Archive for June, 2010

Microgaming Software to Power Philippines Facing Online Casino for PhilWeb

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

Online Gambling in the Philippines

Online Gambling in the Philippines & PhilWeb

The Philippines is no stranger to online gambling. Neither are they a stranger to the controversy that often surrounds online gambling. Legally regulated in the Philippines, internet betting here has come a long way since the Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) was authorized to operate the sole online casino for internet wagering Filipino’s.

After being nearly shut down by the then-current Philippines President in 2001 (who was later impeached the same year), the Filipino online gambling industry bounced back by giving PhilWeb Corporation “control” of online casinos doing business in the Southeast Asian Pacific. Opening the door for competition, PhilWeb now works with PAGCOR to regulate and tax online casinos based in the Philippines. And while the laws are strict here, the potential for business is huge for any operator lucky enough to get in the door with PhilWeb.

That said, it should be no surprise that the online casino software developer, Microgaming, has struck a deal with PhilWeb to provide games for a new online casino (apparently still in development) by the name of Vibrant Vegas. Complementing PhilWeb’s current lineup of “at-home” play and internet cafe online wagering games, Vibrant Vegas Casino will provide the best that Microgaming has to offer. In case you need a refresher, that’s over 450 graphically-intense online casino games and outstanding front/backend software controls.

Regarding the deal with Microgaming, PhilWeb’s CEO, Dennis Valdes, couldn’t have said it better: “Our gaming operations are currently going from strength to strength and we are delighted to be delivering a new casino platform to market. We are currently undergoing rapid growth, and Microgaming is the obvious partner for us, due to its ability to deliver the highest quality tailored software at an unrivalled speed to market.  We firmly believe that no other provider comes close when it comes to games content.”.

Microgaming is no doubt equally pleased to be teaming up with PhilWeb, not to mention gaining a foothold in the Philippines online gambling market.

Delay to Vote on Bill for Regulating Online Poker in California

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

With all this talk about the State of California on the move to legalize online gambling (at least online poker rooms, that is), it looks like the detractors, or rather, those who would oppose said regulation, have gotten wind of the building momentum and have surged forward with a resistant blast of their own.

With the bill to regulate internet poker due up for a vote yesterday, and considering that vote never took place, it appears that resistance to regulate online gambling in California is having it’s way. But don’t let that make you think the move to get the bill passed is a “dead process”, says Senator Rob Wright.

Senator Wright is an important name to know in this unfolding story, for it was Mr. Wright who was largely responsible for derailing the vote for another time. However, it was also Senator Wright who put the bill together in the first place. So, in as much as derailing the vote may come across as a delay tactic or strategy to build opposition, Senator Wright was quick to avoid sparking doubt with others in support of regulation by stating, “Just because we don’t do this today doesn’t mean people are going to stop playing Internet poker.”

In other words, it really does look as if California is going to regulate online poker. With 10% of the revenue generated by online poker rooms going back to the State – which, needless to say – is in dire need of deficit curbing revenue, the prospects to make online poker rooms legal in the most populous state in America.

Another Leading Online Gambling Operator Drops out of France

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

Uh ya...what the picture says. No Francaise Por Favor?

Ya, what the picture says - No Francaise

What’s that they say about France? They are not so friendly to Americans? Well, how about they are not so friendly to online casinos? Following in the footsteps of said America, the French government has gotten around to passing a bill which apparently legalizes online casino gambling. The only catch is that – according to critics – the bill makes it easier for French gambling monopolies to prosper while giving private operators more reasons not to set up shop in France.

Following the pullout of William Hill and Betfair in France, yet another online casino operator has decided to cease taking bets from French citizens. This time around it’s none other than one of Playtech Software’s longest running licensees: Peak Entertainment. Having operated Omni online casino since the late nineties (the early beginnings of a formidable internet betting industry), Peak Entertainment is now facing another huge drop in traffic with the decision to close it’s doors in France – something they decided to do long ago in the U.S.

However, unlike in the States, where online casino gambling and internet poker is deemed “illegal”, France has made it legal, but with a stiff arm to regulate. The incentive to operate in France (i.e., profitability) is simply not enough for many operators.

As for Peak Entertainment, the company’s affiliate program management team, Focal Click, has just notified all current affiliates that French players will no longer be able to open accounts at Peak’s gaming destinations, and that current players residing in France will have their accounts locked. Otherwise, Peak would be guilty of operating in France, but without paying the apparently steep fees required to do so.

The email notification went on to say that all players will be paid out their entitled funds in a timely manner, which considering Focal Click’s past track record, should be a given. As for Peak’s online poker room, Sun Poker, current sentiment is that it will keep doing business in France so long as Playtech (iPoker network) decides to cease from dropping out.

All Slots Online Casino Dishes Out $25,000 Jackpot Win to Canadian Player

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

eCOGRA certified All Slots online casino is no stranger to huge jackpot wins. A member of the long-standing Jackpot Factory group of online casinos, Microgaming-powered All Slots is synced with one of the largest wide area progressive jackpot networks on the internet.

How large, you ask? Well, let’s just say that the Jackpot Factory has paid out over $4 billion in payouts since 2000. As for the current progressive jackpot tally at the time of publication, it was worth $6,244,388 – and that’s minus the recent $25,000 jackpot dished out to a Canadian player spinning the reels on the popular “Totem Treasure” video slot.

More precisely, the big winner goes by the screen name of Lynn R., and hails from British Columbia, Canada. A member of All Slots since the very beginning of the Jackpot Factory empire (nearly ten years ago), Lynn R. is what we in the online gambling industry like to call a loyal player. In fact, the Jackpot Factory’s Director of Player Affairs, David Brickman, said, “She’s (Lynn) been a loyal player for a long time, and it’s always exciting to see persistency pay off.”

Indeed, persistency certainly does pay off. Of course, nobody knows for sure exactly how much Lynn R. has wagered over the years (let alone how much she’s lost and won), but it’s probably safe to say that she has at least broken even. If not, perhaps it’s time to take the money and run Lynn! From a player’s perspective, one can only be so loyal, can they not?

One last thing worth mentioning about All Slots online casino is that in addition to being a haven for big jackpot wins, they are also known for churning out frequent winners. I mean, what other online casinos actually have a “Winners” page linked up through the main navigation menu on their website. Check out AllSlots.com to see for yourself. And – assuming you do not reside in the U.S. – be sure to look into opening a free account and taking advantage of their $5,000 Welcome Bonus package (100% up to $200 Free on the first deposit).

Google Android Starting to Show it’s Face in Mobile Online Gaming Sector

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

To debate which smart phone is better – Google Android,  iPhone or Blackberry – is kind of a pointless, albeit fun debate. Where one phone lacks, another excels – and vice versa. Me personally, I am an iPhone user. Call it loyalty, laziness or a three-year contract :), all I know is that when I picked up an iPhone for the first time, I realized that I had officially entered “the future”.

As for a close friend of mine, he has had all three of the aforementioned smart phones, and currently is the proud owner of the Android. And while he will be the first to admit that the Android does some pretty cool stuff (like take a photo with flash), there is some user-experience that he misses about the iPhone, which his wife is still the proud owner of. So yes, the debate I referred to is one which I have personally witnessed take place between a happily married couple – only to end in name-calling and smashed furniture. Just kidding. As I said, it’s a friendly and fun debate.

In terms of online gambling, both the Android and iPhone are equally available. In other words, both phones are available through applications built by the leading online casinos, poker rooms, bingo rooms and internet sports books today. The most recent example I can think about of an online gaming operator developing applications for both the iPhone and Google’s Android is Unibet. The Malta-based operator just announced the launch of a client-specific (Android user’s) application for it’s popular sportsbook, which covers everything from the World Cup to U.S. politics.

On the heels of an iPhone application launch (last October) with Swedish mobile games developer, Mobenga, Unibet has become one of the first developers to launch a sports betting app specifically for the Android. Once again partnering up with Mobenga, Unibet revealed that the application was designed to convey the “feel” of Unibet, while still resembling the previous mobile app developed for iPhone users. In other words, the user-experience quotient still remains high.

So, on behalf of all mobile phone user’s (even those without the Android, yet still likely to adopt the Android), I say thanks Unibet and Mobenga for showing us it can be done. And with that folks, expect to see many more Google Android mobile gaming applications from your favorite online casinos and betting sites in the very near future.

The Basic Things you Should Know About Fraud at Online Casinos

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

Why you should never auto-save your online casino password; Graphic by Lethalman

Why you should never auto-save your login password; Credit:Lethalman

For those people who still don’t trust in the act of making financial transactions over the internet, I have to admit, I can’t entirely blame them. Of course, there are fail-proof ways of securely keeping your money safe on the Web.

Take online banking, for example. Do you really think that banks would dare allow account holders online access if there was even the slightest probability of being hacked? Now, what you do with your money outside of your bank is another matter altogether. And yes, that’s where the fraud that does take place online, well…takes place.

As for online casinos, yes, cases of fraud have occurred.  However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that all online casinos pose the possibility of you becoming a victim of fraud. For the sake of this article, I won’t go into great detail about the technological implications in preventing fraud, albeit I will say that all of the online casinos approved and reviewed here at Online Casino Suite use the same technology that the leading financial institutions use to secure and protect the accounts of their customers. Furthermore, the best online casinos have a full-time fraud prevention and detection team, solely working to ensure all transactions are legitimate.

This is precisely why you must fill out a credit/withdrawal faxback authorization form before requesting your first withdrawal at an online casino. Management does not use this information to pull money out your account or sell you personal information, but simply uses it as a proven, effective system to ensure you are indeed the person you say that you are, and consequently, that the money you are requesting to withdrawal is indeed yours!

So, next time you find yourself incurring a slight delay on a withdrawal, don’t automatically assume the online casino is trying to jip you. Depending on your residential jurisdiction, the approval process can take longer than expected. Just know that if you stick to playing at reputable, accredited online casinos, you have nothing to worry.

Of course, you can’t just go around anywhere on the internet giving out your credit card number. As I said, online fraud does indeed take place. Just because an online casino says it is safe and secure and processed billions in transactions, does not mean it’s true. Always verify that the online casino in question is indeed regulated and undergoes audits on a regular basis. Even better, ensure the casino is licensing a reputable software platform that uses Secure Socket Layer (SSL) firewalls to protect your personal information and processes transactions with a minimum of 128-bit encryption.

Virgin & World Gaming Venture into Online Video Gaming Tournament Play

Thursday, June 17th, 2010

Richard Branson demands stewardess crew receive more training

Richard Branson demands stewardess crew receive more hands-on training

Most people have heard of Richard Branson. And most online gamblers who are familiar with Virgin Casino, know it’s the same virgin that, well…belongs to Richard Branson. With the Virgin empire being what it is – an empire – offering everything from music CD’s to airline tickets, it would be no huge surprise if Branson himself was never involved in the affairs of any one or several of Virgin’s business divisions. That’s what the company execs get paid for, is it not? Besides, some of Virgin’s business divisions are actually owned by other companies to which Branson licenses his brand to!

And while the Richard Branson image has not (nor probably will not) ever become the placemat for Virgin Online Casino, Branson is certainly not sequestered from his company’s online gambling activities. That’s right, Branson is actually Virgin Casino’s most prized high roller. Some say he blows an easy million in a week. Well, so maybe he’s not doing the gambling himself. Yet, Richard Branson the billionaire is, nonetheless, giving away $1 million.

As revealed in an announcement at the E3 trade show earlier this week, Branson’s Virgin Gaming, along with the Canadian-based WorldGaming.com, will be dolling out $1 million in prize money over the next year as part of a joint venture that has Virgin getting back into video games.

Branson himself, is quoted as saying, “Video games are bigger than ever…There’s never been a better time to get back in.” And even though Branson admits that the video gaming industry is highly “competitive and overcrowded”, the visionary billionaire says they see a big opportunity.

And it’s not that Branson doesn’t know jack about video gaming. Virgin’s original venture into the industry back in 1981 resulted in a hugely successful game publishing label called Virgin Interactive, which was later sold to the well-known Electronic Arts in 1998.

Richard Branson at his best in none other than the Las Vegas Belagio fountain

Richard Branson at his best in none other than the Las Vegas Bellagio fountain

Now, however, Branson say’s Virgin Gaming and World Winner are taking a different term. Bridging the world of online gambling with video gaming, Branson may very well be tapping into the next big thing behind online poker. Video gaming tournaments, in which players compete against one another at games like “Halo 3” and “NCAA Football”, is no doubt growing in popularity.

Although playing for money is not a new idea (WorldWinner and a handful of other sites are pulling it off), Branson’s tournament structure is more like that of an online casino or poker room. The Virgin Gaming World Winner business model, if you will, sees the website charging a 12% fee on every online video gaming tournament, which participants will pay a modest tournament entry fee to compete in. Those players who make the leaderboard will then receive their cash prize, but not before that 12% cut.

Heck, with $1 million up for grabs in free cash over the next year, including weekend trips on Branson’s private island, I don’t think 12% is too much to ask for.

For more information about Virgin Gaming and their flagship online casino, please read the OCS Virgin Casino Review.

Online Casino Fairness 101: Turning to eCOGRA for Some Answers

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

fist

How about a fair fist! Demand transparency from online casinos!

I don’t know about everyone else out there, but I have to say that I am increasingly becoming frustrated with the uncertainty of getting a fair hand online gambling these days. With more and more online casinos boasting software fairness accreditation claims, yet no mention of monthly payout reports, I’m beginning to wonder what is really going on behind closed doors.

Maybe there’s other affiliate portal sites out there wondering the same. The only thing is that I don’t hear anybody asking the tough questions that need to be asked. Well then, no more I say! And who better to help the industry with these answers than the purveyor of the highest fairness and transparency standards out there today: eCOGRA.

That said, I, Devon Chappell (on behalf of Online Casino Suite), have decided to start a blog series that takes a close look at how online casinos are regulated in the various jurisdictions out there. By means of writing emails to the necessary parties that can aid in our enlightenment (such as eCOGRA), and then publishing consequent correspondences, our aim is to better educate players. I can’t say if we’ll get the answers we want, but you can’t knock the intent!

Without further ado, email #1:  Legitimacy of Software Fairness Certificates (such as TST & CFG) and the Absence of Payout Reports

Dear eCOGRA,

This is Devon Chappell with Online Casino Suite. We are an eCOGRA approved portal site and would first of all like to thank you for all of your hard work in raising the standards for the online gambling industry. Speaking of which, that is precisely why I am writing today. My question does not necessarily pertain to eCOGRA specifically, yet I could hardly think of a better organization suited to know the correct information. We truly take great pride in being advocates for players, which we believe should include educating them about how it is they actually receive a safe and fair wager online – not just telling them they will get a safe and fair bet.

I understand if you don’t have the time to address these questions. However, I would greatly appreciate any feedback.

I’m fully aware of how the RNG works to deliver fair and random betting results, as well as the basic principle behind source code. However, what I’m not sure about is how exactly this interplays with regulation – more specifically, ongoing regulation. I am also unclear about these online casinos claiming to be approved by Technical Systems Testing, CFG or the like. Many of these online casinos don’t even link to certificates, and of those that do, the certificates are generally from a few years back and only state the name of the software and not the online casino. And, you certainly can’t find certificates at the websites of the folks handing out the certificates themselves!

That being said, I was hoping you could help answer these questions:

Does a fairness accreditation of the software necessarily mean the casino is fair, especially if said casino is regulated in a jurisdiction where source code changes are permitted? Would the casino then need to have an accreditation specifically for its own licensed platform – and a monthly one at that?

How does one know if they are getting a fair wager if an online casino does not have any payout percentage reports to show for?

Lastly, does anyone at eCOGRA know anything about the regulatory protocols of Curacao (Netherlands, Antilles)? We have a few online casinos listed at Online Casino Suite that are licensed in Curacao; however, for the life of us, we can’t find any official website that goes into details about the regulatory protocols here. It’s been said that the Netherlands Department of Justice does an initial due-diligence investigation, and we’ve also come across a “master licensor” known as Cyberluck, yet nothing is said as to how ongoing regulation is maintained.

We’ve heard that, depending on the regulatory jurisdiction, online casino operators are permitted to change their source code. Of course, so long as all the numbers match up come audit time, there is nothing wrong with that.  Do you know which – if any – of the non-UK whitelisted regulatory jurisdictions out there allow online casino operators to change source code? Kahnawake? Antigua? Curacao?

Honestly, Online Casino Suite is not so much concerned about the UK gambling commission and its white-listed jurisdictions, such as Alderney and Gibraltar. However, we are particularly concerned about some of the other jurisdictions out there. Also, we do not know if eCOGRA works closely with TST, but we are beginning to have our doubts about the legitimacy of their logo accreditation. I have tried contacting them to discuss these issues to no avail. And yet, they allow online casinos to display the TST approved logo – but with no actual accreditation to show for. The Rome Partners network of online casinos, including Rome Casino herself (highly reputable, all things considered), still links to a press release from almost a year ago, stating they are approved by TST – but there’s no accreditation to show for!

Sorry to get off track and making this long-winded, however, I am getting very frustrated with the industry! Thank you so much again for everything you guys do, and I pray for the day when regulation will open in the U.S. and Online Casino Suite can promote the hell out of eCOGRA and eCOGRA approved online casinos to the U.S. gaming community!

Dear eCOGRA, Thanks for listening.

Best Regards,

Devon Chappell

Millionaire Online Casino Dishing Out More Ways to Redeem Comp Points

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Just one of the many comp prizes available this month at Millionaire Casino

Just one of the many comp prizes available this month at Millionaire Casino

Let’s cut to the chase, shall we? There’s all kinds of promotions going on at Millionaire Casino right now. While their weekly 75% reload bonus is available right now as this goes to publication (no worries if you missed it – you can claim it next week, and the next week, and the next week…you get the point), the promotion I would like to touch upon currently is the one, which in essence, is actually taking place every day.

Introducing Millionaire Casino’s Loyalty Program. As is the case at just about every other online casino in business today, Millionaire Casino gives out comp points, aka loyalty points, for every real money wager made. However, rather than just giving out bonus conversions for comp points, Millionaire let’s players use comp points to enter special sweepstakes.

Most popular with returning players is the weekly $50 draw and monthly $500 sweepstakes draw. The program works just like any rewards system. Once you earn enough comp points, simply visit the promotions page to enter, and the comp points will be automatically deducted out of your account. In the case of the weekly $50 draw, it costs just 250 loyalty points for an entry. There’s no limit on the number of entry’s, so don’t be afraid to use as many comp points as you like.

Or, you could save up and partition your comp points for the monthly draw, which as mentioned, is worth $500. Although you might expect to pay ten times the loyalty points to enter the monthly draw (considering it is 10 times the weekly prize amount), amazingly enough, one entry only costs just 500 loyalty points.

Of course, if you haven’t opened a real money account at Millionaire Casino just yet, you’ll first have to open an account and partake in some wagers in order to start earning comp points. Depending on VIP level and the casino games being wagered on, earned comp points can range from 5 to 38 for every $10 wagered. Don’t quote me on the math, but at a minimum, it would roughly take $450 in wagers to earn enough comp points for the weekly $50 draw. Needless to say, if you play your cards right – especially if you get lucky as well – making $450 in wagers is no huge feat.

For current players or those who jump on the bandwagon right this very moment, June 19th is the cutoff for purchasing entries into the current weekly sweepstakes, while the cutoff for the monthly sweepstakes draw at Millionaire online casino is June 30, 2010. Also, you can use your comp points to buy merchandise ranging from camcorders to T-shirts. In fact, there is also a sweepstakes draw taking place this month for a backyard grill! It’s only five-hundred points to enter, so if you have a tinkling for some barbecue this Summer, go for it!

Visit Millionaire Casino to open a free account today or read the OCS Millionaire Casino Review for more information.

Atlantic City Casinos Continue Dropping Revenue; Donald Trump’s Toupee Lives On

Monday, June 14th, 2010

While it’s always a good idea to keep up with the going-on’s in the world of online casino gambling, it’s only right that those of us participating in online gambling activities stay abreast with what is happening in the bricks ‘n mortar world. After all, we are competition, aren’t we? Okay, maybe that’s a debate for another blog post, but nonetheless – contrary to what you’ve heard – what happens in Vegas, really shouldn’t always stay in Vegas.

In the U.S., it’s pretty much common knowledge that Las Vegas has been steadily declining in revenue since the “economic meltdown”. As for Atlantic City, well, let’s just say it’s a little more difficult to pinpoint exactly when the east coast casino gambling hotspot started going downhill. I suppose the better question is, “When did Atlantic City actually ever make any money?”. Or even better, perhaps the question should be fielded by that guy with the crazy toupee – what’s him name, Trump?

Anyhow, yes, Atlantic City casinos have not and are not doing well. The latest stats show that the month of May, 2010 was down 9% from the same timeframe a year prior. More specifically, Atlantic City’s eleven casinos hardly broke even, drawing in a combined $319.7 million in gambling revenue – $225.6 million of which was generated by slot machines and $94 million from casino table games. Slots revenue slipped by 8.5% and table games fell by over 10% in revenue.

If you are wondering whether any of Atlantic City’s casino’s have fared better than the rest of the lot, the answer is no. Statistics for May show that all eleven of AC’s casinos experienced revenue drops.

The only good news (from the perspective of OCS, at least) is that – for once – Atlantic City and brick ‘n mortar gaming interests cannot put the blame on online casinos for stealing revenue. While the lagging economy certainly has something to do with it, the majority of Atlantic City’s woes can be traced back to the expansion of brick ‘n mortar casino gambling in nearby Pennsylvania and would-be Atlantic City gamblers now commuting to Pennsylvania. Heck, I definitely can’t blame ’em – Many of AC’s aging casinos can’t hold a candle to Pennsylvania’s Foxwoods Casino and Mohegan Sun Resort. Donald trumps toupee, on the other hand, well let’s just chalk that up to another reason why Atlantic City is hurting.