Archive for March, 2010

April Tournament Schedule at EHGV Online Casinos and Go Casino Looking Good

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

It’s the last day of March folks, and you know what that means. Yes, less winds and rain…hopefully :). But it also means the end of English Harbour Casinos (EHGV network) March Madness slots tournament and the beginning of yet another loaded round of slots tournaments the World Wide Web over.

EHGV has not officially announced their April schedule as of yet, but if it’s anything like March, slots players will undoubtedly be satisfied. The March Madness tournament, which ends at midnight tonight (check time zone differentials inside the online casino software platform), is dishing out $300,000 in guaranteed winnings to tournament players, including $150,000 just to the first place finisher alone. And this was in addition to daily and weekly pot tournaments and weekly slots free rolls.

The other big U.S. facing online casino network offering impressive guaranteed monthly slots tournament winnings is Hambledon NV, whose most popular site, Go Casino leads the way in traffic and customer ratings. In March, Go Casino was guaranteeing over $480,000 in tournament winnings. April 2010 looks even better with over $500,000 in guaranteed winnings, as well as three free tournament entry’s per player. The full schedule will be posted on Go Casino’s tournament page at midnight tonight.

Another thing worth mentioning about EHGV and Hambledon is they also offer casino game tournaments. EHGV online casinos have bi-weekly Blackjack and Video Poker tournaments, a monthly video poker tournament and weekly Roulette tournaments with pot percentage winnings. Go Casino offers daily weekday Blackjack tournaments with $0.99 entry fees and pot percentage winnings, and comprehensive video poker tournament schedule every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday with $1.99 entry fees and $1,500 guaranteed winnings.

Top Online Betting Site Domains Leave Cake Poker for Merge Gaming

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Unless we’re talking about Poker Stars or Party Poker, the future of online poker is really all about the poker network. Not just a stand-alone poker room, poker networks are conglomerates of sorts, made up of several poker rooms networked into the same platform, resulting in larger player pools, more tournaments and more guaranteed winnings. But (as I said), that is, of course, unless we’re talking about giants like Poker Stars, who bring thousands of players together through a single roof.

Giants like this, however, are much fewer than the online poker networks currently in business. One of these poker networks is the Cake Poker network, which has become one of the fastest growing, US facing online poker networks since first being launched in 2004. In fact, the Cake Network, boasting such big name clients as Doyle’s Room, has been steadily growing year after year….that is, until now. And no, it has nothing to do with the quasi US online gambling ban.

Cake Poker is now shy three recognizable online betting destinations – PlayersOnly.com, SuperBook.com and Sportsbook.com – each owned by Antigua-based Jazette Enterprises, which announced it will be joining the Merge Gaming poker network. A small but substantial network now made even more substantial with the addition of Jazette, the Kahnawake licensed Merge Gaming said in a press release, “this is an industry-changing deal”.

At the time this post was going to press, Cake Poker had twice as much players online than Merge Gaming (just under 6,000). As you can imagine, these figures will likely shift. As for the guaranteed pool money at Cake Poker ($6 Million in monthly tournaments, including $250,000 Sunday’s), this may also see a change depending on just how many players decide to move over to Merge Gaming.

The good news is that Cake says they intend to honor all Gold Card and Gold Chips, which make up the backbone of Cake’s Rewards and Loyalty program, after the three sites leave the network. Cake is also urging players who would be affected by the transition and who would still like to play online in the Cake network, to contact customer support after the transfer is complete. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like an exclusive bonus offer if you ask me.

PayPal Overblocking Online Transactions Due to Ambiguity of UIGEA

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

Many people have wondered why exactly it is that the American Banking Association, the world’s largest credit card companies, and even the Federal Reserve have said all along the supposed US online gambling ban – the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) – would be nigh impossible to enforce, considering all of the carve outs and discrepancies in the bill. I mean a carve out is a carve out, right? Simply identify which forms of online gambling are illegal and block those out.

As nice as this would be, the reality is that the UIGEA does not give transaction codes for specific forms of gambling that should be deemed legal or illegal. Furthermore, every State’s laws are slightly different, so what may be legal in Kentucky (horse racing) could be illegal in a different State, and vice versa. In other words, the UIGEA has placed this huge responsibility – and what some will say is an insurmountable task – on US financial institutions and payment processors.

Case in point is the recent fledgling of affairs at the South Florida Blues Society, which recently send a member-wide email out explaining that internet transactions for the group are being inadvertently blocked because Paypal has mistakenly listed their website as an online gambling website. Now, of course the South Florida Blues Society is a music fan club and has nothing to do with offering online gambling services. But that’s how it goes when you give payment processors the difficult task of filtering out millions of transactions made every day of the year – some related to gambling, some slightly related to gambling, some for legitimate online gambling and some for illegal online gambling. Oy!

The South Florida Blues Society is now even having trouble processing payments made with Visa and Mastercard – both of which have recently been making a wholehearted attempt to comply with the regulations of the UIGEA – the implementation of which has been delayed until June 1, 2010. At less than two months away, getting the UIGEA “successfully” implemented looks even more daunting and impossible than ever.

All Star Slots Faring Well Since Club World Casinos Buyout

Saturday, March 27th, 2010

It’s been nearly three weeks since the popular US facing online casino group, Club World Casinos, announced it had bought out the RTG-powered All Star Slots Casino, which is one of the Top Rated online casinos listed on the homepage of Online Casino Suite. However, the industry is still talking about the takeover, largely because it sheds some light on the inner working of Club World and the company’s current business model.

In a press release published through 24-7PressRelease, online gambling news and reviews site, Online Gambling Insider, discussed the buyout, offering a little more insight into the future of All Star Slots. And the future looks bright, my friends. Anyone familiar with the Club World Group knows they are a top-tier brand with an excellent reputation. Their longstanding Club USA Casino and the catchy Aladdin’s Gold Casino are shining examples of what will likely become of All Star Slots.

Club World has already given it’s magic touch to All Star Slots, updating the promotions page with Club World’s famous Daily Promotions, including $1,950 in Weekly Bonuses on top of All Star’s Welcome Bonus of 100% up to $787 Free ($10 more than Club Worlds normal welcome bonus). Granted, at the time this articles went to press, the All Star Slots website was running a little slow, and appeared to be catching a delay when transferring data from Club World’s servers. Most likely an integration snag, it will probably already be up-and-running at full speed by the time I finish typing this sentence.

Loyal players at All Star Slots have apparently been pleased with the changeover, despite some initial reservations. Considering this is the second time All Star Slots has changed management (they were the inaugural site launched under the new Wizard Gaming software platform), it’s understandable why some players were concerned. However, as Club World promised, the only thing that changed at All Star Slots was that there would be better promotions.

Looking back, the decision by All Star Slots to go to Real Time Gaming Software and then over to the Club World Group was a good one. Doing so has indeed insured All Star Slots would grow at a faster rate without incurring any dents in its good reputation along the way. How does that phrase go again? Oh ya, “You’re in good hands with All State”. How about, “You’re in good hands with Club World”. Read the OCS All Star Slots Casino Review for more information, or Visit All Star Slots directly.

EU Online Gambling Laws Likely to Get Clarification & Liberalization in 2010

Friday, March 26th, 2010

While the European hasn’t been a major help to online gambling over the years, at least the EU hasn’t been a hindrance. Err…well, it’s easy for me to say at least. There are certainly more than a few iGaming operators who have spent a great deal of time and resources trying to liberalize the European facing online gambling industry no thanks to the EU.

The fact of the matter is that the EU has done very little to clarify and liberalize online gambling laws in the European Union. What has ended up happening as a result, is that several EU member States have been allowed to wield policies that protect state-run gambling monopolies.

Sure, there has been liberalization in several key gaming countries, such as France and Italy, but to say that protectionism does not exist in the European online gambling industry is simply not true. Furthermore, there are several grey areas of regulation – in particular, regarding online poker. Some EU member State’s have embraced poker, while others have not.

Likely seeking to provide some clarification to the laws, as well as mandate solid online gambling policies that would liberalize the European online gambling industry as a whole, is the next President of the European Union. Well, at least that’s the hope. Since the next President will come from Belgium, which has already liberalized it’s online gambling laws, many believe the Belgium official will push to clarify laws that would help create opportunities for online gambling operators in Belgium.

Truth be told, doing so would help iGaming operators doing business in Europe period. Come July, when the Presidency changeover takes place, the EU will be one step closer at opening the entire market in a cross border fashion that would give citizens of any EU nation the right to gamble with operators licensed in any other EU member State.

True Poker Owner Comes Forward in Kentucky Domain Name Case

Friday, March 26th, 2010

Honestly, I am totally sick of talking about Kentucky and the online gambling drama that has been taking place here for the past year-and-a-half. But you know what? I am going to keep talking about it, because when you look at the big picture, it’s all about principle is it not? The domain name seizure instigated by Kentucky Governor, Steve Beshear, is more than about online gambling legality and protectionism. It is about internet rights and your rights as a U.S. citizen.

It makes sense then that the Interactive Media Entertainment and Gaming Association (iMEGA), whose mission is to foster and promote innovation, openness and freedom on the internet,  is taking the lead and representing the multitude of online casino, poker and sports betting operators affected by the domain seizure – 141 domains to be exact. Some of you may recall that iMEGA was seeking to file a motion with the lower Court of Appeals to overturn the domain name seizure, which included several well known online casinos, poker rooms and sports betting sites.

The only catch is that Kentucky’s Supreme Court thinks an industry group like iMEGA doesn’t have legal standing to represent anonymous parties. In other words, as Online Casino Suite reported just last week, the Kentucky high court says the domain name owners must come forward in order for the appeal to go forward. And now, that’s precisely what one site owner is doing.

Yatahay Ltd., which owns the domain name, TruePoker.com is having iMEGA file a new motion on its behalf. Serving as the guinea pig, so to speak, Yatahay’s fate in the case (which will likely be no worse than having the appeal denied) could stand as the precedent for all other domain name owners to come forward and challenge Governor Beshear’s outlandish and unprecedented actions against internet freedom.

As you can imagine, there is still plenty more to unfold in this case. And yes, OCS will be reporting on it. As much as I will do my best to keep from bashing Governor Beshear with some straight up basketball trash talk and gagging when I hear the name of Kentucky, I can make no promises.

Online Gambling Bills Expected to Gain Momentum: Taxes to Help Foster Children

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

With health care reform getting the green light in the United States, the online gambling industry is hoping legislators will be giving iGaming regulation a serious consideration as a resource to help fund the costly tab. And not that they haven’t already, for there are two bills currently doing the rounds in Congress and gaining momentum. If you want to get right to the point and do your part in helping online gambling become legal in the U.S., visit the Safe and Secure Internet Gambling Initiative (safeandsecureig.org).

Representative Barney Frank’s Internet Gambling Regulation Consumer Protection and Enforcement Act aims to overturn the Conservative Christian and Republican-backed Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) and lay groundwork to give individual State’s the opportunity to tax and regulate online gambling. In conjunction with Frank’s efforts, Washington State House Representative, Jim McDermott, has been pushing a regulatory licensing and taxation bill (basically, a replacement for the UIGEA) called the Internet Gambling Regulation and Tax Enforcement Act.

Now, McDermott is updating this companion bill, which was originally introduced in 2009, to include specific provisions calling for the funding of foster care. Perhaps in response to the passing of the healthcare reform bill (now Congress is not too tied up to give thought to less pressing issues), McDermott’s announcement of said changes are timely, to say the least. According to McDermott, who is a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, the changes to the bill were made in response to State governments being forced to make budget cuts, resulting in cuts for social services like children’s health insurance and foster care.

Well, I personally can hardly think of a better cause than looking after children. And, McDermott’s bill does so twofold: By capturing tens of billions of dollars, thereby generating badly needed tax revenue for foster care programs (that would otherwise be lost revenue) AND by putting an end to underworld corruption in an unregulated market looking to exploit minors. Although anti-gambling proponents would have you to believe otherwise, online gambling regulation would, without a doubt, protect minors from the dangers of gambling addiction by mandating underage gambling preventive measures, not to mention identity and fraud prevention protocols. One need only look to the United Kingdom as a perfect example.

McDermott says he is currently talking with the House Ways and Means Committee to get his bill up for a hearing. When Congressman Frank’s bill is marked up by the House Financial Services Committee – a strong likelihood, although no telling when – McDermott says he will begin pushing his bill to attract more co-sponsors.

Major Millions Online Casino Slot Pays Out $310K+ Progressive Jackpot This Week

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

Although there hasn’t been any online casino millionaires this week, it has been reported that Microgaming Software’s Major Millions progressive video slot dished out a massive $310,000 jackpot to a lucky player on Tuesday. There’s no word just yet on which of Microgaming’s 120+ online casinos hosted the win, nor the name and country of residence of the lucky player; However, it is certainly clear that Major Millions continues to be a lucrative and popular progressive slot machine.

The last major jackpot win on Major Millions (pun intended) was hit less than a month ago in February for nearly $300,000. Prior to this, the largest win was worth approximately $563,000, and the average jackpot win was averaged at $366,000. If you are wondering if Major Millions has ever dished out millions in winnings to a single player, the answer is yes. In 2002, Major Millions set the world record (at the time) for the largest jackpot ever won at an online casino. It was valued at $1.5 million.

Most online gamblers will agree that Major Millions seems to be picking up, or should I say, loosening up, thus far in 2010. Of course, another million dollar plus win would help Major Millions take back the throne for Microgaming’s most popular progressive jackpot slot, which most likely belongs to …………. these days. Either way, Microgaming casinos are doing fine for themselves, even with a non-USA policy in effect.

For more information about Microgaming, see OCS’s top picks for the Best Microgaming Casinos.

Questions About Technical Systems Testing Online Casino RNG Certifications

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010
TST Provides Core RNG Fairness Certification for Online Casino Software

TST Provides Core RNG Fairness Certification for Online Casino Software

Today marks the first post in a series of email’s we are sending out to anyone in the industry with a finger in how fairness and transparency standards are set and maintained in the online gambling industry. Of course, we will be seeking answers to questions (which we hope to post as blog comments) aimed at helping us all understand how this industry operates, thereby informing one’s level of overall trust in the industry. However, we will also be seeking to lobby, or perhaps a better word – encourage – the industry, namely regulatory bodies, software developers, casino operators and third party accreditation companies, to raise current levels of gaming operator responsibility and industry transparency standards.

We begin this series with a letter to third party online casino software fairness testing house, Technical Systems Testing. TST (as they are more commonly called), is a highly reputed, internationally recognized testing facility and consultant for the iGaming industry. Providing ongoing RNG certification and payout auditing for both the land-based and online gambling industry, TST’s labs certified the fist Provincial online lotteries in Western and Eastern Canada, and was the go-to testing house to certify the first online casino systems to go live in reputable gaming jurisdictions like the UK, Alderney, Ise of Man, Philippines and First Cagayan.

Below is the email sent to Technical Systems Testing @ tstglobal.com

[BEGIN email]

email Introduction omitted to spare you the boredom

…We have noticed two kinds of TST certificates being linked to from online entities – namely, online casinos and software developers. One type of certificate is an RNG certification, which we imagine would be in the best interests of a software developer. In effect, it states the software platform delivers fair and odds and unpredictable results. However, we also notice online casinos linking to the same document. While it is understandable an online casino would have such a certificate to show the software platform powering it’s games has been tested for inherent fairness, I would think an updated RNG certificate would be in order to verify that the source code has not been changed and the RNG is in current working order.

Therefore, our question is this:

Does an RNG certification of the software platform necessarily mean an online casino using that very same software platform is delivering odds based on the RNG certification (even if such a certification is several years old)?

Secondly, are you aware of any regulatory jurisdictions that allow online casino operators to change their source code? If so, would that, in effect, give a software RNG certification less credence than say an RNG accrediation of the actual platform being used by the online casino? A good example would be Rushmore Casino, which is powered by Real Time Gaming software and links to the following certification for RTG – not specifically for Rushmore. http://rm.cdnng.net/certification_letter.pdf

In order for an online casino to possess the highest degree of transparency in terms of fairness, what would this entail in terms of TST accreditations? A monthly RNG accreditation? Monthly payout/audit reports? Your thoughts are greatly appreciated.

On a side note, we were under the impression that the Top Game Software platform has received an accreditation from TST. However, all of the Top Game online casinos link to a TST logo that lands on a press release from October 2009, stating that Top Game had been certified by TST, but yet there is no RNG certificate to show for. Is Top Game software, in fact, certified by TST?

[END email]

We are just waiting for a response at this point, and when we have one, granted permission to post, we will include TST’s reply at the bottom of this post in the blog comments section. To check back and/or to read other email posts making up OCS’s campaign to raise the bar in gaming operator transparency and fairness, visit the tag: Responsible Online Gambling Standards.

Dragonfish Enters Italian Online Gambling Market by Way of Bwin

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

There is hardly a hotter European iGaming market right now than Italy. Although opening its online gambling sector in stages, Italy is expected to become one of the more liberalized, not to mention, largest profit bearing nations in the European iGaming industry.

Bwin, which holds the largest share in the European iGaming market (8%), has been very busy of late getting set up in Italy, including the launch of it’s Ongame poker network, now boasting an estimated 5 million players. Fueled by an acquisition of the Italian gaming operator, Gioco Digitale, in September last year, Bwin’s presence in Italy will now be overseen by Dragonfish – the B2B division of 888 Holdings, which Bwin just signed an agreement with.

As part of Dragonfish’s wide range of Total Gaming Services package, Bwin will receive marketing, operations, epayment, and of course, the best in casino gaming technology from Dragonfish during its first foray into the Italian online gambling market.

What makes Dragonfish especially capable to handle the Italian market is the diversity of its platform. Enabling seamless cross platform integration (casino, bingo, poker, sports) under a single ePayment solution, Dragonfish offers it all. And with access to over 1,000 multi-lingual games from a variety of software platforms, Dragonfish provides a comprehensive selection of the best online casino games available today.

Just how well things turn out in Italy for Bwin, and consequently, Dragonfish, remains to be seen. As is the case elsewhere throughout the 8.3 Billion European iGaming market, the restrictions imposed against foreign online gambling operators may end up being too tight for comfort.