Archive for August, 2010

TST Online Casino Fairness Certifications: How to Tell if a Casino is Truly Fair?

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Here’s another letter sent to TST – one of the more active “Fairness Certifiers” of online casinos. While this has no intention of making out TST to be a shill (TST is an established, reputable company) the bottom line is that something needs to be done in regards to how players can truly tell if an online casino is indeed certified for fairness. It would seem that many online casinos are riding off the credibility of the TST logo, and TST is doing nothing about it…..

BEGIN LETTER

To Whom it May Concern,

This email is a collective question from a number of online gaming affiliates who are beginning to question the authenticity of online casinos boasting TST accreditations, not to mention the due diligence of TST itself.

For example, there is a growing, large percentage of online casinos that have the TST logo on their homepages, and yet do not link to a certificate.

Whose to say these sites are actually TST certified?

Additionally, there are several Top Game casinos linking to so-called documents, which in effect are nothing self-written press releases.

These documents may look legit to a newbie online gambler, but this is essentially a press release anyone could create with a text editor.

And then, there are sites linking to valid TST certificates for Real Time Gaming Software, which albeit is valid for RTG, yet is not necessarily for the online casino.

http://rm.cdnng.net/certification_letter.pdf

Many of the online casinos that are linking to the above document, are based out of Costa Rica, where there is no ongoing regulation and monitoring. Sure, RTG’s software platform is fair – but that doesn’t mean the casino hasn’t gone in and changed the source code. Only unless there is monthly auditing can this be detected.

Personally, I think TST should be doing more about this, whether it be better policing of who displays the TST logo or creating a Web page that lists which casinos and software providers are indeed TST certified, and providing a distinction between the two. Online casinos should not be allowed to link to a certificate for the software provider, when the casinos themselves are not even being regulated.

Quite frankly, we believe this shines a negative light on TST, and until something is done about this, we will be getting the message out there across blogs and forums.

Your response addressing this matter is appreciated and will be considered in regards to updates on the matter. If TST bills itself to be an “internationally recognized” testing facility, and “one of the world’s most experienced gaming test labs”, don’t you think the players – who essentially keep you in business – deserve more transparency?

END LETTER

We will update this post with a response from TST. If you are an affiliate reading this, please do your part and write your own email or forward this one to tst@tstglobal.com.

Giving Mobile Gaming a Go: Best Mobile Online Casino Options

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010
Sorry U.S. Players. American Somoa is as close to the best mobile online casinos as you're gonna get!

Sorry U.S. Players. American Somoa is as close to the best mobile online casinos as you're gonna get!

Anyone with an iPhone – or any smart phone for that matter – who likes to get their bets on, should seriously consider giving mobile online gambling a go. Now, before all you hotheads start diving into the water, you’re going to need to do some research first, i.e., which online casinos offer a mobile compatible version of their software in the first place. Then, you’ll have to determine which of these casinos are open to players in your country, and THEN, go with the site that best caters to your needs, i.e., bonuses, accepted deposit methods etc.

For all you U.S. players out there, I hate to be the one to break it to you, but there simply are not many mobile online casinos for you to sign up with. In fact, I don’t think there are any – at least none that I know of and would trust wagering at. There could be some out there, so please do post a comment on this post enlightening myself and other readers of such hidden treasures.

Now, for most players elsewhere in the world, your mobile online gaming options are full of possibilities! To simplify things, your best bet is going to Microgaming and Playtech powered online casinos. Now, of course, many powerhouse betting destinations offer games from a variety of software providers, which in that case, you are even more likely to have at least one version of a mobile-compatible betting platform.

In regards to Microgaming, the name you need to look out for is Spin3. In partnership with Microgaming, Spin3 offers one of the most innovative and comprehensive packages of mobile online casino games out there. The graphics are true to Microgaming’s form, and the security is better than Riker’s Island. Roulette, Baccarat, Jacks or Better Video Poker, Keno Scratch Cards and 10 different slots (including progressive monsters like Major Millions, which offers a base jackpot of 250,000), are available for individual download on just about every make and model cell phone in existence.

eCOGRA approved, 32Red – which is our top pick for a Microgaming powered mobile online casino – let’s you check on their website to see if your phone is compatible or not. If it is (and I pretty much can guarantee you it will be), all you have to do is enter your country of residence, mobile number, the casino game you would like to play, and a security code (to verify that you are a human being…with feelings, mind you), and you will then be sent an SMS (text message) with a download link.

As for Playtech, they too offer a solid mobile online casino package. Granted, not every Playtech licensee offers mobile games, but of those that do, there are some top-of-the-line sites to choose from. OCS top picks are Casino Tropez (where currently, players can receive a bonus on every deposit this month) and Will Hill (get a £10 no-deposit bonus just for playing their mobile games). Again, simply enter your details, choose a game to play and wait for a text message to download.

At Will Hill, you can even “scan and play” for instant access. If your phone has a bar code scanner, simply scan the bar code on the computer screen and that’s it. As easy as this is for YOU to gamble online, just be sure you keep stuff like this away from your kids. On that note, think twice before you even allow your teenager to have a mobile phone. They’re gonna be all wired up soon enough in their adult years, so why the rush? And on that note, that’s all I got. Till next time!

Playtech Posts Impressive 2010 Results; Online Casino Product Still Strong

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

What can I say, Playtech Software has been making some news this past week. Well, let’s face it, Playtech likes to make news all the time – and why wouldn’t they? Being one of the top, white label online casino software developers in business today, Playtech has no choice but to keep broadening it’s reach across the many, vast sectors of the online gambling industry if they are truly serious about staying on top of their game, not to mention procuring the profit margins necessary for continued expansion.

Well, that’s exactly what has made Playtech such a successful software developer…Err, I take that back. Playtech is not just a software developer for online casinos and poker rooms – they’re more like an online gaming solutions B2B supplier.

Case in point is Playtech’s first-half financial results for 2010, which compared to many of it’s top competitors, is quite impressive. Gross income was up a massive 31% from last year, tallying in at €87.9 Million, while total revenue was up by 29% with a price tag of €72.9 Million.

Much of Playtech’s growth has come from B2B partnerships with leading online betting companies, such as William Hill, as well as acquisitions of up-and-coming niche B2B gaming companies, such as Virtue Fusion. Regarding the William Hill partnership formed in late 2008, which gave Playtech rights to power online casino and poker software solutions for Will Hill Casino Online and Will Hill Poker, cash revenue generated from Will Hill doubled to €60.8 Million from 2009. The fruits of Virtue Fusion’s acquisition in February of this year are yet to be fully realized (generating over €4 Million in less than six months), however, future activity looks promising, with Playtech reporting there are several online bingo licensee prospects in the UK and abroad in development currently.

Elsewhere in the world, Playtech says it will be gaining a foothold and expanding in newly regulated internet betting markets, including Italy, Spain, Finland and perhaps, France. Due to a turn in regulatory policies in France, Playtech’s revenue generated from online casinos will be impacted, however, counterbalanced with new licensees and growth in Playtech’s French online poker network. In the U.S. (if and when regulation opens up here), expansion will manifest via partnerships with Scientific Games and Sportech (see previous article: Playtech Sets Sights on U.S. Market).

Playtech online casinos, which are the company’s principal product offering, has continued performing strongly, increasing revenue by over 30% (€49.1 Million) from 2009. The only area in which Playtech saw a revenue loss, which has been in line with the rest of the industry, was online poker. Down by 5%, poker revenue came in at €15.8 Million, which Playtech’s Chief, Mor Weizer, attributed to the World Cup. FYI, anyone familiar with Playtech’s iPoker network knows the World Cup isn’t entirely to blame. If there has ever been an area where Playtech has lagged behind, it has been online poker.

As for the remainder of 2010 and beyond, Playtech says a launch of Betfair’s Flash online casino is on schedule for September, while the launching of RAY in Finland is set for the fourth quarter and Casino Gran Madrid will go live in early 2011.

Goaaaaaaal!!!!!! so Says Will Hill’s Chief Henry Birch in Regards to 2nd Quarter Results

Friday, August 27th, 2010

The World Cup is a pretty impressive event. Not only does it unite the world in a “competitive spirit” (I’ll let you decide for yourself exactly what that might mean), it keeps countless bars, beer breweries and betting shops in business for at least the rest of the year. Case in point is UK betting operator, Will Hill’s 2nd Quarter financial results for 2010.

Up 3% in revenue from the same time period in 2009, which translated into a $14.4 million gain (not shabby at all, eh?), Will Hill’s Chief, Henry Birch, said business would have been even better if it had not been for those Napoleonic French bastards who forced his company to withdraw from the French online gambling market. Okay, maybe he didn’t say those words exactly, but Birch did say that losses in France were offset by the “best ever” World Cup.

And that’s my point. Granted, I don’t think the likes of Will Hill would go out of business if the World Cup wasn’t taking bets. But it can’t be denied that the world’s most popular sport conjures up some fierce rivalry, and as I like to call it – sweet and stupid wagers. Uh, for anyone thinking about having a go at online sports betting, the #1 rule to follow is to Don’t bet on a team just because they’re your personal favorite.

Speaking of online betting, Will Hill saw an amazing increase in online revenue. Up 24% across all online products, including online casino games, that’s a pretty impressive feat. Especially considering the “outstripping” (as put by Birch) that Will Hill’s competitors are enduring – such as Cryptologic, whose CEO recently resigned after posting monstrous 2nd Quarter losses – the UK brandished betting site has done exceptionally well for itself thus far in 2010.

Looking ahead, Birch says Will Hill is eyeing the regulated markets of Denmark and Italy, and is prepping for when real money online casino gambling and poker goes online in Italy in the early months of 2011. As for the U.S., where Birch recently returned from a meeting, Will Hill is not getting too excited about anything just yet. If and when the U.S. does decide to regulate online gambling, operators with existing gambling licenses (brick ‘n mortar casino operators) would be given preference. That would mean Will Hill would need to partner with a local operator, which needless to say (if you read the last OCS blog post) is exactly what rival, Playtech Software, is doing.

Playtech Sets Sights on U.S. Market Minus Competition With Local Casino Operators

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Shortly after Cryptologic Software’s CEO stepped down from his post because of a very ugly 2nd Quarter financial report (and perhaps some other things…dunh, dunh dunh!!!!!), one of the longtime online casino software developer’s major competitors, Playtech Software, has revealed that things continue to go well for the former U.S. facing gaming giant, and that the company is biting the bit to get back in the U.S. market.

Or perhaps I should quote Playtech’s CEO, Mor Weizer, who more CEO’ish put, ““The timing is not clear but we see a genuine and positive momentum towards the regulation of online gambling,” said Weizer. “We see a lot of interest from operators in the U.S., and we are in discussions with various local groups.”

The timing that Mr. Weizer refers to is regarding just exactly when the United States government gets their fingers out of their butts and passes legislation to regulate online casinos, poker rooms and other popular forms of internet betting in the States.

Regarding these “discsussions”, Weizer revealed in a Dow Jones Newswire article that his company has already formed several strategic alliances with U.S. companies standing to benefit greatly from U.S. online gambling traffic. One such company is the New York based Scientific Games Corp., which one would presume to have a foothold on the software development activities and licensing partnerships in the States.

As for Playtech, they seem to grasp the fact that local casino brands will likely dominate online gambling traffic in the U.S. As such, Playtech has not showed any moves to broaden it’s cadre of online casinos to include U.S. themed betting destinations. On the contrary, Playtech is choosing to abstain from direct competition with operators, and is currently fielding interest from U.S. based gaming operations looking for B2B services, including the licensing of Playtech’s online casino software platform.

Vocal Opponent of U.S. Online Gambling Regulation Does About Face

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010
I HAD to put this picture in... just couldn't help myself.

I HAD to put this picture in... just couldn't help myself.

Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid is hard to pin. I mean, let’s face it, he’s a politician is he not? The Nevada Democrat who holds the reigns in the U.S. Senate has made a “surprising” turnaround, recently citing he stands behind the regulation of online gambling. Now, it would be another thing if Reid, who obviously knows something about the casino gambling industry, was indifferent or even undecided in his views about online gambling. However, Reid has been nothing but the opposite, in fact, actively taking an outspoken stand against the legalization of online gambling in the States.

So what, my dear friends, has caused Reid to change his mind? I’ll give you one guess. It smells like paper and rhymes with funny. You see, while Reid has a little man on his left shoulder, letting him know how important Las Vegas is to Nevada, there’s a louder, larger man on his other shoulder telling him that Nevada needs tax revenue – and the constituents of Nevada far outweigh the sway of the casino operators. Right? Errr, it could very well be the other way around given other circumstances and a different time, i.e., when the mob ruled Vegas, which is exactly why Reid deserves at least some credit. I mean, he is supporting the regulation of online gambling, is he not?

Granted, one of the largest players in Las Vegas, Harrahs Entertainment, has come out of the closet to proclaim support of online gambling regulation, also formerly taking an open stance against online casinos. So, even with some vocal disappointment being expressed by some of Las Vegas’ casino operators (mainly the smaller guys), the big dogs like Harrah’s and most likely MGM are waiting patiently for the time to pounce and launch online versions of their bread and butter offering.

Also, Congressman Barney Frank’s bill to overturn the UIGEA recently passed the House of Representatives and is serving a dual purpose of helping educate lawmakers on why it’s more important to regulate than ban and how online gambling can be effectively regulated, in particular, preventing underage and problem gambling addictions. In other words, Reid could very well be coming around simply because it’s the right thing to do. Hopefully, more U.S. Senators will do the same.

South Africa Bans Online Gambling With High Court Ruling

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

South Africa, you disappoint me. Beautiful plains of South Africa, oh how you disappoint me! Home of the World Cup, stage to end apartheid, oh how deeply you disappoint me!

In case you haven’t heard already, South Africa (which apparently looked as if it would become a promising jurisdiction to regulate online gambling) has done a complete turnaround, swinging 180 degrees in its 2007 policy toward internet betting by making it an illegal activity!

As per a high court judgment given by Judge NB Tuchten on Friday, August 20th, the law basically states that anybody who takes part in online gambling activities of any kind is guilty of breaking the law and will be prosecuted.

Not only does this apply to online casino operators and payment processors, the ruling specifically holds internet service providers and the bettors themselves responsible. And to make matters worse, the Gauteng Gambling Board (land-based casino interests…who else, right?) is shouting from the rooftops that it will legally pursue any individuals or companies attempting to bypass the law.

Granted, I don’t expect there to be any prosecutions against your average online bettors (at least, for the time being). High rollers may be another matter. However, just as it is in the United States, enforcement will likely only have enough resources to go after the operators themselves, i.e., offshore online casinos, poker rooms, sportsbooks and anybody else knowingly taking bets from South African citizens.

While I am very disappointed to hear this news (as is the online gambling community at large and no doubt  many South Africans), it seems as if this story is far from over. If one Judge’s ruling can effectively make a popular activity illegal, there need only to be another ruling to overturn the former. Just like gay marriage was made legal, illegal and legal again in the State of California, online gambling regulation will eventually happen in the United States, and for that matter, South Africa once more.

Canada is Coo-Coo for Online Casinos, That is, Except for Newfoundland

Monday, August 23rd, 2010
Does that look like a cashpot for tobacco and alcohol? Photo: Jonathan Nightingale

Newfoundland: Cashpot for tobacco & alcohol? Photo: Jonathan Nightingale

With the first legal Canadian online casino, Play Now, back up and running (it was taken offline within hours of being launched, due to a security breach), all of Canada is rearing and ready to start, or rather, continue betting online – and taxing the revenue thereof.

Okay, take that back – maybe not everybody. I can’t speak for all of the ten Canadian provinces, other than British Columbia, where Play Now was launched by the B.C. Lottery Corp., and on the opposite end of the spectrum – Newfoundland, where it appears lawmakers are not so coo-coo about the legalization of online casino gambling.

Whether or not the people of Newfounland are for or against internet gambling regulation, the province Premiere, Danny Williams, says he strongly believes there are not enough lawmakers in support of regulating and taxing online gambling in Newfounland to make the burgeoning pastime a legal activity. And no matter the money it could bring in, Williams says Newfoundland brings in enough dough from alcohol and tobacco.

I mean, if you ask me, don’t the three go together perfectly? Wouldn’t online gambling complete the triangle of vice? All jokes aside, Newfoundland would indeed stand to make some money off such a venture as lucrative as online gambling. However, unlike several of Canada’s other provinces, which need money to balance their budget and have already speculated online gambling legalization to bring in millions of dollars in tax revenue each year, Newfoundland isn’t in need of extra funds to balance the budget.

In other words, Newfoundland is sittin’ pretty, financially speaking. I mean, really, who would have thought alcohol and tobacco could generate so much money?

But just in case Newfoundland’s lawmakers have a change in heart or the budget goes askew, The Atlantic Lottery Corporation isn’t being shy to inform provinces that in excess of $50 million/year in revenue could be generated by legalizing online gambling.

Odds Out on Emmy Award Nominations: Do You Know a Great Performance When You See One?

Monday, August 23rd, 2010
Whose it gonna be? Eddie Falco for Nurse Jackie? Modern Family for Best Comedy?

Whose it gonna be? Eddie Falco for Nurse Jackie? Modern Family for Best Comedy?

I don’t know about anybody else, but I just have to say I’m pretty damn good at picking the winners of entertainment awards. Okay, maybe it’s just been the Academy Awards, Dancing With the Stars and American Idol (to a certain extent, or rather, for as much as I can endure to watch) up until now, but in the world of internet betting, that could stand to mean some big bucks!

For this last year’s Academy Awards, not only did I correctly pick the winners for Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Best Score and Best Screenplay (I flubbed the “Best Picture” albeit I always thought “The Hurt Locker” was the best movie of the year), I didn’t even allow myself to be swayed by the outcome of the zoo zoo pet races on Jimmy Kimmel. FYI, these were seemingly random races between fur-covered windup toys which actually turned out to be exceptionally accurate!

So now that it’s getting close to the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards, I’m starting to think more seriously about futures bets – specifically, entertainment odds, aka, film and television props. The only thing is that I don’t watch television. So, on second thought….

However, being a big movie guy and based on the aforementioned fact 🙂 that I know a good movie and performance when I see one, perhaps I should start watching more T.V. (or at least download the shows nominated for awards) and turn my entertainment (hopefully) into an investment. I mean, isn’t that what online casino gambling is all about anyways!

Perhaps you are in the same boat and are thinking about giving television propositions a go. If so, without further ado, here are the nominations for the 62nd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards (cue brassy music, drums and Billy Crystal). Okay, so maybe not all the nominations – here are the one’s with the best odds of winning according to the props at internet betting site, Bodog:

For Best Drama, the popular series “Mad Men” stands out front with odds of 23 to 20, while the Best Comedy nominee, “Modern Family” comes in at 5 to 7. For Best Actor in a Drama, Breaking Bad’s, Bryan Cranston holds the lead for favorite with 9 to 4 odds., while The Big Bang Theory’s, Jim Parsons holds a 2 to 1 chance at taking home the Emmy. For Best Actress in a Drama, The Good Wife’s Julianna Margulies is sitting pretty with 11 to 10 odds, while the popular Eddie Falco from “Nurse Jackie” is posting 3 to 2 odds of winning.

So, just how well do you know a great performance when you see one? So long as you’re not on the nominating board 🙂 you are only a click or two away from getting a real money bet on your favorite show, or better yet, favorite show to win.

The Future of Online Casino Gambling: Live Dealer Casinos Part II

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

Okay, okay, since you insisted 🙂 let’s continue with the second part of my op-ed “The Future of Online Casino Gambling: Live Dealer Online Casinos”. So, let’s get straight to the point, shall we? One of the chief reasons why I believe live dealer online casinos will become the most popular form of wagering in the future is because of the innovation of igaming technology itself.

If you stop and think about it, the possibilities for future applications on the internet, including the internet itself, are endless! Budding technologies we are seeing right now, which albeit are available to consumers, are not quite yet mainstream, will inevitably become mainstream in the future. Yes, really look into the future, my friends, and you will see an internet like you never knew could exist.

For example, we have all heard about Web cams. You may have very well used one before, even. Heck, you could even be using one right now. In reality, the majority of internet users still do not use Web cams, in large part due to the fact that Web cams are an extra expense add-on. However, many laptops are now coming out with built-in web cams, while programs like Skype are helping to make video calls popular and easy (via web cams, of course).

In other words, in the very near future, web cams are going to be a standard feature on computers. And with more accessibility, the more people there will be actively using Web cams. it’s simply a matter of making the technology easier and available for more people.

Sure, there will still be those folks who prefer to be online autonomously. But yet, one can only go for so long without something close to a real human connection. In the world of online gambling, which is akin to playing video games, this amounts to the presence of a live dealer interacting in real time.

Additionally, there is the trust factor to take into account, which I talked about earlier. Considering how new the online gambling industry is, yet alone the internet, there is still a lot of information bettors do not know about regarding what makes an online casino fair and just how easy it is to be cheated. Need I refer to the Full Tilt poker scandal for a refresher?

And one surefire way to earn more trust is to to be as transparent as possible. Transparency is something that is seen with the eyes, and yes, so is a live video feed. Actually seeing your cards dealt from a deck, rather than shooting out of a digital shoe is a completely different experience – and one which will change the face of the online gambling industry….in due time.