate judges will question lawyers from both sides, each of which will be allotted 15 minutes. Cohen was convicted in February 2000 for conspiracy and violating the Interstate Wire Act through his involvement with World Sports Exchange, an online sportsbook which he co-founded. In August 2000, he was sentenced to 21 months in prison and fined $5,000. He remains free on a $100,000 cash bond.
Austin Business Journal recently ran an article about Harrah's Entertainment Inc.'s highly successful Total Rewards customer relations technology and spit out some impressive numbers that bode well for the company. Since Total Rewards debuted in '97, the number of customers playing at multiple Harrah's properties has increased 72 percent, and cross-market revenue climbed from $113 million to $250 million. The company says that $50 million of its $594 million in profits for 1999 can be attributed directly to revenue generated by cross-marketing visits.
Thanks to a deal struck this week, the Total Rewards database is about to get much bigger too. Harrah's announced this week that it has agreed to acquire Harveys Casino Resorts from Colony Capital Investors III, L.P. for $625 million, inclusive of the existing debt. Harrah's also will assume a $50 million off-balance-sheet obligation of Harveys. As part of the purchase agreement, Harrah's will acquire Harveys Resort & Casino in Lake Tahoe, Nev.; the Harveys Casino Hotel and the Bluffs Run Casino, both in Council Bluffs, Iowa; and Harveys Wagon Wheel Hotel/Casino in Central City, Colo. On the marketing front, the deal brings an abundance of new customers into Harrah's bulging database, including more than 600,000 players from Harveys' two Council Bluffs facilities alone.
Makin' Deals -- U.K.-based Gaming Internet plc, which operates greyhound betting site gobarkingmad.com, recently signed an exclusive three-year contract to distribute content from Australia's Sky Channel Pty Limited. As part of the contract, gobarkingmad.com will be able to broadcast anywhere from 880 to 1,700 greyhound races from more than 30 Australian racetracks via the U.K. digital television platform. "By sourcing content from all regions of the world," commented Managing Director Arthur Cooper, "gobarkingmad will be able to offer the betting consumer in the U.K. a 24-hour service on idTV and a presence in all the major time zones in the world through the Internet. gobarkingmad will be unique in being able to deliver live betting, visual and audio content to a global audience at any time of the day or night."
Interactive Solutions CorporationTM announced today that it has completed the acquisition of CyberVegas.com, a search engine and information portal for the gaming industry, from Universal Internet Marketing, Ltd. The site, which launched in 1999, publishes recent gaming news and gaming industry financial information. Additional features include sporting news and game results, chat, free e-mail, gaming tips and the ability to book hotel and show reservations. The site additionally has a casino directory that lists casinos around the world.
Online Gaming Systems Ltd. has signed a software licensing agreement with the Gibraltor Group, its first new client of the year. The Gibraltar Group will launch an online casino powered by OGS's software by second or third quarter this year.
A Tidbit from the Far East -- Four people operating an illegal online gaming site in Liaoyang, Liaoning Province in northeast China have been arrested, reports the People's Daily. The site reportedly was launched last November. Officials were alerted to its existence when one of the operators tried to open a branch in Chifeng, the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
On the E-Commerce Front -- Oberthur Card Systems, the self-proclaimed No. 1 supplier of Visa cards worldwide, announced that it has achieved Visa approval for its GalactIC 2.1 payment card, a JavaT-based, open platform, multi-application smart card that enables secure multi-channel payment. The system is based upon Open Platform 2.0.1 specifications. Its multi-application capability takes advantage of the converging technologies enabling cardholders to pay securely for goods via the home PC, mobile phone, television or at a point of sale in a store or kiosk.
New Stuff -- Gambling software provider Microgaming Systems this week introduced a new modular version of its casino software. The "minimum download" system, called MUP+ (Microgaming Upgrade Protocol), enables players to download and install the core games and play those games while downloading the rest of the games. The new package is currently being rolled out to the majority of Microgaming's casinos, and operators are already using it to take advantage of Microgaming's portfolio of over 70 games.
Gambling software provider Poker.com, Inc. announced this week the launching of www.betworldsports.com, an online casino operated by Poker.com's licensee, Champion Consulting Inc. In accordance with the agreements, Poker.com will provide Champion Consulting with a full Internet casino, sportsbook and bingo interface.
Names and Faces Changing Places -- David Outhwaite has been chosen as Cryptologic Inc.'s new chief operating officer. Outhwaite has extensive sales and operational management experience garnered from 28 years in the IT and telecom industries. He joined CryptoLogic in April 2000 as vice president of compliance and regulatory affairs.
The Rt. Hon. Sir Jeremy Hanley KCMG has been appointed to GTECH's board of directors. He previously served in the U.K. as Cabinet Minister, chairman of the Conservative Party, Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Minister of State for the Armed Forces at the Military of Defense and Under-Secretary of State for Northern
Ireland. He is also a Privy Counselor and Knight Commander of the Order of St. Michael and St. George.