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Bwin.Party CEO Sees Legal Online Gaming In US Soon...
-Legalized online gambling in the U.S. is now a case of 'when', not 'if', Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment PLC (BPTY.LN) chief Jim Ryan said Wednesday, adding that he expects the foundations to be laid this year.
But speaking on the fringes of the ICE online gambling conference in London, the co-chief executive cautioned that setting it up will take time.
The process of passing legislation, drawing up regulation, vetting and licensing operators will likely last through 2012, he said, and he speculates that actual operations probably won't get off the ground before next year.
Partygaming, which last year merged with Austrian peer Bwin to form Bwin.Party, along with other European operators withdrew from the U.S. market in 2006 shortly after then-President George W. Bush signed a bill designed to prohibit U.S. banks and credit card companies from processing payments to gambling websites.
Partygaming paid a $105 million fine as part of a non-prosecution deal with the DOJ in 2009, for admitting indirect contravention of US law, but in anticipation of a relaxation of the rules, Bwin.Party last year signed a joint venture with U.S. casino operators MGM and Boyd to operate online gaming if and when it became legal in the U.S.
Ryan's confident tone comes after a recent ruling by the U.S. Department of Justice, which clarifies the scope of the Wire Act, a law that in the past has been used stop online gambling sites. The ruling essentially gives U.S. states the green light to allow gambling within their borders, according to online gambling experts.
Still, Ryan said this doesn't mean the company is in line to recoup any of the$105 million fine.
Bwin.Party and its joint venture partners have already applied for a preliminary suitability review in Nevada which will lay the groundwork for gaining a license there once regulation is agreed.
Ryan also told Dow Jones the sale process for its Ongame poker network is very advanced and he expects to be able to announce further news in the not too distant future.
He confirmed recent reports that the company is looking for an executive to head up its payments processing division CQR with a view to ultimately taking it public, but said this was several years away.
He said the company wants to expand its online payments operations outside of the gambling sector to build an online merchant market place, increasing the value of this asset and ultimately realising shareholder value by listing it on the stock market.
Fertitta Interactive Applies for NV Online Gaming License...
The list of brick and mortar casino owners applying for Nevada intrastate online gaming licenses just keeps growing. Fertitta Interactive is the latest organization to submit an application.
Fertitta Interactive is partially owned by Frank and Lorenzo Fertitta, owners of the popular Station Casinos as well as the Ultimate Fighting Championship brand. Former Golden Nugget owners Tim Poster and Tom Breitling also have a stake in Fertitta Interactive. The company acquired software provider CyberArts in the fall of 2011 and they are now taking steps to be a force in the online gambling world.
“We support the regulation of online poker,” said Lorenzo Fertitta, founder of Fertitta Interactive, in a Thursday press release. “Our industry leading software has a track record of complying with the strictest regulations in jurisdictions around the world. Nevada has always been the leader in gaming regulation and we’re pleased to file our application here. Our goal is to provide customers with the best online gaming experience in a safe and well-regulated online environment.”
CyberArts currently supplies its Foundation Poker software to the free play site PurePlay poker. Fertitta Interactive is now one of a dozen companies who have applied for licenses along with brick and morter entities MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, Boyd Gaming, Monarch Casino, and South Point. Software providers Cantor Gaming, IGT, 888 Holdings, Shuffle Master, Aristocrat Technologies, and Bally Technologies have also applied for licenses.
Fertitta’s announcement is the latest in a string of announcements from Las Vegas gaming companies that indicate that regulated online gambling appears to be happening in the near future. Earlier this week, Caesars Interactive and longtime European partner 88 Holdings revealed they are expanding their partnership to include US gaming. Online free money gaming juggernaut Zynga also hinted last month that a real money venture could be a possibility in the future as well.
Ocean’s Eleven Cyprus Style...
Every now and again reports surface about the creation of casinos in Cyprus. Over the past couple of months the frequency of these rumours has increased considerably with various ministers (finance, communications etc) being quoted and billionaire investors itching to be the first to acquire the much coveted licence.
This goes against the President’s anti-gambling principles who stated a couple of years ago that as long as he is in power there will be no casinos. However an Akel MP (Mouskallis) said around the same time that AKEL will favour the creation of a casino provided the time is right. It appears that the recession, rising unemployment, shortage of liquidity are conditions for such an initiative.
However when walking around the main cities one comes across shops with a massive sign hanging outside stating ‘Casino’ or to be more precise ‘On Line Casino’. According to unofficial reports there are said to be close to 200 such establishments. There is even one called the Bellagio which was raided recently by police but no Danny Ocean’s or Reuben Tishkoffs were arrested.
Of course there are plenty of proper ‘pseudo’ casinos in the occupied parts which are crammed with Greeks. The recent rumours though have alarmed the president of the Casinos Association in the north, Mr. Etsensoi, as the realization of such rumours will have a disastrous effect on their industry.
Stay tuned for more from Cyprus.
Anti-gambling pamphlets direct users to TAB hotline...
The Victorian Government has been forced to pulp pamphlets aimed at problem gamblers which directed them to a phone line encouraging them to bet.
The pamphlet for people who want to exclude themselves from gaming venues directs callers to a TAB hotline, where gambling products are promoted.
Victorian Gaming Minister Michael O'Brien says it was an oversight.
"The telephone number that was used for self exclusion was the Tabcorp customer service number," he said.
"It is possible to access self-exclusion services from that general number, but the Victorian Government believes, and Tabcorp and Gambler's Help also agree, that it's far better if the distinct self-exclusion number is used in the future."
The bungle comes as the State Government announces it has decided to delay the introduction of pre-commitment technology for poker machines.
The Government promised before the last election to introduce voluntary pre-commitment by 2013, giving punters the option to set a gambling limit.
But Mr O'Brien says the plan is being delayed until 2016 because confusion around the Federal Government's plans for mandatory pre-commitment would make it too complicated.
"There's the risk that that may be incompatible with what the Federal Government requires," he said.
He says the Victorian Government is committed to introducing voluntary limits.
"We believe that every gaming machine in this state should have pre-commitment on it, we think that's an option that is there for every single player who wants to track their expenditure, help set themselves limits," he said.
"We think that will lead to a much more responsible gambling industry and that's what we want to see here in Victoria and that's what we thing the community wants to see as well."
The move has angered anti-pokies campaigner, Tim Costello, who says the Government is making excuses for doing nothing.
"Proof again of the utter capture of state governments' by the gambling lobby," he said.
NSW deals with its own pokies pressure...
The New South Wales Government has been accused of ignoring problem gambling through recent changes to poker machine laws.
Premier Barry O'Farrell struck a deal with NSW clubs in the lead-up to last year's state election.
A memorandum of understanding was struck which led to legislative changes allowing clubs to build another site without giving up as many poker machine licenses.
The concession was initially only granted in the proposed club was within a new housing estate.
But on Friday the minister responsible, George Souris, expanded the concession to clubs building within a kilometre of a new housing estate.
Opposition Leader John Robertson says Mr Souris has undermined Federal Government efforts to tackle problem gambling.
"We have a government in New South Wales that's actually trying to make it easier for clubs to relocate poker machines around the state, while we've got a Prime Minister who's trying to look at how we can address problem gambling," he said.
"The contrast couldn't be more stark. Barry O'Farrell, who wants to allow and make it easier for poker machines to be relocated, and a Prime Minister who is at least looking at ways that we can reduce problem gambling."
Greens MP John Kaye shares Labor's concerns.
"It has made the laws easier for clubs to move their pokers machines into areas of high concentration of potential addiction," Dr Kaye said.
Meanwhile a spokesman for Premier Barry O'Farrell says the the State Government will hold talks with the Commonwealth about potentially extending a trial of pre-commitment technology into NSW.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced on the weekend that mandatory pre-commitment for poker machines would be trialled in the ACT.
The Federal Government wants clubs just across the border in Yass and Queanbeyan to be included, to stop punters from skirting the trial.
Mr O'Farrell's spokesman says the Premier is opposed to the technology but will wait for a full briefing.
A bid to lure Asian punters to cost a billion dollars plus...
Billionaire James Packer has already spent hundreds of millions of dollars upgrading the Burswood Casino complex and is reported to be willing to spend a billion dollars more revamping it.
It is all part of a bid to attract more oriental customers to Australia.
In December, Mr Packer revealed his Perth-based casino would be re-branded Crown Perth in the second half of 2012.
"It will allow Burswood to utilise the internationally recognised Crown brand in order to increase the number of international and interstate visitors to Perth, especially from the strategically important China market," he said.
The plan is to offer an "integrated resort" - a term more frequently used in the Macau region.
Such a resort is a one stop shop - it is a large scale development which incorporates a number of facilities such as a casino, accommodation, retail shops, restaurants, bars and nightclubs, cinemas, galleries and even theme parks.
Mr Packer believes integrated resorts growing international tourism and he is in negotiations with the State Government to purchase land to build a new five star hotel and entertainment complex on the Burswood site.
The Burswood Entertainment Complex is already undergoing a $750 million upgrade which is due to be completed by the end of the year.
Mr Packer thinks Australia can crack the Asian market in integrated resorts, a concept that has been highly successful for Asian neighbour Singapore.
Two integrated casinos, Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands, were opened there in 2010 and have been highly profitable.
Mr Packer is hoping to emulate this.
"Marina Bay Sands is the most profitable casino in the world," he said.
"Singapore's gross domestic product increased by 14.5 per cent in 2010."
Citi equities analyst Jenny Owen says the tourism boost from these casinos to the Singaporean economy is evident.
"Inbound arrivals grew 20 per cent in 2010 and 15 per cent in the third quarter of the 2010-2011 financial year and tourism revenue grew by 49 percent in 2010," she said.
"The evidence from Singapore is that if you build it, they will come, and the economic benefits extend beyond the direct casino revenues."
Resort World and Marina Bay Sands are predicted to generate a revenue of more than US$71 billion by 2015.
A PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) report is forecasting the Asia Pacific will be the fastest growing region for casino gaming in the next five years.
It predicts that Asia Pacific will overtake the United States as the world's largest casino market in 2013, with a compound annual revenue growth rate of 18.3 per cent between 2011 and 2015.
PWC says Australian casinos are finding it hard to attract high spenders from other countries due to increased competition from Singapore and Macau.
This increased competition was partially to blame for the 8.6 per cent fall in Burswood's 2011 financial year earnings before tax.
The casino's VIP program play revenue also fell, to $535 million last financial year.
Overall, international visitors contribute to 37 per cent of the casino's revenue and part of Mr Packer's strategy is to source new customers from China in order to compete with Singapore and Macau.
Ms Owen says Asian tourists represent the only meaningful growth segment in the near term.
"Inbound tourists from Asian countries spend much more on average on gambling while visiting Australia than tourists from other countries," she said.
"It would seem that revenues are available for Australia to grow its share of the international casino tourists' wallets."
She says the upgrades are also about Australia gaining back its share of the region's gaming market.
"Australia's share of gaming revenue in the South East Asia region has fallen from 30 per cent to 9 per cent in past five years," she said.
"There is money in casinos, particularly those located near Asia."
Apart from the United Kingdom, most of the visitors to Perth come from Asia.
Tourism Research Australia found visitors from Asian countries spent $919 million during their time in WA, almost half the total spent by international tourists.
Tourism Research Australia also found Perth is a popular destination for people from Asia with Singaporeans, Malaysians and Indonesians the state's top Asian markets.
The Tourism Minister Kim Hames says China is WA's fastest growing market in terms of economic value, worth $3.4 billion.
He is hoping for a fivefold increase in Chinese visitor numbers.
"Visitors to WA from China have increased by 55.8 percent to 18,700 for the year ending September 2011," he said.
"The aim is to increase the number of Chinese visitors to WA from the current level to 100,000 a year by 2020.
" Introducing direct flights between Perth and China is part of the strategy and China Southern Airlines is now operating services three times a week".
Dr Hames says he supports the Burswood redevelopment.
"There is no doubt that Chinese tourists would be attracted to a world class integrated resort in Perth and the development of Burswood presents an opportunity for the WA tourism industry," he said.
Apart from the casino complex, Burswood is set to be transformed into a major tourist precinct with the State Government decision to build the new 60,000 seat sports stadium at the site.
Despite the State Opposition's demands that Mr Packer contribute funds towards the sporting complex, Dr Hames says it is not appropriate.
" We saw the evidence of private companies investing in partnership with Government during the WA Inc years and frankly it turned out to be a disaster," he said.
"This is public instructure and we think it is appropriate that the State Government and hopefully the Commonwealth Government fund state infrastructure."
He would prefer Mr Packer to build his hotel.
"We are desperately short of hotels in this state," he said.
"I would much rather put his money into a private enterprise project like a new hotel than starting to do deals with private companies to get public infrastructure."
Mr Packer isn't arguing.
"If we were asked to do that at the beginning, our response would have been we are not in the stadium business, they are not a great business," he said.
"Now the Premier has decided to put it there we are very grateful and I think it is the right place.
Mr Packer believes the expansion of his casino and the new stadium will fundamentally change Burswood.
" I think the Burswood peninsula can be one of those waterfront precincts that really has the opportunity to be something special".
And, will hopefully encourage tourists to flock to Western Australia.
Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment Responds to DoJ Indictment against Megaupload...
Bwin.Party Digital Entertainment, the largest online gaming company in the world, formed by the recent merger of PartyGaming and Bwin, has responded to the US Department of Justice’s (DoJ) 72-page-long indictment against Megaupload.com, a file hosting service. PartyGaming as well as its online poker gaming brand PartyPoker is now part of Bwin.Party. Bwin.Party is also the firm behind the world famous PartyCasino brand.
According to the DoJ’s indictment, PartyGaming has spent more than $3 million on marketing campaigns, as part of which PartyPoker has been advertised on sites that form part of Megaupload.com. The DoJ has accused Megaupload.com of infringing copyright, pirating, and money laundering. As a result of this indictment, 18 domain names belonging to Megaupload.com have been shut down by the DoJ and several people associated with it, including Kim Schmitz, the founder of Megaupload.com, have been arrested.
As soon as Bwin.Party came to know of these developments, it terminated the marketing and advertising agreement it had signed with the company and issued a public statement in which it stated that Megaupload.com had specifically promised that it would not infringe on copyrights belonging to third parties on their sites, which get over 50 millions hits per day.
John Shepherd, the Bwin.Party marketing executive, said, “We had no knowledge about any of the alleged activities undertaken by Megaupload.” Further stating that Bwin.party was totally unaware that Megaupload was involved in such activities, Shepherd said, “We’re a completely innocent party. They (the DoJ) have obviously put the details of our contract in the indictment to help make their case about the amount of money that was going through Megaupload.”
However, Bwin.Party and PartyGaming are not the only parties named by the DoJ in its indictment against Megaupload.com. Also mentioned are names such as PayPal and Moneybookers. Stating that he has absolutely no idea of the reasons for which PartyGaming was mentioned, Shepherd assured the online poker gaming industry that Bwin.Party is totally innocent of and was totally unaware of any illegal activities Megaupload.com stands accused of.
Megaupload.com belongs to Megaupload Limited, an online company based in Hong Kong, which offered several varieties of file hosting services. On Jan 19, 2012, the US DoJ seized 15 domain names belonging to the company and shut down the sites on allegations that company was continuously involved in infringement of copyrights belonging to third parties. Besides, the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department froze HK$330 million in assets belonging to the company.
Megaupload Data 'To Be Destroyed In Days'...
Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom
American prosecutors have warned that data from users of file-sharing site Megaupload could be deleted from host servers within days.
US officials have blocked access to Megaupload and charged seven men, saying the site facilitated millions of illegal downloads of movies, music and other content.
Megaupload previously hired outside companies to store clients' data but its lawyer, Ira Rothken, said the US government has restricted this by freezing its funds.
A letter filed by prosecutors on January 27 said storage companies Carpathia Hosting and Cogent Communications Group may begin deleting data from Thursday onwards.
Representatives of the two companies declined to comment on the move.
Last week site founder Kim Dotcom, who was accused of internet piracy, was denied bail in New Zealand ahead of an extradition bid by the US.
The US Department of Justice took control of the company's website and posted an FBI anti-piracy warning.
New Zealand police allegedly found Dotcom - formerly known as Kim Schmitz - in a sealed panic room at his leased mansion.
Officers seized assets worth $50m (£32m) in the raid, including guns, artwork, luxury cars and $8m in cash.
In response, anarchic freedom of speech campaigners launched a cyber attack on US government and mainstream music industry websites.
Mr Rothken said Megaupload is working with prosecutors to try to keep the masses of data from being erased.
He advised at least 50 million Megaupload users around the world are in danger of losing files.
Mr Rothken said that, besides its customers, the data is important to Megaupload so it can defend itself in the legal case.
"We're cautiously optimistic at this point that because the United States, as well as Megaupload, should have a common desire to protect consumers, that this type of agreement will get done," he said.
Some legitimate site users, such as software developers, have complained that their data has been inaccessible since US officials took action against the company.
Megaupload mansion in New Zealand
Internet Gambling Coming to an American State Near You? What the DOJ’s Change of Heart Means for the Immediate Future of Internet Gambling...
Reeling from the federal shutdown of the three biggest Internet gambling websites in April 2011, there was little confidence left in the online gambling industry that the U.S. was any closer to legalizing online gambling as 2012 neared. The Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) offered a glimmer of hope to states seeking to legalize intrastate online gambling, but the statute seemingly left the Wire Act’s prohibitions in tact. Chances of Congressional action evaporated after two bills calling for federal legalization of online gambling were shelved indefinitely in the fall.
On December 23, 2011, however, in response to several state lottery requests that the DOJ formally reiterate its position on whether the Wire Act prohibits non-sports interstate gambling transmissions, the Department announced it was abandoning its long-held position that the Wire Act proscribed all forms of Internet gambling. The DOJ reversed course, officially adopting the view that the Wire Act only prohibits interstate sports gambling transmissions, allowing states to offer lottery games over the Internet to in-state customers without fear of violating federal law.
While this was certainly welcome news to the state lottery boards, the biggest winner is undoubtedly the Internet gambling community. The DOJ long-maintained that all Internet gambling transmissions, even intrastate ones, violated the Wire Act, arguing that all Internet transmissions inherently travel across state lines. This position effectively prohibited all forms of online gambling in the U.S. Under the DOJ’s new interpretation, however, only Internet sports bets violate the Wire Act, enabling states that choose to do so, to legalize casino-style (non-sports) Internet gambling.
Under the DOJ’s new take on the Wire Act, states that legalize online gambling will still have to comply with certain federal regulations. UIGEA provides that intrastate online gambling is not considered “unlawful” so long as the state utilizes certain safeguards to ensure that the bettor is physically located in a state where Internet gambling is legal and that the bettor is at least 18 years of age. Sports betting over the Internet is still proscribed by the Wire Act.
As states strapped for cash desperately search for new sources of revenue, expect state-regulated online gambling to get a good, hard look from many state legislatures in 2012. It may not be long before a revitalized online gambling industry in the U.S. ushers in federal legalization.
Sylvester Stallone coming to Fallsview Casino...
Don’t worry Rambo and Rocky fans, Sylvester Stallone is not coming to the Fallsview Casino to flog some product. No, the ‘Italian Stallion’ is coming to do two nights of intimate Q&A’s about his career on the weekend of February 24 and 25. Should be interesting for big fans of the action star with a spare $90.
Stallone, who will be seen later this summer in The Expendables 2, is the third actor to do an An Evening with… at the Fallsview Casino. Al Pacino and Sean Penn have both appeared on stage there last year.
For more info and to purchase tickets, visit fallsviewcasinoresort.com.
An Evening with Sylvester Stallone
Friday, February 24 and Saturday, February 25
Showtime: 9 p.m., doors open at 8 p.m.
Tickets start at $90
Known for his roles as Rocky Balboa in the Rocky movies, John Rambo in the Rambo movies and most recently Barney Ross in The Expendables, Sylvester Stallone has had a tremendous career. Don’t miss your opportunity to spend an evening with the movie legend Sylvester Stallone, LIVE, on stage for a candid interview and Q&A session with the audience that will highlight his extraordinary career and life.
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