March 29, 2010

Basle's Grand Royal casino raided by armed gang

French and Swiss police have launched a cross-border manhunt for an armed gang who stormed a casino in Basle and broke open cash desks before vanishing into the night with hundreds of thousands of euros.

The raid, which prosecutors said was a professional operation orchestrated with "brutal" efficiency, was carried out at 4am this morning at the city's Grand Casino by about 10 masked raiders armed with machine guns and pistols.

After one man burst through the front entrance with a sledgehammer, his accomplices ran inside and ordered guests to the floor while firing into the air. "The criminals fired a number of shots, but luckily no one was hit," the Basle public prosecutor said in a statement.

Some of the gang tried to break into the safe room but failed, despite firing bullets into the door. Others went to the cash desks and managed to steal "several hundreds of thousands of [Swiss] francs".

The gang then sped off across the border in two silver Audi cars whose numberplates were registered in the Bas-Rhin area of eastern France. The Grand Casino, which describes itself as "the Swiss Las Vegas", is just 200 metres from the French border. Witnesses said the gang members spoke in French.

Today, as the authorities in both countries stepped up the manhunt, casino staff said they were left shaken by the heist. "This is the first time we've been robbed. We are all very shocked. You can prepare for it, but when it happens it's something else," a manager, Michael Favrod, told Swiss television. "Thankfully nothing happened to my colleagues or the guests," he added. While none of the staff or guests were shot, several were kicked or manhandled. One woman, who accidentally blocked the gang's getaway, was dragged from her car and beaten, said the authorities. "The perpetrators knew what they were after. They proceeded quickly, professionally and brutally," said Peter Gill, a spokesman for the Basle prosecutors.

When the heist began, around 600 people were still in the casino for late-night gambling which under normal circumstances would have gone on until closing time at 5am. With nearly 360 slot machines, 15 gambling tables, four bars, two restaurants and a "designer" hotel, police said the casino would have been an appealing target for robbers.

This was not the first time that criminals have targeted a European gambling centre this month. On 6 March attackers held up a Berlin poker tournament and threatened guests with a revolver and a machete as they helped themselves to €240,000. German police say they have since arrested five people suspected of involvement.

Turkish police arrest dozens in football fixing probe

Turkish police have arrested scores of people in connection with a Europe-wide football match-fixing scandal that began four months ago in Germany.

The scandal is dominating the news in Turkey, pushing aside ongoing judicial and political crises.

The arrests were made in 26 towns and cities across the country. Some of those detained are household names in Turkey where football is fanatically followed by tens of millions.

One of those arrested is former international star Arif Erdem, who shot to fame in the 2000 European football championship by scoring the fastest international hat trick. He is seen as the most significant arrest in Turkey's match-fixing investigation.

Erdem is now coach of a first-division team, and denies involvement in the scandal.

He says he has nothing to do with the accusations and has nothing to hide. Erdem said because his name is included in the investigation he turned himself into authorities. He thanked the police for his treatment and said he spent the night helping them with the inquiry.

The investigation is the biggest of its kind in Turkey. It was prompted after German police said four months ago they had broken the world's biggest match-fixing conspiracy. German investigators believe 200 matches in 11 countries were fixed by players and referees.

But the Turkish Football Federation said these arrests are not related to the German investigation. This latest inquiry is suspected to involve as many 30 Turkish games. While most of the games are believed to involve lower-league games, the arrest of a coach from the first division is fueling allegations the scandal could implicate some of the country's most prestigious teams.

Football is big business in Turkey, with the top 20 teams earning $6 billion last season.

On the streets of Istanbul there is shock and resignation. "We loved them actually they were famous players, we did not think that they could do this. We are shocked. But it has happened. But it must be good actually in the end, because the guilties must be punished," one person said.

Another added "Because this is Turkey, it is very normal, because we have corruption everywhere. When I saw it on TV, I said it is very normal that they are also fixing the games. They are fixing everything in Turkey, there is so much corruption."

Rumors of match fixing are frequently heard with claims that clubs or referees threw games, but are usually dismissed as sour grapes from losing supporters. With so many arrests and more expected, any supporters' claim of vindication will be overshadowed by the realization the nation's favorite game may have fallen victim to the scourge of corruption.

March 26, 2010

France's FDJ buys LVS ahead of World Cup

LA Française des Jeux (FDJ), the French national lottery operator and the second largest lottery operator in the world, has acquired LVS, the betting software supplier that FDJ in January signed to provide its fixed-odds sports betting platform.

FDJ chairman and chief executive Christophe Blanchard-Dignac said: “This is an important acquisition in the context of the opening of the French online betting market to competition. By buying this company, La Française des Jeux reinforces its technological control on the overall activity – sports betting and lotteries – in the stake of the safety of our customers.”

The acquisition for an undisclosed sum of the software house by FDJ follows January’s announcement that LVS had won the contract to deliver fixed-odds sports betting online for FDJ once the French online sports betting market opens this year.

French budget minister Eric Woerth recently announced the country’s online gaming law will come into effect by 1 June, opening the country’s egaming market for competition ahead of this summer’s football World Cup.

LVS chief executive Simon Ordish said: “We’re delighted that La Française des Jeux has chosen to strengthen even further the successful relationship we already have. It will enable us to take the business to the next level and exploit new opportunities.”

FDJ’s range of sports bets increased by 24% year-on-year and accounted for sales of €783m in 2009, representing around 8% of turnover. Online bets increased 61% to €43m. FDJ has set a target of €1bn-worth of sports bets in 2010 through online and retail sales, representing 10% of overall sales.

UK and Gibraltar-based LVS, which employs around 40 people, is currently working with FDJ to build a new live betting platform.

France's PMU selects PartyGaming for online poker launch

In yet another standout B2B deal for the company, PartyGaming plc said Friday that it has signed an exclusive multi-year agreement to provide an online poker service to France's state controlled bookmaker PMU, one of Europe’s largest betting operations.

Under the terms of the agreement, the two companies will co-operate to create a PMU-branded online poker service based on PartyGaming's poker software which will be integrated into PMU's own player account systems.

The PMU poker service will also provide access for players to the shared player liquidity on PartyGaming's French poker network which will include Partypoker.fr.

With the imminent opening of the French online gaming market to competition, PartyGaming said that the poker service will be available once the two parties have both obtained the required French licences.

“Today's agreement with PMU is consistent with our stated strategy of securing a small number of high value partners in regulated markets,” said Jim Ryan, Chief Executive Officer of PartyGaming. “PMU is widely recognised as one of Europe's leading betting businesses and we look forward to providing them with a world class poker service.”

PMU recently announced its twelfth year of consecutive growth with turnover of €9.3 billion, of which €660 million was generated from its PMU.fr online betting site. The company earned gross profit of €2.2 billion in 2009 and numbers more than 6.5 million customers in France.

The deal with PMU comes just two months after PartyGaming sealed its most significant B2B deal to date, signing a five year contract to provide an online casino and poker platform to Danish gaming monopoly holder Danske Spil.

March 25, 2010

Bwin and PartyGaming update

Bwin Interactive Entertainment AG, PartyGaming Plc and William Hill Plc, the companies with the biggest shares of Europe’s online gambling revenue, and their competitors may face higher costs as the expansion of that 8.3 billion-euro market comes with new regulations.

French senators have approved regulations that will grant online gambling licenses to foreign companies, ending a ban. Denmark may do the same, and Italy is opening its market in stages. Germany’s prohibition faces a challenge at Europe’s highest court.

Companies moving into the expanded markets face tight restrictions. Building operations that can comply with new regulations in multiple countries requires a minimum investment of about 1 billion euros ($1.4 billion), said Norbert Teufelberger, co-chief executive officer of Vienna-based Bwin.

“This opening up of the market may not be as attractive as PartyGaming and Bwin say,” Martin Oelbermann, director of MECN, a Munich-based consulting firm, said by phone. “Are we really getting more betters, or are we going to get the same clients as before, but now we have to pay taxes on them?”

Europe’s online gambling industry is the world’s largest. Among publicly listed companies, Bwin has the largest European market share by revenue with 8 percent, followed by Gibraltar- based PartyGaming with 6.3 percent and London-based William Hill with 4.5 percent, according to 2008 data from Barclays Capital.

Online gambling in “offshore” markets, in which some companies may have customers in countries with official bans, expanded more than 10-fold between 2003 and 2010 to about 6.5 billion euros, according to figures from H2 Gambling Capital, a Manchester, England-based consulting firm. That growth will slow to 13 percent through 2012 as more countries permit gambling, H2 said. Regulated onshore revenue will climb 37 percent, to 5.11 billion euros.

PartyGaming’s 2009 revenue was $446.2 million, the company said March 4, while William Hill reported 203.5 million pounds ($305 million) in sales from its online division last year. Bwin’s 2008 sales were $488.5 million.

Gambling-industry associations and companies have called for more open markets since online betting became popular in the early 2000s. Efforts to open markets have suffered court setbacks, and more cases are pending.

Changing Minds

“What has happened lately is that some of the toughest opponents have changed their minds,” Petter Nylander, the chief executive officer of Unibet Group Plc, said in an interview in London.

French rules endorsed by the Senate require companies to establish separate sites for French clients and provide permanent records on players to the government, while prohibiting some kinds of betting.

Full prohibition “has never functioned, because gambling has always been part of our history,” then French budget minister Eric Woerth told the Senate on Feb. 23. “The absence of state regulation would lead to untenable situations for players and their families.”

The Remote Gambling Association, which represents operators, in January said it was considering suing France to push for more expansive rules, citing “restrictions which are disproportionate” and disadvantageous to foreign companies.

‘Tough and Expensive’

“Companies have got top lawyers in each country, figuring out how to comply,” Simon Holliday, the director of H2, said by phone. “It becomes tough and expensive.”

Some companies, including Paddy Power Plc and PartyGaming, are teaming up with national gambling monopolies. Paddy Power, Ireland’s biggest bookmaker, in November said it would help manage online betting for France’s Pari Mutuel Urbain. PartyGaming in January signed a similar agreement with Denmark’s Danske Spil A/S.

“While costs will vary, regulation in the market is a good thing,” John Shepherd, a spokesman for PartyGaming, said by phone. “The conditions have to be workable, but they also have to conform with the treaties” of the European Union, he said.

Bwin has already incurred “significant” costs to prepare for the opening, Teufelberger said.

David Hood, a William Hill spokesman, declined to comment.

The European Commission, which has pushed national governments to legalize online gambling under market-access rules, will help determine the shape of regulations, said Sigrid Ligne, the secretary-general of the Brussels-based European Gaming and Betting Association.

Much will depend on the direction taken by new internal market commissioner Michel Barnier, she said.

Legal Setbacks

Bwin in September lost a challenge to Portugal’s state gambling monopoly at the European Court of Justice, the EU’s highest court, which ruled that restrictions may be justified to combat crime as long as they aren’t discriminatory.

Barnier left the door open to commission action against member states to force open gambling markets, telling the European Parliament on Feb. 11 that the Portuguese decision “does not fundamentally change the evolution and evaluation of infraction procedures.”

In addition to a case against German laws at the ECJ, Ladbrokes Plc and Betfair Ltd. have challenged Dutch rules. In December an advocate-general said in a non-binding opinion that the Netherlands doesn’t have to recognize their claims.

Governments are “trying so hard to find a way to define this as a special industry in order to keep the revenues coming,” William Hill general counsel Thomas Murphy said at a conference in January. “This issue is not going to go away.”

March 24, 2010

ASA ban another Tombola Bingo TV advert

The ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) have taken the decision to ban another Tombola Bingo advert and this time they cited the fact that it presented a negative racial stereotype. In the later part of 2009, Tombola Bingo launched a series of online bingo TV adverts dictating a Hawaiian theme.

In conjunction with this they ran an Hawaiian style holiday competition at their online bingo site and luckily for them this campaign is now over, as the banning of this advert could have cost them dear. In one of the Hawaiian TV bingo ads aired by Tombola Bingo is showed an older white man dressed up in a tuxedo and sitting next to him was a black man dressed in an Hawaiian shirt singing and repeating everything the white man said.

This caused just two viewers to make a complaint against the advert. They challenged “whether the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence, because they believed it presented a negative racial stereotype.” As we know this complaint was upheld, which does mean the ad cannot be show again on our small screens in its current form.

In their conclusion the ASA stated – “We noted that he seemed to look to the white man for reassurance or instruction suggesting that he lacked the confidence or intellect to behave otherwise. We considered that the ad could be interpreted as humiliating, stigmatising or undermining the standing of the black character and was therefore likely to cause serious offence.”

The ASA also took further action by advising Tombola Bingo, to take care not to present negative racial stereotypes in future.

In response Tombola Bingo said, “They did not intend to use the ad again in future.”

Upon viewing this particular advert myself, it just seemed like another light hearted advert from Tombola Bingo and one that fit in nicely with their series of Hawaiian themed ads. At no point did I find it racial or degrading to the black man sitting in the Hawaiian shirt, he just looked like he was having fun, however, when you do read into what the ASA had to say about this ad, you do get their point.

Poker now a sport in Lithuania

On March 20, the official ruling body of Lithuanian sports, the Department of Physical Education and Sports issued an official decree recognizing the Lithuanian Sports Poker Federation as an official sports federation, opening the doors for further development of poker as a sport in Lithuania.

This recognition is extremely important because it will allow the LSPF to organize noncommercial poker tournaments outside of casinos in Lithuania. This is sure to boost poker's popularity in the country.

“This is extremely important step in our work,” Andrius Tapinas, president of the Lithuanian Sport Poker Federation, said. “We are receiving congratulations from many of our colleagues abroad and I know that we are breaking thick ice with our progress for similar international initiatives.”

Next week, the LSPF will present its official tournament schedule to the Lithuanian sports media. Undoubtedly, this will generate a lot of attention for poker because of the uniqueness of the sport and celebrity status of LSPF president Andrius Tapinas, who is the presenter of the of the most popular Lithuanian business TV show. His cashes in WSOP and Unibet Open tournaments were also covered on the front pages of biggest Lithuanian daily.

March 23, 2010

Bingo.com brings two million players to Unibet network

Bingo.com has joined the Unibet bingo and casino network, bringing with it a database of nearly two million registered users.

The Bingo.com group offers multiplayer bingo, slot machines and sweepstakes, and Bingo.com players will enter the liquidity pool on the MariaBingo.com and Bingo.se websites.

Bingo.com chief executive Tarrnie Williams said: “Through this partnership Bingo.com has the ability to maximise the value of its international traffic as it will now support over 20 languages and 10 currencies. Bingo.com will also realise cost savings in technology, finance, customer service and other departments that are included services in the Unibet partner programme."

Unibet’s PoweredByUnibet.com platform offers bingo and casino and features sites including Betty and Carat bingo and the Maria bingo brand Unibet bought in December 2007, the largest online bingo operator in the Nordic market.

Unibet chief executive Petter Nylander said that the Bingo.com deal "shows that we really have a quality bingo network with great understanding for local needs”.

March 20, 2010

Chelsea's Abramovich wins gambling slur damages

Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, owner of London club Chelsea, won a public apology and substantial libel damages Thursday over false newspaper claims that he had a serious gambling problem.

An article published in Italian newspaper La Repubblica last May alleged Abramovich had suffered a heavy loss in a poker game and had been forced to hand over a luxury yacht worth half a million euros, his lawyer John Kelly told London's High Court.

Kelly said the untrue report, under the headline "A black year for Abramovich as he loses a yacht at poker," had caused distress and embarrassment to the Russian businessman, the Press Association reported.

He told the court the article implied that Abramovich's long-term partner Dasha Zhukova had been forced to issue an ultimatum that he either give up playing poker or she would end their relationship.

It also suggested Abramovich was seriously risking his financial stability and had already been forced to liquidate assets to cover heavy gambling debts, Kelly said.

"Regrettably, these allegations were not put to Mr Abramovich or his representatives before publication. If they had been, the defendant would have been advised of the utter falsity of the allegations," he told the High Court.

The court heard that the newspaper's publisher, Gruppo Editoriale L'Espresso, had agreed to pay Abramovich "substantial damages" which he intended to donate to charity.

Sarah Toolan, the publisher's lawyer, said it offered its sincere apologies.

"The defendant accepts that the allegations are untrue and ought never to have been published," she said.

March 19, 2010

Supreme Court ruling favors state in Internet gambling case

In a censorship case with international repercussions, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled Thursday that owners of gambling Web sites must appear in court to defend themselves against Kentucky's attempts to seize their domain names and stop illegal Internet gambling.

The Internet gambling sites had been represented in court by pro-Internet gambling associations and players' groups — such as the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association and the Interactive Gaming Council — not by the owners of the Web sites, who have remained anonymous.
One of the lawyers for the gambling sites said Thursday that he expects the domain name owners to comply with the Supreme Court's decision.

"All of the parties are going to get together and determine how we are going to proceed and comply with this technical issue," said Jon Fleisch aker, a Louisville lawyer who represents Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association. "I think it is a very, very temporary setback. It's a very unusual decision because it signals an interest in the merits of the case and gives us a road map on how to get back to the Supreme Court quickly."

Justice and Public Safety Secretary J. Michael Brown said the state was pleased with the ruling, "in that it allows us to continue our efforts to curb illegal Internet gambling."

If the state succeeds, online gambling advocates said Internet freedoms could be curtailed around the world.

"There are fundamental freedoms at stake in this case, not only the freedom of poker players in Kentucky and globally, but Internet freedom across the globe," the Poker Players Alliance said in a statement. "The commonwealth's effort at such a bold, broad and, we believe, unlawful seizure sets a dangerous precedent for anyone who uses the Internet."

In 2008, a Franklin Circuit Court judge said the state could seize 141 Internet domain names of online gambling sites that were allegedly taking illegal bets from Kentuckians. Lawyers acting on behalf of the gambling sites appealed to the Kentucky Court of Appeals to stop the seizure, which the appellate court granted.

State officials appealed to the Kentucky Supreme Court, arguing in part that those who have argued on behalf of the domain names had no legal standing to do so.

The court, in a 6-0 opinion, said the associations must disclose the companies that they represent. "The problem, however, is that (the Interactive Gaming Council) fails to disclose who these registrants are," wrote Supreme Court Justice Mary Noble.

The decision leaves open the possibility that the case could move forward if one of the domain owners comes forward to establish legal standing. The court's opinion also does not address some of the thorny underlying legal issues surrounding the case — such as whether the state has the authority to seize domain names run by out-of-state entities.

Those who represent the Internet gambling interests say the state is overreaching its authority. The state, however, contends that the sites are operating illegal gaming activities in Kentucky and therefore are breaking state law.

Gov. Steve Beshear has pushed to shut down the gambling sites, saying they undermine horse racing by creating untaxed competition. By some estimates, online gambling is a $20 billion a year industry, much of which goes untaxed.

The 141 domain names have continued to operate as the case works its way through the courts.

OPAP sees licence wins as Greece taps gaming cash

Greek gaming firm OPAP believes it can win a licence to operate low price slot machines and gain an extension to its current betting monopoly as the government seeks ways out of its debt crisis.

"OPAP considers itself strong and competent enough to secure a licence (for slot machines)," a spokesperson for Europe's biggest listed gaming firm by market value said on Thursday.



As part of a fresh bout of belt-tightening announced last week, the Greek government signalled it was considering extending the firm's current monopoly to help raise additional revenues.

The government, OPAP's biggest shareholder, said it expected to receive an extra 400 million euros ($542.8 million) in 2010 by extending OPAP's concession and granting licences for new games.

Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said last month he would soon unveil a draft bill to deregulate slot machines, which can currently only be used in casinos, so that Greece can escape further EU fines.

The government, grappling with a 300 billion euro debt pile, is currently paying 31,500 euros a day to the European Union after it ruled the restrictions on gaming machines were against the free movement of services within the EU.

OPAP, 34 percent-owned by the state, holds the exclusive rights to operate sports betting and lotteries until 2020.

"Since the firm's activities could include other things as well, it would be normal for the firm to ask for an extension of its deal with the state," the spokesperson added.

It had cash of about 676 million euros at the end of September and analysts say the firm should find ways to invest in new areas to boost profits. Analysts said the new games could also include licences for scratchcards.

OPAP said it expected the government to grant more than one licence for slot machines later this year.

March 18, 2010

Berlin police arrest half the EPT poker robber gang

Berlin Police are closing in on the gang of men responsible for robbing the European Poker Tournament Berlin, after one of the men handed himself in on Monday and then proceeded to name his fellow accomplices in the heist.

The robbery took place on March 6th at the Grand Hyatt and the men were able to make off with 242,000 euros in cash but had to leave behind a bag containing 600,000 euros after a fight back by security guards.

On 15th March, a 21-year-old German of “an immigrant background” walked into the police station alongside his lawyer, and named his fellow conspirators, as well as offered up his share of the stolen money.

Following his co-operation, the German authorities have released the names and photos of three more men suspected of involvement in the heist, who are also wanted by German police in connection with a number of other crimes , including robbery and assault. The men are of Turkish and Arabic origins and have been named as Ahmad el-Awayti, 20, Jihad Chetwie, 19, and Mustafa Ucarkus, 20.

El-Awayti has since been arrested at a central Berlin subway station, while the other men have had their addresses searched, but are assumed still on the run.

One of the men’s lawyers Mr Sjors Kamstra, commenting on the situation said: “In my opinion, the robbery on the poker championship in the Hyatt can be considered largely solved.”
Police prosecutor Frank Heller, speaking of the gang’s opportunistic robbery added that the men had ” took a look at where the money is, how the money is secured, are there guards, are the guards armed..And when he saw that the guards didn’t have guns, they decided that they had a chance..the money was divided up immediately after the crime.”

German police are now confident that it is now just a matter of time before the remaining gang members are apprehended and the money recovered.

March 16, 2010

Bwin launches five million-player Italian poker network

Bwin Ongame Network has launched an Italian poker network with five million players.

The Ongame Network Italy is spearheaded by Gioco Digitale, the Italian operator that Bwin acquired in September 2009, and pools the liquidity of BetPro.it, bwin, Casino di Venezia, Fast Poker, Gioco Digitale, Gmatica and SportingBet.it operators.

The pooling is enabled by the migration of all Italian licencees to Ongame Network’s P5 Poker Engine.

Ongame Network Head Martin Lerby said: “The adaptability of the P5 Poker Engine to power both regional and global networks is showcased by Ongame Network Italy and we continue to work closely with the Italian authorities as we prepare for the anticipated introduction of cash games.”

News of the Ongame Network Italy, which offers Sit & Go, scheduled and multi-table tournaments, follows just a day after Microgaming announced that it was launching an Italian poker network, with Ladbrokes its first customer.

The Ongame network powers 25 brands in 25 countries, including Betsson, Winamax, and hired former Boss Poker CEO Peter Bertilsson in January as MD of Bwin Games to head a B2B push.

The licence holder for Ongame Network Italy is Bwin SRL, Bwin Interactive Entertainment AG’s Italian subsidiary.

March 12, 2010

Victor Chandler signs 'seven figure' new Nott Forest deal

Victor Chandler has extended its shirt sponsorship deal with second-tier English football team Nottingham Forest for a further two seasons.

Chairman Victor Chandler said: “This season has been a huge success and I am confident the team will secure promotion to the Premier League. The global television coverage of the Premier League offers worldwide media opportunities and will benefit our Far East business particularly."

Nottingham Forest currently lies third in the Coca Cola Championship, with Victor Chandler offering the team as an 8/1 shot to top the league and win promotion to the top tier of English football.

The new deal will see Victor Chandler’s logo displayed on the Nottingham Forest shirt during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 football seasons, and follows an earlier, two season deal with the club signed in July 2009.

Chandler added: "When we agreed the initial one-year deal, I was sponsoring a team that had only narrowly avoided relegation to League One, now we are signing this extension with the intention of sponsoring a Premier League team. The initial deal was in six figures and this one is seven figures."

Forest being promoted to the Premier League as champions would, however, cost Victor Chandler himself in the region of £6m, following his pre-season promotion pledge to season ticket holders to pay for next season's renewals should the club win the league.

March 11, 2010

BetClic hits out at UEFA shirt ban: 'no legal basis'

BetClic chief executive Nicolas Béraud has hit out at UEFA’s refusal to let French football team Olympique Lyonnais (Lyon) wear his company’s logo for tonight’s Champions League tie with Real Madrid, saying it has “no legal basis”.

Béraud and Olympique Lyonnais president Jean-Michael Aulas released a joint statement that read: “The Champions League is a European competition, so there is no reason to ban any advertising on the shirt of a team that participates in a European competition on the grounds that that the laws of the country where this team plays its national championships does not authorise this.”

Béraud and the Lyon president said it was “imperative we move away quickly from this national logic”, and Lyon be allowed to play with the BetClic logo on their shirt tonight in Madrid. “The French law does not apply in Spain. The UEFA rules on this point have no legal basis,” they said.

The current ban on online gaming in France will remain in place until the country’s egaming law comes into effect. This is expected to be in time for this summer’s football World Cup, after French budget minister Eric Woerth announced late last month ahead of the bill passing the French Senate that the laws will take effect by 1 June,

Aulas and Béraud, who is also chief operating officer of BetClic’s parent company Mangas Gaming and interim chief executive of Mangas-owned Expekt, added that neither Spanish or European law supported tonight’s ban.

“The game is being played in Madrid, where advertising of online gaming is permitted. There is currently no European law that prohibits advertising online gaming. Not to mention that Real Madrid will play with its usual sponsor [Bwin] which is an operator of [French online brand] Paris Sportifs,” the statement continued.

BetClic also sponsors Marseille in France, Juventus in Italy, Lech Poznan in Poland and 13 Portuguese teams.

March 10, 2010

Norwegian Betsson Casino player wins €4.8m

A man in his forties from Norway has won over 4.8 million Euro on the online gaming site Betsson, with a stake of just 5€.

The win is the largest payout in Betsson's history, and one of the largest in online gaming ever. One can imagine how difficult it must be to describe how it feels to win this stunning amount.

Marius Andersen, Betsson Norway Country Manager: "The jackpot has built up over a long time, and it is always nice when a normal customer becomes a Betsson millionaire. The prize is the largest single win we have ever paid out, and shows that it is possible to win big even with small stakes"

The gamer from Norway hit the jackpot after betting €5 on Betsson's Arabian Nights online game. Jackpots have grown significantly in recent years as the number of online gamers has increased, and online games are increasingly competing with the national lotteries to fulfil the Europeans' dreams of becoming millionaires.

Unibet I Liga loses title sponsor

The Polish Football Association (PZPN) and Unibet have suspended their cooperation on sponsoring the Polish 1. Liga.

The reason is the adoption of the new legal act on games of chance, which came into force on 1 January 2010.

"In connection with the adoption of the Act on games of chance, which came into force on 1 January 2010, the Polish Football Association, and the company Unibet have been forced to suspend implementation of the provisions of the sponsorship agreement dated 3 September 2009 (...) " told in a special statement.

Representatives of the Polish Football Association stressed that cooperation with the company Unibet has not been completed, but only suspended.

"It's an important difference. Having explained the legal uncertainty associated with the new law and sponsorship opportunities for sports betting companies, they still intend to continue with our cooperation," said Agnieszka Olejkowska, a spokeswoman for PZPN.

Suspension of cooperation is not only the disappearance of the sponsor's logo on players shirts and stadiums, but also withholding for 18 clubs in the 1. Liga. For some poorer teams this can be a very serious problem in the spring round. Who will compensate for their losses?

"For now, we can not answer this question. We will soon come to a meeting with representatives of the PZPN and Piłkarskiej Ligi Polskiej (organization of the 1. Liga), in which any decisions will be taken." Olejkowska acknowledged.

As stated in the declaration by Unibet, 1. Liga games will return to its old name. In addition, "Unibet 1. League - Summary" will disappear from the TVP Sport magazine, and the number of matches being transmitted can be considerably reduced.

The Polish Ekstraklasa has also been hit hard by this new act, which has seen both Wisla Krakow and KKS Lech Poznan lose their strategic sponsors - which were sport betting companies.

PZPN's suspension of the 1. Liga title sponsor is to take affect only in Poland, with the Unibet I Liga brand name to still be applicable in foreign use.

Berlin poker robbery an inside job?

Berlin police confirmed Tuesday they were looking for a 5th suspect in a daytime robbery that occurred at the Grand Hyatt Hotel during filming of the European Poker Tour. Police believe the accomplice knew exactly when money had been briefly unsecured and tipped off four other members of the gang.

Police told the German website, The Local:

Because the well-timed heist bore the signs of an amateur job, police told Berlin daily Berliner Zeitung that they now believe there was at least one other accomplice already inside the hotel who gave a signal to begin the raid. "The suspects struck at the exact moment when the money was being prepared for transport at the main safe," a police spokesperson told the paper. "A few minutes before or after and they would have had no chance."

Police called the robbers "amateurs" after reviewing tape of the incident.

Police union chief Rainer Wendt told NTV television: "As for the perpetrators, one has to say: this was clearly not the work of professionals.

"The way they were armed and behaved, as well as the mountain of evidence they left behind already indicates that the police will quickly identify them," he added.

He said the gang had plumbed "new depths of stupidity to carry out such a raid in front of running surveillance cameras".

Nonetheless, the thieves ran off with over 200,000 euros.

March 09, 2010

UK charity may win thousands based on dead man’s bets

A man from Oxfordshire has left his whole estate to charity Oxfam, including a series of betting slips, which could potentially be worth in excess of £330,000.

Nicholas Newlife, who died in 2009, aged 69, left all his possessions to the charity, and Oxfam were delighted when they discovered that amongst the belongings were a series of long-term wagers, totalling £4,420.

The bets relate to both tennis and cricket, were placed with William Hill between 2000 and 2005, and have already, thanks to Roger Federer’s French open victory last year, netted £16,750 for Oxfam.

One of the bets placed by Nicholas was that the Swiss ace would win Wimbledon seven times before 2020, with £1,520 being placed at odds of 66/1. If Federer wins this summer, the charity will be celebrating to the tune of £101,840.

If all the bets turn out to be winners, the charity's windfall would total over £330,000 - enough to provide emergency rations for 46,000 famine victims, or to supply safe drinking water for 350,000 people.

Oxfam’s Cathy Ferrier said of the potential windfall:

"We're enormously grateful to Mr Newlife for his generous gift, and will be keeping a close eye on Wimbledon this year as a result.

"Every time someone leaves us a gift in their will, whether a few pounds or a few thousands pounds, it helps us make a huge difference to thousands of lives around the world.”

And although WilliamHill may have to pay-out a staggering amount of money, company spokesman Graham Sharpe said the firm would be delighted to do so:

"When Nicholas wrote to me nine years ago to place the bets, they were straightforward but potentially valuable.

"When the first wins came in he was still alive, but the next I heard was he had died and left his slips to charity.

"I think he was a bit of a loner but we'd be very pleased for Oxfam if they won."

Nick's wagers:

£250 on Roger Federer to win at least 14 grand slam titles before 2020 at 66/1
£1,000 on Andy Roddick to win at least 7 grand slam singles titles before 2020 at 33/1
£250 on West Indian cricketer Ramnaresh Sarwan to make more than 9,000 test match runs by end of 2019 at 250/1
£1520 on Federer to win Wimbledon men's singles at least 7 times before 2020 at 66/1
£1,000 on Andy Roddick to win at least 7 grand slam singles titles before 2020 at 33/1
£750 on Andy Roddick to win at least 10 grand slam singles titles before 2020 at 100/1
£350 on Ramnaresh Sarwan to make over 7,000 test match runs by end of 2019 at 50/1
£300 on Ramnaresh Sarwan to make more than 8,000 test match runs by end of 2019 at 100/1
£250 on Ramnaresh Sarwan to make more than 9,000 test match runs by end of 2019 at 250/1

UK 2010 elections poll tracker

Polls from the UK's six biggest polling companies: ComRes, YouGov, ICM, Angus Reid, Populus and MORI. The graph will update live when new polls are released so that you and your users can stay right up-to-date with all the movements over the course of the campaign.

PartyGaming: new casino marketing strategy after 2009 shake-up

PartyGaming chief executive Jim Ryan has revealed a new strategy for marketing the company’s casino products following a dramatic shift in fortunes away from poker and toward the casino vertical.

Ryan was speaking yesterday following the release of PartyGaming’s 2009 year-end results, in which the company revealed 12% year-on-year growth in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) in casino, in contrast to a fall-off in poker EBITDA of 44%.

One part of the new three-part strategy for casino will consist of targeting “pure play” casino players directly instead of seeking to tempt poker players to play casino games, who Ryan said have twice the lifetime of casino players that also engage in other forms of online gambling.

Ryan said: “Here is why this is important. Historically, we have acquired all of our casino players from our poker database. That's been great, because our cost of acquisitions hasn't been particularly high, but it hasn't been particularly good for our poker liquidity in a challenged competitive environment where we need to grow that liquidity.

“What we have now started to do is go and acquire pure-play casino players. The magic of a pure-play casino player? Their lifetime value is twice that of a poker consumer who moves over to casino. So our casino offering will grow in 2010 and beyond.”

This will be combined with offering branded game content and casino jackpots that Ryan said are intended to be “life changing events” and that smaller rivals will be unable to match.

Ryan said: "We will have 50 new games this year. The content will be exciting… branded content.

“The second aspect of the strategy is focused on having life-changing events. It's a jackpot-based strategy. Today we have the largest reset value in our Melon Madness Jackpot [which] starts at US$1.5m. Nobody else can match that in the sector. So we will continue to bring those life-changing events to the consumer.”

Along with all other operators that pulled out of the lucrative US poker market after the passage of America’s Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in October 2006, PartyGaming has struggled to compete with the liquidity enjoyed by operators such as Full Tilt and PokerStars, who continue to take US poker players.

In April, PartyGaming reached a settlement with the US authorities for its activity in the US prior to UIGEA, a sign that it hopes to re-enter the US market with a licence should any regulatory system for online poker such as those proposed by Congressman Barney Frank or senators Ron Wyden of Oregon and Judd Gregg be approved by lawmakers.

March 07, 2010

EPT Berlin Stuck Up

The 400 entrants and numerous railbirds attending the PokerStars European Poker Tour at the Grand Hyatt Berlin over the weekend copped a little more excitment than they had bargained for as six armed robbers stormed the place and made off with an amount of around Euro 1 million.

The raid, which took place 2:30 p.m. local time on Saturday, had scared spectators diving for cover before the crooks lifted the cash and took off across the Marlene-Dietrich-Platz in front of the hotel, blending into the crowd at the nearby Potsdamer Platz Arcades.

PokerStars released the following statement.

"An armed robbery by 5-6 men took place today at EPT Berlin.

" Nobody was seriously injured. We hope to restart all events at 4 p.m. local time.

" A police investigation is underway. If you have video footage or photographs that could help the police, please contact the EPT organizers as soon as possible."

Some of the unexpected action was captured on EPT live broadcast television, which revealed the pandmonium that broke out.

Apparently the field of 400 had been winnowed down to 22 players when the raid took place. Play was eventually resumed that evening, and a final table was decided that comprised:

Marko Neumann (Germany) - 2,185,000
Marc Inizan (France) - 3,655,000
Kevin MacPhee (United States) - 6,070,000 - chip leader
Artur Wasek (Poland) -3,530,000
Marcel Koller (Switzerland) - 3,590,000
Nico Behling (Germany) - 960,000
Ketul Nathwani (United Kingdom) - 4,685,000
Ilari Tahkokallio (Finland) - 3,940,000

Armed Robbers Snatch More Than $136,000 at Berlin Poker Tourney

Four men armed with handguns and a machete stole more than 100,000 euros ($136,000) at a poker tournament at the Grand Hyatt hotel in Berlin, police said.

The disguised men stormed the hotel yesterday just after 2 p.m. local time while the competition was underway and forced employees to hand over prize money, Berlin-based police spokesman Guido Busch said by phone. A security guard was slightly wounded but managed to force one of the robbers to drop a bag with a “large share” of the booty, he said. Seven people suffered light injuries as players and spectators panicked and tried to flee the hotel.

“When I entered, I saw a number of security people struggling with three masked men,” said Olaf Wagner, a photographer for Germany’s Bild newspaper, who witnessed the robbery. “One guy stood in the corner stuffing 500 euro notes into his backpack, while a second man pinned down a security man with his machete.”

“An armed robbery in broad daylight in the heart of Berlin, at Germany’s biggest poker tournament,” Wagner said. “I just couldn’t believe my eyes.”

The prize for winning the tournament is 1 million euros, according to the Web site of European Poker Tour, the event’s organizer. German police, who are interviewing witnesses and evaluating security-video tapes, have yet to make any arrests.

March 04, 2010

Paddy Power to leave Ireland?

Paddy Power could be leaving Ireland according to reports. The very proud to be Irish sportsbook could seriously be thinking of leaving home, as chief executive Patrick Kennedy shared that he is considering moving operations offshore if the tax burden in Ireland continues to rise.

In 2009 Paddy Power reported a 15% decline in pretax profits down to €67.2m. This is despite high street betting turnover being up as the company has nearly a third of Ireland’s sport betting market.

The decline can be attributed to punters getting better at picking winners in particular with horse racing, however the main culprit is the ever increasing tax burden with the company paying over €18m in taxes and fees alone last year.

Just a 1% increase in tax on betting turnover would remove €2.5m from the company’s annual operating profits, which the company can seldom afford. It’s further problematic as the group intends to expand their services over the next few years, looking to employ a further 250 people to keep up with the increasing popularity of online sports betting.

Operating offshore could effectively halve the company’s tax burden. Last year, William Hill did exactly that, which gave them a huge advantage over their competitors. If Paddy Power wants to continue to effectively complete in the online gambling market, they too may be forced to migrate.

Intercasino launch new Space Race TV advertising campaign

Intercasino, who hold the title as the world’s oldest online casino have launched a brand new series of TV ads, featuring two likeable astronauts, Jeff and Mick. The new advertisements, which coincide with the new Intercasino Space Race promotion, which is offering players the chance to win over £500,000 in prizes, welcome newcomers to the “extraordinary” world of Intercasino. Intercasino are currently screening three new adverts featuring Jeff and Mick on channels such as Five, Sky News and Film4 and you can catch the new ads all this week, after 9pm.

All three promote Intercasino’s Space Race competition, which features a once in a lifetime prize in the form of a free trip to outer space. To be in with a chance of winning your truly out of this world trip, all you have to do is register an account at Intercasino. The prize draw places emphasis on Lucky Stars, which can be gained by signing up, depositing and wagering at the online casino. Players who collect the most Lucky Stars will not only gain multiple entry into the prize draw, but also be in with a chance of winning up to £10,000 in Intercasino’s All Star Leaderboard.

March 02, 2010

BetClic gets in Tony Parker as Ambassador

BetClic online has managed to sign-in Tony Parker, NBA Champ for a three year deal as a representative of their poker rom. BetClic an online poker room is focused on European poker players. With this deal Tony will join the ranks of Stefan Effenberg, Marcel Desailly and a few other well known names in the game of sports.

Tony Parker was chosen by Betclic because he was initially a part of the French national team before he became pro and joined the ranks of the NBA draft in 2001. His work with the NBA has been stupendous and has won several acclaimed awards.

Those who prefer knowing Hollywood celebrities rather than NBA starts would be thrilled to know that Tony Parker is the husband of Eva Longoria the actress from Desperate Housewives. Tony has also been part of several charity poker events and has even participated in the World Series of Poker Tournament.

It was in 2005 that BetClic began its functioning in. So its been a good many years, and is a trusted site, for those who have no clue about BetClic. It has built up a name for itself in the European gaming market. BetClic is a French based firm that has included Everest Poker and Expekt to its list of websites, and has also been getting in quiet a few famous athletes to fill in the blocks, and attract audience from all over the world.

BetClic said, “We are delighted to welcome Tony Parker in the team Betclic. He is a great ambassador for the brand. Tony represents the strong values of excellence and ethics in sports that we share. This new partnership reflects our commitment to continue our development in the sport by adding great champions to our team.”

New Jersey Senate challenging Federal sportsbetting ban

In America, the Senate for the eastern state of New Jersey has passed a resolution that will allow it to join one of its members in challenging as unconstitutional the Federal ban on sportsbetting.

New Jersey Senator Raymond Lesniak is currently pursuing a legal challenge to the Federal ban on sports wagering and a resolution passed by voice vote last Monday will see his fellow members support the Democrat’s efforts.

According to a statement from the Interactive Media Entertainment And Gaming Association (iMEGA), the legislation will allow the President of the Senate, Stephen Sweeney, to take ‘such legal action on behalf of the Senate as the Senate President shall deem appropriate and necessary to challenge enforcement of the Federal Professional And Amateur Sports Protection Act, which establishes a selective prohibition on sportsbetting in the United States’.

“The Professional And Amateur Sports Protection Act was signed into law in 1992,” read a statement issued by Lesniak following the vote.

“The Professional And Amateur Sports Protection Act banned all sportsbetting except in the states of Nevada, which had all forms of sportsbetting, and Delaware, Oregon and Montana, which had limited lottery forms of sportsbetting.

“The Professional And Amateur Sports Protection Act gave New Jersey one year to legalise sportsbetting through an amendment to its Constitution approved by the electorate at the ballot box in November of 1992. The New Jersey Senate voted twice to place such a Constitutional Amendment on the ballot, an effort I supported both times. The Assembly never posted it for a vote and New Jersey was denied an opportunity to boost tourism in Atlantic City and revenues for education, senior citizens and the handicapped as those funds from casino gambling are dedicated in our Constitution.

“On March 23, I filed a lawsuit to declare the Professional And Amateur Sports Protection Act unconstitutional. Since that lawsuit was filed, legislators in Missouri, Rhode Island and Illinois have joined our effort and introduced resolutions for Congress to repeal the ban. The Iowa Senate has released from committee legislation to legalise sportsbetting once the Federal ban is lifted. The Minnesota Legislature is also considering a measure to offer sports wagering games and licensed sports bookmaking once it’s legal.

“Delaware, supported by a $50,000 donation from its racinos, has filed suit to allow it to expand its limited sportsbetting authorised under the Professional And Amateur Sports Protection Act. In four short months of operation, its limited form of sportsbetting has brought four million dollars into its state treasury.

“Here's what's at stake for New Jersey; $650 million a year in gross sports wagering revenues as estimated by LVSC, a division of Cantor Fitzgerald. Plus $60 million a year in state revenues.

“That's $650 million a year of gross profits for our casinos and racetracks, creating and keeping thousands of jobs and attracting tourism to Atlantic City and the Jersey Shore in Monmouth County.

“If you went to Atlantic City on Super Bowl Sunday you would have seen a ghost town while Las Vegas hotels were at full capacity. The same will hold true for March Madness and the Final Four. What’s overlooked in this debate is the tourism attraction from soccer games. You won't be able to get a room in Atlantic City when Real Madrid plays Manchester United and the World Cup will eclipse even March Madness as a tourist attraction.

“We dropped the ball when given a chance in 1992. Let’s not fumble again.”

Serbian police arrests two in first-ever raid on internet betting

Serbian police said Wednesday that they arrested two men suspected of running an unregistered internet betting site. The arrests are the first-ever in connection with online betting and lottery, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

The suspects allegedly made more than 55 million dinars (750,000 dollars) since 2005 offering bets on football, basketball, tennis and hockey matches in Europe and North America.

They took payments by credit card and had the income transferred to their accounts from various offshore firms, paying no taxes on their unregistered business.

Following a raid, police seized 60,000 euros (80,000 dollars) in cash, several computers and two cars.

Sport betting in Serbia is legal and extremely popular. In its statement, the ministry promised to crack down on those operating without permits.

March 01, 2010

Poker.org sold for $1 Million, most ever for .org domain

This is news for those interested in who bought who and for how much. There the latest buzz about Sedo which is a domain marketplace and they seemed to have brokered the largest sale of the .org domain to date.

This was brokered with respect to A-1 National Advertising. The poker.org domain had seemed have been sold to PokerComany.com for a major huge sum of $1 million. Before even poker.org was sold, the domain that had sold for a larger sum was for highest.org which has sold for $198,000 which was followed by engineering.org and then sexe.org which is very less as compared to poker.org that sold the largest in .com sales. These huge sales hover around $5.1 million for Toys.com as the millionforthecandy.com had sold for almost $3 million.

The highest .com sale was that of sex.com which had sold for around $14 million where as Fund.com was the second highest and it had sold for around $10 million. The numbers of sales and registrations for domain names have risen hugely in the last couple of years it is now almost 11% that was recorded in the first half of 2009 which was around the same as per recorded by pir.org. At the moment there are 7 million .org domains that are waiting to be registered and this has bought the .org revolution head on. It has even been named as one of the largest domain extensions to be sold and is only a few sets behind the .com and .net.