November 24, 2011

Playtech’s £100m plan

Online gaming software company Playtech is aiming to raise £100m by issuing 46.5 million shares at a 2.5% discount on yesterday’s closing price in London. The world’s biggest provider of online gambling software said it would raise the money in the discounted offering to finance acquisition opportunities and investments in new joint ventures.

The placement of about 46.5 million shares would be priced at 215 pence each, representing a 2.5 percent discount to the stock’s closing market price on Tuesday, Playtech said.

Billionaire Israeli founder Teddy Sagi holds a massive 40% stake and said it had identified a number of acquisition opportunities in regards to expanding its existing technology and product offerings.

The Estonia-based company operates a joint venture with Britain’s biggest bookmaker William Hill and provides software to Paddy Power, PartyGaming and Gala Coral.

November 22, 2011

Scots punter wins £132k on £1 bet after correctly predicting 18 football results.. but he needed last minute Arbroath penalty to clinch it

A punter has scooped £132,000 from a "miracle" £1 bet on football results.

The Scots gambler correctly predicted the winners of 18 matches in Scotland and England.

But his accumulator was only sealed by a 94th-minute penalty from Arbroath's Paul Sheerin.

It gave his side a 1-0 victory over Keith and completed the punter's dream line, which included another three Scottish matches and English teams such as West Ham, Leeds, Cardiff and Charlton.
The winner, who wants to remain anonymous, struck his bet at a Coral shop on Paisley Road West in Glasgow on Saturday.

And his payout capped a "devastating" weekend for bookies, who lost around £20million as a host of footie favourites won.

Last night, Coral spokesman David Stevens said: "In 10 years of working ... this is the most extraordinary tipping performance I have seen.

"It's hard enough finding one winner but to get 18 in one day is nothing short of miraculous. We're delighted that this customer has hit the jackpot in time for Christmas.

"It just goes to show you don't have to stake big money to win big money."

Stevens added: "We are still counting the cost of the weekend but we think the results have cost bookmakers about £20million.

"We also had a £48,000 winner south of the Border and lots of smaller wins of a few thousand.
"But the £132,000 winner was the biggest by far.

"And the difference between his win and the rest was that he didn't back top-flight teams - the big guns who people usually back first. That's what makes it so special."

The payout is a latest big-money win for Scots punters. In May, a Glasgow gambler scooped £353,000 on a £1 seven-horse accumulator.

And in August, Dumfries grandad Stuart Smith, 58, became Scotland's first betting shop millionaire, landing the jackpot on the 49's lottery game.

November 18, 2011

Bernard Tapie Signs Deal with DOJ to Acquire Full Tilt Poker

Players holding out hope that their money on Full Tilt Poker would be returned to them sooner rather than later got some great news on Thursday. first broke the story that Groupe Bernard Tapie had signed a deal to purchase the assets of Full Tilt Poker for $80 million US.

As part of the deal Full Tilt Poker agreed to surrender its assets to the Department of Justice. The DOJ was then able to sell those assets to GBT. American players will be paid back by the Department of Justice while GBT assumes all debts for players outside the United States. Estimates put the the amount owed at $390 million with $150 million being owed to U.S. players.

The deal still needs approval of 2/3 of Full Tilt Poker shareholders.

The deal between GBT and the DOJ is expected to be officially announced by Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, on Friday. The story which ran on CNNMoney and Yahoo! Finance was done so ahead of an embargo which should have seen the story made public Friday morning at 6:45 ET.

According to CNN Money, “the government plans to dismiss the civil forfeiture proceedings. This will have no impact on individual proceedings, but it removes a potential liability for shareholders, as it removes all pending proceeding against Full Tilt”. In August, Howard Lederer, Chris Ferguson and Rafe Furst were added to the forfeiture and civil money laundering complaint brought by Bharara’s office that originally only named Ray Bitar. All four are members of the board of directors for Full Tilt Poker.

November 17, 2011

Full Tilt Poker News: Settlement Stalled?

Full Tilt Poker players who were allegedly defrauded of their online poker deposits are reportedly becoming anxious as they await news on a deal between Full Tilt Poker's parent company, a French investor, and the U.S. Department of Justice that is expected to result in actions intended to refund the players of over $300 million.

The delay is reportedly unrelated to recent court papers filed by Full Tilt Poker executive Christopher "Jesus" Ferguson laying claim to hundreds of millions in funds seized by the U.S. government in legal action against the online poker operation.

In early November, GBT CEO Laurent Tapie told the French poker magazine iGamingFrance that an acquisition agreement was expected to be finalized, and repayment plans confirmed, within two weeks.

The laywer for Group Bernard Tapie, the intended buyer, said he remains "optimistic" the concerned parties would soon finalize an agreement though the two week mark is fast approaching.

"We are waiting to hear back from the DoJ and still hoping to finalize an agreement," GBT attorney Behnam Dayanim told Poker News Report. "It takes time. We have an oral understanding with the DoJ that we're trying to reduce to writing."

As IBTimes previously reported, Full Tilt Poker was accused of running a "global Ponzi scheme" and was the recipient of both Federal and civil complaints alleging the online gaming company violated regulations and mishandled player funds.

"Full Tilt was not a legitimate poker company, but a global Ponzi scheme," Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a motion to amend a previous federal complaint again Full Tilt Poker to include "misuse of players' funds" to the charges.

In the statement, Mr. Bharara claims Full Tilt Poker "cheated and abused its own players to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars" and that "insiders lined their own pockets with funds picked from the pockets of their most loyal customers while blithely lying to both players and the public alike about the safety and security of the money deposited with the company."

The complaint accused Full Tilt executives -- which include Ferguson and another famous poker player, Howard Lederer and -- of pocketing $440 million dollars in player deposits that were supposed to be in secure accounts. Previously, poker player Phil Ivey sued the company, claiming "Full Tilt Poker failed to maintain a reserve account sufficient to satisfy the return of funds to U.S. players."

In a statement on its Web site, Full Tilt Poker blamed "government enforcement activities and significant theft" for its cash-flow problems. The statement insists that Full Tilt Poker "has been actively exploring opportunities with outside investors in order to stabilize the company and pay back our players." It says that company is "fully committed to paying them back in full and restoring confidence in our operations."

According to a September article in Forbes magazine, Lederer claimed the company only had $6 million in funds remaining -- nowhere near enough to refund players whose accounts had been frozen.

But in early October --shortly after the Alderley Gaming Control commission revoked Full Tilt Poker's operating license -- Group Bernard Tapie announced plans to acquire Full Tilt Poker. The purchase was subject to multiple conditions, including an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to reimburse players whose accounts had been frozen. According to Poker News Report, Group Bernard Tapie was "hoping" the Dept. of Justice would refund the players from the over $300 million in seized assets, and allow GBT an extended period to pay off Full Tilt Poker's fines.

According to a Nov. 4 Wall Street Journal report, a source "close to the situation" said "Group Bernard Tapie would pay an amount of money to the Justice Department to resolve the civil dispute with the Justice Department" and refund the overseas players, per the agreement, which would require U.S. players to file claims with the Dept. of Justice to facilitate a refund. There was no indication on the exact sum GBT would pay the Dept. of Justice in regards to U.S. players' claims.

Behnam Dayanim, an attorney for GBT, explained to Poker News Report why the U.S. and overseas player pools were being handled separately.

"There are two big differences between U.S. and Rest-of-World players," Dayanim said. "One difference is that the DoJ views the activity of Full Tilt in offering wagers to U.S. players as being unlawful. It doesn't take that view with ROW [overseas] players."

IBTimes found a press release claiming the Full Tilt Poker investment deal had collapsed, but cannot verify its legitimacy. It appears to have been generated by a possible competitor of Full Tilt Poker.

November 16, 2011

Unibet set to re-enter France with Solfive acquisition

Unibet Group plc has entered into an agreement to acquire France’s Solfive SAS, operator of the Eurosportbet and Eurosportpoker brands in the French market.

Under the terms of the agreement, Unibet will acquire Solfive, owner of SPS Betting France SAS, for an initial consideration of €5.625m plus net cash adjustment of €1.5m, payable upon closing. The acquisition also includes an earn-out component based on performance during the first six months of trading post-acquisition, together with an agreement to provide funds to settle a €2.375m fixed debt.

Solfive acquired SPS Betting in April of this year from French media group TF1 for an undisclosed amount after the company incurred a loss of €26.0m in the 2010 financial year as a result of diffucult market conditions in France.

Once one of its strongest markets, Unibet quit France during the second quarter of 2010 citing the country’s unfavourable licensing conditions.

The company says it will now leverage the legacy strength of the Unibet brand in France and its historic customer base to increase revenues, but maintains that market conditions – which remain poor - will result in the acquisition having an insignificant impact on profitability in 2012.

“This strategic acquisition gives Unibet immediate access to the French market with a technical platform that is already licensed offering sports betting, poker and horse racing,” said Unibet CEO Henrik Tjärnström.

“We will rebrand the business quickly to The combination of Unibet’s strong brand, the efforts already made to build a significant market share for EurosportBet, and the difficult decisions taken by management to control costs give the best opportunity to be successful in a very difficult market.”

The acquisition remains subject to regulatory approval from ARJEL, which is expected to be received by the end of the year.

Commenting on the acquisition, Solfive Group CEO Olivier Ou Ramdane said: “The extremely challenging terms and conditions for the French market make it very difficult for an independent operator to develop their business. We are delighted therefore to have this opportunity to work with Unibet, who have the experience, resources and brand legacy in France to succeed in this market in the long term. We are proud of the achievements of the Eurosportbet team in establishing a strong market share and believe that this transaction provides the best platform for the long term success of the business and therefore the best opportunities for the excellent team that we have built.”

November 10, 2011

Germany's Heinz wins World Series of Poker

Now that the 22-year-old German has won the $8.72 million prize at the World Series of Poker, he can steer his life in pretty much whatever direction he wants.

"Honestly I'm not sure what I'm going to do with the money," Heinz said early Wednesday after winning the main event in a marathon session of Texas Hold 'em. "Probably my family is going to get a couple gifts."

Heinz won with an ace high, just nine hands after using the same hand to boost himself from a nearly insurmountable disadvantage against 35-year-old Martin Staszko.

Heinz, of Cologne, Germany, called an all-in bet from Staszko with an ace and a king. Staszko held a seven-10 of clubs.

The board was a five of clubs, deuce of diamonds, nine of spades, jack of hearts and four of diamonds, helping neither player but cementing Heinz's win in the $10,000 buy-in tournament that started in July.

Staskzo won $5.43 million for second place, a nice consolation prize, but it comes without a bracelet — the prize given to WSOP event winners and coveted by all serious card players.
"Have you ever worn it?" Heinz asked 2010 title winner Jonathan Duhamel as Duhamel handed him the bracelet.

"It's got to be the happiest day of my life," Heinz said. "But I can't believe what happened — it's unreal."

Staszko, a chess whiz who once worked for three years at an auto paint shop, said he thought his finish would help poker in his native country.

"I'm never happy if I don't win," Staszko said. "But it's not too bad. Second place is OK."
Staszko, who mainly plays online, said he'll be back to Sin City and the series.
"I'll come back next year," he said. "I hope I can win a bracelet."

Asked before the final table began whether they'd accept second place money right then and forgo a shot at the title, Heinz said yes; Staszko said no.

Now, Heinz is happy they played the game.

Once it was down to the two players, they exchanged the lead nine times over 119 hands. At one point, Staszko had a nearly 4-1 chip edge on Heinz.

But Heinz, who started the day with just over half the chips in play, convinced Staszko to gamble with less-than-ideal hands in an attempt to put the no-limit Texas Hold 'em tournament away.

"I tried not to lose my nerve," Heinz said. "At some point I was not making a hand. I was getting frustrated, honestly. I just tried to play my game."

Las Vegas poker professional Ben Lamb was eliminated early Tuesday night in four hands. He pushed all-in on the first hand of play with a king-jack, hoping to induce Staszko to fold pocket sevens.

But Staszko called and kept his marginal advantage as the five community cards were dealt.
"I got the sense he wasn't like super strong, but he actually was stronger than I thought he was," Lamb said.

That left Lamb very short on chips, and he pushed all-in again three hands later with a queen-six. This time, Staszko had pocket jacks and eliminated Lamb.

"Every poker player dreams of having the year I had, so I don't want to sit here and have people like cry for me," he said. "I'll be OK."

The 26-year-old Lamb won $4 million for finishing in third place.

Each player must lose all his chips to be eliminated from the $10,000 buy-in tournament, and win all the chips in play to take the crown.

Heinz, who said he had a rough six-month run in poker before the series and was thinking about whether to go back to college, aggressively stormed from seventh in chips to first at the nine-hand final table on Sunday.

He went from 16.4 million in chips to 107.8 million in just more than 7½ hours of play, propelling to a higher finish than at least six of his competitors.

Lamb, an experienced professional who made his mark at the 58-tournament series this year by winning Player of the Year honors, had a large contingent of rowdy supporters and a smaller group of friends and poker experts feeding him information about his play and his opponents.

For the first time, every hand at the final table was playing out nearly live on ESPN, including tense stretches of several minutes during which players mulled difficult decisions.

The play was aired on a 15-minute delay with hole cards revealed once hands ended — enough time to ensure gambling regulators that players couldn't cheat.

The game was played in front of a crowd of hundreds at the Rio All-Suite Hotel & Casino near the Las Vegas Strip, in the same theater where magicians Penn & Teller regularly perform.

"It was just awesome to have so many of your friends and family following you, cheering you," Heinz said.

November 09, 2011

Interwetten signs Czech ice hockey club sponsorship deal

Following its recent sponsorship of La Liga side Sevilla FC, Interwetten has confirmed that it will also become the official sponsor of Czech Republic ice hockey club HC Sparta Prague.

Interwetten said that the sponsorship deal will help to increase the company’s presence in the Czech sports betting market, where it has been in operation since the start of the year.

HC Sparta Prague was founded in 1893 as AC Královské Vinohrady and is one of the most successful clubs in Czech ice hockey history. Currently playing in the Czech Extraliga, the team plays its home games in Tesla Arena, which is the second largest hockey stadium in the Czech Republic with a capacity of nearly 14,000 spectators.

Under the agreement, the company will have a brand presence at the Tesla Arena stadium in the form of advertising hoardings, as well as advertisements on videos around the stadium and a banner on the club’s official website.

In addition, Interwetten customers will now be able to exchange Club Points in the Interwetten Club for VIP tickets for every home tie and other gifts goodies from HC Sparta Prague.

“HC Sparta Prague is delighted to welcome as one of the best-known European sports betting providers and a further international partner,” said Antonin Charouz, owner HC Sparta Prague. “And this new partnership seems to have given our players a boost: since the first commercial appearance of Interwetten at the Tesla Arena, the club has been going from strength to strength on the ice and is now first in the table.”

Interwetten managing director Birgit Bosch said of the two new sponsorship deals: “We are incredibly proud to have the opportunity to work with two top international teams in Sevilla FC and HC Sparta Prag. These partnerships underline Interwetten’s position of ranking among the best of the best and offering our customers the very best entertainment – something we have in common with our new partners.

“Football, the number 1 in betting sports, has been a fixed component of our sponsoring activities from day one. Ice hockey is among the most popular sports in the Czech Republic, meaning that our sponsorship of HC Sparta Prag will represent a valuable addition to our sponsoring portfolio.”

November 08, 2011

Aussie online betting operators call on Govt to lift laws

Australian online betting companies have called for the relaxation of online gambling laws, claiming the regulations restrict them from competing with offshore companies.

In its submission to the Federal Government’s review of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (IGA), online betting company Sportsbet claimed the regulations should be amended to allow Australian-based websites to offer “in-the-run” betting, which refers to the placing of bets once an even has commenced.

“Betting after an event has commenced is available over the phone and in retail outlets in Australia,” the submission reads.

“With Australian-based websites prohibited from offering betting in the run in online, Australians are choosing to place bets in the run online through unregulated overseas websites.”

The company claims the issue is separate from that of the broader online gaming debate, and that it is simply an issue of platform neutrality as this form of betting already exists over the phone and in TAB retail outlets.

“Sportsbet urges government to address this issue as a matter of urgency and allow betting in the run online with Australian registered wagering operators.

“This would achieve the stated goal of platform neutrality, remove a major disadvantage to licensed Australian online wagering operators and allow Australian consumers to bet in the run safely.”

Fellow online wagering firm, Betfair, has joined Sportsbet in the push for the removal of the restrictions around online in-play betting online as well as online interactive games.

“This approach would ensure that the issues surrounding problem gambling and integrity in sporting contests can be managed more effectively from within Australia,” Betfair’s submission reads. “Further, Australian consumers of these services would be afforded enhanced consumer protection, tax revenues would remain in Australia and can be used to fund problem gambling programs and research projects and Australian operators will be able to compete with offshore gambling operators on an even playing field.”

“One key reason that the IGA is presently ineffective is that it failed to regulate services, and instead focused on the methods by which those services are delivered (e.g. telephone, internet) and therefore became antiquated on a rapid basis.”

According to Sportsbet the prohibition of Australian-based websites offering online gaming is ineffective in reducing problem gambling as Australian continue to spend in the order of $1 billion annually on online gaming through unregulated offshore sites.

Also weighing in on the topic with its submission was Tabcorp, which was in agreement with its competitors and stated online gambling must be deregulated so Australian are not forced to bet with offshore operators.

“This will also enable domestic operators to compete on a level playing field where player protection standards can be assured.”

Tabcorp also claimed a national code of conduct for wagering and sports betting should be established to cover elements of the industry including marketing, credit betting, the offering of financial inducements to open an account and to convey messages of responsible gambling, self-exclusion and compliance with the code.

The call comes at a time when the focus on problem gambling has been fixed on implementing controls on poker machines to eliminate problem gambling.

The Federal Government has continued the upward battle to implement its mandatory pre-commitment scheme with all states, except Tasmania, complaining that it should remain optional.

The scheme would require patrons to nominate their maximum losses before they started playing the pokies.

PokerStars targets new online poker world record

Online poker room PokerStars is looking to beat its own Guinness World Record for the largest ever online poker tournament, with a new record attempt set to take place on Sunday December 4th.

PokerStars last beat the record for the largest ever online poker tournament back in December 2009 when 149,196 players took part in a tournament arrange two days after Christmas. This was more than double the previous record of 65,000 players set earlier that year in July.

On Sunday December 4th, PokerStars will attempt to break the record again, with a $1 buy-in tournament kicking off at 12:30pm (ET). The tournament will have a $250,000 guaranteed prize pool, with $50,000 guaranteed for first place.

PokerStars will also be placing a $10 bounty on the head of every member of Team PokerStars Pro who takes part.

“It's exciting and unique to be part of a World Record,” said Team PokerStars Pro member Bertrand ‘ElkY’ Grospellier, who holds a personal Guinness World Record for most online poker tables played in one hour (62, with a profit of $23.60). “I'm looking forward to doing it again on December 4. It will be great to see so many players come together to make history once again at the world's largest poker site.”

The record attempt will be overseen and confirmed by Guinness World Records and listed in their renowned database of world bests.

Commentators may be told to tone down TV betting plugs

Sport commentators would have to tell fans to "gamble responsibly" under proposed new gambling rules.

The Independent Gambling Authority has asked the gambling industry to comment on 12 ideas it is considering as part of an update to industry rules.

Networks are increasingly being paid "plug" money to cite odds during games.

"One option might be for the gambling provider to procure that the same commentators will speak, in a neutral tone, the mandatory warning message on a minimum frequency throughout sporting events," the IGA says in a discussion paper for the industry.

The IGA believes conventional television, radio and print advertising of gambling is "well comprehended" under its existing code of practice, but it may have to toughen up on emerging forms of advertising such as online, at-venue and product placement.

Uniting Care Wesley manager Mark Henley has told the IGA it should also investigate the "contempt" some betting companies show for existing warning messages.

"One company earlier this year concluded their radio advertising with a fast delivery of the following responsible gambling message: `Gamble responsibly, don't drink too much and be nice to your mother'," he said.

"The wording coupled with the delivery is clearly, in my opinion, applying ridicule to the requirement ... to include a responsible gambling message.

"A complaint was lodged with the IGA in March this year. We haven't had a reply."

Other ideas that the IGA has put to the industry for discussion include whether industry bodies to prevent problem gambling are effective, free betting credits should be banned and more training is needed for staff at gambling venues.

In a submission to the IGA inquiry, the Adelaide Casino has lobbied for continued special treatment.

It says: "Adelaide Casino requires a separate code from other sectors and deserves credit for the proven, continued success of the host responsibility co-ordinator program. We thank the authority for the faith shown in Adelaide Casino, following Review 2006 and submit that the findings remain valid."

November 03, 2011

Bwin.Party, MGM & Boyd join forces have finally come out and announced their deal in the US with MGM & Boyd Gaming and the deal looks very good for the European Operator.

The company said, “the deal was central to’s strategy for entering the US market, subject to appropriate US legislation being passed.”

The deal would see the formation of a new entity – 65% owned by, 25% by MGM and 10% for Boyd – that would operate under the PartyPoker and World Poker Tour brands.

While there is no certainty that online poker legislation will be enacted in the US or when, is preparing to enter into a preliminary suitability review in the State of Nevada.

It is understood the deal is on a 15-year business-to-business agreement with MGM & Boyd that will enable them to offer real money online poker services under their own brands in the US using the technology platform & associated services. Under the terms of these agreements both MGM & Boyd are exclusive to & the will receive a share of the online poker revenue generated by those services.

Commenting on the announcement, Jim Ryan & Norbert Teufelberger, the Co-CEOs of, said:

“Our strategy has been designed to address any & all legislative outcomes, whether federal or state-by-state. We are particularly excited to be working with MGM & Boyd. Combining their significant assets & regulatory expertise with the strength of our PartyPoker & World Poker Tour brands, all supported by our in-house technology, makes us perfectly positioned for any future opening of the US online poker market.”

Jim Murren, Chairman & CEO of MGM Resorts International, said:

“MGM has long been supportive of Federal legislation to strengthen UIGEA & provide the needed regulations & consumer protections for online poker. MGM is proud to have as our partner as they have the assets & experience that, combined with our brands, can ensure a secure, fair & entertaining online poker experience.”

Keith Smith, President & CEO of Boyd Gaming, said:

“We believe the right approach to offering legal online poker in the United States is through a federal regulatory structure that ensures the games are conducted with the greatest possible integrity & security. Should Congress enact legislation to legalise Internet poker, this agreement will allow us to partner with the world's most experienced & prestigious online operator to offer a secure, fair & entertaining experience for players in the United States.”

November 02, 2011

Full Tilt Poker Deal with DOJ

Full Tilt Poker CEO Ray Bitar has sent out an email this morning to shareholders announcing a deal has been agreed with FTP and the DOJ. Here is the statement in full:

"I am pleased to announce that today the Department of Justice and Groupe Bernard Tapie have reached an agreement in principle regarding the acquisition of the companies comprising FullTiltPoker. My understanding is the deal provides that in exchange for an agreed upon payment by GBT, and a GBT commitment to assume responsibility for payment of ROW players, DoJ will reimburse US players and settle the outstanding civil litigation with the companies comprising FTP. Beyond these conditions, issues like the time frame and process for repayment of players remain unclear at this point and time.

With DoJ’s consent now in hand, GBT may now proceed to finalize an agreement to acquire the companies or assets that comprise FTP. That agreement will very likely address the status of your shares or interests in the successor company. When I receive that agreement, I will coordinate with our attorneys to ensure the terms of that proposed agreement will be shared with the membership and voted on."

Pakistan spot-fixing scandal: ICC needed News of the World to supply bullets

But match-fixing is a reality with which cricket followers in other countries have learned to cope – or else they have switched off the game altogether.

In the heyday of match-fixing in England, we did not do it for anything so sordid as money. It was good old-fashioned barter: we will lose this championship game if you let us win the Sunday League match. Only on one occasion that I know of was betting involved, and that cannot be revealed here, as the law tends to bat on the side of the fixer.

But from the 1990s, according to Justice Cooke during his summing up, and a few years earlier by other reckonings, fixing for money spread through south Asia – and through quite a few cricketers from other countries who played in south Asia.

Pakistan were first to grasp this stinging nettle. In 1999 their government appointed Justice Qayyum to inquire. As usual there, nothing was straightforward: rumours circulated about the game the judge was playing, and about the pressure the government put on him to make his sentences mild.

Nevertheless, former Pakistan captain Salim Malik was banned for life in 2000. Here at last was certifiable evidence that something was rotten in the state of international cricket.

Malik still lives in Lahore but does little more than play golf, go to his club, and brood – with some reason. He is the only one still carrying the can. All the others shamed and fined by Qayyum have come again, and risen to equal heights of eminence as coaches and commentators, without a single act of contrition.

India came next, and did the best job so far. Their Central Bureau of Investigation did not, like the ICC's Anti-Corruption and Security Unit, simply wash and wring their hands. The CBI used 'robust' interrogation techniques, firstly to make the Indian bank clerk-turned-bookmaker MK Gupta sing, which he did, like a lark, telling them all about his fixes.

The CBI then grilled the Indian cricketers named by Gupta. Of course, one or two were too famous to be brought down. But at least the Indian captain, Mohammad Azharuddin, and the one-day vice-captain Ajay Jadeja, were banned, and a few more besides. Not that anyone pleaded guilty, as in Pakistan: it would be more than your life was worth to confess.

Unfortunately the CBI could not grill any of the non-Indian players that Gupta had spoken of dealing with. Most Test-playing countries had at least one international player who had dealt with him, and their boards all did an excellent job in blocking like nightwatchmen, until the media went away.

Only the mafia did not go away. The period around 2000 and 2001 when India and Pakistan held inquiries, and when the late Hansie Cronje confessed in South Africa, was the window: the moment when the sport's governing bodies, fired by the indignation of cricket followers, might just have broken the links between the south Asian mafia and the dressing-room. But there were too many skeletons in too many cupboards, the moment passed, and match-fixing became much more discreet, if no less systemic.

The King Inquiry in South Africa was a classic. The terms of reference were so limited that the lid could only be opened a little – and as soon as Cronje made a confession it was closed, so no more damage could be done to the national image. A partial confession too, some would say, as he got no further than exposing a couple of his non-white players, Herschelle Gibbs and Henry Williams.

Since then, until Tuesday, virtually nothing. In the last decade the ICC has pinned Kenya's captain, Maurice Odumbe, and banned him for five years, but that was for 'associating with a known bookmaker'. The only other player who has been banned (for two years), Marlon Samuels of the West Indies, was guilty of nothing more than naivety in talking to a punter.

The ICC have now equipped themselves to fire shots, but they needed the News of the World to supply the bullets, when their own ACSU should have done so.

William Hill withdraws from Probability talks

Shares in mobile gambling specialist Probability plc have slumped 16 per cent in London this morning after UK bookmaker William Hill confirmed that it does not intend to make an offer for the company.

William Hill was originally required to make an offer for Probability by no later than 5pm on October 17th, or to announce that it does not intend to make an offer.

Last month Probability said that following a joint submission with William Hill, the two companies had been granted an extension until November 14th to reach an agreement, pursuant to Rule 2.6(c) of the City Code on Takeovers and Mergers.

This morning however, William Hill said in a statement to the London Stock Exchange that it does not intend to make an offer for Probability.

Under Rule 2.8 of the Takeover Code, William Hill reserves the right to announce an offer, or participate in an offer, for Probability within the next six months so long as various conditions are met.

These include an agreement or recommendation from the board of Probability, an announcement by or on behalf of a third party of a firm intention to make an offer for Probability or if Probability announces that it has received an approach in relation to a possible offer from a third party.

Finally, William Hill can also act in the event that Probability announces a "whitewash" proposal or a reverse takeover or if there is a material change of circumstances.