Posts Tagged ‘european online gambling’

Rank Interactive’s Blue Square Developing iPad Online Sportsbook With Mkodo

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

I’m pretty sure everyone could have predicted that Apple’s iPad would be yielded as a tool for gambling at online casinos…eventually. Heck, when it first came out, I was surprised there wasn’t already an online betting application designed to seamlessly integrate with the iPad browser. But then again, why would there need to be? The iPad is essentially a lighter and more manageable laptop…..err, handtop.

I suppose this is where we begin charting deeper into the world of user-experience. Sure, you can still log onto any online casino or your favorite poker room through the Safari browser on the iPad. However, just as there is a difference between a mobile version of a website and the regular website, you will have to scroll around more to find what you are looking for – the main reason being differences in screen size.

If you want to see what I’m talking about in action, well, first you will obviously need to get your hands on an iPad. Secondly, you should navigate your way over to BlueSq.com – the online sports betting division of London-based Rank Interactive. One of the UK’s leading online leisure and entertainment company’s, BlueSquare is licensed out the UK Gambling Commission’s whitelisted Alderney jurisdiction, and accounts for a large share of the sports betting traffic generated in Europe.

A recent agreement with Mkodo Limited to develop an iPad sportsbook is just another innovative addition to BlueSquare’s already impressive lineup of mobile application platforms. In fact, BlueSquare reports “fantastic growth” over the past year on the mobile front. A partnership with Mkodo now is certain to bring in more mobile traffic, especially with Apple’s range of products, which account for over half the traffic handled on the Mkodo platform.

Party Gaming Merger With Bwin Could be on the Near Horizon

Tuesday, July 6th, 2010

PartyGamingBwinAs reported by Reuters, Party Gaming is on a mission to consolidate the online gambling industry. Or perhaps I should say take over the online gambling industry. Of course, consolidation is the more politically correct way to put it. Side not tangent: Don’t you love how the term “politically correct” is such a misnomer, being political, yet always incorrect. Is that what they call an oximoron?

Anyways, I think I’ve lost track of my mind, and also of how many betting companies Party Gaming has already taken over. I’m sure it’s impressive, none the less. I mean, the fact that the world’s largest online gambling group is now in talks with the likes of Austria-based Bwin (a formidable European facing online betting giant in their own right), says a lot.

And while said consolidation, err…takeover has been slower than expected – at least according to Party Gaming’s expectations – the Gibraltar based conglomerate says it is very confident in its future crusades, the greatest of which is a merger with Bwin.

In fact, online gambling industry analysts concur that a merger with Bwin will likely act as a catalyst for a “wave of takeover activity.” It’s a tough claim to dispute, considering the very nature of the fragmented internet betting industry. In many ways, it will serve the industry in a greater light, providing more uniform regulatory guidelines, which needless to say, Gibraltar has done an excellent job promulgating. It will also provide greater operator transparency at large.

Oh and one more thing – it will definitely provide a boost for Party Gaming’s stock value on the London Stock Exchange. Although Party Gaming has seen a 2% decline in revenue for the second quarter this year, market analysts expect full year earnings (before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization) at about $150 million. In other words, not bad if you ask me.

Here at Online Casino Suite, we can’t be too upset over what amounts to the beginnings of a monopoly. The fact of the matter is that 1) it really will never become a monopoly in the truest sense of the word – the industry is way too diverse for that to take place, and 2) Party Casino is a great online casino to play at. All things said and done, they are one of the top non-US facing online casinos out there.

Chartwell Technology Receives eCOGRA’s Certified Software Seal

Friday, May 21st, 2010

Chartwell joins eCOGRA in fostering casino software transparency

Chartwell joins eCOGRA in fostering casino software transparency

Chartwell Technology – the Calgary-based, Toronto Stock Exchange listed online casino software developer – is now one of a growing number of white-label software platforms to receive the eCOGRA Certified Software Seal. No easy feat, getting the nod from eCOGRA is akin to going through a U.S. Supreme Court hearing. Okay, maybe it’s not that bad, but there’s some serious transparency compliance requirements all the same!

For anyone unfamiliar with eCOGRA, or better yet, the eCOGRA Certified Software Seal, it stands for the highest degree of operator transparency in what can oftentimes be a highly nontransparent industry – the internet betting industry, that is. Originally reserved for online casino licensees of Microgaming Software (an original founding member of eCOGRA back in 2003), accreditations are now available for all manner of online casinos, poker rooms, sports betting sites, bingo rooms, network operators of such sites and software developers powering and licensing their wares to independent operators. At the time of writing, eCOGRA certifies over 150 internet betting site operators, and with the addition of Chartwell, has certified twenty software providers.

Now, just because an online casino or software company can afford to pay for an eCOGRA accreditation, does not mean they will pass the course! Of course, eCOGRA will work with all operators to get them up to speed. However, it is reasonable to say there are online casinos out there that could certainly afford to go through the motions of being accredited, but choose not to do so as they would prefer remaining nontransparent. Needless to say, that means they are hiding something, and more likely than not, cheating their players.

In the case of software developers like Chartwell, the mission is to be as transparent as possible in order to foster player trust. And when eCOGRA is called in to help make this a reality, it all being with a thorough on-site inspection and assessment of Chartwell’s facilities. As eCOGRA’s Compliance Manager, Shaun McCallaghan said, “The Chartwell team was completely cooperative and well prepared with all documentation and systems ready for compliance testing…meeting all requirements over several days of testing.”

Such testing is in accordance with eCOGRA’s eGAP (Generally Accepted Practices) procedure, which in the case of software developers, includes an assessment of internal management controls, internal controls over IT security, software functionality, control environment and network structure integrity (for poker platforms), and assessment of the randomness and fairness of the games.

The latter, of course, is what every online gambler wants to know. Are these games fair and is this online casino safe to wager at? Although this is the software platform we are talking about (eCOGRA has another seal – the Safe and Fair Seal – that is strictly awarded to online casino operators), it is the software platform which indeed has the built-in security protocols for handling transactions through the online cashier, as well as the RNG governing hand outcomes.

Granted, eCOGRA gives no absolute guarantee that approved operators are going to give a fair hand. They say on their website, “While eCOGRA does its utmost to ensure compliance with its principles, it cannot offer 100% assurance that the operation of any games at any given site is at all times in accordance with the eCOGRA requirements.” However, this is exactly why eCOGRA enforces ongoing monitoring and requires all accredited parties to undergo annual compliance review. In the case of online casinos, this amounts to monthly payout percentage reports, which all approved casinos must display on their website.

Speaking of which, Chartwell powers some pretty heavy hitter gambling sites in the European market. Mostly all-in-one betting sites using multiple software platforms to power poker, sports, horseracing, bingo and online casino gaming under one roof, Chartwell licensees include BetFair, Victor Chandler, Stan James and bwin. As for Chartwell’s gaming package, it mainly consists of fixed odds games for online casinos, available in both mobile and live dealer modes in addition to a standard desktop download platform.

Live Dealer Online Casinos Growing in Popularity as Operator Transparency Lags

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

If you’ve been around the block a couple of times, there is a good chance you’ve heard of – possibly even tried out – live dealer online casinos. One of the next big modes of iGaming, live dealer online casino gambling could very well supersede mobile cell phone wagering in popularity over the next ten years. Of course there will always be those who prefer the autonomy and flexibility of online casinos. However, in a time when there are no international standards of operator transparency, going with live dealers seems to be the proper fix.

Even with online gambling regulation being embraced throughout Europe (and more on the way), some Euro online casinos offer players more assurance in terms of odds and fairness than others. While much of this can be traced back to the software developer responsible for imposing licensing conditions on operators, the real crutch lies with the regulatory bodies. In Europe alone, there are over ten jurisdictions – all with slightly different regulatory provisions. This doesn’t necessarily mean that players are at a greater chance of being cheated; However, it does mean that player trust will likely lag as a result.

For some players – and rightfully so – there are simply too many unanswered questions when it comes down to guaranteeing fair odds. For example, just because an online casino links to a published payout percentage report (as required by it’s regulatory license), if said payout report is several months old, what’s to say the current payout is anything but what was last published? In other words, while an outdated payout percentage report doesn’t  necessarily equate to being cheated in the here and now, it necessarily doesn’t mean you are getting fair odds either!

This is precisely why more players are turning to live dealer online casinos, and why the live dealer sector is expected to grow over the years. What you see is what you get. Live dealer gaming is pretty much the same experience you will find in a brick ‘n mortar casino, save larger cards and a slightly slower play time – which is something you won’t find me complaining about. Live video feeds are synced up between the virtual online casino and a player’s personal computer, revealing everything from an initial card count and verification to uninterrupted play being monitored by a floor manager.

Although there are no live dealer online casinos currently open to U.S. residents, rest assured that when it happens there will be a floodgate of traffic for the live dealer sectors. No other online wagering jurisdiction is more prone to scams and could fare better with heightened transparency and player trust – the aftereffects of attempting to ban online gambling.

Online Gambling Software in Canada: Chartwell Technology on the Map

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Canada-based Chartwell Technology may not be as “household” a name as Microgaming or Playtech, but then again….. Launched in 1998 during the early days of online gambling, Chartwell has been around just as long as it’s top tier competitor software platforms. The only difference is that Chartweel is not an operator, per say, and consequently, never really boasted a prodigious number of online casino licensees in its portfolio. As a result, Chartwell has often operated under the radar of many a U.S. focused online gambling portal.

These days, however, Chartwell is increasingly making headlines – signing several high profile deals and boasting a clientele of mainly non-US facing online betting destinations totaling over twenty (20). In fact, the first online casino and sports betting site officially licensed by the UK Gambling Commission – ExtraBet – is powered by Chartwell Technology. And with household name clients the likes of Stan James, bwin, Coral Casino, Betfair and Victor Chandler, Chartwell Technology is a force to be recognized in the highly competitive online gambling industry.

Chartwell’s most recent headline, albeit less noteworthy than a new partnership or online casino client, is the appointment of Mr. Andrew Pegler as Sales Director for Charwell Games Ltd. As announced in a Chartwell press release through MarketWire, Mr. Pegler is a seasoned B2B account manager in the iGaming field, whose experience includes the execution of business initiatives from start-up level companies and B2B account management for some of the biggest names in the European online gambling sector.

Pegler stated in the press release that he is “very excited to be joining Chartwell”, especially at a time when the company is refocusing its traditionally strong online casino product offering with the rollout of new games and software features. There is no denying this claim, as evidenced by the buzz generated when Chartwell unveiled the casino platform at the International Casino Exhibit in London earlier this year. Other features in Chartwell’s diverse iGaming platform include fixed odds wagering, branded games, multi-player games, a linked progressive jackpot network and live dealer casino gaming.

France’s National Assembly Passes Bill to Regulate Online Betting

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

If there was ever any doubt before whether France would legalize online gambling, or better yet, greatly liberalize and regulate French-facing online casinos, sportsbooks and poker rooms – including those owned and operated by foreign companies – consider it washed away at this point in time.

This just in: The French National Assembly has voted in favor of the bill that would stand to legalize the most popular forms of online betting, thus bringing France one giant step closer to following in the footsteps of England and becoming the next world leader to embrace a less protectionist and more tolerant stance toward online gambling.

Euro online casinos are certain to be excited about the bill even though the legislation hasn’t officially “passed” as of yet. The bill first made it through a reading by the Senate in February, and now needs an approval from the French Supreme Court and Constitutional Council. And, of course, there is the green light from the EU, although it’s not like the EU did anything to stop France from anti-monopoly gambling activities before.

Speaking of monopolies, La Francaise Des Jeux (FDJ) – which just so happens to be the second largest lottery operator in the world – and Pari-Mutuel Urbain (PMU) – the largest European horseracing monopoly – have both already taken measures to ensure they remain Kings of the Mountain when the gaming floodgates open to foreign betting operators.

Last month, FDJ bought out LVS, which was previously awarded a contract to supply a fixed odds online sports betting feed for FDJ. As for PMU, they have already signed contracts with Paddy Power and Party Gaming, each to provide sports betting and an online poker platform respectively.

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.

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.

French Online Gambling Monopoly, Partouche, eCOGRA Certified

Friday, March 19th, 2010

I never thought the day would come in which a State run gambling monopoly sought out – yet alone, achieved – a “Safe and Fair” accreditation from eCommerce Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance (eCOGRA). Yes indeed folks, the day has come. French monopoly, Partouche, has achieved the highly sought after seal, which will soon be displayed on Partouche’s online casino betting site.

In fact, the accreditation has been given to Partouche Technologies, which supplies the software for Partouche’s online gaming offering. Specifically, the accreditation applies to Partouche’s online casino platform. As soon as in-house development for an online poker platform is complete, Partouche says they will be seeking an eCOGRA certification in that area as well.

The news of Partouche’s eCOGRA certification could be taken with mixed feelings, considering the fact that France’s regulatory laws are still protectionist in certain areas. However, having an established land-based casino operator seek an accreditation from an online-based player protection body is a great boost to the credibility of the online gambling industry as a whole, and eCOGRA in particular.

While the online gambling industry certainly has eCOGRA to be thankful for in fostering high responsible gaming standards and transparency, eCOGRA would not even be what it is were it not for Microgaming Software and the host of online casinos, poker rooms, and to a lesser extent – sportsbooks and bingo rooms – that have answered the calling of fostering player trust and achieving the eCOGRA accreditation, which is no easy task, mind you.

In other words, for Partouche to ride off the credibility of eCOGRA, while still blocking other online casino operators (even some that are eCOGRA approved) from doing business with French citizens, would be a real shame.