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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Program strives to help teens kick gambling habit

 

This week, Youth Eastside Services launched the first state-funded program to help teens battle gambling addiction. The program is funded by a new tax approved last year by the Legislature to pay for prevention and treatment of problem gamblers. The tax is paid by the Washington Lottery, Washington Horseracing Commission and groups with recreational gaming licenses. So far, much of the state's information about teen gambling addiction is anecdotal, said Linda Graves, problem gambling program manager for the state's Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse. The division operates the Washington State Problem Gambling Program. The most recent study in 1999 found that 1 percent of students ages 12-17 were problem gamblers and that an additional 0.7 percent were at risk to become gamblers, Graves said. The numbers have likely risen over the years, given the prevalence of online gambling and the popularity of TV shows such as "Celebrity Poker Showdown," Graves said. One of the biggest problems with identifying teenage gambling addicts is that many parents don't consider gambling a true addiction, Graves said.

"Parents let their kids play Texas Hold'em as a recreational activity," Graves said. "For most kids, they aren't going to get into trouble. But for some, it could be a trigger or a gateway activity for a worse problem later on. Why let your kids engage in a risky behavior?"

Detecting problem gambling in young people is also a challenge.

There's no "pee test" for gambling as there is for drug use, noted Chris Sogn prevention and intervention specialist at Youth Eastside Services (YES).

The YES program will counsel teens and parents on gambling addiction, working with the youth to cope with cravings and depression, and teaching parents how to take control of their teen's money.

Gambling addiction is similar to drug and alcohol addiction in many ways, with teens struggling to hide it from parents, and often using it as a way to escape or to get a rush, Sogn said.

"Kids who are competitive may think, 'I can make this work and it's a way I can make money without working at McDonald's,' " she said.

Porn, gambling, liquor companies slapped for soliciting minors

 

Utah consumer protection officials have cited four companies for sending e-mail solicitations to minors for Web sites promoting gambling, alcohol and pornography. It was the second time this year state investigators issued citations under the state's controversial Child Protection Registry law, which requires adult-oriented Web sites and e-mailers to screen out addresses on the list from their distribution databases. Named in the citations were DOS Media Now, an Encinitas, Calif., online gambling site fined $5,000; Golden Arch Casinos, of Overland Park, Kan., fined $2,500; Smoothbeer.com, a United Kingdom beer company fined $2,500; and SoftestGirls.com, a Singapore company fined $20,000 for sending pornographic e-mails to several minors. In January, the state issued its first, $2,500 citation under the statute to a Canadian online porn site for allegedly sending a sexually explicit e-mail to registered minor's address. "This has become a very serious problem," said Francine Giani, Commerce Department executive director. "It's a big issue for us, but parents can play an important role in this process, too, by knowing and being aware of what their children are doing on the Internet." Utah's Child Protection Registry took effect in mid-2005. While its primary selling point with legislators was to combat pornography, it also is designed to protect registered minors from content promoting alcohol, tobacco, gambling, firearms and drugs. Both Utah and Michigan, which has a similar registry, link mass e- mailers to Park City-based Unspam Technologies. The company charges a half-cent for each address that is removed. The registry is free for schools, parents and other guardians of minors to use. Commercial e-mailers argue that the registry's time and cost are unfairly burdensome. The Free Speech Coalition - a porn trade organization - is challenging the constitutionality of the Utah law in U.S. District Court. Judge Dale Kimball has set a Nov. 9 hearing on the coalition's motion for an injunction, and the state's request to dismiss the coalition's lawsuit. Jerome Mooney, a Salt Lake City attorney representing the coalition, said Thursday he was surprised by the citations when the statute itself is at issue.

PartyGaming lifted by delay to US anti-gambling law

 

PARTYGAMING experienced a late flurry of buying on an apparent procedural setback in Congress over America's anti-gambling legislation. Bill Frist, the Senate majority leader, has been seeking to attach the anti-gambling measure to one of two "must-pass" Bills before Congress shuts down this weekend ahead of November's mid-term elections. But with legislators keen not to hold up the progress of the politically sensitive Homeland Security Bill, it was set to be pushed through yesterday without the gambling curbs attached. Separately, there was no sign that efforts to attach the anti-gambling measure to the Defence Bill - which itself appears unlikely to get through Congress before tomorrow's deadline - were making any progress. Followers of the online gambing sector suggested that the chances of the controversial legislation being passed this session had virtually evaporated. Further, although it may get a fresh airing in the so-called "lame duck" session - the period in which Congress still meets after elections have been held, but before the newly elected Congress has convened - there is also now the possibility that the legislative process will have to be restarted next year, effectively meaning a six- month delay.

With short-term investors taking heart from the impasse on Capitol Hill, PartyGaming rose 4¼p at 105¾p. The FTSE 100 gained 41.2 to5,971.3, with natural resources stocks again making much of the running. Aside from further gains in metals prices, miners were helped by a heavyweight circular from ABN Amro, which believes that this month's sell-off in the sector offers a good buying opportunity. The Dutch broker says valuations appear low relative to what is priced into other cyclical stocks.

Brambles jumped 20p to 488p as takeover talk refused to fade. One theory was that the pallet maker could be a target for General Electric at around 600p per share. A competing theory out of Australia overnight was that a private equity house is mulling a move at A$15 (598p).

A more pedestrian explanation is that the gains owe more to arbitrage activity ahead of Brambles' move of its primary listing to Australia in December. Under that scenario, proprietary traders who have been trying to profit from a valuation disparity between the two listings have been recently covering their short positions in the Australian stock, thereby triggering a squeeze.

Elsewere, bid rumours continued to follow Hanson, up 25p at 746p, which yesterday hosted an analysts' visit to its operations bordering the Thames Estuary. Speculative investors also continued to pursue Prudential, which rose 6½p at 643½p, on persistently strong talk of an imminent 750p a share offer.

Martin sentenced in illegal gambling case

 

Trainer Greg Martin was sentenced to two years probation and six months home confinement on Thursday for his involvement in an alleged illegal gambling ring that supposedly brokered more than $200-million in bets over a two-year period. Martin was fined $2,000 and a $100 special assessment by Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum in United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. Martin pleaded guilty in the case and faced up to five years and prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Martin admitted in March to administering A One Rocket a milkshake before the opening race at Aqueduct on December 18, 2003, a race the gelding won by ten lengths. Martin said he informed David "Pebbles" Applebaum of the milkshaking and understood that Applebaum would pass that information along to other bettors in the alleged gambling ring. In January 2005, federal prosecutors indicted 17 individuals on 88 counts for participating in the illegal gambling business. One person indicted in the case has since died.

According to a spokesperson for the United States Attorney's office, several others indicted in the case have received sentences in recent months that are similar to what Martin was assessed.

On March 29, Jeffrey Gruber received three years probation, six months home confinement, a $2,000 fine, and $100 special assessment.

Jonathan Broome received one year probation, six months home confinement, and a $100 special assessment.

On July 18, Paul Cuzzo received five years probation, six months home confinement, and a $100 special assessment.

On July 26, Richard Hart received two years probation, six months home confinement, and a $100 special assessment.

On September 20, Norman Ostrov was sentenced to time served and received a $100 special assessment.

Louisiana ups ante in online gambling case

 

LOUISIANA governor Kathleen Blanco has voiced support for the state's crackdown on online gambling and renewed an extradition request for Peter Dicks, former chairman of Sportingbet. The governor's intervention came as Mr Dicks prepared to attend a court hearing in New York yesterday to learn whether he will be sent to Louisiana to face illegal gambling charges. Lawyers for Mr Dicks, who was arrested in New York three weeks ago on a Louisiana warrant, had hoped to halt the extradition process before the hearing. But a spokesman for Ms Blanco said she was still pushing for his extradition as part of efforts to enforce the state's law against online gambling. "If we do not enforce this law, online gambling would be completely unregulated and that would clearly be an expansion of gambling, which is unacceptable," she told the FT. Barry Slotnick, lead defence lawyer, acknowledged that Louisiana had "dug in" over recent days, raising the prospect of a courtroom battle over Mr Dicks's fate. "They are not backing off," he said in an interview. "We're preparing our argument to rebut what Louisiana says." Thursday's hearing in New York comes amid increasing alarm among online bookmakers about the legal threat posed to the industry by US anti-gambling laws.

William Hill, the British bookmaker, said on Wednesday it would no longer accept casino and poker business from clients with a US address or credit card, pending clarification of US laws.

The company had already stopped accepting online sports bets from US customers.

Congress is considering the introduction of tough new federal laws against online gambling, in addition to existing state laws such as those used by Louisiana, to arrest Mr Dicks.

Louisiana's Police Gaming Enforcement division told the FT this week that arrest warrants had been issued for four Sportingbet representatives, including Mr Dicks, after state police placed a bet with the company.

On Wednesday, Sportingbet, which is listed in Britain, said it had banned board members from travelling to the US.

Mr Dicks may still be spared prosecution in Louisiana because of legal questions over the legitimacy of the state's extradition request.

Defence lawyers have argued that he cannot be extradited to Louisiana under New York law because he was not in either state at the time of the alleged crime.

Mr Dicks was allowed to return to Britain on bail two weeks ago while the case was reviewed but he was ordered to return for yesterday's hearing.

George Pataki, New York governor, has withdrawn a warrant needed for Mr Dicks's extradition because of doubts about the case.

Gambling Operators Are Warned

 

A senior Finance Ministry official told gambling operators to prepare for hard times, while scantily clad girls danced outside the conference hall at Moscow's annual international gaming expo Thursday. Dancers dressed as cowgirls moved to the din of slot machines at Crocus Expo, where hundreds of casino bosses, slots operators and manufacturers of gambling equipment gathered in the hope of understanding what pending legislation on gambling means for their booming businesses. "Prepare for the worst and hope for the best," Alexei Savatyugin, chief of the Finance Ministry's financial policy department, told the conference. The State Duma is expected to vote on the crucial second reading of the legislation as early as next week and no later than November, Savatyugin said. The bill represents the Duma's first serious attempt to impose strict regulations on the gambling industry, worth nearly $6 billion last year. The Finance Ministry's Federal Tax Service has been in charge of handing out gambling licenses since last November, but regional authorities currently govern all other industry matters. "The stricter the legislation, the more chances it will have to be approved by a greater number of politicians," Igor Dines, Duma deputy with United Russia, told the conference.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Online-gambling bill stuck

 

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner, a Virginia Republican, raised a "strong objection" to attaching any unrelated legislation to a pending defense bill, which has been viewed by supporters of the gambling bill as a prime vehicle for it. "I have firmly opposed putting any (unrelated) bills in the conference report," Warner wrote in a letter dated Monday to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican. Warner did not cite the Internet gambling bill specifically, but he said other senators have sought to tack at least nine unrelated items to the defense bill. A Republican aide said that Frist has not given up on passing the Internet gambling bill before lawmakers recess at the end of this week to campaign for the Nov. 7 elections. Frist and other proponents are looking at other possible vehicles, such as a pending measure to bolster port security against potential terrorist attacks, aides said. "He wants to get it done," one aide said. "We are still working things out. Everyone is still talking." A senior Democratic aide said, "I wouldn't pronounce it dead yet."

Efforts to win support for a Internet version of the House bill in the Senate have been opposed by lobbyists representing casino owners and horse- and dog-racing interests.

The bill would prohibit most forms of Internet gambling and make it illegal for banks and credit card companies to make payments to gambling sites.

Investors in British-based gaming companies such as BetOnSports, Partygaming and 888 Holdings are closely watching the U.S. legislation.

Democrats have criticized the Republican-backed measure as an election-year appeal to the party's conservative base, particularly the religious right.

Frist is a potential 2008 presidential candidate. He recently appeared at a congressional field hearing in Iowa--the state that holds the first presidential nominating contest in 2008--to hear concerns about Internet gambling.

Supporters of a crackdown on Internet gambling say legislation is needed to clarify that a 1961 federal law banning interstate telephone betting also covers an array of online gambling.

Italy to Legalize and Regulate Online Poker and Gambling

 

Italy has had an interesting relationship with online gaming. In February, the country attempted to ban all IP addresses of online gaming sites, and then a few days later reportedly tried to set up an 'exclusive' relationship with an online poker room, allegedly for a slice of the pie. Now, Italy has taken the step that the U.K., and many other countries have taken, and is moving toward regulation of the industry. As of January 1, 2007, it will be legal for Italian citizens to gamble online. The new law also clears the way for things like public sports betting and bingo parlors. This piece of legislation de-regulates all 'ability based and fixed betting activities', which poker clearly falls under. The Italian plan apparently mirrors that of the plan in the U.K. with respect to how the entities that do business in Italy are regulated. One thing of note: If a company does business with Italian customers, the government will stand to make a 3% tax on any gaming based revenues acquired by the company. This seems to be the direction many countries around the world are heading, with the model in the U.K. seeming to be stable, and sustainable. This new law in Italy has led many to speculation that the online gaming industry will launch an all out blitz trying to grab market share in the newly opened market. How do you say 'Gold Rush' in Italian? The billion dollar question in the online gaming industry is: What will the U.S. do?

In recent days, it has become more and more clear that the U.S. Senate will not be able to pass the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act in any form, whether as a stand alone bill, or attached to other legislation before the Senate takes its election recess starting tomorrow or Saturday. History has shown us that post-election 'lame duck' sessions of congress are more reticent to discuss any proposed legislation that has heated debate, or especially complex issues attached to it.

Starting January 1st, the Italian people will be able to legally play poker in front of their computer. We will continue to monitor how the other countries around the world deal with this highly charged issue.

Track Official Says Time Is Now For Table Gambling

 

The jingle of slot machines from neighboring Pennsylvania could serve as a wake-up call for West Virginia lawmakers to approve table gambling, Delegate Gil White believes. White, R-Ohio, said without table gambling West Virginia could lose up to $50 million in revenue the first year Pennsylvania comes on-line with its slot machines. Pennsylvania officials on Wednesday approved licenses for five racing facilities in the Keystone State - including The Meadows in Washington County. The horse track will provide direct competition with Wheeling Island Racetrack and Gaming Center for slots customers. Wheeling Island could cut up to 350 jobs if West Virginia does not approve table gambling at its racetracks, said Bob Marshall, the facility's president and general manager. With table gambling, the track could add up to 400 new jobs, he said. Marshall said 60 percent of Wheeling Island's customers come from Pennsylvania. To combat the anticipated loss of customers and revenue, Marshall said the state Legislature needs to act during its next general session in January. "We've been talking about this for a couple years and the reality is it's here," Marshall said, estimating Pennsylvania's slots would be online in April. If approved by the Legislature in January and then by Ohio County voters, Marshall estimated people could be playing table games, such as blackjack, about this time next year at Wheeling Island. Whether any of his 1,000 employees would be laid off in the meantime, Marshall could not say.

He noted during the estimated nine-month transition period, many of his current employees may receive training to become table game dealers.

"According to our polling, 61 percent of West Virginians would approve a local option vote," Marshall said. "This is a great opportunity to add jobs."

He noted Ohio residents are scheduled to vote upon allowing slot machines in November. He expects Maryland to follow soon after. He said 30 percent of Wheeling Island's patrons come from Ohio, while only 5 percent are West Virginians.

The addition of table gambling in Pennsylvania and Ohio, he believes, may be inevitable, but likely will not happen for "years down the road." When it does, though, Marshall believes the competition between the racetracks will be more even.

The challenge for Northern Panhandle lawmakers will be convincing their colleagues in other counties to support the measure.

"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that the day is here," White said. "For at least two years, I and others have been saying it was just a matter of time before Pennsylvania was up-and-running with its machines, and we knew this would adversely affect West Virginia's annual budget.

"If we do nothing - and do not allow for table gambling at the racetracks - the state's coffers could be affected by $50 million.

"With no hesitancy, we need to move ahead with an aggressive format to get the table gaming legislation passed," he said. "We need to make certain our colleagues understand that the day is here. What we have been predicting has taken place."

Delegate Randy Swartz-miller, D-Hancock, said he believes Gov. Joe Manchin will not place the table gambling issue on the call for a special session before January.

"Before January, we will make sure our colleagues are updated and educated about what is going on, and we will be that much farther ahead come January," he said.

"There was a very good chance that table gambling legislation would pass in this upcoming session anyway," said Delegate Joe DeLong, D-Hancock. "We already had expected that Pennsylvania would go online soon, so this was no surprise. We saw it coming.

"But the political landscape has started to turn. After this next election, the votes will be there to support the issue."

DeLong said he senses public sentiment throughout West Virginia about table gambling is changing, especially in the Eastern Panhandle.

He added the issue certainly won't be far from legislators' minds as they assemble late this year for a special session on tax reform.

State Sen. Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, said video gambling is the second largest tax revenue source for the state.

"If we see this revenue reduced by 25 to 30 percent, we will either have to cut programs or find other sources of revenue," he said. "I prefer table gambling because it is mostly out-of-state money being contributed to the state's economy."

Online gambling could face legal restrictions

 

Hoosiers who sit at their computers gambling online may be subject to greater restrictions in the near future. State Rep. Joe Micon, D-West Lafayette, and Republican candidate Connie Basham both believe restrictions on the practice are necessary. Micon commented on state law, stating "Currently, participating (in online gambling) is not illegal." Indiana law allows such participation but prohibits the operation of a server hosting gambling within the state. To date, Washington is the only U.S. state that prohibits gamers from logging on to poker, blackjack or other gambling sites. Online gambling within the state is considered a Class C felony, punishable with a $10,000 fine or five years in prison. " (But) most states have chosen the route of not criminalizing (it,)" said Micon.

He said taxing winnings may be a possible route for increasing state revenue, but was confident saying "I think what we will see, in the relative future, is state regulation of (online) gaming in the state of Indiana."

Basham, the Republican candidate for the office, agrees and said that as credit card debt for college students continues to be a problem, now is the right time for regulation.

"Right now, we make it so easy for students to pile up debt," said Basham. "To use gambling to continue the cycle of debt ... we need regulations in place. I don't want to see gambling expanded."

She also commented there are already other significant gambling opportunities in the state, hinting that online gambling is unnecessary.

"We want students to succeed. We don't want them to go on a course for failure."

Internet Gambling Bill has little chance of passing

 

After a brief skirmish over new identification requirements for cross-border travel, it appeared House GOP leaders have agreed to let the $34.8 billion FY07 Homeland Security appropriations conference report come to the floor as early as today, GOP aides said. House Speaker Hastert and Judiciary Chairman Sensenbrenner, key architects of the 2004 intelligence overhaul law stipulating the requirements, had pressured appropriators to drop language delaying them by 17 months. But the delay had broad support among House and Senate Republicans, and in the end leaders did not want to hold up the politically sensitive bill, which includes $21.3 billion for border protection efforts -- a 10 percent increase over the current fiscal year. Appropriators Wednesday night were preparing to file the necessary paperwork for leaders to bring up the bill under a "same-day rule" for floor consideration in the House, possibly today. Senior appropriators on both sides of the Capitol opposed opening the bill to further changes, arguing they had struck a delicate balance and any changes would risk losing votes. Senate Judiciary Chairman Specter and Sen. Larry Craig, R-Idaho, both said they would withdraw their votes if changes were made without their consent. "The conference report is over. It's final," said House Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky. Added Senate Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Judd Gregg, R-N.H.: "This bill is closed. We're not reopening it."

Complicating matters further had been a House-Senate dispute over additional immigration-related legislation sought by Hastert, and aides said they were trying to resolve his concerns by either including those measures in the defense authorization bill or exploring the possibility of moving them during the lame-duck session.

Defense authorization

The prospects for passing the FY07 defense authorization bill before lawmakers flee Washington this weekend dimmed Wednesday as House Speaker Hastert and Senate Armed Services Chairman Warner remained deadlocked over whether unrelated legislation should be attached to the bill.

Lawmakers leaving the meeting said Hastert and Warner still had not reached an agreement over whether to attach federal court security legislation and a controversial Republican measure aimed at detaining and deporting immigrant gang members and speeding the removal of immigrant criminals.

Other House and Senate staffers indicated that there was little room for a compromise, signaling that the bill would not move until one side backs down. "Somebody needs to blink," an aide said. Hastert has said Senate Majority Leader Frist assured him the Senate would consider the court-security and immigrant gang legislation before the six-week recess for the elections.

With time running out before the planned recess, the defense authorization bill was one of only a few options to serve as a vehicle for those bills.

But even as the Hastert-Warner standoff continued, House and Senate conferees appeared to have resolved nearly all differences in their competing versions of the defense authorization measure.

In the last several days, Warner and Hunter have agreed to compromise language on a divisive House provision that would have allowed military chaplains to pray in the name of Jesus Christ.

Separately, no movement was apparent Wednesday in the effort to add language to the defense authorization bill to restrict Internet gambling.

Summary: Big news here is that Hastert (and by extention Frist) has apparently given up on trying to attach his add-ons to the Homeland Security bill. It is probably in gear to move through both chambers by Saturday. Meanwhile, on the DoD Authorization side, Warner is holding firm on the add-ons and it is unlikely to see debate before the lame duck session.

I think there is about a 10% chance of iGaming legislation passing before the recess and I'll stick to that assessment just to err on the conservative side. If I were trying to put a negative spin on this, I'd say that to some extent we'd rather have a complete meltdown than the gears moving at all, even if the gears seem to be moving in our direction. But self-evidently there is mostly good news.

There is apparently some big luncheon/cheerleading session between Bush and GOP leaders scheduled for tomorrow. Just looking at the calendar, that may be the best and last chance for any sort of major shift in congressional strategy.

Catholic schools to stop raising funds via gambling

 

Catholic schools in Calgary have agreed to stop fundraising through casinos and bingos, but it's "business as usual" until they figure out how to make up the $2-million shortfall, says the chairwoman of the school district's trustees. The issue arose when Calgary Bishop Fred Henry threatened to strip the schools of their Catholic designation if they continued to raise money through gambling. "We have to respect what our bishop has requested us to do," Cathie Williams said yesterday, adding some parents are concerned about the decision. "Some of the programs that are in place right now have been around for many, many years and the concern is that without this additional funding, those programs will be lost."

Thursday, September 28, 2006

William Hill pulls plug on US gambling

 

British bookmaker William Hill said today it had stopped taking casino and poker bets from US customers amid confusion over internet gambling laws there. Online sports betting contravenes the 1961 Wire Act in America, which bans the placing of bets on sporting events via the telephone line in the states. William Hill already has measures in place to prevent American gamblers logging onto its website and placing bets on sports events. But the firm said it was also pulling out of casino and poker until there was a better understanding over how the law will affect its business. William Hill said in a statement it would not accept casino or poker business from customers with a US address or US-issued credit card. Chief executive David Harding said: "The advice we have had is that online gambling is not illegal under the Wire Act, but there are clearly attempts within the US to make it illegal. "Given the debate in the Senate about changes to internet gambling, we just decided this was the most prudent course of action. "We are small in the US and have never marketed ourselves in the states. It is just an outlet for US customers if they come across us on the internet."

Frist looking to attach Internet Gambling Bill before Congress adjourns

 

Senator Frist failed again to attach an Internet gambling bill to a defense bill today. However, Republicans are looking for other avenues to ban online gambling before Congress adjourns for the November 7 elections. An aide told Reuters today, "Frist wants to get it done...We are still working things out. Everyone is still talking." A senior Democratic aide was quoted by cnetnews.com as saying, "I wouldn't pronounce it dead yet." The proposed bill would make most forms of online gambling illegal and prohibit banks and credit card companies to provide funds to gambling sites. Backers of the Internet gambling bill say that legislation is badly needed to emphasize that the 1961 federal law banning telephone betting is also a measure against a variety of online gambling such as horse and dog-racing interests. Aides say that Frist along with other supporters are planning to tag it to other provisions such as tightening port security against threats of terrorism. Given the fact that time is running out, we can only hope that level heads prevailin the Senate. This isn't really about right or wrong, or helping any Americans out.

SPORTINGBET VETERAN SPEAKS OUT ON ONLINE GAMBLING BANS

 

Fiscal protectionism masked by political manoeuvring and adroit public relations the real agenda Veteran industry professional and soon to stand down Sportingbet CEO Nigel Payne spoke out against online gambling bans in an interview with The Times of London this week. Long an articulate proponent of government regulated and taxed online gambling, Payne explained how not so hidden agenda have played an important role in recent arrests of online gambling executives, including that of Sportingbet colleague Peter Dicks. "The key to a proper understanding of what is happening in the internet gambling industry is to look at the agenda of some of those who seek to criticise it," Payne argued in the Times interview. "I believe that the real picture that emerges is one of fiscal protectionism that is being masked by political manoeuvring and adroit public relations. Payne says that a good example of banning rationalisation is the often-used and emotive issue of under-age gambling. "We are told that the industry is a social pariah, a danger to children. Although internet gambling may provide the capability for minors to participate in unsupervised gambling, the truth is that the industry has long been able to demonstrate that it has the technology to mitigate such risks.

"The US House of Representatives recently passed a Bill - H.R.4411 - to "ban internet gambling". A central pillar of the Bill was that the industry is "a risk to the children of America". What struck me as odd was that the House never asked whether technology existed to mitigate the concerns.

"Moreover, the Bill lists a number of internet gambling activities, including horse racing and fantasy leagues, that would be exempt from any ban. No explanation is offered about why such activities should be exempted, nor why children might be at risk from, say, a bet on a hand of poker but not from a bet on a horse race."

Louisiana police issue arrest threat to online gambling

 

Louisiana police have warned all online gambling companies to stop accepting bets in the state or risk having their executives and directors arrested if they visit the US, the Financial Times reported, citing an interview with Captain Joe Lentini, head of the casino section of Louisiana's Police Gaming Enforcement division. The FT quotes Lentini, the police official responsible for the arrest of Peter Dicks, ex-chairman of Sportingbet PLC, on a Louisiana warrant in New York three weeks ago, as saying the state is pressing ahead with its clampdown, in spite of what appears to be a rethink about the case in other jurisdictions. Lentini said the state has issued four arrest warrants for individuals associated with Sportingbet, including Dicks. He would not name the other three but told the FT it 'was reasonable to assume they were executives or directors'. The FT says Lentini indicated that other online gambling companies were also under investigation and their executives and directors at risk of arrest. The report says it's understood that Louisiana has sealed warrants against more than 50 people working or connected to at least a dozen online gambling or related companies.

Gambling Interests Spend Big On Political Influence

 

Wisconsin's Indian tribes have spent millions of dollars in the past decade to influence politics. A review of state and federal donations by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel shows the tribes and gambling interests committed about $5.5 million in the past 10 years to political spending. That includes campaign contributions and advertising campaigns. The review showed Democrats are the biggest beneficiaries of the spending, with Gov. Jim Doyle getting the most -- about $926,000. That includes big donations from tribes funneled through Democratic Party committees in Washington. U.S. Rep. Mark Green, the Republican candidate for governor, got virtually nothing from tribes. Neither did Scott Mccallum, the Republican governor who lost to Doyle in 2002.

Christian church leaders join forces against Ohio gambling issue

 

A broad coalition of Christian clergy said Wednesday they will push parishioners to oppose a proposal to expand gambling in Ohio by displaying yard signs, campaigning door-to-door and preaching against the measure from their pulpits. The announcement at a Statehouse news conference marked a moment of rare cooperation on a political issue between Ohio's mainstream and conservative religious communities, which have differed in their approaches in the divisive governor's race between Democrat Ted Strickland and Republican Ken Blackwell. But both groups sent powerful religious leaders - United Methodist Bishop Bruce Ough and evangelical pastor Rod Parsley of World Harvest Church - to express their unity against the ballot initiative, called Learn and Earn by backers. Ough, who represents the Methodist church's West Ohio Conference, equated the supporters' strategy of highlighting the college scholarships provided by the proposal, rather than the gambling it would allow, to a game of hide and seek. "What supporters of slot machines really want is a full-blown gambling industry in Ohio," he said. "This ballot issue is the first step in their agenda." Parsley said Ohioans deserve something better than a snake-oil sales pitch from Learn and Earn. "It's a risky scheme to enrich a few at the expense of the poor," he said. The constitutional amendment, Issue 3 on the Nov. 7 ballot, would allow seven horse racing tracks to operate 31,500 slot machines and give Cleveland the option of setting up two freestanding sites downtown. Thirty percent of the money raised would be earmarked for scholarships that students would earn while in high school.

Learn and Earn spokeswoman Robin Hepler said supporters respect church leaders' right to oppose the amendment, but believe they are spreading inaccuracies.

"We understand their objections on the moral issue of gambling, but I would disagree when they say this is not about education," Hepler said.

She said their opposition was expected.

The church leaders who gathered Wednesday said they plan to distribute 10,000 yard signs to be displayed in church lawns statewide, hand out voter education pamphlets and hold informational forums on the topic.

Rebecca Tollefson, executive director of the Ohio Council of Churches, said the proposal would create new gambling addicts in Ohio and would make a few business owners rich at the expense of low-income people, who would be drawn to the get-rich-quick promise of slot machines.

She accused its backers of being deceptive.

"Learn and Earn is about gambling, not education," Tollefson said. "And gambling is bad for families."

Though organizers of Wednesday's event called on other faith leaders to join their effort, they did not reach out to a recently formed coalition of mainline and liberal religious leaders called We Believe, which has been active in this year's election.

The Rev. Tim Ahrens of the First Congregational Church in Columbus and the head of We Believe - which challenged the tax-exempt status of some conservative religious churches, including Parsley's, and their support of Blackwell for governor - said his group was not invited to take part in the news conference.

We Believe has not taken a position on Issue 3, he said, but may do so. He said most of the ministers in his group oppose the issue.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Online gambling arrest fears fuelled by resignation

 

Fears that more senior executives working for online gambling firms could be arrested were fuelled today following the resignation of a lawyer who served under former US President George W. Bush from the roles of chairman and chief executive of World Gaming. Almost all of the internet betting firm's business comes from the US, and the resignation of James Grossman, along with fellow non-executive director Clare Roberts, comes at a crucial time for the industry reports the Financial Times. On Thursday, British businessman Peter Dicks, former chairman of Sportingbet, is due to appear in a New York court for a hearing to find whether he should be extradited to Louisiana to face charges of "gambling by computer". The FT says several online gambling companies have stressed to investors that their executives have either been advised not to make trips to the US or had no plans to do so. US senators are currently engaged in a fight to tighten the country's laws against gambling. The arrest of Mr Dicks and the indictment issued by the US justice department in July against another British firm, Betonsports, has raised fears in the industry that it may be impossible to protect executives from anti-gambling laws.

'Online gambling' mecca beckons CryptoLogic

 

Software developer CryptoLogic Inc. is relocating its head office to a more "friendly" environment in Ireland, highlighting a growing moral divide between North America and Europe over Internet gambling. The Toronto-based company, which makes software that Internet gambling sites run on, yesterday said it will move its head office -- including top executives, human resources, business development and investor relations -- to Dublin in January. The company's chief executive, Lewis Rose, is not relocating for "family reasons" and will step down once a replacement is found. Chief information officer Stephen Taylor is moving . The Dublin office will start with a staff of about 10, eventually growing to about 20, the company said. The majority of Cryptologic's Toronto staff of 250, including its software development team, will stay put. The company will list on London's Alternative Investment Market, and maintain its Toronto and Nasdaq listings. Mr. Rose said the main driver of the move was a desire to be closer to customers. About two-thirds of CryptoLogic's customers are international, with about 60% of those in the United Kingdom and Europe. "If you follow the logic, it's a logical, practical step. It makes sense to be in the same time zone," he said. But he also said CryptoLogic -- whose $104-million in 2005 revenue makes it Canada's fourth-largest application software firm -- wanted to move to a "gaming-friendly environment."

The climate for Internet gambling in North America has turned sour lately. The U.S. House of Representatives in July passed a bill to expand the 1961 Wire Act, which bans gambling over the telephone, to include the Internet. The Senate is expected to move on the bill before it recesses on Oct. 9 for mid-term elections.

Authorities have also carried out a high-profile crackdown over the past few months with arrests in U.S. airports of several British gambling operator executives.

The arrests cast a pall over the industry, causing Britain's Continent 8 Technologies PLC -- 40% owned by the Mohawks in Kahnawake, Que. -- to cancel its initial public offering last month.

"There's no question the U.S. has created a situation of uncertainty," Mr. Rose said.

On Friday, French authorities detained Manfred Bodner and Norbert Teufelberger, the co-CEOs of Austrian betting firm bwin.com Interactive Entertainment AG.

The difference, analysts pointed out, is the French arrests were not for moral reasons, but for alleged violations of the state-granted Internet gambling monopoly of Francaise des Jeux.

The European Commission is investigating whether these monopolies are violating the rights of commercial gambling site operators to run their businesses across the European Union.

In Europe, it's therefore a case of protectionism rather than morality, analysts said.

Europe -- and particularly the U.K. -- is proving to be a panacea for the sector by going in the opposite direction to the United States. Starting next year, the U.K. will license, regulate and tax online gambling, making it "the centre of the universe for online gaming," Mr. Rose said.

Canada has taken a more-European approach in that Internet gambling is allowed, but only provinces and territories have the right to run such Web sites. That has created a grey area for would-be commercial operators and technology providers such as CryptoLogic.

Pa. gambling threat heats up even before slot machines open

 

Pennsylvania seems eager to make up for lost time. According to the Associated Press, the state hasn't even opened a slot machine but officials are already talking about table games. At a recent hearing, the state Gaming Control Board asked racetrack owners seeking slot-machine licenses if they were prepared to go to table games. They all answered yes. Table games, such as roulette and poker, pull in bigger spenders than do slots. So in the war between the states over gambling revenues, table games are emerging as the latest weapon. Delaware should take note. The First State's slot machines have boosted the state's revenues for years as legislatures in Pennsylvania and Maryland bickered. Now Pennsylvania will soon have slots and who knows what next. Pennsylvania has authorized 61,000 slot machines. It expects $3 billion in revenue. Both are ambitious goals.

The big question is: How much, if any, of that business will be pulled from Delaware racinos? And what effect will that have not only on Delaware's state treasury but also on the purses at the state's three racetracks?

In other words, is state-authorized gambling a zero-sum game? If Pennsylvania wins, does it mean that Delaware automatically loses?

It's hard to imagine that the market for gambling operations is unlimited. That certainly wasn't true for state lotteries. As more of them grew, the first states lost their advantage. A similar tale can be told about the slots in other parts of the country.

Delaware's slot-machine bonanza will not last forever. If Delaware wants to stay in the game, it has to get going now.

Winnebago Tribe Wants To Expand Gambling In Reservation

 

The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska wants to open negotiations with Nebraska, so it can expand gambling on its on its reservation. Winnebago officials believe many Nebraskans want casinos even though the petition to legalize casinos that the Winnebago, Santee Sioux and Omaha tribes backed earlier this year failed to gather enough signatures to get on the ballot. And earlier this month, the state Supreme Court ruled that a different casino measure can't be on the November ballot because it was too similar to measures Nebraska voters rejected in 2004. So the Winnebago Tribe decided to pursue negotiations with the state to allow Class Three gaming. Slot machines and table games, which are not currently allowed under Nebraska law, are included in Class Three gaming.

ONLINE GAMBLING BILL NOW BACK ALIVE

 

Could be bad news for the over 20 million online poker players According to thehill.com yesterday the online gambling poker bill is back and alive. Controversial language to curb illegal gambling on the Internet snuck back into the defense authorization bill over the weekend. While the language in the bill was not finalized as of press time last night, the insertion of the Internet gaming language could be a big win for Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.). But that potential victory hung in the balance on Monday as House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) continued his threats to postpone a vote on the overarching bill until negotiators from both chambers include unrelated measures on immigration and court security. "The Speaker will not move this bill until these critical security measures are included in it," Hastert spokesman Ron Bonjean said yesterday. Conferees were still ironing out defense-related issues yesterday, but lawmakers are now fighting to include a number of non-defense items in the must-pass bill that has become a regular vehicle for pet projects. The Internet gaming language would create an additional enforcement mechanism for federal officials to crack down on money transferred from banks, credit card companies and other financial institutions to gambling outfits overseas. Internet gambling is already illegal in most of the country, with the major exceptions of Nevada, Indian reservations and other smaller locales where residents have voted to change the law.

The fight in Congress to enact further enforcement methods has persisted since former GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff fought to defeat a bill offered by Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) in the summer of 2000.

Goodlatte combined his language with a bill introduced by Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa) that passed the House earlier this year.

The language included in the defense reauthorization bill appeared to mirror Leach's language, numerous outside lobbyists said over the weekend. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) has been pushing a companion to the Leach bill, which is far narrower than Goodlatte's legislation that would, among other things, revamp the 1961 Wire Act.

Frist has been working hard to include some version of the Internet gaming language in the defense reauthorization bill in what a number of outside lobbyists see as a push to ingratiate himself with social conservatives and, more specifically, Leach, whose endorsement would be a big boost during the Iowa primary.

Frist co-hosted a field hearing on Internet gaming with Leach earlier this fall in Iow.

The Internet gaming issue is far from settled because conference negotiations do not end until all the negotiators have signed off on an agreement.

This move to include an Internet gambling curb comes after Senate Armed Services Chairman John Warner (R-Va.) and Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the committee's ranking Democrat, rebuffed Frist's attempts to include it in the bill because it is not related to defense policy.

K Street has been watching the back-and-forth on Internet gambling intently. Wall Street, in particular, has already priced Internet gambling stocks to reflect some of the possibility that Congress will approve the legislation.

A unit of Friedman, Billings, Ramsey & Co, an Arlington, Va.-based investment firm, has been tracking the legislation closely as it related to various Internet gambling companies. In a report last week, the firm wrote that "failure to attach a gaming provision to the DOD authorization bill likely means that proponents have missed their last best chance to pass anti-gaming provisions.before senators head home for the final campaign stretch run."

Hastert has told negotiators that he will not move the bill unless there is authorizing language to boost the security of judges in and out of courtrooms, eases the process of deporting convicted gang members, and bars their indefinite detention.

Senate leaders promised to include the courtroom language, which was part of a larger child safety that passed the House earlier this year, on must-pass bill some time this year, a House GOP leadership aide said yesterday.

Hastert has made a bill political issue of this push following the brutal murder of the family of a federal judge in Chicago earlier this year. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) has also pressed for the legislation.

On the immigration language, House leaders said they have borrowed language included in the Senate's own comprehensive immigration bill that was approved this past spring.

Senate Democrats are critical of the gang-related measure, and the American Civil Liberties Union said the measure is too broad and could negatively impact legal immigrants. A spokesman for Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) refused to comment on the issue.

House leaders hope to include other border security provisions in a spending bill for the Department of Homeland Security. At least one Republican conferee has criticized that move.

At a National Press Club briefing yesterday, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) Senate Judiciary Committee chairman and a member of the Homeland Security Appropriations subcommittee, criticized the House's decision to enact its some immigration measures by including them in the 2007 homeland security defense appropriations bill.

"The House of Representatives doesn't think much of the bicameral system," Specter said. "The Senate and House passed bills, but somehow we can't go to conference on them. Now the House wants to take their key provisions and enact them, which would take all the leverage away from the Senate bill."

He said that the Senate has pending provision for a fence running along the southwest border, but that he is not for the "fence piecemeal.

The proposed Frist, Senator Jon Kyl bill to the Senate the online casino anti-internet gaming bill leaves out horse racing, and lotteries so the bill will that way be supporting online horse racing, and lotteries ALLOT - so it would be total okay to gamble online on horse racing but online poker will get banned - what an insane bill!.

A huge scientific poll conducted in March 2006 of over 30,000 likely voters establishes that Americans overwhelmingly DO NOT want the federal government enacting laws that restrict a recreational activity such as online gambling, an activity that many adult Americans have decided to do from their own homes. Almost 80 percent of Americans are opposed to the pending bills in Congress to ban online gambling.

A recent CNBC poll showed also that over 90 percent of Americans would like to see online gambling poker regulated in the U.S. and NOT prohibited! Studies have shown that regulation and taxation of online poker could net the federal government over $3.3 billion in revenue annually and another $1 billion for the states on internet gambling.

OVER 80 countries worldwide including the UK, are right now starting to legalized and regulated online gambling and online poker gambling.

Senate should use its litle time left this year on other importen things instead of banning online poker. Telling American adults how to use their hard-earned money, whether on e-bay, horse racing or on playing online poker after a hard days work, should simply not be the federal government's job.

Over 20 Million peaple in USA enjoy online poker- that's 20 miilion votes.

Bill to ban online gambling could pass

 

A controversial Internet gambling measure may hitch a ride on a Defense Department authorization bill, but as of press time, a standoff over adding legislation to improve courthouse security and crack down on illegal immigrants in gangs continued to hold up action on the overall Defense package. While it was not clear that Senate Armed Services Chairman John Warner (R-Va.) has actually agreed to attach the anti-gambling legislation, Republican leadership sources on both sides of the Capitol said the measure would be added to the Defense bill. "It's Kyl-style, with a Frist twist," said a senior aide to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) of attaching the Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) bill designed to bar Internet gambling by preventing credit card companies from honoring charges on gaming Web sites. The aide said the Internet gambling bill has been tweaked slightly to ensure optimum support in the Senate, though details of the changes to Kyl's original bill were not available. Warner spokesman John Ullyot declined to comment, saying, "This is in line with the long-standing committee policy to keep such negotiations confidential." Still, one GOP lobbyist working against the gambling bill said Warner and Frist had a "showdown" last week over the Internet gambling legislation, with Warner telling Frist that he wasn't going to put the Internet gambling bill in the Defense authorization bill. "Then Frist told him the [DOD] bill won't come to the floor," said the lobbyist.

Meanwhile, Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) has threatened to prevent the measure from coming to the House floor if Warner does not agree to include a House-passed courthouse security bill and the gangs legislation.

Warner is concerned that any of the three bills could complicate passage of the larger authorization measure, sources said.

The wrangling over the three law enforcement measures provides a glimpse into the end-of-session gamesmanship that goes on behind the scenes as Members seek to add controversial measures to one "must-pass" bill or another.

And because GOP leaders in both chambers have vowed to recess at the end of this week so that Members can go home to campaign for this year's pivotal midterm elections, Members and lobbyists have stepped up their push to get their measures sent to the president's desk before Congress adjourns.

One Democratic lobbyist working against the gambling bill called the past few days a "roller-coaster ride."

"Frist has been on a jihad about Internet gambling," this Democratic lobbyist said.

Democratic Senate aides also complained that they have been left completely out of the bargaining process, and that the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over all three bills, has not approved the versions currently being considered for inclusion in the DOD authorization measure.

"It's just such a sneaky and sleazy way to go about it," said one of the aides.

Three bills are moving this week that could play host to the Internet gambling, courthouse security and gangs bill: the spending bills for the Defense and Homeland Security departments and the Defense authorization bill.

But GOP and Democratic Senate sources said that backers of the bills were rebuffed in their attempts to get them attached to the annual Defense spending bill, which has more of an imperative to move since it will actually disburse funds to U.S. troops.

Because House and Senate conferees signed off on a conference report for the Defense spending bill last week, any attempts to add extraneous language now would send the appropriations bill back to conference committee - an unlikely scenario.

Meanwhile, conferees for the Homeland Security spending bill were hoping to wrap up their conference report last night.

That leaves the Defense authorization bill as the only measure in a position to carry the controversial provisions and still have a chance of passing this week.

Bill backers are betting that opponents of all three Judiciary bills will fear the political ramifications of voting against any national defense measure in this potentially volatile election year. And by threatening to hold up action on the bill, both Frist and Hastert hope to force Warner's hand, reasoning that Warner would be loath to see his authorization bill become unnecessary, like so many other federal agency authorization bills that languish in committee each year.

While it is unusual for Congress not to pass a Defense authorization bill, it only authorizes funds; it does not distribute them.

Even though leadership sources said the Internet bill would be included on the Defense authorization bill, the conference committee on the bill has not yet completed and the deal could hinge on whether the court security and gang bills are also included.

Additionally, Democratic sources said they were not convinced that Warner would go along with the gambit to include the law enforcement bills in the Defense measure.

The Democratic lobbyist said that Warner was not likely to cave in to the pressure.

"You very likely might not have a Defense authorization bill," the lobbyist said.

Other opponents of the Internet gaming bill said that any legislative vehicle could be fair game.

"We remain on guard that the Internet gambling prohibition could be included" in any remaining bills, said John Pappas, a spokesman for the Poker Players Alliance, which opposes the ban.

Indeed, if the impasse does not get resolved this week, backers of the three bills could attempt to add the measures to legislation such as an omnibus appropriations bill that would be set to move through the lame-duck session after the Nov. 7 elections. And of course, if the Defense authorization bill does not get passed this week, the battle could then begin anew as well.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Costa Rica's lax laws shield online gambling industry

 

Think of Costa Rica and flashes of colorful birds, bright beaches and long hikes through the rain forest come to mind. But several recent arrests and indictments have thrust the country into the spotlight for another, less savory reason: its cozy relationship with the online gambling industry. The industry is under fire from U.S. authorities, helping create the notion that this small Central American nation is the cybernet version of 1950s Cuba. Earlier this month, police arrested British national Peter Dicks, a top official of Sportingbet, at JFK Airport in New York. In July, authorities picked up BetonSports CEO David Carruthers, also a British citizen, at Dallas/Fort Worth airport. Both companies operate in Costa Rica. Ten other Betonsports employees have been arrested in the United States. All are out on bond while facing charges ranging from tax evasion and racketeering to wire fraud and illegal gambling. Also in July, U.S. prosecutors indicted four men, two of them Costa Rican citizens, in California and arrested one of them on charges of running an illegal online gambling operation in Costa Rica. The moves by the U.S. Justice Department have industry insiders scratching their heads and shares of online gambling companies tumbling on international stock markets.

''It baffles me,'' said Eduardo Agami, president of the Costa Rican Association of Call Centers and Electronic Data, which represents 19 of the online gambling companies here. ``Why go after companies that are trying to operate legally?''

The legal arguments are based on the 1961 Wire Act, which forbids gambling over the telephone, but until recently few actions had been taken to slow this business.

Online gambling has been going on since the mid-1990s, and Betonsports and Sportingbet are both publicly listed companies that operate legally and are audited in several countries. Still, with half of the betting coming from the United States, federal prosecutors and lawmakers seem bent on going after the $12 billion industry.

''Internet gambling threatens our families by bringing addictive behavior right into our living rooms,'' Senate Majority leader Bill Frist said earlier this month on the Senate floor.

In July, the House of Representatives passed a bill expanding the Wire Act to include Internet gambling; the Senate is expected to move on the legislation before it recesses Oct. 9 for mid-term elections.

''The U.S. has clearly stated that they want to stop international companies from accepting Internet wagers from U.S. residents,'' Internet gambling mogul Calvin Ayre -- who is one of Forbes magazine's 1,000 richest men in the world and whose Internet site, Bodog.com, also operates in Costa Rica -- said in a statement following the Dicks arrest.

''The only surprise is to find a director of a public company that accepts wagers from the U.S. to be traveling in the U.S. at this time,'' Ayre added, referring to Dicks and Carruthers.

In the middle of this fray is Costa Rica, a country of nearly 4 million people known more for peaceful democracy than for gambling. An estimated 200 online gambling companies have operations here. Some operate more secretly than others; all of them like the advantages that Costa Rica offers.

The Costa Rican government treats gambling like any other business. The companies operate with little oversight and pay less in taxes than they might in other countries that do regulate to avoid money laundering and other criminal activities often associated with the industry.

Costa Rica also offers companies a secure legal framework and an educated population, many of whom speak English with a flat Costa Rican accent.

Online gambling, a capital-intensive industry, has given the Costa Rican economy a boost as well. The industry employs close to 10,000 people directly and scores of others indirectly through rents, infrastructure and maintenance. Most of the employees are students or recent college graduates struggling to find a job in their field but making more money than they might even if they did.

Alex Schultz, 28, who speaks Spanish, English and German, got a degree in political science at a local private university. He worked at a human rights group before getting a job at Bodog.com in 2002. Now he's setting the betting lines on games.

''Here you can finance your studies, pay your expenses and your rent,'' Schultz said.

In the current climate, Costa Rica also may offer a safe refuge. Betonsports founder Gary Kaplan is allegedly in Costa Rica, although employees here say he hasn't been around in years.

There's an extradition agreement between Costa Rica and the United States, but Costa Rica's Vice President and Justice Minister, Laura Chinchilla, said someone would have to be breaking Costa Rica's own laws in order to be extradited.

''If they're only accused of illegal gambling in the United States, then we can't proceed [with the extradition],'' she told The Miami Herald.

Initially, industry watchers suspected the U.S. government was targeting Betonsports because of Kaplan, alias ''Greg Champion'' or ''G.'' Kaplan started his career as a runner for bets on the streets of New York and was arrested there in 1993 on charges of illegal gambling before moving his operations to Florida, then Antigua and finally Costa Rica.

Indeed, the indictment against Betonsports reads like something against the Sicilian mafia or Colombian drug lords. Filed in the Eastern District of Missouri, it's littered with supposed aliases, front companies and massive bank transfers that went to Ecuador and Belize.

Costa Rican officials are feeling the pressure from the U.S. government as well. They have promised to better regulate the industry, and in March, the government raided Ayre's multimillion-dollar home after neighbors said he was holding an illegal gambling event. Authorities said they found nothing.

''We're interested in incorporating them into the financial system,'' Chinchilla said about the industry. ``We need to set up clear rules. We don't want companies that are fugitives.''

Legislation or no, there seems to be little stopping online gambling.

SPIN3 SECURES 'BEST GAMBLING' AWARD

 

Spin3, the leading wireless casino system provider powered by Microgaming, the world's largest online gaming software provider, won the 'Best Gambling Company' award at the first ever ME Awards, hosted by Mobile Entertainment magazine. Spin3 was declared the winner by a judging panel comprising over 300 mobile content executives. The Mobile Entertainment award recognized the pioneering work Spin3 has done in the mobile gambling arena, by bringing popular casino games including unique progressive video slots and brands like Lara Croft to wireless platforms. The award recognizes the success and growth Spin3 has achieved since its launch in January 2005. Tim Green, executive editor of Mobile Entertainment magazine, said: "These awards recognised the talent and hard work that is making mobile content the world's most exciting new industry. It was a truly amazing night and we look forward to doing it all again next year - in a bigger room." The ME Awards took place on September 19th at the Royal Garden Hotel in London. The prestigious industry event recognised outstanding achievement in content development and publishing, technical services and hardware, and operator services.

"The ME Award is a great achievement and honour for Spin3 to be named the best in a niche industry that is witnessing phenomenal growth," said Matti Zinder, CEO, Spin3.

"The Award recognizes our drive to stay ahead in a dynamic market by continually diversifying our products, developing unique and innovative game offerings and providing customers a full service solution, not just a software package."

Spin3 utilises Microgaming's market leading software to offer three wireless game systems: GameWire - the leading real-play wireless casino system worldwide; SpinFone - an advanced Pay Per Download networked gaming system; and, SpinLite - a stand-alone java game suite.

Gambling with our trade

 

MARK Vaile's departure from the trade portfolio after seven years presents an opportunity to rethink what Australia wants to achieve in trade, what we need to do to get it, and what changes that will require. Any honest assessment has to conclude that Australia's trade is in terrible shape. Until 1980, our trade was more or less in balance, and on goods, in surplus. Since then, we have run trade deficits in 22 of the past 26 years, and in the past four years they have averaged more than $20 billion a year. Our share of global exports of goods has shrunk from 1.12 per cent in 1996 to 0.94 per cent in 2004. Of the 30 OECD members, only three have had worse export growth in that time. Surely it's time for honest debate about what has gone wrong, what could go right, and what has to change to get us there. But that requires an environment in which governments feel able to admit that something has gone wrong, and to change their policies and structures to put it right. We don't do things that way here. Suppose we did. Let's start by asking what we are trying to achieve in trade, and why it is not delivering the goods.

It is futile to blame Vaile for the deficits, although Labor's Kevin Rudd incessantly does so. The problem is that Vaile was really not Trade Minister, but Minister for Trade Negotiations. He is a good bloke, a hard worker and a straight talker, who threw himself into the job with gusto, and won global respect from his peers.

The problem was not the minister, but the job. Trade is now a branch of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It is now seen more as a vehicle for improving Australia's diplomatic relationships than its economic prosperity. Under Labor and Nationals, it

has focused on trade negotiations, not trade outcomes. Even if it wanted to get Australia's trade back in the black, it has few levers to achieve it.

Of all the trade negotiations we have engaged in, only the Doha round offers any relief for our chronic trade deficit. Even good free trade agreements, such as ours with New Zealand and with Thailand, work because they offer evenly balanced benefits to both sides. If you pursue trade deals with far bigger economies such as the US and China, you end up signing on their terms - as John Howard did in signing a deal that removed all our trade barriers to US exports while it retained dozens of barriers to ours.

The modelling on both sides agreed that it would worsen the Australia-US trade imbalance. And so it has.

What about Labor? Far from planning to liberate trade from its role as a branch of diplomacy, it has downgraded it even

more by making it a part-time add-on for shadow foreign minister Kevin Rudd.

Both sides need to recast trade where it should be: as an economic portfolio, linked to the bureaucracy responsible for other economic areas - and with a clear, stated goal of getting Australia's trade balance back in the black.

Step one is to move trade into a department where it fits: what is now the Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources. Manufacturing, commerce, mining, energy, tourism and services: they're all here, and they make up 80 per cent of our exports and almost 100 per cent of our imports.

(That leaves out agriculture. No problem: upgrade the Department of Agriculture's role and resources on trade to give it the clout of its foreign counterparts.)

Merely reshuffling the bureaucracy, however, would be useless without a change in policies and priorities. The Industry Department is seen these days as having little clout, little money and being frightened to put a foot out of line. Its minister, Ian Macfarlane, doesn't frighten easily, but his approach to industry is to go out and tell it what it's doing wrong, and don't come to government for help. Nice line, minister - if it works.

The figures suggest it hasn't. Output of goods other than buildings fell almost 4 per cent in the year to June. Macfarlane has now set up a taskforce to re-examine Australia's industry policy settings, focusing on "global integration". Read the background paper, and you realise why trade belongs in his department. The future for exposed sectors of manufacturing clearly lies in their integration with global markets.

We've been here before. The last industry policy review, under John Moore, set up a good policy structure, with "action agendas" supposed to identify and tackle the problems facing specific industry sectors. But then Moore moved on, and the action agendas became words with little action. There was no money to finance reform, and no commitment to make them work.

Now Macfarlane has a chance to make them, or some new model, work where policy since 1997 has plainly failed. The manufacturing malaise has to be tackled because most of the world's trade - most of Australia's merchandise trade - is in manufactures. Last year we ran a staggering $92 billion deficit in manufacturing trade alone. We need reforms to stop that getting worse. And unless we want to trust in praying that global prices for our minerals stay high and volumes grow, we must identify ways to significantly cut that deficit, and get back in the black.

Another 25 years of global warming might not create a disaster, but why take the risk? Another 25 years of big trade deficits might not create a disaster either - but why take the risk?

Tim Colebatch is economics editor.

US online gambling crackdown hits World Gaming

 

The crackdown on internet gambling in the US has begun to frighten off senior directors. World Gaming chairman James Grossman and non-executive director Clare Roberts have both resigned from the online gaming group on fears they will be arrested in the US. advertisementDavid Carruthers, chief executive of Betonsports and Peter Dicks, chairman of Sportingbet, have both been arrested in the US recently in connection with online gambling laws. The arrests have prompted others, including PartyGaming's chairman Michael Jackson, to say he would not travel to the US unless absolutely necessary. Both Mr Grossman and Mr Roberts practice as attorneys in the US, outside their work for World Gaming, while Mr Grossman is also an adviser to the US Government, a spokesman said. Ms Roberts is a former Attorney General of Antigua. "Clearly they've got other business interests and they've got to be able to go to the US to be able to carry on their other business interests," World Gaming's spokesman said. It said replacements would be named in due course.

World Gaming, which makes the bulk of its money from US gamblers, said earlier this month it was in talks over a possible all-share takeover by Sportingbet. However, Sportingbet shares collapsed after Mr Dicks was arrested.

Online sports betting in the US contravenes the 1961 Wire Act, though whether internet poker and casino games break that law is a legal grey area.

Cracking gambling ring long overdue

 

The adage, "they'll get what's coming to them" finally came true for the many bars in central Indiana that ran illegal gambling, either through illegal slot-like machines, called "cherry masters," or by running numbers. For those of you who think of "running numbers," as slum-centered it's been going on in area bars for years. Here, it's called "drawings," where someone buys a number and hopes it gets pulled to win the pot. Sounds innocuous. Cherry masters seem like innocent fun, too. Both are illegal and probably rigged. Who knows for sure because no one regulates it. It's governed by greed. Oh, and no one pays taxes on the winnings. We don't know if any of the 39 people arrested over the past two days are guilty. They are innocent until proven guilty. We're not casting individual blame, we're just acknowledging that illegal gambling in Madison County and its environs has been overt, well-known and ignored by every law enforcement officer and agency for years. It included the cops who drank at those spots to their bosses who knew about the activities at those establishments. Imagine how much larger the coffers of state and local governments would be if they had gotten a slice, through taxes, of that multi-million dollar industry. Imagine how much easier it would be for legitimate, law-abiding businesses to compete had their competitors not been awash in illegal gambling money.

And when people operate outside the law, they don't act outside the law just a little. In for a dime, in for a dollar. When there is this much money at stake, assume there is extortion, bribery and violence. It all goes with the territory. High risk, high return. Oftentimes, the only way out of a life of crime is either prison or death. We're not exaggerating.

So, yes, we're delighted police swooped in and seized millions of dollars of criminally gotten assets. Local governments will divvy up the spoils. Good for them.

The prolificness of illegal gambling has been an embarrassment to our community for years and proof that corruption lives in Madison County. The raids didn't completely stop the problem. Illegal gambling is still rampant in other area establishments.

Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings says the state excise police have been building its case against accused ring leader John Neal for five years. But what about all the illegal gambling long before then?

Why weren't these establishments shut down long ago? We can only guess. Why were they seized just two months before Rodney Cummings is up for re-election? Again, we can only guess.

Yes, the bust will play well for Cummings' campaign. In the long run, we don't care what the motivation for the raid was, just that it finally happened.

We Are Gambling With Our Lives!

 

How many times will the American people witness their government taking the easy way out to dealing with terror? President Bush pushes and advocates that we must be on the offense to dealing with our enemies. But our Senate, and other government agencies are not operating that way. They are too mired in politics, in the proper rules of engagement. The Path to 911, ABC's docudrama which aired Sept. 10th and 11th recently, exposed serious flaws in our government to quickly act upon important leads that would take down our enemy. Now, we are busy playing catch up...or are we? It seems as if everything is the same. Both administrations, Clinton and George W. Bush, were at fault for not acting quickly to take down terror suspects that loudly proclaimed to be a danger to America. America had even the help of the Minister of Defense of the Northern Alliance, Ahmed Shah Massoud (as The Path to 911 program revealed) who worked with the U.S., giving specific intelligence that would have taken out Osama Bin Laden. But we failed to take him out. Ahmed Shah Massoud died in a suicide attack by Arabs who posed as journalists, claiming to be from Morocco. He died September 9, 2001, two days before America was attacked on 911. Before he died, Massoud warned the U.S. that Osama Bin Laden was planning something huge inside America.

I consider him to be a friend of America who had the guts to risk his safety to save the lives of others. We don't honor his memory and those who have died fighting terror in whatever form if we do not act as bravely and take risks as they did.

It was recently reported that an unmanned but armed Predator drone used by the Army for reconnaissance missions, shot photos of senior level Taliban fighters, apparently gathered for a funeral. The order was not given to fire, and many people like me, are wondering why we made such a disastrous decision. The decision was a no-go due to the military rules of engagement, which do not allow any strikes on a cemetery or religious sites. The Taliban was clearly in the open, and the chance to attack was a perfect one.

We are fighting a new kind of enemy. We must adapt and allow the full strength of our military forces to defeat them. Taliban activity has increased this summer, and our response should be to take action to eliminate a threat before we suffer from it later on.

Terrorists do not care where they attack. Weddings, funerals, mosques...it does not matter, just as long as the "infidel" is crushed.

Just three days after the U.S. observed the 5th anniversary of September 11, 2001, the argument over how we interrogate terrorists in U.S. custody broke. A few Republican Senators on the Senate Armed Services Committee expressed their opposition to President Bush over current interrogation methods.

Monday, September 25, 2006

ONLINE GAMBLING BAN - PPA ATTACKS SNEAKY ATTACHMENTS

 

"....the way in which some members of the Senate have decided to move [anti-online gambling measures] through reeks of political gamesmanship. The issue of Internet gambling has not been given a hearing in the Senate, it has not been debated, in fact, there isn't even a bill introduced." Following the failure of Senator Bill Frist's attempt to attach an anti-online gambling ban to an unrelated Defence Bill last week, the 110 000 Poker Players' Alliance leader Michael Bolcerek has launched a strong attack on politicians who seek to push repressive legislation through Congress at any cost. Indicating that his organisation was strongly opposed to the manner in which Frist sought to fast-track his measure, Bolcerek said: "The prohibition bill is tremendously bad public policy, and the way in which some members of the Senate have decided to move it through reeks of political gamesmanship. "The issue of Internet gambling has not been given a hearing in the Senate, it has not been debated, in fact, there isn't even a bill introduced. This effort to attach this very controversial and non-germane issue to vital DoD authorization legislation is a disservice to the American public and the men and women in our Armed Forces. "Prohibitions don't work and the American people know this. That is why a vast majority oppose a ban on online poker. The game of poker is mainstream and enjoyed by millions of Americans. It is 2006, not 1920, the Internet is a part of our daily lives. Let's practice good government that actually protects the family and establish strict regulations and safeguards for on- line poker."

Frist aides have indicated to the press that the Department of Defence rejection will not deter the Senator and colleagues such as Senator Jon Kyl from attempting to find other non-germane legislation to which their anti-gambling proposals can be attached in a bid to drive a law through below this years legislative season ends around October-November.

News service reports indicate that anti-online gambling supporters are trying to forge a compromise that would allow them to push through legislation banning most forms of Internet gambling, aides said late last week.

Top House and Senate lawmakers have been trying to break a logjam that has stalled the Internet gambling legislation by attaching it to any one of a number of must-pass spending bills before the end of the year, aides said. However, they have yet to agree on a final deal.

According to two sources familiar with the matter, one possible compromise would focus on a version of a bill already passed by the House, with some provisions opposed by the U.S. horse racing industry removed. The bill would prohibit most forms of Internet gambling and make it illegal for banks and credit card companies to make payments to online gambling sites.

Lawmakers are scheduled to recess at the end of next week so they can campaign for the November elections. They are expected to return afterward to wrap up unfinished business.

Gambling gives to, takes from local economy

 

Electronic-slots parlors would generate thousands of jobs and tens of millions of dollars to seed local business growth, gambling supporters say. But the four parlors that would sprout in Greater Cleveland are by no means a sure bet to bolster the region's economy, anti-gambling forces respond. Even the local power brokers who back the plan to bring nine parlors and 31,000 slots to Ohio acknowledge that gambling is not an engine of resurgent economies. "If you were to start from scratch and draw your optimal economic development paradigm, you wouldn't necessarily include gambling as part of it," says Fred Nance, adviser to Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and chairman of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, the local chamber of commerce. Yet Nance, Jackson, Cuyahoga County commissioners and other civic leaders say slots at two sites downtown - and at racetracks in North Randall and Northfield - would join lakefront museums and Gateway sports sites as valued attractions. "This is the biggest project and proposal this community has confronted since 1990," said Commissioner Tim Hagan.

But critics say, and research suggests, that casinos can exact a toll on local economies. They pull money from local businesses and create social costs, due in part to gambling addiction.

It might be a positive for Cleveland, where two casinos along the Cuyahoga River "will suck money in from the suburbs," argues Ed Morrison, an economic-development consultant working on business-growth strategies for the Cuyahoga County Department of Development.

"But you're basically just taking money out of the home market," Morrison adds.

Local leaders are intimately familiar with the plan -- a team of business, labor and city-county elected leaders haggled over the details with racetrack owners and two prominent developers, Forest City Enterprises Inc. and investor Jeff Jacobs.

Gambling on change won't lose

 

If you want to see an ex ample of how quickly this region can change, look at the articles on this page about gambling. Staff writer Tom Dochat explains that the approval process for lucrative gaming licenses is hotter than the handle of a 25-cent one-armed bandit on a Saturday night. Teams of state investigators have been traveling worldwide to make sure that the people seeking licenses are as squeaky clean as possible. So much money will be involved that you have to hope these regulators will be watched closely, too. In other words, the watchdogs will need watchdogs. Another story is about how Penn National Gaming's operations in Mississippi weathered one of the worst hurricane seasons in U.S. history. The company's casinos have been rebuilt and most of the staff is back at work. Part of that rapid response was made possible by Mississippi officials who changed laws to make gambling even more lucrative in the state. Nothing like a natural disaster that cripples your economy to shake out some business-friendly laws. In Mississippi's case, gambling had been limited to casinos on the water. Now it is possible to have them on land. As we also learned last week about West Virginia, officials there are expecting their own tidal wave of sorts, which is why they might expand that state's gambling laws so they don't lose too many customers to Pennsylvania. Penn National intends to have slot machines at its racetrack in Grantville and is betting that it gets approvals this week, having already demolished old buildings to make way for new ones.

If they could go into a hurricane-ravaged area -- where everyone was looking for contractors and virtually all locals were sleeping in trailers for months -- and rebuild a casino in less than a year, imagine how quickly the landscape could change around here.

Assuming the company gets its conditional license this week, it expects to be open by 2008. That's just over a year from now.

I like talking with people about what gambling will mean to this region. Some people have been seeing opportunities for a while -- we reported nearly two years ago about land speculation around Grantville. Others see the potential for crime, drugs and other problems that follow dreams of easy money.

For years, there has been talk about hotels near the state Farm Show Complex off Cameron Street and Interstate 81. I'm not sure that expos, craft fairs and special events make such ventures a sure thing. But if you have a casino a few exits down the interstate, you might not have many worries about booking rooms.

I don't know if gambling will be good for this area or awful. I do know that once a license is approved for a casino in Grantville, the region will be transformed.

Gambling Machines Destroyed

 

The Royal Customs and Excise Department yesterday morning destroyed 52 gambling machines and 6,391 tokens, which were confiscated in 2002 and 2003. Four local Chinese have been prosecuted in court for having the illegal machines in shops as well as apartments. Aside from the gambling machines, $1,262 in cash was also seized. The four were fined up to $49,200. The machines were destroyed at the dumpsite in Jalan Sungai Akar. A number of officials from the Royal Customs and Excise Department oversaw the destruction of the machines, which were ripped to shreds by a tractor.

German crackdown raises the stakes for internet gambling

 

BRITISH executives of online gambling companies could be arrested on criminal charges in Germany if they set foot in the country. Officials from the interior ministries of the German states of Hesse and Bavaria told The Business that executives of foreign companies who let German residents place sports bets online are committing "criminal" acts that could lead to prosecution in Germany. Germany's threat to foreign managers follows the recent arrests in the US and France of executives from offshore gambling firms. French state gambling officials also plan to adopt a tougher stand: officials told The Business that they will continue to report offences by foreign betting operators to the government, raising the possibility of more arrests of executives at offshore gambling firms. Attempting to enforce their monopoly on sports gambling, Hesse, Bavaria and Saxony ordered Austrian online betting company Bwin to stop advertising and offering betting services in their states. The ban "goes for everyone else, too," a spokesman for the Hesse interior ministry in Wiesbaden told The Business. Bwin has become the highest profile target in the German crackdown on gambling which has also seen the forced closure of privately run betting shops around the country. But executives from any company offering online sports betting in Germany should be concerned about prosecution.

"I would take these threats seriously," says Michael Adams from Hamburg University, an expert on gambling in Germany. He advised such managers to steer clear of the country. "I wouldn't take a layover in Frankfurt."

In France, Bwin's co-chief executives were released on bonds of E300,000 ($370,000, £205,000) apiece last week after their arrests as part of an investigation into the company's French operations. The executives are expected to return to France for more questioning in November.

The arrests stemmed from complaints filed last year by French state-run betting agencies Francaise des Jeux (FdJ) and and Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU). Under French law, FdJ holds the monopoly for lotteries; PMU controls off-track gambling and casinos for slot machines.

Online Gambling in Europe: A Question of Fair Access

 

It appears as though the right to free access to online gambling services in Europe is destined to be decided by the courts, as increasing numbers of European states ignore the recent European Court of Justice directive which stated that a Member State cannot invoke the need to restrict its citizens' access to betting services if at the same time it incites and encourages them to participate in state lotteries, games of chance or betting which benefits the state's Finances. The basic premise of a recent European Court of Justice statement regarding the subject is that individual Member States cannot protect state-sponsored monopolies at the expense of private or foreign-based enterprise. In an ideal situation, the European Commission would like to see open access to services or, failing that, no access at all. Protectionist economic policies appear to be contradictory to the very ideals upon which the European Union was established. In April of this year, the European Commission sent official requests for information on national legislation restricting the supply of sports betting services to seven Member States (Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Sweden and the Netherlands). The Commission was responding to complaints that the Member States were in breach of Article 49 of the EC Treaty which guarantees the free movement of services. The EC decision to investigate these Member States was specifically related to sports betting, and a statement released by the EC at the time made it clear their decision to investigate did not have implications for the liberalization of the market for general gambling services. However, the alleged breaches the EC are investigating in relation to sports betting seem to have a lot in common with recent steps France has undertaken to protect its own state-sponsored gambling monopoly. French police arrested two BWin executives in Monaco last week for "violation of French gambling laws" by "offering illegal games of chance, illegal lottery, advertising prohibited lotteries and taking illegal horse racing bets".

The European Court of Justice has repeatedly stated that any restrictions which seek to protect general interest objectives, such as the protection of consumers, must be "consistent and systematic" in how they seek to limit betting activities. The recent French arrests of the BWin executives can be described as a lot of things, but 'consistent' and 'systematic' they are not.

Dozens of online gambling entities advertise in France, including market giants such as Casino-on-Net (888.com), who are the title sponsor of Toulouse FC. 888.com Chief Executive John Anderson handed in his notice not long after the BWin arrests, the timing of the announcement coincidental, to say the least. Hundreds of online gambling companies offer their services in France via the Internet, and it now seems likely executives of those companies risk arrest if they set foot in France.

To casual observers, the entire case appears cut and dry. The French actions, in attempting to protect their monopoly, are incompatible with European Community law. A spokesman for the EC Internal Market Commissioner, Charlie McCreevy, warned the commission was considering expanding their investigation following news of the French arrests.

Individual European states are testing the authority and will of the European Commission. The EC needs to stand up and exert its authority and, more importantly, it needs to exert that authority expediently. It is possible that the French actions are nothing more than an attempt to buy time to allow its monopoly to gain a firmer grasp in the market. If the EC takes too long to investigate before handing down a decision and enforcing that decision, the French monopoly can still win, even if the EC decision is not in their favor.

But with European government-sponsored monopolies generating as much as $30 billion in revenue annually, and rising every year, the stakes are high. Cut and dry it may seem, but the situation is almost certain to drag on for some time before reaching a conclusion.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

School says no to gambling cash

 

Gambling money underpins parent advisory councils across B.C., but the source of the much-needed cash poses an ethical dilemma for some parents. Unlike most PACs that happily pocket provincial grants funded by gambling, South Park Elementary does not. "Gaming can be problematic for some people, and is the message that we want to be sending to our kids that we are making money off gambling?" said Rosemary Mann, a parent at the school and former PAC chairwoman. B.C. Lottery Corp. money has funded PACs since 1998. Until 2003, PACs needed to complete complicated forms to qualify for funding of $40 a student. Now the government distributes funds to all PACs based on $20 per student. This year more than 1,500 PACs will receive almost $12 million from the proceeds of casinos, lottery tickets and online gambling. South Park has never accepted the funds although it revisits the issue every few years. Government suggestions for the funds include school drama and chess clubs, writing, debating and music competitions, student societies, student travel in B.C., yearbooks, playground and sports equipment and scholarships. Education Minister Shirley Bond said she understands some parents are concerned about gaming funds. "But, the benefits from those dollars are very significant," she said.

South Park's decision was not an easy one as the school also refuses to raise money by having students sell items door-to-door or outside stores. Instead, the school community relies on an annual auction, spring fair and pizza days.

The government should fully fund education, making fundraising unnecessary, Mann said. "It is unacceptable that parents [at South Park] have to raise about $18,000 a year just to provide adequate library books and art materials and field trips," she said.

South Park has 168 students, meaning that, last year, when the province, on a one-time basis, doubled the PAC grant to $40 per student, the gaming commission would have handed $6,720 to South Park. This year, the school would be in line for $3,360.

South Park PAC chairwoman Sarah Hilliard supports the decision to turn down gambling money, but said it makes life tough for parent fundraisers.

South Park hopes to get new playground equipment with the money it raises. Money also goes to classroom teachers for field trips and other extras -- but also basics such as electric pencil sharpeners, Hilliard said.

John Bird, chairman of the Victoria Coalition of PACs, believes that rising gaming profits should mean more money for PACs.

The government scooped up $914.4 million from B.C. Lottery Corp. last year -- up from about $120 million when PACs first started getting gaming money. However, Bond said no consideration is being given to increasing gaming money for PACs.

Online gambling help going live this month

 

A service called gamAid that provides instant online help to people with gambling problems has the green light to go live this month after a six-month trial. The service has already had more than 55,000 visits and provided 1,000 one-to-one help session during the first four months of its trial. With gamAid, online gamblers can find instant, real-time, one-to-one access to professional help when they feel like they're losing control of their gambling or if they're interested in learning more about responsible gambling. "gamAid gives our clients access to help and information that they may not otherwise receive. Providing easy access to information assists us greatly in meeting our social obligations," said Sue Harley, compliance director at Ladbrokes, owner of Ladbrokes Poker. Ladbrokes and Betfair Poker are just two of several gambling site operators who are already using gamAid. Sites can make gamAid available to their players by placing an active button on key pages of their site. Players will be able to click the button and get instant, direct access to a trained advisor for help. "Online advice is tailored to a client's needs and includes one-to-one consultations and information about managing a gambling habit," said Tony Roberts, gamAid manager. "We also provide online links to support services, forums, and specialist counseling local to the client in whatever country they live."

Currently, gamAid is the only service that helps gambling sites meet the demands of the U.K. Gambling Commission, which will implement the changes to the Gambling Act in 2007. The company is also working with regulators to provide a best practice use of gamAid to ensure that the gamAid button is prominently displayed on every operator's site in the future.

"In order to tackle problem gambling, operators must clearly demonstrate that not only do they operate an honest, fair and informative site, but they also need to understand that, like anything addictive, preventative measures must be put in place for when users think things may be getting out of hand," said Sue Schneider, president and CEO of the River City Group at this year's Global Interactive Gaming Summit in Canada. "gamAid is able to provide a wonderful on-line help service for those with a gambling problem."

Four police chiefs in Luzon relieved over gambling

 

The chiefs of police of four towns in Tarlac, Bulacan, and Isabela have been relieved because the illegal numbers game jueteng continues in their areas, officials said. In Central Luzon, Chief Superintendent Ismael Rafanan, regional police director, on Friday ordered the relief of Superintendent Aniceto Frane, police chief of Camiling, Tarlac, and Superintendent Jesus Reyes, police chief of Calumpit, Bulacan. They are undergoing pre-charge investigation in this regional police camp. In Isabela, Senior Superintendent Jude Wilson Santos, acting provincial police director, relieved Superintendent Felix Dayag, chief of the Echague police, and Senior Inspector Renato Bucad, chief of the Jones police, after a team from the Philippine National Police's anti-illegal gambling task force and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group raided suspected jueteng dens in the province last week. Anti-illegal gambling operations by the regional police in those towns confirmed the existence of jueteng, Rafanan said. "The one-strike policy continues to be in full force to any officer who defies the order to have the game stopped by September 30," he said in explaining the immediate sacking of Frane and Reyes.

Chief Inspector Romeo de Guzman, CIDG Isabela chief, said his office arrested 46 jueteng employees and bet collectors in Jones, Echague, Benito Soliven, and San Agustin towns and in Santiago City.

Chief Superintendent Jefferson Soriano, Cagayan Valley police director, said he had ordered provincial police directors in the region to beat the September 30 deadline set by PNP chief Director General Oscar Calderon to stop jueteng operations in the country.

The relieved police officials were the first to come under fire in what Calderon called an "honest-to-goodness" fight against the underworld lottery. Calderon said the new drive against jueteng was meant to strengthen the small town lottery, which the government introduced in February as an antidote and alternative to jueteng.

Gambling in Pennsylvania

 

For an activity to be "gambling" in Pennsylvania there must be payment of a consideration or fee for the chance to win a prize. The winner must be determined by chance. The legal forms of gambling in the state are activities governed by the Race Horse Industry Reform Act, the Pennsylvania Lottery, bingo and small games of chance. One way to put these groups on a more level playing field might be to expand the types of games authorized under small games of chance laws and increase what can be bingo winnings, some county officials have said. Legislators plan to revisit small games of chance and bingo laws in the state. About two years ago, Somerset County Jerry Spangler spoke on behalf of Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association before the state House Judiciary Committee on proposals to update the bingo and small games of chance laws.

Meanwhile, the lines seem to be tightening around just what these groups can do to raise money with fundraisers that use bingo and small games of chance.

Video horse racing is one of the popular fundraising events for nonprofit groups in the state.

Laurel Arts in Somerset had incorporated that particular game of chance in its Casino Night fundraiser for a couple years. The event usually raised about $4,000.

Last year, that all changed.

Last year, the nonprofit art group changed the name to Vegas Night and changed several games of chance, including video horse racing. The group ended up discontinuing video horse racing.

"We found out that video horse racing is not specifically listed in the small game of chance legislation," said Michael Knecht, Laurel Arts executive director.

"Our budget is pretty complex. We count on everything to balance the budget," Knecht said.

By not being able to incorporate video horse racing, the event brought in less funds for Laurel Arts.

Losing any amount of funds is "a big hit," he said.

"Technology has been changing. The laws governing small games of chance or those related should be revisited to make sure it is still effective as written," Knecht added. "If it isn't then it should be updated."

Prize limits haven't changed in 18 to 25 years, Spangler said. The law of small games of chance was passed in 1988; the bingo act was passed in 1981.

Spangler told Laurel Arts board members to eliminate video horse racing just to be sure they are in compliance with state law.

"He said if it was not there in the law to stay away from it," Knecht added.

Meanwhile, until the law is interpreted to include video horse racing as a legal small games of chance, it is best for nonprofit organizations to take a "proactive stance to be sure they are complying with the law and eliminate it."

"Our event is legal and everyone has a good time and it is still productive as a fundraiser," he said about Vegas Night, tentatively planned for Feb. 23.

"The last thing our nonprofit needs is to have police show up and arrest our patrons for something considered illegal," he added.

Laurel Arts is not the only organization having trouble with interpreting what the law means.

There are those groups that use bingo as a fundraiser and others who just enjoy playing the game.

For those playing bingo for entertainment, the law states they can do so as long as winning prizes are of "nominal value."

What is not clear with the law is just what constitutes nominal value.

Playing bingo for cash at Somerset County senior centers was temporarily suspended until the state bingo law is clarified, according to Karen Ritchey, deputy administrator for Area Agency of Aging of Somerset County.

Fun fairs a front for gambling

 

Most fun fairs attract children, but at least six in the district are a hit with adults. That's because they are a front for gambling dens. These fun fairs have the usual attractions such as rides and carnival games, said Johor Baru MCA Youth secretary Rodney Soon. "But hardly anyone plays these games. The people go there just to gamble," he revealed yesterday. Soon said such fun fairs were located all over the district - in Permas Jaya, Johor Jaya and Kulai - and were open from 8pm to 2am. "The operators do not charge entrance fees," he said. To gamble, punters have to buy RM1 tokens. Soon said the games resemble roulette, where punters pick numbers between one and 10. Soon said he had notified Johor Baru (south) district police's anti-vice, secret societies and gaming division. Meanwhile, state CID chief Senior Asst Comm (II) Datuk Abdul Rahim Jaafar said police had raided several fun fairs.

Gambling addiction blamed for robbery 'frenzy'

 

A Christchurch man who committed a "frenzy" of six knifepoint robberies over six weeks was sent to jail for seven years yesterday. Murray Duglas Harris, a 46-year-old with a previously unblemished record, had pleaded guilty in Christchurch District Court and was sentenced yesterday by Judge Gary MacAskill. Harris admitted robbing three service stations, a tavern, a liquor store and a factory shop during what his counsel, Ruth Buddicom, termed a frenzy of offending during a "brain explosion" when he was out of control. Police arrested Harris on June 23 while he was holding up the liquor store. After each of the robberies, which netted him about $3000, Harris would deposit amounts into his TAB account and bank accounts. He admitted to a long-standing gambling addiction and said after his arrest that he was "relieved" his gambling problem had come to the surface and he could address it properly. Ms Buddicom said Harris was ashamed and remorseful, and now realised the impact of his serious offending on the victims he had robbed and threatened.

AdvertisementAdvertisementShe said Harris was now motivated to address his gambling problem.

Judge MacAskill said Harris' offending was out of character and inexplicable.

The gravity and seriousness of the offences were aggravating features, as was the effect on Harris' victims.

He had committed multiple offences within a short timeframe while using a weapon and making threats to the staff of the premises he targeted.

"Your offending will have an impact on them for a long time to come."

During the robberies Harris had threatened to use the knife if his victims did not hurry to fill the yellow shopping bag he carried with money.

Gambling had become a "personal disaster" for Harris and while it could go somewhere toward explaining the offending it was certainly no excuse.

The judge noted Harris had held the same job for 25 years, had no previous criminal record, was a productive member of the community and deserved credit for his community contributions, particularly to the sport of soccer.

Judge MacAskill jailed Harris for seven years on one "lead charge" of aggravated robbery and imposed four-year sentences on four other aggravated robbery charges.

He imposed a two-year sentence for the attempted robbery when Harris was caught by police in the liquor store. All sentences were concurrent.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

More countries could be added to list of infringers investigated by European Commission

 

Several European states have taken action against online gaming companies in a bid to protect their own gambling operations, but the tactic looks likely to accelerate the demise of their own monopolies, says a report in Hemscott this week. The report quotes a European Commission spokesman who said the body is prepared to target more EU member states deemed to be stifling competition in the sports gambling sector. "'We will perhaps add to the number of countries involved in infringement procedures', said the EU executive arm's internal markets spokesman Oliver Drewes during a European Commission meeting on the issue. EU Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy wants to ensure that laws in member states banning gambling services are 'necessary and not discriminatory'. The arrest of two Bwin executives from Austria on alleged gambling violations whilst they were visiting France is seen as something that could accelerate the possibility of EC legal action in a European market that takes more than Euro 70 billion ($89 billion) from European gamblers every year, Reuters reported this week. Detentions of international online gambling businessmen by US federal and state authorities have resulted in a closer focus by online gambling companies on alternative markets, with Europe being the prime target. "Things are coming to a head," the report quotes Simon Holliday at gaming consultants GBGC. "The industry is currently in a legal grey area, but we think this will accelerate the speed it opens up." Betfair Managing Director Mark Davies said it was wrong to equate the situation in Europe with that in the U.S. "The two are completely different," he said. "In America it is clearly illegal to take sports bets over the Internet, but in Europe it's clearly legal."

Last week, European Union Internal Market Commissioner McCreevy said eight EU countries might be added to a list of seven already facing legal action for refusing to open their betting markets. France is said to be among them.

"France could have shot themselves in the foot by getting this aggressive, as it could bring the whole process forward," said Holliday. "We thought it would take five, six or seven years to sort itself out, but it now looks like two to three years."

Although European Union law allows cross-border trade by gambling companies under the Treaty of Rome, many individual states prevent it, claiming they are protecting the public from gambling addiction. The counter argument to that is the large monopolistic revenues these governments themselves make from gambling, sometimes offered to citizens of other countries too in vehicles like lotteries.

European Lotteries, which represents 74 organisations, said gambling was a unique activity, and states should be allowed to monopolise it to protect consumers and regulate crime. But critics say these same states promote equally addictive national lotteries, and accuse them of hypocrisy.

Three of the EC investigations are at the behest of British gaming group Ladbrokes, with complaints against Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands, said John O'Reilly, managing director of Ladbrokes's Internet division.

"I think what we've seen in recent weeks is a bit of a backlash by European member states who want to treat betting as a national issue," he said. After seven or eight years of trying to get national legal disputes heard at a European level, O'Reilly said he welcomed the prospect of clarity.

Earlier this year Bwin launched an EC complaint against France, claiming that its gambling monopoly breaches Article 49 of the European Community Treaty which enshrines the freedom to provide cross-border services. The complaint asks the Commission to force France to comply with EC law on the freedom to provide services.

Evelyn Heffermehl at law firm Ulys in Brussels said France's action against Bwin did not signal Europe was becoming a riskier place for online gaming groups. "They can be seen rather as a sign that the monopolies in general, and in France in this specific case, are concerned that they might not 'survive' for long," said Heffermehl.

"Europe is currently facing a transition period between old restrictive regulations, with monopolies etc, and opening of the market."

You could lay bets on Tomb Raider outcomes!

 

Activision video gaming boss Robert Kotick spoke this week of the role in- [video]-game gambling could play in the future, describing it as the 'Holy Grail' of the games business. Kotick reckons the cross-over between gaming and 'gambling' could potentially be huge, and far more extensive than at present. Discussing the potential of wagering with regards to online games, he said: "There's probably lots of opportunities to figure out how to develop prize play [and] cash play as a future growth opportunity. You're going to need a big installed base, and a very different regulatory climate. And that's going to take some time." The Activision CEO apparently thinks the integration of gambling is 'inevitable', especially as games become increasingly online and multiplayer focused. "When you think about the Holy Grail of the video game business, organised competition for prize play and cash play is going to be the floodgate of opportunity for new audiences," he affirmed. "And it will happen eventually, but I wouldn't expect it anytime soon." Whilst Activision recently dipped their toes into the realms of online gambling, with a series of Poker games, these were played for the love of it rather than cold hard cash.

OSU trustees oppose Learn and Earn gambling issue

 

In a surprise move yesterday, the Ohio State University Board of Trustees came out in strong opposition to the Learn and Earn issue on November's ballot that would allow casino and slot gambling in Ohio. "If we are silent it implies we support it because we could benefit from it," said trustee Les Wexner, Limited Brands founder. "I think it's very clever -- and bad public policy." Under the ballot measure, Issue 3, 30 percent of the money raised from the gambling would be channeled into college scholarships students would earn while in high school, hence the "Learn and Earn" tag. It would allow 31,500 slot machines at seven horse-racing tracks and at two downtown Cleveland casinos. Wexner, one of the more outspoken members of the OSU board, said he opposes the issue because it gives nine entities a gambling monopoly. Trustee Robert H. Schottenstein agreed, saying Issue 3 "doesn't smell right, feel right or seem fair" and sounds too good to be true. "We do not think this is good for the state of Ohio," said Schottenstein. A number of Columbus groups have come out against Learn and Earn, including the Greater Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Columbus Partnership, an influential group of area business leaders.

Former Teamster's boss formally charged in gambling ring

 

The accused ring leader of the state's largest suspected illegal gambling ring faced a judge and official charges Friday. The Madison County Prosecutor filed 71 counts against former Teamster's boss John Neal, accusing him of illegal gambling, money laundering and corruption. For 72 hours, the man prosecutors claim controlled illegal operations at dozens of central Indiana taverns sat behind jail bars uncharged. Now, after days of seizing dozens of video gambling machines, receipts, files - and more than $4 million dollars, John Lewis Neal learned the 71 gambling related charges against him. John Neal sat in front of a court video camera in the jail for his mid-morning hearing, initially confused about what had taken place. "Did you say that charges have not been filed?" he asked the magistrate, before getting another court explanation. The court set Neal's bond at $2 million dollars - the same amount investigators froze in bank accounts. "We believe Mr. Neal is a flight risk. He has bank accounts that we're not aware of, probably yet. We still believe that there's about $3 million from this enterprise that are unaccounted for and have not been seized. He has a home in Florida," explained Cummings. On federal parole until next February on a prior gambling related conviction, money isn't the only thing keeping Neal behind bars. The magistrate asked Mr. Neal if he understood that he could not be released from jail until that parole hold is lifted. Neal responded, "I understand that."

Before the court began rolling videotape of the hearing, Neal informed the court he hired Indianapolis defense attorney Richard Kamman. But Neal admitted he wasn't sure he had money to pay for representation, saying, "I don't think so, they got all my money tied up. They got everything I got tied up. What we're going to try to do is get that money loose to pay the attorney."

The Madison County Prosecutor says Neal is in for a fight. "We will resist any effort to get any of his money back," said Cummings. "It is not our plan to make a deal with him like has been made in the past. It is our plan to take his money and have that money to come to the government of this community."

The prosecutor confirms some of those who worked under Neal apart from the gambling are cooperating. Cummings says the next step is to reopen some of the bars raided and shut down. Under the plan the county would appoint a receiver and all profits would go to the coffers of Madison County. Cummings believes it will keep viable businesses open and employees earning a living legally.

Gambling foes to gather

 

The Rev. Patrick Walsh understands slot machines at Seven Springs may be a done deal. But though most of those playing the quarters at the popular resort likely will be from out of town, Walsh is concerned about the implications gambling could have on families closer to home. "You can't say it's not going to impact people in our own community. They're going to go up there," said Walsh, pastor of Rockwood Christian & Missionary Alliance Church near New Centerville. For the first time since Seven Springs applied for its slots license, anti-gambling activists are mustering united opposition in the county. Dianne Berlin, volunteer coordinator of CasinoFreePA and vice chairwoman of the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling, will be the featured speaker at a community meeting at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at the church. "I think there is considerable opposition to gambling, but people are not speaking up," Walsh said. "There's been a lot of PR from proponents of gambling, from the governor on down. But they've not looked at the impact it's going to have on our community and families." Seven Springs and Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in neighboring Fayette County are the only two applicants for the state's two resort-gambling licenses. If approved, Seven Springs intends to build a 500-slot casino.

Middlecreek Township supervisors already have come out against the plan on moral and practical grounds in objections filed with Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board in Harrisburg.

A hearing for the two resort licenses is scheduled for Oct. 25 in Harrisburg.

Even though the slots will be open only to resort guests who spend $25, Berlin said the ramifications will run deep.

"It's not just going to be the people from out of town who are going to gamble," she said from her home in Lancaster County.

Berlin said the forum will provide information on the impact of casinos on localities, how the law was passed to legalize gambling in Pennsylvania and why it should be repealed.

"It's never too late to repeal a law - and especially a bad law," Berlin said.

"People don't understand all of this. I wish I didn't know as much as I do, because it makes me sick."

Entire state must vote on gambling issue

 

West Virginia's gambling industry plans another push in the Legislature next year for local option elections to allow table games at the state's four racetrack casinos. In preparation for next year's effort, a poll released by the state Racing Association earlier this week shows 61 percent of West Virginians favor local option elections, up from 51 percent in a similar poll released in January. Also, according to The Associated Press, racetrack executives and political action committees distributed more than $100,000 before the May primary among 72 House of Delegates and State Senate candidates. Association President John Cavacini said the industry will contribute to candidates for the general election. The gambling industry wants table games such as blackjack, poker and roulette because it will soon lose its regional monopoly on video slot machines. Pennsylvania could license its first slot machines next week. According to the AP, the tracks in Jefferson, Hancock, Kanawha and Ohio counties together host nearly 11,400 video terminals operated by the state Lottery Commission. They grossed more than $942 million last fiscal year for the tracks as well as state, county and local governments. The racetracks provide thousands of jobs. By adding table games, West Virginia's tracks say they could maintain their existing jobs and even add to them as they expand.

But every expansion of gambling so far has required a statewide vote, not local elections in four counties. This is an issue that cries out for a statewide vote for several reasons. The problems associated with gambling addiction will be felt in every county, especially those bordering racetracks with table games.

After all, most of Cabell and Putnam counties are closer to the track at Crosslanes than parts of Kanawha County are. So are parts of Mason and Jackson counties. But under a local option, those four counties would have no say in whether table games are offered there.

On this issue, all counties deserve a vote.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Sampdoria striker gets two month ban for gambling offence

 

Sampdoria striker Francesco Flachi has been suspended for two months by the Italian Football League following an investigation into allegations he helped gather information for gamblers. The Football League's disciplinary commission ruled that Flachi had "sought to gain information on the outcome of games" for a third party. Flachi's former Samp team mate Moris Carrozzieri, now with Atalanta, was also handed a two month ban for the same offence relating to a lower division game. The charges were originally placed against Flachi in October 2005 after a telephone intercept was published featuring him chatting with Fabio Bazzani, then with Lazio, about the Rome derby. The disciplinary commission's ruling said there had been no evidence that Flachi's behaviour had influenced the outcome of any game but that he had broken rules on gambling and sporting behaviour. Sampdoria were fined 20,000 euros by the commission.

Investigators: Suspect In Gambling Probe Could Have $4M Stashed

 

A former state Teamsters boss accused of money laundering and helping to run a multicounty video gambling operation could still have $4 million stashed somewhere, investigators say. A magistrate on Wednesday ordered John Neal held with a cash bond set at $2 million because prosecutors argue he is a flight risk. Earlier this week, authorities raided Neal's Yorktown home, seizing more than $1 million hidden in a fake wall, and closed down more than 20 bars and other businesses believed to be part of the gambling operation. Police also have seized $2 million from financial institutions under state anti-racketeering laws. Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings said investigators believe there is up to $4 million more that they have not located. Neal faces preliminary charges of professional gambling, promoting professional gambling, money laundering and corrupt business influence. The prosecution has until Friday to file formal charges. Madison County Magistrate Steve Clase raised Neal's bond from $1 million full cash to $2 million full cash after Cummings said the defendant was a serious flight risk.

Asked at the end of the hearing if he had any questions, Neal responded: "Just one. Uh, what was it about $4 million?"

More than 28 people besides Neal had been booked into the Madison County Jail in connection with the case. Most face charges of professional gambling and money laundering, and many are part-owners or employees of the bars under investigation.

The arrest came about 18 months after Neal's release from the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute. In May 2000 he pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis to charges of illegal gambling, money laundering and tax evasion.

Neal resigned as president of the Indiana Conference of Teamsters and of Teamsters Local 135 in Indianapolis in 1996 after being arrested by the FBI.

Neal's probation on his federal convictions prohibits him from holding alcoholic beverage permits or being involved in related businesses, the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission said in a news release.

Ohio's Gambling Foes Speak To About Slots Proposal

 

Ohio Governor Bob Taft and US Senator George Voinovich have talked with state higher education officials about a plan to pay for college scholarships with slot machines. The two politicians have been outspoken opponents of casino gambling. Taft has asked the Ohio Board of Regents to study the proposal, which will go before voters November Seventh. Slots would be allowed at racetracks, and scholarships would get 30 percent of the proceeds. The regents oversee state spending on colleges and would be in charge of distributing the scholarship money. Voinovich helped lead successful campaigns to keep casinos out of Ohio. His spokesman says Voinovich has no comment on his discussions with the regents.

Online Gambling CEO Sets Sights on U.S.

 

Despite the recent spate of online gambling related arrests in America, incoming Sportingbet Plc CEO, Andrew McIver, has announced that the popular online sports betting website will continue to market to U.S. based online gamblers. Clearly McIver has balls of titanium and does not intend on vacationing in the United States anytime soon! He has replaced Peter Dicks who was arrested a few weeks ago while on a stopover in New York, and subsequently resigned from the online gambling giant. McIver, who has many years of experience in the online gambling industry, is confident that Sportingbet will continue to attract American online gamblers with the objective of expanding its online casino business. Said McIver, 'I believe that the U.S. is the only market in the world worth increased online gambling capital investment. America is where the online gamblers are, where the growth is and where the money is.' The announcement has raised a few eyebrows around the world because it has come at a time when many online gambling operations are nervously withdrawing their marketing efforts from the United States.

Internet Gambling Survives Another Attempted Ban

 

Senator Bill Frist attempted to attach the Internet Gambling Bill to a Military Defense Bill but received much unexpected opposition and sources say that attempt is now dead. Although the online gaming industry is breathing another sigh of relief the fight is not over yet. Senator Frist, from Iowa, is looking to run for president in 2008 and he is trying to support what his conservatives in Iowa want done. They want internet gambling banned and as such Frist will continue to fight through the end of the year to attach the online gambling ban to some other bill that will be sure to pass. Some sources say that this bill was his best chance at getting the ban passed, others say that may be true, but when he tries to attach it to another bill he will do so in a more quiet fashion as to not gain attention from the internet gambling world who voiced very strong opposition to his efforts. A week ago senators around the country received over 500 phone calls from the Poker Player Alliance, which is only one tenth of the amount that actually tried to get through to senators. "Most opposition came from those on the Armed Services Committee," said Jason Bailey, director of development for the National Right for Online Gambling - the NROG has kept a sharp eye on this case - "Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.)," Bailey said, "and Senator John Warner (R-Va.) were the two most influential, although it's important to note there were several other key players that stopped him - this time." The NROG encourages all online gamblers to continue calling in opposition to any possible ban.

Senate Decides Online Gambling Stands Alone

 

During the month of September, cable and television networks paraded programs on the subject of online and offshore gaming. These programs aired just in time to stir up more debate as lawmakers on Capitol Hill were poised to vote on whether or not to attach an online gambling ban to the current defense bill. One network program on the subject of online gambling might have given lawmakers the dose of reality they needed to make an educated decision. News was swirling around the arrests of several Internet gaming executives. ESPN hosted an online gambling debate on September 10th during an episode of Outside The Lines. Nightline ran a feature on the eccentric billionaire Calvin Ayre and took viewers on a tour of the Costa Rican based Bodog Nation. The public response must have been startling, as in depth feature segments about the gaming industry followed. And while the pieces were interesting and helped expose the taboo subject of online gaming to a mass audience, it was still just the drumming of an old message into new ears. Network Programming On Tilt As networks continue to tackle topics on the legality of online gambling, taxes on such, and the affect it has on society, no real solutions are being presented. During two separate features, reporters tilted their perspectives toward an all-out ban during closing statements. But as hard-core journalists put a negative spin on the gambling phenomenon, the results backfired, as those they scrutinized over primetime television were given a voice. In most cases the interviewees came across as more intelligent, better informed, and offered real solutions to problems, compared to those delivering the hard-hitting questions. A 60 Minute segment that aired on Sunday, September 17 might have become just another soft interview, as CBS reporter Lesley Stahl argued "gambling is bad" and "the point of making something illegal is to stop people from doing it, and penalize them if they do," but admitted that even America's gaming industries, that have long opposed Internet gambling, are shifting their position.

"I think the issue is very simple," said MGM/Mirage CEO Terry Landry. "You should license it regulate it and tax it. I think to enact laws that you can't enforce makes no sense whatsoever."

Are Lawmakers Dealing With a Full Deck? Sen. Jon Kyl believes the affect that gambling has on kids is the biggest danger.

"Our kids have access to the Internet. They're frequently not supervised. And you can run up a huge debt on your folks' credit card very, very quickly."

Actually, that statement taken out of context could apply to several activities when it comes to kids, or adults for that matter, on the Internet. And Kyl's point was easily disproved in front of a mass audience.

Nigel Payne, former CEO of Sportingbet.com, who also ran Paradise Poker, ran an experiment during a 60 Minute segment that aired on CBS. The producer gave his son a credit card and Payne challenged the teenager to open an account with Paradise Poker. Payne was certain, with effective security measures in place, the underage visitor wouldn't be able to gain access to the site.

"That 16-year-old has got to give me four or five pieces of information about him, relative to his bank account, his personal details, where he lives and other things," said Payne. "I can be 99 percent comfortable that this 16-year-old doesn't even get through my front door."

Payne made his point, as the boy's attempts to register with Paradise Poker were futile. Warnings that read, "You must be 18 or older" popped up each time.

From Across The Pond "This is why regulating the industry is so important," said Payne. "If you regulate it, you set limits."

The Englishman addressed several other issues concerning online gambling and countered questions with eloquence and poise. He even posed a few questions of his own, though not necessarily intended for the journalist conducting the interview, but a worldwide audience to ponder. So, without a harem of bikini clad women or a convoy of shiny new Hummers, the unassuming Mr. Payne presented a poignant thought.

"Do you think the Internet is suddenly going to go away? Do you think that people are ever going to stop gambling? So what are we going to do in ten years time when this industry is ten times bigger than it is today? "

Then Payne posed another question to a primetime national television audience. "Please give me one solid plausible argument why you shouldn't regulate it."

It was just about that time when the chairman of the senate armed services committee was considering whether or not to attach an internet wagering prohibition to a piece of 'must-pass' legislation.

Two days later, when Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist approached Senator John Warner, Warner consulted with the ranking democrat of Michigan, Senator Carl Levin. And though the House of Representatives passed the anti-online gambling legislation in July, it still needed to make it through the Senate.

Frist made explosive accusations that online gambling promotes money laundering, racketeering, tax evasion and a host of other felonies. And in a desperate attempt to quickly establish an all out ban, he and other senators attached additional legislation to the current defense bill.

Frist failed in his attempt but has vowed he will continue to push for another vote on the issue. And though Payne and several other countries have proven that licensing and regulating online gambling will win the trust of consumers and eventually put the less reputable sites out of business, naïve lawmakers would rather it all just went away.

"I promise you within 12 months. the problems. will have disappeared or significantly reduced, because customers will have voted with their feet."

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Internet gambling trend grows

 

Earlier this year, a study released shows that 600,000 young adults between the ages of 14 to 22 have reported gambling on the Internet on a weekly basis. The study, conducted by the Annenberg Foundation, also found the age group had the highest rate of gambling addictions. "I like gambling because of the high risk/high reward idea, but I only risk what I can afford," said Victor Wong, a freshman in the School of Management. However, students don't always act responsibly when making bets online. According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, approximately 5 percent of college students have a gambling problem. College students are actively contributing to the estimated $12.1 billion online gambling industry, which has doubled in the last three years. Although there has been an increase in students coming to the Purdue Student Health Center with compulsive computer use problems, there haven't been any key statistics on online gambling patterns, said Marty Green, staff social worker at Counseling and Psychological Services. Online gamblers run the risk of becoming problem gamblers, which can affect an individual's personal, social and educational life. Some effects of online gambling include withdrawal from school activities, isolation from friends and family, a drop in grades, sleep deprivation, increased denial of actual time spent online gambling and general irritability when offline, said Green.

Sometimes the effects of online gambling can become cyclical. "Folks get stressed, anxious, get behind and then feel overwhelmed because they can't catch up," said Green. "Grades go down, they panic, so then they procrastinate even further by using the computer more, and so it becomes a cycle."

"In my opinion, it really depends on the type of person you are in order for gambling to affect you," said Wong.

According to the Center for Online Addiction, online gambling has become popular for several reasons. First, the Internet has become an easy and convenient way to place bets. Access to the Internet for most college students is simple, and many colleges provide computer labs where students can spend as much time as they'd like online.

According to the center, another possible reason why online gambling has become a problem on campuses is the fear of social alienation. A student may not feel secure enough to join activities on campus because of the social intimidation, and therefore may spend more time online.

There have been developments in trying to understand why computers can incite compulsive behavior.

A discovery show that screens, such as computer screens, can move people into compulsive behavior, even if they are not genetically predisposed, said Green. The screen acts as a hypnotizer and puts viewers in a trance-like state, which can spark compulsive use.

"Other compulsive behavior has a genetic base to it," said Green. "But a person who has never had any of those before can become compulsive in computer behavior."

Gambling ring may affect election, rep says

 

The legalization of video gambling is gaining attention this week after 40 arrests and the seizure of millions of dollars in the case of John Neal. The fallout could change this year's election. Neal, a former Teamster boss, was arrested in Daleville Monday on charges relating to a video gambling ring in the region. The arrest came after an 18-month investigation, and it happened in the middle of an election season. Indiana State Rep. Dennis Tyler, D-Muncie, said the Neal case could alter the tone of campaigns. "Instead of talking about job creation and funding and those type of things, now they'll be talking about do you have a problem with gambling or not," Tyler said. About $4 million was confiscated from Neal this week. Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings suggested the money wasn't just hidden away untouched. "I suspect we'll find that he's been donating a lot of money to state legislators and legislative candidates," said Cummings, a Republican. Tyler declared he's not one of those politicians.

"I've never heard that. (Neal has) never given me any money," Tyler said, later adding: "I think that there's more politics to it than what is being said."

For his part, Cummings said every violation of the law is a priority to him.

"He was making a great deal of money through an illegal enterprise," he said of Neal.

Neal will be formally charged Friday. Cummings said it could take months or even years for a trial to take place.

Meanwhile, the Indiana Licensed Beverage Association is hosting meetings across the state to convince legislators to legalize video gambling.

Tyler said he will ask voters for input before taking a stance on the issue.

"I'll put together a survey and I'll send it out to my constituents and get their thoughts and ideas and opinions on it," he said.

Pokies-led gambling on rise

 

The total net takings from gambling in the year 2004-2005 were $15.5 billion, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. This was up from $13.8 billion four years earlier. The preferred form of gambling is in pokies, with takings now reaching $8.7 billion, or $1 billion more than in 2000-2001. Other major sources were off-course TAB takings ($2.1 billion), casino gambling ($2.6 billion) and lottery-style games ($1.4 billion). More than 68 per cent of the overall gambling happened in NSW and Victoria. Online gambling accounted for $114.3 million in takings from a gross turnover of $1.4 billion. The ABS, in its report Gambling Services, Australia, said casinos generated $3.3 billion in income during 2004-2005. The survey found 76,848 people were employed in the provisions of gambling services, with the majority in hospitality.

Clubs NSW spokesman Jeremy Bath said employment associated with clubs - 53,000 jobs directly in NSW - had actually declined slightly in the past two years due to high petrol prices and higher interest rates.

"There's no doubt the NSW clubs industry is facing significant financial challenges," he said.

But the big rise in takings worries South Australian No Pokies Independent MP Nick Xenophon.

"These latest figures make a mockery of state governments' so-called harm minimisation efforts," he said.

"They've now been exposed as largely window dressing rather than real reforms."

Conference highlights addiction

 

Stories of suicide, bankruptcy and broken families were heard at an international problem gambling conference held in Auckland. A New Zealand teenager has even written a song about how his mother's addiction made his life hell. Although there are less gambling addicts seeking help this year, researchers say it may be a simple blip caused by anti-smoking laws. "You don't even know that it's affecting them until its too late and you've lost everything. And that's what I wrote my song about, the effects on families," says rapper Lil' Tyrone. Up to 2% of New Zealanders are addicted to some form of gambling. A problem experts at the conference in Auckland debated why, and what to do. "I think New Zealand and Australia basically present the worst type of examples to the world, because we have these very high intensity gaming machines/casino style gaming machines or machines of that type where you can lose a lot of money very quickly, out in our communities," says Dr James Doughney, Victoria University of Melbourne Researcher. Duty of Care is an Australian group of 300 former gamblers who are taking a class action against the whole industry, from the pokie machine designers to the state governments.

"Within eight weeks of starting to play those machines I was hooked and badly," says Sue Pinkerton of Duty of Care. "The amount that we're claiming is going to be heard. It is a very significant amount, hopefully it will break the industry if we're successful," she says.

Pinkerton lost tens of thousands of dollars before she managed to quit the pokies and her friend attempted suicide.

"My friend's suicide note - by the way she had a 10-year-old daughter - and her note said 'I've tried and tried and tried to quit. But what good am I as a parent that I can't even control my own behaviour. This is the only way I know to stop myself from going to the machines'."

Kiwis loose $2 billion a year gambling. But researchers say there have been less problem gamblers seeking help this year.

"The numbers are definitely down and the obvious thing appears to be the smoking ban that's come in. Now the challenge is to keep that moving in the right direction," says gambling researcher Professor Max Abbott.

But some say the smoking ban has simply caused a blip and the problem is likely to return.

Doughney says these are in fact death causing industries.

"Look at it from that side and you take a much tougher view I think."

Lil' Tyrone is very thankful his mother gave up gambling.

"I'm proud of my mum for giving up gambling. Very proud. 'Cause really if it wasn't for my mum I wouldn't have grown stronger in this case in gambling and I know to not do it, to not do it at all 'cause I don't want the next generation of my family to go through that thing. So yeah I thank my mum," he says.

Will U.S. go after online gambling? You can bet on it

 

The hot-button topics in Britain these days regarding the Americans aren't only about Iraq. It's also about business. The CEOs of two British Internet gambling sites (both publicly listed) were arrested this summer when they were changing planes on U.S. soil. More have been targeted and legislators are looking at other options to prevent Americans from betting online. The act of accepting bets online is legal in Britain but illegal in the United States. The tricky part is that the Internet crosses borders and so a crackdown by one country to stop Americans from betting on British sites means Washington is flexing its muscles outside its own territory. This is nothing new. During the Prohibition era of the 1920s and early '30s, the Americans went after Canada, where alcohol was still produced (and much of it was then smuggled across the U.S. border). Then there was a dust-up about an alleged "cartel" of uranium producers during the Cold War and for legal reasons some Canadians could not travel to the United States. In 1994, some executives of Sherritt International were put on government blacklists for involvement in a joint venture with Cuba's nickel company. The Americans were angry because the nickel had been U.S.-owned before the Communists confiscated the assets.

And this summer the crackdown has escalated beyond Canada.

On July 17, David Carruthers, then CEO of BetOnSports.com, was arrested while on a layover at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, in transit between Costa Rica and Britain. He was charged with racketeering and mail fraud and is under house arrest in St. Louis.

Dozens more were arrested in the United States. Since then, the company fired him and closed its U.S. operation. Some U.S. papers reported that the company, while legitimate in Britain, had shared office space with people in Costa Rica with U.S. criminal records.

The next salvo occurred this month, when Peter Dicks, chairman of Sportingbet PLC, was taken into custody at JFK International Airport in New York as he came off an overseas flight. The warrant was issued by police officials in Louisiana.

Immediately after his arrest, the company was forced to ask the London Stock Exchange to halt trading. Sportingbet is one of the industry leaders in Britain, with US$2.86-billion in revenue in the year that ended July 31, 2005. About two-thirds of bets came from U.S. customers.

Mr. Dicks has been freed on bail and he returned to Britain but must return to the U.S. for his trial.

The online gambling market is estimated at more than US$11- billion annually and is projected to reach US$25-billion by 2010. More than half comes from U.S. gamblers.

There are tax issues in the U.S. So Congress is getting into the act.

In June, the House passed a measure prohibiting banks or other licensed financial institutions from aiding payments to wagering sites in the form of cheques or other transfers. The Senate hasn't ruled yet.

One of the problems is that laws haven't quite caught up with the new Internet reality. The law is clear when it comes to taking bets over the phone, but so far only moral harassment or threats or arresting foreign CEOs on U.S. soil have been used when it comes to e-gambling.

Gambling arrests followed firm's complaint that French law was anti-European

 

Bwin Interactive, the firm behind BetandWin, filed a formal complaint in March to the European Commission, company spokeswoman Karin Klein told OUT-LAW. The complaint claims that France's gambling monopoly breaches Article 49 of the EC Treaty which enshrines the freedom to provide cross border services. "It asks the Commission to force France to comply with EC law on the freedom to provide services," said Klein. The company's joint chief executives Manfred Bodner and Norbert Teufelberger were arrested last week in France in connection with the company's gambling business. Sports gambling in France is a monopoly for La Francaise de Jeux, which is 72% owned by the French state. The joint-chief executives were released on Monday on ?300,000 bail each after a hearing at a Nanterre court. "They are out and I think the entire case will take 12 months before we have a decision," said Klein. The executives were visiting France to launch a sponsorship deal with AS Monaco when they were held for questioning. Bwin hopes that the French court's eventual verdict will be influenced by a ruling from Europe on cases already being processed, including that of Massimiliano Placanica. Placanica was an agent for Stanley International in Italy, where betting is tightly controlled by the state. The court of Larino has referred the case to the European Court of Justice to judge whether or not the Italian legislation in his case is consistent with Article 49. The case was lodged in August 2004, and Bwin expects a decision before the French court gives its ruling.

"The ECJ will decide the Placanica before the Nanterre gives its judgment and we think the Nanterre judges will take the ECJ into account in making their decision," said Klein.

Bwin is the third company in recent weeks to have officials arrested. Two British had individuals involved in US arrests. Ex-BetonSport chief executive David Carruthers remains in the US awaiting trial in a Department of Justice case while Peter Dicks, of Sportingbet, has been allowed to return to the UK before returning to New York on 28th September to face charges being pressed by the state of Louisiana.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

French curbs on gambling face challenge

 

France was likely to face a legal challenge from the European Commission over its restrictions on gambling operators, Brussels said on Tuesday, warning it could target Paris as early as next month in a broader sweep against national governments. The threat was made following last week's arrest in France of two senior executives of Bwin, an Austrian online sports betting operator. The French authorities claim Bwin has violated French gaming law, which bans private sports betting businesses from operating in the country. Brussels said on Tuesday that it was likely to launch a number of new cases against countries that impose illegal restrictions on gambling operators. Earlier this year, Charlie McCreevy, the EU internal market commissioner, opened infringement procedures against seven member states, including Germany, Italy and Sweden. His spokesman said on Tuesday: "We continue to receive complaints and commissioner McCreevy intends to proceed with these cases and initiate additional cases against other member states, including France."

On the Bwin arrests, he warned that criminal sanctions against individual executives that were based on laws against illegal gambling could in themselves be "problematic" from the Commission's point of view.

Under EU law, governments have the right to place restrictions on gambling and sports betting operators, but they must be "non-discriminatory, proportionate and consistent". Mr McCreevy's spokesman said: "It is not acceptable to limit the freedom to provide betting services on account of protecting consumers and at the same time allow mono-poly holders to advertise betting services."

Bwin resumed trading on the Austrian stock exchange yesterday after its executives were released on bail on Monday night. Its shares fell by a third but in afternoon trading it recovered some of its lost ground to be down about 16 per cent.

Bwin said it expected a decision by the end of the year on whether Manfred Bodner and Norbert Teufelberger, the two Bwin executives, would face cri-minal charges. It has been instructed by the French investigating magistrate to put a notice on its website informing visitors in the next few weeks that online betting could be in breach of French gaming laws.

The company is also under pressure in Germany, its biggest market, where authorities are trying to revoke its gambling licence.

Lawmakers Address Pennsylvania Gambling Law

 

As reported by the (Harrisburg) Herald-Standard: "A cleanup of the state's two-year gambling law is becoming the most prominent issue on lawmakers plates as they begin returning from summer recess in the next two weeks. "A series of hearings are being held in House and Senate chambers to find common ground on more than 40 measures to fix the 146-page law that legalizes 61,000 slot machines for the first time in Pennsylvania. "Among the most discussed: "Eliminating a provision that allows public officials and their families to own up to 1 percent of gambling operations "Doing away altogether with politically-connected slots machine middlemen. "Prohibiting gaming board members from recommending relatives to the regulatory commission, making political contributions, or communicating with gaming applicants except through official channels. "Today, Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board officials, including Chairman Tad Decker, are scheduled to appear before a House panel to answer questions, and likely to hear a repeated plea to suspend awarding the first set of slots licenses to racetracks on Sept. 27.

"...A growing number of lawmakers are seeking a delay to give time for the Legislature to pass the reform measures..."

Gambling issue gathers enough signatures needed for fall ballot

 

The campaign behind a proposal to expand gambling in Ohio submitted enough valid signatures in its second attempt to get the initiative on the November ballot, state elections officials said Tuesday. The group, which is promoting a plan to put slot machines at Ohio's seven horse racetracks and two freestanding sites in downtown Cleveland, failed in its initial attempt last month, submitting 8,716 fewer signatures than the 322,899 required. Given 10 days to make up the difference, the campaign, called Learn and Earn, turned in 26,081 valid signatures, said James Lee, spokesman for the Ohio Secretary of State's office. The plan, backed by a group of racetrack owners and casino developers, would set aside about 30 percent of annual gambling profits - $852 million a year - for college tuition grants, the group says. "People of Ohio are excited about this issue, and we're excited that they will have the opportunity to vote on this," said Robin Hepler, spokeswoman with Learn and Earn. Opponents argue the ballot issue aims to change the state constitution to benefit a select group of businessmen. They also predict that the slot machines will create more gambling addiction problems.

"We vow to fight it," said David Zanotti president of the Ohio Roundtable, a public advocacy group that successfully fought previous gambling proposals. He is co-chairman of the Vote No Casinos Committee.

Online Gambling Gaining Popularity

 

The Web sites are getting some big numbers and young visitors, and there have been reports of some servers just unplugging and taking people's money without ever being heard from again. In a one-week period, more than half a million gamblers ages 14 to 22 go online to wage real-money bets. For many, it can quickly become an expensive -- and dangerous -- addiction, gambling experts say. A Lehigh University sophomore and son of a pastor racked up more than $5,000 in Internet gambling debt and became so desperate he robbed a bank. His father said he was blindsided by his son's Internet gambling addiction. "I think all parents should sit down and discuss adult life away from home with their kids," the father said. "Most parents give a credit card for emergencies, but that's not always a wise decision." But it's not just credit cards that can be trouble, as there are as many as 30 different payment options. Some students have turned to tuition grant money to feed their habit. Others steal from friends and family and sell off personal possessions.

For some players, the addiction starts with playing with fake money. Some said that when they started playing with real money, they became worse players because they were nervous.

Students, especially men, say a lot of games and ads are geared to them.

Two former college students who saw the gambling grip take hold of friends online decided to come up with software to block poker play from computers. For $5 a month, ProblemPoker.com prevents online gambling by blocking an opportunity to wager on a personal computer. The creators said they would like to see colleges target online gambling the way they monitor drinking, drug use and hazing.

Former State Teamsters Boss Arrested on Gambling Charges

 

A former state teamsters boss has been arrested after authorities found more than $1 million stashed in the wall of his home as part of an investigation into a video gambling operation. John Neal was arrested during a traffic stop near his Daleville-area home. He's facing felony charges of professional gambling, promoting professional gambling, money laundering and corrupt business influence. Police also seized millions in cash, arrested almost 30 business associates and raided 23 bars and two businesses in Delaware and Madison Counties believed to have supported illegal gambling. The arrest came about a year and a half after Neal was released from federal prison. In 2000, he pleaded guilty to illegal gambling, tax evasion and money laundering.

Monthly Statements on Your Gambling Loss?

 

The Las Vegas Sun looks at a former gambler who is coming after the industry. The morality of gambling is not really an open topic in Las Vegas. If you are really uncomfortable being around it and are opposed to it, don't live here. You will hear the sound of slot machines in every grocery store and corner store. Going to the movies often means going to a casino. And the same is true for concerts or weddings and probably even your friend's kid's bar mitzvah. If nowhere else, casinos are totally respectable here: to work, to play, to celebrate and to hang out. But the morally and legally sketchy history of the old gambling hall still has a tremendous psychological impact on the corporate world that invests billions in building and marketing and operating the Strip resorts. They fear change. One result of the hall's shadowy legacy is that the resorts can be gaudy in their charity and ruthless in their politics. As Joni Mitchell is once said to have asked David Geffen: "Why is it so easy for you to be generous and so hard for you to be fair?" You would have to live here to understand fully just how comfortable and hardcore casinos are when it comes to getting involved in county commission races, lobbying congress and tracking every tidbit of legislation anywhere that might impact them. And, this frequently means coming down hard on opponents. One casino company a few years ago got connected to creating an anonymous flyer attacking a politician who didn't do its bidding. No one gets in office here who has real and significant plans to raise taxes on resorts.

Back in the day, of course, enemy No. 1 of the gaming industry were the moralists who objected to gambling as a sin. But those were different times. More recently, old-school finger waggers no longer have "Guys and Dolls"-type worries over gambling and temperance and spend their time focused on stem cells or gay marriage or other things instead. And, particularly in Las Vegas, no grass roots movement against gambling is ever going to happen.

Living in Las Vegas requires you to be more than OK with gambling; you also must live surrounded by the sort of people engaged in putting money at risk in games: the tourists, hobbyists, the professionals, and the people with deep, life-destroying problems. This last category is the biggest headache for today's industry. It would be hard to live here for any length of time and not know someone who has destroyed themselves by gambling and often ruined the lives of family members along the way.

Certainly, by generously funding many of the programs for compulsive gamblers it seems likely the casinos have had some impact on the approaches taken to the problem by professionals. Each casino has some sort of program to help the addicts to varying degrees: sign up to not be mailed flyers, to get yourself banned from the casino or to be contacted by a support group.

Of course, none of the casinos offer you a plan that gives you the money back. The industry has plenty of fears about the nature of addiction and gambling and marketing and the impact all that put together might cause for the bottom line. On the surface, fears range from bad press to legislation to lawsuits. The more cynical might wonder what percentage of gaming revenue comes from people with problems. How much help can casinos really afford to give them?

My own insufficiently informed and examined opinion is that knowledge is power.

Enter Bill Kearney, a Philadelphia mortgage broker who claims to have once lost everything to Atlantic City casinos. Knowledge is exactly what Kearney is proposing.

Kearney has been pushing a bill through the Pennsylvania General Assembly, one that Vegas casino corporations are keeping close tabs on. The bill would require casinos to send customers a statement that would resemble a credit card bill or 401K statement. You would know down to the last cent how much you played, lost and won. Obviously, the gambling industry thinks this is a terrible idea.

One complaint the casinos offer is that doing this would be prohibitively expensive. The problem is that for regular customers almost every casino tracks this information already and they regularly send other mailers like coupons, incentives and deals to those same people. This is done thanks to the casinos' rewards/loyalty programs.

Even for non-gamblers, unless you want to pay for the privilege, casinos work hard to get you to sign up in a way that requires you to list things like your address and phone number. They then give you a special card that tracks what you do at every resort the company owns. So, when I was on Atkins diet, Stations Casinos got me to sign up for a card when they started to charge more for its buffets at Green Valley Ranch and Sunset Station to pay anonymously (or, as they put it, they were offering a discount if you have a card). Imagine how much more effort is put into keeping tabs on the specifics for gamblers. Anyway, throwing one more mailing, with info on how much you lost and won, probably isn't going to overwhelm any major resort in town with more paperwork.

So, instead we get the foolish slippery slope argument. The Sun interviews one gaming consultant: "What's to stop regulators from requiring McDonald's to send out statements to customers who they think are getting obese?"

My first thought: lots of things are going to make that not happen to McDonald's. Gambling has always been an industry with a unique level of regulation.

The idea of actually letting people see how much their gambling is impacting them in such a clear way seems overwhelmingly useful and empowering to individuals. In fact, according to the Sun, MGM already allows this option for players in their loyalty program.

As for how helpful this will be for problem gamblers, the experts interviewed seemed mixed. Of course, many of the experts are funded by casinos. But there is a certain common sense about the value in this idea.

What is also clear is that Kearney represents a new type of foe to the gaming industry. Comparing himself to a traditional gambling opponent, he tells the Sun: "They're throwing snowballs at casinos and I'm throwing nukes. They'd never come up with something like this because they never bit the apple. They never tried the product like I did."

Anyway, this right now is an idea in Pennsylvania that not only hasn't happened there yet, but one that no legislator here has even breathed a word to suggest should happen in Nevada. And it seems likely that will be the case for as long into the future as anyone can see. Still, the notion is powerful one. What do you think? Would this impact your gambling to know the exact numbers that result from your play?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Namibia: Namugongo Arrested Over Fake Licences for Gambling

 

A WELL-KNOWN television commentator and senior employee in the Ministry of Environment and Tourism, Sackey Namugongo, is behind bars after he was arrested on fraud-related charges. Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) officials and the Namibian Police swooped on Namugongo at Windhoek International Airport yesterday morning as he returned from a trip to Johannesburg, South Africa. Namugongo faces charges related to the production and issuing of fake gambling licences. The Director of the ACC, Paulus Noa, said it was suspected that Namu­gongo could be one of a network of people who allegedly issued unauthorised gambling licences to individuals and companies. "It could be that he is not the only one involved. We will oppose his bail application because it could jeopardise our chances of arresting more people," Noa said when he confirmed the arrest to The Namibian. Police spokesperson Chief Inspector Angula Amulungu was unable to confirm Namugongo's arrest. Noa said it was alleged that Namugongo had made several copies of the same document and issued gambling licences bearing the same number to many people.

"It has been going on for some time now.

We are talking of something that will amount to a big scam," Noa said.

He appealed to people who have been issued with gambling licences to approach the ACC or the Police with information related to the scam.

Government earlier this year lifted a moratorium on licences, which had been in place for nearly 10 years.

State revenue from gambling amounts to about N$20 million a year.

Cabinet agreed in August 2004 already to lift the moratorium on gambling licences but it took time before it was done.

Since the promulgation of the Casinos and Gambling Houses Act in 1994, 260 gambling-house licences and three casino licences were issued.

No new licences have been issued since 1996, when Cabinet established a Commission of Inquiry to investigate the detrimental impact gambling could have on society and the ease with which gambling licences were being issued.

EU wants open gambling

 

The European Commission said on Monday that it was prepared to target more members states deemed to be stifling free competition in the sports gambling sector. The move came after the arrest in France last week of two heads of the Bwin internet gambling group over alleged contravention of French gambling monopolies. The Austro-German gambling group announced on Saturday that it would sue the French state for human rights restrictions and not respecting European law. "We will perhaps add to the number of countries involved in infringement procedures," during a meeting of the European Commission on October 18 dedicated to the topic, said the EU's executive arm's internal markets spokesperson Oliver Drewes.

Practices examined

In April, the commission named seven member states whose practices it was examining in the sports gambling sector; Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden.

EU Internal Market Commissioner Charlie McCreevy wants to ensure that laws in member states banning gambling services are "necessary and not discriminatory".

McCreevy has said that he is not seeking the unfettered liberalisation of the market but "to be assured that the measures put in place by the member states are fully compatible with community law", on the freedom of services.

Since April the commission, which is also the EU's top competition regulator, has received several fresh complaints, some 50 in total plus 50 more potential cases, according to Drewes.

LaFollette mayor gets probation, fine in gambling case

 

LaFollette Mayor Clifford Jennings received six months of unsupervised probation and a $4,500 fine Monday for charges in an illegal gambling case. Jennings was originally charged with aggravated gambling promotion, a felony. But in July the charges were reduced to a misdemeanor when he pleaded no contest in a deal with prosecutors. Three other people charged in the case entered no contest pleas in court Monday. One of those is Alan Baird, the owner of a business that had illegal poker machines. The charges stem from a 6 News investigation in November 2005 and subsequent bust of illegal video poker parlors in Campbell County by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. In the raid, TBI agents confiscated 14 gambling machines and several thousand dollars in cash. A 6 News undercover camera showed Mayor Jennings inside an illegal video gambling operation. It was located in a building he owns. Agents raided that gambling parlor and three others in LaFollette. Jennings has been mayor of LaFollette since the early 1980s, with the exception of one term. Since his charges were reduced to a misdemeanor, Jennings can remain in office.

Is it time for the state to start treating this vice the way it does other vices?

 

Indiana House Minority Leader B. Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, has a curious take on the current video-gambling controversy. It's all the fault of Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels' administration, which has "pushed the issue" to the point where the legislature may have to decide soon whether to make the machines legal or not. By cracking down on the American Legion and VFW posts that have had the machines, Daniels "has created a crisis," so the governor has some "answering" to do. Were you able to follow that reasoning? If Daniels had just left things alone - with Cherry Masters and other video gambling devices illegal, but everybody in the state simply ignoring the law - things would have been perfectly OK. But, because Daniels insists that the law be changed or followed - State Excise Police confiscated 517 machines from 117 locations statewide from December 2005 to April - legislators might now actually have to take the law seriously, too. Any rational examination of the situation has to credit Daniels for doing exactly the right thing. It is intolerable to have a law that is routinely ignored, and it is unconscionable for the legal community to look the other way and pretend nothing is happening. Such a situation breeds disrespect not just for a law but for the whole concept of law, and that's something no civilized society can tolerate. The law against video gambling must be repealed or enforced. It's not an easy call to make, but the General Assembly should at least consider whether it's finally time to legalize the machines. That's the request of the Indiana Licensed Beverage Association, which is holding a series of meetings around the state to put pressure on legislators for legalization. They make a good point. Considering all the other ways in Indiana to gamble, from the lottery to pari-mutuel tracks to bingo to casinos, "It's silly to say those are all OK but not video gambling," is the way Brad Klopfenstein, executive director of the association, puts it.

The gambling culture is strong in Indiana, in other words. That might be deplorable, but it is a fact. That is why so many people are willing to ignore the law. If the law is too far ahead of people's sensibilities, it creates a climate of cynicism. What is the point, people reasonably ask, of letting casinos rake in millions in profits that go out of state and, at the same time, telling an American Legion or Moose Lodge it can't use gambling revenues to stay in operation?

The state has the additional problem that it long ago gave up the high ground on gambling, losing any moral authority to make pronouncements on the evils of that particular vice. It's called the state lottery, which had sales of $739 million last year and has collected $2.7 billion since it began in 1989. The state's efforts to curb other forms of gambling make it look little better than a bunch of gangsters trying to muscle other mobs out of its territory. In addition to making the state a predator that preys on human weakness, the lottery turns the budgeting process upside-down. Instead of carefully making plans and seeking voter approval through tax rates, the state now has a big pot of money it merely has to decide how to spend. How can government thus funded not stay too big and intrusive?

So, the additional money the state will receive from legalization - as much as $300 million a year, according to one estimate - does not constitute an especially good argument for video gambling. But it is a good argument to note that legalization will also bring regulation, the ability to make sure that winners get a fair take and that the machines stay in those clubs full of consenting adults instead of ending up in convenience stores and other places where teenagers would have easy access. (That's assuming, of course, that the regulations are taken more seriously than the anti-gambling law itself was before Daniels came along.)

The best argument made against legalization is this: The fact that an evil already exists does not make it wise to add to that evil. It's akin to arguing that you might as well drive without a seat belt because a heart attack might get you anyway. "Just because you've sunk yourself to your waist," says Rep. James R. Buck, R-Kokomo, "doesn't mean you need to sink to your nose."

But the state long ago got in more than waist-deep, and legalizing the video games would be barely a drop more in that vast ocean of gambling. The state should consider the option of treating this vice like other vices, such as smoking and drinking. The state doesn't have to promote or encourage them, but it does recognize that they exist and taxes and regulates them accordingly.

Acid killing linked to gambling debt

 

CHAU MA had returned from a morning walk with the dog when a man who appeared to be a courier banged on the front door of her home in Concord with a package for her husband, Dominic Li. When she summoned him to the door he was "violently and brutally" attacked and doused in hydrochloric acid as part of a plan to intimidate Mr Li's brother-in-law, Philip Ma, the NSW Supreme Court was told. At the trial of three men accused of murdering Mr Li, the prosecutor, Christopher Maxwell, SC, said the two men on the veranda that morning, December 13, 2002, had been hired for $10,000 to do serious bodily injury to Mr Li. "The acid had been poured onto his [hair] and eyes, and some indeed went into his mouth, which he swallowed," Mr Maxwell said. "The effects of this were horrific. He was blinded, but even more significant, his vital organs were badly damaged by the ingestion of the hydrochloric acid."

Mr Li died three weeks later.

Yonky Irvin Tan and the two men allegedly on the veranda that morning, Richard Burton Nimmo and Maua Sua, have pleaded not guilty to murder. The court heard Philip Ma, a professional gambler, had been given $800,000 by Tan, who had allegedly instructed him to launder it through casinos.

Mr Maxwell said Tan delivered rice bags full of cash to Mr Ma. But the gambler's luck had turned, and instead of earning a promised commission for laundering the money, Ma lost $500,000 in the Crown Casino in Melbourne. Mr Maxwell said Mr Ma was under pressure from Tan and his associate Emil Chang to repay the money. Late in 2002 Mr Ma went into hiding.

Mr Maxwell alleged emails between Tan and Mr Chang showed a criminal agreement to hire someone to throw acid on Mr Li's face, with the idea of flushing Mr Ma out of hiding.

In one email, Mr Chang quoted a Chinese proverb about flushing a snake from its nest. "Do D first and P will come out of his nest." The emails allegedly said: "The only way to get money back is through violence . D and P are family."

Ms Ma said in evidence that one of the men yanked her husband out of the door and forced her with a gun to come out on the porch, where she and her husband both crouched.

One of the men hit her husband over the head with a gun, and then she saw the dark green liquid in a bottle. Both men, whom she described as being of Pacific Islander appearance, wore dark glasses and gloves.

Ms Ma said the men ran away after the attack, and she rang for an ambulance and the police.

The trial, before Justice Derek Price, continues.

Bill offers new form of gambling as transportation salve

 

RICHMOND, Va. State legislators are considering a new form of pari-mutuel betting aimed at horse racing fans to help pay for transportation projects. Newport News Delegate Phil Hamilton filed the bill for the General Assembly's special session that starts next week. The legislation would pave the way for "instant racing," a game in which bettors can wager on races that have already been run. The game, which Arkansas has adopted, uses an A-T-M-like machine containing video of past races. Bettors have access to the same information they would have in any race, such as the records of the horses, jockeys and trainers but the player doesn't know when or where the race took place. Hamilton estimates the game could bring in 500 (m) million dollars annually. His bill would dedicate 49 percent of the profits to the transportation trust fund. If passed, the measure would take advantage of Colonial Downs and the nine off-track betting parlors around Virginia. Another parlor is authorized under state law, but has not been built. Colonial Downs President Ian Stewart anticipated it would take up to two years to implement the game statewide.

Monday, September 18, 2006

ONLINE CASINO GAMBLING COMING TO CHINA

 

The People's Republic of China have been considering legalizing online casino gambling, according to Tony Tong, CEO of Pacific Net, a company that sells Baccarat machines. Macau is already a casino capital, and that is where the government would more then likely license companies there. Currently, the government takes around 40 percent of the house winnings in Macau, which means that spreading gambling online would be a huge benefit to government revenues. GigaMedia sells software for poker and other games are hoping to expand in China as well. The company's FunTown website is one of the largest Mahjong sites in the world where members play for points and prizes. Over 50 percent of GigaMedia's subscribers spend over 100 hours a week on the site. GigaMedia is also backing up EverestPoker, which is a rapidly growing poker site in Europe, and they run an online casino gambling blog in Taiwan called Wretch. "The U.K. will likely become a center for online casino gaming," a GigaMedia representative said. Looks like online casino gambling firms will get a new HUGE HUGE marked in Asia soon.

New admission adds gift of London casino chips to trips, favors

 

The full extent of Ohio Congressman Bob Ney's corruption became clear Friday when the Justice Department released his admission to accepting thousands of dollars' worth of gambling chips from a businessman in London, and to taking trips and favors from others he agreed to help in Con gress. Ney agreed to plead guilty to two felony counts, with the Jus tice Department rec ommending that he serve 27 months in prison. The charges otherwise would bring a maximum 10-year sentence and $500,000 fine. Yet, as he used a plea agreement to finally end his claims of innocence, the once-popular Republican from Ohio's 18th Congressional District remained out of sight. He entered an undisclosed treatment center for alcoholism, and he and his attorneys said alcohol dependency was a factor in his crimes. "I am not making any excuses, and I take full responsibility for my actions," Ney, 52, said in a statement released by his office. "Over the years I have worked to help others, but now I am the one that needs help." Ney will not formally enter his plea in U.S. District Court in Washington until Oct. 13. The six-term representative from Heath is not running for re-election, and Congress will be in pre-election recess by then. That makes it unclear whether he will resign or merely let his term lapse.

Documents from the Justice Department and statements by investigators shed light on the four-year corruption conspiracy. They say that Ney solicited and took:

A golf trip to Scotland in 2002, a vacation and gambling trip to New Orleans in 2003 and a trip to Lake George, N.Y., in 2003, with total costs exceeding $170,000.

Thousands of dollars' worth of meals and tickets to concerts and sporting events.

Tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions.

Legalize video gambling? It's worth debate

 

Many people who play video poker might want more than amusement for their quarters, but they don't expect to become rich, any more than many people who play the lottery. One form of gambling has the player matching wits against a machine. The other lets players daydream about what it would be like to be rich. The former is illegal, usually tucked in the corner of bars and clubs, while the latter is advertised heavily and is available at almost every gas station and convenience store in Indiana. Proposals to legalize video gambling in Indiana, the most recent from state Sen. Robert Meeks and state Rep. Win Moses, have merit. We're not ready to give the proposal our whole-hearted support. We don't want to see the state using taxes from gambling, not the steadiest source of revenue, as a crutch. And some gamblers don't know when to stop, and ruin their families' finances. But whether to legalize video gambling is worthy of debate and discussion. The group holding meetings across the state, the Indiana Licensed Beverage Association, has something to gain if the machines are legalized. A bar owner or nonprofit serving alcohol could make money from the machines and no longer fear a raid.

Regardless of who is sponsoring the discussion, the central question remains: Is it better to put public money and manpower into raiding bars, night clubs and nonprofit groups or is it better to regulate the use of the machines and tax the revenue?

Hoosiers decided the moral questions about gambling in 1988, when they approved a lottery referendum with a 62 percent majority.

Other legalized forms of gambling, including casinos, have followed since then, and objections to expanding gambling in Indiana are valid.

But how far should the state go to protect people from their own reckless behavior? Other things that endanger health or finances -- such as cigarettes and alcohol -- are legal, regulated and taxed, since it would be impractical to ban them.

And we have a hard time seeing the difference between video gambling and gambling on the lottery, bingo, raffle tickets and the office pools for NCAA men's basketball. We wonder how much worse video poker is than money-eating arcade games at shopping malls.

As long as the potential for profit outweighs the risk of a raid, video gambling machines will continue to thrive in the shadows. If they are made legal, they should be taxed, with a portion of the revenue committed to gambling addiction programs.

KASPER RIDES AGAIN

 

North Dakota Republican will not be lining up to support Frist online gambling ban attempt. Not all Republicans are lining up to support U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's call to ban Internet gambling. North Dakota State Rep. Jim Kasper says: "My fellow Republicans just don't get it" when it comes to Internet gambling, reports Internet News.com. In July, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, which updates the 1961 Wire Act banning sports wagering over the telephone to include all forms of online gambling. Frist (R-Tenn.) wants the Senate to approve the same legislation in the waning days of the 109th Congress. Kasper calls the proposal "ridiculous." "The people of our nation want to do what they want to do in the privacy of their living rooms," Kasper told internetnews.com. Contrary to the intent of his national party leaders, North Dakota will become a safe harbor for Internet poker players worldwide if Kasper has his way. He plans to once again introduce bills in the next session of the North Dakota legislature legalising Internet poker for online casinos that will bring their software, hardware and employees to North Dakota. The proposal is strictly limited to online poker in hopes of avoiding the controversy swirling around sports betting on the Internet. The casinos will have to use North Dakota's state-owned bank as a measure to protect gamblers' money and safeguard against money laundering.

Software mandates, Kasper claims, will provide age-verification protections and allow the state to monitor for individuals exhibiting addictive behaviour. In return for North Dakota sanctioning and regulating online poker, casino operators will pay taxes on gross revenues that will be used to reduce property taxes.

The federal government should "keep its nose out of it. Gambling is a states' rights issue. Congress shouldn't be regulating it," the feisty state politician says.

North Dakota, he said, should be allowed to tap into the "tremendous revenue stream leaving our nation." Even under the U.S. House legislation passed recently and now in the Senate, state-sanctioned online gambling on horse racing and lotteries is permitted.

For Kasper, this will be his second time trying to convince his fellow North Dakota lawmakers to see it his way. In 2005, his proposal passed in the state house before overwhelmingly failing in the state Senate. Kasper claims he was forced to fold his legislative hand when the U.S. Department of Justice "unfairly" interfered in North Dakota's legislative process.

"The DoJ wrote what I call a 'poison pill' letter [to North Dakota's attorney general]," he said. "It had misinformation about the Wire Act, implying it applies to all Internet gambling." Kasper contests this opinion, and observes that if the DoJ claim is true, it begs the question of why the House felt compelled to pass legislation extending the Wire Act to Internet gambling.

"The Wire Act was specifically written to prohibit sports wagering over the telephone," he said.

Kasper says that even if the supporters of an online gambling ban in the USA manage to get their measures approved in the Senate and signed off by President Bush, he will crack open a fresh deck and still introduce his bill.

"I believe in a court of law we'll win," he said. "People don't want the Internet police in their living rooms."

Gambling group to get top retail site

 

Kirkham-based Goldrush Amusements, which currently has an amusement arcade further down Market Street, will take over the former Booths supermarket on the corner of Market Street and St George's Street. Chorley Council gave the go-ahead for the scheme this week. Today the town's Chamber of Trade said they were "very disappointed" with the move in what is considered a prime shopping area..Honorary secretary of the group Jose Hampson said: "This is a big disappointment. We have already got a big amusement arcade in Chapel Street. The town is already covered for that and we did not need another one like it. "We would have liked to have had one of the top retail chains move in there, and we are disappointed this was never discussed with the Chamber of Trade. It think it is a really bad decision." The former Booths store has been empty since the retailer moved to its new multi-million pound base near the Market Walk shopping centre last year.

Chorley MP Lindsay Hoyle said he would have preferred to see a new shop move into the empty unit.

He said: "This was a shop up to Booths moving.

"This is not going to attract shoppers to that part of Market Street. We are bitterly disappointed they did not hold out to make sure that end of the street does not decline in retail terms."

A spokesman for Goldrush said: "We have found that at the other end of Market Street we have had a positive influence."

French Arrest Austrians Over Gambling

 

Police on Friday jailed the co-chief executives of Austrian online company BWIN for allegedly violating French gaming laws, police and judicial officials said. Manfred Bodner and Norbert Teufelberger were arrested at the training center of AS Monaco, a first division soccer club where they were to hold a news conference, a police official said. BWIN has links to several first division clubs, said the official, who was not authorized to use his name. The center is located in France's Alpes-Maritime region, near Nice. The executives risk being placed under investigation _ a step short of being charged _ for allegedly violating French laws which prevent online gaming and advertisements from companies other than the two which hold a monopoly here, the Francaise des Jeux, which conducts the lottery, and the PMU which conducts bets for horse races. BWIN spokeswoman Karin Klein called the detention "scandalous." Speaking to Dow Jones Newswires, she said the company did not yet know exactly why the two executives had been detained.

The men were detained on orders of Judge Jean-Marx Cathelin, who has been investigating alleged illegal gambling, lotteries, advertising illegal lottery advertising and illicit horse betting since November 2005. The French lottery and PMU had filed a complaint against BWIN in April 2005 in a court in Nanterre, a western Paris suburb.

In a similar case, the chairman of British online gaming company Sportingbet PLC was detained at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York last week on a warrant issued as part of an illegal Internet gambling probe by the Louisiana State Police. He has been released on bail.

The head of another British gambling company, BetOnSports PLC, was arrested two months ago in the United States and charged by federal prosecutors with conspiracy, fraud and racketeering.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Online Gambling Exec Freed

 

Peter Dicks has resigned his job as chairman of Sportingbet PLC, but he regained his freedom as New York authorities lifted the threat of extradition to Louisiana hanging over his head and returned his passport.Mr. Dicks, 64, was detained last week after arriving at New York's JFK Airport from London, where customs officers were alerted to an outstanding warrant for his arrest issued by the state of Louisiana.Mr. Dicks was released after two days in custody, but his passport was seized and he was ordered to remain in the New York metropolitan area. At a hearing in criminal court in the borough of Queens on Thursday, a judge ordered Mr. Dicks' passport returned after New York Governor George Pataki withdrew a warrant necessary to extradite Mr. Dicks to Louisiana. That effectively ended his short but intense legal saga in the Empire State, but jurisdictional questions about online gambling remain. "Peter Dicks has never committed a crime in Louisiana and assuming that their statute barring online gaming is correct, he did not commit a crime in Louisiana," said Barry Slotnick, Mr. Dicks' attorney. "Anybody in Louisiana can get on our web site and bet, and if that is a crime in Louisiana then they are committing a crime, not Peter Dicks," Mr. Slotnick concluded. "Mr. Dicks has never been to Louisiana."

Two Statements

Sportingbet issued two statements within about 90 minutes of each other. The first acknowledged that Mr. Dicks had resigned his post as an independent non-executive chairman of the London-based gambling enterprise. His resignation was accepted.

The second confirmed that Mr. Dicks was granted an extension to his bail that allowed him to return to the United Kingdom.

Mr. Dicks still faces arrest and prosecution in Louisiana because the warrant remains active. He could be sentenced to five years in prison if found guilty of "computer gambling," but that may be unlikely based on the short history of such cases.

The charges against Mr. Dicks are not as serious or wide-ranging as those laid out against David Carruthers, the former chief executive of BETonSPORTS.

Mr. Carruthers, who was arrested about two months ago and subsequently fired by his company, has been charged by federal authorities in Missouri with money laundering and tax evasion.

History of Prosecution

Mr. Carruthers, 49, was released on bail last month. He posted a $1-million bail bond and remains under house arrest at a hotel in Clayton, Missouri, where he wears an electronic tagging device so his whereabouts can be monitored.

Jay Cohen, the former chief executive of World Sports Exchange (WSEX), is still the only executive of a legal and regulated online gambling firm to be convicted by a U.S. court for taking wagers from U.S. residents and sent to jail.

Unlike all of the other executives, Mr. Cohen, 38, chose to stand trial rather than plea-bargain. In 2000 a Manhattan jury found the Long Island, New York, native guilty. He was sentenced to 21 months in jail and fined $5,000.

London shares close flat, gambling sector woes overshadow banking gains UPDATE

 

Leading shares closed flat, giving up earlier gains in the last few minutes of trade as investors took profits at the end of a volatile session and with another chapter in the gambling sector saga overshadowing gains in mortgage banking stocks, dealers said. The FTSE 100 index closed just 0.2 points lower at 5,877.0 in a volatile session that saw the blue chip index see-saw between gains and losses, while the broader indices ended higher. Volume was high, with 3.2 bln shares changing hands in 379,134 deals, swelled by a lively 'triple-witching' options expiry. On Wall Street, US stocks were in upbeat mode as investors breathed a sigh of relief following an in-line tame inflation report, although US 'quadruple witching' limited gains, traders said. At the UK close, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 50.40 points higher at 11,577.70, while the Nasdaq Composite took on 7.34 points at 2,236.07 and the S&P 500 rose 4.50 points at 1,320.80. US inflation rose at a slower pace in August than in the prior month, the Labor Department revealed, easing fears of an imminent rate hike. The consumer price index rose 0.2 pct in August, in line with expectations compared with a 0.4 pct hike in July.

And core inflation, which excludes energy and food, also rose by an expected 0.2 pct in the month.

In London, mortgage banks led the blue chip gainers, helped in part by upbeat broker comment and increased expectations of further UK rate hikes, and also by ongoing market speculation of an upcoming bid in the sector, dealers said.

HBOS gained 36-1/2 pence to 1,050, while fellow mortgage banks Alliance & Leicester and Northern Rock added 21 pence to 1,060 and 29-1/2 pence at 1,165-1/2, respectively.

Standard Chartered was also a feature, adding 24 pence to 1,349, after UBS

upgraded its recommendation on the Asia-focused bank to 'buy' from 'neutral' due to strength in emerging economies and solid organic growth.

The broker said Standard Chartered has invested 4 bln usd in establishing a foothold in economies such as Korea, Pakistan, Indonesia and Thailand.

Elsewhere, Imperial Tobacco was in demand, up 17 pence at 1,830 after the group said in a trading statement that its full-year performance was 'in line with expectations'.

Ahead of the statement, Deutsche Bank issued a bullish research note, repeating its 'buy' recommendation and raising its target to 2,100 pence from 1,900.

The German-owned broker noted that the group is the cheapest European tobacco play in its universe, which fails to do justice to the stock's quality.

The retail sector also benefited from positive broker comment, with Morrison Supermarkets rising 4-1/2 pence at 230-3/4 after UBS and SG Securities reiterated their 'buy' ratings ahead of next week's interim trading update.

Meanwhile, Marks & Spencer Group, up 11 pence at 624, was boosted by a bullish note from Lehman Brothers, which reiterated an 'overweight' rating on the retailer.

The broker said spending fears following the Bank of England's interest rate hike seem overdone as consumer data suggest sales are healthy, albeit boosted slightly by weak comparatives.

And further broker comment also provided a lift to the property stocks as Lehman Brothers hiked its price targets by an average of 5 pct across the European real estate sector to account for the introduction of REITs in the UK.

Hammerson took on 12 at 1,303, Liberty International gained 35 at 1,195, Slough Estates rose 5 at 646 and British Land firmed 14 at 1,362.

Elsewhere, shares in Wolseley remained firmer, 24 pence to the good at 1,193 as Citigroup played down fears over the slowing US housing market, reiterating its 'buy' rating on the group and 1,600p price target.

The US broker told clients Wolseley's share price has fallen around 20 pct since March, reflecting concerns over the US residential housing market.

However, overall index gains were capped by negative and volatile trading in the mining sector as commodity prices remained under pressure, with gold slumping to its lowest level in three months.

Kazakhmys was off 36 pence at 1,207, Xstrata fell 72 at 2,160, Anglo American was down 55 at 2,110 and Antofagasta eased 14-1/4 at 440-1/2.

Oil and natural gas prices were also weaker, with crude hitting a fresh low of just above 63 usd a barrel last night on news of a strong buildup in US natural gas reserves and the suspension of a strike by oil unions in Nigeria.

Also weighing was a statement from OPEC, which lowered its world oil demand growth forecast by 100,000 bpd due to weaker than expected demand.

Oil heavyweight BP was down 11-1/2 at 573, while Cairn Energy dropped 41 pence at 1,917.

BP was further hit by a report in the Financial Times claiming some of the group's major shareholders are pressing for assurances that recent security failures in the US will not be repeated.

The main blue chip casualty, however, was PartyGaming -- down 9-1/2 pence at 100-3/4.

Several online gambling stocks came under pressure after news that the state of Bavaria has revoked the betting license of German firm Bwin, and that Bwin's co-CEOs had been arrested in France, sent panic through the sector.

'This is a potential meltdown,' one London based dealer said, upon hearing the speculation.

As well as a slump in PartyGaming shares, midcaps 888 Holdings dropped 8-1/4 pence to 141-3/4 and Sportingbet shares were down 20 pence at 172.

And elsewhere the midcap index reflected movements in the FTSE 100, with mining and oil plays under the cosh: Tullow Oil slipped 8-3/4 pence at 357-1/2 and Dana Petroleum slid 33-1/2 pence at 1,148.

Among the midcap risers, Aggreko enjoyed a strong session, 16 pence to the good at 303, after its shares were upgraded to 'add' from 'hold' at Dresdner Kleinwort, which also raised its price target to 310 pence from 280.

In a note to clients, DK said that the second half is seasonally stronger for Aggreko and with the momentum in growth continuing into this period it now expects a stronger profit performance.

And house-builders were also in fine fettle after The Independent said investors are looking for the next takeover target in the sector.

The paper said both Bellway and Crest performed strongly yesterday, while the Financial Times highlighted talk of corporate interest in Redrow from a private equity house.

In response, Redrow gained 12 pence to 586-3/4, while Taylor Woodrow added 15-1/4 pence to 368, Bellway took on 10 at 1,277 and Crest Nicholson rose 3-1/2 at 550.

Among M&A news, Dairy Crest shares took on 12-1/4 pence at 575 after confirming market speculation that it is in talks with First Milk regarding a possible sale of part of its retailer brand cheese operations.

A statement from the company said the discussions are ongoing and there can be no certainty that this will result in any transaction.

Internet Gambling Bill likely to pass, two hundred thousand voters contacted

 

Although the Internet gambling bill is gaining momentum, politicians who vote in favor of banning online gambling may be in serious jeopardy of losing their jobs come election time.A lobbyist told EOG that the Internet gambling bill is likely to pass.He states, "Disguised in a huge defense bill, do you want to try and be the one guy to hold up a litany of programs for troops and weapons because there is a small (and trust me, this is a small thing in the big scheme) provision in it about online gambling? Absolutely not. Granted, this isn't a spending bill (which is even more necessary) but it is still a bill that is very hard to oppose on extraneous merits.""Sorry I can't give you more than that, but this is a hard one to analyze. I really think this is bad news."In an unprecedented move, several large online gambling companies have written over one hundred thousand letters to their customers urging them not to vote for anyone who supports prohibition of Internet gambling this November. One spokesman for the industry, Alan Baum stated, " We have reached out to our customer base, which is largely US customers, and asked them to not vote for Senators or any congressmen who support such archaic laws." "We will follow up in October by furnishing all of these customers with the names of each politician who voted in favor of the Internet gambling bill.

Baum continued by saying, "our mailing list is quite extensive alone, but with the cooperation of three other online sports books, we have reached over two hundred thousand voters this week. We also understand that the Poker alliance has assisted in a telethon Tuesday, but we think this will have a greater impact."

"Furthermore, we asked each of our customers to tell one Friend or family member about what is going on at Capitol Hill. Together, we might not be able stop the bill from passing this year, but we will make a difference in November to some who don't recognize the number of Americans who love to gamble online, whether it be Poker or on their favorite sports team."

"Our customers understand quite well that First is on a crusade for his own personal agenda. It takes a lot of chutzpa to allow state lotteries and horse racing to conduct business online, but outlaw other forms of competition."

--- [This E-mail scanned for viruses by Tradebooster Anti-Virus]

Is Louisiana Economy Betting Too Much On Gambling With Texan Candidate

 

Louisiana has pinned high hopes on its casinos to play a major role in the state's economic recovery in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Yet this stream of revenue could well run dry if maverick Texan gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman has his way. Kinky has pledged that, if elected Governor on November 7, one of his first moves will be to legalize casino gambling in the Lone Star State. Should that happen, the big losers will be Louisiana's casinos, in particular those in Lake Charles and Shreveport who derive as much as 85% of their business from Texan visitors. And the state of Louisiana derives a substantial chunk of its revenue ($436.9 million in 2004) from the casino gambling industry. A budget black hole of that magnitude could not hit Louisiana at a worse time, as the state already faces a shortfall of almost $600 million in the 2006-2007 fiscal year. Meanwhile, the very survival of New Orleans hinges on the state's ability to provide a range of support to help the city rebuild its decimated economy. There is no doubt that Louisiana's casinos currently provide a much-needed revenue lifeline. Yet they will continue to do so only as long as they are viable, and that seems to be almost entirely dependent upon the legal status of casino gambling in Texas. A major illegal competitor has also emerged in the form of online gambling, and Louisiana is using the full force of the law to prosecute Peter Dicks of UK-based Sportingbet for running an online gambling operation. Mr Dicks was arrested on arrival at New York's Kennedy airport on September 7, on a warrant issued by Louisiana state police; he now faces a maximum sentence of five years jail and a $20,000 fine.

Gambling group courts Cincinnati

 

Backers of a proposal that would permit slot machines in Ohio might ante up millions of dollars for the city of Cincinnati to coax that city's leaders to look favorably on the plan. Charles Ruma, who owns Beulah Park racetrack and who is the chairman of the Ohio Learn and Earn Committee, said yesterday that a charitable foundation could be set up by casino owners to earmark certain gambling money for Cincinnati and Hamilton County. No precise dollar figure has been determined, Ruma said, but he added that the foundation could be funded with up to 1 percent of Ohio slots revenue, which is projected to be $2.5 billion. That would send an additional $25 million to southwestern Ohio. "It's something we talked about with the Cincinnati Business Committee," Ruma said, referring to the group of some of the Queen City's top business leaders. Opponents of the plan likened it to a payoff. "If elected officials tried the very same tactics, it would be called bribery, and people would go to jail," said Daniel Zanotti, president of the conservative, anti-gambling Ohio Roundtable. "They are buying votes and influence." Cincinnati Business Committee officials couldn't be reached yesterday for comment.

Comparable business organizations in central and northeastern Ohio have taken opposing positions on Learn and Earn, which is vying for a spot on the Nov. 7 ballot.

The Columbus Partnership came out last week against the proposal, saying that tourism and entertainment money would be sent away from Columbus and to other parts of the state.

The Cleveland Partnership favors the plan, saying it would be an economic boost for that region.

Learn and Earn would devote 30 percent of gambling revenues to scholarships for highschool graduates, a total approaching $1 billion a year, according to backers of the proposal.

Millions more would go to economic development, they say, including about $25 million to central Ohio and $23 million to the Cincinnati area.

Ruma, who also owns homebuilder Virginia Homes, met last month with Columbus Partnership President Robert H. Milbourne to present the benefits of Learn and Earn and ask the group to take a neutral position.

Milbourne presented Ruma's position to the Partnership's board.

"In the end, there was overwhelming consensus that we should oppose," Milbourne wrote in an e-mail.

There might be more support, however, in Cincinnati, which is about a half-hour away from the Argosy riverboat casino in Lawrenceburg, Ind. About 70 percent of Argosy's customers are from Ohio.

Members of the Cincinnati Business Committee had joined last year with the Cleveland Partnership to sponsor studies on the possible impact of Ohio casino gambling.

The studies said slots could raise $4 billion in revenue in the state and create 85,000 jobs, but also would create an additional 109,000 Ohio problem gamblers.

The study considered putting downtown casinos in the state's biggest cities as well as Ohio's seven horse tracks, including Beulah Park in Grove City and Scioto Downs on the South Side.

The proposed constitutional amendment seeks approval for slots only at the tracks and two sites in downtown Cleveland.

Downtown Cincinnati was dumped as a potential casino site as part of an agreement with Penn National Gaming Inc., which owns a Toledo racetrack and the profitable Argosy casino.

Cincinnati leaders "feel they got a raw deal, and frankly, we agree," Ruma said. "We're trying to see what we can do to help."

Although Learn and Earn came up 8,700 short of the valid signatures needed to get on the ballot, the campaign was given an additional 10 days to meet the threshold.

Since then, the group has submitted 44,000 more signatures, and Ruma said yesterday 17,000 have been validated.

Gambling Ban Possible While More Than 5,000 Call In Opposition

 

Senator Bill Frist is fighting for his supporters in the conservative Family Research Council who want to ban internet gambling while more than 5,000 phone calls poured into different US senator offices over the past week in opposition to the proposed ban. Frist and his Christain conservative backers appear to be on the winning hand of this battle as the senator, who is looking to run as a presidential candidate in 2008, is attaching part of the anti-internet gambling bill to a terrorist defense bill. No defense bill has been turned down by the Senate in the past five years. As long as Frist gets his wish to attach the part of the anti-internet gambling bill that will disallow credit cards to distribute money to offshore gambling operations the bill will most likely pass. Frist is making this last ditch effort because he knows the anti-internet gambling bill has no chance of facing the senate floor this year. Meanwhile, senators all over the country are being bombarded by phone calls from the poker players alliance and other internet gambling supporters begging them to stop the attachment Frist is proposing.

Senator Clinton's office received more than 50 calls in one hour oppsosing any action against internet gambling. Senator Richard Durbin, at the Illinois office experienced a higher than normal call volume, and people were struggling to get through. Senator John Cornyn's office in Texas received between 100-200 calls from people expressing their views. In Virginia, Senator Allen received over 26 calls from opposers of the gambling bill.

Senators are elected to support the majority, but it appears that Senator Bill Frist is only looking out for his conservative minority.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Weekend jail for gambling granny

 

GAMBLING grandmother Lorraine Wilson will find herself behind bars every weekend over the next few months.The manager of a Co-op store who stole £56,000 in takings to fund her gambling addiction has been given a new sentencing option which is being pioneered in Herts.Judge Stephen Warner at St Albans Crown Court handed her a 36-week jail sentence but said that 72 days must be spent behind bars at weekends.Wilson, of Shenley Lane, London Colney, will report to Morton Hall Prison in Lincoln every Friday at 5pm and remain there until Sunday afternoons.In July Wilson, aged 45, of Shenley Lane, London Colney, pleaded guilty to theft in the Crown Court but sentencing was deferred to see if she was suitable for an intermittent custodial sentence.She was manager at the Co-op in How Wood near Park Street when the thefts occurred. She was the only member of staff with access to the safe and used her position of trust to take up to £1,000 a time and blow it on fruit machines.She originally admitted the theft of just over £32,000 but asked for a similar offence involving the theft of nearly £24,000 to be taken into consideration.Alexander Krikler, prosecuting, said that in May this year her bosses became concerned at the amount of money purportedly in the shop's safe which had not been banked.

According to accounting paperwork around £63,000 was being kept in the safe but when it was opened just under £8,000 was found inside.

Wilson was interviewed and admitted taking the money for more than a year to fund a gambling addiction. She was immediately suspended from her job and the police were called in.

Charles Judge, defending, said Wilson had no previous convictions. She has since found other employment and her new bosses knew about the theft. He said she was also receiving help from Gamblers Anonymous in her fight to beat her addiction.

Mr Judge said that taking the money had been the culmination of a number of personal and family problems. She had made no attempt to try to hide what she had done and no-one else was involved.

Passing sentence Judge Warner told her she had pleaded guilty to a serious offence but she had taken positive steps to put her life in order and deal with her gambling problems.

As well as her weekend jail stays, she was also made the subject of a supervision order.

States must do more on problem gambling

 

Congressman Martin T. Meehan is pushing for federal legislation to fight the problems surrounding compulsive gambling. The Lowell Democrat is on the right track. But more needs to be done.Meehan is the chief sponsor of the Comprehensive Awareness of Problem Gambling Act of 2006. The bill would use federal money to study and combat problem gambling.States across the country have legalized gambling to reap billions in new revenue. Yet next to nothing is spent on helping those whose lives are ruined by gambling addiction.A CNHI News Service story published in The Eagle-Tribune reported that states take in $21 billion in taxes on the $136 billion spent annually on legal gambling in the United States. Yet states spend only $36 million on programs to help problem gamblers. That's less than one-fifth of 1 percent of the revenue states collect.A federal study seven years ago found that problem gambling causes an estimated $5 billion a year in social consequences. Clearly, states are reaping the rewards from gambling and ignoring the costs.

Online Gambling Phone March to Stop Internet Gambling Bill

 

According to eog.com On September 12, 2006, the Poker Players Alliance, along with the support of other leading Poker forums who oppose any legislation that would prohibit online poker, have organized a 'Phone March' on Capital Hill.The Phone March definitely made a dent in the legislation at least five thousand calls were made, since most of the phone calls between 9:00am and 5:30pm EST were from poker defenders.In Virginia, Senator Allen received over 26 calls from people complaining about the Internet gambling bill.Hillary Clinton's spokesperson even received over 33 calls in one hour from members of the Poker Alliance regarding the gambling bill as well."I'd bet there have been over 100 calls to this office today about this issue," he said In California, Senator Boxer received phone calls from over 50 people, and it was still very early in the day.Senator Richard Durbin, at the Illinois office seemed to be experiencing a higher then normal call volume, and people were struggling to even get through.A spokesperson for Illinois Senator Obama, said that Obama considers this bill to be low priority. Senator John Cornyn's office in Texas received between 100-200 calls from people expressing their views. The entire country has estimated at least five thousand calls were made to one hundred Senators in hopes that it made a difference.

According to the The Associated Press WASHINGTON 14 September -- Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is now trying instead to use a bill authorizing U.S. military operations, including in Iraq and Afghanistan, to prohibit people from using credit cards to settle Internet gambling debts.

Frist, R-Tenn., and his aides have been meeting with other lawmakers and officials in both the House and Senate to get the measure attached to a compromise Defense Department authorization bill, according to a Senate GOP leadership aide.

The House passed a version of the Internet gambling measure in July, but the Senate has taken no action on similar legislation. Neither of the defense bills passed by the House and Senate mention it.

Frist is pushing for an approach that isn't quite as sweeping as the House measure, said the leadership aide and lobbyists following the issue. All spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing negotiations.

Frist, eyeing a 2008 presidential bid, recently discussed the online gambling measure in the politically important state of Iowa. He also called it a legislative priority in a recent speech on the Senate floor..

The bills authorizing defense programs are: S.2507 and H.R.5122.

A recent CNBC poll showed that over 90 percent of Americans would like to see online gambling poker regulated in the U.S. and NOT prohibited! Studies have shown that regulation and taxation of online poker could net the federal government over $3.3 billion in revenue annually and another $1 billion for the states on internet gambling.

There is over 23 million online poker players in US and thats over 20 Million votes that will not be happy with a ban.

88 countries worldwide including the UK, are right now starting to legalized and regulated online gambling and online poker gambling.

Senate should use its litle time left this year on more importen things that banning online poker.

With Bin Laden still at large, Iran building nuclear bombs, North Korea threatening to test them and while hundreds are being slaughtered in Iraq every day, what are they thinking off in Senate. Telling American adults how to use their hard-earned money, whether on e-bay, horse racing or on playing online poker after a hard days work, should not be the federal government's job.

K. Blanco Calls Charity Games An Expansion of Gambling

 

Louisiana State governor Kathleen Blanco is rejecting the idea of allowing eBingo games to be used by charitable organizations as a way of fundraising because her administration believes that would be an expansion of gambling. Blanco administration spokespeople replied to our inquiry about the delay in approving the Bingo games for charitable organizations, "We are being careful in our decision to allow the machines to be used. We want to make sure they are regulated properly before going into production." These new eBingo machines feature modern, attractive graphics that are more fun to play, and more accurate. The devices are very profitable for the few charities allowed to use them so far. So far, Governor Kathleen Blanco has opposed the new machines as an expansion of gambling in her state and her team is patiently delaying a final decision on the matter. Some lobbyists have accused Blanco of stalling. According to her administration, "testing each machine's computer chip to ensure it functions correctly, takes alot of time."

House Backs State Company For Internet Gambling

 

State-owned monopoly Holland Casino is to be given a licence to offer games of chance on the Internet. The Lower House has supported a proposal by Justice Minister Piet Hein Donner for a two-year trial. The Netherlands has an estimated 300,000 people who sometimes try their luck with an illegal game of chance on the Internet, according to Donner. He wants to lure them away by a site controlled by Holland Casino. If it turns out that the number of Internet gamblers has increased after two years, "the trial will not have succeeded," said the minister. The European Commission is keeping a sharp eye on developments in the Netherlands. The Dutch allow only one, state-controlled gambling provider: Holland Casino. This policy is formally banned in the EU, but Donner has so far claimed with success that it is allowed all the same because the Dutch government policy is aimed at preventing gambling addiction.However, Donner does not plan to set a play-money limit for the new gambling site. If a maximum amount is imposed for playing, this would be unnecessarily restricting for people with plenty of money, while the unemployed would perhaps take higher risks than they could handle, he reasoned. Only for people aged between 18 and 23 will a limit be set; they will not be allowed to play with more than 100 euros a week.The Christian democrats (CDA) and Labour (PvdA), together forming a parliamentary majority, support Donner's proposed bill. The conservatives (VVD) still have doubts. Donner repeated that he is in no way whatsoever prepared to relax Dutch gambling policy or to risk this being endangered by the trial.

Authorities plan to crack down on 128 Internet gambling sites

 

Asia Pulse reports this week that the South Korean authorities intend to unilaterally block Internet access of Koreans to some 128 "online gambling related" sites this year."As of the end of August, we have blocked local peoples' access to such illegal gambling sites which operate their servers overseas and target Korean customers," Information and Communication Minister Rho Jun-hyong told a press conference in Seoul. The action is intended to prevent local gambling companies from moving their servers overseas to continue business amid the government's probe into offline gambling shops, Rho said. Last month, prosecutors launched an investigation into operators of a video arcade game on suspicions of illegally promoting gambling and giving bribes to government officials in return for licenses and favors. "We will continue our cooperation with Internet service providers and portal companies and ask for them to keep a watch on such illegal gambling sites," Rho said. Gambling is illegal in South Korea, with the exception of a land casino in Kangwon Province in the east of the country, but the arcade gambling operators have avoided the government's regulations by providing gift certificates to winners instead of cash.

A ministry official said it has already blocked access to an additional 53 online gambling sites over the past few weeks.

South Korea leads the world in Internet penetration rates with around one out of every four people having access to high-speed Internet. South Koreans spend an average of 47.2 hours per month in cyberspace, the third highest time spent online following Israel and Finland, according to ministry data.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Justice Department defends using 'dated' laws in gambling arrests

 

The US Department of Justice has admitted that the 1961 Wire Act which it uses to prosecute executives of online gambling companies is "dated". The Department insists, though, that the law is sufficient for the prosecution of gambling executives.Referring to the laws under which it prosecutes, including the controversial 1961 Act, Justice Department spokeswoman Jacqueline Lesch told OUT-LAW: "They include language about a wire communication facility which we believe includes the internet. They are dated but they cover online gambling."Two UK businessmen have been arrested in the US in recent weeks in connection with internet gambling. Betonsports chief executive David Carruthers and Sportingbet chairman Peter Dicks were arrested at US airports when they landed. Carruthers's case is being handled by the DoJ, while Dicks may be prosecuted under state laws by the state of Louisiana.The latest edition of OUT-LAW Radio looks into the confused legal status of online gambling in the US. "It is certainly very confused because they are relying on statutes that date back to the 1960s and you have the added complication of states interpreting them in different ways," said John Hagan, a lawyer at gambling law specialist firm Harris Hagan. "Certainly I'm confused and no doubt the online gambling operators are equally confused and when you're talking about the risk of criminal penalties and being arrested in transit through the states it's not a very satisfactory state of affairs."

"We don't think it is confusing," the Justice Department's Lesch said. "We think it contravenes three statutes, the Wire Act, the Travel Act and the Illegal Gambling Businesses Act. This has long been a concern of the DoJ."

Many legal observers question the use of the 1961 Act to prosecute individuals for using technology and services that were not invented when the Act was written. "They are certainly taking a very strong view of outdated legislation and applying an interpretation for their own purposes," said Hagan.

A new law which would outlaw all internet gambling has passed through the House of Representatives in the US but has not yet passed through the Senate. Most observers believe that it will not be passed. "The chances of it actually passing through the Senate are quite low," said Wayne Brown, an analyst at Altium Securities who follows online gambling firms. "The same bill has in various other forms been tried to pass over the last few years."

The DoJ spokeswoman said that it intended to continue prosecuting under existing laws. "When the evidence allows, we will continue," she said.

Sportingbet Chairman Peter Dicks Resigns

 

The chairman of British online gambling company Sportingbet PLC, who was arrested last week after New York customs officials discovered his name on a Louisiana warrant charging him with illegal online gambling, resigned on Thursday, the company said. "Further to its recent announcements regarding Mr. Peter Dicks, Sportingbet confirms that, with great reluctance ... the Board accepted the resignation of Mr. Dicks as Independent Non-executive Chairman of Sportingbet with immediate effect," the company said in a statement posted on its Web site.Dicks appeared in state Criminal Court in Queens on Thursday, when Judge Gene Lopez adjourned his case until Sept. 28. The court appearance came a day after New York Gov. George Pataki received a formal request from Dicks and his attorney, Barry Slotnick, to withdraw a warrant the governor had signed that would allow Dicks' extradition to Louisiana.Slotnick said he and his client argued that Louisiana's request for extradition "is inappropriate and that Peter Dicks has not committed any crimes there or anywhere. He hasn't been in Louisiana for 20 years."

On Thursday in court, Dicks was informed that the governor had withdrawn the warrant. Restrictions on Dicks' $50,000 bail that barred him from leaving New York also were lifted.

"There is nothing pending in terms of any accusations against Dicks in the state of New York," Slotnick told The Associated Press, adding that Dicks was now free to travel back to London, where he lives.

A Pataki spokeswoman, Jessica Scaperotti, said the governor's decision was made in consultation with prosecutors in Louisiana and New York. "The decision was made to withdraw the extra warrant pending legal review of the arguments raised by Mr. Dick's attorneys," she said.

When he's back in court later this month, Slotnick said, "it's our hope that the (Louisiana) warrant at that time will be totally withdrawn."

Slotnick said Dicks is appearing in court New York on Sept. 28 only "because Louisiana is requesting his presence. But the only one who can order him to Louisiana is Gov. Pataki."

Dicks was arrested at New York's Kennedy International Airport on Sept. 6 following his arrival on a flight from England. Customs, performing a routine name check, discovered he had an outstanding warrant issued by the Louisiana State Police Gaming Enforcement Division.

Last Friday, after his New York arrest, acting Justice John Latella released him on $50,000 bail but ordered him to surrender his passport and stay in the New York metropolitan area during the extradition process.

The Louisiana warrant was issued in May, charging Dicks with gambling by computer, a felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

Louisiana authorities want to bring Dicks back to stand trial in St. Landry Parish, where the warrant for his arrest was signed.

Dicks, 64, is the second executive of a British Internet sports-betting company to be held in the U.S.

David Carruthers, former chief executive officer of BetOnSports PLC, was arrested in July. The company fired Carruthers, who remains under house arrest in the St. Louis area awaiting trial, and closed its U.S. Web sites.

The founder of Abingdon PLC, a private equity firm, Dicks is also a director at Nasdaq-listed Polar Technology Trust PLC and Standard Microsystems Corp. He has been non-executive director at Sportingbet since 2000.

Sportingbet shares soared more than 25 percent to close at 192 pence ($3.60) on the London Stock Exchange. The stock had fallen sharply after Dicks was detained.

Senator wants defence bill to kill Internet gambling

 

SENATE MAJORITY Leader Bill Frist is trying to use a bill authorising US military operations, to prohibit people from using credit cards to settle Internet gambling debts. Frist, who might be having a crack at the presidency in 2008, wants to make it illegal for punters who gamble online to use US credit cards to pay any gambling debts they might incur online.Online gambling is apparently a vote winner in the politically important state of Iowa and Frist was hoping to get a few votes by managing to kill the industry off.Apparently Frist realises there will be no time left in the Senate session to ever have the gambling laws ever voted through unless it is tied to a law which essentially designed to send US troops aboard.He does not have much hope. A number of banking lobby groups opposes banning online gambling by tinkering with credit card rules. In the US, banks are an important source of campaign funds and senators are not that keen to annoy them right about now.

Crackdown Intensifies on Gambling Web Sites

 

The government is continuing to shut down access to Korean-language gambling Web sites, whose operations are based in foreign countries. The Ministry of Information and Communication yesterday said it had blocked this month alone up to 53 gambling sites, which had moved servers overseas to avoid the grip of the local laws. The measure is unprecedented because these gambling sites constitute 29.3 percent of the 181 foreign gambling sites banned by the ministry this year. ``After domestic law enforcement agencies strengthened controls on gambling sites amid the `Sea Story' scandal, some of them moved operations to overseas nations,'' Information-Communication Minister Rho Jun-hyong told a press conference. ``We chased the elusive sites and denied access to them in collaboration with broadband companies and portal sites. We plan to continue such efforts,'' Rho said. The recent gambling scandal caught the nation off guard last month when prosecutors indicted heads of two firms manufacturing illegally-doctored video slot machines named ``Pada Iyagi,'' or ``Sea Story.''

Most of the gaming machines, of which more than 45,000 units were sold, were unlawfully reprogrammed to allow higher payouts than the legal limit of 20,000 won.

When the prosecution got wind of the wrongdoings, many Koreans had already fallen victim to gambling and this prompted a wide-ranging crackdown on illegal gambling including online sites.

Some sites tried to sidestep the clean-up by transferring servers to foreign countries such as the United States and Canada, where the arm of Korean laws cannot reach.

``To pinpoint the attempts to dodge crackdowns, as many as 500 monitoring staff from both the public and private sectors have kept close eyes on cyberspace this month,'' Rho said.

``At our request, portal sites currently do not provide search results for gambling-related queries, a step aimed at preventing gambling addiction,'' he continued.

However, there remains a concern _ foreign-language gambling sites will still be available as the minister has no plans to take issue with them immediately.

Push begins for legalized video gambling at Legion halls, taverns

 

By The Associated Press and N-B Staff Some Indiana residents want the state to legalize video gambling in American Legion halls and other clubs - a move supporters say would allow the state to regulate the machines and collect a piece of the pot.The Indiana Licensed Beverage Association has planned public meetings around the state to convince lawmakers that they should legalize the devices when the General Assembly convenes in January.The first of those meetings was held Wednesday night in Bluffton at the Grover Sheets American Legion Post, with approximately 20 people in attendance, including local tavern owners and area fraternal organizations.The Bluffton post had video gambling machines on its premises until about a year ago when state excise officers seized computer boards, making the machines inoperable. The machines have since been removed from the post.Legion manager Cindy Stephenson told the News-Banner that loss of the machines has made it increasingly difficult for the post."It's been really tough trying to make ends meet," Stephenson said of the loss of revenue. "We need to really look at it," said David Heath, chairman of the Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission.Sen. Robert Meeks, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said people still play the machines at clubs and businesses even though they are illegal. The Republican from LaGrange and former state trooper said he has been in favor of legalizing the machines for years.State Rep. Win Moses, D-Fort Wayne, compared the situation to Prohibition, when banning alcohol made the industry go underground.Meeks and Moses said legalizing the machines would allow the state to ensure fair payouts while collecting a share of the money.But lawmakers have been cool to the idea in the past. Few bills have been filed to legalize the machines over the years and none has passed out of committee.Rep. Marlin Stutzman, R-Howe, chairs the House Public Policy and Veterans Affairs Committee, and could play a key role in gambling issues if Republicans retain control of the House after the Nov. 7 elections.He said he would be unlikely to hear any bill legalizing video gaming and is opposed to expanding gambling.House Minority Leader Pat Bauer, a South Bend Democrat, said he also had concerns."People are losing their life savings (by gambling). We have made it available everywhere. That's a problem," he said.One of the public meetings was scheduled for the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6246 in Noblesville, which hasn't had video gambling since police seized a machine years ago.Frank Perkins, the post quartermaster, said if the machines were legal, the state would get tax revenue, the post's members would have a chance at the winnings and the post would get money for both rent and to support charities."It would be a good deal for everyone," Perkins said.Public meetings are planned in Bluffton, Fort Wayne, South Bend, East Chicago, Noblesville, Beech Grove, West Lafayette, Evansville, Tell City, Terre Haute and Bedford.

Jackson will take a gamble on slots

 

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson is ready to gamble. Jackson on Wednesday announced he will support a November ballot proposal that would bring two slot machine parlors to the core of his struggling city. Jackson said the prospect of 5,300 jobs and $75 million yearly in economic development money for the city and county are worth risking his political capital. "I have to look out for the future of the city of Cleveland," Jackson said during an afternoon meeting with Plain Dealer editors. "It would be imprudent of me not to position the city to benefit from it." Jackson was joined by City Council President Martin Sweeney, Cuyahoga County commissioners and business and labor leaders in extolling the positives of Learn and Earn. The group hammered out the proposal this spring with the state's seven horse track owners, Forest City Enterprises Inc. and investor Jeff Jacobs. The Learn and Earn issue would amend the Ohio Constitution to allow 31,000 slot machines at nine sites, including Forest City's Tower City complex and Jacobs' Nautica Entertainment Complex.

Learn and Earn, soon to be certified for the November ballot, would generate some $2.8 billion yearly in slots revenue, according to estimates. About $850 million would go to college scholarships and more than $200 million to economic development across Ohio.

In Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, supporters estimate a $184 million yearly benefit from Learn and Earn, including scholarship and development money.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Indiana Developer Could Be Fined

 

As reported by the Louisville Courier-Journal: "The Indiana Gaming Commission is expected to vote tomorrow on whether to sanction developers of a casino in Orange County for failing to secure all financing for the $382 million project by a May 1 deadline. "The disciplinary action, if approved as expected, would come nearly six weeks before the French Lick casino's unveiling, and as its partners remain locked in a contract dispute over ownership. "The gaming commission is expected to review the proposal by agency staff to settle the matter against Blue Sky Casino LLC's partners -- Bloomington-based medical-device manufacturer Cook Group Inc. and Indianapolis real estate developer Lauth Property Group -- during an afternoon meeting in Indianapolis. ".Blue Sky was the only bidder early last year after a deal with Donald Trump's casino company fell through. Cook and Lauth's plans include remodeling two century-old hotels and building a parking garage, a 1,200-slot casino, a convention center and an 18-hole golf course. ".In a lawsuit filed in June in Orange Circuit Court, Cook's company, Orange County Holdings, claimed that Lauth failed to meet an April 15 deadline set by the parties to secure a $25 million loan, called a revolver."

Customer, Casino Enter Round Two of Jackpot Controversy

 

As reported by the Miami Herald: "A Sunny Isles Beach man who was declared a casino winner -- then later was told he was a loser -- might get good news today, casino officials said. '.'We hope we can come to an amicable agreement,' said Mike Bloom, president of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino near Hollywood. "Bloom blamed 'human error' for the problem during Freddy Howard's Aug. 29 visit to the casino and said he and Hard Rock executives will meet this afternoon with Howard, 53, and his Fort Lauderdale attorney, Keith Herbert, to discuss what to do about it. "The Hard Rock has been reeling since the 'Swipe and Win' story broke, and officials said they want to assure the public that they are addressing the situation properly. "Several casino employees involved in the promotion misread results and assumed Howard had won the top jackpot. Bloom would not specify how the employees erred but said only that they did not follow proper procedure for verifying a prize winner."

Casinos Make Big Comeback in August

 

As reported by the Press of Atlantic City: "Casinos rebounded from a three-day shutdown in July to post their second-highest monthly win in city history. "The city's dozen casinos reported combined gaming revenue of $494.4 million in August, according to figures released by the state Casino Control Commission. That's a 4.5 percent increase from the same period last year, a commission news release said Monday. "...The monthly total is the second highest in history, behind only July 2005, when casinos won $504.8 million, according to commission data. "...The state government shutdown that forced casinos to close for three days caused monthly gaming revenue to drop for the first time this year and cost the industry an estimated $50 million to $55 million in winnings..."

Hollywood Sportsbook Offers MLB Odds

 

Hollywood Sportsbook features odds on the MLB game between the Washington Nationals and the Arizona Diamondbacks on September 13th 2006. The Nationals and the Diamondbacks met last week in Washington, with the Nationals sweeping the three-game set. It was a particularly frustrating series for Arizona as Washington rallied in the eighth inning or later in all three games. However, it seems that things have changed for Arizona, this time they will look to continue their longest winning streak in nearly two month when they play again a three-game series with the Nationals at Chase Field. Game 3 is scheduled to start on Wednesday at 6:40 p.m. (ET) and Hollywood Sportsbook proudly features odds on the event. Hollywood's Media Relations executive, Alejandro Gomez, was quoted saying - "The Diamondbacks won the final three games of their series with St. Louis over the weekend, their longest winning streak since a four-game run from July 19-22". "However, despite their latest success, Arizona could find difficult to extend their winning streak against the Nationals. Washington not only swept Arizona last week, but they won 13 of the last 15 games between the teams," added Mr. Gomez. Hollywood sportsbook is eager to provide you with a convenient and secure environment through which you can enjoy your recreational sports betting; they are currently offering sports betting lines for the game mentioned above. It's really easy to contact them via phone or internet from anywhere in the world. You can get started by opening your account within 5 minutes of verification of your funds. Three easy steps: Register, Deposit and Play. It's that simple!

Sycuan Tribe Considers Second Casino

 

As reported by the San Diego Union-Tribune: "The Sycuan Indian band might someday build a second large casino in East County. "Under a provision that the tribe negotiated into its amended, 5,000-slot compact with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sycuan could open a second casino on 1,600 acres of adjacent land - including the golf course - that the tribe has purchased but is not part of its reservation. ".Sycuan already operates one of California's largest casinos, with 2,000 slot machines, on its reservation, three miles east of Sycuan Golf Resort. Its amended compact, allowing up to 5,000 slots, was one of six tribal-state accords that the Legislature left unratified when it adjourned Aug. 31. "Five of those compacts on hold are revised deals providing expansions for Southern California tribes with already-large casinos; a sixth would offer a Northern California tribe its first foray into gambling. All are expected to be considered when the Legislature reconvenes in January."

Swedish Man Wins 93 Million Kronor Jackpot

 

As reported by the Sweden Local: "As the Lotto balls fell into place on Saturday evening it slowly dawned on a Trelleborg man that he had just won a cool 93 million kronor - tax-free. "The jackpot is Sweden's second highest gaming win of all time. "The man had entered his Lotto numbers on svenskaspel.se, the web site of Sweden's state-owned gambling monopoly, making this the biggest-ever online win in the country."

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Thom Reilly Joins Harrah's As Vice President

 

Harrah's Entertainment, Inc. today announced Thom Reilly will be joining a Harrah's subsidiary as vice president of community reinvestment and social responsibility, effective upon receipt of all required regulatory approvals. Reilly will lead Harrah's national philanthropic and community reinvestment efforts. He will oversee the company's nationwide partnerships with community and charitable organizations, and administer the Harrah's Foundation, a non-profit organization that donates to charities in communities where Harrah's operates. Reilly will also oversee the administration and promotion of Harrah's social responsibility programs, particularly its Code of Commitment, the company's corporate code of conduct. Reilly served as manager and chief executive officer of Clark County, Nev., from August 2001 to August 2006, where he oversaw daily operations of a government with more than 1.8 million residents, a $5.8 billion annual budget and nearly 12,000 employees. He joins the company from the University of Nevada Health Sciences Center, where he served as vice chancellor and chief operating officer. "We are pleased to welcome an individual of Thom's caliber to the Harrah's team," said Gary Loveman, chairman, chief executive officer and president of Harrah's Entertainment. "For the last five years, Thom led the operations of one of the nation's fastest-growing counties with remarkable skill and dedication. He is the ideal executive to help us meet our commitment to act as a responsible and generous corporate citizen in our communities."

"Thom earned widespread respect during his tenure as Clark County Manager," said Jan Jones, senior vice president of communications and government relations. "His diverse experience as a public administrator gives him unmatched knowledge of the workings of local government and community organizations. Thom will help enhance our understanding of the unique needs and opportunities that exist in each of our communities, allowing us to reinvest effectively."

Prior to being named Clark County Manager in 2001, Reilly served as an associate professor and assistant director of the school of social work at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He previously held senior administrative positions in the Clark County Department of Administrative Services; the Nevada Division of Child and Family Services; and the Nevada State Welfare Division.

Reilly holds a doctorate in public administration and a master's in public administration from the University of Southern California; a master's in social work from Arizona State University and a bachelor's degree from Memphis State University.

He will continue to serve as chair of the Nevada Health Science Center's Health Science Foundation on an interim basis.

Amateurs, Pros Battle at Borgata

 

Event five of the 2006 Borgata Poker Open concluded late Sunday night with New Yorker Jeremy Shor coming from behind to defeat an accomplished field and capture the championship. The final table included one Shannon Shorr, ranked second best poker player in the world by Card Player magazine. Jeremy Shor and James English of South Florida began their head's up duel at 9:00 p.m. and battled late into the night. The duel combined the strategy of a chess match with the intensity that only comes from high stakes poker. English, the second place finisher in the $2,500 event at the 2005 Borgata Poker Open, seemed to have the advantage much of the night before going "card dead." Shor seized the opportunity and gained control eventually ousting English to capture the championship Rolex and $188,000 in first place prize money. After the tournament ended, a drained but ecstatic Shor was very blunt in describing his victory: "I got lucky. I knew I was playing against better players so I had to take more risks and get lucky; it worked." English, who watched his significant chip lead evaporate over the last hour of competition, was in shock after the event. After the shock wore off, English admitted he was happy to be taking home $98,000 in prize money -- finishing in second place, for the second consecutive year. A regular on the WPT circuit, English commented after the event, "Borgata is my favorite hotel and casino on the Tour. The tournaments feature the best structure, the best staff, the best hotel rooms; it has everything I want as a poker player."

Another notable player at the final table was eighth place finisher Kirk Acevedo, who took home $19,000 in prize money. Acevedo is a regular on both the big and small screens having starred in HBO's "Oz" and appeared as a guest star on "Law and Order." Acevedo can currently be seen in "Invincible" starring Mark Walberg.

Ameristar Casinos Names New VP

 

Ameristar Casinos, Inc. has appointed Jerome Klint to the position of Vice President of Construction, effective September 1, 2006. Reporting to Alan Rose, Senior Vice President of Construction, Klint will be responsible for construction of Ameristar projects, including department administration and coordination of pre-planning, budgeting, contracting, purchasing and on-site observation of construction. Klint brings 20 years of senior management experience in construction to the position. Most recently, he served as director of development for MEC Development, Inc., where he oversaw all aspects of the company's engineering, architecture and construction projects in Florida, including Palm Meadows Thoroughbred Training Center and Palm Meadows Estates, the Gulfstream Park renovation, and development of The Villages of Gulfstream Park. Previously, he was President of CORE Program Development, specializing in owner representation for municipalities and private/public joint ventures. CORE's projects included Branson Landing in Branson, Mo.; the City of Donaldsonville, La.; as well as NextStage Theater and Concert Hall and Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas. Klint also worked with Koll Development Company supervising design, construction and program management of nearly one million square feet of office space; and Precept Builders, where he was Vice President of Construction Management, overseeing construction at Lone Star Park thoroughbred racetrack at Grand Prairie, Texas. He began his career with M.W. Builders, where he was senior project manager for a number of hospitality, entertainment and retail projects nationwide. Klint attended Gustavus Adolphus College and received a project management professional certification from the University of Texas at Dallas School of Management. He served on the board of the Make-A-Wish Foundation of North Texas.

"We are delighted to welcome Jerry to Ameristar," said Alan Rose, Senior Vice President of Construction. "We have an exceptionally talented construction team that is instrumental in executing our key business strategy of creating the best facility in each market. Jerry's two decades of experience in building premier hospitality and entertainment facilities will only strengthen our capabilities in this area."

Klint joins Ameristar during one of the most dynamic construction periods in the history of the company. At Ameristar St. Charles, construction is currently underway on a new 400-suite luxury hotel with outstanding in-suite amenities, an indoor/outdoor pool, an upscale full-service spa, and a new parking garage. At Ameristar Black Hawk, groundbreaking recently took place for a 536-room, 33-story four-diamond quality hotel. The hotel, which will be the highest building between Denver and Salt Lake City, will feature a Meeting Center, a full service day spa, and a rooftop indoor/outdoor pool -- the only pool in the city of Black Hawk.

Jeff Simpson Reflects on Eye-Opening Journey to Magical Land of Macau

 

I wanted to share a few thoughts from my visit to Macau. Last year the Sun sent our tourism reporter Richard N. Velotta to Macau (and Beijing and Singapore) and Richard wrote a top-notch series of stories that helped Sun readers understand the power of the Chinese economy and its tourism impact on Las Vegas, the vibrancy of Macau casinos and the gaming potential of Singapore. I had long ago asked Richard to prepare to travel again to Macau when the $1.2 billion Wynn Macau opened. Not only did Sun Managing Editor Michael Kelley approve Richard's second visit to Asia in a year, he asked me to go as well. Macau is having and will continue to have a big impact on the worldwide casino business and on Las Vegas-based resort operators. When Wynn Macau opened Tuesday, there were dozens of journalists on hand. Most were from Hong Kong and Macau. Asia-based reporters from the Associated Press, Reuters and the Wall Street Journal also were there. Richard and I were the only two reporters on hand from Las Vegas. Traveling around the world is expensive, but the Sun willingly spent the money so that its readers would be able to understand what is going on in Macau - and what is expected to take place - from a Las Vegas perspective. . . .

The Wynn Macau opening was a landmark for the Chinese enclave. Steve Wynn told me right after he won the Macau casino concession that he wasn't going to build a no-frills gambling hall just to get his straw into the drink as soon as possible.

Wynn felt that he owed it to the Macau government officials, particularly its Chief Executive Edmund Ho, to build a quality property that would reward Ho's belief that Las Vegas resort operators could help transform Macau's casino-based economy.

I met Ho the evening of the opening and it is apparent that he is quite pleased by Wynn Macau.

And he should be pleased and proud of the new resort - by far the nicest and most luxurious in Macau. Although it remains to be seen whether Wynn Macau will generate the kind of high-rolling action it needs to succeed, no one has become rich betting against Wynn.

. . .

Former Golden Nugget owners Tim Poster and Tom Breitling were among Wynn's invited guests at the opening. Although neither was willing to confirm their intent to pursue a joint-venture opportunity with Wynn, there are a few clues that suggest just that.

First, Wynn has said he intends to partner in joint-ventures to develop his 54-acre site on Macau's Cotai strip.

Second, Poster and Breitling are friends with the Fertitta brothers (Frank III and Lorenzo), Station Casinos top two executives. Wynn has mentioned the Fertittas as the kind of operators he'd like to joint-venture with.

Third, Poster and Breitling have visited Macau a few times in the last year, and both said they are interested in Macau opportunities.

. . .

The most amazing thing I saw in Macau was the Sands casino. The casino owned by Venetian parent Las Vegas Sands has more table games than any other in the world, a jaw-dropping 740, most of them baccarat.

Big Las Vegas casinos have about 150 tables. The best way I can think of to relate what the Sands looks like: Take the entire giant rectangular casino floor at Bally's, stack two more floors exactly the same size on top, and fill all three floors almost from wall to wall with tables. Then put a crowd of players around almost every table. It's like viewing the Pacific Ocean after spending your life looking at Lake Mead.

. . .

One of the best things about Macau casinos is the quality of the employees. They are hard-working, talented and eager to please. The Wynn Macau workers seemed exceptionally courteous and one reason why may be the way they are treated.

On the Wynn employee dining room menu on Tuesday: Lobster tails and beef tenderloin among dozens of high-quality offerings.

Jeff Simpson is business editor of the Las Vegas Sun and executive editor of its sister publication In Business Las Vegas.

Jack Sheehan Weighs Pros, Cons and Misconceptions About Our Fair Desert City

 

If there's one common notion that most Americans have about Las Vegas, it's that we have a vibrant economy. To be precise, many think we are the land of milk and honey. The general assumption is that car parkers here make $80,000 a year and cocktail waitresses knock down six figures and declare far less to our friends at the IRS. And that even a bloke with a fourth-grade education should be able to come here and take down serious lucre and absolve some of the debt that has accrued from previous life missteps. But beyond that harebrained idea, there's an ocean of confusion out there about what really goes on in our beloved city and how we Las Vegans get from one day to the next. Through a fair amount of traveling in the last year and a number of interviews I've done with radio deejays and print folk looking for a hot Las Vegas story, I've come to realize that: a) most of the images of our city either come from the shows "Las Vegas" or "CSI" or from the saturation of our "What Happens Here ¦" campaign; or b) the average dude in his Barcalounger sipping a Colt 45 assumes this is the place where every wanted man in America over the last four decades has come to hide out, from Dick Hickox and Perry Smith of "In Cold Blood" infamy to "The Marrying Man" Warren Jeffs. Outsiders who haven't been paying close attention sometimes expose their ignorance by revealing that they think Las Vegas in 2006 is still marketing itself to families and that there are a lot of things for kids to do here.

I feel obligated to explain to them that their information is outdated by at least a decade and that we have in fact become one of the most adult-oriented cities since Caligula ruled ancient Rome. A drive up and down the Strip would convince an outsider that we are allergic not to pollen and olive trees, but to clothing.

. . .

In Colorado recently I was introduced to a woman who, when she heard I was a writer asked, "Have you ever interviewed Wayne Newton?" Her implicit assumption was that bagging a Q/A with the Midnight Idol was probably the hottest story a scribbler here could find. I calmly answered "no" and looked for an escape route. It would have been a long night had I not pretended to recognize an old friend across the room.

I remember in the late 1970s the esteemed travel writer Jan Morris - who before gender surgery was a British explorer and military man named John Morris - telling me she was intrigued by Las Vegas but detected a strong undercurrent of evil running through the city.

Her instincts at that time were correct. Most of the large hotels were indebted to loans from shady organizations like the Teamsters Union pension funds, and more than a few of the motley characters who ran the joints had rap sheets that could wallpaper your rec room. Today we are now fully controlled by Wall Street: buttoned-down shirts, yellow ties, two showers a day and subtle cologne.

The most frequently asked questions I heard as a writer 25 to 30 years ago were about how I could tolerate living and writing in a city that was totally devoid of any sense of culture or history. I don't get those anymore. Folks willing to pay their local cable company know through the Travel Channel that we have imported all the cultural amenities a modern city could hope to have, with fine art, hip chefs, Broadway plays, and a bevy of talented plastic surgeons to make us look youthful when we go out on the town.

These days the questions I get are more about details concerning the Las Vegas Strip: who's building what, whether the proliferation of high rises is a boom or a bust, whether Macau is going to be bigger than Las Vegas, who's a bigger deal here between Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn. Stuff like that.

I can fake convincing-sounding responses with the best of them, and so rather than just admit that I don't know the answers to all of these questions I tend to blather on in an attempt to pass myself off as an expert on all things Las Vegas. (I recognize that this is a dysfunctional personality trait, but when you get to my age you tend to forgive yourself for deeply embedded flaws and just move forward.)

There are, however, a few things I know for certain about our city, with absolute clarity, devoid of bias or geographical prejudice. I know that:

If you came here from someplace else, for the first couple of years Las Vegas will not be pretty to you. It does not have the rivers or ocean beaches or evergreen-covered rolling hills you're used to. But the beauty of the desert will grow on you, I promise, and the sunsets will knock your eyes out.

The conversations you'll hear at social gatherings are unlike any you heard back home. At Spokane dinner parties, folks would always try to discover a common-ground topic on which everyone could find agreement. All gathered would then nod their heads forward for the rest of the night, saying things like, "Isn't that the truth?" or "I couldn't agree with you more." Here, you might find yourself in the company of an acrobat, a professional poker player, an interior designer, a sports agent, and a guy who owns an escort service. Las Vegas provides far livelier conversation.

No city in America changes its landscape faster, or works harder at keeping up with trends. We absolutely do not give a rat's patootie about preserving history. We are the total opposite of Rome and Paris and New York. In those great cities, they venerate their old buildings. We blow ours to smithereens, pop champagne corks in celebration, get naked and make whoopee.

Las Vegas is clearly not for everyone, but if you dig in your heels and give it a chance you might find it to be the least boring place on the planet. And boredom bores the hell out of me.

Jack Sheehan's column runs every other week.

Nevadan At Work: MGM Grand University Director Readies Casino Leaders of the Future

 

Like a terrier herding small livestock, Barbara Hewitt is consumed with developing and implementing the training programs essential to a company the size of MGM Mirage and for the growth it has planned. The company, which is already at 70,000 employees, will grow by 28,000 workers in the next five years just to keep up with announced expansion plans. Projects include Project CityCenter here, and developments in Atlantic City; Detroit; Biloxi, Miss.; the United Kingdom; and Macau. Hewitt's job as executive director of the MGM Grand University is not to recruit all these workers, but to prepare a large cross-section for advancement, to match the skills they add with the needs of her company and to help prepare executives with the leadership skills necessary to marry the two. Otherwise many employees would not have the skill sets to advance from the "back-of-the-house" to the "front-of-the-house" and executives trying to staff their operations would not have a pool of higher-skilled talent. To date, Hewitt has been responsible for 24,000 employees, those at MGM Grand plus the former Mandalay Resort Group hotel-casinos. Corporate university training programs are common among Fortune 500 companies, but are otherwise unheard of in Las Vegas. In the year's first half alone, 15,000 workers went through the university programs, up from 5,500 in the first six months of 2005.

All of this may be more than most human resources executives can imagine, but Hewitt is enthusiastic, not confounded.

In a recent interview in her fourth-floor, corner office overlooking the final stages of construction at the MGM Grand Signature project, Hewitt was animated, confident of the future and proud of past accomplishments.

Question: What drives you?

Answer: Success. I think being the best at what I do. I take great pride in our product, the quality of what we represent and when I see that product evolve and we get recognized through awards, it just makes me want to do more.

Question: What does the executive director of a corporate university do?

Answer: I'm responsible for the strategic development of training plans for the properties, for executing the vision and for the strategic direction for learning and development initiatives at the MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Luxor and the Signature properties. I work with senior-level executives, management business partners and industry leaders to align our training goals with organizationwide processes and business needs. I oversee four units in the university: leadership training at all levels; general training including language training; computer-based training; and service excellence.

Question: How has the merger changed it?

Answer: As we took on the merger, it was like looking at the cultures and figuring out how to integrate them. Yet, as we plowed through those strategies, now a year later, we were successful. We had some bumps in the road; we had to work out some kinks in processes. But I can't speak enough about the support we received from the property presidents.

One of the things I'm proudest about is our contribution to that.

Question: How did you get into this?

Answer: I opened Summerlin Hospital in 1997, their training department. Before that, I was at Desert Springs for about four years. I came to the MGM Grand University after just finishing graduate school.

I was very interested in breaking out of health care where I'd been for 17 years. I'd been exposed to lots of industries and thought it would be interesting to branch out and broaden my skills in other industry sets. A mutual friend had spoken to Miriam Hammond, senior vice president of human resources here at MGM. She let her know I was looking for other opportunities.

I worked with Miriam at Desert Springs Hospital for close to a year. So I knew Miriam and had worked with her. I got a call one day that there was an opportunity here.

I said, "Now the gaming industry, that's interesting." The long and short of it was six or seven interviews later, I got the job.

Question: Why the interest in gaming?

Answer: Because it's a huge part of what Las Vegas is. I'd lived here 10 years and wasn't familiar with anyone in the gaming industry. And I think I started out more out of curiosity than anything else. I thought, let's go, let's give this a shot and see what this is all about.

Miriam shared with me a little about the company and the potential for this MGM Grand University, which I had never heard of.

I thought it was fascinating that the gaming industry had a university.

And so we talked a little about what the university does and is responsible for. I met some of the most brilliant minds in business.

I was absolutely blown away by the integrity and the professionalism of the people. They made me think this was a company I'd like to work for.

And I had an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to try another industry. I was ripe to try and the timing was right. I thought I'd give it a go and if it worked out, great, and if not, nothing to lose. I have never looked back. It's worked out great.

Question: What do you like most about your job?

Answer: The opportunity to be creative, to come forward with a vision, ideas, new ways to improve what we're doing. And I'm never turned down. If I can make a good business case for something, it's supported 100 percent.

What keeps me here is the evolution, to be able to make this university one of the best in its class and to be benched after, by the likes of PepsiCo. We've just really been able to take the university and make it a strategically aligned entity. That is truly what has lent to our credibility over the years.

Question: What do you like most about MGM?

Answer: The leadership. The vision and the operating unit are what keep you going. There are some companies out there that don't really support education.

But to find a company that supports it, there's nothing you can't do, and you can support the company in such positive ways.

Question: What do you like least?

Answer: It's so dynamic and so changing, and there are so many opportunities, it's hard to say what I like least. Maybe it's the pace.

Sometimes you wish you could just stop and almost take a breather, but the flip side is you get addicted to the pace, and you thrive on the pace and what you can get done, even though it can be very stressful at times.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Mount Airy Awards Contracts

 

Mount Airy Resort & Casino announced today that it has awarded its first round of construction contracts as it continues to move forward with plans to build a $360 million hotel and gaming complex in the heart of the Poconos. The majority of contracts have been awarded to Pennsylvania-based companies. "One of our main goals in building Mount Airy is to promote local economic opportunity," said Louis A. DeNaples, the northeastern Pennsylvania businessman who owns Mount Airy. "As construction continues to move forward, we remain committed to that goal and are proud of our partnership with some of the best building contractors in the state." Mount Airy also recently hosted a formal session in Scranton, Pa., for subcontractors and minority suppliers interested in doing business with the organization. A second session was held in Paradise Township, Pa. "There will be a lot of work going into making the Mount Airy project a reality," said Frank L. Ciminelli II, V.P. for LP Ciminelli, the construction project executive for Mount Airy. "We share Louis DeNaples' commitment to hiring as many qualified local subcontractors as possible to help us complete that work." Contracts have been awarded to the following Pennsylvania-based companies:

* McGregor Industries, Dunmore, Pa. for miscellaneous metals;

* Mid Valley Contracting, Moscow, Pa. for hollow core plank and structural steel erection, along with foundation reinforcing steel;

* Leeward Construction, Honesdale, Pa. for site work and mass excavation;

* Cleveland Brothers Caterpillar, Harrisburg, Pa. with local offices in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. for emergency generators and automatic transfer switches;

* Eaton Electrical, Allentown, Pa. with local office of Eastern Penn Supply Company, in Wilkes Barre, Pa. for UPS system, transformers, and 12.47 KV main switch, and

* York International, York, Pa. for HVAC units.

In addition, contracts were awarded to Stone Bridge Steel Corporation, Gansevoort, N.Y., for Structural Steel, Joist & Deck and Otis Elevators, based in Farmington, Conn. with offices in Allentown, Pa.

Phase I of the Mount Airy project calls for the construction of a 191-room luxury resort hotel, a gaming and entertainment complex that would house 3,000 slot machines, four restaurants, two live entertainment lounges, an 18-hole championship golf course, an indoor pool, spa, retail shops, and a covered parking facility.

Phase I construction is estimated at $300 million, which would be followed in Phase II with an expanded casino to accommodate a total of 5,000 slot machines, an additional 200 luxury hotel rooms, and additional conference, entertainment and parking facilities. The plan also preserves nearly 550 acres of green space at the 891-acre site.

The new Mount Airy is expected to open in the Fall of 2007 after the first phase of construction is completed.

The resort will be run by a world-class team of gaming industry executives led by Paul Henderson, the former President and Chief Operating Officer of Caesars Atlantic City, the Atlantic City Hilton, and Trump Marina Hotel and Casino. The operations team has worked at more than 50 casinos and gaming companies worldwide, and has an extensive background in the development, design, opening and operation of gaming facilities.

Macau Won't Grant More Licenses

 

As reported by the Australian: "Macau Governor Edmund Ho has ruled out granting any more casino licences in the city - a move that protects the $3 billion investment of James Packer's PBL. "The city would stick to six casino operators, he said, including Macau veteran Stanley Ho (no relation to the Governor), the veteran's daughter, Pansy Ho, who has linked up with US casino operator MGM, and Las Vegas players Steve Wynn and Sheldon Adelson. "... The opening of the 600-room hotel and casino was attended by PBL's executive chairman, Mr Packer, and Leighton Holdings chief executive Wal King. "...PBL and Melco are about to deliver the final $US740 million ($970 million) of the $US900 million payment to Mr Wynn for their licence, which has to be paid by the end of this month..."

Casino Evacuated Due to Chemical Fumes

 

As reported by the Purcell Register: "Toxic fumes emitted from a restaurant's drain at the new casino kept Goldsby and Purcell Fire and Rescue busy for about 10 hours last week. "Goldsby Fire Chief Larry Paulk said they responded to a chemical spill call around 7:30 p.m. last Thursday at the Riverwind Casino. ".Purcell Fire Chief Mike Clifton said he was told that degreaser was poured down the drain, along with bleach. This caused the chlorine-gas fumes. "About nine employees complaining of nausea and light shortness of breath were taken to Norman Regional Hospital by Norman EMS, the fire chiefs said. No patron in the restaurant complained."

BodogFight Launch Date Moved

 

With a frenzied audience awaiting the inaugural episode of the Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) reality series, BodogFight, digital entertainment powerhouse Bodog.com has announced a new launch date to allow for additional footage in its action-packed weekly series. Episode 1 will air September 19 on Men's Outdoor and Recreation, which is carried in over 23 million homes and on DISH Network, and online at BodogFight.com. While traversing the globe in search of the world's greatest MMA fighters, Bodog.com's billionaire founder, Calvin Ayre, has not only set the stage for the toughest fighters to showcase their talents, but also raised the standard for reality TV and digital entertainment. In the eight-episode series, seven elite modern-day American warriors will earn the right to represent the United States. As part of "Team USA", the seven fighters will square off against members of the Russian Red Devils Team, a group known for its fierce roster that includes world heavyweight champion Fedor Emelianenko. This USA vs. Russia grudge match will be broadcast live on a future pay-per-view event that will also include three Superfights. Viewers will get a behind-the-scenes look at the secret training regimen of the elite Russian squad as well as the individual training programs and lifestyles of the American fighters. Those intimate scenes will all be presented through the eyes of BodogFight's special agents - rock phenomenon Bif Naked in the United States and her beautiful Russian counterpart Natalya Vilkova. The sexy duo will be on a quest to find the toughest, most ruthless Mixed Martial Arts athletes the two countries have to offer. Plus, audiences are going to be treated to up-close and personal experiences with fighters as they prepare to enter the ring, and spectacular training and interview footage shot in the lush Central American jungle and rustic Costa Rican cities - visuals that will leave no doubt BodogFight has set the new standard for reality TV. "When BodogFight's inaugural episode launches, viewers are going to witness a new standard in mainstream digital entertainment," says Calvin Ayre, Founder of Bodog.com Entertainment Group and creator of a number of reality television series, including Bodog Salutes the Troops which aired on Spike TV. "The additional footage capturing the essence of Mixed Martial Arts as a sport and lifestyle will add a new degree of rawness never seen before."

Elimination battles, behind-the-scenes training, interviews with fighters, and lifestyle segments will compose seven of the weekly one-hour "BodogFight" episodes, with the recap finale leading into the PPV main event. The three massive super fights and the spectacular USA vs. Russia event will be produced by the Mixed Fight Championship (MFC) and sponsored by BodogFight.

For biographies of all the fighters, exclusive footage, and unedited interviews and confrontations, go to bodogfight.com. Each of the eight episodes will air simultaneously on the Men's Network and on BodogFight.com broadband network.

Aces.com Launches Three Card Poker Tournament

 

The Vegas-style casino site famous for free tournaments has added more free chances to win cash and prizes to its September line-up. The champion of the free Three Card Poker Tournament that starts on Monday will win an all-expense paid trip to Aces.com's Hollywood Premiere Party for 'Aces the Movie'. Four free Blackjack tournaments beginning Sunday offer cash prizes. The grand prize for the week long Three Card Poker Tournament includes flights, hotel and two VIP passes to attend the exclusive gala party that Aces.com is throwing to celebrate the release of the sexy new poker movie they've sponsored. The star-studded event will be held at Vanguard Hollywood in Los Angeles on October 7th. (Second and third place players will receive cash prizes.) Winners of the four free Blackjack Tournaments this month will each receive $200; second and third place players will receive $100 and $50 respectively. There is no entry fee for these free tournaments. Winners are the three players with the highest chip count at the close of the tournament. Aces.com free tournaments tend to attract primarily regulars of the retro Vegas-style casino site, but new players are always welcome to enjoy the camaraderie at an Aces table. "Over the summer, we've had the stars of Aces the Movie as special guests at our tournaments," says Rene Quesada, Manager of Aces.com. "The other night, one of our regulars was pretty sure he was going to win until Lacey got a bunch of good cards, made some smart bets and left him in second place. So I sent him a silk poker shirt just for being such a fun guy that night." Lacey Toups plays one of the three sexy college girls in the hot new poker movie that Aces.com is involved with this summer. Aces.com is distributing thousands of free copies of ACES the Movie to their players. Christina Morris and Sheena Chou are the other two members of the team dubbed "The Charlie's Angels of Poker" when they partied with Aces.com at the WSOP last month.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Scarlet's Casino Files for Bankruptcy

 

As reported by the Rocky Mountain News: "A Central City casino that had already filed for bankruptcy shut its doors this week after a new parkway to the gaming town failed to bring an expected increase in business. "Scarlet's Casino had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection just months after opening at what should have been a prime location at the entrance to the limited-stakes gaming town. ".'It appears their worst fear that people would drive through to Black Hawk is coming true,' said Don Burmania, a spokesman for the Colorado Division of Gaming, which worked with Scarlet's to shut down its operations on Tuesday morning. "Burmania said the Central City Parkway, which was completed in Nov. 2004, helped the casino town overcome its location. Many gamblers had been taking route 119 directly to Black Hawk until the faster parkway route was built. In the first year after the parkway's opening, Central City reported big gains in its gaming revenues. ".The city depends on gambling revenues because much of its budget comes from the fees it charges casinos for each device they operate. Now it must bank on the success of the recently opened gaming establishment developed by Colorado Springs-based Century Casinos Inc."

Public Comments Spilt Over Pennsylvania Casinos

 

As reported by the Pittsburgh Tribune Review: "Members of the state's Gaming Control Board heard an outpouring of support for slots casino licenses at Seven Springs Mountain Resort and Nemacolin Woodlands during public hearings conducted last spring. "But in written comments furnished to the board, public sentiment was split over the applications of the resorts to open casinos next year to house as many as 500 slot machines. "The gaming control board on Thursday made public more than 1,200 written comments as part of the slots casino application process. The board is expected to award 14 slots licenses this year, including smaller casinos at the resorts. ".Seven Springs, near Champion, Somerset County, and Nemacolin Woodlands Resort, in Farmington, Fayette County, are the only two applicants for the two available resort licenses."

Pinnacle Entertainment Breaks Ground

 

Pinnacle Entertainment announced that L'Auberge du Lac Hotel & Casino, a $370 million Texas Hill Country-themed resort in Lake Charles, La., broke ground yesterday on a $45 million hotel tower expansion, slightly more than a year after the elegant casino resort opened to the public. The additional 250 rooms and suites will be complete in Fall 2007. The new tower will be nine stories tall and will be connected to the existing 26-story hotel tower, bringing the total number of rooms, suites and villas at L'Auberge to approximately 1,000. The hotel tower expansion project is expected to boost L'Auberge's employee count to more than 2,250. The expansion project will feature expanded retail space, a VIP lobby, VIP lounge and a VIP elevator providing private access to the tower's new luxury second floor suites. The expansion project's ground floor will feature nine luxury garden suites with private terraces. Some of the new suites will face the swimming pool area, while others will feature private outdoor spas. The garden suites will feature many of the same high-end amenities found in the L'Auberge villas, such as luxurious bathrooms, custom designer furnishings and in-room bars. Each ground floor suite will be nearly 1,200 square feet in size and allow L'Auberge to attract a high-end customer accustomed to Las Vegas-style gaming amenities. The new tower's second floor also will be dedicated to suites. "Calcasieu Parish has proven to be a superb location for a premier destination resort, and L'Auberge's success has validated our initial investment of $370 million in this market," said Daniel R. Lee, Pinnacle's Chairman and Chief Executive Officer. "We are excited to break ground today on L'Auberge's new hotel tower, and look forward to further enhancing Lake Charles' destination appeal when we begin construction on Sugarcane Bay in 2007."

L'Auberge Vice President and General Manager Larry Lepinski said, "Bringing our total room count to approximately 1,000 makes L'Auberge more competitive in attracting larger groups for state and regional mid-week conferences and meetings. This will also allow us to be better able to satisfy customer demand for rooms on the weekends. The additional rooms and retail space will create even more jobs for Calcasieu Parish."

Paddy Power Considers Land Casino

 

As reported by the Irish Examiner: "Paddy Power is considering opening a casino in Ireland if the Government opts to regulate the gaming industry. "Justice Minister Michael McDowell has set up a working group to consider whether to legalise and regulate casinos, which are currently outlawed. The ban has not prevented nearly two dozen private members' clubs springing up in recent years. "Paddy Power chief executive Mr Patrick Kennedy said yesterday that the company was interested in acquiring a casino licence. ".Paddy Power said the increase in profits was achieved by the strong growth from its internet business, which offset sluggish earnings from its core betting shops."

Man Denied Jackpot

 

As reported by the Miami Herald: "For about three hours, Freddy Howard was showered with all the glamour and glory he had ever dreamed of. "The struggling actor was told he had just won a $260,000 jackpot at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino near Hollywood in the early hours of Aug. 29. ".Then, Howard said managers at the hotel told him it was all a mistake. ".After parading Howard around as the winner of the jackpot for hours, hotel gaming officials called him into an empty room later in the day to tell him the kiosk that declared him the winner had malfunctioned, Howard said. ".In a short press release, Hard Rock officials said they were investigating. ".The Hard Rock, as part of the Seminole Indian reservation, is considered a sovereign nation -- so it isn't governed by state or local law. So Howard may have no place to turn. ".Howard was playing the Swipe and Win Progressive jackpot, a free promotion run at the Hard Rock that's aimed at regular customers. Players swipe their Players Club cards as they enter the casino. The cards accumulate bonus points every time a patron plays a slot machine or game, according to the Hard Rock website."

Alberta Tribal Casino Construction Finished

 

As reported by CBC News: "Alberta's first aboriginal-run casino is weeks away from opening as construction on the $178-million River Cree Resort and Casino wraps up more than two months ahead of schedule. "The complex, which opens at the end of October, is located on the Enoch Cree Nation reserve at the southwest edge of Edmonton. "Robert Morin, the president of the Enoch Casino Corp., hopes as many as 200 Enoch Cree will be hired in the next month. So far, 5,000 people have applied for the resort's 700 to 800 jobs. ".Of the nearly 300 construction workers who were hired for the project, 30 were Enoch band members - an important boost to the community given the unemployment rate on the reserve is nearly 65 per cent. "By the time workers finish putting in the gaming room's 600 slot machines and 40 gaming tables, the casino will be a third larger than the city's largest gambling operation, Yellowhead Casino. ".Gambling revenue will be shared amongst the Enoch Cree Nation, the Alberta Lottery Fund, the band's business partner, Las Vegas-based Paragon Gaming Inc., and Alberta's other First Nations."

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Hollywood Sportsbook Offers MLB Game Odds

 

Hollywood Sportsbook features odds on the MLB game between the San Diego Padres and the San Francisco Giants on September 8th 2006. The San Diego Padres, who haven't been in first place in the West since August 9, beat the Rockies 5-4 on Tuesday to pull within one game of division-leading Los Angeles and opened a two-game lead in the wild-card race over Philadelphia, which was rained out. So now the San Diego Padres are in position to move back atop the division, when they play season series with the San Francisco Giants on Friday. The game is scheduled to start at 10:15 p.m. (ET) at AT&T Park and Hollywood Sportsbook proudly features odds on the event. Hollywood's Media Relations executive, Alejandro Gomez, was quoted saying - "The Padres dropped out of first place in the NL West nearly a month ago and now they are hoping to move for first place in the West, fortunately they are doing the things they need to do to win". "San Diego is now six games over .500 for the first time since July 29 and is stretching their lead to two games over Philadelphia in the NL Wild Card race with a 5-4 win Tuesday over Colorado. On the other hand, the Giants became a .500 team for the first time since July 27; losing for just the seventh time in 22 games - Something that tells a lot about Friday's game," added Mr. Gomez.

Grand Privé Offers One-Wallet System

 

The Grand Privé group of online casinos has become the first casino group globally to introduce a new one-wallet system that gives players a choice of eight top-tier casinos to enjoy with just one account. The new single account system gives players all the convenience of playing at a single site and all the thrills of checking out a variety of casinos. All Grand Privé players now have a single sign-up name and one wallet for all eight Grand Privé casinos including flagship brand Casino Grand Bay. The same sign-up name, password and financial account are also valid at Bella Vegas Online Casino, Jupiter Club Casino, Lake Palace Casino, Road House REELS Casino, Jackpot Wheel Flash and Fortune Junction Flash. "We know people like to check out different casinos. But who can keep track of a million User IDs and passwords and accounts! The extra bonus with a single wallet is bonuses," says Grand Privé Manager Steven Green. "With one wallet, bonuses from one casino can be used at any of our other casinos." With the new eZ PLAY system comes Grand Privé's new Virtual Pit Boss, a state-of-the-art customer service tool that lets players interact with the casino in real time and enables the casino to give players the kind of personalized service they'd get in Atlantic City or Las Vegas. "You never know when we'll tap you on the shoulder," continues Green. "We'll be able to give instant rewards to individual players. We'll be awarding surprise bonuses every day." With the Virtual Pit Boss all Grand Privé casinos will also be able to offer real-time service to players requiring assistance. eZ PLAY is the one-wallet choice trusted by industry leaders like Microgaming. In five years of absolute dedication to its players, technological advancement and unwavering reliability, Grand Privé has established itself as a global leader of online gaming.

Fortunet Gets Preliminary Approval

 

State gaming regulators granted a third casino-equipment manufacturer tentative approval Thursday to operate wireless hand-held gambling devices in Nevada. But Gaming Control Board Chairman Dennis Neilander thought it would be six months at the earliest before the devices could find their way into Nevada casinos. The three-member control board gave Fortunet preliminary approval to distribute hand-held equipment for full casino gaming. The company's devices are now in use in bingo rooms around the state. The Nevada Gaming Commission will make a final ruling Sept. 21. Previously, state regulators approved Cantor G&W and slot machine giant International Game Technology to compete in the emerging mobile gambling market. The regulations covering the use of wireless gaming equipment were approved earlier this year. However, Neilander said the equipment must still be tested and approved by the control board laboratory and then operated and evaluated in a 90-day field trial. "I think we're still at least six months away from seeing these devices out in casinos, maybe longer," Neilander said. Fortunet Chief Executive Officer Yuri Itkis said his company's devices, which are about the size of tablet-sized personal computers, are now used with bingo games. But customers can also use them for nongaming purposes, such as playing solitare or listening to music. Itkis said the initial goal is to equip the devices for keno, video poker, and slot games. His plan is to market the devices to bingo customers already familiar with the hand-held equipment, trying to encourage the players to gamble on other games, too.

In a presentation to gaming regulators, Itkis said the devices have several built-in security measures to protect the casino and the customer.

Recently, Itkis said Fortunet's wireless gambling devices were used in a casino on a major ocean cruise ship. A confidentiality agreement forbade him from divulging the cruise line's name, but he told the control board the test seemed to be successful.

Disabled Find Opportunities With Online Bingo

 

The online bingo industry is a rapidly growing phenemon and it brings with it more than just online bingo games, it also creates a new trend in employment. Online bingo websites employ thousands of people as Chat Hosts, who manage and oversee the chat rooms that players frequent while they are playing bingo. This unique new trend in employement provides an alternative employment opportunity for those who are not able to work in a traditional workplace. Mary (not her real name) is a prime example of how the online bingo employment boom works to the advantage of thousands of people. She had a steady job in a bakery until 3 years ago when she fell down a flight a stairs and seriously injured her spine. She has been in rehabilitative therapy, but is not able to stand on her feet all day as required in her old job. During her free time, Mary plays online bingo at BingoPalace.com. She doesn't play daily, but she plays frequently enough that she knows many of the players and all the chat hosts at the site. On a whim, unable to continue working in the bakery, she inquired about employment as a chat host with the site. She has since joined thousands of others like her, working in the online bingo industry and finds it suits her limitations and lifestyle. Mary says: "I honestly didn't think I would ever be able to find a job that would accept my limitations, but Bingopalace.com has allowed me to hold down a full time job and earn a decent living. I love being a chat host and would urge anyone who is in my kind of situation to do the same." Mary's situation illustrates the underground employment boom occuring in the online bingo sector. It demonstrates the power of the internet and provides a glimpse of how people will be employed in the future. Call it telecommuting at its finest. All Mary needs is a working computer and a stable internet connection. She can live anywhere in the world and is a work for hire employee responsible for her own tax obligations. The employer doesn't need to provide office space or incur any of the typical overhead costs associated with direct employees. Mary receives a work schedule and reports to the site when required to work her shift and although she is monitored by a supervisor, she is basically working autonomously. It is a unique employment option for those who are not able to work in a traditional workplace.

Casino Windsor Bets on Detroit Bettors

 

As reported by the Detroit Free Press: "Starting today, metro Detroiters will be able to cross the Canadian border to Windsor and place live bets on sports, something that is legal in the United States only in Nevada. "Casino Windsor officials are betting the move will attract sports-crazy metro Detroiters to Legends, its new sports lounge, helping to ease the malaise that has lingered over the Windsor casino business following travel restrictions imposed after 9/11. ".Casino Windsor will offer betting in hockey, professional football, baseball and college basketball and football, said Chris Parrott, category brand manager at the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp., which oversees casino operations in Canada."

Casino Companies Heed to Road Work

 

Tens of millions of dollars are spent each year encouraging John and Jane Traveler to make Las Vegas the site of their next getaway. But what happens here won't stay here if people can't get here in the first place. And later this month, a different Las Vegas message -- as in "Don't come here, at least not driving the way you'd normally drive" -- will resonate in some of this city's largest feeder markets. That curious reversal stems from a series of weekend road closures needed to improve Interstate 15, the primary roadway between Las Vegas and the Southern California metropolises of Los Angeles, San Diego and all burgs between. Upcoming construction near Devore, Calif., is expected to cause delays so lengthy that the California Department of Transportation has asked travelers to find alternate routes, even if those detours add hours and miles to the journey. CalTrans encourages weekend travelers: - To fly.

- To leave home earlier than normal and stay away longer.

- To remain at home altogether to avoid congestion.

The latter option is unacceptable to Southern Nevada, whose travel industry relies on dollars from the Golden State. And to keep that cash flow flowing, businesses here already are taking steps to pacify their Southern California customers.

Harrah's Entertainment and Boyd Gaming Corp. will mail their customers letters to alert them of the impending work. MGM Mirage might do the same, while the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority is readying an advertising blitz of its own.

"The decision on how aggressive we'll be with an advertising campaign will be made as the weekends progress," Terry Jicinsky, the convention authority's senior vice president of marketing, said Thursday.

Newspaper, radio and Internet ad concepts are in development so they'll be ready to go if needed, Jicinsky added.

CalTrans on Aug. 31 unveiled its long-awaited list of dates when it plans to shut down portions of I-15 south of Cajon Pass. The closures are needed to replace damaged pavement, add a northbound truck-climbing lane and improve the roadway's shoulders and guardrails.

The first closures will affect some southbound lanes from Sept. 29 through Oct. 1. A larger shutdown is scheduled the following weekend affecting traffic in both directions of I-15 and I-215.

Similar shutdowns are scheduled each weekend next month. After a winter hiatus, more will occur in 2007 as CalTrans wraps up its $26 million improvement project.

Casino operators stressed that the road work is a short-term inconvenience that will bring long-term benefits to the local economy. Last year, 29 percent, or about 11.2 million, of Las Vegas' nearly 38.6 million visitors hailed from Southern California, according to visitor surveys conducted for the convention authority.

Those surveys also indicated that 53 percent of all visitors last year traveled by automobile or bus; that percentage of drivers probably was higher among Southern Californians, given their proximity to the Silver State.

The Palms has become a haven for younger, well-heeled Southern Californians looking to blow off a little weekend steam in the desert. Still, owner George Maloof shrugged off the expected negatives associated with the I-15 work, adding he has no plans to offer special incentives to customers affected by the delays.

"I don't know if anyone has a choice, really. You just live through it," Maloof said. "It's like expanding a casino. For a time it's inconvenient, but at the end of the day it benefits everyone.

"Looking long-term, if (the I-15 improvements) are going to help, you've got to get them done."

The closures will affect different properties in different ways.

Resorts such as Bellagio, Wynn Las Vegas, Caesars Palace and The Venetian, for example, rely more on fly-in customers than Excalibur or Imperial Palace, for example. But every local property will be affected in some manner, industry sources said.

Strong advance bookings at MGM Mirage's 10 Strip properties have that company expecting only a "marginal" impact" from the construction, said spokesman Gordon Absher. Its resorts' marketing departments are studying ads and mailers that would alert guests of the road work, but no firm plans to deploy them are set.

Instead, MGM Mirage might step up its sales efforts in areas unaffected by the highway closures by placing more ads to increase visitor counts from Phoenix, the Bay Area, Denver or Southern California's High Desert communities north of the road work.

"Las Vegas is a compelling destination. People are going to come," Absher said.

Harrah's Entertainment, which operates eight hotel-casinos in Las Vegas and Laughlin, has its investment relations director monitoring the impending closures because of their potential financial effect.

Still, the company's western division president said this week he does not believe the closures will deter many people from driving.

"It will be an inconvenience, but one most people will understand and allow an extra half-hour for," Tom Jenkin said. "I think that most people are tolerant (of delays), as evidenced by (heavy I-15 traffic encountered) each holiday weekend."

Beyond the mailings, Harrah's won't do anything unusual for customers affected by the congestion.

"We'll monitor customers' reactions when they're here, but hopefully people will simply time their departures better" to avoid congestion, Jenkin said.

Unlike its Las Vegas competitors that have no Southern California properties, Harrah's could steer traffic toward Rincon, an Indian casino it operates just north of San Diego.

The Pechanga Resort & Casino, which sits just off of I-15 in Temecula, Calif., has for months placed radio and TV ads enticing Southern Californians with promises of easier accessibility vs. Las Vegas and other nearby Indian casinos. Spokeswoman Ciara Coyle said the property's tag line "The Shortcut to Vegas" should ring particularly true next month.

"It's hard to say if we'll see any measurable drive-in traffic from the closures, but we'd certainly welcome the added business," said Coyle. She would not rule out the use of ads specifically targeting the I-15 closures, though Pechanga has none currently planned.

Boyd Gaming spokesman Rob Stillwell said his company also will advise Southern Californians with October reservations of the roadwork in advance of their departure. Nonetheless, Boyd's October bookings have not shown any weakness so far.

Boyd Gaming won't offer incentives to entice customers to drive through the construction, Stillwell said, but it might provide some sort of "goodwill gesture" after the roadwork ends to win back visitors who were put off by October's inconveniences.

Absher and Jicinsky praised CalTrans for its efforts to plan the closures for periods that minimize their negative effect on Las Vegas.

"The consumer will come to understand that there's an end to this, and we think that will work to our advantage," Jicinsky said.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Shuffle Master Posts Loss

 

For the second straight quarter the cost of acquiring an Australian slot maker sent gaming equipment provider Shuffle Master to a quarterly loss, even though the Las Vegas-based company's revenues grew almost 50 percent. "We posted solid operating results and we've made tremendous progress in creating a formidable global gaming equipment supplier," Shuffle Master Chairman Mark Yoseloff said Thursday during the company's conference call to announce third-quarter earnings for the period that ended July 31. Shuffle Master, which supplies casinos with table games and table game-related equipment, said its third-quarter earnings were $7.2 million or 20 cents per share, down from $8.1 million or 22 cents per share for the same quarter a year ago. Analysts polled by Thomson First Call thought the company would earn 24 cents per share. The integration process stemming from the company's acquisition of Stargames in February, drove down earnings. Stargames, which distributes Rapid Roulette, an electronic version of the table game, is Australia's third-largest slot maker. Costs associated with the acquisition, which increased Shuffle Master's operating expenses by $5.6 million, affected results. Yoseloff said the company is working toward integrating Stargames within Shuffle Master's corporate structure. Meanwhile, Shuffle Master's overall revenues grew to $40.7 million in the quarter, a 49 percent increase compared with $27.3 million a year ago. Cash flow, defined as earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, was $19.2 million, a 26 percent increase compared with $15.2 million for the same quarter of 2005. Yoseloff said the loss per share would be short-lived as the company continues with its integration process.

"We are confident that fiscal 2007 will see Shuffle Master's market presence expand dramatically," Yoseloff said. "This includes a leading position in the fastest growing gaming region in the world, the Pacific Rim, and enormous opportunity in North America."

Shuffle Master Chief Financial Officer Richard Baldwin said the company's international revenues will grow faster than domestic revenues during the coming quarter.

Nevertheless, gaming expansion in the United States helped Shuffle Master.

In July, the company announced it was awarded a contract by the Delaware Lottery in which 44 Table Master games, an electronic automated table game that seats up to five players, will be installed in the state's three lottery locations. The initial installations should begin by the end of the year.

The company announced earnings after trading on the Nasdaq National Market closed Thursday.

Shares in the company closed at $26.93, off 85 cents or 3.06 percent. In after-hours trading, shares in Shuffle Master fell to $25.60, down $1.33 or 4.94 percent.

Poker Creation Sign Promo Agreement

 

Poker Creations, the leader in US-compliant online poker promotion tournaments, today announced a multi-week poker promotion agreement with Milwaukee's Best Light Beer and Casino Media Group, a multi-media agency with offices in Toronto, New York and Las Vegas. Poker Creations, a wholly owned division of NLOP, Inc. will provide online logistics for its second nationwide promotion sponsored by Milwaukee's Best Light Beer a Miller Brewing product. Beginning on Sept. 10, Milwaukee's Best Light will invite legal drinking age consumers to visit its Web site to compete in an online Texas Hold'em tournament. Seven grand prize winners will earn seats at the 2007 World Series of Poker, airfare and lodging. Consumers can look for 12 and 30-packs of MBL and 24-ounce MBL cans featuring Texas Hold'em information and promotion rules at retail outlets. According to the New York Times, there are more than 65 million poker players in the US. But, live-money Internet poker sites are considered illegal. The US House of Representatives recently adopted HR4777, 'The Internet Gaming Prohibition Act'. This combined with US Attorneys arresting a UK-based sportsbook CEO, have caused US-based brand owners and media properties to re-evaluate how to align themselves with this burgeoning new audience. "We have developed a US-legal promotional poker platform that allows sponsors to offer free online poker to their constituencies," said Michael Clebnik, COO of Poker Creations. "Our poker rooms offer exciting online poker play, but, unlike offshore or remote sites, we offer contestants the opportunity to win prizes, without gambling. This promotion with Milwaukee's Best Light highlights our unique 'advergaming', software assimilating sponsor's brands into the application in a myriad of ways, making the sponsor a truly integrated part of the action." "We love the service that Poker Creations provides," said Walter Marcinowski, vice president of CMG. "Our clients have expressed extreme interest in the poker demographic and in offering cross-media poker promotional campaigns and our partnership with Poker Creations provides that for them."

PinnacleSports.com Releases MLB Award Odds

 

With just over three weeks remaining in the regular season, not only are the MLB pennant races heating up, but so is speculation about who'll win the league's top awards. In both the American and National Leagues, the MVP debate is becoming strongly contested along with the NL Cy Young, while the AL Cy Young appears to be a virtual lock for a former winner. Now that the contenders for the major MLB awards are becoming clearer, PinnacleSports.com has released updated odds on the MVP and Cy Young winners in each league. The largest sports betting site on the Internet, PinnacleSports.com currently lists New York Yankees captain Derek Jeter as a slight favorite to capture his first American League MVP Award at 3/2 odds (i.e., win $3 for every $2 bet). Despite being the AL leader in homeruns and RBIs, the oddsmakers believe David Ortiz's chances to win his first MVP run have taken a hit from his recent absence from the lineup and is now listed at 2/1 to become the first Red Sox MVP since 1995. The Twins Justin Morneau and White Sox Jermaine Dye have been huge contributors to their respective teams' playoff runs, but remain underdogs to walk away with the hardware at 13/2 and 15/2, respectively. PinnacleSports.com lists 2004 AL Most Valuable Player Vladimir Guerrero as a 12/1 long shot to capture the honor for a second time. In the National League, the online sportsbook lists Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols as a 5/4 favorite to win his second consecutive MVP award. Following his recent power surge, Philadelphia's Ryan Howard has taken over the Major League lead in HRs and RBIs, but remains a slight MVP underdog at 7/5. Mets center fielder Carlos Beltran has silenced any detractors this season by turning into a solid MVP contender with odds of 5/1. PinnacleSports.com has also handicapped the Cy Young race and currently favors St. Louis' Chris Carpenter to repeat in the National League at 2/1, followed closely by the Cubs' Carlos Zambrano at 3/1. Arizona's young ace Brandon Webb has been installed at 9/2 while Braves' veteran John Smoltz and Marlins' rookie Josh Johnson stand at 17/2 to be named the league's best pitcher. Meanwhile, San Diego closer Trevor Hoffman is a 23/1 long shot to become the latest relief pitcher to capture the award normally reserved for starters. The American League Cy Young race paints a much clearer picture as Minnesota's Johan Santana has distanced himself from all other candidates by becoming the Major League leader in the three pitching "triple crown" categories. Now leading the big leagues in wins, strikeouts and ERA, Santana is listed as an overwhelming 1/5 favorite to win his second Cy Young.

Pinnacle Extends Notes Offers

 

Pinnacle Entertainment, Inc. (the "Company") announced today that it has extended the expiration date of its offer to purchase any and all of the outstanding 12% Notes due 2001 (Cusip No. 740822AA9) and 13% Senior Exchange Notes due 2001 (Cusip No. 740848AF3) issued by President Casinos, Inc. (collectively, the "Notes") until 8:00 a.m., New York City time, on September 13, 2006. The previously-scheduled expiration date was 8:00 a.m., New York City time, on September 7, 2006. Subject to the satisfaction of the remaining tender offer conditions, the Company will accept and purchase any Notes validly tendered on or prior to the extended expiration date. The terms and conditions of the tender offer for the Notes are more particularly described in the Company's Offer to Purchase dated July 19, 2006. As of September 6, 2006, approximately $74.6 million, or about 99.5% of the outstanding original principal amount of the Notes, has been tendered. Of this amount, the Company has already purchased approximately $74.6 million in original Notes validly tendered prior to or on August 29, 2006. The Company is offering to purchase Notes at a purchase price of $809.07 per $1,000.00 of original principal amount of the Notes. HSBC Bank USA, National Association, is the depositary agent in connection with the Tender Offer. D.F. King & Co., Inc. is the information agent for the Tender Offer. Requests for copies of the Offer to Purchase and Letter of Transmittal should be directed to the information agent at (800) 967-7635.

Las Vegas Sands Reports Promotions

 

Las Vegas Sands Corp. today announced the promotions of several key executives to further reflect the company's ever-expanding presence in Asia. "As we move forward with our visionary expansion plans in Macao we have taken the opportunity to bolster our management team," said William Weidner, president and chief operating officer of Las Vegas Sands Corp. As part of an overall plan to position LVS for its future growth, Stephen Weaver has been named president of the company's Asian subsidiary. In this role Mr. Weaver will be responsible for overseeing all of the company's efforts in Macao, including real estate development transactions, retail mall leasing, and other business-related activities. Mr. Weaver, who has been with the company since 2005, will in addition assume the supervisory activities previously performed by Frank McFadden, who has been relieved of his responsibilities. Mr. Weaver has vast experience in all elements of property development and business management, initially gained through 12 years practice as a property lawyer, and subsequently in senior management positions with Savills and Jones Lang LaSalle. Mark Brown, who joined the company in April, has been named president of Sands Macao and The Venetian Macao Resort. With nearly three decades of gaming and resort experience, Mr. Brown will oversee all operational aspects of both The Venetian Macao Resort and the Sands Macao. Mr. Brown started his career as a dealer at Resorts Hotel and Casino and quickly worked his way up the Trump Entertainment Resorts management ladder. During his tenure with Trump Entertainment he held a variety of senior level positions and was chief operating officer, president and CEO of Trump Hotels & Casino before joining Las Vegas Sands. Dr. Jorge Neto Valente has been the company's managing director since its inception and will continue to serve in that role as the company's opportunities expand. Dr. Valente has played a key role in the company's success in Macao and will continue to spearhead the company's legal and government relations functions. Additionally, David Sylvester, who has been with the company since 2005, has been promoted to vice president of retail development. Mr. Sylvester has worked closely with Stephen Weaver for the past year and will now be responsible for the company's ambitious retail plans for The Venetian Macao and the Cotai Strip(TM). Mr. Sylvester has over 22 years of experience in development and managing of shopping centers in Asia Pacific. Over the course of his career, he has been involved in more than 40 major retail developments. Having started his career with Westfield and Lend Lease, Mr. Sylvester went on to head up Jones Lang LaSalle's International Retail Leasing for Asia, based in Hong Kong. His most recent appointment before joining the company was as Group General Manager of GIC's retail assets in Australia.

Diamondhead Casino, Trump Entertainment Extend Due Diligence

 

Diamondhead Casino Corporation and Trump Entertainment Resorts (Nasdaq: TRMP) announced today that they have extended to October 23, 2006, the terms of a letter of intent signed on June 8, 2006, pursuant to which the parties intend to form a joint venture partnership to develop, build and operate a destination casino resort in Diamondhead, Mississippi. The parties are pleased with the progress, accomplishments, and results obtained thus far and are currently in the process of preparing a master plan and preliminary project design concepts. While the parties have completed substantial due diligence, including a new mean high water line survey and other engineering surveys and studies, additional time is required to complete the required legal and remaining due diligence. The joint venture would cover a minimum of forty acres within a 404-acre tract of land owned by Mississippi Gaming Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Diamondhead. The Diamondhead tract fronts Interstate 10 for approximately two miles and the Bay of St. Louis for approximately two miles and is located in Hancock County, Mississippi. The property is zoned as a Special Use District-Waterfront Gaming District by Hancock County. On October 17, 2005, following Hurricane Katrina, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour signed a bill into law that permits casinos to be built on land up to 800-feet from the mean high water line of certain bodies of water. The new law applies to the Diamondhead property. The formation of a joint venture and development of this project are subject to certain conditions including, but not limited to, further due diligence and receipt of regulatory and other approvals and permits.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Arkansas' Gambling Rules Reviewed

 

As reported by the Arkansas News Bureau: "State legislators Wednesday reviewed new rules and regulations governing booming natural gas exploration in western Arkansas and expanded gambling at the state's two pari-mutuel racetracks. ".During Wednesday's meeting, the committee reviewed a series of rules and regulations for implementing Act 1151 of 2005, which authorized wagering on electronic games of skill for the first time in the state at Oaklawn Park thoroughbred track at Hot Springs and Southland Greyhound Park at West Memphis. "Byron Freeland, attorney for the Arkansas Racing Commission, told lawmakers the regulations were modeled after existing regulations in Oklahoma and Florida. A national consulting firm also was hired to develop the rules. "The new rules deal with the operation of electronic games of skill, licensing and service, employee licenses, privilege fees, underage patrons and employees, days and hours of operation, accounting and internal controls, security and franchise holders, and technical specifications. "Last week, Southland President Barry Baldwin told the Racing Commission he expects the games to more than double the weekly purses offered by the dog track."

Maine Casino Complex Budget Grows

 

As reported by the Bangor Daily News: "The project budget for Penn National Gaming Inc.'s permanent gaming complex has grown from $72 million to $90 million, members of the company's development team said Wednesday during a briefing for city officials. "'That's not driven by our development agreement with the city; that's our commitment to Bangor,' Penn National spokesman Eric Schippers said after a presentation for members of the City Council's business and economic development committee. ".The proposed permanent gambling complex would replace the interim Hollywood Slots at Bangor facility that the company opened in November with 475 slot machines at the former Miller's Restaurant building on Main Street. "The new, larger Hollywood Slots is slated to open in mid-2008, Hollywood Slots' General Manager Jon Johnson said. "The new gambling facility will include, among other things, a 116,000-square-foot gaming facility housing 1,475 slots, a 1,500-space four-story parking garage."

Betfair Sponsors Aero GP

 

As reported by the Brand Republic: "Betfair has sign up as the title sponsor for the first event in a series of airborne races known as the Aero GP. "Aero GP pits multiple aircraft against each other at the same time, undertaking a combination of racing, air-to-air combat and target bombing. Points are awarded across the three disciplines, providing pilots with a true test of flying ability. ".Betfair, the betting service that lets customers set their own odds, has just set up an office in Malta to run its online poker and games products and said that the nature of airborne racing makes it a good fit with gambling."

Second Online Exec Arrested

 

As reported by Reuters: "The United States has arrested a second Internet gaming executive, adding to fears it is cracking down on the lucrative industry and sparking share price falls on Thursday that wiped over $1.5 billion off the market value of the sector. "Online bookmaker Sportingbet Plc said its chairman, Peter Dicks, had been detained by U.S. authorities, mirroring the detention in July of another online gaming CEO on racketeering charges. "Dicks was arrested on Internet gambling charges as part of an ongoing investigation into Sportingbet.com, said Senior Trooper Dwight Robinette of the Louisiana State Police. ".Shares across the $12 billion-a-year industry fell sharply, with industry leader PartyGaming plunging as much as 19 percent before closing 9.8 percent lower at 105-3/4 pence. 888 Holdings Plc dropped 15.8 percent."

Blackpool Casino Bid Faces Legal Challenge

 

As reported by the BBC: "The company which runs Blackpool's largest amusement arcade is launching a legal challenge against the town's bid for a super casino licence. "The Noble Organisation, owners of Coral Island, has begun High Court legal action, claiming the development is contrary to local planning guidelines. "The Casino Advisory Panel will decide by the end of the year which of the six UK towns will get the casino licence. "It will meet in Blackpool on Friday to hear from supporters and opposers."

Tribe Shares Survey's Results

 

As reported by the Independent: "Canal Fulton City Manager Mark Cozy believes a community survey conducted by the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma was designed with one purpose in mind: Marketing. "Cozy also said that many Canal Fulton residents are undecided about the tribe's plans for a casino resort, which proponents say will bring jobs and revenue to the city of about 5,000. "The Shawnee surveyed 250 registered Canal Fulton voters, and released highlights of that survey at Tuesday's City Council meeting. ".Among the results released, a majority of participants identified school funding, high taxes and government spending as major problems and concerns in the community. Twelve percent of participants said the casino and tribe were major problems and concerns."

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Gaming and Gambling Industry Looks to Europe for Future Growth

 

Traditionally the US has been the trail blazer when it comes to both on and offline gaming and gambling, but with the recent Betonsports saga the European market has become more important than ever for companies looking to continue aggressive growth strategies and increase market share. And with the merger of both on and offline activity becoming ever more prominent it is with great interest that Bullet Business have launched a brand new industry meeting point that brings together the on and offline industries - Bullet Business Europe (London, Dec. 6-7, 2006) (www.bulletbusiness.com/europe06) Industry leaders such as John Anderson (CEO, 888), Mark Blandford (CEO, Sportingbet), Phil Fraser (CEO, Which Bingo), Matthias Hein, (Treasurer, The European Casino Association) and John Shepherd (Director of Corporate Communications, PartyGaming) are already confirmed to speak. 6 co-located events, 450+ attendees, under one roof With 6 co-located topic focus conferences, an audience of 450+ attendees, Expo, Charity Auction and Industry Poker Tournament (IPT'06) the event follows hot on the heels of last years sell out success from Bullet Business - Poker Summit Europe. The event offers a unique structure of 6 summits, conferences and workshops on the most important issues in the business; Poker, Land Based Casinos, Online Bingo, New Product Development, Marketing and Legislation. Michael Setters, Global Events Director at Bullet Business explains; 'Research indicated that there was a real need to bring the on and offline markets together across the gaming and gambling industry. The synergies are massively important and of course the expectation of the European market has been heightened in recent months making the event even more pertinent'. In-depth information for individual job roles

Due to the unique focus of each individual summit, conference or workshop, attendees can be sure that they will receive in-depth information on their specific job role be it strategic or operational. With two day, one day and workshop passes available at varying rates there is huge opportunity for everyone in the business to attend, from Managers right through to CEOs.

Charity Auction and Industry Poker Tournament

But its not all work, work, work, and as we know with the gaming and gambling industry fun is quite definitely on the agenda, The Bullet Business Xmas Party will include a Charity Auction supported by Gamcare and the 2nd annual Industry Poker Tournament with online qualifiers taking place already at www.bulletbusiness.com/IPT.

Bullet Business Europe runs December 6th - 7th at the Business Design Centre in London, UK. Full information can be found at www.bulletbusiness.com/europe06

FC Group [First Conferences Ltd] is a UK based publisher, event origination and marketing company. Operating internationally in multiple vertical industries the company is known for its high-level summits and industry news services.

Stardust Takes Care of its Employees

 

Stardust employees received official word Tuesday that the closing date of the venerable Strip casino will be Nov. 1 - an announcement driven by equal parts courtesy by Boyd Gaming Corp. and federal law. The WARN Act, which dates from 1989, requires large employers to give workers at least 60 days' notice of a mass layoff. At the Stardust, more than 1,600 employees have been forced to decide whether to retire or look for work elsewhere. But the memo, signed by Chief Executive Bill Boyd, was hardly the stuff of legal jargon. It was a short, bittersweet testament to the "hard work and dedication" of the rank-and-file employees who made the Stardust "one of Las Vegas' great properties for nearly half a century. "While this was a very difficult decision, we believe that it is one that will serve our company well in the future and will ultimately make us a stronger company for our employees and customers alike." The Stardust, the largest Strip casino to close in more than a decade, turned 48 in July. Incidentally, the closing also marks the last year that Boyd's annual employee service awards, which will take place this month, will be hosted by the Stardust. "These are very emotional times," Boyd Gaming spokesman Rob Stillwell said. "The great thing is that while we are saying goodbye to the Stardust, in many ways it is a new beginning for our company." The letter served more to prepare for the final chapter of the storied casino than to deliver news. In contrast with some of Las Vegas' more abrupt, rumor-filled casino closures, the transition process for the Stardust began in January, when Boyd announced it would close the property by the end of the year to make way for Echelon Place, a collection of resort hotels and a convention center expected to open by mid-2010. The closing date is earlier than the company expected because many workers had been leaving for new jobs, making it more difficult for the Stardust to operate, Stillwell said.

By midyear, the company had begun the process of placing workers into other jobs. For many longtime Stardust employees, this isn't a simple process.

Both union and nonunion workers are receiving refresher training or new job skills for similar positions at newer properties that have different standards. Competition for good jobs remains stiff, employment experts say.

Boyd surprised Strip competitors by offering severance packages of $1,000 to $10,000 to the several hundred workers who intend to stay until the property's close and then retire.

The Culinary Union, which represents about 900 workers, began training workers in August for jobs elsewhere.

Of the remaining 1,000 or so workers who aren't organized, a few hundred have been placed or have accepted jobs elsewhere, mostly with Boyd in Las Vegas. Boyd owns the Coast Casinos chain as well as the Sam's Town, California, Main Street, Fremont, Eldorado and Jokers Wild casinos. The remaining workers expect to receive severance money.

Industry observers are praising the company for practicing what some employers simply preach - making good by their employees.

With consolidation and the emergence of giant gaming companies, employers are putting a greater emphasis on employee relations.

With that in mind, the Stardust memo was intended as a sentimental send-off to preserve employee goodwill.

And for good reason.

Unlike past decades, when single operators closed their properties, Boyd has the resources to shift many workers into existing job openings. The well-planned Stardust closing process, some say, will become a model for other employers.

"The Stardust has really done an excellent job of setting a standard," said Arte Nathan, chief human resources officer for Wynn Resorts. "There wasn't much before that - just people who were trying to do the best they could" to help laid-off workers.

For instance, when Steve Wynn bought and then closed the Desert Inn in 2000, he couldn't shift those workers into other jobs because he had sold off his other properties. Wynn also did not offer severance payments for all retiring rank-and-file workers.

Sheffield Council Makes Job Claims

 

As reported by the BBC News: "A super-casino in Sheffield would generate 14,000 jobs in the city over 20 years, it has been claimed. "Sheffield City Council quoted the figure at a meeting of the Casino Advisory Panel to discuss the impact of a Las Vegas style super-casino. ".Council chief executive Sir Bob Kerslake said Sheffield offered an ideal location to 'pilot' the idea of a super-casino. "...Sir Bob told the panel the casino would directly create 1,500 jobs in an area ripe for regeneration. "But he said the long-term impact on the area would be much greater. He said that as well as 14,000 jobs over 20 years, the casino would generate £217m in extra economic activity in the same period."

Bowman Launches September Promotion

 

Forget any ideas of staying in and huddling round the fire while rain and leaves fall from the sky. Bowman International, the name to trust in wagering since 1985, is making sure that this September will be one to remember. Firstly, Bowmans will be exhibiting on stand 21 at the Casino Affiliate Convention in Las Vegas, which runs from the 14th to the 15th of September. The convention is the largest industry affiliate conference covering marketing and advertising for online gambling businesses. Remaining in Vegas until the 16th, Bowmans will use the backdrop of this major event to exclusively launch their new affiliate programme which now includes poker. Under the deal, on-line businesses that refer customers to Bowmans Poker with a simple link or banner can earn up to 35% commission on the net rake. "Anyone involved in online gambling will want to be at this event and our presence offers a superb opportunity for companies to meet their affiliate representatives face-to-face", says Geoff Dallennes, Bowmans Affiliate Manager. The second September treat from Bowmans is the launch of 'Reduced Juice Fridays' throughout the regular NFL season. Starting from September 9th, on each Friday of the season between noon and 6pm PST, Bowmans will reduce the juice - the amount charged when placing bets, on sides by 5% on all NFL games on the weekend's card. Steve Rapp, Bowmans Sportsbook spokesman explains: "If a customer places a bet in time for the weekend at Bowmans.com, in standard cases they would only have to lay down 1.05 instead of 1.10 as an example. So Bowmans reduced juice Fridays mean goodbye to the traditional 10%. Now players can get the same amount of action for a lot less juice!"

Wyandotte Tribe to Appeal Ruling

 

As reported by the Kansas City Star: "The Justice Department said Tuesday that it would appeal a federal judge's ruling that appeared to permit a tribal casino to resume operating in downtown Kansas City, Kan. "In July, U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson overturned a 2004 decision by the National Indian Gaming Commission that disqualified the land for tribal gambling. "While upholding several underlying elements of the commission's decision, Robinson overturned its ultimate conclusion, ruling that the purchase of the half-acre tract in 1996 by the Oklahoma-based Wyandotte Nation amounted to settlement against the United States of a land claim whose roots reached back to 1842. "City and state officials have challenged the land's tribal reservation status since it was granted by the federal agency."

Bluff Runs Readers Choice Survey

 

Bluff Magazine, America's leading poker magazine, is taking online voting for the first ever Bluff Magazine's Annual Readers Choice Awards. Categories for the 2006 Bluff Reader's Choice Awards include: Most Entertaining Player to Watch, Best All-Around Online Poker Room, Best Online Customer Service, Best Live Poker Tournaments and Best Poker Commentary. Online voting commenced Thursday January 12th and will close on Oct 20th. The results will be revealed in Bluff Magazine's World Series of Poker preview issue that hits newsstands on Dec 20th. Bluff Magazine readers and poker fans worldwide can participate in Bluff Magazine's Annual Readers Choice Awards by visiting BluffMagazine.com or directly by visiting BluffMagazine.com/readersChoice/. Bluff Magazine will be randomly giving away an IPod Nano to five voters. "Bluff Magazine is once again at the forefront of the poker industry by giving their readers influence and a voice in shaping the future of poker. "Never before have poker players been able to deem, "The best of the best," in over 20 different poker categories. What this means is the Bluff Magazine awards will be a true testament to the companies who receive various accolades," said Eric Morris, Co-President of Bluff Magazine.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Recovering From Katrina: Coming Inland, Prospering in Biloxi

 

In the days following Hurricane Katrina, state officials and gaming authorities assessed the damage the storm inflicted on the Gulf Coast's lucrative casino industry. It became clear to many that a controversial step had to be taken; moving the casinos away from the shoreline onto land to protect the multimillion-dollar investments should another storm hit here. What wasn't anticipated, however, was the outpouring of interest that casino operators would have in joining the Gulf Coast's casino reconstruction. State lawmakers passed an emergency measure in a special legislative session two months after the hurricane, allowing casinos to be 800 feet from the water's edge. The bill, signed immediately into law by Gov. Haley Barbour, opened the floodgates once again, but this time in a positive way. Since the Katrina storm surge subsided, eight casinos have reopened; seven alone in Biloxi. A ninth casino will open in Gulfport in a few weeks. Two more casinos are in various stages of construction. Almost a half-dozen proposals have been cleared by gaming regulators and await other state and local approvals. Meanwhile, proposals for new casinos seem to cross Mississippi Gaming Commission Executive Director Larry Gregory's desk weekly. Barbour lobbied lawmakers to pass the emergency measure, opposed by anti-gambling groups and religious leaders who said casinos could pop up throughout the state. The governor said all of Mississippi benefits by the Gulf Coast building boom.

"The casinos are an enormous taxpayer, both to the state and locally," Barbour said. "They are a very important part of these communities' fiscal health. But most importantly, the casinos bring people to Mississippi who otherwise wouldn't come here. That's good for our image because Mississippi's image has been marred by a different thing. People come to Mississippi and they like it here. The people are warm and hospitable."

Before Katrina, Mississippi was the nation's third-largest producer of gaming revenue; figures topped $2.77 billion in 2004. More than $1.2 billion came from the 12 Gulf Coast casinos. The casino closures took an estimated $500,000 a day away from state and local tax coffers.

Barbour said the state keeps about two-thirds of all gaming taxes with the other third going to local governments. In all, gaming taxes account for just less than 10 percent of the state's budget.

As casinos reopened, revenue generation recovered quickly.

Three Biloxi casinos were open in January and reported a combined $64.2 million in gaming revenue, more than half of what 12 casinos produced in January 2005. In July, five casinos reported $74.4 million in gaming revenues, 75 percent of what 12 casinos reported the same month in 2005.

The revenue figures are even more impressive when it's factored in that customers have to go out of their way to reach the Biloxi peninsula. Two Highway 90 bridges that connected the casino corridor with Ocean Springs to the east and Bay St. Louis to the west were washed away by the hurricane and won't be open until next year.

Obstacles notwithstanding, it now seems that everyone wants a piece of the action.

"The development proposals are reflective of two reasons, the legislation passed allowing land-based casinos and the gaming revenue numbers coming out in the recent months," Gregory said. "Once the numbers started coming in, I was seeing people in my office every week."

Beau Rivage's opening last week after a yearlong, $550 million renovation, is expected to spur new gaming growth on the Gulf Coast. Beau Rivage, which cost $800 million when it originally opened in 1999, had the same effect seven years ago.

Harrah's Entertainment reopened part of the Grand Casino Biloxi on Aug. 18, bringing back 500 hotel rooms. The property's former convention space and part of the pool deck were turned into a land-based casino that replaced its hurricane-destroyed gaming barge.

In addition to the Grand Casino site, Harrah's acquired the hurricane-wrecked Casino Magic next to the Grand from Pinnacle Entertainment. When the deal closes in November, coupled with other adjacent land purchases, Harrah's will have more than 50 acres to design around.

Anthony Sanfilippo, president of Harrah's central division, said it will be year's end at the earliest when the company is ready to disclose a master plan for the site. However, he wouldn't discount two casinos populating the development with a combined investment of more than $1 billion.

"When you see how the casino market has come back in Biloxi, our site gives us a tremendous footprint from which to build on," Sanfilippo said. "The reopening of Beau Rivage is a great signal for the market. Obviously, we want to see how they progress."

MGM Mirage Chairman Terry Lanni said he hopes rival Harrah's spends $1 billion or even $2 billion on the company's Biloxi site. That type of investment, Lanni said, can only benefit every property in what is going to be a changing market.

"Frankly, the Beau was the place to be, with all due respects to the other casinos," Lanni said. "At the time, the others were not very nice properties. I think the average investment was under $200 million. If Harrah's spends $2 billion, they are bringing new people to the market."

At the other end of the spectrum is the privately held Treasure Bay, a floating casino that had been themed as a pirate ship. The boat was demolished after the storm, but the casino is being reincarnated as a boutique-style property, said Susan Varnes, the chief executive of the casino's privately held company.

A 250-room hotel, across Highway 90 from where the casino once sat, is being renovated. A temporary slot machine arcade has been situated in part of the hotel lobby and restaurant.

Varnes said an expansion will open in October that will include 450 slot machines in 22 table games.

"We're going after a different audience," Varnes said. "We're looking to attract a customer that wants a smaller, more intimate setting. We believe that how Biloxi is changing, there will be room for smaller properties."

Change also took place in Bay St. Louis, where Penn National Gaming reopened the former Casino Magic as Hollywood Casino, modeled after other company casinos under the same brand. The property was reconfigured into a 40,000-square-foot land-based casino with more than 900 slot machines and 20 table games.

Hollywood spokesman Marty Moore said plans are being developed for a casino expansion, along with a hotel addition. The property has 291 hotel rooms; a second building with another 200 rooms was damaged by the hurricane and subsequently demolished.

"Getting open and getting our employees back to work was important for the community," Moore said. "We've been the only casino in Bay St. Louis and this is an area that was hit pretty hard."

Isle of Capri Casinos may be giving the Hollywood Casino some competition in a few years. The company, which operates Biloxi's first casino on Highway 90, wants to develop a second property, this time on Interstate 10 at the edge of the Hancock County border.

Isle of Capri President Tim Hinkley said the casinos, 30 miles apart, would serve two different markets.

Billionaire developer Donald Trump's gaming division is exploring putting a casino in Harrison County just opposite the Isle of Capri site, while the American Indian tribe that operates the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut, wants to build in Biloxi on the site of the destroyed President Casino.

For Barbour, new development not only means new jobs, but increased tax revenue to the state and local governments.

"Gaming was a large employer on the coast with about 17,000 workers before the storm," Barbour said. "It's pretty clear there will be more than that when the casinos fully return."

Barstow Casino Compact Must Wait

 

As reported by the Desert Dispatch: "The City Council did not meet Monday night due to the Labor Day holiday, and the next meeting will be at 7 p.m. on Sept. 18. That will be the only Council meeting this month. "On Thursday, the state Legislature closed shop until January without passing legislation to approve a gaming compact that would bring an Indian casino-resort here. The Los Coyotes Band of Cahilla and Cupeno Indians and the Big Lagoon Rancheria Tribe hope to build a dual casino-resort here but need the approval of the Legislature. "In the last days of the legislative session, members of Los Coyotes began a fast at the state Capitol that they hoped would convince the Legislature to ratify a gaming agreement, or compact, according to Tom Shields, public relations agent for the band."

The Big Easy Gets a Big Boost from Return of Casinos, Gamblers

 

At Johnny White's Sports Bar, a dingy French Quarter saloon at the corner of Bourbon Street and Orleans Avenue, bartender Peter Gregory is convinced that casinos, especially Harrah's New Orleans, are helping the city recover from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Money won, he said, fuels the local economy. "We've had a few customers come in the bar and buy a round of drinks for the house because they won $1,500 or so at Harrah's," Gregory said. "I'm just guessing, but it seems to me Harrah's reopening has helped the French Quarter." Harrah's New Orleans, a 115,000-square-foot casino at the end of Canal Street, is Louisiana's largest casino and the state's biggest generator of gaming revenue, accounting for close to 15 percent of the overall total. It is also one of the few places along Canal Street that was relatively untouched by the hurricane-induced floods that decimated parts of the city on Aug. 29, 2005. The French Quarter was also not affected by the flooding. Much of New Orleans remains in flux a year after Katrina. Housing is still a challenge; more than half of the city's residents whose homes were destroyed have fled the area. Rebuilding is at a crawl and many of the flooded-out homes remain, decaying and overcome by weeds. On Canal Street, in the heart of downtown, hotels, restaurants, retail shops and other businesses are struggling to recover. The Ritz-Carlton won't reopen until December. The tony Shops at Canal Place, across from Harrah's, reopened earlier this year, but the mall's anchor tenant, Saks Fifth Avenue, won't be ready until Nov. 17. Harrah's New Orleans reopened in February during Mardi Gras and the casino is already reporting revenue that exceeds its pre-Katrina earnings. In July, Harrah's had a gaming win of $31.6 million, 7 percent higher than July 2005.

Two other New Orleans casinos, Pinnacle Entertainment's Boomtown and Boyd Gaming Corp.'s Treasure Chest, have also been reporting double-digit increases in gaming revenue since reopening within seven weeks of the storm hitting.

Overall, the New Orleans riverboat casinos are up almost 33 percent in gaming win from 2005.

But Harrah's New Orleans, adjacent to the French Quarter, has seemingly helped bring back the tourists.

Moe Bader, who manages the Oceana Louisiana Grill on Conti Street in the French Quarter, said business seemed to pick up once Harrah's returned. His restaurant reopened two weeks after Katrina to sparse crowds.

Harrah's executives said the casino's reopening was advertised to a regional audience and its database of more than 40 million customers.

"They told everyone that they were reopened, and that was good for all of New Orleans," Bader said. "It's just like when the casinos reopened in Mississippi. That helped bring people to the Gulf Coast. So, it would seem Harrah's helped bring people back here."

Tourists have seemingly rejoined the locals populating the businesses in the French Quarter, albeit at a much slower clip than before the storm.

On a steamy Sunday evening just before the hurricane's anniversary, music -- the sounds of jazz, blues, zydeco -- flowed out to Bourbon Street from the many clubs and bars. The souvenir and specialty shops had returned for business along with the walk-up daiquiri bars and triple-X-rated burlesque clubs.

"It's still pretty slow, even for summer," said Raven, who doesn't use a last name, a sales person at Marie Laveraur's House of Voodoo on Bourbon Street.

The hurricane spawned new, somewhat questionable businesses. French Quarter shops sell T-shirts emblazoned with vulgarities directed toward the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Other shirts make fun of the highly publicized looting that took place after the flooding and others insult the New Orleans Police Department.

One touring company sells bus tours to the hurricane damage.

"Yeah, that's just what I want to do," an elderly male tourist commented to his wife while looking at the company's brochure.

Some of the French Quarter's best-known restaurants are still on limited schedules. K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen on Chartres Street is only open from 5:30 to

9:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday; Galatore's on Bourbon Street reopened to an abbreviated schedule on New Year's Day and returned to prehurricane hours Friday.

Doc Lewis, a street performer playing his trombone for tips in front of Brennan's on Royal Street, said the city is slowly coming back.

"Day by day, it seems like there are few more people," Lewis said. "It takes time, man, but it's New Orleans. People want to come here."

That's a statement Anthony Sanfilippo is banking on. As president of Harrah's Central Division, he's responsible for Harrah's New Orleans and the company's other properties in the Gulf Coast.

While the monthly revenue the casino has been reporting are encouraging, the opening this month of a 450-room, 26-story Harrah's hotel, on Poydras Street across from the casino, will signal a second rebirth.

At a cost of $150 million, the project also includes shops and restaurants along Fulton Street, which was closed to vehicle traffic, creating a Bourbon Street-style pedestrian path. Large statues of jazz musicians are the centerpiece of the walkway. A Chef Todd English restaurant, Riche, will open in the fall.

Construction began before the hurricane, but the storm set back the timeline by almost a year.

The casino reopened with 1,600 employees and had increased to 2,300 workers by August.

"New Orleans is slowly coming back," Sanfilippo said. "As more hotel rooms open, we think the convention business will return, and that's good for everybody in question."

At Pat O'Brien's Bar on St. Peter Street, a French Quarter institution since the 1700s and famous for its potent drinks, manager Sid Seruntine thinks the convention business is the key to reviving tourism.

Seruntine, who has managed the open-air bar since 1991, said Harrah's has helped bring customers back to the city.

"The convention traffic is what really drives customers," Seruntine said. "Once more of the hotels reopen, they'll need workers and that's the biggest problem, because there's not enough housing in the city."

Casinos were the first entertainment venues to reopen in posthurricane New Orleans, but despite the increases in gaming revenue, Sanfilippo doesn't think Harrah's will see additional competition.

A floating casino operated by Columbia Sussex Corp. was destroyed in the storm. The company is rebuilding the boat but moving the gaming license south and out of New Orleans.

Despite a push by some local groups to get Pinnacle Entertainment to move one of its recently acquired casino licenses from Lake Charles in western Louisiana to New Orleans, Sanfilippo doesn't think it will happen.

"If the business was there, don't you think Columbia Sussex would have kept their boat in New Orleans?" Sanfilippo said. "For now, I think the New Orleans casino market is at capacity."

Dome Advertising Stirs up Controversy

 

As reported by the UK Time: "The supercasinos storm has taken another controversial turn after it emerged that the owners of the Dome are already advertising for croupiers even before they have secured a licence. "The website run by Dome owners Anschutz Entertainment Group, whose boss Philip Anschutz entertained John Prescott at his California ranch, details 20 different recruitment opportunities at the site, including 'croupier work'. "The revelation will strengthen suspicions that AEG's close links to Government mean it has already secured a head start over the six other councils bidding to run Britain's first supercasino or has even been given private assurances that it will get the licence. "The head of the Casinos Advsisory Panel, which is supposed to select the winner, has already admitted that the Dome has a head start because building work on the casino has already begun at the Dome, now called The O2."

Glasgow Bid Boasts Jobs, Tourists

 

As reported by the Herald: "A supercasino in Glasgow would create 2500 jobs and attract more than half a million extra visitors each year, it was claimed yesterday. "Glasgow City Council quoted the figures in the third of a series of meetings on the merits of the seven venues competing to host the UK's sole supercasino. "The public hearing, held in Glasgow yesterday, follows meetings in London and Cardiff last week. They have been organised by the Casino Advisory Panel - the body charged by the government with advising on the location of the casino - to discuss the impact a supercasino would have in the areas. ".If Glasgow is successful, the casino would be built on one of four possible sites in the city: Glasgow Harbour, the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, next to Ibrox stadium or behind the St Enoch Centre shopping mall. However, Mr Purcell said any development would be much more than simply a gambling establishment."

Inside Gaming Column: Las Vegas Tourism Could be a little Insecure

 

New national surveys seem to show Americans' fascination with Las Vegas could be waning. Americans still name the city as a top vacation destination, but they say security at airports will keep them closer to home. The cost of living has them looking for ways to save. Also, gaming may be losing its luster. On the other hand, the same surveys show that those with discretionary money to spend are looking for longer vacations without heading overseas, which might augur well for Las Vegas. The results are mixed, but security hassles seem more and more to be the central issue for travelers. The simplest solution to traffic clogging the resort corridor would also have the biggest effect, experts say. Still, insiders say it's a "nonstarter." The idea is to turn the Strip into a one-way thoroughfare north. In return, Paradise Road or Swenson Street would become one-way in the other direction. Insiders say the problem is it would simply move congestion from one street to another. But look at Waikiki, where a similar traffic reconfiguration has worked for 15 years, and you might wonder. Operators complain that this move would turn one of the greatest pedestrian experiences in the world into a rush-hour race of traffic, but it's still the only way to significantly alleviate Strip gridlock.

Giving poker a run for its money, the 10-episode first season of the Ultimate Blackjack Tour begins on CBS on Sept. 16. Bringing together 14 of the "most dangerous card players on the planet," the "juiced up" game will lead into the network's college football broadcasts. If any gambling program has had a winning broadcast slot, this is it, marketing gurus say. Participants will include poker greats Phil Hellmuth, Annie Duke, Johnny Chan, David "Devilfish" Ulliott and Layne Flack, as well as World Blackjack Champion Kenny Einiger and blackjack stars "Hollywood" Dave Stann and Anthony Curtis, all sweating out 30 high-stress hands, with three eliminations and the audience seeing the hole card. At the end, the player with the most chips wins.

Readers say that while the statistical odds of getting a royal flush in "Let It Ride" is 1 in 649,740, as we recently reported, it's not as hard as you'd think to get "dealt royal." One reader was dealt a royal on a 50-play video poker machine. He got 50 simultaneous royal flushes for a $10,000 total jackpot. IGT, which makes the machine, told him this had happened before with a few other players. There are also reports of "dealt royals" on triple-play, five-play and 10-play video poker machines. And yes, there have been royals dealt on single-play video poker machines. Stories like these are what makes video poker the crack cocaine of gambling.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Pennsylvania Slot Plan Clears Hurdle

 

As reported by the Evening Sun: "The Straban Township supervisors recommended to themselves approval of preliminary plans Thursday night for a slots parlor at the intersection of routes 15 and 30. "It might sound funny, but the supervisors were acting as the planning commission, which ordinarily makes recommendations to the board. But they were left with the job when commissioners unanimously recused themselves, citing bias. The developer had complained one commission member was against the casino. "Supervisor Troy Martin said it's safe to assume the board will follow its own recommendation to approve the plans at its meeting Monday. "Crossroads Gaming Resort and Spa LP submitted the plans to the township in late March. The plans call for a hotel, spa, restaurants, a parking garage and a parlor with up to 5,000 slots to be built. "They decided to approve the plans Monday with one condition - that Crossroads modify a parking garage to reflect the most recent road design configuration."

More Casinos Possible for Iowa

 

As reported by the Des Moines Register: "Pressure is building for state regulators to issue more casino licenses, even before construction is finished on Iowa's newest riverboat gambling operations. "The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, which met Thursday in Johnston, agreed to meet in March to discuss whether it should award additional casino licenses. The issue has become a topic in this fall's governor's race. In addition, two more counties have emerged as potential sites for new casinos. ".The racing and gaming panel agreed Thursday to meet on March 1 at Terrible's Lakeside Casino in Osceola to discuss awarding more casino licenses. This will give regulators more time to study how some of the new casinos are performing financially and will give two newly appointed commissioners time to evaluate the issue, said Commissioner Gerald Bair of Ankeny."

Casino Windsor Offers Sports Betting

 

As reported by the Detroit News: "Casino Windsor will begin offering sports betting next Friday -- marking the first time Metro Detroiters will have access to live sports wagering. "Looking to tap the sports and gambling passions of its American neighbors, the riverfront casino is opening a multimillion-dollar, 170-seat sports lounge, where gamblers can wager on pro football, basketball, hockey and baseball games, as well as college football and basketball. ".Gaming experts expect the Legends Sports Lounge, which took seven months to build, will be a major draw. ".While this is a first for Windsor, sports betting is available at casinos in other regions of Canada. Casino Niagara in Niagara Falls, Ontario, recently opened a $10 million sports betting lounge. ".Casino Windsor's new lounge includes 36 video display terminals that will feature sporting events. It will offer a stadium-style menu featuring hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken wings."

California Tribal Expansions Off this Year

 

As reported by Reuters: "Deals reached by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger allowing several of the state's Indian tribes to operate thousands more slot machines will not go before the state legislature until next year's session, legislative leaders said on Thursday. "'No one is satisfied with the outcome of the administration's last-minute submission of gaming compacts to the legislature,' Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez said in a statement. 'I am committed to working with California's tribal nations over the next several months on these important compacts that will result in a mutually beneficial outcome.' "Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, like Nunez a Democrat, said the pacts could not be decided before Thursday's end of the current session because of the late date they were received and because of their importance and complexity. "Newspaper reports also said the proposed expansions were stalled amid a dispute over whether casino workers would be allowed to unionize."

Casino Panel Reasserts Independence

 

As reported by the icWales: "The head of a body charged with advising the Government on the choice of the first super-casino for the UK reasserted his independence during a public hearing today. "Professor Stephen Crow, chairman of the Casino Advisory Panel (CAP), was speaking in Cardiff today, where the proposal of the city's local authority to be allowed to host a regional casino was being heard. Cardiff is one of seven shortlisted locations around the UK the CAP is visiting. "The bid to establish a super-casino at London's Millennium Dome has been mired in controversy in recent months after Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott was found to have stayed at the ranch of Philip Anschutz, the owner of Anschutz Entertainment Group, which bought the Dome in 2002."

Big Support for Newcastle Bid

 

As reported by the 24Dash News: "Newcastle's bid for a super casino and regional conference centre received a massive show of support today. "A wide of range of companies and organisations threw their weight behind the bid as Newcastle City Council prepared to put its case to the Casino Advisory Panel at an examination in public (EiP) event next Tuesday, (Sept 5). "The council will try to convince the panel of the merits of awarding the country's first super casino to Newcastle in a hearing attended by other invited participants. ".Among the many organisations backing the bid are: One NorthEast, NewcastleGateshead Initiative, The Journal, Newcastle Federation Breweries, Metro operator NEXUS, Newcastle College, the North East Chamber of Commerce and Newcastle International Airport, among others. ".Other organisations that have sent letters of support to the council include Newcastle City Centre Partnership, Newcastle University, Northumbria University, the North East Assemby, Baltic, Northumberland Tourism, the GMB, GNER, Atisreal and Utopian Leisure Group Ltd."

Monday, September 04, 2006

Sportsbetting.com Holds Gridiron Pick'em Contest

 

Sportsbetting.com, a recognized leader in Internet sports wagering, brings back the US$500,000 Gridiron Pick'em -- a free prediction contest on this year's pro football season. Each week during the pro football regular season, contestants pick the teams they think will win and then assign each pick a rank based on how confident they are of that team winning. The contestant with the highest weekly score wins a US$100 SPORTSBETTING.COM account and will advance to Part Two of the contest. The three contestants with the highest season long score win prizes including a trip to the Pro Football All Star game in Honolulu, Hawaii and a Bose Lifestyle Home Theatre System. During Part Two of the US$500,000 Gridiron Pick'em, contestants predict the outcome, against the spread, of the 11 NFL playoff games. Any contestant who correctly predicts 11 out of 11 games wins US $500,000. Consolation prizes include a 50-inch Plasma TV and an HP iPAQ Color Pocket PC. John Molhoek of Michigan, USA was last year's $500,000 Gridiron Pick'em winner. He won near front row seats to the 2006 Pro Football All Star game in Hawaii, a four-night stay at the luxurious Outrigger Waikiki Beach Front Resort.

Penn National Gaming Seeks Credit Facility Amendments

 

Penn National Gaming, Inc. (PENN: Nasdaq) (the "Company") announced today that it is seeking certain amendments to its existing $2.725 billion senior secured credit facility (the "Credit Facility"). The requested amendments relate to: (1) modification of the applicable covenants to enable the Company to repurchase up to $200 million of its equity or debt securities; (2) modification of the Company's capital expenditure covenant to increase certain permitted expenditures consistent with the Company's development and expansion projects as announced in the Company's second quarter earnings release on July 27, 2006; (3) modification of the Company's collateral documents in accordance with requirements of the Pennsylvania gaming authorities and (4) certain other matters. The amendment requires the approval of lenders holding a majority of the outstanding commitments and loans under the Credit Facility. There can be no assurance that the amendments will be approved as described above. The Board of Directors of the Company has not yet authorized the repurchase of its common stock or debt securities.

NJSEA Offers Daily Race Programs

 

Racingworld Technology, the operators of 123racing.com announced that the NJ Sports and Exposition Authority has signed on to offer its daily race programs to an international online audience. 123racing.com has been an instant international success by promoting horse racing around the world in a way that has never been seen before. The NJSEA operates the world's premiere Harness Racing meet at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, NJ and runs the Monmouth Park thoroughbred meet in Oceanport, NJ, where it is scheduled to host the 2007 Breeder's Cup. "We are pleased to have some of America's finest racing as part of the 123racing.com competitions, and our players are delighted," said Rob Earle, Racingworld Technology's CEO. 123racing.com now offers free competitions from the United Kingdom, the US and New Zealand. Canada and Australia are due to come onboard in September. Players on 123racing.com enter competitions for free and play for a real cash prize of $1,000. The competitions are very easy to understand, all you have to do is pick one horse in each race on a racecard and if your horse finishes 1st, 2nd or 3rd, you get points, 3,2,1 respectively. Bonus points are given based on the win/place/show payoff. If you have the most points at the end of the race day, you win. "The 123racing.com online competition was developed for our race track in New Zealand, and because of its instant popularity, we decided to take it to the rest of the racing world," said Rob Earle. "We are very pleased to have John Perrotta onboard as a Director based in the US. He is very well respected in the industry and understood our vision immediately."

123racing.com has recently broken new ground with the release of the 123racing.TV show in Australasia on the Sky Sports Network. The one-hour long show previews and reviews competitions that are available to play on the website. Each week the expert panelists make their selections.

GSA Finalizing New Program

 

The Gaming Standards Association is rapidly finalizing its new Certification Program. When complete, the program will create a network of certified agencies licensed to test vendor products for GSA standard compliance. Today, GSA announced it has selected The Open Group as its Testing Agency Authority (TAA) and Testing Suite Authority (TSA), completing one of the final necessary steps before implementing the program. GSA President Peter DeRaedt said, "As GSA introduces its standards into the global market, it is important that we have a partner who fully understands how the certification methodology can provide conformance testing expertise. The Open Group has clearly demonstrated that they do, and that they know what it takes to make standards work. We will work together to set the right expectation level within the gaming industry and promote the benefits of the GSA Certification Program." As the TAA, The Open Group will accredit the Test Agencies that will perform testing of products for certification. In the role of TSA, The Open Group will determine the suitability of test suites and other test tools for use by Test Agencies in performing conformance testing. The work includes both the creation of the acceptance criteria and procedures to be used by the TAA and TSA and the ongoing operation of these roles once the certification program is live. The initial work involves defining Test Suite Acceptance Criteria and Conformance Requirements for currently published GSA standards. Ongoing support includes serving in the roles of TAA and TSA on behalf of GSA for a minimum of three years.

"As a neutral, 'not-for-profit' consortium with more than 20 years of experience, The Open Group provides credible, reliable assurance of conformance to standards, and serves as international guarantor of interoperability," said Allen Brown, president and CEO, The Open Group. "We're looking forward to applying our expertise and proven processes to meet the GSA's needs in conformance testing and certification, while also doing our part to help GSA finalize the new Certification Program and successfully roll it out to the gaming marketplace."

Evangeline Downs Launches Truck Giveaway

 

A major multi-media campaign is underway as Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino gets the word out that it wants customers to win a truck every day in the month of September, starting tonight. The Opelousas facility has been posting record levels of revenue in the last year. Casino officials acknowledge that the increase magnified after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. However the casino primarily draws a local crowd, and those increases are continuing in the post hurricane environment. "We were on track to post these gains before the hurricanes impacted Louisiana and the Gulf Coast. With record revenues came more winners and bigger payouts," said Mike Howard, general manager of Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino. "We planned this September promotion to create even more winners. The word's out and it's generating a lot of interest for Evangeline Downs." Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino is a 41-year-old Louisiana-based business that is rooted in the Acadiana culture. In 2003, Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino moved from Lafayette Parish to St. Landry Parish and the City of Opelousas. Since relocating, Evangeline Downs has exceeded the success it once had in Lafayette Parish and has become an economic focal point in St. Landry Parish.

According to the St. Landry Economic and Industrial Development District Commission, several economic indicators demonstrate the positive impact of Evangeline Downs on the community. This is good news in light of this week's release of the Census Bureau's income and poverty report, which named St. Landry as having the highest poverty levels and lowest average income in the United States in cities 60,000 to 249,000 population.

The year 2003 marked a first for the parish, city and state: each entity began receiving gaming taxes from Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino. This was a completely new source of income for these entities.

Since that time $13.4 million in taxes have been paid to parish and city government. Nearly $39 million in taxes has been paid to the state. More importantly, the facility employs over 800 people, most of who are from St. Landry Parish. Evangeline Downs paid wages and benefits of nearly $19 million last year. That's big news in St. Landry Parish where unemployment levels have fallen significantly.

New housing starts have also dramatically increased since Evangeline Downs opened, up to nearly 1,500 in 2005, an increase of almost 700 a year. This has created a large increase in property taxes generated to the Parish.

Louisiana horsemen have also benefited from the growth at Evangeline Downs through purse supplements paid by the gaming dollars generated by the Casino. Total purse money won by horsemen totals around $51 million for the same time period.

Today kicks off the big promotion. Evangeline Downs Racetrack & Casino will have a drawing every day in September for a 2007 Chevrolet Silverado or a coupon option redeemable for $10,000.00 in cash.

* You must be 21 years of age or older to participate in the promotion. Winner must be present to win. See Players Club for details.

Bodog Founder Fights Bear Bile Farming

 

Calvin Ayre has teamed with world-renowned animal activist Jill Robinson for a campaign aimed at raising international awareness about the horrific practice of bear bile farming. Calvin Ayre, the billionaire business mogul behind the Bodog.com entertainment brand, has teamed with world-renowned animal activist Jill Robinson for a campaign aimed at raising international awareness about the horrific practice of bear bile farming. Ayre, who also serves as chairman of his own international foundation, is in Asia filming a public service documentary, which will be shown on major networks around the world this fall. It is simply unimaginable," says Ayre, who was recently dubbed by Forbes Magazine as one of the world's wealthiest entrepreneurs. "Thousands of these bears are locked into tiny cages - literally smaller than they are - and prodded daily in order to extract bile from their gall bladders. These bears can be tortured this way for up to 20 years, and are even said to chew off their own limbs because of the sheer pain. Our goal is to raise international awareness about this horrific practice and spark discussion about alternatives to the use of bear bile." As chairman of the Calvin Ayre Foundation, Ayre has been overseas working in conjunction with the Stop-Bear-Farming organization, and Animal Asia Organization's Jill Robinson and Annie Mather to fund the construction and maintenance of the Bodog.com Bear Sanctuary in Vietnam, which is slated to be opened this fall. Ayre and Robinson have also been filming a 30-minute documentary that will serve to educate the public on bear bile farming practices, and show how concerned citizens can help the cause by avoiding the usage of products made from bear bile. Close to 10,000 bears in China, Korea and Vietnam are being locked in tiny "crush cages" where bile is extracted from their gall bladders for use in, among other things, traditional Chinese medicines, eye drops and hairspray. The Calvin Ayre Foundation is active in supporting charitable causes throughout the world. Founded by Ayre in 2004, the Foundation's aim is to achieve meaningful and lasting improvements in the environment and in the lives of disadvantaged individuals and communities. The Foundation focuses on promoting greater equity in five broad areas: Environment, Education, Social Development, Child Welfare and Animal Welfare. "Through the Foundation, we're able to cross international borders," Ayre says. "With fewer barriers, we are better able to offer support for meaningful charitable causes."

The Calvin Ayre Foundation supports the charitable initiatives of other organizations, as well as those goals it lays out for its own projects. Some of the long-term initiatives the Foundation is working on include the sponsorship of the higher education needs of underprivileged youth.

Other large-scale initiatives the Foundation supports include the Sponsor-A-School Project and the Sponsor-A-Family Project. These programs are the core of the Foundation, which directly manages its money and the allocation of funds to the various initiatives under its mandate.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Sportsbook.com Offers NCAA Football Odds

 

Are you ready for some football? It's that time of the year again - and lucky for diehard NCAA football fans - Week 1 already contains some key match-ups with major bowl implications. According to odds makers at Sportsbook.com, the world's largest online sportsbook and casino, Notre Dame, University of Miami and University of Tennessee will all start their season at 1-0, and will be one step closer to the big game in the desert this January. Although there's a lot of hype coming out of South Bend these days, the Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech are hoping to quiet the Fighting Irish faithful with a big upset in Atlanta on Saturday night. The Yellow Jackets will have their hands full, however, as Notre Dame is enjoying its highest ranking since 1994, and under Heisman candidate Brady Quinn are a 7 point favorite to steal the show in Georgia. Meanwhile, in Knoxville, the number 9-ranked Tennessee Volunteers will be eager to start off their 2006 campaign on a winning note as a 1.5 favorite over the California Golden Bears. The Vols, who are looking to redeem themselves after a dismal 5-6 season last year, will need to shut down Heisman hopeful Marshawn Lynch if they hope to be successful against the Bears. Looking ahead to Monday night, all eyes will be on the state of Florida for the highly anticipated in-state battle between the Miami Hurricanes and the Florida State Seminoles. Marking the 31st time these two teams have squared off against each other, the outcome of this game carries much more than ACC and Sunshine State bragging rights. Both teams are looking to return to top-10 status and although the 'Canes have lost some key players to suspensions, they are still a 3 point favorite over Bobby Bowden's Seminoles.

"It's the best time of year for football fans," said Alex Czajkowski, Sportsbook.com. "Everybody bets on college football and Week 1 already has some edge-of-your-seat match-ups. There are so many reasons to love following college football this season - Notre Dame and Brady Quinn, Texas replacing Vince Young and USC rebuilding. And, if Week 1 is any indication, bettors are in for one amazing season."

Trump Mixes Boating and Gaming

 

This September boating and gaming will meet like never before. From September 7-10, 2006, Atlantic City and Trump Marina Hotel Casino will be the main stage for one of the country's premier boating events, the Atlantic City In-Water Boat Show. This show is the largest in the region and the second largest of its kind in the entire country. As the first major show of its kind for the fall season, the event provides a first glimpse at the latest boating innovations and newest models for 2007. The Atlantic City In-Water Boat Show is held at the state-of-the-art Farley State Marina, only steps away from the Trump Marina Hotel Casino. The show will feature over 700 of the hottest new power boats and yachts from 18'-85', from every major manufacturer. There will also be a 25,000 sq. ft. Marine Marketplace that will carry a large array of Marine accessories featuring cutting-edge technology and equipment. Don't miss out when, on Sunday, September 10, Trump Marina welcomes boating enthusiasts by telling eight lucky winners, "Bon Voyage" in our $20,000 Rockin' the Boat Sweepstakes. Trump Marina will be giving away a four-day Caribbean Cruise every hour from 12 Noon to 7 p.m. Then, at 8 p.m., one lucky winner will be awarded an 18' Crownline Bowrider! "Not only will guests get to enjoy our fabulous Trump Marina Casino and Hotel, but they will be greeted by some of the latest and greatest boats available at this special event," said Donald J. Trump. "Even more, we're going to make this a tremendous occasion for our customers by giving away eight luxury cruises and a fantastic new sporting boat. Boating enthusiasts are in for a great celebration."

Irish Poker Open Boasts Guaranteed Prize Pool

 

The paddypowerpoker.com Irish Poker Open, taking place in Dublin over Easter weekend 2007, has a guaranteed prize pool of ?2 million. Regardless of how many players enter, paddypowerpoker.com will guarantee this prize pool for ?2 million. If the number of players exceeds 607, each additional player's buy in (?3,300 +?200 reg) is added to the prize pool, and with up to 800 seats available to players, the prize pool could swell by a further ?617,600. The minimum guaranteed payouts are available to view at: www.irishpokeropen.com/tournament.php The winner of the ?1 million guaranteed Irish Open 2006, Vincent Melinn, picked up a cheque for ?350,000.

Casino Slammed for Theft

 

As reported by the Daily Telegraph: "Star City Casino has been slammed for acting irresponsibly by letting a lowly bank worker gamble millions of stolen dollars as a celebrated high-roller. "The casino shirked its moral duty when it gave high-roller status to Erick Tjandra, a 'minor servant' of the Commonwealth Bank bank who gambled a stolen $8 million, a Sydney court has been told. "Tjandra, 32, stole $10.4 million from dozens of bank customers over a 15-month period to fund his addiction, the NSW District Court was told today. ".During sentencing submissions today, Justice Christopher Armitage said Sydney's Star City casino had failed in its 'moral responsibility' by allowing Tjandra to gamble with the high rollers. "'To allow a young man who is obviously a minor servant of the bank to be in the high rollers' room was an irresponsibility,' he said. ".Judge Armitage said this showed the casino had acted 'irresponsibly to a high degree'."

e-PokerUSA Site Launched

 

e-PokerUSA Inc., launched today its new free and skill-based game site, e-PokerUSA.com. Their first patent-pending product, Duplicate Texas Hold'em Poker, introduces a new twist to the classic online Texas Hold'em game. The object of the game is to beat your opponents at other tables with your same playing hand. This reduces the luck in the game and increases the skill in play. In Duplicate Poker, it's not about getting dealt good cards or bad cards in the hand, as in regular poker, since it's about how well you play against your opponents in strategy. The Duplicate Texas Hold'em Poker game is the first to be introduced on the e-PokerUSA's proprietary gaming network. Pinhas Romik, CEO and Founder of e-PokerUSA Inc, said today, "We are excited to introduce to the consumer market a fun, free and legal way to play our version of Texas Hold'em for cash in the US." He continued to say, "... we believe that our game is an entertaining product for skill-based players and a good alternative for poker players looking for a product in the US that they can feel safe and secure playing at."

Cardiff Presents Super-Casino Bid

 

As reported by the BBC News: "A hearing to put forward Cardiff's bid to site the UK's first super-casino has heard all bidders still have a chance. "The Casino Advisory Panel chairman said it was 'wide open' between the seven locations hoping to win the licence to run a 24-hour Las Vegas-style venue. "Only one super-casino is initially being permitted under the terms of the Gambling Act. ".Cardiff council's bid is tied to its sports village development in Cardiff Bay, and has said it needs the casino to finish the project in time for the 2012 London Olympics, when it hopes to be a host venue. "Tom Morgan, for Cardiff Council, told the panel that the city was uniquely placed to host the super-casino. "He said awarding it to Cardiff would also help the UK and Wales host the Ryder Cup at Newport in 2010 and the Olympics in London two years later."

Saturday, September 02, 2006

More Casinos Possible for Iowa

 

As reported by the Des Moines Register: "Pressure is building for state regulators to issue more casino licenses, even before construction is finished on Iowa's newest riverboat gambling operations. "The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission, which met Thursday in Johnston, agreed to meet in March to discuss whether it should award additional casino licenses. The issue has become a topic in this fall's governor's race. In addition, two more counties have emerged as potential sites for new casinos. ".The racing and gaming panel agreed Thursday to meet on March 1 at Terrible's Lakeside Casino in Osceola to discuss awarding more casino licenses. This will give regulators more time to study how some of the new casinos are performing financially and will give two newly appointed commissioners time to evaluate the issue, said Commissioner Gerald Bair of Ankeny."

Pennsylvania Slot Plan Clears Hurdle

 

As reported by the Evening Sun: "The Straban Township supervisors recommended to themselves approval of preliminary plans Thursday night for a slots parlor at the intersection of routes 15 and 30. "It might sound funny, but the supervisors were acting as the planning commission, which ordinarily makes ecommendations to the board. But they were left with the job when commissioners unanimously recused themselves, citing bias. The developer had complained one commission member was against the casino. "Supervisor Troy Martin said it's safe to assume the board will follow its own recommendation to approve the plans at its meeting Monday. "Crossroads Gaming Resort and Spa LP submitted the plans to the township in late March. The plans call for a hotel, spa, restaurants, a parking garage and a parlor with up to 5,000 slots to be built. "They decided to approve the plans Monday with one condition - that Crossroads modify a parking garage to reflect the most recent road design configuration."

Casino Windsor Offers Sports Betting

 

As reported by the Detroit News: "Casino Windsor will begin offering sports betting next Friday -- marking the first time Metro Detroiters will have access to live sports wagering. "Looking to tap the sports and gambling passions of its American neighbors, the riverfront casino is opening a multimillion-dollar, 170-seat sports lounge, where gamblers can wager on pro football, basketball, hockey and baseball games, as well as college football and basketball. ".Gaming experts expect the Legends Sports Lounge, which took seven months to build, will be a major draw. ".While this is a first for Windsor, sports betting is available at casinos in other regions of Canada. Casino Niagara in Niagara Falls, Ontario, recently opened a $10 million sports betting lounge. ".Casino Windsor's new lounge includes 36 video display terminals that will feature sporting events. It will offer a stadium-style menu featuring hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken wings."

Casino Panel Reasserts Independence

 

As reported by the icWales: "The head of a body charged with advising the Government on the choice of the first super-casino for the UK reasserted his independence during a public hearing today. "Professor Stephen Crow, chairman of the Casino Advisory Panel (CAP), was speaking in Cardiff today, where the proposal of the city's local authority to be allowed to host a regional casino was being heard. Cardiff is one of seven shortlisted locations around the UK the CAP is visiting. "The bid to establish a super-casino at London's Millennium Dome has been mired in controversy in recent months after Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott was found to have stayed at the ranch of Philip Anschutz, the owner of Anschutz Entertainment Group, which bought the Dome in 2002."

California Tribal Expansions Off this Year

 

As reported by Reuters: "Deals reached by California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger allowing several of the state's Indian tribes to operate thousands more slot machines will not go before the state legislature until next year's session, legislative leaders said on Thursday. "'No one is satisfied with the outcome of the administration's last-minute submission of gaming compacts to the legislature,' Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez said in a statement. 'I am committed to working with California's tribal nations over the next several months on these important compacts that will result in a mutually beneficial outcome.' "Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata, like Nunez a Democrat, said the pacts could not be decided before Thursday's end of the current session because of the late date they were received and because of their importance and complexity. "Newspaper reports also said the proposed expansions were stalled amid a dispute over whether casino workers would be allowed to unionize."

Big Support for Newcastle Bid

 

As reported by the 24Dash News: "Newcastle's bid for a super casino and regional conference centre received a massive show of support today. "A wide of range of companies and organisations threw their weight behind the bid as Newcastle City Council prepared to put its case to the Casino Advisory Panel at an examination in public (EiP) event next Tuesday, (Sept 5). "The council will try to convince the panel of the merits of awarding the country's first super casino to Newcastle in a hearing attended by other invited participants. ".Among the many organisations backing the bid are: One NorthEast, NewcastleGateshead Initiative, The Journal, Newcastle Federation Breweries, Metro operator NEXUS, Newcastle College, the North East Chamber of Commerce and Newcastle International Airport, among others. ".Other organisations that have sent letters of support to the council include Newcastle City Centre Partnership, Newcastle University, Northumbria University, the North East Assemby, Baltic, Northumberland Tourism, the GMB, GNER, Atisreal and Utopian Leisure Group Ltd."

Friday, September 01, 2006

Alleged South Korean Gambling Kingpin Arrested

 

As reported by UPI: "Prosecutors in South Korea have arrested a comedian-turned-entrepreneur who they believe is a central figure in a recent nationwide gambling scandal. "Kim Min-seok, 41, allegedly bribed government officials for business favors on behalf of the gaming industry, The Korea Herald reports. ".Min-seok burst onto the videogame scene in the late 1990s, following a stint in show business, when he launched a series of popular games that grew into a multibillion-dollar empire of gambling arcades."

NIGC Comments on Recent Indictments

 

Today, the United States Attorney for the Northern District of California announced wide ranging indictments of seven former officials of the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians. Among other things, these charges include obstruction of justice and conspiracy relating to obstructing and impeding a 2003 audit by the NIGC under the terms of a 2001 settlement agreement between the Band and the NIGC. "This is a sad day for Indian gaming; these indictments further emphasize the need for strong Federal oversight of the Indian gaming industry," Chairman Phil Hogen stated. Chairman Hogen added, "The NIGC is committed to providing strong oversight and will continue to work with other law enforcement agencies to ensure that gaming revenues are protected and preserved to achieve the goals of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act." Chairman Hogen went on to say, "As Indian gaming continues to grow and as operations become more complex and sophisticated and as revenues continue to increase, regulation must keep pace with these changes if the integrity of the industry is to be protected."

Plymouth Council Discusses Gambling Bills

 

As reported by the Amador Ledger Dispatch : "With the potential of an Indian casino impacting the city, two assembly bills affecting California American Indian tribes were also discussed by the Plymouth City Council. "Assembly Bill 2399 is a new compact formed Aug. 8 with the Agua Caliente band of Cahuilla Indians in Palm Springs. "According to Councilman Jon Colburn, the bill allows the tribe to build three casinos on their reservation instead of two and the tribe may also expand its number of slot machines from 2,000 to 5,000."

Tulalip Casino Breaks Ground for Expansion

 

As reported by the Snohomish County Business Journal: "Construction began in August on the Tulalip Tribes' long-awaited $130 million, 12-story, 363-room resort hotel and conference center adjacent to the giant Tulalip Casino in Quil Ceda Village. "Due to open by early 2008 as a major new tourism and business attraction, the additional facilities will be part of the Tulalip Resort Casino, the 'resort' part being new to the marketing materials the tribes already are distributing. "The hotel and conference center, with 400 new employees, also is expected to be a catalyst for other Snohomish County development and a magnet for tens of thousands of visitors attending Vancouver's 2010 Winter Olympic games in British Columbia. ".A significant part of the new facility also will include the Tulalips' long-awaited tribal cultural center, which is expected to be a major tourist attraction on its own. ".The hotel and conference center - designed by Ruhl-Parr & Associates, Architects, of Bellevue and styled by Interior Design International of Seattle, the same companies who were involved in the design of the Tulalip Casino - will be built by PCL Construction, a Canadian firm with offices throughout the United States, including Bellevue. ".Designed to be a four-star, four-diamond hotel, the conference center in the complex will be large enough to serve banquets for as many as 800 people, about the same size as the Edward D. Hansen Conference Center at the Everett Events Center."

Ohio Ballot Petition Falls Short

 

OHIO - As reported by the Columbus Dispatch: "A petition drive to let Ohioans vote on allowing slot-machine gambling at horse-racing tracks and in Cleveland has fallen short of the required number of signatures. "But not by much. "Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell's office announced today that backers of the Learn and Earn constitutional amendment need 8,716 more signatures. "Supporters have 10 calendar days to gather and submit additional names."

Pelton wins 2006 WPT Legends of Poker Title

 

Before Wednesday night's 2006 World Poker Tour (WPT) Legends of Poker Main Event victory, young poker professional Joe Pelton's largest tournament success was a 2005 super-satellite entry into the World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event. The payout for that event was $25,700, a nice chunk of change, but mere pennies compared to the $1.5 million Pelton received for taking home the fourth tournament in the WPT season five schedule. Although Pelton has cashed in two WSOP events in his young career, his win was unexpected, especially considering he was playing with some of the best players in the world at the 2006 Legends of Poker Main Event Final Table. Defeating a group of six that contained WPT superstars Hoyt Corkins and Scotty Nguyen, Pelton is no longer flying under the radar. He joins the large group of young players who are making big names for themselves in major WPT events. Pelton began the day in third chip position with $1,100,000, but drew an unfortunate seat, sandwiched between the two chips leaders, Frankie O'Dell ($3,880,000) and Kevin O'Donnell ($2,345,000). O'Dell, who came into the final table as the chip leader after cracking Scotty Nguyen's pocket aces on the hand before the final table was set, was almost able to hold onto the chip lead for the entirety of the final table, not giving it away until play was heads-up. A WSOP bracelet holder (2003 Omaha High-Low Split), O'Dell played well enough to win, removing his greatest threat (O'Donnell) when the two players were first and second in chips. The near double-up allowed O'Dell to enter three-handed play with a 2-1 chip lead over Hoyt Corkins and Pelton.

Not able to play many pots during the final table play, Corkins moved all-in over the top of a Pelton raise and was quickly called by the eventual champion. Corkins showed a pair of threes and Pelton flipped over a J-10 off-suit. Pelton hit a Jack on the flop, bouncing the popular Corkins from the final table.

After doubling through O'Dell, Pelton again found himself facing a significant re-raise when O'Dell moved all over the top with pocket Sixes. Continuing his fearless play, Pelton did not hesitate, calling with his A-7 offsuit. The Ace on the flop improved Pelton and the hand held up, giving the rising star his first major tournament victory.

The WPT continues to roll on with the next stop coming in Atlantic City, New Jersey for the Borgata Poker Open. The televised $10,000 WPT event will begin on September 15.

Here are the final table finishes and payouts:

1.) Joe Pelton - $1,577,170

2.) Frankie O'Dell - $776,385

3.) Hoyt Corkins - $381,540

4.) Kevin O'Donnell - $226,260

5.) Randy Holland - $177,460

6.) Scotty Nguyen - $133,095

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