Weekley Nambling Notes

22 February 2004
Friday, Feb. 20

UK Tax -- According to New Media Zero, rumors are buzzing that the U.K. Treasury would like to implement a 15 percent tax on the gross profit of online casinos, a measure that could hurt the Department of Culture, Media, and Sport's plans to attract online casinos to England. Online operators can already obtain zero percent gross profit tax requirements in Alderney, the Isle of Man and other locations. Many mainstream operators seem pleased at the opportunity to become licensed in the United Kingdom, but feel that a 15 percent tax cannot compete with a zero percent tax.

Owner Charged With Betting -- The U.K. Jockey Club has charged owner Darren Mercer with laying his own horse, Joss Naylor, to lose on Internet betting exchange Betfair during the time preceding the Chepstow race of the Coral Welsh National on Dec. 27. Mercer, who the Jockey Club's security department says laid the horse even though he knew it would not be able to perform in the race, will have to stand before a disciplinary panel next month. In another case, the Jockey Club's disciplinary panel will hear charges on March 25 that the director of Platinum Club Ltd, Miles Rodgers, laid two of his club's horses to lose.

Scam -- A mailing scam that offers insider betting information in exchange for cash to aid the operation has resurfaced in Britain. The letters from Metropole Racing Services are similar to those sent from three other bogus firms--Oakwood Racing, the Roseberry Racing Club and the Thornbury Racing Club--in the past. The scammers pose as owners, stable workers and professional gamblers and offer no-risk information for cash assistance. The letters always supply a mobile phone number that readers can call for questions, and the addresses to which they ask funds be sent are always accommodation locations like bed and breakfasts and guest houses.

PrimaPoker Affiliates -- The BrightShare affiliate referral program has started an online poker affiliate program that lets its members promote two of Microgaming's PrimaPoker.com poker rooms, Wild Jack Poker and Trident Poker. Brightshare boasts an aggregate reporting system that offers a detailed view of account information that enables affiliates to monitor their progress closely.

Thursday, Feb. 19

Quoteworthy -- "These are exciting times for iTV gaming. Interactivity on television is still in its infancy but the next few years will see it evolve swiftly from its current state of simple SMS or red button voting for contestants on Big Brother and Pop Idol. As interactive digital television becomes ubiquitous in the 21st century home, and consumer awareness of the possibilities grows, demand will increasingly be for services such as 'live' gaming within games hows. The challenge for service providers will be to harness the power of emerging technologies with fresh formats that generate new revenues for broadcasters but don't compromise on entertainment."
- Damian Cope, managing director of The Gaming Channel. Cope discusses the potential of iTV betting in a new netimperative.com online gambling report.

Spam Cops -- China's state media agency, Xinhua News, reported that the Internet Society of China, the country's Internet police, has published a list of 656 spam servers across the globe. China's government has said that these servers must cease sending junk e-mail by March 20th or they will be blocked. 62 of the servers are located in China, 65 in Taiwan, six in Hong Kong and 523 in the rest of the world. China already blocked 127 local spam servers last September.

Instant Love -- Game On, a division of Littlewoods, has launched an interactive instant scratch-card game called "Instant Love" that will complement the new ITV dating show Love on a Saturday Night. Viewers can press the red button during the show to buy a £1 scratch card. In the first stage of the game the love-o-meter chooses which of four cash prizes the viewers will play for. In the second stage the player must try to uncover six of nine hearts from behind the scratch panel in order to win the prize.

Soaring Profit -- NetEase.com Inc., an Internet gaming portal whose shares are traded on the Nasdaq, experienced a net profit of $39 million in 2003, an amount that's 20 times greater than $1.9 million the company received in 2002. NetEase attributes its success to its Westward Journey game, wireless services and advertising. Two other Chinese Internet portals, Sohu.com and Sina.com, have also obtained financial success in the past year because of wireless Internet access via mobile phones. All three companies get paid whenever mobile user downloads games or information from their sites.

Gaming Law Workshop -- The International Masters of Gaming Law (IMGL), a non-profit association of attorneys, gaming regulators and gaming executives, is hosting a one-day workshop on gaming industry legal issues on April 16 at the Marriott Grand Hotel Flora in Rome, Italy. Expert panels will discuss gaming cases that are under review by the European Court of Justice and policies that are being developed by the European Union, such as database protection and privacy. The workshop will also address advertising restrictions in certain countries around the world, gambling debt enforcement, the movement of North American operators to the United Kingdom and more. Information is available at www.gaminglawmasters.com/rome.

HK Jockey Club's Network Visibility -- The Hong Kong Jockey Club has implemented Micromuse Inc.'s Netcool suite to provide end-to-end visibility of its network infrastructure, which includes wagering on horseracing, football games and the lottery via personal digital assistant, telephone, short message service, Internet, two-way messenger and off-course betting centers. The Jockey Club will use Netcool solutions to collect and consolidate event data from various element management and silo-based information systems to produce a centralized, real-time, Web-enabled customer focused view.

TAB Merger -- The Australian Financial Review reports that the New South Wales government is worried that a merger of state betting company Tab Ltd. could potentially cause the government to lose AU$216 million worth of wagering taxes to rival states. The government has told UNiTAB Ltd, which is currently in negotiations to merge with TAB, that the merger cannot take place unless the company guarantees that a multimillion dollar tax stream is not endangered.

Playboy -- Playboy.com has signed an agreement with 1633SA, the company that publishes the French edition of Playboy magazine, to launch Playboy.fr for Internet and mobile devices within the next four weeks. The site will offer the traditional Playboy goodies in virtual format in addition to a link to online wagering and gaming site that is already available at www.playboy.com/gaming.

Wednesday, Feb. 18 p align="justify">Case Delayed -- William Hill's case against Henry Spurway, the man behind betting exchange shop easibet.net, has been postponed one month. William Hill believes that exchange shops cannot legally operate because they allow customers to lay bets. Each customer, they argue, should be required to obtain a license. William Hill is also challenging the Edinburgh and Glasgow city councils, which granted licenses to easibet.net.

Seal of Approval -- eCOGRA, the e-Commerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance organization, has awarded its first seals of approval to 23 online casinos. The 23 casinos will display the eCOGRA seal on their home pages as reassurance to players that the site complies with eCOGRA's generally accepted practices, which includes three key components: player protections, fair gaming and responsible conduct. An entire list of approved casinos can be viewed at www.ecogra.org/casinos.

Coral's New Chairman -- Coral Eurobet, the U.K.-based betting shop and online gambling company that was bought by its management in 2002 with help from Charterhouse Development Capital, has appointed Philip Bowman as its new chairman. Bowman is CEO of drinks company Allied Domecq and non-executive director at designer clothes group Burberry.

Chimera Signs Another -- Chimera Technology Corp., a software developer in Las Vegas, has signed Time Investment Corp. as its second licensee for its online gambling products. The two companies will now construct an I-gaming site, which they hope to launch in 30 to 45 days. Time Investment will begin operations with a sports betting platform and will later launch poker and other games.

Tuesday, Feb. 17

Bet Your Life -- Sky One is documenting the travails of a 32-year-old professional poker player from Britain named Ashley Revell, who is now in the process of selling all of his possessions and properties. On April 11 at Hard Rock Casino, Revell will place all the cash he has accumulated from the sale of his possessions on one spin of the roulette wheel. If he wins, he will double his earthly riches, but if he loses he will be completely broke and own nothing. Revell hopes to raise enough cash to break the world record of £105,000 on a single spin. Sky One is creating a four-part series about Revell, called "Bet Your Whole Life," that will show him selling his belongings, telling his family about his wager, traveling to the United States and putting his entire life's earnings on either red or black.

ACCESS -- ProQuent Systems, a provider of mobile data infrastructure, has launched its solution for operators wanting to actively filter and control customer access to inappropriate and offensive content. ProQuent boasts that the ProQuent ACCESS (Authorized Content Control & Electronic Subject Screening) Mobile can avert access to inappropriate mobile sites and content, can filter mobile messages from unapproved sites and can allow operators to manage services based on content classifications. The system should help mobile operators create tailored service packages for subscriber groups like children and teenagers.

E-mail Postage Fee? -- With legislation and filters failing to dent an increasing amount of spam, some Internet service providers in the United States are contemplating the option of levying a postage fee on marketers who send large amounts of commercial e-mail. The system's supporters argue that it would help separate legitimate marketers from spammers of questionable content, since spammers would likely not be able to afford sending millions of messages a day.

Slashing Pokies -- Over the next few weeks, South Australia's gambling minister, Jay Weatherill, will write legislation reducing the number of poker machines from 15,000 to 12,000 in accordance with the recommendations of the Independent Gambling Authority (IGA) report into poker machine numbers. Premier Mike Rann said that he will extend the current freeze on poker machines that is supposed to end on May 31 and will urge every member of Parliament to support a reduction in the number of machines. The act is intended to lower problem gambling, but it would also reduce government revenue. The IGA has suggested that venues with more than 28 machines should lose eight, and venues with 21 to 27 should cut back to 20.

Sportingbet's Suitors -- Rumors buzzed last week that a group of Russian investors was interested in taking up stakes in British online gaming group Sportingbet. As a result of the speculation, the company's shares closed 7.5p higher on Wednesday to close at 80p. Sportingbet seems to have recovered from its low point in April 2003 when its shares bottomed out at 18p. The company is now valued at his highest level since mid 2002.

A Birthday for Las Vegas -- The year 2005 will mark the 100th birthday of Las Vegas. In celebration of the centennial, key businesses and community leaders are working with a Centennial Celebration Committee to plan a massive yearlong bash. Clear Channel Entertainment has been recruited to produce all Centennial events, sell sponsorship packages, handle merchandising and licensing, and develop Centennial television broadcasting rights. The festivities will peak in summer with a globally televised live concert and performances extravaganza featuring Vegas superstars on the famous Las Vegas Strip.

Monday, Feb. 16

Cricket Corruption? -- The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has confirmed that the chairman of its discipline committee, Gerard Elias, is leading an investigation into allegations that a player bet on a county match. The ECB, which has not yet revealed the name of the player, implemented a code several years ago that prohibits all betting on any cricket matches and punishes offenders with a five-year ban and an unlimited fine.

iGaming Ruling Appealed -- The Sports and Games Entertainment Corp. (SAGE) is challenging a Jan. 14 decision by the Supreme Court of the Philippines that nullified SAGE's authority to offer online gaming and to establish sports betting stations. The court ruled last month that Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), the government body that regulates and manages gaming in the Philippines, did not have the authority to permit SAGE to operate Internet gaming. According to the court, "While Pagcor is allowed under its charter to enter into operator's and/or management contracts, it is not allowed under the same charter to relinquish or share its franchise, much less grant a veritable franchise to another entity such as SAGE." Led by Enfrenilo Cayanga, SAGE's legal team has filed a 28-page motion for reconsideration, arguing that the agreement between SAGE and Pagcor "is in accord with the conferred powers to Pagcor by virtue of Presidential Decree 1869." SAGE has already spent $8.9 million on equipment and employs 350 workers.

P2P Shop Under Fire -- On Tuesday, William Hill will argue its case before the U.K. Court of Sessions against Henry Spurway, the man who dreams of establishing a chain of terrestrial betting exchange shops named easibet.net. William Hill is arguing that exchange shops cannot legally operate because they enable to customers to lay bets. Each customer, they argue, should be required to obtain a license. William Hill is also challenging the Edinburgh and Glasgow city councils, which granted licenses to easibet.net. The hearing is expected to last five days.

Virus -- MessageLabs, an e-mail filtering company, warned today that a new mass-mailing worm is about to spread throughout the Internet. According to ZDNet Australia, MessageLabs' scanning engine has filtered several hundred e-mails carrying a suspicious 12 kilobyte payload. The company has not yet performed a detailed analysis of the attachment's code, but believes it is being distributed to launch a denial-of-service attack.

First Euro Lottery Winner -- A lucky punter from the town of Bourges in central France became the winner of a 15 million euro jackpot prize Friday in the first ever Euro Millions lottery draw. Players from France, Britain and Spain took part in the inaugural lottery, and more countries are expected to join soon. The drawing of the winning numbers was held in a Paris suburb Friday night; the results were later televised in the three countries. The name of the winner from Bourges has not been revealed.

William Hell -- The League Against Cruel Sports recently organized a few street protests in London and other British cities, asking greyhound racing fans to boycott William Hill until it contributes at least 1p for every £1 bet on the dogs.