Starnet Contributes to the Coming Out Party

13 September 2000
Another bricks-and-mortar casino has jumped into the "clicks-and-mortar" betting world. Yesterday, Starnet Communications International announced a deal to bring Casino Riviera, a land-based casino in Antigua owned by U.K. bookmaker Victor Chandler, to the virtual world, making it Starnet's first land-based casino licensee.

The company has additionally signed its first Latin American market licensee, Latin American Entertainment (LAE). LAE is a Mexico City-based Internet marketing firm intent on building a Latin American gaming portal.

As part of the licensing package, Starnet will provide both firms with an Internet casino and sportsbook. Pari-mutuel wagering and lottery capabilities will be added as they become available.

The company's newest licensees are following two of the hottest trends in the Net betting world. The deal with LAE takes advantage of the burgeoning Latin American market, which, even though trailing behind the huge Asian betting market, promises to be one of the hottest new target audiences for Internet gambling.

Meanwhile, Victor Chandler's Casino Riviera joins a growing group of land-based companies branching onto the Internet. Land-based operators such as Sunny Group of Companies and Pigg's Peak Casino in Swaziland have enjoyed success in the Internet sector for years. In Australia, Lasseters casino of the Northern Territory launched the Internet's first First World-based Internet casino in 1999, while Federal Hotels followed this summer with a few online casinos licensed in Tasmania. In the U.K., upscale casino operator Stanley Leisure worked its way into the business by purchasing a pair of already running casinos. Betting shop operator William Hill, meanwhile, debuted its virtual casino offering earlier this year. Lesser known Caribbean casinos Tropical Casino of the Dominican Republic and Excelsior Casino of Aruba are also cashing in on the trend.

Still, crossover "clicks-and-mortar" casinos remain rare. Most the world's biggest operators are hesitant to take the plunge, although a few are working their way online. In recent weeks, both MGM Mirage and Harrah's, two of Las Vegas' biggest operators, have taken baby steps into the Net betting world with high profile play-for-fun sites. According to some industry pundits, these moves are precursors to much bigger things.