Weekly Nambling Notes

4 October 2003
Friday, Oct. 3

Gamer's Advocate -- e-Commerce and Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance (eCOGRA), a newly formed independent entity that provides important player protections to consumers, has appointed Julie Sidwell as a fair gaming advocate. Sidwell will help develop eCOGRA's player safety provisions and will serve as a representative for players who have concerns about gaming sites. Sidwell had been the administrator of Gambling Grumbles at Gambling.com, where she helped resolve disputes between online casinos and players. She's written several articles for Gambling OnLine Magazine concerning casino and player relations and she's helped train the staffs of several operators to prevent disputes.

Agenda Setter -- Betfair's CEO, Stephen Hill, has been named to silicon.com's list of the Top 50 Agenda Setters for 2003, ranking in as the tech industry's 41st most innovative driving force. He was also listed as the fifth most innovative entrepreneur.

Singapore's Stats -- According to Singapore's Internal Revenue Service, the country's residents spent over $6 billion (US$3.4 billion) on lotteries, horse racing, and other types of legally sanctioned gambling last year. That is an average loss of $1,500 (US$900) per person. The $6 billion industry earning is $135 million (US$77 million) less than the previous year's figure.

Thursday, Oct. 2

The New Lasseters -- Australia-based Lasseters Online has launched a new version of its online casino at www.lasseters.com.au. The casino now features a new look, revised graphics, more promotions and 21 new games, bringing the total to 59.

SMS Clampdown -- Newmediazero reports that mobile operators in the United Kingdom are shutting down some cheap offshore Short Message Service (SMS) routes to eliminate the large numbers of spam and scams that originate from overseas locations. The clampdown on these routes, from where messages cost just around 1p, could double the cost of legitimate SMS marketing.

Bus ads -- Costa Rican online bookmaker BetonSports.com says that ads displaying the company's logo and telephone hotline number will appear on 250 New York City buses until the end of October. Since the beginning of the American football season in August, BetonSports.com has also run ads on radio stations and billboards in the United States.

Mobile Advisor -- Newmediazero reports that betting advisor The Winning Line has launched a horse racing information service for professional gamblers with SMS. The site is run by Opera Telecom.

Playtech -- Playtech today announced that it has developed online casino software for both Sports Interaction (Sports Interaction Casino) and BetWWTS.com (BetCasino.com). Both casinos will be available as both a downloadable and Flash suite and will boast over 60 games, a three dimensional lobby, real-time game and transaction histories, VIP rating, a cash-convertible comp points scheme and participation in WinAJackpot.com, which is Playtech's progressive jackpot network. BetWWTS.com customers will be able to use the same account for BetCasino.com that they use for all its managed properties.

Virus Report -- Symantec's Fourth Semi-Annual Internet Security Threat Report shows that compared to the last six months of 2002, the first half of 2003 has seen a 20 percent increase in the amount of blended threats, which combine characteristics of viruses, worms, Trojan horses and malicious codes. Symantec also claims that there has been a 400 percent increase in viruses and worms that target instant messaging and peer-to-peer networks in the last six months.

Spam Challenge -- Following last week's enactment of legislation in California that allows recipients of unwanted spam to sue for $1,000, Mailblocks, a provider of consumer e-mail services, has announced that it is incorporating a warning message into its patented Challenge/Response anti-spam technology. Unlike most e-mail filters that sometimes delete valid e-mails, Mailblocks' service puts all questionable messages in a pending folder and automatically sends a request to unknown senders to authenticate themselves by typing in a code shown on the computer screen. E-mail generated by a machine is not able to reply to the code, but valid e-mail senders can, so their legitimate e-mail will be sorted correctly. The recently added warning threatens prosecution and is intended to eliminate "stalkers," individuals who may complete a code challenge in order to send unsolicited and unwanted commercial e-mail.

Czech Lotto -- SAZKA, the Czech Republic's operator of lottery and betting games, has extended its contract with GTECH Corporation for 12 more years (Jan. 1, 2006- Dec. 31, 2017). GTECH will replace SAZKA's current online and instant ticket system with GTECH Enterprise Series architecture, which will give SAZKA's network the ability to use mobile and Internet channels.

Wednesday, Oct. 1

Java Games -- Gaming Corporation has launched a Java-based casino that enables gamers to play six games without having to download any software. Gaming Corporation decided to create the site after its gaming portal, www.casino.co.uk, found that 20 percent of its customers preferred casinos that did not require software downloads. The new Java based games were developed by Sweden's Boss Media AG.

ITV Betting -- The Guardian reports that Sportech has a five-year deal to provide interactive betting on some U.K. television shows, including Pop Idol and I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! The company expects to launch the Pop Idol game next month as ITV introduces the ITVi interactive service. Sportech is also going to provide the interactive betting services for an Endemol production called 24 Hour Quiz, which will debut in the spring and feature live coverage on channel ITV2.

Sponsor -- Australian betting company SuperOdds is now a sponsor of the Newcastle Falcons Rugby Club. SuperOdds, the official betting agency of the Rugby World Cup 2003, has also launched a new Web site and telephone betting service in the United Kingdom.

Survey Says -- Commissioned by Harrah's Entertainment and conducted by Roper ASW, the latest annual Profile of the American Casino Gambler surveyed 2,000 people to reach its findings that casino gambling in the United States is on the decline. The survey estimates that about 51 million adult U.S. citizens gambled at a casino in the last year--2 million less than last year. Other important estimates: 54 percent of gamblers are women, 57 percent of gamblers are older than 50, 74 percent of gamblers play slots and 14 percent play table games.

Simulacast Conference -- The Thoroughbred Racing Associations' annual Simulcast Conference this week has drawn around 300 U.S. racing officials. One of the focal points of the conference is the recommendations made by consulting groups Giuliani Partners and Ernst and Young on how to improve security following last October's attempt by three men to rig a six-race bet at the Breeders' Cup. Another hot topic at the conference is the development of new technologies for wagering, particularly wagering via wireless applications.

Tuesday, Sept. 30

White List -- Direct marketers are finding that about 25 percent of their legitimate bulk e-mails are treated as spam and blocked by ISPs. Newmediazero reports that the Direct Marketing Association's E-mail Marketing Council is working on a solution it calls a "white list." Regulated by ISPs or a government agency, the white list would be a compilation of legitimate marketers who are permitted to send e-mail. ISPs can then be sure not to block messages from companies on the white list.

AU Minister to Retire -- Sen. Richard Alston, Australia's Minister of Communications, Internet Technology and the Arts, today surprisingly announced his retirement. By the Constitution, the Victorian party must nominate a replacement for Alston on the Senate, but they have said they will not begin the selection process until Alston clarifies his departure date. Alston has not indicated when he wished to vacate the Senate and has said only that he will consider his future around Christmas. During his term as minister, Alston wanted to make forwarding e-mail illegal and introduced a bill that sought to make online betting companies illegal. He has been a leading advocate for restricting online gambling services.

For Charity -- The Guardian reports that recently launched Casinoforcharities.com, which claims to be "the U.K.'s first gaming for charity Web site," donates less than one-third of a penny in every £1 stake. Although the site pledges 10 percent of its gross profits to charities, it pays out 97 percent of player stakes as winnings. Realistically only about 0.3 percent of a wager goes toward charity. . . . Statistics from The Guardian show that charity organizations in the United Kingdom are receiving 20 percent less money from the National Lottery as they did last year and 40 percent less than they received in 2000. In the late '90s, lottery players in England spent about £100 million a week, but now spend only about £85 million a week. Sales of non-Lotto games are up 21 percent from last year, however, and for the first time in five years, overall sales steadied last quarter. A spokeswoman for the lottery said sales should be back in growth by 2004-2005.

Monday, Sept. 29

SOLD -- A few weeks away from its scheduled merge with Tabcorp Holdings, Jupiters has sold its Centrebet online betting group to SportOdds, the largest privately owned sports betting company in Australia, for $46.55 million in cash. Jupiters will distribute the net proceeds of the sale to shareholders through a special fully franked dividend. The sale is expected to be completed Oct. 27, three days after shareholders will vote on the Jupiters and Tabcorp merger proposal.

Australian News -- Australia's Interactive Gaming Act is scheduled for presentation in late October, and shortly afterwards legislators are expected to decide whether Betfair should be granted a license to operate in Australia. On July 10, the Australian Betting Exchange Task Force reported conclusions to its research into the effects of licensing betting exchanges in the country. The task force recommended that licenses not be granted, or that they be licensed with severe restriction. . . . The Advertiser reports that the Victorian State government taskforce is examining proposals that would dock the wages of problem gamblers. A similar approach is being adopted in South Australia, where families who have been without financial support for three months can apply for a "family protection from problem gambling" order. This order can deduct funds from a gambler's wages or direct him to return money and property to his family.

Quoteworthy -- "There is no law on the book in the United States currently that states it's illegal to advertise a sports betting Internet company."-- Gary Hoyle, Sportsbook.com's director of marketing for the Americas. The London-based company hosted the Grand Prix Americas in Miami this weekend. It also sponsored a car in the Champ Car World Series race.

Code of Conduct The Interactive Gaming, Gambling, and Betting Association has established a code of conduct to which all of its members must adhere. The code is composed of a list of 14 guidelines for areas such as probity and trust, accountability, banking and transaction management and prize payouts.

Colombia Avantel, Wireless Business, and Motorola have developed an online lottery system in Colombia that gives players access to information about all available options, results and prizes. Avantel will provide the network for the mobile and data transmissions, Wireless Business will provide the services and Motorola will provide its latest technology.

Lotto TV -- SAZKA, the Czech Republic's Ministry of Culture, T-Mobile and a television station called TV Nova have all joined forces to launch T-Mobile RENTA, a television lottery show in the Czech Republic. After purchasing a ticket from a vendor for about the price of a U.S. dollar, players have a few different ways to win and might even be lucky enough to participate at a taping of the show. RENTA was first broadcast Sept. 21 and will continue to air on a weekly basis.