Playtech software is world renowned for it's reliability and innovation. Playtech was founded in 1999 by a group of entrepreneurs that came from the casino, software engineering, and multi media industries. This group kept a close eye on the Internet gambling industry since the mid ‘90s and when they decided it was time to enter the market it was with a new point of view. By 2001, Playtech began with the launch of Club Dice casino. Club Dice casino featured version 1.1 of Playtech’s client software, which included fresh features like player comp points, a VIP club, transaction histories, multi-platform compatibility and a multiplayer mode. Since then Playtech has made strategic business deals with many top notch online casinos and has continued to grow with confidence. Now in 2010 the company has made even more inroads into what a decade ago seemed a distant dream. 

Playtech will be the first online gaming software provider to operate in Estonia. A recent report in the Estonian Free Press says that in 2010 Estonia will legalize online gambling and Estonians will be able to wager only on national gaming platforms. The first is to be set up by the Olympic Casino group, having chosen Playtech as its software provider. Mor Weizer, Playtech Chief Executive Officer said in a press interview, "We are truly glad of this opportunity to start our partnership with Olympic as the leading casino entertainment provider in Central and Eastern Europe." adding that Playtech's core strategy had succeeded in Estonia as well. This strategy involves providing premium technological solutions to companies operating in well regulated markets. It is suggested by the paper that the Baltic country and the region in general will receive massive infrastructure funding to help develop the online gambling industry. The region does need some capital to make it attractive to the internet community and as the new liberalization of rules regarding online gambling are implemented those funds will definitely appear.

 

 

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Estonia has implemented its new and improved Gambling Act, that has in real terms reversed it's online gambling status. Previously Estonia required online casinos to be located outside the country now the government wants all servers offering gambling to be located within it's borders. This move is an attempt to create revenue from online gambling with internet gambling websites servicing Estonians required to pay a licensing fee, plus a 5 percent tax on gross revenues. According to a recent report in the Baltic Times, “The possibility that online poker gaming could be restricted is not good news for us,” If things get tough, one may have to consider moving residence or start working abroad like Estonian builders in Finland.” said professional poker player Imre Leibold.

Estonia, which is member of the European Union, has decided to disregard treaty rules that demand all members allow for free trade within the E.U. which is necessary for a desired single market. Germany and France are among other countries that disagree with the E.C. rules regarding protectionist gaming policies. According to the Estonia Free Press, the conditions requiring online casinos to locate in Estonia should be lifted sometime next year, which will allow for normal competition by other E.U. member states and there resident online gambling operations. It is suggested that if Estonia does not open it's market to competition the industry there will collapse and operators will vacate the country. Market demands drive growth and if Estonia is going to be successful in the online gambling market it will have to be strong and wiling to offer a wider range of gambling products to the world. The need for revenues can not override it's need to comply with E.C. although it looks as if that is the intent of the new gambling legislation coming into effect. Each country that does not comply with the E.C. regulations is a possible thorn in the side of other E.U. countries. The question is asked, why have an E.U. if everyone plays by different rules?

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Brazil is a very young and progressive place with a desire to be on the leading edge of everything. Gambling in Brazil has mass potential but has been illegal and effectively outlawed since the sixties.

All casino type games are illegal throughout the country without exception. Most forms of gambling were banned due to their connection with organized crime which was rampant during that era. But Brazil has changed and is much more controlled and legally compliant than in those bygone days. Much like in Las Vegas the idea of gambling has become more mainstream and accepted as a form of entertainment. However the ban on gambling in Brazil does not specifically name poker. Because Brazil doesn't have casinos, commercial poker was unavailable for many years.

Recently though, poker “associations” have started up by working carefully around the country’s gambling laws. Poker in Brazil comes in the form of massive tournaments, like the Brazilian Series of Poker, now running for several years. These tournaments give skilled players a chance to enjoy the game and make serious money while doing so. The Latin American Poker Tour kicked off for the first time in Rio de Janeiro in 2008 drawing a big group of talented local players. In September of 2009, Brazil went on to win the Americas Cup of Poker in Argentina. Brazil is emerging as a poker capital with more professional players coming to competitions and winning prizes.

There are no gambling websites originating in Brazil, as the government does not have regulations to offer online gambling services in the country. Brazilian players can still gamble on the internet for the time being. Proposals have been made to limit the use of online gambling web sites similar to the US ban by restricting banks from processing money associated with the activity. Many sites accept Brazilian players, and a few even offer Portuguese language versions making for play in Brazil easy and convenient.

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Mixed reactions have been reported in the U.K. over the move to introduce decimal odds notation in betting shops. Online bookmakers, such as Betfair, have dealt mostly in decimal odds or offered customers the choice between fractional and decimal information, the move marks a distinct break with the traditional notation of fixed-odds betting.

Horse racing is going through big changes and this is one that seems to be making the punter a little nervous. Spokesperson for Ladbrokes, David Williams, said, "Anything that will help slow down or reverse the trend that has seen people moving away from racing has to be welcomed," adding, "The only people who will object to it are people who don't want to be part of the future."

William Hill spokesperson, David Hood, had another opinion, "The items revealed by Racing for Change do not offer the solutions we had hoped for," "We had a trial of a decimal-odds football betting coupon two years ago and it proved to be extremely unpopular. There is no research to indicate that our customers want it."

Independent bookmakers that are at the track were disappointed that they had not been asked about the proposals before they were revealed and were concerned that a switch to decimal odds would minimize their margins even further, with punters less willing to accept smaller odds on each-way bets than they would get in a betting shop. Independent bookmaker, Geoff Banks, said, "We were not consulted, and I don't believe the committee has any experience of on-course bookmaking. The margins are going to be squeezed very tight. I am far from convinced this will work; in fact, it will be destructive."

Other changes to be introduced are little things like including the first names of jockeys and trainers on race cards. These changes seem insignificant to the average punter, a reduction in the price of admission at the track would do much more to boost attendance for racing venues most officials agreed. Racing for Change, is a project being led by Racing Enterprises Ltd, the sport's commercial arm.

 

 

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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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