According to the Philippine Daily Inquirer in Manila local online gambling firm PhilWeb Corp. expects to post a huge profit from all it's endeavours. The company is directed by the former Trade Minister, Roberto Ongpin, who looks at this as a positive sign of real domestic recovery from the recent slowdown in the economy. The majority of its profit in 2009 came from the firm’s core gaming operations, which grew by an astounding 126 percent. Ongpin said its net income last year amounted to an 89-percent increase from year-ago. PhilWeb is the biggest operator in the local Internet gaming sector. As a technology enabler of Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor), PhilWeb operates Pagcor’s e-Games café network and Internet Sports Betting Stations (ISBS).

ISM Corp.was a good investment for PhilWeb as it has been paying equity dividends since it's purchase. The PhilWeb president Dennis Valdes said, “Our unrealized gain of P2.4 billion from our investment in ISM is a real albeit hidden jewel in our balance sheet,” he added, “PhilWeb’s and ISM’s recent acquisition of Acentic GmbH, which provides in-room guest entertainment services to the hospitality industry, will provide us a platform for international expansion. PhilWeb’s role in this expansion will be to look at introducing gaming into the Acentic network of over 200,000 rooms, and partner with ISM in growing Acentic’s reach into Asia.”

Income growth was made possible by PhilWeb's well rounded gaming operations. With it's 171 Pagcor e-Games cafés 50 of which were opened last year with other offerings like Basketball Jackpot, Premyo Sa Resibo and the newly launched Bid Wars mobile game all contributed to the outstanding gains.

The firm had an overall 82 percent rise in revenues in 2009. “We had an excellent 2009 but are even more excited about our prospects in 2010,” said Mr. Valdes.

 

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Beneficial Holdings, Inc. an international casino investment and management holding company. Beneficial Holdings Inc. is a state of Nevada USA registered corporation in operation since 1990. It recently created a subsidiary called Grupo Beneficial Nicaragua and announced back in July of last year it would be in the market for a gaming establishment. Carolina Navarro, the President of Beneficial Holdings, said then, "This is just the very beginning of our business plan. We are presently studying and pursuing additional negotiations in Central America with the ultimate goal of joining the ranks of casino companies such as Thunderbird Resorts, Princess Casinos International, and Star City Casinos which successfully operate in Managua,"

Now the company has ventured into the virtual casino market with it's acquisition of the website bet.cr for its new online casino. The web domain .cr means that it is a Costa Rican based and properly licensed business. The casino will be operational in less than a month and will work with software that users download. A firm contract is in the works for the development of the custom software. In addition to a sports book the casino which will target Non USA gamblers will be offered in several languages, including, Spanish, German, Italian and of course English. Different currencies will be an available option also. Shareholders and customers will receive the CD with the casino download in February so that the games can be played and tested at no charge to the user.

Gaming locations in Central America will be given the Compact Disk with the casino download. Once the system is working, Grupo Beneficial will negotiate with other casino operators to provide the disk to their guests for a commission on revenue from players. Beneficial Holdings Inc. funds its acquisitions with private investment capital with the prime intent of increasing shareholder value while building a substantial gaming operation.

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Josh Apiafi heads up an independent consultancy called Apiafi Associates that concentrates mainly on the gaming and horseracing industry. It also consults to other businesses on commercial, marketing and branding, issues. Mr. Apiafi was CEO of the Professional Jockeys Association and Director of Horseracing plus, Head of Marketing for Betfair for five years.

Apiafi Associates client base includes REL (Racing Enterprises Ltd), The Professional Jockeys Association, The PPF (Professional Players Association), Joules Clothing, Integrity In Sport Ltd, Rewards4Golf, Weathercock Racing Ltd and Sportsmasters International.

His company was recently commissioned by a business person wanting to invest in the online gambling industry to test the brand loyalty and strength of ten of the largest most popular industry leaders. Among them were, 888, bet365, Betfair, Bodog, bwin, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power, Party Poker, Pokerstars and William Hill.

Throughout the month of December 2009 the number of Google Alerts* generated daily by each of the firms was noted and compiled as part of the results of the research for the group. The information provided showed the highly competitive nature of the business and how successful online gambling companies spend large and use all forms of media to get their market share. Mr. Apiafi commented on the project, "With much talk of digital and social media as well as the investment gambling companies put into PR generally we were keen to see how well the industry was getting its message out there with impressive results." He qualified his research results with this statement, "The method's simplicity is its trump card. Equally, the results were very consistent on a daily basis - this wasn't a case of one brand having a lot to shout about during this particular period or having one or two very strong days that skewed the data." Bodog was top dog with the most activity on Google Alerts in December. Although big online brands are continually active, this test begs the question of whether more activity online equals a stronger brand presence.

 

 

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Iceland was near financial collapse recently with problems in the solvency of their banks during the economic crisis that has gripped the world. It is expected to take along time for the isolated country of vast beauty and volcanoes to recover from the massive debit that has stricken the country. There have been many examples of smaller European and other jurisdictions looking at legislation to liberalize their gambling laws in order to attract revenues to help with their nation debts. Through regulation and taxation some countries have built an entire industry with online gambling making it a major source of jobs and taxes for some. The USA which is also going through a slow period of economic growth even after the huge financial bailout the US government has offered to various industries, is considering changes in it's federal policies regarding online gambling. Separate states in the US are revamping laws to allow for more revenues from online lotteries and other forms of online gambling such as horse racing and sports betting.

Iceland would do well to consider the loosening of it's gambling laws. It has very stringent rules with regards to gambling in the nation so there is a lot of room for change. Icelander do enjoy gaming on just about everything. It is reported that a much as seventy percent of the citizens gamble. Their choices are limited to lotteries and a few scattered slot machines. An estimated thirteen percent of the people in the land of ice gamble at least once a week. These stats are good news for companies looking to locate somewhere close to Europe with the possibility of a profitable business almost for certain. Law makers in Iceland know that internet gambling is popular in their land and they also know that the offshore companies that host the games are not giving the government their fair share. Should these politicians open their eyes to the revenue potential of regulated online gambling they may also see it is way out of debit.

 

 

 

 

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Team Bodog has been pretty successful for awhile, showing good performances and lots of spine tingling excitement. When some of those big money games are won it keeps the team in top playing condition. Team Bodog has decided in an amicable way to part company with one of it's poker team members Justin “ZeeJustin” Bonomo. Severing all ties sounds pretty final as the Bodog team tries to recover from sliding rankings. Last October, another high ranking professional was let out of any obligations to Bodog, Jean-Robert Bellande was released.

Toronto Canada native Evelyn Ng and Arlington Texas native David Williams are the surviving members of Bodog's once mighty team. These are both great players that are always entertaining to follow.


Loosing Bonomo is not a good thing for Bodog, his performances were exceptional. Bonomo has over $2.3 million in live tournament winnings, of which more than $450k was won at last year’s World Series of Poker. There, Bonomo notched an impressive five cashes and gained the Bodog brand considerable exposure after the final tabling the commemorative $40,000 buy-in NLHE anniversary event, where he finished in 5th place with $413,165. Some punters will be betting the poker star will show up soon on some other poker site. Bodog will in all probability fill in it's team as the rankings rebound in the coming months. Poker rooms are competing strongly for some of the pro poker players, knowing that the interest in the game is kept alive by the poker fan and watching the masters at work. Learning how to improve your game comes from watching and learning. Weathering the storm is what Bodog is does well and you could bet that Team Bodog will have it's day again soon.

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Switzerland is reportedly moving it's political policies to the left with the liberalization of their online gambling laws. Swiss legal firm MME Partners and the MECN research company together produced a report that demonstrates that the current prohibitions in other countries are ineffective.

Swiss lawmakers are thinking long and hard about opening the country up to the international gambling market. Interesting to those business people out there that have been aware of this trend, most EU countries are focusing plans on the online sports betting and poker components of the online gambling industry. Where as Switzerland is concentrating on opening up the online casino market. Casino operators are some what neglected in plans to loosen the rules. Switzerland is not a member of the European Union and does not have to adhere to any thing the E.C. has to say. When Switzerland decides to give online gambling a proper jurisdiction it will serve as a model for other European countries and the possibly the USA. Martin Oelbermann of MECN research had a few comments "The Swiss liberalization plans shows how the pressure of foreign online offers on state operators and income forces some states to rethink the existing regulations,"

Despite the fact that Switzerland has a very small population, almost that of London U.K. it has a more enlightened approach to poker, a reason to speculate that online poker will also be part of plans for liberalization in Switzerland. Oelbermann said, "The similarities between the Swiss and the US gambling market are so clear," "The gambling markets of the US and Switzerland are structured in similar ways." "Aside from the World Trade Organisation dispute, both countries can freely contemplate a potential liberalisation without being pressured by third parties such as the European Commission when reviewing and drafting their regulations." This is a case of going with the flow, something the Swiss are good at.

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Reuters has reported that the Greek government has named Yannis Spanoudakis, a former senior 2004 Athens Olympics organiser, as the new chief executive officer of Europe’s biggest betting company OPAP a monopoly, and public entity since the year 2000. OPAP was established in 1958 and the company does huge business with an operating income of €959.9 million in 2008, turning a nice profit of €728.5 million while employing well over 800 people.

“The Greek state proposes Yannis Spanoudakis as new CEO and Haris Stamatopoulos as new Chairman,” OPAP’s outgoing CEO Christos Hadjiemmanouil said at a general shareholders meeting held to approve the appointments. All of the appointments were approved by the current board. Stamatopoulos is a former chief of the Athens International Airport. The Greek government is OPAP’s largest shareholder, with a 34 percent stake, and that Hadjiemmanouil and other board members had offered their resignations after the new Socialist government came to power in the October 4th national elections.

Online betting is still illegal in Greece and is facing stiff competition from international operators. In a recent case involving the monopoly in November 2008, the government of Greece shut down Liverpool-based Stanleybet. Stanleybet had recently opened two offices in Greece and was to be a major competitor to OPAP. OPAP has a state monopoly on sports betting and lotteries until 2020 and is trying hard to maintain it's hold on it's gambling industry. This move has the European Commission looking closely at the country's policies regarding free trade on the internet. There is much concern over the impact of new gaming taxes imposed on the company as the Greek government struggles to balance its books. A controversial 10 percent personal lottery tax on punters has been suspended until April 30. 2010. More punters feel that competition is a good thing offering better odds and better payouts not to mention more choice.

 

 

 

 

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Mahjong Logic has been a leading provider of software for the ancient game. Now it has received a licence for it's Mahjong network from the Isle of Man jurisdiction. The Swedish based company is very excited about this development and is expected to be able to now expand it's offerings in Europe and beyond. The Isle of Man licence is one that is not that easy to obtain with it's strict requirements and regulations. The licence was obtained within a twelve week period complying with the stringent online gaming standards and player protection rules applied to every applicant.

Jonas Alm, Chief Executive Officer, of Mahjong Logic, said, “We are proud and delighted to be awarded the Isle of Man gaming licence. We applied for the prestigious Isle Of Man licence because it represents the highest standards of jurisdictional control in the gaming industry,” adding, “We have several customers lined up and in the coming year we hope to grow our business with a genuinely innovative gambling offering.”

The Head of e-Gaming Development at Department of Trade and Industry on the Isle of Man, had this to say about the application from Mahjong Logic, ”I am delighted that Mahjong Logic has chosen the Isle of Man and I look forward to seeing the company flourish and grow on the island. This was a professional and well presented application from a company with an exciting future ahead of it and is further proof that quality gaming companies find the Isle of Man successful in creating the right environment to do business from. We look forward to a relationship where we welcome the company to the Isle of Man family of gaming companies and look forward to assisting Mahjong Logic with its future growth.” Mahjong Logic offers several gaming options to accommodate all types of players. Players can choose from real money games or practice play tables. In the real money experience customers can choose between two separate cash games and a realistic tournament style game. All cash game types can be played with 2, 3 or 4 players. Seven million people play Mahjong worldwide.

 

 

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The prime minister of Thailand Abhisit Vejjajiva says he is deeply concerned about the effects of proposed online lottery in the country. He is worried that the social impact of the online lottery will e very negative. This concern has moved him to form a committee to dismantle the online gambling initiatives. Mr Abhisit said to the Bangkok Post "I do not want the online lottery but I must solve the problem of obligations under the contract," adding, "I will try to find a way out. From my point of view, I see the cons of the online lottery. If it can be avoided, it should be." Thailand Trade Representative president Kiat Sittheeamorn, who is a member of Mr Abhisit's Democrat Party will lead the working group to find a solution and remove the online lottery 'smoothly'. The group will study the contract with a private company and find a way to negotiate a way to cancel the contract hopefully without any damages. Mr Abhisit admitted the contract had obligations and must be renegotiated with care.

The Government Lottery Office signed a contract with Loxley GTech Technology in 2005 with sales scheduled to begin in 2006. The long delay has been complicated by legal problems and the GLO made the move to go forward without further delays.

Opposition MP Surapong Towijakchaikul of the Puea Thai Party suggests this scrapping of the online lottery was politically motivated and was against any such move. He said that without the online lottery, underground lottery bookmakers would prevail, lottery tickets would be overpriced, and students would lose education opportunities which revenues from the online lottery could fund. Chief Executive Officer for the Loxley GTech Technology company, Trijak Tansupasiri, said, the decision on the online lottery should rest with the public and the legal division of his company would look into the situation. There has been a public outcry over this reversal of a long awaited decision and it is expected that this may be a galvanizing point for the present government's political future.

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In New South Wales clubs and hotel with gambling have given the government fair warning that they may have to dismiss staff if the Federal Government goes ahead with recommendations to curb gambling activity. The Productivity Commission has put forth these recommendations that propose the strengthening of measures to control gambling at existing locations which the government thinks will only open the path to extended online gambling action. Outspoken opponents to the Productivity Commissions report goes from smaller clubs such as the South Sydney Juniors who contend that the club will be 'devastated' by the loss of revenues from gambling. In a letter to the commission, Kevin Greene, who is the NSW Minister for Gaming and Racing, said, the State Government has told the commission the proposed $1 betting limit, compared with the present $10 limit which has been in place for more than 20 years, would ''have a significant impact on the viability of NSW clubs and hotels,''

The State Government also warned the commission, about the increased online gambling activity. The commission has called for ''managed liberalisation'', indicating that it would not be worthwhile seeking to maintain controls on gambling in this area, given the continued growth of the internet.

''Internet gaming has the potential for exponential growth and without proper regulation it could pose serious problems to society and problem gamblers,''

Clubs NSW has researched statistics to support their claims of how much the recommendations may affect their viability saying if imposed they would cut club revenues by 30 per cent, forcing at least 190 clubs to close.

The Productivity Commission proposals, such as cutting cash payments down to $250 from the present $2000 limit, banning ATMs from all venues and limiting the number of hours poker machines will be available to the public have been put on the table and subjected to study or debate.

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