Weekly Nambling Notes

23 November 2003
Friday, Nov. 21

'French Spider Man' Scales the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Spiderman -- Allain Robert, the 41-year-old daredevil more popularly known as the French Spiderman, today made the Sydney Harbour Bridge his latest mission accomplished by climbing it without a rope or harness. That's big news in itself, but in the I-gaming circles, the real story is that he was shirtless and dawning the GoldenPalace.com on his chest and back. Traffic was halted on the bridge as drivers stopped to gaze at the spectacle of a man limbering 134 meters above sea level. He walked back and forth along the top of the bridge as helicopters buzzed over his head. Australian authorities are concerned at how such a breach of security could occur while the country is hosting the Rugby World Cup. Golden Palace, an online casino operator has become famous for sponsoring such stunts. Its URL began showing up on TV tattooed to the backs of professional boxers. The past year has been marked by several streakers crashing marquee sporting events dawning GP body ads.

DDoS Protection -- Network Security company DeepNines Technologies has announced its newest security system in the wake of crime wave that involved perpetrators launching Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on several I-gaming sites and then blackmailing them for large sums of money. DeepNines says that its Sleuth9 Security System, which runs on the Sun platform, evaluates traffic at the packet level and can detect and prevent attacks from breaching a network by forming a defense against DoS, DDoS, Trojan horses, worms, and viruses. Sleuth9 can be deployed at the perimeter of a network and in front of other likely targets such as web servers, mail servers, and application servers.

Law Suit -- AT&T is seeking a permanent injunction against eBay and its PayPal unit from using what it claims is AT&T patented technology on secure online payments. AT&T is also suing for the profits and revenues gained from the use of the technology. AT&T claims eBay and PayPal have violated its patent that covers transactions by intermediary processing of secure payments by communications systems like the Internet.

e-Fraud Bust -- Operation Cyber Sweep-- a nationwide crackdown on Internet fraud in the United States coordinated by the Justice Department, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Federal Trade Commission, postal inspectors, customs officials, and even state authorities and foreign governments in Ghana, Nigeria and Lithuania--has already arrested over 125 people in the largest Internet fraud sting ever. Since the beginning of the investigations on Oct. 1, 2003, officials have discovered over 125,000 victims who have lost an estimated $100 million due to identity theft, online solicitation of private credit card and banking details, fake e-mails, the sale of counterfeit goods and more.

Ultimate Bingo -- T & G2, the company that owns gaming group Zingo Sales, is compiling a widespread distribution and marketing program with several businesses in Europe and is establishing a German subsidiary that will handle all of its business there. Zingo Sales will distribute the Ultimate Bingo games in Europe across the Internet, bars, restaurants, and electronic devices.

Mobile Debts -- A research study in New South Wales that was conducted by two senior academics from the University of Newcastle and the NSW Financial Counsellors' Association (FCAN) shows that the 18 to 24 year-olds have a higher rate of mobile phone-related debt than any other age group. Mobile phone debt is the primary debt for 84 percent of the 2,378 NSW clients in financial difficulty that were surveyed for the study in 2002. Fourteen percent listed gambling as the most frequent cause of financial crisis.

Player Tracking -- Stating that it has lost faith in tagging systems that use cookies and Internet protocol, William Hill has contracted e-CRM agency RedEye to explore different ways of tracking consumers. RedEye claims that IP-based server logs can raise visitor numbers by up to 660 per cent over a 28-day period and believes that cookies can lead to a 128 per cent over-statement of visitors numbers. William Hill is currently using RedEye's platform to identify the log-in details of customers and their activities at www.williamhill.co.uk.

Thursday, Nov. 20

UK's Remote Gaming License -- The Interactive Gaming, Gambling, and Betting Association (iGGBA) has expressed satisfaction with the UK's draft Gambling Bill, which was introduced yesterday and would create licenses for operators of remote betting games via Internet, telephone, and TV. iGGBA chairman Andrew Tottenham told Online Casino News that "The Bill will finally provide for the licensing of remote gambling operators and a proper regulatory framework, allowing for confidence in the integrity of a leisure activity that many consumers currently enjoy." He added, "It is pleasing that the government has recognized the value of licensing remote gambling and has responded well to our efforts to put into place a social responsibility framework. It is also important to note that the passage of this Bill and subsequent regulations will allow operators to bring their businesses onshore, which will benefit UK public in terms of additional highly skilled jobs and could provide over £75m in new tax revenues."

Mobile Europe -- A mobile industry newsletter called the Eastern Europe Wireless Analyst says that the number of mobile subscribers in Eastern and Central Europe reached the 100 million mark in early October 2003. Over 22.5 million users have subscribed in the region since the beginning of 2003, marking a 29 percent growth rate that is the highest in the world. The largest and fastest growing area in the region is Russia, which currently has over 32 million subscribers.

Wembley Buyout? -- Penn National Gaming, a U.S. casino and gaming facilities operator with a market value of around $950 million, is discussing a potential acquisition of UK greyhound racing and gaming group Wembley, which has a market capitalization of $312 million. Wembley's subsidiary Lincoln Park and its CEO Dan Bucci, as well as Wembley CEO Nigel Potter, are currently facing grand jury indictments on counts of bribery. Also, earlier this month Wembley was unable to establish a gambling complex in Colorado, a loss that will cost the company $7.2 million.

Punter's Luck -- An Australian punter phoned in to the TAB call center earlier this month to place a $6 dollar trifecta bet 20 times. Although TAB's phone system gives the punter the option to have his bet repeated to him in order to check for accuracy, he opted not to hear what wager had been officially recorded. As it turns out, the TAB operator mistakenly entered the bet 203 times rather than 20 times. The punter had picked the winning combination, and as a result of the error won $2.6 million instead of $250,000.

Call Center Solutions -- "A sports betting company only receives calls at peak times during weekends and lunchtimes, and is quiet for the rest of the week. It should only pay for the capacity that it needs."-- Jon Keattch, chairman and CEO of Streamdoor Ltd, a UK-based start-up that has partnered with Cisco and Dimension Data Plc to create an on-demand pricing model to the call center hosting sector. The company seeks to split the technology and human elements of a call center by housing the technology that binds a typical call center. Steamdoor serves as an intermediary between the customer and call center, enabling clients to reduce spending on call center equipment and other resources.

Wednesday, Nov. 19

System Security -- Security firm Internet Security Systems (ISS) released a status report on Internet security threats from July to September. ISS' figures show that the number of threats rose nine percent compared to the previous three months, and serious confirmed risks rose 15 percent. ISS also noted that 823 new exploits had been used within the three-month period, and the number of blended threats that use more than one form of attack has also risen. The findings are similar to those released by Symantec last month, and both companies attribute the rise in threats to opportunistic hackers that try to profit when information about security vulnerabilities becomes public, as was the case with the MSBlast worm that recently took advantage of a Microsoft Windows flaw.

Promoted -- Leisure executive George Rushton has been appointed as managing director for Gaming company Sportech. Rushton will take over for Colin McGill who is retiring at the age of 55.

Charity -- Online gaming charity site GoodLot presented $10,000 to Anna Roosevelt, granddaughter of former U.S. president Franklin D. Roosevelt, at the Roosevelt Four Freedom Awards last weekend in Hyde Park, New York. GoodLot's donation will go toward an interactive learning project on freedom and human rights. Roosevelt, who is one of GoodLot's ambassadors, said “The new venture GoodLot promises to be an extraordinarily successful means of charitable giving, with a significant percentage of the gross proceeds going directly to charity. I admire greatly what GoodLot is setting out to do.” Other GoodLot Ambassadors include Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbechev, Anita Roddick, and more.

Deals -- Online Casino News reports that Warren Eugene, a familiar fellow to many in the online gaming scene, has entered a different industry. His company, Medical Cannabis Inc., is expected to close a deal this week whereby it will offload or sell 51 percent ownership to an unnamed public company with an option on the remaining 49 percent. Courts in Canada and the U.S. have recently lessened restrictions on medical marijuana (though not to the same extent).

Tuesday, Nov. 18

BingoKnights -- A new online bingo site, BingoKnights, will launch soon, hoping to capitalize on what it estimates to be a $700 million Internet bingo market. Besides the www.bingoknights.com web site, the company is also introducing its Affiliates4Bingo program, offering affiliates rewards for sending customers to the site.

Mobile Game Security -- Mobile security company Diversinet Corp., and Spiral Solutions, Ltd. have signed an OEM and marketing agreement to integrate Diversinet's technology into some of Spiral's proprietary mobile-based gaming, lottery, and pari-mutuel applications. The two companies will work closely together to develop and market the new products. Spiral will pay Diversinet a one-time license fee for the right to use the security solutions and will continue to pay royalty payments on all transactions from applications that use Diversinet's Passports suite of secured mobile solutions.

Spam Bust -- In late October, a California court charged a company a $2 million fine for sending millions of spam e-mails. The court also enjoined the owners of the company from owning or managing any company that advertises over the Internet for the next ten years without providing written notification to California's Attorney General beforehand. The law suit was filed under the state's old Anti-Spam law. A more strict law will take effect January 1, 2004.

TAB War -- A letter from TAB chairman Graham Kelly revealed that TAB has asked Tabcorp to pay the $5 million severance fee that would be required if TAB were to merge with Tabcorp rather than UNiTAB. Kelly also demanded that Tabcorp's offer remain binding before discussions between the two companies proceed any further, and he requested information about discussions the Tabcorp has held with the New South Wales government and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. In a public statement Tabcorp replied, "Tabcorp has not sought disclosure of non-public information by TAB and believes that the termination of the Merger Implementation Agreement between TAB and UNiTAB Limited is a matter for the board of TAB to consider based on the relative merits of the competing proposals."

Monday, Nov. 17

Broadband/Betting Provider --Ukbetting announced today that it will offer an ADSL broadband service at the cost of £27.99 per month. The aim is to give punters quicker information and to help them react faster, because as content director David Annat said "Sports and betting fans are amongst the most avid users of the Internet, and for them, speed is absolutely essential." Ukbetting also revealed today that it is engaged in discussions to buy Oddschecker, an Internet odds-comparison service.

CelebPoker -- Poker platform CelebPoker.com launched on Sunday and gives players the chance to play live against celebrities. Most notably is Nick Leeson, the man who gained fame in 1995 by running up a bill of £800 million in hidden losses for Barings Bank. Among Leeson's finest accomplishments is losing £59 million on the Singapore stock exchange in a single day. Celebpoker has also enlisted snooker champion Jimmy White, comedian Kenny Lynch, and magician Michael Feighan to play a few hands and plans to bring more famous names to the table in the future. The site is based in Sri Lanka and will not offer bets to U.S. residents. Individual players, including Leeson, are limited to losses of $600 per day or $2000 a month.

SMS Lottery in Moldova -- Lotteria Moldovei, a member of the Intralot Group, and mobile company Voxtel have signed a one- year contract to supply an SMS lotto game in Moldova. Voxtel subscribers, who represent 64 percent of the telephony market, will be able to participate in the Super Loto (5/35) after its launch at the end of the year. Lotteria Moldovei has also been granted a license by the Ministry of Finance of Moldova to organize and manage fixed odds betting games, which are also scheduled to launch by the end of 2003.

TAB War -- NSW Racing, the organization that represents New South Wales' three racing codes, has given consent to TAB ltd. to merge with either UNiTAB or Tabcorp, but only if the company gets rid of Sky Channel and Radio 2KY. The Melbourne Herald Sun reported today that a Tabcorp spokesman said his company would not be willing to divest of the two properties. "It's not even on the table. These are core assets," he said. NSW Racing is likely worried that it could lose content to Victoria after a Tabcorp takeover. NSW Racing would also like to place a fee on fixed odds race wagering.