June 29, 2012

Betfred customer has yet to pick up £400,000 winnings, probably doesn’t even know they won

You tell us we won £1,000 on a bet and we’d probably run faster than Speedy Gonzales to claim our winnings. You tell us we won almost £400,000 and we’d make a straight bee-line to any of your shops and start banging at your door – even if it’s at 3 in the morning.

But that’s us, and apparently, not everybody has that sudden rush to instantly collect winning bets. Or maybe they just don’t know that they’d won.

A Betfred shop customer who won £394,487 from a £2 bet during last weekend’s totescoop6 has yet to pick-up their fortune, and Betfred is worried that the person, whoever he or she is, doesn’t even know they’ve won.

The punter placed their bet at the Befred shop in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, improbably picking the six winners of the nominated Scoop6 races over the weekend. But the problem is, the winnings have yet to be claimed with the winner potentially missing out on registering for the bonus race at the 3.20 Newcastle – the John Smith’s Northumberland Plate at Newcastle this weekend for a chance to add another £251,996 to their bank account.

Oh, the predicament.

“Usually punters are banging my doors down to collect their winnings, said Betfred boss Fred Done, “and I’m really worried that our Scoop6 winner may not actually know they’ve won.”

So how exactly can someone win such a massive amount of money without them knowing it?

According to BetFred: “under the rules of the bet, any selections made that are non-runners are automatically placed onto the eventual favorite and given the fact there were eighteen horses withdrawn across the six Scoop6 races last Saturday, there is a strong possibility that the winner may not have realized they have actually won.”

The new “half-a-millionaire” has until 2pm this Saturday to go to any Betfred shop or phone in at the number 0800-028-4418 to be eligible for the bonus race and a chance to up his or her winnings to £650,000.

June 28, 2012

The Allure of Large Jackpots

Almost three months ago to the day the US was being swept with lottery fever. The multi-state game Mega Millions had reached boiling point as the March 30th drawing involved a jackpot worth the princely sum of $640 million.

It is this jackpot total that saw ticket buyers flood to licensed retailers. Some travelled hours and queued for even longer just in order to get their hands on those $1-$20 tickets.

At the time it didn’t take a genius to figure out that this lottery had sent US residents into near pandemonium. Even the most level headed of people in the country may well have caught afforded themselves just a minute to imagine what they would do with such an incredible amount of money.

Now, three months on, the dust has settled and we can truly see the extent to which lottery players, or just normal citizens, went mad for this tantalising total.

When this incredible jackpot run began, on January 27, sales for that draw were at around $10 million. By March 23 the jackpot was almost at $300 million and we began to see the expected jackpot total being increased on the back of strong ticket sales. By the time the draw was made on March 30, $650 million of tickets had been sold and the jackpot total had increased by more than $200 million as a result.

Interestingly, along with all the new players that came in that week came new trends. In Washington one of these was that new players tended to buy $5 tickets just as much as $1 tickets creating a more efficient selling machine.

In the end, this gargantuan jackpot was divided between three winning ticket holders. They went to residents of Maryland, Kansas and Illinois. Conveniently, the last of these states recently became the first to offer online lottery tickets through their own site.

Having launched on March 25, the $640 million jackpot five days later was a stern test of the capabilities of Illinois’ new online system. Within six days of launching the system had taken sales of $1.1 million with a around 110,000 registering with the new service. This was despite brief down time during that first week as well as many users being confused by the unfamiliar interface. If a jackpot that size were to come around again now we could expect far bigger figures from Illinois.

But while these figures show just how much other US state lotteries are missing out on by not being online, it’s most likely of little consequence to most of the iGaming industry. For them, those who aren’t official state organisations, their chance to profit from lottery sales is now and by the looks of things won’t be around for much longer with DC, California and many others looking to embrace the online technology.

A centralised online ticket sales site for each state will mean that those who had been selling tickets online through various methods will find it near impossible to compete. For affiliates and those who have been able to create commission from the sale of tickets, it’s highly unlikely that the official state sites are going to give a piece of the pie away to them.

Aside from showing the iGaming industry what it’s soon to be missing out on, the events of the week leading up to March 30 did teach us a thing or two.

The most significant of these is fairly obvious. It is the fact that regular people still go wild for a large prize. Of course this is no revelation but the extent to how popular Mega Millions became will have surprised a few.

So if we’re going to take something from this experience then it’s that, ironically, big money sells.

The question is therefore how to adapt this into casino, poker and any other products that come within gaming or sports betting.

SBO Bet CEO Bill Mummery commented recently that the allure of winning a large prize from a small bet is a trait found particularly in Western gamblers so those facing any non-Asian market should be placing extra focus on answering this question.

Casino gaming is the most obvious area where large money prizes can be found within gaming. But the NetEnt jackpot of $15,844,900 won at Betsson which is currently the largest online casino prize ever still pales in comparison to lottery jackpots. And when you consider the Powerball Lottery’s $40 million starting jackpot and the increase in the size of rollovers this figure appears paltry.

But why are lottery jackpots so much larger than that of those which can be found in casinos?

Surely the fact that casino players are constantly playing across a variety of outlets should mean that their progressive networks should be able to rise to a level where the sort of hype seen in March could be recreated. Admittedly, casino players are gamblers whereas lottery players are just regular people which means that the number of people likely to play casino games is lower and therefore the network of people contributing to a progressive jackpot is smaller.

But having said that, the number of players that must play Microgaming or Playtech games in any number of countries surely create a fairly large network of players.

So is it not worth taking less profit immediately by pumping more into the progressive pot in order to create something remotely similar to the scenes created by Mega Millions?

Not only would it work in the short run with increased player numbers but it would also do a world of good for brand recognition. For an operator or software providor in the position to be able to do this it must be worth a shot.

German States Chart Online Gambling Future

The German state of Schleswig Holstein (SH) had enacted a liberal online gambling legislation that had been approved by the European Union (EU) and accepted by the industry. Then the elections resulted in a change in political leadership. Certain prominent members of the new regime stated their intent to repeal the progressive licensing and regulation policy and join the other states in signing the restrictive State Treaty. The good news is that the Ministry of the Interior has confirmed that until the law is amended or repealed, the current legislation applies and the required processes will not be put on hold but will be executed. Fears have also been voiced that any repeal of the legislation now could result in expensive legal actions brought by the seven major online gambling companies that have made investments based on licenses already issued.

A report from the Public Gaming Research Institute stated that SH has continued to issue licenses for sports betting with a validity of six years. Earlier this month the Ministry of the Interior had issued licenses to bet-at-home, bwin, Bet365 and Sportingbet. According to the Ministry, twenty four online gaming operators have applied for a sports betting license. These applications are under consideration and are being evaluated in stages. Six new sports betting licenses are likely to be issued within the next few weeks. Another four to six licenses are apparently also in the pipeline and are likely to be issued later. Seventeen operators have applied for an online casino gaming license.

What the future ultimately holds for the German state of SH one cannot say. But, the further the authorities tread on the liberal path, the more difficult it will be to retract the steps. However the rest of the German states are clearly going the other way. There had been an ongoing debate on a new Interstate Treaty on gambling to replace the one that expired last year. The states have been trying to carry on as before by paying mere lip service to the growing EU concerns. A few proposals actually sent to the EU have not found acceptability.

It has now been reported that thirteen states have come to an agreement. This is the minimum threshold required to give effect to the new treaty. This situation was reached last week when Thuringia and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern climbed on board. It seems the four-year new treaty will come into play from July 1 2012. The new treaty is only slightly less restrictive than the earlier one. It allows for 20 private sports betting licenses priced at about €50 million each, and levies a turnover tax of 5%. Online casino gambling remains out of bounds for private operators.

Titan Poker, Winner and Bet-At-Home blocked in Denmark

The Danish Gambling authority has blacklisted and ordered the blocking of 12 websites targeting the country’s online gambling market without a local licence.

Denmark’s dot.dk online gambling market went live at the start of this year, with the majority of Europe’s major online operators applying for licences to offer sports betting, poker and casino after the tax rate was set at a sensible 20% of gross profit and the poker market was left open to dot.com liquidity.

The Danish Gambling Authority however announced this morning that a minority of websites had not responded to their request to cease offering products into the market without a Danish licence, and that the bailiffs court in had Frederiksberg had imposed an injunction on internet service provider “3”, requiring it to block 12 websites within 14 days. The regulator added that it expected other internet service providers to follow the court’s lead and block the 12 websites in question.

Playtech-powered Titan Poker and Winner are among the three highest profile dot.com gambling websites on a list sent to the ISP that also includes BetClic Everest-owned Bet-At-Home. The other soon-to-be-blocked domains are Playtech-powered casinos CasinoRedVegas, CasinoTropez, Casino Del Rio, Casino Bellini and Europa Casino. Microgaming-powered poker room Cool Hand Poker also appears on the list, alongwith three casinos running on CGTV software, Casinomel, Casino-Alhambra and AmazingVideoPoker.

The blacklisting and blocking of websites without a local licence in Denmark follows a similar move by the Belgian Gaming Commission. bwin.party’s legal action aimed at getting its bwin.com domain removed from the list was thrown out by a Belgian court earlier this month.

June 26, 2012

U.S. Sports Leagues Should Get in the Sports Betting Game While They Can

While internet wagering is on the lips of most gambling writers nowadays, sports betting is actually the topic du jour. New Jersey has passed a bill that will legalize sports betting in the state and are prepared to challenge PASPA in an effort to implement it. In fact Governor Christie is almost daring the DoJ and sports leagues to try and stop him. California also introduced a bill to legalize sports betting but will disallow wagering on California based NCAA teams or any college games that take place in the state and, like New Jersey, California is willing to take the issue as high as the Supreme Court if they need to. There’s no question that Delaware is still interested in offering single game sports betting and Nevada based American Gaming made a deal with William Hill to set up hundreds of sports betting kiosks throughout Nevada to generate more interest in sports betting as a betting option. Furthermore, reports suggest that least a dozen other states are seriously looking at introducing bills to legalize sports betting in their states and Canada is about to pass a single game sports betting bill that will allow their provincial governments to offer traditional sportsbooks in addition to the parlay lottery they have now. And not only does almost 20% of America’s population live less than a 5 hour drive from the Canadian border, but in Canada there is no tax on windfalls.

Yet despite the efforts of all the states to introduce sports as a betting option that they feel is necessary to prop up their casino and horse racing business, the sports leagues still maintain that they will vehemently challenge any efforts to introduce expanded sports betting in any state in order to “protect the integrity of the game.” However, if the leagues were smart they would give up this notion and try to figure out ways in which they could benefit from legalized sports wagering. Throughout the world sports betting is legal and sports teams have created partnerships with the bookmaking companies which have benefitted them greatly. In fact some of the most famous sports paraphernalia are from sportsbooks. Bwin, Betclic and Ladbrokes sponsor some of the most famous teams in Europe and Bet365 has deals with a couple of CFL franchises. And in Australia, almost every team is sponsored by a gambling company. It’s uncertain just how much money the leagues could make with sponsorships but a gaming conference in Montreal 8 years ago, Marc Blandford, the CEO of Sportingbet at the time said he would give $1 billion to the NFL if they would agree to allow the company to be “the official sportsbook of the NFL.” Naturally that offer was laughed off but many teams are struggling greatly and could use the influx of advertising revenue from sportsbooks if they were legalized. Without question teams like the Tampa Bay Lightning or Phoenix Coyotes in the NHL or the Buffalo Bills in the NFL would benefit greatly from sportsbook sponsorships and in NASCAR all the start and park teams could almost certainly pick up some sportsbook advertising which would allow them to run the whole race. It wasn’t that long ago when companies were lining up to sponsor race cars but the failing economy and the ban on tobacco and hard alcohol advertising has eroded that interest and consequently there is talk that the Craftsman Truck Series could end next year. It’s no longer the 1990s and companies like General Electric, General Mills and the Bank of America no longer have the resources to simply throw out money in hopes it may generate business. But the nature of bookmaking would certainly compel all legal sportsbooks to seek partnerships with teams in an effort to create awareness of their product. And like Betclic and Bwin, people would wear uniforms sporting their names and logos.

As for protecting the integrity of the game, legalized and regulated sports betting has actually been shown to be the best way to achieve that goal. Almost every famous gambling scandal in the past, including most recently the Ted Donaghy mess, was done with illegal, underground bookmakers. And it’s only after the fact when one of the cheaters makes a mistake that the truth comes out that leagues and the public are made aware of the scandal. In Europe, however, where gambling is legal, there have been quite a few betting scandals lately in horse racing, soccer, cricket and tennis, but unlike with Donaghy it was the bookmakers who notified the sports leagues about the likely cheating as a result of strange betting patterns. The unusual results in Ted Donaghy refereed games could have been spotted if the bets were made legally but because they were all conducted illegally, the sportsbooks couldn’t help. In fact Betfair, a major world gaming exchange, has initiated memoranda of understanding with over 40 leagues including horse racing boards, soccer leagues, the tennis federation and the NHL whereby any suspicious betting is reported to the leagues. With over 7 million transactions taking place on the exchange each day, all which are recorded and analyzed in real time by a designated integrity department, Betfair has been able to alert numerous leagues of suspicious betting patterns and it has led to arrests and suspensions in horse racing, soccer and tennis. And other bookmakers are following suit. In fact, Australia has it in their rules and regulations that licensed bookmakers must be on the lookout for illegal bets and report to them to the authorities immediately so that action can be taken. A major UK newspaper even stated recently “with the cooperation of the sports leagues and Betfair’s technology, cheating athletes know their days of deception are numbered.” Yet for some reason, North American sports leagues (with the exception of the NHL), have preferred to keep their head in the sand and pretend that gambling doesn’t take place on their games. Obviously they know otherwise but they would rather take the approach that what they don’t know won’t hurt them, rather than facing reality. Gambling does take place every day and some sports even rely on it. There’s absolutely no question the NFL would not be as popular as it is today if there weren’t NFL pools taking place in offices every weekend and if the point spreads weren’t posted in every major newspaper. And contrary to what the leagues may believe it’s better to learn about cheating ahead of time and be proactive rather than just reacting to the news.

Another reason the leagues should consider embracing sports betting now is because at this point they have some leverage in adopting regulations for sports betting. California, as mentioned, has put in a rule disallowing college betting on sports within the state and no doubt other states that are interested in sports betting would be willing to follow suit if it means they don’t have to go through the legal process of challenging PASPA. In fact the leagues can even put in regulations relating to who can’t bet on sports (i.e. disallow players or referees from placing bets on their sport) and can possibly even work in a percentage of the revenues from the betting to be used towards scholarships, increased minimum salaries and the like. But if the leagues choose to continue to challenge it and if the courts eventually rule against PASPA, and almost every gambling lawyer I spoke to believes PASPA will be determined to be unconstitutional at some point, the states and gambling companies will have no reason to work with the leagues to give them a share of the revenue or ask for their input. Once sports betting is declared legal, the states will say to the leagues “you had your chance and you blew it,” just as the leagues are telling New Jersey for opting out of PASPA two decades ago.

This is crunch time for sports betting in the U.S. Legalized wagering on sports will happen in every state that wants it sooner or later and there’s absolutely nothing the leagues can do about it. They may own their trademarks and patents but they don’t own the right to stop gambling on it. Sports betting has taken place in Nevada for over 70 years and it has taken place underground for far longer than that. It’s time for the leagues to face reality and work with the states to come up with a solution that they all can live with. Failing to do so will just leave the leagues on the outside looking in and when the leagues want some revenue and input into the betting the states will simply tell them “you had your chance and you blew it.”

June 25, 2012

Shareholders approve Lotto24 spin-off from Tipp24

Tipp24 shareholders have approved plans by the company to spin-off its German online lottery brokerage business.

In an almost unanimous decision Friday at the company’s Annual General Meeting, 99.99 per cent of Tipp24’s shareholders approved the separation of the business under the Lotto24 brand.

Shares in Lotto24 AG will be distributed as a dividend-in-kind to the shareholders of Tipp24 by a 1:1 ratio.

“With today's decision, our shareholders have laid the track for the successful further expansion of the online lottery brokerage business of Lotto24 AG in Germany,” said Tipp24 CEO Hans Cornehl. “I am pleased that the spin-off of Lotto24 AG has been supported by an overwhelming majority of our shareholders.

“We see this as a confirmation of our strategy to focus on the international business with Tipp24 SE, thereby enabling Lotto24 AG to start their activities in the German market free of the burden of legal disputes.”

The transfer of the Lotto24 shares to shareholders will commence tomorrow (June 26th), with the first trading of Lotto24 shares expected to begin on July 3rd on the Prime Standard of Frankfurt Stock Exchange.

Lotto24 will be headed up by Petra von Strombeck, previously chief marketing officer for Tipp24, while Magnus von Zitzewitz will also serve as an executive board member.

Founders of Stan James face Tax tribunal

The Stan James family founders are embroiled in a battle with the taxman after they moved part of the business to Gibraltar.

Stephen and Anne Fisher and son Peter are heading for a tribunal hearing after they moved their phone and internet betting business to a Gibraltar arm of its parent company in 2000.

Revenue & Customs says the move was made solely to avoid UK gambling duties. Court documents show that it wants to tax the telebetting business’s profit as if it were the shareholders’ personal income. This will certainly be at the higher rate of income tax.

A normal Gibraltar-based company would pay corporation tax at only 22 per cent on profits.

The special tax charge kicks in if a company moves offshore merely to try to pay tax at a lower rate and is designed to discourage individuals from doing this.

Firms can move without incurring the charge only if genuine commercial reasons for doing so can be proved.

Gambling groups have long battled the Government over the way it taxes telebetting, with many big names being run from Gibraltar.

Details of the Stan James tax battle emerged as part of a row over what documents should be revealed in relation to the case.

Mystery casino owner gives $1 million to families

Normally news from Las Vegas is about licenses, new games, new developments and most recently law suits, so it is great to report on some news that means a great deal to the families in Las Vegas who are having a real difficult time at present.

One case in particular is Laureene Furnari, who lives in LV, she had to move out of her home and put her stuff in storage.

She had to split her family apart. The 50-year-old mother of two is now staying with a friend. Her 11-year-old daughter is living with a family member, and her 20-year-old son is sleeping at a buddy’s house while trying to find a job.

Money is really tight for families like Laureene and many others, so Saturday the 23rd June was truly amazing.

She was among 2,000 Las Vegas families given $500 U.S. Bank gift cards in a gymnasium at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Las Vegas.

The cards, a result of a $1 million donation to United Way of Southern Nevada from an anonymous Las Vegas casino owner, were delivered to people the United Way and its partner programs determined needed it most.

The cards can be used for anything. As soon as the backs are signed, the plastic becomes as good as cash.

It is the second time the same anonymous person has made a million-dollar United Way donation. The first came in December.

The only thing that changed this time was the donor’s nickname, Summer Santa instead of Secret Santa.

The donor and United Way wanted the gift cards to be a surprise. Workers sent letters and made phone calls, inviting families to come to the gym. The families were told they would receive something, but they never knew exactly what.

Some found out early.

Tyler Griffin, 10, said a worker from his school told him he would get a gift card when they got to the gym. That gave him some time to think about what he wanted to buy.

“Video games!” he said after jumping up and throwing his hands above his head.

“Shoes,” his dad corrected him.

For others, like Furnari, the card remained a surprise until she tore back the flap of a white envelope.

In a parking lot outside the gym, she expressed gratitude for a stranger’s generosity.

“God bless him,” she said. “Whoever he is.”

Then tears started building behind her glasses as she explained how the gift card will help her find another place – the first step in putting her family back together.

“We can feel like a normal family again,” Furnari said.

It does show that Las Vegas casino owners do have hearts and atleast one owner wants to help the people of LV, without all the glory and publicity for doing so.

June 22, 2012

PokerStars brings in tennis champ as poker ambassador

Online poker operator PokerStars has signed up Spanish tennis icon Rafael Nadal as an ambassador for the brand as the company prepares to make its mark in the newly regulated online poker market in Spain.

Nadal becomes the fourth member of PokerStars’ Team SportStars, which the company acclaims as a “group of elite icons that have brought their competitive nature to the poker world.”

Other members currently include German tennis legend Boris Becker, Dutch field hockey Olympic gold medallist Fatima Moreira De Melo, and Swedish cross-country skiing Olympic gold medal winner Marcus Hellner.

“It’s no secret that I love to compete and try my very best in everything, whether that’s tennis, golf or video games,” said Rafa Nadal. “When I discovered the game of poker, I chose to join PokerStars because they understand what it takes to be the best and associate themselves with the qualities of champions. I’m very happy to be working with them.”

Nadal is an Olympic gold medallist and multiple Grand Slam tennis champion, and recently secured his eleventh grand slam title earlier this month with his seventh victory at the French Open.

PokerStars said that Nadal will play poker in spare moments this summer while he concentrates on his tennis. In the Autumn, he will be able to devote more time to poker and to representing PokerStars in online tournaments, in advertising campaigns and at charity events.

“Rafa Nadal represents all that is great about competition – the mix of talent, intellect, dedication and mental strength that you find in champions in every sport,” said Mark Scheinberg, PokerStars’ chairman of the board. “We are proud to have Rafa as an ambassador for the brand and excited at the opportunity to help him enjoy and improve his game.”

Nadal is expected to play a key role in introducing new players to the game of poker, particularly in Spain where PokerStars was recently granted licence approval (under Reel Spain plc) by Spain's General Directorate for the Regulation of Gambling.

New South Africa casino tax will be extremely punitive

South African casino business profits could take a hit under new tax plans unveiled by the government. Nikki Forster, PricewaterhouseCoopers South African hospitality and gaming sector leader, called the extra 1 percent levy on gaming “extremely punitive” and added: “Profit margins will be squeezed significantly at casinos, particularly at smaller casinos.”

The country’s finance minister Pravin Gordhan put the new measure forward in February and it will see the industry taxed an extra 1 percent from April 1 next year. It’s less than the original proposal to tax anything above R25,000 at 15 percent and Forster added: “Undoubtedly it is a relief for the industry that the Government has scrapped plans to introduce a withholding tax as this would have had a negative effect on the sector, particularly high-stake gamblers.”

The gambling industry in South Africa does, according to the release from PwC, give a “significant contribution” to the state and any changes must be approached with “caution”. It’s the problem that some governments encounter when regulating the online gaming industry and could end up driving it into illicit hands.

In terms of future expansion, Forster recognized there’s “little room for further expansion” in the sector but thinks there will still be some investment in the market in the future.

After this they could do worse than look at regulating the country’s online gambling industry on a national basis. As it is, they’re in a similar situation to the U.S.A. with the industry operating on a state by state basis and only sports betting permitted. The hunger for gambling is definitely there and if regulated well the consumers would be see better protection whilst the government would make large amounts from the regulation.

June 21, 2012

Betsson completes Nordic Gaming Group acquisition

Sweden’s Betsson has completed the acquisition of Nordic Gaming Group (NGG) following receipt of necessary regulatory approvals.

Betsson has acquired all shares in NGG’s holding company Transvectio Ltd by payment of a consideration of approximately €65m, consisting partly of cash and partly of a new issue of 217,974 shares of series B shares.

An additional purchase price based on the development of the acquisition during 2012 may also become payable - which can be paid by Betsson in cash or in own shares - and is capped at a maximum of €20m.

Following authorisation from the company’s annual shareholders' meeting on May 11th, Betsson’s board of directors has resolved to issue no more than 217,974 new B Shares against subscription in kind.

As a result, the share capital of Betsson will increase by SEK435,948, from SEK84,002,418 to SEK84,438,366.

Trading in the new shares is expected to commence on NASDAQ OMX Stockholm on or about June 21st.

As a result of the issue in kind, the number of shares in Betsson will increase from 42,001,209 (5,420,000 shares of series A and 36 581 209 B Shares) to 42,219,183 (5,420,000 shares of series A and 36,799,183 B Shares). The number of votes in Betsson will increase from 90,781,209 to 90,999,183.

Betsson added that the acquisition has been partly financed through loan financing in the amount of approximately €55m. The facility will be repaid at an appropriate rate which considers the company's dividend policy.

The acquisition of Nordic Gaming Group, owner of the NordicBet, Tobet and Triobet brands, will strengthen Betsson’s Nordic operations, in particular within the sports betting segment where approximately 50 per cent of NGG’s revenues are generated by the sportsbook.

Detroit man gambles away $1.5 million accidentally given by ATM

Ronald Page seemingly had it made when Bank of America unintentionally changed his account status, allowing the 55-year-old man to make unlimited ATM cash overdraft withdrawals.

But ABC News reports that Page, who in reality had only $300 in his checking account, used the accidental loophole to withdraw more than $1.5 million—losing it all on gambling.

And even worse for Page, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Detroit says he is now facing 15 months in prison after pleading guilty to charges of theft of bank funds, $1,543,104 in total between December 1, 2008 and May 31, 2009.

"In this case, the bank's glitch allowed the defendant to lose a significant amount of money that was not even his in the first place," reads the U.S. Attorney's sentencing memorandum, obtained by ABC. "The fact that defendant acted on an impulse does not minimize the seriousness of his conduct and the need for a custodial sentence."

The day the Bank of America glitch went into effect, Page reportedly withdrew $312,000 from ATMs at the Greektown Casino in Detroit and an additional $51,727 from the MGM Grand Casino. Bank of America placed a hold on his account 17 days later, but he had already withdrawn $1.5 million by that point.

The glitch reportedly occurred because Page originally had a banking account with LaSalle Bank. When Bank of America acquired LaSalle, the glitch somehow occurred while the two banking institutions were transferring account information.

Page, who does not have a prior record, could have faced a steeper sentence but prosecutors said his crime was a "lapse of judgment" and placed blame with Bank of America for allowing the withdrawals to take place.

In addition to the recommended 15-month sentence and order to repay the funds, the U.S. Attorney's Office has suggested that Page be prohibited from gambling in any capacity.
"If his gambling addiction is not addressed, he is very likely to cause further financial hardship to himself and his family," the memorandum reads.

June 20, 2012

No More Million Dollar Bets For Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen's retirement plans may come as a shock to longtime fans, but the actor knows when to cash in his chips - and become more financially responsible.

"When I’m done with this business it’s just going to be about soccer games and amusement parks," Charlie Sheen told The New York Times of his plans to retire after his yet-to-debut series Anger Management concludes. "And when this ends, I’m done. This is my swan song."

If Charlie Sheen were a betting man he might be tempted to put a wager on the show's success -- but it turns out gambling is one bad habit the 46-year-old was able to easily give up for good.

"I don’t bet anymore. I’m a retired gambler," Charlie Sheen announced, carefully clarifying his position. "Not a recovering gambler. Big difference. I’ll still look at the lines. I’ll be like, yeah, that’s a blowout, that’s a 40-point blowout. Easy, right? I’ll watch the game. It’s 40-point blowout the other way, and I can just walk away."

The biggest bet Charlie Sheen ever made? "Million dollars. Pacquiao," the actor admitted. "It was a wrong-way spread and I had a dream a week before that he was going to beat De La Hoya like a drum, and he did. Second round, the punch score was like 300 to 2. And it was like, pfffft, whatever. I felt nothing. And I went, O.K., there’s nothing left for me here. Unless my children are involved in the wager, no sense in making it, you know?"

Of his other well-known vices, Charlie Sheen isn't saying he's promised to stay completely clean and sober -- in fact, the one thing he's completely given up in that realm is Alcoholics Anonymous.

"I don’t know what clean is," he shared. "I’m not a member of A.A. anymore. I’m not a member of any of those groups. I think they’re all rooted in stuff that doesn’t really apply. It’s not for everyone. A.A. is a place that some pass through and others wind up, sorry."

"It was written by a drunk who was a plagiarist and took acid and [had sex with] everybody’s wife," Charlie Sheen continued, as always, not holding back in the least. "It’s true, dude, sorry. I gave them 22 years, man, and I got tired of some loser in a convertible van telling me how to live my life."

June 19, 2012

FIFA Extends Bans For Match-Fixing In South Korea And Croatia

World soccer’s ruling body FIFA extended punishments worldwide to 13 people involved in match- fixing in South Korea and Croatia.

The action follows domestic investigations by those countries’ soccer associations and is in accordance with FIFA’s disciplinary code, the governing body said in a statement. The bans range from five years to life.

The number of sanctions extended in South Korea will increase, pending a review of additional cases, FIFA added. Some of the people implicated in Croatia still face criminal investigation.

“These cases prove once more that the threat of illegal betting and match-fixing is not only confined to one part of the world,” FIFA director of security Ralf Mutschke said in the statement.

“The integrity of sport, and especially football, is hugely at risk and FIFA is firmly determined to combat this threat.”

FIFA’s latest action follows the extension of 45 domestic sanctions in Turkey and Finland to have global effect in February and April.

June 18, 2012

Zynga launch Mobile Slots

Zynga have just announced their launch of Zynga Slots, a mobile slots experience for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch that brings a fresh spin to the casino genre. Zynga Slots is the second mobile title in the popular Zynga Casino category, and the third game in the franchise which also includes Zynga Poker and Zynga Bingo.

“As Zynga’s second mobile casino game, Zynga Slots brings the thrill of Las Vegas slot machines to the palm of players’ hands while introducing social elements for players to share the excitement with their friends,” said Justin Cinicolo, vice president, Zynga Mobile. “We’re continually listening to player feedback on the kinds of games they enjoy playing, and we’ll be sure to bring more high-quality iOS games to players based on the genres they enjoy.”

The Casino genre is a popular form of entertainment around the world, and Zynga Slots is designed with a global audience in mind. The game is launching in 10 languages: English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Traditional Chinese, Simplified Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

Zynga’s iOS portfolio continues to grow and Zynga Slots is launching on the heels of recently launched Matching With Friends, Zombie Swipeout and Scramble With Friends.

Zynga is the partner of Wynn Resorts to provide online poker to the US Gaming giant, should, when and if the US Government allow again,

Pinnacle buys bust Federated Sports & Gaming

Pinnacle Entertainment has announced that it is buying the Heartland Poker Tour and its assets, including poker website domain names, for $4.5 million.

According to reports, Pinnacle successfully bid $4.5 million this week in a bankruptcy auction for the assets of bankrupt sister companies Federated Sports & Gaming and Federated Heartland. A Pinnacle spokesperson confirmed the purchase and price.

The Federated companies own both the Heartland Poker Tour and the Epic Poker League. The companies filed for bankruptcy in February in Maryland.

Pinnacle, a creditor in the bankruptcy case, is expected to convert its $2.1 million debt claim into equity, potentially reducing its cash outlay as the winning bidder to $2.4 million.

Pinnacle didn’t mention the Epic Poker League in it’s announcement about the Heartland Poker Tour, however Bluff Magazine is reporting this is the case.

“We will obviously need some time to assess all of our new assets and brands,” Pinnacle spokesperson Kerry Andersen said.

But she added, “These are well-known, respected brands and we are excited about the opportunity to expand them.”

The Heartland Poker Tour is a live, televised poker tournament series that made 17 stops in 15 states in 2011. Pinnacle’s River City and Lumiere Place casinos in St. Louis also hosted Heartland Poker Tour events in March.

Heartland is in its eighth season and broadcasts events on hundreds of network television, cable and satellite stations throughout the United States, Europe and the Caribbean.

“The acquisitions provide Pinnacle Entertainment with one of the poker industry’s most powerful brand and intellectual property portfolios, as well as the opportunity to expand the Heartland Poker Tour and more extensively integrate its events into our network of casino properties,” Pinnacle CEO Anthony Sanfilippo said in a statement. “In addition, the acquisitions provide several elements that will help advance our online gaming strategy.”

Gambler fighting Eurobet for £650,000

Bruno Venturi, 41, kept winning on the Eurobet.com website in 2009 in some three hours of play is claiming his winnings of £650,000 in court. However, Eurobet insists a software bug meant luck had nothing to do with it.

Eurobet which closed down their site in September 2011, claims that his winnings are null and void because he was mistakenly charged for only one in six of his bets.

The company has refused to pay up, sparking a High Court legal battle.

Pet shop worker Mr Venturi, who had won only small amounts in his previous two years using the website, says he was completely unaware of what was about to unfold when he logged on to play the “Sixty Seconds” game from his home in Naples, Italy, on January 28 2009.The company claims an error caused by a software upgrade meant Mr Venturi was charged for only one in six of the 6,670 wagers he placed, dramatically increasing his chances of winning the game, which has since been removed from the internet.Patrick Lawrence QC, for Eurobet, said the bug meant it was “mathematically inevitable” that Mr Venturi would keep hitting the jackpot.The High Court in London heard that the Italian, who started with just 20 Euros in his account, began playing at 8.18pm by placing his usual 20 cent bet, but increased the stakes as his apparent luck continued.

He had won 5,000 Euros by 9pm, and racked up winnings of 200,000 Euros by 10.10pm, as he frantically placed as many multiple wagers as the website would allow.

Speaking through an interpreter, Mr Venturi told the court: “I had always lost previously… but when I started to win I had a very good feeling. I’m a player and my instincts told me to keep betting.”

Mr Lawrence challenged him, saying he must have realised that something was wrong, but Mr Venturi insisted: “How could I realise there was an error. There was no message, I was just drawing, I didn’t have a clue… I thought I was very lucky.”

The Italian, who disputes that any error took place, stopped playing shortly before midnight, having amassed a colossal 707,665 Euros – then worth about £650,000 – in 217 heady minutes.

When asked why he called it a day, Mr Venturi replied: “I realised the amount that I was winning and I realised that I had to stop. I had been lucky enough… I am only human. I was taken by the emotions and there was a lot of euphoria.”

He added: “I’ve never had so much money… It’s a very big win; it’s not something that happens every day.”

Mr Venturi, who offered to come to England to pick up his winnings in cash, said an operator told him “this is incredible, but it does happen” as he transferred some of his winnings to a different online account.

The company, based in Woking, is refusing to pay Mr Venturi, saying the bets breached the website’s terms and conditions, and his winnings amounted to “unjust enrichment”.

Refuting those claims, Mr Venturi’s barrister, John McLinden QC, said: “Mr Venturi denies any software error as alleged by the defendant.

“The defendant has failed to establish that Mr Venturi broke any rules of the game whilst playing and obtaining the winnings.”

He added: “Mr Venturi performed his part of the game by completing various steps and screens presented to him by the defendant on the website, and paid for his bets on the game from the funds in his account. He did everything that was required of him to pay for the bets.

“If his account was not charged at any time for the repeat bets, which is not admitted, that omission was due to the defendant’s failure to completely perform its obligations to him, and to comply with its regulatory requirements.”

The hearing continues.

June 15, 2012

Mexican Drug Cartel’s Connection to US Horse Racing

In the stables at a prominent quarter horse track in New Mexico, workers quietly nicknamed Jose Trevino Morales's stables as the "Zetas' stables" and say they often saw people show up with bags of cash to buy the horses.

On Tuesday, authorities raided those stables and a horse ranch in Oklahoma accusing Trevino and others of running a sophisticated money-laundering operation connected to one of Mexico's most powerful and ruthless drug cartels.

Federal authorities accuse Trevino's older brother, Miguel Angel Trevino Morales, a key figure in the Zetas drug operation, of setting up the horse operation that the younger brother ran from the sprawling ranch near Lexington, Okla., south of Oklahoma City. Millions of dollars went through the operation, which bought, trained, bred and raced quarter horses throughout the southwest United States, including at the famed Ruidoso Downs track in New Mexico.

Jose Trevino, his wife and five others were arrested and charged with one count each of money laundering. Seven others, including another Trevino brother, were charged but remain at large. They could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.


AP
In this photo taken Sept. 6, 2010, owner Jose... View Full Caption

"This case is a prime example of the ability of Mexican drug cartels to establish footholds in legitimate U.S. industries and highlights the serious threat money laundering causes to our financial system," said Richard Weber, the chief of the IRS' criminal investigation unit.

The indictment, unsealed Tuesday, describes how the Trevino brothers and a network quietly arranged to purchase quarter horses with drug money at auction and disguise the source of the funds used to buy them so that the Zetas' involvement would be masked. They would often pay in cash, or use fake names, which helped keep the owners and the money a secret.

Since 2008, the operation racked up millions of dollars in transactions in California, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas, prosecutors said. The New York Times first reported the raids and the alleged connection to the Zetas cartel, citing a months-long investigation and several anonymous sources.

The operation, Tremor Enterprises LLC, started small, but worked in plain sight. Some horses carried names with drug references, like Number One Cartel and Coronita Cartel. Over time, the horses and the operation earned a place on some of the most elite stages in the industry. One horse named Mr. Piloto won a $1 million prize at Ruidoso Downs on Labor Day 2010, going off at odds of 22-1. His trainer, Felipe Quintero, 28, was one of the seven arrested Tuesday.

The Zetas are one of Mexico's most powerful drug cartels, with a reputation for being willing to commit atrocities including kidnapping, decapitating and dismembering enemies. The elder Trevino is the second-in-command and one of the U.S. and Mexican governments' most wanted men, known for his brutality. One technique favored by Miguel Angel Trevino Morales is the "guiso," or stew, in which enemies are placed in 55-gallon drums and burned alive.

Underscoring the violence, the U.S. Embassy in Mexico issued a travel advisory Tuesday, warning that the arrests could result in some form of retaliation and urged U.S. citizens in Mexico to maintain a low profile.

Jose Trevino and his horse operation in the United States appeared to work with little fear of getting caught by authorities. Three stable workers at the Ruidoso Downs Race Track and Casino told The Associated Press on Tuesday that Trevino's stables were known as the "Zetas' stables," and two of the workers described seeing people from Mexico show up to the stables with duffel bags of cash to purchase horses. The AP agreed to let the workers, who refused to give their names, speak anonymously because they feared retaliation from the Zetas cartel.

It wasn't just the cash purchases that caught the attention of those in the quarter horse racing industry. The amount of money Trevino and his network paid for horses also raised eyebrows.

Debbie Schauf, the director of the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association, said Jose Trevino showed up a few years ago and quickly earned a reputation for always paying his bills and shelling out handsome prices for some of the top horses in the country. Quarter horses are smaller but more muscular than thoroughbreds and can run short distances faster than other horses.

"They were also recognized for taking care of their business. They paid their bills and didn't cause any trouble. You didn't have a food vendor or veterinarian calling to say they couldn't get these guys to pay their bills. They were good citizens in the horse industry," she said.

While it was common for buyers based out of the country to pay cash for horses, she said several transactions were noteworthy for their value.

"It didn't raise a lot of eyebrows when these guys came to the sales and started paying cash. What raised eyebrows was the quality of the horses they were buying and the amount of money these mares cost," Schauf said.

Prosecutors asked that no bond be set for Trevino fearing he would either flee or intimidate witnesses. Neither Trevino nor his lawyer, Tony Lacy, commented, and a lawyer for Zulema Trevino said he knew little about the case.

U.S. Magistrate Robert Bacharach appointed lawyers for the pair after they said the government was trying to seize all their property.

"I don't have any assets as of today," Trevino told the judge.

During the raids Tuesday, dozens of federal agents swarmed the New Mexico race track, wearing bulletproof vests and collecting evidence. At least two horses were taken away. Shaun Hubbard, general manager of the Ruidoso Downs Race Track and Casino, said the track officials are cooperating with federal authorities.

Seizure warrants were issued for 41 horses deemed the operations' most valuable, in an effort to prevent their being taken to Mexico. Among those was Mr. Piloto. The government sought an order to ensure the care of 384 other horses at the ranch, which sits among rolling hills about 40 miles south of Oklahoma City.

At least a half-dozen agents wearing military-style fatigues and baseball caps emblazoned with FBI stood by at the ranch Tuesday afternoon as horses roamed on crisply manicured lawns. Telephone messages left at the ranch were not immediately returned.

Neighbors said the ranch changed hands about a year ago, but few knew the couple well.

Chelsey Krueger, a student at Oklahoma City Community College who lives just south of the ranch, said she had never met the owners but knew when they were around.

"They were always in a Suburban, driving around with really loud music. They had a spotlight (at the ranch) that would be on late at night and light up the whole area," she said.

Betradar enters Russian retail betting market

Betradar has extended its virtual football betting offering in Russia to the retail outlets of bookmaker Liga Stavok.

The sports and betting related data provider already offers its Virtual Football League (VFL) solution to Liga Stavok online, and the retail deployment builds on the initial success of that site.

The virtual football betting solution enables round the clock betting on virtual football matches with a wide range of fixed odds on the outcome of each match.

“Liga Stavok very much appreciates the cooperation with Betradar. Its service of VFL gives our punters an additional and unique opportunity to place bets at any time,” said Liga Stavok executive Oleg Zhuravsky. “Thanks to VFL, punters no longer need to wait for weekends or certain game days, punters now have the opportunity to enjoy a football game and make bets around the clock.”

Liga Stavok will initially offer the product at selected flagship stores in Moscow before rolling the product out to its retail locations across the country.

“We are very pleased to have launched our first VFL retail solution together with Liga Stavok,” added Sportradar managing director of sales Erik Lorenz. “Since its recent launch the VFL has already shown that it is a great success story. The unique league concept and video animation differentiate the game clearly from other virtual offers in the market. The new retail solution is another important development step. We look forward to several upcoming launches during the next few weeks.”

In addition to LigaStavok.com, Betradar’s VFL is also currently offered online via the gaming sites of Tempobet, Bet1128 and Digibet.

June 14, 2012

Bendtner briefed on underwear

Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner has been told that the sponsored underwear he revealed after scoring against Portugal on Wednesday.

Bendtner celebrated the second of his two goals in their 3-2 Euro 2012 loss by displaying the boxer shorts, which were sponsored by betting firm Paddy Power. The Arsenal forward claimed that he had worn the underwear in Denmark's first Euro 2012 match and in games before the tournament.

UEFA regulations, however, stipulate that all kit items worn during the finals must be free of any form of sponsor advertising.

"It is just a pair of lucky boxer shorts that I used in the first game as well and have used before the tournament," Bendtner said.

"I didn't know that I was breaking any rules but I am aware of that now."

The Danish FA is sponsored by Ladbrokes, another bookmaker, and was therefore said to be unhappy with Bendtner's celebrations against Paulo Bento's team.

The Paddy Power Twitter account posted a photo of Bendtner's sponsored underwear shortly after the goal was scored.

"We have spoken to the player and he will not play in those (underpants) against Germany on Sunday," the Danish FA's communications director Lars Berendt told Ekstra Bladet.

Denmark remain in contention to qualify for the quarter-finals from Group B despite their loss to Portugal and will face Germany in Lviv on Sunday.

Kambi signs contract with Egasa Group

Kambi Sports Solutions, Unibet’s B2B provider of sports betting services, has signed a contract with Egasa Group, Spain’s third largest Gaming Group, to deliver a complete sports betting service. Egasa is the second Spanish full sportsbook operator Kambi has signed recently.

The service includes odds compilation, risk management, customer profiling and a technical platform. The contract is initially for two years and gives Kambi exclusivity to develop Egasa’s sports offer online and on mobile in Spain and other Spanish speaking countries in Latin America.

The launch is expected after the Spanish re-regulated market opens.

Egasa, which has more than 30 years of experience in the gaming industry, is the third largest gaming group in Spain and has a leading position in Spain where it operates 76 gaming establishments and more than 7.500 points of sale.

Egasa also operates Casino venues in Croatia, Chile, and Colombia and will start operations in Mexico and Peru before the end of 2012.

“I have followed Kambi and their competitors for several years and I am confident that we have signed an agreement with the best B2B Sportsbook supplier you can find on the market. With the ambitions Kambi and Egasa have, we will be one of the leaders across all channels in the Spanish betting market”, says Carlos Lopez, General Director for Egasa,

“We are happy to welcome Egasa as client. Egasa has high ambitions for their gaming business and we are proud to be a part of those ambitions.” says Kristian NylĂ©n, CEO Kambi.

Wynn Resorts applies for its own online poker licence

Wynn Resorts, has submitted an application to operate online poker in the the US Gambling capital, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Wynn is one of the latest to apply as the state inches closer to the first industry of its kind in U.S. gaming history.

Wynn expressed interest in online poker more than a year ago when it agreed to a partnership with PokerStars. The deal was cancelled after the poker site fell into hot water with the federal government.

Wynn is now in talks with Zynga, Facebook.’s social gaming powerhouse, Forbes reported in late April of this year. Zynga has not applied for a license in Nevada.

Caesars Entertainment Corp. and MGM Resorts International, other Nevada brick-and-mortar giants, have had their respective paperwork in for months. Both companies already have partnerships with established poker sites that will be licensed to offer technology to casinos.

Last week the iGaming Post reported that, the Gaming Control Board approved Internet gaming applications for Bally Technologies, Inc. and International Game Technology. The companies head to the Gaming Commission later this month for final approval, expected date is the 21st June for the hearing.

Bwin loses court bid to have name removed from Belgian blacklist

The Bwin half of online gambling operator Bwin.party has lost its legal bid to compel Belgian gaming authorities to remove its name from the country’s unauthorized operator blacklist. On May 9, Bwin found its dot-com site – along with that of Betfair, William Hill, Stan James and several others – on the Belgian Gaming Commission (BGC) most wanted list. Bwin earned this honor via its refusal to stop offering services to Belgian punters while its applications for land and online Belgian gaming licenses were pending. Bwin’s dot-com site was subsequently blocked by Belgian ISPs, but Bwin continued to email Belgian punters directions to unblocked Bwin domains. Bwin then proceeded to launch legal action against the BGC, demanding €300k for every day Bwin remained on the blacklist, prompting a tit-for-tat suit by the BGC demanding a similar sum for every day that Bwin continued to flout the law of the land.

In denying Bwin’s request, the President of the Court of First Instance in Brussels said Bwin’s claim had “no legal merit.” However, the Court declined to award the BGC the €300k/day fines it had sought, reasoning that since the ruling had rejected Bwin’s claim, the BGC’s counterclaim no longer had a reason for being. Totally Gaming quoted Bart Heynickx, one of the ALTIUS attorneys who represented the BGC in court, as saying the ruling proved that “an online gambling operator that willfully chose to undertake illegal activities cannot expect protection from the Belgian courts.” Bwin has offered no indication whether it plans to appeal the ruling.

The ruling could have repercussions far beyond Belgian borders. Last week, during the Nevada Gaming Control Board (GCB) hearing on William Hills’ 2011 acquisition of Nevada-based sportsbooks, regulators pressed Hills on its late May withdrawal from the Australian online gambling market. This abrupt Aussie exit was widely perceived as Hills’ attempt to shed any regulatory taint resulting from continued operations in a legally grey market. During the hearing, GCB chairman Mark Lipparelli said Hills should have made those legal determinations before accepting wagers from punters in such jurisdictions (rather than doing so only when it appeared to serve their interests in a potentially bigger market). Bwin.party has yet to have its day under the GCB’s microscope, but we’re sure Nevada regulators will have some pointed questions regarding Bwin’s determination to disregard the edicts of the GCB’s counterparts in Belgium.

June 12, 2012

Paddy Power risks high treason

Mischievous betting firm Paddy Power are taking the ultimate gamble: risking a charge of high treason by bringing Her Majesty The Queen to life on any 10 pound note through the augmented reality app Blippar.

Her Majesty having just recovered from her Jubilee celebrations will be sharing her views with Paddy Power on England’s chances, Rooney’s hair, the cheating French, the Germans’ penalty tactics, and anything else that makes the news during the tournament.



Customers will be able to ‘blipp’ any ten-pound note in circulation from today (Friday 8th June) by opening the app and holding their phone over the tenner. An animated Queen will appear on the phone screen and voice her opinion on footballing matters. The content will be randomized and refreshed daily during the full three-week tournament – so customers will see something new each time they blipp.

This is the first time Paddy Power has worked with Blippar. A spokesperson for Paddy Power said: “I’m sure the Queen like everyone else has views on football, but as we’re unlikely to hear them we thought we’d use a bit of creative licence. It might put us at risk of getting thrown in the Tower of London but as we know she likes a flutter we’re sure Her Majesty will see the funny side.”

June 11, 2012

William Hill clear hurdle to get 3 sportsbooks in Nevada

William Hill on Thursday received preliminary approval from the state Gaming Control Board to buy three Nevada race and sports book operations in a $55 million deal.

William Hill will acquire American Wagering, the parent for Leroy’s Horse and Sports Place, Brandywine Bookmaking and the race and sports book at the Cal Neva Lodge in Reno.

The new owners said they do not intend to close any of the locations and plan to spend $3 million in improvements before the pro football season starts.

Norman Topping, chief executive officer, said the company accepts 1 million wagers a day. The median wager is $5, he said. It has online betting operations in a number of countries outside the United Kingdom.

However, Board members questioned Topping and others about online betting in Australia, where it is illegal for residents to place wagers. But company officials said operations there were halted.

Board Chairman Mark Lipparelli and member A.G. Burnett were unhappy that William Hill did not check out the local law before entering the market.

Lipparelli said William Hill was a “sophisticated and well-run” company. But he said the company has a policy of “open market to the world” without due diligence in checking the local laws.

Burnett said there are “several unknowns” about Playtech, whom have a 29% stake in William Hill and if that firm is found unsuitable by Nevada, William Hill “will have to take care of that,” apparently meaning a buyout.

William Hill executives said they have an option to buy out Playtech this year and next.

The application goes before the Nevada Gaming Commission for final action June 21 in Las Vegas.

June 06, 2012

Playboy Casino closes down in Las Vegas

Las Vegas high rollers and tourists came to the Palms Casino Resort to get past a red velvet rope and ride up the elevator to enjoy the view of the Playboy Club’s Bunny dealers, who served drinks with the signature hip-swiveling “Bunny dip.”

However, the club closed with a big part Saturday night.

The Las Vegas Playboy opened near the top of the Palms’ Fantasy Tower on Oct. 6, 2006. It was the first Playboy Club opening in two decades.

Nightclub management firm N9NE (NINE) Group, which ran the Playbloy Club and operates other venues at the Palms, issued a statement Monday confirming the closure. There is no word yet about plans for the space. N9NE and Playboy had said in March they each were pursuing other options.

Joe Magliarditi, who now runs the Palms, said Monday that the idea was to “re-concept” the Playboy space. The Palms has been making some changes, including unveiling a new sports book that incorporates poker tables, so players can hold and fold ‘em while watching games and races on giant video screens.

Playboy clubs still exist in Macau, Cancun and London.

William Hill shuts down Australian betting website

British bookmaker William Hill PLC has shut down its online sports wagering business in Australia, likely to protect its pending application for a Nevada Gaming license.

The London-based company was unavailable for comment Monday, but in an email to customers reported by Australia's Sports Book Review, William Hill said "please be advised that we have taken the decision to withdraw our sports betting service for any customer registered in Australia" and asked its Australian customers to request account withdrawals from the cashier through the "My Account" section of the website.

Australia's Interactive Gaming Act of 2001 makes it illegal for any company to provide casino and poker games to Australian residents. Violators can be penalized with fines up to $1.1 million a day. No company has ever been tried for violating the Australian law, but William Hill's decision to pull out of a jurisdiction where it's not in full compliance with local gaming laws comes as the Nevada Gaming Control Board prepares for an initial hearing Wednesday on the company's purchase of three Nevada sports book operators.

David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said pulling out of Australia might very well be connected with the company's desire to do business in Nevada, where failure to comply with laws elsewhere could jeopardize a license.

"Clearly this is a priority for them, Nevada," Schwartz said.

The gaming company spent more than $53 million in 2011 to acquire American Wagering Inc., parent of Leroy's Horse & Sports Place, Brandywine Bookmaking LLC, parent of Lucky's sports books, both in Las Vegas, and also Club Cal Neva Satellite Race and Sports book division in Northern Nevada.

In April, The Guardian newspaper in London reported William Hill's application could be delayed in part to concerns over the company's joint venture with Israeli-based Playtech, whose founder Teddy Sagi spent nine months in jail for bribery and fraud in 1996.

In a recent conference call, William Hill CEO Ralph Topping acknowledged Nevada gaming regulators have expressed an interest in its relationship with Playtech, and required the Israeli company to provide more information.

If recommended by the three-member Gaming Control Board, the Nevada Gaming Commission would discuss William Hill's gaming license application on June 21.

Sports betting continues to be popular in Nevada, which is the only state with legal sports books allowing gamblers to bet on a full range of events and leagues, from the National Football League to the Barclay's Premier League.

Nevada's casino visitors bet more than $2.8 billion on sports last year, the largest amount in the last five years. Gross gaming revenue totaled $140.7 million in 2011, or 4.9 percent of the amount wagered.

June 05, 2012

PokerStars open up in Spain today

PokerStars launch their new offering officially to Spain today with PokerStars.es, after the company announced it had been awarded a license to serve the Spanish online poker market recently.

This follows on from recent social media rumours regarding the signing of Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal, which the site’s head of corporate communications, Eric Hollreiser, declined to address.

Regulations in Spain now allow residents to play online with licensed operators and PokerStars have made sure they are among the first to get in there with www.PokerStars.es. According to a recently passed online gaming law, Spanish players can only compete against their fellow countrymen.

Spain now joins France, Denmark, Italy, Estonia, Belgium, Malta, and the Isle of Man in PokerStars’ ever-increasing list of licenses.

Gino Appiotti, President of Licensed Markets – Spain, Italy and France, for PokerStars, said, “Spain is a very important poker market and features some of the best players in the world. As the most popular online poker site in the world, we are very happy to provide the best variety of games, the safest and most secure online play and our world-class software to the market.”

June 01, 2012

Ladbrokes probe into trading chief Thompson

Bookmaking giants Ladbrokes have suspended their head of trading Jon Thompson and launched an investigation into how he was running the department.

Thompson, who was a surprise arrival from online gambling site Bodog a year ago for such a pivotal role in the Ladbrokes executive team, is in charge of the prices offered and the bets accepted in a massive gambling operation with a turnover of around £40million a week.

Such internal upheaval comes at the worst possible time for Ladbrokes, with the Derby tomorrow quickly followed by Royal Ascot and Euro 2012, which will be the company's biggest betting market of the year.

Ladbrokes, who like their betting rivals usually seek publicity at every turn, would not comment about Thompson or the probe, which is understood to be betting-related. A spokesman said: 'This is an ongoing staff matter.'

For eight years out of the last 13, the horse whose name has been chalked by gipsies on to the wishing well at the Amato pub in Epsom before the Derby has gone on to win the blue riband race. This time the gipsies have ignored hot favourite Camelot and gone for the Andrew Balding-trained Bonfire.