Weekly Nambling Notes

4 April 2004
Friday, April 2

Lost Advertising Dollars -- The Tico Times, an English-language newspaper in Central America, reports that the U.S. Justice Department's efforts to scare media outlets into refusing advertisements for online gaming site have caused MVP Sportsbooks to lose $1.7 million in print advertisements and $1 million in radio advertisements for the next NFL season. Other MVP Sportsbooks contracts include a $400,000 deal with Fox Sports Radio, $250,000 with Sports Digest, and $175,000 with Athlon.

Sumo Grudge Match -- Key industry figures will don inflatable rubber suits in order to settle their rivalries on the sumo mat at the Global Interactive Gaming Summit & Expo in Toronto this May. The card features such blockbuster matches as David Carruthers (CEO of BetOnSports.com) vs. Cole Turner (BoDog.com) and Steve Ives (BetFair) vs. Michael Carlton (Victor Chandler). In the spectacular main event underdog Chris Costigan, a.k.a. Sting (owner and webmaster of Sports911.com) will struggle to go the distance with longtime crowd-favorite Sue Schneider (CEO of River City Group). Spectators are, of course, encouraged to wager on each match (with fun money), and celebrity bookmakers Alan Weinrib and Mark Blandford are expected to release the betting lines soon. The event is being held for charity and all proceeds will go to GamCare. The River City Group has initiated the extravaganza by donating $1,000 in the event's name.

New Washington Law -- Washington Governor Gary Locke signed Senate Bill 6481 into law on Thursday, permitting residents of the state to legally wager on horse racing via Internet and phone. A main reason cited in both the House and Senate for passing the bill was a prevailing feeling among lawmakers that the state was losing valuable revenue as residents bet with other advance deposit wagering systems, despite those services being illegal in Washington.

Attacks on Decline -- Web monitoring firm Netcraft and BBC News Online have been tracking the performance of the top 20 British betting companies' Web sites and have found that no sites have been brought down by extortionists recently, even as the this weekend's Grand Nationals approach. Many are expecting a strong wave of attacks during the popular betting event, as was seen with the Super Bowl and Cheltenham festival, but as for now there have been no attacks in the days and hours leading up to the Grand Nationals. Netcraft's analysis showed that from March 19 to April 1, betting Web sites sustained only 23 outages, most of which were due to maintenance repairs. By contrast, in the preceding 19 days of monitoring 33 outages were discovered, several of them from DDoS attacks. The results indicate that either the extortionists are letting up or the bookmakers are improving their defenses and becoming less vulnerable to attack.

Quoteworthy -- "I was particularly comforted to note that those surveyed saw gambling as an activity with some risks and were in favor of continuing with very careful regulation in the future. This matches the approach taken in the draft Bill which, by establishing the Gambling Commission, will create as comprehensive a system of control and regulation as exists anywhere in the world."
-- U.K. Minister for Gambling, Andrew McIntosh. NOP Research Group recently completed a survey for the Department of Media, Culture, and Sport, finding that 71 percent of respondents have gambled in the last 12 months.

Crypto License -- I-gaming software developer CryptoLogic announced last month that its subsidiary WagerLogic has entered into a technology license agreement with Dr. Scott Lewis, who develops Internet applications, including the patented optimization technology for online gaming products that WagerLogic will begin utilizing. CryptoLogic's President and CEO, Lewis Rose, said, "This technology license will enhance our ability to deliver high quality multimedia information to our customers, which is in keeping with our strategy to offer exciting and engaging online gaming entertainment."

Thursday, April 1

BHB Database Case -- The European Court of Justice on Tuesday began hearing the British Horeseracing Board's (BHB) arguments that bookmaker William Hill illegally offered its customers the BHB's database containing many years of information on horses, owners and trainers. The BHB maintains that William Hill violated EU data protection laws from 1996 that were implemented into U.K. law in 1998. A British court ruled against William Hill in February 2001, but the company had the case referred to the European Court of Justice in August 2001.

Casino Europa Webcam -- Casinos Europa, a land-based Costa Rican casino group, and Casino Webcam, a provider of live online gaming software and services, have teamed up to launch a live webcam casino at www.casinoeuropawebcam.com, where players can see and hear in real-time the games they bet on via webcam. The casino features blackjack, roulette, Caribbean poker, baccarat and sic bo.

Betfair -- Betfair placed full-page advertisements in British newspapers Wednesday in an attempt to defend itself against allegations that it is corrupting horseracing and other sports. The Guardian estimated that the company spent over £20,000 on the ads, which attempt to demonstrate that bettors have always been able to back horses to lose. The ads conclude: "Both result in a . . . win. But on Betfair you'd have left an indelible audit trail which could be shared with the Jockey Club. Whereas in betting shops you'd leave no name, no trace, no suspicion whatsoever. Betfair has always sought to eradicate corruption in racing." Today the company delivered letters presenting its case to all members of Parliament.

ukbetting Purchase -- British gaming company ukbetting, which has acquired several online betting companies and content providers in the last two years, has bought Austrian GoldBet for 4.5 million euros. The purchase will occur in two phases, with ukbetting acquiring 51 percent of GoldBet immediately and then gaining the remainder in March 2006.

LegalPlay -- LegalPlay Entertainment announced it is pleased with the data from its continuing beta testing of its DailyHorse.com horse racing analysis and prediction software. The company says it assessed the proprietary algorithm for its predictive performance based on a sampling of this year's races and found that it could "predict at least one winning, placing or showing horse 90 percent of the time with respect to the top three horses as selected by the DailyHorse.com system." LegalPlay, which is trying to secure additional financing through debt or equity, has decided against acquiring GamblingVision Group after a due diligence period because the company's technology may not fit LegalPlay's core business.

Google Suit -- Digital Envoy, a company that provides geographical information about Web surfers based only on their IP addresses, has filed a patent infringement law suit against Google. The company claims that Google's use of Digital Envoy's technology to place advertisements on third-party sites is a breach of the licensing agreement between the two.

Wednesday, March 31

Float Delay -- E-payment system company NETeller was scheduled to raise £50 million through a flotation on the London Stock Exchange's Alternative Investment Market (AIM) today, but the company's prospectus was only published on Monday so the float will probably be delayed until next Thursday. NETeller's 20 million new shares are likely to be valued around 200p per share. The Telegraph reported that shares were allocated last night and oversubscribed by 1.3 times. The company will place 5 million more shares with existing shareholders through Canaccord Capital and joint broker Durlacher. The upcoming flotation should give NETeller a market capitalization of £250 million.

Quoteworthy -- "This is more likely to be a bunch of smart kids in Taiwan than any organized criminals. Criminals would be more organized and efficient. Today we know of no one who has paid [the blackmailers], and no one that has been attacked more than once."-- David Hook, William Hill's head of public relations, providing an atypical reaction to the wave of DDoS attacks that have been plaguing the industry for the last half-year. A spokesperson for Britain's National Hi-Tech Crime Unit expressed the opinion that the media has blown the situation out of proportion and claimed that bookmakers should have no fear of being shut down for the Grand Nationals this weekend. Contrary to most reports, the spokesperson said, "We've received no intelligence about UK betting sites being targeted ahead of any sporting events. The only time this has happened in the past was when the Super Bowl took place."

Streaker's Plea -- Online Casino News reports that Mark Roberts-- the Golden Palace Casino-sponsored streaker who crashed this year's Super Bowl after halftime wearing only a thong-- plans to plead innocent to trespassing violations at his upcoming court hearing in Houston. According to Online Casino News, the world's most prolific streaker plans to plead innocence because no one told him he could not do what he did.

Cereal Linked to Casino -- Kellogg's Australia is being investigated by the Department of Communications and Information Technology and Arts because a promotional CD-ROM included in boxes of Nutri-Grain cereal supplies a link to an online casino. When installing Moto Racer 3, one of the games on the sampler disc, users are asked whether they would like install a link to an online casino. It is illegal for Australians to provide interactive casino gambling, so the department is trying to determine whether Kellog's broke the law by supplying the disc.

Betfair Lite -- Betting exchange Betfair has launched Betfair Lite, a site that allows PDA and mobile viewers to view all bet prices in all markets on Betfair. The site does not yet support account log-in or wager placement, but those abilities will be implemented in the future. The company also notes that Betfair Lite can not yet be accessed by WAP enabled phones, and prices do not automatically refresh for PDAs, saving customers money on bandwidth costs. The site is already online at http://lite.betfair.com.

New Owners -- Canbet Sports Bookmakers UK (www.canbet.com)-- a subsidiary of Canbet Ltd, which is publicly traded on the Australian Stock Exchange-- has agreed to purchase Queen's Club Casino (www.queensclub.com) from Boss Media. Canbet will also receive a poker application that will connect Canbet's customers to the Boss Poker Network and a Bingo application that will link customers to the Boss Bingo Network. Boss's gaming system will fully integrate with Canbet's system, and all customers will use Canbet's proprietary payment solution.

Tuesday, March 30

Betfair Numbers -- Betexchangenews.com reports that Betfair is currently matching an average of £250 million worth of bets per week. Up to 1.5 million bets are matched each day, and at any given time there are likely 5,000 to 6,000 surfers on the Betfair web site. Betfair's trading system is apparently so stable that the London Stock Exchange has reportedly asked Betfair to serve as a consultant in helping to improve the efficiency of its own trading system. Betfair's commercial director, Time Levene, told Winner Online last week: "Our active client base is at 100,000. The last numbers we released, which was almost a year ago, we had over $50 million pounds a week in matched wagers. On our peak days, we are seeing over one million individual wagers. Tens of thousands of simultaneous wagers and transactions are hitting the system all at the same time. Not even the Nasdaq or the London Stock Exchange carry the load we do during peak times."

iTV Lotto -- Camelot has revealed plans to launch the National Lottery on interactive TV next month and on mobile platforms a little later in the year. Last week Camelot announced that its first ever online lottery jackpot winner raked in £5.9 million. A year ago Camelot put interactive scratchcards and instant win games on the Internet, but the main Lotto game and Daily Play game didn't go online until December.

Cost of Cyber Crime -- "Spammers, hackers and virus writers are beginning to work together in packs of organized crime, and small businesses must protect themselves if they are to avoid infection. A managing director would never dream of leaving their offices unlocked and unalarmed overnight, but many will sleep easy knowing their computer systems are unprotected."-- Sal Viveros, marketing manager of small to medium business at Network Associates, which owns the firm McAfee Security, which surveyed 500 small businesses in six European countries during the winter of 2003 in order to compile a report called European Security -- Counting the Cost of Cyber-crime. According to McAfee, 20 percent of small businesses across Europe were forced to close their offices for several hours in order to recover from a virus attack. In Italy the figure was as high as 30 percent and in France it was 50 percent. Each virus attack costs a company an average of 5,000 euros in repair and lost time.

BMM Certified -- BMM International has certified that www.StarLuckCasino.com, which uses iGlobalMedia software, complies with the Kahnawake Gaming Commission's technical requirements for fair, correct, and unpredictable gameplay, and that its system is stable and resilient.

Name Change -- Grand Central Sports Group, also know as GC Sports, (www.gcsports.com) says it has changed its name to MyBookie.com in order to better reflect its business model, which was completely telephone-based in 1998, but now conducts 94 percent of its business online. In addition to sports and race wagering, Mybookie.com also offers an online casino suite powered by Parlay Entertainment Group's software.

Monday, March 29

Totesport League -- Totesport has signed a sponsorship deal with the England and Wales Cricket Board to become the official sponsor of the next two seasons of matches in the totesport League (formerly the National Cricket League), which consists of 162 matches each season, 31 of which are televised while 22 are floodlit. The deal is totesport's first major sponsorship outside of horseracing. Just two weeks ago the tote announced a £5 million facelift that created two new brands: totepool for horse racing pools and betting and totesport for other sports betting. The tote's managing director, Peter Jones, said, “Following hard on the heels of our recent rebranding, this is a very exciting development, which allows us to be recognized as the broad betting organization that we are. Totesport is keen to spread its success by widening its portfolio to other high profile sports. We hope that the benefits we have brought to the sport of horseracing can be developed elsewhere and look forward to being part of what is expected to be a great season for the totesport League."

English Football MOU -- The Football Association has become the fifth sports organization to sign a memorandum of understanding with betting exchange Betfair. The agreement allows the Football Association to access customer account information from Betfair in situations where the organization has reasonable suspicion about corrupt betting by players or other individuals involved in English football. Betfair has reached similar agreements with the UK Jockey Club, the International Cricket Council, the Association of Tennis Professionals, and the Darts Regulation Authority. It is also rumored that the Irish Turf Club may soon sign a memorandum of understanding with Betfair.

Grad School -- The University of Salford in Manchester, UK claims to offer the only post-grad course for the gambling industry in Europe. The part-time course, which until September was available only to licensed industry workers, is now open to everyone, and recent graduates are encouraged to apply. The course lasts for two semesters and covers every aspect of managing in the gambling industry, including online gaming.

Watchdog Files Complaint -- Gambling Watch, a New Zealand web site that provides "info and help for communities facing gambling expansion," has complained to Internal Affairs about unsolicited gambling information that Internet provider Xtra is attaching to outgoing e-mails. Gambling Watch alleges that customers are receiving personal e-mails that have messages at the bottom prompting users to "check out the Xtra gaming servers," where online card and board games-- in addition to links to play for money games and online casinos-- can be found. At least one woman is concerned that the message may have been attached to e-mails she sent to children. Gambling Watch says minors can easily reach the site, which is violating the Gambling Act. Officials with both Internal Affairs and Xtra are looking into the matter.

Streaking Skater -- On Saturday another Golden Palace-tattooed streaker crashed a major sporting event, this time the women's figure skating world championship in Dortmund, Germany. A man leaped onto the ice just as American Michelle Kwan was beginning her performance. The man skated to center ice where he removed his shirt, revealing the now famous Golden Palace tattoos, and then put on ski goggles and a gold tutu as he commenced a short figure skating routine of his own. The man was later identified as Ron Bensimhon, a 30 year-old man from Montreal. According to a Golden Palace press release, "Sources have revealed the identity of the streaker to be Ron Simon, the self-proclaimed 'World's Best Drummer.' Rumors circulating report that music fans within the Golden Palace team may have originally backed Simon in his lifetime goal of a record deal drumming debut, and that in celebration for the support, he has since taken his own streaking initiative."