Lithuania is a small county strategically located in the Baltic region next door to Poland and Latvia. After being part of Soviet Union for nearly 50 years this independent state has restored its sovereignty and continued to grow into an economically strong country since the early 1990's. This is a country with an independent spirit that has endured for centuries even though it has been occupied by other nations over that time. In a bold and interesting move the Lithuanian government has declared that poker is an actual sport. Eastern Europe is a ripe market for online gambling companies that are considering expansion with many Baltic region countries currently sorting out their regulations and licensing procedures. The Department of Physical Education and Sports in Lithuanian issued an announcement in March of 2010 recognizing the Lithuanian Sports Poker Federation as an official sports federation. The ruling means the LSPF will be able to organize poker tournaments apart from casinos, allowing anyone who wishes to play the game. Andrius Tapinas, President, of the Lithuanian Sports Poker Federation, said the announcement is an "extremely important step in our work. We are receiving congratulations from many of our colleagues abroad and I know that we are breaking thick ice with our progress for similar international initiatives." The LSPF will now move to create a tournament schedule and take the sport of poker to the next level of consumer recognition. Tapinas will use his status as a celebrity as host of Lithuania's most popular business television show to raise the profile of poker by his participation in the World Series of Poker and Unibet Open tournament. The new organization has recently been granted member status by the International Federation of Poker, based in Lausanne, Switzerland which was recently formed in 2009 as an umbrella organization for poker players based on the same legal criteria and principles as those of other mainstream sports.   

 

 

 

 





 

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Recent developments in the State of Massachusetts in the USA have poker players in that state reading the fine print to be sure they are not on the government list of felons. Massachusetts made amendments to a controversial legal move that made gambling on the internet illegal and a criminal activity. A bill to approve licenses for land based casinos had a stipulation that contained a part that would have made online poker illegal in the state. That contentious portion of the legislation has been omitted, much to the relief of poker players throughout America. The wording was such, “Any person who knowingly transmits or receives a wager of any type by any telecommunication device, including telephone, cellular phone, Internet, local area network, including wireless local networks, or any other similar device or equipment or other medium of communication, or knowingly installs or maintains said device or equipment for the transmission or receipt of wagering information shall be punished by imprisonment in a jail or house of correction for not more than two years, or by a fine of not more than $25,000, or both such fine or imprisonment.” The reworded bill will define poker as a game of skill and it therefore will not be included in the yet to be approved new legislation. John Pappas, executive director, of the Poker Players Alliance was in praise of the PPA’s Massachusetts members resolve, “ the PPA is very pleased that the House-passed gaming bill does not criminalize online poker, but I am even more proud of our members in Massachusetts who really stepped up to the plate on this issue.” The reversal of the draconian measure that the State of Massachusetts was about to impose sends a message to the rest of American state governments that poker players are tax paying citizens with a voice that is loud and clear. This is a victory for the Poker Players Alliance who are doing their level best to have poker defined as a game requiring skill and practice. Their goal is to make playing poker for money legal and available to all American's who choose to play.

 

 

 

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The worst thing to happen to online gambling operators in recent years was the invoked prohibition of the activity in the USA. During the big crack down companies that had been doing very well on the European stock exchanges were shredded by the stroke of a pen. Sportingbet was one such firm whose shares were decimated with the new rules banning online sports betting by offshore companies in the USA. The companies share price was at little over 20p less than two years ago, and it rose 2¼p on Thursday to 76¼p, giving it a market capitalisation of £381m or $590m. This kind of rebounding growth is truly remarkable. To expand even further into a bigger financial realm Sportingbet has decided to leave the AIM market and join the main London exchange. Analysts agree that Sportingbet will do very well by going for the larger exchange, allowing the strength of the firm to be confirmed with a higher investment profile as well as the increased liquidity of it's shares. Sportingbet said that the move to the London's Main exchange was “the most appropriate platform for the continued growth of the group”. After two thirds of it's assets disappeared when America banned online gambling the company quickly restructured to get back on it's feet with the goal of reclaiming a large portion of the rapidly expanding sports betting industry in Europe. Sportingbet now gets ninety percent of it's business from Europe and was able to re-establish dividend payments last October to it's share holders. Acceptance by the Official List on the London Stock Exchange is slated for May 14, 2010, just in time for the World Cup of soccer in South Africa in June. The strength of the company will continue to grow as the public in Europe continues to enjoy betting on sports.

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According to a recent article posted by Reuters news agency in Paris the state of affairs surrounding the new regulatory system is not going to be the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for online gambling operators. The new rules are the toughest yet in the European Union but still they favour the existing state run gambling operators. Operators are faced with high taxes and strict compliance rules that cripple profit margins leaving the state monopoly with the bigger cut of the cake. Regulators are not permitting online casino versions of blackjack or roulette, leaving control of these popular games to the Francaise de Jeux monopoly. Sports betting, is to be allowed, and taxed at 8.8 percent, a percentage that bookmakers feel is impossible to contend with. Chief Executive Officer of bwin France, Antonio Costanzo, commented, "We're missing casino games, which is a shame, since they are important to overall financial stability," adding, "Let's just say the monopoly will do fine."Isabelle Parize, vice-chair at Mangas Gaming said, "We won't make any money at first. But first-mover is important in this market so we're there," She commented that the tax regime as "catastrophic". The Reuters article predicts with it's analysis that in 18 months the French parliament will review the law and could lower the tax rate. Following Italy's lead when last year they lowered the tax rates when it was revealed gamblers stayed away from the new sites, finding them more costly. It is a risky business for investors right now in online activity in the French market with over fifty companies looking to acquire one of but a handful of licenses the French government will grant. "The question remains over what role the media companies - with more money, legitimacy and market power than the gaming companies - will play," notes the Reuters report, suggesting the media giants have been slow to commit to the industry.

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Valuable web sites have become vulnerable to what is being called cyber attacks. As the world of the internet expands and become more user friendly so do the risks of owning a piece of the information highway. Millions of dollars are spent on obtaining Domain names and millions are spent creating and maintaining the web sites within those domain names. When these sites and portals are rendered unusable by overloading information attacks it costs the owners lots of money to repair the damage. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on four online gambling information portals, including a 1 gig/sec assault on Casinomeister.com, has put this form of criminal activity back on the front burner. Robot information soldiers invade sites with a veracity seldom seen before. New solutions to the war on cyber invasions are being developed constantly. Two companies have partnered to deliver a cloud based DDoS prevention service to the internet customer. Computrad, and VeriSign both involved in services and solutions for internet infrastructure have come up with a solution to combat these attacks. Computrad, chief executive officer, Zaki Farooq, said, "Concern about attacks has risen sharply. The World Cup alone will drive an unprecedented amount of volume for sports books so there is a heightened level of motivation for business managers to prepare for DDoS attacks in the run up to important events." VeriSign Internet Defense Network (VIDN) is a network and hardware agnostic DDoS monitoring, mitigation and attribution service that detects and filters malicious traffic away from enterprise websites, helping maintain critical online applications and services. The service requires no hardware installation, which makes it cost effective. VeriSign's, director of business development, Phil D'Angio, also commented, "The problem with DDoS isn't just a technical one; the business needs to understand its exposure to risk, put a defence in place and work with a partner that can deliver value-based commercial terms."

 

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There are many spin off industries related to online gambling one of the biggest and most competitive is the software sector. Sweden it's fair share of the best software developers in the world and has the potential for more opportunity in the middle of the online revolution. One of Sweden's premier virtual gaming software companies Entraction Holding AB has announced that the European facing online casino Vegas365Poker.com has joined it's expanding global poker network. The domain presence of Entraction and it's poker offering will be enhanced in Eastern and Southern Europe for the Vegas365Poker offering. eGaming Consulting Managing Director, Daniela Lanzolla, said, “Adding this major European poker network is a great boost for Vegas365Poker.com and signals the intent of this company to continue to offer its customers the best products in today's competitive market,” eGaming Consulting handles the brand's marketing and general operations. Entraction's chief executive officer, Peter Astrom, commented, “We are pleased to have signed an agreement for Vegas365Poker.com and to work with eGaming Consulting,” adding,
“We know Daniela Lanzolla and her experienced team well from other gaming ventures and are convinced that this will be a fruitful and lasting relationship.” Entraction is growing in leaps and bounds with an overall increase in profits in 2009 by as much as fifty percent over 2008 according to the firm's annual report.
Entraction is an international Group involved in the digital gaming industry. Entraction Holding AB is responsible for overall strategy and business development, as well as Group financing and supply of competence. This is a company that continuously evaluates business opportunities which can strengthen and develop the Group's supplier operations. Entraction Solutions AB offers a complete system for online gaming and operates one of the largest poker networks in the world. The poker network is operated by it's subsidiaries in Malta which are licensed to market and engage in gaming operations and to provide gaming services for partners in the poker network.

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All Slots Online Casino has been busy lately paying a winner and giving him congratulations. A good news story for anyone who plays the slots online. Riches await those who play and it looks like another Microgaming powered slot has paid off big. Licensed by the Kahnawake authorities on the Mohawk Territory in Quebec Canada All Slots Online Casino is a proud member of the Jackpot Factory Group and a leading online slots casino.

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Play LA Inc. the up and growing concern in the world of online poker, online sports betting has announced that it has made an effort to create a French facing sports news website. The website will publish news, player profiles, match odds, statistics and betting tips that include all the most popular sporting activities in France. The company is an international online publishing firm that operates a global network of 19 websites primarily aimed at the UK and Europe. Play LA's websites for sports, casino games and poker offer a unique perspective and sound advise for the gambler. Headquartered in Tortola, British Virgin Islands, in the Caribbean the company has been around since 2005. The announcement comes just as France's National Assembly voted in favour of legalizing online gambling. Final approval of the legislation will come shortly again just in time for the biggest sporting event of the year, the 2010 World Cup of soccer set to be played in South Africa in June of this year. The European Union and the French Supreme Court have yet to sign off on the online gambling bill. The French government expects to collect about 5 billion euros a year in taxes from the gambling industry with the passing of the new legislation. Play LA Inc.'s Chief Executive Officer, David Hallonquist, said, "This new development follows our strategy of moving into new markets that are regulating online gaming. Many of our existing advertisers are establishing their business presence in France already, giving us a built-in client base the day our website goes live." Hallonquist added, "This newest development will increase our network total to twenty websites when launched." Play LA inc. has lots to look forward too in terms of expansion and assembled an impressive portfolio of assets, including BettingChoice, GuideToPoker and GuideToCasinos. The firm also owns GuidetoBetting and GuidetoBingo, but have yet to develop these assets. The company has German, English, Swedish, Italian, and Spanish web sites, that will soon include French.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In the world of the internet there are some serious grey areas when it comes to intellectual property and patent infringements. A little known company Lottotron Inc. registered in Hackensack, New Jersey, USA has had it's share of patent infringement cases in court over the last few years. Some very high profile companies have been sued by the communications firm. Law suits claiming patent infringements have been filed in recent years against Microsoft, GTECH, Morris Mohawk Gaming Group, and others. Recently a patent infringement case was filed against as many as eleven online gambling operators located in the jurisdictions of Costa Rica and Curacao. News sources report that a number of Real Time Gaming software powered online casino firms have been threatened with legal action. Lottotron claims it owns a patented processes that these casinos and RTG are using without providing compensation to Lottotron Inc. The claim describes the patented process as, "A wagering system for accepting wagers over communications systems comprising (a) automatic call director means for receiving incoming messages from subscribers who with to wager on the system, b) message means connected thereto for receiving the incoming messages routed from the ACD, and for playing a series of recorded audio messages requesting subscriber wager information to be input via telecommunications means, and (c) host processor means having storage means and being connected to the wagering VRU for receiving the subscriber wager information, storing it in a master subscriber wager file in the storage means, and assigning an associated ticket number to the wager." A similar description was enclosed in the Lottotron, Inc. v. SBG Online Casino case filed in January of 2010 in a New Jersey court. With so many patent infringement cases before the courts filed by Lottotron Inc. this company looks a little like a lottery ticket purchaser just waiting for the big payoff by some online gambling operation or a giant firm like Microsoft with an offer of a settlement. It sounds like the company is fishing for a win with most of it's claims having been dismissed by judges thus far.

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According to recent reports Ladbrokes the betting giant from the U.K. has decided it will sell off it's land based betting shops located in Italy. Ladbrokes has agreed to a deal with an affiliate of Italian gaming and betting business Cogetech. The €5.25million price tag will give Ladbrokes a break from mounting losses incurred by running the retail betting shop chain in Italy and allow Ladbrokes to concentrate on it's online business ventures. Cogetech will now maintain the entire Italian retail estate of 82 shops and 51 corners and Ladbroke's head office in Milan. The bookmaker’s Italian retail business posted a loss of £9.9m during 2009 experiencing a significant downturn with the slumping economy. This is swift action following Ladbroke's appointment of new CEO Richard Glynn even though the move to sell the outlets was announced after posting losses in August of 2009. Finances was reason enough to liquidate the outlets caused by lower revenue growth, the presence of illegal shops, competition and the need for higher capital investment to make a dent in the online gambling market in Italy. The bookmaker has expanded its online operations in Italy with the recent launch of a Ladbrokes poker room on Microgaming's Italian poker network. The company sees the expansion continuing with an online casino and bingo offering coming to a Ladbrokes web site soon as regulations in the opening Italian market continue to evolve. France and Spain are also target markets that Ladbrokes will grow into as countries in Europe open up and regulate the online gambling industry. Ladbrokes recently brokered a deal with French media and television company Canal +. The Spanish land based interests Ladbrokes owns are safe for the time being as it will retain it's joint venture with Spain's Cirsa that has reportedly been doing break even business so far this year. This may not continue if there is not a suitable resolution to expansion in Spain outside of Madrid.

 

 

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