May 27, 2011 Seized in Latest Crackdown by DoJ

DoylesRoom and True Poker domains seized by the U.S. DoJ, more indictments issued

With the .com domain names of PokerStars, Full Tilt, Absolute Poker and being seized just over a month ago, today (Monday May 23rd, 2011), the U.S. Department of Justice is at it again and has just seized ten domain names from online gambling operators, two of which include and

The complete list of domain names that were seized is as follows:


Information On The Indictments:

The U.S. DoJ has also indicted their respective owners on money laundering and illegal gambling charges and seized eleven of their bank accounts that were located in The United States, Panama, Malta, Portugal and Netherlands. It is said that the DoJ's main focus and reasoning behind the indictments is due to the companies sports betting operations rather than poker this time.

In all, two companies and three defendants have been charged across all ten sites. The companies include ThrillX Systems Ltd. (Doing Business As BetEd), a software provider based in Canada and K23 Group Financial Services (Doing Business As BMX Entertainment), a company registered in Limassol, Cyprus who operates six of the ten seized websites. The three defendants who were charged include Darren Wright and David Parchomchuk of ThrillX and Ann Marie Puig of BMX Entertainment.

Homeland Securities Investigation:

The indictments and domain name/bank account seizures were the direct result of an undercover sting operation lead by The Department of Homeland Security, Maryland. The Homeland Security Investigations in Baltimore, Maryland allegedly opened an undercover payment processing company called Linwood Payment Solutions back in December 2009 which allowed their agents to gain contact with the gambling companies and eventually begin to process payments for them. According to the indictments, Linwood processed over 300,000 transactions totaling over $33 Million for BetEd, K23 and other gambling companies between December 2009 and January 2011.

Another part of the investigation involved an online gambling informant who was provided with $500 by Homeland Security to open an account and place bets at one of the BetEd sites. The indictment says that the player placed several bets and requested a withdrawal of $100 on March 30th, 2010 which was in turn processed by their undercover company, Linwood Payment Solutions.

No court appearances have been scheduled yet and the defendants face a maximum sentence of five years in prison for the illegal gambling charges and twenty years max for the money laundering charges, if convicted.

You can view the full indictment at the website and the affidavit that was submitted to seize the sites bank accounts at's Take On The Indictments:

It seems that Bookmaker must have been ready and waiting for this or something similar to happen as they have immediately moved their site to in place of the old .com site and have already issued the following statement.

"As you may already know, Bookmaker has temporarily lost the rights to the domain. We are confident that in time, it will be returned to us, until then, we have launched a new, temporary"

"Despite having lost the domain, none of the business operations have otherwise been affected. Player account balances and information are safe and secure. Effective immediately, players can log on to it's business as usual."

"You likely won't notice any other changes at all and will experience all the same features and benefits as our original site; just on a new address."

"We sincerely apologize if you were affected by our interruption. As always, if you have any questions or concerns please call our customer service department at 1-866-9Bookmaker."

At this time, Doylesroom has yet to make a statement regarding these events but we expect them to do so soon and we'll be covering any news and updates so stay tuned as the story unfolds.

May 15, 2011

Sportingbet in talks to buy Centrebet

Sportingbet has confirmed it is in “advanced discussions” to acquire Australian online bookmaker Centrebet in a cash deal valuing the company at AUS$175m (c£115.25m).

The bookmaker said an acquisition of Northern Territory-licensed Centrebet would accelerate its “strategy of increasing its exposure to regulated markets and of geographic diversification.” The acquisition would be earnings enhancing in the first full year post-integration, said the group.

The Australian online sports betting market has experienced double digit annual revenue growth since the lifting of interstate advertising restrictions from late 2008. Centrebet however warned in November last year that its FY 2010 profit would be halved due to significant investment in “Project Rocket”, aimed at doubling its share of the Australian corporate bookmaking market to 20% by 2015. Centrebet consequently reported a first-half net profit of AU$1.8m, down 71% from the previous year.

The bookmaker revealed at the time of unveiling “Project Rocket” that its 5% share of horse racing wagering turnover among corporate bookmakers lagged well behind its 24% of online sports wagering.

Competition in the market has intensified since Paddy Power entered Australia in 2009 through its buy of Sportsbet. The Irish bookmaker has since increased its share of the online betting market from around 10% to 20% through the additional acquisition of horse-racing specialist International All Sports (IAS) and organic growth of the business, according to figures from the Australian Racing Handbook. Bet365 has taken the decision to build a presence in the market from scratch rather than entering by acquisition, recently establishing an office in Darwin in the Northern Territory, where most online bookmakers are licensed.

Sportingbet warned the London Stock Exchange this morning that current discussions may not result in a transaction for Australian Stock Exchange-listed Centrebet.

Sportingbet first entered the Australian market in 2001 with its buy of South East Asian-based Number One Betting Shop, later obtaining a licence in Australia’s Northern Territory.

Online in-play betting, poker and casino remain unregulated in Australia due to a ban on the offer of these products under the country’s Interactive Gambling Act 2001.
Analysts were broadly positive to news of the proposed acquisition, the majority issuing or reiterating buy recommendations for Sportingbet. Ivor Jones of Numis summed up analyst consensus with his view that “the deal would greatly improve the quality of Sportingbet's profits” by ramping up the operator's exposure to regulated markets. Sportingbet’s share price has recently been depressed by investor concern over the risk profile attached to the high share of its revenues deriving from unregulated markets such as Spain, Greece and Turkey.
With current net cash of around £25m on the balance sheet, Sportingbet would need to raise fresh equity to fund the buy, with Nick Batram of Peel Hunt stating that: “Given the regulatory backdrop an equity fund raising is unlikely to be straightforward", and Simon Davies of Collins Stewart adding that: "[A] £120m equity raising in a nervous market will be a challenge."

May 14, 2011

PokerStars returns more than $100 million to US players

PokerStars announced that they have returned more than $100 million to US poker players from its past US-facing operations and continues to service requests following the Company’s agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) on April 20th that allowed US customers to cash out their balances.

While this is very good news for the people involved, with millions of US poker players shut out of poker sites such as PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker and Absolute Poker, the field of savvy and competent poker players has thinned considerably. The FBI’s raid of three major online poker sites on Black Friday, April 15, 2011, has had various ramifications.

First is that fact that hundreds of millions in American cash is still stuck in online accounts. At first funds were frozen at the sites by the US government; then some sites were allowed to begin returning money in accounts to American players. But that process has been very slow. Right now somewhere around $400 million in US funds is in player accounts waiting to be withdrawn.

Another effect of the government shutdown is that players from other countries are now starting to dominate the tables. The country that has gotten the best bounce from the banning of US players at various online poker sites is Canada. Canadian players are starting to rake in the bucks at a rapid pace. It makes sense. One of the best poker players in the world, Daniel Negreanu, is living in Canada.

Although over the years there have been attempts in America to introduce and pass a law that would basically negate the US law that has caused US players to be banned from various sites, it has not succeeded. The result is Canadian players now have a major edge. At least four times in the past five years, US lawmakers have tried to in some way change the law, but each time they have been stymied and stifled.

Another result of the raids on certain poker sites and the subsequent banning of American players is that poker sites that still are accepting US players, such as No Bad Beats, Carbon Poker and Lock Poker, have all stepped up efforts to attract US players looking for a cash game or tournament. If you want a game and you live in the United States, you can still find them online.

One service that has seen a bump in activity is Western Union. Online poker sites will gladly take deposits sent via Western Union. These deposits are virtually impossible for the US government to stop. There are a few down sides associated with using the service. First, it takes a few days for the cash to be credited to your poker account. Plus, you need to confirm it via an online code. Also, minimums are higher than other forms of money transfer–$100. Finally, it does cost cash to use the service. Many online providers of money transfer services are free or carry a very low fee. Western Union is more expensive than most.

Still, if you are an American and want to sit at an online poker table and play for money, the good news is there are choices. Unfortunately, there are fewer choices than there were just four weeks ago. Everyone is a adjusting to the new world of online poker in the States and waiting to see what the next move will be.

May 13, 2011

Betsson acquires Betsafe

Betsson AB acquires Betsafe, a private gaming company based on Malta, offering sports betting, casino and poker to clients primarily in the Nordic countries. Through the acquisition, Betsson strengthens its platform in the Nordic region, which creates a strong base for future growth.

“This deal will fuel our growth. We strengthen our position in the Nordic region as well as our organization when merging two profitable companies, each of which has proven its ability to gain market share in a highly competitive market environment”, says Pontus Lindwall, CEO of Betsson.

In 2010, Betsafe increased its revenues with 119 per cent, and during the period 1 May 2010 – 30 April 2011, revenues amounted to EUR 33.4 million and operating profit (EBIT) amounted to EUR 6.9 million. During March 2011, the number of real money players amounted to 84,000 and the number of employees was 148. In addition to incremental earnings, Betsson believes that it will benefit from synergies that will materialize as the result of e.g. integration of platforms and supplier contracts.

Betsson acquires Betsafe from a number of private individuals, some of whom are founders and employees. Betsson pays an up-front purchase price of EUR 32.5 million, of which around half is payable in cash and the other half in Betsson B shares based on a historical 30 day average price of the Betsson share. The up-front purchase price consequently corresponds to 4.7 times EBIT during the last 12 months. In addition to the up-front purchase price, an additional purchase price, based on the development of the acquisition and the integration thereof during 2011, may become payable by Betsson. Such additional purchase price, if any, will amount to a maximum of EUR 27.5 million, which implies that the total maximum purchase price is EUR 60 million. If the outcome of the acquisition results in the full additional purchase price becoming payable, the total purchase price is expected to correspond to approximately 5-6 times Betsafe’s EBIT for 2011. Betsson is entitled to choose to pay any additional purchase price in cash or in Betsson B shares, based on the share price prevailing at the time of such payment. Completion of the transaction is conditional upon customary regulatory approvals.

Betsson intends to retain all staff of Betsafe as well as all the brands of both companies. Betsafe’s management, including the founders AndrĂ© and Christer Lavold and the CEO Henrik Persson, will become part of the Betsson operational management team in Malta.

”This is an attractive solution for Betsafe as we share views with Betsson on how to become successful on the global gaming market. Two strong cultures, with common values and goals, now join forces with the aim to further develop the business and eventually become one of the largest and most profitable players in the market” says Henrik Persson, CEO of Betsafe.

May 11, 2011

Sazka has licence suspended

In the Czech Republic, embattled national lottery operator Sazka SA has had its licence temporarily suspended by the Ministry of Finance after failing to pay a total of $6.11 million to past winners.

Sazka was declared insolvent by Prague’s Municipal Court in late-March and a meeting of its main creditors has been scheduled for May 26, which gave the operator three months to approve a restructuring plan or sell off its assets.

The Ministry of Finance revealed that the temporary suspension was valid for 30 days with Sazka able to appeal within 15 days of the decision taking effect. It also added that it would consider lifting the sanction should the operator pay the waiting winners.

“The reason for the decision is that Sazka did not pay within the legal deadlines the winners of the Sportka lottery to the tune of $6.11 million,” read a statement from the Ministry of Finance.

Sazka ran into financial trouble after constructing a 17,000-seat arena for the 2004 Men's Ice Hockey Championships and currently is in the red by $606 million, the majority consisting of bonds.