-- Spread betting firm Cantor Index
this week launched a new service that it is calling the most advanced online betting system ever for private punters. The new system will enable private investors to place bets on a variety of indices, currencies, bonds and individual stocks from around the world and give them access to real-time prices at the same time so they can monitor how their bets are going. To celebrate the grand opening, Cantor is returning all stake money to punters whether they win or lose during the next six months.
WebQuest International, Inc., an Internet development-stage company specializing in online games, this week announced that it is nearing completion of its online poker site at www.horseshoepoker.com. The new site is an online poker room that will host games such as Texas Hold'em, Seven Card Stud and Omaha. Players will be able to compete for cash or for free at virtual tables that seat up to ten players and a dealer. The company says it will "base and market its site internationally, in compliance with all state and federal guidelines that prohibit gambling in the U.S." The new site, to be operated out of Costa Rica, is scheduled to launch in late December.
Following the recent localization trend for e-commerce, ShanklyGates.co.uk and SportingOdds.com have teamed up to deliver a new betting service exclusive to Liverpool fans. The new Man City betting pages will offer special bets, such as "Everton to go down" or "McManaman to rejoin Liverpool," as well as in-built antagonistic bets the enable punters to bet against their most hated teams. The service, hosted by RivalsBetting.net will also offer betting in running wagers.
The Top Card Casino is this week announced the release of a new suite of online casino software that features 30 games, including blackjack, slots, craps, progressive slot machines, single-zero roulette, Caribbean poker and more. The company is also boasting that it prides itself on offering the best technical and customer support in the industry.
Atlanta-based SafeBet Organization, Inc., a non-profit, independent fair gaming organization announced that it is now offering the Safe@play Partners ProgramTM, developed by Game Planit Interactive Corp. and Problemgambling.com. By agreeing to share resources and cooperate in pursuing their goals of universal responsible gaming practices, the alliance will help set new standards for fair and responsible gaming that will help minimize players' risk and reduce harm associated with gambling problems.
Lottery Insider reports that the Hong Kong Jockey Club is ready to launch its Internet betting system. Steve Beason, the club's executive director of information technology, confirmed that the system is up and running and ready to go. The club's betting turnover totaled HK$83.4 billion last year. The club has about 819,000 accounts for its telebet members' service, which allows phone and other types of access to its betting systems.
Tidbits from the Far East -- Meanwhile, China's People's Daily reports that a new bill seeking to amend the gambling ordinance to thwart activities of unauthorized offshore bookmakers was introduced November 8. "These unauthorized activities (by illegal offshore bookmakers) have somehow undermined the integrity of our long-standing policy of restricting gambling opportunities to a few authorized outlets only," a spokesman for Hong Kong SAR's Home Affairs Bureau said. According to the story, several unauthorized bookmakers have moved offshore and set up telephone service hotlines, advertise business in the local media, make betting deposits, obtain betting information and establish service centers. Internet gambling and virtual casino businesses, however, won't be included in the crackdown because of the "complicated and extra-territorial issues they raised," says Secretary for Home Affairs Lam Woon-kwong. The penalties for violators could amount to as much as a $1 million fine and seven years in prison.
Gambling tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun of nearby Macau is pleading with the government not to destroy his horse racing business by banning offshore betting in Hong Kong. Ho urged Hong Kong not to hurt its "brother" Macau. The new bill would hurt the promotion and bet-collection establishments set up in Hong Kong by the Macau Jockey Club, part of Ho's Sociedad de Turismo e Diversoes de Macau betting company. Ho says more than 2,000 employees of the Macau Jockey Club could end up jobless if the bill were passed and reminded the government that average race-day betting in Macau was less than $40 million compaired to the Hong Kong Jockey Club's $1billion race-day turnover.
Makin' Deals -- United Trading.com announced this week the sale of two nonexclusive licenses for its Advanced Casino Games/Sportsbook software packages to CSP Ltd. of the Cook Islands. The sales are the fifth and sixth licensing deals for United Trading.com and will bring the company profits of more than US $700,000. CSP
fluxx.com AG of Kiel, Germany announced that it's planning to step up the promotion of its gambling activities via TV. To solidify its TV strategy, the company as appointed Andreas Diga, an experienced TV manager, as an advisor. The initial projects Diga will supervise include preparing the addition of upstream channel options on digital TV, e.g. for handling sports and horse betting, and stepping up tele-betting activities on the news channel n-tv. The relevant agreements are already being negotiated.
On-Point Technology Systems Inc. this week announced the signing of an agreement with bookmaker Victor Chandler International Limited (VCI) in which the companies will jointly promote each other's expertise while pursuing potential international projects. The agreement follows a letter of intent previously announced between the parties in October. VCI Managing Director Michael Carlton, has agreed to serve on On-Point's board of directors. Carlton has been responsible for the worldwide expansion of VCI's business in Europe, Asia and other territories and brings substantial international expertise to On-Point.
Movin' and Shakin' -- The highly publicized run of tax-free online wagering at Ladbrokes' Internet sportsbook has com to a close. The firm announced this week that it has imposed a 5 percent duty on domestic Internet bets. The heavily disputed betting duty in the U.K. stands at 6.75 percent. Thus, Ladbrokes will continue eating 1.75 percent of the tax. "No bookmaker would tell you that they could swallow the tax in perpetuity," Managing Director John O'Reilly explains. "The margins in this business are not that significant and if you then have to swallow the tax, you just haven't got a business." Nevertheless, competitors William Hill and Coral's Eurobet continue to offer tax-free services.
Littlewoods Leisure has announced key management responsibilities, re-shaping the company for the future, following its acquisition by Sportech. Managing Director Colin McGill has developed the new structure as part of an overall review aimed at delivering improved value to the company. The move follows consultation with the company's senior executives. "The company's management is being re-shaped to focus our strengths and to grow the business, delivering high quality customer service and containing operating costs," McGill said. "We also want to continue to win new customers and keep our present two million-plus clients. Every week they regularly play the pools with its £1m super draw prize, try to Spot the Ball to win £100,000, phone Bet Direct to back a horse or a bet on a football match, or use bet247.co.uk, play our PrizeBuster lottery or buy charity scratch cards." Steve Taylor will be responsible for all commercial activities, coordinating sales and marketing across all products. He will also accelerate new product offering, making them market-driven and capable of being delivered through a wider variety of channels. Further, Taylor will also retain responsibility for Bet Direct, the company's telephone betting arm. Since he launched it two years ago, the division has grown rapidly with more than 150,000 customers handled by a call center at Knowsley in Merseyside, delivered by the Vertex group. Angela Moran will retain her role as Human Resources Director and also take responsibility for Channel and Operations. Finance Director Gary Speakman will also now look after group services, including finance, information technology and risk management.
Coral's Eurobet Internet sports betting service this week officially opened its office in Gibraltar, a locale which Finance Director Philip Knight calls "the ideal location to set up our infrastructure."
A Tidbit from Oz -- According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Australian punters wagered more than AU $100 million (a record amount) on this year's Melbourne Cup. A record amount of money--more than $1 million--was wagered online.
A Tidbit from the UK -- Upon the recognition that a change in operators for the U.K. National Lottery will be delayed until February 2002 (four months later than planned), Lord Terry Burns, recently named chairman of the National Lottery Commission, announced that further review of the game's regulatory structure is necessary because a change at the helm of the Commission creates uncertainty. The decision will likely further delay the naming of the lottery's next operator, which is due to take over in October 2001. Burns says he's considering granting current operator Camelot an interim license if necessary. Such a license would last for two or four months.