Best Gambling Guide from Gambling Headquarters

Best Gambling Guide for online gambling reviews, best gambling bonuses, gambling games, and gambling tips. Our gambling guide features

rules for baccarat, blackjack, craps, roulette & slots.. Best gambling payouts and best gambling bonuses are featured in this gambling guide.

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

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

More on organised gambling

 

am writing to express my thanks to Mr Peter Browne for his published letter entitled "Organised gambling will only create more poverty and crime." I find his letter rather intriguing and needless to say I share most his expressed views on this issue. Incidentally, on the same day Mr Hudson George's letter ("Organised gambling can erase poverty") was published; the BBC website published an article entitled "Britain's Streets of Debt." The sub-header went on: "From the hidden story of the elderly and debt, to the explosion of online gambling which is causing financial misery to thousands and the story of the loan sharks and doorstep lenders, BBC one's Britain's streets of debt explores five stories of individual debt. Personal debt in the UK is over £1.1 trillion and is growing by £1 million every four minutes." From the Caribbean to the UK I have has some experience of what gambling can do to some of us. In Grenada as a child I had seen people on more than one occasion running out of a particular gambling establishment with bloody clothing and others chasing after them with sharp objects; in Trinidad as a young man; someone I had known in a personal capacity died as a result of gambling. The Union Park horse racing circuit was not too far away from where I lived in San Fernando, so I knew a lot of the regular punters; none of which became better off. They were always short of a dollar or two; always living from hand to mouth. Same in Britain; some regulars even have accounts with their local betting shops referred to as the bookies; some people I have known even have shares in race horses. However, none of these people are rich or well off. Most, if not all, are living yet again hand to mouth as we say in Britain. Going back to Mr Browne's article, it is the misery that organised gambling inflicts on families that one should be aware of. Some of us believe in the get rich quick philosophy; others are weak and vulnerable while most people who are hooked on gambling are addicted to it and cannot help themselves. They borrow as much as they can from credit card companies; families; friends and loan sharks to feed their gambling habit. Some even get involve with drug trafficking; breaking and entering into other people's properties. This spiral escalates to the point where it causes family and marriage break ups; people loosing their jobs; their homes; their friends and acquaintances and even their self respect. Too often in Britain the Social Services; the Volunteer Services sector and the Welfare Services (all funded by the hard pressed taxpayers) have to pick up the pieces. Some of the most depressing aspects of this dreadfulness are where children are involved and in the worst cases they have to be taken into Social Care for their own welfare and safety as family life disintegrates. In the UK a lot of thoughts are put into legislation that is then used to regulate; control; and monitor gambling at almost all levels. Political parties are generally very nervous about the effects gambling is likely to have on citizens especially the poor; the weak and vulnerable. They also work closely with and take notice of the Police Service; Probation Service; and concerns expressed by various pressure groups. One can say the gambling industry in the UK is regulated and closely monitored. From time to time new legislations are passed by parliament to tighten up on what can be seen as loop holes in existing legislations that control particular parts the industry. They are also limitation on growth; locations; mix; operational hours; and a gambling age limit for punters. The legislations also give local communities the opportunity to voice their concerns through their local Borough or District Councils who are usually the Planning and Licensing Authority for the areas concern.

As a business; organised gambling or gambling of various forms for that matter does provide some sort of employment; they are also spin offs to the supply and service industries however; one must ask the question. Does the limited employment it provides for the lucky few erase overall poverty? In setting up business; the person or persons involve will want to know (a) is there a market? And (b) how big is it? Then consideration is given to growth etc.

Before sovereign states in the Caribbean consider passing legislation for organised gambling, perhaps their governments should, like most business people, consider (a) who is the market, i.e. who is the target? And (b) where will the money come from?

Finally, within weeks of the British National Lotteries started operating they were an outcry from most of the charitable organisations such as the Red Cross; Oxfam and many others. Their complaints were the shortfall in financial donation receipts. Apparently, most of the money some volunteers donated to these charitable organisations was used instead to play the lottery. You see, in most cases our income remains the same therefore if our habits or tastes should change for what ever reason something has to give and this is exactly what Mr Browne meant when he said "organised gambling will only create more poverty and crime." If our income is spent on gambling, then our standard of living and our family lifestyle is most likely to end up in a collapsed state.

Prosecutor denies favoritism, vows to open gambling-probe files

 

Outagamie County District Attorney Carrie Schneider is tired of rumors that she tabled a two-year-old gambling probe to protect families members. So she's promising to file charges in the next 30 days in the case. She says she'll also attach whatever information she has, to prove she has nothing to hide. The charges stem from a 2005 Super Bowl pool at the Legacy Supper Club in Grand Chute. Agents with the state Justice Department investigated for six months, and then turned the case over to Schneider's office. The case languished there, leading to rumors Schneider was trying to protect relatives who were pool participants. She says her office was more focused on homicide cases and felonies, not misdemeanor gambling charges.

Internet Gambling - Washington Gambling Law Challenged

 

Washington State Representative Chris Strow and his House Bill 1243, believe that online gambling in the United States should be legal in the privacy of your own home. In 2006, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was signed into law by President George Bush, which makes online gambling conducted in the United States a Class C Felony. Chris Strow plans to change this law after introducing House Bill 1243 to correct what he considers an inappropriate penalty for an activity responsible adults should be allowed to do in the privacy of their own home. Strow said, "While I do see the need for protecting our citizens from online gambling that may be scamming innocent victims, I do think that there is also a level of accountability, as an adult, to do as he or she chooses in his or her own home." "Most certainly choosing to gamble, or play a game of skill such as poker, should not have been made a crime equivalent to possessing child pornography or threatening the Governor," he added. Strow made a plea for state residents to call and write to the Chairman of the House Commerce and Labor Committee, Representative Steve Conway, to ask him to schedule a hearing for House Bill 1243.

Internet Gambling: Washington State Looks to Amend Law

 

For nearly the past year, Washington State has made it a crime to gamble online. In fact, doing so is considered a Class C felony, with a punishment no different than that of child molestation and drug dealing. Until now the law has not been put into affect other than to harass one popular online gambling affiliate webmaster residing in the state to remove all links to internet gambling sites. That site soon plans to block out Washington State ip addresses. Now the barbaric law is being challenged by Rep. Chris Strow, R-Whidbey Island. "There's a certain point at which policy can be perceived as 'nanny stateish.' I think we reached that point with last year's legislation and I'm aiming to make amends," said Strow, who is appealing to Washington State citizens, though he would probably like to garner support from those outside the state as well. Strow announced his legislation, House Bill 1243, to quash the felony charge language in last year's legislation addressing in-home internet gambling. "My goal with this legislation is to correct an element from last year's online gambling bill, Senate Bill 6613, that made it a Class C Felony to gamble recreationally in one's own home if it is done online," said Strow. "While I do see the need for protecting our citizens from online gaming that may be scamming innocent victims, I do think that there is also a level of accountability, as an adult, to do as he or she chooses in his or her own home," said Strow. "Most certainly choosing to gamble, or play a game of skill such as poker, should not have been made a crime equivalent to possessing child pornography or threatening the Governor." House Bill 1243 is currently awaiting a hearing in the House Commerce and Labor Committee.

WTO backs Antigua over US

 

The United States government has shown a chink in their armor during their war against online gambling. On Friday they admitted that the WTO had ruled against them in the most recent stage of their long standing dispute with Antigua. Gretchen Hamel, a spokeswoman for the US Trade Representative at the WTO, said the interim report "did not agree with the United States that we had taken the necessary steps to comply". Antigua's representative Mark Mendel said "America's prohibition in the provision of gambling services from other countries violates the US commitments to the WTO". The US government considers online gambling to be illegal, however they have created loop holes that exclude horse racing and various state lotteries. Antigua accused the United States of protectionism against international online gambling companies. Antigua is a small Caribbean island that is home to several online gambling companies. Antigua successfully argued their case, in front of the WTO, that the United States government allows online gambling on horse racing, but unfairly forbids international companies from competing in their market. The final ruling on the case is expected in March 2007. Once the final ruling is disclosed, Antigua will be able to introduce sanctions although the US still has the right to appeal. Legal & Trade Experts do not believe that Antiguan sanctions will help to drive change in US policies regarding online gambling, however the European Union could take up the cause. If the EU gets involved, Washington will begin to listen more intently out of fear of being sanctioned by larger trading partners. One lucky benefactor of the ruling could be David Carruthers. Carruthers, the former CEO of BetonSports PLC, is currently on house arrest awaiting trial in a Missouri Federal Court on money laundering and tax evasion chargers stemming from his duties with BetonSports. BetonSports was licensed by Antigua as an online gambling operator. Carruthers, a British Citizen, was arrested in the Dallas/Fort Worth airport while on a layover between Costa Rica and the UK back in July 2006. The Carruthers arrest was one incident that clearly showed the US had no intention of complying with the WTO ruling. Since then, the online gambling industry has been under constant siege by the US government. In the middle of the night, the Republican led congress tacked legislation banning online gambling financial transactions to a "MUST PASS" Port Security Bill. In November, the President signed UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006) into law. UIGEA bars financial institutions from knowingly allowing online gambling financial transactions.

The most recent blow in the US goverment's war on online gambling came this month when the Canadian founders of NETeller were arrested on tax evasion and money laundering charges. NETeller's e-wallet money transfer solution was widely used by operators to take in deposits and process withdraw requests. The arrests triggered a ripple effect with other companies such as Citadel Commerce leaving the US market out of fear of indictment.

Many within the online gambling industry are hoping that the WTO ruling will help pave the way for regulation in the $15 Billion dollar US market. The big question is: When will the United States realize that prohibition does not work?

A winning bet in land of the blues: the miracle of gambling, US-style

 

Driving down Highway 61 from Memphis, Tennessee to Tunica, Mississippi, the fields are flat, with occasional bursts of swampland, and cotton balls blowing on the tar. As you edge south, the billboards grow more insistent, offering endless variations on the notion of chance: "Best cash back!", "Best dealers", "$10k Fridays". Follow your luck, and you end up riding towards Mississippi's tallest building, the Gold Strike, and into the parking lot in front of the old Vegas frontage of the Horseshoe. A vintage car is marooned between red ropes and the foyer echoes to the sound of "96 Tears". There, I ask a security guard for directions to the historic town of Tunica. "It's not very historic," he replies. "The old town, then?" "You're not going to see much there," he says. "Have y'all been up to Memphis to see all the Elvis Presley stuff?" Traditionally, the traffic along Highway 61 has gone north. Long before Bob Dylan celebrated the roving gamblers of the road in song, Mississippi's black population was heading out towards Memphis and Chicago in search of work and freedom, taking their music with them. That migration spawned soul and rock 'n' roll. But today, if you keep driving along the casino roads, out past the western facade of Sam's Town, with its saloon and its bathhouse, and on beyond the RV park, you come to a point where the tarmac ends in a circle. It is a junction between the commerce of Tunica's present, and the colour of its recent past. Twenty years ago, this area would have been nothing but fields; the view across the levee would have been as it was when the most famous of the delta bluesmen, Robert Johnson, lived here. The centre of the Johnson myth is the crossroads where, in exchange for the gift of his talent, he sold his soul to the devil. The location of this mythical gamble is understandably imprecise, and several delta crossroads lay claim to it, but Dick Taylor, executive director of the Tunica Museum, believes the cemetery, out where the Crosstown Road meets the Bonny Blue Road, has as good a case as any. "If Robert Johnson's ghost is still walking around his birthplace then he can look at the casino lights any night," he said. "He was born right there next to the levee at Robinsonville, and grew up right there. He would see Sam's Town, looking right across the levee. "I have no iron-clad proof that he sold his soul to the devil at the Crosstown cemetery but he was very well acquainted with it, and my experience with the devil is that you don't have to travel tremendous distances to meet him. All you have to do is express some kind of desire to see the cloven hooves and the horns and the pitchfork, and he'll come to you. Crosstown cemetery probably has the best claim on being the most sincere place that he would have found the devil."

A certain pragmatism on matters of public morality has long been a feature of life in the Mississippi delta, so it is perhaps not surprising that the area embraced gambling with evangelistic fervour. The economic impact of that decision, which crept though the legislature in a little-noticed amendment to a spending bill in 1991, is as obvious as the statistics of the "Tunica Miracle" are startling.

In 1985, when the Rev Jesse Jackson visited Sugar Ditch in the town of Tunica, he proclaimed it a national disgrace, dubbing it "America's Ethiopia". The mechanisation of agriculture meant that unemployment was endemic. "Sugar Ditch was as much a mindset as a physical location," said Mr Taylor. "It was the depths of despair that caused our citizens to say, here we are and it's hopeless. The influx of casino money and the jobs and opportunities and the hope that the casinos brought for some people has broken this never-ending circle of poverty."

When the first casino, Splash, opened at Mhoon Landing in 1992, there was no indication that gambling would transform the economy. Corporate studies had detected no appetite for gambling in the delta, and the founders of Splash, Rick and Ron Schilling, were unable to persuade the power companies to supply electricity to their converted barge. (A peculiarity of Mississippi gaming law is that the casinos must be partially built over water).

James Gravenmier, now graphic designer at Sam's Town, worked on the first advertisements for Splash, and recalls the impact of that casino. "They opened for about three days, then the gaming commission shut it down for a couple of days 'cause they had so much money piled up," he said. "Great big bales - they were putting it in stacks and tying it together. They couldn't count it fast enough. They made more money than they had any dreams of. They made $850,000 (£430,000) just on the admission. Ten bucks a head. They made $150m in their first year."

Mr Taylor added: "People would wait at the Splash for up to eight hours for the opportunity to come onboard. There was one lady whose job was to welcome you, and click a little clicker, and when it got to 800 she said, 'Not until somebody leaves'. Now they did keep you well-oiled while you waited, so it wasn't a terrible ordeal, but it was a long wait."

The success of Splash alerted the gaming corporations to an untapped market, and a gambling gold rush followed. The price of land rocketed. "They started throwing money in here and they went to these landowners and offered 'em so much money for these cotton fields that they couldn't say no," said Mr Gravenmier.

Not all the casinos have been successful. Some have closed, and some have been re-branded. Circus-Circus came and went, and Fitzgerald's is currently moving upscale with the slogan "gambling just got better".

There are nine supercasinos in Tunica, and each makes a pitch for a particular market. The ideal visitor to Sam's Town is said to be a cowboy boot-wearing, Nascar racing fan. Hollywood offers a kind of Hard Rock proximity to fame; the Batmobile and the DeLorean car from Back to the Future are parked by the one-armed bandits. The Horseshoe has a blues museum where you can admire Neil Sedaka's 1998 microphone and one of Albert King's favourite hats (circa 1986).

No one visits a casino to admire the scenery but the numbers are impressive. Webster Franklin was president of the local Chamber of Commerce during the early years of the "Tunica Miracle", and is now president and CEO of the Convention and Visitors' Bureau. Under his watch, Tunica has gone from being the poorest county in the US to the country's third biggest gaming centre, behind Atlantic City and Las Vegas.

"No one ever dreamed, when Splash opened, that 15 years later, this would be a $1.3bn-a-year industry employing 16,000 people. That's more people than live in Tunica County. We only have a residential population of 10,000, and a workforce of 5,500 that live in the county."

Before the casinos came, there wasn't a stop-light in Tunica County. Now there is a new Interstate, I-69, and the two-lane highways have been broadened to four. There are new schools, sewers and drains, and the airport has been expanded.

The casinos pay a 12 per cent gaming tax, with 8 per cent going to the state, and 4 per cent to the local economy. That 4 per cent comes to $45-50m a year. In an attempt to diversify the economy, a 2,200-acre site has been prepared, so the area can tender for industrial projects, such as a proposed Rolls-Royce aeroplane engine factory. "Never in our wildest dreams would we have thought of putting Tunica and Rolls-Royce in the same sentence had it not been for the opportunities created by gaming," said Mr Franklin.

The poverty of Tunica County overrode moral and religious objections to gambling in a way that was not replicated in neighbouring counties. Clearly, the benefits have not been shared equally. Despite the casino jobs, unemployment is still about 10 per cent, and there are some alarming statistics, such as a 1,600 per cent increase in court cases in the first five years of legal gambling. Mr Franklin said the crime figures can be explained by the huge increase in visitor numbers. "I live in the town of Tunica," he said. "I rarely lock my doors. There is little to no crime. Sure, the bicycles get stolen, just like any other place."

Mr Taylor said the benefits outweighed the bad side-effects. "Having been raised as a Baptist, my imagination led me to believe that this was the worst thing that could happen," he said. "In my mind I could see the bars and the liquor stores, tattoo parlours and topless dancing ladies, and all of the vices I associated with gambling and organised crime. None of that has materialised. We laughed before the casinos came and said if we could have organised crime at least we'd have some organisation. But that didn't occur.

"I'm sure there are people that have become habitual gamblers, and perhaps are addicted to it - and that would weigh on the bad side. But the fact that we have allowed most of the population to be employable, and we have been able to improve the basic lot of all of our citizens makes it more good than bad."

These arguments will be welcomed by the British government as it prepares to nominate a site for the first British supercasino. But Mr Franklin added a note of caution. One supercasino isn't enough, he says. Success requires competition.

"If we had said one casino, or even two or three, could locate here, you would not have seen the infrastructure improvements, the four-laning of the roads, the new buildings, the factory-outlet shopping, the golf courses, the entertainment facilities. You would not have seen an area that has grown from cotton fields to what it is today."

What would Robert Johnson make of it? In life, he was a gambler. In death, he has three graves, none of which is guaranteed to house his bones. The odds are, he isn't spinning in any of them.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Gambling Bill Set for House

 

Odds are this year's table gambling bill will be introduced Tuesday in the West Virginia House of Delegates. "We've got one pretty well put together," said Delegate Randy Swartzmiller, D-Hancock, who is expected to introduce the bill. "It's not out there together yet. We're putting together the final details. "I'd say Tuesday is pretty accurate." The table gambling bill, if passed, would allow officials at the state's four racetracks to petition their respective county commissions and ask that a referendum to allow table gambling be placed before the county's voters. The racetracks are located in Ohio, Hancock, Kanawha and Jefferson counties. This will be the third consecutive year that table gambling legislation will be introduced in the West Virginia Legislature, but neither of the first two bills ever came up for discussion or vote on the House floor. A table gambling bill did pass the West Virginia Senate in 2005. The 2007 legislation contains some changes from past table gambling bills. For starters, the amount of state tax placed on gross proceeds generated by table gambling has been doubled - from 12 percent to 24 percent. It is expected this rate could be as raised to as high as 34 percent while in the House Finance Committee. Secondly, if a table gambling referendum were to be approved by a county's voters, the same voters could petition again five years later to recall the measure if they find table gambling hasn't been beneficial to their community. What remains the same in the bill is just who gets to vote on a table gambling referendum. Opponents to table gambling had asked that any measure pertaining to the issue go before all voters in the state - not just those living in counties where the racetracks are located. The proposed bill continues to carry the provision that a table gambling vote be by local referendum - one voted on by residents in a specific county.

"There's been a lot of behind the scenes work," Swartzmiller said. "Everybody has had a seat at the table to discuss their concerns."

He believes the majority of those in the state think those in racetrack counties should have the right to decide whether there is table gambling in their community.

Gambling on an addiction

 

The allure of gambling calls out to Matthew Bowles-Roth wherever he goes. When he drives on the freeway, casino billboards entice him with riches. When he buys cigarettes at the convenience store, lottery tickets shine under the glass counter. When he flips through TV channels, guys his age appear in high-stakes poker tournaments, beaming like movie stars. Each time, Matthew pauses. He can't take that path again. He forces himself to remember what it was like when he did: Lying. Stealing. Dropping out of college. "There's tons of things that I just wish I had never done," he says now, four years later. At 22, Matthew has experienced the grip of gambling in a way most people never will. In just three years, he went from someone who had never gambled to compulsive gambler to recovering addict. He is part of an age group that is drawing increasing concern from gambling-addiction counselors, government regulators and college administrators. Card playing and Internet gambling have increased among zcollege-age men in recent years, according to one study in Pennsylvania. And many of them learned the game in high school. In many cases, "parents are actually strongly encouraging their kids to play poker," said Jeff Derevensky, co-director of the International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. "They would prefer them to be in their basements playing poker than doing something 'more dangerous' like drinking and doing drugs." Research is scant about college-age gambling participation over time. And studies conflict on the question of whether young people are more susceptible to become problem gamblers - some studies say yes, others cast doubt on that premise. Still, researchers are concerned that gambling accessibility could lead to more problems.

Pet among teen's gambling losses

 

Teenage gambling is a growing problem in Southwestern Ontario, a local expert says. Though she didn't have hard numbers available, Bonnie Orvidas said it's clear to everyone involved more young people are seeking addiction treatment services. "It's in the last two to three years that we have been hearing from young people. Most of them are males," said Orvidas, the problem gambling services program co-ordinator for Addiction Services of Thames Valley. A study released yesterday found that one-third of Ontario teens aged 15 to 17 are gambling. But other statistics pulled together from across the province in recent years show that as many as 80 per cent of teens between the ages of 12 and 17 gambled for money and that young people spend more time gambling than drinking, smoking or doing illicit drugs. "I think it's about accessibility for one thing. If you look around Southwestern Ontario, there are a lot of opportunities to gamble," Orvidas said. Teens who gamble, even casually, agree there are plenty of avenues. "I do quite a bit of it," said 16-year-old Johnny Haskett of London, who was hanging out at the Teen Annex at the London Central Library. His biggest loss was losing his pet rat in a bet, he said. Haskett said he is no good at cards, so his gambling involves placing bets with his friends or his friends' parents on sporting events. Like Haskett, 18-year-old Jerry Shaw said he bets with his friends "on a weekly basis" and he belongs to a fantasy basketball league. "Me and my buddies are too young to get into the casinos," so they find other ways to gamble, he said. "I make a lot. Money's cool." Shaw said he doesn't have any debts, but he sometimes uses the money he makes to pay bills. Yesterday's study by the Responsible Gambling Council also noted that one in five teens gamble because they need money. "What that says to me is that they have fallen into that cognitive distortion which problem gamblers have believing that they can make money from gambling," Orvidas said. Because of the increase in young people seeking treatment locally, Orvidas's organization began offering specialized youth services about three years ago. "I think the young people feel very comfortable when they come here," said Orvidas, who added that their youngest client to date was 15. She said gambling starts younger than that for some.

"We've seen some people here who have been gambling since they were the age of 10 or 12."

Orvidas also said the problem of illegal gambling is escalating in this region.

"For every $100 spent on legal gambling, $142 is spent on illegal gambling. The demographic there would be a lot of young men."

Reflecting the findings of the Responsible Gambling Council study, teens in the Thames Valley area mainly play hold 'em poker and other online gambling games, Orvidas said.

"Kids can go online and gamble without having to provide any ID," she said. "It's so accessible with computers at home."

Charges laid in illegal gambling investigation

 

Members of the Organized Crime Section, Illegal Gambling Unit with the assistance of Windsor Police Service executed a Criminal Code search warrant at Sai Gon Billiards located at 922 and 926 Wyandotte St. W. in the City of Windsor on the 24th of Jan 2007. As a result, a number of individuals have been charged with illegal gambling offences. Acting on a Crime Stoppers tip regarding illegal Video Gambling Machines, an investigation was commenced by the Illegal Gambling Unit West team. The investigation confirmed the existence of the machines where members of the public would attend to play games of chance. This location was seeking to gain monetarily from the gambling activity. The OPP Organized Crime Section, Illegal Gambling Unit is in partnership with eight other police services in Ontario including London, Toronto, Niagara, Peel, York, Windsor, Hamilton and Ottawa. The partnership is responsible for the investigation of province-wide illegal gambling investigations pertaining to Part VII of the Criminal Code, with an emphasis on Organized Crime.

Now Labour wants to turn pubs into gambling dens

 

The historic ban on betting in pubs could be swept away after ministers announced plans for a gambling free-for-all. Pubs, bars and clubs will be allowed to stage poker games without a gaming licence. The proposal was condemned as an "atrocious" encouragement to problem gambling. Experts said the mix of drinking and betting would be disastrous. Golf clubs, political parties and working men's clubs will also be able to host betting events in what amounts to the most radical overhaul of drinking and gambling for four decades. Under plans outlined by Sports Minister Richard Caborn yesterday, gamblers will be allowed to join low-stakes poker games, paying £5 to join a poker or cribbage tournament in pubs and up to £10 in private members' clubs. MPs claimed the new rules could not possibly be policed effectively, opening the door to high stakes gambling on the High Street and the prospect of drunken players losing money long into the night. Landlords will be allowed to offer poker prizes worth up to £100 a night and up to £500 a week as long as they do not take a cut of the winnings or charge gamblers to play. Private members' clubs can offer tournaments paying £200 a night and up to £1,000 a week. That means pubs could stage a tournament where 20 people pay £5 to enter, or 100 people pay £1 to enter on five nights of the week. Crucially, clubs and bars will no longer have to apply for a formal licence to stage gambling events as they do at present. Landlords who allow high stakes gaming could be stripped of the right to host poker tournaments - but would not face the loss of their liquor licence. Experts expressed dismay at Labour's determination to press ahead with the liberalisation of the gaming laws and combine them with longer drinking hours, which have already been blamed for a rise in alcohol-related violence. "It's appalling, but it is completely in line with everything this government have been doing," said Dr Emanuel Moran, adviser on pathological gambling to the Royal College of Psychiatrists. "There is a tremendous amount of evidence indicating that alcohol interferes with people's judgment. The combination of alcohol and gambling is liable to be disastrous." Dr Moran, who helped set up Gamblers Anonymous, added: "The stakes may be low but people can easily accumulate tremendous debts and then chase their losses. There is not going to be a council official monitoring every game."

Tory culture spokesman Hugo Swire warned that the controls on pub gambling would be too lax. The only body policing the regulations will be the already overworked local licensing authorities.

"There is no way landlords will be able to control the amounts staked and in practice these limits will be totally ignored," he said.

Under the plans, which could come into force in September, pubs and clubs will be allowed to offer bingo but the total prize money that on offer will be limited for the first time to £2,000 a week.

Casino games which involve a banker or croupier, such as pontoon, blackjack and roulette, will still be banned. Each pub will still be allowed to have two slot machines taking stakes of up to 50p and paying out jackpots of up to £35.

The changes were made after lobbying by the pub industry, which believes the pull of poker will bring in more customers.

Mr Caborn said: "These proposals set out a comprehensive set of rules governing gaming in pubs and clubs that will keep it fair, crime-free and ensure children and the vulnerable are protected.

"Many people have enjoyed low stakes games like bingo, cribbage and dominoes in clubs and pubs for decades and there is no evidence of an increase in problem gambling or crime as a result. But we now need clearer rules and limits on stakes and prizes to keep it that way."

WTO Adds Another Twist to Internet Gambling Roller Coaster Ride

 

Internet gambling has been on a roller coaster ride since the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act was passed back in October. The Neteller arrests last week and the following pull outs of all major third party billing companies has seriously damaged the $12b a year industry. The roller coaster ride got another twist as a result of the report that follows. The United States has suffered a new setback in a four-year-old legal battle with Antigua and Barbuda over U.S. restrictions on Internet gambling, a U.S. trade official said on Thursday. At issue is an April 2005 World Trade Organisation ruling against U.S. prohibitions on online horse race betting. Since then, the U.S. Congress has passed additional legislation to ban betting over the Internet. Gretchen Hamel, a spokesman for the U.S. Trade Representative's office, confirmed press reports that a WTO panel "did not agree with the United States that we had taken the necessary steps to comply" with that ruling. At the same time, Hamel downplayed the decision contained in a preliminary, confidential report to the two parties. "The panel's findings issued today involve a narrow issue of federal law" and the United States will have opportunity to submit comments to the WTO before it issues its final, public report in March, Hamel said. "Nothing in the panel's interim report undermines the broad, favourable results that the United States obtained from the WTO in April 2005," she said. The issue is a touchy one for the Bush administration, which supports free trade but whose conservative allies in Congress pushed through a bill late last year to ban most forms of Internet gambling. Gretchen Hamel, a spokesman for the U.S. Trade Representative's office, confirmed press reports that a WTO panel "did not agree with the United States that we had taken the necessary steps to comply" with that ruling. At the same time, Hamel downplayed the decision contained in a preliminary, confidential report to the two parties. "The panel's findings issued today involve a narrow issue of federal law" and the United States will have opportunity to submit comments to the WTO before it issues its final, public report in March, Hamel said. "Nothing in the panel's interim report undermines the broad, favourable results that the United States obtained from the WTO in April 2005," she said.

The issue is a touchy one for the Bush administration, which supports free trade but whose conservative allies in Congress pushed through a bill late last year to ban most forms of Internet gambling.

Antigua and Barbuda, with few natural resources, has sought to build up an Internet gambling industry to provide jobs to replace those in its declining tourist industry.

It argued in a case first brought to the WTO in 2003 that U.S. laws barring the placing of bets across states lines by electronic means violated WTO rules.

An April 2005 ruling by the WTO's Appellate Body, which both sides claimed as vindication, focussed on the narrower issue of horse racing, saying that foreign betting operators appeared to suffer discrimination.

Antigua and Barbuda complained the United States had not complied with the decision and the WTO agreed in July 2006 to look into the matter, resulting in the ruling on Thursday.

The United States will decide after the final panel decision ruling in March whether to appeal.

The Bush administration may not have to ask Congress to pass new legislation in any case, Hamel said.

"The panel report clarifies that compliance does not necessarily require new legislation, but could instead involve other steps, such as administrative or judicial action," she said.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Gambling in Macau outstrips Las Vegas in 2006

 

Macau may have dethroned the Las Vegas Strip as the world's biggest casino center, according to figures available Wednesday that show the Chinese territory's gambling revenue jumped 22 percent to $6.95 billion last year. The former Portuguese enclave has been booming since the government busted up a casino monopoly three years ago and began welcoming U.S. gaming powerhouses like Las Vegas Sands, MGM Mirage and Wynn Resorts. The U.S. companies have been furiously building mega casino and resort projects in the tiny city - less than one-sixth the size of Washington, D.C. - on China's southeastern coast. Key to Macau's success will be luring the masses of high rollers from mainland China, who are growing richer and tend to bet more at the casino tables than Americans do in Las Vegas. About 3 billion people - half the world's population - in Asia can get to the city within five hours by plane, the Sands company says. The Las Vegas Strip has yet to announce its full-year revenue figures for 2006, but it would have to bring in nearly $1 billion in December alone to beat Macau's figure, which was posted with no fanfare on the Web site of its Gaming and Inspection Coordination Bureau. The Las Vegas Strip has said for the 11 months through November, revenue came to $6.08 billion. If December's revenue is the same as it was the previous year, the annual total would hit about $6.57 billion - just behind Macau. Last year, Macau's gambling revenue totaled 55.88 billion patacas, or $6.95 billion, compared to 45.80 billion patacas in 2005, the gaming bureau's Web site said. The figure includes revenue from casinos, lotteries and dog and horse racing. Still, Macau lags far behind the entire state of Nevada, which raked in $10.66 billion in 2005, according to the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

MPs call phone-in quiz shows a form of gambling

 

A report by the group of MPs has suggested that if the games become classified as lotteries, they could be forced to give 20% of sales to good causes. MPs are very clear on what they would like to see happen in the future, saying: "We believe that call-TV quiz shows generally look and feel like gambling. It seems to us that call-TV quiz shows should constitute gaming under the Gambling Act 2005, and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Gambling Commission should consider this as a matter of urgency." Up to 1m people a night watch gaming shows, call a premium rate number and answer a question in the hope of winning sums up to £100,000. The channels have been criticised for charging 75p for calls from a landline and even more from a mobile. MPs have suggested that quiz shows should get third-party approval on all questions or puzzles before broadcast. They also suggest that there should be an increased transparency about the chances callers have of getting through to the studio, which is purely a matter of luck. The committee suggested showing the odds of getting on air should be shown clearly onscreen and that Icstis, the premium line regulator, should make broadcasters clearly show how much it is to call the quiz number. ITV Play was rapped recently for making answers too obscure for viewers to guess. Ofcom recently ruled that 'Quizmania' was in breach of broadcasting rules when viewers complained that the answer to the question "name something you would you find in a woman's handbag" was too obscure. Answers included rawlplugs and a balaclava. ITV Play looks set to make £20m this year through quiz show division ITV Play, which runs shows such as 'The Mint'. Odds of getting through to the studio are understood to be one in 400.

More than one-third of Ontario teens aged 15-17 gambling: study

 

More than one-third of Ontario teens who participated in the first-ever study to examine the gambling habits of students aged 15 to 17 are already gambling, and their ranks will likely double by the time they're 20, the study's authors say. The study, to be released Thursday, was conducted by the Responsible Gambling Council, an independent, non-profit organization dedicated to the prevention of problem gambling. Of the 2,140 teens surveyed, 34.9 per cent said they're already gambling. Of those, 40 per cent said poker is their game of choice, while another 36 per cent admitted to regularly buying raffle tickets, including scratch-and-win lottery tickets. Sports betting was next at 23 per cent, followed by playing dice at 15 per cent and online gambling at 10 per cent. Poker is the most popular form of gambling because of its accessibility, ease of play and recent explosion in popularity, said Jon Kelly, chief executive of the council, which has programs funded by the Ontario government. "It's relatively easy to learn, you could play it at home, you can play it with your friends, you can play it online, you can watch it on TV . . . so access is an important feature as well," Kelly said. While the majority of teens surveyed cited entertainment as their main reason for gambling, 20.7 per cent said they did it because they needed the money, and 15.3 per cent said it was to win back cash they had already lost. Thirteen per cent of teens who play poker admitted they spend more money than they can afford on gambling. Of those respondents who admitted to gambling, 3.9 per cent said they're already experiencing gambling problems. That number jumps to 6.9 per cent in the case of gamblers aged 18 to 24, Kelly said. "When we look at this younger group, then, and see that more than one-third are gambling, we know that that number's going to double, that's it's going to be at least two-thirds in three years." The council is staging a play called "House of Cards" in schools across Ontario in an effort to educate teens about the perils of gambling. The play is about a university student who develops a gambling problem while playing online poker. Two outspoken critics of the gambling industry said Wednesday it's time for governments and industry alike to better protect consumers and shield vulnerable youth from the tempting lure of making a quick buck on games of chance.

Phyllis Vineberg's son Trevor, 25, committed suicide in 1995 following years of being addicted to video lottery terminals or VLTs.

"It's like a smoker who's hooked on nicotine or you give somebody crack cocaine: they're going to get hooked," she said. "We didn't understand that, we didn't have the information and parents today don't have the information either. They're totally clueless."

"You just have to stand at a lottery booth today and you see people buying tickets with their kids and they think it's just a game."

Consumer advocate Sol Boxenbaum, who has spent 12 years as a gambling addiction counsellor in Montreal, said the youngest client he ever treated was 20 years old. An increase in youth gambling, he said, could signal the start of a troubling trend.

"Normally, compulsive gamblers don't look for help until they've completely bottomed out, and young people don't bottom out because they come home to where rent is paid . . . supper's on the table," Boxenbaum said.

"But it carries forth into later years, when they're married and they get all the responsibilities, that they end up having to come for help."

The onus should be on the industry, not the underage gambler, to keep those at risk out of their facilities, he added.

"The responsibility is for them to keep minors out of the casinos, to keep minors off of slot machines and to have proper self-exclusion programs so that people that begin to have a problem can be barred from an establishment."

Lotteries are the biggest source of gambling revenue for the Ontario government, outpacing casinos and slot machines at racetracks.

The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation says it sold $2.3 billion in lottery tickets and instant scratch games in 2004-05.

The province's four commercial casinos pulled in almost $1.6 billion in revenues in the last fiscal year, while charity casinos and slot machines at racetracks earned $1.9 billion.

Both Vineberg and Boxenbaum are part of a recently-launched complaint before the federal Competition Bureau that electronic gaming machines are designed to entice gamblers into risking too much of their money.

Net revenue from lotteries, VLT's and casion increased from $2.7 billion in 1992 to $11.3 billion in 2002, a growth rate of more than 400 per cent, according to a 2003 Statistics Canada report.

Deceased mobster's son pleads guilty to role in gambling ring

 

The son of a deceased West Virginia mobster pleaded guilty in federal court to playing a role in a multimillion-dollar bookmaker ring. Christopher Hankish, 44, of Scott Township, pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of conspiracy to conduct an illegal gambling business, federal prosecutors said. Hankish is the son of Paul Hankish, a Wheeling, W.Va., native who died in prison in 1998 while serving time for a racketeering and gambling conviction. Investigators with the Pennsylvania State Police and state Attorney General's Office said they came across Christopher Hankish while looking into gambling activity involving former video poker kingpin John Conley. Prosecutors said Hankish participated in a sports betting gambling business run by Conley. They said Hankish recruited bettors for Conley's organization, accepted bets on behalf of the organization and arranged for collecting debts. According to prosecutors, a wire tap by the state Attorney General's office and state police captured several telephone calls between Conley and Hankish in which they discussed various aspects of the gambling operation. Conley has not been charged, but was sentenced in May to four years in federal prison for violating his probation by placing sports bets over the phone last year. He had been released in January 2004 after serving nine years in prison on a gambling conviction.

Charges laid in illegal gambling investigation

 

Members of the Organized Crime Section, Illegal Gambling Unit with the assistance of Windsor Police Service executed a Criminal Code search warrant at Sai Gon Billiards located at 922 and 926 Wyandotte St. W. in the City of Windsor on the 24th of Jan 2007. As a result, a number of individuals have been charged with illegal gambling offences. Acting on a Crime Stoppers tip regarding illegal Video Gambling Machines, an investigation was commenced by the Illegal Gambling Unit West team. The investigation confirmed the existence of the machines where members of the public would attend to play games of chance. This location was seeking to gain monetarily from the gambling activity. The OPP Organized Crime Section, Illegal Gambling Unit is in partnership with eight other police services in Ontario including London, Toronto, Niagara, Peel, York, Windsor, Hamilton and Ottawa. The partnership is responsible for the investigation of province-wide illegal gambling investigations pertaining to Part VII of the Criminal Code, with an emphasis on Organized Crime.

Budd will be out in 60 days

 

Massillon travel agent Roger Budd was sentenced to another 60 days in jail Wednesday by Common Pleas Judge John Haas, who also suspended a four-year prison term. Budd, accused of bilking area residents out of money they paid for trips to Las Vegas, has already served five months behind bars. Haas also ordered Budd to get a job immediately upon his release from jail and to keep it so he can start making restitution payments to his victims. That could take quite a while, even if Budd devotes all his paychecks to that effort. He owes $113,000 in restitution, according to Fred Scott, the assistant prosecutor who brought the case against Budd. And Haas will be keeping a close eye on Budd, who will become part of the judge's Say Hey program. Selected non-violent criminals are chosen for regular visits with Haas on a weekly or monthly basis so he can closely monitor their progress. The idea is to have a quick chat, to Say Hey, and let them know that someone personally cares. Haas said he started Say Hey several years ago when the Stark County Jail and the Regional Correction Facility were overcrowded. "Sometimes it doesn't work," Haas said, "but the success rate is pretty good." Haas said his goal in sentencing was to balance the punishment with what is best for the victims. About half of Budd's victims wanted him to go away for a long time while the other half favored restitution. "There's no way to make everyone happy with the sentencing in this case," Haas said. Haas also noted by suspending four years on the condition of good behavior, he has leverage to keep Budd on the straight and narrow. That means no gambling, drugs or alcohol. The fact Budd finally admitted to having a gambling problem also helped him, said John Frieg, his attorney. "Only the house wins in Vegas," Frieg said. "Vegas is an entertainment destination. You have to determine how much you can lose before you go and then walk away once you hit that figure. Roger couldn't do that. In his mind, he kept believing he could win and get everyone back their money." Frieg said most people on Budd's trips had a good time and noted he went on a trip himself. "Most people still like Roger and he has strong ties to the community," he said. "I believe he'll try to pay most people back.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Legislators skeptical of Spokane Tribe's gambling plan

 

A proposed Spokane Tribe of Indians gambling agreement is unfair to other tribes and represents a major expansion of tribal gaming, skeptical legislators said. The Eastern Washington tribe is asking the state and federal government to end more than a decade of legal challenges and approve the gaming compact, which would make the Spokanes one of the state's largest casino operators. Tribal secretary Gerald Nicodemus told lawmakers Tuesday the agreement allowing as many as 4,700 slot-style machines at five sites would be a good deal for both the tribe and region. "This compact will be our best chance to impact our tribe's future in a significant and historic way," Nicodemus told House and Senate members on Tuesday. The state gambling commission has scheduled a public hearing on the proposed agreement Feb. 9 in Olympia. The compact needs approval of the commission, Gov. Chris Gregoire and the federal government. Lawmakers said the proposal would be a dramatic expansion of the $1.2 billion Indian gaming industry in the state. The Spokane tribe is the only gambling tribe that has not negotiated an agreement with the state. State and federal officials contend Nevada-style slot machines in the tribe's casinos are illegal. The proposed compact "rewards illegal operations and encourages a tremendous expansion of gambling," Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside, said. Sen. Margarita Prentice, D-Renton, predicted that many of the 27 tribes that have gaming compacts with the state will oppose the Spokanes' compact. "I think they'll be really angry, because they are now," she said. The plan is a sign of a "new and positive relationship" between the state and tribe, Nicodemus said. Casino revenues would pay for better education for the tribe's children, better health care for its elders and a diversified reservation economy, he said. Current law allows each tribe to have a total of 675 slot-style machines. Larger tribes can increase that number by leasing machines from smaller tribes. The proposed Spokane Tribe compact, in the works since 2005, would allow as many as 4,700 machines and includes benefits other tribes haven't gotten in their negotiations. It would allow cash-fed machines, instead of requiring players to use paper tickets or plastic cards. It also would allow high-stakes betting at limits set by the tribe. "I can hear it coming: 'Look what you did for the Spokanes,'" said Sen. Jim Clements, R-Selah, whose district includes the Yakama Tribe. Prentice said she doesn't like the high-rollers provision.

"It's still real troublesome that you can leapfrog over (the other tribes) and have a real juicy plum that other tribes don't have," she said.

In 2004, state voters overwhelmingly rejected an initiative that would have allowed slot-style machines in nontribal businesses like card rooms and bars.

The current proposal is the second try at a compact between the state and tribe in recent years.

In 2005, negotiators reached an agreement that would have allowed up to 7,500 machines, including 4,000 in a single casino. But Gregoire ordered that version scrapped after some lawmakers balked.

The rise, fall in online gambling

 

Malibu homeowner John Lefebvre, a Canadian national, was released on a $5 million U.S Bond following his arrest last week on charges of allegedly laundering billions of dollars in illegal online gambling proceeds. Canadian Stephen Lawrence was also released on $5 million bail. The two are former directors of NETeller, a company that transfers money globally for a fee. Lefebvre and Lawrence are accused of using the Internet payment services company to facilitate the transfer of billions of dollars of illegal gambling proceeds from the United States to Internet gambling companies overseas. A former lawyer, Lefebvre launched NETeller in 2000, which was essentially a Web database that functioned as the middleman between companies operating online gambling casinos and offshore bank accounts. The U.S. Attorney's office stated in a press release that, "According to NETeller's 2005 annual report, Lawrence and Lefebvre, through NETeller, provided payment services to more than 80 percent of worldwide gaming merchants." Lefebvre, according to the U.S. Attorney's office, served as president of NETeller from 2000 to 2002, and was a member of the Board of Directors until approximately December 2005. Reuters reported last week that the company closed its U.S. Internet gambling services on Thursday, causing it to lose more than 65 percent of its business. Shares in NETeller had fallen by 60 percent since September, following the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, and the arrests of two British executives from companies that were involved in online casinos. The anti-online gambling law makes it illegal for banks, credit card companies and online payment systems to process payment to online gambling companies. Nearly $8 billion in market value of shares in publicly traded companies such PartyGaming and Sportingbet were wiped out following the law's passage. The U.S. Attorney's office reported that in 2005, NETeller processed more than $7.3 billion in financial transactions, and that, according to reports issued by NETeller, 95 percent of its revenue came from money transfers involving Internet gambling companies. In the first half of 2006, NETeller processed $5.1 billion in financial transactions, prosecutors said. As charged in the U.S. Attorney's complaint, 85 percent of the company's revenue from that period came from gamblers in North America, and approximately 75 percent of its North American revenue was generated in the United States.

"Internet gambling is a multibillion-dollar industry," stated FBI Assistant Director Mark Mershon. "A significant portion of that is the illegal handling of Americans' bets with offshore gaming companies, which amounts to a colossal criminal enterprise masquerading as legitimate business. There is ample indication these defendants knew the American market for their services was illegal. The FBI is adamant about shutting off the flow of illegal cash."

Since the arrest of two other former online gambling company executives in September, including Sportingbet chairman, Peter Dicks, most online gambling executives have been avoiding the U.S. However, this did not deter Lefebvre, who was arrested at his Malibu home last Tuesday, from staying away from the States.

In an Oct. 14, 2005 story from the University of Calgary campus newspaper, Lefebvre's alma mater, he is described as a "man embodying the spirit of a generation." Lefebvre donated $1.2 million to its fine arts faculty in 2005.

The article goes on to tell the rise, fall and then rise again of Lefebvre. According to the On Campus Weekly story, Lefebvre was "a lawyer by trade and a frustrated musician by passion."

Lefebvre's father died when he was 3, writes Tom Maloney, and his mother raised he and his two siblings while returning to school and earning an education degree and a master's in counseling. After graduating law school, Lefebvre ended up running a storefront law clinic and then eventually worked from home.

"One of the reasons I didn't get dragged into the downtown, upper-crust, law-circle things is, I never really did concede to working the long hours, as much as I could have or maybe should have," he is quoted in the U of C newspaper. "It was always more compelling for me to get home to see my daughter."

Facing a midlife crisis in his '40s, he quit his job as lawyer and then begged in the train stations of Calgary for change to buy food, according to the campus newspaper. He ended returning to legal work to pay back friends and then met up with a former client, who later became chairman of NETeller, Stephen Lawrence. Lawrence was operating an online casino in Costa Rica, and wanted a more efficient money transfer system. Lefebvre worked with a computer programmer and built NETeller. The company gained a percentage off each transaction from the casinos, smaller than what the casinos had to pay credit card companies, and it provided better security against fraud.

Two years ago the company, based on the Isle of Man in the U.K. and listed on the London Stock Exchange, had a user base of two million customers worldwide and 1,700 merchant clients, according the U of C newspaper.

Trading of NETeller's shares was temporarily suspended on Jan. 16, following the arrests of Lefebvre and Lawrence. A press release from the company was listed on the London Stock Exchange stating that other than as shareholders, neither of the two have any current position or connection to NETeller.

Malaysian Police Target Gambling Dens

 

Malaysian authorities are working to wipe out gambling dens that offer illegal video game and slot machines, a top police official said Wednesday, underscoring efforts to boost public confidence in the police. Christopher Wan, the federal criminal investigations police director, has personally led high-profile raids on unlicensed gambling outlets in recent weeks, cracking down on one of the most lucrative businesses for Malaysia's criminal syndicates. "The target is to shut down all outlets by the end of March," Wan told The Associated Press. Wan said there are no official estimates of how many outlets exist, but public tip-offs indicate that operators of numerous gambling parlors have recently ceased their activities for fear of being caught in the police clampdown. "We believe there is a domino effect," Wan said. "There could have been thousands of outlets at one point, but we are confident that the number is now falling to a low level." The raids were motivated by increasing complaints that illegal gambling was causing people to become addicted to gambling and amass large debts, Wan said, adding that many outlets also lure children and encourage them to skip school. "The problem is a social menace because it is breaking up families," Wan said. Public support for the crackdown has been substantial because it has assured people that the police force can effectively perform its duties, Wan said. The image of Malaysia's police has been tainted over the past decade by allegations of corruption, abuse of power, poor service and delays in investigating cases. One recent raid led to the seizure of nearly 250 gambling machines from one location that was within walking distance of the town's police station. Eleven men were arrested, while town officials were reprimanded for not having closed down the outlet earlier. Gambling is forbidden for ethnic Malay Muslims, who comprise nearly two-thirds of Malaysia's population. It is legal for the ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities, mainly in the forms of lotteries, horse racing and a legal casino that is hugely popular with ethnic Chinese.

Name a form of gambling A. Call-in quizzes, rule MPs

 

Call-in quiz television shows border on the fraudulent and should be reclassified as gambling, MPs have concluded. The Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee condemned the "unscrupulous practices" of some of the quiz shows, which have been criticised for misleading viewers. Up to a million people a night watch shows in which presenters invite viewers to call a premium-rate number and answer a simple question for rewards of up to £100,000. The revenue raised from the calls is considerable, with ITV set to make £20 million in profit this year from its quiz show division, ITV Play. The committee was told of allegations of shabby practices by producers and broadcasters, including suggestions that call handling procedures had, in the past, been manipulated to deny callers a chance to answer. In one episode of The Mint, an ITV1 show, 400,000 callers phoned over four hours, but only one in 400 had a chance of getting through. Viewers have also complained about overly cryptic questions. Ofcom, which is investigating the shows, recently ruled that Quizmania, on ITV Play, was in breach of the broadcasting code for posing a question about items commonly found in a women's handbag. Answers included a balaclava and Rawlplugs. The committee report, issued today, is expected to conclude that "any practice of misleading viewers about call volumes or of blocking calls would be more than unfair: it would be fraudulent and should be punished under criminal law. It would also be a disgrace to the Call TV quiz industry." It says: "We believe that Call TV quiz shows generally look and feel like gambling, whether or not they will fall within the definition of gambling under the Gambling Act 2005." The committee will urge the Government to examine this as a matter of urgency. If quizzes are reclassified as lotteries, regulators could insist on at least 20 per cent of sales going to good causes. The MPs concluded that there was a lack of transparency in the phone-in process. They recommended that "viewers must be given more information allowing them to have a reasonable understanding of the odds of getting through to the studio". Odds of getting on-air could be displayed on screen, they said, adding that a study should be made of how addictive the shows were. Some callers made 60 attempts within eight minutes. Icstis, the premium-line regulator, should make it a requirement for broadcasters to tell callers how much they are spending, the MPs said. They also called on Ofcom to "require broadcasters to inform viewers that solutions may not be as simple as they seem". Ministers want Ofcom to draw up proposals for a new regulatory framework. Shaun Woodward, the Broadcasting Minister, said: "There are serious issues to be addressed." Both he and the committee accepted that the quizzes were popular with viewers and were likely to become a vital source of revenue for commercial broadcasters. Yet the committee noted that "it is doubtful whether anyone would describe them as high-quality programming and they are certainly not creative television".

Province wagers expanded gambling a safe bet

 

With only about a month to go before the provincially licensed Chances Cowichan gaming centre opens its doors for the first time, gambling addiction experts are wondering how it will affect those who like to take a chance. "Right now we have no idea how it will affect the population," said Ian Gartshore, executive director and chief therapist of Shore Counseling Society. "I don't think it will destroy the community, however, those already struggling to stay within their limits will find it harder to do that. "No one really knows what will happen." That includes the provincial government, which is currently conducting a multi-year gambling study involving four lower mainland communities - Surrey, Vancouver, Langley and Langley Township - with new gaming venues. These facilities are full-blown casinos, unlike Duncan's gaming centre which is slated to open March 2 and will feature a large, 350-seat bingo hall and 75 slot machines. While the results of the study won't be released until the spring, some initial data has been. In the Langleys, new admissions for problem gambling treatment increased after the Cascades gaming venue was introduced. The study has not established a direct correlation between the new gambling joints and the increased number of betting addicts, but the government does know problem gambling is becoming more profound in B.C. The Problem Gambling Help Line took approximately 5,830 calls specifically related to gambling last year - a 45 per cent increase over the previous year. Across the province, the number of clients admitted for treatment increased by 25 per cent in the same time period. And the total number of calls to the Help Line and the number of clients referred to counseling services has increased ten-fold since 2000. That has happened while casinos and all three levels of government cashed in big time. Casino net income for all of B.C. in 2004/05 was $515 million. Of that amount, $457 million was allocated to the provincial government, $53 million to local host governments and the balance to the feds. B.C.'s Gaming Policy and Enforcement branch kicks in about $4-million to help gamblers overcome their habits. Based on provincial numbers, about 2,000 Valley residents may be problem gamblers who dabble in bingo halls, casinos, Internet gaming sites, card games, lottery tickets and even the stock market to get their fix.

On the plus side of the gambling coin, the new 16,200 square-foot building built by Cowichan Tribes on reserve land will employ about 65 staff and deliver cash injections into the local economy, including 10 per cent of the revenue which will go directly to Cowichan Tribes.

The Duncan Dabber Bingo Society which has run the Ink Spot Bingo Hall for more than 20 years, will be looking after the new gaming centre.

The society is run by 65 non-profit charities, service clubs and sports teams and has and given more than $20 million to local charities over the years.

Dave Clark, vice-president of the DDBS, said bingo players dropped about $5 million at the Ink Spot last year.

"A guess is we'll do between 15 and 20 per cent better than that our first year in the new centre," he said.

The Chances Cowichan gaming centre will be joining other British Columbia Lottery Corporation-branded gaming centres in Kelowna, Williams Lakes and Kamloops.

Provincial government spokespeople did not return repeated calls for interview requests.

Cowichan/Ladysmith NDP MLA Doug Routley said he hopes the good generated by the new gaming centre will be enough to offset any bad in this, one of the poorest ridings in Western Canada.

"I have trouble condemning the place because I hope there's enough economic development so people can have the right opportunities," he said.

"Yes, it's here now and we need to examine how we can make the economic impact as positive as we can and be sure to make the negative social impacts as benign as we can."

One of those negatives could be crime.

In Richmond yesterday, cops were investigating crimes where women were followed from the River Rock casino and robbed at gunpoint for their cash and casino chips.

"Now, they have to re-examine their security measures around that casino and we have to investigate those aspects and address them before they become a problem here," Routley said.

But Clark said those issues have already been looked after.

"We'll have lots of lighting around the parking area and security people on site who will walk you to your car if you want."

Gartshore said he also sees a positive side to the new gaming centre.

"The forestry and fishing industries haven't been great and tourism isn't exactly hopping," he said.

"And people who do like to gamble won't have to drive so far to do it, but nobody really knows what will happen, when it might cross the line from entertainment to a problem."

Gambling Games Online

 

Playing gambling games online for the purpose of earning a living or for just pure excitement is entirely within your potential and it may just be possible if you learn some easy rules about the various online gambling games like casino and poker. However, it takes a great combination of talent, gusto, staying power, respect and the right kind of temper to succeed in these gambling games online.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Four Wall Street Firms Are The Latest Gambling Casualties

 

Four investment banks have been issued subpoenas in an investigation into the multibillion-dollar online gambling industry. The Justice Department has issued subpoenas to at least four Wall Street investment banks as part of a widening investigation into the multibillion-dollar online gambling industry, according to people briefed on the investigation. The subpoenas were issued to firms that had underwritten the initial public offerings of some of the most popular online gambling sites that operate abroad. The banks involved in the inquiry include HSBC, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and Dresdner Kleinwort, these people said. While online gaming sites like PartyGaming and 888 Holdings operate from Gibraltar and their initial public offerings were held on the London Stock Exchange, companies that do business with them and have large bases in United States have come under scrutiny by regulators in Washington. None of the biggest United States banks like Goldman Sachs or Citigroup underwrote the initial public offerings in London, in part because of the legal ambiguity of the sites; they are illegal in the United States, but still accessible to residents. The subpoenas, earlier reported by The Sunday Times of London, appeared to be part of an indirect but aggressive and far-reaching attack by federal prosecutors on the Internet gambling industry just two weeks before one of its biggest days of the year, the Super Bowl. Unable to go directly after the casinos, which are based overseas, they have sought to prosecute the operations' American partners, marketing arms and now, possibly, investors. The prosecutors may be emboldened by a law signed by President Bush last October that explicitly defined the illegality of running an Internet casino. Even before that law, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, was adopted, the government said that Internet gambling was illegal under a 1961 provision. These offshore casinos, typically based in Costa Rica or Antigua, allow American bettors to use their home and office computers to place wagers on a range of contests.

Millions of Americans participate; more than half of all bets placed to major offshore casinos are from residents of the United States.

The prosecutors' efforts have already taken a toll in the last two years on offshore casinos, most notably with the arrest last year of David Carruthers, the chief executive of an Internet sports book, BetonSports. The company is based in Britain and has operations in Costa Rica, but Mr. Carruthers was detained at the Dallas airport while traveling through the United States.

The arrest led to BetonSports' decision to stop taking bets from the United States, crippling its business.

Several weeks later, agents of the Port Authority of New York arrested Peter Dicks, the chairman of Sport-ingbet, which offers online sports betting and, like Mr. Carruthers's company, trades on the London Stock Exchange. Mr. Dicks was arrested at Kennedy Airport.

Last week, a British online money transfer business, Neteller, said it would cease handling gambling transactions from United States customers because of regulatory uncertainty.

"It appears that the Department of Justice is waging a war of intimidation against Internet gambling," said I. Nelson Rose, a professor of law at Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa, Calif., who is an expert on Internet gambling law.

Another lawyer, Lawrence G. Walters of Altamonte Springs, Fla., said the development was disconcerting because the prevailing wisdom had been that investment in a company that is legal and licensed in its jurisdiction was not grounds for prosecution.

"It would be the first time that that kind of liability has been imposed," Mr. Walters said.

Macau gambling revenue jumps

 

Macau may have dethroned the Las Vegas Strip as the world's biggest casino center, according to figures available Wednesday that show the Chinese territory's gambling revenue jumped 22 percent to US$6.95 billion last year. The former Portuguese enclave has been booming since the government busted up a casino monopoly three years ago and began welcoming U.S. gaming powerhouses like Las Vegas Sands Corp., MGM Mirage Inc. and Wynn Resorts Ltd. The American companies have been furiously building mega casino and resort projects in the tiny city _ less than one-sixth the size of Washington, D.C. _ on China's southeastern coast. They say they'll do what they did to Las Vegas: transform a seedy, worn-out, crime-ridden town into one of the world's best spots for gambling as well as conventions, glitzy shows, dining and other family entertainment. Key to Macau's success will be luring the masses of high rollers from mainland China, who are growing richer and tend to bet more at the casino tables than Americans do in Las Vegas. "Las Vegas doesn't have the radius of the population that is as anxious to come to gamble," Sands Chairman Sheldon Adelson, ranked No. 3 on Forbes' magazine's list of the 400 richest Americans, told The Associated Press in a recent interview. Sands' promotional material makes the point that this city _ the only place in China where casino gambling is legal _ is located within a two-hour flight from 1 billion people. About 3 billion people _ half the world's population _ in Asia can get to the city within five hours by plane, the company says. The Las Vegas Strip has yet to announce its full-year revenue figures for 2006, but it would have to bring in nearly US$1 billion in December alone to beat Macau's figure, which was posted with no fanfare on the Web site of its Gaming and Inspection Coordination Bureau.

The Las Vegas Strip has said for the 11 months through November, revenue came to US$6.08 billion. If December's revenue is the same as it was the previous year, the annual total would hit about US$6.57 billion _ just behind Macau.

Last year, Macau's gambling revenue totaled 55.88 billion patacas, or US$6.95 billion, (??5.33 billion), compared to 45.80 billion patacas in 2005, the gaming bureau's Web site said. The figure includes revenue from casinos, lotteries and dog and horse racing.

Still, Macau lags far behind the entire state of Nevada, which raked in US$10.66 billion in 2005, according to the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Despite the recent success, developing Macau is still fraught with many risks. Analysts say they include an economic meltdown in China, a chronic labor shortage or a severe outbreak of bird flu or SARS _ severe acute respiratory syndrome _ which hammered nearby Hong Kong in 2003.

There's also the possibility that a business model that has been wildly successful in one part of the world fails to take off in a foreign market. One example is Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, which retreated from Germany after failing to repeat the enormous success it had in America.

But Adelson insists that Macau is a sure bet: "There is nothing on the horizon that will interrupt the growth trend that what we in Macau are experiencing," he said.

His archrival, billionaire Steve Wynn, is just as bullish. "The speed of development is dizzying," he said recently. "The population that is seeks to serve is expanding and is economically growing at a rate larger than any other part of the world."

Late last year, Wynn opened his US$1.2 billion Wynn Macau resort, with 600 rooms, designer boutiques, restaurants, spa and swimming pool. The sleek building with a sloping roof is surrounded by gardens and a man-made lake that wows crowds with a musical water shows.

Adelson opened up first in Macau in 2004 with the gleaming Sands Macau, which has been wildly successful. Now the billionaire is developing Macau's Cotai Strip _ an area of reclaimed land that connects two islands: Coloane and Taipa.

He says it will include more than 20 resorts with 60,000 rooms. Adelson's US$2.4 billion Venetian Macau will be part of it, with 3,000 suites on a construction site big enough to park 90 Boeing 747 jumbo jets, the company says. It plans to open later this year.

The next big event in Macau will likely be the opening of the 430-room Grand Lisboa Hotel and Casino. It's the latest effort by Macau casino kingpin Stanley Ho, who lost his gaming monopoly in 2002, to open a modern casino complex that can compete with his Las Vegas rivals. The Grand Lisboa was expected to open within the next month.

Gambling has a grip on college campuses - especially among young men

 

Jay Melancon hunkered down in an auditorium chair for his morning psychology class at the University of Minnesota, flipped open his laptop and logged on. The instructor yammered on at the front of the room, but Melancon wasn't listening. He was exhausted from staying up all night playing online poker. And now, sitting in the back of the class, he was playing again. On his screen, tiny decks of cards flipped and twisted in cyberspace, and Melancon placed bets with the click of his mouse. The profits just kept getting bigger. $1,000. $2,000. $3,000. Dude, check this out, he told his buddy. As class ended and the other students got up to leave, he checked his total one more time. In the space of an hour, he'd won just about $4,000. Melancon closed his laptop and walked out into the cold December air. What am I doing in school? he wondered. Why don't I just do this all the time? Poker is red hot on college campuses these days. A small number of students have made it a full-time job, turning what is a game for most into a profession where tens of thousands of dollars can come and go in a single night. Today's college students are among the first to grow up with gambling so accessible. Credit is easily available. Casinos, once relegated to Las Vegas and Atlantic City, are now scattered across 37 states. Poker is a regular feature on cable TV. Going to the casino has become a rite of passage for students as they turn 18. Freshmen play poker in dorm rooms, fraternities and bars host Texas Hold 'Em tournaments, and students hold sports betting pools and use wireless Internet connections to play anytime, anywhere. "I make a joke that ... the second-best gambling environment in America is the college dorm," said Ken Winters, a professor at the University of Minnesota who has studied youth addictions, including gambling. "You've got your privacy, you've got your high-speed Internet, you have independence from a parent, you probably now have some credit card money. ... It's like a little mini casino right in your laptop. ... It's almost too easy." College-age men, especially, have embraced the poker phenomenon. Card-playing and Internet gambling have increased among college-age males over the past five years, the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania found. About 16 percent of them played cards weekly in 2006, up from nearly 13 percent in 2005, and nearly 6 percent of them gambled online weekly, up from 2.3 percent in 2005. At Canterbury Card Club in Shakopee, Minn., crowds are getting younger, said Kevin Gorg, media relations manager. "Because of the popularity of poker on TV, it's become, you know, kind of the cool, in-vogue thing to do."

On that cold December morning in 2005, Melancon, now 21, decided to quit college. He and a group of friends have since bet their livelihood on cards. They spend hours at card tables and computers, winning and losing thousands of dollars at a time. They make fast money from less experienced players who don't know what they're doing.

They don't want to do this forever, they say, but they're going to ride the poker train as long as it keeps paying.

By 7:30 p.m. one October Thursday, Melancon's friend Mike Pickett had already been playing cards for nearly seven hours.

He and more than 400 others had traded an autumn day for the green felt tables and fluorescent lights of the poker room, hoping to win the $117,000 championship-event prize at the Fall Poker Classic at Canterbury Card Club.

Now, partway through the first day of the two-day tournament, the field was down to 96 players. Pickett, now 22, was among the youngest. The oversized hood of his sweatshirt shielded his baby face from his opponents' view.

Bryan Devonshire, another young professional gambler, had lost out early - they call it "busting out" - and came back to watch Pickett and size up the competition. "This is quite possibly the weakest field I've seen in a tournament," he said with satisfaction.

Good players quickly earn reputations in the poker world, and Devonshire, who stood off to the side spitting chew into an empty beer can, saw few of them there. "There are one, two, three ... nine people left that can play, and four of them are sitting right here," he said, pointing to Pickett's table. "Ah, the nature of poker."

Pickett was on a roll. With each passing hour, he added to the towers of chips piled up in front of him like tiny skyscrapers. Deal, bet, hope for the best. Deal, bet, hope for the best. Hour after hour after hour. They broke briefly for dinner and then got back at it.

In tournaments, chips can't be cashed in; the only money involved is the entry fee and prize money. But the player with the chip lead has an advantage at the tables, and some of Pickett's friends were watching his stacks grow with a special interest. Five of them had formed a team and made a $5,000 side bet with another team of five. If Pickett outlasted the remaining player from the other team, he and his buddies would win the cash.

The night wore on. The pool of players continued to dwindle. Pickett continued to win. Deal, bet, hope for the best.

By 11:30 p.m., some of the players were yawning, struggling to stay alert after nearly 10 hours at the table.

Pickett, though, was in no mood to rest. Though his stacks of chips had dwindled a bit during the last few hands, he was feeling like a winner.

"I'm feeling great," he said. "This table's a joke."

But with just over two dozen players left, the tournament organizer called it a day. Playing would resume at 1 the next afternoon. The dealers started collecting people's chips and sealing them in labeled bags.

Pickett lingered. "I wish we could keep playing," he said.

Some of his friends suggested they head to a bar. But as they passed a Three Card Poker table on the way out, a few of them sat down. It was a game they didn't normally play, but they tossed down some bills anyway.

Devonshire headed for the table, too. "I want in. I don't know how to play, but I want in," he said.

He slapped down $5 and burst out with a giant, hearty giggle when he won $150 on the first hand.

"All right! This game is awesome!" he yelled. "The odds of doing that were, like, 470 to 1."

For this group of young gamblers, betting has become a natural part of life.

Devonshire's favorite bet last fall: whether more tire valve stems would be pointing up or down when he parked a car. He once made a $1,000 bet with two friends that none would wager more than $100 on side bets in any 24-hour period - "a bet to prevent us from betting," he said.

The life of a professional poker player comes with freedom from schedules, money to invest, travel, and extra cash for bars and restaurants. It's great as long as the player is good enough to make money and the betting is kept under control, Devonshire and the others say.

But it's also a tough life. There are grueling, all-night sessions staring at a screen or sitting at a table, doing the mental math to assess risk in each hand and trying to outlast opponents. There are giant swings in fortune, from huge wins to demoralizing losses. And with poker available around the clock, some feel they need to play around the clock. "I feel like every time I'm not playing, I'm losing money," Pickett said.

The Minnesota group of friends - more than a dozen, most in their early 20s - is about evenly split between college graduates and college dropouts. They help each other through the tough times. They exchange advice on everything: how much money they should keep in their savings for the downturns, how to play a particular hand, how to invest.

They make a good living, they say. Some drive luxury cars, have giant-screen TVs and go on poker-playing trips to Las Vegas and the Bahamas. Some have invested in real estate. One player, Mike Schneider, won $1 million at a cruise ship poker tournament last spring.

The key is having the willpower to stop playing for a while when their luck is down, they say. And when it starts feeling too solitary, they sometimes get together with their laptops. They play individually, but they have the camaraderie of the group.

They all say they plan to do something else eventually.

Stopping may come sooner rather than later, depending on the effects of a 2006 law designed to shut down online gambling in the United States.

Some veteran gamblers are wary about what a life built around poker might do to the young guys long-term. "They end up being gamblers with no family, no life, no nothing," said Dick Hoffman, who was also playing in the Canterbury tournament. Hoffman has been gambling for 30 years, though not as a profession. "Poker will be their life. Maybe that's OK, I don't know. But I wonder."

Devonshire, 25, has already seen some effect.

He grew up in California and came to Minnesota to get married, but he says late-night poker playing helped kill his marriage in less than a year. He now lives just outside Las Vegas; a recent text message he sent at 7 p.m. said, "Just woke up today :-)."

He went broke playing stakes that were too high for him, he said. He worked his way back when a casino hired him to play poker to entice customers.

A former Christian youth minister, he struggles with how some in the church might view what he does.

"I'm curious," Devonshire conceded to Hoffman, standing in the card club at midnight on a Thursday. "In 20 years, what am I going to think about this period of my life?"

On the second day of the tournament at Canterbury, Pickett continued to expand his stacks of chips.

By early afternoon, his friends - some still a little bleary-eyed from a late night - started trickling in to cheer him on.

"Let's go, Mickey!" yelled Andy Fox, a 29-year-old who rents a townhouse a stone's throw from Canterbury and has been playing professionally for about four years.

Ten minutes later, the pool of players was down to 10 and Pickett had won another big hand.

"Way to go, bad boy!" Fox yelped.

With around $300,000 in chips, Pickett was the leader, and his friends were confident he was on his way to winning the tournament. His towers of gray and yellow chips loomed tall.

Then came a critical hand.

Checking the two pocket cards the dealer had tossed him, Pickett nonchalantly flipped in four gray chips - $20,000 worth - for his opening bet. One of his opponents tossed in a few more chips, re-raising to $70,000. Pickett re-raised for everything his opponent had: more than $200,000 total.

The other guy didn't even blink.

The room went silent. Pickett's buddies craned their necks to watch.

The opponent flipped over his cards: a pair of kings.

Pickett flipped over his cards: a pair of aces.

"Thatta boy, Mikey P!" one of Pickett's friends yelled from the crowd.

"Yeah!" yelled another.

But Pickett hadn't won yet. His aces were hard to beat, but the deciding factor would be the five community cards the dealer flipped over next: Three. King. King. Seven. Jack.

It was the kings that did it; they gave Pickett's opponent four of a kind.

The crowd gasped. Pickett was beat.

In a single hand, his tournament hopes had come crashing down. In a matter of seconds, he had gone from a likely winner to nearly finished, his stacks of chips dwindling to a meager $62,000 worth. He'd need a lot more than that to make a good run for the grand prize.

"That's brutal, man," another player at the table told him, shaking his head as they got up for a break.

Pickett walked alone to the far corner of the room. His friends stood helpless.

"He played it absolutely perfect and he got effed by the cards," Devonshire muttered to the others. "God, that's so frustrating."

They stayed silent as Pickett came back. Another man wandered over, "You need some Tums or something?"

When the game resumed, Pickett, devoid of the powerful chip lead, quickly lost out. He finished ninth and won $7,799 - not bad for two days of work. Days earlier, he won more than $17,000 in another tournament. Still, both sums were paltry compared with the $117,000 grand prize and recognition he was hoping for. It had been so close. But that's poker.

When Pickett busted out, it was only 3:30 p.m., too early to go to the bar, they agreed. Instead they could lick their wounds at Fox's townhouse nearby.

Valets retrieved Pickett's black Mercedes. The license plates read "ANTE UP."

They piled into the dimly lit townhouse and opened some beer. Nobody talked about the tournament.

At 22, a recovering gambling addict

 

The allure of gambling calls out to Matthew Bowles-Roth wherever he goes. When he drives on the freeway, casino billboards entice him with riches. When he buys cigarettes at the convenience store, lottery tickets shine under the glass counter. When he flips through TV channels, guys his age appear in high-stakes poker tournaments, beaming like movie stars. Each time, Matthew pauses. He can't take that path again. He forces himself to remember what it was like when he did: Lying. Stealing. Dropping out of college. "There's tons of things that I just wish I had never done," he says now, four years later. At 22, Matthew has experienced the grip of gambling in a way most people never will. In just three years, he went from someone who had never gambled to compulsive gambler to recovering addict. He is part of an age group that is drawing increasing concern from gambling-addiction counselors, government regulators and college administrators. Card playing and Internet gambling have increased among college-age men in recent years, according to one study in Pennsylvania. And many of them learned the game in high school. In many cases, "parents are actually strongly encouraging their kids to play poker," said Jeff Derevensky, co-director of the International Centre for Youth Gambling Problems and High-Risk Behaviors at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec. "They would prefer them to be in their basements playing poker than doing something 'more dangerous' like drinking and doing drugs." Research is scant about college-age gambling participation over time. And studies conflict on the question of whether young people are more susceptible to become problem gamblers - some studies say yes, others cast doubt on that premise. Still, researchers are concerned that gambling accessibility could lead to more problems. At Project Turnabout/Vanguard in Granite Falls, Minn., which has an inpatient gambling treatment program, the number of clients younger than 25 has gone from about three per year in 1992 to between 20 and 30 per year now, estimates Sandi Brustuen, gambling program coordinator. "It's just increasing all the time," she said. The program takes people who are 18 and older, but "most of them are doing it before then, in their basements and on the Internet and with their friends." The state of Minnesota has brought a responsible-gambling campaign to 10 college campuses. Roger Skogman, who was on the advisory committee, said they wanted to increase awareness after hearing from high schools and colleges in recent years.

"We've heard from high schools that kids are showing up who haven't been to bed at night because they've been at the casino all night long," he said. "You hear stories about parents setting up Texas Hold 'Em nights. ... These kids are doing side bets and everything else."

Some establishments keep an eye out for trouble. Canterbury Park Racetrack and Card Club in Shakopee, for instance, has security staff watch for people who might have gambling problems and tries to connect them to services, said Kevin Gorg, media relations manager.

While a select few players win enough to earn a living, far more lose money. And for some, like Matthew, gambling takes over their lives.

Late on a July night, Matthew stood with his friends outside the doors of Mystic Lake Casino, his driver's license in hand. When the clock ticked past midnight, he turned 18 and was legally old enough to gamble. He headed for the blackjack tables.

As he laid his first bet on the table - two $1 chips - his heart raced. At that moment, nothing else in the world mattered except the cards being flipped over in front of him. He brushed his hand across the soft felt of the tabletop. He fingered the chips and was comforted by their sharp clicking.

"It was instantaneous," he said later. "I fell in love when I got there and fell deeper in love with every bet."

He walked out into the sunrise with an extra $97 in his pocket.

I could come here and win $100 every night, he thought. Throughout his senior year at the Academy of Holy Angels in Richfield, Minn., Matthew had watched his friends head to the casino to celebrate their 18th birthdays - a rite of passage for many these days.

Matthew didn't seem a likely risk for developing a gambling problem. The son of physicians, he grew up in Minneapolis and got good grades in high school. He played saxophone in the band and acted in high school theater. His parents, Carolyn Bowles and Craig Roth, said they never gambled. They didn't like it and discouraged it.

Gambling addiction is an "equal opportunity destroyer," Derevensky said. "Doesn't matter if you're rich or poor. Doesn't matter if you come from a good home."

After that first visit, Matthew went back. Again and again - almost every night after his shift delivering pizzas. He says he broke even by summer's end, when he went off to college.

At DePaul University in Chicago, he needed to be 21 to go to a casino. So he didn't gamble, but he thought about it - all the time.

He daydreamed about the mansion he'd buy someday with his winnings. It would be somewhere warm, and it would have a garage to house the red Porsche and black Lamborghini he planned to buy. He spent hours playing video games and card games on his computer, trying to recapture the rush he felt at the casino.

His classes went on without him. He fell behind and dropped most of them before the second semester ended.

Back home for the summer, Matthew headed to the casino. On his first trip, he said, he won big: $4,000.

Gambling replaced his summer job. He made sure he was gone by the time his parents got home from work, because he knew they would disapprove.

At Mystic Lake, his bets grew bigger. Sometimes, he'd put $200 or $300 down on a single hand. He was treated like royalty. A valet parked his car. The casino gave him free meals. Workers brought him free cigarettes.

He sat in the high-roller room and reveled in the fact that people were watching him play.

A lot of his friends stopped going with him - none of them wanted to stay as late as he always did. But he still used them as cover, telling his parents he was staying overnight with them.

He once stayed at Mystic Lake for three days straight, he said. Dealers left and came back the next day for their shifts. He was still there, he said, still playing cards.

"No sleep, no eating, no showering, no brushing my teeth," he said. "I gambled until I was physically unable to gamble anymore."

He finally drove home, unable to see straight, shaky from exhaustion and falling asleep at the wheel.

By that fall, Matthew said, he had won more than $10,000. But after a marathon summer at the casino, who could concentrate on school?

Back at DePaul, he spent his winnings. A new computer. Designer clothes. A Louis Vuitton purse for his girlfriend. Golf accessories for dad. Perfume for mom.

He dropped his classes within about six weeks but stayed in Chicago for the rest of the school year. He came home for the summer, broke and depressed. And with one thought: to get back to the casino.

That summer was a haze of listlessness. He couldn't seem to get ahead at the blackjack table like the summer before. He kept thinking he just needed a little more money to make it work.

Matthew's parents were worried. They knew something was very wrong with their son, but they didn't know what.

They caught him in lies. Money was disappearing from their house. He didn't have a job. Their bright and motivated son was no longer acting either bright or motivated.

Matthew maxed out his first credit card. Overdraft envelopes arrived in the mail. His mother stayed awake at night, combing the Web for clues to his problem. The only addiction she could find that seemed to fit was gambling.

So she and her husband questioned Matthew. They argued and pleaded with him. Matthew resisted. Lied. When nothing changed, they eventually kicked him out.

"We couldn't trust him," Roth said. "It scared us deeply. ... We felt like we were enabling him to ... live this kind of lifestyle."

For the next month, Matthew crashed at the home of a friend. He slept on the couch and spent his days watching talk shows and poker tournaments on TV. He had stopped gambling, but only because he was broke.

"It was almost unbearable," he said recently. "I did absolutely nothing. I had no interest in anything."

One evening, there was a knock at the door, and in walked his parents. The parents of another friend were behind them. Matthew looked up, surprised, from what he was eating.

We think you have a problem, they told him.

They had staged an intervention. One by one, the adults told him what they had observed: He wasn't hanging out with his friends anymore. He wasn't talking to his parents anymore. He was spending way too much time on computer games.

That's not right, Matthew remembers thinking. I've won more than I've lost. How can I have a problem?

Matthew's parents weren't at all certain they were right. But they were at the end of their rope. There's a gambling-treatment facility in Granite Falls, Minn., they told him. We want to take you there.

Matthew thought about it: If he sat through the 30-day program, he'd have 30 days with a roof over his head. And 30 days of food.

OK, he said.

Roth waited while his son packed. In the darkness of an autumn evening, the two drove west into the countryside.

At the assessment the next morning, Matthew now says he did his best to lie.

Still, the counselors at Project Turnabout/Vanguard found cause for concern. They admitted him, and for the first two weeks he played along. He learned the lingo and told them what he thought they wanted to hear. But he still believed there was nothing wrong with him.

His family drove to Granite Falls to participate in sessions. Halfway through the program, Roth began to believe his son's problems stemmed from gambling after all.

Matthew had begun seeing things differently, too. "I had a spiritual awakening," he says now.

He was ready to confront his addiction.

Two years later, Matthew is a student at Augsburg College's StepUP program for students with addictions. He checks in regularly with counselors. His parents help manage his money.

He made a 3.62 GPA last semester, holds a job refereeing youth sports and is meeting his responsibilities in the treatment programs, he says.

Matthew knows he's lucky that his addiction surfaced when he was young, when he didn't have a house, a career or a wife to lose.

He is telling his story now, he says, so that others might see in themselves what he didn't at the time.

From now on, his guard will always be up, he says. When he sees advertisements for gambling - billboards on the freeway or Powerball tickets at the convenience store - he plays out in his head what would happen if he started again. Sometimes he calls a network of people who can help him through it. Often, he goes to extra treatment meetings to listen, again, to the horror stories of people whose lives were swallowed up by gambling.

Survey reveals our gambling habits

 

The results show online casino and poker fans play more for excitement and entertainment than to win and the typical amount gambled during a gambling session on the internet is between £15 and £30. The survey also shows a gender divide as men prefer to play poker while women like to play blackjack. Professor Leighton Vaughan Williams from the Betting Research Unit said: "The average online gambler is a cross-section of the population. "It's the average person in the street, high professionals, manual workers, it's the same percentage of people who are retired." The study claims that poker players are mainly young men who spend between one and two hours online per session and the majority of casino gamblers are middle-aged women. The majority of those interviewed said they were up or down within a range of £130 per month.

How ministers are opening the way for 24-hour gambling

 

Casinos will be allowed to open 24 hours a day because of a loophole in Labour's gaming laws. Experts fear this will give problem gamblers the opportunity to lose money round the clock. They said Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell had ditched her pledge to protect the vulnerable from the dangers of casinos. Currently, casinos can open from 2pm until 6am six days a week, closing at 4am on Sundays. Under the new rules, to come into force in September, all casinos will be allowed to open from noon until 6am seven days a week. But crucially, ministers have said any casino can apply to its local authority to extend its hours - opening the back door to 24-hour gambling. A Department of Culture document on the new casino hours, seen by the Daily Mail, says: "No gambling facilities may be offered between 6am and noon on any day." However, it adds: "All casinos will of course have the opportunity of asking for the default hours to be changed." Residents would have the right to object to 24-hour opening - but they are unlikely to have much chance of success. When rights to open all day were extended to pubs, just one in 100 complaints against the extension of opening hours was upheld. Critics believe local authorities will be powerless to resist requests for 24-hour gambling. Casinos would be able to argue that staying open throughout the morning would cause fewer noise, traffic or social problems than in the early hours. A spokesman for Gamblers Anonymous compared 24-hour gambling to handing unlimited supplies of heroin to a drug addict. "The more gambling opportunities there are for people, the more people will become addicted. "The more people you get through the doors of casino and the longer they stay open, the faster they will get addicted. If casinos are open 24 hours, some people will stay there 24 hours." Dr Emanuel Moran, adviser on pathological gambling to the Royal College of Psychiatrists, helped set up Gamblers Anonymous. He said casino opening hours should not be left to local authorities to decide.

"In the 1960s, prior to the Gaming Act, there was a gambling free-for-all which saw many casinos open 24 hours a day and it had dreadful consequences.

"Casinos have to close each day to ensure gamblers have to take a break. Any move back towards 24-hour gambling would be a recipe for disaster."

Professor Mark Griffiths, of Nottingham Trent University said: "The fear for some individuals is that the combination of gambling and drinking is a heady mix that will exacerbate problem gambling. You are more likely to be reckless."

The GMB and Transport and General Workers Union, which represent casino staff, oppose the move to round-the-clock gaming.

The GMB has written to Sports Minister Richard Caborn asking the Government to restrict the casinos which could operate the extended hours.

It warns: "The extension of the liquor licensing hours recently may be some sort of indicator of the shape of things to come in the casino industry."

Mick Marklow, of the T&G, accused the Government of "sending very mixed messages".

He said: "Once the first casino goes 24 hours, others will be under pressure to follow."

Shadow Culture Secretary Hugo Swire said: "The Government is sending out completely the wrong messages.

"It will be gambling addicts that are more likely to take advantage of these longer hours, and often chase their losses.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Guyana Passes Hotel Gambling Bill

 

Guyana's Parliament has approved limited casino gambling in some hotels that are scheduled to open ahead of this year's cricket World Cup. The proposal, which passed late Monday, prompted street marches last week by the political opposition and religious groups who argue it will encourage vice and provide new opportunities for organized crime. "We have been condemned but we believe that history will absolve us," Interior Minister Clement Rohee said of protests from opposition benches in Guyana's 65-member Parliament. The ruling party said the bill, backed by President Bharrat Jagdeo, was necessary to help hoteliers recoup investments made ahead of the World Cup. As many as 100,000 visitors are expected in the region for the tournament, which runs from March 13 to April 28, with matches in Guyana and eight other Caribbean countries. The legislation provides for up to 30 gambling licenses in the South American country. No hotels currently in Guyana would meet the conditions for a license -- which include having a minimum 250 rooms -- but two high-end hotels under construction in the capital of Georgetown near a new cricket stadium would be eligible. Only foreigners would be permitted to wager in the yet-to-be-built hotels. Deborah Backer, a lawmaker for the main opposition People's National Congress, said the government had not offered candid estimates of license costs and other information. "We oppose it on religious and moral grounds," she said, adding that the country's "fragile security sector" may not be able to deal with crime that could accompany casino gambling rooms.

Macao Surpasses Las Vegas as Gambling Center

 

Macao surpassed the Las Vegas Strip to become the world's biggest gambling center in 2006, measured by total gambling revenue, according to industry analysts and government figures released today. In the eight years since Macao, a former Portuguese colony on the coast near Hong Kong, was returned to Chinese control in 1999, it has experienced a huge boom in casino investment, and millions of mainland Chinese have been flooding into the tiny island territory to gamble. As a result, gambling revenue soared by 22 percent in 2006, reaching $6.95 billion, according to figures released by the local administration today. Las Vegas has not yet released its own full-year revenue statistics. But its cumulative figures were trailing those of Macao in the final months of last year, and analysts estimate that the 2006 total will come in around $6.5 billion. Where Macao was once derided for its seedy gambling dens and endemic organized crime, it is now being referred to as Asia's Las Vegas, and not just by the locals. Hoping to ride the gold rush, some of the world's biggest casino operators, including Las Vegas tycoons like Sheldon Adelson, Steve Wynn and Kirk Kerkorian, have agreed to invest more than $20 billion to outfit Macao with new luxury hotels, giant casinos and V.I.P. suites to cater to the apparently enormous gambling appetite of the mainland Chinese. Macao is the only place in China where gambling is legal, and it is only in recent years that many ordinary Chinese people have been able to get permission to visit the city. Last year, some 22 million visitors poured in, most of them from China. For investors, one of the big lures is that, on average, the city's gambling tables pull in about seven times more money than tables in Las Vegas. The winnings are a testament to how serious the gamblers are in this part of the world, despite the fact that income per person in Chinese averages just $1,700 a year. Other cities in the region are eyeing Macao's success and rethinking their tourism strategies. For instance, Singapore is now planning to build its own casino resort, and Hong Kong officials have talked about allowing casino gambling. But few rivals will be able to try to match Macao, which already has 24 casinos and over 2,700 tables in operation. To accommodate even more visitors, the 10-square mile city of 470,000 residents is expanding its airport and reclaiming broad tracts of land from the sea. The city's transformation began in 2002, with the expiration of the Macao billionaire Stanley Ho's colonial-era 40-year monopoly on gambling in the territory. New licenses were issued to a handful of competing operators as well as Mr. Ho, and a construction boom began.

The city now has two giant Las Vegas style casino-hotels, the Sands Macao and the $1.2 billion Wynn Macau, which opened late last year with 600 guest rooms and about 200 gambling tables.

Mr. Ho's family of casinos and entertainment palaces are also expanding, betting that the casino and entertainment pie will keep his profits growing rapidly enough to further enrich his empire even though it is now shared it with competitors.

But perhaps no one in Macao has quite the ambitions of Mr. Adelson, who operates Las Vegas Sands Corporation. Mr. Adelson says he plans to spend $4 billion to build whole Vegas-style strip, including a a 10.5 million-square-foot hotel, casino, shopping mall and entertainment complex that would include the world's largest casino.

Part of the plan among investors is to transform Macao into more of a destination for conventions, entertainment and leisure, rather than simply an arena for hard-core gamblers, many of whom drive across the border from China and sleep in their cars rather than rent a hotel room.

Some analysts say Macao, ruled by Portugal for 450 years, is an ideal spot for such a destination because about 2.2 billion people live within five hours' flying time of the city.

And Macao's growth since 2000 has been spectacular, largely because China has liberalized its travel policies and allowed more of its citizens to visit Macao and other parts of the world.

In 2001, for instance, Macao reported about $2 billion in gambling revenues. Industry analysts expect four times as much in 2007.

Though Macao appears to have overtaken the Las Vegas Strip in 2006, it still lags far behind the state of Nevada as a whole, which reported close to $12 billion in gambling revenue in 2005.

Still, the Chinese government is not wholeheartedly supportive of the Macao gambling boom, because the city seems to attract the corrupt as well as the merely sporting.

Some of Macao's highest rollers have been caught gambling with government money or with cash siphoned off from state-owned companies rather than their own funds. In 2005, for instance, Beijing said that more than 8,700 "party members and cadres" were punished for gambling.

In one publicized case, a married couple embezzled more than $50 million from the state-run Bank of China to pay off gambling debts in Macao.

Some analysts have also warned about overinvestment and about overly rosy forecasts of gambling revenue growth. But most analysts and investors have dismissed such talk and instead have watched the flood of gamblers into Macao.

In an interview, Mr. Adelson once said that turning Macau into the next Las Vegas was not rocket science.

"This is a no-brainer," he said. "If you build it, will they come? In my mind, not only will they come, but they'll come in droves."

PLAYTECH MOVES INTO LAND GAMBLING TECHNOLOGY

 

A subsidiary of the online gambling software developer Playtech has signed what is described as "....a significant step" into the land based gambling sector. Online gaming software firm Playtech said its subsidiary Videobet has secured a long-term licensing contract with leading Mexican casino operator, Entretenimiento De Mexico. Under the terms of the three-year contract, EMex will add Videobet's server based gaming product to its existing and future gaming estates, Playtech said in a company statement. Playtech chief executive Avigur Zmora said, "This deal is the first significant step for our land-based offering, opening up a whole new market whilst complimenting and further strengthening our existing portfolio."

GAMBLING ADS AXED BY GOOGLE

 

Casino advertisements on the giant search engine Google could be a thing of the past following a decision by Google HQ currently being reported in marketing media. The reason behind the decision is reportedly that Google and its rival Yahoo! have allegedly been warned off by the US Justice Department authorities for promoting gambling indirectly to an underage audience through advertising pop-ups. The *voluntary* decision applies only to the United States in the case of Yahoo!, where Justice officials have been exercising a major crackdown on all aspects of Internet gambling. However, it is understood that Google plans to extend the ban globally.

R.I. gambling numbers hit plateau

 

"Just a few years ago, a $240-million Powerball jackpot would have drawn long lines at gas stations and convenience stores across the state. "But yesterday there was little buzz. And forget about lines. ".Rhode Islanders' appetite for gambling has lowered. And we're not alone. Elsewhere in the region, sales of lottery tickets and other forms of gambling are either less than last year or flat. ".Since July, Rhode Island lottery sales have grown by less than three-tenths of a percent compared with the same period last year. Instant scratch tickets are down 2.5 percent, Keno is down less than half a percent and Powerball is up just 1.9 percent. ".At Lincoln Park, revenues have been down in seven of the last eight months. Newport Grand has been down during 16 of the last 20 months."

Arrests for gambling surge, police report

 

While the number of drug arrests remained steady last year, Maui police reported a surge in gambling arrests, most involving cockfighting, in 2006. The total of 165 gambling arrests, which increased by 79 percent from 92 arrests in 2005, was due largely to 155 cockfighting arrests last year, according to preliminary police statistics for 2006. At a Maui County Police Commission meeting Wednesday, Capt. Gerald Matsunaga said the large number of cockfighting arrests stemmed from police action after developing intelligence that two organizations were trying to step in to such illegal operations on Maui. Matsunaga, who heads the Vice Division, said two organizations that previously ran cockfights on Maui were "totally dismantled" in 2004 when 35 people were indicted following a yearlong undercover investigation called "Operation Down The Hatch." The two groups had organized cockfights involving thousands of dollars in bets at the old Maui High School campus at Hamakuapoko, Old Maui Block in Waikapu and at the Kahului end of the drag strip at Maui Raceway Park in Puunene. In 2005, police reported making 67 cockfighting arrests before the number of arrests more than doubled last year. Matsunaga said police had information that one cockfighting group was bringing people from Oahu to Maui and cited "quite a few arrests of people from the island of Oahu" last year. Maui County police reported 382 drug arrests last year, about the same as the 386 in 2005. The amount of crystal methamphetamine seized by police increased from 12.5 pounds in 2005 to 16.25 pounds last year. The seizures included 29 grams of ice recovered Dec. 19 when Lanai patrol officers and vice officers executed a search warrant in Lanai City, said police Assistant Chief Wayne Ribao. He said police also recovered more than $11,000 cash in the search. "For such a small island, that hopefully will make quite an impact," Ribao said. Nestor R. Raqueno, 46, of Lanai City was arrested and released after posting $24,000 bail on charges of two counts each of second-degree methamphetamine trafficking and possessing drug paraphernalia. Court records show Raqueno had drug and other charges dismissed in October 2003 after he successfully completed the Maui Drug Court program of treatment and supervision.

Matsunaga said the amount of drugs seized by police "might not be indicative of what's happening out on the streets."

While recent news reports have cited an increase in cocaine arrests and seizures, Matsunaga said the 5.5 pounds of the drug seized in Maui County last year compared with 10.5 pounds seized in 2005, 3.1 pounds in 2004 and 14.25 pounds in 2003.

"In Maui County, we don't think it's on its way back," he said. "We think it never left."

For the first time, Matsunaga said police saw a decrease in marijuana plants recovered, largely through Green Harvest operations.

Last year, 44,452 marijuana plants were confiscated, down from 82,332 plants in 2005. The seizure of processed marijuana increased, however, from 24 pounds in 2005 to 36.5 pounds last year.

In the last few years, Matsunaga said police have seen more marijuana imported into the county, mostly from the West Coast and Canada. He said the increase in imported marijuana is probably due to the success of marijuana eradication efforts.

Police also have seen an increase in indoor marijuana-growing operations, Matsunaga said. Last year, police found nine indoor-growing operations, up from one in 2005.

Heroin "might be on its way back," Matsunaga said, citing statistics showing the seizure of 11.5 ounces of the drug last year, compared with 6 grams in 2005.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

US Authorities Issue Subpoenas to UK Gambling IPO Backers

 

In their relentless pursuit of anybody and anything that was responsible for spreading online gambling in the United States, the US Department of Justice is reported to have issued subpoenas to a number of high profile UK investment banks. The Financial Times reports that the subpoenas were issued from October (after the passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006) by a New York Grand Jury at the request of Michael Garcia, the US Attorney who was recently at the forefront of the arrests of the founders and former directors of Neteller plc last week. The FT report says that the subpoenas are likely to have requested copies of emails, telephone and banking records going back to 2001 and are concerned with an investigation of specific gambling companies such as Party Gaming plc and 888 Holdings plc. Companies publicly identified as having received subpoenas include HSBC, Dresdner Kleinwort, Deutsche Bank and Credit Suisse. The report refers to "sources familiar with the probe" who say that these companies have not been told they are targets and that other advisers to online gaming floats, including accountants and lawyers, could also be the subject of subpoenas. The FT report quotes a Columbia University Law Professor, John Coffee, as saying that sending a company a subpoena ".doesn't automatically mean that they're automatically going to indict a corporation. They are often gathering information against other people who will be charged later." The ongoing actions of the US authorities against online gambling have been controversial since they often target non-US companies who are conducting business perfectly legally under the laws by which they are governed in their own countries, but it is clear the US has taken badly to the amount of money that has left its shores through the gambling activities of its citizens; that much was made crystal clear by the Neteller charges that were made public last week. The Sunday Times also quotes sources in the City of London, one of which is quoted as saying: "To say the situation is sensitive is the understatement of the decade. The problem is, even if you know you have done nothing wrong, you have no powers of resistance. You can quickly go from being a bystander to a target, so even if you are bomb-proof, you have to assume you are subject to hostility. The Department of Justice has taken a shotgun, not a rifle approach, in relation to lots of gaming companies and has just asked everyone to hand over all the information they have."

Neteller Gambling Case To Go To Court Next Month

 

A pair of Canadians accused of laundering billions of dollars in illegal online gambling proceeds originating in the United States are expected to face a preliminary hearing in New York next month --the first step in determining whether to proceed with formal charges. John Lefebvre and Stephen Lawrence, both co-founders and ex-directors of Isle of Man-based NETeller Plc, have each been released on $5-million US bond following their arrests last week --Lefebvre in Los Angeles and Lawrence in Virgin Islands.If convicted, each faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Lefebvre, 55, will have his bail terms reviewed when he appears in Manhattan Federal Court Wednesday. Lawrence, 46, who appeared in the same court Friday, saw his bail terms upheld. A judge gave him until Friday to come up with $1 million US still outstanding after he posted $2.5 million in cash and $1.5 million against a New York condominium. While a federal judge in Los Angeles ordered Lefebvre not to leave that city except for making his Manhattan court appearance, Lawrence has been ordered not to leave New York before the end of February. Even then, he must not leave the continental United States, and must provide the court with contact information for each night he is away from New York. Both men are accused of conspiring to promote illegal gambling by transferring billions of dollars of cyberspace bets placed by U.S. citizens with overseas gambling companies. Lefebvre, a University of Calgary law graduate and well-known philanthropist in the city, was arrested at his Malibu, Calif., beach house, but also owns a home on Saltspring Island in British Columbia. Fellow former Calgarian Lawrence's ties to the city date to the 1990s, when he worked as a principal with Cavendish Investing Ltd., a Calgary-based private venture capital firm.

NETeller allows users to transfer money to global companies for a fee.

The men are former directors of the company and knowingly broke the law, according to an FBI special agent based in New York.

"Public filings acknowledge that a large chunk of their business was derived from handling wagers from American customers," James Margolin said last week.

"Under U.S. law, gambling is a very tightly regulated industry and the solicitation of American bettors by offshore companies is illegal."

According to the company's 2005 annual report, payment services were provided to more than 95 per cent of gaming merchants around the globe, amounting to roughly $7.3 billion in financial transactions.

In the first half of 2006, the company reported processing $5.1 billion in transactions.

"There is ample indication these defendants knew the American market for their services was illegal," Michael Garcia, U.S. attorney for New York, wrote in the indictment.

Pica's gambling trial rescheduled

 

A continuance was granted by Municipal Court Judge Timothy L. France for a trial against a local gas station/convenience store owner who was charged with allowing gambling. Rich Pica, owner of High Caliber Pit Stop on Chestnut Street, was charged with the first-degree misdemeanor on Nov. 17, 2006, after plugging in his six Ohio Skill Games' Tic-Tac Fruit machines. Pica and other game operators in the county were notified to shut down the games or face charges and confiscation after Attorney Jim Petro issued an opinion in November that the games were illegal. His trial was to be held Friday, Jan. 26. On Friday, France granted Prosecutor Robert Skelton's request for a continuance and set the new court trial for 11 a.m. Friday, Feb. 9. According to Pica's attorney, Eric Yavitch of Columbus, the reason for Skelton's request was "the state needs additional time to attempt to locate an expert in the field of gambling."

Net gambling case to court next month

 

A pair of Canadians accused of laundering billions of dollars in illegal online gambling proceeds originating in the United States are expected to face a preliminary hearing in New York next month --the first step in determining whether to proceed with formal charges. John Lefebvre and Stephen Lawrence, both co-founders and ex-directors of Isle of Man-based NETeller Plc, have each been released on $5-million US bond following their arrests last week --Lefebvre in Los Angeles and Lawrence in Virgin Islands. If convicted, each faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Lefebvre, 55, will have his bail terms reviewed when he appears in Manhattan Federal Court Wednesday. Lawrence, 46, who appeared in the same court Friday, saw his bail terms upheld. A judge gave him until Friday to come up with $1 million US still outstanding after he posted $2.5 million in cash and $1.5 million against a New York condominium. While a federal judge in Los Angeles ordered Lefebvre not to leave that city except for making his Manhattan court appearance, Lawrence has been ordered not to leave New York before the end of February. Even then, he must not leave the continental United States, and must provide the court with contact information for each night he is away from New York. Both men are accused of conspiring to promote illegal gambling by transferring billions of dollars of cyberspace bets placed by U.S. citizens with overseas gambling companies. Lefebvre, a University of Calgary law graduate and well-known philanthropist in the city, was arrested at his Malibu, Calif., beach house, but also owns a home on Saltspring Island in British Columbia. Fellow former Calgarian Lawrence's ties to the city date to the 1990s, when he worked as a principal with Cavendish Investing Ltd., a Calgary-based private venture capital firm. NETeller allows users to transfer money to global companies for a fee. The men are former directors of the company and knowingly broke the law, according to an FBI special agent based in New York. "Public filings acknowledge that a large chunk of their business was derived from handling wagers from American customers," James Margolin said last week.

"Under U.S. law, gambling is a very tightly regulated industry and the solicitation of American bettors by offshore companies is illegal."

According to the company's 2005 annual report, payment services were provided to more than 95 per cent of gaming merchants around the globe, amounting to roughly $7.3 billion in financial transactions.

In the first half of 2006, the company reported processing $5.1 billion in transactions.

"There is ample indication these defendants knew the American market for their services was illegal," Michael Garcia, U.S. attorney for New York, wrote in the indictment.

"The U.S. is exerting its long arm in an effort to totally stamp out online gaming in their country, and in this case are pushing as hard as they can" Michael Lipton, a Toronto lawyer who specializes in gambling law, told CanWest News Service.

Problem gambling will increase, says 'casino' minister

 

A SHAKE-UP of gambling laws could increase problem gambling, the government minister in charge of the issue has conceded. The Gambling Act, which was passed last year, relaxes some restrictions on the industry. For the first time, Las Vegas-style `supercasinos' will be allowed in Britain. A decision on the site of the first is due in the next week. It is increasingly seen as a two-horse race between the favourites - Blackpool and the Millennium Dome in London - but Manchester is one of seven towns and cities still in the running. Its bid includes not only a casino with 1,000 unlimited-jackpot slot machines, but also a multi-purpose arena, hotel and swimming pool. Critics remain unimpressed however, and claim the vulnerable will be hit hard by the decision. Asked whether the legislation could lead to a rise in problem gambling, Richard Caborn said: "Absolutely." But he insisted: "If there were increases, we would be able to arrest that." But Conservative spokesman Hugo Swire said it was a `staggering' admission that contradicted assurances given by Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell. He said: "It also completely undermines the supposed aims of their gambling legislation." He said the Gambling Commission had approved 90 new casinos in Britain in the last two years - equal to 10 `supercasinos'. Mr Swire said it was evidence of a `casino con trick' by ministers, after the number of actual supercasinos initially allowed was restricted to just one. Ms Jowell has insisted the Act provides `the most protective legislation in the world'. She said she would move to shut down casinos if it was shown that they were increasing problem gambling.

Gambling Backers Want Trial Delay

 

Sponsors of a citizen initiative allowing slot machines in Broward and Miami-Dade counties Monday asked the Florida Supreme Court to delay a trial on a challenge to the state constitutional amendment until the justices rule on related issues. Floridians for a Level Playing Field, the group that sponsored the measure, argues the justices should block the trial until they resolve questions regarding the gathering of signatures and consider an appeal from the group on other grounds. Floridians Against Expanded Gambling, the Humane Society of the United States and GREY2K USA, a greyhound protection organization, allege slot backers submitted thousands of forged signatures to get the amendment on the ballot in 2004. The latter two groups see slots as a way to prop up dog racing, an industry they oppose.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Problem gambling will increase, says 'casino' minister

 

A SHAKE-UP of gambling laws could increase problem gambling, the government minister in charge of the issue has conceded. The Gambling Act, which was passed last year, relaxes some restrictions on the industry. For the first time, Las Vegas-style `supercasinos' will be allowed in Britain. A decision on the site of the first is due in the next week. It is increasingly seen as a two-horse race between the favourites - Blackpool and the Millennium Dome in London - but Manchester is one of seven towns and cities still in the running. Its bid includes not only a casino with 1,000 unlimited-jackpot slot machines, but also a multi-purpose arena, hotel and swimming pool. Critics remain unimpressed however, and claim the vulnerable will be hit hard by the decision. Asked whether the legislation could lead to a rise in problem gambling, Richard Caborn said: "Absolutely." But he insisted: "If there were increases, we would be able to arrest that." But Conservative spokesman Hugo Swire said it was a `staggering' admission that contradicted assurances given by Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell. He said: "It also completely undermines the supposed aims of their gambling legislation." He said the Gambling Commission had approved 90 new casinos in Britain in the last two years - equal to 10 `supercasinos'. Mr Swire said it was evidence of a `casino con trick' by ministers, after the number of actual supercasinos initially allowed was restricted to just one. Ms Jowell has insisted the Act provides `the most protective legislation in the world'. She said she would move to shut down casinos if it was shown that they were increasing problem gambling.

Gambling Subpoenas on Wall St.

 

The Justice Department has issued subpoenas to at least four Wall Street investment banks as part of a widening investigation into the multibillion-dollar online gambling industry, according to people briefed on the investigation. The subpoenas were issued to firms that had underwritten the initial public offerings of some of the most popular online gambling sites that operate abroad. The banks involved in the inquiry include HSBC, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank and Dresdner Kleinwort, these people said. While online gaming sites like PartyGaming and 888 Holdings operate from Gibraltar and their initial public offerings were held on the London Stock Exchange, companies that do business with them and have large bases in United States have come under scrutiny by regulators in Washington. None of the biggest United States banks like Goldman Sachs or Citigroup underwrote the initial public offerings in London, in part because of the legal ambiguity of the sites; they are illegal in the United States, but still accessible to residents. The subpoenas, earlier reported by The Sunday Times of London, appeared to be part of an indirect but aggressive and far-reaching attack by federal prosecutors on the Internet gambling industry just two weeks before one of its biggest days of the year, the Super Bowl. Unable to go directly after the casinos, which are based overseas, they have sought to prosecute the operations' American partners, marketing arms and now, possibly, investors. The prosecutors may be emboldened by a law signed by President Bush last October that explicitly defined the illegality of running an Internet casino. Even before that law, the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, was adopted, the government said that Internet gambling was illegal under a 1961 provision. These offshore casinos, typically based in Costa Rica or Antigua, allow American bettors to use their home and office computers to place wagers on a range of contests. Millions of Americans participate; more than half of all bets placed to major offshore casinos are from residents of the United States. The prosecutors' efforts have already taken a toll in the last two years on offshore casinos, most notably with the arrest last year of David Carruthers, the chief executive of an Internet sports book, BetonSports. The company is based in Britain and has operations in Costa Rica, but Mr. Carruthers was detained at the Dallas airport while traveling through the United States.

The arrest led to BetonSports' decision to stop taking bets from the United States, crippling its business.

Several weeks later, agents of the Port Authority of New York arrested Peter Dicks, the chairman of Sport-ingbet, which offers online sports betting and, like Mr. Carruthers's company, trades on the London Stock Exchange. Mr. Dicks was arrested at Kennedy Airport.

Last week, a British online money transfer business, Neteller, said it would cease handling gambling transactions from United States customers because of regulatory uncertainty.

"It appears that the Department of Justice is waging a war of intimidation against Internet gambling," said I. Nelson Rose, a professor of law at Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa, Calif., who is an expert on Internet gambling law.

Another lawyer, Lawrence G. Walters of Altamonte Springs, Fla., said the development was disconcerting because the prevailing wisdom had been that investment in a company that is legal and licensed in its jurisdiction was not grounds for prosecution.

"It would be the first time that that kind of liability has been imposed," Mr. Walters said.

But he cautioned that the subpoenas could be part of a government fact-finding effort and might not signal a plan to prosecute banks.

Renewed Push for Legalizing Gambling in Texas

 

Over the years attempts to legalize casino gambling has repeatedly been blocked in the Texas Legislature, so casinos across the border have welcomed Texas gamblers. Gambling interests are making a renewed push for casinos and they're betting on the 2007 Texas legislature to make it happen. Take a short drive up to Durant, Oklahoma and you'll find that an overwhelming majority of the vehicles in the Choctaw Casino parking lot have Texas plates. Millions of Texas dollars are spent each year just across the border at Oklahoma, Louisiana and New Mexico casinos. The Texas Gaming Association argues that gambling is already in Texas - in the form of the state lottery and race tracks, so what's wrong with adding one more venue to help provide money for education and other services. Terri Capshaw, a Texas resident and local convenience store clerk who sells lotto tickets, says "People will gamble, our tax dollars are going across the river. If they want to keep it in Texas then Texas does need to step it up. But it does need to be investigated on what the crime rate does." Texas Democrat Senator Rodney Ellis is proposing licensing up to 12 casinos across the state, mainly in major cities and on tourist islands along the gulf coast. Voters would then have to approve this proposal - by approving a state constitutional amendment. Then local voters would have to take a vote before a casino could be built in their cities. Governor Rick Perry says the odds of legalizing gambling in the state of Texas aren't bad. There are plenty of people who say they will continue to work toward making it legal.

British Public Backs New Online Gambling Laws In pkr.com And YouGov Survey

 

Survey of UK consumers finds broad public support and little opposition to government plans to license and regulate online gambling as part of new Casino Act. Results show consumers find licensing and regulation of gambling sites are key in inspiring consumer confidence and trust. 22nd January 2007 - Controversial government plans to license and regulate online gambling have strong public support according to a new survey conducted by PKR.com and YouGov. Even amongst non-gamblers, support for the licensing and regulation of online gambling was high, with over 50% agreeing with government plans. Only 14% of non-gambling respondents disagreed. The survey also highlighted that licensing and regulation plays a major role in consumer decisions about which online gaming sites they play. Nearly two thirds of those polled (63%) believe that it is important for an internet gambling site to have a licence, with only 5% seeing licensing as "not important at all". What's more, the PKR.com/YouGov poll revealed a strong preference among respondents for those licences to be issued under British Government regulations. 70% said they would trust a poker room or casino that is licensed and regulated in the UK. PKR.com's Chief Executive Officer, Malcolm Graham said, "We've always known that trust is a major factor when it comes to consumer decisions about where to gamble online - which is why we would welcome the introduction of a UK based licensing regime in order to extend an even greater level of protection to consumers and help them avoid unscrupulous operators." Graham goes on to add, "I am sure that if the Gambling Commission adopts a regulatory framework similar to the one that exists in Alderney, they will attract many license applications."

The Poker UK 2007 report also identifies how poker is increasingly being seen as an entertainment activity, rather than being viewed as gambling, and also provides a snapshot showing how new next-generation poker products are re-invigorating the market.

PKR is a revolutionary new concept in online poker that aims to change both the way that online poker is played and perceived.

Featuring stunning real-time 3D graphics and a uniquely engaging and immersive gaming system, PKR brings an unparalleled and previously unseen level of realism to online poker.

Developed by some of the brightest stars in the video games and poker industries, PKR was founded in 2005 by President Jez San, one of Europe's most respected technology entrepreneurs and the first person to ever be awarded an O.B.E for services to the computer games industry.

PKR's Gaming Licence

PKR is licensed by the Alderney Gambling Control Commission (AGCC), one of the stringent gaming jurisdictions in the world.

The successful receipt of an Alderney gaming license requires the operator to:

submit to independent testing of both gaming software and hardware

ensure that players are over the minimum age required to gamble (18)

provide tools and services to prevent irresponsible or problem gambling

'ring-fence' all money in player's accounts (both winnings and deposits) in a separate account.

UK banks caught up in gambling inquiry

 

Furthering their investigation into the online gaming industry, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) has demanded evidence from companies in London that have had dealings with online gambling companies. Among those caught up in the inquiry include HSBC, JP Morgan, Investec and Deutsche Bank. It has also been revealed that subpoenas were sent out to at least 16 banks as far back as October, just days after President Bush signed the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act. The DOJ is said to have instructed the companies to hand over all documents, e-mails and telephone records relating to online gambling companies. Analysts speculate that the DOJ is targeting the individuals that founded the companies and anyone that has benefited from the industry, much like NETeller founders Stephen Lawrence and John Lefebvre who have been charged with money laundering and face a maximum 20 years in prison. The move by the U.S has not gone down well with many in the UK, believing that the U.S is wrongly targeting firms out of desperation as they seek to step up their crackdown on internet gambling. "There is growing suspicion that the US Department of Justice is using its muscle in a highly unpleasant manner, and is targeting financial institutions beyond their own shores in a way that cannot be justified. I hope the Department will stop and review its approach so that its behaviour doesn't sour relations between us," said Alan Duncan, Shadow Trade and Industry Secretary.

Ladbrokes acquire Nordic gambling partner

 

Ladbrokes has acquired their Scandinavian online gambling partner Sponsio Ltd. in a deal potentially worth £40 million. Sponsio is an online gambling company with a presence in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland and will place Ladbrokes in a strong position within the Nordic region. Ladbrokes, who signed a partnership deal with the company back in 2001, have paid £36 million for Sponsio plus a further £4 million down the line if growth targets are met. Spending per capita in the Nordic regions is among the highest levels in Europe and as such Ladbrokes are confident the deal will prove profitable. "Working with Sponsio has enabled Ladbrokes to become one of the leading online betting and gaming companies in the Nordic region. Having benefited from their local expertise, we are now consolidating our Nordic operations and will continue to drive successful online growth throughout Scandinavia," said John O'Reilly, Managing Director of Ladbrokes. Former Sponsio managing director Douglas Roos will head up Ladbrokes' Scandinavian division.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

FBI arrests Brits for running gambling operation

 

TWO FORMER NETELLER executives who were just passing through the United States on a flight transfer have been arrested by the FBI. Stephen Lawrence and John Lefebvre, who are British and have not broken any UK law, were arrested in connection with what the FBI claims was laundering billions of dollars of Internet gambling proceeds. According to Cardplayer.com, NETELLER allows people to transfer money directly from their bank accounts to other parties. Online poker players and gamblers use the service to transfer money in and out of their preferred sites. The US has been getting its knickers in a twist about online gambling lately, but the arrest of the pair is a little odd. NETELLER said that while Lawrence and Lefebvre were still shareholders in the company they do not hold any positions. They do not run any gambling sites either. The US government had not bothered to contact the company about the arrest or warn it that it was breaking any law either.

Others expected to fill Neteller void in U.S. online gambling

 

Though payment processor Neteller PLC is the latest and largest such company to pull out of the lucrative but illegal U.S. online gambling market, industry observers said other e-wallet sites would come forward to take its place. The arrest of its founders Monday on U.S. soil on money laundering charges and the company's delicate position as a publicly traded British company forced it to cease handling U.S. betting transfers as of Thursday. The arrests were the latest in a series of enforcement actions by the U.S. government against the online gambling industry. The crackdown has targeted the financial middlemen who sprung up after credit card companies and PayPal gave in to pressure to stop processing online gambling transactions from U.S. customers in 2001. Neteller processed $7 billion in transactions in 2005 and $5.1 billion in the first half of 2006, mostly from U.S. clients to and from online betting sites. By some accounts, that amounted to roughly half of the global market for online wagers. Many observers said the market for Internet wagering was too rich for others to pass up, despite a U.S. law passed in October that prohibited financial transfers to and from such gambling sites. "What you're finding with the Internet gambling sites is the publicly traded ones and prominent ones are leaving," said David Stewart, an online gambling expert and lawyer with Washington, D.C.-based firm Ropes & Gray LLP. "The entities that are more visible and are more transparent can't take the heat," he said. "And all the rest of them are still in the business." Several British-based online gambling operations, including PartyGaming PLC, Sportingbet PLC, BetOnSports PLC and Leisure & Gaming PLC, have withdrawn from the U.S. market. Private offshore operators continue to run such sites as Bodog.com, PokerStars.com and FullTiltPoker.com. The Federal Reserve and other bank regulators were tasked with coming up with practical measures to enforce the online gambling prohibition by July. Some firms had intended to wait until the regulations were developed before deciding what to do. After the arrests, however, Burnaby, British Columbia-based payment processor Citadel Commerce Corp. announced Wednesday that it, too, would withdraw from the U.S. market.

"We were waiting for the regulations," said Mark Bains, the chief financial officer of Citadel parent ESI Entertainment Systems Inc., which trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange. "Looks like we're not going to be able to wait."

Avid gamblers were looking for new ways to skirt the law.

UltimateBet.com, the online poker site backed by professional gambler Phil Hellmuth Jr., sent out an e-mail newsletter Thursday encouraging its players to use other "safe, secure and similar banking methods already available," listing such brands as ePassporte, ATMonline and CLICK2PAY.

"So get UB to the top of your list and let's make some MONEY!" it reads.

Internet blogs also lit up with players discussing the best ways to keep funding their online gambling accounts.

"Just set up both a click2pay account and a Epassporte one. We'll see how long this lasts," wrote Bacaluk on poker forum PocketFives.com.

Michael Bolcerek, president of the online poker lobby group, Poker Players Alliance, said the withdrawal of brand name providers would encourage the emergence of less trustworthy money dealers.

"People are going to migrate to nonpublic, less transparent methodologies," he said.

Poker magazine publisher Eric Morris of Bluff Media LLC said the withdrawal of PayPal and major credit card companies from the U.S. online gambling business in 2001 caused a panic that didn't last.

"The industry took a bit of a dive and came back stronger than ever before," he said. "The bottom line is that people are going to find a way."

Bill would curb any new state gambling

 

Private companies seeking to operate the Hoosier Lottery couldn't rely on expanded gambling to increase profits under a bill filed yesterday. That might dampen enthusiasm among companies interested in Gov. Mitch Daniels' plan to lease the lottery to a private operator and use the proceeds to create scholarships and boost spending on higher education, one gambling consultant said. A ban on new gambling would "really handicap whoever's going to do this -- fairly significantly," said Kip Peterson, founder of the Thorsborg Institute, a gambling consulting company. "But it could still be done." Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, filed legislation yesterday to authorize Daniels' lottery proposal. It would require a company to bid at least $1 billion to operate the lottery for 30 years and pay the state another $200 million annually, money lawmakers would use to maintain existing programs. The bill allocates 60 percent of the private firm's upfront payment to a scholarship fund for the state's brightest students and the remaining 40 percent to lure top researchers to Indiana universities. Some lawmakers have been skeptical that any company would be interested in the deal unless it was permitted to expand the types of games offered by the lottery. House Speaker Pat Bauer, D-South Bend, has said a private vendor would likely launch keno, a fast-paced numbers game that is currently allowed under state law but has never been introduced. Or, Bauer said, the operator might want to offer video gambling similar to slot machines. But Merritt said he opposes any expansion of gambling, and so his Senate Bill 577 prohibits keno and video lottery games as well as sports wagering. In fact, the bill authorizes only those games the Hoosier Lottery already offers or variations of those games approved by the Indiana Gaming Commission. Yesterday House Majority Whip Dennie Oxley, D-English, said he's surprised the bill includes the ban. "I think it will certainly hinder the governor's efforts," said Oxley, who opposes the privatization proposal. "I think it will make it harder for the state to make any money on the deal." But Merritt said he's confident a company would still be interested in bidding to operate the lottery. David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, agrees. He said a private company doesn't need new gambling to improve the efficiency of a state operation.

"It's the same thing that happens when private companies take over publicly traded ones," he said. "They prune them and run them more efficiently."

He said a company probably could cut a lottery's operational costs significantly and therefore reap bigger profits.

But Peterson said Indiana is "asking a lot" of a private vendor. He said a company already would be taking a risk by signing a 30-year contract that could be changed by a later state law.

"Whoever puts this money down will want some ironclad agreement," he said.

The Daniels administration is already working to find suitable vendors. It has issued a request that companies interested in bidding for the eventual contract become pre-qualified.

Gambling questions in the House of Lords

 

Lord Faulkner of Worcester has asked Her Majesty's Government: What discussions they have had with the Gambling Commission about requiring betting organisations to conclude information-sharing agreements with sports governing bodies as a licence condition for accepting bets on those sports. Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, discussions have taken place over a range of issues relating to sports and the Gambling Act. However, neither the Government nor the commission believe that enforcing a policy of this nature is necessary. The licensing arrangements are primarily for the proper regulation of gambling, not sporting events. Nevertheless, the Government have put in place statutory and non-statutory arrangements which provide protections for both sporting events and the betting product. Lord Faulkner of Worcester: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that reply, which I fear the sports organisations will find rather disappointing. Is he aware that some very serious allegations have been made against four Premiership football managers who, according to the allegations and contrary to the rules of the Football Association, have been placing bets on Premiership matches amounting to millions of pounds with the Gibraltar-based bookmaker, Victor Chandler? The Football Association has attempted to investigate the matter but Victor Chandler flatly refuses to provide the information it needs in order to do so. Does my noble friend agree that the integrity of sport is being compromised here and that this state of affairs can be dealt with only if the Gambling Commission insists as a licence condition that the betting organisations sign information exchange agreements with sports governing bodies so that there is complete transparency in the sports betting world? Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend, who has identified an issue of some concern. But it is for the Football Association to pursue this issue with rigour. Statutory constraints would be, and are, not only limited but almost negligible as regards offshore betting. As my noble friend identified, the company at present involved in these allegations is based in Gibraltar and outside our jurisdiction. Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, that is precisely the point. Victor Chandler, the Gibraltar-based bookmaker in question, is based oversees and, therefore, there are considerable issues under the Gambling Act in being able to exercise any jurisdiction.

In July, the Sports Minister, Mr. Caborn, said:

"While the Gambling Commission has no jurisdiction over betting operators licensed outside Great Britain, it is continuing to build upon its co-operative relationships with overseas gambling regulators".

Does that mean anything? What is really happening? What is the Sports Minister really doing to try to exercise at lease some kind of informal control over these oversees betting operators?

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord because he has identified the constructive position that the Government are adopting. With our 10-point plan, we are seeking to ensure that behaviour in this country meets the requirements of disclosure, and we are looking towards co-operation with other Governments and other gambling regulatory authorities to ensure that those based overseas meet the same standards as we expect in this country.

Casino gambling law guise for illegal activities - Corbin

 

Casino gambling legislation is a means by which criminal elements in Guyana can conceal their various activities including extra-judicial killings and a number of other illegal activities. PNCR-IG Leader and Opposition Leader Robert Corbin levelled this charge when he addressed persons gathered at Parliament Buildings yesterday following a protest march co-sponsored by his party. He told persons there that casino gambling would provide a "lovely smokescreen" for drug lords who have engaged in extra-judicial killings and promoted phantom squads among other things. Corbin urged that Guyanese not underestimate what the government plans to do today in Parliament. This is why, the Opposition Leader said, the party had invited other organizations to co-sponsor the rally yesterday noting that it was a struggle for not only certain sectors but for all Guyanese. "If the police cannot control a march how can they control gangsterism?" Corbin queried. "Tell your bosses," he said to the police, "that the people at the rally chose to behave responsibly." Referring to events in Georgia and other places the PNCR leader reminded his supporters that history has shown that people have power in their hands to bring the government to its senses. This is a challenge, he said, presented by a government that has such arrogance that it does what it likes irrespective of what the people desire. The battle is not won by those sitting on the sidelines, Corbin said, noting that they had told the government based on their own research that 16% was too high a rate for the Value Added Tax (VAT). The opposition is suggesting that VAT be charged at 8%. The PNCR leader recalled that party representative Winston Murray had met with the government and told it that the rate proposed for VAT would be unbearable on the poor. "The authorities are not ready for the implementation of VAT... and they have to get relief or the people of the country would die," said Corbin.

FBI arrests Brits for running gambling operation

 

TWO FORMER NETELLER executives who were just passing through the United States on a flight transfer have been arrested by the FBI. Stephen Lawrence and John Lefebvre, who are British and have not broken any UK law, were arrested in connection with what the FBI claims was laundering billions of dollars of Internet gambling proceeds. According to Cardplayer.com, NETELLER allows people to transfer money directly from their bank accounts to other parties. Online poker players and gamblers use the service to transfer money in and out of their preferred sites. The US has been getting its knickers in a twist about online gambling lately, but the arrest of the pair is a little odd. NETELLER said that while Lawrence and Lefebvre were still shareholders in the company they do not hold any positions. They do not run any gambling sites either. The US government had not bothered to contact the company about the arrest or warn it that it was breaking any law either.

Others expected to fill Neteller void in U.S. online gambling

 

Though payment processor Neteller PLC is the latest and largest such company to pull out of the lucrative but illegal U.S. online gambling market, industry observers said other e-wallet sites would come forward to take its place. The arrest of its founders Monday on U.S. soil on money laundering charges and the company's delicate position as a publicly traded British company forced it to cease handling U.S. betting transfers as of Thursday. The arrests were the latest in a series of enforcement actions by the U.S. government against the online gambling industry. The crackdown has targeted the financial middlemen who sprung up after credit card companies and PayPal gave in to pressure to stop processing online gambling transactions from U.S. customers in 2001. Neteller processed $7 billion in transactions in 2005 and $5.1 billion in the first half of 2006, mostly from U.S. clients to and from online betting sites. By some accounts, that amounted to roughly half of the global market for online wagers. Many observers said the market for Internet wagering was too rich for others to pass up, despite a U.S. law passed in October that prohibited financial transfers to and from such gambling sites. "What you're finding with the Internet gambling sites is the publicly traded ones and prominent ones are leaving," said David Stewart, an online gambling expert and lawyer with Washington, D.C.-based firm Ropes & Gray LLP. "The entities that are more visible and are more transparent can't take the heat," he said. "And all the rest of them are still in the business." Several British-based online gambling operations, including PartyGaming PLC, Sportingbet PLC, BetOnSports PLC and Leisure & Gaming PLC, have withdrawn from the U.S. market. Private offshore operators continue to run such sites as Bodog.com, PokerStars.com and FullTiltPoker.com. The Federal Reserve and other bank regulators were tasked with coming up with practical measures to enforce the online gambling prohibition by July. Some firms had intended to wait until the regulations were developed before deciding what to do. After the arrests, however, Burnaby, British Columbia-based payment processor Citadel Commerce Corp. announced Wednesday that it, too, would withdraw from the U.S. market.

"We were waiting for the regulations," said Mark Bains, the chief financial officer of Citadel parent ESI Entertainment Systems Inc., which trades on the Toronto Stock Exchange. "Looks like we're not going to be able to wait."

Avid gamblers were looking for new ways to skirt the law.

UltimateBet.com, the online poker site backed by professional gambler Phil Hellmuth Jr., sent out an e-mail newsletter Thursday encouraging its players to use other "safe, secure and similar banking methods already available," listing such brands as ePassporte, ATMonline and CLICK2PAY.

"So get UB to the top of your list and let's make some MONEY!" it reads.

Internet blogs also lit up with players discussing the best ways to keep funding their online gambling accounts.

"Just set up both a click2pay account and a Epassporte one. We'll see how long this lasts," wrote Bacaluk on poker forum PocketFives.com.

Michael Bolcerek, president of the online poker lobby group, Poker Players Alliance, said the withdrawal of brand name providers would encourage the emergence of less trustworthy money dealers.

"People are going to migrate to nonpublic, less transparent methodologies," he said.

Poker magazine publisher Eric Morris of Bluff Media LLC said the withdrawal of PayPal and major credit card companies from the U.S. online gambling business in 2001 caused a panic that didn't last.

"The industry took a bit of a dive and came back stronger than ever before," he said. "The bottom line is that people are going to find a way."

Bill would curb any new state gambling

 

Private companies seeking to operate the Hoosier Lottery couldn't rely on expanded gambling to increase profits under a bill filed yesterday. That might dampen enthusiasm among companies interested in Gov. Mitch Daniels' plan to lease the lottery to a private operator and use the proceeds to create scholarships and boost spending on higher education, one gambling consultant said. A ban on new gambling would "really handicap whoever's going to do this -- fairly significantly," said Kip Peterson, founder of the Thorsborg Institute, a gambling consulting company. "But it could still be done." Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, filed legislation yesterday to authorize Daniels' lottery proposal. It would require a company to bid at least $1 billion to operate the lottery for 30 years and pay the state another $200 million annually, money lawmakers would use to maintain existing programs. The bill allocates 60 percent of the private firm's upfront payment to a scholarship fund for the state's brightest students and the remaining 40 percent to lure top researchers to Indiana universities. Some lawmakers have been skeptical that any company would be interested in the deal unless it was permitted to expand the types of games offered by the lottery. House Speaker Pat Bauer, D-South Bend, has said a private vendor would likely launch keno, a fast-paced numbers game that is currently allowed under state law but has never been introduced. Or, Bauer said, the operator might want to offer video gambling similar to slot machines. But Merritt said he opposes any expansion of gambling, and so his Senate Bill 577 prohibits keno and video lottery games as well as sports wagering. In fact, the bill authorizes only those games the Hoosier Lottery already offers or variations of those games approved by the Indiana Gaming Commission. Yesterday House Majority Whip Dennie Oxley, D-English, said he's surprised the bill includes the ban. "I think it will certainly hinder the governor's efforts," said Oxley, who opposes the privatization proposal. "I think it will make it harder for the state to make any money on the deal." But Merritt said he's confident a company would still be interested in bidding to operate the lottery. David Schwartz, director of the Center for Gaming Research at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, agrees. He said a private company doesn't need new gambling to improve the efficiency of a state operation.

"It's the same thing that happens when private companies take over publicly traded ones," he said. "They prune them and run them more efficiently."

He said a company probably could cut a lottery's operational costs significantly and therefore reap bigger profits.

But Peterson said Indiana is "asking a lot" of a private vendor. He said a company already would be taking a risk by signing a 30-year contract that could be changed by a later state law.

"Whoever puts this money down will want some ironclad agreement," he said.

The Daniels administration is already working to find suitable vendors. It has issued a request that companies interested in bidding for the eventual contract become pre-qualified.

Gambling questions in the House of Lords

 

Lord Faulkner of Worcester has asked Her Majesty's Government: What discussions they have had with the Gambling Commission about requiring betting organisations to conclude information-sharing agreements with sports governing bodies as a licence condition for accepting bets on those sports. Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, discussions have taken place over a range of issues relating to sports and the Gambling Act. However, neither the Government nor the commission believe that enforcing a policy of this nature is necessary. The licensing arrangements are primarily for the proper regulation of gambling, not sporting events. Nevertheless, the Government have put in place statutory and non-statutory arrangements which provide protections for both sporting events and the betting product. Lord Faulkner of Worcester: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that reply, which I fear the sports organisations will find rather disappointing. Is he aware that some very serious allegations have been made against four Premiership football managers who, according to the allegations and contrary to the rules of the Football Association, have been placing bets on Premiership matches amounting to millions of pounds with the Gibraltar-based bookmaker, Victor Chandler? The Football Association has attempted to investigate the matter but Victor Chandler flatly refuses to provide the information it needs in order to do so. Does my noble friend agree that the integrity of sport is being compromised here and that this state of affairs can be dealt with only if the Gambling Commission insists as a licence condition that the betting organisations sign information exchange agreements with sports governing bodies so that there is complete transparency in the sports betting world? Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend, who has identified an issue of some concern. But it is for the Football Association to pursue this issue with rigour. Statutory constraints would be, and are, not only limited but almost negligible as regards offshore betting. As my noble friend identified, the company at present involved in these allegations is based in Gibraltar and outside our jurisdiction. Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, that is precisely the point. Victor Chandler, the Gibraltar-based bookmaker in question, is based oversees and, therefore, there are considerable issues under the Gambling Act in being able to exercise any jurisdiction.

In July, the Sports Minister, Mr. Caborn, said:

"While the Gambling Commission has no jurisdiction over betting operators licensed outside Great Britain, it is continuing to build upon its co-operative relationships with overseas gambling regulators".

Does that mean anything? What is really happening? What is the Sports Minister really doing to try to exercise at lease some kind of informal control over these oversees betting operators?

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord because he has identified the constructive position that the Government are adopting. With our 10-point plan, we are seeking to ensure that behaviour in this country meets the requirements of disclosure, and we are looking towards co-operation with other Governments and other gambling regulatory authorities to ensure that those based overseas meet the same standards as we expect in this country.

Casino gambling law guise for illegal activities - Corbin

 

Casino gambling legislation is a means by which criminal elements in Guyana can conceal their various activities including extra-judicial killings and a number of other illegal activities. PNCR-IG Leader and Opposition Leader Robert Corbin levelled this charge when he addressed persons gathered at Parliament Buildings yesterday following a protest march co-sponsored by his party. He told persons there that casino gambling would provide a "lovely smokescreen" for drug lords who have engaged in extra-judicial killings and promoted phantom squads among other things. Corbin urged that Guyanese not underestimate what the government plans to do today in Parliament. This is why, the Opposition Leader said, the party had invited other organizations to co-sponsor the rally yesterday noting that it was a struggle for not only certain sectors but for all Guyanese. "If the police cannot control a march how can they control gangsterism?" Corbin queried. "Tell your bosses," he said to the police, "that the people at the rally chose to behave responsibly." Referring to events in Georgia and other places the PNCR leader reminded his supporters that history has shown that people have power in their hands to bring the government to its senses. This is a challenge, he said, presented by a government that has such arrogance that it does what it likes irrespective of what the people desire. The battle is not won by those sitting on the sidelines, Corbin said, noting that they had told the government based on their own research that 16% was too high a rate for the Value Added Tax (VAT). The opposition is suggesting that VAT be charged at 8%. The PNCR leader recalled that party representative Winston Murray had met with the government and told it that the rate proposed for VAT would be unbearable on the poor. "The authorities are not ready for the implementation of VAT... and they have to get relief or the people of the country would die," said Corbin.

Indian casinos fueling growth in this nation's gambling industry

 

Back in the early 1960s, no states ran lotteries, only one -- Nevada -- allowed casinos and Indian tribes had yet to discover bingo or glitzy casino halls. Today, 42 states operate lotteries, 37 have commercial, Indian or racetrack casinos and only two -- Utah and Hawaii -- don't allow any form of gambling. The gaming industry is a billion-dollar business in the United States, raking in $84.8 billion in 2005 alone. And revenues are rising steadily. "Gambling has become part of American life," said I. Nelson Rose, a gambling law expert at Whittier Law School. Much of the industry's growth is being fueled by Indian gaming, which boosted its revenues by nearly 20 percent in 2005 from the previous year, according to a study released recently by Casino City Press. The overall gambling industry grew at a slower pace of 6 percent, according to the industry group's North American Gaming Almanac. While lotteries and commercial casinos saw modest growth in 2005, race and sports betting continues to decline - a slump some experts attribute to the growth in Indian gaming. A relatively young business, Indian gaming has seen its revenues skyrocket in recent years, as more and more tribes open bigger and better casinos. These casinos now include some of the largest gambling properties in the country, such as Connecticut's Mohegan Sun, a 300,000 square-foot casino owned by the Mohegan Tribe. Also in Connecticut, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation boasts the largest casino in the world, Foxwoods, which features 340,000 square feet of gambling space, dozens of restaurants and nearly 1,500 hotel rooms. "The industry is only 10 or 15 years old," said Nancy Conrad, a spokeswoman for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, which operates two casinos in Southern California. "In many cases, it's ... developing and growing."

Currently, 226 Indian tribes operate about 400 gambling operations in 28 states -- about twice the number of facilities open just a decade ago, according to the National Indian Gaming Commission.

Gambling is not a new phenomenon in the United States. The first American colonies were funded by lotteries in England, and the country's early settlers often sanctioned lotteries to raise money for public works projects.

Public lotteries have gone in and out of favor since the early 1600s, but they began a resurgence in the 1960s after New Hampshire became the first state to launch them again.

Much of the stigma that used to surround gambling has eroded in the past several decades, after churches began operating bingo halls and state governments started running their own lotteries in the 1960s, Rose said.

Industry experts say Americans' acceptance of gambling in recent years is partly fueling the growth in demand. At the same time, Indian casinos such as the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods have become destinations in their own right, rivaling the best gambling halls on the Las Vegas strip.

Indian casinos also often are closer to home for more Americans across the country. Only 11 states have commercial casinos, notes Holly Thomsen, a spokeswoman for the American Gaming Association.

"More people are exposed to native casinos than commercial casinos," Thomsen said, "The majority of growth has been in that sector."

But that growth could begin to slow as the Indian gaming industry matures, Rose said. For now, however, he says Indian gaming is the "latest boom industry."

"The tribes often have terrible locations," he said. "But when they have good locations, it's often a monopoly or close to it."

Monday, January 22, 2007

NETeller stops transfer of gambling proceeds in US

 

NETeller Plc announced the closure of its US online transfer business in the wake of growing restrictions in the country. The closure follows last week's arrest of the two founders of the UK-based online money transfer company. NETeller founders Stephen Lawrence, 46, and John Lefebvre, 55, were arrested last week in the US and charged of handling billions of dollars in illegal gambling proceeds. The arrests were part of the US crackdown on online gambling business. NETeller said it will now focus on its operations in Europe, Asia and other parts of the Americas. Bloomberg quoted NETeller as saying that the company's US customers could still use their accounts, however, for non-gambling transactions.

He regrets seeking A. C. gambling ban, but that's life

 

After losing a pile of money at an Atlantic City casino in July 2004, a frustrated gambler drove directly to the Casino Control Commission headquarters and put his name on a list of people banned from the city's casinos. It's a decision he immediately regretted - even more so when he learned that in this case, what happens in Atlantic City does not stay in Atlantic City. The state Casino Control Commission, which is identifying the man only by his initials, S.D., rejected his bid yesterday to become the first person allowed to gamble in the state again after placing himself on a list of people barred for life from casinos. The self-exclusion list was established in 2001, intended as a way for compulsive gamblers to avoid the temptation of Atlantic City's casinos. People who ask to be added to the list can choose to be banned for one year, five years or life. The commission said that about 525 people are on the voluntary list now - about half for life. The list is not available to the public, but casino owners use it to bar those listed from entering casinos they own outside New Jersey. In an industry dominated by a handful of casino owners, there's plenty of sharing. S.D. is not a compulsive gambler, one of his lawyers said, but he was merely impulsive the day he signed onto the list. "He lost some money that day at one of the casinos," said lawyer Gerard Quinn, who would not say where his client lives, except that it's within driving distance of Atlantic City. "He had some other stresses in his life. He impulsively went and signed up. It took a few minutes." He chose the lifetime ban. Within an hour of putting himself on the list, Quinn said, his client was on the phone trying to have his name removed. The commission said no.

And the news got worse, Quinn said, as S.D. started getting letters from casinos outside Atlantic City telling him he could no longer play there, either. That pretty much ruled out family vacations to Las Vegas.

Quinn and attorney Lloyd Levenson yesterday asked the Casino Control Commission to take their client off the list, arguing that he did not know when he signed up that casinos outside New Jersey might use it, too. In a 4-0 vote, the commission rejected the effort.

Online Gambling Payments - Alternatives To Neteller

 

Neteller was by far the most popular online gambling payment method, but there are many excellent online payment methods now that Neteller has decided to no longer facilitates gambling transactions...The following online gambling payment methods will be accessible from the cashier function in most online casinos, poker rooms and sports books. They are all alternatives to Neteller for US-based players. Instadebit - Instadebit is a safe and secure way to make payments online using funds in your bank account. It operates in much the same way as Neteller Instacash. Click2Pay - After Neteller, this is probably the most popular online gambling payment method. Click2Pay allows you to open an online account in minutes and deposit funds when you need them. It's safe, fast secure, and is a highly recommended deposit option for players who can't use a credit card! It pretty much has the same features as NEteller. eCHECK - eCHECK is an electronic check service that offers the ultimate in safety, security, and privacy. No credit card is necessary, as payments are drafted from your US or Canadian checking account. Money Transfer - Money Transfer is recognized world-wide as a safe and secure method of transferring funds online or over the counter. Fund using your credit card or with cash.

8 men indicted in Wise County gambling case

 

Eight men face more than 100 charges in Wise County for allegedly operating illegal gambling houses along the town of Appalachia's Main Street. While the buildings were vacant by day, prosecutors allege, they were a hive of clandestine activity at night as card players and gamblers looking to place bets on sporting events made their way to the back rooms. The eight men were indicted by a special grand jury and more indictments will follow, said special prosecutor David Childers. "We are going after the organizers, the bigwigs. We're not going after the patrons." Childers declined to be specific about how many people frequented the covert gaming houses over the years, but said, "It was a lot, a very, very lot." According to indictments handed up late Tuesday, each of the eight men faces a charge of operating a continuous gambling enterprise. One is accused of running a gaming operation for nearly five years, from Sept. 11, 2001, to May 6, 2006. Other charges included in the indictments are money laundering, supervising an illegal gambling operation, conducting transactions with illegal gambling proceeds and possessing gaming devices. When authorities shuttered the gambling houses in May, they seized more than $400,000. Special prosecutors' probe of illicit gambling in Appalachia (population 1,839) grew out of an investigation of corruption in the mayor's office and Town Hall. As a result of that investigation, last month eight town leaders -- including a former mayor, a former town police captain, a leader of the local rescue squad, a former Town Hall employee and two uncles of a former town councilman -- pleaded guilty to their roles in stealing the May 2004 town election.

Prosecutors have alleged that former Mayor Ben Cooper and others wanted control of Town Hall and the police force partly so that the illegal gambling could continue unchecked. None of those involved in the election fraud were named in the gambling indictments.

Cooper pleaded guilty to 233 felony counts involving vote fraud and was convicted by a judge of 10 more. He is to be sentenced today and faces up to 21 years in prison.

Southwest dropping in-flight gambling plan

 

Southwest Airlines, the largest U.S. domestic carrier, says it has decided against luring passengers with in-flight gambling to revive revenue growth. Other innovations will be tried, the Dallas-based carrier said, but declined to be specific, the Financial Times reported Thursday. Low-cost airlines Ryanair and EasyJet are pioneering efforts to introduce onboard gaming and mobile phone calls. Gary Kelly, Southwest's chief executive, conceded that revenue growth had slowed in the final quarter though the carrier had its 34th consecutive year of profitability. Southwest's "no-frills" model by-passes meals and lounges, which rivals have used to boost revenues, and last year dropped its contract to carry U.S. mail.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

ANOTHER SHOT ACROSS ONLINE GAMBLING'S BOWS

 

The recent arrests of Neteller ex-directors Stephen Lawrence and John Lefebvre whilst visiting the United States highlights once again that if American officialdom can get its hands on Internet gaming executives, it is prepared to bring charges that stride over international boundaries. Anyone reading the press release from the US Attorney General's office that reported the arrests can have little doubt from the tone and content that the officials involved know very well how effective threats and aggression can be, even in an industry that has hitherto thought itself safe through companies positioning themselves outside US legal jurisdiction. Apart from announcing the factual details and allegations of wrongdoing against the former Neteller execs, who appear to be the unfortunate pawns in a bigger game to intimidate Isle of Man-based Neteller, the arrest anouncement was redolent with historical examples of previous enforcement actions and "we-mean-business" news bytes. Take a look at the following, for example: "This prosecution is part of the United States Department of Justice's effort to combat unlawful internet gambling through, among other things, the implementation of the federal anti-money laundering statutes. "Other recent examples of the Justice Department's efforts in this regard include the indictments of two offshore internet gambling companies - Worldwide Telesports, Inc., (indictment unsealed on May 17, 2006 in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia) and BetonSports, PLC, a publicly traded holding company that owns a number of Internet sportsbooks and casinos, and its founder, Gary Stephen Kaplan (indictment unsealed July 17, 2006 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri). "Additionally, in July 2003, one of Neteller's competitors, PayPal, and its parent eBay, entered into a civil settlement agreement with the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Missouri to settle allegations it aided in illegal offshore and on-line gambling activities. As part of the agreement, PayPal agreed to forfeit $10 million, representing proceeds derived by PayPal from the processing of illegal gambling transactions."

and this:

"Mr. GARCIA [the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York] stated, 'Internet gambling has become a multibillion-dollar industry that derives a major portion of its revenues from United States citizens. STEPHEN ERIC LAWRENCE and JOHN DAVID LEFEBVRE knew when they took their company public that its activities, as well as those of the internet gambling companies it assisted, were illegal in the United States. Blatant violations of U.S. law are not a mere 'risk' to be disclosed to prospective investors. Criminal prosecutions related to online gambling will be pursued even in cases where assets and defendants are positioned outside of the United States.'"

and this:

"FBI Assistant Director MERSHON stated: 'Internet gambling is a multibillion-dollar industry. A significant portion of that is the illegal handling of Americans' bets with offshore gaming companies, which amounts to a colossal criminal enterprise masquerading as legitimate business. There is ample indication these defendants knew the American market for their services was illegal. The FBI is adamant about shutting off the flow of illegal cash.'"

Assistant United States Attorneys TIMOTHY J. TREANOR, CHRISTOPHER P. CONNIFF, and CHRISTINE MEDING are in charge of the prosecutions, whilst the FBI Special Agent charged with the responsibility for the investigations is Maryann Goldman.

The announcement closes with a reminder to all - including the enforcement officials: "The charges contained in the Complaints are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty."

Catawbas Argue for Gambling Rights in South Carolina

 

The state Supreme Court is hearing arguments today on whether the Catawba Indian Nation's land settlement with the state allows it to offer video gambling on its York County reservation. A lower court ruled in favor of the tribe, but the state is appealing. The Catawbas say their 1993 land deal allows video gambling, despite South Carolina outlawing it years ago. The Catawbas are considering using the right to offer the games as a bargaining chip to get lawmakers to let them build a high stakes bingo parlor near Santee on Interstate 95. Critics say allowing bingo in Orangeburg County would open the door to more high-stakes bingo locations in the state.

Lawmaker backs off proposal to legalize video gambling

 

A lawmaker who supports efforts to legalize and regulate video gambling machines in taverns and bars says he will not push such legislation this year - but that doesn't mean the issue is dead. Rep. Win Moses, D-Fort Wayne, says regulating and taxing illegal video gambling machines, sometimes called ''Cherry Masters,'' could generate $200 million in tax revenue for the state. But there was not enough consensus among lawmakers and others on the bill, Moses said, so he wants to send the issue to a legislative study committee instead. ''I don't have a majority of people who say they think that this is a good idea,'' Moses said. ''I have people who are quite willing to listen, and I have many more than that who are willing to tell me how to spend the money. But I have no consensus.'' House Speaker Pat Bauer, D-South Bend, has called legalizing video poker machines a ''long shot'' for passing the Legislature this session. ''They would be virtually everywhere, on every city block, and that is a huge problem that I don't think people fully understand,'' Bauer said last week. ''You triple the gambling you already have.'' Supporters of the legislation aren't giving up hope that something will pass this year. ''There's always the possibility,'' said Senate Appropriations Chairman Robert Meeks, R-LaGrange. ''The session is long and there's a lot of opportunities.'' Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said the status quo is unacceptable. He said the state needs to do something this year - either step up enforcement to truly eliminate the machines or regulate and tax them. ''They're proliferating like cockroaches. They're everywhere and there are more of them every day, it seems like,'' Long said. ''It needs to be handled. I don't think we should wink at illegal gambling any longer. Let's decide what to do with them once and for all.'' The state has 20,000 to 30,000 illegal video gambling machines, Moses estimated. Supporters say regulating machines would reduce their numbers while keeping them in adult establishments such as bars and taverns, instead of places like convenience stores that children could enter.

The Indiana State Excise Police, the law enforcement division of the Alcohol and Tobacco Commission, has cracked down on illegal gambling machines in bars and taverns in recent years. But that has only driven the machines to other places, like back rooms in gas stations or even the backs of tractor-trailers, Meeks said.

''It's like prohibition when it just went underground and the only people who were making profits were the underworld,'' Meeks said. ''By legalizing them, you limit the number that's available, limit who can play them and can limit the payout. Besides that, they're taxed. This is a dark crime and it ought to be regulated, taxed and brought out into the light.''

The Indiana Licensed Beverage Association echoes those comments and has tried to drum up support to legalize the machines. Executive Director Brad Klopfenstein said he is still hoping for a bill this session that would regulate the machines.

''This is a better chance than we've had in the past,'' he said. ''If the worst thing that happens is we get a study committee, that's still progress. But we certainly would like to see something go this time around.''

Moses noted that no proposal is truly dead until the legislative session ends without it passing.

Two officers bound over for gambling

 

One of the three officers in court this week for having allegedly gambled at the Chickasha Elks Lodge has been allowed to go free. While Special District Judge Ken Harris found that there was probable cause that illegal gambling had occurred at the Elk's Lodge between August of 2005 and September of 2006, Harris did not have sufficient evidence to say that Deputy Delmer Barthelme committed that crime. The only evidence presented by the prosecution against Barthelme was video showing him exiting the gambling room and self-incriminating statements made by Barthelme during interviews. Those statements were stricken after a ruling on Title 21, Chapter 38, Section 961 of the Oklahoma State Statutes. Judge Harris informed the attorneys it was the testimony of Megan Edwards which proved detrimental to the other two defendants. Edwards, who served as a bartender at the Elks during the duration of the investigation, testified Friday to having cashed out defendants Jim Peek and Greg Parks for winning on the machines. Both men were bound over for trial on the gambling charges. Defendant Jim Peek and his attorney were absent at the start of the hearing on Thursday, when only one witness was presented. District Attorney Bret Burns agreed to not hold any evidence from the testimony of investigator Dusty Dowdle against Peek, in exchange for combining him with the other two defendants for the duration of the hearing. Also testifying Friday in the hearing was ABLE agent Greg Bynum. Bynum testified the machines in and of themselves were not illegal. It was the manner in which the games were used by the lodge which made them illegal. Bynum testified an individual played the games by placing money into the machine. When they were finished, an attendant was called to cash the individual out based on the number of points on the machine. The attendant then cleared the points, either by pressing a switch or making a connection between two wires to short the system. Since players played with the anticipation of a possible payout, Bynum declared the use of the machines as illegal.

On cross-examination, Bynum agreed that an individual who played the machines without knowing that the Elks would payout winners, and who left without cashing out, would not have broken the law.

Former DA investigator Carey Rouse testified in the morning to both the events at the 1995 raid on the Elks Lodge, as well as the 2006 raid.

Rouse said that the machines in 1995 had been confiscated from the Elks along with cash money following an IRS investigation into gambling and tax evasion.

Rouse could not state that knew of any warning to the Elks in 1995 that their machines were illegal, but stated he thought having your machines confiscated and not returned should suffice as a warning.

Also taking the stand Friday was Hollis Myers, former bar manager for the Elks. Myers testified that up until 2003 he was responsible for payouts on the gambling machines and that the money gained from the machines was accounted for under entertainment, the same fund used for the jukebox, pool tables, and some dance events.

Myers testified that the machines, which had been in the club since 1968, were taken in a 1995 raid. He added the lodge replaced the machines in 1997.

Myers said he did not know the machines to be illegal, but said there always was a doubt in his mind.

According to Myers, all of the law enforcement officers accused in the scandal were becoming members just as he was leaving the lodge in 2003.

He did not identify any of the three defendants in Friday's case as having played the machines while he was bar manager.

The preliminary hearing was not without a side show of interest. District Attorney Burns and defense attorney Steve Buzin had to be physically separated following one recess by the court.

Tension began prior to the recess, when Buzin claimed he did not receive a copy of the interview by Megan Edwards. Burns countered that the interview was on the hard drive provided by his office. Burns said Buzin's office received the device but had not paid for it.

Buzin claimed to the court that Burns had attempted to make a buck off of the hearing by overcharging defense council.

Internet Gambling Site Founders Busted

 

Federal prosecutors are keeping up the heat on the two founders of a company that processes Internet gambling transactions. The two former heads of the Neteller P.L.C. company have been arrested and charged with laundering billions of dollars in gambling proceeds. The charges against John David Lefebvre and Stephen Eric Lawrence are contained in a pair of criminal complaints unsealed in U.S. District Court this week. Among the claims made by federal prosecutors is that the men knew when they took their company public that its activities were illegal. Both men could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Coy to remain on gambling board

 

Jeff Coy has been named to another two-year term on Pennsylvania's Gaming Control Board. Speaker of the House Dennis O'Brien, R-169, signed a letter reappointing Coy on Friday, and the letter was to be delivered Tuesday to Coy and gaming board chairman Thomas A. Decker. O'Brien spokesman Bill Patton says the speaker made the appointment before receiving a letter from state Rep. Rob Kauffman, R-89, that urged O'Brien not to reappoint Coy - a former 11-term legislator for the 89th District in Franklin County. A Democrat, Coy served 22 years prior to his controversial retirement in September 2004 that coincided with his appointment to the gaming control board by House Minority Leader H. William DeWeese, D-50. The Democrats helped elect O'Brien speaker Jan. 2 under a deal that gains them significant power in the House. The Coy appointment appears to be the result of that power-sharing agreement. Former GOP Rep. Mark McNaughton, originally appointed to the gaming board by state Rep. John Perzel, R-172, the former House speaker, is the odd man out.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

U.S. charges firm's execs in Internet gambling case

 

Two founders of a company that processes Internet gambling transactions were arrested and charged with funneling billions of dollars in gambling proceeds to overseas betting operations, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday. The charges mark the latest in a series of crackdowns by the federal government against the online gambling industry. The charges against the former Neteller PLC directors, John David Lefebvre, 55, and Stephen Eric Lawrence, 46, both Canadian citizens, were contained in two criminal complaints unsealed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Monday, U.S. Atty. Michael Garcia said. The prosecutor said the men knew when they took their company public that its activities were illegal. FBI Assistant Director Mark Mershon said the multibillion-dollar online gambling industry is "a colossal criminal enterprise masquerading as legitimate business." Neteller is an Internet payment services company that has grown in popularity as more credit card companies have begun refusing to accept payments to online gambling sites. Neteller acts as a middleman between gamblers and offshore betting operations. A gambler who wants to place bets at offshore sports books can fund an account with Neteller, which transfers the money to the sites. Lefebvre was arrested Monday in Malibu, Calif., and was scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Tuesday. Lawrence was arrested Monday in the U.S. Virgin Islands and will appear in federal court on Wednesday. Peter Neiman, a lawyer for Lawrence, said he had no comment. A lawyer for Lefebvre did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment. Lawrence and Lefebvre were charged with conspiring to transfer funds with the intent to promote illegal gambling, and could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Beshear backs casinos, more track gambling

 

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Beshear yesterday said he wants to give people a chance to vote next year on whether to legalize expanded gambling at racetracks and to open some casinos in Kentucky. Beshear said expanding gaming would generate $500 million a year for the state, help the horse industry and stop Kentuckians from going to Indiana and other states that have casinos and slot machines. But he said he strongly opposes legalizing slot machines at convenience stores, bars and restaurants. "Allowing expanded gaming in Kentucky will give us the additional revenue needed for Kentucky to make a giant leap forward and significantly improve the lives of all Kentucky citizens," Beshear said at a press conference in Frankfort. But gaming opponents and some other gubernatorial candidates said Beshear's proposal is either flawed or misguided. "If candidates for governor really want to show leadership, they would propose a progressive tax structure adequate to meet our needs in which everyone pays their fair share -- not a plan that calls for just finding some suckers to pay," said the Rev. Nancy Jo Kemper, spokeswoman for Citizens Against Gambling Expansion. Kemper said expanded gambling would not raise $500 million. Even if it did, she said, proliferation of gambling would have a negative impact on the state. Beshear, 62, a Lexington lawyer who was lieutenant governor in 1983 and attorney general in 1979, is running with state Rep. Dan Mongiardo, D-Hazard. He lost a campaign for governor in 1987. Beshear said he would work on the proposal with the House and Senate during the 2008 legislative session if elected. To expand gaming, Kentucky would have to change its constitution. Three-fifths of both the House and Senate would have to approve putting the question of a constitutional amendment on the ballot that November. The measure would require the approval of the majority of those voting to pass. He said he believes voters would approve the measure. "They know we need to do significant things in order to move Kentucky up, in order to improve their lives, in order for them to have better-paying jobs, better education for their children," he said.

Effort to legalize video gambling is dropped

 

A state lawmaker who favors legalizing and regulating the video gambling machines now common in bars and social clubs has decided against filing legislation to make that change. Rep. Win Moses, D-Fort Wayne, said yesterday that he instead is seeking to create a committee to study the issue this summer and consider such matters as how much to tax the machines and how many should be allowed in a single location and statewide. "It's very clear this is almost too complex at this time to write a single bill without more study," Moses said. Brad Klopfenstein, executive director of the Indiana Licensed Beverage Association, called Moses' move a "hiccup" in the group's effort to legalize the machines, which many of its members rely on to make ends meet. But he said he was not disheartened. "We've known for a while that our primary supporters are in the Senate," Klopfenstein said. "And if any gambling legislation moves, we'll be part of the discussion." The decision leaves the General Assembly without a bill to legalize the machines, although other gambling measures have been proposed. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Bob Meeks, R-LaGrange, said last month that he planned to write video-gambling legislation, but he has been recovering from surgery and has not been able to file bills. Yesterday, Senate President Pro Tem David Long, R-Fort Wayne, said Meeks might be back in time to file a bill before tomorrow's deadline or the measure could be amended into a gambling-related House bill later in the session. A House committee is expected to have a hearing in the coming weeks on legislation that would legalize slot machines at Indiana racetracks. House Speaker Pat Bauer, D-South Bend, said that bill would preserve the "destination" gambling that lawmakers have already established with riverboat casinos. Bauer dislikes the idea of legalizing the video-gambling machines -- which often are called Cherry Masters, after the name of one of the games -- because he said it would create mini-casinos on "almost every block." Moses said Bauer's concern about the video-gambling proposal influenced his decision not to offer it. Don Marquardt, president of the licensed beverage association, said bars and restaurants "don't want to be mini-casinos" but simply want to add video machines to their existing entertainment options.

"This is by far the weakest argument, but for some reason the most widely used and what seems to be the most effective for those against our legislation," Marquardt said in a letter responding to Moses' announcement. "We provide many forms of entertainment to attract customers. Pool tables, dart boards, juke boxes, pinball, etc. are commonly found in our establishments."

But Moses said he was frustrated by the inability of supporters in the alcohol industry to reach compromises with legislators who support the ideas. The most complicated issues, Moses said, include whether the state or private entities would own the machines and how to limit their number.

Yesterday, Klopfenstein said that he believed his organization had reached a compromise with Moses about how the legalization would be structured and that bar owners remained flexible about other issues.

He said the compromise included permitting five machines for every for-profit bar or restaurant with an alcohol license and 10 machines each for social, service or veterans clubs with alcohol licenses. He said the tax rate would be 25 percent to 30 percent and produce as much as $300 million in annual revenue for the state.

Long said yesterday that he hopes lawmakers do something about the machines this year -- either legalize and regulate them or pass stronger enforcement laws to eliminate them.

Catawbas argue for video gambling rights before state Supreme Court

 

The state Supreme Court will hear arguments this morning on whether the Catawba Indian Nation's land settlement with the state allows it to offer video gambling on its York County reservation. A lower court ruled in favor of the tribe, but the state is appealing. The Catawbas say their 1993 land deal allows video gambling, despite South Carolina outlawing it years ago. The Catawbas don't necessarily want video gambling. The tribe is considering using the right to offer the games as a bargaining chip to get lawmakers to let them build a high stakes bingo parlor near Santee on Interstate 95. Critics say allowing bingo in Orangeburg County would open the door to more high-stakes bingo locations in the state. The tribe says the operation would generate more than 18-hundred jobs.

Founders of gambling accounts firm arrested

 

The two founders of the British "virtual wallet" group Neteller, which provides gambling accounts to online punters, have been arrested in America and charged with money laundering offences which carry penalties of up to 20 years in prison. Neteller's former chairman, Steve Lawrence, 46, was detained in the US Virgin Islands on Monday and his co-founder, John Lefebvre, 55, was picked up by the US authorities in the millionaires' playground of Malibu, California. They join a list of companies and executives to fall foul of a crackdown on internet gambling, which is illegal in the US. Congress tightened laws on electronic gaming in October, plunging the industry into confusion. Some gambling companies, including PartyGaming and 888, have since withdrawn from the US market but Neteller has remained. Both men are Canadian citizens but they hold stakes of 5.9% and 5.5% respectively in Neteller, which is listed on London's Alternative Investment Market and incorporated in the Isle of Man. Trading was suspended in the company's shares yesterday. The US attorney's office in New York said the pair were charged with conspiring to transfer funds with the intent to promote illegal gambling. They are due to appear in court today. It said the businessmen were well aware that their operation broke American law, and that they had even warned investors in a prospectus for the company's 2004 flotation that prosecution was a risk. Prosecutor Michael Garcia said: "Blatant violations of US law are not a mere 'risk' to be disclosed to prospective investors. Criminal prosecutions related to online gambling will be pursued even in cases where assets and defendants are positioned outside of the United States." Evidence cited by Mr Garcia includes a September conference call with City analysts at which Neteller's chief executive said 85% of the company's business was in North America, of which 75% concerned US customers. At the US government's behest, a "co-operating witness" in Florida placed a series of bets on American football matches using Neteller's system - winning $200 on one wager before losing $250 on a second.

Neteller's e-wallets are particularly attractive to US punters because they allow gamblers to open betting accounts which get around laws barring credit card companies from dealing with gambling websites. Neteller became the market leader in gambling e-wallets five years ago when PayPal was forced to close its gambling payments business under the terms of its takeover by eBay.

The company has continued to dominate in the US since October, providing services to punters on sites such as Poker Stars and Bodog, which remain active. At the time, the company said: "Various provisions of the act, including the obligations of financial transaction providers such as Neteller, remain unclear."

Mr Lawrence invented the payment software behind Neteller in 1999 and teamed up with Mr Lefebvre, a lawyer, who helped raise funds. The two shared a £3.6m windfall when the company floated and they have sold more shares since, enjoying proceeds of more than £60m.

District attorneys may target video gambling arcades

 

District attorneys statewide plan to use a recent Supreme Court decision outlawing a type of video gaming machine at Birmingham's dog track to shut down adult arcades and casino-like operations across Alabama, a key prosecutor said Tuesday. The ruling, which overturned a lower court order that allowed so-called "sweepstakes" machines operated by Birmingham Race Course owner Milton McGregor, means that nearly any type of video gambling is illegal, Jefferson County District Attorney David Barber said in an interview. Barber said he is giving video gaming halls around Birmingham until Jan. 30 to shut down because that's the day the court's ruling becomes final, and he expects many other local prosecutors to do the same. "Every DA in the state is pretty much on the same page. We're going to consider anything that might be considered a gambling device to be a gambling device," said Barber, whose office was involved in the case that led to the decision against McGregor's operation. He said the issue was a major topic of discussion among district attorneys attending a statewide conference in Birmingham on Tuesday. McGregor denied that the Supreme Court ruling extended to anything other than sweepstakes machines. "It's not that broad. They're only addressing the sweepstakes," he said. "Barber's playing games and he needs to go back to law school." McGregor's comments came as the state attorney general's office sent letters to hundreds of sheriffs and police chiefs explaining the action by the Supreme Court. Last Friday it refused to reconsider a December decision in which it said the sweepstakes machines operated at the Race Course violated state gambling laws. Deputy Attorney General Kenneth Steely said he had received calls from all over the state asking whether certain types of machines were legal, but "it's up to the locals" to enforce the law. "The letter is to give them guidance about what the court's ruling said," Steely said. At Leisure Time Arcade in Adamsville, attendant Chris Nation collected money from a lunchtime crowd of a half-dozen people who were playing video machines allowed under a past ruling by a Jefferson County judge. In their midst, more than two dozen sweepstakes-style machines sat unplugged, their screens blank.

Nation said all the machines would soon be operating again after workers removed their sweepstakes circuit boards and replaced them with another type.

"They're coming in here tomorrow to switch the boards," said Nation.

But Barber said that won't be enough under his interpretation of the court's action.

"As far as I'm concerned, they're all illegal," he said. "I think the Supreme Court spoke loud and clear."

McGregor shut down his sweepstakes operation at the Race Court after the Supreme Court ruled last week, and some smaller sweepstakes arcades also closed.

At McGregor's Quincy's MegaSweeps, customers bought computer time on an electronic card. Customers received sweepstakes entries for their purchase of Internet time, and winners were revealed using computerized card readers that resembled slot machines.

A lower court ruled that the operation was nothing more than a sham casino and was allowed under state law, but the Supreme Court disagreed.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Neteller Execs Charged in Gambling Case

 

Two founders of a company that processes Internet gambling transactions were arrested and charged with funneling billions of US dollars in gambling proceeds to overseas betting operations, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday. The charges mark the latest in a series of crackdowns by the federal government against the online gambling industry. The charges against the former Neteller PLC directors, John David Lefebvre, 55, and Stephen Eric Lawrence, 46, both Canadian citizens, were contained in two criminal complaints unsealed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan on Monday, U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia said in a statement. The prosecutor said the men knew when they took their company public that its activities were illegal. FBI Assistant Director Mark J. Mershon said the multibillion-dollar online gambling industry is "a colossal criminal enterprise masquerading as legitimate business." Neteller is an Internet payment services company that has grown in popularity as an increasing number of credit card companies have begun refusing to accept payments to online gambling sites. Neteller essentially acts as a middleman between gamblers and offshore betting operations. For example, a gambler who wants to place bets at offshore sports books can fund an account with Neteller, which in turn will transfer the money to the betting sites. Prosecutors say Neteller facilitated the transfer of billions of US dollars of illegal gambling proceeds. Lefebvre was arrested Monday in Malibu, Calif., and was scheduled to appear in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Tuesday. Lawrence, who lives in the Bahamas, was arrested Monday in the U.S. Virgin Islands and will appear in federal court on Wednesday. Peter Neiman, a lawyer for Lawrence, said he had no comment. A lawyer for Lefebvre did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment. In 1999, the men founded Neteller, which is based in the Isle of Man and is publicly traded in the United Kingdom. The company began processing Internet gambling transactions in 2000. Lawrence left the company's board of directors in October, while Lefebvre left in December 2005, prosecutors said. Together, the men owned as much as 35 percent of the company's outstanding shares. Prosecutors cited Neteller's 2005 annual report in saying that Lawrence and Lefebvre enabled the company to provide payment services to more than 80 percent of worldwide gaming merchants. Garcia noted that the company acknowledged when it went public that U.S. law prohibited people from promoting certain forms of gambling, including Internet gambling and transmitting funds that are known to have been derived from criminal activity. Lefebvre and Lawrence also conceded in the company's offering documents that they were risking prosecution by the U.S. government, he said. Prosecutors said Neteller in 2005 alone processed more than $7.3 billion in financial transactions, 95 percent of which was derived from money transfers involving Internet gambling. Lawrence and Lefebvre were charged with conspiring to transfer funds with the intent to promote illegal gambling, and could face up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Gambling addiction and its treatment within the NHS

 

This recommendation is part of a tough set of proposals aimed at helping healthcare professionals deal effectively with the growing problem of gambling addiction in the UK. The report is timely given the 2005 Gambling Act is due to come into force this September. The new UK legislation will increase gambling facilities and subsequently problem gambling may rise too - health professionals must be prepared for this. The BMA is particularly worried about adolescent problem gamblers and the report is calling for a review on whether slot machine gambling should be prohibited to anyone under 18. Fruit machine addiction can lead to behavioural problems such as truanting, stealing and aggressive behaviour. Studies have shown that gambling among young people often goes hand in hand with other addictive activities such as drug taking and alcohol abuse and has been linked to juvenile crime. Dr Colin Hamilton, Chairman of the BMA's Public Health Committee in Northern Ireland, said today: "We know that gambling is a persistent problem in Northern Ireland and one that is increasing amongst young men. Evidence shows that this group of people are not only using gaming machines but moving to gambling online. "Gamblers Anonymous in Northern Ireland does a excellent job in helping addicts but we do need to make treatment available on the NHS, similar to the drug and alcohol services currently provided."` The BMA Head of Science and Ethics, Dr Vivienne Nathanson, said: "Problem gambling is associated with a number of health problems and the BMA is concerned that there are insufficient treatment facilities available. Psychological problems can include anxiety, depression, guilt and suicidal thoughts. Relationships with family and friends can also be affected by gambling, sometimes leading to separation and divorce.

"There needs to be treatment for problem gambling available on the NHS similar to drug and alcohol services. The BMA is calling on the Gaming Industry to pay at least £10m per annum via the Responsibility in Gambling Trust to fund research, prevention and intervention programmes."

Contributing author of the report, Professor Mark Griffiths of the International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University, sees remote gambling as another cause for concern. This includes gambling via the internet, mobile phone and interactive television gambling. He said that: "Online gambling in the UK has doubled since 2001 and further research in this area should be seen as a priority."

Poker Club Manager Convicted Under U.K. Gambling Laws

 

The manager of a 23,000-member private card club in London was convicted today of violating Britain's gambling laws after a jury decided poker is a game of chance, not pure skill. Derek Kelly argued that he didn't need a gambling license to take a share of profits from players at his club because the U.K.'s Gaming Act 1968 covers games like roulette, not skill- based games like poker or chess. The jury disagreed, and convicted Kelly of illegally taking profits of as much as 10 percent from players on two occasions at the Gutshot club. A not guilty verdict ``could have caused enormous problems for the gaming industry because then you have the green light in some people's eyes for unregulated poker,'' Justice Simon Wilkinson said in court. Prosecutor Graham Trembath QC had argued that shuffling a deck of cards was enough to make poker both a game of significant chance and significant skill, which falls under the U.K. government's interpretation of ``chance.'' Kelly, who the judge said is unlikely to get a prison sentence, faces a fine at a Feb. 16 hearing. He said he is considering an appeal. ``It is important that we take time, take stock, and go down to Gutshot to rearrange what we do, but we are not closing,'' Kelly said in an interview after the decision. Worldwide Revenue The verdict issued after more than two hours of deliberations has been watched by London's 26 poker clubs, tens of thousands of players and online poker operators worldwide that generate revenue ``in excess of $100 million a day,'' according to Kelly. PokerStars, an Isle-of-Man based Internet site that has dealt 6 billion hands, said in October it would keep taking bets from American players because a U.S. federal law passed last year doesn't apply to skill-based games like poker. For the last week, Kelly's competitors, reporters and men in pinstripe suits who described themselves only as ``interested parties'' jockeyed for a seat at Snaresbrook Crown Court in east London to hear expert players discuss the skills needed to play poker games like ``Texas Holdem.''

Today's ruling helps clarify U.K. law as Britain gears up to license online casinos for the first time Sept. 1.

The online gaming industry has been in turmoil since the U.S. passed legislation last year that prevented credit-card companies from collecting payments in online bets. The U.S. law wiped $7 billion off the market value of companies such as Sportingbet Plc.

The Gutshot case is running parallel to the St. Louis case of David Carruthers, founder of British Internet bookmaker BetonSports Plc, who pleaded not guilty Jan. 11 in the U.S. to using telephone lines to place bets from state to state.

Indiana Won't Legalize Video Gambling

 

A key state lawmaker says he won't push for legalization of video gambling machines this year. Fort Wayne Democratic Representative Win Moses says regulating and taxing the state's 20 to 30,000 illegal video gambling machines could bring the state 200 million dollars in tax revenue. The Indiana Licensed Beverage Association has tried to drum up support for the legalization of the machines, sometimes known as "Cherry Masters." Moses says he's sending the bill to a legislative study committee because there's not yet a consensus on the bill. House Speaker Pat Bauer has called legalization of video poker machines a "long shot" for passing the Legislature this session.

Gambling addict gets three years in Universal Bank swindle

 

gambling addict who swindled a Chicago bank out of millions of dollars to feed his obsession and ended up driving it out of business was sentenced Tuesday to more than three years in federal prison. Adam B. Resnick, 34, of suburban Buffalo Grove also was ordered by federal Judge Wayne R. Andersen to pay $10.4 million in restitution for losses stemming from the failure of the Universal Federal Savings Bank. "Whatever you do to help recover the money, I hope that you do it in a completely honest way that does not involve manipulation of people or any kind of deceit or preying on their weaknesses," Andersen told Resnick. Andersen ordered Resnick to start serving his sentence Jan. 29, expressing concern the admitted con artist might get into more trouble if he were allowed to remain free for a longer period of time. Resnick pleaded guilty to a single wire fraud count. He admitted that he engaged in a check kiting scheme at Universal to get cash for gambling. An officer of the now defunct bank, Antonette Navarro, 38, also was sentenced to more than three years in prison last September after she admitted falsifying records to hide the fact that Resnick was kiting checks - writing them on an account that lack sufficient funds to cover them. The account was registered to an accounting firm once operated by her brother, Terrence Navarro, who also pleaded guilty to charges in the case. Since his arrest, Resnick has been preaching to school groups and others about the dangers of gambling addiction. He said he is writing a book about his life that will serve as "a cautionary tale" for gamblers. Last August, he told the NBC television program "Dateline" he was so addicted to gambling that he once played two blackjack games at once at an Indiana casino and at one point had raked in $5 million worth of chips. In return for his guilty plea to one wire fraud count, prosecutors dropped four other charges against him.

As part of his signed plea agreement with the government, he admitted engineering a so-called ponzi scheme under which nine individuals were swindled. He was not charged with a crime involving that scheme but those who lost cash will be entitled to a share of any restitution paid.

Resnick said he expects to pay the entire restitution amount.

He said that when he was gambling heavily he actually was working only four to six days a year and yet managed to make a substantial amount of money honestly. He said he believes he will be able to make honest money again once he gets out of prison and use it to pay off the restitution.

Christchurch the 'Gambling-related Crime Capital'

 

"Christchurch is off to a bad start in 2007, defending its dubious title as the gambling-related crime capital of New Zealand," says John Stansfield, CEO for the Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand (PGF). "Yet again, a business has been run to the ground and its customers left out of pocket because of a gambling problem," says Mr Stansfield. "The Christchurch community and its businesses are suffering because of people committing fraud and theft to fund their gambling and it is costing them significant amounts of money," says David Coom, PGF's South Island Regional Manager. "From cases reported in the media, we know of over $4.7 million that has been embezzled or stolen which the gambling industry has gladly taken," says Mr Coom. "These are only the cases where a clear link between the amount of money stolen and a gambling problem is reported. We believe that the relationship between crime and gambling goes much deeper," says Mr Coom. "If only $4.7 million was reported as being criminally obtained in Christchurch, I would hate to think what the real figure is both in Christchurch and nationally," says Stansfield. "The other question we should be asking is, how much unreported crime is the result of problem gambling?" says Stansfield.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Gambling firm founders held

 

The American authorities have swooped on the founding shareholders of NETeller, the company which specialises in money transfers between online gambling sites and players. Stephen Lawrence and John Lefebvre, both former directors of the firm, were detained in the US yesterday, while travelling separately. NETeller called for a suspension of trading in its shares as it revealed the shock development this morning. The online payment group said neither Mr Lawrence nor Mr Lefebvre has any current position with or connection to NETeller, other than as shareholders.

MOBILE GAMBLING TIPPED TO TOP $16 BILLION WORLDWIDE BY 2011, CLAIMS NEW REPORT

 

Despite the strengthening of legal barriers to its development in the US, prospects for the development of the global mobile gambling market remain strong, according to Juniper Research. In new forecasts for the mobile gambling market, Juniper predicts that the global market for all forms of mobile gambling (casinos, lotteries and sports betting) will grow from $1.35 billion in 2006 to $16.6 billion by 2011 in terms of gross value of bets placed. "Juniper Research published its last full report on mobile gambling in June 2006. Following the tightening of legal barriers to all forms of online gambling in the USA we decided to revisit our market forecasts as clearly the environment had changed," author Bruce Gibson commented. "The new forecasts confirm that there is still great potential for mobile gambling services where legislation permits. However, we have certainly dramatically cut back forecasts for the development of the North American market." Europe is currently seen to be the largest market for mobile gambling, with an estimated $665 million in bets placed in 2006. However, it is forecast to be overtaken by the rapidly expanding Asia Pacific market by 2008. The Asian market is expected to reach over $6.7 billion by 2011, in terms of value of bets placed. Bruce Gibson goes on to say: "The downgrading of forecasts for the North American market increases the focus on the key markets of Europe and Asia Pacific. These two markets are now expected to contribute over 80% of the value of bets placed through to 2011." Sports betting is currently estimated to be the largest sector in mobile gambling, opening up a valuable additional channel to existing gamblers as well as creating opportunities in new markets. Lotteries currently represents the second largest sector, but is forecast to take the top spot by 2010 as lotteries and related games, such as bingo, exploit the mass market mobile channel.

Online Casino Gambling Costing UK Companies

 

A new survey, commissioned by consultancy firm Morse, claims that online gambling while at work is costing English firms more than £300m every year in lost productivity. The research reveals that 30 percent had used an online casino, bought a lottery ticket or made a bet while on office time - or new someone who had. The survey suggested that such employees would accumulate 13 hours gambling on the Internet over a year. According to the firm conducting the study, such quick bets amass to a substantial dent in company productivity. The rise in popularity of online casinos and other internet gambling outlets, matched with unmonitored Internet provided at the majority of workplaces, is blamed for tempting employees with less than a fully sustained focus in the office. The survey, which quizzed 664 office workers nationwide, showed that 38 percent of men admitted to online gambling at work, compared with 21 percent of women. Regional spread was also revealed: 35 percent of those in Northern England were making bets on company time, compared with 29 percent in the South and 27 percent, the least, in the Midlands.

Online Gambling: Feds detain NETeller Founders in US

 

NETeller Founders John Lefebvre and Steve Lawrence were detained in the United States on Monday, January 15th, 2006. The news of their detainment, which was originally reported by Gambling911.com late Monday evening, sent shockwaves through the online gambling industry immediately. NETeller, based out of the Isle of Man, is publicly traded on the London exchange (AIM) and states on their website they are "the world's largest independent money transfer business". The most recent annual report states that the company took in revenues of $172.1 Million. Sources from Costa Rica have reported to Point-Spreads.com that John Lefebvre's wife was from Southern California and that may have been the residence were he was apprehended. Steve Lawrence was the Chairmen of NETeller up until October 13th, 2005 and reports have him being apprehended in New York. Some reports have both Lawrence and Lefebvre still working with the company up until November 2005. When we originally contacted NETeller by phone at 12:05 AM EST Tuesday we were told: After waiting on hold due to "extremely high call volumes" for 1 hour, we finally got a CS representative on the phone again at 2:05 AM EST Tuesday and were told: "They were detained but no charges have been filed at this time." The besieged online gambling industry has been hit hard over the last six months. In July, the DoJ arrested BetonSports PLC CEO David Carruthers. Carruthers was on a layover between Costa Rica and the United Kingdom in the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport and is currently out on house arrest awaiting trial in Missouri on money laundering and tax evasion. BetonSports Founders Gary Kaplan and Tom "Norm" Miller are still at large. Approximately one month after the arrest of Carruthers, the US Congress passed the UIGEA (Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006), which made it illegal for financial companies to knowingly process internet gambling transactions. UIGEA was signed into law by President George W. Bush in November 2006.

Probability launches mobile phone gambling service in SAfrica

 

AIM-listed mobile phone gambling specialist Probability PLC said it has launched a pilot of Lady Luck's, its proprietary mobile phone gambling service, in South Africa following a successful technical and marketing trial in 2006.The service offers South Africa's 34 mln adult mobile phone owners the ability to play the full range of Probability's Bingo, Slots and Casino games including Roulette, Blackjack and Video Poker, on their mobile phones.

The Bible does not ban gambling

 

The Kaieteur News article captioned "Govt MP blasts church on opposition to 'casino' legislation" (Jan., 12, 2007) reported the Rev. Alphonso Porter as saying, "...the church was not against casino gambling from a theological standpoint, but was against it on moral grounds and also based on studies done in other Third World countries." If this is indeed what the good reverend uttered, and not misreporting on the part of the newspaper, then it is revealing. Is Rev. Porter tacitly admitting that there is no theology against gambling? If morality is not based on theology, then on what is it based? Moral relativism? Studies done in other Third World countries? To strengthen his case, the good churchman should have quoted the chapters and verses that prohibit gambling. Sadly, there is none. From my extensive reading of the Bible, I know that the casting of lots - admittedly a form of gambling - to make important life-decisions was an ancient practice. When Joshua entered the land of the Canaanites, he cast lots before God to divide the land among the Israelites. At the crucifixion, the Roman soldiers cast lots for Jesus' garments, and it was called a fulfilment of scripture. To find a replacement for Judas Iscariot, lots were cast and Matthias' lot was drawn. Unfortunately though, the Bible is silent on the casting of lots as a form of entertainment or as a means of financial gain, and thus gives no guidance on the matter. So it would seem that the good brother is right to say that the church is not against casino gambling from a theological standpoint, since there is no biblical point upon which it can stand. This is not to say that gambling should be encouraged, but that arguments against it must be based on non-theological, i.e., logical, grounds. I do not gamble for one simple reason: it is unprofitable. I only take part in financial ventures in which the probability of making a profit is more than fifty percent. This means that I can make a profit more than fifty percent of the time. By definition and by practice, in gambling the chance of winning is less than fifty percent. Therefore, you have a greater chance of losing more often than winning. Take the Lotto, for example. The probability of winning the jackpot with one ticket is 1 in 736,281, that's about 0.00014 percent. Only a very lucky person can win it; often no one does. So instead of wasting $100 on a Lotto ticket, I prefer to buy a Sunday newspaper and read about the arguments for and against casino gambling, and let the chips fall where they may. Who knows? Maybe God does play dice with the Universe.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Doctors want NHS to treat gambling addicts

 

Gambling addicts should be able to get treatment for their condition routinely on the National Health Service, doctors said on Monday. The British Medical Association said a relaxation of restrictions on slot machines and casino building later this year could lead to rising numbers suffering from gambling problems. It noted that the liberalisation was coming at the same time as a growth in Internet gambling. In a report on gambling addiction the BMA said there were believed to be at least 300,000 people with gambling problems in Britain at present. It said it was particularly concerned about adolescent gamblers and called for a review of whether slot machine gambling -- popular among teenagers -- should be banned to anyone under 18. "Problem gambling is associated with a number of health problems and the BMA is concerned that there are insufficient treatment facilities available," said Vivienne Nathanson, the BMA's head of science and ethics. Gambling addiction can lead to anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts, as well as truanting and stealing among adolescent addicts.

Boom in mobile gambling

 

According to market analysts Juniper Research, the global market for all forms of mobile gambling (casinos, lotteries and sports betting) reached more than $1.35bn in 2006. Looking ahead, the firm expects the industry to grow by about 1130 per cent to $16.6bn by 2011. Report author Bruce Gibson said: "We published our last full report on mobile gambling in June 2006. "Following the tightening of legal barriers to all forms of online gambling in the US we decided to revisit our market forecasts as clearly the environment had changed. "The new forecasts confirm that there is still great potential for mobile gambling services where legislation permits. "However, we have certainly dramatically cut back forecasts for the development of the North American market." Europe is currently the largest market for mobile gambling, with an estimated $665m in bets placed in 2006. However, it is expected to be overtaken by the rapidly expanding Asia Pacific market by 2008. The Asian market is expected to reach over $6.7bn by 2011, Juniper Research said in their latest report. Gibson added: "The downgrading of forecasts for the North American market increases the focus on the key markets of Europe and Asia Pacific. "These two markets are now expected to contribute over 80 per cent of the value of bets placed through to 2011."

Indian casinos fuel a rise in gambling

 

Back in the early 1960s, no states ran lotteries, only one -- Nevada -- allowed casinos, and Indian tribes had yet to discover bingo or glitzy casino halls. Today, 42 states operate lotteries, 37 have commercial, Indian or racetrack casinos and only two -- Utah and Hawaii -- don't allow any form of gambling. The gaming industry is a billion-dollar business in the United States, raking in $84.8 billion in 2005 alone. And revenues are rising steadily. "Gambling has become part of American life," said I. Nelson Rose, a gambling law expert at Whittier Law School. Much of the industry's growth is being fueled by Indian gaming, which boosted its revenues by nearly 20 percent in 2005 from the previous year, according to a study released last week by Casino City Press. The overall gambling industry grew at a slower pace of 6 percent, according to the industry group's North American Gaming Almanac. While lotteries and commercial casinos saw modest growth in 2005, race and sports betting continues to decline -- a slump some experts attribute to the growth in Indian gaming. A relatively young business, Indian gaming has seen its revenues skyrocket in recent years, as more and more tribes open bigger and better casinos. These casinos now include some of the largest gambling properties in the country, such as Connecticut's Mohegan Sun, a 300,000 square-foot casino owned by the Mohegan Tribe. Also in Connecticut, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation boasts the largest casino in the world, Foxwoods, with 340,000 square feet of gambling space, dozens of restaurants and nearly 1,500 hotel rooms. "The industry is only 10 or 15 years old," said Nancy Conrad, a spokeswoman for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, which operates two casinos in Southern California. "In many cases, it's ... developing and growing." Currently, 226 Indian tribes operate about 400 gambling operations in 28 states -- about twice the number of facilities open just a decade ago, according to the National Indian Gaming Commission. Gambling is not a new phenomenon in the United States. The first American colonies were funded by lotteries in England, and the country's early settlers often sanctioned lotteries to raise money for public works projects.

Public lotteries have gone in and out of favor since the early 1600s, but they began a resurgence in the 1960s after New Hampshire became the first state to launch them again.

Much of the stigma that used to surround gambling has eroded in the past several decades, after churches began operating bingo halls and state governments started running their own lotteries in the 1960s, Rose said.

Industry experts say Americans' acceptance of gambling in recent years is partly fueling the growth in demand. At the same time, Indian casinos such as the Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods have become destinations in their own right, rivaling the best gambling halls on the Las Vegas strip.

Indian casinos also are often closer to home for more Americans across the country. Only 11 states have commercial casinos, notes Holly Thomsen, a spokeswoman for the American Gaming Association.

"More people are exposed to native casinos than commercial casinos," Thomsen said, "The majority of growth has been in that sector."

But that growth could begin to slow as the Indian gaming industry matures, Rose said. For now, however, he says Indian gaming is the "latest boom industry."

Government's approach to gambling addiction inadequate

 

Commenting on the British Medical Association's call for gambling addiction to be treated on the NHS, Liberal Democrat Shadow Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, Don Foster MP said: "This report highlights just how inadequate the Government's approach to services for gambling addiction has been. "Not only is funding for problem gambling in the UK well below that of other countries but the gambling industry has made a woefully inadequate attempt to meet the targets they were set. "Tessa Jowell told us that this legislation would have failed if problem gambling increased, yet the Government still has no idea how many people are currently being treated. "The Government has allowed the industry to neglect its responsibilities in funding these services and must now consider using its power under the Gambling Act to impose a statutory levy to ensure these services are properly funded."

Online Gambling Get's Legalized in More and More Countries

 

Good news for the online gambling industry. Online gambling and online poker is getting legalized in more and more countries According to and interesting online gambling article from casinogamblingweb: After the Unlawful internet Gambling Act was passed for US poker site and casino players, many Mac users found all their favorite rooms were closing up shop. In light of all the changes Compatiblepoker decided to add US flags to casinos and poker rooms where US players could join. The casino site was hit the hardest. There are now only a few Mac online casino sites that allow US players. The big problem came when Golden Palace and Casino on Net dropped their US friends. This is where the majority of players sought Mac online blackjack and Mac online slot games. It is now over 3 months past the signing of the bill which made it illegal for banks to operate transactions with gambling sites. While many have found sites which still take players from the United States players fear this may be coming to an end. The regulations are now being formulated on how to properly enforced and regulate the internet gaming businesses from accepting US based transactions. The timeframe was 270 days but many hope the US government will exceed the allotted time allowed. Many of the Mac poker gamers are in bad shape. Some have even started turning to PC dual booting to operate popular sites on their Mac. When Party Poker and Poker Room stopped taking US players there was a huge exodus of Macintosh users from these sites. Players have since found alternative sites to play at with the new lists at Compatiblepoker. So what do onlinecasino.org think will be next step? Will other countries start to ban or legalize online gambling and online poker? The answer to that is more and more countries will decide to legalize online gambling. Very big countries like Italy, Spain, UK, and Singapore, Ireland, Belgium, South Africa have all just decided to legalize and open up for online gambling.

UIGEA Influence on Recent Developments in the International Online Gambling Industry

 

In light of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA), as one would expect, the online gambling industry has indeed shifted its focus to non-US countries. In addition, the UK has taken steps to make it more complex to use its services illegitimately. Meanwhile, although it may not be quite as harsh as the UIGEA, Turkey has begun to issue new restrictions on its own online gambling sites. Apparently, the UK and Spain seek to advance their online gambling enterprises. In extension of their developmental plans, the UK based Bookmaker Ladbrokes has made a joint venture with the Spanish Corporation Cirsca Slot, as both parties have the mutual goal of generating a sports betting business for the Spanish market. Furthermore, Betbull, a UK-based chief European bookmaker that seeks to secure a prominent role in Italy's betting has recently received four Italian betting licenses for Como and Milano. Evidently, the goal of gambling enterprises in the UK is not only to expand, but to do so in a manner that complicates the illegitimate use of their services. Betbbrokers proclaimed an arrangement between themselves and GB Group, an identity management specialist to use their identity verification service. This web-based electronic service, URU, is the UK's new method of verifying the identification of new clientele in order to intercept potential cases of identity fraud, money laundering and underage gambling. Contrastingly, a Turkish newspaper relates the new binding regulations that Turkey has placed on online gambling sites and the punishments that will befall perpetrators.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Call for better NHS gambling help

 

The British Medical Association report is warning that the forthcoming relaxation in the laws may prompt a rise in problem gamblers. Doctors said therapy was patchy with many addiction services not screening people for gambling and the industry must invest £10m a year into research. But the government said NHS services had a long history of helping people with gambling addictions. The Gambling Act is due to come into force in September, which paves the way for a host of new casinos, including the controversial "super-casino". Seven in 10 adults gamble each year, helping to sustain a £9bn industry. Research has shown that there are 300,000 problem gamblers, where their addiction can have an impact on their physical and mental health, employment, finances and relationships. The report said it was particularly worried about adolescent problem gamblers and the report is calling for a review on whether slot machine gambling should be prohibited to anyone under 18. It said fruit machine addiction can lead to behavioural problems such as truanting, stealing and aggressive behaviour. Studies have shown that gambling among young people often goes hand-in-hand with other addictive activities such as drug taking and alcohol abuse and has been linked to juvenile crime. The BMA said at the moment treatment services were patchy with many services not offering gambling support. Doctors said people going through drug and alcohol addiction services should be routinely offered gambling screening and tailored services if necessary. The BMA also called for the industry to pay at least £10m per year through the Responsibility in Gambling Trust to fund research, prevention and treatment programmes and warn customers of the risk of addition. BMA head of science and ethics Dr Vivienne Nathanson said: "Problem gambling is associated with a number of health problems and the BMA is concerned that there are insufficient treatment facilities available. "Psychological problems can include anxiety, depression, guilt and suicidal thoughts. "Relationships with family and friends can also be affected by gambling, sometimes leading to separation and divorce.

Supercasinos will cause a crime wave and gambling epidemic

 

Supercasinos will cause a crime wave and an epidemic of problem gambling, two reports have warned. A leaked police study on the Government's controversial plans to introduce Las Vegasstyle casinos found they could attract organised crime and encourage children to bet. And doctors will warn this week that more Health Service money will be needed to treat the increasing numbers of gambling addicts. Police chiefs have so far held back from any criticism of the Gambling Act, which will come into force in September. But the secret report, by a Metropolitan Police gambling expert, found that the Millennium Dome's conversion into a casino could cause "increased access to gambling for children and vulnerable groups". The Dome in South-East London is tipped to win the race to become Britain's only supercasino when the first generation of licences is announced this month. Its American owner, Philip Anschutz of AEG - who famously gave John Prescott a cowboy outfit - has already ploughed £700 million into turning the site into an "entertainment complex". It was suggested last night that David Beckham's staggering £128 million deal to play for the AEGowned LA Galaxy football club will lead to him becoming an ambassador for the supercasino. Football pundits have been trying for days to square the scale of his pay with tiny American soccer audiences and likely merchandise sales for his new club. But football has been one of the great drivers of the betting boom of the last six years. The addition of the Beckham name to the Dome project - a London football academy named after him is already operating next door - could attract millions in revenue. A source close to Beckham said: "People have been asking how a club like Galaxy with a 20,000-seater stadium can make David £128 million. "It's because the club is only a fraction of the deal David is signing up for. It's all about AEG. "What David does not yet probably realise is that he will have to work very hard to earn every penny of that £128 million by promoting all the rest of Anschutz's businesses." That AEG has hired a footballer with such a huge fanbase among teenagers and women will add to concerns about the effect of a Dome supercasino on families.

A British Medical Association report to be published tomorrow will say that more money will be needed for NHS treatment centres as gambling addiction takes its toll on adults and begins to affect more teenagers.

It also points to the rise in popularity of gambling among women - adding that as "entertainment complexes", supercasinos will be attractive to women in a way that betting shops of the past were not.

In the Met report, Detective Inspector Darren Warner of the Gaming Unit warned there will be "increased access to gambling for children and vulnerable groups".

He added: "This is what will happen as it is in every developer's manifesto.

"The 'destination casinos' are offering other family-oriented activities. Children will be taken to a gambling resort even if they are kept 50 yards away in another type of play room."

The document, leaked to Channel Four's Dispatches programme, was written last year for consultants advising the Dome's local council in Greenwich. In it, Mr Warner added: "I would not be so naive as to say money laundering will not occur at a regional casino."

He also said that staff would be likely to be recruited from Eastern Europe and their backgrounds could not be checked.

His report warned that a Dome supercasino would have nightclubs and bars close by, risking disorder.

"Is there antisocial behaviour around nightclubs?" it asked. "Well, yes, both inside and out." Opposition MPs reacted with fury to the contents of the leaked report.

Tory culture spokesman Hugo Swire said: "Inspector Warner raises concerns about increases in crime, problem gambling and an increase in teenage gambling, all issues that the Government's gambling reforms were supposed to address."

He added: "It is astonishing that such a vital report should have been suppressed.

"It is essential that this report is made available to the Casino Advisory Panel and that the panel comments on its explosive content."

Under the Gambling Act, the Casino Advisory Panel quango will report by the end of the month on where the supercasino licence should go, as well as deciding on 16 licences for smaller casinos. Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell will then take the final decision.

The reports came as another study found businesses are losing more than £300 million a year because of employees gambling on the Internet when they should be working.

Workers cost companies £300 million on gambling

 

Over £300 million is being lost in productivity as employees indulge in an online flutter at work. According to new figures released by business and technology consultancy Morse, online gambling is costing businesses £306,236,140 each year. The company surveyed 664 office workers and found that almost a third (30 per cent) said that they had placed a bet online during office hours or knew a colleague who had. The typical online gambler were most likely to be men (38 per cent) and almost half (46 per cent) were aged 25-34. Philip Wicks, consultant at Morse said that unmonitored access to the internet and the explosion of gambling websites had tempted people to bet online. "However these bets all add up and can greatly impact businesses productivity. With online gambling set to rise by 22 per cent this year, it is clear businesses can no longer turn a blind eye to their employees' recreational activities," said Wicks. "Instead they must look at methods that will control this addiction, starting with creating an internet usage policy that must be adhered to and enforced." According to the report, carried out by TNS OnlineBus, online gambling is stunting efficiency in the workplace with workers spending a day and half a year making bets. Morse said that most businesses do not have the same disciplinary action in place for online gambling as they do for taking unnecessary time off. Morse said companies' policies needed to be updated to counter this problem. The research also revealed that office workers that gamble online are spending 11.6 per cent of their average weekly salary on online gambling. This is compared to the average UK household spending 6.4 per cent of their weekly wage on fresh vegetables and 5.2 per cent on fresh fruit. "Businesses need to decide if it is acceptable for their office workers to place a quick bet online, and if so, where they will draw the line and decide if it is impacting on productivity, said Wicks. "However for those who do not deem this as acceptable, enforcing rules and regulations needn't be the headache that they predict." He said that by using a combination of education and putting controls in place to monitor and enforce Internet policies, and through logging Internet activity, businesses can ensure they are protected with a minimum of fuss and effort. "If needed, such logs can also be used in the future to support HR in a disciplinary proceeding," he added.

Catawbas argue before Supreme Court for its gambling rights

 

The Catawba Indian Nation will argue before the state's high court on Wednesday that its 13-year-old land settlement with the state allows it to offer video gambling on its York County reservation. The tribe won in a lower court, but the state is appealing. The state outlawed video gambling years ago and does not want to see the tribe bring it back. The tribe's lawyer, Jay Bender, says the tribe doesn't actually want to run a video gambling operation. It would rather open a high-stakes bingo game near Interstate 95 in Orangeburg County. A favorable ruling in the video gambling case would give the Catawbas leverage in getting lawmakers to let them open the bingo parlor. Opponents, however, worry that allowing a bingo operation in Orangeburg would open the door to more high-stakes bingo locations elsewhere in the state.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Casinos balk at state surcharge on gambling

 

An effort by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to take 5 percent of slot-machine revenues to finance regulation of the new gambling industry has been stopped in its tracks by protests from casino owners and legislators. With the board just several weeks away from running out of the money loaned to it by the state last summer, board officials and Gov. Ed Rendell's administration are trying to craft a more acceptable way to fund the board. By law, the gaming board is allowed to tap into slots revenues to fund casino regulation. However, the size of such a surcharge raised two primary concerns. One was that the assessment rate was far higher than what other states charge for the same purpose, including four times as much as New Jersey's. Another was that slots parlors that open earlier would pay more than licensees that open their doors months or years down the road. A 5 percent charge would pile on top of Pennsylvania's already comparatively high 52 percent base tax rate on gambling revenues. Joseph Lashinger, a partner in Harrah's Chester Casino and Racetrack, called the gaming board's original plan "heavy and onerous."

Guyana: Anti-gambling protest planned

 

The main opposition party said Friday it is planning large demonstrations to protest a new sales tax and legislation that would allow limited gambling in Guyana. Aubrey Norton, a lawmaker from the People's National Congress, said the party was appealing for people to swarm Georgetown's commercial center and block roads leading to the capital next week in a two-day protest. The administration of President Bharrat Jagdeo introduced a bill in parliament Thursday that would allow a few yet-to-be-built hotels to qualify for gambling licenses. The ruling party expects its majority will approve the bill, which could allow gambling in hotels near a new stadium being readied for the 2007 cricket World Cup. Opponents argue drug traffickers and organized crime could gain more power in the South American country by exerting influence over casinos. The country lacks the regulatory and judicial systems needed to oversee the gambling industry, they argue. "It is clear to us that we are heading for chaos," Norton said. "The legislation is being tailored solely for friends of the government." Only foreigners would be permitted to wager in proposed casinos, but religious groups have argued the measure would encourage vice. Protesters outside parliament Thursday carried signs that said casino gambling increases poverty and hurts families. Norton said opposition parties are also outraged by confusion surrounding a new 16 percent sales tax, which was designed to replace a more complex tax scheme when it took effect Jan. 1. Despite government assurances that prices would fall in many cases, vendors and supermarkets have applied the tax to exempted items, leading to cost increases for food and other items.

Gambling to be permitted only at special places in Kazakhstan

 

Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev signed the law on gambling business. The law lays down "the legal foundations for organizing the gambling business in Kazakhstan," the presidential press service said. As of April 1, 2007, the gambling will be permitted in Kazakhstan only at two special places: the Shchuchinsko-Borovskaya resort area (Akmolinsk region) and on the right bank of the Kapshagai water reservoir (Almaty region). Meanwhile, all gambling houses should be equipped with video surveillance systems, and the whole recorded information should be kept for seven days. A gambling house will get a license only, if the owner has its own building, gambling equipment and the service, which can guarantee the personal security of clients and workers of the gambling establishment. At least 20 green cloths and 50 slot machines should be installed in each casino.

Gambling lawmaker may not get promised seat on Pa. gaming board

 

Mark McNaughton, a Republican who left the House after 10 years representing part of Dauphin County, was named by since-ousted House Speaker John Perzel on the last day of the 2005-06 legislative session. On Thursday, House Republican leader Sam Smith of Jefferson County told McNaughton he will not choose him, Smith's spokesman said. While Smith has not decided whom to appoint, he is looking to find someone from outside "the political box," spokesman Steve Miskin said. The new House speaker, Rep. Dennis O'Brien, R-Philadelphia, has not said whether he will choose McNaughton. However, House Democrats, who hold a slim majority, say they expect O'Brien will acknowledge the chamber's unusual power structure by reappointing their selection for the board, former Democratic Rep. Jeffrey Coy of Franklin County. The emergence of a Democratic majority in the House with a speaker from the Republican minority has created a situation unprecedented for at least a century and one that was not envisioned by the 2004 bill that legalized slot-machine gambling. The law divided responsibility for appointing the gambling regulators among the governor and selected leaders of the Legislature. In the House, those are the House speaker and the House minority leader. McNaughton did not immediately return a telephone message left by The Associated Press on Friday, but he told WHTM-TV in Harrisburg that he was disappointed. "I think I would've done a good job on the board," he told the station. By law, the terms of all four legislative appointees on the board expire next week. Without a full complement of legislative appointees, the seven-member gaming board cannot take any votes.

McNaughton's selection had been rocky.

In December, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that McNaughton, who opposed the slots law, won more than $15,000 at casinos in recent years, but had not reported the winnings on his state ethics forms.

Last week, Perzel, R-Philadelphia, was ousted from the speakership, throwing McNaughton's candidacy into doubt. On Monday, the top attorney for the Pennsylvania State Department questioned the constitutionality of McNaughton's appointment, and recommended that he not be sworn in.

The lawyer, Albert H. Masland, sent a letter to Gov. Ed Rendell and legislative leaders saying McNaughton's appointment violates a constitutional prohibition against legislators being appointed to any salaried civil office in Pennsylvania during their terms in office.

McNaughton was named by Perzel on Nov. 30, also McNaughton's final day in office.

Masland also questioned whether the 2004 slots law allowed Perzel to fill a board position that had not yet been vacated.

Perzel had tapped McNaughton to replace his first appointee, Joseph W. "Chip" Marshall III, the chief executive of the Temple University Health System, who resigned from the gaming board Dec. 27.

Gambling on Protrade??? Idea??

 

What goes hand and hand with sports and money?? Well Gambling ofcourse!! Throw a few bucks on the games call it a day right? How would everyone feel If they had the ability to use their Protrade Portfolio money to place bets on NBA, NFL and MLB games??? It would have to be controled ofcourse.. Max bets maybe $1000 per bet. Parlays, Props, Futures.... I think I would be a great addition to the site... I know that I'd be into it.... We could really put that protrade PIMP to the test By doing weekly challenges AGAINST it!

Convenience stores raided for illegal gambling

 

Roberta police seized thousands of dollars Thursday night after raiding three Roberta covenenience stores allegedly paying cash illegally for video game winnings. "We hit all three at once," Roberta Police Chief Jackie Cooper said this morning. "They're paying off in cash so they're gambling machines." Officers, working in conjunction with the Fort Valley Police Department, seized money from more than a dozen machines operating at three stores on U.S. 341 in downtown, Cooper said. Haddock's, the A.U.M. store and Bob's Magic Mart were raided shortly after 5 p.m. Thursday after the department had been receiving complaints over the past year, Cooper said. No one has been arrested, but charges could be pending a review of the law, Cooper said.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Expanded gambling on table

 

The early odds of passing the General Assembly are uncertain, but the latest, yearly push to authorize slot machines at horse-racing venues in Indiana will at least get a chance of clearing the gate this session. House Speaker Patrick Bauer, D-South Bend, said Thursday that at least one proposal for slots at the tracks would get a hearing before the House Public Policy Committee. He did not guarantee that a committee vote to advance such a plan would be made, but the issue is clearly in play now. Indiana's two pari-mutuel tracks have struggled financially and their owners have warned lawmakers that they cannot stay in business much longer without more help. They say additional revenue from slots would allow them to boost purses, which would attract better horses and therefore more bettors. The tracks also would reap millions of dollars in profits, and the state would potentially take in tens of millions in wagering taxes. "The horse-racing industry is in deep trouble in this state because both tracks appear to be going broke, and I think we're open to looking at some way of helping them," Bauer said. At least two bills have been filed by House Democrats that would allow slots at horse racing venues, with one allowing up to 2,500 machines at each track. The tracks and industry currently share $27 million a year in subsidies from riverboat gambling revenue to help prop them up. Numerous attempts to allow slot machines or similar devices at horse tracks and off-track betting parlors have failed to pass the General Assembly over the past several years. One proposal passed a Democrat-controlled House in 2004, but it was killed in the Republican-controlled Senate under the leadership of then Senate President Pro Tem Robert Garton, R-Columbus. Garton was generally opposed to expansions of gambling and helped block previous attempts to allow slots at horse-racing venues, saying they would only make a few rich people richer. But Garton was defeated in the May primary, and the GOP-ruled Senate is now led by Sen. David Long of Fort Wayne. Long said Thursday that he "was not a fan of gambling or expanding it in this state," but if a slot bill passed the House, he would let his caucus decide whether it got a committee hearing and a chance to advance.

Jane Jankowski, press secretary to Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels, noted Thursday that the governor has often said that he does not favor an expansion of gambling.

One bill by Rep. Scott Reske, D-Pendleton, would allow up to 2,500 slot machines at each of the two tracks, as well as jointly owned OTBs in Fort Wayne and Indianapolis. The licenses would be awarded to the owners of the tracks.

Louisville, Ky.-based Churchill Downs has been the primary owner of Hoosier Park, but announced last month that it was selling its remaining interest to its minority partner, Indiana-based Centaur Inc. Indiana Downs is largely owned by a group of Indiana investors.

Reske's bill, which is being co-sponsored by Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson, would impose a 32.5 percent state wagering tax on the first $150 million in annual adjusted gross receipts from the slot machines, and a 37.5 percent rate on proceeds above that. The tax revenue would be dedicated to full-day kindergarten and health initiatives, among other things.

Bauer said whatever bill was considered would limit slots to two sites, and Austin has a separate bill that would only allow slots at the two tracks. The licenses also would go to the track owners.

Austin's bill would impose a 32 percent state wagering tax and a 5 percent local wagering tax, with revenue from the latter going to cities and towns in Madison and Shelby counties where the tracks are located.

Austin estimated that her bill would generate $200 million in annual state tax revenue, with $150 million going to full-day kindergarten and the rest divided between other education and economic development initiatives.

Democrats control the House 51-49 and in recent years they generally have been more receptive to expanding gambling. But there are not clearly defined partisan lines on the issue.

House Minority Leader Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, said one might find 40 opinions on slots at the tracks among the 49 members of his caucus.

"There will be some who believe it's a great thing and an addition to our state's economy addressing both the ag and racing industries," he said. "You will find others here that find it too large of an expansion of gaming - and probably all points in between."

Pinnacle Sports Closes to Americans Due to Internet Gambling Bill

 

Since 1998, Pinnacle Sports has been doing online business with US citizens who enjoy gambling, but when American gamblers signed onto their accounts this morning, they were informed they could no longer place bets with this sports book located in Curacao. Pinnacle's "main man" gave EOG an exclusive interview this morning and here is some of what he had to say: "It is with sadness that we have chosen to leave the US market, but we are so grateful for all the customers we've acquired throughout the years" When asked why Pinnacle Sports elected not to give any advance notice, he stated the following: "We didn't want anyone to have time to take shots at us." He started to reflect at this point: "When the U.S. focuses on something and says 'enough,' and when they go to 'war,' no individual company can possibly win in a fight of this nature." "Since the Internet Gambling Bill went into effect, we have lost the ability to do business with many quality banks." "Fortunately, 35-40% of our current gambling business is non US driven, and perhaps more importantly, we are experiencing stronger growth in Europe and Asia, than we are in the United States."

Gambling shouldn't float our boat

 

Whether it's on a real boat, a fake boat or dry land, gambling is gambling. People play games, they bet money. Many, many lose. A few win. Floating down a river or across a lake, standing in a pond and pretending to be on a real boat or being planted on dry ground does not change the bottom-line fact. It's pretty much too late to debate whether gambling should make itself at home in Indiana. That was taken care of years ago. But it's not too late to debate how much money the state wastes chasing some fantasy about wherepeople gamble. Gambling is here. The debate now is how much gambling the state is going to allow, and what the gambling profits should pay for. There has been talk that the Indiana Gaming Commission might change its construction standards and allow casino-style machines in bars, restuarants and clubs - an expansion of gambling in the state. According to news reports, operators of the Blue Chip Casino in Michigan City want to build more casinos without pretending they are building boats. They don't want their casinos to have to have motors, captains and crews, sea-going safety equipment and inspections for seaworthiness when the boat will never weigh anchor. (The odds may be better that you could win on the boat than that the boat will actually set sail.) The operators say the extra cost would amount to $40 million. But the question is not whether to continue the fantasy of water-borne gambling. The question is whether the state wants to increase its dependence on people's willingness to throw their money away.

Guyana government to pursue casino gambling despite concerns from religious community

 

Despite mounting pressure from the religious community, Guyana's Home Affairs Minister Clement Rohee was due to table the controversial Gambling Prevention (Amendment) Bill 2006 in Parliament seeking to permit casino gambling. Religious groups have warned about the adverse effects of legitimising casino gambling and pledged to derail the passage of the Bill. The groups said that the legislation will lead to money laundering, increased crime and a disintegration of societal values. Some members of the group accused the Jagdeo administration of fulfilling promises made to suspected drug lords. However, while religious groups were airing television advertisements to gather support for a street protest planned for Parliament, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds held a rushed press briefing to drive home the benefits of casinos to the tourism sector. The Prime Minister was the government's appointee to hold consultations with various groups. He said that it would be difficult to have every group agree on the introduction of casino gambling, but he assured that government will put systems in place to prevent widespread gambling. "We have weighed the pros and cons and we find that there are tremendous benefits to be had for the tourism industry. Job creation and influx of tourists are clearcut advantages," Prime Minister Hinds stated. The government is hoping to use the upcoming Cricket World Cup (CWC) event to shock the South American nation's tourism industry into becoming a major revenue earner. Prime Minister Hinds stated that casino gambling will also help to boost tourism, especially after CWC. The Amendment Bill will bar existing hotels and resorts from establishing casinos on their premises and stipulates that no more than 30 casino licenses will be issued.

Prime Minister Hinds said that no person other than workers and guests of the hotels or resorts shall be admitted to the casinos.

Breach of the casino regulations carry on a summary conviction a fine of not less than US$100,000 and imprisonment of not less than six months and not more than two years.

The Bill gives the Minister the power to set up any administrative body for the administration of the casino legislation, and also gives him the control to prescribe fees payable for the application for a licence and for the issue of any licence.

According to the Bill, the Minister may make regulations to establish a Gaming Authority which could regulate the issue only through specific types of licences to allow casino gambling.

Gambling laws shake-up

 

New laws for licensing gambling are to be introduced in the borough of Great Yarmouth - and affected businesses can get their applications in from May. The new national gambling licensing regime, to be administered in Great Yarmouth by the Borough Council, will come into effect from September 1. Applications can be submitted from May onwards for premises licences and permits. The Gambling Act 2005, regulations made under the Act and advice from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport provide the framework for the new regulatory system. Local authority staff are already gearing themselves up for additional work and Great Yarmouth Council is providing training to other councils in Norfolk and Suffolk. The council is also arranging training sessions in the early New Year for local solicitors, and for people connected with the gambling industry. Chris Skinner, head of member and legal services, said: "This is a major new responsibility for the Borough Council. "Because we have so many gambling businesses in the borough there is a lot for staff to get to grips with. Not many councils have our mix of a horse racing track, a dog track, casinos, amusement arcades betting shops and bingo halls." The introduction of the new arrangements follows hard on the heels of the implementation of the new licensing regime for pubs, clubs and entertainment premises in late 2005. "The new system was introduced smoothly in Great Yarmouth and both licensees and the public have quickly got used to it. We hope that by providing training sessions for people involved in the gambling trade, whether they be arcade or betting shop owners, or people wanting gaming machines in their pubs, it will help us all to implement the new regime successfully."

Offshore Gambling Site Stops Taking U.S. Bets

 

Pinnacle Sports, an offshore gambling enterprise located in Curacao, has stopped taking bets from residents of the United States. Pinnacle officials said the move is tied to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which prohibits the use of credit for illegal gambling. "After careful consideration, Pinnacle Sports has chosen to voluntarily exit the American market," the company said on its Web site. "Accordingly, wagers will no longer be accepted from clients located in the United States as of (Jan. 11)." The company said it would continue to service clients in Canada and other countries. It also said the balances of U.S. customers would have to be cashed out. Pinnacle officials said that since passage of the legislation last year, the company has had trouble doing business with banks. The company said about 40% of its business comes from outside the U.S., with Europe and Asia the growth markets. On its Web site, Pinnacle lists about 20 racetracks on which it would take bets Jan. 12. The company also listed proposition wagers on several races.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Christians going down the line on casino gambling

 

The Christian community is urging the government not to legalise casino gambling for Cricket World Cup (CWC) 2007 or at any time; to defer discussions on the draft legislation until after CWC and to learn from experiences based on research. Church leaders have also begun a number of activities aiming at sensitising the public to the dangers of casino gambling and said they feel legal action might also be an option. The draft legislation, entitled the Gambling Prevention (Amendment) Bill 2006, to legalise casino gambling is due for its first reading in Parliament today. And Alliance For Change MP Sheila Holder will also lead a motion in Parliament for a study to be conducted to determine whether casino gambling would add to the country's tourism product or aggravate the crime situation. At a joint press conference called by representatives of the Guyana Council of Churches (GCC), Guyana Evangelical Fellowship (GEF) and the Georgetown Ministers' Fellowship (GMF) at the National Library Annexe yesterday, Pastor Marlon Hestick said the Christian community, which he said represents 57% of the population, was "unalterably opposed" to the government's proposal to license persons or institutions to engage in casino gambling for CWC 2007 and beyond. Reading from a prepared statement, Hestick said the church leaders are also proposing alternative means of economic activities, particularly as it relates to tourism development through cultural entertainment and the performing arts, which they described as a win-win situation in the tourism industry. They are also willing to discuss with the government strategies on the country's economic and social development. Urging Muslims and Hindus to fully engage in the discussions on the issue, the statement said there was also still time for redress on the part of the government. The statement said the government's approach on the issue so far has illustrated little regard for Sections 13 and 50 of the Constitution of Guyana having not involved civil society in any meaningful consultation, nor engaged Parliament in any form of discussion. 3Asked whether they had met President Bharrat Jagdeo to express their concerns, Hestick said that in March last year they had met the President at State House and expressed their concerns. The President had told them then that there was going to be widespread consultations on the issue. Since then there had been no further interaction. However, the GCC received an invitation dated December 6, 2006 from Prime Minister Sam Hinds to a meeting to be held on December 8. The Chairman of the GCC, to whom it was addressed, was out of the country on GCC business at the time and did not receive the invitation until after the date of the meeting.

The government has also not offered any study to show the social impact of legalised gambling in Guyana. Instead, the statement said, "there exists a lot of evidence to show that, with our weak law enforcement, judicial, legislative and social infrastructure, the advent of casino gambling could see Guyana moving from a 'Jurisdiction of Concern' in the USA State Department's money-laundering list, to a 'Jurisdiction of Primary Concern'." The statement pointed to the US State Department website that dealt with the International Narcotics Strategy Control Report for 2006.

Some of the deleterious effects the statement listed were the creation of false values including the get-rich-quick illusion; discouragement of thrift, honest enterprise and a productive work ethic; promotion of greed; temptation to weak-willed persons who frequently develop an addiction to gambling; family neglect and domestic violence and undermining the family unit; wasting of money that could be used for productive purposes; enrichment of a few and impoverishment for the majority; an increase in crime to obtain money to gamble; pauperization of the gamblers; and promotion of opportunities for illegal activity including money laundering as well as corruption in the public and private sectors.

Stating that Guyanese would not have any type of tourism at any cost, the Christian leaders said, "Government cannot and must not be held to ransom by any stakeholder because it facilitated investors' efforts to benefit from tourism and CWC 2007."

The leaders produced a draft document entitled 'Legal, Moral, Social and Constitutional Considerations in Addressing the Responsibilities of Government with regard to Casino Gambling in Guyana,' which the statement said is a research paper that "elucidates the concerns of the Guyanese people" and outlines "Guyana's perilous descent at the level of governance and constitutional issues."

As a maturing democracy, they said, the implications of the findings cannot be ignored. They have begun to distribute this document to a number of stakeholders.

Expressing the GMF's position on the draft legislation, Pastor Loris Heywood said that apart from the moral principles, a number of violent crimes engulfed the Guyanese society over the past three to four years. Research, he said, shows that narco-crime is associated with casino gambling in laundering money and excessive and wanton violence, the use of deadly weaponry, utter disregard for the sanctity of life, trans-border crime with linkages to international networks and it also corrupts systems and structures of the government including the judiciary.

The legalisation of casino gambling, Heywood said, was not just a matter of accommodating Buddy's International Hotel or Cricket World Cup but that the provision for the licensing of the minimum of three casinos in each of the country's ten administrative regions was a "strategic evil" given the country's porous borders and transnational crime.

Quoting from last year's US State Department report which stated that drug trafficking and money laundering appear to be propping up the Guyana economy and known drug traffickers have acquired substantial land and investment in large properties, he said that as a patriotic Guyanese and Caribbean person he felt uncomfortable relying on the US report "to tell us what we already know."

Rev Ellsworth Williams of the GEF said he would have preferred if the government had called the religious community together to discuss some development strategy paper in terms of job creation, how to help the poor, and how to find solutions for the country's ills instead of rushing the bill through Parliament to legalise casino gambling.

Chairman of the GCC Rev Alphonso Porter said gambling was morally wrong in principle because it involves misuse of money and it was not in exchange for goods and services.

It was an appeal to chance where the gains of the winners represent the accumulated loss of the losers.

He reiterated that casino gambling is used as a cover for many criminal activities adding that the government was promoting these social diseases at a time when HIV was on the increase and the law enforcement agencies were unable to solve high-profile murders. He said this was disturbing since it created additional burdens.

The GCC, he said, does not believe that the government should seek to justify casino legislation because of revenue generation because it could also bring tragic social consequences to the nation.

The GCC represents the Anglican Diocese, Roman Catholic Diocese, the Church of the Nazarene, Outreach Ministries International, the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the African Metho-dist Episcopal Zion Church, Evangelical Lutheran Church of Guyana, the Guyana Presbyterian Church, Presbytery of Guyana, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the Moravian Church, the Salvation Army, the Congregational Union of Guyana, the Methodist Church of Guyana and the Guyana Missionary Baptist Church.

Resist gambling's lure, opponents say

 

With the Legislature likely to debate expanded gambling this year, gambling opponents drew more than 100 legislators and lobbyists to a Concord presentation yesterday, urging lawmakers to swiftly kill any bills that would turn to slot machines or casinos to raise money for the state. The Legislature has consistently defeated similar measures in the past. But expected decreases in state revenue and continued uncertainty over education funding have gambling opponents worried that lawmakers might reconsider gambling this year, given widespread opposition to a sales or income tax. "As everyone in this room knows, you will face unprecedented pressure in this upcoming legislative session to find tough solutions to very, very intractable problems - and the siren song of easy, quick money," said Katrina Swett, a former Democratic congressional candidate from Bow and the co-chairwoman of the Granite State Coalition Against Expanded Gambling. Gambling supporters say video slots or casinos would plug budget deficits and bring tourists to the state. They also say the expansion would be modest step in a state that already offers a variety of lottery games, including $20 scratch tickets. Opponents say gambling would exacerbate crime, harm the state's image and drain money from lower-income residents, not out-of-state vacationers. Swett called the allure of expanded gambling "the ultimate mirage and the ultimate bait-and-switch tactic." The anti-gambling coalition held a luncheon for lawmakers in the basement of St. Paul's Church yesterday, hoping to draw a crowd of about 75. Instead, they attracted a standing-room audience of roughly 125 people to listen to presentations from local and national anti-gambling advocates, including a New York billionaire and a Massachusetts lawmaker, who warned against the social and political ills of expanded gambling. But while many in the room signed pledges afterward to oppose legalizing video slots or casinos, others were expanded-gaming supporters who wanted to hear the opposition's argument.

Legislature to again face decisions on gambling

 

Proponents and opponents of gambling are preparing to square off again this year as the new Legislature gears up to decide if slot machines should be allowed in places other than the Hollywood Slots parlor that opened in Bangor in 2005. Three state legislators are drafting four bills that, if approved, would allow casino gambling in Maine, create another so-called "racino" with slots and harness racing, and allow two of Maine's Indian tribes -- the Penobscot Nation and the Passamaquoddy Tribe -- to install slots on tribal lands. At the same time, Gov. John Baldacci has renewed his opposition to more gambling in Maine, suggesting that supporters may have an uphill fight. The flurry of legislative activity comes as supporters and opponents of gambling continue their efforts to place citizen-initiated referendums on the ballot to let voters decide such issues. It also follows heated, and unsuccessful, drives in the last Legislature to either allow a racino in Washington County or to let the voters settle that issue. Backers of a Washington County racino hope to learn later next month if they collected enough valid signatures to force a November vote on their plan. Meanwhile, a referendum campaign to outlaw slot machines in Maine and a competing referendum drive to allow a casino in Oxford County have yet to submit their petitions to the state. Seth Carey, an organizer of the Oxford County casino campaign, said Wednesday he has abandoned plans to get that proposal on the ballot this year and hopes to collect enough signatures to schedule a referendum in 2008. It was not clear Wednesday if the group that wants voters to outlaw slot machines will meet the state's Jan. 25 deadline for submitting petitions in time to schedule a referendum this year. The looming legislative battle centers on bills filed by Democratic Rep. Deborah Simpson of Auburn, Passamaquoddy Tribe Rep. Donald Soctomah and Penobscot Nation Rep. Donna Loring. None of their bills has been drafted yet, but interviews with all three lawmakers confirm that they hope to expand gambling in Maine.

Simpson, who supported a failed 2003 referendum that would have allowed a tribal casino in Maine, said Wednesday her bill would order the state to find a developer to build, operate and own a casino somewhere in southern Maine, possibly in cooperation with one or more Indian tribes. The host community would have to approve the plan before a casino could be built, she said.

A casino would be "more of a resort destination" than a slots parlor or a racino, Simpson said, because it would include a hotel and a conference center that would "bring people in from away." Such a facility, she said, would create jobs, boost state revenues and help in the transition from an economy that relied heavily on manufacturing.

Soctomah said one of his bills would serve as a backup in case the initiative campaign for a referendum on a Washington County racino falls short of the 50,519 voter signatures needed to force a public vote. Soctomah's bill would have the Legislature schedule a referendum on the issue if the initiative campaign fails.

On another front, both Soctomah and Loring have bills that would allow slot machines on their respective tribal reservations, in conjunction with high-stakes bingo.

Loring said the Penobscot Nation wants 400 of the 1,500 slot machines currently allowed by state law because the Hollywood Slots parlor in Bangor has cut into the tribe's revenues from high-stakes bingo on Indian Island. Soctomah said the Passamaquoddy Tribe wants to install a combined total of 200 slots at its two reservations.

Hollywood Slots now has 479 slot machines in a temporary facility and plans to have 1,000 to 1,500 slots in a permanent facility that should open in mid 2008.

"They're spending their money at Hollywood Slots rather than at our facility," said Chief Kirk Francis of the Penobscot Nation. As a result, he said, the tribe's bingo operation is now breaking even instead of providing what had been "thousands of dollars" in revenue for the tribe.

Soctomah said the Passamaquoddy Tribe has not ruled out legislation authorizing a tribal casino, but he said the bills he has introduced so far do not seek a casino. He said the Bangor slots parlor has failed to produce the crime and social ills that opponents predicted, so Washington County should be allowed to expand its revenue base with a racino or slots parlors.

Baldacci spokeswoman Joy Leach said in an e-mailed response to questions about the governor's reaction to the bills that "the governor's position on the expansion of gambling has not changed; he continues to oppose such expansions."

She said Baldacci "agrees with the (state) Gambling Control Board that a moratorium should be in place until a report or review with recommendations on gambling is completed."

"This is exactly what we worried about" when Hollywood Slots opened its doors, said Dennis Bailey of Casinos No!, an anti-gambling group. "Once you open the door a little bit, you're going to be in this fight year after year after year."

Predicting that the Legislature will be "very pro slot machines," Bailey said the outcome may hinge on whether Baldacci holds firm in his opposition.

Battles over gambling a sure bet

 

Proponents and opponents of gambling are preparing to square off again this year as the new Legislature considers whether slot machines should be allowed in places other than the Hollywood Slots parlor in Bangor. Three state legislators are drafting four bills that, if approved, would allow casino gambling in Maine, create another so-called racino with slots and harness racing, and allow two of Maine's Indian tribes ­ the Penobscot Nation and the Passamaquoddy Tribe ­ to operate slots on tribal land. At the same time, Gov. John Baldacci has renewed his opposition to more gambling in Maine, suggesting that supporters may have an uphill fight. Meanwhile, supporters and opponents of gambling are continuing their efforts to place citizen-initiated referendums on the ballot to let voters decide such issues. It all follows heated, and unsuccessful, drives in the last Legislature to either allow a racino in Washington County or let voters settle that issue. The Legislature passed both Washington County bills in 2005, but Baldacci vetoed them. Backers of a racino in Washington County hope to learn later this month whether they collected enough valid signatures to force a November vote on their plan. A referendum campaign to outlaw slot machines in Maine and a competing referendum drive to allow a casino in Oxford County have yet to submit their petitions to the state. Seth Carey, an organizer of the Oxford County casino campaign, said on Wednesday that he has abandoned plans to get that proposal on the ballot this year and hopes to collect enough signatures to schedule a vote in 2008. It was not clear on Wednesday whether the group that wants voters to outlaw slot machines will meet the state's Jan. 25 deadline for submitting petitions for a referendum this year. Organizer George Rodrigues could not be reached for comment. The looming legislative battle centers on bills from Democratic Rep. Deborah Simpson of Auburn, Passamaquoddy Tribe Rep. Donald Soctomah and Penobscot Nation Rep. Donna Loring. None of their bills has been drafted yet, but interviews with all three lawmakers confirm that they hope to expand gambling in Maine. Simpson, who supported a failed 2003 referendum that would have allowed a tribal casino in Maine, said on Wednesday that her bill would order the state to find a developer to build, operate and own a casino somewhere in southern Maine, possibly in cooperation with one or more Indian tribes. The host community would have to approve the plan before a casino could be built, she said. A casino would be "more of a resort destination" than a slots parlor or a racino, Simpson said, because it would include a hotel and a conference center that would "bring people in from away." Such a facility, she said, would create jobs, boost state revenue and help in the transition from an economy that relied heavily on manufacturing. Soctomah said one of his bills would be a backup in case the campaign for a referendum on a Washington County racino falls short of the required 50,519 voter signatures. The bill would have the Legislature schedule a referendum on the issue if the initiative campaign fails.

Both Soctomah and Loring have bills that would allow slot machines on their respective tribal reservations, in conjunction with high-stakes bingo. Loring said the Penobscot Nation wants 400 of the 1,500 slot machines now allowed by state law because the Hollywood Slots parlor has cut into the tribe's revenue from high-stakes bingo on Indian Island.

Soctomah said the Passamaquoddy Tribe wants to install a total of 200 slots at its two reservations. Hollywood Slots now has 479 slot machines in a temporary facility. It plans to have 1,000 to 1,500 slots in a permanent facility that it expects to open in mid-2008.

"They're spending their money at Hollywood Slots rather than at our facility," said Chief Kirk Francis of the Penobscot Nation. As a result, he said, the tribe's bingo operation is now breaking even instead of providing what had been "thousands of dollars" for the tribe.

Soctomah said the Passamaquoddy Tribe has not ruled out legislation authorizing a tribal casino, but he said the bills he has introduced so far do not seek a casino. He said the Bangor slots parlor has not produced the crime and social ills that opponents predicted, so Washington County should be allowed to expand its revenue base with a racino or slots parlors.

Baldacci's spokeswoman Joy Leach said in an e-mailed response to questions about the governor's reaction to the bills that "the governor's position on the expansion of gambling has not changed; he continues to oppose such expansions."

She said Baldacci "agrees with the (state) Gambling Control Board that a moratorium should be in place until a report or review with recommendations on gambling is completed."

"This is exactly what we worried about" when Hollywood Slots opened, said Dennis Bailey of Casinos No!, an anti-gambling group. "Once you open the door a little bit, you're going to be in this fight year after year after year."

Pinnacle Sports Closed To Americans Due To Internet Gambling Bill

 

Since 1998, Pinnacle Sports has been doing online business with US citizens who enjoy gambling, but when American gamblers signed onto their accounts this morning, they were informed they could no longer place bets with this sports book located in Curacao. Pinnacle's "main man" gave EOG an exclusive interview this morning and here is some of what he had to say: "It is with sadness that we have chosen to leave the US market, but we are so grateful for all the customers we've acquired throughout the years" When asked why Pinnacle Sports elected not to give any advance notice, he stated the following: "We didn't want anyone to have time to take shots at us." He started to reflect at this point: "When the U.S. focuses on something and says 'enough," and when they go to 'war,' no individual company can possibly win in a fight of this nature." "Since the Internet Gambling Bill went into effect, we have lost the ability to do business with many quality banks." "Fortunately, 35-40% of our current gambling business is non US driven, and perhaps more importantly, we are experiencing stronger growth in Europe and Asia, than we are in the United States."

Lawmakers need to close gambling holes

 

Tic Tac Fruit could turn out to be a lemon for Ohioans if state legislators fail to do something about it and similar ''games of chance.'' Tic Tac Fruit is familiar to many in Trumbull County. It is a video gaming machine that looks and operates much like a video gambling machine. It gained popularity last year because its promoters, claiming it was not subject to the state's laws against gambling, opened up parlors with Tic Tac Fruit and similar machines in many areas of the state, including ours. Now, Treasure Island parlors in Warren, Austintown and Boardman, and other parlors in Lordstown, Cortland, Masury and Weathersfield house Tic Tac Fruit and similar games. The machines' promoters say they are not gambling devices because players affect the outcome - whether they win or lose. But late last year, a judge in Franklin County Common Pleas Court ruled that Tic Tac Fruit is a gambling device. He noted that the machines are programmed to guarantee that operators will make profits of 5 percent of the amount of money pumped into each device. That means that player skill is not the critical factor, the judge ruled. His ruling backs up the state Liquor Control Commission, which has banned Tic Tac Fruit and similar games in licensed bars. But the judge warned that new gaming machines - all designed to rake in money in large quantities from players - will be designed. That may make it more difficult for the courts to rule that such devices are illegal gambling machines, he said. Ohio Skill Games attorney Kurt Gearhiser said the company has already made improvements so that the games are more skill-based. Therefore, he said, the Columbus court ruling is irrelevant. That is why the legislature, not the court, needs to address the issue. Also, there are multiple versions of these games because manufacturers are constantly upgrading the machines. Officials must make certain they only seize versions that the court determined to be illegal. Again, the legislature could intervene and make all of them illegal. In November, Ohio voters said ''no'' to legalized machine gambling at racetracks and a few other locations. We believe they also want to prohibit electronic one-armed (or one-buttoned) bandits from masquerading as games. That makes it essential for legislators to take another look at Ohio's gambling laws and close loopholes that allow devices such as Tic Tac Fruit.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Guyana wants to introduce casino gambling for CWC visitors

 

An added attraction for Cricket World Cup visitors to Guyana will be casino gambling, that is if a bill scheduled to be tabled in Parliament tomorrow is passed. Prime Minister Sam Hinds has confirmed the move to facilitate casino gambling for guests during the Cricket World Cup 2007. The motion will be moved in the National Assembly on January 11, by Minister of Home Affairs, Clement Rohee following which debates will be held on January 18 and 19. Prime Minister Hinds said that in light of reservations by some religious groups government is prepared to take prudent measures to prevent the activity from becoming widespread, according to a release from the state-owned news agency GINA. Concerns among the religious community include theological grounds which prohibit gambling. The Prime Minister said while government is aware of the possible dangers associated with casino gambling, mechanisms are being discussed to address these. The Bill gives the Minister the power to set up any administrative body for the administration of the casino legislation, and also gives him the control to prescribe fees payable for the application and issuance of any licence. Among the issues under consideration are gambling addictions, prostitution and increased money laundering. Prime Minister Hinds noted that while legitimate arguments surround the prevention of the legislation, gambling does exist in Guyana and takes a number of forms among which are sweepstakes, lotteries and raffles. The Minister under the Act could also prescribe conditions for, and restrictions on, the issuing of any licence. According to the Bill, the Minister may make regulations to establish a Gaming Authority which could regulate the issue only through specific types of licences to allow casino gambling.

Jim Chanos: The Oracle of the End Of Online Gambling

 

Jim Chanos of New York's Kynikos Associates was bearish on internet gambling sights long before Senate majority leader Bill Frist "ambushed" the industry with a bill making most internet gambling illegal. Contrary to claims detailed on a website yesterday, it didn't take an elaborate scheme of inside information about the Senate's legislative schedule to tip Chanos off on the dangers to internet gambling. For Chanos, the writing was on the wall, in the online gaming companies' prospectuses and already built into various state laws. "We were floored when the Senate bill came up and passed in the middle of the night," Chanos told DealBreaker in an interview this morning. On September 30, 2006, the US Senate passed the port security improvement act of 2006 by unanimous consent. The bill included an amendment preventing financial entities from processing credit cards, checks and similar transactions in connection with Internet gambling. Despite the fact that similar measures had passed in the House, many were caught off-guard by the inclusion of the anti-online gambling provisions in the Senate Bill. Indeed, some commentators had speculated that the Senate lacked time on the legislative schedule to pass the bill.

Kazakhstan Tackles Gambling Craze

 

Kazakhstan has taken drastic steps to fight the nation's gambling craze by ordering all gambling halls and Casinos to move to just two lakeside towns. The government measure took effect on 1 January 2007, although construction is far from finished in both towns. The new resorts - outside the main cities of Almaty and Astana - have been dubbed the Las Vegas of Central Asia. There seems to be plenty of discontent among the country's gamblers, but it is not expressed openly. President Nursultan Nazarbayev is behind the idea, and in Kazakhstan nobody argues with him. Kazakhstan's new oil wealth has brought along a desire to spend - and a major gambling boom. From poorly-lit amusement arcades to high-class casinos, there are more than 2,000 gambling halls in the country. That is almost as many as in the United States, although Kazakhstan's population is about 20 times smaller. But now President Nazarbayev wants to clean up Kazakhstan's gambling industry. As of January, all of the country's casinos, roulette tables, bookmakers and amusement arcades had to pack up to operate in the new sites. Kazakhstan's finance minister says the move will help to fight the harmful effects of what she called the country's gambling mania.

The Great Debate - Online Gambling vs Brick & Mortar Casinos

 

A girlfriend and I often argue about which is better? Online gaming or going to the Brick and Mortar casino? For years I have been an online girl. But, it is the silly season, so I decided to jump into the car with her and settle in my own head once and for all the answer to what has been a great debate since online gambling took the world by storm in the last five years. What is more important? The speed and comfort of online gambling at home or the glamor and glitz of live gaming at a casino? Firstly there was the drive there - I don't recall it ever taking so long to get to my compute. I can start an online gambling session within minutes, this drive would take hours! One point to online. When we arrived in Las Vegas she started pointing out how much choice you have, what with casinos as far as the eye could see. Yes, it does look nice, but as choice goes, there are more online casinos on my desktop then on the entire Las Vegas strip! I still think online gambling is the big winner when it comes to variety. So we get to our casino of choice and decide to start playing. She wants to play blackjack but I successfully drag her to the roulette wheel. I change up some cash and I quickly realise that if I were depositing cash online there would be a deposit bonus coming my way! I looked around, there was nowhere that I could enter a bonus code at all. Seems like free money is something only the savvy online casino player can enjoy! This is by no means the worst of it though - we were silly enough to be there on a Saturday night. The place was packed. There were people everywhere - as far as the eye can see. Every time I tried to place a chip down on the roulette table I was mobbed from every angle by people trying to put their bets on. It felt more like a Bon Jovi concert than a casino! It wasn't just the roulette wheel that was like this though. We tried several games: slots, craps, and blackjack. We played all of my favorite online casino games, but every table was just too busy. The whole casino was just full of loud people who cared more about being heard than focusing on the game in front of them. Not to mention the people who didn't even know how to play the game! Tourists, in town for a holiday, who figured they would give gambling a try whilst they were there. This slowed everything down so much. I worked out that with the faster speed of online gambling, I could play more hands in four hours than I played in one hour at this casino.

Sensing I was uncomfortable with all the activity that was happening, my girlfriend tried to sway my thinking towards her love of brick & mortar gaming, telling me that I would love the room that she booked for us! To be frank, I love my own bedroom more than I will ever love any hotel room. One of the great features of online casino is that you can just sink into bed within five minutes of finishing your blackjack session.

Now, so I don't seem too biased, I will say that the food was very nice (if you ignore the hoards of people stuffing their faces) and Las Vegas looks spectacular as you drive down the Strip. But as far as I'm concerned, give me the comfort of my own home any day. My favorite chair at my trusty computer. Quiet, peaceful, relaxing.

Combine this with the quickness of hands being turned over, the deposit bonuses that all great online casinos offer you and the money and time you save by not having to pay for travel and accomodation expenses and you have a no-brainer. The best bet that you can make is to do all your gaming online.

Children use debit cards for internet gambling and porn

 

Children are buying knives, alcohol, tobacco, and pornographic films on the internet, a report has warned. They are using debit cards issued by banks to children as young as 11 to buy items they would be denied on the high street. Some even use the cards for internet gambling. Children's charities raised the alarm about this illegal trade in a report to a parliamentary inquiry into personal internet security. They said many parents were ignorant of how their children were using the internet, putting the youngsters at greater risk from online dangers including paedophiles. The Children's Charities Coalition on Internet Safety said debit cards such as NatWest's Solo were being issued to children as young as 11. "These can be used to make online payments," the group's chairman John Carr told the Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology. He said a "reliable visual check of a person's age" was practically impossible on the internet, meaning children could access agerestricted goods or services. "They have been able to gamble, buy knives, alcohol or tobacco, or adult videos," he added. " Children and other young people have also been victims of online fraud." Mr Carr, new technology adviser to NCH (National Children's Homes), said it had received calls from parents with children as young as 12 who had been gambling online. Cases of internet under age sales of knives, alcohol, tobacco, and pornography had been reported to the Trading Standards Institute, he added.

24 arrested on gambling charges

 

A South Hall gambling raid has resulted in the arrests of 24 people. The bust followed an investigation into complaints from people about a house in the 4200 block of Winder Highway. Lt. Scott Ware, MANS commander, said agents received additional information "from several cooperating sources" and were able to confirm through their own surveillances a large number of vehicles parked at the house a couple of nights a week. Agents went to the house around 11:00 Tuesday night with a search warrant. Inside, officers say they found found each room set up with poker playing tables, a food buffet and snacks, tobacco and alcoholic beverages. They say there 26 people in the house and 24 of them were arrested. Lt. Ware says agents seized two firearms, two personal computers, four large flat screen televisions, numerous poker playing apparatus such as playing cards, tables, chips and an electric currency counter. Also seized was about $13,000 from players and dealers. Ware says more arrests are expected. Agencies participating in the raid were the Hall County Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad, the Gainesville-Hall County Gang Task Force, the Hall County Sheriff's Office, and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Dome anti-gambling lobby in spin over crime

 

SUPERCASINO opponents say the proposed gambling venue in Greenwich would mean an increase in crime. South and East London Against the Casino (SELAC) has launched a petition and website opposing plans for Britain's first regional casino to be opened at the former Millennium Dome -now called The O2. Pressure group activists spent months studying reports and statistics about similar "resort-sized" casinos opened in different countries around the world. Greenwich resident Rachel Mawhood is one of SELAC's four founding members. She said: "Ten months ago a lot was said in papers about the potential negative effects of a proposed supercasino.

Counselors train to treat slot machine gambling addiction

 

Twenty counselors from Wyoming Valley Alcohol and Drug Services were due to complete training Wednesday to treat possible slot-machine gambling addictions, said Carmen Ambrosino, the agency's chief executive officer. Ambrosino said he had already received three requests for assistance from gambling addicts, though none were related to the state's first slot-machine casino, Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. The early requests related to horse betting, sports betting and slot machine gambling in Atlantic City, he said. Statewide, about 100 counselors have started the 30-hour gambling addiction training set up last year after a survey of counselors revealed that few were certified in gambling addiction, said Richard McGarvey, a spokesman for the state Department of Health. The state will collect at least $1.5 million a year from gambling establishments to help pay for gambling addiction counseling, McGarvey said. Robert Soper, president of Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, said the casino presented a check to United Way of Wyoming for $42,500 to help create a local program to supplement the state's efforts.

Age limits on gambling machines often ignored

 

Officials have found that age limits on the use of gambling machines are rarely enforced in Finland. Finnish law forbids children under the age of 15 from using slot machines. Young players are rarely asked how old they are, and it is even rarer for them to be asked to prove their age. It is very unusual for anyone to stop a child from playing fruit machines, video poker, or other types of gambling machines. More than half of Finnish children aged 12 to 17 surveyed had spent money on gambling of some kind in the previous year. Over half of all 14-year-olds had gambled, and more than a third of those younger than that also said that they had played. Gambling machines were the favourite game of chance. These are followed by scratch cards and the weekly Lotto lottery. One in five play at least once a week. The gambling habits of young Finns and the poor monitoring of age limits were revealed in two separate studies conducted by the Taloustutkimus market research company on behalf of the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health. In one study, children over the age of 15 who look younger than their years were recruited to buy lottery tickets and play slot machines, and to observe other young people playing the games. Only seven percent said that they had been asked their age. Boys were asked for an ID much more frequently than girls. Enquiries were made most frequently in kiosks, and those asking the questions were usually personnel on the premises. The other study involved telephone interviews to examine the gambling practices of children aged 12 to 17, the amounts of money that were spent on games, and opinions on compulsive gambling. One in four of the young people surveyed said that they had friends who gambled to the point of having a problem. The study concluded that about 1.3 per cent of children aged 12 to 17 belonged to a high-risk group of heavy gamblers. It is in this group that potential compulsive gamblers can be found, for whom the habit can bring social, economic, and health problems. One in ten young people in the study said that they would like stop gambling, but felt that it might be difficult.

The ills of casino gambling are well known

 

Our government has an-nounced its plan to legalise casino gambling ahead of the much-anticipated 2007 Cricket World Cup. The proposed legislation has been promoted on the basis that it will improve tourism and bring the financial benefits that are associated with increased tourist activity. While casino gambling should only be available to non-Guyanese, the draft bill appears to leave the door open for our nationals as well. As a Guyanese who has chosen to remain in the country of my birth, I too dream of a Guyana which is doing well economically and whose citizens enjoy the benefits of a strong and vibrant economy. However, it is my firm belief that the moral and spiritual health of the nation should not be sacrificed for increased national income. The moral health and well-being of any society are things for which no amount of money can ever compensate. The ills of casino gambling are well-known and have long been recognized. It was Blackstone who many years ago said that gambling promotes public idleness, theft and debauchery, often leading to the sudden ruin and desolation of ancient and opulent families. Another writer, Paterson, alluded to the fact that gambling produces social slackers. He noted that a wagerer often becomes a social parasite. Idleness, referred to earlier leads to "vice and the impoverishment of the loser entails misery and into consequence crime". Guyana cannot afford to make the mistake that other countries have made. There is already too much vice and crime - much more than our small population can afford. Our children, youths, senior citizens and the society as a whole have endured enough. I would like to urge our Parliamentarians to give the children of this beautiful and blessed land the same benefits they enjoyed during their childhood: the opportunity to live in a society known for its natural beauty and not the multiple ills of casino gambling.

Login to restricted areas of the Legalbrief site

 

Certain areas of the Legalbrief Web site are restricted to subscribers of the various news services only. Subscribers need simply enter their e-mail address, as it appears on the Legalbrief mailing list, in the field below to gain access. Should you not be a Legalbrief subscriber but would like to participate in a free month's trial subscription to the electronic news service, please complete the online registration form. Should you have already sampled Legalbrief's service via the free month trial offer and would like to join Legalbrief's permanent subscriber base.

Legion's charitable gambling funds benefit the community

 

Over the years, funds from Spring Grove American Legion charitable gambling have benefited the community and others in various ways. The Legion Post #249 has generated income through weekly bingo playing, and also from selling tip boards and pull tabs at the club bar. Through the years, gambling managers have included Clarence Johnson, Oren Landsverk, Lucille Wilhelmson and Richard Myhre. Ron Dix is the current manager. Wilhelmson recalled that selling tip boards started before bingo. "The Legion Post started bingo in 1964," Donald Ellestad stated. "We had people playing bingo both upstairs and downstairs. Bud Kemp and I were the callers. "Pull tabs started much later," Ellestad added. The State of Minnesota Gaming Commission started regulating charitable gambling in the early 1980s, Wilhelmson figured. Currently, with Dix as manager, bingo workers include Pauleen Bratland, Lorraine Hagen, Shirley Droivold, Harold Jetson and Gary Buxengard. Bingo is played every Friday night in the front room of the Legion. The doors open at 5 p.m. and calling starts at 7 p.m. Players come from the tri-state area. Average attendance is 70, with higher numbers when the number of calls for the blackout game is higher. "We started Mega Bingo here the end of October," Dix explained about a statewide game that is played electronically. "We now conduct one link bingo with 17 other bingo halls across the state. Someone won it here once in the amount of $2,301. The prize is determined by the amount of bingo sheets sold." Distribution of funds In 2006, Spring Grove Legion Charitable Gambling funds paid out a total of $29,123.92 for lawful purpose. Of that amount, some of the monies were distributed to support the following: Locally: city of Spring Grove - Syttende Mai Fest, $600; Homecoming Festival, $2,000; Music in the Park, $750; Bike Safety class, $500; Boy Scout Troop 55, $500; Cub Scout Pack 55, $300; Spring Grove Ambulance, $400; Spring Grove Community Task Force for Post Prom Night, $500; Spring Grove Fire Department, $500; Spring Grove Library, $25; Spring Grove United Fund, $250; School crossing guards to Minnesota Twins game, $312; noon meal for high school students at County Government Day, $39; Sunrise Care Facility, $300; groceries for Bloodmobile, $300.20; flowers for funerals of legionnaires, $109.82; Legion Boys State, $225 plus $55 for bus; Girls State, $250 plus $55 for bus; and American flags for veterans cemetery plots, $253.65. Houston County: Care & Share, $800; Agricultural Society for Salute to Veterans event at the fair, $500; Semcac Food Shelf, $500; and Camp Winnebago for campership, $250. For Legion programs: American Legion Hospital Program, $250; Fisher House Minneapolis, $500; Veterans on the Lake, $500; and Hospitalized Vets Pheasant Dinners, $28.

For others: American Cancer Society, $2,000; Eagles Cancer Telethon, $2,000 (years 2005 and 2006).

In year 2005, charitable gambling funds totaled $24,452.62. Of that amount, $18,101 was distributed to various charitable causes.

Some of the larger contributions included: the city swimming pool, $5,000; Semcac Senior Dining, $2,500; and American Cancer Society, $2,000.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

eCOGRA Online Casino Gambling Survey Results Surprise

 

The largest ever online gambling survey commissioned by eCOGRA has some surprising results. With over 10 000 participants from countries all over the world, this survey will represent the clearest picture about the online gambling industry from a players perspective. The results of the survey are expected to be revealed at the upcoming ICE exhibition which takes place on the 23rd of January 2007. The report named "The Global Online Gambler Report", was initiated by the Nottingham Trent University gambling research team. They have been aided by the University of Nevada which is the Las Vegas based university. The teams constitute leading minds in the field of gambling. The report is expected to highlight such areas as player protection, player preferences, gambling portals and their value, favourite casino games and most importantly, responsible gambling. Draft versions of the report have indicated that surprises can be expected. Online Gambling Insider will provide detailed analysis of the reports as soon as it is released.

Spending Cap Earmarked for Internet Gambling

 

A Scottish MP has called for credit card companies to place a limit on the amount that online players can spend on Internet gambling. Mike Weir, the Scottish National Party (SNP) MP for Angus, called for a limit to be set at £1,000 a week, and also called sites to limit players to using one credit card each. The plea comes after a spate of cases where players, suspected to have a gambling addiction have spent thousands of pounds using other people's cards. APACS, which represents the card industry, and Partygaming, say there are significant problems with the idea and see the solution in treating the player's addiction at their source. The average online gambler in the UK is in debt to the tune of £25,000, while the gambling industry already pays £3 million a year into a trust to deal with the issue of problem gambling.

Local tavern owner arrested for allowing gambling

 

A local tavern owner was cited late Sunday evening after detectives with the Zanesville City Police Department learned he was allowing customers to use a Tic Tac Fruit game in his establishment. David M. Pierce, 58, of 2180 Licking Road and owner of The Putnam Tavern on Putnam Avenue, was cited around 11 p.m. when officers entered the tavern and saw a woman playing on one of the four gaming machines in the bar. Lt. Tony Coury said he had received word that gambling was going on at the bar, and when he walked in that evening, he noticed the woman playing. The unidentified woman was not arrested or cited, Coury said, since she immediately stopped playing the machine when asked. Pierce appeared before Municipal Court Judge William Joseph early Monday morning and entered a not guilty plea to one count of operating a gambling house. He is scheduled to appear in court again on Feb. 16. Pierce could not be reached for comment. The machines have been ordered out of the county by Muskingum County Sheriff Bob Stephenson and Prosecuting Attorney Michael Haddox late last year and then Ohio Attorney General, Jim Petro, said they were illegal last November. That's when Zanesville Police Chief Eric Lambes and Law Director Scott Hillis ordered them out of the city. Then on Dec. 18, a Franklin County Court of Common Pleas ruling said the games do not fall within the statutory exception for skill-based machines. One local gaming parlor owner, Ed Alexander, has decided to fight the issue. Alexander was cited and 10 of his machines were confiscated last December when Alexander reopened his business, Aces High on Maple Avenue. Alexander has a court hearing this Friday to suppress evidence confiscated that day. His Ashland attorney, Bob De Santo, who has been defending skill game owners across Ohio, maintains the law remains unclear and no one should be arrested or have their business shut down because of it. De Santo has said the games are skill-based and have been changed to remain legal.

Religious bodies protest casino gambling legislation

 

Faith-based groups charge that government has failed to "count the social cost of this misadventure" and said they will stage the protest as part of their mass campaign to help force legislators to back off from the controversial measure. "The saddest part of this may well be that a complicit media largely ignored or marginalised the submissions by the church ... and were deliberately silent while our children's futures were pawned off to business enterprise," the groups said in a letter to the media. Research findings The groups argue that according to research findings in developed countries, casino gambling spawn increased bankruptcies, suicides, gaming addictions, divorces, child abuse and child neglect, domestic violence and generalised crime. The Gambling Prevention (Amendment) Bill which will be tabled by Home Affairs Minister, Clement Rohee Thursday, will seek to legalise casino gambling in Guyana, but "will not allow widespread gambling," Government Information Agency (GINA) reasoned. "According to the amendment bill, it will bar existing hotels and resorts from establishing casinos on their premises. No more than three casino licences will be issued in each administrative region," meaning there will be 30 casino gambling establish-ments in Guyana, GINA said. Under Section 30 of the measure, "no person other than workers and guests of the hotels or resorts shall be admitted to the casinos". Government already held several consultations with the community and President Bharrat Jagdeo said consultative process is an important period. He made it clear that once the bill is legislated, only tourists would be allowed to engage in casino gambling. Casino gambling spawn increased bankruptcies, suicides, gaming addictions, divorces, child abuse and child neglect, domestic violence and generalised crime.

It is not casino gambling but quality service that will bring the tourists

 

I support Mr. Christopher Ram who has given some highlights of the global scourge of casino gambling in his letter captioned "Casinos are widely favoured by drug interests as laundries" (07.01.06). If the intention to introduce casino gambling to Guyana is the result of the president's economic plan for the boosting of tourism then he needs to go to the following web address for more on the malaise and corruption that he seeks to legalise: The US $445 billion spent annually on tourism can have Guyana included as a destination of prominence to those who spend lavishly on adventure and ecotourism, the kind that Guyana is naturally blessed with perpetually, and needs to develop, at 5-star rating. Casino gambling will not contribute to the prosperity of Guyana and those who are in constant fear for their lives from the gun-toting criminal elements so prevalent in the society today. Eco-tourism should be the spine of economic activity since the natural beauty of the country and the fact that we are unique as the only "English speaking" country on the block and the gateway to the continent is begging for attention. Hospitality, the fundamentals of which should be part of the curriculum for secondary schools and UG should be the first step in training for a world class act of the tourist trade, since the staffing is the most important aspect of any enterprise, but moreso the hospitality industry. I have stayed at most of the hotels on my many visits to my homeland, including the one referred to by the President as "atrocious". What I feel he meant was the quality of service and this is the case of most if not all the hotels and inns. Tourists, besides comfort and rest and recreation, expect to be pampered, and the only way this can be given to them is by the teaching of the rudiments of the hospitality trade to the staff, and that includes the shift manager down to the plumber and the landscape team. Essential too are the maids and laundry staff, in general all personnel involved with the care and safety of their guests and their personal belongings. Along with this comes intelligent and courteous responses to the needs of the guests which can be demanding but at the same time very rewarding not only for the owner/s of the establishment but for the staff as well, whose honesty is paramount to the overall success of the daily and sometimes hectic running of such an enterprise. Once I stayed at a hotel in Georgetown (name given) where there were Brazilian guests and I happened to be in the office of the receptionist where this Brazilian guest was telling the receptionist that she locked herself out of her room and would like a pass key to get in. The receptionist whose English was barely up to 3rd standard was listening as though she understood Portuguese which was being spoken to her and was responding with "yes" all the time until I told her what the woman was saying to her. My brother his wife and I ran the hotel, restaurant and bar in Boa Vista called Lua Nova, New Moon, in 79. I left after his tragic death in the same year.

SOME SURPRISES IN ECOGRA ONLINE GAMBLING SURVEY RESULTS

 

After months of work around the world, what is arguably the biggest survey yet of online player attitudes and opinions is due to be presented at the International Casino Exhibition in London at a media conference scheduled for the 23 January. The Global Online Gambler Report was devised by leading gambling research teams at Nottingham Trent University supported by the University of Nevada (Las Vegas), and features views gleaned from the US, UK, Asia, Canada, Germany and Sweden. The report covers areas such as online poker rooms and casinos, player protection and preferences, use of information portals, game favourites, responsible gambling and luck, with almost 11 000 people in a number of countries taking part in both qualitative focus group and general response research projects. eCOGRA CEO Andrew Beveridge said this week: ""Early indications are that there will be some surprises in the report. We think it will be very revealing for both industry insiders and a wider public."

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Zero36's Location-Based Filtering Technology Enables Implementing Mobile Gambling in Locations Where Gambling is Legal

 

Zero36, a leading developer and distributor of Mobile Casino games, announced today that it has filed a patent for its location-based filtering system technology which enables legally accessing mobile casino games in locations where gambling is legal. The company's technology ensures that mobile network carriers adhere to the established legal guidelines for gambling while enabling land-based casinos to extend their activities to the mobile market. Zero36 currently has distribution agreements with many leading mobile network carriers to market their games in a non-gambling, play-for-fun mode. The company's technology now enables mobile carriers to upgrade their game portfolio and offer their users Zero36's mobile games in either play-for-fun or play-for-real-money mode. When mobile users are in an area where gambling is restricted, they will only be able to play Zero36's mobile casino games in the fun mode. But once they enter an area where gambling is legally allowed and licensed, mobile users will be able to play either the play-for-fun mode or the play-for-real-money mode. Zero36's future plans include partnering with land-based casinos that are interested in extending their brands and service into the mobile market. Upon receiving regulatory approval to offer mobile gambling under the land-based casino's license, the company's location-based filtering technology would enable mobile gambling access in locations where gambling is legal. "With the entire industry seeking solutions which support gambling's legal framework, Zero36 has developed location-based filtering systems to enable mobile network carriers to legally offer their customers mobile casino games in locations where gambling is permitted", says Zero36 CEO, Sharon Tal. "In mobile gambling, success is achieved by combining a fun player experience with superior technology and affective distribution. At Zero36, we are using our technological proficiency and usability experience to develop mobile gambling solutions that also provide mobile network carriers with increased revenue potential while upholding the industry's legal framework."

Ladbrokes Targets Spanish Gambling Market

 

Gambling group Ladbrokes, which operates Ladbrokes Online Casino, is expanding its European operations by targeting the Spanish market. The British bookmaker is starting an alliance with Spanish slot machine firm Cirsa Slot, whose machines are found in bars and arcades. The new alliance will apply initially for a betting licence in Madrid, which comes under new betting regulations. The move comes after Ladbroke's gained licences to operate betting outlets in Italy in December. Applications for the licences in Spain, set to last five years initially, are likely to be submitted in mid-January. The firm expects to hear on whether its application has been successful in the first quarter, a spokesperson said. The joint venture will also be applying for licences in other parts of Spain, which - like Madrid - are also looking into regulating betting. Cirsa Slot represents some 9% of the Spanish Slot Games machine market, and is part of Cirsa which owns and runs Casinos, Bingo halls and arcades. "We have formed a joint venture with a market leader in Spain that gives us access to a network of thousands of potential of site operators," Ladbrokes said.

Online Gambling Targeted by Turkish Legislation

 

According to a Turkish newspaper, new restrictions are to be vigorously introduced by Turkish authorities against 'indecent broadcasting and online gambling'. The new amendment to the existing censorship laws, Article 301 of the Penal Code, will see the Information Technology Security Agency, censor and block offending websites in the hope of contravening offending websites that are 'denigrating Turkishness, the republic, the institutions and organs of the state.' The Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak reports that where people have up until now enjoyed the freedom of expression on the Internet, they will now face considerable censorship. As well as targeting online gambling, the bill is being drawn up to combat child abuse and indecent broadcasting and legal action is expected to be taken against site owners imminently, after substantial investigation and monitoring by the IT Security Agency. Turkish Internet Service Providers are to comply with the Agency and serve court orders. Those responsible for websites with content breaching the new legislation will face punishment that could comprise of sentences between six months and three years in prison.

HSBC penalises gambling customers

 

HSBC has joined the ranks of banks charging customers higher rates for gambling transactions processed on its credit cards. The bank will charge customers the cash advance rate of interest (up to 27.8 per cent) instead of the normal purchase rate (up to 22.9 per cent). A spokeswoman told BBC News: "This is one of a number of changes we have made to our credit card offering recently to bring us in line with the competition." While MBNA and Natwest now charge customers using their credit cards to make gambling transactions at higher cash advance rates, Barclaycard and Lloyds continue to charge at lower rates. Credit card use is illegal for both casino and bookmaker gambling. But HSBC denies that the move is designed to punish online gamblers for stacking up debts and defaulting on credit card payments: "We have not seen that as part of our customers' behaviour," insisted its spokeswoman. Spending on online gambling accounted for only 0.8 per cent of all credit card spending in the year to June 2006, according to (Apacs).

TURKS TIGHTEN UP

 

The Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak reported this week that a controversial law, Penal Code Article 301, is to be applied vigorously by Turkish authorities against *Internet crimes* that include online gambling. The legislation is apparently targeted on "indecent broadcasting and online gambling", and the Information Technology Security Agency will have the task of blocking broadcasts and offending sites as defined by the Turkish Penal Code. Restrictions are being introduced by the Code that amount to censorship of the internet, claims the newspaper report, where people have hitherto enjoyed Internet freedom to express their ideas in recent years. According to the bill, ostensibly drawn up to combat child abuse, indecent broadcasts and online gambling, one of the most important tasks of the Information Technology Security Agency will be to obstruct broadcasts. It appears that the manner in which this is to be achieved is through court orders sought by the Agency following extensive monitoring of suspected sites. The court orders will presumably be served on ISPs. Legal action will also be instituted against site owners where these can be reached. Penal Code Article 301 is controversial because of its widening application regarding Internet offences such as "Denigrating Turkishness, the republic and the institutions and organs of the state," under which many free thinkers including Nobel Prize winning novelist Orhan Pamuk, have apparently been prosecuted. Punitive measures in the Penal Code are tough: Article 299 makes insulting the president a crime punishable by between one and four years' imprisonment. If committed via the media then add one third. "Broadcasts" made over the internet in contravention of Article 301 "Denigrating Turkishness, the republic, the institutions and organs of the state," can attract sentences between six months and three years in prison.

Former Colts quarterback struggles with gambling past

 

Art Schlichter wandered outside the walls, in the shadows of a stadium where he once made the masses roar. He went unrecognized, almost invisible to the thousands who swarmed the gates. Hundreds of scarlet-clad fans wearing his old number brushed past the former quarterback. They honored Troy Smith, the current No. 10, not the one they have forgotten or use as a punch line. On this chilly October day, Schlichter brought his mom, Mila, to watch the Buckeyes play Minnesota. It was the first Ohio State game he'd attended in 13 years. Schlichter braced himself against the wind swirling around Ohio Stadium and the emotions that churned inside him. His dark eyes hid under a white baseball cap, but they couldn't conceal what sullied his return to the place where he once found glory. "I've hurt a lot of people since I've been here," he said. "I'm more sorry than people will ever know." Since leaving Ohio State 25 years ago, Schlichter has gone from All-American quarterback to one of America's best-known compulsive gamblers. Since 1994 he has served time in 44 prisons or jails, mainly for fraud and forgery - swindling people out of money or writing bad checks to feed his addiction to gambling on sports and horse races. Those close to him estimate that Schlichter has flushed away at least $1 million gambling. Schlichter, 46, was released early from an Indiana prison in June, then spent four months at a gambling treatment center in Baltimore. He recently moved back near Washington Court House, about 40 miles southwest of Columbus, to live with his mother in a home close to what once was their family farm. But he remains locked up by a destructive past that he can't escape and a future filled with skepticism. The addiction has damaged nearly all of his relationships. It divided his family, tested his closest friendship, tainted his legacy at Ohio State, ruined his marriage and separated him from his daughters most of their lives. Schlichter said he last placed a bet Jan. 12, 2005. He lost $20 on a professional basketball game. He made the bet from prison. "I don't want sympathy. I don't deserve sympathy," Schlichter said. "I just want a chance to make amends, especially with those I love most."

The question is not whether Schlichter wants redemption.

It's whether he's strong enough to earn it.

The echo of a pre-game cheer drifted outside the stadium, where Schlichter walked in anonymity. The buzz of the crowd shouldn't faze Schlichter, once the golden boy who starred in jammed stadiums from coast to coast. But it penetrated his casual shell and exposed the farm boy who first saw his Camelot on a black-and-white television.

"I grew up taking care of sick hogs and doing chores on the farm," he said. "It was a big deal for me to come here, for my family when I came here, especially my dad."

The faces of the Schlichter family, young and old, pressed against the frosty windows as they watched the white El Camino with wooden side panels move slowly up the driveway.

Woody Hayes and his wife, Anne, were coming to Thanksgiving dinner. The coach was coming to get a new quarterback before his arch rival from Michigan could snatch him.

Ohio State's football leader would have to win over the Schlichter family's leader to get what he wanted.

John "Max" Schlichter, a Fayette County farmer, extended his giant hand to Hayes as he walked through the doorway. In that moment on Nov. 24, 1977, the deal likely was sealed.

"In the end it was my call, but my dad really liked Woody," Schlichter said.

"I know people had a lot of opinions about my dad. Some said he was a good guy with a big heart. Some said he was a big controlling bastard. He was a simple farmer who was strong and protective of his family. I know there are people who say my dad pushed me too hard, but he didn't push me into anything."

Max and Mila leased most of their 2,000 acres, which produced corn, soybeans and wheat. Art and his older brother, John, and sister, Dawn, all had chores.

But sports ruled in the Schlichter house. Max hung a net in the yard so Art could throw a football. He put up a basketball court in the barn so Art and John could play one-on-one.

"We didn't have a whole lot, but we had a good childhood," said John Schlichter, now a state representative. "But what happened later with Art took its toll on everyone, my dad included."

Off and on for years, Max gave his son thousands to pay off gambling debts. Schlichter also would use his father's credit card to generate money to gamble. "I caused my dad and my mom a lot of pain, too much pain," Schlichter said.

But Schlichter doesn't blame himself for his father's death. In 2002, Max was found dead in a Clintonville swimming pool. Authorities ruled it a suicide.

"My dad had remarried and was living a completely different life by then, one that few of us knew much about," Schlichter said. "My troubles were full-blown long before my dad's death."

Schlichter said he called and talked with his dad the night before he died. Max told Art he loved him, which he didn't often do over the phone.

The day his dad was buried, Schlichter sat alone in an Oklahoma City prison cell. He visited his dad's grave for the first time this past summer.

Monday, January 08, 2007

NCAA to debut Web site with anti-gambling initiatives

 

FBI agents were dispatched to the NCAA men's basketball tournament last year to talk to players about gambling. It became clear they were needed when a couple of athletes got text messages from gamblers seeking inside information, an NCAA official said Friday. In further efforts to stem wagering among athletes, the NCAA launched a Web site Friday narrated by former college and NBA star Clark Kellogg and is advising schools against such things as gambling ads in arenas and "Las Vegas night" fundraisers. Kellogg's video tells student-athletes they should know two things: they can't bet on any college or pro sporting event or provide information to anyone who does. The NCAA has been pushing a strong antigambling message since a 2003 survey showed a staggering number of athletes were involved in some form of gaming. Deana Garner, the NCAA's associate director of agent, gambling and amateurism activities, said some players questioned the gaming speeches during the tournament. "This is a very real issue. It is a dark issue, it's an issue that a lot of people don't like to talk about," she said. The Friday launch of dontbetonit.org came on the first day of the NCAA convention, an annual event in which college sport's governing body votes on rule changes and organizes talks on student-athlete issues. Before it ends Monday, the NCAA is expected to consider a number of new rules. One of the more talked-about proposals would ban or limit coaches' use of text messages and social networking Web sites to contact recruits. A 2004 change allowed text messages with much fewer limits than phone calls, under the impression they'd be less intrusive. However, some of the nation's top recruits say they are getting inundated with texts, many with dozens per day. Division III is expected to consider limiting the participation of male players in female practices, a decision that could prompt similar changes in the NCAA's two upper tiers. The association's Committee on Women's Athletics issued a statement last month saying men in women's' practices "violates the spirit of gender equity and Title IX." Proponents of males in practice say they've made women more competitive players. Sportsmanship and ethics were also expected to play a prominent role, after the sideline-clearing melee between Miami and Florida International in which 31 football players were suspended. On Saturday, NCAA president Myles Brand was scheduled to give his state of the association speech. The Web site narrated by Kellogg, a former Ohio State player who now does television analysis, has separate tracks for coaches and players, and tells athletes they can't wager in pools, on Internet sports books or even on games that don't involve their colleges. They're also instructed not to tell gamblers about things like injuries or team morale.

Garner said the NCAA was focusing on Divisions II and III, despite the fact that their games are lower-profile, because they showed a higher incidence of wagering. She said surveyed athletes indicated it was partly because they didn't understand the rules against gambling.

Eric Toliver, associate athletic director at UNLV, said he'd been forced to investigate one report of an athlete gambling in 14 years, and it was bogus. However, he said the effort to clear the students' name exposed to him a dangerous gambling underworld.

"I've been on stakeouts, we've followed people around, and it is a dark, murky world for people involved in sports wagering," he said. "They're always changing cars, they have five different licenses. You'd be shocked to know that these people don't just live in Las Vegas. These individuals are on your campus."

West Virginia gambling debate heats up

 

As reported by the West Virginia Herald-Dispatch: "The debate over whether table gambling should be allowed at West Virginia's four racetracks might come down to who gets to vote on the decision, a group of panelists said Thursday. "The panel discussion was part of a legislative lookahead forum sponsored by the Associated Press at Marshall University's Graduate College campus in South Charleston. ".Racetrack officials will make another push during the 60-day legislative session, which begins Wednesday, to allow the four racetrack counties -- Jefferson, Kanawha, Hancock and Ohio -- to have local referenda on the table gambling issue. ".[Rev. Dennis] Sparks, a staunch opponent of gambling expansion in West Virginia as well as the state's reliance on lottery revenues, said any vote on table gambling must be conducted statewide. ".Ted Arneault, president of MTR Gaming Group Inc., which runs the Mountaineer Race Track and Gaming Resort in Hancock County, claimed that provisions in the state constitution would make a statewide vote nearly impossible."

Preliminary hearing in Grady Co. gambling case is under way

 

A preliminary hearing is to continue today in Chickasha the case of seven current or former law officers accused of taking part in illegal gambling at the local Elks Lodge.County Sheriff Kieran McMullen and his wife Helen _ who is a former Chickasha police lieutenant _ are among those charged. The hearing began yesterday with undercover video that prosecutors say show the McMullen's warning Elks Lodge officials of a pending visit an Alcoholic Beverage Laws Enforcement Commission agent. The McMullens are charged with deputy Lieutenant Robert Cacy and former Chickasha police officer Jerry Tyler with felony conspiracy and three gambling-related counts. Deputy Delmer Barthelme (bar-THEL'-mee), former deputy Jim Peek and former Chickasha officer Greg Parks are charged with illegal gambling. All seven are also charged with neglect of duty. The hearing is to determine if there is enough evidence against the seven to send them to trial.

ONLINE GAMBLING FIRMS PROSPERING IN U.S. MARKET

 

The still evolving business situation in the United States following the enactment of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act last October was examined by the Evening Standard this week. The advent of the UIGEA, which seeks to disrupt financial channels between US players and online gambling sites saw many large public companies exit the key US market, and companies who dispute the claim that online gambling is an illegal activity and have continued to operate in this lucrative sector have been enjoying growing success, which the newspaper describes as a "bonanza". "....it [the UIGEA] has been a godsend to unquoted offshore companies such as Calvin Ayre's Bodog which have sucked in all the extra business," the author of the report writes. "The shift has been particularly lucrative for sites that offer online poker, which is predominantly American." Industry experts told the reporter that a flurry of sporting results favourable to the bookies have also helped online sportsbetting groups. Companies are taking advantage of a 270-day legislative 'window' granted by the US federal authorities to the banks and credit card companies, which have to find a way of stopping the flow of cash from customers to betting sites, but will not be penalised if this is found to be an impossible task. Of the five currently top poker sites, four are unquoted companies operating from offshore tax havens, according to consultants Global Betting and Gaming Consultancy. And companies that track visits to websites have found that traffic has increased sharply for many online gambling sites over the past three months despite the financial transactions ban. GBGC says the leading poker companies are now Poker Stars, Full Contact Poker, Bodog, Ultimate Bet and PKR. The first four are all unquoted companies and only PKR eschews revenues from the US. Alexa, which monitors internet use, says Poker Stars' traffic rank - a measure-combining page hits and users - has risen by 2222 to 6905 over the past three months and Bodog by 1984 to 4177 while Paradise Poker [a Sportingbet subsidiary that exited the US market] for example, has fallen by 6574 to 27 529. Avigur Zmora, chief executive of gambling software developer Playtech, is quoted as revealing: "There are lots of revenues coming from the US. People are making good money today. Currently it is illegal for operators, but everyone is taking the risk and no one is doing anything to stop it."

Warwick Bartlett, chairman of the Association of British Bookmakers and founder of Midlands-based GBGC, which provides economic research into all areas of gambling, said: "Online casino gambling has not been so strongly affected by the legislation. It was one of the first internet gambling offerings so companies have built a substantial customer base outside the US.

"With poker it's a different story. There is a great deal of consolidation taking place which would not have happened without the legislation - 888 talking to Ladbrokes and Party Gaming buying Empire Online and InterContinental, for instance.

"Companies such as Poker Stars don't have to get involved in that so they are busy mopping up all the business from the US along with Bodog."

John Shepherd, communications director of Party Gaming, which was hit hard by the UIEGA, said: 'It was absolutely clear in our minds that we had to withdraw from the US, but the law is illogical, inconsistent and ill-conceived and the fact that other sites are still operating in the US is no surprise.

"It is very difficult to get real clarity because the number of private companies far outweighs the number of listed companies."

Churches remain silent as gambling spreads

 

WHEN the ministerial association of Terrace, BC learned that a local bingo palace was asking city council to change a bylaw so it could bring slot machines to their northern BC community, they knew they had to speak out against the proposal. Joel Ringma, the pastor of Terrace's Christian Reformed Church, was delegated to speak at a public forum in October on their behalf. "I basically said, 'Look, there's going to be a cost to this. It'll be a social cost, a credibility cost to council, and a spiritual cost if you go ahead with slot machines in Terrace . . . It may reap some financial benefit for us as a city, but it will cost more than it gains,'" he said. In the end, the mayor and councillors voted 4 - 3 to keep slots out of Terrace. It was a victory Ringma suspects might not have happened if people had not made their voices heard. Speaking of one of the councillors who opposed the slots, he said she "said that the presence of the people that were speaking against the motion was what influenced her. "There were 17 people that spoke to the motion and there were about 100 people in attendance. So I think our collective presence there made an impact." Nothing wrong Such outcomes are much more the exception than the rule. Not only are most of BC's municipal and provincial governments inclined to welcome more and more state-sanctioned gambling as a way to fill their own coffers, but most people -- including most Christians -- see nothing wrong with it. "Even within our own church," said Ringma, "even though most folks are opposed to [slot machines], you put out a petition and you encourage people to sign it, and the participation rate . . . is less than maybe what one might hope for." Ringma blamed this response on "a general sense of apathy . . . 'What's in it for me if I speak against this? This doesn't affect my life, my family, so why should I put the time and energy into this?'" Vancouver resident Bill Chu, a Christian who coordinates the Multicultural Coalition Against Gambling Expansion, said he has witnessed that apathy countless times in close to 10 years of trying to urge politicians across the Lower Mainland to halt the proliferation of new casinos and other forms of gambling.

"The culture has been on that route for a while, and the churches have not been really outspoken about what's wrong with that trend," he said. "Although some individual Christians are out there helping, I wouldn't classify it as an overwhelming response. As for identifiable churches, it's almost nil."

In 2004, when Vancouver city council was debating whether to proceed with a proposed casino in the Plaza of Nations, only two churches showed up to oppose it. The casino was eventually approved on a vote of 5 - 4.

Relentless pace

And while churches have, for the most part, kept their silence, the opportunities for people to gamble keeps growing at a relentless pace. Greater Vancouver now boasts eight casinos. Businessman Paul Esposito has renewed his bid to build a casino in Abbotsford. As well, Great Canadian Casinos has the green light to install 900 slot machines at the Hastings Race Track in East Vancouver.

In 2004, the BC Lottery Corporation introduced Internet gambling. In 2005, it added betting on virtual-reality racing. Last fall, it began sending out 'ambassadors' hired to 'educate' bar and pub patrons about a new poker-themed lottery.

The popularity of these decisions is reflected in the $2.26 billion the corporation reported earning in the 2005 - 2006 fiscal year; this was up from $2 billion a year earlier and $11 million more than the corporation itself had projected. Of that amount, the government garnered $914 million, nearly $100 million more than in 2005. A further $137.7 million went to more than 5,000 charitable organizations across the province.

Last fall, the Financial Post reported, the 10 provinces together pocketed $7.3 billion in profit -- on 'gaming' revenue -- of $12.9 billion; this is a 79 percent increase since 1992.

One high-profile Christian who has had some success with an anti-gambling campaign is Fred Henry, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Calgary; the local Catholic school board initially balked when he ordered them to stop taking revenues from gambling sources, but in September, they complied.

His victory, however, was an exception. Ringma said he suspects many Christians are simply afraid to take a stand.

"Maybe in their head, they know that it's wrong; but on another level, they don't want to be perceived as killjoys -- 'Oh, here come the Christians again saying no to our fun things.'"

Then there is the fact, Ringma added, that a portion of the revenue does get pumped back into the community.

"If you're against lotteries or slot machines, then you're somehow associated with being against . . . youth programs or something like that," he said.

For local governments, there is the calculation that money from casinos will make it easier to keep down taxes, a prospect which Chu claimed has been proven false.

"One Richmond councillor promised . . . if we get the River Rock Casino, there wouldn't be tax increases for the next four years," he said. "Obviously, that promise was broken year after year, even after River Rock happened."

Human toll

What is not a matter of speculation, however, is the rapidly rising human toll of people whose passion for gambling is such that they pose a danger to themselves and their families. According to BC's Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch, 5,830 people called its help-line in the last fiscal year to say they had a problem with gambling -- up 86 percent from the previous year.

One person they are referred to for help is Ian Gartshore, a Nanaimo-based therapist and ordained Presbyterian minister, who is under contract with the government to counsel problem gamblers.

"They're here," he said, "because they're fearful of what's going to happen if they don't make a change . . . It might be a spouse who says, 'You've just blown $40,000 of our money on gambling. You better go get some counselling. Otherwise, you may not have a spouse.'"

Gartshore said he worries those numbers will keep rising, especially as more and more teenagers become avid gamblers. "Research is showing that the earlier you get started in gambling, the more likely you are to get into a real problem with it," he said.

"So if they're doing more of it now, which appears to be the case, then what's that going to mean when they're in their 40s?"

Problem gambling

A recent survey by the Responsible Gambling Council found that problem gambling among people aged 18 to 24 rose 400 percent between 2001 and 2005.

Another emerging problem is the rise in crime in B.C.'s casinos. As the enforcement branch also reported, the number of investigations launched into alleged loan-sharking, money-laundering, fraud, thefts, threats and assaults rose 36 percent in 2005 - 2006.

Also investigated were 1,155 attempts to pass counterfeit money and 652 Gaming Control Act violations, more than double the 279 in the previous year. But only 11 criminal charges were laid. Chu said he is not surprised by this trend. "We are becoming government for the casinos and by the casinos, because this government of ours is addicted to [gambling]," he said.

"And yet . . . they're not spending a cent on social housing. So we are fast becoming part of a heartless community -- a group of heartless people that would rather shift the tax burden from the rich and famous to the vulnerable in society."

This is all the more reason, he added, for Christians to wake up and "call God's people into repentance, acknowledging our silence in the past and hopefully to act in the future."

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Despite ban, video poker machines still seized

 

Hundreds of slot machines were rolling last week in Broward County, where crowds thronged a new "racino" at the former Hollywood Greyhound Track, newly dubbed the Mardi Gras Racetrack and Gaming Center. At nearby Gulfstream Park, slots were introduced in mid-November and more than $77 million has already flowed through its machines. Two more tracks plan to open rooms for slots soon -- and there's little the Legislature can do about it. A statewide constitutional amendment approved in 2004 allowed voters in Miami-Dade and Broward counties to vote on allowing casino-style slots. Miami-Dade voters said no, but the issue could face a re-vote in the coming year. Broward voters said yes, and the Legislature -- under pressure from Gov. Jeb Bush, a gambling opponent -- scrambled in 2006 to enact restrictions and set a tax rate on the new machines. For the most part, the restrictions made sense. Lawmakers mandated that 50 percent of slots revenue go to the state, to be used for education. That's in line with the education revenues produced by the Florida Lottery. State law also restricts hours of operation for slots, a measure intended to break the trance many gamers fall into when they begin to play the slots. Along the same lines, casinos are not allowed to offer free or low-cost alcohol to gamers. Automated-teller machines are banned from slot-machine parlors, along with check-cashing or loan services. These are important protections. With slots, "you can use up so much money in so very short a period of time," says Pat Fowler, executive director of the Florida Council on Compulsive Gambling. "The only thing that makes the gambler stop is the need for more money." Bush insisted on these regulations as a way to protect Floridians from slots -- perhaps the most addictive form of gambling available. Lawmakers who support gambling are already suggesting that these measures be repealed, and they're counting on Gov. Charlie Crist to back their play. Crist accepted thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from many of the state's gambling interests. But Crist, along with the Legislature, should stand firm. Instead of making it easier for problem gamblers to sink deeper into debt, state officials should consider using the slots revenue to shore up programs to treat gambling addiction.

First, the state needs a good look at trends. The Legislature commissioned a study of gambling that was completed by the University of Florida in 2003. That study -- which provided valuable information on the national, as well as regional, impacts of gambling -- cries out for a follow-up now that slots are established in the state.

The state can also maximize the programs it already has in place by investing in publicity for its gambling helpline. Spending money on advertising carries a dual benefit: It helps Floridians reach out for help they might not otherwise know about, and it gives the state a constantly updated picture of problem wagering.

But the hotline faces its own challenges. Too often, staffers can't offer problem gamblers a place to turn for anti-addiction counseling. Some mental-health professionals still treat gambling as a self-control issue, despite studies showing it's a geniune addiction with mental and physiological components. Better training for the state's psychiatric community -- and subsidies for those who can't afford to pay private physicians -- would help.

Close Loopholes In Gambling Law

 

Tic Tac Fruit" could turn out to be a lemon for Ohioans unless - and possibly even if - state legislators don't do something about it and similar "games." "Tic Tac Fruit" is familiar to many in East Ohio. It is a video "gaming" machine that looks and operates much like a video gambling machine. It gained popularity last year because its promoters, claiming it was not subject to the state's laws against gambling, opened up parlors with "Tic Tac Fruit" and similar machines in many areas of the state, including ours. Promoters of the machines claim they are not gambling devices because players affect the outcome - whether they win or lose. But late last year, a judge in Franklin County Common Pleas Court ruled that "Tic Tac Fruit" is a gambling device. He noted that the machines are programmed to guarantee that operators will make profits of 5 percent of the amount of money pumped into each device. That means that player skill is not the critical factor, the judge ruled. His ruling backs up the state Liquor Control Commission, which has banned "Tic Tac Fruit" and similar games in licensed bars. But the judge warned that new "gaming" machines - all designed to rake in money in large quantities from players - will be designed. That may make it less easy for the courts to rule that such devices are illegal gambling machines, he said. In November, Ohio voters said no to legalized machine gambling at racetracks and a few other locations. We don't believe they want to permit electronic one-armed (or one-buttoned) bandits masquerading as "games." That makes it essential for legislators to take another look at Ohio's gambling laws and close loopholes that allow devices such as "Tic Tac Fruit."

FLURRY OF ASIAN ONLINE GAMING DEALS FOR GIGAMEDIA

 

The Taiwan-based Gigamedia group, which took over the Grand Virtual turnkey provider some time ago, has been active in a series of important Asian deals over the past month, starting with a cash-wager Mahjong licensing agreement with the major Gibraltar-based Internet gambling group, Carmen Media. In terms of the agreement Gigamedia has licensed its real money MahJong and several other Asian gaming softwares to the Carmen, which operates a portfolio of top online entertainment sites worldwide and has been targeting the Asian market. Under the terms of the non-exclusive license, Carmen Media and subsidiary BelleRock will have the right to offer GigaMedia's MahJong and other Asian gaming software on a real money basis to its players. GigaMedia Limited is a Singapore registered major provider of online entertainment software and services, and develops software for the online entertainment industry, including the global online gaming market. The companies FunTown game portal is a leading Asian casual games portal and arguably the world's largest online MahJong game site in terms of revenue. GigaMedia also operate a broadband ISP providing Internet access services to consumers and corporate subscribers in Taiwan. The company has also secured the five-year exclusive co-host role of the MahJong World Championship in partnership with the World MahJong Organisation. The World MahJong Organisation is the official international rule-setting body for the game of MahJong, and seeks to promote the popular Asian game and establish international competition standards. "GigaMedia is honored to be selected as the exclusive co-host of the World Series of MahJong," commented Giga CEO Arthur Wang. "MahJong is the traditional game of choice for over a billion people so we envision a championship as big as the World Series of Poker." GigaMedia and the World MahJong Organisation will together establish and operate a series of regional qualifying tournaments in Asia, Europe and North America, culminating in the grand finale, the MahJong World Championship. GigaMedia plans to include television programming and corporate sponsorships surrounding a multimillion-dollar championship event. All profits from the MahJong World Championship will be divided between GigaMedia and the World MahJong Organisation in equal parts.

"Hosting the MahJong World Championship is an integral part of GigaMedia's strategic plan to bring MahJong to the world in a full range of offerings: play for fun, play for prizes, and play for real money," added Wang.

Last month Giga formed a strategic partnership, and invested in Infocomm Asia Holdings Pte Ltd, which a spokesman described as "....an exciting Southeast Asian online gaming platform."

The deal extends GigaMedia's online game presence from Greater China to the large and promising Southeast Asia region, offering new and high growth markets for GigaMedia's FunTown games.

Infocomm Asia is an emerging leader in Southeast Asia, offering blockbuster game titles from its base in Singapore, where it is managed by a team of top industry veterans with a track record of mega-hits in Asia.

Southeast Asia is one of the fastest growing online game markets in the world. According to an IDC study ("Southeast Asia Online Gaming Forecast & Analysis, 2006"), the region's online games market is expected to nearly triple over the next four years.

"Southeast Asia is a huge and largely untapped opportunity, similar to China's online game market several years ago," says Wang. "Through Infocomm Asia, we look to establish an unrivaled No. 1 position in this region."

Southeast Asia has a total population of approximately 580 million people in ten countries and an estimated 57 million Internet users.

GigaMedia has made an investment of US$10 million in Infocomm Asia and obtained Board representation and preferred shares convertible into an approximate 33 percent equity position, making it the largest shareholder of Infocomm Asia.

GigaMedia joins several premier strategic and financial investors as a shareholder of Infocomm Asia, including Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore; Commerzbank Asset Management Asia, the Asian arm of one of Europe's largest banks; and The9 Limited, a leading online game operator in China.

HSBC reportedly increasing credit card gambling charges

 

According to the BBC, although HSBC customers will now immediately pay interest of between 21.9% and 27.8% instead of the previous charge of between 15.9% and 22.9%, they will not be charged the one-off fee applied to other cash transactions such as the purchase of foreign currency. AdvertisementThe BBC reported that, in the last year, all major banks have protested about increasing numbers of bad loans within their credit card businesses. It commented, however, that HSBC's decision has not come as a result of fears that customers who use their credit cards to gamble are more likely to amass debt that they cannot pay. The HSBC spokeswoman told the BBC: "We have not seen that as part of our customers' behavior." Instead, she stated: "This is one of a number of changes we have made to our credit card offering recently to bring us in line with the competition." At present, the UK credit card industry does not have a standard policy regarding gambling charges. While Barclaycard and Lloyds charge at their lower purchase rates, MBNA, Royal Bank of Scotland and Egg charge at the cash advance rate. According to the BBC, there is, however, a loophole in HSBC's strategy as payments that are channeled via the online payment service Paypal will still be charged as a retail purchase and therefore continue to attract a lower rate of interest. According to the Association of Payment Clearing Services, credit card gambling carried out by UK consumers in the year up to June 2006 accounted for just 0.8% of all credit card spending

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Fire and rescue association benefits from more gambling

 

An increase in gaming revenues resulted in more money for the Washington County Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association, the Washington County Gaming Commission announced. In a press release Wednesday, Washington County public information officer Norman Bassett said the gaming association distributed $664,790.05 to the fire and rescue association. The money represents half of the gaming fund revenues from July 1 through Sunday, Director of Gaming James Hovis said. The most recent revenues are 5.6 percent higher than the January 2006 disbursement, the press release states. Ten percent of the overall gaming fund revenues go toward the operating expenses of the Washington County Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association, President Glenn Fuscsick said. The remaining money is split evenly among the county's fire and ambulance companies, he said. The gaming commission distributes the money raised by tip jars throughout the county. Nonprofit organizations get gaming funding in August, while the fire and rescue association's funding comes in January and August. Since its beginning, the commission has distributed more than $31 million, the press release states.

4 indicted in gambling ring case

 

Four men, including an Arvada postal worker, have been indicted in an alleged sports gambling operation that took in as much as $85,000 in bets every week for a year. The alleged ring was broken after undercover Arvada and Lakewood police officers were introduced to Mark J. Evans, 38, of Arvada, who investigators say recruited bettors and collected and paid off bets while on duty for the post office. Evans, a letter carrier based at the Indian Tree station in Arvada, was arrested Dec. 26 and was being held Wednesday in the Jefferson County jail on $100,000 bail. He is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 11. An U.S. Postal Service employee for more than 14 years, Evans was placed on unpaid administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation. Also indicted last month were William Burbidge, 65, of Centennial; Todd Lane Vaughn, 42, of Brighton; and John Mencin, 57, of Denver. Vaughn was arrested Dec. 22 and was released on $100,000 bond on Dec. 26. His first court appearance will be today. Arrangements reportedly are being made for Burbidge and Mencin to turn themselves in. All four men face organized crime, conspiracy and professional gambling charges.

Fire and rescue association benefits from more gambling

 

An increase in gaming revenues resulted in more money for the Washington County Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association, the Washington County Gaming Commission announced. In a press release Wednesday, Washington County public information officer Norman Bassett said the gaming association distributed $664,790.05 to the fire and rescue association. The money represents half of the gaming fund revenues from July 1 through Sunday, Director of Gaming James Hovis said. The most recent revenues are 5.6 percent higher than the January 2006 disbursement, the press release states. Ten percent of the overall gaming fund revenues go toward the operating expenses of the Washington County Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association, President Glenn Fuscsick said. The remaining money is split evenly among the county's fire and ambulance companies, he said. The gaming commission distributes the money raised by tip jars throughout the county. Nonprofit organizations get gaming funding in August, while the fire and rescue association's funding comes in January and August. Since its beginning, the commission has distributed more than $31 million, the press release states.

Gambling skills can help kids with maths

 

Professor Alastair Gillespie, chairman of the Scottish Mathematical Council, believes that by introducing simple gambling games into Maths lessons, children will become more engaged and will likely to improve their mathematical skills. Gillespie claims that young children have problems with mathematical problems such as probability, a concept at the heart of gambling. "Things like tossing coins and cutting cards are simple techniques which teach pupils about basic maths and I think it would catch the interest of students if we were to introduce that in schools. What you are trying to do is engage with pupils and present them with scenarios which interest them because it shows how maths can be relevant and we need to do more of that," Gillespie advised. Gillespie immediately came under fire for his comments from anti-gambling societies, claiming that his ideas would only serve to encourage children to gamble. However, one gambling expert agreed with Gillespie, stating that there is no evidence of teaching people gambling skills leads to problem gamblers, as long as people are aware of problems that can lead from gambling. "Gambling should be on the school curriculum because it engages people with basic maths," said Mark Griffiths, professor of Gambling Studies at Nottingham Trent University. "I have taught in schools and if you show people that there is much greater chance of being hit be lightening than of winning the lottery, it puts gambling into perspective. As long as there is an understanding that in some circumstances gambling can be a problem, I don't think there is anything wrong with this."

4 indicted in gambling ring case

 

Four men, including an Arvada postal worker, have been indicted in an alleged sports gambling operation that took in as much as $85,000 in bets every week for a year. The alleged ring was broken after undercover Arvada and Lakewood police officers were introduced to Mark J. Evans, 38, of Arvada, who investigators say recruited bettors and collected and paid off bets while on duty for the post office. Evans, a letter carrier based at the Indian Tree station in Arvada, was arrested Dec. 26 and was being held Wednesday in the Jefferson County jail on $100,000 bail. He is scheduled to appear in court Jan. 11. An U.S. Postal Service employee for more than 14 years, Evans was placed on unpaid administrative leave, pending the outcome of the investigation. Also indicted last month were William Burbidge, 65, of Centennial; Todd Lane Vaughn, 42, of Brighton; and John Mencin, 57, of Denver. Vaughn was arrested Dec. 22 and was released on $100,000 bond on Dec. 26. His first court appearance will be today. Arrangements reportedly are being made for Burbidge and Mencin to turn themselves in. All four men face organized crime, conspiracy and professional gambling charges.

MORE COSTA RICAN LAY-OFFS

 

Dozens of Costa Rican employees have been laid off by one of the online gambling industry's larger companies, BetUS.com, according to a report from sportsbook portal Gambling911 this week, which suggests that the company is the latest group to significantly downsize its Costa Rica operations. Bodog.com announced similar plans last month. Costa Rica's economy, in which the offshore gambling sector is an important element, sustained damage when BetonSports with close to 1 500 employees shut down during the summer following the arrest of its CEO on US soil and the subsequent passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. The Costa Rican online gambling industry is believed to employ well over 5 000 people, 911 reports. The sector is the Central American nation's third largest industry after telecommunications and tourism. Operators have expressed the fear that the Costa Rican government may not be sufficiently committed to protecting the industry from extra-jurisdictional actions initiated by an aggressively anti-online gambling US Justice Department. BetUS.com maintains a marketing office in Vancouver, and there are unconfirmed reports that the company may soon open a new call centre in Panama, Antigua or Curacao (Netherlands Antilles). A conference call ended this afternoon with the layoff of several dozen employees. The American NFL (National Football League) has reportedly sent BetUS.com a cease and desist order regarding the use of certain images in advertisements and on the BetUS.com website.

MORE COSTA RICAN LAY-OFFS

 

Dozens of Costa Rican employees have been laid off by one of the online gambling industry's larger companies, BetUS.com, according to a report from sportsbook portal Gambling911 this week, which suggests that the company is the latest group to significantly downsize its Costa Rica operations. Bodog.com announced similar plans last month. Costa Rica's economy, in which the offshore gambling sector is an important element, sustained damage when BetonSports with close to 1 500 employees shut down during the summer following the arrest of its CEO on US soil and the subsequent passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. The Costa Rican online gambling industry is believed to employ well over 5 000 people, 911 reports. The sector is the Central American nation's third largest industry after telecommunications and tourism. Operators have expressed the fear that the Costa Rican government may not be sufficiently committed to protecting the industry from extra-jurisdictional actions initiated by an aggressively anti-online gambling US Justice Department. BetUS.com maintains a marketing office in Vancouver, and there are unconfirmed reports that the company may soon open a new call centre in Panama, Antigua or Curacao (Netherlands Antilles). A conference call ended this afternoon with the layoff of several dozen employees. The American NFL (National Football League) has reportedly sent BetUS.com a cease and desist order regarding the use of certain images in advertisements and on the BetUS.com website.

Fire and rescue association benefits from more gambling

 

An increase in gaming revenues resulted in more money for the Washington County Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association, the Washington County Gaming Commission announced. In a press release Wednesday, Washington County public information officer Norman Bassett said the gaming association distributed $664,790.05 to the fire and rescue association. The money represents half of the gaming fund revenues from July 1 through Sunday, Director of Gaming James Hovis said. The most recent revenues are 5.6 percent higher than the January 2006 disbursement, the press release states. Ten percent of the overall gaming fund revenues go toward the operating expenses of the Washington County Volunteer Fire & Rescue Association, President Glenn Fuscsick said. The remaining money is split evenly among the county's fire and ambulance companies, he said. The gaming commission distributes the money raised by tip jars throughout the county. Nonprofit organizations get gaming funding in August, while the fire and rescue association's funding comes in January and August. Since its beginning, the commission has distributed more than $31 million, the press release states.

Gambling skills can help kids with maths

 

Professor Alastair Gillespie, chairman of the Scottish Mathematical Council, believes that by introducing simple gambling games into Maths lessons, children will become more engaged and will likely to improve their mathematical skills. Gillespie claims that young children have problems with mathematical problems such as probability, a concept at the heart of gambling. "Things like tossing coins and cutting cards are simple techniques which teach pupils about basic maths and I think it would catch the interest of students if we were to introduce that in schools. What you are trying to do is engage with pupils and present them with scenarios which interest them because it shows how maths can be relevant and we need to do more of that," Gillespie advised. Gillespie immediately came under fire for his comments from anti-gambling societies, claiming that his ideas would only serve to encourage children to gamble. However, one gambling expert agreed with Gillespie, stating that there is no evidence of teaching people gambling skills leads to problem gamblers, as long as people are aware of problems that can lead from gambling. "Gambling should be on the school curriculum because it engages people with basic maths," said Mark Griffiths, professor of Gambling Studies at Nottingham Trent University. "I have taught in schools and if you show people that there is much greater chance of being hit be lightening than of winning the lottery, it puts gambling into perspective. As long as there is an understanding that in some circumstances gambling can be a problem, I don't think there is anything wrong with this."

MORE COSTA RICAN LAY-OFFS

 

Dozens of Costa Rican employees have been laid off by one of the online gambling industry's larger companies, BetUS.com, according to a report from sportsbook portal Gambling911 this week, which suggests that the company is the latest group to significantly downsize its Costa Rica operations. Bodog.com announced similar plans last month. Costa Rica's economy, in which the offshore gambling sector is an important element, sustained damage when BetonSports with close to 1 500 employees shut down during the summer following the arrest of its CEO on US soil and the subsequent passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act. The Costa Rican online gambling industry is believed to employ well over 5 000 people, 911 reports. The sector is the Central American nation's third largest industry after telecommunications and tourism. Operators have expressed the fear that the Costa Rican government may not be sufficiently committed to protecting the industry from extra-jurisdictional actions initiated by an aggressively anti-online gambling US Justice Department. BetUS.com maintains a marketing office in Vancouver, and there are unconfirmed reports that the company may soon open a new call centre in Panama, Antigua or Curacao (Netherlands Antilles). A conference call ended this afternoon with the layoff of several dozen employees. The American NFL (National Football League) has reportedly sent BetUS.com a cease and desist order regarding the use of certain images in advertisements and on the BetUS.com website.

Gambling Commission now receiving licence applications

 

"Anyone who wishes to provide facilities for gambling, or to manufacture supply, install, repair or adapt a gaming machine or gambling software from September 1, 2007, is required to hold a licence authorising the specific activity to be undertaken," the commission stated. The commission said that anyone wishing to provide facilities for betting, gaming or participating in a lottery will require a licence. Such facilities may be provided remotely (via the internet or telephone) or on premises (including on course). There are three categories of licence - operating, personal and premises - and some businesses may need all three kinds. The commission issues operating licences and personal licences, while premises licences are issued by local authorities.

Friday, January 05, 2007

LETTERS: PAY, GAMBLING, CRIME, ETC.

 

Re "This time, let's get state pension reform done right," commentary by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dec.. 28: The reason state pension and health benefits are better than the private sector's is that state salaries are below the private sector, significantly so at upper levels. For decades, legislators and governors of both parties have saved money in yearly budgets by not paying fair market salaries, at a cost to future generations in the form of pension and health payments. Does this sound familiar? State salaries are insufficient to attract quality employees without the pension and health plans. I would support pension and health benefits changes linked with salary reform, so that all three were more in line with the private sector. However, you can be sure that Republicans, including the governor, will focus only on the pension and health benefits and ignore the salary issue. They couldn't care less about the state's ability to attract quality employees. Democrats are more likely to focus on the underlying problems of salaries and employee recruitment, but they, too, respond to the siren call of putting off current costs into the future. I'd be surprised if anything positive comes out of the governor's benefits commission.

Town Hall agrees its gambling guidelines

 

THE principles to be followed by Greenwich council when it decides whether to grant gambling licences have been agreed. A statement of principles, required by the Gambling Act 2005, was adopted at the full council meeting on December 20. The responsibility for granting licences and permits for all gambling activities is set to transfer from the courts to local authorities on April 30. The principles will be used to judge all applications from casinos, bingo halls, betting premises, amusement arcades and pubs with slot machines to small society lotteries. The main aim is to safeguard the quality of life for residents and to protect children and the vulnerable.

British gambling companies awarded Italian licences

 

UK gaming giants William Hill and Ladbrokes were among a number of bookmakers to be awarded licences for sports and horse betting over the web and phones in Italy. According to the Italian state betting company, AAMS, William Hill and Ladbrokes also won new licences for running horseracing and sports betting centres across the country. Both companies plan to open gaming franchises at bars, cafes and newsagents. "Ladbrokes strategy is to establish an Italian retail estate through both new licences awarded in the tender process and the acquisition of existing centres" a spokesperson for Ladbrokes explained. Licences for Ladbrokes include 58 for sports betting at betting centres, 51 for franchises and 33 for horseracing centres.

The other side of gambling

 

We may not admit it but we are all, no matter how pious we maybe, once in a while fascinated by riches and the rich. Given a choice most of us would rather be another billionaire Bill Gates than another the late Mother Theresa of Calcutta. While we easily express anger when for instance certain sections of our nation award themselves huge salary increases while the majority cannot even afford a decent meal every day, we would happily exchange places if given a chance. The bottom line is most of us are rather mad and sad that we are not rich. It is, therefore, not surprising that a number of Malawians are jumping at the opportunity to become millionaires through gambling at the mushrooming casinos or the lottery. In the past due to pressure from the church and other quarters gambling was considered illegal in most countries. But over the years in order to balance their books governments have resorted to establishing national lotteries and legalising gambling in the hope of raising more revenue. They have thus avoided the politically risky option of raising taxes. In Malawi the main reason given has been that legalising gambling would promote tourism and in turn increase revenue for the government. But while the benefits of gambling have been trumpeted it appears little has been said about the disadvantages of gambling. It is as if there are no risks in gambling. It is as if gambling is like any other "investment". Gambling itself produces nothing of value other than taking money from the many people who lose and giving it to a few winners. I would, of course, be hiding my head in the sand if I did not acknowledge the fact that some good things have or may come out of legalised gambling. For instance, revenues from gambling may be used in poverty alleviation projects. However, we cannot ignore the fact that as a consequence of our search of the fool's gold of gambling a lot of undesirable consequences have or will befall the poor the revenues are supposed to assist. It is a proven fact worldwide that the majority of the people mostly likely to engage in gambling are the poor. And yet this is the group that can least afford to engage in gambling. The result has been that income that could have been used to purchase food and other basic necessities of life is instead spent on gambling. Being the least educated, in most cases, the poor may have a poor understanding of basic probability and not understand their low likelihood of winning. This is especially exacerbated by the fact that the gambling industry usually does not advertise or warn those playing or buying the lottery tickets of this. In any case, owners of gambling machines and in some instances governments are more interested in making more money. The fact of the matter is that most of the people who buy the lottery ticket will lose. You may have to spend millions of kwacha to be sure of winning the jackpot. While the rich can afford to spend their excess money in gambling it is tragic when the poor use their meagre resources in gambling. I recently heard of a gentleman who spent all his monthly salary in a casino. Some may say that since the people who engage in gambling do so voluntarily and are grown ups, then it is not our problem but theirs. I only wish it were so, unfortunately, the pathological gambler imposes hurt not only on herself or himself but on her associates, family members and the general public. This is so because to finance his or her gambling habits and debts they may have to borrow money from those close to them. If this does not materialise they may even involve themselves in theft and fraud to fund it. We, therefore, cannot say that the problem will remain with him or her alone. Gambling is addictive and those who eventually become addicted do not set out to become addicted. We, therefore, need to take steps to assist those who get addicted to it in the same way we need to help those who get addicted to tobacco and alcohol. According to the American Insurance Institute at least 40 percent of white collar crime in America is committed by and on behalf of problem gamblers. In fact, two out of every three compulsive gamblers in America report that they would resort to crime to pay for their gambling habits. Relying on compulsive gamblers to raise money for the government amounts to taking advantage of their addiction. Research in other countries has also shown that claims that gambling aids and benefits the local communities are not totally true. This is because this revenue is offset by the increased costs of crime, policing and societal disruption. The National Council on Problem Gambling in America reports that compulsive gamblers annually cost American businesses a staggering $40 billion in lost wages and insurance claims. Even the argument that legalised gambling increases revenue to the government is a weak one. This is so because it is a question substituting sources of revenues from one sector of the economy to another. In other words money that was supposed to have spent in buying goods and services from other sectors is now spent on gambling. As a result loss of revenues from taxes that should have been collected from these sectors is now obtained from the gambling sector. Maybe the only benefit that we would get is from tourism receipts if we have an increase in tourists because of the casinos. But we all live in one world we should not ignore the side effects of gambling on the tourists. While there is a law that prevents children below the age of 16 from gambling I wonder if mechanisms were put in place to prevent them from buying lottery tickets and frequenting casinos. Children are more likely to get addicted to gambling than adults and need our protection. It is quite obvious to me that addicted children will eventually steal from their parents and engage in other anti social behaviours which may have far more serious consequences on the nation than those from the elderly. Some have argued that gambling revenues is a form of a voluntary tax especially in nations where they have national lotteries run by the government. If that is the case then that tax does not meet the principles of a good tax system since it is a regressive tax because all pay the same amount for a lottery ticket. In other words the poor pay a greater proportion of their income than the rich when it is supposed to be the opposite. I hope that this article may stimulate a healthy debate on the dangers of gambling. It is also my sincere hope that in future owners of gambling machines and lotteries would be forced to put warning labels on tickets and in their adverts on the odds of winning and potential for addiction.

Online Gambling & Betting Still Strong via Digital Currency

 

2006 was a tumultuous last year for online casino gambling. In July, David Carruthers CEO of BetOnSports was arrested in Texas while making a connecting flight from the UK to Costa Rica. He and others were charged with allegedly committing conspiracy, racketeering and fraud while taking sports bets from U.S. residents. Later in September, Peter Dicks CEO of Sportingbet was also arrested at JFK Airport on a warrant issued by Louisiana from an investigation of illegal gambling activity dating to May of 2006. The DOJ is seeking the forfeiture of $4.5 billion in USD, cars and computers from the BetOnSports defendants.most of whom reside outside of the US. The final blow to US online gambling came late in 2006 when President Bush signed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, attached to the Port Securities Bill, making it illegal for US banks to accept payments from online casinos and gambling websites. Its a shame that the US just did not follow Britain's lead and legally tax the proceeds. That is around 6 Billion a year from US players. Now..since it is almost impossible to stop Internet gambling because of the freedom which comes along an Internet connection, the US is trying to prevent Internet gambling by prohibiting access to funding vehicles such as US credit cards and bank processing. That is precisely what the bill accomplishes, it stops the US connection to online gambling through US credit card and banks. Federally regulated establishments.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Harrah's exec has Midas touch: Local man to win big with gambling giant's sale

 

Gary Loveman, a local executive and former Harvard professor who now runs the nation's largest casino operator, stands to reap a $62 million windfall should he leave his job amid a blockbuster gambling industry takeover. Loveman, who lives in Boston's suburbs, has guided Harrah's Entertainment to the top of the gambling heap in Las Vegas over the past few years. Masterminding a blockbuster acquisition of Caesars, he created a global gambling powerhouse. Now a group of private investment companies has struck a $27.8 billion deal to acquire Harrah's and take the publicly traded company private. And Loveman, if he decides to pull the strings of his golden corporate parachute, could walk away with at least $62 million in company stock, according to documents filed by Harrah's with federal regulators. No decision is likely to be made for another year, until after the acquisition of Harrah's by Texas Pacific Group and Apollo Management is complete. "I think $62 million is doing very, very well in life," said William Thompson, a professor at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas and a gambling industry expert. "He is right up there with the best baseball pitchers." But one top gambling expert believes that Loveman, despite the lure of an instant fortune, might be better off staying. After all, life is pretty good as it is. Loveman last year took down a more-than-$6 million pay package - not counting lucrative stock options. It includes company-paid lodging in Vegas, and $462,218 for the use of company jets to support a jet-setting lifestyle split between the Bay State and Nevada. And, unlike many chief executives who find themselves out of a job after a merger, Loveman is likely to have the option to stay on if he chooses. The private investors who are buying Harrah's are likely to want Loveman to stick around, at least for a couple more years, Thompson believes. After all, he created the gambling empire they are now buying, and has emerged as a very vocal industry spokesman for the virtues of casinos, he said. If Loveman opts to stay, he could see his compensation rocket up to $10 million to $20 million a year, Thompson said. And with Harrah's no longer a public company the details of his pay, unlike now, will no longer be disclosed.

Record $1.13B spent on video gambling

 

The number of video gambling machines in Montana declined slightly between 2004 and June 30, 2006, but gamblers were putting more money in the machines that remained. Statistics compiled by the Gambling Control Division of the Department of Justice show that the total number of establishments with video gambling statewide increased by just one between '04 and the end of fiscal year '06, from 1,727 to 1,728. During the same period, the total number of video gambling machines actually declined, from 17,239 to 16,498. While those numbers crept downward, the amount of money fed into the machines continued to rise. According to the Justice Department's Gambling Control Division, Montanans wagered a record $1.13 billion on video gambling machines in fiscal year 2006, which ended June 30. The amount wagered this year was up from $1.06 billion in 2005 and $1.01 billion in 2004. In Yellowstone County as of June 30, there were 134 businesses offering gambling in Billings, 10 in Laurel, two in Broadview and 28 elsewhere in the county. The figures for Billings include everything within a five-mile radius of city limits. The number of machines in the county increased from 2,374 in '04 to 2,397 this year. Small fluctuations across the state led to the increase of one gambling establishment from 2004 to 2006. For instance, the number of establishments with video gambling machines increased from 107 to 110 in Butte-Silver Bow County, while the number in Cascade County dropped from 152 to 149. Missoula County lost two, dropping to 128 in '06, while Gallatin County gained three, going to 97. In all of Treasure County in 2004, there was just one bar with two machines. Both numbers doubled in 2006, to two bars with four gambling machines. That tied the county with Petroleum County, which also had two bars and four machines, down from two bars and five machines in 2004. Despite the decline in the number of machines in Montana, the amount of money spent on gambling increased this year. Gambling tax collections - from a 15 percent tax on gross gambling machine income - totaled just under $57 million in fiscal year 2006, up from a little over $53 million in 2005. All that money goes into the state general fund. In 1990, the gambling tax raised just $17 million. Tax revenues jumped to $31.3 million by 1995, and to $41.5 million in 2001. From 1994 to last June, the state collected a total of $585.2 million in gambling machine taxes. The figures showing a reduction in the number of machines statewide can be a little misleading. Video gambling machines originally offered just one game, poker or keno, on a single machine, and for a time a bar or casino could only have 10 poker machines and 10 keno machines. Now bars and casinos can have up to 20 machines with any combination of games, and one machine can have a mix of poker and keno, with some machines offering 25 different games. John Blair, owner of the Reno Club on Calhoun Lane and a former chairman of the state Gaming Advisory Council, called the new machines "the same old whore in a new kimono." Even so, he said, they do seem to have contributed to the uptick in gambling. "I think maybe gambling's on the rise, maybe because of the bells and whistles," he said.

The newest bells and whistles are on the U1 machine, manufactured by a company in Belgrade and being distributed by Century Gaming, the largest owner and distributor of video gaming machines in Montana. Steve Arntzen, a co-owner and chief operating officer of Century Gaming, said the company traditionally has distributed machines it owns.

But in this case, the company in Belgrade wanted to test out the new U1 machine here before placing them in casinos the company owns in Nevada, and Century Gaming agreed, for a price, to put them in casinos to which it already supplies machines. The U1 machines have a 24-inch-wide, ultra-high-definition screen and a special chair that can be ergonomically adjusted, as can the screen itself. Arntzen said the difference between the U1 machines and traditional games is like the difference between PlayStations 2 and 3.

Spending on other forms of gaming in Montana hardly begins to compare with the spending on video gambling.

In comparison with the $1.13 billion wagered on gambling machines in 2006, the next biggest amount wagered was on the lottery, on which Montanans spent $39.9 million. That was followed by simulcast racing, $7 million; live bingo, $3.5 million; live keno, $3.1 million; and live horse racing, $1.9 million.

Except for the lottery and gambling machines - and live horse racing, which stayed the same - amounts wagered in 2006 were down compared to 2005.

The state doesn't track how much is wagered on live poker games, which saw a surge in recent years, but the trend there seems to be running downhill. Card dealer licenses issued soared from 157 in 2004 to 582 in 2005, but it dropped down to 450 in 2006.

Penang Police Crush Gambling Syndicate

 

Police have crushed the biggest gambling syndicate of 2006 in Penang, which raked in more than RM1 million in bets a month, and detained six people, four of them women. The six were detained in a raid at the syndicate's base located at a flat in Taman Seri Hijau in Jalan Perak here at about 6 pm on Dec 30. Penang Criminal Investigation Department Chief, SAC II Abdul Samah Mat, said the six were aged between 25 and 40 years. He said the syndicate mastermind was also held. He told a news conference the suspects were collecting the betting papers from the facsimile machines when they were detained. "Police believe the syndicate is one of the biggest that operated in Penang and Kedah with a turnover of RM1 million a month," he said. Abdul Samah said the police seized betting slips as well as computers, lap-tops and other equipment worth about RM25,000 from the premises. The flat was renovated to make it suitable for use as a gambling den and was equipped with a closed circuit camera to monitor police movement, he added.

Ipod Competition For Online Casino Fans

 

Online Gambling Insider is proud to announce that it will continue to give away an Apple Ipod each monthly in association with Casino Rewards, a leading Micerogaming online casino and poker operator...During 2006, Online Gambling Insider and the Casino Rewards Group gave away an Apple Ipod each month. For the second month running, a UK player won the Ipod. Congratulations goes to Lisa S. from Stoke on Trent. Your Ipod is on its way! To qualify for our first giveaway of 2007, you will need to become a real money player at one of the online casinos or poker rooms in the Casino Rewards Group, before January 31. before the end of the current month.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Record $1.13B spent on video gambling

 

The number of video gambling machines in Montana declined slightly between 2004 and June 30, 2006, but gamblers were putting more money in the machines that remained. Statistics compiled by the Gambling Control Division of the Department of Justice show that the total number of establishments with video gambling statewide increased by just one between '04 and the end of fiscal year '06, from 1,727 to 1,728. During the same period, the total number of video gambling machines actually declined, from 17,239 to 16,498. While those numbers crept downward, the amount of money fed into the machines continued to rise. According to the Justice Department's Gambling Control Division, Montanans wagered a record $1.13 billion on video gambling machines in fiscal year 2006, which ended June 30. The amount wagered this year was up from $1.06 billion in 2005 and $1.01 billion in 2004. In Yellowstone County as of June 30, there were 134 businesses offering gambling in Billings, 10 in Laurel, two in Broadview and 28 elsewhere in the county. The figures for Billings include everything within a five-mile radius of city limits. The number of machines in the county increased from 2,374 in '04 to 2,397 this year. Small fluctuations across the state led to the increase of one gambling establishment from 2004 to 2006. For instance, the number of establishments with video gambling machines increased from 107 to 110 in Butte-Silver Bow County, while the number in Cascade County dropped from 152 to 149. Missoula County lost two, dropping to 128 in '06, while Gallatin County gained three, going to 97. In all of Treasure County in 2004, there was just one bar with two machines. Both numbers doubled in 2006, to two bars with four gambling machines. That tied the county with Petroleum County, which also had two bars and four machines, down from two bars and five machines in 2004. Despite the decline in the number of machines in Montana, the amount of money spent on gambling increased this year. Gambling tax collections - from a 15 percent tax on gross gambling machine income - totaled just under $57 million in fiscal year 2006, up from a little over $53 million in 2005. All that money goes into the state general fund. In 1990, the gambling tax raised just $17 million. Tax revenues jumped to $31.3 million by 1995, and to $41.5 million in 2001. From 1994 to last June, the state collected a total of $585.2 million in gambling machine taxes.

The figures showing a reduction in the number of machines statewide can be a little misleading. Video gambling machines originally offered just one game, poker or keno, on a single machine, and for a time a bar or casino could only have 10 poker machines and 10 keno machines. Now bars and casinos can have up to 20 machines with any combination of games, and one machine can have a mix of poker and keno, with some machines offering 25 different games.

John Blair, owner of the Reno Club on Calhoun Lane and a former chairman of the state Gaming Advisory Council, called the new machines "the same old whore in a new kimono." Even so, he said, they do seem to have contributed to the uptick in gambling.

"I think maybe gambling's on the rise, maybe because of the bells and whistles," he said.

The newest bells and whistles are on the U1 machine, manufactured by a company in Belgrade and being distributed by Century Gaming, the largest owner and distributor of video gaming machines in Montana. Steve Arntzen, a co-owner and chief operating officer of Century Gaming, said the company traditionally has distributed machines it owns.

But in this case, the company in Belgrade wanted to test out the new U1 machine here before placing them in casinos the company owns in Nevada, and Century Gaming agreed, for a price, to put them in casinos to which it already supplies machines. The U1 machines have a 24-inch-wide, ultra-high-definition screen and a special chair that can be ergonomically adjusted, as can the screen itself. Arntzen said the difference between the U1 machines and traditional games is like the difference between PlayStations 2 and 3.

Spending on other forms of gaming in Montana hardly begins to compare with the spending on video gambling.

In comparison with the $1.13 billion wagered on gambling machines in 2006, the next biggest amount wagered was on the lottery, on which Montanans spent $39.9 million. That was followed by simulcast racing, $7 million; live bingo, $3.5 million; live keno, $3.1 million; and live horse racing, $1.9 million.

Except for the lottery and gambling machines - and live horse racing, which stayed the same - amounts wagered in 2006 were down compared to 2005.

The state doesn't track how much is wagered on live poker games, which saw a surge in recent years, but the trend there seems to be running downhill. Card dealer licenses issued soared from 157 in 2004 to 582 in 2005, but it dropped down to 450 in 2006.

NEWSWEEK EXAMINES THE QUESTION OF MORALITY VS. MONEY IN ONLINE GAMBLING

 

The hypocrisy of government institutions that support general forms of gambling, but ban Internet gambling on moral grounds has at last been examined by the international magazine Newsweek in it's upcoming January 8 issue. And the story has been picked up and distributed widely by other online and offline media. Titled "Morality vs. Money - nations say they attack Internet betting for sake of the children. But they also run gambling operations," the story by Silvia Spring deals primarily with the European scene, referencing the claims by France, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, the Netherlands and Sweden that "...it's all about saving our people from the sins of gambling." But, the author points out, the problem is that all of these countries allow licensed gambling internally, and in some cases are promoting its expansion very aggressively. "So what's it really about?" she asks. "In recent months the EU has launched proceedings against all these nations for protecting national monopolies in violation of EU laws guaranteeing free movement for goods and services." She adds that the result of state protectionism for selected forms of gambling is a business that flowers in chosen places precisely because it is banned elsewhere. "That's true where national or state governments license private casinos (think Vegas or Atlantic City) or where the government runs the monopoly (as in Germany, where the state franchise runs gambling operations in all 16 states)," she writes. In Europe, state casino and lottery monopolies generate more than $31.7 billion a year, and in the United States private casinos alone generate roughly the same, the article continues before quoting legal expert Paul Renney who opines: "How can you say that you're concerned about gambling being dangerous to the moral and social fabric of your society if, at the same time, you promote a massive lottery and try to get people to come and gamble? It's contradictory.'' Opponents of online gambling are exploiting a loophole in the EU laws protecting free trade, which allows member states to take measures to protect the social and moral fabric of their societies. The Netherlands has used that provision to ban Ladbroke's of Britain from offering online betting to the Dutch, arguing that such Web operations are harder to police for fraud and monitor for addictive behavior. The French deployed a similar argument in arresting the two Austrians, bwin.com executives Norbert Teufelberger and Manfred Bodner, in September. They have been released on bail and are awaiting trial. Didier Dewyn, secretary-general of the European Betting Association, refers to such proceedings as "witch hunts" that deprive targets of even the basic EU right to travel freely within the union.

Spring writes that although Britain is trying its own strategy to lure online casinos to set up in Britain, subject to British regulation - and taxes, there's probably no way Britain can compete with places like Malta, where she claims regulations are loose and the taxes as low as 4.17 percent.

Nor would the establishment of a British online-gambling capital address the threats to morals or money flow in rival states like France and Germany, which appear willing to fight this to the bitter end. France's state-run betting agencies, Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU) and La Française des Jeux (FDJ), took in Euro16.9 billion in 2005, and Germany's gambling market is estimated at Euro29 billion.

It is a myth that the Internet cannot be policed, the writer claims, offering China as an example. But the EU has no stomach for the kind of strong-arm methods China employs. After the U.S. ban took effect in October, major operators like bwin.com, PartyGaming and 888 Holdings became even more reliant on marketing to European customers.

With gambling now available on some 2,300 Web sites worldwide, through mobile phones and interactive TV, an estimated 3.3 million people in Europe now regularly bet online. Even if they win the EU legal battle, on-land gambling probably can't stop the online threat, not in the long run, Spring concludes.

Russia's Putin signs New Gambling Bill into Law, outlaws Online Poker

 

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a bill into law December 30 that will close casinos and slot-machine halls across most of the country in a few years, forcing the establishments that have become a garish feature of the new Russian landscape into four legal gambling zones. The law also outlaws online gambling and online poker, and sets the minimum gambling age of 18 years. The bill had sailed through the Federation Council (upper parliament house) without opposition on December 27, 2006. The State Duma (lower parliament house) had already approved it on December 20, 2006. The sites where the zones are planned are now infrastructure-free wilderness, and all are distant from Moscow, the capital: the Altai Territory (southwest Siberia), Primorye (Far East), the Kaliningrad Region (Russia"s exclave on the Baltic Sea), and on the border of the Rostov Region and the Krasnodar Territory in the south of the country. After July 1, 2009, any gaming facility operating outside of the four approved gambling zones will be banned. "Bookmaker's offices and pari- mutuels will make an exception in the law and will be able to conduct their activities outside gambling zones," the press service pointed out. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, casinos mushroomed in Russia's major cities and slot-machine halls have sprouted throughout the country. Their prevalence has sparked resentment among some Russians who recoil at the sight of flashy cars parked outside flashier casinos, worries about gambling addiction and concerns about the lifestyles of young people, whom Putin has urged to live healthy and productive lives.

80th Legislature will deal with water, gambling, lobbying

 

When the 80th Texas Legislature convenes for a 140-day session Jan. 9, lawmakers will tackle a bevy of bills that target thousands of state laws - some newly introduced and at the forefront of national debate, and others dealing with unresolved matters that were swept aside last session amid the state's school-finance woes. Legislators will consider changing a range of state policies, including: water use and reuse, conservation and environmental flow; placing a cap on extreme price increases on electricity or extending regulation; overhauling how governmental bodies can seize private property; and disclosure of all real estate sales prices. The fight over how to fund public schools and fix a flawed property tax system topped the state's biggest battles in 2006. Legislators cut school property taxes and replaced that revenue with a new state business tax and a higher cigarette tax that became law Jan. 1. A pack of cigarettes rose nearly $1 and about $12 per carton. The boost is expected to bring in $680 million over the next year. But the smoke over an educational overhaul won't have entirely cleared by the time the bell rings for the next session. A bill proposed by the Texas Gaming Association would merge resort-style casinos, video slot machines at racetracks and gambling at state Indian reservations - all proposals that face strong opposition from social conservatives in the Legislature. The gaming association proposes opening 12 resort-style casinos in Texas, including one in Tarrant County and two in Dallas County. Advocates of the proposal, which would require voter approval for a constitutional amendment, estimate that the gambling expansion would bring in $3.2 billion in tax revenue to the state's coffers and an additional $800 million to city and county governments. The bill would allocate half of the state's revenue, or $1.6 billion, into a financial aid fund that would pay college tuition for every Texas high school graduate who meets certain requirements. The remainder would go into the state's general fund. Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, meanwhile, said he'll ask lawmakers to approve a plan to revamp standardized testing for high school students. His proposal, which teachers oppose, would replace the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills with end-of-course exams in each of the core high school subjects. The proposal also would require high school juniors and seniors to take the ACT or SAT college entrance exams at taxpayers' expenses.

Following a national trend, immigration will no doubt be front and center with Texas policymakers, who may pass diverse legislation, including laws that would: restrict birthright citizenship; deny undocumented residents state assistance such as health care and education; make it illegal for them to obtain business permits; impose an 8-percent tax on money transmitted from Texas to Mexico or Central and South America.

The federal government has authority over most laws governing international borders, but Gov. Rick Perry used border security as a cornerstone of his re-election bid. He's expected to ask the Legislature for additional funding to border counties for law enforcement.

On another front, House Bill 349, filed by state Rep. Charlie Geren of Fort Worth, would require more disclosure from cities, counties and school districts about what they spend on lobbyists. The bill would also require more detailed financial disclosure from lobbyists and political consultants who work for governmental entities. Critics of the lobbying system say that more jurisdictions are hiring private lobbyists, with taxpayers footing the bill for funding that goes to the public entities - ranging from water districts to city councils - that they represent.

The issue of conflicts involving political consultants and lobbyists spurred local controversy recently after no-bid contracts totaling almost $2 million were given by the Tarrant Regional Water District and the Trinity River Vision Authority to consultant Bryan Eppstein. Eppstein, one of the top political consultants in the state, helped elect two members of the Water District board.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

CRM Vendor Announces More Gambling Success

 

PacificNet Inc., a provider of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) which seems to be having more fun in the gambling business than CRM these days (as if that's such a huge leap), has reported that its PacificNet Games Limited subsidiary has been selected by Jai Alai Casino, a casino in Macau, to provide multi-player electronic gambling machines. Phase one implementation includes 40 multi-player electronic gambling machines. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed for competitive reasons. Located at Jai Alai Building, Avenida de Amizade, Macau, in Communist China, Jai Alai Casino Macau has 67,075 square feet of gambling with about 250 slot machines, 61 table games and 4 VIP rooms, and is open 24 hours a day. And if jai alai, baccarat, blackjack and roulette aren't your cup of green tea you can lose money on more traditional Chinese gambling such as Fish-Prawn-Crab, Sic-Bo Cussec and Fan Tan. Two weeks ago, PacificNet announced that its PacificNet Games Limited (PacGames) subsidiary was selected by Casino Lisboa to provide 120 multi-player Electronic Gaming Machines (EGM) for Phase One implementation at Casino Lisboa. Previously, PacGames also announced that it was selected by Holiday Inn Macau Casino to provide multi-player electronic gambling machines. Victor Tong, President of PacificNet, notes that Macau has become the fastest growing part of China and "we are very excited to be moving forward in our pursuit of the Macau gaming technology business. We believe the Asian gaming market has huge growth potential and that we are well positioned to win more hotel-casino clients and capture a growing market share as a leading gaming technology provider in the region." The numbers bear him out: According to recent statistics provided by the Macau government, Macau is one of the fastest-growing gambling markets in the world and is predicted to surpass Las Vegas in total revenues by 2007. In 2005, Macau's gambling revenues reached $5.8 billion, second only to Las Vegas gambling revenues of $6 billion.

With the disposable income of the average Chinese on the rise Macau, the only area in China where gambling is legal, expects its gambling and entertainment market to grow for years to come.

Earlier this week PacificNet, Inc. announced that its Take1 Technologies subsidiary has introduced a new line of gambling machine products: Electronic Bingo Machines.

Recent regulation changes in several European countries have opened the doors to more widespread electronic bingo operators and a need to upgrade to the latest client-server based bingo gambling machines.

A year in review. Online casinos and Gambling

 

September - Harrah's follows up on Augusts' speculation by confirming the $530 acquisition of London Clubs International. Harrah's hope the move will be a small stepping-stone into lucrative European markets. A report by Screen Digest reveals that spending on online gambling sites will double from £660 million in 2005 to £1.6 billion by 2010 in Britain. Sportingbet CEO Peter Dicks is arrested at JFK Airport in New York, causing more panic within the online gambling industry following the July arrest of BetOnSports chief executive David Carruthers. He is released on bail a few days later. As a result, shares in the company take a nose dive of over 40 per cent and over £400 million is wiped off the value of the company. The legality of online gambling in the US is hotly debated as Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist announces that he will attempt to attach new gambling legislation to another bill already scheduled for voting. Malaysia's Genting International Plc move close to buying the UK's Stanley Leisure for a reported price of over $1 billion, appearing to scupper interest from casino giant Harrah's Entertainment. PartyGaming outright deny rumours that they are interested in buying Victor Chandler. 888.com chief executive John Anderson announces that he'll step down after six years in charge of the online gambling company, with Gigi Levy taking up Anderson's old post. Peter Dicks resigns from his post as Sportingbet Chairman as he is finally allowed to return to the UK. He must return to a court in New York later in the month to hear if he is to face extradition to Louisiana. Officials warn online casino executives to stay away from the state or face the same fate as the beleaguered executive. Two executives from World Gaming resign amid fears they could be the next to be arrested as the US gets tough on online gambling since nearly all of their revenue comes from the US. William Hill, on the basis of legal advice, announces that they will cease to accept bets from the US, also claiming that they never actively sought players from the US. The Ritz Club online casino closes, citing the current uncertainty in the online gambling world as the reason. Ukbetting soon buys the online casino and plans to reopen the website as soon as possible.

October - The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act is passed by the US Senate, making it illegal for US banks to take payments from online gambling sites. The bill was pushed by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and now only needed President Bush's signature to become law. The law is seen by many as laden with ambiguity but many big online casino players, such as Intercasino, pull out of the US market altogether. However, NETeller, the online payment processor, announce they will still continue to serve its US customers as normal. Following the US gambling act, the UK reveals plans to make Britain a world leader in internet gambling. The UK plan to regulate the industry and encourage offshore companies to base their headquarters in the UK. Online casino and gambling companies unanimously hail the UK's proposed reforms. The UK's Gambling Commission reveals that it has been inundated with applications for casino licences, seeing a rise in 80 per cent. Three Russian hackers are sentenced to eight years in prison after running a campaign of DOS (Denial of Service) against online casino and bookmakers. President Bush signs the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, attached to the Port Securities Bill, making it illegal for US banks to accept payments from online casinos and gambling websites. This was the biggest single story of 2006 and one that would change the industry for the foreseeable future. World Gaming announces soon after that they have gone into administration, making it the first casualty of the US crackdown. Gala announce that they are interested in the UK state-owned bookmaker, Tote, and state that they would come in with an offer as soon as the government decided what it was going to do with the company. Despite announcing that they took a one off hit of $250 million form closing their US operations, PartyGaming remain optimistic for the future and seek to explore possibilities in Europe and Asia. Two of Austria's Bwin.com's directors are arrested at a press conference in France, charged with the illegal promotion of gaming, as they announce the shirt sponsorship of football club Monaco. The Casino Advisory Panel, in charge of deciding the location of the UK's first super casino, announces it will delay its decision until the end of January. Bodog Entertainment Group buys Austria's Betcorp Ltd for $11 million with Bodog founder Calvin Ayre stating that it would be the first of many acquisitions his company would be likely to make. 888.com and PartyGaming announce cutbacks at their Gibraltar headquarters. Macau, the small Chinese territory, looks set to overtake Las Vegas as the world's largest gambling destination, raking in $6.8 billion in revenue compared to Las Vegas' $6.6 billion. All eyes turn to the east. 888.com confirm that they've been in talks with a number of third parties interested in buying the online gambling firm. Ladbrokes and PartyGaming are said to be those parties. A new study revels that Brits are the biggest gamblers in Europe with over 1 million people regularly logging onto internet betting sites. Tessa Jowell hosts the International Gambling Summit in a bid to help unify gambling regulation and how best to address problems associated with the industry.

Gambling Bans On The Rise In Missouri

 

For the first time in several years, the Missouri Gaming Commission has begun expanding its list of people banned from area casinos. While the commission's "exclusion list" was once oriented toward cheaters and organized crime members, it will now include criminals such as two men recently convicted of felony theft, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. The two carpet installers gambled away money they had received as payment for services they never performed. The commission voted last month to ban them. "If a judge puts somebody on probation and there is some link to gambling, then we will look at that and consider putting them on the exclusion list," said Gene McNary, executive director of the state group. If those on the list are found on the premises of any Missouri casinos, they can immediately be charged with trespassing, a Class B misdemeanor. The commission is also looking into strengthening the penalty attached to violations, the newspaper said.

Benefield Busted For Alleged Gambling

 

One of the men injured in last months police shooting of Sean Bell is in trouble with the law after being busted Thursday in an illegal gambling raid. Trent Benefield, and five others were busted in Harlem, where police say dice and card games were allegedly being played. Police said they also found heroin. This was Benefield's third summons in recent months. He had previously received one for disorderly conduct and another for drinking from an open container. Benefield's lawyers tell NY1 that their client denies that he was gambling. Benefield was injured last month along with Joseph Guzman at a Jamaica club when police fired 50 rounds into their car, killing Sean Bell.

Gambling sites play double or quits

 

A recovery in the online gaming economy act is gaining traction, according to several reports. The passage of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act by the US left a swath of economic misery in its wake, but efforts by the major players in the industry to refocus their energies on Europe and Asia are starting to pay dividends. Both Sportingbet.com and Partygaming.com reported stronger than expected earnings last week, as increasing numbers of players from the European and Asian markets offset the loss of the enormous American market. Partygaming.com reported an increase in daily poker revenue from $637,000 in October to $721,000 in November. Overall daily revenue in November, excluding the sportsbook, averaged $921,000. Sportingbet.com reported an increase in traffic from 6,000 players per day to about 7,000 according to Gamingpublic.com, an industry trade paper. Banking giant UBS responded by upgrading its stock evaluation from reduce to neutral. Harrah's has agreed to a $27.8bn buyout, according to a company press release. The largest gambling conglomerate in the world is being taken private by a group of investors led by the Texas Pacific group, in one of the largest leveraged buyouts in history. Harrah's began as a bingo parlor in Reno in 1937, and became the first Casino operator to be listed on the NYSE back in 1973. This comes on the heels of Murdoch's BskyB's takeover of 365 Media, which itself had just gobbled up longtime competitor Bowman's. It also follows the announcement a strategic partnership between the Sands and Cantor Gaming, and the confirmation by El Reg of ongoing merger talks between Ladbrokes and 888 Plc. The collapse of the sector after the passage of the UIGEA has provided both the opportunity for consolidation- i.e., ridiculously low stock valuations relative to the cash generated by the sector- as well as the impetus to get big enough to weather any adverse legal developments in jurisdictions such as Germany, France or South Africa where internet gaming remains controversial. It's easy to imagine the online gaming sector going through same growing pains that beset the search portal industry in the late '90's- too many competitors in a field likely to be dominated in the long term by a few major brands. Ironically, major American players like The Sands or MGM Mirage, with strong brands and cash to invest, are well positioned to pick up the pieces of a fragmented, weakened market.

Gambling group ups pay despite slump in share price

 

PartyGaming has awarded more shares and multimillion-pound bonuses to its senior executives, despite the group's plunging share price, in a move that could irritate institutional shareholders. The online gambling group's new management incentive arrangements will take the new incentives and bonus package of Mitch Garber, the chief executive, to about £18.5 million. Although the figure was less than the £40.5 million that Mr Garber's share options package was valued at in April, the share price has fallen from 150p to 31¾p in the same period. Shareholders that bought into PartyGaming at the initial public offering in 2005 and the secondary placing in June have lost about £925 million. The company argued that the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in the United States has "severely impacted the value of incentive arrangements for the executive directors and other key employees of the group". PartyGaming defended the move as vital to secure the most talented management. A spokesman said: "Some institutional shareholders asked us what we were going to do to incentivise executives, what with the share price coming down so much. I don't think you can please all shareholders, but many were concerned that we couldn't retain senior people." Mr Garber has had the shareholder return performance targets scrapped over his options for 20 million shares. The 20 million shares can be awarded next year in eight monthly tranches from May to December. He has been granted new share options of a further 15 million shares, which will vest in 30 equal monthly tranches until May 2009. He will also be paid £3 million in cash in 30 equal instalments until May 1, 2009, and will receive a minimum bonus of £2 million provided he remains with the company on December 1, 2007. Michael Jackson, chairman of PartyGaming, said: "PartyGaming has the leading executive team in online gaming. Whilst the passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act changed the business environment, the online gaming sector has remained no less competitive both in terms of attracting and retaining talented individuals."

Monday, January 01, 2007

Online gambling firm confirms deal

 

PartyGaming today snapped up the gambling assets of its smaller rivals Empire Online and Intercontinental Online Gaming for $66.3m (£33.7m) in shares. The acquisitions will add Empire's Noble Poker and Club Dice casino websites to PartyGaming's stable, as well as Intercontinental's Fair Poker, Magic Box Casino and Miss Bingo sites. The two deals are expected to be the first in a wave of consolidation in the wake of US anti-gambling legislation passed in October. The crackdown has forced PartyGaming and all other London-listed online gaming operators to pull out of the world's most lucrative gaming market. Aim-listed Empire said it will become an investment company after shedding its gambling assets. The deal provides the exit that the group's founder and chief executive, Noam Lanir, has been seeking for months. He has a 32.6% stake in the firm. PartyGaming will issue 115.19m new shares to fund the deals. The group previously made three-quarters of its profits in the US and the acquisitions form part of its efforts to refocus its business on Europe and the Middle East. Mitch Garber, PartyGaming's chief executive, had previously made it clear that the company was on the prowl for smaller targets following the US crackdown. He said today the deals will add earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of at least $8.5m next year. They will also bring "strong management with excellent marketing skills that will help us to accelerate our promotional plans for each of our individual products, particularly in casino which will continue to be spearheaded by PartyCasino," he said. PartyGaming is very keen to tap into Empire's marketing expertise. Empire specialises in recruiting punters through its "skin" websites and receives a cut of revenues from its various gaming service partners. Empire said it will use the net proceeds of $37.96m from the sale of its gaming websites, along with is cash reserves of $250m, to invest in both private and public businesses and across the small, mid and large-cap range of companies. It said its remaining Internet gaming business was too small to thrive on its own following the US clampdown which wiped out 65% of revenues.

Following completion of the deals, PartyGaming will enter into a software licensing agreement with Playtech, it said.

PartyGaming's poker revenues plunged in the aftermath of the US clampdown but have since recovered. The company also crashed out of the FTSE 100 index.

Hi tech improves gambling chip safety

 

Some months ago Online-Casinos.com/InfoPowa reported on development work by Gaming Partners International on hi-tech gambling chips with embedded alarm-triggering tracers. In a sequel to the story this week, GPI has announced that the final product will be launched next month - probably at the London ICE show. The anti-theft measures incorporated into the chips consist of an RFID-based Electronic Chip Surveillance (ECS) system that uses tags within the chips, triggering alarms if taken through electronic sensors. The system combines the benefits of the 125 KHz frequency casino currency control with increased security protection against theft. GMI's other RFID products and readers suitable for table management applications and casino currency controls will likely be showcased alongside the new electronic chips. Pre-show publicity from the company highlights a poker table reader with a capability to count up 800 chips and calculate both the total value of the pot and the operator's commission.

CRM Vendor Announces More Gambling Success

 

Phase one implementation includes 40 multi-player electronic gambling machines. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed for competitive reasons. Located at Jai Alai Building, Avenida de Amizade, Macau, in Communist China, Jai Alai Casino Macau has 67,075 square feet of gambling with about 250 slot machines, 61 table games and 4 VIP rooms, and is open 24 hours a day. And if jai alai, baccarat, blackjack and roulette aren't your cup of green tea you can lose money on more traditional Chinese gambling such as Fish-Prawn-Crab, Sic-Bo Cussec and Fan Tan. Two weeks ago, PacificNet announced that its PacificNet Games Limited (PacGames) subsidiary was selected by Casino Lisboa to provide 120 multi-player Electronic Gaming Machines (EGM) for Phase One implementation at Casino Lisboa. Previously, PacGames also announced that it was selected by Holiday Inn Macau Casino to provide multi-player electronic gambling machines. Victor Tong, President of PacificNet, notes that Macau has become the fastest growing part of China and "we are very excited to be moving forward in our pursuit of the Macau gaming technology business. We believe the Asian gaming market has huge growth potential and that we are well positioned to win more hotel-casino clients and capture a growing market share as a leading gaming technology provider in the region." The numbers bear him out: According to recent statistics provided by the Macau government, Macau is one of the fastest-growing gambling markets in the world and is predicted to surpass Las Vegas in total revenues by 2007. In 2005, Macau's gambling revenues reached $5.8 billion, second only to Las Vegas gambling revenues of $6 billion. With the disposable income of the average Chinese on the rise Macau, the only area in China where gambling is legal, expects its gambling and entertainment market to grow for years to come. Earlier this week PacificNet, Inc. announced that its Take1 Technologies subsidiary has introduced a new line of gambling machine products: Electronic Bingo Machines. Recent regulation changes in several European countries have opened the doors to more widespread electronic bingo operators and a need to upgrade to the latest client-server based bingo gambling machines. PacificNet's Take1 Electronic Bingo Machines are played much like traditional bingo, but without the hassle of paper cards and mess of ink blotters. The Take1 Bingo Machines are based on a client-server computer network architecture and players can buy electronic bingo tickets using one of the many electronic bingo terminals (or client betting stations) situated in a variety of electronic bingo sales outlets. Just before Christmas PacificNet's Epro subsidiary was selected by China Unicom's (News - Alert) Shanghai Branch to provide CRM consulting and call center training services. According to China Tech News, under the project service agreement, PacificNet Epro will "enhance the CRM service level and telemarketing management capability of China Unicom's customer service center, called the 10010 Information Hotline," according to PacificNet officials. Fei Jing Zhi, Manager of China Unicom's Shanghai Call Center 10010 Information Hotline, said the company hopes to work with PacificNet Epro "as our long-term CRM partner on future call center projects." David Sims is contributing editor for TMCnet. For more articles please visit David Sims' columnist page.

Cadiz Opts to Extend Gambling Ban

 

Those looking for skilled gambling establishments in the village will have to keep waiting as Village Council on Wednesday extended a temporary ban on the machines. Mayor Don R. Bethel said the temporary ban will give council time to pass regulations for the gambling machines. Bethel said regulations are needed because many out-of-town individuals have inquired about operating machines in Cadiz. He said the village has received calls from individuals as far away as Texas who plan to bring gambling businesses into the area. The temporary ban expires Dec. 31 and will be lifted upon council adopting an ordinance that would place regulations on the machines and their ownership. In other business: Council took its first step to create the position of village administrator. An ordinance was read that would add the position, which will be full-time. Bethel said the responsibilities of an administrator are essentially the same as a city manager. The administrator will be in charge of utilities and the street department and will oversee all operations of the village. Two major aspects of the position also are economic development and fundraising. "There are numerous things the village is planning on doing in the next few years,î Bethel said. ''The future of Cadiz dictates a need for a village administrator - the village is a business, and we need a business person. Bethel said the position could be filled as early as February. Councilman Kenneth Zitko said that several properties have been cleaned up and that work is currently being done on several houses. Zitko also said that the roof on the street department's salt house has been completed."Hopefully, we won't have to use it too much this winter,î Zitko said. Councilman Paul Coffland also said the ice rink, located behind Wallace Lodge at Sally Buffalo Park, is available for use if the weather cooperates.

Betonsports says it can't repay U.S. customers

 

Betonsports PLC, the London-based Internet gambling company barred from doing business in the U.S., owes money to at least 4,863 customers and cannot repay any of them because of an Antiguan court order, its lawyers say. Betonsports can't comply with a November directive by U.S. District Judge Carol Jackson in St. Louis that it return the money because the funds are controlled by the company's Antigua subsidiary, which is subject to the authority of courts in that Caribbean nation, attorney Jeffrey Demerath said in papers filed with Jackson. With the company's consent, Jackson last month issued a 21-page order permanently banning Betonsports from doing business in the U.S. The company took in $1.25 billion in wagers in 2004, 98 percent of which were placed by U.S. bettors using the company's website and phone lines, she said.

READY TO GET STARTED AT OUR PREFERRED GAMBLING SITES?
  • To see our Best Gambling Guide picks, visit or Best Gambling sites list.
  • To find reviews of the Best Gambling Guide, visit our Best Gambling Sites Reviews.
  • For the best bonuses available, please read our Best Gambling Bonuses Offers.
  • For access to our list of gambling payouts visit our Best Gambling Payouts section.
  • Gambling Rules & Strategies, select from Poker, Baccarat, Blackjack, Craps, Roulette or Slots.
  • For news stories on the Best Gambling Guide industry, read our Best Gambling Guide News Articles.
  • Copyright© 1999 to 2009 - Best Gambling Guide from Gambling Headquarters

    Gambling Guide Menu

    Home
    Best Gambling Sites
    Casino Reviews
    Best Gambling Payouts
    Best Gambling Bonus
    No Deposit Bonuses
    Monthly Bonus
    High Roller Bonus
    Biggest Jackpots
    Progressive Slots
    Live Dealer Casinos

    Gambling Resources

    New Players Guide
    Ten Commandments
    House Edge
    Gambling Articles
    Probabilities
    Money Management
    Gambling Psychology
    Gambling Guide News

    Gambling Rules

    Poker
    Baccarat
    Blackjack
    Craps
    Roulette
    Slots
    Betting Systems

    Gambling Software

    Microgaming
    Cryptologic
    Playtech
    Real Time Gaming
    Boss Media
    Viper
    Odds On
    Other Software

    Gambling Groups

    Belle Rock Gaming
    Fortune Lounge
    Bright Share
    Casino Partners
    Vegas Partners
    Casino Profit Share
    Gambling Rewards
    Casino Coins

    Banking Methods

    Firepay
    Neteller
    Citadel
    more...

    More Gambling

    Poker
    Sports
    Bingo
    Casino Affiliates

    Misc.

    Best Gambling Directory
    Webmasters
    Contact Us

    Best Gambling Guide for online gambling reviews, best gambling bonuses, gambling games, and gambling tips. Our gambling guide features

    rules for baccarat, blackjack, craps, roulette & slots. Best gambling payouts and best gambling bonuses are featured in this gambling guide.

    Best Gambling Guide from Gambling Headquarters