Weekly Nambling Notes

19 June 2004
Friday, June 18

Rigorous Tesing -- Britain's National Lottery operator, Camelot, says it receives 10,000 new online registrations each week. Hoping that 5 percent of sales will come through interactive channels, the company is spending £45 million over seven year to develop and run Internet and digital TV channels. Camelot attributes its success through interactive channels so far to rigorous testing.

In-Room Gaming -- BettingCorp UK Ltd., an I-gaming software supplier and subsidiary of OpenTV, has signed a multi-year contract to provide its "UlitmateOne Technology" system on Quadriga's "Genesis" platform, which is a fully digital on-demand in-room entertainment system for the hotel industry. BettingCorp's games will at first be available to all hotels in the United Kingdom that operate the Genesis system, and eventually Quadriga will incorporate them into all of its hotels in Europe, in accordance with each jurisdiction's laws and regulations. Players can wager real money or play for fun games such as keno, virtual horseracing, slots, video poker, blackjack and roulette in addition to skill games like trivia, word and arcade-style games.

Quoteworthy -- "There is massive betting interest worldwide on the outcome of Euro 2004, and we now have clients betting with us from 193 different countries. As well as being the biggest betting football tournament ever, Euro 2004 will set new records for Internet turnover, with a nine-figure sum gambled on the Web for the first time. However, the majority of money bet will still be staked in betting shops."

A statement from betting company William Hill, which predicts that over £100 million will be wagered online on the tournament.

Terror Concerns -- The Sydney Morning Herald reported today that Australia' federal cabinet is examining the possibilities of instituting tougher legislation to ban foreign Internet gambling, mostly because of fears that Internet gambling can be used to finance terrorist activity and that it causes a high degree of problem gambling among young people. Among the options the cabinet is considering are total prohibition, tough industry regulations and leaving policing to the states.

Thursday, June 17

Betfair Steps Into Asia -- One of betting exchange Betfair's first attempts to open the Asian market could involve entering a deal with Singapore Pools, one of only two legal gambling operators in Singapore. Illegal soccer gambling is widespread in Singapore, and Betfair's managing director for Asia, Tim Levene, thinks a Betfair-Singapore Pools partnership could challenge illegal bookmakers by offering punters comparable prices. Levene did say, however, that Betfair would need the full cooperation of Singapore Pools to enter the local market. A spokesperson for Singapore Pools told the The Straits Times, "Betfair did pay us a courtesy call. However, there are no specific plans at the moment and it would be premature for us to comment on what they are doing."

Aussie Anti-P2P Campaign -- Racing NSW is expected to call a press conference next week to discuss the problems that betting exchanges bring to racing. Rumor has it that TV commercials designed to heighten awareness of the harm done by betting exchanges will soon follow.

Under Attack -- The Web sites of both Victor Chandler and Capital Sports came under distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks Tuesday, the first day of the Royal Ascot. The attacks began at both sites at about 4:45 p.m. (GMT), just as the fifth race of the Ascot Stakes was about to begin. Neither site experienced more than 20 minutes of downtime. Capital Sports, which suffered several hours of downtime last Wednesday, said it received no ransom notice before the attack.

Z4P Casinos in Hotels -- I-gaming software provider Zone4Play Inc. has released a suite of casino games for LodgeNet Entertainment Corporation's hotel TV GameRoom offering, which will run on a digital and Internet-based platform. The play-for-fun games include blackjack, slots, video poker, Caribbean poker and roulette. LodgeNet is one of the largest providers of broadband and interactive services to the lodging industry. The company provides service to nearly 1 million rooms in more than 5,800 hotel properties worldwide.

Virgin Watch -- Virgin Group, which already has a beta version of its new gaming site up and running with casino, bingo and arcade games, may also be planning to launch a sports betting service. Virgin Games CEO Oscar Nieboer told New Media Age that his company is exploring different ways to bring innovative new services. "We're looking at how Virgin would enter the [sports betting] market. We think there's some stuff around novelty bets, some demystified fun-orientated betting product," he said. The company is ironing out plans to integrate Virgin Games into the rest of the Virgin network, and will likely develop marketing plans whereby users of the sister brands, like Virgin Mobile and Virgin Travelstore, will be offered special promotions.

Ritz Exchange -- Ritz Club London Online has signed a two-year deal with Betfair to offer punters a co-branded betting exchange.

SportXction on Chandler -- Victor Chandler UK Limited has signed an agreement to incorporate Global Interactive Gaming's SportXction play-by-play sports betting system into its U.K. Internet site at www.victorchandler.co.uk. In addition to supplying the technology, GIG will operate the system and take a share of wagering revenue, while Victor Chandler will lead the marketing campaign, provide first level customer support, and process customer transactions. The service will launch this month, and the two companies are negotiating to bring SportXction to the rest of Victor Chandler's international Web sites.

Wednesday, June 16

Punt2Punt -- The Gaming Bourse, a global betting exchange for financial, commodities, media, political and sports betting markets, has delayed the initial launch date of its service at Punt2Punt.com because of system configuration problems encountered while migrating the software from the test to the live environment. The site is now scheduled to go live June 21. In addition to operating Punt2Punt, the company plans to offer white-label services internationally. The Gaming Bourse's exchange platform boasts streaming prices that don't have to be refreshed and offers punters the option of choosing traditional, digital or indexed price odds. Additionally, customers can choose whether commissions will be drawn from their net winnings or their stakes. The Gaming Bourse plans to raise £5 million by floating on the Alternative Investment Market of the London Stock Exchange in the very near future.

DDoS Attack -- A DDoS attack launched against Akamai Technologies, a company that handles traffic for many popular Internet sites, knocked several high-profile Web sites--including Google, Yahoo and Microsoft--offline for about an hour yesterday. The attack occurred on a day when Yahoo had chosen to upgrade all of its e-mail clients to 100 MBs of storage space, so many users assumed the upgrade was to blame for the slowness they experienced with their e-mail. Akamai is assisting U.S. federal law enforcement agencies in their investigation of the attack.

Ad Code of Practice -- The Interactive Gaming Council has drafted an updated "Advertising Code of Practice" for casino operators and software developers. The new code, which warns against unsolicited advertising, including spam and pop-up ads, was unanimously approved by the IGC's board of directors at its meeting in Toronto last month. Executive director of the IGC, Rick Smith, said, "It's a sad fact that Internet casinos and sports books are, knowingly or unknowingly, responsible for contributing to the spam problem. Spam often originates from a third-party marketing company or affiliate rather than the gaming operator, but regardless of the source, spam needlessly alienates many consumers who would otherwise bear no ill will to online gaming." The new code also advises that advertising not be false or misleading (especially with regard to the odds of winning), should be in good taste and should not focus on minors or be displayed at sites frequented by minors. The Web site should contain the name and address of the operator, contact information for complaints, and accurate information about the jurisdiction and gaming license under which the site operates. The entire code can be viewed at: www.igcouncil.org/read_news.php?id=15.

Memorandum Likely -- The Racing Post reports that Rob Hartnett, managing director of betting exchange Betdaq, has confirmed that his company is close to signing a memorandum of understanding with the British Jockey Club. The agreement entails Betdaq sharing some of its clients' information with the club in situations where there was reasonable suspicion about illegal betting. Betdaq expressed adamant opposition when the Jockey Club entered into a similar agreement with Betdaq's chief competitor, Betfair, last summer.

Spammed If You Do -- The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has opted not to create a national do-not-spam registry because of concerns that the list could actually be used by spammers as a source of verified e-mail addresses that could be easily targeted. The FTC was obligated to consider drafting the list when the CAN-SPAM Act became law in January.

Spotlight on Skill Games Networks -- According to comScore Media Metrix, skill games site Miniclip.com is the seventh largest computer gaming site in the world, with 15.6 million unique visitors in March. The site features games like "Break the Wall" (sponsored by Totesport), where soccer players attempt to push penalty kicks through a wall of defensemen, and "Bush Shootout," where U.S. President George Bush must single-handedly defend the White House against hordes of attacking terrorists. Another Miniclip property, Miniclip-Tournaments.com, is ranked the 41st largest gaming site and is growing. The tournament site uses unique community features and allows players to pay real money to play in skill games tournaments for prizes. Miniclip's chief executive, Robert Small, said that the tournament site attracted 2 million registered users in its first few months, helping the company more than double its overall profit this year. The technology and tournament infrastructure behind Miniclip-Tournaments.com is provided by Game Trust, Inc.

Tuesday, June 15

Popular -- Casino City has launched a new Web site, https://online.casinocity.com, that ranks over 2,000 online gaming sites in order of popularity. Users can see site rankings and profiles categorized by software developer, by licensing jurisdiction, by type of gaming (poker, sports betting, etc.) and more. Each site's profile provides a general overview, current special offers, software vendor, licensing jurisdiction, deposit methods, currencies accepted, support and contact information.

Quoteworthy -- "Our customers have, in the last two weeks, been likened to or defamed as 'spikers' by William Hill, Columbian drug barons by Ladbrokes and absconders from a mythical address in Kowloon by the BHB. The irony is that we know exactly who are customers are and they are none of the above. Can the bookmakers and their apologists claim the same knowledge?"

- Rob Hartnett, managing director of betting exchange Betdaq, responding to comments expressing racing integrity worries from Greg Nichols, chief executive of the British Horseracing Board.

Super Affiliate -- GoodLot.com, the U.K. soft gaming arm of the Dutch National Postcode Lottery, has created a white label, free "Penalty Shoot Out Game" for online gift and gadget retailer IWOOT.com just in time for the Euro 2004 tournament. Customers at IWOOT can visit the Penalty Shoot Out skin on the GoodLot server and then compete for prizes such as a mini fridge and beer crate plus footie kit, Best Western Lisbon holidays and iPods. IWOOT is a super affiliate paid on results from GoodLot, with e-mail, creative and production all shared in house to keep costs at a minimum. In its first weekend, the game received 4,000 visitors and 1,000 registrations without any external marketing. The two companies are so pleased with the game's results that they are planning a similar partnership for a special game during the summer Olympics.

Record Wins -- Nevada's casino industry continues to post increasing profits. In April the state's 349 casinos collectively reported gaming win that had increased by 11 percent, or $82.3 million, as compared to the same month last year. In fact, this April was the industry's best ever as it posted wins totaling $826.9 million. The industry experienced its best single month ever in March 2004, raking in $930.3 million to surpass the three-year-old record $899.l8 million in January 2001. The $875.9 million win in February was also an all-time high for that month.

Monday, June 14

Virtual Horses -- VIS iTV Ltd. has signed a multi-year contract to launch its virtual horse racing and management game, I-Race, on Youbet.com, the largest provider of horse race wagering and content in the United States. Real-money wagering on I-Race will not initially be available.

Quoteworthy -- "It's our very own D-day. Ladbrokes believes it has a fundamental right under European law to provide its services freely across borders."

- John O'Reilly, managing director of Ladbrokes eGaming, commenting on Ladbrokes' recent court victory in the Netherlands. He added, "Betting and gaming is virtually the only monopoly industry left in the E.U., and this judgment is another step towards free and fair competition."

First Maltese License -- WorldMatch, a company whose I-gaming system was designed to "give access to the gaming sector to other entities without any commitment in terms of management, technology, finance or legal matters," has become Malta's first licensee under the island's new remote gaming regulations. WorldMatch has so far signed six different contracts with companies wishing to use its services.

Mobile Chandler -- Gibraltar-based gaming company Victor Chandler is launching a mobile sports betting service that will work across all networks and offer all bets available on the bookmaker's Web site. The service will initially launch with only Java-based phone compatibility, but within a month technology should be in place to allow WAP-enabled phones to view the site. The service is now in a soft launch phase, and a promotional campaign is planned for early July. The company's development manager, Joe Coughlin, said users will find it easier to place bets with the new system rather than with the existing phone betting service.

Report -- Screen Digest, a London-based research firm, estimates that the online gaming market will double over the next four years. In its recent report, Online Gaming Markets to 2007: The New Growth Opportunities, the company also speculates that pay-per-play gaming is should grow at a compound rate of 40 percent between now and 2007, and that women are currently driving the casual gaming market, though men still remain the hardcore gamblers.

Survey Says -- The U.S.-based Computer Security Institute (CSI) says that distributed denial service attacks (DDoS) have replaced intellectual property theft as the costliest computer crime. In conjunction with the FBI's computer intrusion squad, CSI surveyed 494 computer security practitioners with U.S. corporations, government agencies, universities, financial institutions and medical institutions. Overall financial losses due to security breaches have dropped since last year's $202 million to $141 million.

Verizon Poker -- Verizon Wireless and games developer Atlas Mobile announced they are launching a multiplayer game called "Hold'em Poker for Prizes." Players using Verizon Wireless' "Get It Now"-enabled phones can compete against one another for prizes. The game is different from Texas Hold'em in that players are given a time limit in which to pick their own cards to build the best hand. Points are accumulated based on how quickly the pot it won. The game will be offered on a subscription basis of $2.99 per month.