Nambling Notes - Oct 6, 2000

6 October 2000
Tidbits from the US -- With Congress extending the session by another week, is HR 3125, the Goodlatte House version of the Kyl bill, alive and breathing or dead for the session? It depends on whom you ask. One report says Goodlatte claims that he has obtained written commitments from 40 Democrats--a precondition insisted on by House Rules Chairman David Dreier before he would move it through his committee--to support the bill, but Rep. Chris Cannon, R-Utah, says he and John Conyers, D-Mich., have it bottled up for this session.

Don't expect a decision on whether World Sports Exchange President Jay Cohen gets an appeal to come until at least early January 2001. IGN has learned that the court has extended the deadline for the defense to file a brief for an appeal to Nov. 1. The government is expected to receive another 30 days beyond that to respond. Cohen was found guilty in February 2000 of conspiracy and violating the Wire Wager Act and, in August, was fined $5,000 and sentenced to 21 months in prison.

New Stuff -- Access Gaming Systems of Australia announced that its licensee, Austrian Lotteries, has debuted the latest game by Naji, a sister company of Access. "El Dorado," a match-and-win game, brings the total number of live games at Austrian Lotteries' website (www.webclub.at) to eight.

iCrystal Inc., a designer, developer and licensor of Internet-based games and casino gaming software, has announced the release of its new enhanced "Classic Edition" software package. The new games will be available at two online casinos: Video Poker Palace and Quick Draw Casino. Highlighting the software are four new slot machines and Progressive Jackpot KenoMania.

Poker.com, Inc. this week launched new poker software which was built exclusively for the company. The first game available is Texas Hold'em, while Omaha, Omaha Hi-Lo, 5 card stud, and 7 card stud will follow. "The launch of the new multi-player poker software enables us to expand our base of licensee's - which is quickly becoming one of the fastest growing and largest in the industry,'' Poker.com CEO Michael Jackson said. "This adds to our repertoire of gaming software programs, enabling us to become the leading vendor of online gaming software on the Internet today." The company previously licensed table poker games through a nonexclusive software agreement with ASF Software of Atlanta.

It looks like Sweden-based Boss Media will finish the year 2000 just as it started--cranking out online casinos like they're going out of style. The software supplier's latest creation, "California Casino," went live this week at www.californiacasino.com.

Tidbits from the UK -- British Sky Broadcasting, on the verge of joining the race for dominance in the interactive wagering market through its pending ownership of Sports Internet Group PLC, now has its foot in the door in the mobile betting market as well. FT.com reports that the company has begun a "virtual" mobile operator by introducing a WAP service that will likely compete with Virgin Mobile's Vodafone service. BSkyB has chosen Singlepoint, one of the UK's largest independent mobile service providers, as its partner.

Arena Leisure's £320 million bid for media and betting-shop service rights to Britain's 59 racecourses might not be enough. SIS upped the ante this week with a proposal for a deal that could be worth up to £350 million over 10 years, with a possible extra £20 million in the next 18 months. The third and final bidder in for the rights is media conglomerate Carlton.

Sportinglife.com reports that U.K. Levy Board Chairman Robert Hughes pleaded with the British government during a speech at the 2000 Betting Shop Show to lower the country's betting tax so Britain's betting industry can compete with off-shore competition. "Whether the Chancellor fundamentally changes the tax base or simply cuts the current betting duty rate, the industry is united in believing that a cut in the overall tax burden on the punter is required in order to ensure that the industry becomes competitive with the off-shore betting companies," explained Hughes. "The Treasury and Customs & Excise are alive to the competitive pressures on the industry arising from globalization. It is imperative that this is reflected in the Chancellor's response in the next budget."

Facing pressure to resign, Helena Shovelton stepped down Wednesday from her position as chairman of the United Kingdom's National Lottery Commission. Shoveltan fell under heavy criticism from the High Court after for being unfair in rejecting bids by both Sir Richard Branson's The People's Lottery and Camelot. The future could be in doubt for the four remaining commissioners as well. Meanwhile, Branson has accused Camelot of using threats to bully the National Lottery Commission into reconsidering the company because it knew that Branson's bid offered more money for good causes. Branson also made an attempt to shore up his case this week by convincing bridge-playing billionaire Warren Buffet to underwrite The People's Lottery for $1 billion. Looking into the future, a spokesperson from the National Lottery Commission has confirmed that the lottery could be shut down for a while if Branson wins and Camelot challenges the decision.

Makin' Deals -- dot com Entertainment Group, Inc., through its dot com (Antigua) Ltd. subsidiary, announced this week the signing of a software license agreement with Go Cash Ltd. of Costa Rica, calling for dot com to deliver and install a complete Internet bingo system for use by Go Cash. The games will be available at a new site based in Costa Rica and projected to launch in December 2000.

fluxx.com AG of Kiel, Germany this week completed the takeover of DVR Telewette GmbH, which last year handled betting stakes totaling in excess of DM 16 million (US $7.1 million). fluxx.com additionally acquired the exclusive rights to rights to market betting on flat racing via all online media, including digital TV, Internet, WAP, UMTS and telephone. "We are working on the assumption that gambling--and in particular betting-­will account for a significant share of the future market for UMTS and digital TV," fluxx.com Chairman Rainer Jacken told Reuters. "Apart from financial and information services, gambling and games of chance are the only areas in which there is money to be earned at no logistical expense." A study conducted by Emnid claims that the market for German horse, sports and event betting is worth around DM 10 billion per year.

Ladbrokes has signed a one-year deal with Soccernet in which it will provide access to its online betting services through advertising and sponsorship on the Soccernet website. The agreement also calls for Ladbrokes to promote Soccernet in its retail outlets. Antony Carbonari, director of advertising sales and sponsorship at Soccernet, is hoping the relationship will be a long-term one. "The contract is initially for one year, but we're looking to make this a long-term commitment." Carbonari said. "We've got plans for this relationship to develop over the next two or three years."

United Trading.Com announced this week the fourth sale of a non-exclusive license for its Advanced Casino Games Software package, resulting in profits to the company of $250,000. Company President Norman Wright said that license sales in the third quarter of 2000 have resulted in profits of over $1.3 billion (more than $0.10 per share). The identity of the licensee was not given.

Dotcom 2000 Inc., the parent company to online casino operator Globalvest Partners Inc. of St. Kitts, has announced that it has entered into an agreement to sell a license for its proprietary audio/video streaming technology, which includes e-commerce software and database management systems. The agreement is for a non-exclusive, restricted-usage server license running for a term of five years and valued at $250,000. It also makes provision for technical support and software maintenance fees as well as an ongoing revenue share of 25 percent of the pay-per-minute charges earned by the licensee from the web site.

Editor's Note (Jan. 2, 2002): Globalvest Partners Inc. is in no way related to Globalvest Management Company, LP. As per an agreement with Globalvest Management Company, Dotcom 2000 has changed the name of the subsidiary to "Crown City Inc."

A Tale of Success -- Free-play bingo site Bingo.com has experienced a tremendous amount of success since ditching plans for real-money bingo. Investor's Business Daily, in a Sept. 25 article, named the company the "Stickiest Web Site." The choice was based primarily on the results of a recent Nielsen/NetRatings survey.

A Tidbit from Asia -- The Straits Times reports that the Singapore government has set up a special task force to take on the proliferation of illegal gambling in the country. Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Chan Kong Choy said that several amendments may be made to the Common Gaming Houses Act 1953. "The existing act is not only outdated, but the penalties are not heavy enough to deter such activities,'' he said. The new bill would introduce "certain new definitions in line with the changes and usage of new technology in the gaming industry."

From the General Observation Department -- (editorialized) Las Vegas Review Journal reports that the city of Las Vegas has been working for more than six months with a group of gaming executives in an effort to eventually license the city's name and logo to an Australian-based Internet casino. I found this amusing and I'm wondering if city officials realize that the city's name and logo are already being used, free of charge, by dozens of online casinos which, I'm sure, have no intention of forking over money for the rights. Further, will the city try to buy its name back when Internet casinos are legalized in Nevada? And how will the Australian licensee be perceived Down Under among all of those who scowl at the Casino Australia (which happens to be based in the Caribbean) for misrepresentation? Then there's the royalty issue: Would the city of Las Vegas be indicted for accepting money that was generated by "illegal betting"? Somehow I'm thinking this idea won't pan out.

New Faces -- Zaurak Capital Corporation, the parent company to online casino operator CyberGaming Entertainment Inc., announced this week that John Chalmers has been appointed CEO. Chalmers, formerly the director of the entertainment standards branch of the Ministry of Consumer and Commercial Relations (Ontario), has also been appointed to fill the vacancy on the board of directors.

betinternet.com plc, an Isle of Man-based Internet and telephone betting services provider, this week announced the appointment of Patrick Flanagan and Sean Graham as executive directors: Flanagan, 46, joined betinternet in April from Ladbrokes where he had worked since 1977. Graham, 32, also joined the company last April. He has extensive industry experience having worked for 15 years in his family's business, S.P. Graham Limited, where he was the race room controller. Both appointments will take effect Nov. 1, 2000.





Mark Balestra

Mark Balestra is the Managing Director at BolaVerde Media Group. He previously worked at Clarion Gaming and the River City Group where he was the publisher of iGamingNews. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri.