Gala Coral Group is a victim of the latest round of changes in the world of Bingo in the U.K. Between the Gambling Act 2005 and the Smoking Ban land based bingo halls are taking a beating and efforts to keep the bingo player coming out are failing, creating a serious problem when there is a building to maintain and a staff to pay. Gala Coral Group has been looking at the online aspect of the bingo business but has not moved fast enough to capitalize on the trend. Online bingo is showing the most rapid growth in the online gambling industry. Taxation is a big issue which is crippling the land based bingo operators. The recent hike in GPT by 46% and the removal of VAT has caused much controversy in the U.K. parliament, considering the fact that land based bingo is the softest form of gambling but is now the highest taxed.

Gala Coral Group staved off a hostile take over bid by Harrahs Entertainment the large American gambling operation about four years ago. Now Gala is again looking for an influx of cash to keep their heads above water and are again being looked at by an American investment company. Blackstone Group has made a bid of £300m (€332.56m) in return for a 40 to 60 per cent stake, in the Gala Coral Group operation. According to rumours in the financial world there are eight other private equity firms looking at Gala assets.

Blackstone is a leading global alternative asset manager and provider of financial advisory services listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Total fee earnings assets under Blackstone's management was $96.3 billion as of September 30, 2009. Services by Blackstone include the management of corporate private equity funds, real estate funds, hedge funds, funds of funds, debt funds, separately managed accounts, collateralized loan obligation vehicles and closed-end mutual funds. If accepted, Blackstone’s bid would disrupt an agreement drawn up between Gala’s junior lenders and its current private equity owners, Cinven, Permira and Candover. The agreement was intended to keep the company’s gaming and bingo divisions together. This bid for control may not transpire and Gala Coral will remain out of American hands for a while longer.

 

 

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The Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Montreal Alouettes will give us a great game to watch and wager on this Sunday November 29, 2009 in the open to the elements McMahon Stadium in Calgary Alberta Canada. According to the weather forecast it will be a sunny day with relatively warm temperatures of 10 c, good for Canada in November.

Roughriders' head coach Ken Miller who at sixty eight years old speaks from the heart, said, "This is really a dream come true," adding, "Being a head coach in a Grey Cup game . . . I can't think of anything better, or anything higher, or anything else I'd rather be doing right now." Quarterback for the Saskatchewan Roughriders Darian Durant, who once played at the University of North Carolina in the USA said, "I've definitely played in front of more people, played against some first-round picks or whatever, but this is for all the marbles,"

Statistics say the Montreal Quebec Alouettes are a superior football team. They are favoured in the odds by books online. One really outstanding asset for the team is quarterback Anthony Calvillo, who's record for the year has been outstanding with 396 completions in 550 attempts, 4,639 yards, 26 touchdowns, six interceptions. Marc Trestman the Alouettes' head coach says that Calvillo's work ethic has paid off as the quarterback seems to get better with age.

With respect to his opponents in the big game Saskatchewan's defensive end Stevie Baggs, said, "Those guys deserve to be favourites, just because of their record alone,"

The Roughriders are known for their back to the wall performances and will be sure to fill the bill as a team that gets going when things get tough. In this case the underdog may have a vicious bite and could very well pull the rabbit out of the hat this time.

There seems to be a weak link in the Alouettes' armour and they may not be as strong on the field as their glorious history suggests. They are just 1-5 in the championship game and have lost in their last four attempts for the cup. McMahon Stadium's capacity of 46 thousand people is sure to be filled and those with an eye on wagering on this game are going with either their heads on the Alouettes or their hearts on the Roughriders.

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Players Investment Club's chief executive officer Chuck Kidd has publicly stated that the payment dispute between the PIC Club and the Merge online poker network seems to be headed for the courts. Outstanding funds owed to players has now been taken care of although the PIC Club still claims fees that are outstanding and has handed the matter over to it's lawyers to collect.

The recent action by Kidd to apparently get Merge Online Poker Network to own up to it's obligations advising members that, "This issue has now been turned over to the lawyers for further collection."

Mr. Kidd has made the issue a very public one, "Since early July, I have been trying to get the Merge Network to pay not only the arrears on fees that were owed to PIC Club but also the money to fund the Players cash out account," Kidd was scathing in his e mail address stating, "During this time I made many concessions to Merge in an attempt to get them to pay. At every promise they made to pay the arrears and acknowledging that the money was indeed owed they kept stalling and sending me the 'Checks in the Mail' story over and over. Adding, "One excuse even involved their CFO being caught in a Typhoon in Japan. It soon became evident that they had no intention of paying their debt and worse they were going to stiff the players. I sought council with many people I respect in this industry and to a person they agreed that I needed to make this issue known. Not only as a possible means to collect our funds but also to expose that Merge was either financially in trouble or was operating unethically,"

Even though it is rumoured that Merge has only paid out approximately one third of the funds owed to PIC Club the public exposure seems to have paid off for the PIC Club.

"Well they finally sent enough money to cover the players cash outs. It is unfortunate that it took shaming them in a Public Arena for them to do what was right by the players and the attacks on PIC Club and I personally are still going on." Mr. Kidd said recently.

 

 

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In today's socially diverse world, where the internet is allowing people all over the globe to connect and even play together it is no wonder there are shrewd business people out there that can see the trends and are poised to capitalize on it. One such company is definitely on the cusp of reaping a fortune should online gambling be made available to the public in the USA once again.

That firm is known as Zynga and was founded in July 2007 with the vision of connecting the world through games.

Zynga Inc. which is the largest developer of social games, announced last May a strategic alliance with the World Series of Poker (WSOP) to leverage poker fan bases in the social networking world as well as the poker players universe. Zynga and WSOP are working closely together to bring the largest online and offline poker brands and communities together. Zynga’s free-to-play Texas Hold’Em Poker game is Facebook’s top game application with over 12 million monthly active users. Currently players are playing online poker for virtual money but should the prohibition be lifted in the States the company could offer real money gaming and make a nice profit in the process. The Chief Executive Officer and founder of Zynga, Mark Pincus said this when the alliance was formed, "We built our Texas Hold’Em Poker game into the largest game on Facebook by keeping an eye on what is important to our players,” adding, “We know that poker is a lifestyle which includes playing online and offline, and watching it on TV. This partnership is an opportunity to bring those worlds together.”

Pincus added, "With the popularity of virtual goods today, we are in the early stages of a new economy that could grow and shape the future of the Web." Investors in companies that offer online gaming products could do well when choosing a company like Zynga, social networking and gaming are intertwined with a potential that is hard to beat.

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Grafix Technologies which is a leading edge developer of online games and gambling solutions is about to launch a comprehensive real-time visitor tracking solution for websites. Grafix Softech S.A. is a privately held company located in San Jose, Costa Rica.

This sort of tool is one that online gambling operators are reliant on for their advertising and customer tracking updates. Delivering real-time insight into website traffic, the 'Grafix Visitor Tracker' will offer instant visibility into customer habits as well. Not only will the new system deliver live visitor information and website feed for marketing analysis, but will also allow webmasters, business managers and marketing professionals make more sense of the exhaustive web analytics information available to them.

Chief Executive Officer and founder of Grafix Technologies, Tej Kohli says, "The World Wide Web is now a decisive tool in a marketing mix, as an increasing number of marketing professionals are looking for hands-on reach to data and their e-visitors. Grafix Technologies puts these professionals at the steering wheel and enables them to make optimal use of their sites' efficacy through the 'Grafix Visitor Tracker'." In addition he said, "The functionalities of the Grafix Visitor Tracker will offer important up-to-the-minute business intelligence about who is visiting the website and why which is especially valuable to gaming and online gambling sites." The software will also augment the potency of marketing efforts and lead to improved sales performance. Kohli pointed out that the information gathered by getting to know the online visitor is paramount in managing a viable and useful web site. The development of a cohesive approach to market planning, will guarantee that target consumer are ready and informed to interact play or shop at the selected web location. Kohli concluded in a very positive way, “It is imperative, now, more than ever, to maximize the commercial prospect of every e-visitor in the present-day economic climate.”

 

 

 

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Gaming VC Holdings S.A has announced a new online gambling product launch. Gaming VC was established in 2004, and is headquartered in Luxembourg. The company is licensed in Malta, the Netherlands Antilles, and Italy. The firm is listed on the London Stock Exchange under the AIM market. Branded Betaland is the new web based product powered by Canadian software developers Chartwell Technology. This company is a leading developer and supplier of Internet gaming software systems to the online and mobile gaming industry. Established in 1998 with over 130 employees in Calgary, Alberta Canada, Vancouver, British Columbia, London (UK), Singapore and Malta. Chartwell is rapidly expanding its current base of branded clients as the online gaming sector continues to grow.

Chartwell is publicly traded on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). Back in 2008 Chartwell launched it's first Gambling Commission (UK) licensed online casino Extrabet, for IG Group Holdings. Chartwell's Java and Flash based software products and games are designed for deployment in gaming, entertainment, advertising and promotional applications. Chartwell does not participate in the on-line gaming business of its clients.

Chief operating officer for the company, Dave Acorn said, “We are seeing increased demand for the benefits offered by an open architecture platform. To fully realize global growth opportunity and preserve the investment operators have made in their existing infrastructure to date was one of our key considerations during the development of the latest version of our Chartwell gaming platform. Betaland will be the first client to launch on our new state-of-the-art Chartwell Games Platform in Alderney."

The Betaland.com website offers a wide range of online betting methods that include poker from Boss Media, and downloadable casinos from Net Entertainment, virtual horseracing, live dealer betting and of course sports wagering. It is one of seven available online gambling web sites offered by Gaming VC Holdings.

 


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Gambling in the Russian Federation has a long and bumpy history. Tsar Peter the Great organized Russia's first lottery in 1698. For much of the last century, however, gambling has been illegal. Even a friendly game of cards was against the law. This changed during the late 1980s, then gambling went unchecked, and without regulation, and it grew into a massive and profitable industry. In October of 2006 Vladimir Putin removed the dozens of large-scale casinos and thousands of smaller gambling halls from Moscow and other cities to four remote regions in the federation. The public accepted the changes without protest and the changes were not applied to bookmakers, who were still allowed to operate wherever they had a valid license. Online gambling in Russia found that it remains in the middle, and is currently neither legal nor illegal. The government does not give licenses to Russian companies to operate gambling sites on the internet, so the only place where Russians can gamble online are at offshore web locations.
There are a number of internet gambling websites that do offer services in Russian. These online web casinos are now generating big income for the operators. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, gambling was a $3.6 billion industry in Russia in 2008. The same company expects that figure to drop to $1.5 billion in 2010, due to the legal changes. Loopholes have been found, one being the legislation Putin signed in 2003. A law on lotteries which allows any private company to open either traditional or electronic lotteries. The only obligations that such companies face are that the companies must be licensed by tax authorities, and no less than 10% of the profits made must be passed on to charity funds each quarter.

Recently, electronic “lotto” machines have emerged all over Russia. Unlike traditional lotteries, players insert money into the machine and the player is told instantly whether they have won or not. The Finance Ministry is currently working on amendments to the lottery law but as before the freedom of the internet allows for online gambling, and will probably continue to grow as the land based casinos rapidly disappear.

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Poland has been embroiled in controversy over corruption in the political system in the E.U. member country. The “Gambling Commission,” which is a special body created in the Polish parliament earlier this month, has recently launched its investigation into the lobbying scandal which rocked the ruling Civic Platform (PO) party in September. The opposition had been demanding the establishment of an investigative commission since the scandal came to light and the involvement of leading PO politicians was exposed. The way in which the ruling party has responded to these calls, has only incited further accusations from the opposition that the government just wants to cover up its involvement in the gambling scandal.

 

According to the Warsaw Business Journal the Office of the Committee for European Integration (UKIE) is critical of the government's draft proposals for online gambling. Currently in Poland the interactive version of gambling is prohibited by law in Poland. There are a reported several thousand customers that play poker or use internet casinos in Poland. There are regulations to prohibit gambling online but there are no mechanisms to prevent the activity. New proposed regulations will try to filter online gambling web sites as well as other so called immoral web content. Enforcing the internet service provider censorship would require the tax department the Internal Security Agency (ABW) and various police departments. The Electronic Communication Office has the task of building a register of forbidden sites for the government. The draft bill will be sent to the European Commission to assure that it does not violate European Union rules on free speech or e commerce. The Parliament of Poland will vote on the proposed legislation once the E.C. approves of the recommendations. It is thought that this process is just the beginning of a series of measures to censor the web and create a gambling monopoly for the government.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Bulgarian National Assembly has been waffling on their new tax until now. After a second reading approving the amendments to the Corporate Income Act the country of Bulgaria will have a unified across the board fifteen percent tax on gambling activities. The Corporate Income Act amendments will take effect in 2010. Today gambling on sports is taxed at ten per cent of revenue, while all other games of chance, such as lottery, casino games and bingo, are posted at twelve per cent tax. The unified tax will create more revenue with less accounting. The increase in the tax on gambling has been widely criticised by Bulgaria's gambling industry and Bulgaria’s largest bookmaker, Eurofootball.

The bookmaker has been lobbying for government regulation of the online gambling industry. Eurofootball contends that the international operators of online gambling web sites are doing business illegally because none of them is licensed as a bookmaker in Bulgaria. The increased tax may have a negative effect on the gambling industry, in which about 80,000 people are directly or indirectly employed. The gambling industry has already been down 40 per cent since the economic slowdown. According to a statement, from Eurofootball the 12 per cent tax rate will cause the industry to loose about 30 million leva next year. The conservative party “Law, Order, Justice” (RZS) and the members of the Blue Coalition had proposed that the gambling tax be raised from its current 10% to 15%, and it looks as though according to the Sofia Echo they will have their way. According to Finance Ministry calculations, the increase would bring in much needed extra funds to the Budget of Bulgaria.

Concentrating on better regulation of the online gambling business, could bring as much as 160 million leva more to the countries annual budget, the Eurofootball company states. The Bulgarian Association for Entertainment and Gambling Games predicted in early November that as many as forty thousand jobs would be lost if the taxes were increased.

 



 

 

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Moneybookers has just launched a new prepaid card that will allow its users to access the funds in their Moneybookers eWallet directly at any ATM or point of sale displaying the MasterCard Acceptance Logo. This is available worldwide with all the confidence we usually place in a mainstream payment processor like Mastercard. A card with unique characteristics customers using the Moneybookers MasterCard, issued by Newcastle Building Society in the UK, will not have to split funds and separately preload the card. The Moneybookers MasterCard allows instant access to the funds in the customer’s Moneybookers eWallet. This feature gives the card use simple which makes it suitable for managing funds in a wide variety of applications. Customers can shop online and offline, users can both book holiday flights and pay for their souvenirs all while traveling. Businesses can pay their suppliers and be directly connected to there funds via their Moneybookers eWallet. The card is available for all Moneybookers customers with a one time set up fee then an annual fee of 10 euro, and withdrawal fees set at Euro 1.80 and FX fee at 1.99 percent. The card will initially be available in four currencies, but is expected to expand.

Kriya Patel, Head of Newcastle Card Solutions Limited said, "The Moneybookers eWallet offers a whole new dimension in terms of convenience and this new card brings together for customers the benefits of a sophisticated online payment platform with access to their money offline, wherever they are, whenever they choose.” adding, “As the largest provider of MasterCard prepaid cards in the UK and Europe, NCS is pleased to work in partnership with Moneybookers and together drive further the development of the prepaid cards industry,"

Co-CEO of Moneybookers, Martin Ott, commented on the agreement, “We’re very pleased to be launching the next step in online payments. We recently signed up our ten millionth account holder; as this sector grows our customers are increasingly looking to exploit the time and safety benefits of the eWallet in the real world.”

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