Archive for January, 2011

And Another One Joins the Regulation Race

Monday, January 31st, 2011

For the most part the news about regulating online gambling has been limited to Harry Reid making a last ditch effort not to abandon his new-found, change-of-heart quest, and New Jersey’s lawmakers making it known that they want to regulation online gambling despite their governor’s seeming hesitation. Then over this weekend came the news that Nevada has made an agreement to share information with online gambling regulators overseas. The belief is that this will give pro-online gambling lawmakers the ammunition to rebut the points of anti-online gambling lawmakers.

But now showing up on the radar is, no, not California, although they are on the fringes right now, but Florida. Yes, I said Florida.

This peninsula state known for its beaches and for Disney World is begun showing up in gambling new headlines. This time last year was the talks between lawmakers and the Seminoles to settle a compact that would create an agreement on blackjack tables; then came the deal that would make the compact. Next it would be the idea of destination resort casinos coming to Florida, which ironically was proposed by a Seminole Republican and many see those destination resort casinos as providing direct competition to the Seminole casinos.

But it seems that the idea of those destination resort casinos is not being well-received. And that brings us the latest news surfacing about Florida and gambling. It seems there is a bill floating around that has the intent of legalizing, licensing and regulating online gambling within the state of Florida. Representative Joseph Abruzzo has proposed that bill and says on the matter that “There are hundreds of thousands of players in Florida in unregulated and unprotected offshore sites. Why not legalize, regulate and bring in revenue from something that is already occurring?”

And he has the right idea, which is the same idea that lawmakers up in Washington DC need to cultivate. Abruzzo has hit the nail on the head. The online gambling is already happening. He believes that Florida should not only protect its residents, but that the state should also be making money off of online gambling. Chances are since online gambling does not require travel and travel related expenses, it would generate more revenue than those destination resort casinos would. And Florida would still benefit from new jobs because there would still need to be those working inside the state to do the work to make the regulation possible.

So now we have New Jersey, with their stalled bill, Nevada ‘who is doing research, and now Florida is has a bill floating around the lawmakers.

Kansas Options for Casino-Equestrian Combination

Monday, January 31st, 2011

lucky-horseshoeThe U.S. state of Kansas is hoping that horseshoes do indeed prove to be lucky at a new casino. The state has approved a proposal by Peninsula Gaming to build a tourist destination comprised of a casino, RV park and equestrian center.

The facility will be erected in southern Kansas, near Mulvane, and will have a 10,000-square-foot equine center, casino resort and RV park. The equine center will be the largest in the state of Kansas, which should help keep equestrian shows within the state. Diana Friend, President of the Kansas Quarter Horse Association, told the Topeka Capital-Journal that the new equine center would make Kansas the top equestrian destination in the United States (which probably means in the world, now that I think of it).

Currently the sport is big in Kansas, but without a massive facility like the one planned by Peninsula Gaming, they have been losing top events to other locations. Recently, the Prairie Classic moved to Oklahoma City because Kansas did not have an equine center large enough for the event. More than 700 horses attended the event in Oklahoma City, with approximately 1,400 people in the city for five days, paying money at hotels and restaurants and otherwise injecting money into the local economy. The new resort location by Peninsula Gaming is meant to bring the big equine events to Kansas and keep them there.

Equestrian_Sport_Show_Jumping_Baltic_Cup_Shannon_Mejnert_Sandy_horseThe facility is expected to cost approximately $260 million and will be owned by the state of Kansas. The casino resort will have 300 rooms and 2,000 slot machines. Though horse enthusiasts and slots enthusiasts in the Home of Beautiful Women (yes, that’s a recognized nickname for Kansas) are excited about the new facility, not everyone is thrilled.

Even some of those who support casino expansion were against Peninsula Gaming getting the contract. Two of their top executives have been indicted in Iowa for making illegal campaign contributions to the failed re-election bid of former governor Chet Culver. Peninsula Gaming insists that during the trial it will become clear that they have done no wrong, and Kansas regulators apparently were convinced, because they signed off on the deal after conducting a thorough background investigation on the company.

Martin Stevens and Jonathan Swain, two of Peninsula’s top executives, were indicted for violating Iowa’s disclosure rules by contributing $25,000 to Culver under a different name. The charge is a misdemeanor, which wouldn’t necessarily bar them from the casino contract if convicted, and punishable by up to one year in prison, though jail time is unlikely.

Nevada Sneaking Up on New Jersey for Online Regulations

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Nothing new in news is coming out of New Jersey. It seems their Intrastate Gambling bill to regulate online gambling has stalled out on Governor Chris Christie’s desk; but then can you really blame the guy? After all the conservative Republication base is tossing Christie’s name around as a potential for the 2012 presidential ticket. But that makes one wonder, are they only throwing his name around to try to entice him not to sign his state’s bill for online gambling regulation or do they really mean it? But that is a question for another time. We have to talk about Nevada this morning.

And it does appear that Nevada may just be sneaking up on New Jersey along the side of the house that is state level online gambling regulation. Rather than going straight for the legislation, Nevada is looking at doing some research first. But they are not making a big secret about it. In an announcement made this past Friday, the Nevada Gaming Commission said that they had signed a deal to work with the United Kingdom based Alderney Gaming Control Commission.

This agreement will allow information to be shared between the two companies. Does not sound like a big deal on the surface does it? But here is the thing, this sharing of information will give the Nevada Gaming Commission the opportunity check out foreign online gambling operations and get some questions answered. By examining what other regulators are doing, Nevada can gauge how possible it would be to regulate online gambling within their own state and if it would be possible to put safeguards in place to handle problem gambling and prevent underage gambling.

According to gaming analyst Steve Schwartz, the fact that Nevada is fact gathering is a step in a positive direction for online gambling: “This is the strongest indication yet that Nevada appears serious about moving into the online gambling industry. You do not make a move like this unless you want to be fully prepared for any opposition that may come from anti-online gambling groups and lawmakers.”

So it sounds as though Nevada is learning from the federal level, New Jersey and Senator Harry Reid. Rather than going straight for the legislature with a bill in hand, Nevada seems to want to gather data and facts about how to overcome the hurdles that the conservative base is prone to throw up.

If Nevada can see how successful overseas regulators can handle issues such as problem gambling and prevention of underage gambling, then there is hope that such practices could be adopted in the US, and more specifically in Nevada.

Croatia to Add Mobile Casino Games

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Hrvatska_lutrija_224411The country of Croatia will continue to do business with a popular Greek software provider, which will result in an expanded gaming citizens for Croatian citizens. Last week, Hrvatska Lutrija (the Croatian state lottery) announced that it had renewed its contract with Intralot Interactive. That means Hrvatska Lutrija will continue to offer the current suite of games provided by the software developer. The deal will also result in the release of five new games from Intralot.

By the end of the year, Intralot will launch five new casino games for online casinos and mobile casinos. There are not currently many mobile casino games available to Croatians, but renewing the software deal with Intralot will result with mobile games for roulette, a horse racing app, Lucky Dice, and two games called Victory at Sea and Super Goal.

Croatian gambling laws are among the freer in the world. Citizens are allowed to play casino games at any of the 20 legal casinos in the nation. In addition, it is legal to play at any online casino, whether it is run by Hrvatska Lutrija or an overseas company. Hrvatska Lutrija runs the state lottery and overseas operations for sports betting, keno, bingo and the brick and mortar casinos in the nation.

Just like Atlantic City, New Jersey is looking to boost its brick and mortar casino market by getting in on the online industry, Croatia’s state lottery wants to expand their base and cash in on the newer technology available to them through Intralot. Vesna Bakran, the Director of Hrvatska Lutrija, is excited about renewing the deal, saying that “our online sportsbooks are the most popular product and we are certain that with the addition of mobile casino games, we will see a satisfactory increase in revenues.”

Croatia’s gambling market is already among the least restrictive in the world. Now they are making strides to stay at the front of the technological side of the industry. The steps that Croatia has taken to revolutionize their gambling industry are even more impressive when you consider that they have only been an independent country since 1991.

Multi-Player Mode Comes to Microgaming’s Live Dealer Roulette on QuickFire Platform

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

livedealer-bj2

Live Dealer Online Casinos: More Than Just Gambling?

Microgaming continues leading the way in multi-player live dealer casino gaming technology with yet another new launch. Introducing multi-player, live dealer online roulette, real money wagering now available at select Microgaming powered online casinos. To be more precise, it’s Microgaming’s “Quick Fire” software platform that offers the latest in Microgaming’s suite of live dealer, multi-player games. First it was the Viper platform ushering in Microgaming’s New Game’s Rollout (at least four new casino games every month of the year), now it’s “Quick Fire” quickly becoming synonymous with the best in non RNG casino gambling.

Now, I know what some of you are thinking: Hasn’t Microgaming long offered live dealer roulette? And the answer is yes. However, Microgaming has not offered live dealer, multi player roulette until now – the addition of which follows a multi-player version of Baccarat. This makes five different live dealer gaming options available for players on the QuickFire platform, including live dealer Blackjack, one-on-one Roulette and one-on-one Baccarat.

Obviously, it makes sense for live dealer online casinos to offer multi-player betting modes. That means more bettors per dealer. The less dealer’s, the less overhead for Microgaming. Beside, there’s only so much space inside the casino studio production facilities where the live dealer action is simulcasted via Web streaming (now available in HD streaming on the QuickFire platform). Going to multi-player mode is also indicative of how live dealer gaming is becoming more popular these days. Granted, I’m still not entirely sure if this growing popularity is because all the live dealers are young Eastern European and Asian women exuding T&A or if some players actually prefer a non-RNG online casino, however, I’m pretty sure it’s a little of both (probably more of the former).

So, considering all the guys out there hoping to turn their live dealer betting sessions into a 1-900 gambling sex chat, I still think the one-on-one games will be popular. However, players need to check the schedule ahead of time and reserve a spot if need be. Since it’s live online betting we’re talking about, which is open to pretty much everywhere in the world, one has to account for changes in time zone. Sorry U.S. bettors, Microgaming’s QuickFire platform is not for you. For just about everyone else, a single account/eWallet can be used to play both the live dealer and RNG version of roulette for real money. Check your Microgaming casino of choice for more information.

Two USA Online Gambling Trade Bodies Launched This Week: USOGA and AIIG

Friday, January 28th, 2011

US online gambling soon

Online Lucky Lady Legally Coming to all of America Soon?

Is New Jersey a special case? Even with the prospects of Florida and California passing legislation to legalize at least one major form of online gambling, is New Jersey really just a special case? Has it simply become too difficult for New Jersey to support a struggling Atlantic City and land-based gambling industry at large, along with the seventh largest State budget deficit in America? Does the fact that New Jersey being on course to become the first state in the Union to legalize online gambling (just waiting on Governor Christie’s signature), make it more likely that other State’s will soon follow, or does it simply shed light on how desperate New Jersey really is at this moment in history?

If both California and Florida regulate in the wake of New Jersey, it will certainly shed light on the fiscal state of the nation as a whole, which in turn, could be the turning point for online gaming legalization on a federal level. In fact, there’s already a strong movement to get federal regulation done.

But, the question of regulation is not quite so black-and-white. There are certainly many benefits to regulating online gambling, as can be seen in Europe. Perhaps then, it’s simply a matter of desperate times that are making the decision to legalize online gambling more easy to swallow (or at least easier for the lot who are traditionally opposed to gambling or those land-based interests who feel threatened by the online industry). In other words, many people will say that regulating online gambling is inevitable. So, why not do it now when the supposed benefits would benefit the most!?

And there you have New Jersey. Now that it looks as if the “Garden State” will indeed become the first U.S. State to legalize online gambling, it only seems logical that other State’s considering the prospects of doing the same are that much more likely to do so on their own. How’s that principle go? The Lemur effect? Well, it definitely already appears to be the case. In the week or so of the New Jersey Senate overwhelmingly passing legislation to regulate, not one (count ’em) but two trade body’s were launched by high level iGaming executives this week.

The first of these was announced at the International Casino Exhibition (ICE) in London on Tuesday. It is the American Institute for iGaming (AIIG), and was founded by the same folks behind the legislation in New Jersey. The AIIG’s Executive Director is Bill Pacrell III, which is a name you’ve likely heard if you’ve been following legislatory updates in New Jersey. Pascrell was the lead lobbyist for the bill’s author, Senator Raymond Lesniak.

Speaking with eGaming Review magazine, Pacrell revealed the AIGG is currently forming a Board of Governor’s, and will consist of online casino and software platform operators, payment processors and other gaming related companies with clean records and no legacy issues with the U.S. government, i.e. anyone who was weeded out by the U.S. Department of Justice or is rumored to have or is accepting wagers from U.S. residents. It hasn’t been revealed just how strict the group will be with legacy issues, and whether or not this will apply to companies that were doing business with U.S. residents post UIGEA, but have since ceased doing business in America, i.e., premiere software providers like Microgaming.

Pascrell also added that the AIGG will definitely be pushing for federal legislation, stating, “We are not just focusing on state level in the US, we are hoping to get federal legislation, but know there is a long way to go. We are focusing on the domino effect, New Jersey first, then other states.”

The second trade body to be announced this week is the US Online Gaming Association (USOGA). Headed by former Director of the formidable Poker Voters of America, Melanie Brenner, who announced that the USOGA was launched to, “advocate for the legalisation and regulation of online gaming in the States”, the likes of Sportingbet, Secured American Games, and the virtual online poker site, PKR, are among the founding members of the new trade body. In other words, they’re the private companies providing financial support to the USOGA. And yet, they’re not the only one’s. Europe’s leading internet betting operators are also vying for a prominent spot with the USOGA. Representatives from approximately 20 European betting companies were at the official USOGA launch party being held at the ICE conference. Brenner told eGaming Review that she expects three to four major founding members to contribute financial and technical support to the trade body in the coming week.

I suppose to sum up best what the prospects of legalizing online gambling in America look like today, is to quote PKR’s chief executive, Malcolm Graham. When asked in early 2010 if PKR would be launching in America, Graham replied “No, we won’t be doing that. There are opportunities, but right now, America isn’t one of them. But we’re doing quite well enough without them, thanks.”  But now Graham is all for a piece of America. Fast forward a year later to the recent USOGA launch party, and Graham is comparing the USOGA to the Remote Gaming Association and European Gaming and Betting Association, both of which have served as great trade body models for the Euro casino gaming industry. Graham told eGaming Review there is “great momentum” in getting regulation through on a State level, and that, “it is important the industry, which will be supporting local operators from this side of the pond, has a collective voice and consistent message. Bringing everyone under the umbrella of the US Online Gaming Association is the sensible way forward.”

English Harbour Casino Hopes to Begin a New Slots Tournament Tradition

Friday, January 28th, 2011

They are calling it the Big Free Weekend. And that is exactly what is happening at the English Harbour Online Casino. Beginning tonight, online slots players will start spinning the reels to climb the leader board of the Big Free Weekend towards winning a piece of the $1,000 prize pool.

Yes, I know $1,000 is not a huge stupendous amount for a prize pool, but you have to compare it to the amount of the prize pools on their other freeroll online slots tournaments and that $1,000 looks pretty good. Typically English Harbour offers a $300 prize pool on their freerolls, so a more than doubled prize pool is more than welcome.

Online slots players have from Friday night until Monday, January 31st to spin the reels and climb the leader board. And just what reels are online slots players spinning away on this weekend? Why it would be the Fire Hawk slots game reels that is. Fire Hawk is a five reel online slots game with twenty paylines. It offers players a Native American Indian theme and free spins to help boost bankrolls.

English Harbour is hoping that this will be only the first of what they would like to be a new online slots tournament series. Now the Vegas Technology powered online casino offers their players a variety of tournaments including tournaments dedicated to roulette, blackjack and video poker. But online slots are is where their widest variety of tournaments can be found. They already offer standard slots tournaments as well as weekend and dailies and the aforementioned freerolls.

But it seems that English Harbour was looking to offer more in terms of slots tournaments, give themselves another notch to climb in the rankings of online casinos. And with many online casinos only offering bonus money as the prize of regular freerolls, English Harbour offering $1,000 for their freeroll will certainly give them an edge. We will have to see if the Big Free Weekend slots tournament becomes a regular happening at English Harbour.

Wyoming Considering Poker, State Lottery

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Wyoming_Like_No_PlaceWyoming has never exactly been at the forefront of gambling expansion. In fact, they’re behind most states. Wyoming is one of only seven U.S. states that do not have a state lottery. The other 43, plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, opted to run a lottery as a source of revenue, in many cases to help fund education.

All of that could change in the near future, as Wyoming is considering not only establishing a state lottery, but also allowing real-money casual poker games. Wyoming is one of those states where if you invite some of your friends over for poker and bet on the game, you might be actually breaking the law. Though there is little chance of actually being arrested for a casual home game, the infringement on freedom is a slap in the face of gamblers everywhere.

On Thursday, the state House Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee cleared two separate gambling bills, paving the way for a full vote in the future. House Bill 186, which would create a state lottery, passed the committee by a 7-2 vote. If passed, the bill would establish an independent corporation to run the lottery, rather than the state government running the lottery itself. According to Mike Moser, director of the Wyoming State Liquor Association, having an independent corporation run the lottery has the advantage of not requiring state taxpayer money. In addition, he said that creating the lottery would not result in “growth in state government.”

That, in addition to the much-needed revenue, should bring the fiscal conservatives onboard, but there are still opponents to creating a state lottery. Some contend that Wyoming doesn’t have a large enough population (544,270, or slightly larger than the city of Atlanta, Georgia) to benefit from a lottery. A recent Legislative Service Study estimated the potential earnings as between $20 million and $40 million annually. The potential profits would be between $8 million and $10 million per year.

Some lawmakers oppose the lottery because they are worried it will lead to gambling problems. Representative Allen Jaggi said that creating a lottery would lead to gambling addiction. Governor Matt Mead isn’t sure that the financial benefits of the lottery would outweigh the negative societal impact.

It’s the same argument you normally hear against gambling. To be fair, though, the lottery is just as likely to hurt problem gamblers as slot machines are. In addition, the lottery has worse odds than slots, roulette, blackjack and every other casino game. That is why states that ban casinos but have a lottery are so hypocritical.

The poker bill, HB 188, is not quite as controversial. It attempts to clarify existing laws regarding poker. Wyoming currently has a law making professional gambling a felony. However, what makes gambling “professional” is so poorly defined (a common problem for lawmakers) that it is interpreted differently in different jurisdictions. Some counties consider casual gambling at home with friends perfectly legal, while others treat it as illegal if any money is exchanged.

iGaming Supershow 2011 Date, Times and Place Announced…And Then Some

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

iGamingSupershow2011Now that the London Affiliate Conference is underway, I suppose it’s time to set our sights on the next conference, which just so happens to be the largest affiliate conference for the online betting industry all year long. Introducing, for the second time, the iGaming Supershow. Yep, that’s right. The iGaming Supershow, which is organized by iGaming Business (one of the industry’s largest media companies), is only in its second year. But don’t let that fool you. The 2010 iGaming Supershow in Prague was the largest conference to date for the affiliate gaming industry, attracting over 2,000 delegates, ranging from CEO’s and online casino operators to payment processors, and of course, affiliates.

This year’s iGaming Supershow is scheduled for May 24th-26th (that’s 2011 in case you forgot the year like I do sometimes 🙂 ) And you’re not going to guess where it’s being held. Hold onto your pants. You’re gonna love me for this. Drum roll please…..The 2011 iGaming Supershow is being hosted in none other than….. Dublin. Yes, the Dublin that’s in Ireland. I don’t care what anybody else thinks, but I think Dublin (certain parts, of course) is a glorious city. If you can make time to explore the the countryside of Ireland, well then, this a “business” trip certainly worth the taking.

Now, as for the iGaming Supershow itself, the itinerary is unfolding like a butterfly in a cocoon (okay, maybe not the best analogy). But, you can bet that iGaming Business reps are talking it up with CEO’s and industry folk at the London Affiliate Conference at this very moment, possibly working out the details of some proposed panel discussions and the like. There is a preliminary schedule on the iGaming Supershow website currently. It’s actually pretty much filled up, aside from specific keynote and panel discussion speakers….Well, except for one.

iGaming Business just announced that Frank Fahrenkopf, who is the President of the American Gaming Association, will be the keynote speaker at the iGaming Supershow in Dublin. Fahrenkopf is a former Republican Party Chairman under President Reagan (and who says Republican’s don’t support online gambling regulation?) and is widely regarded as an expert in US online gambling law. Alex Pratt, who is a publisher with iGaming Business and helping organize the iGaming Supershow, said that Fahrenkopf is a fascinating speaker, and with all of the regulatory changes facing the US online gambling market, has plenty to share and teach.

Panel discussions and conference sessions already scheduled for the 2011 iGaming Supershow in Dublin include the Legalization of Internet Gambling in Canada, the Future of Online Gaming in the US (including analysis of individual States), legal issues in the States, the challenges facing Las Vegas casinos entering the gaming industry and launching real money online casinos, and of course, specific affiliate issues, such as the monetization of social media, PPC advertising tricks and SEO panel discussions.

Michael Caselli, who is Editor in Chief at iGaming Business says he is expecting over 3,000 attendees at this year’s event. While attending and lecturing at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas (a HUGE conference for the land-based gambling industry), Casseli reported that a huge amount of interest was expressed from brick ‘n mortar interests regarding the iGaming Supershow. I mean, it’s inevitable. As the online gambling industry grows and becomes increasingly liberalized and regulated, land-based interests have no choice but to get on the boat or go out of business.

For all delegate enquiries please contact:
Märit von Stedingk | Event Coordinator
Tel: +44 (0) 207 954 3417
Email: marit@igamingbusiness.com

For sponsorship and exhibiting opportunities please contact:
Richard Wanigasekera | Sales Manager
Tel: +44 (0) 207 954 3437
Email:richard@igamingbusiness.com

If you are an existing exhibitor or sponsor and require more information please contact:
Nick Richardson | Event executive
Tel: +44 (0) 207 954 3406
Email:nick@igamingbusiness.com

For Press Queries contact:
Marit von Stedingk
iGaming Business
Marit@igamingbusiness.com +44 (0) 207 954 3417

South Carolina Senator Fears that Raffles will Lead to Gambling Problems

Thursday, January 27th, 2011

In the state of South Carolina there is a Senator by the name of David Thomas. This man is very ardent in his belief that if the South Carolina were to legalize raffles that it would lead to full-on Las Vegas style gambling and gambling problems.

Yes, I said raffles. As in the things you buy little tickets for which give you a chance to win a prize of some sort; and the proceeds of the sale of the tickets goes to a charity organization. Yes, that kind of raffle. And Thomas believes that if South Carolina residents are allowed to have such raffles that state residents will begin to gamble wantonly.

There are a couple of bills in the State Senate that will allow residents to vote on legalizing raffles. Currently South Carolina only allows a state lottery and bingo. Yes, there are some organizations that offer raffles as a means of fund raising for charity organizations, but they do not know that raffles are illegal in the state. The bills that are in the State Senate will, if approved and signed into law, make raffles legal, giving charity organizations another, legal, means of raising money.

Now if you ask Thomas he will tell you that raffles will lead to video poker machines and roulette tables and slot machines and God knows what else: “We will see a scenario where people will be able to go into very large buildings and see an imitation of Las Vegas. The loopholes are not just loopholes. They are very intentional open doors to something other than just raffles.

“Raffles are a face to Las Vegas style gambling,” Thomas said.

Yes, because a gift basket to a local community owned business is the same thing as winning a progressive jackpot.

Senator Raymond Cleary who is the driving force behind the bill to legalize raffles, and who is a Republican I might add, has said in regards to other states allowing raffles and that such allowing of raffles has not “led to video poker. It has not led to organized gambling, it has not led to organized crime.”

It seems that Thomas’ opinions on the subject of raffles runs akin to the conservative Republican base that is steadfastly hanging on to the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA)—any form of gambling, including raffles for a gift basket from a mom and pop bakery, will lead to a life of vice and we all must be saved from ourselves. Debate on the bills is set to continue this week so we shall see whether Thomas succeeds in saving South Carolina from itself or whether Cleary will get raffles legalized.