Weekly Nambling Notes

10 November 2003
Friday, Nov 07

Tab War -- The Melbourne Herald Sun reports that chairman Graeme Samuel of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has begun receiving letters from angry punters urging him to block the proposed Tabcorp-TAB Ltd. merger. The Herald Sun believes it will take at least two months for the ACCC to wade through submissions from Tabcorp, UNiTAB, and TAB before finally rendering its decision upon whether or not it would permit such a merger.

New Chandler Poker -- Bookmaker Victor Chandler has re-launched its Victor Chandler Poker site at www.vcpoker.com. The site now includes a poker school that offers advice to beginners, a reorganized support section, a community section, and much marketing information. The company says it employs a highly branded, mass market approach to broaden its appeal within the wider online marketplace.

Ad Ban -- The Victorian government revealed part of its second gambling reform package today, placing a ban on electronic gaming machine advertisements outside of venues and also through unsolicited mail. Requested advertisements and loyalty program information will still be permitted. Local governments have received greater powers and are now required to issue planning permits with all applications for new gaming machine venues. Also, the Advocate for Responsible Gambling has been granted access to gaming machine venues' information so that it may examine spending trends and patterns.

Public Feedback -- Christchurch City Council will seek community feedback on its proposed policies for class 4 gaming and TAB venues at its November 20 meeting. Public consultation will then take place from November 24 to February 5. The proposed policies will determine if and where class 4 gaming and TAB venues may be established in Christchurch, as well as the maximum number of gaming machines that may be operated at each location. The Gambling Act that took effect in September requires the Council consult with the public before introducing its policy on class 4 and TAB gaming.

Thursday, Nov 06

Options -- The South China Morning Post reports that the Hong Kong Jockey Club on Friday will begin adding many more betting options to soccer wagering, including bets on which player will score the first goal, what the half-time score will be, whether the final score will be an even or odd number and more. The 41 new betting options will be rolled out in phases over the coming weeks.

Legislators to Discuss I-Gaming -- The 2004 Winter Meeting of theNational Council of Legislators from Gaming States will take place at Harrah's Casino in Las Vegas Jan. 9-11. A session meeting titled Internet Gaming Regulation: Wrestling with Slippery Realities will be featured on the morning of the 10th.

Opera's GamRock -- I-gaming software developer Chartwell Technology Inc. will provide its complete suite of online casino games and its recently launched mobile suite of games to Opera Telecom, a U.K.-based SMS service provider. Opera has already launched its online casino under the GamRock brand and will soon follow with the first commercial implementation of Chartwell's mobile game suite for Java-enabled handsets. Chartwell's vice president of business development, Darcy Krogh, said the company "is also pursuing new gaming platforms such as interactive TV and networked gaming kiosks in order to maintain our technology lead in the gaming industry."

Orange Ticker -- Online sports betting and content company ukbetting has expanded the betting services on Orange PLC's sports content site, SportingLife.com, to offer customers with WAP-enabled handsets access to live Rugby World Cup scores and news. For a £3 download fee, users get unlimited access to live scores, daily news, reports and background information for the whole tournament. Orange customers already have access to tax-free bets and the latest odds.

Skill Game Trade Association -- The Skill Games Trade Association is being formed to maintain the profile of skill games, to give the industry exposure to online gaming consumers, to protect the interests of skill gaming companies from potential business and legislative impediments, and more. The first meeting of the new association will take place Dec. 12 in Las Vegas.

Wednesday, Nov 05

Online Casino in Russia -- Russian bookmaker Fonbet has incorporated a non-download online casino module from Net Entertainment into its multilingual www.fonbet.com web site. Users can play for free or for real money by using the same account they use for Fonbet's online sports book. Fonbet, which began in 1994, owns more than 50 shops in the Moscow area and cooperates with 40 others. Net Entertainment is the Internet gaming division of Cherry, a Swedish company that has been in the gaming service sector for over 40 years and employs more than 600 people.

Tabcorp Talks -- The Australian Financial Review reported Monday that Tabcorp intended to offer the Victorian government a larger share of its revenue to ensure the extension of its gaming license, which expires in 2012. The publication also reported that Tapcorp would be willing to renegotiate the repayment fee plus 15 percent inflation that the government is obligated to return upon expiration of the current licenses in 2012. Since Monday, both Tabcorp and spokespeople for the Victorian government have denied that any discussions between the parties have taken place, but they say that negotiations for the license renewal should begin in a few months because the government wants to finalize the arrangement by the end of its term in 2006. In 1994, Tabcorp paid AU$597million for its 18-year licenses…. Meanwhile, Tabcorp today offered a AU$1.9 billion bid to buy NSW-based TAB ltd, which is already weeks into negotiating a merger with Queensland's UNiTAB.

Hired -- Gaming software company AngelCiti Entertainment, Inc. has hired James Hall as its new director of marketing. Hall has worked as a marketing consultant for online companies LCBO, Waddler Productions, Gate Communications and Canoe. Ca and previously worked for the Bank of Montreal's financial group, Burns Fry.

Tuesday, Nov 04

Thai Soccer Bet -- Somchainuk Engtrakul, Thailand's permanent secretary of the Ministry of Finance and the chairman of the Government Lottery Office's board of directors, has said that the Government Lottery Office is hoping to legalize and regulate soccer betting. A special working committee has already been established to study the feasibility of a betting program, and it will study soccer betting business models in England, China and Hong Kong and will receive input from experts. Engtrakul would like to bring the estimated $3.76 billion that is illegally wagered each year to the formal economy. Engtrakul also says that it will be at least a year before a legal soccer betting agency could begin operation, due to a number of regulations and processes that would need to be followed.

More Skills -- CYOP Systems International has added 11 more games to its www.skillarcade.com suite of pay-to-play games of skill. Polish gaming software company Ganymede Technologies is licensing the new games package, which include six versions of pool and snooker and is scheduled to be integrated into CYOP's network in the near future.

More Murdoch -- James Murdoch has been appointed CEO of BSkyB. James is the son of Rupert Murdoch, the TV mogul whose News Corp. happens to own the largest stake (35.4 percent) in BSkyB. Several investors and board members have vocally expressed anger and disappointment to the media about the decision that gives a father and son large control over a public company. But there are also defenders who point to the fact that James Murdoch brought Star TV in Asia to profit as evidence of his competence. In any case, there will no doubt be much discussion at the company's annual meeting on Nov. 14.

TAB Ltd. News -- The Age reports that NSW TAB representatives offered bettors hand-held betting devices today at Melbourne Cup functions at Randwick. The wi-fi-enabled hand-held terminals are able to communicate with the main betting engine in Ultimo, Sydney. They use a basic DOS 6.22 operating system powered by a 386SX central processing unit and 4 MB of RAM. TAB plans to eventually move the application to the Palm platform…. Tab will also soon deploy TRADOS GXT to manage the globalization of its racing and sports betting websites. Developed by TRADOS, a language technology company located in Sunnyvale, California, TRADOS GXT provides a framework for sharing and storing multilingual content and automating business processes of updating and adapting it for customers all over the world.

Digital Privacy in EU -- The European Union's digital privacy rules took effect Friday, placing restrictions on commercial e-mail, cookies, spyware and more. Each of the 15-member state of the European Union has its own responsibility for enforcing the laws.

Legal Action -- In its efforts to regain the poker.com domain, LegalPlay Entertainment Inc., the operator of SkillPoker.com, has succeeded in getting a court motion filed in May by Communication Services Inc. dismissed with costs. The British Columbia Supreme Court determined that LegalPlay had established a substantial connection between the claims it is making and the jurisdiction. LegalPlay Entertainment Inc. will now pursue its case against Communication Services in the Supreme Court of British Columbia as parallel arbitration proceedings against Ala Corp. continue.

Monday, Nov 03

Floating -- The Financial Times reports that Interactive Gaming Holdings will float on Aim in an effort to add more Web sites to its online gambling network, which already contains over 1,100 gaming portals and online casino and bingo sites. The company also just announced that it has acquired Gambling.com for £2.5 million. It plans to offer white label I-gaming contracts to other I-gaming operators. The Financial Times says the company, which was established to acquire other I-gaming Web sites, hopes to capitalize off high-profile domain names and to attract advertising revenue. Managing Director Thomas Taule' said, "We've created a prime vehicle to move forward and embark on consolidation within the sector."

What Williams Didn't Say -- Australia's gambling industry is quite anxious to see how incumbent Minister of Communications, Internet Technology and the Arts Daryl Williams will handle the ongoing review of the country's Interactive Gambling Act of 2001. If Williams' recent interview with InformationWeek Australia of where the review lies on his agenda, they could be in for some delays. When asked for his views on handling important IT issues, among them Internet gambling, Williams made it clear that spam was on his mind. "One of my immediate priorities is to get spam legislation and a range of related measures in place. We can do a great deal to stamp out spam sent within and from Australia with the legislation that is presently before Parliament," Williams told the publication. "Tackling the international dimension is just as important. We've made a start on the international aspects. But to move forward in that arena we first need to demonstrate our resolve at home. There is a groundswell of activity internationally to develop mechanisms for international cooperation on spam reduction. For example, Australia signed an anti-spam memorandum of understanding with Korea last month." Williams mentioned nothing about Internet gambling.

In the Courts -- Risk Convergence Group (RCG), a firm of three financial executives, is suing foreign exchange and spread betting firm IFX Group for £200,000 in costs and damages, claiming that IFX violated an exclusivity agreement when it sold the 70 year-old Zetters football pools business to Sportech. RCG was apparently in negotiations to purchase the business for about £600,000 and had signed a deal whereby IFX would not negotiate with any other parties. IFX later began negotiations with Sportech and eventually sold them Zetters football pools for £1.35 million. IFX has said that the sale was made in a proper manner and plans to battle the suit. The case is scheduled to appear before the High Court in December.

Interstate Fee -- According to the Thoroughbred Times, Victoria Racing Minister John Pandazopoulos has said that Victoria Racing will impose a product fee on interstate bookmakers to prevent betting exchanges and interstate-based corporate bookmakers from taking revenue away from the racing industry. State and territory gaming and racing ministers will meet with Kay Patterson, Australia's Minister for Family and Community Services, on Nov. 21 to discuss several issues, including the effects of interstate betting and exchanges on the racing industry.

German I-Lotto -- Fluxx.com AG, a lotteries and betting service provider based in Keil, Germany, has concluded its agreement with lottery and pools management company Verwaltungsgesellschaft Lotto und Toto in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany on the purchase of the anybet Gaming Platform. anybet GmbH, a B2B subsidiary of fluxx.com, will manage and operate the state-run lottery in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern on a service and purchase agreement. The new service will be launched on www.mvlotto.de before the end of the year.

5 Hand Poker -- U.K.-based Jackpotjoy.com has launched an online version of 5 Hand Video Poker as a browser-based Flash game. After a winning hand, players can double their payoff by guessing whether the next card will be higher of lower than the last. Users can either play for money or for free. Jackpotjoy.com is built and managed by Gamesys.

Research Program -- Federal, state, and territory governments in Australia will fund a $1 million per year national research program on problem gamblers. Lasting five years, the program aims to better define problem gambling and to examine the current remedies. Sen. Kay Patterson, federal minister for family and community, saidm "They'll be looking at various things--whether some sort of process that people can actually limit their capacity to gamble by pre-committing a loss of limits on the machine that they're playing on, maybe having mandatory breaks in play, various things."