A Tidbit from Down Under -- Land-based casino operator Jupiters is slowly transforming into an online gambling business, thanks to the rising success of Centerbet, the company's online sports betting operation, and the saturation of the poker machines market. BRW.com.au reported that Centrebet profits have grown at a compound annual rate of more than 60 percent since Jupiters bought the service in 1998. At this rate, Managing Director Rob Hines said, Centrebet will be bigger than the rest of Jupiters.
Makin' Deals -- Financial Times reported that England's William Hill, the world's second largest bookmaking company, has thrown its hat into the ring as a possible buyer of Aladdin Casino in Las Vegas. The group is said to have held preliminary discussions earlier this month with London Clubs International, the owner of the struggling Strip casino. William Hill became interested in the property when the British government announced that it will liberalize gaming laws in England so the gambling takes a bigger share of the leisure market. Financial Times also reported that a handful of additional British Gaming companies--Stanley Leisure, Rank Group and Gala Group--have been in contact with London Clubs regarding the purchase of some of its casinos.
As reported by Lottery Insider earlier this month, Swedish lottery technology supplier Essnet has inked a deal with Lotterie-Treuhandgesellschaft mbH Hessen (LTG), Germany, to provide ELOS e-ChannelsT for gaming via the Internet. All bets through the service will be stored in the player's personal account at the lottery, regardless of whether they're made via an agent terminal, games subscription or the Internet. The contract includes the installation of a full Internet solution, including payment services.
Ladbrokes, the world's largest bookmaker, has chosen Orbis, a provider of interactive betting technology, to supply the software for its newly expanded 200-seat U.K. telephone betting call center. Ladbrokes already uses Orbis' OpenBet(r) Interactive Gambling System across a number of products in its e-gaming portfolio, including Internet, WAP and various digital TV platforms.
Internet gaming software provider Poker.com, Inc. announced Thursday that it has sold a "Master Poker Cardroom" license to Internet Empire Entertainment Ltd., which will develop and operate a multi-player poker card room at www.pyramidpoker.com. Internet Empire Entertainment Ltd., an Internet marketing group, already operates www.pyramidcasino.com, www.betonusa.com, and www.binionscasino.com.
Virtgame.com Corp. announced Wednesday that Codere Technology Network LLC has chosen the company to design and develop an online sports betting and lottery gaming portal that will allow lottery customers in regulated Latin American jurisdictions to place pari-mutual and fixed-odds sports bets and play instant lottery games over the Internet through use of Virtgame's gaming software. Virtgame CEO and President Scott Walker said the relationship "opens the door for us to Latin and South America, which is a very lucrative sports and lottery gaming arena." Codere Technology Network, a fully owned subsidiary of Grupo Codere of Spain, is a leading betting and gaming corporation with operations throughout Spain and Latin America. The company was founded in Spain in 1981 and has expanded its gaming operations and geographical presence by establishing betting and gaming operations in Spain, Italy, Mexico, Argentina, Columbia, Chile and Venezuela.
Mobile Gaming Solutions Ltd. (MSG), a provider of wireless data solutions to the licensed gaming industry, on Thursday announced an agreement with The Sports Network Inc. (TSN), in which MGS will enable and support a wireless portal exclusively featuring TSN's global real-time sports information. Under the terms of the agreement MGS will format and enable TSN sports content to make it available to virtually any customer with wireless Internet access.
New Stuff -- Access Gaming Systems (Europe) Ltd., through its games development subsidiary, Naji, has delivered the latest addition to Austrian Lotteries' (www.webclub.at) Internet gaming portal. "Schatzkammer" is a five-reel, multi-line slot machine with bonus game, designed in the style of an ancient Egyptian treasure chamber. The total payout is configured to 90.71 percent, with a maximum prize of US$16,000.
Global Gaming Expo (G2E) on Tuesday released the dates of its second annual gaming expo and conference. Next year's show will be held Sept. 17-19 in the North Halls of the Las Vegas
Poker.com, Inc. announced Monday the launch of www.pokerscape.com and www.casinocrib.com. The two new sites are operated by licensees Seascape Software Solutions Ltd. and Wildwood Holdings Ltd. respectively. Seascape Software Solutions' site is a full multi-player poker card room, which offers Texas Hold'em, Omaha, Omaha Hi-Lo, five-card-stud, and seven-card stud along with future enhancements as they are released. Wildwood Holdings' site is a single and multi-player Internet casino.
World Gaming plc announced this week the signing of Knights Inc. as its newest licensee. Knights has launched five online casinos powered by World Gaming's version 3 software, all of which will target the Asian market. The agreement includes a phased-in support of cultural dialects in the near future. The new sites are: of www.ecasino365.com, www.esportsbook365.com, www.ebetting365.com www.elottery365.com and www.ebingo365.com. "The Asian market is rapidly expanding and offers a great deal of opportunities for the I-gaming industry," World Gaming CEO Mike Aymong said. "This agreement is the first of many that we expect to reach in this part of the world."
SnapGear, Inc. has announced the development of a Linux-based secure embedded appliance for sports and race wagering and fixed-odds sports betting over the Internet and telephone, in Australia. The device, the Thin Controller, will be distributed by TAB Queensland and must comply with Australian government regulations, which require that there be a monitoring service to ensure fair play and accuracy of records.
Winners Circle The IT department for Harrah's Entertainment Inc. is on the receiving end of yet another award for its work. Harrah's announced today that it has been honored with the CIO Web Business 50 AwardTM from IDG's CIO magazine for its Web site, www.harrahs.com. Harrah's, the only gaming company to be recognized with the award, joins other honorees such as Cisco Systems, Ernst & Young LLP, Ford Motor Co., GE Capital Fleet Services, J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and Southwest Airlines. "We're very pleased that harrahs.com was recognized for its innovation and functionality," Harrah's Chairman and CEO Phil Satre said. "Our Web site helps strengthen the relationships we have established with our customers. Total Rewards cardholders can access their individual benefits and comps in real-time via the Internet through E-Total Rewards, which is a vital component of our customer relationship management strategy.''
Names and Faces Changing Places -- Aspinalls.com online casino announced Monday the appointment of Bobby Garg as director and chief operating officer. Garg, 32, was chief executive officer and one of the founding members of the C3i group of companies. He was responsible for taking the C3i group from its launch in the online gaming business in 1996 to over US$16 million in revenues in 2000. Earlier this year, Aspinalls.com purchased C3i's popular online casino, Caribbean Cyber Casino.
Garg replaces Anton Bilton, who stepped down from his post as non-executive director on Nov. 17. Bilton was a director of the company prior to its change from a property investment company to an online gaming company and its subsequent re-admission to the AIM in June 2001
Sportech PLC announced last week the appointment of David Mathewson as non-executive chairman of the company. Mathewson, currently a non-executive director for the company will take up his new role Dec. 31. He'll replace Malcom McIver.
Quote Worthy -- "The betting market will be driven by the betting brands, not the sporting brands, so having content within a betting-brand environment is more likely to succeed than vice versa."
- Forrester Research analyst Rebeccah Ulph, as quoted in FT Market Watch, on what it takes to be successful in the burgeoning British online betting market.
"My concern is that many of these particular strategies provide the government and gaming industry and welfare organizations with a comfortable feeling that they are doing something constructive when in fact they may be doing nothing at all, or potentially aggravating the problem."
- Sydney University psychology professor Alex Blaszczynski, as quoted in the Age Monday, on his conclusion that anti-gambling strategies--such as closing gaming venues down and requiring open venues to display clocks--are doing nothing to curb problem gambling in Australia.