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Best Gambling Guide for online gambling reviews, best gambling bonuses, gambling games, and gambling tips. Best gambling payouts and best gambling bonuses are featured in this gambling guide.

 

Gambling News by Gambling Headquarters

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Pull 'misleading' scratch tickets, gambling watchdog group urges

 

A national gambling watchdog group has raised new concerns about lottery scratch cards sold in Ontario, charging that current practices are unfair and misleading to the consumer. The Gambling Watch Network filed a letter with Ontario's ombudsman complaining that scratch tickets are sold even after the top prizes have been won. Brian Yealland, the group's spokesman, said retailers should stop selling tickets if the buyer has no chance of winning the jackpot. (CBC) "People go on purchasing those tickets although they have no chance of winning, and it seems to us that this is a breach of the understanding one has in buying a ticket," Yealland said. This practice has been the subject of scrutiny and lawsuits in the United States, causing some state lotteries to include disclaimers on the tickets explaining that some prizes may already be won. In Iowa, instant win tickets are pulled from stores once the grand prizes have been claimed, said Tina Potthoff, a spokeswoman for the Iowa State Lottery. "We want to make sure our players have a chance to win the top prize every time they purchase a ticket," Potthoff said. "If by chance a top prize is missing and they only have a second- or third-tier prize, we feel that's false advertising." A spokesman for the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation said players can call a toll-free number printed on the back of each scratch and win ticket to find out which prizes are still available to be won.

Mangalore crime file: Gambling den raided; 9 arrested

 

The police team under the guidance of puttur assistant superintendent of police Dr P S Harsha raided a gambling den at Kashigudde near Kokkada and arrested nine persons. An amount of Rs 1,127 was confiscated from them. Uppinangady sub-inspector R Ramesh, Sampya SI Nagaraj and police constables Vishwanath Rai, Devraj, Raghuram, Deviprasad, Uday, Krishnaiah, Surendra, Monappa, Lokesh, Krishnappa and Suresh were involved in the raid.2 injured Puttur: Two persons sustained injuries in an accident between a car and a motorbike at Daddalapalike near Periashanth. Kayarthadka Milk Producers Society secretary Raghav Gowda and Venkappa Gowda were returning from their relatives house at Hirebandady when a sumo coming from Bangalore moving towards Dharmasthala knocked Raghav Gowda and Venkappa Gowda. Uppinangady police have registered a case. Theft at temple Mangalore: Unidentified culprits gained entry into Guru Vidyanatha Daivastana at Bejai Kapikad road and broke the lock and stole gold and silver worth Rs 30,000 on Monday. A theft case has been registered at Urwa police station on Tuesday. Suicide Mangalore: Sunil (40) of Kollam of Kerala, who was residing in a rented house at Minakalya in Panambur.He hanged himself on Monday. An unnatural death report has been registered at Panambur police station on Tuesday. Vandalism Kasargod: An unidentified person on Tuesday night allegedly beat the temple priest at Madhur Madanantheshwara Siddivinayak temple. It is reported that the person broke the idol of lord Shiva. The police arrived on the spot. Inquiry is under progress.

BSF soldier missing

Hubli: Border Security Force (ESF) soldier Shekhappa Gulappa Navalgund is reportedly missing since May 6. In a complaint lodged at railway police station, his wife Neelamma stated that Shekhappa departed from Hubli station by Delhi Express train but neither reported to the duty nor came back home at Pashupathihal in Kundagol taluk.

The missing is 5'8" in height and of dark complexion. He was wearing sky blue shirt and chocolate brown trouser while departing from Hubli station. If any information about the missing is found, contact Hubli railway police station or dial (0836) 2364751.

Gambling help lagging in Pa.

 

Slot-machine casinos are opening in Pennsylvania even though the state does not have a gambling-addiction program in place to handle an expected rise in compulsive gamblers seeking treatment. Although the slots parlors are required to advertise the existence of such services, the state has not set up a compulsive gambling hotline or a procedure to subsidize treatment services for gambling addiction. Both are months away, said Gene Boyle, who directs the state Health Department's Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Programs. In the meantime, the state will lean on existing providers, such as the Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania, based in Philadelphia. "I believe the infrastructure that's already in place, that's already working for people who have had addiction over the years, will carry through until we formalize the public system," Boyle said. Pennsylvania's 2004 law that legalized up to 14 slots casinos earmarked at least $1.5 million a year for treatment of compulsive-gambling problems. Last week, Gov. Rendell authorized the money from a state fund that is fed by slot-machine gambling revenues and slots licensing fees. The department can use that money to reimburse public or private treatment agencies for gambling-addiction services. The state is looking at hiring a company that will manage the authorization of and reimbursement for gambling-addiction services, as opposed to managing the process itself, Boyle said. In the next several months, the Health Department hopes to set up an official toll-free hotline, as required by the slots law, to answer questions about gambling addiction and provide treatment referrals. Yesterday, a second resort in southwestern Pennsylvania pulled its application for a slot-machine-gambling license, the third slots applicant to drop its plans in the last two months.

The withdrawal of Nemacolin Woodlands Resort leaves no applicants for the two slots licenses state gambling regulators are authorized to award to established resorts. It also means the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board will be able to issue 11 of the state's 14 total slots licenses when it meets to vote on the applicants Dec. 20.

Nemacolin said it withdrew its application for a Wild West-themed slots casino because gaming board officials said the resort's patrons would have to spend $25 on nongaming purchases each visit before playing the slot machines.

NO RECOGNITION FOR LEGITIMATE ONLINE GAMBLING YET IN SOUTH AFRICA

 

A South African judge gave online gambling optimists pause for thought this week in a judgement that unlicensed gambling in the country was illegal. Online gamblers in South Africa could be fined up to Rands 10 million (GBP 735 000) or jailed for up to 10 years in terms of current legislation, which will hopefully be reversed if the government decides to follow recommendations to legalise the pastime following extensive research. But this week the ruling in the Pretoria High Court was against online gambling. Judge Willie Hartzenberg dismissed an application by Casino Enterprises of Swaziland to allow residents of the populous Gauteng province to gamble online. The casino had taken the Gauteng and the National Gambling Board, as well as the SA Minister of Trade and Industry, to court. The basis for the application was that although the wagering was done on personal computers in Gauteng, the gambling was in reality taking place in Swaziland. The casino stressed that because of this, the punters were not contravening the Gauteng Gambling Act. However, the application was strenuously opposed by the defendants, who argued that Casino Enterprises was not licensed to operate gambling activities in South Africa. In his ruling, Judge Hartzenberg noted: "In terms of section 15(1) of the National Act, nobody is allowed to advertise or promote any gambling activity in the Republic which is unlawful in terms of that act or applicable provincial law, and in terms of section 71(1) of the Gauteng act, nobody is allowed to advertise or disseminate any information relating to gambling in Gauteng in respect of which no license was issued." When parliament passed the gambling laws, it took a number of issues into consideration, including the fact that it had to guard against people gambling irresponsibly and becoming addicted. "It was recognised that gambling can be dangerous for individuals and that they have to be protected by way of controls," stated the judge, adding: "It was recognised that gambling can be a great source of revenue for the province, which, if wisely spent, can improve the standard of living." To ensure that the government achieved the goal of generating more revenue for its coffers, it had to institute proper controls.

"One thinks of licensing of casinos and of a levy on turnover.

"All monies spent on casino gambling must contribute to the coffers of the state or the province," said Judge Hartzenberg.

The only way that the government could ensure that it maintained proper controls of casino gambling was if only licensed casinos were permitted to operate, he added.

In dismissing the plaintiff's application, Judge Hartzenberg said: "It is difficult to see why the Swaziland legislation, in terms of which the plaintiff obtained its casino license, can have extra-territorial operation.

"In other words, why actions of the plaintiff within the borders of the Republic are sanctioned by the Swaziland license."

In a statement, the Gauteng Gambling Board hailed the court's decision as a groundbreaking one and maintained that online gambling was unlawful.

The board warned punters, organisations, banks and Internet providers which advertise or facilitate online gambling that they would be prosecuted. It said this would be enforced by monitoring Internet gambling.

Blow to online gambling

 

Operators offering online gambling and those who indulge in it face fines of up to R10 million and/or 10 years in prison following a landmark ruling in the Pretoria High Court. At present the court ruling was applicable only to "casino-style gambling", said Gauteng Gambling Board legal manager Edward Lalumbe. "We have not ruled out the possibility of going after other operators, including those offering access to Lotto in other countries." South Africa does not issue licences for online casinos, and it was this that finally brought the provincial gambling authority along with the National Gambling Board and the Minister of Trade and Industry to court. It was maintained that Swaziland-registered Piggs Peak Casino could not offer online gambling to punters in SA. This is because SA does not have the necessary legislation to issue online gambling licences. "A gambling operator offering online gambling needs to have a licence issued for this purpose in SA, and even though the owners of the Swaziland casino have an Internet licence, it is valid only for that country." The court's decision confirms that Internet operators offering online gambling to South Africans, and players/punters taking part, are doing so illegally. Internet service providers, financial service providers, TV stations and the print media were named in court as facilitating online gambling, also deemed illegal by the decision. "Our overall motivation for taking the matter to court was it was facilitating illegal activity," Lalumbe said, adding law-enforcement agencies including the Asset Forfeiture Unit and financial institutions had been consulted prior to the decision to go to court.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Help for gambling addicts lags as slots parlors open

 

Slot-machine casinos are opening in Pennsylvania despite the fact that the state does not have a gambling-addiction program in place to handle an expected rise in compulsive gamblers seeking treatment. Although the slots parlors are required to advertise the existence of such services, the state has not set up a compulsive-gambling hot line or a procedure to subsidize gambling-addiction treatment services. Gene Boyle, who directs the state Health Department's Bureau of Drug and Alcohol Programs, says both are months away. In the meantime, he says the state will lean on existing providers, such as the Philadelphia-based Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania. The state's first slots parlor opened November 14th at the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs racetrack in northeastern Pennsylvania, and three more slots parlors are expected to open at racetracks in the next three months.

Gambling under the influence

 

Gov. Ed Rendell is considering a measure to allow slot-machine parlors in Pennsylvania to serve patrons unlimited free drinks. Are we the only ones who think this sounds like a really bad idea? Apparently, many of our state legislators don't. The measure passed the Senate, 27-22, and the House, 112-75, and now awaits the governor's signature to become law. Currently, horse tracks are not permitted to serve any free drinks. Other licensed establishments, including bars and restaurants, can provide one free drink per patron. If Rendell follows along with the General Assembly, the new measure would permit 14 slots parlors, including those at racetracks, to serve free drinks from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. The state Senate also discussed extending hours that alcohol could be served, but did not act on that before its session ended. Senate Democratic leader Robert J. Mellow of Lacka-wanna County was among those arguing for the concept of unlimited free drinks. Mellow and others say Pennsylvania's gambling parlors need to be able to serve unlimited free drinks to stay competitive with parlors in neighboring states, which already offer unlimited free drinks."It's that way in all the states that have gambling," Mellow said. Then by all means we should do that, too, right? If your friend jumps off a cliff ... Let's park people in front of slots machines and let them drink all day. Nothing bad could ever come from that. Opponents of the free-drinks plan said it would give slots parlors an unfair advantage over bars and clubs that sell their drinks. We suppose that would be one reason the governor should veto this plan. Another might be that it would be bad for the people of Pennsylvania, especially those betting their life's savings on the next pull of a mechanical arm.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Lake Stevens floats lower gambling tax

 

A new gambling tax proposal would be better for local gambling businesses, city officials said. The proposal is for a lower tax on area businesses - the Highway 9 Casino and some restaurants and taverns - than the one they currently pay to Snohomish County. "This would be considerably less than they are used to paying the county," Mayor Vern Little said. Snohomish County taxes gambling businesses on their gross earnings. But come Dec. 20, the Frontier Village area on the west side of the lake is scheduled to become part of Lake Stevens. The city is in the process of annexing the 708-acre area. Now, the city is debating the best way to implement a gambling tax that is fair to local businesses, the mayor said. The city doesn't have a gambling tax on its books, but now is proposing one on the businesses' net earnings. A gambling tax would help pay for police services, Chief Randy Celori said. Word of the proposal prompted an outcry from area gambling businesses last month. Fearful that a tax might cost too much and force them to close, business owners and employees implored city leaders to consider a lower tax than the one Snohomish County imposes. They asked for a tax on net earnings instead of gross earnings. Under a gross tax, a customer could spend $100 and win that money back, but the business still would be taxed on the $100 in revenue. A net tax would tap into only the business' actual proceeds. How those net earnings would be determined is unclear, Little said.

Highway 9 Casino General Manager Carol Henry said she'd prefer to have the city come in and audit her books to determine net earnings. The alternative is to rely on the numbers filed with the Washington State Gaming Commission. Those numbers are too high, she said.

Henry said she's willing to pay a tax.

"We're just hoping that they'll do some sort of a fair tax for us," she said.

Under the city's proposal, the tax would be phased in over three years, Celori said.

The City Council is scheduled to hold two more public hearings before voting on the issue. The first of those hearings is scheduled for tonight.

In the meantime, Little, who became mayor on Nov. 6, said he's met with businesses and is working to come up with an equitable plan.

"We want to do the right thing," he said. "This isn't about just collecting the tax. We want to do the right thing by everybody."

Gambling Portal Claims Poker Saved a Marriage

 

An online gambling site called Gambling Portal recently published a press release claiming their site was responsible for saving a couple's marriage. The couple, "Debora and Mike from LA", according to the report, had no common interests after 17 years of marriage. After Debora stumbled across Gambling Portal and started playing online poker, she introduced it to her husband, and the two became hooked. Taking pro lessons in poker, they even play with their sons once a week, who are aged 12 and 7. Both parents hope to play in the WSOP one day.

John Grogan | Bloodsucker's bet: Booze for losers

 

If you were a con artist looking to separate an unsuspecting victim from his or her life savings, what is the first thing you would do? Get your target good and liquored up, of course. There's nothing like copious amounts of free booze to dull the senses, lower the defenses and cause you to throw caution to the wind. It is a cheap and effective way to soften your target for the big shakedown. Inhibitions melt away, common sense goes out the window. Let the fleecing begin! The Pennsylvania state legislature is doing its part to help. In the legalized flimflam game known as slots gambling, the last thing the parlors want are bettors with the sober good sense to quit when they're behind. And so they asked for permission to dole out as many free drinks as gamblers are willing to guzzle down. Inebriation has a wonderful way of making the loss of the family milk money seem like a brilliant idea. Lawmakers are citizens' representatives in government, elected to protect the public good. So a proposal to allow unlimited free drinks as long as you continue to feed the one-armed bandits would seem destined for unanimous defeat. Right? Not in the land of bilk and money. Chasing Vegas Lawmakers in both the state Senate and House of Representatives handily approved the booze last week. It may not be in the public's best interest, but it sure helps a few very important and influential constituents - namely, the slots operators. They argued they need to be able to give patrons free liquor to compete with other gambling states, where bottomless drinks are part of doing business. "It's necessary to make them competitive," Sen. Robert J. Mellow, the chamber's Democratic leader, told the Associated Press. "It's that way in all the states that have gambling."

And Lord knows we here in Pennsylvania aspire to be like those beacons of western civilization, Las Vegas and Atlantic City.

Anyone who has ever spent time in a slots parlor knows there are two basic life-forms drawn to them: the social gamblers who don't mind blowing $50 for the excitement of trying to beat astronomical odds. They know they most likely will leave poorer than they arrived, and they also know when to stop. They can handle a few free drinks, no problem.

It's the second life-form that worries me. These are the desperadoes. The working poor and fixed-income retirees who flock to the slots in hopes of betting their way into a better life. The old women on scooters and old men toting oxygen tanks. The young couples who take turns holding their babies out in the lobby while the other pumps in tokens waiting for the big jackpot that never comes.

Watching them, you have a sinking feeling they are betting money they can't afford to lose. Rent money, medicine money, heat money.

Sheep to slaughter

Many of the desperadoes, at least many of the ones I've spoken to, don't fully understand the huge odds against winning anything substantial. They are seduced by the flashing lights, whirring sirens and clanging chi-ching of coins dropping. They win just enough to keep pumping in more.

And when their pockets are empty, have no fear. An ATM is always nearby from which to draw out more cash.

Let's call slots what they really are: an invisible tax on the uneducated, vulnerable and downtrodden. They pay so the rest of us don't have to.

What could possibly be more irresponsible than to allow those who profit off these poor shlubs to get a free pass to ply them with unlimited alcoholic drinks? Drinks that make them even more prone to exploitation?

Men don't buy women drinks just to be nice, and neither do gambling operators. Both have ulterior motives, plain to see.

Many of these desperate gamblers already are like sheep being led to slaughter. Throw in five or six bourbons and see what happens. Instead of protecting the sheep, Pennsylvania's illustrious legislature is doing its part to deliver them to the wolves.

The free-booze bill next goes to Gov. Rendell, an enthusiastic cheerleader for slots gambling in Pennsylvania. If he vetoes it, the drinks are on me.

Gambling Web sites deal with federal ban

 

Despite the potentially negative impacts of a federal online gambling law, profits at Tyler Hancock's online poker Web site are almost back to where they were before the law passed in October. Hancock, an interdisciplinary studies senior, runs FuturePokerPros.com, which makes its money by taking a percentage of the winnings of each player it recruits for other online poker sites. Hancock said U.S. players dropped from 85 percent of his customers to 65 percent after they got kicked off sites where they had previously played. He has recruited more European and Canadian players to make up for the loss. "My big players are never going to quit playing poker no matter what happens," Hancock said. About 10 large online poker Web sites have stopped offering service to U.S. customers because the new law requires American financial institutions to block online gambling transactions, said Michael Bolcerek, president of the San Francisco-based Poker Players Alliance. U.S. customers represented between 60 percent and 75 percent of these sites' customers, he added. The companies can make up for the loss by expanding their operations in Asia and Europe, he said. Hancock said he will provide franchise Web sites to some of his top European and Canadian customers so they can help recruit other international players. These sites are identical to the original. In return, Hancock gets 15 percent of the profits from the franchises. Attracting new recruits won't be a problem, he added. "I'm getting new players just by playing poker," he said. Smaller, private companies like Hancock's are still serving U.S. customers while waiting to find out how the federal government decides to enforce the law, Bolcerek said. This means banks may not start actually blocking transactions until next July, nine months after the law was enacted, he added. Hancock said the law is unfair.

"It's a total invasion of freedom to do what we want as Americans," he said.

Banning online gambling is also counterproductive, said Keith Furlong, deputy director of the Vancouver, British Columbia-based Interactive Gaming Council.

"While the bill sponsors may have good intentions, they're not protecting consumers," Furlong said. "They have turned some of the most responsible, legitimate public companies out of the U.S. market."

Illicit companies could take their place, sparking the creation of the online equivalent of speakeasies, Bolcerek said.

This could lead to an increased amount of fraud and unsafe online-gambling transactions, he added.

The best way to deal with online gambling is by legally regulating it so it's safe for consumers and taxing it so it benefits the government, Bolcerek said.

The federal government could raise more than $3 billion in tax revenues annually from regulated online gambling, he said.

No matter what happens, Hancock said he hopes the online poker industry continues to thrive.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Russia Poker & Gambling Bill approved by Duma

 

The Gambling Bill President Vladimir V. Putin proposed in October, with plans to set up four gambling zones in Russia, has been approved at its first reading by the Duma last week by a vote of 440-0 and one abstention. The president had proposed the bill after the Interior Ministry launched an operation to check the financial, tax and sanitary-epidemiological documents of a variety of gambling establishments in the capital allegedly linked to the Georgian mafia. The bill will tighten control on gambling and ultimately ban gambling except in four special zones beginning 2009. The four special zones are to be located in unpopulated regions: two in European Russia, one in Siberia and one in the Far East. Federal authorities will grant five-year licenses for operation inside the zones. Putin warned United Russia leaders to resist lobbying attempts to increase the number of gaming zones beyond the four he specified. Putin said, "I am calling on United Russia not to concede to such lobbying." In response, the Duma's speaker and United Russia leader Boris Gryzlov asked Putin to give Duma the responsibility to select where the gambling zones will be located, versus the government. The president has not given a response yet.The first zone will be created in July 2007, Putin's representative to the Duma, Alexander Kosopkin, said during his presentation of the bill. About 3 percent of Russians gamble at least once per month, according to a survey by the independent Levada Center in October. Most people who gamble are under 40, it said. Moscow does not plan to apply for the status of a gambling zone, a Moscow deputy mayor, Iosif Ordzhonikidze said last month. This means that the 537 gaming establishments that are licensed to operate in Moscow would need to close or relocate to a special zone by 2009.

Also under the bill, slot-machine halls smaller than 100 square meters and casinos smaller than 800 square meters, and gambling businesses with net assets below 600 million rubles would be shut down by July 2007. And a minimum gambling age of 18 will come into effect. Duma deputies stressed the need for national gambling regulations, but said the bill must clarify how the four gambling zones would be set up, and are doubtful the zones could be set up as quickly as planned. The mechanism for creating the zones is a key to the legislation's success, according to United Russia Deputy Igor Dines. The current version also does not outline if any or how the zones might be established inside residential areas.

Besides lack of specifics, the legislation has also been criticized for prohibiting activities such as betting on friendly card games in private homes, and for restrictions on online activities.Because of these issues, many observers expect the bill to undergo dramatic changes before it will pass a second reading, likely later this year.

"There is no doubt the bill will change beyond recognition," said Yevgeny Kovtun, a spokesman for the Gaming Business Association, whose members have been operating in Russia for the past decade. Gambling is a hot topic because of upcoming elections. Duma elections are scheduled for December next year and the presidential vote is scheduled for 2008. "The reason we are discussing this bill is clear. It is elections," Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky said.

The Association for the Development of the Gaming Business predicted that the national gambling industry, whose revenues surpassed $5 billion per year, could shrink by at least 70 percent by July 2007 if the bill is implemented. So gambling businesses in Russia are pushing to soften the bill's provisions and extend the gambling ban beyond 2009. Gambling businessmen met in the Trade and Industry Chamber on Nov 17 to discuss amendments they have drafted.

The gamblers suggest putting off the deadline for leaving cities to 2011. Experts say that two years is not enough to create proper infrastructure and attract people to the zones. "What stance the presidential administration takes on this situation is important," said Duma Deputy Alexander Lebedev, an outspoken gambling critic.

Vladimir Putin has urged the deputies to adopt the law without change or amendments by the end of the year. The Duma speaker has promised this.

Police gambling alert

 

Police are gearing up for a much-anticipated comeback of underground lottery betting after the government suspended two draws of the two-digit and three-digit lottery. Pol Lt-Gen Chongrak Chutanont, national assistant police chief, said police have been told to strictly enforce the anti-gambling law especially during the suspension. An extended investigation is also required in cases where the value of seized wagers exceeds 200,000 baht, he said. Police would face tough disciplinary action if found to be involved in illegal betting, or turning a blind eye. The digit lottery, suspended pending a legal amendment by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA), would resume on Dec 30. Housing changes urged URBAN POOR :A panel on housing rights under the National Human Rights Commission yesterday proposed amendments to two laws in a bid to better tackle housing problems for the urban poor. Panel head Aporn Wongsang told a forum on housing problems that the law authorising forced evictions and the Building Control Code pose obstacles. The forced evictions law allowed the state and private property owners to relocate buildings and materials from their property at will. Nationality questions PEOPLE'S ASSEMBLY :Fifty-six people nominated to sit on the 2,000-member National People's Assembly have nationality problems, according to a panel examining the qualifications. Amara Pongsapit, head of the panel, said the individuals need to submit documents to prove that they hold Thai citizenship as their parents are immigrants. She said the required documents are papers stating that they were born on Thai soil and their parents are legal immigrants. The deadline is Tuesday. Lecturer jailed SHOOTING :A Chulalongkorn University lecturer was sentenced to 13 years and six days in prison for the murder of a vendor who urinated in public. The Criminal Court found Santilak Thanyaharn, of the engineering faculty, guilty of premeditated murder of Suthan Itthisurasing, 45, who was shot in the chest.

On March 30, 2005, Suthan dropped by at a birthday party of a niece who lived next to the defendant's Mister Stamp Building in Bang Sue district.

He was emptying his bladder in front of the building when the defendant fired two warning shots, the court was told. A heated row followed and friends of the victim intervened. Santilak fired a shot at Suthan and killed him.

Fishermen get life

TOURIST MURDER :The Court of Appeals has commuted a death sentence to life imprisonment on two members of a fishing crew convicted of murdering Welsh student Katherine Horton who was on holiday on the tourist island of Samui, said their lawyer Prompatchara Namuang,

Mr Prompatchara said the court granted leniency to the defendants, Bualoi Phothisit and Wichai Somkhaoyai, after they confessed. The pair attacked the victim who was holidaying on Samui island early this year. She was knocked unconscious, raped, thrown into the sea and left to drown.

No DNA match

JUSTICE :None of the three human bones recovered from a dump site in Ratchaburi matched the DNA of missing lawyer Somchai Neelaphaijit, said Central Institute of Forensic Science acting director Porntip Rojanasunan.

Online Casinos Target Spanish Market

 

A new study of the Spanish gambling market, undertaken by consulting firm MECN, has promoted Spain as a potential key region for future growth for both the online and land based gambling industry. The report highlights the potential for imminent growth over the coming years particularly within the retail betting sector and online gambling, as companies eagerly search for new markets following the collapse of online enterprise in the US. UK based betting firm William Hill has already begun its expansion into Spain, whilst Ladbrokes is reportedly working on a market entry strategy that could see it join its British counterpart in the near future. Spanish football has also seen a number of its major teams sign sponsorship deals with online gambling companies as online operators look to less restrictive regions. Martin Oelbermann, co-author of the study, explained, 'In nearly all of our surveys and interviews the operators mentioned Spain as a particularly attractive jurisdiction for future expansion.' So why Spain? The report highlights a number of factors as to why the Spanish market would appeal to foreign online operations, not least because major players such as William Hill already have joint venture agreements in place. However, one of the country's primary attractions is that many of its regions are currently working towards the liberalisation of its gambling market which is expected to grow to around ?39 billion by 2010.

Former township head jailed for gambling away 110 mln yuan of public funds

 

A former township chief in south China has been sentenced to 20 years in jail after gambling away more than 110 million U.S. dollars of public funds in Macao and Hong Kong. Li Weimin, 43, former head of Tangxia Township in Dongguan City, a major manufacturing center in south China's Guangdong Province, was convicted of embezzling more than 110 million yuan (13.9 million U.S. dollars) from public coffers, Dongguan Intermediate People's Court heard. Li lost more than 90 million yuan (11.4 million U.S. dollars) during 257 gambling trips to Macao and Hong Kong from 2000 to 2004. Li, who was arrested in 2005, said he became addicted to gambling after business trips to Macao in 1996. He admitted diverting public money from several collective firms where he worked as manager. About half of the public funds had not been repaid, the court heard. He was also convicted of receiving bribes valued at 1.71 million yuan (216,000 U.S. dollars). The prison term was handed down for embezzlement and corruption. Li's personal property was also confiscated. Tangxia is one of China's richest towns in terms of gross domestic product in 2005. Cases of government officials who gamble with public funds have given rise to public concerns and complaints. The government has conducted a nationwide crackdown since 2004 to punish civil servants who squander public funds in gambling trips abroad.

Business is Booming for European Online Casinos

 

The online casino industry has been faced with difficult decisions, especially those catering to customers in the United States, since the passing of the Unlawful Online Gambling Act. Although it has been a rough ride for some, a report by the European Commission suggests that online gambling, online casino business is still booming in Europe despite the losses by their US-facing counterparts. Some of the particulars of the report show that gambling amounts to 3 percent of the total EU GDP, and is also set to rise even further as the US operators focus solely on European opportunities. As well, the report suggested that following 2003, when more than 51 Billion Euros was generated through gambling (45 percent lotteries, and 17 percent betting), the European mobile gaming industry will be exploding in 2007. CEO of Chartwell Games, Lee Richardson, said, "The current drive towards licensing in Italy will offer new international operators substantial retail and online betting and gaming opportunities in a strong growth market; we are very excited by the new possibilities in what has always been a key area of growth for Chartwell's clients." The European market is ready to explode, and the new leading European online casino firm's Cryptologic (CRYP), 888.com and partygaming can now focus on the positives of the industry- It looks like it might be a very good time to buy online gambling stocks.

Alleged money-man behind billion dollar sportsbetting ring out on bail

 

The big story last week was probably the largest gambling bust ever made by New York police, which involved the arrest of over 20 people including a well known poker pro and a one time sports talent scout, and the confiscation of some $500 million of property and equipment. In a sequel this week, the suspected Las Vegas moneyman for the multibillion-dollar gambling ring was identified as posting a million dollar bail after being extradited from Las Vegas. Monte Weiner, 56, was extradited from Sin City and stood briefly before Queens Supreme Court Justice Stephen Knopf yesterday (Thursday). He was arraigned on enterprise corruption, promoting gambling, money laundering and other charges. Last week, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly announced a 33-count indictment against 27 individuals and three corporations all connected with the global gambling ring. Using the Web site Playwithal.com and toll-free numbers, more than $3.3 billion in wagers on football, baseball, hockey, horse racing, golf and other sports were collected over a 28-month period. Weiner's 27-year-old son Eric was also arrested last week and faces the same charges. He, too, posted $1 million bail. Both are facing up to 25 years in prison.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

WSOP 2007 Gambling Beings Early

 

When most people think of the World Series of Poker, they think of gambling - at least in the form of poker - but many may not realize the gambling begins well before the first cards hit the air in Las Vegas. With the passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act and Harrah's Entertainment - the owner of the WSOP brand - refusing online qualifiers for the 2007 WSOP, the question on everyone's mind is "how many players will make the Main Event next year?" Enter the online sportsbooks and bookies. Paddypower.com is the first, but likely not the last, to offer betting on such items as "how many" will play and "how much" will the top prize go for.

Police confiscate gambling equipment from murder suspect's home

 

Investigators confiscated gambling equipment from a professional card player's home at Ripon the day after he was charged with killing his wife.A search warrant shows that Ripon police took a slot machine, ledgers, hidden cameras and other items from the home of 44-year-old Kevin Moore. Moore has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the death of his 43-year-old wife, Dawn. Her body was found November 13th in a pool of blood near the garage of the couple's Ripon home. Fond du Lac County District Attorney Tom Storm has said she died of a blunt force trauma to the head, and a cinder block was found next to her body. The search warrant says Kevin Moore told police before he was arrested that he had ten thousand dollars hidden in the slot machine in his game room. He told police he thought whoever killed Dawn Moore wanted the money. The warrant says Kevin Moore told police he made his living playing Blackjack and then poker and he now only plays poker online in some tournaments.

Online gambling hurting health?

 

As many as one million individuals each year might become addicted to gambling on the Net due to a new piece of legislation, a professional has suggested. Professor Jim Orford, of Birmingham University, feels that the Government is "naive" and "playing dice" with the health of some members of the public over its proposals to change gambling laws. The Gambling Act 2005, which will completely come into effect in September 2007, liberalises some of the laws on this pastime. Prof Orford informed the BBC's Panoroma series:"Gradually we're going to realise it's a much bigger problem than we thought. "More people are going to know friends and family members who've got problems. Health authorities are going to be under pressure to provide treatment. "We could be talking about a million people affected by it in any one period of 12 months, and that begins to put it on a par with drug addiction problems."

Online gambling 'could lead to a million addicts'

 

Up to one million people a year could become hooked on internet gambling because of a new law, a Birmingham addiction expert has claimed. Professor Jim Orford, of Birmingham University, believes the Government is being "naive" and "playing dice" with people's health over its plans to liberalise gambling laws. The Gambling Act 2005, which will fully come into force next September, relaxes some laws on the activity. Prof Orford told the BBC's Panorama programme: "Gradually we're going to realise it's a much bigger problem than we thought. "More people are going to know friends and family members who've got problems. Health authorities are going to be under pressure to provide treatment. "We could be talking about a million people affected by it in any one period of 12 months, and that begins to put it on a par with drug addiction problems." An average of 5.8 million people a month visited online gambling sites between April and September, according to the programme. In May alone there were more than six million visitors to online gambling sites, the research by internet media and marker research company Nielsen/Net Ratings found. Independent research commissioned by the Government claims that there are only one million regular UK online gamblers, the programme said. Minister for Sport Richard Caborn told Panorama: "We have, I believe, acted responsibly in bringing an Act on to the statute book which has three basic principles on which it is based; protecting the vulnerable, keeping it crime-free, and making sure that those who have a bet will be paid out and it'll be a fair bet. "That is what it is predicated on because we believe that gambling is now part of our leisure industry."

GROWING GERMAN MARKET THE TARGET FOR NEW ONLINE CASINO GAMBLING PORTAL

 

The German online gambling market is experiencing rapid growth, with predictions that by the year 2010 German betting revenues will have increased by Euro 7.6 billion, additionally spurred by the imperative to replace lost American business with European and Asian opportunities. Cashing in on this attractive business environment, Danish Internet company SunCore Innovation A/S has made a strategic move this (November) month to offer German language portal services in the sector. Casinoportalen.de will benefit from the webmastering skills and experience of Suncore, which has been active in the market since 2001 and also runs one of the oldest and most developed online gambling portals in the dynamic Scandinavian market. The gambling forum is the largest of its kind with more than 100 000 subjects and commentaries, and arranges its own poker tours and a diversity of other events related to online gambling. The new German language site is focused strongly on players, with wide ranging reviews and gambling guides and a wealth of information on safe online casinos and poker rooms on the Internet to help shield online gamblers from having bad online gambling experiences. Casinoportalen.de is all about expert first hand impressions, balanced reportage and general information about gambling, all written and published by its own German speaking authors. Besides reviews and recommendations, the site provides users with news from the gambling world in German - online and land based - and through comprehensive guides educates new players on the best way to safely enjoy online gambling. German players using the new portal will be offered a range of private poker tournaments arranged by the site, winning significant prizes like tickets to the World Series of Poker and the European Poker Tournament, cash prizes and other incentives. Activities include competitions and social events. The site is built and run by professionals with a clean and easy to navigate design that is appealing to the eye, and all facilities are offered free of charge to visitors and members alike. With a primary strategy of penetrating the European gaming market with quality gambling products, SunCore Innovation today operates gambling portals in Denmark - Casinoportalen.dk, Sweden - Casinoportalen.se , Germany - Casinoportalen.de, Turkey - Casinoportalen.com.tr - and the United Kingdom - Guide2casino.com - with plans for further European expansion.

Addiction scam funded gambling habit-Canada report

 

A top anti-addiction official in the western Canadian province of Alberta skimmed nearly half a million dollars from his employer to feed his own gambling habit, the province's top auditor said on Friday. Auditor General Fred Dunn alleged in a report that Lloyd Carr, who ran the tobacco-reduction unit of the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission, used five false contracts to scam C$441,298 ($390,000) from the government agency, which funds programs and treatment services for alcohol, drug and gambling addictions. The auditor's report said Carr, who could not be reached for comment, had admitted to misappropriating the funds and using part of the cash to put a downpayment on a house, pay household expenses and repay a vehicle loan. About C$116,000 was said to have been withdrawn from automatic teller machines in casinos.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

S. Korea tightens crackdown on illegal gambling

 

South Korea reiterated its tough stance on the gaming industry Friday after an audit agency held the government responsible for rampant illegal gambling and referred a list of big names to the prosecution. Controversy over video arcades has rocked the nation since August, leading President Roh Moo-hyun and Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook to offer apologies. The major opposition Grand National Party accused the government of bending the rules to feed the gaming industry. South Korea strictly regulates gambling. It has only one casino available for locals, while 16 others exist for foreigners. While the government loosened rules to help boost its game industry in recent years, its loose oversight also let illegal gambling prosper in video arcades and Internet cafes. The arcade game industry surpassed 20 trillion won (US$20.9 billion) last year, an amount that is almost equal to the country's national budget, with the majority of consumers being in the lower-income bracket. Current Culture Minister Kim Myung-gon accepted the criticism and reiterated the current stance to crack down on illegal gambling. "As the main government branch in charge of the gaming industry, we offer an apology to the public for causing such a big controversy," Kim said in a press conference. The intense inspection forced nearly 9,500 game parlors and 5,000 Internet cafes nationwide to be closed for illegal operations, he said, and the police have arrested over 3,600 illegal operators. Also, the ministry will abolish all gift certificates circulating in game parlors. Gift certificates, used as cash equivalents in arcades, have fed the game operators with vast commissions. After a months-long investigation on Thursday, the Board of Audit and Inspection of Korea held the government accountable for failing to curb illegal gaming. It transferred a list of former and incumbent top officials to the prosecution on allegations of overseeing illegal gambling or bending the rules. The list reportedly included Chung Dong-chae, the former culture minister and lawmaker from the Uri Party, and two former vice culture ministers, Bae Jhong-shin, who held the post from 2002 to early 2006, and his successor Yoo Jin-ryong.

The prosecution refused to disclose the names on the list, saying the investigation is now in its budding stage, but suggested the accused may be summoned for questioning.

"If they were on the list, the prosecution will decide whether to summon them after analyzing related documents," a prosecutor who asked not to be named said, referring to Chung and two others.

The controversy centers on the "Sea Story," an arcade gambling program released to game cafes in 2005 with government permission. When a player inserts cash into a machine with the program, images of squids, clams, sharks and other sea creatures spin and stop. If they form a certain arrangement, the player hits the jackpot.

The game machines paid out larger winnings than were legally permitted, which made the program highly addictive.

The issue has gained public and media attention after the vice culture minister Yoo Jin-ryong, who sought to curb illegal gambling, was dismissed just six months into his tenure in August. The Grand National Party claimed his dismissal was a retaliatory act by the presidential office because he allegedly clashed with aides of President Roh over administrative issues, including his initiative to root out gambling with arcade games.

Let's make a bigger deal of gambling

 

EVERYBODY KNOWS we have a problem-gambling problem. And everybody's got a different take on how to address it. As solutions go, mine is quite radical. First, bring all the parking meters in from the cold - to replace all the VLTs that have taken up residence indoors in our province, from taverns to pool halls and casinos. Hey, people could still park their butts in front of them and feed money into the machines. Their odds of winning wouldn't even change much. But as a pastime, feeding the meters - especially if there are no bells and whistles attached - would be deadly. Which is exactly what the doctor ordered, right? Second, put one-armed bandits out on the sidewalk where the parking meters used to be. That way, lucky motorists could win the jackpot when they put any amount of change in. I'm willing to bet most would rather take their chances on the meter than on the commissionaire coming by with pen and pad in hand. City coffers would be bulging and the parking-ticket bureaucracy would quickly become obsolete. Of course, I'm half-joking. Which half I'm joking about, I'm not really sure. Thankfully, there are serious people doing serious research on societal attitudes towards gambling and making serious recommendations (unlike me). One such person is Christiane Poulin, an addictions expert at Dalhousie medical school, who makes an interesting argument in the current issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Her view, in a nutshell, is that we should learn from our successes in the cigarette wars and apply those lessons to gambling. She advocates limiting the number of lotteries you can play, driving up the price of lottery tickets through taxation and forcing retailers to keep tickets behind the counter. Go with plain packaging and addiction warning labels. Further cull the VLT herd, she says, and ban new casinos and gambling advertising altogether. Come to think of it, her answer sounds almost as radical as mine. But there is good reason to contemplate a crackdown. Gambling in all its forms is growing by leaps and bounds and there is mounting evidence that kids are getting hooked younger and harder. Betting on sports is the "gateway" drug here. Don't take it from me. McGill University in Montreal actually has an International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High Risk Behaviours. Recently, it even set up a website which provides teens with a forum to anonymously discuss their gambling problems with counsellors.

An estimated 70 per cent of kids under 18 have reported participating in some kind of gambling activity over the previous 12 months. "We found that four to six per cent are actually experiencing severe gambling problems, what you would call an adult pathological gambler," McGill researcher Alissa Sklar said in a recent interview with the Canadian Press.

"These rates are roughly three times the rate for gambling disorders in the adult population."

You may counter that it's unfair to spoil the fun of the many to stop the foolishness of the few. Fair enough. It does seem stupid to overreact to what remains a statistically small problem, no matter how you slice it. (Alcohol abuse, for example, has a far more pervasive and devastating social impact. As such, it's harder to tackle head-on. Yet that should not preclude us from doing something about lesser plagues, and the truth is gambling addiction is burning a hole through pockets, families and communities.)

At issue is not so much the legalization of gambling, but its normalization over the past decade. As a society, we have gone from tolerating it, which is the most we should do, to promoting it, which is the worst we can do. Some people argue it's a benign social activity, if not a beneficial one. But that's short-sighted.

"In theory, government gambling revenues benefit all of society. In reality, since gambling revenues go into general revenue pots, individuals who do not participate in gambling activities end up being the biggest winners because they benefit without having invested anything," Ms. Poulin writes. "Furthermore, a disproportionate number of individuals who participate in certain gambling activities (e.g., video lottery terminals [VLTs]) are from disadvantaged groups in our society.

"Decisions and policy pertaining to gambling need to be based on a full accounting of the health, economic and social benefits and costs of gambling, rather than on only the short-term benefits of employment and tax revenue."

I especially agree with Ms. Poulin's proposed ban on gambling advertising, for the simple reason that the industry gets far more than its fair share of free publicity as it is. Have you ever come home after work, turned on the sports channel and wondered, "When exactly did poker become a sport?"

But that's not when I had my personal epiphany. I realized the gambling ethic had become a tad too mainstream while watching Deal or No Deal. That game show is in a league of its own. Gone is the pretence of rewarding contestants for their qualities, intellectual or otherwise. The only true qualification you need on Deal or No Deal is a healthy risk-taking gene. And it's awfully easy to forget that it's the network's money that contestants are playing with, not their own.

Deal or No Deal is actually a luridly fascinating look at the insidiousness of gambling. If somebody off the street handed you $5,000 just like that, you'd be ecstatic. Every contestant could at least walk away with that much on Howie Mandel's program. Just making it on to the show is the equivalent of winning the lottery. But it isn't very long before these "winners" are turning down $165,000 offers as if it were parking-meter change. Of course, if they didn't, it would be a very dull spectacle, indeed.

Don't get me wrong. I don't believe in prohibition or censorship. But I do believe the pendulum of social attitudes has swung too far towards permissiveness when it comes to gambling. It's time to bring it back.

Korea to Ban Illegal Gambling From April

 

Minister of Culture and Tourism Kim Myung-gon Friday said that the government will ban video game arcades from using gift certificates for payouts in April next year as part of the efforts to eradicate illegal gambling. Kim also apologized to the public in a press briefing, accepting criticism after the Board of Audit and Inspection of Korea on Thursday held the government accountable for the recent video gambling game scandal over ``Pada Iyagi'' or Sea Story. ``As the main government body responsible for the gaming industry, I apologize to the public for causing such a big controversy with addictive games,'' Kim said. ``I feel totally responsible for the audit result and as head of the ministry, I will try to improve the gaming licensing system,'' he said. The nation's video arcades and slot machine parlors have been unlawfully allowing their customers to cash their vouchers, which is considered the main culprit behind the quick spread of illegal gambling. Kim said that the government is also planning to come up with stricter licensing regulations for companies. The ministry first allowed game arcades to use gift certificates as payouts in 2002. The vouchers, dubbed ``culture gift certificates,'' were supposed to be used to purchase items such as books, music, and tickets for movies and the theater, but instead were exchanged for cash. The ministry has been hit hard by the gambling scandal, which involves ministry officials who were lobbied by businessmen for licenses to sell the game machines or issue the vouchers. The recent gambling scandal first erupted in August when prosecutors indicted the chief executives of the two companies that manufactured and distributed ``Pada Iyagi,'' video slot machines. The audit board on Thursday sent a list of 36 people, including former high-ranking ministry officials to the prosecutor's office for criminal investigation.

With most gaming rooms unlawfully trading the vouchers for cash to lure more customers, the country's video slot machine business grew beyond recognition with the number of adult-only game arcades outnumbering 24-hour convenience stores by 20,000 to 9,500.

Most of the gaming machines were illegally reprogrammed to allow higher payouts than the legal limit of 20,000 won. Pada Iyagi was the country's most popular slot machine game by far with more than 45,000 units sold.

Gambling chief steps down after four years

 

Dan Gustafson, a former three-term state legislator from Haslett, has always opposed casino gambling in Detroit. Yet for the past four years he has served in an unlikely position: executive director of the Michigan Gaming Control Board, the watchdog state regulatory agency that oversees the $1.2 billion casino industry in Detroit. Today, Gustafson is stepping down from that post to become president and CEO of Health Care Association of Michigan, a group that represents some 300 senior citizen nursing homes in the state. Many believe Gustafson, 47, is leaving the gaming board in a better position, with new policies and procedures in place that make the 105-member department more lean and efficient. "I think he's done a great job," said Tom Shield, a Lansing lobbyist for MotorCity Casino who has followed Gustafson's political career for the past 20 years. "This was a position that was regulatory in nature but required someone to use good, common sense. Gustafson did that. He also fine-tuned the regulations to make them work better for everyone." Gustafson announced several months ago that he was leaving the $113,000-a-year job, two years short of the six-year appointment by former Gov. John Engler. Gov. Jennifer Granholm has not announced Gustafson's replacement. Gustafson said he took the Health Care Association job to give himself and his family job security for the first time. "For the past 20 years, I've gone from election to election to either hold office or be appointed to an office," he said. "I wanted something more stable so I wasn't always looking over my shoulder to see who got elected to determine where my next job might be." Despite his anti-gambling stance, Gustafson said he has made significant accomplishments at the gaming board.

"The agency has matured in the past four years," he said. "We have become much more efficient."

Gustafson said when he arrived in 2002 there was a backlog of more than 2,000 casino employees who needed extensive background checks before they could obtain a permanent worker's license. He said the gaming board now has a system in place in which a temporary license can be issued in three days and a permanent license within a month. There is no longer a backlog.

He has also implemented a retraining program for all employees to keep them abreast of new rules, regulations and procedures.

And he admitted he has mellowed his position just a bit on casino gambling. He sees some upsides.

"Detroit casinos have created thousands of jobs and are paying hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes to the state and city," Gustafson said. "As long as the state can stay on top of the casinos and be very effective keeping out organized crime and keep the games fair and honest, the casinos are an asset at this point.

False contracts financed gambling habit, Alta. auditor general finds

 

A former senior bureaucrat with Alberta's anti-addictions agency created $634,000 in ''false contracts'' to spend most of it on his own gambling, auditor general Fred Dunn reported Thursday. Lloyd Carr, the former executive director of the Alberta Alcohol and Drug Abuse Commission's tobacco reduction unit, also kept his past criminal record from him bosses, and falsely claimed to have a university degree, Dunn also found. The RCMP is conducting a criminal investigation and Alberta Justice and the drug abuse commission are considering a civil action. Carr's job was terminated in September. The ''diverted'' funds involved four commission contracts with Alberta Lung Association, purportedly for a school anti-smoking program, and a smaller one with anti-tobacco lobby Action on Smoking and Health totalling $634,250. Carr, who signed the contracts, wound up receiving $441,298 of it himself, Dunn's report said. Of that, $116,000 was taken from banking machines in casinos, $91,000 was used as a house downpayment and $60,000 to repay a vehicle loan, Dunn wrote in his special report. Carr ''told us he had a gambling problem and confirmed his involvement in the five contracts as described in this report,'' the report said. Dunn also found the former director was ''able to take advantage of weaknesses and circumvent controls in AADAC's contracting system.'' There was no evidence the commission, Alberta Lung or Action on Smoking and Health ''knowingly supported'' the fund diversions, although the two contractors and another consultant retained ''handling fees'' of their own, Dunn said. The auditor general also conducted five other audits of government departments or public bodies. Among the other findings: - Lakeland College received $215,465 in fees from a private contractor to provide training for foreign students. But for much of that payment, ''no training was provided to any students under these contracts,'' Dunn wrote. The RCMP is also probing this file, which the Edmonton Journal has previously reported involved welders brought in from Poland.

- Dunn's office has referred a file to the chief electoral officer, following its own probe of allegations Aboriginal Affairs Minister Pearl Calahasen received a 2004 election contribution from a Metis Settlement-owned corporation contrary to election finance laws.

- Grant MacEwan College announced a $250,000 ''donation'' from a construction firm that was bidding to build the Robbins Health Learning Centre, and would later get the contract. It created a bad perception, Dunn wrote, even though it seems the money did not affect the tendering process. In fact, the publicly heralded contribution was not a donation but a payment based on another building project, despite what was announced.

Opposition parties are saying this all adds up to gross mismanagement and lack of supervision of taxpayers' money.

BRISK BUSINESS FOR UK GAMBLING COMMISSION

 

With operations due to commence in the third quarter of next year to give life to Britain's liberalised gambling reforms, the Gambling Commission has clearly been kept busy checking out the initial batch of license applicants, reporting this week that 29 companies had been successful in clearing the first hurdles in a thorough and probing process. Casino operators now face the second test for their applications - gaining approval from local authorities, which will often refuse a license if it is proved that there is no local demand. Reuters reports that the applications constitute around half of those submitted, the remainder still being in the initial process. Whether any of the applicants were from Internet gaming companies was not clear. The rush came ahead of new legislation to open up and regulate the gambling industry from 2007, which will initially limit the number of future new casinos to 17, including one Las Vegas-style supercasino.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Gambling on the easier option

 

Two wrongs do not make a right. Thus, the decision by the government of Prime Minister Surayud Chulanont to continue and legalise the sale of two- and three-digit lottery tickets is on a par with that made by the Thaksin administration three years ago when it launched the lottery scheme, apparently in full knowledge that this was against the law. Given the massive underground gambling in two- and three-digit lottery numbers, which fetched illegal bookmakers a whopping revenue of billions of baht each year, the Thaksin government envisioned the lottery scheme as a new cash cow through which it could make fast and easy money to fund populist projects and enrich cronies. After all, revenues earned from the scheme by the Government Lottery Office (GLO) did not go to the state coffers. Neither was spending regulated by the state. The rationale cited then for the launch of the lottery scheme was to counter massive underground lottery gambling. In other words: Why let the illegal bookmakers have the pie all to themselves? To justify the continuation of the two- and three-digit lottery gambling, which was temporarily suspended after the Council of State ruled it illegal, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Pridiyathorn Devakula reasoned this was necessary to prevent the underground lottery business from staging a comeback. Realising the social impact from gambling on the lottery, he said the government would introduce measures to curb it, including a ban on lottery advertising and the termination of live telecasts of lottery draws. No matter the rationale cited for keeping the lottery scheme going, the Surayud government has clearly shown it lacks the political and moral will to right the wrong committed by its predecessor _ although this government has a totally different view as to how revenues generated from the lottery scheme should be spent. There is no denying that tens of thousands of people have been making a living selling lotteries. These people would certainly be affected if the lottery scheme were scrapped permanently. Also, it is true that vast numbers of people, mostly in the low-income bracket, who are hooked on gambling, would turn to the underground lottery anyway. By legalising the lottery scheme, the government is giving a new lease of life to the lottery vendors but, at the same time, is enabling gamblers to continue trying their luck, albeit legally. The latest decision may also spare the government from being confronted by possible protests from lottery vendors _ which could be one of the chief reasons prompting the government to quickly resume the sale of two- and three-digit lotteries.

Obviously, the government has taken the convenient way out in resolving this problem, without proper consideration of the moral aspect and other measures to deal with underground lottery gambling. The proper way to prevent underground gambling from resurging is not to legalise gambling, but to make sure the police do their job of effectively suppressing illegal gambling.

The lottery scheme is contentious and must not be rushed, even though the government wants to see it re-launched by Dec 30. Members of the National Legislative Assembly should be given enough time to debate the various aspects of the issue without being pressured into meeting the tentative deadline.

One assemblyman, Chamlong Srimuang, who opposes the lottery, has suggested that the Assembly set up a committee to gauge public opinion on the matter. He said the committee should be given a month to do the job.

Since the government has erred in its attempt to legalise the lottery scheme, it must avoid making a second mistake by trying to ram its amendment bill on this matter through the Assembly. At least, it should seriously consider Mr Chamlong's suggestion.

GAMBLING CATEGORIES

 

The Seminole Tribe of Florida wants to upgrade to Las Vegas-style ''Class III'' slot machines, like those now allowed at Broward parimutuels. Here's the difference between the tribe's current Class II games and the more desirable Class III. Class II games: bingo, poker and off-track betting, in which gamblers play against other players. Though the machines in the Seminole casino resemble slots, they are electronically connected to other players. Class III games: Vegas-style gambling: slot machines, blackjack, craps and roulette. Those are games in which a player plays against the house.

Ex-mayor gets probation for gambling violations

 

The former mayor of Maple Park pleaded guilty Wednesday to six counts of illegal gambling, the result of an undercover probe involving him and 12 others. Mark Delaney agreed to serve a year of probation that prohibits him from gambling and pay a $250 fine. "I'm just glad it's over," said Delaney on his way out of Kane County Circuit Court. A yearlong investigation by the Illinois State Police led to a May 2004 raid on D.J's Tavern, 221 W. Main St., Maple Park, at a Friday night steak fry. The investigation revealed slot machines illegally rigged to dispense cash, a spin-the-wheel lottery and a bookmaking operation. Delaney pleaded guilty to illegal gambling, a misdemeanor, after felony charges were dropped.

Auditors Ask Prosecution to Probe Gambling Scandal

 

After a three-month audit, the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) on Thursday forwarded to the prosecution a list of 36 people, including former and incumbent government officials, who it said are involved in the video arcade gambling machine scandal, often dubbed ``Pada Iyagi,'' or ``Sea Story''. The 36 people include six former and incumbent officials of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and 13 officials of the state-funded Korea Media Rating Board (KMRB), which is under the control of the ministry. Between Aug. 21 and Oct. 29, the BAI dispatched some 30 officials to government agencies and video game manufacturers as well as to voucher distributors, who illegally allowed their customers to cash in their vouchers, called ``Culture Gift Certificates.'' ``The ministry officials were well aware that the video slot machines could be highly addictive and cause serious social problems, but they neglected their duty to regulate such illegal gambling machine parlors,'' a senior BAI official said in a press briefing. ``The KMRB officials have also approved more than 3,500 reel game machines since 1999, even though they knew that most of the games could be illegally reprogrammed to allow higher jackpot winnings than the legal limit of 20,000 won ($21) per game,'' he added. State auditors also found out some KMRB officials manipulated documents to expedite the application process for some 37 video game programs in September last year.

The gambling scandal erupted in August when prosecutors indicted the chief executives of the company that manufactured and distributed the Pada Iyagi machine. More than 45,000 units of the country's most popular video slot machine were sold.

The Roh Moo-hyun administration has been criticized for allowing tens and thousands of illegal gambling parlors, which have devastated the livelihood of low income families, nationwide.

Gambling High Season Unofficially Begins On Thanksgiving Day

 

Gambling on football on Thanksgiving Day is almost as traditional as eating turkey and yams. Thanksgiving Day sees more betting action on singular games than any other day of the regular football season, and it also kicks off the general happy and joyful mood that pushes the high season of gambling in the United States. Thanksgiving is also the day when people give thanks for living in a country where freedom is cherished, and Ameicans seem to love to head to their local casino to celebrate that sense of freedom. It is college students' time to take a break from their studies and many of those students head to Las Vegas or Atlantic City to release and relieve some of their schoolbook stress. Other students head home to find that while they were gone slot parlors were approved and new casinos were open up, such as in Hollwood, Florida and Pennsylvania. "I feel so good this time of the year, everyone feels so good and is in such a good mood," says Frank Taylor, a Hard Rock casino visitor in Hollywood. "Thanksgiving Day is for the family," Frank said, "but the rest of the weekend is for partying." Thanksgiving also kicks off the season of spending money. People enjoy buying gifts for others to celebrate their religious beliefs and in that same sense of giving they head to the casino to try to find some loose slots. Even online casinos see a rise in bets and total wagers through the end of the year. "This is typically our busiest time of the year," says one Internet casino manager. "I don't know why people love to gamble during the holidays... but it is something real and it happens every year." However, gambling during the holidays could be more of a problem for addicted gamblers than at other times of the year. Nancy Petry, Ph.D professor of psychiatry and director of the Gambling Research and Treatment Center at UConn Health Center agrees that problem gamblers face a harder time during the holidays.

"Family-related stress can send problem gamblers to the casinos for an escape during the holiday," Petry said. "Many people gamble because they are lonely, bored or stressed. These moods can be more common during the holiday season."

Petry is quick to point out that you should never bet more than you feel comfortable losing, never wager with borrowed money, and she suggests that a problem gambler find something else to do besides gamble during the holidays.

Whatever your reason for gambling may be, be sure to be responsible to yourself and to your close ones, and remember that gambling is only a form of entertainment and should never be taken more seriously than such.

Deceased Mobster's Son Charged In Gambling Investigation

 

The son of a deceased West Virginia mobster has been charged in connection with a multimillion-dollar bookmaking ring. Christopher Hankish, who is from suburban Pittsburgh, is charged with gambling conspiracy. He is the son of Paul "No Legs" Hankish, a Wheeling, W.Va., native who died in prison in 1998 while serving time for a racketeering and gambling conviction.Christopher Hankish was charged Friday. He declined comment. Investigators with the Pennsylvania State Police and the state Attorney General's Office came across Hankish while looking into gambling activity involving former video poker kingpin John "Duffy" Conley. Conley has not been charged, but was sentenced in May to four years in federal prison for violating his probation by placing millions of dollars in sports bets over the phone last year. He was released in January 2004 after serving nine years in prison on a gambling conviction.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Gambling Stocks Still Look Like Good Bet

 

Investors recently doubled down on gambling stocks despite a yearlong winning streak, wagering that expansion will spur growth and bettors will keep spending even as the economy softens. The Dow Jones U.S. Gambling Index has surged more than 35 percent since the start of the year, easily outpacing the broader market as represented by the Standard & Poor's 500 index, which has added about 12 percent. The gambling index, comprising 67 stocks weighted primarily toward large hotel-casino operators such as Harrah's Entertainment and MGM Mirage, has generally tracked sentiment about the overall economy. After rising through April, the index gave back most of the gain amid worries consumers would be cash-strapped as oil prices climbed steadily ahead of the summer months. "Those concerns didn't come to fruition," said Robert LaFleur, a gaming, lodging and leisure industry analyst with Susquehanna Financial Group. "Expectations were that higher gas prices and a softening housing market would pressure the industry, but visitation has remained strong." Part of the reason is that casino performance does not necessarily track consumer spending, despite investor reaction. "The Las Vegas strip market is driven more by overall economic growth," said Morningstar equities analyst Sumit Desai. "The stocks are more cyclical than the underlying business," he said. And gamblers don't necessarily curb spending in economic slowdowns, anyhow. "The high-roller business is always going to be strong because these guys don't worry about short-term factors," LaFleur said.

Either way, there was more good news Monday when a leading economic indicator edged higher, suggesting the recent housing slump was not enough to offset lower gas prices and a rising stock market.

Another boost for the sector, said Frank Fahrenkopf, head of industry trade group American Gaming Association, is casino operators' expansion into other businesses.

"The industry has moved to the total entertainment package," he said. "People come to destination resorts _ they come to shop, to see shows and to play golf."

That trend in Las Vegas, which attracts more families and couples to what was long considered a bachelor's paradise, has turned off some of the city's more committed gamblers, but it has benefited the operators.

"It used to be that a casino's bottom line was about 65 percent gaming revenue," Fahrenkopf said. That's down to around 40 percent now at some companies, even as gaming revenue surged past $30 billion for the first time last year, according to the AGA.

And casino operators are boosting investment into additional entertainment venues. There are $20 billion worth of projects in Las Vegas alone that will be completed by 2010, said Desai.

"They want to offer a resort experience instead of just gambling," he said.

The danger is that new casinos and hotels could lead to excess supply. "That could be a hiccup for the industry, especially if it coincides with an economic slowdown," he said. "But generally the industry does a great job at managing growth."

Driving that growth _ in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, N.J., and also in the numerous other states that license American Indian casinos _ is increased social acceptance of gambling, Fahrenkopf said. The lobbyist traced the start of public softening toward gambling back to the reintroduction of lotteries in 1963 in New Hampshire. Now 48 states have some form of legalized gambling, from lotteries to horse racing to casinos.

But the surge that benefited casinos most came as poker soared in popularity, first through Internet sites and then, starting in 2002, televised tournaments. The Poker Players Alliance, a player-based lobbying group, estimates there are more than 70 million Americans who play poker. The number of poker tables in Las Vegas has risen to 405 in 2005 from 142 in 2003.

"Poker clearly helps," said LaFleur. "It's a tough game for casinos to make money on, but it attracts gamblers."

Harrah's, the country's largest casino operator, has turned the game's popularity into a major revenue source with its annual World Series of Poker. The company is currently being courted by private-equity groups with a $15 billion buyout offer, excluding debt assumption.

The offer, which would be about a 25 percent premium, helped bolster the sector, LaFleur said, because it sets a mark by which to determine the value of other companies in the sector. "The stocks often trade up in anticipation of other deals," he said.

The news helped Harrah's stock recover after it stumbled earlier this year on investor concerns about its lack of a presence in Asia.

Las Vegas Sands Corp., run by billionaire Sheldon Adelson, and Wynn Resorts Ltd., run by Steve Wynn, have licenses to operate in Macau, China _ the former Portuguese colony on the Chinese mainland that is now considered the next gambling paradise.

The expansion overseas marks the first time U.S. casinos have ventured abroad, lured by a strong gambling culture in Asia and the Chinese government's desire to attract foreign direct investment.

"The market trends are very strong in Asia and there are no indigenous companies with the experience to operate on the scale they want in Macau," LaFleur said, adding that Singapore is also a growing market for U.S. casinos.

The attraction of new markets is clear, but Desai warns that intense capital spending could hamstring some companies. "A lot of times investors think you can't lose with these stocks, but Trump went bankrupt two years ago.

"The problem is they require a lot of investment to keep them fresh and new and they have a ton of debt on the balance sheets. They are inherently risky investments," he said.

Gambling History That Stretches from Egypt to Luxor

 

The world of gambling has come a long way since its early days. It is unnecessary to describe today's gambling world, with land based casinos hosting the best entertainment and most luxurious hotels, and online casinos offering an equally terrific, virtual form of entertainment. But that is a look at the present and future of gambling. A look back in time would take us to a different place altogether. Long ago and far away.Casino dice games have their origins based in Egypt. Archaeological evidence of dice games have been excavated in Egypt, and date back 2600 years to 600 BC. Modern day craps, at the core of many casinos and online casinos, are therefore indebted to the ancient Egyptians. This history sheds new light on the Luxor hotel and casino in Las Vegas, where dice games are popular and played by gamblers who accept their presence with little or no afterthought. The Luxor hotel casino, a stunning building designed like an ancient pyramid and hosting the latest and most contemporary in hotel amenities in situated on the Strip. A walk on the Strip - or more classy a limo ride - will lead you from all the great casino hotels such as New York New York and Bally's, to name a couple. Besides the Luxor Casino, the hotel also hosts the latest in entertainment shows, including a full screen IMAX theatre. Dice games, too, can be found at the Luxor.

West Ham's Roy Carroll Battles Against Alcohol And Gambling Addictions

 

The £25,000 a week West Ham goalie reportedly starting drinking heavily after his gambling debts spiralled out of control. According to the Sun, at first Carroll attempted to win the money needed to pay off debts to a fellow West Ham player, when that idea failed he drowned his sorrows in a bottle of Bacardi. Carroll is now in the care of a consultant psychiatrist and is attending group therapy sessions and taking anti-depressants. A source said: "Roy's hit the bottom of a very deep pit. It started when his gambling went out of control and word is he's lost £50,000 in card games with pals." West Ham boss Alan Pardew added: "We fully support Roy. He has gone about tackling his issues in the right way."

Hizbullah is gambling big in the street

 

A top March 8 politician recently told Walid Jumblatt, "the Syrians don't want to hear about the [Hariri] tribunal." Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel is the latest victim of an effort to ensure that that command is respected. It would be irresponsible for Hizbullah to carry through on its threat to take to the streets. A government of national unity cannot be imposed through measures certain to heighten national discord. But worse, Hizbullah, through its alliance with Syria and its repeated efforts to neutralize the Hariri tribunal, is risking its own future as an accepted Lebanese party. The tribunal is Syria's Achilles heel. Even if a mid-level intelligence operative is accused, the centralized nature of the Syrian system is such that prosecutors will soon end up at the peak of the security apparatus, perhaps reaching into President Bashar Assad's inner sanctum. The fight over the future of the Syrian regime is taking place now, and the only option Assad might be left with if the process goes through is to rid himself of essential pillars of support. This could be as damaging to him as being held personally responsible for ordering the Hariri hit. Hizbullah's anxieties are understandable. If Syrians are fingered by United Nations investigator Serge Brammertz, Assad is unlikely to comply with a request to send them before the mixed tribunal. The president has said several times that Syrian suspects would be tried before Syrian courts. If that happens there could be a showdown between Damascus and the international community, putting Hizbullah in a tight spot. Not only might the party find that weapons transfers from Syria and other forms of cooperation would come under greater international scrutiny, it would be ever more difficult for Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah to play up his support for Assad without risking an angry Lebanese Sunni backlash. Syrian haste is pushing Nasrallah, but also his chief ally, Michel Aoun, into a potentially perilous venture. No one doubts that Hizbullah can mobilize a large number of supporters. The party's clients in the various ministries might cease working, gumming up the country's administrative system. There is a possibility that access to the airport will be cut, as it was last summer when the party faithful protested against a satirical show that dared poke fun at Nasrallah. Hizbullah doesn't need to break heads or burn property to make things very difficult for the majority.

However, the party should be careful. First of all, even if the demonstrations are non-violent, they will be perceived as acts of intimidation. Intimidation in Lebanon usually has the opposite effect to what its practitioners intend. On March 8, 2005, Nasrallah hoped to intimidate those demanding a Syrian withdrawal from Lebanon; instead he produced March 14. The confessional system is a fine-tuned Maserati, not a Trabant. You cannot bludgeon your adversaries into bowing to your priorities if it means that theirs are disregarded. That's not how this society works.

A second reason is more prosaic: After taking Lebanon into a devastating war last summer, Hizbullah now threatens to carry it into a domestic crisis with prohibitively high economic costs. This will eliminate what little confidence the country managed to salvage after the end of fighting in August. If the airport is made inaccessible, if ministries are prevented from functioning, if stores and offices are forced to close down because of protracted actions by Hizbullah and its comrades, everyone will lose, at a time when the country is in the delicate process of rebuilding.

Gambling market analyses, Spain is expected to be a key future gambling market

 

The gambling industry is on the search for new growth regions - With an anticipated size of ca. Euro 39 billion by 2010, Spain is expected to be a key future market New report about the Spanish gambling market analyses one of the most promising online and land-based gambling markets London/Munich, November 22, 2006: The consulting firm MECN's new study "The Spanish Gambling Market - Key region for future growth" analyses the Spanish gambling market in detail. The expected growth drivers for the next years are above all the retail betting sector and Internet gambling. William Hill has already started its expansion into Spain, Ladbrokes is currently working on a market entry strategy, more and more Spanish soccer teams are sponsored by online gambling companies, . - these are just a few of many clear signs that the gambling industry is starting to focus on Spain for future growth. After the recent legal conflicts in traditional gambling markets, an obvious key strategic option is expansion into less restrictive jurisdictions or into regions where an increased liberalisation might be possible in the short term. Martin Oelbermann, co-author of the study, explains: "In nearly all of our surveys and interviews the operators mentioned Spain as a particularly attractive jurisdiction for future expansion."

Why is Spain so attractive? The following are some of the reasons why Spain is perceived as so attractive: - Increasing liberalisation - Many autonomous regions in Spain are working toward a liberalisation of the market, and particularly the betting sector as well as interactive gambling could benefit from that. - William Hill and other big players are already poised for expansion into Spain - Many international companies, such as William Hill or Betbull/BWin, already have joint venture agreements in place and are poised to take advantage of the market in Spain. - Growth potential, especially for retail betting and interactive gambling - Overall, Spain's gambling market is expected to grow to Euro 39 billion by 2010. By 2010 the retail betting market is expected to grow to ca. Euro 4.5 billion, which is more than 750% larger than its current size (CAGR of 71%). The other growth driver will be interactive gambling, which is expected to reach ca. Euro 4.2 billion by 2010, a growth of ca. 240% (CAGR of 36%) over the current level. - Lotto craziness - Spain's lottery market is one of the largest in the world and can boast impressive per-capita sales.

4 ex-Yamato workers held over gambling

 

Four former employees of an affiliate of Yamato Transport Co., a major delivery company, have been arrested on suspicion of gambling on professional baseball games at their offices, police said. According to the police, on-duty drivers from the Kyoto and Osaka branches of Kyoto Yamato Unyu delivery company placed bets via cell phone e-mail. The betting system was started by another employee about a decade ago. More than 100 million yen in bets has been collected annually in recent years. Part of the money financed further gambling outside the company. Prosecutors received papers on nine other employees who were also involved. The nine comprise a 50-year-old former manager of the company's Osaka branch and company drivers. The four have been under arrest since mid-October and were dismissed by the company along with the Osaka branch manager. Of the four, Yoshinori Kato, 61, a former deputy manager of the company's Osaka branch; Tadashi Kato, 33, Yoshinori's third son and a former section chief of the branch's sales department; and Shinichi Ogawa, 50, a former section chief of the Kyoto branch's sales department, have already been indicted.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Court hears murderer's gambling problem led to killing

 

The Supreme Court in Brisbane has been told a man jailed for life over the murder of a Gold Coast book-keeper had a chronic gambling problem. Lydio Monje Licera, 38, was managing the Seafire restaurant at Burleigh in May last year when he stabbed to death the restaurant's bookkeeper, 32-year-old Therese Pieper. The night before, he had stolen the day's takings and lost the money playing cards at Jupiter's Casino. Defence barrister, Colin Reed, told the court his client did not intend to kill Ms Pieper, but could offer no sensible explanation for the murder, except that he has a long-term gambling problem. Licera was sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommendation for parole after serving 15 years.

Detroit's Don Barden makes Pittsburgh gambling pitch

 

Pennsylvania gambling regulators are hearing testimony from a Detroit casino operator and two other bidders for a slot-machine casino license in Pittsburgh, just one month before it could be awarded. The hearings started Monday with presentations from two of the bidders. Testimony was scheduled Tuesday for Detroit-based casino operator Don H. Barden. His proposal calls for a $460 million slots parlor near Pittsburgh's sports stadiums and a $350 million redevelopment of the city's Hill District. The hearings were the last chance for the applicants to make their case to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, which expects to award the license Dec. 20. Cleveland real estate developer Forest City Enterprises and the nation's largest casino operator, Harrah's Entertainment Inc., have joined together in an application for a $1 billion development anchored by a casino next to Station Square, an entertainment and shopping complex on the city's South Side. The other applicant that presented testimony Monday was Isle of Capri Casinos Inc., which has offered to build a $290 million hockey arena for the Pittsburgh Penguins if it gets the license as part of a $1 billion development in Pittsburgh's Uptown neighborhood. Barden and Forest City have agreed to contribute some money to a new hockey arena but have not committed to subsidizing the entire project.

ONLINE GAMBLING A POPULAR TOPIC AT G2E

 

The recent Global Gaming Expo (G2E) in Las Vegas saw a marked absence of online gaming companies and executives discouraged from travel to the USA by the recent passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, but the industry nevertheless generated an abundance of media comment. Aside from the widely reported comments of top land gaming executives like Terri Lanni of MGM Mirage and Frank Fahrenkopf of the AGA who now favour a study of online gambling's impact in the USA, other personalities were giving their views on everything from the unorthodox manner in which the UIGEA was rammed through Congress to the likely efficacy in the enforcement of the legislation. Describing the Act as "cumbersome, confusing and potentially ineffective," the Las Vegas Sun newspaper opined that while the bill is unlikely to curb the public's appetite for online gambling, the legislation will make it more difficult for Americans to find reputable sites that will accept their money. The real purpose of the bill, convention goers said, was to pander to religious conservatives. The House had earlier passed legislation authored by Rep. Jim Leach, but passage of a Senate compromise Leach-Goodlatte bill had appeared unlikely after senators objected to a move by anti-gambling advocate Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., to fast-track the Leach bill to a floor vote in the Senate. That led to the involvement of Majority Leader Sen Bill Frist and the deployment of political manouevres that involved a late-night, last minute attachment to an unrelated "must pass" security Bill. "No meeting, no reading, no debate - no problem. Many members of the Homeland Security Committee - not to mention most senators - hadn't read the bill," the Vegas newspaper reported.

Hopeful views that a change in political power in Washington could bring about a reversal of the UIGEA inevitably resulted in contrary opinions, notably from one David Stewart, a legal eagle who counsels the American Gaming Association. He felt that it could be many years before there was a legislative change.

The Sun reported that Stewart said: "If it comes up again, they're going to say, 'We've already dealt with that issue.' They were exhausted by this latest effort."

The newspaper claims that although the association's two largest members, Harrah's Entertainment and MGM Mirage, want to legalise Internet gambling in the USA, other members may not be as comfortable with the idea. The group expects to decide at a board meeting next month whether to push for legislation that would study legalising Internet gambling. Rep. Jon Porter, R-Nev., introduced such a bill in the last session of Congress that gained support from more than 40 co-sponsors.

Among a slew of Democrats perceived as friendly to the industry is Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., an outspoken liberal who will head the Financial Services Committee and who voted against the Internet gambling prohibition bill that originated in his committee.

Even if more libertarian minds prevail in the online gambling debate, Stewart told the Las Vegas Sun that it could take at least a decade for Congress to legalise Internet betting: "They don't have the appetite for it," he said of members' desire to pursue a debate. Online gamblers are growing in number but don't yet have the political clout to influence legislation, Stewart told the newspaper.

Respected legal personality Professor I Nelson Rose presented an interesting alternative to nationwide legalisation, suggesting that Congress may eventually pass a law allowing states to opt into a regulatory system enabling Internet betting for in-state residents. A similar system enables gamblers to bet on horse races from remote locations in their home states as well as other states that choose to participate.

Short of that, states will likely seek to regulate Internet betting within their borders. "I think states will make it a state's rights issue," said Rose, a professor at Whittier Law School in California. One effort is under way in his home state, where poker rooms are working on legislation that would legalise Internet poker wagering for California residents.

The Las Vegas Sun reviewed online gambling developments in Nevada, reporting that in 2003 the Nevada Legislature passed a bill allowing regulators to study whether Internet gambling could be regulated. The state Gaming Control Board heard testimony from technology companies with software claiming to pinpoint the location and identity of gamblers using satellites, online background checks and account information. But regulators did not pursue the issue after receiving a letter from the Justice Department restating the federal government's position that internet gambling fell under the 1961 Wire Act and was therefore illegal.

Nevada regulators considered appeals to legalise online gambling for Nevada residents but didn't pursue the matter. While Nevada casinos don't want to run afoul of the feds, some local companies may seek the right to allow Nevadans to bet online in the years to come, Rose said, adding that Nevadans already can make sports bets from their home computers after registering at a casino and transmitting bet information over a secure line.

"If at-home sports betting is legal, then Internet gambling should be legal for Nevada residents," Professor Rose said.

The Professor is on record elsewhere as being strongly critical of the UIGEA, saying it is confusing and contradictory with all its carve-outs, and noting how a portion of the bill even sanctions Internet betting conducted within states and tribal lands.

"It's a public embarrassment...it's a mess," says Rose. "Eventually I think they'll get Congress to change the law to do for Internet poker exactly what they did for Internet horse racing. It's an exemption but (based on) states' rights."

Undeterred by some opinions that the UIGEA is here to stay, Ambassador Colin Murdoch, permanent secretary in the Antigua and Bermuda Ministry of Foreign Affairs told the Antigua Sun that he expected some progress in negotiations on the gaming issue, once power shifts into Democratic Party hands in the USA in January, when newly elected representatives take office in both houses.

"I do not necessarily believe that there is much difference in the Democratic and Republican administrations. In fact, some of the harshest blows that the Caribbean has received in recent times, we got from the Democrats - like bananas," he said. "That was done under a Democratic administration.

"Having said that, I believe that when it comes to Internet gaming, there will be some new opportunities, with the new Congress, after January, to explore with them some change to the legislation that has been passed. Either a repeal or an amendment of that legislation," Murdoch said.

However, Ambassador Murdoch acknowledged that the US legislative system vests significant veto authority in President George W. Bush, who has gone on record backing restrictions on Internet gaming and who signed into law the recent legislation geared at blocking payments between online gambling sites and their clients.

He said this system was a potential barrier to the furtherance of Antigua's cause and described it as one of the obstacles that needed to be overcome.

Despite this, he expressed the hope that if some change can be pushed through Congress, negotiations with the White House can effect a compromise legislation that both Democrats and Republicans can live with.

"I think even the White House has seen the change in the American political environment and I believe that they would be amenable to moving towards the centre and have position based on compromise," Murdoch said.

Manhattan man faces felony theft and gambling charges

 

The retired superintendent of Manhattan's Parks and Recreation Department faces felony theft and gambling charges. A preliminary hearing has been set for Ivan Wilkinson on December 20. Wilkinson is accused of stealing money from city concession sales. The gambling charge stems from accusations he organized fantasy sports leagues on city computers and city time. He turned himself in to police in August after a warrant was issued for his arrest.

Libertarianism and gambling

 

Twenty-five years ago this month, a Centre College student was feverishly putting finishing touches on a senior paper entitled "Libertarianism: An Examination With Emphasis on the Modern American Libertarians." This young government major's magnum opus opined that organized libertarianism faced poor political prospects, but played an important role in stimulating and limiting major party policy proposals. Pretty profound, huh? According to the Libertarian Party, America's third largest, "Libertarians believe that you have the right to live your life as you wish, without the government interfering -- as long as you don't violate the rights of others. Politically, this means Libertarians favor rolling back the size and cost of government, and eliminating laws that stifle the economy and control people's personal choices." Not all libertarians are card-carrying party members, of course, and last week was a big one for the broader movement, especially in Kentucky. Monday, Charles Murray, one of America's most brilliant social scientists and author of What it Means to be a Libertarian, spoke at the University of Louisville's McConnell Center for Political Leadership.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Two views of gambling

 

ONLY a week after voters in Ohio once again made clear their opposition to the expansion of legalized gaming in the Buckeye State, thousands of residents of Pennsylvania were moving in entirely the opposite direction as the Keystone State's first slot-machine parlor opened, and gamblers seeking easy money poured through the doors. The Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs near Wilkes-Barre has almost 1,100 gambling machines on two floors, plus a bar and restaurants. But that's just the beginning. Plans call for the casino to increase the number of machines to 2,000 and add retail shops and a nightclub, among other facilities. At that time, revenues are expected to be almost $168 million a year. The purported beneficiaries of revenues from the casino, which is operated by the Mohegan Indian tribal council, are homeowners, workers, and seniors. Plans are for gaming monies to cut taxes, help a rent rebate program for seniors, and increase horse-racing purses. Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell describes the casino as a step toward providing property-tax relief. But at what cost? That's the issue raised by opponents of gaming, including the head of CasinoFreePa, who said "convenience gambling is the worst gambling." Of course, convenience is one of the sales pitches made by supporters of introducing gambling across the country. Why go to neighboring states to spend your money, providing them with the jobs and tax revenue, when you can spend it at home, they trumpet. But that's a chimera. Along with the revenue and the jobs come the potential for increased crime, for men and women to spend money they can't afford to lose in gaming parlors where they think they can place a bet or push a button on a machine and immediately end their financial woes.

Not going to happen. For every winner, most other players lose more than they can afford, sinking deeper and deeper.

And just because other states have legalized gambling - Pennsylvania became the 36th to have electronic gaming - does that mean Ohio should have jumped on the bandwagon?

We don't believe it should, and the voters of this state have made it perfectly clear that they do not, either.

The defeat of Issue 3 on Nov. 7 showed that Ohioans were able to sift through the verbiage and the smokescreens, and see the proposal for exactly what it was: A scheme to boost gaming, to fatten the wallets of gambling operators, and start on the slippery slope to full-fledged gambling casinos in Ohio by permitting two in Cleveland.

Issue 3 would not have been a panacea for funding education, any more than we suspect the opening of casinos in Pennsylvania will be the answer to that state's push for property tax relief.

The big winners in legalized gambling are the people who own the machines, not those who play them. Ohioans recognized that, and made the right call on Issue 3.

New pokies 'promote responsible gambling'

 

The machines also tell players how much they will spend each game if they make a particular choice, as well as their spending per minute and per hour. Launching seven of the Aristocrat brand machines at Brisbane's Conrad Treasury Casino today, Jupiters Ltd managing director Xavier Walsh said the company recognised some customers had difficulties gambling responsibly. This could lead to problems with family, friends and communities, he said. "We don't want customers with gambling problems to be using our products and we are committed to responsible gambling," Mr Walsh said. The Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, Neil Roberts, said the spending displays would be installed progressively on new games as machines were updated. Legislation was introduced in Queensland last year making it compulsory for gambling venues to exclude patrons if they asked to be excluded. Since then, virtually all venues have put staff and procedures in place to keep problem gamblers out. "This clearly shows that venues and the industry as a whole are committed to responsible gambling and that responsible gambling measures are having a positive impact on patrons," Mr Roberts said.

Two views of gambling

 

ONLY a week after voters in Ohio once again made clear their opposition to the expansion of legalized gaming in the Buckeye State, thousands of residents of Pennsylvania were moving in entirely the opposite direction as the Keystone State's first slot-machine parlor opened, and gamblers seeking easy money poured through the doors. The Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs near Wilkes-Barre has almost 1,100 gambling machines on two floors, plus a bar and restaurants. But that's just the beginning. Plans call for the casino to increase the number of machines to 2,000 and add retail shops and a nightclub, among other facilities. At that time, revenues are expected to be almost $168 million a year. The purported beneficiaries of revenues from the casino, which is operated by the Mohegan Indian tribal council, are homeowners, workers, and seniors. Plans are for gaming monies to cut taxes, help a rent rebate program for seniors, and increase horse-racing purses. Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell describes the casino as a step toward providing property-tax relief. But at what cost? That's the issue raised by opponents of gaming, including the head of CasinoFreePa, who said "convenience gambling is the worst gambling." Of course, convenience is one of the sales pitches made by supporters of introducing gambling across the country. Why go to neighboring states to spend your money, providing them with the jobs and tax revenue, when you can spend it at home, they trumpet. But that's a chimera. Along with the revenue and the jobs come the potential for increased crime, for men and women to spend money they can't afford to lose in gaming parlors where they think they can place a bet or push a button on a machine and immediately end their financial woes.

Not going to happen. For every winner, most other players lose more than they can afford, sinking deeper and deeper.

And just because other states have legalized gambling - Pennsylvania became the 36th to have electronic gaming - does that mean Ohio should have jumped on the bandwagon?

We don't believe it should, and the voters of this state have made it perfectly clear that they do not, either.

The defeat of Issue 3 on Nov. 7 showed that Ohioans were able to sift through the verbiage and the smokescreens, and see the proposal for exactly what it was: A scheme to boost gaming, to fatten the wallets of gambling operators, and start on the slippery slope to full-fledged gambling casinos in Ohio by permitting two in Cleveland.

Issue 3 would not have been a panacea for funding education, any more than we suspect the opening of casinos in Pennsylvania will be the answer to that state's push for property tax relief.

The big winners in legalized gambling are the people who own the machines, not those who play them. Ohioans recognized that, and made the right call on Issue 3.

Stokes mirrors PBL, but he's not gambling with casinos, he's moving on media

 

THERE are many similarities - and a substantial difference - between the $4 billion media joint venture Kerry Stokes and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts entered into yesterday and the deal James Packer struck with CVC Asia Pacific only a month ago. While at face value they appear identical, with both media proprietors selling half-shares in their media business, built around a leading free-to-air network, to private equity firms, the key difference is what they plan to do with the vast amounts of capital released. Unlike Packer, who plans to deploy the $4.5 billion released from the sale of a 50 per cent stake in PBL Media into his faster-growing and higher-returning gaming operations, Stokes has no gaming business or anything similar to it. For Packer, the deal was a financing exercise driven by financial logic - extracting capital from mature and low-growth assets to fund expansion into an immature and high-growth sector. Acquisition currency was a secondary benefit. For Stokes, the emphasis is on creating a currency for expansion in a media sector that, thanks to Helen Coonan's reforms, is set for a convulsive realignment of ownership. It was instructive that in announcing the deal yesterday, Seven Network and KKR referred to the creation of a vehicle with "the strategic and financial flexibility to take advantage of the dynamics of the Australian and New Zealand media landscape". The partners plan an expansion of their Australasian media interests in an environment where, once the changes to cross-media and foreign ownership rules are proclaimed, large slabs of the media previously denied to Stokes and foreigners will be available.

Stokes already has a $200 million seat at the table, having snatched a 14.9 per cent stake in West Australian Newspapers last month. That stake will remain within Seven Network, along with some pay TV rights and the C7 litigation - and the $3.2 billion of cash released by the deal with KKR.

Seven Media Group will have $350 million of initial acquisition funding capacity, but that doesn't even hint at its actual capacity. Stokes says Seven has no plans to return cash to shareholders, and with a balance sheet that will contain no net debt and more than $2.5 billion of cash, he clearly plans to redeploy the capital.

If Seven's $3.2 billion war chest were matched on a dollar-for-dollar basis by KKR, one of the world's largest and more aggressive buy-out firms, and geared on the same basis as Seven Media, the partners would have $17 billion to spend. They could roll up WAN and Fairfax and still have half that $17 billion left to play with.

The relationship creates flexibility. Private equity firms, because of the gearing - Seven Media will have $2.5 billion of debt sitting on $1.5 billion of equity - need access to the underlying cash flows of any acquisition. Stokes doesn't.

If the anticipated takeover frenzy does break out next year, Stokes will have the capital and capacity to participate through Seven Network without a guarantee of ending up with 100 per cent ownership. That gives him tactical flexibility.

If he makes acquisitions and succeeds in achieving full ownership, the assets can be on-sold into Seven Media and most of the capital extracted. Equally, Seven Network and KKR could, where the situation dictates or where there are no prospective synergies, create new vehicles and potentially involve other investors.

KKR, the losing bidder for the half-share of PBL Media, must be glad it missed out. Not only do Seven's TV operations have momentum, Stokes and his team are focused almost exclusively on the sector.

There is potentially more growth and acquisitions in prospect for Seven Media than its PBL counterpart, given PBL has competing demands for its capital.

Like PBL, Stokes is a veteran deal-maker who traded media assets during the last outbreak of takeover activity in the sector in the 1980s. This time, both have found a way to keep their feet on their businesses while cashing in on the bonanza created by the coincidence of the private equity phenomenon and the frenzy around media assets - and the protection the Coonan "reforms" provided for free-to-air network cash flows.

With CanWest considering its options for Ten Network, ownership of all three networks might change even before the new laws are proclaimed.

The media joint ventures created by PBL and Seven create a currency for otherwise high-priced acquisitions, thanks to their leverage, which greatly reduces their cost of capital.

If the joint ventures go well, they will generate leveraged returns on the capital contributed. If they don't go well, the media partners are positioned to buy back the outstanding interest cheaply. In the meantime, they have the use of the billions of dollars released.

For Seven, KKR's vast global network, its practically unlimited access to cheap capital and its extensive experience in media businesses mean that there are other possible value-adding dimensions to the relationship, both in terms of the value that might be added to Seven's Media assets and the possibility of expanding with KKR overseas.

Unlike PBL, Stokes did not conduct an auction for the interest in Seven Media. That signals that in the aggressive KKR, he believes he has found a partner that has more to contribute than cheap funding. There were references to the "cultural fit" of the organisations - which could be regarded as an indirect reference to their shared vision for really aggressive expansion.

All W.Va. residents should vote on gambling expansion

 

Expect to hear a lot about gambling expansion in the coming months. West Virginia's four racetrack casinos should make another push in the Legislature for local option elections to allow table games. They want people in the four counties with racinos -- Kanawha, Ohio, Hancock and Jefferson -- to vote on allowing games such as blackjack, poker and roulette along with the slot machines they have now. Gambling supporters will argue that West Virginia is about to fall behind in the arms race for gaming entertainment dollars. It's an argument West Virginians should be very wary of. On Tuesday of last week, Pennsylvania's first slot casino opened for business. According to The Associated Press, hundreds of gamblers, mostly senior citizens who had waited hours in a foggy drizzle, poured into the casino near Wilkes-Barre. Most of the 1,100 slot machines were occupied within 10 minutes of the doors opening. Gov. Ed Rendell praised the casino's opening as an important step in delivering property tax relief. Opponents of gambling expansion predicted an increase in crime and other social problems. The Pennsylvania Legislature has authorized as many as 61,000 slot machines at 14 locations. Meanwhile, gambling supporters in Maryland hope Gov.-elect Martin O'Malley will be more successful in bringing legal slots to that state than outgoing Gov. Robert Erlich has been. O'Malley opposes casino gambling and favors only a limited number of slot machines at tracks, and even then mainly to preserve the horse racing industry and the farms that support it, according to the AP. Maryland track owners say they are hurt by competition from tracks in Delaware and West Virginia, which also have slots. That sounds similar to what the racetrack casino owners in West Virginia say about the upcoming competition from Pennsylvania slot casinos.

In at least one case, a casino owner is protecting itself by investing in both states. MRT Gaming Group Inc., which owns Mountaineer Racetrack and Gaming Resort in Hancock County, has an $80 million slot casino under construction near Erie, Pa.

So the pressure for West Virginia to get ahead in this gambling version of an arms race will be there for legislators this coming year. It might be out in the open. It might be behind the scenes. But a lot of arm-twisting will be going on.

Nothing we have heard leads us to change our position on table games. The topic needs a full debate. It must be discussed statewide, because the benefits and the social costs will be felt statewide. It requires a statewide vote.

Together, the counties with the four tracks with slots have about 18 percent of the state's population. That is too small a group to make such a large decision for everyone. Anyway, what happens at a racetrack casino in one county affects neighboring counties. Most of Cabell County is closer to the Cross Lanes racetrack than parts of Kanawha County are.

Earlier this month, Ohio voters turned down a proposal to have slot casinos in their state. The result is not as important as the fact that people everywhere got to vote on this important issue. West Virginia voters -- all of them -- deserve that shame chance.

Expanding gambling is an important decision that goes beyond jobs and tourism dollars. It deals with who we want to be and what we want our state to be. That's too much for the people of four counties to decide.

6% of Adults Gambling Addicts

 

More than 6 percent of Korean adults are gambling addicts. Korea Leisure Industry Center said that some 2,400,000 Koreans or 6.6 percent of the adult population were addicted to gambling as of December last year. Among them, 79.2 percent were men while 33 percent were in their 40s. While blue-collar workers made up 54.2 percent of the total, white-collar workers were 16.7 percent. Crimes by gamblers such as homicide, robbery, burglary, and violence are increasing. Thirty-five percent of thefts and 40 percent of non-violent crimes were related to gambling. Seo Chun-bum, a director of Korea Leisure Industry Center, said the figure is now estimated to be much more higher, after ``Sea Story,'' a gambling scandal that shocked the nation last summer. Seo added that the legal gambling industry has suffered from decreasing income since 2004, and pointed out the growing number of illegal game rooms are the main reasons for the trend. He also stressed that the government needs to get involved in the gambling industry more aggressively. Pastor Kim Kyu-ho also said that he will protest against lawyers who show a timid approach to gambling issues.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Pubs face gaming machine cost hike

 

A pub with three machines would see initial fees rocket from £32 to £200 when the Gambling Act goes live next September. Councils are asking for even steeper fees. The proposed changes are included in the consultation on the gambling fees from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). It suggests fee levels for the new Licensed Premises Notification permits to replace Licensed Premises Gaming Machine permits, which cost £32 with a £32 annual renewal fee. For pubs with one or two machines, the new permit would cost £50. Pubs with more than two machines would have to fork out £150, plus an extra £50 "annual maintenance" cost, which must be paid upfront. Councils have already called for permits to operate more than two machines to increase to a £439 - with annual maintenance costs of an astonishing £1,793. Business in Sport and Leisure chief executive Brigid Simmonds said the proposed price hikes would be felt most at the type of pubs likely to be affected by next year's smoking ban. "We want people to go back to DCMS and say, 'these fees are far too high, we want to have something that's far more realistic for our pubs," she said.

Rumors of another online gambling company indictment surface

 

Rumors of another online gambling company indicted by the US Justice Department have sent shockwaves through an industry still reeling from the takedown of 33 stateside bookies and agents utilizing various offshore gambling components. The stories circulating remain vague at this time, however they have nothing to do with the high profile New York case that came to light on Tuesday. "An attorney for the individual indicted confirmed the story but would not reveal the identity or his/her relationship to a specific company," said a Gambling911.com source. He suggested that more news would become available on Monday but failed to elaborate further. Gambling911.com was the first to report on 33 arrests by the Queens DA office Tuesday. DA Richard A. Brown held a press conference the following day to announce the indictments, considered the biggest case of its kind to date with its focus on transportation of gambling proceeds between New York and Las Vegas. The case scared many industry analysts after authorities announced the first ever indictments of web designers in a case revolving around online gambling. The Bronx-based enterprise offered "credit" betting via a website located on the Caribbean island of St. Maarten. A defendant in another high profile internet gambling case from last year provided authorities with ammunition to go after the Bronx organization, headed up by James Giordano, who resided in both New York and Miami. Giordanno is an accomplished poker player. His Pro5 Sports and BetWithAl.com web gambling companies are alleged to have been fronts for a major money laundering outfit.

Krasnoyarsk Territory Deputy-Governor: We have proposals to arrange gambling zone in the South of the region

 

If no gambling zone appears in Krasnoyarsk Territory, there will be no slot-machine in the region by 2009, Deputy-Governor Sergey Sokol announced. Speaking about possible arrangement of a gambling zone in Krasnoyarsk Territory, Sokol said the administration has ready proposals to build a gambling zone in a southern district of the region. "We are not striving at this, yet we have got ready proposals in compliance with all the requirements set,' the deputy-governor stated. As KNews reported earlier, Russia's President Vladimir Putin had introduced a bill to the State Duma. According to the bill, all the casinos, betting companies and slot-machines will be moved to four special zones: two in European Russia, one in Siberia and one in Far East.

Putin addresses pro-Kremlin party on migration, extremism, gambling

 

Labor immigration, anti-extremism measures and the decriminalization of the gambling business were among the key issues the Russian president discussed during a meeting with the leadership of the pro-Kremlin party Friday. "Russia is interested in attracting workers and experts from abroad, and we will consistently develop civilized relations in the labor migration field," Vladimir Putin told United Russia. The president called for the labor migration environment to be improved to attract foreigners to the country suffering an increasing demand for workforce. United Russia is the country's best-represented party with 2,555 branches nationwide and 999,546 members (as of March 6, 2006). The party dominates the State Duma, parliament's lower house, many regional legislatures, and claims many governors as members. In his speech, Putin highlighted the issue of social and cultural adaptation of foreign employees in Russia, whose healthy integration in society can root out the problem of interethnic and religious conflicts. The problem came into the spotlight after the murder of two Russians in an interethnic brawl in the northwestern town of Kondopoga sparked a wave of racial violence in early September. The local community accused authorities of failing to protect them or safeguard their interests, and of taking bribes from criminal immigrant groups. Putin said the number of illegal migrants in Russia may have reached 15 million. "According to current information, only 500,000 out of 10 million foreigners working [in Russia] are [officially] registered," the president said adding that their number is likely to have been understated. Putin hailed amendments to migration laws initiated by the party. "They simplify the registration of immigrants, on the one hand, and envisage tough sanctions for illegal activity, on the other," he said. Putin backed party leader Boris Gryzlov's idea to hold a meeting between different parties on the problems of extremism. He spoke out against using any extremism-provoking elements in political campaigns. The Duma approved a bill this week on setting up four gambling zones to tackle the rise in gambling outlets throughout the country. The president proposed the new law after the Interior Ministry launched an operation to check the financial, tax and sanitary-epidemiological documents of a variety of gambling establishments in the capital allegedly linked to the Georgian mafia.

Putin warned United Russia leaders of possible attempts to lobby for increasing the number of gaming zones. "I am calling on United Russia not to concede to such lobbying," he said.

Pubs face gaming machine cost hike

 

A pub with three machines would see initial fees rocket from £32 to £200 when the Gambling Act goes live next September. Councils are asking for even steeper fees. The proposed changes are included in the consultation on the gambling fees from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). It suggests fee levels for the new Licensed Premises Notification permits to replace Licensed Premises Gaming Machine permits, which cost £32 with a £32 annual renewal fee. For pubs with one or two machines, the new permit would cost £50. Pubs with more than two machines would have to fork out £150, plus an extra £50 "annual maintenance" cost, which must be paid upfront. Councils have already called for permits to operate more than two machines to increase to a £439 - with annual maintenance costs of an astonishing £1,793. Business in Sport and Leisure chief executive Brigid Simmonds said the proposed price hikes would be felt most at the type of pubs likely to be affected by next year's smoking ban. "We want people to go back to DCMS and say, 'these fees are far too high, we want to have something that's far more realistic for our pubs," she said.

Poker Lobby & AGA groups aim to end Online Gambling Bill

 

The Poker Players Alliance and executives for the American Gaming Association (AGA) say they are hopeful that the recent political changes in the U.S. Congress will help them overturn the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA). You may recall how the UIGEA was appended onto to the sure-to-be-passed Safe Port Bill when most Senators had already cast their votes and left, in the final hours before the Republican-controlled Congress adjourned for mid-term elections. The UIGEA, while not making online poker illegal, did made it illegal for banks and financial institutions to process transactions for online gambling sites from U.S. customers when it was signed into law on October 13. Regulations that banks need to comply with have yet to be defined. A Government board has until July 2007 to define them. AGA President Frank Fahrenkopf said the AGA previously opposed online gambling, saying, "Our policy changed back in April when we took a position that we thought the best way to go was to have an independent commission look at it." Many analysts around that timeframe noted how online gambling actually lead to previously hesitant players coming to the physical casinos, swelling the number of overall casino visitors, which likely helped change AGA's perspective. So the AGA board of directors will meet December 6, said Fahrenkopf, to consider whether "to support legislation in the new Congress calling for an independent study of Internet gambling to see if it can be properly regulated, controlled, taxed and licensed here in the United States." Fahrenkopf pointed out, "My guess is that they are going to say let's go ahead and do it." This past week Terry Lanni, chief executive of MGM Mirage who is an AGA board member, said the UIGEA is "ridiculous" because it was signed into law Oct. 13 as part of a larger port security bill -- and because it exempted horse races and lotteries, and online bets placed while on American Indian land. Nevada Representatives Jon Porter and Shelly Berkley had previously introduced a bill to create a Congressional Commission to study Internet Gaming this past May. But the bill died. Noteworthy is that both Porter and Berkley were re-elected last week.

In contrast to the prior Congressional Commission proposed, if the AGA votes for a study it has already said it prefers an independent commission such as the National Academy of Sciences to do the study, noted Fahrenkopf, so results are free from the influence of lobbyists.

AGA's board includes CEOs from some the biggest live casinos in Las Vegas, such as Boyd Gaming CEO William Boyd, Harrah's Entertainment CEO Gary Loveman, MGM Mirage CEO Terri Lanni mentioned above, and Wynn Resorts CEO Stephen Wynn, amongst others.

Many bloggers have remarked if these well known casinos launch their own online gambling sites then a large majority of players will play at them because of brand recognition and huge marketing budgets, causing yet another re-alignment in the online gambling industry.

In an interview with Reuters news service, Fahrenkopf also remarked how the stated goal of the UIGEA was to protect American citizens. Instead, he noted, it caused many legitimate and responsible operators to pull out of the U.S. opening the way for unregulated companies to fill the void, since most US players were likely to continue gambling online.

He did not go as far as many others have to call the legislation Prohibition II, as did Pulitzer Prize-winning writer George F. Will in Newsweek's Oct 23rd edition and U.K. culture secretary, Tessa Jowell.

President of the 120,000-member Poker Players Alliance (PPA), Michael Bolcerek, said that results of the Congressional election have emboldened the PPA.

"Our members and other poker players went to the polls. They influenced the federal election," he said. "In the next 12 months we're confident that we'll get a study commission bill. We think an exemption [for online poker] is in order, as well."

Legal expert professor I. Nelson Rose, of the Whittier Law School, harshly criticized the UIGEA, saying how it is confusing and contradictory with all its exemptions, and noting how a portion of the bill even sanctions Internet betting conducted within states and tribal lands.

"It's a public embarrassment...it's a mess," said Rose. "Eventually I think they'll get Congress to change the law to do for Internet poker exactly what they did for Internet horse racing. It's an exemption but (based on) states' rights."

Krasnoyarsk Territory Deputy-Governor: We have proposals to arrange gambling zone in the South of the region

 

If no gambling zone appears in Krasnoyarsk Territory, there will be no slot-machine in the region by 2009, Deputy-Governor Sergey Sokol announced. Speaking about possible arrangement of a gambling zone in Krasnoyarsk Territory, Sokol said the administration has ready proposals to build a gambling zone in a southern district of the region. "We are not striving at this, yet we have got ready proposals in compliance with all the requirements set,' the deputy-governor stated. As KNews reported earlier, Russia's President Vladimir Putin had introduced a bill to the State Duma. According to the bill, all the casinos, betting companies and slot-machines will be moved to four special zones: two in European Russia, one in Siberia and one in Far East.

Former Nats Scout Facing Gambling Charges, but Didn't Fix Games

 

A former part-time scout for the Washington Nationals who was arrested Wednesday on charges of taking part in a major sports gambling operation was not in position to affect Major League Baseball games, prosecutors in the case said yesterday. The scout, Frank Falzarano, whose contract with the Nationals was not renewed last month, was one of 27 people charged in what New York prosecutors and police said was a lucrative, wide-ranging gambling and money-laundering operation headed by Florida-based poker player James Giordano. "I have no reason to believe that Frank Falzarano was in a position to fix games based on his job with the Washington Nationals," Queens County District Attorney Richard A. Brown said through a spokesman yesterday. Falzarano, 52, was charged with multiple "B" felonies, according to Queens County prosecutors. Police said two handguns were seized from Falzarano's Long Island home at the time of his arrest.Falzarano posted $500,000 bail yesterday in Queens County Supreme Court. He faces a minimum of one to three years and a maximum of 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison if convicted. Prosecutors said Falzarano was known as a "distributor," or "super runner," in the sprawling gambling operation that included betting on football, baseball, basketball, golf, horse racing and hockey. "I can tell you he entered a plea of not guilty and is looking forward to defending himself in court," said Peter Tomao, Falzarano's attorney. "There's no allegation in the indictment that he was fixing games." Nationals officials yesterday referred to a statement issued by the club Wednesday evening. That statement said Falzarano "was a part-time scout who worked for an area scout, who is no longer with the club. Falzarano's contract with the Nationals expired on October 31 and was not renewed." Falzarano also had served as a scout for the San Francisco Giants and Florida Marlins, according to law enforcement sources. Rich Levin, a spokesman for MLB, said yesterday that the league had just learned of Falzarano's arrest and was looking into it.

The Nationals' scouting staff numbered around 30 last season, according to the team's media guide. The team recently added an additional 10 scouts. Falzarano was not listed in the media guide, and the date of the start of his association with the club could not be learned yesterday.

Falzarano had been a small-time scout, known as a "bird dog," with the Nationals organization until his contract expired, according to team sources. Former Nationals president Tony Tavares, who left the club in July when local businessman Theodore N. Lerner bought the team, said he had never heard of Falzarano.

"I don't know him," Tavares said yesterday. "He might have been a stringer but was not on the payroll."

Prosecutors allege Falzarano supervised several "runners" who collected bets from individuals. Falzarano then passed that money along to a bookmaker. When bettors won, according to prosecutors, Falzarano passed money from the bookmaker to the bettors. When bettors lost, Falzarano shared the winnings with the bookmaker. Prosecutors said he was very active in the operation and participated in the collection of millions of dollars per week from gamblers throughout the country.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

US authorities crack Internet gambling ring

 

US prosecutors charged 27 people on Wednesday after breaking up what they described as a criminal international Internet gambling operation that had taken billions of dollars in wagers. The network, which operated several gambling Web sites including Playwithal.com, was alleged to be based in New York with satellites in the Caribbean and Central America and to have taken more than US$3.3 billion in wagers since July 2004 on a variety of sporting events. Police and agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested suspects in an operation stretching from Las Vegas to New York and seized hundreds of millions of dollars in property and assets. "Internet gambling is a multibillion dollar worldwide industry that for too long has operated with impunity," New York District Attorney Richard Brown said in a statement. He said it was the first time Internet gambling charges had been brought in the US since President George W. Bush signed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act into law last month. He described the alleged ring as "a tightly-knit and an incredibly lucrative -- and illegal -- global gambling operation." Charges were filed against a Costa Rica-based Internet company and suspects arrested in Las Vegas, Florida, New Jersey and New York.

The proceeds from the operation were allegedly laundered through casinos, shell corporations and bank accounts in locations around the globe, including Central America, the Caribbean, Switzerland and Hong Kong.

"So massive was the enterprise that only with the assistance of federal law enforcement, police authorities in sister states and other nations have we been able to bring these defendants to justice," New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.

Police involved in the case described the network as the largest illegal gambling operation they had ever encountered.

Hundreds of millions of dollars in assets, including four Manhattan apartments, millions of dollars in cash, tens of thousands of dollars worth of casino chips and a rare art collection were seized in the operation.

Laptop key to major gambling ring bust

 

It was the high-tech key to a massive, illegal gambling kingdom a laptop computer that authorities say was owned by professional poker player James Giordano. Giordano, who rarely let the laptop out of his sight, unknowingly took a gamble earlier this year by leaving it behind while attending a wedding in a New York suburb, said police. In the three hours he and his wife were away from their Long Island hotel room, New York Police Department investigators armed with a search warrant and computer expertise sneaked in, found the laptop on a desk and made a digital copy of the hard drive before the couple returned. The covert operation helped unlock a sophisticated online US$1 billion-a-year gambling scheme that rivaled casino sports books, authorities said at a news conference announcing charges against Giordano and 26 other defendants on Wednesday. Giordano, 52, was arrested early in the morning by FBI agents who had to scale the walls of his fortress-like compound in Pine Crest, Florida. "This is the largest illegal gambling operation we have ever encountered," said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. "It rivals casinos for the amount of betting." Giordano and his accomplices allegedly laundered and stashed away "untold millions of dollars" using shell corporations and bank accounts in Central America, the Caribbean, Switzerland, Hong Kong and elsewhere. Property seized since the bust includes four Manhattan condominiums, millions of dollars in cash, tens of thousands of dollars worth of Las Vegas casino chips and a football signed by the 1969 New York Jets following their Super Bowl victory. Before his arrest Giordano was best known for winning a Texas Hold 'em tournament at Las Vegas' Bellagio casino worth nearly US$100,000 earlier this year.

Judge to oversee gambling review

 

THE Bracks Government has buckled to pressure over the integrity of its gambling licence reviews, rushing out a confused policy late yesterday to put a retired judge in charge of the process. Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu, who called for a judicial inquiry into gaming issues on Wednesday, said the Government's reaction was the "boldest admission" something "stinks". Mr Bracks was accused this week of being too close to Tattersall's lobbyist David White, a former Labor minister and Right-faction heavyweight. Mr White boasted to his employers at the gaming company in 2003 about his contacts in the top level of Government after dining privately at Lorne with Mr Bracks and his wife, Terry. But even yesterday different arms of Government seemed uncertain of the terms of its new policy. A press release said the review would be into "gaming machine licences" - apparently ignoring the recent storm of criticism over the renewal of the separate lotteries licences. "While tenders are yet to be called for the gaming licences, the Panel will add a final independent layer of scrutiny to the process," Mr Bracks said in the statement. But a spokeswoman for Mr Bracks later announced the review would cover all aspects of gambling, including the lotteries licences review. This review, which was due to deliver a finding two months ago, was delayed until after the election amid allegations that the process had been unfair, had suffered political interference, and that one or more participants had failed the probity requirements. That process is now back before the Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation (VCGR), and Mr Bracks' spokeswoman confirmed the commission's decision was also subject to review by the judicial panel. VCGR executive commissioner Peter Cohen said he was "quite satisfied with its processes", adding it would "cooperate fully with the panel". The panel will also consider poker machine licences, due to be renewed in 2012, wagering (racing) and club Keno licences.

Mr Baillieu responded to the review policy by calling for an "urgent inquiry", and assurances that "all the documents associated with this are not trashed, are not shredded".

"This stinks and the Premier knows it," Mr Baillieu said. "This is the boldest admission when you are still trying to conceal what's going on. This is a scandal and this is the evidence of it."

Opposition scrutiny of Government spokesman Richard Dalla-Riva said: "If there is something that is highly corrupt by this Premier then there should be a police investigation."

He said two Labor MPs were being investigated by police - member for Keilor, George Seitz, and member for Ivanhoe, Craig Langdon. The matters do not relate to gaming licences.

Mr Bracks said his licence review panel would be "an independent and pristine process which will follow all the probity arrangements".

Its processes, unlike most others in the gambling area, would be conducted openly, providing "assurances of transparency".

A Tattersall's spokesman said the company would work under any rules imposed by whichever party won the election.

Gambling fees slammed by trade body

 

Government proposals for gambling fees for premises and permits have been slammed by trade officials as "outrageous". The Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) has published its long-awaited consultation on the fees, which detailed a number of gambling price hikes. Business In Sport and Leisure, an umbrella group which represents over 100 private sector companies in the sport, hospitality and leisure industry, has criticised the proposals, and warned that many British businesses may disappear as a result. Brigid Simmonds, BISL chief executive, said: "DCMS has proposed quite ridiculous fees for premises licences and gaming permits under the Gambling Act 2005. Moreover, unlike liquor licensing, where local authorities have sole responsibility for a bar or pub in terms of licensing, responsibility for gambling is shared with the Gambling Commission. "To charge small, family entertainment centres of even adult gaming centres over £1,000 for the local authority to ensure that their premises is in full working order is just a licence for local authorities to make money."

Gaming Industry Discounts Effect of Law Against On-Line Gambling

 

Gaming industry leaders say Internet gambling will thrive despite a recent law effectively barring online betting in the United States. In October, President Bush signed legislation making it illegal for U.S. banks and credit card companies to process payments to gambling Websites But some traditional U.S. casino operators view the rules as temporary and say a shift away from online gaming is unlikely over the long-term. Internet gambling has become illegal in the U.S. In 2005, Americans bet $8 million at Websites. But legislation passed by the U.S. Congress has made it harder to gamble online -- at least for now. Industry leaders, like Frank Fahrenkopf from the American Gaming Association, doubt it will be enough to stop U.S. gamblers. "I think what's going to happen is, number one, they will continue to bet. They'll find other means to get their money to these offshore sites". In Las Vegas, the home of American gambling, there's a different view of the 'Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act' from the one in Washington. While lawmakers aim to curb online gaming, Vegas is skeptical. Casino operators believe demand will force Congress to permit online gambling -- under strict government supervision. Rob Stillwell Rob Stillwell, from Boyd Gaming, predicts American companies will eventually be allowed to enter the market. "I think what it comes down to is a matter of licensing and a matter of regulation. So to the extent that we can create the mechanism by which to fairly regulate this business then I could see the more traditional, commercial gaming companies getting involved". As U.S. officials work toward a June 2007 deadline to find ways to enforce the new rules - other countries are easing restrictions. The U.K. is looking to regulate rather than restrict online gaming, bolstering the hopes of Internet gambling businesses. Britain has warned that the U.S. legislation could drive the industry underground.

Frank Fahrenkopf Fahrenkopf adds, "Money always has a way of finding its way to where it wants to go, so that's why I'm hopeful that the legislators, even those legislators who are opposed to all forms of gambling, will realize, number one, they're not going to stop it. Prohibition has never worked in this country. It's better to regulate it. It's better to control it, it's better to tax it".

The casino industry, fearing competition, has not always supported online gambling but now it sees the Internet as a way to attract new gamblers

Rob Stillwell hopes lawmakers reverse course and permit U.S. companies to get a slice of the action. "I think what the government may come to realize is that people are gambling on the Internet anyway. And just because there's this legislation that maybe prevents U.S.-born companies from profiting from that type of activity, it's already happening".

FAIRGROUND BITES THE DUST

 

The shock news that Fairground Holdings is to terminate business as a result of having to abandon US-facing online gambling activities arrived as the week ended, a sad close to a brief but promising business future for the agglomerator. In a public announcement Fairground reports that it is voluntarily winding up its affairs following the need to halt US-facing online gambling activities in the wake of the enactment of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. Before taking this drastic course, the directors of Fairground Gaming focused on finding ways of maximising shareholder value and in doing so has considered a wide range of alternative strategies. The board has now unanimously agreed that the best way forward is to dispose of its gaming operations and infrastructure, notably the Spin Palace group of online casino and poker venues, says the announcement. The company has therefore entered into an agreement, conditional on shareholder approval, to dispose of The Spin Palace Group in its entirety to Seahouses Holdings Limited, the original owner and seller of the business, and a major shareholder in the company. The main features of the proposed transaction are a total selling price of GBP 11 095 000 satisfied by a cash payment of GBP 5 090 000 and a complicated rearrangement of shares already held within Fairground by the buyer. Once completed, these arrangements will enable Seahouses to acquire The Spin Palace Group with all liabilities including player balances, all leases and the group's obligations to all employees.

The Executive Directors of Fairground Gaming will not remain with the operations which are being disposed of, but in any case Seahouses has advised the Fairground that it has no intention to operate the business of the Spin Palace Group in the United States.

The deal must be approved by Fairground shareholders, and to this end an Extraordinary General Meeting is to be held on December 11 this year.

Effective from the date of the announcement, announcement, Fairground has received irrevocable undertakings to vote in favour of the sale resolutions from shareholders representing approximately 9.7 percent of shareholders eligible to vote.

Fairground intends to liquidate Fairground Gaming and to distribute the cash balance to the remaining non-Seahouses shareholders, who in aggregate will hold 28 626 324 ordinary shares in the company, as a return of capital. Once the sale has gone through Fairground expects that it will be left with approximately GBP 6 160 000 in cash after providing for winding-up costs and fees related to the sale.

It is estimated that this will yield approximately 21.5p per ordinary share in the company and it is expected that this liquidation distribution will take place by the end of February 2007. This payment would represent a premium of approximately 68 percent to the average weighted price of an ordinary share in the company from the period of 13 October 2006 when the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was signed into law to 16 November 2006 being the latest practicable date prior to the date of this announcement.

Commenting on developments, Evan Hoff, CEO of Fairground Gaming said: "The closure of our US-facing activity and the impact of that legislation on the listed company environment continues to be deeply felt, with our business now only marginally profitable. Accordingly, in the interests of maximising value for our shareholders, we believe it is in the best interests of all our shareholders to accept this offer for The Spin Palace Group and for the Company to proceed along the lines announced today."

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Earmarking, Ohio Gambling and Smoking

 

If this past election was a referendum on congressional budget earmarking and good, old-fashioned pork-barreling, West Virginians did their part in endorsing those practices when they re-elected certain congressional incumbents. Now that Democrats have regained control of both houses of Congress, you can bet West Virginia is about to see the federal dollars flow once again. Remember the dire predictions of a funding crunch limiting the Department of Transportation with its highway projects? Maybe some of those much-needed road projects will become reality much sooner than we expected. The people have spoken. They know what they like. Let the earmarking begin. Ohio voters gave West Virginia racetrack and casino operators something of a reprieve on Election Day. Buckeye voters turned down State Issue 3, an amendment to the Ohio Constitution that would have permitted up to 31,500 slot machines at seven horse racing tracks and at two Cleveland non-track sites and allow expanded gambling in the four Cuyahoga County locations if that county's voters agreed. The proposal would have channeled 30 percent of the revenue to the state's Board of Regents for college scholarships and grants to eligible students and the administration of the program. Of the 3.7 million ballots cast, about 57 percent of Ohio voters -- and 82 of 88 counties -- rejected the initiative. That means Ohio's decision eliminated the arrival of additional competition for West Virginia's racetracks at least for the time being. Interestingly, voters in some of Ohio's largest counties favored State Issue 3. Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), Hamilton County (Cincinnati) and Trumbull County (Warren) favored it, while the issue went down by two-to-one margins in many small, rural counties. But Ohio's decision is hardly the end of the story. Pennsylvania has kicked off its gambling enterprises, and those new slot operations are sure to compete with West Virginia's Northern Panhandle tracks in particular. West Virginia racetracks have tried for years to usher table games legislation through the West Virginia Legislature. Lawmakers have run in fear in the past, wary of a voter backlash if they expand gambling in the state. But time is running out, and more and more legislators are aware the state has an interest in protecting its gambling revenues.

Ohio may be off the table for now, but Pennsylvania will squeeze the Northern Panhandle tracks and their revenues. Track managers support local option voting on whether to permit table games at the Mountaineer and Wheeling Island complexes. Track operators argue that table games, such as blackjack and craps, will allow them to attract new customers, maintain and even expand employment and preserve the amount of money they generate for the state.

Moralists in the Legislature have argued they oppose gambling. That's a hollow argument. West Virginia is up to its eyeballs in gambling, and the Legislature is faced with an obvious choice: Act now to legalize table games at the tracks and preserve state revenues or prepare to raise taxes or reduce government services. That's a fairly simple equation.

And while they're at it, maybe they could find a way to get rid of the 8,500 or so limited video lottery slot machines that operate in gambling parlors on street corners from Newell to Bluefield. The racetracks generally are isolated destinations that appeal to many out-of-state patrons. Video slot parlors, on the other hand, are lined up next to the local barber shop, drugstore and dry cleaners. For my money, they have been a pox on the fabric of West Virginia neighborhoods.

Speaking of Ohio, voters also approved by a 58 percent to 42 percent margin State Issue 5, which drastically restricts smoking in public places. Unlike West Virginia, whose anti-smoking forces have waged their war one county at a time, Ohio's anti-smoking army won with a statewide vote.

The Toledo Blade on Nov. 12 quoted Patrick Reynolds as predicting that America one day will be smoke-free. The grandson of the founder of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., a former smoker and now an anti-smoking activist said passage of smoking bans in Ohio, Arizona and Nevada on Nov. 7 was the "tipping point" in the movement.

"Ohio is very important," the Blade quoted Reynolds as saying. "It's heartland. As Ohio goes, so goes the nation, according to popular lore. It's a bellwether state. If you can convince Ohioans, then it's an idea whose time has probably come."

The new law is scheduled to go into effect Dec. 7 and will prohibit smoking in restaurants, bars, workplaces and all other indoor public places with some exceptions, such as private clubs that don't serve or employ nonmembers and wholly family-owned and family-operated businesses.

Banned Americans flock to online gambling sites

 

WEB SECURITY FIRM ScanSafe has detected a 40 per cent increase in US-based requests for online gambling sites, even after legislation was passed by Georgey Bush with the "Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act." The act makes it illegal for US banks and brokers to transfer funds to and from web gambling sites. The firm delivered its findings in its Global Threat Report covering instant messaging, spyware and viruses. Vice president of product strategy at ScanSafe, Dan Nadir said that a drop in visits to gambling sites was expected following the new law. "However, we actually saw an increase in web requests from the US for online gambling sites," he said. Nadir added that a fair few of the web requests were related to betting on the October World Series, which could have been "compounded by gamblers looking to register with alternative providers before further regulations clarifying the Act are put into place."

Pinnacle gambling on Jordan

 

Michael Jordan could become an investor in a slot-machine parlor in Philadelphia, state gambling regulators were told Wednesday. The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board concluded hearings on applications by five groups competing for licenses in what could be the nation's largest city with stand-alone casinos. Las Vegas-based Pinnacle Entertainment Inc. said if it gets a license, Robert L. Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television, would be a partner. Johnson told regulators he would sell part of his one-third stake in the slots parlor to Jordan, a partner of Johnson's in the NBA's Charlotte Bobcats. Attaching a celebrity's name would help improve its draw, he said. The gaming board vote is Dec. 20.

We need a detailed study on gambling

 

Critics of the recently released study on problem gambling are being needlessly harsh in their dismissal of the research. The study by UPEI professor Jason Doiron is neither misleading nor irrelevant. Rather it is incomplete. Doiron looked at the prevalence of problem gambling in the spring of 2005 and compared it to the numbers from a similar study conducted in 1999 and found there was no significant difference. Since there was no significant change in the availability of gambling products over that same time period, the result is not shocking. If nothing changes in gambling, nothing changes in problem gambling. That's good to know, because something significant has changed in gambling since the spring of 2005. That something is the Charlottetown Driving Park Entertainment Centre. Unlike the environment in 1999 or early 2005, there now exists a facility purposefully built and promoted as a gaming centre. The CDP has a room set aside for nothing but video lottery terminals -giving the city a casino/arcade where once gamblers had to lay their bets at either the track, the bar or the cornerstore. Backers of the CDPEC have said it won't contribute to gambling addictions. Opponents have predicted that social and familial decay will emanate from the facility. Now Doiron or some other researcher has the necessary ingredients for a study looking at what happens to problem gambling in a community when there is a major and controversial change in the gambling market. Hopefully government and the Atlantic Lottery Corporation have the courage to fund such a study. It would be useful to add some objectivity to the lingering debate about whether the CDPEC is a plague or a panacea. Both of these parties have invested a lot of money at the track and have an interest in seeing it succeed. But all Islanders have an interest in knowing if a gaming hall built to help the racetrack is leading vulnerable people into crippling addictions.

Gambling in Pennsylvania is here to stay

 

With the opening of the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, Pennsylvania's slot-machine era is officially underway. For better or for worse, the Poconos racino proudly announced "Phase One of casino project is now open." It features two floors packed with nearly 1,100 slot machines, from the popular Wheel of Fortune to Double Diamonds to the brand spanking new Deal or No Deal. For more than a few gamblers, however, the availability of slots will prove to be a bad deal. We've all heard the stories. Stories told by the likes of Billy Maguire, a Louisville, Ky., resident who lost all his money, his wife and almost his life. After years of video gaming losses, divorced and bankrupt Maguire put the business end of a shotgun in his mouth and prayed for the courage to pull the trigger. He managed to develop a different kind of courage instead. He picked up a phone and called a gambling-addiction hotline for help. Experts say that about one in 15 people who play slot machines will develop a gambling problem, if not a full-blown addiction. Pathological gambling has ruined countless lives. And yet, so has alcoholism and we allow people to drink in this country. The social costs are huge but then so are the social costs of trying to outlaw such behaviors. Slot machines have come a long way since the first one was invented by Charles Fey in 1887 in San Francisco. Rarely anymore do you hear the sound of real coins hitting a metal tray, even if you are lucky enough to hit a jackpot.

Today it's all sound effects, beeps and boops! And machines pay out in vouchers instead of cash. As the Mohegan Sun points out, it makes for a "more hassle-free gaming experience."

Anything that takes the "hassles" out of gambling is a good thing, especially for the casino owner. The fewer the hassles, the faster players can slide their hard-earned money into the bill slot. But don't take us for bunch of blue-nose scolds.

Better all those who would travel to Atlantic City or Delaware to lose (or win) a few bucks, did it here instead. That way, at least, the money stays in state to help pay for the sort state programs taxpayers have come to want and expect.

Yes, gambling is a regressive way to tax citizens. And yes, a certain number of people will end up like Billy Maguire or worse.But, in the long run, the jobs the gaming industry will provide, plus the entertainment value for those of us who will never gamble away our mortgage payments, will make it a bet worth taking.

Besides, as Eddie Felson said in "The Color of Money," "Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."

There is a perverse truth in that.

For better or for worse gaming is here to stay in Pennsylvania.

Make that for better and for worse. And it's soon to be at a racino near you (in Chester).

In the 1930s, it was the New Deal.

Today, it's the Deal or No Deal era.

Just remember, you don't have to play.

Florida man charged in online gambling ring

 

Twenty-seven people, including a Pince Crest man and a former pro baseball scout, were charged in a billion-dollar-a-year gambling ring. New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says the illegal gambling ring quote -- "rivals casinos for the amount of betting." The massive betting ring was run through a web site called Playwithal-dot-com, run by the poker player, James Giordano, of Pine Crest, Florida. A break in the case came last year when New York Police Department investigators secretly hacked into a laptop computer that Giordano had left in a Long Island hotel while attending a wedding. Also arrested was Frank Falzarano, of Seaford, on Long Island, a one-time scout for the Washington Nationals. He allegedly was a top earner in a network of two-thousand bookies who took more than three-point-three billion dollars in cash bets since 2004.

Earmarking, Ohio Gambling and Smoking

 

If this past election was a referendum on congressional budget earmarking and good, old-fashioned pork-barreling, West Virginians did their part in endorsing those practices when they re-elected certain congressional incumbents. Now that Democrats have regained control of both houses of Congress, you can bet West Virginia is about to see the federal dollars flow once again. Remember the dire predictions of a funding crunch limiting the Department of Transportation with its highway projects? Maybe some of those much-needed road projects will become reality much sooner than we expected. The people have spoken. They know what they like. Let the earmarking begin. Ohio voters gave West Virginia racetrack and casino operators something of a reprieve on Election Day. Buckeye voters turned down State Issue 3, an amendment to the Ohio Constitution that would have permitted up to 31,500 slot machines at seven horse racing tracks and at two Cleveland non-track sites and allow expanded gambling in the four Cuyahoga County locations if that county's voters agreed. The proposal would have channeled 30 percent of the revenue to the state's Board of Regents for college scholarships and grants to eligible students and the administration of the program. Of the 3.7 million ballots cast, about 57 percent of Ohio voters -- and 82 of 88 counties -- rejected the initiative. That means Ohio's decision eliminated the arrival of additional competition for West Virginia's racetracks at least for the time being. Interestingly, voters in some of Ohio's largest counties favored State Issue 3. Cuyahoga County (Cleveland), Hamilton County (Cincinnati) and Trumbull County (Warren) favored it, while the issue went down by two-to-one margins in many small, rural counties. But Ohio's decision is hardly the end of the story. Pennsylvania has kicked off its gambling enterprises, and those new slot operations are sure to compete with West Virginia's Northern Panhandle tracks in particular. West Virginia racetracks have tried for years to usher table games legislation through the West Virginia Legislature. Lawmakers have run in fear in the past, wary of a voter backlash if they expand gambling in the state. But time is running out, and more and more legislators are aware the state has an interest in protecting its gambling revenues.

Ohio may be off the table for now, but Pennsylvania will squeeze the Northern Panhandle tracks and their revenues. Track managers support local option voting on whether to permit table games at the Mountaineer and Wheeling Island complexes. Track operators argue that table games, such as blackjack and craps, will allow them to attract new customers, maintain and even expand employment and preserve the amount of money they generate for the state.

Moralists in the Legislature have argued they oppose gambling. That's a hollow argument. West Virginia is up to its eyeballs in gambling, and the Legislature is faced with an obvious choice: Act now to legalize table games at the tracks and preserve state revenues or prepare to raise taxes or reduce government services. That's a fairly simple equation.

And while they're at it, maybe they could find a way to get rid of the 8,500 or so limited video lottery slot machines that operate in gambling parlors on street corners from Newell to Bluefield. The racetracks generally are isolated destinations that appeal to many out-of-state patrons. Video slot parlors, on the other hand, are lined up next to the local barber shop, drugstore and dry cleaners. For my money, they have been a pox on the fabric of West Virginia neighborhoods.

Speaking of Ohio, voters also approved by a 58 percent to 42 percent margin State Issue 5, which drastically restricts smoking in public places. Unlike West Virginia, whose anti-smoking forces have waged their war one county at a time, Ohio's anti-smoking army won with a statewide vote.

The Toledo Blade on Nov. 12 quoted Patrick Reynolds as predicting that America one day will be smoke-free. The grandson of the founder of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., a former smoker and now an anti-smoking activist said passage of smoking bans in Ohio, Arizona and Nevada on Nov. 7 was the "tipping point" in the movement.

"Ohio is very important," the Blade quoted Reynolds as saying. "It's heartland. As Ohio goes, so goes the nation, according to popular lore. It's a bellwether state. If you can convince Ohioans, then it's an idea whose time has probably come."

The new law is scheduled to go into effect Dec. 7 and will prohibit smoking in restaurants, bars, workplaces and all other indoor public places with some exceptions, such as private clubs that don't serve or employ nonmembers and wholly family-owned and family-operated businesses.

Banned Americans flock to online gambling sites

 

WEB SECURITY FIRM ScanSafe has detected a 40 per cent increase in US-based requests for online gambling sites, even after legislation was passed by Georgey Bush with the "Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act." The act makes it illegal for US banks and brokers to transfer funds to and from web gambling sites. The firm delivered its findings in its Global Threat Report covering instant messaging, spyware and viruses. Vice president of product strategy at ScanSafe, Dan Nadir said that a drop in visits to gambling sites was expected following the new law. "However, we actually saw an increase in web requests from the US for online gambling sites," he said. Nadir added that a fair few of the web requests were related to betting on the October World Series, which could have been "compounded by gamblers looking to register with alternative providers before further regulations clarifying the Act are put into place."

Friday, November 17, 2006

POSITIVE VIEWS ON INTERNET GAMBLING FROM TOP CASINO EXEC

 

Criminal charges have been brought against more than two dozen people and corporations in four states in connection with a billion-dollar-a-year gambling website, authorities said yesterday. Authorities declined to name any of those charged. One of the corporations is an offshore Internet company with an American counterpart, said Kevin Ryan, a spokesman for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. Ryan said the case is "one of the first times that a web designer corporation and the companies that maintain the websites have been charged." He said the arrests by the DA's office and the New York Police Department represent the first time that Internet gambling charges have been brought since President George W. Bush signed into law last month the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. Ryan said arrests had been made in four states, and "we have initiated a $500-million asset forfeiture case," one of the largest in state history. The charges come after a two-year international investigation that focused on Internet gambling.

Massive Internet Gambling Operation Busted

 

A massive online gambling operation was shut down Wednesday with the indictment of 27 individuals and three corporations on charges of unlawfully operating a highly sophisticated operation in Queens County and elsewhere in the world that booked more than $3.3 billion in wages over a 28-month period on a wide variety of sporting events ranging from horseracing, football, baseball, basketball and hockey to NASCAR, PGA golf and professional tennis, among others. "Internet gambling is a multi-billion dollar worldwide industry that for too long has operated with impunity. This case represents the first time Internet gambling charges have been brought against anyone in this country since President Bush signed into law last month the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act which prohibits American online gamblers from using electronic funds transfers, credit cards and checks in placing bets with gambling sites worldwide", Queens district attorney Richard Brown said. "The case also marks the first time that a web designer and an offshore based Internet company have been charged with directly participating in a criminal enterprise. In addition, the $500 million asset forfeiture case commenced against the defendants is among the largest such cases ever filed", he added. "The defendants are accused of running a tightly knit and an incredibly lucrative - and illegal - global gambling operation. It is alleged that they were as savvy and adept in the use of computer technology as they were proficient in the art of secreting and laundering untold millions of dollars in unlawfully earned proceeds through casinos, shell corporations and bank accounts in a variety of locations around the globe, including Central America, the Caribbean, Switzerland, Hong Kong and elsewhere. So massive was the enterprise that only with the assistance of federal law enforcement, police authorities in sister states and other nations have we been able to bring these defendants to justice", Brown said.

A 33-count enterprise corruption indictment filed in Queens County Supreme Court charges that the gambling ring promoted illegal sports betting in Queens County and elsewhere and that the defendants were involved with gambling wire rooms in both Miami and St. Maarten. Twenty of the defendants are also being sued civilly and have been named as respondents in a historic $500 million civil forfeiture action filed in Queens Supreme Court by the District Attorney's Special Proceedings Bureau which alleges that they engaged in a criminal enterprise that promoted illegal gambling activities and generated illegal wages.

Brown said that detectives assigned to the New York City Police Department's Organized Crime Control Bureau, as well as federal agents throughout the country arrested the defendants over the past few days on charges of enterprise corruption, a violation of New York State's Organized Crime Control Act, as well as money laundering, promoting gambling, possession of gambling records and conspiracy.

The investigation leading to the indictment began in July 2004 when NYPD officers assigned to the Queens Major Case Squad and the Queens Narcotics District developed information about an illegal betting ring and began a joint investigation with the District Attorney's Organized Crime and Rackets Bureau. The investigation included physical surveillance, intelligence information and court-authorized electronic eavesdropping on nearly 30 different telephones that intercepted tens of thousands of conversations.

According to the indictment, between July 14, 2004, and Nov. 2, 2006, the 30 defendants conspired to acquire money illegally through the operation of an unlawful gambling enterprise involving the use of an Internet website.

The indictment also alleges that the ring used a non-traditional "wire room" in the form of an off-shore, Internet-based gambling service used by bettors and runners to actually place their wagers. It is alleged that the ring used the off-shore wire room to maintain the gambling accounts of numerous runners and bettors through the Internet website in an effort to evade law enforcement detection through traditional methods.

Law enforcement crackdowns on traditional mob-run wire rooms have led to the use by illegal gambling rings of off-shore gambling websites where action is available around the clock. Bettors can click on an off-shore gambling website over the Internet and be assigned individual login codes and passwords.

Their wagers and win-loss amounts are recorded in "sub-accounts" maintained in the accounts of "runners" and "agents." These gambling websites typically store their information on computer servers outside the United States, such as in Costa Rica, and "bounce" their data through a series of server nodes in an effort to evade law enforcement.

In carrying out the alleged conspiracy, it is charged that Primary Development, Inc., and its chief executive officer, Maurice Freeman, developed a sports betting website,specifically tailored to meet the needs of James W. Giordano and his son-in-law, Daniel B. Clarin. The website, which is literally a computerized betting sheet, is known as "Playwithal Sportsbook" and is advertised as an "innovative sports gaming company." Playwithal is accessible both online and via an "800" toll-free telephone number. Although the web page is hosted in Tampa, Fla., its web servers and wire room terminal are situated outside the United States - on St. Maarten in the Caribbean or, more recently, in Costa Rica.

In furtherance of the alleged conspiracy, Prolexic Technologies, Inc., allegedly provided security of Playwithal's web servers by screening bettors' Internet protocol addresses to search for viruses or tracking programs that could be used to hack into Playwithal's servers. Digital Solutions, S.A., a company incorporated under the laws of Costa Rica, and its American counterpart, D.S. Networks, S.A., Inc., allegedly provided the site with its servers, data and software.

The indictment charges that Giordano was the "bookmaker" and boss of the enterprise who controlled and oversaw the entire operation. The indictment further charges that Clarin worked as the "controller" and was responsible for managing the day-to-day operations and handling bettor disputes and accounting discrepancies, as well as managing account information of the various runners and bettors.

According to the indictment, Giordano's wife, Priscilla Ann Giordano, and their daughter, Melissa Clarin, who is Clarin's wife, worked as "financial officers" and facilitated the transfer of monetary instruments representing gambling proceeds through accounts under their control in financial institutions overseas and elsewhere.

The indictment also charges that five defendants, Frank Lobascio, Frank LaMonica, Ralph Piccirilli, Monte Weiner, and Steven C. Tarantino, worked as "money collectors" and were responsible for exchanging, distributing, delivering and transferring gambling proceeds between members of the organization, including to and from agents/runners. Some of the collectors were also allegedly involved in exchanging, distributing, delivering and transferring gambling proceeds through various financial institutions.

Online Gambling's Black Thursday - NY Bust puts several CR operators offline

 

Several online gambling operators' Web sites went offline Wednesday as the U.S. law enforcement shut down Digital Solutions s.a. switch in Florida. All Digital Solutions customers are affected by the shut down of the carrier/service provider/software provider facility in Florida following an indictment unsealed Wednesday Nov 15. New York authorities issued a 33-count indictment charging 27 individuals and three corporations with operating an illegal online gambling operation that allegedly booked more than $3.3 billion in wagers over a 28-month period. New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly characterized the operation in a statement as the "largest illegal gambling operation we have ever encountered." Approximately 60% to 65% operations located in Costa Rica used D.S. for phones (voip solutions), data streams and internet solutions. BetCRIS.com, DSI, Guardian Guaranty, Tradewinds and many other Web sites went offline Wednesday night when U.S. Law enforcement shut down D.S. servers. BetCRIS is now back online, however many others are still offline. This is the first time a service provider and web designers are indicted in an illegal gambling bust by U.S. authorities. Operators are reportedly working around the clock to find new providers. However the blackout may last a few days, probably a couple of weeks for smaller operations.

Spitzer holds cards on city's gambling future

 

The fate of a stalled plan to bring the largest video gaming parlor in the country to Queens could rest in the hands of Governor-elect Eliot Spitzer. The 4,500-Video Lottery Terminal parlor was set to open this year at Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park, but is now on indefinite hold after the track's owner declared bankruptcy. "The delay in approving this is what drove us to bankruptcy in the first place," said Aqueduct spokesman Bill Nader, referring to the racetrack's owner, the New York Racing Association. "Once we do get approval, the revenue going to New York state from these machines will be the same revenue as all the Atlantic City gambling combined provides the state of New Jersey." The devices look like traditional slot machines but are actually "video lottery terminals," or VLTs, and use a different equation than slots to calculate winners. Players can't tell the difference. The racing association filed for bankruptcy earlier this month, preventing the New York Lottery, which supervises the eight other video lottery sites in the state, from approving the Aqueduct parlor. The delay stemmed in part from the financial problems at the racing association. Now the fate of what would be the city's first legal gambling hall is in the hands of Spitzer, who will decide whether to find new management for Aqueduct. Representatives for Spitzer's transition team were not immediately available for comment Wednesday evening. "If and when the VLTs open at Aqueduct, they will be a huge draw," said Bennett Liebman, coordinator of the Racing & Gaming Law Program at Albany Law School. "You have such an enormous market to draw from in New York City, and a regular player will not be able to tell the difference between that and Atlantic City."

Extremely profitable VTL halls are up and running at Yonkers Raceway and seven other racetracks upstate. They are all open seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m, and brought in more than $12 million last year.

The State Supreme Court recently validated the legalilty of the video terminals, half of whose proceeds benefit public schools.

Seventy years ago, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia lifted a sledgehammer and personally wrecked dozens of slot machines confiscated from gangster Frank Costello. Now the city is poised to have a legal video terminal parlor with yearly profits beyond Costello's wildest dreams.

Online Gambling's Black Thursday - NY Bust puts several CR operators offline

 

Several online gambling operators' Web sites went offline Wednesday as the U.S. law enforcement shut down Digital Solutions s.a. switch in Florida. All Digital Solutions customers are affected by the shut down of the carrier/service provider/software provider facility in Florida following an indictment unsealed Wednesday Nov 15. New York authorities issued a 33-count indictment charging 27 individuals and three corporations with operating an illegal online gambling operation that allegedly booked more than $3.3 billion in wagers over a 28-month period. New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly characterized the operation in a statement as the "largest illegal gambling operation we have ever encountered." Approximately 60% to 65% operations located in Costa Rica used D.S. for phones (voip solutions), data streams and internet solutions. BetCRIS.com, DSI, Guardian Guaranty, Tradewinds and many other Web sites went offline Wednesday night when U.S. Law enforcement shut down D.S. servers. BetCRIS is now back online, however many others are still offline. This is the first time a service provider and web designers are indicted in an illegal gambling bust by U.S. authorities. Operators are reportedly working around the clock to find new providers. However the blackout may last a few days, probably a couple of weeks for smaller operations.

Massive Internet Gambling Operation Busted

 

A massive online gambling operation was shut down Wednesday with the indictment of 27 individuals and three corporations on charges of unlawfully operating a highly sophisticated operation in Queens County and elsewhere in the world that booked more than $3.3 billion in wages over a 28-month period on a wide variety of sporting events ranging from horseracing, football, baseball, basketball and hockey to NASCAR, PGA golf and professional tennis, among others. "Internet gambling is a multi-billion dollar worldwide industry that for too long has operated with impunity. This case represents the first time Internet gambling charges have been brought against anyone in this country since President Bush signed into law last month the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act which prohibits American online gamblers from using electronic funds transfers, credit cards and checks in placing bets with gambling sites worldwide", Queens district attorney Richard Brown said. "The case also marks the first time that a web designer and an offshore based Internet company have been charged with directly participating in a criminal enterprise. In addition, the $500 million asset forfeiture case commenced against the defendants is among the largest such cases ever filed", he added. "The defendants are accused of running a tightly knit and an incredibly lucrative - and illegal - global gambling operation. It is alleged that they were as savvy and adept in the use of computer technology as they were proficient in the art of secreting and laundering untold millions of dollars in unlawfully earned proceeds through casinos, shell corporations and bank accounts in a variety of locations around the globe, including Central America, the Caribbean, Switzerland, Hong Kong and elsewhere. So massive was the enterprise that only with the assistance of federal law enforcement, police authorities in sister states and other nations have we been able to bring these defendants to justice", Brown said.

A 33-count enterprise corruption indictment filed in Queens County Supreme Court charges that the gambling ring promoted illegal sports betting in Queens County and elsewhere and that the defendants were involved with gambling wire rooms in both Miami and St. Maarten. Twenty of the defendants are also being sued civilly and have been named as respondents in a historic $500 million civil forfeiture action filed in Queens Supreme Court by the District Attorney's Special Proceedings Bureau which alleges that they engaged in a criminal enterprise that promoted illegal gambling activities and generated illegal wages.

Brown said that detectives assigned to the New York City Police Department's Organized Crime Control Bureau, as well as federal agents throughout the country arrested the defendants over the past few days on charges of enterprise corruption, a violation of New York State's Organized Crime Control Act, as well as money laundering, promoting gambling, possession of gambling records and conspiracy.

The investigation leading to the indictment began in July 2004 when NYPD officers assigned to the Queens Major Case Squad and the Queens Narcotics District developed information about an illegal betting ring and began a joint investigation with the District Attorney's Organized Crime and Rackets Bureau. The investigation included physical surveillance, intelligence information and court-authorized electronic eavesdropping on nearly 30 different telephones that intercepted tens of thousands of conversations.

According to the indictment, between July 14, 2004, and Nov. 2, 2006, the 30 defendants conspired to acquire money illegally through the operation of an unlawful gambling enterprise involving the use of an Internet website.

The indictment also alleges that the ring used a non-traditional "wire room" in the form of an off-shore, Internet-based gambling service used by bettors and runners to actually place their wagers. It is alleged that the ring used the off-shore wire room to maintain the gambling accounts of numerous runners and bettors through the Internet website in an effort to evade law enforcement detection through traditional methods.

Law enforcement crackdowns on traditional mob-run wire rooms have led to the use by illegal gambling rings of off-shore gambling websites where action is available around the clock. Bettors can click on an off-shore gambling website over the Internet and be assigned individual login codes and passwords.

Their wagers and win-loss amounts are recorded in "sub-accounts" maintained in the accounts of "runners" and "agents." These gambling websites typically store their information on computer servers outside the United States, such as in Costa Rica, and "bounce" their data through a series of server nodes in an effort to evade law enforcement.

In carrying out the alleged conspiracy, it is charged that Primary Development, Inc., and its chief executive officer, Maurice Freeman, developed a sports betting website,specifically tailored to meet the needs of James W. Giordano and his son-in-law, Daniel B. Clarin. The website, which is literally a computerized betting sheet, is known as "Playwithal Sportsbook" and is advertised as an "innovative sports gaming company." Playwithal is accessible both online and via an "800" toll-free telephone number. Although the web page is hosted in Tampa, Fla., its web servers and wire room terminal are situated outside the United States - on St. Maarten in the Caribbean or, more recently, in Costa Rica.

In furtherance of the alleged conspiracy, Prolexic Technologies, Inc., allegedly provided security of Playwithal's web servers by screening bettors' Internet protocol addresses to search for viruses or tracking programs that could be used to hack into Playwithal's servers. Digital Solutions, S.A., a company incorporated under the laws of Costa Rica, and its American counterpart, D.S. Networks, S.A., Inc., allegedly provided the site with its servers, data and software.

The indictment charges that Giordano was the "bookmaker" and boss of the enterprise who controlled and oversaw the entire operation. The indictment further charges that Clarin worked as the "controller" and was responsible for managing the day-to-day operations and handling bettor disputes and accounting discrepancies, as well as managing account information of the various runners and bettors.

According to the indictment, Giordano's wife, Priscilla Ann Giordano, and their daughter, Melissa Clarin, who is Clarin's wife, worked as "financial officers" and facilitated the transfer of monetary instruments representing gambling proceeds through accounts under their control in financial institutions overseas and elsewhere.

The indictment also charges that five defendants, Frank Lobascio, Frank LaMonica, Ralph Piccirilli, Monte Weiner, and Steven C. Tarantino, worked as "money collectors" and were responsible for exchanging, distributing, delivering and transferring gambling proceeds between members of the organization, including to and from agents/runners. Some of the collectors were also allegedly involved in exchanging, distributing, delivering and transferring gambling proceeds through various financial institutions.

Spitzer holds cards on city's gambling future

 

The fate of a stalled plan to bring the largest video gaming parlor in the country to Queens could rest in the hands of Governor-elect Eliot Spitzer. The 4,500-Video Lottery Terminal parlor was set to open this year at Aqueduct Racetrack in Ozone Park, but is now on indefinite hold after the track's owner declared bankruptcy. "The delay in approving this is what drove us to bankruptcy in the first place," said Aqueduct spokesman Bill Nader, referring to the racetrack's owner, the New York Racing Association. "Once we do get approval, the revenue going to New York state from these machines will be the same revenue as all the Atlantic City gambling combined provides the state of New Jersey." The devices look like traditional slot machines but are actually "video lottery terminals," or VLTs, and use a different equation than slots to calculate winners. Players can't tell the difference. The racing association filed for bankruptcy earlier this month, preventing the New York Lottery, which supervises the eight other video lottery sites in the state, from approving the Aqueduct parlor. The delay stemmed in part from the financial problems at the racing association. Now the fate of what would be the city's first legal gambling hall is in the hands of Spitzer, who will decide whether to find new management for Aqueduct. Representatives for Spitzer's transition team were not immediately available for comment Wednesday evening. "If and when the VLTs open at Aqueduct, they will be a huge draw," said Bennett Liebman, coordinator of the Racing & Gaming Law Program at Albany Law School. "You have such an enormous market to draw from in New York City, and a regular player will not be able to tell the difference between that and Atlantic City."

Extremely profitable VTL halls are up and running at Yonkers Raceway and seven other racetracks upstate. They are all open seven days a week, from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m, and brought in more than $12 million last year.

The State Supreme Court recently validated the legalilty of the video terminals, half of whose proceeds benefit public schools.

Seventy years ago, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia lifted a sledgehammer and personally wrecked dozens of slot machines confiscated from gangster Frank Costello. Now the city is poised to have a legal video terminal parlor with yearly profits beyond Costello's wildest dreams.

Online Gambling's Black Thursday - NY Bust puts several CR operators offline

 

Several online gambling operators' Web sites went offline Wednesday as the U.S. law enforcement shut down Digital Solutions s.a. switch in Florida. All Digital Solutions customers are affected by the shut down of the carrier/service provider/software provider facility in Florida following an indictment unsealed Wednesday Nov 15. New York authorities issued a 33-count indictment charging 27 individuals and three corporations with operating an illegal online gambling operation that allegedly booked more than $3.3 billion in wagers over a 28-month period. New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly characterized the operation in a statement as the "largest illegal gambling operation we have ever encountered." Approximately 60% to 65% operations located in Costa Rica used D.S. for phones (voip solutions), data streams and internet solutions. BetCRIS.com, DSI, Guardian Guaranty, Tradewinds and many other Web sites went offline Wednesday night when U.S. Law enforcement shut down D.S. servers. BetCRIS is now back online, however many others are still offline. This is the first time a service provider and web designers are indicted in an illegal gambling bust by U.S. authorities. Operators are reportedly working around the clock to find new providers. However the blackout may last a few days, probably a couple of weeks for smaller operations.

POSITIVE VIEWS ON INTERNET GAMBLING FROM TOP CASINO EXEC

 

Criminal charges have been brought against more than two dozen people and corporations in four states in connection with a billion-dollar-a-year gambling website, authorities said yesterday. Authorities declined to name any of those charged. One of the corporations is an offshore Internet company with an American counterpart, said Kevin Ryan, a spokesman for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown. Ryan said the case is "one of the first times that a web designer corporation and the companies that maintain the websites have been charged." He said the arrests by the DA's office and the New York Police Department represent the first time that Internet gambling charges have been brought since President George W. Bush signed into law last month the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. Ryan said arrests had been made in four states, and "we have initiated a $500-million asset forfeiture case," one of the largest in state history. The charges come after a two-year international investigation that focused on Internet gambling.

Online Gambling Shakeup As Betcorp Bought Out By Bodog

 

The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 won't stop online gambling but it will cause consolidation in the industry and a further example of this was announced today as Bodog is now the proud new owner of Betcorp's operating subsidiaries. Bodog agreed to buy out Betcorp for a reported $9 million. Betcorp operated the highly successful online sportsbook BetWWTS.com as well as the lesser-known Oasis sportsbook. In addition Betcorp operated BetHoldem Poker, an online poker room, and three online casinos, most notably Thunderbolt Casino. The deal was finalized earlier today when Betcorp's shareholders agreed to sell. It must come as small consolation to them as the company was decimated by the new internet gambling law in the United States. The valuation of Betcorp is a fraction of what the company was worth a few months ago. 85% of the company's revenue was generated by US gamblers and following this new online gambling bill they decided to ban Americans from betting on their websites. Bodog, which is privately held and does not have to answer to shareholders, has no such problems and scooped up these various online gambling operations for an absolute song. If you hold a BetWWTS account or an account at any of the other operations previously owned by Betcorp then you now have a Bodog account as they have migrated all the old accounts over.

Bodog is owned by the maverick billionaire Calvin Ayre who appears unlikely to back down to the US government as he continues to build his gambling empire, safe (for now) in his mansion in Costa Rica.

Duma Unanimously Passes Gambling Bill

 

State Duma deputies unanimously gave tentative approval Wednesday to a bill that would tighten the screws on gamblers and ultimately ban gambling except in four special zones from 2009. But the legislation -- criticized for clumsy wording and prohibiting activities such as betting on friendly card games in private homes -- is widely expected to undergo drastic changes before it passes a second reading, probably later this year. "There is no doubt the bill will change beyond recognition," said Yevgeny Kovtun, a spokesman for the Gaming Business Association, whose members have been operating in Russia for the past decade. The bill, submitted by President Vladimir Putin last month, sailed through a first reading Wednesday by a vote of 440-0 and one abstention. Under the bill, small slot-machine halls and casinos will be closed next July, when a minimum gambling age of 18 and other restrictions come into effect. Duma deputies stressed the need for national gambling regulations, but said the legislation must clarify how the four gambling zones would be set up. The current version does not outline how many of the zones would be established inside residential areas. Also, it does not provide a mechanism for creating the zones, which is also key to the legislation's success, United Russia Deputy Igor Dines said. Federal authorities would grant five-year licenses for operation inside the zones.

The exact locations of the four zones have not been chosen, but Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov has said two zones will be in European Russia, one in Siberia and one in the Far East.

The first zone will be created in July, Putin's representative to the Duma, Alexander Kosopkin, said during his presentation of the bill on Wednesday.

Moscow does not plan to apply for the status of a gambling zone, a Moscow deputy mayor, Iosif Ordzhonikidze said last month. This means that the 537 gaming establishments that are licensed to operate in Moscow would need to close or relocate to a special zone by 2009.

The national gambling industry, with revenues surpassing $5 billion per year, could shrink by at least 70 percent next summer, according to the Association for the Development of the Gaming Business.

Slot-machine halls smaller than 100 square meters and casinos smaller than 800 square meters would be outlawed beginning in July.

The bill does not address how businesses that took out loans or began expansion before the Kremlin drafted the legislation would recoup their investments, Kovtun said.

The bill, nevertheless, easily passed the first reading because gambling is a hot-button political issue.

"The reason we are discussing this bill is clear. It is elections," Liberal Democratic Party of Russia leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky said.

Duma elections are scheduled for December next year and the presidential vote is scheduled for 2008.

Communist Deputy Sergei Reshulsky said approving the current version of the bill was "the lesser of two evils." An imperfect law is better than no federal law at all, he said.

About 3 percent of Russians gamble at least once per month, according to a survey by the independent Levada Center in October. Most people who gamble are under 40, it said.

Gambling businesses are pushing to soften the bill's provisions and extend the gambling ban beyond 2009.

"What stance the presidential administration takes on this situation is important," said Duma Deputy Alexander Lebedev, an outspoken gambling critic.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Riverboat Gambling In Clark County Still Faces Hurdles

 

There is serious talk that a new riverboat casino may be coming to Kentuckiana. But while riverboat gambling has the approval of Clark County voters, it still faces opposition up and down the Ohio. WAVE 3 Investigator Eric Flack has more. Officials say it's not a matter of "if" riverboat gambling is coming to Clark County. "I think it's a matter of when," said Doug England, President of the Floyd County-Clark County Tourism Bureau. Less than a week after 61 percent of voters approved a referendum to legalize riverboat gambling in Clark County, three different gaming companies have reportedly expressed interest in coming to Jeffersonville. That came as no surprise to tourism officials, who see the waterfront as prime real estate for a casino. "It's Indiana, it's Kentucky, it's 65, 71 and 64," England said. "I mean it's such a great location for it." Not so great for Churchill Downs, which has already seen a 24 percent drop in betting and an 18 percent drop in attendance since Caesars opened eight years ago. "Certainly, any new form of competition, considering the impact its already had on our business here locally, is something for us to be concerned about," said Churchill Spokeswoman Julie Koenig-Loignon

That concern is now shared by both Caesars, which stands to lose money if a new boat comes to town; and state representative Bob Bischoff of Lawrenceburg, whose district includes three riverboats near Cincinnati.

Some believe Clark County will try to lure one of those boats here.

"Oh, I would have a lot of reservations about that," Rep. Bischoff said.

"I think they have the cart ahead of the horse here."

But Clark County is confident the gaming companies will bet on them.

"Their purpose in life is to give their investors back a return on their money," England said.

And they say the money is right here in Kentuckiana.

Insiders think it is a long shot that the Indiana Gaming Commission would create an entirely new license, which is why Clark County would have to hope someone wants to relocate.

It will probably not be Caesars, which has just started a $50 million renovation to its Harrison County facility.

The general manager at Caesars also said there has never been a gaming license transferred from one county to the other, so there are a number of hurdles still remaining for this to happen.

POLITICAL CHANGES IN THE USA COULD BE POSITIVE FOR GAMBLING

 

The CEO and president of the American Gaming Association, Frank Fahrenkopf sounded a positive note on the wider industry this week in an interview with Reuters news agency on the political changes arising from the recent US mid-term elections. The top gambling executive said that the new Democrat-dominated Congress will put pro-casino politicians in key leadership positions as the American Gaming Association considers a push to study the legalisation of Internet gambling. "I think the change on balance is positive," Frank Fahrenkopf, a former chairman of the Republican National Committee told Reuters, adding that a major challenge of the trade group has been educating legislators about the business, and "the new leadership is familiar with our industry." Sen. Harry Reid, a moderate Nevada Democrat and former casino regulator, was elected by colleagues this week as U.S. Senate majority leader for the 110th Congress that will convene in January. "He probably knows our industry better than anyone," Fahrenkopf said. The new Republican leader in the Senate is expected to be Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, a "gambling state" in Fahrenkopf's words. Sen. Trent Lott, a Republican from Mississippi, where casinos dot the U.S. Gulf Coast, is angling for the job of assistant minority leader in the Senate. In the House, there will be "dramatic changes in committee chairmanships," Fahrenkopf said. Rep. Charles Rangel, the New York Democrat expected to chair the Ways and Means Committee, has been to Las Vegas to tour the inner workings of casinos "many, many times," according to the head of the gaming association.

Rep. John Conyers, expected to head the Judiciary Committee, is from Detroit, where he has seen "how casinos can benefit the economy," Fahrenkopf said. Conyers was also the politician who attempted to interest Congress in a study of online gambling last year.

Fahrenkopf also noted that Bennie Thompson, expected to chair Homeland Security, is from Tunica, Mississippi.

And Massachusetts Democrat Barney Frank, who is expected to chair the Financial Services Committee, has a libertarian approach to gambling and does not believe that the U.S. should be telling people how to spend their money, Fahrenkopf said.

The Gaming Association is expected to decide in December whether to pursue legislation calling for an independent study of online gambling, says Reuters.

"We think it might be time to see if there is a way to regulate and control online gaming," Fahrenkopf said.

The arrests in the United States of executives from British companies involved in online sports betting and passage in October of a U.S. law barring banks from transactions involving Internet gambling have led most legitimate operators to pull our of the U.S. market, he said.

"The goal was to protect U.S. consumers, but I think the impact has been the exact opposite. The responsible companies have pulled out, only leaving about 2 000 fly-by-night Web sites," Fahrenkopf said.

Legislators Replay the Gambling Bill of President

 

The gambling bill submitted by President Vladimir Putin in October spells out really tough measures. The idea is moving all gambling houses of Russia to four special zones by January 1, 2009. The zones are to be created by July 1, 2007. Moreover, the gambling houses with assets below 600 million rubles won't survive at all. But the bill is likely to be softened. The sources say once the State Duma passes it in the first reading, the deputies will come up with certain amendments authorizing the government to extend the transition period at its discretion. The transition period is to take from seven to 12 years, said Oleg Zhuravsky, president of Internet Gambling Association and National Association of Bookmakers. Moreover, the government will have no time to create a single zone by July 1, 2007, said nearly everyone involved in the bill's discussion in the State Duma. So, the ministers will hardly miss the chance to prolong the time of transition.

Traffic to online gambling sites drop in October as Bush signs ban into law

 

Internet gambling sites saw a drop in traffic last month as President George W. Bush signed a measure aimed at banning most online wagering in the U.S. Measurements of online traffic by Nielsen/NetRatings show that the number of unique U.S. visitors to any of 10 Web sites tracked dropped 56 percent from September. Nielsen/NetRatings said the decrease followed a year of steady growth - and there still was a growth of 19 percent recorded in October compared with the same month in 2005.

PUBLIC COMPANIES INCREASE TRUST IN ONLINE GAMBLING

 

In an interview with the publication WWMT this week Professor Bill Eadington of the Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming says that the publicly traded companies from the UK have become very significant players in the business and this has increased integrity and trust levels in the industry in general. WWMT points out that growth estimates on Internet gambling tend to be conservative, since nobody really knows how many sites are out there, how many new ones open each week across the globe, or possibly each day. Analysts are often not even sure how many people are playing, since many sites don't release statistics on players, or even money earned. Professor Bill Eadington can make an educated estimate, however. Eadington uses Party Gaming as an example of the potential of online gaming public companies, commenting that when the company went public over a year ago its value was estimated around $10-billion. "That's the same size as Harrahs or MGM - two major American companies," Eadington said adding that Party Gaming [prior to the recent clampdown through the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act] earned $1.5 billion primarily from internet poker - 75 percent of its business originating in the United States. Eadington is quick to note that many countries have decided to legalise, regulate and tax online gambling sites. He says the goal is to legitimise the business and make money from it, and "....a lot of publicly traded companies from the UK have become very significant players in the game. What this has done is increase integrity levels, the trust in the game. Sites have benefited from becoming a legal regulated industry. There have been a number of publicly traded companies in the UK, Gibraltar or Malta who have a level of confidence with players especially around internet poker and sports wagering."

Ten years ago Internet gambling sites were often viewed as shady operations, comments WWMT. Players never really knew if the games were legitimate, who was really running the site and whether they'd even get paid.

Now with major sites running as businesses listed on Stock Exchanges around the world, many gamblers see them as trustworthy.

But online gambling may be in jeopardy in the United States, WWMT reports, referring to the recent passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which seeks to disrupt financial transactions between US player and online gambling sites.

Professor Eadington says this law may be unenforceable since almost all of the online gambling industry is located overseas, and outside U.S. jurisdiction.

"It's very reminiscent of prohibition in the 1920s. The law is going to work in the sense it's become much more inconvenient for customers to get money into online wagering games. What the real challenge is, is a lot of subterfuge to get around the law for example establishing bank accounts in Canada or the UK or entities abroad that will facilitate."

Eadington says the law may not signal the demise of online gambling in the USA. "Ultimately we will see legal internet gambling. And part of it is just consumer demand, and what technology brings us."

Churchill CEO says co. doesn't share exec's view

 

Churchill Downs Inc.'s chief financial officer said Monday that the racetrack company would fare better in its efforts to pursue expanded gambling in Kentucky if Democrats were in charge of state government. "I don't think anything will happen, first of all, until there's a change in the gubernatorial situation," said Mike Miller, the racetrack company's executive vice president and CFO. "The best thing that could happen for us would be to have a totally Democratically controlled state, and I don't see much happening before then, to be honest with you. It's not impossible." Miller's comment came during a question-and-answer session at the Gaming Investment Forum in Las Vegas. Miller and Mike Anderson, Churchill's corporate finance vice president, addressed the forum. The forum is part of the American Gaming Association's annual Global Gaming Expo. Kentucky's governor's office and state Senate are led by Republicans. Bob Evans, the company's president and CEO, said Tuesday afternoon he was "kind of surprised by the remarks," adding that they were "certainly not my own personal point of view or the company's point of view, or the board of directors point of view." Evans said Miller was traveling and he hadn't had a chance to discuss the comments with him in person. "I assume it's his personal view because we didn't authorize that as a company position," Evans said.

Evans, who took over in August from longtime CEO Tom Meeker, said he has not met all of Kentucky's legislators yet -- but of those he has met, "some are probably for the idea and some of them are against it. I don't think it breaks down by party line necessarily."

Gov. Ernie Fletcher is in Japan. Fletcher spokeswoman Jodi Whitaker said the governor's position has not changed on the issue and declined to comment further. Fletcher has said he personally opposes expanded gambling but would not block the issue being submitted to Kentucky voters in a referendum.

State Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, said he wasn't offended by the comment.

It is not a "secret that gambling interests such as KEEP (the Kentucky Equine Education Project, of which Churchill is a member), organizations that want to expand gaming particularly at racetracks, have put tens of thousands of dollars into state legislative races in order to try to accomplish the takeover of the Kentucky state senate in particular for the Democrats," Williams said.

"He's just being more candid than other people," Williams said. "So I don't agree that's the route Kentucky ought to take, but I don't necessarily get mad at people that don't agree with me about it. You know, I mean it's just a different idea of what kind of Kentucky we want and what we think it would do to Kentucky to have expanded gaming."

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Centrebet wagers on a Democrat change to online gambling laws

 

CENTREBET chairman Graham Kelly yesterday questioned whether the new US internet gambling laws would be enacted under a new Democrat-led Congress, after he indicated that the company might exceed its 2007 financial year forecast. Speaking at the company's first annual general meeting since listing in July, Mr Kelly said that trading had started "strongly in FY 2007 for the four months up to October 2006 and we remain ahead of our forecasts". The waging and gaming company finished the last financial year 8 per cent above its prospectus forecast. Mr Kelly talked up the company's prospects in the 2007 financial year, underpinned by what he described as "a defined strategy" of cross-selling gaming products to existing clients, mobile phone betting, affiliate programs and expansion into Spain. He said later: "We are ahead of them (2007 prospectus forecasts) at the moment and frankly I see no reason why that will change." Centrebet previously flagged a 2007 net profit after tax of $11.6 million. Mr Kelly said he was disappointed the stock was not trading above its $2 issue price, blaming it on an excessive response to the new US Internet Gambling Enforcement action legislation, "notwithstanding the fact that we have never targeted the US". He reiterated that Centrebet would not be affected by the US gaming laws, which prohibited banks from making or taking payments from locals within online gaming operators. He questioned whether the new gaming laws would stand under a Democrat-led Congress. "That legislation was enacted by a Republican Congress whether that legislation will be enacted when the new congress assembles will be a very different matter," he said. "One should not necessarily assume that will stay the same in the US." Mr Kelly said that while being listed made the company more vulnerable to a takeover, it too was on the look out for "opportunities".

Managing director Con Kafataris said Centrebet was in discussions with some partners in Asia.

Mr Kelly highlighted the company's potential in the mobile phone betting arena, described as the "fastest growing sector".

U.S. voters may be wary of new gambling-Harrah's

 

U.S. voters may hesitate to allow further expansion of the casino industry, based on a key election result in Rhode Island last week, the chief financial officer of Harrah's Entertainment Inc. said on Monday. Rhode Island voters rejected a constitutional amendment that would have allowed an Indian tribe to build a casino in a partnership with Harrah's. "I think it is going to be very difficult for new gaming to become available in these states on terms where we and our shareholders can make an adequate return," said CFO Jonathan Halkyard told reporters. He said Harrah's, which had hoped to operate a casino in Rhode Island for the Narragansett Indian Tribe, spent $15 million on the campaign. Rhode Island Gov. Donald Carcieri had expressed concerns that the new casino would draw business away from the state's two existing gambling facilities, which pay the state 60 percent of their gaming income. Harrah's officials had said they would invest up to $1 billion and pay the state a $100 million licensing fee, according to news reports.

"When you compare some of these opportunities with Las Vegas, Atlantic City, or Biloxi (Mississippi) it's just not worth it," the Harrah's CFO said.

Centrebet wagers on a Democrat change to online gambling laws

 

CENTREBET chairman Graham Kelly yesterday questioned whether the new US internet gambling laws would be enacted under a new Democrat-led Congress, after he indicated that the company might exceed its 2007 financial year forecast. Speaking at the company's first annual general meeting since listing in July, Mr Kelly said that trading had started "strongly in FY 2007 for the four months up to October 2006 and we remain ahead of our forecasts". The waging and gaming company finished the last financial year 8 per cent above its prospectus forecast. Mr Kelly talked up the company's prospects in the 2007 financial year, underpinned by what he described as "a defined strategy" of cross-selling gaming products to existing clients, mobile phone betting, affiliate programs and expansion into Spain. He said later: "We are ahead of them (2007 prospectus forecasts) at the moment and frankly I see no reason why that will change." Centrebet previously flagged a 2007 net profit after tax of $11.6 million. Mr Kelly said he was disappointed the stock was not trading above its $2 issue price, blaming it on an excessive response to the new US Internet Gambling Enforcement action legislation, "notwithstanding the fact that we have never targeted the US". He reiterated that Centrebet would not be affected by the US gaming laws, which prohibited banks from making or taking payments from locals within online gaming operators. He questioned whether the new gaming laws would stand under a Democrat-led Congress. "That legislation was enacted by a Republican Congress whether that legislation will be enacted when the new congress assembles will be a very different matter," he said. "One should not necessarily assume that will stay the same in the US." Mr Kelly said that while being listed made the company more vulnerable to a takeover, it too was on the look out for "opportunities".

Managing director Con Kafataris said Centrebet was in discussions with some partners in Asia.

Mr Kelly highlighted the company's potential in the mobile phone betting arena, described as the "fastest growing sector".

Key gambling foe to appear on BBC

 

An outspoken gambling critic who will be featured in an upcoming British Broadcasting Corp. news program on Internet gambling also is working to keep the multistate lottery out of Wyoming. But lottery supporters say players are already driving to other states to bet their dollars, and public opinion supports bringing a lottery to Wyoming. Retired dentist David Robertson is chairman of the state anti-gambling group Wyomingites for a Better Economy Today and Tomorrow. He sat down Monday for an interview with BBC reporter Declan Lawn, who is working on an Internet gambling segment for "Panorama," the network's flagship investigative public affairs program. "The show is about legislation in the United Kingdom that would put in place specific measures on Internet gambling, allowing it to be taxed and strictly regulated," said Lawn. The newly passed law, set to take effect next year, has been the subject of much public debate, said Lawn. He has taped interviews in Costa Rica, a nation with friendly online gambling laws where many companies are based, as well as Gibraltar, a European haven for the burgeoning industry. "We came to speak to David because of his involvement and expertise in this issue," Lawn said. Robertson is also a board member of the National Coalition Against Legalized Gambling. He said he got involved in the issue in 1993, when Nevada casino gambling companies were seeking to expand to other states.

"I love my state, and I didn't want to see casino gambling here," he said. "It would completely change the whole tenor of what Wyoming is. Gambling brings in crime, lowlifes and corruption, and people don't want it here."

Robertson said he also had personal reasons for opposing gambling, after a cousin suffered financial ruin following a long bout of compulsive betting.

"I've seen what it can do," he said.

He credits work by organizations like WyBETT and NCALG in getting recent federal legislation passed banning U.S. banks from engaging in financial transactions with online casinos.

Robertson also praised the arrests this year of two British online gambling executives visiting the U.S.

Lawn said some in the U.K. see such enforcement actions as a prohibition by the American government on how British gamblers may place their bets.

Robertson said online gambling is too addictive to be made legal.

"It's so addictive because it brings a casino right into the home," he said. "It brings about suicide, bankruptcy and crimes to support the habit. It destroys families and destroys individuals. I can't say it any plainer than that.

"If Internet gambling were legalized in the U.S., the economy would have the effect of a major recession. It would create so many addicts, and be devastating," he said.

Some of the arguments he makes against online and casino gambling also apply to a state-run lottery, Robertson said.

"Why in the world would the government want to sponsor and tax something that would cause so much damage?" he asked. "The government has some responsibility to provide for the common good."

Rep. Pat Childers, R-Cody, co-chair of the Joint Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Interim Committee, said opinion polls have shown that while residents are against casino gambling, they support a lottery.

One recent poll showed that 62 percent of state voters support a lottery, according to the Casper Star-Tribune.

Childers' committee endorsed last week a bill that would allow Wyoming to join a multistate lottery.

Other legislation endorsed by the committee would establish a state gambling commission to oversee games like bingo, and set ground rules for churches and other nonprofits using such games for fundraisers.

Expected to net less than $10 million a year, the lottery would not be a big moneymaker for the state, said Childers.

"It's about those people in the state that want it, that are already playing it, and who don't want to have to drive out of state to do it," he said.

"The biggest sales point in Colorado for the multistate lottery is the first little store south of Cheyenne," he said, adding that Wyoming residents are also big lottery players along the Nebraska border and in Belfry and Billings in Montana.

Childers said the bill includes a provision for spending up to 1 percent of gross proceeds to fund community-based gambling addiction treatment programs.

"I think it makes a lottery a lot more palatable to most people, knowing we're going to dedicate some money to take care of the problems that might come with it," he said.

Childers said that, besides the lottery, there are no plans to expand gambling in the state.

But trying to stop online gambling through state or federal legislation is difficult, if not impossible, he said.

Centrebet wagers on a Democrat change to online gambling laws

 

CENTREBET chairman Graham Kelly yesterday questioned whether the new US internet gambling laws would be enacted under a new Democrat-led Congress, after he indicated that the company might exceed its 2007 financial year forecast. Speaking at the company's first annual general meeting since listing in July, Mr Kelly said that trading had started "strongly in FY 2007 for the four months up to October 2006 and we remain ahead of our forecasts". The waging and gaming company finished the last financial year 8 per cent above its prospectus forecast. Mr Kelly talked up the company's prospects in the 2007 financial year, underpinned by what he described as "a defined strategy" of cross-selling gaming products to existing clients, mobile phone betting, affiliate programs and expansion into Spain. He said later: "We are ahead of them (2007 prospectus forecasts) at the moment and frankly I see no reason why that will change." Centrebet previously flagged a 2007 net profit after tax of $11.6 million. Mr Kelly said he was disappointed the stock was not trading above its $2 issue price, blaming it on an excessive response to the new US Internet Gambling Enforcement action legislation, "notwithstanding the fact that we have never targeted the US". He reiterated that Centrebet would not be affected by the US gaming laws, which prohibited banks from making or taking payments from locals within online gaming operators. He questioned whether the new gaming laws would stand under a Democrat-led Congress. "That legislation was enacted by a Republican Congress whether that legislation will be enacted when the new congress assembles will be a very different matter," he said. "One should not necessarily assume that will stay the same in the US." Mr Kelly said that while being listed made the company more vulnerable to a takeover, it too was on the look out for "opportunities".

Managing director Con Kafataris said Centrebet was in discussions with some partners in Asia.

Mr Kelly highlighted the company's potential in the mobile phone betting arena, described as the "fastest growing sector".

AGA TO PUSH FOR ONLINE GAMBLING STUDY PROJECT?

 

The American Gaming Association's board of directors will meet next month to consider whether to lobby the next [Democrat-controlled] US Congress to establish an independent research study of Internet gambling policy. "The board will consider whether or not to support legislation in the new Congress calling for an independent study of Internet gambling to see if it can be properly regulated, controlled, taxed and licensed here in the United States," said AGA President Frank Fahrenkopf. "My guess is that they (the board) are going to say let's go ahead and do it." Representing the U.S. commercial casino industry, the AGA strongly opposed Internet gambling throughout the late 90's, but its position grew unclear after the turn of the century. "Our policy changed back in April when we took a position that we thought the best way to go was to have an independent commission look at it," said Fahrenkopf.AGA board members who will meet in Las Vegas on December 6 to discuss the matter include MGM Mirage CEO Terri Lanni, Boyd Gaming CEO William Boyd, Harrah's Entertainment CEO Gary Loveman and Wynn Resorts CEO Stephen Wynn, among others. In May of 2006, Nevada Representatives Jon Porter and Shelly Berkley introduced a bill calling for the creation of a Congressional Internet Gaming Study Commission as an alternative to legislation aimed at prohibiting online gambling in the U.S., but the bill made little headway. Both Porter and Berkley won re-election last week.

Fahrenkopf said the last time the AGA revisited the issue it preferred to have the study conducted by the National Academy of Sciences rather than by a Congressional Commission so that the researchers are devoid of lobbying influence.

"If it came back saying that it can be regulated and controlled then we would then take the next step I assume, and see if we couldn't get some support for legalization by states" he added. "But that's a long way down the road."

Legislation aimed at prohibiting Internet gambling financial transactions in the U.S. was signed into law last month amid heavy criticism.

Online gambling group 888 says non-U.S. gaming revenue rose 20 percent

 

Online gambling group 888 Holdings PLC, which is in talks with bookmaker Ladbrokes about a possible sale of the business, said Tuesday that net gaming revenue at its non-U.S. operations rose 20 percent in the third quarter. Income from non-U.S. business rose to US$38 million (?29.6 million) in the three months through Sept. 30 compared with US$32 million in the same period a year earlier, the company said in a statement. 888 is trying to prop up its business after the United States effectively banned Internet gaming. The company was among several London-listed gaming groups to close or sell their American business after U.S. Congress added to an unrelated bill a provision that would make it illegal for banks and credit-card companies to settle payments for online gambling sites. "Despite the suspension of our real money gaming operations in the U.S., following the enactment of the Safe Ports Act in October 2006, our business continues to be sound and exhibit healthy growth in non-U.S. regions," Chief Executive John Anderson said.

GLOBAL GAMING EXPO WILL MISS INTERNET GAMBLING EXECS

 

Dow Jones Newswire reports that against a background of full hotels and an influx of gambling industry bosses, the absence of online gambling will be noticed at the Global Gaming Expo this week. Commenting on the absence of online gambling at the AGA conference, Dow Jones says that it is one source of possible growth that the big names had been eyeing, but that it seems to have crapped out, at least for the foreseeable future. It remarks that many top industry leaders, among them MGM Mirage's Terry Lanni, had been agitating to get Internet wagering legalised and regulated so they could get their share of the billions of dollars that were going offshore in the industry due to the position taken by US legislation. "Executives at those [online gambling] companies....may be sparse on the ground at this week's festivities. The recent arrest of former BetonSports.com Chief Executive David Carruthers as he was changing planes in Dallas has made most, if not all of them, unwilling to visit the United States under current circumstances," the article points out. While the Democratic takeover of Congress has raised some optimism that there might be progress in easing the ban, at least one e-gambling expert doesn't think so, adds the report, going on to quote gambling law expert Anthony Cabot who opines: "Anytime you have anti-gambling legislation passed, it is very difficult for a legislator to seek a repeal." The public-relations price for being tagged as pro-gambling is just too high, he continued: "Even the person who introduced the bill [to legalise gambling in Nevada] got voted out of office."

He believes that one immediate consequence will be "far less participation in land-based poker tournaments, since the majority of the players come from online tournaments. The World Series of Poker will be interesting to watch next year."

The new law and Carruthers' arrest are also muting turnout at the convention, although a representative for the American Gaming Association was quick to point out that overall exhibitor and visitation levels are still expected to be higher than last year.

"We've had about five companies out of 15 drop out on the exhibitor side, but our [Internet] pavilion is still robust," said spokeswoman Holly Thomsen. "On the attendee side, it's hard to gauge the impact. ... We're sure there will be some drop-off as well based on what's going on."

She noted that the trade show has never allowed actual e-gaming companies to exhibit; their suppliers were permitted.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Warren police deal gambling blow

 

City police and federal law enforcement drew a royal flush Saturday when they bet the house on a raid that folded an underground poker game. Six months after learning that high-stakes, invitation only Texas Hold 'Em games might be occurring in Warren, local police - with the help of federal authorities - raided a Woodland Street N.E. building early Saturday morning, finding and taking a large amount of cash and poker-related items. ''We received information about some gambling going on over time, so we conducted an investigation,'' said Warren police detective Jeffrey Hoolihan, who led the investigation. Hoolihan said the investigation is continuing. It's unclear at this point what charges may be filed. No one was arrested Saturday. That investigation brought police and the FBI to Cox Contracting Inc., 715 Woodland St. N.E., where they found some 13 players bellied up to two tables, some drinking beers and playing Texas Hold 'Em, a version of poker that has gained immense popularity in recent years due in part to television coverage of high money tournaments across the United States. The owner of Cox Construction did not return a message seeking comment. Warren Municipal Judge Thomas Gysegem signed the warrant Thursday. The raid happened at 1:05 a.m. Saturday.

According to the office of Attorney General Jim Petro, Texas Hold 'em is considered a game of chance, defined by Ohio law as a ''game in which a player gives anything of value in the hope of gain, the outcome of which is determined largely by chance.'' The good news for many players is that home games are perfectly legal as long as the house doesn't take a cut and any money bet is paid out to the winners.

The bad news in this case, police say, is that the operator was taking a cut of the money bet and charging a buy-in for players to participate.

According to police, the buy-in to participate was $100 between 7 and 9 p.m. and $200 after 9 p.m. Police believe the invitation-only game was dealt held on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and one day during the week, and, since May, between 50 and 60 different players participated.

Police seized two tables, a number of chips and cards, more than $15,000 in cash and other gambling-related items, Hoolihan said.

Gambling ban ends with poker tourney

 

Britain-based betting exchange Betfair, has teamed up with local operators Capital Events for the six-day Asian Poker Tour. More than 370 players have paid the $US5000 buy-in for the main event which begins on Wednesday at the Meritus Mandarin Hotel. Qualifying starts today, and players from 32 countries, including Singapore, will be after the prize pool of about $US2 million, the company said. "Betfair has become the first gaming company permitted to present a poker tournament in Singapore," the company said in an earlier statement. The Straits Times newspaper quoted Oliver Chong, an official of the Singapore Tourism Board, as saying the event brings "significant opportunities to profile Singapore." The city-state is a majority ethnic Chinese country where betting is allowed through official outlets. Last year Singapore lifted a four-decade ban on casinos despite strong domestic opposition, saying two planned casino projects would boost the tourism sector and draw more visitors. Singapore awarded Las Vegas Sands a licence to build one casino development, which is to open in 2009. The winner of the second licence is to be announced next month.

A detailed, but tediously written, roundup on gambling

 

People will gamble even if you don't let them. And if you want to earn a living off other people's wagers, the odds are in your favor. The world never lacks for corrupt public officials and clueless gamblers, both of whom will help you toward your goal. Those are three of the lessons of Roll the Bones: The History of Gambling, David G. Schwartz's remarkably detailed but unremarkably written history of games of chance. This book covers thousands of years and a large chunk of the globe in its pursuit of morsels of information. The locales are exotic, with extended stays in places such as Monte Carlo. Schwartz starts with the ancients and works his way to Atlantic City (his birthplace) and beyond. Famous characters - from Augustus Caesar and Mark Antony to Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy to Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley - wander on and off the stage. There's also a colorful supporting cast. "Honest" John Kelly, for example, was a small-time gambler/grifter from Iowa who left a diary that followed his up-and-down adventures, which never quite led to the wealth or respectability he sought. At his dying moment, after collapsing at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair, he said to his wife: "I almost was a big shot." Schwartz, a University of Pennsylvania graduate now at the Center for Gaming Research in Las Vegas, doesn't neglect the big picture. Ambivalence toward gambling is a theme that runs through Roll the Bones. The pattern is a common one: Community (or state or nation) embraces gambling, then shuns it, taking steps to ban it before letting it crawl back in. Even when the debate finally seemed to be over, it rarely is. Schwartz perceives that the current tide is toward a full embrace of casinos, lotteries, horse racing and other gambling. Governments might not like them, but they can't afford to discard the revenue from taxes and tourism. The path toward acceptance has been smoothed by those who have turned betting from a seedy vice into a solidly American pastime. "Harrah," Schwartz writes of casino operator William Fisk Harrah, "had a simple philosophy: Provide a pleasant atmosphere for middle-income gamblers, and let the house advantage take care of the rest." Steve Wynn is saluted for trying to be innovative, attracting gamblers by making his casinos spectacular. The book concludes with the opening of Wynn Las Vegas last year, and the author treats that event as if it were meant to give his book an appropriate ending. "A perceptive visitor," he writes, "walking through the property, could see the resort as the culmination of 7,000 years of gambling history."

That's a bit over the top, and it stands out because Schwartz is generally restrained, probably too much so. Roll the Bones certainly didn't need to read like The Green Felt Jungle, the brutal and breathless 1963 expose of Las Vegas, but there's a sameness to Schwartz's writing that weighs it down at times.

That's particularly true near the end of the book when the author is bouncing from nation to nation, writing about the recent worldwide boom in gambling by talking about casino after casino. At that point, switching gears and going off on some interesting tangents - there's little or nothing on Gamblers Anonymous, portrayals of gambling in American culture, or the universality of NCAA basketball office pools every March - might have made the book more readable.

23 charged in Singapore consulate gambling scam

 

All 23 people charged with offences relating to an illegal gambling den at Senegal's consulate in Singapore have posted bail and are scheduled to return to court, news reports said yesterday. The five people accused of assisting in managing the consulate's premises as a gambling house each posted S$20,000 ($19,600) bail on Friday and were scheduled to return to court on December 8. They include retired businessman Tan Kim Sing, 59; logistics officer Leong Choon Kwai, 34; Johnson Lim Boon Wah, 32; Lee Swee Keong, 32; and Ang Poon Beng, 48, according to The Straits Times report. Police raided the five-storey consulate building on November 3 and found three of its meetings rooms had baccarat tables and the fourth was being used as a bedroom. The consulate was doubling as an illegal casino, packing in up to 100 enthusiasts a night, with bets ranging from a minimum S$100 ($64) up to S$30,000. Another three men and 15 women, mostly Indonesians, were released on S$10,000-bail after indicating they wanted to plead guilty to helping manage the casino as card dealers and dice tossers, the report said. They are scheduled to return to court on November 17. All 23 face fines of between S$5,000 and 50,000 and up to three years in prison. Benny Kusni, the honorary consul, is out on bail of S$10,000. The 36-year-old Indonesian had earlier insisted he knew nothing about the den and only handled visa matters at the consulate. International conventions do not grant honorary consuls immunity from local authorities.

Gambling addiction trapping women

 

As the rain whips leaves against the window, 10 women gathered around a conference room table describe how gambling destroyed their lives. "I went through my daughter's college fund," says one. "I've committed crimes, stolen from employers, lost $100,000," says another. "My mother, who was dying of cancer, came to the casino at 4 a.m. to get me," says a third. "I was in a casino when she died." Collectively, the members of this confidential support group have gambled away $3 million. They've hocked jewelry, lied to their husbands, stolen from friends, threatened suicide. Before they blew their savings and mortgage on video poker and line games, they worked as writers and office managers, and instructed new lawyers. For the first time since 1995, when researchers began studying Oregonians' gambling patterns, more women are seeking treatment for addiction than men. The most high-profile Portland-area case is Elma Magkamit, the former West Linn finance director who will be sentenced this week for stealing $1.4 million from city funds to feed her slot-machine addiction. Magkamit's game of choice was not unusual, experts say. Women prefer the privacy of video slots to card games, sports betting or other forms of gambling that men typically pursue. And since last year, when the Oregon Lottery legalized video line games, the machines are easier to find. That worries addiction counselors, who say the number of women seeking treatment will increase. "We're just beginning to see the slots players coming into treatment," said Peter Walsh, program manager at Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare, which treats problem gamblers. "You don't have to go to the Coast; you can go to the corner restaurant or delicatessen, and each is like a minicasino in itself." Oregon appears to be mirroring an international trend, said Rachel Volberg, president of Gemini Research, a company that specializes in studies of gambling and problem gambling. She said the number of women calling gambling addiction help lines in the United States and abroad has increased in the past five years. "Part of it probably is a function of more women gambling," she said, "but I think it's also a function of the problem gambling advocacy community getting the word out to people." In many ways, Magkamit, 53, fits the profile of a typical problem gambler in Oregon, studies show: Most are between 45 and 54 years old, married, have attended college and earn $50,000 or more a year in a professional or technical field.

Ohio Voters Think Gambling Bad Bet

 

By a lopsided margin, Ohio voters once more have turned down a proposal to allow video gambling at racetracks and a few other locations in the state. Last week's referendum on the issue marked the third time that voters have said no to gambling beyond that allowed through the state lottery system. What went wrong for gambling promoters? They spent an estimated $20 million attempting to convince voters that gambling was a good bet for Ohio. They promised that hundreds of millions of dollars a year would be made available for college scholarships. For good measure, they threw in millions of dollars for economic development. They really thought they had the battle won, this time. But they underestimated the perceptiveness of voters who saw through the slick advertising, including claims that, somehow, legalized gambling would remedy problems "the politicians" had not addressed. They saw that Issue 3 on the ballot would have locked the state in to receiving less than a fair share of proceeds from gambling. Had it been approved, gambling promoters would have been permitted to keep 55 percent of the proceeds from their casinos. Supporters of legalized gambling were in shock after the election. Where did they go wrong? Simple: They attempted to pull a fast one on voters - who read between the lines and didn't fall for it.

Warren police deal gambling blow

 

City police and federal law enforcement drew a royal flush Saturday when they bet the house on a raid that folded an underground poker game. Six months after learning that high-stakes, invitation only Texas Hold 'Em games might be occurring in Warren, local police - with the help of federal authorities - raided a Woodland Street N.E. building early Saturday morning, finding and taking a large amount of cash and poker-related items. ''We received information about some gambling going on over time, so we conducted an investigation,'' said Warren police detective Jeffrey Hoolihan, who led the investigation. Hoolihan said the investigation is continuing. It's unclear at this point what charges may be filed. No one was arrested Saturday. That investigation brought police and the FBI to Cox Contracting Inc., 715 Woodland St. N.E., where they found some 13 players bellied up to two tables, some drinking beers and playing Texas Hold 'Em, a version of poker that has gained immense popularity in recent years due in part to television coverage of high money tournaments across the United States. The owner of Cox Construction did not return a message seeking comment. Warren Municipal Judge Thomas Gysegem signed the warrant Thursday. The raid happened at 1:05 a.m. Saturday.

According to the office of Attorney General Jim Petro, Texas Hold 'em is considered a game of chance, defined by Ohio law as a ''game in which a player gives anything of value in the hope of gain, the outcome of which is determined largely by chance.'' The good news for many players is that home games are perfectly legal as long as the house doesn't take a cut and any money bet is paid out to the winners.

The bad news in this case, police say, is that the operator was taking a cut of the money bet and charging a buy-in for players to participate.

According to police, the buy-in to participate was $100 between 7 and 9 p.m. and $200 after 9 p.m. Police believe the invitation-only game was dealt held on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and one day during the week, and, since May, between 50 and 60 different players participated.

Police seized two tables, a number of chips and cards, more than $15,000 in cash and other gambling-related items, Hoolihan said.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Clear Channel Bids Due, Gets Subpoena Over Gambling Ads

 

Bids to potentially take Clear Channel Communications private are reported to be due either today or Monday, according to Reuters sources. The Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal have reported that the final bids could potentially lead to a deal being announced as soon as next week. Last month, amid speculation, Clear Channel announced it was "considering strategic alternatives to enhance shareholder value" and also retained Goldman, Sachs & Co. as its financial advisor for any such talks. In other Clear Channel news, the company has received a subpoena from the U.S. Attorney in New York about stations running ads for offshore and online gambling. CC revealed it had received the inquisition in a regulatory filing yesterday. The company received a similar subpoena in 2003 in Missouri, asking for details on ads ran for sports bookmakers and other gambling businesses. A CC spokeswoman told Bloomberg the company "is cooperating with the subpoena."

All 23 charged in Senegal consulate gambling scandal post bail

 

All 23 people charged with offences relating to an illegal gambling den at Senegal's consulate in Singapore have posted bail and are scheduled to return to court, news reports said on Saturday. The five people accused of assisting in managing the consulate's premises as a gambling house each posted 20,000 Singapore dollars (19,600 US dollars) bail on Friday and were scheduled to return to court on December 8. Police raided the five-storey consulate building on November 3 and found three of its meetings rooms had baccarat tables and the fourth was being used as a bedroom. The consulate was doubling as an illegal casino, packing in up to 100 enthusiasts a night, with bets ranging from a minimum 100 Singapore dollars (64 US dollars) up to 30,000 Singapore dollars (19,600 US dollars). Another three men and 15 women, mostly Indonesians, were released on 10,000-Singapore-dollars (6,369 US) bail after indicating they wanted to plead guilty to helping manage the casino as card dealers and dice tossers, the report said. They are scheduled to return to court on November 17. All 23 face fines of between 5,000 Singapore dollars (3,184 US) and 50,000 Singapore dollars (31,847 US) and up to three years in prison. Benny Kusni, the honorary consul, is out on bail of 10,000 Singapore dollars (6,369 US). The 36-year-old Indonesian had earlier insisted he knew nothing about the den and only handled visa matters at the consulate. International conventions to not grant honorary consults immunity from local authorities.

Wife of Chiayi gov't official detained in Web gambling scam

 

Deputy city council speaker Chiu Fang-chin of Chiayi, southern Taiwan, and his wife Chen Chiu-kuei were allegedly engaged in operating a multinational online gambling Web site in cooperation with other people, prosecutors said yesterday. Chiu was released after being interrogated by prosecutors on his alleged role in the case, due mainly to the Chiayi City Council still having a session. But his wife was detained lest she should collude with other suspects or ruin relevant evidence. On Friday, prosecutors questioned 12 suspects associated with a multinational money laundering gang and seized computer information related to the operations of the betting Web site. Prosecutors were also tipped that some computer systems were moved and some betting account books were ruined before they moved to raid the residences and offices of relevant suspects in the case. Prosecutors found that there were quite a few heavyweight political figures, mainly elected people's representatives such as lawmakers, involved in the scandal. In fact, prosecutors and investigators busted, in March this year, a multinational money laundering gang named "Hua Yuan Chang Group" headed by Lu Po-hsien, who used to be the "Banker-in-Chief" for the underground "Mark Six" betting operations across the Taiwan Strait, confiscating over NT$500 million in stakes and promissory banknotes valued at over NT$10 billion. Lu has been detained ever since. In the process of investigating Lu's account books in the following six months, Chiayi prosecutors found that Chen Ying-chu, the largest banker for online betting operations in Chinese communities around the world, and deputy city council speaker Chiu Fang-chin, were also involved in the case. Chen Ying-chu operates two general gambling Web sites abroad to handle all kinds of betting operations from Chinese gamblers, with Chiu Fang-chin serving as Chen's general agent in Taiwan. If the stakes were for Hong Kong's "Mark Six" lottery ticket numbers, the stakes were usually switched to Lu Po-hsien. Prosecutors found that Chen's gambling Web sites have mainly zeroed in on international baseball games, basketball games, soccer games, among others, with their daily stakes amounting to over NT$2 billion. But Chen told prosecutors that he didn't operate any gambling Web sites abroad or conduct money laundering via the "Hua Yuan Chang" Group. Meanwhile, Chiu Fang-chin stressed that he didn't get involved in the case as he didn't know how to gamble.

Both were released after interrogations by prosecutors.

But prosecutors decided to detain Chiu fang-chin's wife Chen Chiu-kuei on grounds that they seized concrete evidence attesting to her involvement in the multinational gambling scam.

U.S. Permanently Bans U.K. Gambling Site BetOnSports

 

U.K. online gambling site BetOnSports on Thursday settled civil charges filed by U.S. prosecutors, agreeing to permanently ban any wagers placed from the U.S., the Associated Press reported. The settlement does not apply to separate criminal charges the U.S. brought against BetOnSports CEO David Carruthers, who was arrested while traveling through the U.S. in July, and other BetOnSports employees. Carruthers, who is currently under house arrest in Missouri, will face fraud and racketeering charges in a trial slated to begin in early 2007. As part of the civil settlement, BetOnSports will set up a toll-free number to inform U.S. bettors how they can reclaim unsettled bets. The company must also take out a newspaper ad telling consumers that it will no longer accept U.S. bets, and post similar statements on its websites.

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes wedding: Gambling site favors Scientology as the ceremony to be performed

 

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes will be getting married in Italy some time next week in some secret location. But an even bigger secret might be which ceremony is going to be performed at the wedding. One gambling website, Bodog.com (see website here) has released odds on which ceremoney will be performed with Scientology the 1 to 10 favorite. Don't count out Catholic though. Katie Holmes is not a practicing Scientologist. She is in fact Catholic. Vatican officials pondered the conundrum of whether to grant a Roman Catholic wedding to a divorced celebrity and prominent Scientologist, amid feverish speculation yesterday over Tom Cruise's imminent marriage to Katie Holmes - somewhere in Italy. Latest reports suggest that the 44-year-old star will marry Holmes, 27, at a medieval castle overlooking Lake Bracciano, north of Rome, at the end of next week.

FA to probe gambling habits of managers

 

It is understood that a former employee of the offshore bookmakers Victor Chandler made the accusations about four managers, one of whose bets totaled 12 million pounds in one year. Various claims were also made about the gambling habits of various Premiership players. FA rules forbid any player or manager to bet on any game in a competition in which they are involved. An FA spokesperson said: "We will investigate these reports to see if there has been any breach of our regulations and we would welcome any information that would help our inquiries." The news comes days after a report suggested that number of players were addicted to on-line gambling and pornography.

Clear Channel Bids Due, Gets Subpoena Over Gambling Ads

 

Bids to potentially take Clear Channel Communications private are reported to be due either today or Monday, according to Reuters sources. The Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal have reported that the final bids could potentially lead to a deal being announced as soon as next week. Last month, amid speculation, Clear Channel announced it was "considering strategic alternatives to enhance shareholder value" and also retained Goldman, Sachs & Co. as its financial advisor for any such talks. In other Clear Channel news, the company has received a subpoena from the U.S. Attorney in New York about stations running ads for offshore and online gambling. CC revealed it had received the inquisition in a regulatory filing yesterday. The company received a similar subpoena in 2003 in Missouri, asking for details on ads ran for sports bookmakers and other gambling businesses. A CC spokeswoman told Bloomberg the company "is cooperating with the subpoena."

All 23 charged in Senegal consulate gambling scandal post bail

 

All 23 people charged with offences relating to an illegal gambling den at Senegal's consulate in Singapore have posted bail and are scheduled to return to court, news reports said on Saturday. The five people accused of assisting in managing the consulate's premises as a gambling house each posted 20,000 Singapore dollars (19,600 US dollars) bail on Friday and were scheduled to return to court on December 8. Police raided the five-storey consulate building on November 3 and found three of its meetings rooms had baccarat tables and the fourth was being used as a bedroom. The consulate was doubling as an illegal casino, packing in up to 100 enthusiasts a night, with bets ranging from a minimum 100 Singapore dollars (64 US dollars) up to 30,000 Singapore dollars (19,600 US dollars). Another three men and 15 women, mostly Indonesians, were released on 10,000-Singapore-dollars (6,369 US) bail after indicating they wanted to plead guilty to helping manage the casino as card dealers and dice tossers, the report said. They are scheduled to return to court on November 17. All 23 face fines of between 5,000 Singapore dollars (3,184 US) and 50,000 Singapore dollars (31,847 US) and up to three years in prison. Benny Kusni, the honorary consul, is out on bail of 10,000 Singapore dollars (6,369 US). The 36-year-old Indonesian had earlier insisted he knew nothing about the den and only handled visa matters at the consulate. International conventions to not grant honorary consults immunity from local authorities.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Two charged in VFW arson Commander Mudd, his girlfriend allegedly set blaze, ran illegal gambling business

 

The commander of the Bowling Green Veterans of Foreign Wars Post and his girlfriend have been charged federally with arson and running an illegal gambling business. Donald Mudd, 65, and Martha Towe, 53, both of 600 Fairway St., also are accused of money laundering, illegal structuring of monetary transactions and mail fraud. The couple was indicted Wednesday by a U.S. District Court grand jury in Bowling Green, following a three-year investigation. Mudd was taken into custody Thursday at VFW Post 1268 on Ky. 185. Towe was at home when she was arrested. Mudd has worked a long time in the community supporting veterans' causes and is innocent, said his attorney John L. Caudill, of Louisville. "We vehemently deny the charges," Caudill said. "There's a big difference between an indictment and proving someone guilty in court. We'll see if the government cases holds up in court and under rigorous cross examination." Following the investigation, it was determined that Mudd was responsible for the Aug. 13, 2003, fire that destroyed the Lt. Harold R. Cornell VFW Post No. 1298, said Kevin Kelm, resident agent in charge at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in Bowling Green. After determining the fire at the post was arson, the question then became why, Kelm said. "The signs at the fire that it was intentionally set were pretty obvious," Kelm said, but declined to provide any detail. The ATF then worked with the Bowling Green Fire Department, the Office of Charitable Gaming and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations Division, said ATF Louisville Special Agent in Charge Paul Vido.

"The ATF Arson Task Force developed a lead indicating illegal gambling appeared to be the motive behind the arson," he said.

The fire was started five days before a scheduled audit of the charitable gaming records by the state Office of Charitable Gaming, Kelm said.

Investigators said Mudd and Towe operated an illegal gambling business at the post, while they were managing semi-weekly legal bingo games at the post. There were also pull tabs and video slot machines, which both were for the sole financial benefit of Towe and Mudd.

The video slot machines are illegal in Kentucky, according to the indictment.

Kelm said after causing the fire, Mudd created a personal account in the name of the post and diverted at least part insurance proceeds from the fire for his own benefit, Kelm said. Westport Insurance Corp. issued a check for $246,688 to the VFW post after the fire.

The indictment lists a total of $16,822.16 from the insurance settlement that Mudd put into an money market account for himself under the post's name.

The money from the insurance proceeds was used to purchase a John Deere riding lawn mower, a 42-inch plasma television and a Browning Gun Safe, he said.

Mudd and Towe illegally structured their financial transactions so the bank would not have to report them. Federal reporting requires that banking activities over $10,000 be reported.

They had on several occasions purchased cashier's checks from between $8,000 to $9,500 in value and most were purchased by Towe. There was also $31,000 spent in 2001 to build an addition on the Fairway Street home and another $45,305.63 payment to build the home in 2000 - money which was from illegal gambling proceeds, according to the indictment.

Federal agents from the ATF and IRS went through the Fairway Street residence on March 15 and the search warrant said they were looking for documents relating to an attempt to evade income tax, fraud and false statements, money laundering and structuring transactions to avoid federal reporting requirements.

The statutes being used to prosecute this case are some of the harshest and most punitive in the federal legal code, Caudill said. They were designed for the major criminal investigations, not against people like Mudd and Towe.

"This is a questionable use of federal law enforcement resources," he said.

There was barely enough gaming at the VFW post to keep it going and definitely not enough to justify these charges, Caudill said.

Mudd and Towe appeared Thursday before a U.S. District magistrate judge in Owensboro.

The U.S. Attorney did not seek detention of Mudd or Towe during Thursday's hearing, Caudill said. There was no answer at their home this morning.

The two are scheduled to be arraigned Nov. 22 in Bowling Green.

Mudd and Towe were indicted on the last session of a grand jury that had been seated for 18 months, Kelm said.

Prosecutors decided they didn't want to take this complex a case before a new grand jury panel, he said.

If convicted, Mudd and Towe are each facing maximum potential penalties of 25 years in prison, a $750,000 fine and supervised release for a period of six years.

In addition, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Louisville is also seeking forfeiture of the couple's Fairway Street home, a 2002 Mercedes Benz convertible, a 2004 Harley-Davidson motorcycle, a 2006 Chevrolet HHR, a 2003 Toyota Camry and $31,718, according to the indictment.

The indictment states that Mudd and Towe conspired in their efforts with other persons known to the grand jury. The indictment said the conspiracy involved five or more people, but did not name those people.

Kelm said he could not comment about whether others would be charged or have been targets in the investigation.

"The investigation continues," he said.

The issues with Mudd and Towe do not extend to the rest of the VFW post and members, Kelm said.

State pulls back on taking gambling machines

 

Three days after the Ohio Investigative Unit issued a moratorium telling liquor permit holders to remove their Tic Tac Fruit machines from their premises by Saturday, a Franklin County Judge granted a restraining order against the Ohio Department of Public Safety that prevents the unit from seizing the gambling machines until the issue is considered in Franklin County Common Pleas Court in December. The order was granted Thursday, according to Scott Pohlman, deputy director of the Ohio Investigative Unit. The restraining order was sought after by Columbus attorney Kurt O. Gearhiser, who is representing the Fraternal Order of Eagles of Pomeroy, Ohio Skill Games, Inc. of Columbus, Jeff Mayle of Columbus, George Georgekopoulos of Akron and Elite Entertainment, Inc. of Akron, according to a court document. "After reviewing the Attorney General opinion and discussing it with our legal advisors we do not agree with the Attorney General's opinion and Ohio Skill Games is still committed to defending the machine in court. The Attorney General opinion is only that 'an opinion' and is not legally binding on any court." "I don't know if that would prevent local law enforcement from conducting an investigation," Pohlman said. Dayton police could not be immediately reached for comment. The state unit, which is under the umbrella of the public safety department, issued the moratorium after Attorney General Jim Petro issued a formal opinion last week that said the electronic tic tac toe machines are "schemes of chance" and therefore prohibited by state law.

Internet Gambling Company Leaving United States

 

One of the biggest Internet gambling companies in the world has decided to leave the United States market. BetOnSports has settled a federal civil lawsuit filed in St. Louis by promising refunds to customers and cooperation in a separate criminal case. BetOnSports will ban accepting United States bets through all of its Web sites and telephone numbers. The company also has to turn over records that criminal prosecutors want to see.

Gambling Operaton Used Market, Police Say

 

It was called "Operation Rotten Apple," and New York City police and prosecutors said today that there was indeed something rotten - in the form of a mob-run sports betting operation - in the Big Apple's wholesale produce market at Hunts Point in the Bronx. The operation uncovered a relatively modest gambling ring generating about $200,000 a year in profits, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said today at a news conference to announce the arrests of 11 members of the ring. But, Mr. Kelly said, the second in command of the betting ring was John Caggiano, an associate of the Genovese organized-crime family, who also owns and operates C&S Wholesale Produce Inc., one of the market's biggest produce wholesalers. Although the city requires wholesalers at the market to show "good character, honesty and integrity," Thomas McCormack, chairman of the city's Business Integrity Commission, said at the news conference, Mr. Caggiano's company continues to operate out of the market, despite his arrest. "They are entitled to due process," said Dan Castleman, the chief of investigations for the Manhattan district attorney, Robert M. Morgenthau. Mr. Caggiano, who lives on Country Club Road in the Bronx, is the son-in-law of Dominick Cirillo, the former acting boss of the Genovese family, prosecutors said today. His boss in the gambling ring, prosecutors said, was Ralph Balsamo of Pelham Manor, a solider in the Genovese family who is incarcerated on unrelated federal racketeering charges. "The size of this operation is not particularly significant," Mr. Kelly said. "What concerned us was organized crime trying to get a foothold into the Hunts Point market."

Mr. Balsamo, Mr. Caggiano and six others have been indicted for enterprise corruption, a felony that can be punished by 25 years in prison. Another member of the ring, Salvatore DiPietro, has been indicted for criminal usury, and two others, Michael DiStasio and Ronald Seebeck, have been charged with promoting gambling.

The gambling ring was open to employees, customers and anyone who stopped by the Hunts Point Cooperative Market and the New York City Terminal Produce Cooperative Market in the Bronx, officials said. The two markets are distribution points for fruit and vegetables, as well as meat products, brought from all over the country and distributed throughout the city.

FA to probe gambling habits of managers

 

The Football Association (FA) is to investigate allegations made by a former bookmaker that several Premiership managers have placed bets on top-flight fixtures. It is understood that a former employee of the offshore bookmakers Victor Chandler made the accusations about four managers, one of whose bets totaled 12 million pounds in one year. Various claims were also made about the gambling habits of various Premiership players. FA rules forbid any player or manager to bet on any game in a competition in which they are involved. An FA spokesperson said: "We will investigate these reports to see if there has been any breach of our regulations and we would welcome any information that would help our inquiries." The news comes days after a report suggested that number of players were addicted to on-line gambling and pornography.

Afternic nixes gambling and adult domains

 

In a bold and industry-leading move, domain name aftermarket Afternic has decided to stop brokering adult, gambling, violence, and other vice domains. This is just the latest in series of actions that have limited the value of adult and gambling domains. Most major advertising feeds don't support these industries, and last month internet gambling took a hit in the United States with the arrest of a key player in a prominent British gambling site. Afternic's decision seems to be a rapid departure from past actions, including offering a large portfolio of gambling domains on behalf of one its clients. The company says the goal is to make Afternicand the domain industry more inviting to small businesses and others that might be offended by some of the domains listed on its exchange. Afternic wants to further legitimize the industry. In an email to customers, Afternic president Roger Collins wrote: We hope that they, and others, will understand that we have no interest in censorship and that we fully support First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and expression. And, there is certainly no lack of other Internet sites where such names are welcomed. The Internet, much like the early days of television, is still a new frontier. We believe it is up to the industry leaders-and we include Afternic here-to step up and determine what constitutes professional standards and practices. We take this action in the interest of socially responsible corporate behavior and hope that it leads to further healthy industry dialog and discussion on the topic. Other major sites, including Sedoand DNForum, still allow the sale of gambling and adult domains. It will be interesting to see if other companies follow Afternic's lead, and if domain aftermarkets also start to pull clear trademark and typo domains from their listings.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

VFW commander indicted for arson, illegal gambling

 

The commander of Veterans of Foreign Wars post 1298 has been indicted on an arson charge for allegedly setting a fire in August that destroyed the Bowling Green building where the group met. Donald Mudd also was indicted on gambling charges, according to a news release issued by the Kentucky Office of Charitable Gaming. Martha Towe, who allegedly helped Mudd operate an illegal gambling business at the VFW hall, also was indicted on gambling-related charges. According to the federal indictment, Mudd and Towe allegedly operated an illegal gambling business from 2000 to 2003, and that they conspired with each other to launder funds derived from the illegal business. Mudd and Towe, according to the indictment, hosted bingo games and sold pull tabs at the VFW post, and that they allegedly conspired to conceal the money generated. In addition, the indictment claims Mudd owned and operated illegal video slot machines at the VFW post. Mudd also is charged with devising a scheme to defraud an insurance company by providing false information about the fire. Westport Insurance Corp. issued a check for $246,688 to the VFW post after the fire, but the indictment alleges that Mudd diverted the money for his personal benefit.

U.S. settles civil case against British online gambling company BetOnSports

 

U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway reached a settlement Thursday with online gambling company BetOnSports PLC which permanently bars the London-based company from accepting any bets from the United States. The settlement ends a massive civil case Hanaway filed this summer. The settlement also requires BetOnSports to open a toll-free telephone service to inform bettors how they can reclaim wagers pending before the suit was filed.

Online Gamblers Worked To Defeat Sponsor Of Anti-Gambling Legislation

 

Online gamblers miffed at recent federal legislation that seeks to block Internet gambling were cheering after Representative Jim Leach, R-Iowa, the sponsor of the anti-gaming legislation, was defeated in this week's election. "A victory for Internet gambling as Jim Leach gets voted out," crowed Gambling911, a pro-gambling Web site, for instance. Leach had served for 30 years as a congressman from Iowa. He was narrowly defeated by Dave Loebsack, the Democratic Party challenger. Leach was the sponsor of HR 4411, the bill that stops U.S. banks and credit card companies from accepting payments for online gambling. "A lot of poker fans were lobbying against Leach," said former New Jersey gaming regulator Frank Catania. "Poker players have been organizing. They could eventually be a (lobbying) group like the Sierra Club." Catania has spoken against banning online gaming because, he says, it can't be prohibited; he favors regulating the business instead of banning it outright. He also noted that citizens were betting online in the recent election through online futures markets that enable people to invest in futures contracts based on the outcome of elections. The University of Iowa runs a popular futures site that enables visitors to bet on the outcome of political elections. "It's basically Internet gambling," said Catania, who maintains that, like the Iowa University operation, there are many ways for would-be gamblers to bet their wishes. Founded in 1988, the Iowa futures site is one of many that enable online visitors to wager on elections. Visitors are limited to $500 in an account. Catania said he expects the new Democratic Congress to be more favorably disposed towards online gambling.

Internet-gambling firm agrees to U.S. ban

 

Betonsports PLC, a U.K. Internet gambling firm under indictment and the subject of a U.S. government lawsuit, agreed to cease operations in the U.S. to settle the civil litigation. U.S. District Judge Carol Jackson in St. Louis federal court Thursday approved the accord banning Betonsports. The company and 11 people, including founder Gary Kaplan and former Chief Executive Officer David Carruthers, still face charges of criminal racketeering related to illegal gambling. Internet gambling, a $12 billion industry, violates federal laws against placing bets using a telephone or electronic means over state lines, prosecutors said. A new U.S. law bars credit card companies from collecting payments for such transactions. Betonsports' board of directors agreed to accept the injunction, "as it is seen as a major step in the negotiation to settle the outstanding criminal action," the company said in a statement. Carruthers was arrested in July as he changed planes at a Dallas airport. He has been under house arrest in St. Louis since pleading not guilty July 31.

Fort Wayne strip mall raided for gambling machines

 

Fort Wayne and Indiana State Excise Police confiscated parts of Cherry Master video gambling machines from a Fort Wayne strip mall late Thursday. Fort Wayne police Sgt. Mark Walters said police received an anonymous tip that a wanted fugitive from Huntington County was gambling at the strip mall off East State Boulevard, east of Maplecrest Road. The caller told police to look for an entrance that was roped off, Walters said. Aside from a roped off area, the building has a door with a peephole, cameras aimed at the entrance and a two-buzzer system that has to be activated for the doors to open. When police arrived about 10 p.m., they didn't find the man they were looking for but they did find illegal gambling machines, Walters said.

Ban delayed on use of paid workers for charity gambling

 

State officials have decided not to enforce new rules prohibiting the use of paid workers at any gambling fundraisers by charities until after the upcoming legislative session. Some charity groups are protesting the new regulations adopted Thursday by the Indiana Gaming Commission, saying the rules could make it impossible for them to organize any gambling events. The new rule, however, is merely a restatement of current state law and any changes should be considered by legislators, said Ernest Yelton, the gambling commission's executive director. "We believe it's an issue of policy," he said. "Our legal staff and I have looked at that statute from every angle, and we don't see any room around it." The original law was put in place to prevent organizations from hiring professional groups to run a casino night or other event and split the profits. That law has not been previously enforced by state officials, and some non-profits that conduct one or two key gambling fundraisers a year say they rely on their own full-time employees to work with volunteers to plan and run the events. Rachel Tobin-Smith, executive director at the Fort Wayne branch of Stop Child Abuse Now, said she hoped legislators would make changes to the law. "They need to continue to protect charities from a paid operator that comes in and then takes all the money," she said. "What there needs to be is some fine-tuning that distinguishes between a paid operator that a charity hires and an organization such as ours ... using permanent employees to help." Yelton said the state agency would not discipline any groups for rule violations until after the 2007 legislative session, but that actions were possible if the law was not changed.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Online gambling community celebrates defeat of Jim Leach

 

Moderate Rep. Jim Leach (R-Iowa) had a gambling problem -- not to say that he gambled, but he was the driving force behind a bill that all but banned gambling over the Internet. He was the victim of the so-called "Green Velvet Revolution," a campaign by the Internet gambling industry and gamblers to defeat those who pushed the measure. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) survived this campaign. Leach had had serious races in the past -- most recently in 2002 -- but he was apparently not ready for college professor Dave Loebsack (D). The online gambling community celebrated on Wednesday what it deemed an important victory by getting Rep. Jim Leach out of office. And while it failed to do the same in Arizona with another anti-internet gambling bill sponsor, Jon Kyl, the fact that he will have little control in the Senate over these next two years has helped to mitigate things. A group calling itself Poker Players Against Jon Kyl went after the Arizona Senator relentlessly. By most accounts, a few hundred thousand Arizona online poker players and gamblers were notified about Kyl's work against their beloved activity. Poker players in particular expressed outrage. Kyl - unlike Leach - has been somewhat careful not to make his case against online gambling high profile in his home state, a state that comprises many online gamblers according to websites Gambling911.com has spoken to. Leach, on the other hand, has proudly denounced internet gambling and even commented that his ability to restrict some forms of the activity via banking instruments was one of his greatest accomplishments. It may also have attributed to his downfall.

It was learned on Wednesday that some online gambling websites had targeted Iowa poker players and internet gamblers directly. Likewise, an Associated Press article drew national attention to Leach's engagements against online gambling one week prior to the elections, while failing to mention Jon Kyl.

"I don't believe a large volume of voters are motivated to go to the polls because of Internet gaming, either way," said Brian Darling of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank, prior to Tuesday's election.

What Mr. Darling and other conservative think tanks failed to realize however is that he 8.5 million US voters affected by the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) annually spent about $6 billion last year to gamble online.

The highly organized Poker Players Alliance is now close to 150,000 members strong and has been instrumental about notifying poker players throughout the US as to which politicians presented the greatest threat to their favorite game of skill. It is believed that the PPA will attempt to work with Democrats - most notably Rep Shelley Berkley (D) out of Nevada in trying to bring a new bill to the table that might ultimately pave the way to legality of online poker in the US.

Evangelicals Continue Fight to Protect Children from Gambling Temptations

 

The Evangelical Alliance has welcomed Professor Mark Griffiths' warning that slot machines of whatever sized stake can be addictive and that vulnerable children should not be allowed to use them. The alliance, representing more than a million Christians in the UK has consistently maintained this view, even when it was being hotly contested during the passage of the Gambling Bill in both houses of Parliament. However, the government disagreed, claiming that a ban would adversely affect seaside arcades. The EA states, "This surely stood in direct conflict with Tessa Jowell's stated number one priority for the Gambling Act of 'protecting children and the vulnerable'." Christians in seaside towns have expressed anxiety about low educational attainment locally, often exacerbated by truanting children in arcades. Pastor Derrick Hill from Park Baptist Church, Great Yarmouth, said: "The open door policy of seafront arcades is a honey trap for children of high school age." The Evangelical Alliance is now calling on the government to think again about allowing children to use slot machines in the light of Professor Griffiths' recent comments. Gareth Wallace, Parliamentary Officer at the Evangelical Alliance, said: "It is surely common sense that the government should use its reserve powers under the act to stop children of any age from gambling." Evangelicals are not the only ones that are fighting against various forms of gambling. Just last month, the Church of England continued its campaign to urge the public that advertisements promoting gambling should have warnings about the danger of gambling addiction. It states that the potential benefits of doing this "should outweigh the disadvantage of extra financial costs for advertisers". The statement questions whether the government's objectives for regulating advertisements for gambling are realistic or achievable. It supports the government's objective in the Gambling Act 2005 that "the reduction of harm should take precedence over the maximisation of innovation, consumer choice and economic gains," but questions how far "any regulatory framework" can achieve this goal, "given the persuasive function and character of advertising".

The Church of England also calls on the Gambling Commission to make compliance with advertising rules a condition of gambling operators' licences.

Taking the same position as other churches, most prominently The Salvation Army and the Methodist Church, the Church of England reiterated its long-held concern for the potential damage to individuals and families if more people become problem gamblers.

The submission also proposed a cap on the age of all models and actors featured in, or at least playing a significant role in, the gambling advertisements to 25 years of age as a guard against the potential for youngsters to identify too easily with them and so make gambling more attractive to them.

Singapore police release Senegal's honorary consul on bail; gambling probe continues

 

Senegal's honorary consul in Singapore has been released on bail while police continue an investigation into an illegal gambling house that was busted at the consulate last week, police said Thursday. Benny Kusni, a 36-year-old Indonesian, was released Wednesday night, a day after being detained on charges of helping to run "a common gaming hall." It was not immediately possible to reach Kusni. Last Friday, police busted a gambling ring in the offices of the Senegal consulate. Thirty-one people were arrested in the raid, including three local members of the Senegal Trade and Investment Committee.

Clark County OKs Gambling

 

Voters in Clark County have approved legalized gambling by a wide margin. That doesn't necessarily mean the county that borders the Ohio River will get a casino, though. One of the existing 11 riverboats would have to move from another location or the state Legislature would have to authorize a 12th license. Unofficial results show the gambling referendum passed with about 60 percent support. It was the third time the question had been put to a vote in the county. It was rejected in 1993 and 1995. If it had been voted down, it couldn't have been placed on the ballot again for 10 years.

Legalized gambling OK'd by wide margin

 

Reversing their decision of a decade ago, Clark County voters approved legalized gambling for the county by a wide margin yesterday. It was the third time the question had been put to a referendum in the county. In 1993 and 1995 it was rejected by margins of about 2,000 votes, out of about 26,000 cast. "I'm not a bit surprised," said Jeffersonville City Councilman John Perkins, one of the few elected officials in the county to publicly support gambling. He said he did so only for the economic benefits of a casino. Perkins said that in the last referendum gambling opponents "ran pictures and ads of prostitutes standing under street lights" to show the problems they thought it would bring to the area. But now, he said, the county has eight years' experience with the Caesars casino operating only a few miles down the Ohio River in Harrison County. Voters can see the millions of dollars it has brought to that county with few of the problems opponents predicted, Perkins said. However, approval doesn't mean Clark will get a riverboat anytime soon -- if ever. One of the existing 11 boats would have to move from another location or the legislature would have to authorize a 12th license -- not a sure bet in either case. Bob Bailey, a leader of the church-based opposition to gambling, said foes now have no further recourse. "The people have spoken," he said. Bailey, director of missions for the Southeastern Indiana Baptist Association, said his organization will turn its attention to developing the social-service programs he believes would be needed if a casino moves to Clark. That would include counseling for those addicted to gambling, he said. Although no license is available for a casino in Clark, Bailey said, he believes one will be moved there soon, perhaps from Rising Sun, where the Grand Victoria casino faces intense competition from two others downriver from Cincinnati.

Bailey and other leaders of the Southern Indiana Coalition Against Legalized Gambling took a low-key approach this year. Instead of the high-profile opposition that was present during the campaigns in 1993 and 1995, the opponents this year simply asked the pastors of the county's more than 100 churches to urge their congregants to vote against the ballot question.

Because he was unable to identify any organized support for the issue, Bailey said he thought the low-key approach would be more effective than the high-profile approach of 1993 and 1995. In those campaigns supporters of gambling spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on advertising, yard signs and polling.

Perkins, a Democrat, began circulating a petition early this year to put the question on the Clark ballot. But, he said, he got involved in the major annexation that the Jeffersonville City Council is working on and didn't have enough time to gather all 463 signatures needed.

After Perkins's effort faltered in the summer, a petition supported by leaders of the Republican Party got more than enough signatures.

Leaders of the Clark County Democratic Party, including chairman Rod Pate, have said the Republican-led petition drive was an attempt to stir that party's conservative base to come out and vote against the measure -- and for the party's candidates.

However, Clark County Republican Chairman Glenn Murphy Jr. has denied that. He said he signed the petition because he thought it would be more likely to be defeated if it was on the ballot during this year's countywide election rather than next year in municipal elections.

Voters decide gambling, smoking, wage issues

 

A plan to allow slot machines in Ohio and competing bans on smoking in public dominated statewide ballot questions on Tuesday. Another statewide issue asked voters to raise the minimum wage by $1.70 to $6.85 an hour. The gambling proposal, state Issue 3, would place up to 31,000 slot machines at Ohio's seven horse-racing tracks and two free-standing parlors in downtown Cleveland. A portion of the revenue would go to eligible public school students attending in-state colleges and universities. It was the third proposal since 1990 to expand gambling in Ohio, where only the lottery and games for charity such as bingo are state-sanctioned. State Issue 5 would ban smoking in most public buildings, while Issue 4 would exempt places including bars, bowling alleys, bingo halls and racetracks. Except Issue 5, the proposals would amend the Ohio Constitution. If voters pass both smoking issues, the less restrictive one would prevail because it would be an amendment instead of a change in state law. Issue 4 also would eliminate 21 local smoking bans.

Britain tops the list in Europe for online gambling

 

Britain is leading Europe in its appetite for online betting with the number of gamblers doubling in the past five years. An independent research review reveals that of the 3.3 million regular online gamblers in Europe, one in three are from the UK. Europe's regular gamblers stake around £3.5bn a year - an average of £1000 each. The review, published by the government, was commissioned ahead of the first international online gambling summit held yesterday. There are now 2300 gambling web sites across the world. Many are based in a few key nations with Antigua, which hosts 537, top of the pile, and Costa Rica second with 474. Internet gambling on many sports is illegal in the US and many online betting firms have set up offshore tax havens which are among the 85 areas of the world that current regulate online betting to dodge the US laws. Tessa Jowell, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary and Richard Caborn, the Sports Minister, spent the morning in talks with representatives from 33 different countries at Ascot racecourse to agree a communique setting out shared regulatory principles upon which they all agreed. Ms Jowell said the research proved there was a need to secure international support for agreed standards of regulation of online gambling. She said: "Of course, we also want online gambling companies to come onshore. We will welcome them here because we believe that by allowing those who want to gamble to do so over the counter, not under the counter, is the best way to protect children and vulnerable people and keep out crime." Ms Jowell said the American approach was "the new prohibition", referring to US efforts to ban alcohol in the early 20th century. "The enormous risk of prohibition, as we saw in America during the 1920s and 1930s, is that you drive the industry underground," she said. "Our purpose is protection. If gambling becomes an illicit activity, then we can't do that." Mr Caborn denied claims that the UK was only reacting to action taken in America and that the attempt to regulate the online gambling industry was not a bid to "grab" tax revenue. He also stressed that the government would not protect UK online gaming executives from extradition requests if they took internet bets from countries in which they were illegal. Scotland's worst case of internet gambling addiction involved Richard Mahan, a 25-year-old from Aberdeen who used 13 different credit cards belonging to his mother and father to blow £158,000 in two hours. He was sentenced to three years' probation after admitting 13 fraud charges in July. An action plan contained within the document proposes co-operation between countries in the development of measures to check game players' ages and identity and ways to address problem gambling and addiction.

U.S. firm starting African gambling firm

 

Las Vegas Gaming Inc. and Golden Pond 57 Pty. Ltd. are creating a gambling company that will be based in South Africa. The joint venture entity, Golden Gaming Pty. Ltd., will "exist for the purpose of exploring any and all gaming and lottery opportunities on the African continent," Las Vegas Gaming said Tuesday in a release. The company is a game-management system operator, supplier and game designer specializing in keno, bingo and lottery products.

Mangalore: Twelve arrested in gambling raid

 

A police team consisting of Surathkal PI T.R. Jagannatha and staff of highway patrol squad on specific information conducted raid near the shed belonging to Janardhana Shetty at Bala village, Mangalore on 4 Nov, 2006. At the time of raid Police found 12 persons playing 'Ander - Bahar' with cards. Police seized cash Rs. 5,067/, 6 mobile phones and playing cards from the spot and arrested Narayna Shetty (58), Jainuddin (50), Sundara Poojary (37), Monappa Banjan (48), Naveen Pirera (38), Mohammed Sharif (35), Abdul Khadar (32), Wilson Menezes (36), Anil Kumar (32), Shankara Shetty, Abdul Saleem (29) and Mohammed Haneef (32) who were indulging in gambling. A case has been registered in this connection against the arrested persons in Surthakal Police Station under sections 78, 87 of the Karnataka Police Act.

State voters again reject gambling issue

 

For the third time in 16 years, Ohioans soundly rejected the expansion of gambling in Ohio, this time routing a racetrack-backed proposal to put slot machines at the tracks. Voters also approved a ban on smoking in most public buildings and rejected a tobacco-backed ban that would have exempted bars, enclosed parts of restaurants and certain sporting venues. An increase in the state's minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $6.85 passed. Issue 3, the slots issue, was behind 1,611,700, or 58.30 percent, to 1,167,654, or 41.70 percent, with 98.21 percent of precincts reporting. Sen. George Voinovich, who successfully fought casino ballot issues in 1990 and 1996, said Ohioans realized that the slots backers who were selling the issue as a scholarship program would be its prime beneficiaries. "The people of Ohio saw through the sham and were not fooled," Voinovich said. The successful Issue 5 bans smoking in all buildings outside the home, except for tobacco shops, designated hotel rooms and enclosed areas in nursing homes. Issue 4 would have exempted bars, race tracks, bowling alleys and bingo halls from a ban. It was opposed by 64.28 percent and supported by 35.72 percent. Issue 2, one of six minimum wage issues around the country, was supported 56.17 percent to 43.83 percent. "Issue 4 was an attempt to protect big tobacco's bottom line," said Tracy Sabetta, co-chair of SmokeFreeOhio, the American Cancer Society-backed group that promoted Issue 5. "We know we will see an improvement in the health of bartenders and others in the hospitality industry." Smoke Less Ohio, the group largely financed by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and some restaurant and bar owners, said it accepted the vote. "The voters had an opportunity, through comprehensive campaigns on both sides of the issue, to educate themselves, form an opinion and then vote. That is the purpose of allowing initiatives and we respect that process and the outcome," spokesman Jacob Evans said. The gambling proposal, state Issue 3, would have allowed up to 31,000 slot machines at Ohio's seven horse-racing tracks and two free-standing parlors in downtown Cleveland. A portion of the revenue would go to eligible public school students attending in-state colleges and universities. It was the third proposal since 1990 to expand gambling in Ohio, where only the lottery and games for charity such as bingo are state-sanctioned.

State Issue 5 would ban smoking in most public buildings, while Issue 4 would exempt places including bars, bowling alleys, bingo halls and racetracks.

Except Issue 5, the proposals would amend the Ohio Constitution. If voters pass both smoking issues, the less restrictive one would prevail because it would be an amendment instead of a change in state law. Issue 4 also would eliminate 21 local smoking bans.

The racetrack owners and developers who would claim 55 percent of the slots revenues raised at least $13 million in the campaign and promoted the 30 percent that would be committed to college scholarships.

Opponents said the ad campaign inflated the amount going to scholarships and that passage would harm families of people who become gambling addicts.

Voters in 1990 and 1996 overwhelmingly defeated issues that would have allowed casinos.

The competing smoking issues pitted health groups such as the American Cancer Society against tobacco companies and bar and restaurant owners.

Backers of the minimum wage amendment, including labor unions and advocates for low-income people, said the wage at $5.15 was too low. Opponents _ business groups and low-wage employers _ said an increase would hurt small businesses and drive many retailers from Ohio.

Backers trying to get a proposed issue to change workers' compensation law certified for the ballot ran out of time, so votes cast for Issue 1 were not being counted

Rhode Island Senate race: Gambling site offers strong opinion on Sheldon Whitehouse

 

This is supposed to be one of those tight races we suppose but once again the online gambling community has pretty much already claimed a victory with Sheldon Whitehouse (D) of Rhode Island. Not that they would be walking off with much dough. One needed to wager $15 just to win $2 (in addition to the initial $15 bet). Compare that with the $7 pay out for every $2 bet on challenger Lincoln Chafee. With only a few more hours until voters will decide which party will control Congress, polls show that Republicans are making major gains in key races and closing the gap nationally, meaning voter turnout could become the key factor. With Senate races as tight as ever. The company removed its odds as we approached Election Day eve but here is what we were looking at. Who will be the next Senator in these key states:

Connecticut Ned Lamont (DEM)- 7/2 Alan Schlesinger (REP)- 16/1 Joe Lieberman (CFL)- 1/10

Montana Jon Tester (DEM)- 1/5 Conrad Burns (REP)- 2/1 Field (Any Other Candidate)- 15/1

Rhode Island Sheldon Whitehouse (DEM)- 2/15 Lincoln Chafee (REP)- 7/2 Field (Any Other Candidate)- 30/1

Virginia James H. Webb (DEM)- 1/1 George Allen (REP)- 1/2 Field (Any Other Candidate)-28/1

New Jersey Thomas Kean, Jr. (REP)- 2/1 Robert Mendez (DEM)- 2/7 Field (Any Other Candidate)- 15/1

Ladbrokes enters race for online gambling company 888

 

The British bookmaker Ladbrokes confirmed on Monday that it was in talks to buy 888 Holdings PLC, the online gambling group. In a brief statement, Ladbrokes said it "can confirm that it is in the early stages of reviewing a possible transaction involving 888. No decision has been made as to whether any proposal will be made to 888." In a telephone interview on Monday, Kiaran O'Brien, a company spokesman, said the talks began a few days ago and that it was too early to estimate the possible sale price for Ladbrokes. He described an estimate of 470 million pounds (?702 million; US$892 million) in the British media as too high. 888 Holdings is trying to prop up its business after the United States effectively banned Internet gaming. The company was among several London-listed gaming groups to close or sell their American business after U.S. Congress added to an unrelated bill a provision that would make it illegal for banks and credit-card companies to settle payments for online gambling sites. U.S. President George W. Bush signed the law Oct. 14. Consolidation within the online gambling industry has been widely expected among company executives and investors after a sharp sell-off in the sector. Analysts and media have speculated that PartyGaming PLC is among those expressing an interest in 888. Both companies spoke earlier this month of possible industry mergers. The London Times reported Monday that 888 is believed to favor a tie-up with a traditional gaming company over another online venture that would also be reeling from the U.S. move. On Friday, PartyGaming, which was the world's leading online gambling company until the American crackdown, laid off 800 of 1,750 staff who work on customer and technical support in Hyderabad, India, the Times said.

U.S. law has online gambling industry scrambling

 

The online gambling industry, facing billions in losses because of a new U.S. law, is scrambling for ways to keep Americans in its game. President Bush signed legislation in mid-October that bars U.S. banks and financial firms from sending credit card payments or other funds to sites involved in online gambling, which is mostly illegal in the United States. The high-flying industry now finds itself in the position of a gambler who has bet big on a full house, only to see his opponent turn over a straight flush. Americans supply half of the industry's nearly $13 billion in annual revenue. With the new law threatening to cut off that flow of cash, the market value of online companies, most of which trade on the London Stock Exchange, have plummeted. Sportingbet, which operates Paradise Poker, pulled out of the U.S. market after the law was enacted and has seen its stock price fall to about one-tenth of its level last spring. British betting-shop chain Ladbrokes, meanwhile, is in talks to merge with 888 Holdings, which operates the popular Pacific Poker site. The British government has jumped into action, convening a conference this month aimed at rescuing the lucrative industry by imposing strict code of principles. Its proposal aims at ensuring the games are fair and that screens are in place to protect compulsive gamblers and children. "The industry has been very hard hit by the U.S. ban," said Tessa Jowell, Britain's culture minister. "The Internet is a global marketplace, and that's why we need action at the global level."

However, the United States declined to join the dozens of countries at the conference.

In the United States, where the popularity of Texas Hold em has driven the online gambling craze, poker players are working to have their game exempted as a game of skill, not chance, as U.S. officials write the regulations for the new law.

Michael Bolcerek, president of the Poker Players Alliance, an advocacy group in Washington with more than 120,000 members, said his group will have better odds with the Democrats gaining power in Congress.

The law already grants exemptions for betting on horse racing, intrastate lotteries, and fantasy sports play.

Some predict the new law could spark growth in other areas of legal gambling.

"Under the new law, U.S. states have the right to regulate Internet gambling on an intrastate basis," said Mark Balestra, vice president of publishing for the River City Group, a St. Louis-based publisher focusing on the gaming and gambling industries.

"Most likely, this will lead to state lotteries going online," he said. Others see the possibility of bingo moving onto the Internet.

However, the online gambling industry's best hope might be weak enforcement of the new law.

"Given the language of the act, it is clear that U.S. banks and other U.S. financial transaction providers cannot send funds to those involved in illegal Internet gambling," said Joseph Lewczak, a partner at the law firm of Davis & Gilbert in New York.

If the new law is used to block the transfer of any funds from a U.S. bank to a foreign account used in connection with online gambling, "online gambling in the United States will surely dry up," Lewczak said. "Only those who physically take cash overseas and open an overseas account may have the ability to participate."

However, he said, there may be a loophole "by virtue of the fact that the U.S. agencies involved with enforcement may not be able to, or just won't, pursue foreign entities involved in transferring money to the gambling sites."

One leading online money transfer business - Neteller, which is based on the Isle of Man - plans to accept financial transactions made by U.S. residents during the 270-day period in which U.S. officials are writing rules for the new law.

Neteller officials say they will continue to review the law, which they claim isn't clear when it comes to the obligations of financial transaction providers.

In the end, it may be impossible to keep American players away from the estimated 2,000 Internet sites that take bets for sports and poker.

"People will continue to gamble online because people absolutely love it," said Bolcerek of the Poker Players Alliance.

"Prohibitions are known for not being effective, and this prohibition will just send the game underground," he said. "It will cause Web sites to pop up in unregulated jurisdictions offering the game of poker to U.S. citizens."

Gambling Outpaces Coffee in New Growth

 

The gambling industry grew most in terms of businesses opening last year while coffee shops turned out to be past their heyday. According to the National Statistical Office (NSO), the number of gambling houses, including casinos and video gambling game rooms, marked 1,186 last year, up 137 percent from a year earlier. Child education businesses, such as nursery schools, also saw notable growth, with the number of the businesses marking 13,954, up 17.9 percent from the year 2004. The number of coffee shops and confectioneries, however, decreased by 12.1 percent, and stationery stores and hardware shops also saw around a 5 percent decrease. The number of total businesses around the country recorded 3.2 million last year, up only 0.6 percent from 2004. The statistical office explained that the increase in businesses slowed as small retailers and wholesalers, as well as restaurants and lodgings, closed in the face of competition with larger corporations. The number of big businesses employing at least 300 people also decreased 7.6 percent, recording the smallest number since 2000. ``Big businesses in the manufacturing industry seem to have sought downsizing through separation,'' explained Kim Hyun-jung, director of the industry statistics division at the statistical office. There were 2,361 such big businesses in the country as of last year. The number of small businesses employing four people or less was 2.68 million, down 0.5 percent from the previous year. One out of three businesses were led by women, but most of the businesswomen were confined to a number of business categories. Beauty salon businesses were dominated by women, with 91.9 percent being women-owned. Of arts education facilities, 84.6 percent had female owners. The same was true for 74.2 percent of child education facilities. Confectioneries, pubs, restaurants, and karaoke rooms also had a high ratio of female owners.

The statistics also showed that businesses are too concentrated in and around Seoul. Nearly half, or 46.3 percent, were located in Seoul and its vicinity. This is the highest rate since 1993 when this survey was introduced.

Kangnam District and Socho District in southern Seoul were the locations where the biggest number of businesses were headquartered, partly explaining why real estate prices keep skyrocketing in these districts.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Gambling with their futures

 

All in the name of responsible gambling, students at the McMaster University campus got a chance yesterday to win two $100 certificates or a grand prize of a $1,500 scholarship. Staff of the nonprofit Responsible Gambling Council buttonholed students and warned them of the problem signs of gambling as they handed out draw ballots at the Mohawk College Institute of Applied Health Sciences at the Mac campus. There's a worrying increase in the number of young people 18 to 24 trying to win big at poker and online gambling and the council wants them to know where and how they can get help. A recent survey indicated 6.9 per cent of young people experienced moderate to severe gambling problems. It found participation in online poker among 18-24 year olds rose from 1.4 per cent in 2001 to 5.5 per cent by 2005, an increase of almost 400 per cent. So strategically placed across from a Tim Hortons kiosk at the health sciences building, the council spread its message. The group will visit about 30 university and college campuses in the months ahead as part of a Know the Score campaign. In addition, Ontario will spend $2 million on a new public awareness campaign on youth gambling. The public awareness campaign, similar to another one last year by the council, will run through the winter months. A TV ad last year featured a young man who started cutting off contact from friends because he became addicted to online gambling. "Young people see the glamourization of gambling and they need to hear the other side," said council CEO John Kelly. "The vast majority of people who gamble are not ... a whiz kid who made a lot of money. "We need to get out there with the message this can be recreation or it can be something that can get you into a lot of trouble. "They need to have a realistic understanding of your chances of winning and losing."

Youth gambling on rise

 

More and more of Ontario's young people are looking to ante up -- raising the stakes on potential gambling problems, shows a poll released yesterday. More than one-third of people aged 18-34 play poker for money, with nearly half of people in that age group saying they play more now than they did two years ago, according to the Responsible Gambling Council Poker Poll conducted by Ipsos-Reid. "Frequency matters," Dr. Jon Kelly, chief executive of the Responsible Gambling Council, said, adding it is a matter of concern that of those that play poker, almost one-quarter play once a week or more often.

Gambling with our children's future

 

Nobody has studied gambling and its effects more closely than Professor Mark Griffiths, who has written 170 research papers and two books on the subject. He has also served as an adviser to three Government departments, aconsultantto the Gaming Board and a leading member of two charities dealing with the fallout from gambling addiction. In short, he is a man who knows what he is talking about. You might think, therefore, that the Government would have paid attention to Prof Griffiths's advice when he warned two years ago that 10p-in-the-slot fruit machines, with payouts of up to £5, posed a serious threat to vulnerable children. But no. Ministers had already begun their mystifying love affair with the big-time betting industry. So when they drew up their new Gambling Act, they chose simply to ignore the professor, classing low-stake fruit machines in the same child-friendly category as amusement arcade games such as toy cranes and 'penny falls' machines. Now Prof Griffiths has accumulated yet more alarming evidence that for many children, fruit machines are the first step on the road to delinquency, drug and alcohol abuse, truancy, poor school performance and theft. Don't we have more than enough social problems in this country already, without actively courting more? At this 11th hour, the Government still has the chance to listen to Prof Griffiths and restrict fruit machines to adults. But the omens are not good. Remember how every professional body most closely concerned with the fallout from alcohol abuse - police, magistrates, judges and doctors - warned against the dangers of round-the-clock drinking?

The Government's response? It simply ignored all advice and pressed ahead with 24-hour pub and club licences. Today the consequences can be seen throughout the land in the early hours of any Saturday or Sunday - on the streets, in our casualty departments and police cells.

Why do Ministers ask for advice, when they block their ears to any they don't wish to hear?

If Prof Griffiths is right, the Gambling Act as it stands will expose many tens of thousands of British children to lives of misery and degradation.

Online Gambling Bill Sponsor Jim Leach Defeated

 

While the rest of the US will be discussing the Democratic victories that secured a House majority and a potential Senate majority, most online poker players will be discussing a single victory; the one that unseated 30 year incumbent Republican Jim Leach. Leach was the sponsor of the House bill that became the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act. With his stated goals of "protecting American families" and addressing a "national security concern," Leach introduced HR 4411. In a 51% to 49% victory, political science professor Dave Loebsack defeated the longtime Republican Congressman from Iowa. In the legislative world, Leach was considered one of the four horsemen of the online gaming apocalypse. Riding with his other anti-online gambling proponents, Senator Bill Frist, Congressman Bob Goodlatte, and Senator Jon Kyl, Leach was considered the most vulnerable for re-election. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist tried a number of ploys to sneak HR 4411 into "must pass" legislation. After failing to tie it into a Defense Department bill authorizing military operations, Frist was finally successful tagging it onto the Safe Ports bill. Bill Frist chose not to run this year. Many speculated he had planned the respite to launch his 2008 presidential bid. It was believed that Frist's actions on HR 4411 were specifically orchestrated to cater to the small, but powerful, conservative right. Interpreting yesterday's election results, however, Frist may have ingratiated himself with a political niche that will have diminished influence in securing a 2008 presidency. Republican Virginia Congressman Bob Goodlatte was almost assured his victory this year as he ran without a Democratic opponent. Goodlatte was the sponsor of HR 4777, the Internet Gaming Prohibition Act and joined forces with Leach to spearhead the passage of HR 4411. "I have been continuously committed to putting an end to gambling on the Internet," Goodlatte said. "For too long our children have been placed in harm's way as online gambling has been permitted to flourish into a $12 billion industry. The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act brings the current ban against interstate gambling up to speed with the development of new technology."

When HR 4411 passed in the House, Arizona Senator Jon Kyl said, "For more than a decade, I have fought for legislation to enforce Internet gambling prohibitions. Today's action in the House is a very encouraging step, and I will work with my colleagues to explore all ways to move this much-needed legislation through the Senate this year." Kyl was good to his word. Kyle's re-election bid was almost never in jeopardy this year as he consistently led his opponent Jim Pederson in the polls; sometimes by more than eighteen percentage points. Kyl was re-elected by a margin of 53% to 44%.

While Leach may have been the most vulnerable of the anti-online gaming contingent, his defeat was still considered something of an upset. Although the race was tight, Leach never trailed his opponent in the polls prior to the election. Some of the Republicans facing defeat this morning are those that can blame their strong conservative ties to the Bush administration. Leach, however, was perceived to be a moderate Republican, positioning himself as pro-choice and voting against the 2003 Bush tax cuts and the Iraq war resolution. One has to wonder if the online gaming vote helped edge Leach onto the rail.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Teen Accused of Killing Man Over Gambling Debt

 

Police arrested 14-year-old Kevin Johnson for the murder of 21-year-old Darryll Muldrow. The murder happened Monday morning at Nia Terrace apartments on the Westside. Police say Johnson shot Muldrow five times with a shotgun.Investigators say witnesses led them to Johnson, and that Johnson also gave detectives information, including where to find some missing clothing the victim was wearing at the time of the murder. Police believe Johnson was seeking money from Muldrow for a gambling debt. Johnson is being held at the Duval County Jail.

Rhode Islanders deciding whether to legalize casino gambling

 

Rhode Islanders are voting today on a constitutional amendment that would allow an Indian tribe to build a casino in West Warwick. At a cost of more than 14 (m) million dollars, the campaign has been one of the most expensive in state history. The Narragansett Indian Tribe has been repeatedly thwarted in its almost decade-long attempt to enter the casino gambling market. Rhode Island's constitution bans privately operated casinos, and the state's top court twice struck down gambling bills because judges said they did not give state authorities enough control over casino operations. Tribal leaders say a fully functional casino could produce up to 144 (m) million dollars annually to help reduce property taxes. Opponents warn the state could lose money in the deal if it must reimburse two existing slot parlors for lost business.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

U.S. bill targets online gambling

 

The global gaming market yielded $258.3 billion in 2005. Online gambling brought in 5 percent, or $13 billion, according to the United Kingdom-based Global Betting and Gaming Consultants' 2005 report. Online gambling is one of the fastest-growing segments of the gaming market at a compound annual growth rate of more than 50 percent since 1998. The market is projected to reach $25.2 billion in 2010. But the United States is trying to shut it down to Americans. On Oct. 13, President Bush signed into law the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist attached to the Safe Accountability for Every Port Act of 2006. The UIGE Act prohibits unlawful Internet gambling by restricting gambling sites from accepting payments from U.S. residents. The Secretary of Treasury and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System will issue the regulations and enforce the act in a grace period of 270 days. The United States accounts for 47 percent of the global gross gaming yield in 2005 making it the largest market in the world. Some of the top offshore gambling and fee transfer sites have already pulled out of the U.S. market, including London publicly-traded companies, PartyGaming and its subsidiary PartyPoker, and financial services company Neteller. PartyGaming has 12 million registered players, including 84 percent, or more than 10 million, in the United States. Its PartyPoker Web site generates an average daily revenue of $2.5 million. "It's like they're just throwing away $2.5 million a day," said Bob Pajich, managing news editor of Card Player Media, a media resource producing CardPlayer.com and Card Player magazine with United States headquarters in Las Vegas and International presence in Europe. "I am surprised by all of the sites that have pulled out this early and they're mostly publicly traded sites who may have been forced to do this because of their image. I don't understand why they didn't just wait and see until the Treasury released its regulations." Online poker makes up 20 percent of the annual online gaming revenue behind online sports betting (36 percent) and online casinos (25 percent). Pajich said of the five major online poker sites - Poker Stars, Full Tilt, Ultimate Bet, Bodog and PartyPoker - only PartyPoker thus far has chosen to no longer accept U.S. players. About 10 offshore poker Web sites have banned U.S. players since the act has passed. "Some sites have already said they're not going to deal with U.S. players and that's going to hurt their bottom line," Pajich said. "For the other Web sites, they have been seeing record numbers every weekend for their tournaments and regular play."

Some offshore casinos and sports books did not ban U.S. residents because U.S. law does not regulate them.

Players have several options to deposit money into their casino and sports book accounts via Internet financial transaction Web sites based outside the United States. Western Union, money orders and e-checks through their checking accounts can be verified and set up directly like a debit card through casinos and sports books.

Neteller was the leading Internet financial services transactions Web site for U.S. players with more than $7 billion in annual transactions globally. But after the 270-day grace period, Neteller will no longer accept transactions from U.S. residents.

"That will be a bump in the road in the industry, but I just think there will be more ways and Web sites to pop up for U.S. residents to deposit funds," Pajich said. "It all depends on how easy it is for someone to figure out how to get funds into their online accounts and get around this law. It's a big wait-and-see game."

State's video poker revenue up 26 percent

Year-to-date revenue through September is up 26 percent at $167.9 million compared with $133.3 million in January through September 2005, according to the Louisiana State Police.

September revenues of $56.7 million are up 2.5 percent compared with $55.4 million in August.

Truck stops continue to be the state's largest moneymaker, generating $99.4 million through September, an increase of 21.5 percent from the $81.8 million reported year-to-date in 2005.

There are 6,264 video gaming devices in truck stops, which make up 46.6 percent of the 13,429 video gaming devices in the state.

Off-track betting establishments had the biggest revenue increase year-to-date at 152.8 percent up to $9.1 million from the $3.6 million reported in January through September 2005.

Bars had the second-largest increase at 36.1 percent up to $37.4 million reported through September from $27.4 million in the same period last year.

Bell promises casino gambling

 

Both Kinky Friedman and Chris Bell as gubernatorial candidates have publicly supported the legalizing of gambling casinos in Texas. But I don't think Mr. Friedman can garner more votes than either the Republican or Democratic candidate to get elected. Therefore, if you want an opportunity to vote for Las Vegas-style casinos, I recommend that you bundle up all your votes and vote for Mr. Chris Bell. He won't be able to do much else, because the Republicans will control both the Senate and the House. But if Mr. Bell was successful in his support of gambling casinos, he could go down in history like Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer! So why not roll the dice or pull the lever for Mr. Bell?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Gambling conference helps 'broaden' knowledge

 

Almost 70% of Moscow's casinos and slot machine parlors had been closed recently Moscow deputy mayor Iosif Ordzhonikidze said at a press conference on Thursday, the Interfax news agency reports. However, the official noted that tax revenues of the Moscow budget from gambling have declined by just 3 percent. Over 2,000 from total 2,720 gambling houses have been closed, so tax revenues were supposed to decline substantially Iosif Ordzhonikidze said. According to the independent research the owner of just one slot machine makes an average profit of $10,000 per month. Gambling business tax returns have struck a seven billion ruble mark, roughly 260 million U.S. Dollars. Without Internet poker, there wouldn't be very many people outside Barberton, Ohio, who know the Rev. Greg Hogan Sr. Hogan isn't one of the dozens of poker players who have struck it rich on the poker Web sites. His son is in prison because of those Web sites. Hogan was the highlight of the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling annual conference Thursday, where more than 150 people listened to the story of how his son, Greg Hogan Jr., went from aspiring college student to indebted gambler and eventually bank robber. "Greg's life and all his dreams went into meltdown," Hogan said. "He was never honest with me or anyone else." Hogan has since been traveling all across the country telling his son's story. He was featured on "Good Morning America" with his son before the son started serving a 22-month-to-10-year sentence for the robbery. Jacqueline Owens, president of the Norwich Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, attended and said she knows of youths who have "friends" who gamble. She was hoping to use the convention to get ideas on how to get through to them about the dangers of gambling. "They say they have friends. When they say that, it usually means they are (gambling), too," Owens said. "I always find it interesting to get some new information."

Much of the information centered on viewing gambling as an addiction that can lead to other problems. Several speakers talked about the physical sensation gambling addicts get from playing that can mimic the effects of cocaine.

"It teaches us to do things that are intrinsically rewarding," said Debi LaPlante, instructor of psychiatry at Harvard University and part of the Division of Addictions at Harvard Medical School. "Things like having sex and gambling can affect the reward center (of the brain)."

Marvin Steinberg, executive director of the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling, said the conference is meant to get new information about gambling addiction to gambling support workers and gambling industry participants.

"We try to educate in different areas," Steinberg said.

Bruce MacDonald, a spokesman for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, which owns and operates Foxwoods Resort Casino, said the conference is an opportunity for the casino to learn about new trends in problem gambling.

US-barred gambling set to roll in Asia

 

Close friends since college days, Akhil Gupta and Sunil Baheti have never missed each other on the Diwali (Festival of Lights) night gambling bashes each year, even though they have lived some 13,000 kilometers apart for the past four years. Every year while Akhil and his other ex-college mates assembled at his living room in Delhi for a few hours of online gambling at PartyPoker.com, Sunil joined in too by logging on to the site from Texas, where he is currently a practicing lawyer. This year, though, it was a little different. Instead of playing at their usual site, the old friends switched to 3Patti.com, an Indian card-game website that also offers the local game called teenpatti, a favorite among ritual gamblers. "We couldn't play at PartyPoker because it was closed to Sunil following the ban on online gambling in US," said Akhil, "but that's okay. 3Patti was as much fun." Akhil and his friends were not the only ones making that shift that night. According to 3Patti.com, which claims to be the largest Indian online gambling den, for about a week leading to the Diwali night on October 21, the site recorded its highest hits from Indian clients (that was second only to the number of hits from the US) since October 13, the day President George W Bush signed a law that seeks to ban most online gambling and criminalizes funds transfers in the US. 3Patti is reportedly planning to invest more in India as industry sources say several other sites, too, are shifting operations out of the US and may be heading toward India and elsewhere in Asia. "The [online gambling] companies, particularly the large ones with large resources, that have ceased operations in the US have all said that they would refocus their efforts on other markets, and particularly the Asian markets," said Eugene Christiansen, chairman of Christiansen Capital Advisors LLC, a US-based consultancy firm that provides gambling and entertainment-industry analysis and management services.

The exodus in fact has already started. On the day Bush signed the new law, Sportingbet for instance, a UK-based online-gambling firm that derived about 56% of its business from the United States, sold its US operations to an Antiguan company for US$1 and said "it is focusing on Europe and the rest of the world including Asia". While closing their operations to all US customers, others such as PartyGaming and 888Holdings too said they would be moving elsewhere. Indeed, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act may be making online gaming firms rush out of the US, but experts say a new Internet-gambling ban won't keep bettors from looking over their shoulders for long, and they may just turn to offshore sites and overseas payment services out of the law's reach. The impact of the ban, then: online gaming is all set to bloom in Asia.

According to William Eadington, a professor of the Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming at the University of Nevada, Reno, with mega-casinos already open in Macau, Singapore scheduled to open gambling in 2009, South Korea permitting limited legalization of gambling, and with no clear laws in India along with its residents' notorious gambling instincts, Asia certainly looks all set to emerge as the next gambling den of the world.

"End of prohibition and high level of enthusiasm from Asian customers makes Asia the next emerging growth market," Eadington said, adding that of all the centers being developed in the region, Macau promises the maximum opportunity. Macau is already becoming the "Las Vegas of Asia", after a new gambling law in 2002 broke up the gaming monopoly, allowing Las Vegas entrepreneurs to open major new casinos such as the Wynn Resorts, The Venetian, MGM, Melcor, and Galaxy. Singapore, too, has decided to legalize gambling, "enhancing the attractiveness of a prosperous but boring city, while [South] Korea, Japan, Thailand, Taiwan, India, China are watching others and trying to decide what to do," Eadington said. All these Asian countries, as well as European countries, he said, are tying to regulate Internet gambling rather than banning it as gamblers are increasingly turning to the Web.

So the serious question is, can the new US law really be effective in stopping US residents from betting online? After all, the online sites may be moving out of US, but they still have e-wallets to help them attract the US crowd even though it may be on the wrong side of the law. Take the instance of 3Patti.com: this site offers various payment options, two of which could easily be used by a US resident to open an account at the site.

Besides, says Christiansen of Christiansen Capital Advisors, e-payment outfits not subjected to the US authority such as NETeller, based in the Isle of Man, a dependency of the United Kingdom, can accept payments from a US citizen if it wants.

"The problem is," said Christiansen, "the new law has already made many exceptions that make Internet gambling a wide-open area." For instance, although the new law knocks offshore companies out of the US, it does not appear to change existing definitions of federally prescribed gambling, which allow state-licensed casinos, the horse-racing industry, state lotteries and fantasy sports leagues.

In fact, like Professor Eadington, Christiansen agrees that the new law will not stop gambling but will create black market in the US that will thrive on diverting the US customers to online gambling sites in Asia and Europe. He said, "Laws that prohibit widely accepted behavior are directed against legitimate businesses, not criminals," and cited as a pointer the 18th Amendment of the US constitution and the Volstead Act, which in 1920 prohibited the manufacture, distribution and sale of beer, wine and spirits.

Prohibition transferred the alcoholic beverage industry from licensed and regulated companies to organized crime but failed to stop Americans from drinking and did nothing to ameliorate the harmful effects of alcohol. "Online gambling is unstoppable, and the new law would just drive gamblers into the arms of touts and crooks," Christiansen said.

Meanwhile, many equate the carnage this ban caused to the London Stock Exchange (LSE) to the dotcom-bubble collapse following AOL's purchase of Time Warner in January 2001. Most of the US gambling websites are run by European gaming companies listed on the LSE. PartyGaming, for instance, the world's largest online poker company, lost 75% of its revenue by shutting its US sites, and at least two publicly traded companies, World Gaming and BetonSports, are in effect out of business in the US.

The market capitalization of large online gambling companies has also been cut in half at the LSE. Christiansen Capital Advisors says the US market, at $6 billion, accounted for half of the $12 billion global Internet gambling market last year, which is expected to double to $24 billion by 2010.

Still, there may an upside to this ban. "Companies listed on the London Stock Exchange or the London AIM [Alternative Investment Market] in 2005 have substantial cash reserves," said Christiansen. "That cash will buy more in the way of online competition than it would have six months ago, which means that consolidation in the online gambling is likely to accelerate."

Moscow Authorities Close 70% of City Gambling Facilities

 

Almost 70% of Moscow's casinos and slot machine parlors had been closed recently Moscow deputy mayor Iosif Ordzhonikidze said at a press conference on Thursday, the Interfax news agency reports. However, the official noted that tax revenues of the Moscow budget from gambling have declined by just 3 percent. Over 2,000 from total 2,720 gambling houses have been closed, so tax revenues were supposed to decline substantially Iosif Ordzhonikidze said. According to the independent research the owner of just one slot machine makes an average profit of $10,000 per month. Gambling business tax returns have struck a seven billion ruble mark, roughly 260 million U.S. Dollars.

Did GOP Overplay Hand on Gambling Bill?

 

A Republican-sponsored effort to clamp down on Internet gambling may turn out to be a bad bet for the GOP. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which President Bush signed into law Oct. 13, has infuriated many voters who enjoy betting on sports or playing poker online, analysts said. Other observers, however, see little threat to Republicans from the law, calling it a relatively minor matter to most voters. "I don't believe a large volume of voters are motivated to go to the polls because of Internet gaming, either way," said Brian Darling of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank. But with Republicans already on the defensive over the Iraq war, budget deficits and the congressional page scandal, the gambling law is the latest issue that could steer voters away from the GOP. "I've been a loyal Republican for over 30 years, and I'm quitting the party I once loved," said Jim Henry, 55, who lives outside San Francisco. "Not because of the Mark Foley scandal or Middle East policy. But because the Republican Party wants to stop me from what I love to do: play poker over the Internet." Sponsored in the House by Reps. Jim Leach, R-Iowa, and Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and backed in the Senate by Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., the law pits social conservatives who disapprove of gambling against the 8.5 million Americans who spend about $6 billion annually to cast wagers online. Some opponents of the law see a political component to its passage, believing it was intended to buoy support for Frist among religious conservatives if he decides to run for president in 2008. The law is aimed at stopping the flow of money to gambling sites, where funds could potentially be laundered. Leach has also cited moral dimensions to the law, calling it one of the most important pieces of family legislation ever considered by lawmakers.

"Internet gambling is not a subject touched upon in the Old or New Testament or the Quran," Leach said earlier this year. "But the pastoral function is one of dealing with families in difficulty and religious leaders of all denominations and faiths are seeing gambling problems erode family values."

Even so, a Gallup Poll taken earlier this year found that 60 percent of adults believe gambling is morally acceptable. That's true for many religious conservatives who say they enjoy placing a bet.

Raid Breaks Up East Texas Illegal Gambling Operation

 

A raid breaks up an illegal gambling operation in Van Zandt County for the second time this year. Van Zandt County Sheriff's deputies raided a building off Highway 198, just North of Mabank. An undercover investigation by the Van Zandt County Sheriff's Department discovered a medal building behind a wooden privacy fence. At the front gate, sits a window. "You would have to stop, get out of your vehicle, give your ID to the person there and they would check to see if you were on a list, and if you were on a list you could come in," said Sheriff Pat Burnett. In May, the sheriff's department seized 77 8 Liner machines from the same building. Just a few months later, authorities say the same owner moved 53 machines back in. "They will go to jail for running an illegal gambling operation,." said Sheriff Burnett. "If we can prove there is three or more people than we can file for organized criminal activity. Also inside Thursday night were 13 customers and two employees. All were written citations for illegal gambling. One customer said it was his first time there. "I was with some friends," said the customer who would not give his name. "I didn't really know it was illegal, not really. In my opinion you buy lottery tickets. Isn't that gambling." The property owner says he's never been inside the building. "I didn't know what was going on inside," said Any Collins, Property Owner. "I didn't want to know. They just leased it from me." He knows now, and Van Zandt County Sheriff Pat Burnett says he wants everyone to know he will not allow illegal gambling in his county. Once they have gone through all the evidence, deputies say they will arrest the owner. The 53 8 Liners seized Thursday night will either be destroyed or sold in a state where the machines can legally be used.

Gambling Regulation The Focus of Clarion Conference

 

Clarion ATE's Codes of Practice conference will focus on the gambling industry's need to comply with the UK's new licensing regime from September 2007. The conference, on Monday 27th November, is being sponsored by Berwin Leighton Paisner and is being held at their St Magnus House Office, 3 Lower Thames St, London. Delegates will hear from Tom Kavanagh, Deputy Chief Executive of the Gambling Commission on what regulatory changes they can expect in 2007. Kavanagh will outline the key points the industry needs to be aware of for the four main areas. - Keeping crime out of gambling - Conducting gambling fairly and openly - Protecting children and the vulnerable - The application process - The Gambling Commission's Licensing Conditions and Codes of Practice will outline how the Commission intends to regulate the gambling industry in accordance with the Gambling Act 2005 being effective from next September. Other confirmed speakers include Clive Hawkswood, Chief Executive, Remote Gambling Association; Russ Phillips, Deputy Chief Executive, ABB; Malcolm Bruce, Acting Director, Responsibility in Gambling Trust; Geoffrey Godbold OBE, Chief Executive Officer, Gamcare and Tony Roberts, Director, gamAID.

Gambling conference helps 'broaden' knowledge

 

Almost 70% of Moscow's casinos and slot machine parlors had been closed recently Moscow deputy mayor Iosif Ordzhonikidze said at a press conference on Thursday, the Interfax news agency reports. However, the official noted that tax revenues of the Moscow budget from gambling have declined by just 3 percent. Over 2,000 from total 2,720 gambling houses have been closed, so tax revenues were supposed to decline substantially Iosif Ordzhonikidze said. According to the independent research the owner of just one slot machine makes an average profit of $10,000 per month. Gambling business tax returns have struck a seven billion ruble mark, roughly 260 million U.S. Dollars. Without Internet poker, there wouldn't be very many people outside Barberton, Ohio, who know the Rev. Greg Hogan Sr. Hogan isn't one of the dozens of poker players who have struck it rich on the poker Web sites. His son is in prison because of those Web sites. Hogan was the highlight of the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling annual conference Thursday, where more than 150 people listened to the story of how his son, Greg Hogan Jr., went from aspiring college student to indebted gambler and eventually bank robber. "Greg's life and all his dreams went into meltdown," Hogan said. "He was never honest with me or anyone else." Hogan has since been traveling all across the country telling his son's story. He was featured on "Good Morning America" with his son before the son started serving a 22-month-to-10-year sentence for the robbery. Jacqueline Owens, president of the Norwich Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, attended and said she knows of youths who have "friends" who gamble. She was hoping to use the convention to get ideas on how to get through to them about the dangers of gambling. "They say they have friends. When they say that, it usually means they are (gambling), too," Owens said. "I always find it interesting to get some new information."

Much of the information centered on viewing gambling as an addiction that can lead to other problems. Several speakers talked about the physical sensation gambling addicts get from playing that can mimic the effects of cocaine.

"It teaches us to do things that are intrinsically rewarding," said Debi LaPlante, instructor of psychiatry at Harvard University and part of the Division of Addictions at Harvard Medical School. "Things like having sex and gambling can affect the reward center (of the brain)."

Marvin Steinberg, executive director of the Connecticut Council on Problem Gambling, said the conference is meant to get new information about gambling addiction to gambling support workers and gambling industry participants.

"We try to educate in different areas," Steinberg said.

Bruce MacDonald, a spokesman for the Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, which owns and operates Foxwoods Resort Casino, said the conference is an opportunity for the casino to learn about new trends in problem gambling.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

UK touts itself as online gambling haven

 

The UK will set itself up as an online gambling haven but will extradite
executives to the US if asked, according to Sports Minister Richard Caborn.
The US effectively banned online gambling with a new law earlier this year,
and Caborn and Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell outlined plans to welcome
internet gambling companies to the UK and regulate them. Jowell criticised
the US's stance, saying the UK will not follow suit. "We do not support the
approach the United States has taken," she said. "The enormous risk of
prohibition is that it forces the industry underground." Making unfavourable
comparisons to the US's experience with alcohol prohibition in the 1920s,
Jowell said the UK would instead regulate the industry. She said outlawing
it risked driving online betting consumers into criminal hands. The
politicians were speaking at a summit of international delegates who agreed
a framework to regulate the industry, agreeing protection for gambling
addicts and plans to stop underage gambling. The Department of Justice in
the US had long considered the 1961 Wire Act to outlaw all internet
gambling, but a new law, which was rushed through under cover of a port
security act, made it illegal for financial institutions to process payments
to gambling sites. The impact on UK-listed gaming companies was severe.
Share prices nosedived and Sportingbet sold its US business for $1, claiming
that it released the company from $27m of liabilities. Speculation has
mounted in recent days that 888 and PartyGaming would merge, and Ladbrokes
has also been linked to a bid for 888.

Two British senior executives of online gaming companies had been arrested
in the US prior to the passing of the new law. Though Peter Dicks of
Sportingbet was released, David Carruthers from BetonSports still awaits
trial.

Caborn said despite attempts to attract further business to the US, the UK
would still respect extradition requests from the US in relation to online
gambling. "People have to abide by the laws of particular countries," he
said. "We will not acknowledge people who operate illegally."

The US was said by industry sources to account for at least half of the
revenues earned by online gambling worldwide. $6.7bn of the $30bn spent
every year is spent in Europe, according to UK government figures.

Seized gambling ship free to sail

 

A magistrate released the Casino Royale from federal court control Thursday.
The ship's owner settled claims from crew members, who obtained a court
order for federal marshals to seize the vessel last week. The ship has been
docked at Tampa Bay Shipbuilding & Repair Co. since April, while owners try
to get U.S. Coast Guard approval to carry passengers on the casino boat.
Microsoft Corp. has announced it will release the business version of the
long-anticipated update to its flagship operating system at an event at the
Nasdaq Stock Market on Nov. 30. In addition to Windows Vista, the company
said it also will release the Office 2007 software suite, which includes
word processing and spreadsheet programs, and Exchange Server 2007 for
e-mail and calendars. Shares of Clearwater's Lincare Holdings Inc., which
provides oxygen to at-home patients, rose Thursday after
easier-than-expected Medicare cuts in oxygen reimbursement. Lincare shares
rose $2.68 to $35.18 on the Nasdaq. On Wednesday, the Centers for Medicare
and Medicaid lowered its monthly payment for oxygen to $230 from $231, far
better than the anticipated payment of$209. A bankruptcy judge granted Delta
Air Lines Inc. a deadline extension to file its plan of reorganization as it
tries to emerge from Chapter 11 by the middle of next year. The nation's
third-largest airline now has until Feb. 15, to file a plan and until April
16, to solicit approval for the plan from creditors, according to a court
document dated Oct. 31.

Twinkies baker settle federal case

Interstate Bakeries Corp., the bankrupt maker of Twinkies and Wonder bread,
said Thursday it has agreed to settle a longstanding federal investigation
into its record-keeping and accounting practices. The company also said it
has been ordered by the Securities and Exchange Commission's Division of
Enforcement to file a year and a half of delinquent quarterly and annual
reports by Dec. 31 or its stock could be delisted.

MySpace pioneer files antitrust suit

An early investor in MySpace sued the popular social networking Web site on
Thursday, claiming the company violated antitrust laws by blocking links to
his new online video-sharing venture. Brad Greenspan, chief executive of Los
Angeles-based LiveUniverse Inc., claims that last month MySpace began
deleting references on user pages to his new Web site, vidiLife.com, and has
dismantled video links and blocked users from mentioning the site. Both
sites allow users to post videos and create online profiles for swapping
media and collecting Internet penpals.

More awareness of problem gambling needed

 

Connecticut in many ways was not adequately prepared to deal with the domino
effects that problem and pathological gambling have on society. Not only
does this disorder adversely impact the individual gambler, but family
members, businesses and the entire community are impacted as well. It is a
unique disorder because it does not have the same noticeable characteristics
of taste and smell associated with alcohol and other abusive substances. The
financial costs to society are enormous in terms of mental health and
addiction treatment, physical stress disorders, welfare, homelessness and
involvement in the criminal justice system. Today's guest speakers provided
many new ideas and suggestions for Connecticut to consider as we attempt to
determine if pathological gambling belongs to the family of addictions,
impulse control disorders or compulsions. We also were provided with
information on Louisiana's successful diversionary gambling program designed
to provide assessment and treatment services for non-violent first- and
second-time offenders whose crimes are directly related to gambling
addiction. This program is somewhat similar to the diversionary programs we
have for alcohol and substance abuse and should be looked into by the
Connecticut Judicial Department because the rate of gambling related crimes
increases in our state. I constantly think about how problem gambling
continues to increase among our teens and college students. The most
poignant moment for me today was when The Rev. Greg Hogan of Barberton,
Ohio, shared with us his family's pain regarding the incarceration of his
college student son, convicted for robbing a bank in order to settle his
gambling debts. We need to realize gambling is not a risk-free form of
entertainment and if we gamble, we should gamble responsibly. We should also
be aware there is treatment available for problem gambling, not only for the
gambler, but for family members as well.

Hong Kong police smash triad controlled gambling gang

 

Hong Kong- Police have arrested eight men and seized betting records
totaling 1.4 million US dollars following a raid on a triad-controlled
gambling gang, a media report said Friday. Investigators believe the gang
hired overseas accomplices to watch European football matches and phone the
gang every time a goal was scored. This enabled syndicate members to place a
bet online seconds before internet bookmakers updated their web pages, the
South China Morning Post said, quoting police sources. Police commissioner
Dick Lee Ming-kwai said: "Initial investigation showed that the gang was
controlled by a Wo Shing Wo triad gang and they had been in operation since
August." Officers seized eight computers, 10 account books and eight mobile
phones in the raid which was made about 30 minutes before European Champions
League matches kicked off. Computer experts from the Commercial Crime Bureau
will examine the computers to check on betting records. Police said one of
the eight suspects had been among 20 people arrested in another
anti-soccer-gambling operation in the Yuen Long district in January last
year.

Gambling syndicates threaten baseball team, coach reports

 

Just a week after the La New Bears popped champagne bottles to celebrate
their winning the Taiwan pro baseball title, local fans and the sports
community are stunned by allegations that underground gambling syndicates
may have tried to influence game results with threats, bribes and large
payoffs. In a dramatic development on Thursday, the champion La New Bears
pitching coach Lin Kuang-hong turned himself in to the Taipei police. At a
press conference held on Thursday afternoon, he said he and his pitchers
have been under threat to throw games during the Taiwan Series -- the CPBL
league championship finals.
The Kaohsiung-based La New club clinched its first CPBL crown on Wednesday
October 25 after sweeping the Tainan-based President Lions four straight
games in the Taiwan Series. While being questioned by the Criminal
Investigation Bureau (???) on Thursday evening, Lin told police that during
a coerced meeting in a motel on October 20 -- night before the opening game
of the Taiwan series -- he was held at gunpoint by gangsters who operate
illegal betting pools. He was asked to pull starters at certain times and to
use particular relief pitchers who might cooperate in fixing the outcome of
the game. In response to media speculation, Lin was adamant that he did not
accept a NT$200,000 bribe from the gangsters, and that he did not in any way
cooperate or act to influence the outcome of the series. "I have no control
over handling of the pitchers or when to bring in the relievers. All these
decisions are not up to me. The decisions are made by the team manager Hong
Yi-chung," Lin said he told the gambling pool operators. He recalled the
conversation during a press conference at the CPBL office on Thursday.

The local media also broadcasted a videotape of secret encounters between
Lin and the gangsters and the contents of their conversation. It is alleged
the television stations received the videotape from the gangsters on
Thursday, in an attempt to discredit Lin and to show the pitching coach
might be involved in baseball gambling and game-fixing.

Some local press reports said the release of the videotape was a ploy by the
gambling syndicate, who had lost large amounts of money when the La New
Bears swept the series and wanted to take revenge on Lin and the players who
were deemed un-cooperative.

When asked by the press, La New team manager Hong Yi-chung said his players
are clean. "We did not do anything about the threats by the gambling
syndicates. It did not have any effect on us. Our players went all out and
we won the championship. The result speaks for itself," he said.

Did Republicans overplay their hand with anti-Internet gambling bill?

 

A Republican-sponsored effort to clamp down on Internet gambling may turn
out to be a bad bet for the Republican Party just days away from
congressional elections. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act,
which President George W. Bush signed into law Oct. 13, has infuriated many
voters who enjoy betting on sports or playing poker online, analysts said.
Other observers, however, see little threat to Republicans from the law,
calling it a relatively minor matter to most voters in Tuesday's elections.
"I don't believe a large volume of voters are motivated to go to the polls
because of Internet gaming, either way," said Brian Darling of the Heritage
Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank. But with Republicans
already on the defensive over the Iraq war, budget deficits and a sex
scandal involving teenage congressional assistants, the gambling law is the
latest issue that could steer voters away from the Republican Party. "I've
been a loyal Republican for over 30 years, and I'm quitting the party I once
loved," said Jim Henry, 55, who lives outside San Francisco. "Not because of
the Mark Foley scandal or Middle East policy. But because the Republican
Party wants to stop me from what I love to do: play poker over the
Internet." The Republicans are trying to hold onto their majority in both
the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Democrats could take a
majority in the House by gaining 15 seats, and in the Senate with six more
seats. All 435 House seats are on Tuesday's ballot, and 33 of the 100 Senate
seats are. Sponsored in the House by Republican Congressmen Jim Leach and
Bob Goodlatte, and backed in the Senate by Majority Leader Bill Frist, a
Republican, the law pits social conservatives who disapprove of gambling
against the 8.5 million Americans who spend about $6 billion (?4.7 billion)
annually to cast wagers online.
Some opponents of the law see a political component to its passage,
believing it was intended to buoy support for Frist among religious
conservatives if he decides to run for president in 2008.

The law is aimed at stopping the flow of money to gambling sites, where
funds could potentially be laundered.

Leach has also cited moral dimensions to the law, calling it one of the most
important pieces of family legislation ever considered by lawmakers.

"Internet gambling is not a subject touched upon in the Old or New Testament
or the Quran," Leach said earlier this year. "But the pastoral function is
one of dealing with families in difficulty and religious leaders of all
denominations and faiths are seeing gambling problems erode family values."

Even so, a Gallup Poll taken earlier this year found that 60 percent of
adults believe gambling is morally acceptable.

"I suspect that people who actually do a lot of Internet gambling ...
they're going to be turned off by this," said David Boaz of the libertarian
Cato Institute in Washington. "That's going to hurt Republicans."

Boaz said the law would likely alienate self-described libertarian voters,
which he estimates constitute about 13 percent of the electorate. Boaz
published an analysis last month suggesting libertarians have been slowly
shifting their support to Democrats since 2004.

Others say it's too much of a niche issue to swing the election.

"National security, the economy and such issues are likely to be the most
pressing issues in voters' minds next Tuesday," said Carrie Meadows, a
spokeswoman for Goodlatte.

The Poker Players Alliance, an advocacy group in Washington with more than
120,000 members, said it has been flooded with angry e-mails from
libertarian organizations and Republicans disavowing the law. And the group
is letting its members know how their representatives voted.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Ryanair to offer inflight online gambling

 

BUDGET airline Ryanair has struck a deal that could take online gambling on to all of its flights next year. The Irish carrier, Europe's fastest growing airline, announced yesterday it had formed a partnership with internet bingo group Jackpotjoy.com. The gambling deal will initially offer an inflight link to the Jackpotjoy website, with more than 80 online games available when the mobile service is introduced. Ryanair will take a slice of Jackpotjoy's profits. Outspoken chief executive Michael O'Leary said he expected the move to make "millions upon millions", but would not disclose the financial details. "We might have the pilot calling out bingo numbers. That would get everyone's attention." Ryanair is currently leading the charge to introduce mobile phone use during flights, currently planned to be allowed from mid-2007. The move is Ryanair's latest push to generated non-ticket income, with the carrier attracting millions of potential customers aboard its planes a year with its cut-price fares, often charging only landing fees and government taxes. Already 15 per cent of turnover comes from food sales and hotel bookings.

UK to Regulate, US to go Underground

 

Like ripping off a bandaid, the worst may be over for large public online gaming companies that have shut down their United States Web sites. On Halloween, the UK government announced it has designs to regulate Internet gambling. Critical of the U.S government decision to effectively ban gaming transactions, UK officials said the gaming law made in haste will only drive the industry underground. Although unhappy with the U.S. decision, sports minister Richard Caborn said that Britain would not protect online gaming executives from extradition requests if they took Internet bets from countries in which they were illegal. "People have to abide by the laws of particular countries," he said. "We will not acknowledge people who operate illegally." At the UK gaming summit, 32 international delegates discussed plans to regulate gambling and protect consumers from underage gambling and gambling addiction. The United States was of course not present. Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell said Britain opposed the U.S. ban, which risked driving the industry into criminal hands. "We do not support the approach the United States has taken," she said at the summit. "The enormous risk of prohibition is that it forces the industry underground," she said, likening the move to the U.S. ban on alcohol sales in the 1920s. Having a vested interest in a windfall of tax revenue, the UK has done their homework. Recent reports have shown that the online gambling market in the UK has doubled in five years, with more than one million users regularly betting via the internet.

Research commissioned by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has discovered that UK gamblers make up almost one-third of Europe's estimated total of 3.3 million online gamblers.

According to UK government figures, Europe's regular online gamblers stake nearly 3.5 billion pounds a year, an average of 1,000 pounds each. The worldwide Internet gambling market is put at more than $30 billion (16 billion pounds).

Incumbent is for tax cuts, against gambling

 

Ty Masterson has plans to continue representing the 99th District of the Kansas House of Representatives. And the Republican incumbent intends to keep taxes down. "Between me and my opponent, he's a tax-and-spend guy, I'm a tax-cutter and responsible budget guy. I'm pro-life and he's pro-choice. He's pro-gambling and I'm anti-gambling," he said. Masterson, 37, who is married with six children, is the founder and chief executive of Masterbuilt Homes Inc. and founder and chief executive of Masterson & Associates Inc., a real estate investment company. Last year, Republican committee members of the 99th District selected Masterson to fill a vacancy left by Todd Novascone, who resigned to serve as chief of staff for Rep. Jerry Moran, R-Hays. Since then, Masterson said, he has learned new skills in Topeka. He also serves on the Commerce and Labor Committee. "I felt purpose up there," he said. "I felt I was able to make a difference. And I have a good relationship on both sides of the aisle." Masterson said he has a responsibility to Kansas taxpayers to keep an eye on the education budget. "I want to see what happens with the hundreds of millions we have already pumped into the budget." He said he favors budget cuts, especially if the revenue isn't coming in. "There is a reason we don't pay houses off with every disposable dollar," he said. He supports a sales tax holiday for back-to-school shopping and opposes letting illegal immigrants obtain drivers licenses.

Masterson said he would be in favor of enacting tougher penalties for violent crimes and repeat sex offenders.

He would support a Taxpayer Protection Act to make it more difficult to raise property, sales, income and all other taxes on Kansas families.

And, Masterson said, he would be in favor of passing a constitutional amendment protecting private property owners from eminent domain abuse.

U.S. STANCE ON ONLINE GAMBLING IS ILLOGICAL AND MISCONCEIVED

 

The respected Bloomsberg columnist Matthew Lynn slammed the US government's Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act this week, describing its consequences as the worst crisis in online gambling's short history, but predicting that major companies affected by the Act would prosper regardless of the US challenge. "The U.S. stance on Internet gambling is illogical and misconceived," the columnist wrote. "Like most bad decisions, it will be reversed one day - the issue is whether the companies can wait until then." Lynn quotes a top problem gambling expert on the subject to underline the regulation rather than prohibition argument. "Whatever our American friends try to do, gambling is a legitimate industry and it is here to stay,'' Andrew Poole, online-services coordinator of the London-based gambling-counseling group GamCare, said. "While there are potential problems arising from online gaming, with the right regulatory approach we believe they can be dealt with.'' Recapping on the business consequences to public companies following the enactment of the American law (see previous Online-Casinos.com/InfoPowa reports) Lynn opines: "It will be a hard slog to regain that business from other countries. An industry that is missing the world's biggest economy will always rest on shaky ground. "A merger of the big players is one rational response. It is, however, also worth posing the question: Can the U.S. ban hold? "Probably not," he writes, before going on to contend that there are three flaws in American government reasoning: First, it isn't consistent. Lynn asks: "If gambling is so damaging, why is Las Vegas still flourishing, while companies such as PartyGaming are getting hit? The U.S. gaming business has never been run by men who were narrowly turned down for sainthood. If it's acceptable for others to profit from U.S. gamblers, then U.K. listed companies, which are respectable and backed by solid investors, should be allowed." Second, Internet gaming is no worse than other gambling. "True, it's right there in your own home - you just have to log on, and you are in a casino. And it operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Yet that isn't the whole story. 'A lot has been done in terms of self-regulation,' GamCare's Poole said. 'The responsible operators have strong policies for limiting the harmful impact'.''

Third, the U.S. has chosen the wrong target. "It is easier to monitor a virtual casino than a real one," says Lynn. "All the transactions use credit cards, so the operator can check precisely who people are, and how old they are. They can set limits on how long people play, and how much they lose. Try doing that on a racetrack or over a crowded roulette table."

Lynn asks why the US law tackles online gambling, when the Internet is awash with material far more dangerous to social well being and financial security than people playing virtual poker. He outlines regulatory moves in Europe and the UK with approval and forecasts that in time, U.S.-based gamblers will find a way to play - even if it means getting credit cards from a new breed of offshore banks.

"The companies that go the distance will flourish in due course," he concludes. "Bad laws are repealed eventually - it is just a matter of staying in the game until you can collect your winnings. The pummeled share prices of the main operators seem like a steal."

PARTY GAMING AND 888 TOP GAMBLING VISITS LIST

 

The latest statistics from comScore Networks, specialists in measuring Internet activity, revealed the top European Internet properties for September, based on data collected through its comScore World Metrix audience ratings service. These statistics are for September and therefore do not yet reflect the impact of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. The online gambling category showed a general traffic increase in Europe of 3 percent, with 888.com topping the list at 6.9 million visitors (an increase of 9 percent over the previous August month) and Party Gaming in the number two spot at 4.1 million visitors - a 16 percent increase. The top European Sites as usual were Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! Sites retained their rankings as the top three properties among European Internet users, with each remaining relatively flat versus August. Of the top 10 European sites, Wikipedia saw the greatest gains during September, rising 18 percent to 59.9 million visitors. The You Tube site, recently purchased by Google in a billion dollar deal, attracted 27.4 million visitors.

CANADA - HOME OF ONLINE GAMBLING

 

Ontario politicians may be trying to pass legislation banning online gambling adverts in the province, but elsewhere in Canada there's a more welcoming attitude to the industry. The Kahnawake First Nation Mohawks in Quebec province, home to well over 300 online gambling brands and host to a multitude of company servers will soon have competition from The Alexander First Nation. Announcing the formation of an online gambling commission this week, a spokesman for the Alexander First Nation said it intends to regulate companies that are granted licenses to operate under the tribe's sovereignty. A spokesperson for the new commission said it plans to offer online gaming licenses to suitably qualified applicants. The commission is confident that the regulations will ensure a safe, high-quality environment for Internet gamblers. The Alexander Gaming Commission's mission will be to regulate and control gaming and other gaming related activities within and from the Alexander First Nation. All interactive gaming such as online casinos and online poker sites, will have to satisfy three basic principles to obtain a license to operate:

* Only suitable persons and entities are permitted to operate within Alexander * Games must be fair to the players * Winners are paid

The Alexander First Nation is one of 44 such sovereign communities in the Alberta province of Canada. In 2002 the tribe was awarded $63 million by the Canadian government in settlement of a claim dating back to 1905 when approximately 3 851.9 hectares (9,518 acres) of reserve lands were allegedly surrendered by the First Nation.

The settlement provided Alexander First Nation with approximately $63 million in compensation for the damages and losses suffered as a result of the surrender. The settlement amount was substantial because the former reserve lands are productive agricultural lands and were part of a gas unit producing natural gas from 1955 to 1997. The majority of the compensation was placed in a trust to ensure that future generations of Alexander First Nation members benefit from the settlement.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Gambling figure pleads guilty

 

A Washington County restaurateur pleaded guilty Tuesday to running an illegal bookmaking business and criminal conspiracy in a nearly yearlong investigation of a multmillion-dollar gambling ring based in Pittsburgh. Michael "Mickey" Flynn Jr., owner of the Union Grill in downtown Washington, acknowledged coordinating the gambling ring with others, including onetime illegal video poker kingpin John "Duffy" Conley, formerly of the South Side. Flynn also pleaded guilty to being a felon who possessed six firearms. Flynn faces between 24 and 30 months in prison and will be sentenced Feb. 9. He will forfeit more than $800,000 seized from his home and investment accounts as part of his plea deal. Flynn, 64, was convicted in February 2004 on state charges of running a bookmaking operation out of his restaurant. The recent investigation landed him back in the Washington County Jail for seven months for violating the parole conditions from the earlier conviction. Investigators with the state police and Attorney General Tom Corbett's office collected wiretaps and visual surveillance of Flynn and Conley discussing bets and then meeting for payoffs, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brendan Conway said. "Although they couldn't observe the actual transfer of funds, they did observe the meetings," Conway said. Flynn and Conley met almost weekly, state investigators testified previously. Those meetings occurred in Washington and Carnegie, where Conley ran his operation out of a mortgage finance business. Telephone wiretaps in November and December revealed more than $3 million in wagers made by Conley, many with Flynn, state police have said. More than $1 million of that amount was made to offshore casinos, including BetCRIS.com, a Costa Rican gambling business where Flynn's son works.

Conway said Flynn was the local contact for the offshore casino, collecting and paying money to gamblers and bookies in Western Pennsylvania.

Conley returned to prison in May for four years after violating the conditions for his release on previous gambling charges. He was released from prison in 2004 after serving nine years for running a $15 million-dollar-a-year video poker empire and attempting to take over an Indian casino in California with mobsters from Pittsburgh and Youngstown, Ohio.

No gambling charges have been filed against Conley in the latest investigation, but the state has turned the case over to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Pittsburgh.

UK online gambling has more than doubled in past five years

 

The research was commissioned ahead of the first ever online gambling summit, hosted by Great Britain at Royal Ascot today. The summit will seek to secure international standards for the regulation of online, interactive TV and mobile phone gambling. The research shows: there are nearly one million regular online blers in Britain alone;> they make up nearly one-third of Europe's 3.3 million regular online gamblers;> Europe's regular gamblers stake approximately £3.5 bn pounds a year - an average of £1000 each;> there are now 2,300 sites across the world. A large number of these are based in a few key nations, with Antigua (537) top of the pile and Costa Rica in second with 474;> the UK currently has 70 online betting sites, but no gaming (poker, blackjack, roulette etc) sites;> women are becoming increasingly important in the remote gambling market. During the World Cup about 30% of those visiting key UK based betting websites were women. Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Tessa Jowell said "This research shows that online gambling is on the rise and there is a need to do something about this at a global level, as well as in the UK. I want to secure international support for agreed standards of regulation. That's why I called the summit today. "Of course we also want online gambling companies to come onshore. We will welcome them here because we believe that by allowing those who want to gamble to do so over the counter, not under the counter is the best way to protect children and vulnerable people and keep out crime. "But we won't take part in a regulatory race to the bottom. On the contrary, if companies do come to the UK it will be because 'regulated in the Great Britain' will mean a website is subject to the most stringent controls and social responsibility requirements anywhere in the world. "

The research was conducted prior to the US decision to ban the processing of payments for online gambling websites. It makes three recommendations: > Greater international co operation including harmonised regulations to > curb problem and youth gambling; > Co operation with the gambling industry; and > More research into the extent of participation in remote gambling

John Carr, new technology adviser for leading children's charity NCH said: "However good the new regime will be in the UK for online gambling, it might not be as effective if overseas websites simply ignore the high standards we have set. It is therefore very important that the Government is trying to persuade other countries to establish a similar regulatory framework."

The Gambling Commission will regulate online gambling in Great Britain. They published proposed licence conditions and codes of practice for consultation in March 2006.

Pennsylvania casinos hold problem gambling seminars

 

As reported by the Pennsylvania Express Times: "Both of the Lehigh Valley's casino hopefuls have invited social workers to learn about the warning signs and treatment options for compulsive gamblers. "Lehigh Valley Tropicana, hoping to operate in Allentown, and Bethlehem applicant Las Vegas Sands Corp. say they will hold their seminars even without a casino license from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board. The seminars are free and both companies hired the Pennsylvania Council on Compulsive Gambling to run their training. "The Tropicana announced its one-day seminar at a news conference Monday featuring spokesman Mark Nevins alongside Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski and his wife, Lisa Pawlowski. The latter is a licensed social worker who wants to introduce counselors, psychologists and others to the national certification for gambling addiction treatment. ".The mayor noted twice that the cost of Tropicana's seminar isn't part of the $500,000 pledged to Allentown to address problem gambling. This money depends on getting a state license and could be used, at least initially, for studying the extent of the issue."

Panel: Gambling Impact Is Positive

 

What was intended as a forum on table gambling turned into a discussion on video gambling, its journey and its impact on the region's future. ''I think it was a very good forum, and the participants asked all of us very good questions,î said state Sen. Ed Bowman, D-Hancock, following the forum held Monday evening at West Liberty State College. ''I would welcome more of these types of forums. Bowman was one of the panelists along with Hancock County Commission President Jeff Davis, Hancock County Commissioner Danny Greathouse and Mountaineer Race Track & Gaming Resort Chief Executive Officer Ted Arneault. Members of the college's Students in Free Enterprise organization sponsored the panel discussion. SIFE is worldwide, and the club engages in activities that teach others about economics, entrepreneurship and the free enterprise system. SIFE Adviser Gary Hypes said table gambling is one item on the front burner, and the group wanted to explore the issue. He said the panel was set as one in favor of table gambling. He aims to have a forum next semester to discuss the disadvantages. Bowman said he has supported a local referendum before video lottery came into the picture. He believes people have the right to vote on what happens in their community, and people have approached him about the right to vote since he started his public service career. Arneault said local-option voting has already occurred in the state. The state Legislature gave Greenbrier County residents the chance to decide whether they wanted table gambling at the Greenbrier. The residents voted it down, but it showed the local option works and it gives people a say in their area's direction, Arneault said.

''West Virginia has had eight local-option elections in its history,î" Arneault said. ''Five of them passed, and three failed.î

Arneault said Mountaineer used an outside company to find statewide West Virginia residents' and Hancock residents' opinions on the matter. The survey showed about 64.9 percent favor table gambling, while 42.1 percent are against it. In Hancock County, 67 percent are in favor and 26 percent are against it.

West Virginia will have to compete with Ohio and Pennsylvania, Arneault said, adding if Issue 3 passes in Ohio on Nov. 7, it will give citizens the right to vote if they want slot machines.

The Meadows in Washington County, Pa., is close to providing video gambling at its facility. The panel believes Wheeling Island Racetrack and Gaming Center probably will take the biggest hit. The center could lose 25 percent to 30 percent of its revenue once the Meadows goes online in January or February. Panel members also said Mountaineer could lose 15 percent. If Ohio and Pennsylvania offer video gambling, those projected losses could be higher.

Arneault also wanted to distinguish Mountaineer and the other three state racetracks from neighborhood video gambling cafes. The cafes, establishments located in neighbors with video lottery machines, are convenient but don't offer the venues like the four racetracks.

Mountaineer is a destination resort. People visit with disposable income and spend it on entertainment.

They are also attracted to the resort's other activities, and Mountaineer has transformed and expanded its non-gaming attractions, according to officials.

Greathouse said before Arneault took over, Mountaineer was under a different name, had a hotel and a racetrack.

Mountaineer now has the second largest convention center in the state, a hotel, The Harv, a spa, an athletic center, a golf course and a first-class restaurant. Arneault hopes to develop Mountaineer further.

''It's ironic that Ohio and Pennsylvania want the same thing as Hancock wants - the right to vote,î" Greathouse said. ''Table gaming could buy time for Mountaineer to finish transforming as a destination resort.''

UK Gov woos online gambling firms

 

The government today began pimping Britannia out to online gambling firms. The Department for Culture Media and Sport is hosting a conference at Royal Ascot aimed at bagging a lovely slice of pork as the industry realises its days of Wild West tax dodging are behind it. Or, if you believe Tessa Jowell, it's all about protecting the kids. The Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport said: "We will welcome them here because we believe that by allowing those who want to gamble to do so over the counter not under the counter is the best way to protect children and vulnerable people and keep out crime." Riiight. The UK has 70 sporting betting sites, but currently no casino gaming operations are based here. Ministers are betting the UK's regulatory regime will now attract them with the promise of full legitimacy to calm twitchy shareholders. Until now, they've prefered tax havens like Gibraltar and the Caribbean Islands. The industry is undergoing a massive reorganisation after the US decided to close a legal loophole which had allowed them to coin huge revenues from American punters playing casino games. The Safe Port Act was amended to make money transfers to or from online gambling outfits illegal. Stock exchange-listed firms quickly saw their share price plummet. Prior to that, gambling execs were collared by the Feds as they passed through US airports. Jowell recently sniped at the US for the ban. She said it harks back to the depression-era ban on booze.

U.S. Law Causing Turmoil in Online Gambling Industry

 

The online gambling industry is undergoing a seismic shift just weeks after a new law cut off much of the business in the United States. Big public companies have lost billions of dollars in market value and millions of customers as they shut their United States Web sites for sports betting, poker and other games. Those companies are anxiously searching for acquisition partners and new customers. But business is booming at some smaller private companies, which have continued to operate in the United States despite the ban. Britain, meanwhile, is trying to drum up international support for regulation of the industry outside the United States. As the first large Western government to explicitly allow businesses to set up shop on its soil, Britain has stood to benefit enormously from taxing Internet gambling companies that moved here. Most of the public online gambling companies trade on the London Stock Exchange. More than £4 billion ($7.6 billion) has been wiped off the market value of publicly traded online gambling stocks since Congress passed the bill in early October, analysts in London estimate. The bill makes it illegal for a bank to transfer money to a Web site that offers gambling. The British government has been sharply critical of the United States law. United States lawmakers said they passed the ban out of concern that the sites would increase gambling addiction and social problems. "The industry has been very hard hit by the U.S. ban," said Tessa Jowell, Britain's culture minister, during a news conference on Tuesday at the Ascot Racecourse, where she met with delegates from 30 other countries to discuss the subject. The United States was invited but did not send a representative. "The Internet is a global marketplace, and that's why we need action at the global level," Ms. Jowell said.

Many of the largest public online sites, like PartyGaming and Sportingbet, got the majority of their revenue from the United States. PartyGaming suspended its United States business after President Bush signed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act on Oct. 13. Bankers, analysts and Internet executives say online gambling companies are now discussing merging with each other. Meanwhile, private equity companies, which are flush with cash, have been wondering whether they can assemble a few of these companies into one, slash their costs and reap the profit.

Traditional casino companies in the United States and Asia are also considering buying up the sites as a way to enter Europe. And British betting-shop chains like Ladbrokes and William Hill are thinking about deals with the online gambling companies, bankers and analysts say.

So far, none of these conversations have resulted in any firm agreements. On Monday, one online gambling company, 888 Holdings, said it was in "various preliminary discussions with third parties," after articles in the British press linked the company with PartyGaming. Any such talks are at an early stage, several people in the industry said, and 888 is considering several options.

Despite its intentions, the Internet bill has not eliminated online gambling in the United States, say analysts and players. Instead, small, privately held companies are thriving.

PokerStars.com, for example, had more than 52,000 players participating in games on Tuesday afternoon. It is unclear how many of those were Americans, but analysts generally estimate that they make up at least half of any online gambling market.

In a statement on its Web site, PokerStars said that after receiving "extensive expert advice" it had concluded that the recently passed provision related to Internet gambling "does not prohibit you from playing online poker" in the United States. The company is based in San José, Costa Rica, and processes credit card transactions through a subsidiary in the Isle of Man.

Many online gambling executives, however, were alarmed by the arrests of two of their peers, and expressed concerns they would be arrested by United States prosecutors. So far, that has not been the case.

Peter Dicks, a former nonexecutive chairman of Sportingbet, was arrested in September as he flew into the United States. He returned to Britain in October, after a New York judge dismissed his arrest warrant, citing a lack of evidence. David Carruthers, the BetOnSports chief executive, was arrested this summer and is still facing charges in St. Louis. He has pleaded not guilty.

While lobbying for regulation rather than prohibition of the industry, British officials said on Tuesday that they would not stand in the way of United States calls to extradite British citizens or residents. A draft communiqué from the conference said online gambling should not be allowed to become a source of crime or be used to finance criminality, that it should be fair to consumers and that children and problem gamblers should be protected.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Jowell seeks net gambling deal

 

Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell is to seek an international agreement on how to regulate the internet gambling industry. She will make the bid at the first international summit on the global impact of the industry. It already boasts one million regular punters in this country. Ms Jowell will urge delegates to act to protect children and other vulnerable people from "remote gambling". Ms Jowell fears the US ban on internet gambling could fuel a rise in unregulated offshore sites. New legislation in Britain will clear the way for super casinos and an influx of online gaming businesses. But those registering in the UK will still have to abide by "very tough" social responsibility codes.

Professional Poker Players React to Online Gambling Bill

 

Over the past several weeks I asked have asked dozens of professional poker players their reaction to the recently passed internet gaming law. What I actually asked each player was: "Do you have a sound byte comment on the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act?" Here is a summary of the player's comments in categories that collectively represent their various opinions; some of the 'best' quotes are included: The way Congress passed this bill was so underhanded, cowardly and/or political. Captain Tom Franklin: "The way it was done, in the dark of night attached to the Ports Bill was just cowardly. I can't believe the government is trying to control what happens in my living room. And with what is allowed on the internet, how can poker be a big issue?" Mike Matusow: "The law is unconstitutional, and the way they did it, sleazy late at night.. Go ahead and tax it, it's the right thing to do; but this law, I'm ashamed to live here and all the players from other countries just can't understand why we put up with this." Was this is really something that Congress needed to be concerned with? Several different players offered: "Some of our best Presidents and greatest generals were poker players. Wonder how they would react to this law?" We hope poker players vote. Doyle Brunson: "I think the Republicans are going to lose every election. I am a life-long Republican myself and I am voting for the Democrats and I hope all poker players do the same." Players and online sites will find a way around the law. "I hear you can cross the border into Canada already and find third party internet depositories." Famous Canadian player, who wished to remain anonymous.

How can my job suddenly be illegal?

Phil Hellmuth: "I find it hard to believe that poker is immoral."

The online sites did too little to lobby against the bill.

"Online poker fueled the poker boom and if this law stands it will kill it." Famous American player, who told me to say his quote came from Barry Greenstein or someone else "usually credited with having some common sense."

Poker will survive this but not all of the players will.

When another player made this comment, Daniel Negreanu was standing with us; you have seen Daniel on television take on that disbelieving look when he is trying to figure out a big over bet by an opponent. Picture exactly that speechless reaction with a lot of disgusted head shaking.

The government just tapped on the glass.

Jamie Gold answered with a slow shake of his head and an exasperated sigh and: "Can anyone tell me: Why?"

Antonio Esfandiari: "I still don't know what to say, it's just depressing."

You may have got the drift that many of the players have taken the Congressional action very personally. This was clearly the most common reaction I got from the players. This final quote was given to me by a player I truly respect; I will give it to you exactly as he said it:

"I want you to promise that if you use what I say, it will be anonymous. I feel very strongly about this but for personal and business reasons, I would rather this not be credited to me. I have played poker for many years. I learned to play poker in the military and in a war zone. I served my country when I was called and now my country is telling me that what I do for a living is against the law. My country is calling me a criminal. I don't care how they write the law or what political maneuvers they use; my country that I proudly served in a time of war just called me a whore and I don't like it one damn bit."

Methodist Church backs global regulation of internet gambling

 

The Methodist Church in Great Britain has reiterated its concern about the alarming increase in gambling through the internet, and has urge the UK government to press forward with a global agreement to restrict its unfettered growth. Speaking in advance of today's International Summit on Online Gambling, hosted by the Department for Culture Media and Sport, Anthea Cox, Coordinating Secretary for Public Life and Social Justice, declared: "The Methodist Church welcomes the Government's initiative in seeking international agreement on the regulation of e-gambling." She continued: "Research shows that repetitive and continuous play is a significant factor in people becoming problem gamblers. This is a feature of on-line gambling and with increasing numbers of people playing, it is important that these sites should be regulated to protect people from harm and exploitation." Ms Cox declared: "We welcome the opportunity that the summit conference offers for sharing best practice and agreeing principles for regulation to protect consumers. International meetings are an important way to set up safeguards for online gamblers. Countries must work together as online gambling is not confined to national borders - this is a worldwide issue that demands global attention and co-operation." She concluded: "The Methodist Church remains committed to speaking out to protect children and vulnerable groups from being exploited by gambling, to promote greater education about problem gambling, and to help individuals and organisations working with problem gamblers." The Methodist Church is the third-largest Christian church in Britain, with nearly 300,000 members and regular contact with over 800,000 people. It has around 5,800 churches in Great Britain, and also maintains links with other Methodist churches worldwide with a total membership of 70 million.

Man barred from charitable gambling in the state

 

A man accused of violating North Dakota's gambling laws has been banned from charitable gambling in the state, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem says. Gary Minard, who maintains a residence in Bismarck but now works primarily in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, agreed to the ban as part of a settlement of the state's lawsuit against him and the nonprofit IQ Fund. Stenehjem said Minard also must give $64,546 to charity and pay $15,000 to the attorney general's office. Kent Morrow, Minard's attorney, said Minard admitted no wrongdoing. "Rather than spend additional time and money, it was more reasonable to resolve it this way," he said. "He's always maintained that there was nothing improper." Stenehjem said Minard operated the IQ Fund, formerly known as Pinto Spirit Development and Bear Soldier Industries, which ran a charitable gambling operation in Bismarck. Stenehjem said a 2004 investigation by his office's Gaming Division concluded Minard had used fraud to obtain a gambling license for a site in West Fargo. In October 2004, the nonprofit IQ Fund agreed to surrender its gambling license for Smoky's Steakhouse in West Fargo. The following June, the state sued the IQ Fund, seeking to force it to turn in the $64,546 in proceeds from gambling activity. The state lawsuit also included other allegations, including claims that Minard filed false gambling tax returns and set up a sham bank account in Minnesota to deceive the attorney general's office. "There is no place for dishonest people in charitable gaming," Stenehjem said Monday in a statement. "Fortunately, Minard's lies and mismanagement were quickly discovered and addressed with prompt enforcement action." Morrow said the allegations in the lawsuit were never proven. "There were never any lies or mismanagement," he said. The attorney general's office also reached a settlement with Damiana Markel, of Mandan, another IQ Fund board member. Markel, whom officials described as "a very minor player," is banned from charitable gambling in the state for five years.

New Zealand gambling act criticized

 

"The introduction of the Gambling Act three years ago has had little impact on decreasing pokie machines in some regions in New Zealand and it's obviously not working well, says a gambling lobby group. "Gambling Watch coordinator David Macpherson said all New Zealand regions had shown a drop in machines in the last three years with a nationwide decrease of 10.1 per cent, but some regions were well below the average. "Southland and Waikato both had a reduction of less than 4 per cent. ".However, in other regions community concern about the harmful effects of pokie machines was having an impact with numbers decreasing about 15 per cent, he said. .."

BATTLING GAMBLING ADDICTION

 

Both casino companies vying to operate in the Lehigh Valley are sponsoring seminars for social workers on recognizing and treating compulsive gambling. The Lehigh Valley Tropicana proposed for Allentown is holding a one-day session 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Jan. 12 at Muhlenberg College's Seegers Union. Licensed professionals can sign up by calling the Allentown mayor's office at 610-437-7546. Las Vegas Sands Corp., eyeing a Bethlehem casino, is holding five sessions starting Nov. 21 at Northampton Community College's Fowler Family Southside Center.

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