Weekly Nambling Notes, July 29-August 2

4 August 2002
Friday, August 2

On the E-Commerce Front -- The Associated Press reported Friday that Bank of America has mailed thousands of notices to its Arizona-based customers informing them they can't use their cards for illegal transactions, including Internet gambling. The mailer outlined several new polices, among them a statement that the bank is not liable for illegal transactions, even if it fails to decline them.

Makin' Deals -- The United Kingdom's third largest sports betting chain, Coral, has finally been sold. After weeks of speculation that U.K. casino groups Rank and Stanley Leisure were in the hunt, Coral was sold to private equity firm Charterhouse Development for £860 million (US$1.3 billion) from Morgan Grenfell Private Equity (MGPE), which began suiting a buyer in May after deciding not to float the company on the stock market. MGPE bought Coral from Ladbrokes for £390 million in 1999. Coral operates 870 shops and the Eurobet Internet betting group. The deal is subject to approval by the European Commission.

A Wormy Tidbit -- Former NBA bad boy Dennis Rodman may have exited the online gambling business, but he hasn't stepped out of the spotlight. On Aug. 9, less than two weeks after the announced closure of the Rodman-endorsed online casino, I-gaming's king of promotions, GoldenPalace.com, will co-host Rodman's "I'm Back" party at the Crobar the Nightclub in Chicago. The casino recently ran a contest offering the winner a trip for two to Chicago to attend the party. Golden Palace was also the title sponsor of Rodman's first annual Hamptonfest Celebrity Hoops 3-on-3 Tournament. Several sports personalities, including Magic Johnson, ex-NBA star Chris Mullin and NHL star Alexei Yashin, were on hand. The casino contributed to the event by donating $15,000 for the children of Whalebone Village and the Hayground School. The tournament will be televised several times on the E! Network this fall.

Wednesday, July 31

Makin' Deals -- Interactive Systems Worldwide Inc. announced Wednesday that its wholly owned subsidiary, ISW Acquisition Co. , has entered into agreements to acquire all of the outstanding shares of Global Interactive Gaming Ltd. ("GIG"). GIG is Interactive Systems worldwide licensee for wagering and contests utilizing its play-by-play SportXctionT Wagering System.

New Stuff -- Speirtech, the Dublin-based mobile gaming company, has declared that its recent demonstration with Logica of interactive casino games on mobile handsets was the first time this has been achieved in the MMS arena. The mobile gaming demonstration was performed using Logica's mobile application interface and Speirtech's mobile gaming platform.

Bowing Out -- Retired NBA bad boy Dennis Rodman joins the ranks of Reggie Jackson, Rodney Dangerfield and Evel Knievel as the latest celebrity to see his or her online gambling operation fail. The Dennis Rodman online casino that launched late last year has pulled the plug. No explanation was given by Rodman or the casino for the site's demise.

Names and Faces Changing Places -- Scientific Games Corp. announced the addition of Eric M. Turner, Antonio Belloni and Rosario Bifulco to its board of directors. Turner is currently a senior vice president of State Street Corp. , Belloni is the deputy chairman of Lottomatica and managing director of De Agostini, and Bifulco is CEO and managing director of Lottomatica. Lottomatica is Scientific Games' largest shareholder and one of the largest lottery operators in the world. ... James R. Hurley is retiring from the position of chairman of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission.

Mark Your Calendar -- Next week is Responsible Gaming Education week. The event, developed by the American Gaming Association, will promote responsible gambling partly by offering an interactive quiz at http://www.americangaming.org so that people can test their knowledge of safe gaming practices. According to the National Gambling Impact Study Commission 's 1999 report, between 0.6 and 1.5 percent of adults in the United States have a gambling problem.

Say What? -- "It would be extraordinary if people did not realize that, on a regular basis, they lose."

-- Sir Alan Budd, chairman of the United Kingdom's Gambling Review Body, in testimony before the Culture, Media and Sport Committee of the House of Commons on July 2. Budd had been asked by committee member Alan Keen whether the government should educate people on gambling odds.

Tuesday, July 30

Makin' Deals -- Rank Interactive Gaming Ltd. , a wholly owned subsidiary of leisure and entertainment giant Rank Group Plc, has chosen OpenBet software from Orbis and WagerWorks' WagerWare casino software to support HardRockCasino.com. The Web site will operate under Rank Interactive's license issued by the tightly regulated Isle of Man government. ... Eric "Butterbean" Esch is the latest boxer to agree to wear a GoldenPalace.com henna tattoo to a fight. Esch will fight Larry Holmes on Sept. 27 in Norfolk, Va. Golden Palace issued a press release stating that Esch "has by far the largest real estate available in the boxing community, and it was only a matter of time before GoldenPalace.com rented the space." ... 1X Inc. , a developer of online exchange-based software, has selected Phantom Fiber Inc. to develop wireless solutions for its deployment of the world's first wireless betting exchange. The terms of the agreement call for Phantom Fiber to create wireless-betting solutions that can be downloaded onto hand-held devices from 1X's partner Web sites. In turn, 1X will develop alliances for the deployment of Phantom Fiber's wireless solutions as well as introduce a staged rollout of its wireless solutions for 1X's SportMarkets.

Tidbit from Down Under -- BMM International, the independent testing group based in Melbourne, said Tuesday it has developed a new system to verify a gaming system's integrity. Unlike old methods, the new system will allow operators to make minor changes to their games without having to retest them. James Sargeant, a senior computer systems engineering consultant at BMM, said the model offers both an effective solution for regulators and a commercially attractive prospect for gaming operators. "Perhaps most importantly, players will have another good reason to be attracted to operators in regulated jurisdictions," he said.

Tidbit from the UK -- England's MPs recently released a report stating that the liberalization of betting laws "will not result in a flood of new players getting hooked on gambling." In recent months, church leaders and psychology professionals have openly opposed the government's plan to ease gambling restrictions, which is scheduled for the 2003-2004 session of Parliament.

New Stuff -- Interspace Enterprises Inc.'s online entertainment site, Planetlotto.com, is adding a keno game to its offerings, which already include lottery, bingo, and scratch card games. Planetlotto.com's keno will allow players to wager between 25 cents and $10 and choose up to 10 numbers. ... UltimateBet.com is getting involved in The World Poker Tour to combine online with land-based play. The site will be offering 86 free trips to Aruba for players who qualify; Aruba is where the Ultimate Poker Classic $100,000 main event, which will be televised, is to be held. ... Online gambling site PokerStars said Tuesday that its recent World Championship of Online Poker generated a prize pool of $809,050 over the course of nine events. The final event, which was on July 28, had a prize pool of $238,000. The winner of the final event took home $65,000.

Middle Eastern Tidbit -- Islamic Action Front (IAF), Jordan's most influential Muslim opposition group, responded with opposition to the government's ruling that setting up casinos in the Red Sea resort of Aqaba would not violate Jordanian law. The IAF said, "Jordan is a Muslim country... and licensing casinos contradicts (our) belief, the constitution and the interests of the country."

Say What? -- "Illegal sports gambling cases are federal law enforcement's old reliable. The FBI's competence in terrorist matters might be questioned daily in the nation's press, but those wily old illegal bookmakers continue to take a beating from Buffalo to Curacao."

--Columnist John L. Smith, in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, July 30

Monday, July 29

New Stuff -- Playtech recently launched the Web sites of its two newest licensees, Grand Banks Casino and Black Widow Casino, both of which switched to Playtech software from other providers. Playtech now powers 13 online casinos. ... Biometrica, a division of Viisage Technology Inc. , a developer of face-recognition technology, will be displaying the BiometriCam at the Global Gaming Expo on Sept. 17-19 in Las Vegas. The biometric surveillance product was recently installed at Harrah's Joliet Casino & Hotel in Illinois.

Tidbits from Macau -- Galaxy Casino Company is planning to launch a temporary casino in Macau by the end of the year, the Xinhua news agency is reporting. Galaxy was the recipient of one of three new casino licenses and is owned by the Venetian and Lui Chi-woo, a Hong Kong-based business owner. It plans to pump US$1.1 billion into the Macau economy in the next 10 years. The foreign minister of Russia, Igor Ivanov, met with Macau's leader, Chief Executive Edmund Ho, on Monday to discuss ways the two groups could improve business and cultural ties. Ivanov said he hopes to strengthen ties between the two cultures.

A U.K. Bit -- Scotland's Evening News reported last week that Internet gambling is enjoying increased business across Europe, including in the United Kingdom, where Eurobet.co.uk is recording a 171 percent increase for May, Ladbrokes.com is seeing a 95 percent increase and William Hill's Web site is up 71 percent.

News From Down Under -- The government of South Australia is embarking on a major study on the relationship between gambling and crime. John Hill, the state's minister for gambling, said the study will be performed by the Independent Gambling Authority. ... Tattersalls will continue to operate the public lottery in Victoria until 2007, the company said recently. John Lenders, the acting minister for gaming, said Tattersalls has agreed to pay the Department of Treasury and Finance a special premium payment of AU$3 million.

Names and Faces -- Tom Betts has resigned his position as director of Gaming Insight, the company said Friday. Betts left to focus on his new position as the director of business development at Granada Media.




Emily Swoboda is the senior staff writer at IGamingNews. She lives in St. Louis, Mo.