The European Gaming and Betting Association is the industry body representing the leading online gaming and betting operators established, licensed and regulated within the European Union. EGBA promotes the implementation of a fair, competitive and regulated market for online gaming operators throughout Europe in line with EU law. The EGBA believes that this regulated market should be based on genuine public order and consumer protection concerns and be adapted to the cross-border nature of the online market. A successful regulated market would be based on effective European and international collaboration and cooperation. EGBA is comprised of Europe’s top online gaming and betting operators, some of which are listed on the stock exchanges of London, Vienna and Stockholm.

The goals of the organization are definitely in jeopardy in Belgium as that country has decided to ignore recommendations from the European Commission and approve in principle

The Secretary General of EGBA, Sigrid Ligne, issued a statement, commenting on Belgium's disregard for E.U. treaty laws, “It is baffling that Belgium does not take into account the opinion of the European Commission that crucial elements of the law are in conflict with EC law requirements. And even more so with a view to the upcoming Belgian presidency of the EU; how can Belgium show leadership in the EU, if it blatantly chooses to ignore the EC Treaty?”

A majority in the Belgian Parliament voted in favour of the law, even though objections were raised by some elected officials who brought to point the E.C. concerns delivered by the E.C. in a Detailed Opinion.

Ligne went on to comment, "The law is not only highly questionable from a legal point of view," adding, "In the digital age, limiting the provision of online services only to those exploiting a betting shop or casino in Belgium doesn’t fit with reality. A high level of consumer protection can be achieved by specific and targeted legislation, not by protecting the operators with a vested interest in the current situation."

The new European Commissioner for internal markets, Michel Barnier, from France may have a difficult challenge ahead as he takes on the position from diligent predecessor, Charlie McCreevy. Legal action could be brought against the Belgium State by the E.C. when the law comes into effect.

a new gaming and betting law in Belgium.

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“Online gambling: is a controlled opening of the market still possible?” This question was discussed recently at length at the Maison de la Chimie in Paris. "The House of Chemistry" is an international conference center located near the National Assembly. The conference tackled other topics that related to internet gambling at casinos and in poker rooms in France. Discussion was also held on the effectiveness of blocking systems for illegal internet casinos as well as limitations and sanctions imposed to limit use of casinos and poker rooms to strictly French patrons.

It was suggested at the conference that the French government was not ready with solutions to prevent players from countries other than France from using online gambling sites which are not licensed by the French officially.

One of the delegates, Sebastien Proto who is Deputy Chief of Staff, in charge of State reform in the Budget Department of France confirmed that technical standards will be imposed for those who want a licence in the French jurisdiction. Future operators of online gambling companies in France will undergo a series of requirements to prove their operations are up to the French standards for sports betting, casino play, and poker activity. The French are still vague on how they expect to accomplish their goal of French only web gambling. Some speculate that the "Black List" type of restriction will be the normal route. This option was tried in Italy but did not lead to satisfactory results. Player wishing to play at illegal online gambling sites are able to do so with out much effort. Italian player quickly figured out how to set up proxy names based within offshore locations enabling transparent play at any casino or card room. Casinos were also easily made invisible to authorities by changing their banner page frequently again enabling play without detection. It looks like France will have it's work cut out for it when the time comes to allow internet gambling within their borders.

 

 

 

 


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Gigi Levy, chief executive officer of 888 must be proud of the first Corporate Responsibility Report recently released by the firm. The Gibraltar-based online gambling group has been very good indeed and is telling the rest of the corporate world how easy it is to be green in more ways than one. Setting by example is a win, win situation that warrants praise and recognition. Many firms are embracing the conservation of energy and a commitment to social responsibility as a major factor in their business plans. Looking at this sector as a resource, not a liability, 888 appointed Ruth Tanami as dedicated Director of Responsible Gaming in 2006. The company’s economic, social and environmental impacts are looked at from three distinct directions, People, Planet and Play.

CEO Gigi Levy, said this about the report, “The publication of this report emphasises the core importance that ethical values have to 888’s business. As well as being the right thing to do, conducting our business responsibly is fundamental to our future success." He added,
"Managing social and environmental factors enhances our credibility with stakeholders, whilst our market-leading approach to player risk builds relationships with our customers, both in turn helping to support our international business development.”

The eighty nine page report is full of achievements and insights into possible improvements for the following year. Some highlights include employees generating $50 000 in donations from a charity motivated event. Charitable cash donations and in-kind contributions totalled $232, 485 for various charities in countries like Antigua, the UK and Gibraltar. There was a thirteen percent reduction in power consumption per square foot of office space. The company made a further commitment to responsible gaming by the introduction of a unique data mining system called “The Observer” structured to identify and support problem gamblers. The firm also decided to participate in the United Nations Global Compact.

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Michael Aird, the State Treasurer for Tasmania was quoted at a Government Business Enterprise hearing recently that Tote Tasmania will pursue international markets and launch a new international brand. Aird also made comments on the viability of Tote Tasmania claiming it has strong cash flow and consistent returns for the government coffers assuring it is well run and organized. The state values the asset at $300 million Australian dollars and has just taken the business off the market because the offers did not satisfy the required minimum bid. Mr. Aird said at the time,
“I have therefore determined that the sale process for Tote Tasmania should be concluded,"

Aird revealed that the business had grown 50 percent over the past 12 months, and had recorded an after tax profit of $6.5 million in last financial year. Reason enough to keep a profitable enterprise that is going from "strength to strength" Aird said.

With this renewed interest in the Tote many advisors to the State Treasurer are keeping him well informed. Aird pointed out, “Tote Tasmania has identified the need to find new markets, increasingly offshore, and alternative forms of revenue, based around its core activity, betting," adding, “I expect Tote to announce some exciting initiatives in the New Year which will clearly demonstrate the internationalisation of the company,"

It was suggested an investment will be made in new technology to get online and moving in the right direction quickly, and aggressively. A call will go out to the executive directors that Tasmania is looking for expertise to refresh the talent pool in the field. Interesting strategic direction for the Tote, strong, decisive and loaded with potential. The Tote will look to Asia and Europe for new customers and through strategic alliances some of which are already established bring new products to punters from Europe, Asia and North America.




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The former French foreign minister and recently agriculture minister, Michel Barnier who at fifty seven has been named the European commissioner for internal markets to be instated in 2010.

He succeeds the no nonsense Irish executive Charlie McCreevy, who when it came to enforcing EU principles of the free movement of goods and services, was able to get governments to comply and allow online gambling operations within their borders. This was a concept fiercely opposed by state monopolies protecting lucrative businesses.

The commitment to European Treaty fundamentals was one that Mr.McCreevy was known for and he was merited by his principles.

European Commission president, José Manuel Barroso was responsible for the executive changes within the European Commission this change was one of six key appointments.

Apparently the UK is not that thrilled with the changes in the European Commission. Along with other key economic posts, Michel Barnier's appointment to this portfolio caused minor diplomatic riffs between France and the UK when the French president Nicholas Sarkozy remarked in a decidedly undiplomatic manner that the British were the losers in the new appointments. This did not sit well with officials in London.

Barroso went on the defensive immediately, at a press conference in Brussels he said, “In such a process there is always going to be a dialogue, requests and suggestions that are made,” “I spoke with many of the commissioners-designate and prime ministers, but the decision is mine.” He concluded with the new appointments are a “sound mix of talent, gender and political orientation,” Those studying European Policy suggest that the five or six big countries have divided up the important portfolios amongst themselves.

The commissioners-designate will face hearings in the European Parliament starting on January 11, 2010. If they are considered worthy they will begin work on their portfolios in February of next year. The hearings could see other interesting political arguments, already as a consolation to the UK the appointment of senior official Jonathan Faull was made as Barnier's director-general.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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'This Is Jersey' reported recently that the States has approved the concept of a Gambling Commission. This under the provision that the lawmakers are given more information on the subject. With this decision, Jersey, the incredible island off the French coast may well become one of many other self governed Channel islands to enter into the online gambling industry. Proposed e-gaming legislation next year is sparking serious debate in the parliament. The new liberalization of the gambling rules will enable the people of Jersey to have access to internet wagering web sites. Guernsey, Alderney, the Isle of Man and Gibraltar are all well established as places that host and encourage proper regulated online gaming operations. This new industry of websites running the various services for online poker or sports betting are providing jobs for local residents as well as taxes to maintain their economies.

Alan Maclean, Economic Development Minister of Jersey has been the primary mover behind getting the parliament on-side in this issue. His efforts were approved in principle back in 2005 by the States. Slow progress in the small jurisdiction of Jersey, the initial move taken so long ago is finally paying off as the members have approved the first step towards an internet gambling industry when they backed the proposal by Minister Maclean to set up the Jersey Gambling Commission to license and regulate the gambling industry. Online gambling jurisdictions that are this close to Europe are sure to bloom as regulations for operators are set in place throughout the E.U. Unfortunately for Jersey they have been missing out on the boom in the internet gaming industry for the last decade or so. It is never to late and for Jersey their slow pace may have just picked up a beat or two. Maclean commented on how the new Gambling Commission could serve the public by maintaining responsibility and could ensure information and advice be available.

 

 

 

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Award winning Swedish operator Mr Green has chosen Wagerworks as it's gaming software provider. Oliver Lofthouse, Director and General Manager of WagerWorks, said sounding very pleased, "This is a first for WagerWorks in the supply of game content to the Scandinavian market and supports our development into Continental Europe. With the seamless integration of WagerWorks rgs Mr Green will now be able to offer their players world class slot entertainment without any re-programming expenses or operating software changes." This is huge plus for Mr. Green as Mikael Pawlo the Managing Director of Mr Green, commented, "Mr Green has been recognized as the leading online brand in the Scandinavian market and it is important for us to continue to provide the best and most innovative products to our players."

Wagerworks was initially formed as a subsidiary of Silicon Gaming, which was a leading land-based slot machine manufacturer. In 2005 International Game Technology took over Silicon Gaming. It was then that Wagerworks became an independent company focusing on the software functions of online gaming. Wagerworks is perhaps the only online gaming software provider that has its roots in land-based gambling machines. Wagerworks provides only instant play software. There is no download version. However the instant play version is high quality and offers the same stability as a the downloaded versions available. WagerWorks offered a two pronged approach to the deal since Mr. Green wanted huge payout jackpots and top quality innovative games from the same vendor and since WagerWorks offered both in its portfolio they did not have to make different agreements. Mr Green's emphasis on social responsibility combined with an exciting web site has given this firm an advantage that is sure to give the customer an unforgettable experience. WagerWorks' progressive jackpot network available to Mr.Green is called MegaJackpots and is currently around £2.2 million (€2.6 million) and has the largest reset value of £1.5 million.

 

 

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Greece's Intralot is a major employer in the online gaming industry. They have recently announced the purchase of 35% of CyberArts, the interactive gaming platform provider from the USA. This investment will continue to help expand the product range of Intralot Interactive (I2). This newest subsidiary business has been developed to solidify its position in the regulated gambling industry. In a statement from Intralot the firm said that the strategic stake in CyberArts would be a positive step towards expanding the online gaming capabilities of Intralot, particularly in light of looming regulations in Europe and North American. Under the strategic partnership, Intralot will have the option to increase it's holdings in CyberArts to 51%.

General Director of I2 George Zenzefilis, said, "This strategic partnership increases I2’s momentum towards shaping the future of interactive gaming and meeting the needs of interactive gaming operators in all regulated markets worldwide," he added,"CyberArts proved tangible value can be delivered to operators through their best practices and combination of innovative technology and customer-centric approach. We eagerly anticipate working together with the CyberArts Management team and materializing this evidently very fitting partnership into global success."

CyberArts also provides an online poker platform for French lottery operator Française des Jeux. Italy's Gioco Digitale, the first operator to enter the Italian poker sector is also carried by the CyberArts Platform.

The Chairman of CyberArts, Ken Arnold, said, "The new partnership with Intralot caps an exciting year for CyberArts. I2 is paving the way for the future of online gaming and we share the same vision as to what that is and how it will be achieved." He concluded by saying, "CyberArts Foundation is the leading enterprise-grade, multi-player gaming software platform available in today’s marketplace, and through Intralot’s proven technology infrastructure, products and services, will offer new choices and further increase the value to our customers."

 

 

 

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During the hearings today in the USA regarding online gambling regulation the representative for YouBet said that the deal with Churchill Downs racetrack was not a done deal and Mike Brodsky, Executive Chairman of YouBet.com said he represented YouBet and no other entity. 

According to reports in the Los Angeles Business Journal this is definitely the case. The Journal states that at least five separate shareholders of YouBet have filed lawsuits in Los Angeles Superior Court alleging that Churchill Downs is underpaying for their company. The actions claim that YouBet executives did not uphold their fiduciary duty to shareholders because they entered an agreement that undervalued the company, they are seeking damages for this. The merger has been approved by the boards of both YouBet and Churchill Downs, and is awaiting approval of YouBet shareholders and federal regulators. The discussion offered by the YouBet chairman Brodsky during the hearings was one that questioned the legality of online horseracing in the USA. The continued availability of online gambling on the horses was supposedly made illegal by the Department of Justice back in 2006. Brodsky pointed at the fact that 88% of online horse racing wagers are transmitted across state lines electronically. Chairman Frank questioned the legality of the practice. The $126.4 million offering from Churchill Downs for YouBet would enable the company to tap into new technologies needed as more people to place bets online. The deal, which is expected to close within the first half of 2010, will result in annual cost savings of about $10 million, Churchill said.

 Shareholders of Youbet will get 0.0598 of Churchill common stock and 97 cents in cash for each Youbet share they own. They will own 16 percent of the combined company after the deal's close. Churchill Downs owns horse racing tracks in Florida, Illinois, Kentucky and Louisiana that host such high-profile races as the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks. If the deal doe not go through as expected it is a sure bet that YouBet will benefit from regulations on internet gambling in the USA.




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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December 3rd 2009 started the committee thinking about the possibility of regulating online gambling in the USA. The live streaming archive is fascinating to watch as each person comes to the table with an agenda and the committee listens and asks questions seemingly without any bias. The against group and the pro group were well spoken and concise.

Internet gambling was the only topic discussed although jurisdiction was also mentioned. The House Financial Services Committee, is Chaired by Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA) who has all along tried to bring the issue of internet gambling to the forefront and has been delayed by the severe financial crisis in the economy being dealt with by the House Financial Services Committee. This hearing must feel very satisfying for him as well as supporting congressmen. As was evidenced in his opening remark, “It is nice to be able to think legislatively about other things besides the financial crisis, which has consumed this Committee since September of 2008.” In a comment that reflected his reasoning for regulation, Frank added, “There are a whole range of things on the internet that we would not like underage people to use. The notion that because some people abuse something, you prevent everyone from doing it is as great of a threat to the individual as any cause I have ever seen.”

The ninety minute hearing saw seven witnesses from various concerns from the native bands to the bank. Each had five minutes to express their issues for and against. Regulation seemed be the majority vote for all the obvious reasons. This was a good beginning and hopefully the momentum will carry through and the USA will get a grip on the idea of internet gambling.

The Committee’s Ranking Member, Congressman Spencer Bachus (R-AL), was vocal in his opposition to the proposed regulatory system saying “I believe that internet gambling is, has been, and will continue to be a substantial threat to our youth. Any economic benefits from taxing internet gambling would be more than offset by the harm it causes young people.”

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