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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

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PartyGaming executives are wealthiest online gambling entrepreneurs according to The Rich List

The Sunday Times internet rich list has revealed that four PartyGaming executives feature in the listing of the top 10 richest online business people.

The annual Rich List of Britain’s 1,000 wealthiest people was published yesterday and includes individuals and families who were born out of the UK but who predominantly work or live in Britain.

Online gaming executives featured heavily on the list, with PartyGaming founders Russ De Leon and Ruth Parasol ranking second place on the internet list with £700 million. Anurag Dikshit, group operations director for the company was third on the list with £559 million with marketing director Vikrant Bhargava was in ninth place with £230 million.

Founders of the Bet365 company Peter Coates and his daughter Denise were sixth on the list with an estimated £400 million each, with Betfair having three of their executives featuring in the top 20; founder Ed Wray was number 11 with £190 million, Andrew Black was 12th with £185 million and Rich Koch, equity investment manager, was 17th with £129 million.

However, the list was topped by founder and owner of the internet securities dealer CMC, Peter Cruddas, with an estimated wealth of £1 billion.

The recession also played a role in the listing this year, with the economic slowdown causing a total of £155 billion to be missing from the list compared to last year, which is the biggest fall since the richest online business people list was first compiled 21 years ago. (Credit: Gambling Online Magazine)

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A New Chance for Online Gambling in the U.S., By Eric Pfanner - The New York Times - 26th April 2009

PARIS — Is online gambling coming in from the cold?

When the U.S. Congress cracked down on Internet betting in 2006, the big, publicly traded European companies that had dominated the business closed up shop in the United States. Growth in the booming industry shifted away from these companies, once the darlings of the stock market, to private operators in offshore locations like Antigua and the Isle of Man.

But now, executives of some of the European companies whisper excitedly that they may soon get a second chance in the United States. Meanwhile, a number of European countries that have long maintained barriers are moving, under pressure from regulators, to legalize, and tax, online gambling.

“There’s still a lot of gambling going on, where there’s no revenue coming in to the governments,” said Gavin Kelleher, an analyst at the research firm H2 Gambling Capital in Ireland. “They realize they could use the revenue.”

The biggest potential change would be in the United States, where, perhaps within days, Representative Barney Frank, Democrat of Massachusetts, is expected to introduce legislation aimed at overturning the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.

“He supports the repeal and wants to move forward on it,” said Steve Adamske, communications director for the House Financial Services Committee, of which Mr. Frank is chairman.

Mr. Frank tried and failed to do so once before, in 2007. But advocates of liberalization think they might get a friendlier hearing in Washington this time around. President Barack Obama, they note, boasted of his poker prowess during the election campaign. And the Democrats, who are seen as less hostile to Internet gambling than the Republicans, have tightened their grip on Congress.

A study by PricewaterhouseCoopers says the U.S. government could raise more than $50 billion over 10 years from taxes on legalized online gambling.

“I’d be amazed if it didn’t happen over the next two or three years,” said Clive Hawkswood, chief executive of the Remote Gambling Association, a trade group based in London. “It’s just a question of what exactly the regulations will say.”

Some analysts say that may be getting a little bit ahead of the game. Opponents of a repeal, including the Christian Coalition of America and the National Football League, have vowed to fight any new effort to end the ban.

Michele Combs, a spokeswoman for the Christian Coalition, said the group was gearing up for a “massive campaign” of letter-writing and lobbying to try to prevent any loosening of the law.

“We’re not saying people shouldn’t go to Las Vegas,” she said. “But when it’s in your home, it’s too easy. It breaks up families.”

U.S. sports leagues, meanwhile, worry that the ease of online betting increases the chances of game-fixing. Even the most bullish advocates of online gambling acknowledge that Internet sports betting — as opposed to poker or casino games — is highly unlikely to be legalized.

“There’s a better chance now for some sort of gaming legislation to be approved,” said Nick Batram, an analyst at KBC Peel Hunt, a brokerage firm in London. “But it took longer than expected to put anti-gaming legislation in place, and it will probably will take longer than expected to remove it.”

Since the 2006 law was passed, North America, once the biggest market, has been passed by Europe and Asia, according to figures from H2 Gambling Capital. The law makes it illegal for financial institutions to handle payments to online gambling sites. But enough people have found ways around it, some by using overseas payment processors, to ensure that online gambling remains a thriving business. H2 says online gambling generated revenue of $6 billion last year in North America, more than a quarter the global total of $22.6 billion, up from $17.6 billion in 2006.

Pulling out of the United States cost PartyGaming about three-quarters of its business. Its position as the biggest online poker provider has been taken over by PokerStars, a privately held operator based on the Isle of Man.

This month, PartyGaming agreed to a $105 million settlement with the U.S. attorney’s office in New York, involving the period before 2006, when it acknowledged that its activities had been “contrary to certain U.S. laws.” In turn, the U.S. authorities agreed not to prosecute the company, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange, or its executives.

The agreement fueled speculation that PartyGaming might be trying to position itself for a return to the U.S. market, if online gambling were legalized.

Analysts say one possibility for European companies like PartyGaming, should the ban be lifted, would be to form partnerships with American casino operators. That would allow the European companies to share their online expertise. Operating alone, they might struggle to obtain licenses, given their history of run-ins with U.S. law enforcement, analysts said.

“It’s my feeling that even if the market were opened up, the U.S. government, in a palatable way, would probably find a way to give local companies a favorable position,” Mr. Batram said.

So far, Las Vegas executives have maintained a cautious stance about legalization of online gambling. Steve Wynn, chief executive of Wynn Resorts, said in an e-mail message that he thought it would be “impossible to regulate.”

“Even though it would be a benefit to our company, we are strongly opposed,” he said.

But speculation that Las Vegas casino operators were looking into the possibilities was fueled by recent reports that Harrah’s Entertainment, which owns Caesars Palace and other casinos, recently hired Mitch Garber, former chief executive of PartyGaming, for an unspecified role. Harrah’s did not return calls.

Mr. Ryan said that PartyGaming planned to focus on acquisition opportunities to increase its market share in Europe and elsewhere, something that was difficult as long as investors were worried about the U.S. litigation. “We think Mr. Frank’s efforts are quite meaningful to the sector,” he said.

Several other online gambling companies whose shares are traded in London, including 888 Holdings and Sportingbet, are still in talks with the U.S. Justice Department. Analysts expect them, along with companies like Bwin International, whose stock is traded in Vienna, to be involved in a round of consolidation in the industry — along with a possible eventual move back into the United States.

As they await developments in Washington, online gambling companies are looking for growth in Europe and Asia. Under pressure from regulators in Brussels, several European Union members, including France, Italy, Spain and Denmark, have been moving to legalize some kinds of online gambling, turning it into a regulated and taxed business. Britain was the first big European country to do so, in 2005.

Other countries, like Germany, Greece and the Netherlands, continue to hold out, though, in what the European Commission sees as an effort to protect government-sponsored gambling monopolies from private competition.

The commission in March published a report arguing that the United States was violating World Trade Organization rules by keeping out European online gambling companies, given that online betting on horse racing is permitted in the United States. But the commission said that it favored negotiations, rather than legal action, to end the dispute.

Also in March, however, the European Parliament adopted a separate measure supporting the right of individual E.U. member states to make their own rules on online gambling.

“It’s interesting that the European Commission is telling the U.S. it’s persecuting European companies when it can’t even get its own house sorted out,” Mr. Batram said.

(Credit: The New York Times)

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Slick Logie nominee discovers Carl Williams was a bit crumpled, by Erin McWhirter and Geoff Shearer - The Courier-Mail - 29th April 2009

The day Gyton Grantley rolled up to audition for the role of prominent Melbourne underworld figure Carl Williams he had it all wrong.

Decked out in a sleek black suit, his hair slicked down and filled with confidence, producers took one look at him and shook their heads.

"I do remember the audition really well," the Brisbane actor says as the sides of his mouth curl up.

"It was set in (Melbourne's) Crown Casino and I came in dressed in a suit, had a tie and was looking very smart. Basically they said to me 'Can you screw all that up in a ball, throw it on the floor, because he isn't that smart'," he laughs.

"I knew about the 10-year war, but didn't know Carl that well. I did a quick search on the internet that night but it wasn't until I got the job that I discovered him."

While Grantley, pictured, was busy unearthing the inner-workings of a drug-dealing murder, Australia was embracing the dopey-looking, track-suit wearing gangster who tied the knot with foul-mouthed, straight-shooting Roberta.

It's this role that has earned Grantley, who before the phenomenal success of Underbelly enjoyed guest roles on soap Home and Away and hospital drama All Saints, two Logie Award nominations for Most Popular Actor and Most Outstanding Actor this year.

A newcomer to the ceremony last year, Grantley says there's no denying Underbelly has changed his life for good and bad.

"I am recognised a lot as Carl and people like to call me Carl," he admits.

"Sometimes it gets frustrating and you think 'Well, if they liked me that much they could maybe learn my name'. You've just got to make your peace with it because it's what I signed up for and they are only doing it because they loved the show."

Held at Melbourne's Crown Casino this Sunday, it will be the 51st annual TV Week Logie Awards. They will be hosted by Gretel Killeen on the Australian television industry's night-of-nights with the nation's top entertainers celebrating the year's highlights of the small screen.

"My preparation is: make sure your suit is on in time and have a bit of 'bravey gravy' as Eric Bana says in his latest doco," Grantley jokes.

"Enjoy the night and don't put too much pressure on yourself. I was nervous last year because Les Hill and I had to introduce Kate Ritchie's tribute and I was nervous about speaking on the television."

Grantley, who went to school at Carina Heights on Brisbane's eastside before studying acting at QUT, says he was first pushed into a theatrical career when his mum decided he needed to attend elocution classes.

"Now, playing Carl, I'm kind of at the other end of that whole elocution thing," he says.

The huge popularity of the first Underbelly series caught Grantley by surprise. Cast and crew knew they were working on something special, he says, but never expected it would become as big as it did. "You can't imagine the type of hype I've experienced from it," he says.

"It's a strange world - celebrity - people fuss over you and they get you things and make sure you look OK.

"I don't spend a lot of time in front of the mirror staring at myself - so I'm not the kind of person who's going to get wrapped up in the whole inner-looking thing. Celebrity is just part and parcel of the career I suppose."

Up next for the actor is the movie Balibo, due out in late July, early August, which recreates events surrounding the shooting of five Australian journalists during Indonesia's invasion of East Timor in 1975.

Meanwhile, as Grantley gets his suit pressed for Logies night, Gold Logie-nominee darlings Kate Ritchie and Natalie Bassingthwaighte have got their frocks picked, but now face the biggest challenge of the evening: making it out of the car and on to the red carpet without a wardrobe malfunction.

"That is the most stressful moment," Ritchie, 30, admits. "There are so many unflattering photos of people getting out of cars."

"Those moments are scary or malfunctions of any sort are weird," chimes in Bassingthwaighte, 33. "I think the moment just before the award is announced you just get so sick and nervous because everyone has made you feel that in the lead-up to it. It's almost like brainwashing that goes on before the award. Getting asked 'Are you nervous, are you worried'?

"But you are genuinely chuffed to be nominated."

Nominated for Gold in 2006 for her role as Izzy Hoyland on soap Neighbours and twice for the most popular actress category, Bassingthwaighte, who is also performing her single 1000 Stars on the night, says it's great to be nominated for presenting.

After her baptism of fire hosting the first local version of So You Think You Can Dance Australia last year, Bassingthwaighte backed up for the second season again recently.

"I don't know what the right word is, but I am really overwhelmed," she says.

"I went into this wanting to conquer my fears and get better at it. That's how I live my life. I don't want to play it safe, I want to dive in."

With Ritchie's breakfast radio co-hosts Merrick Watts and Tim Rosso hoping their colleague will score a hat-trick by winning her third consecutive Gold Logie, the former Home and Away star says she feels the pressure is off.

"The past 18 months have been a period of transition and it was a little on the turbulent side this time last year," admits Ritchie, who says she felt the heat to conclude her 20-year stint as Sally on Home and Away with a second Gold Logie last year.

"I just felt unsteady about where I was and what I was doing. I had a new job and it felt like I was caught between two worlds on Home and Away and radio. I was really all over the place and I could see that when I watched the Logies back (from last year). Just look at that poor girl on stage. I feel for me.

"But, I am at a really good place in my life now."

Both girls will be taking their boyfriends to the event, but agree to be nominated among talent including Andrew Denton, Rove McManus and Rebecca Gibney for the Gold is an incredible feeling.

"As a young actress I watched Rebecca Gibney on television and thought that when I grew up I wanted my own TV show and to be an actress like her," Ritchie says. "To think I am there alongside her is actually really flattering in itself."

"It feels like a real honour, to be honest, because I am new at this (presenting) so it's really crazy," Bassingthwaighte adds.

"I am nominated with Andrew Denton, I mean, that's just stupid," laughs the bubbly personality.

TV Week Logie Awards, Sunday, Nine, 7.30pm (Credit: The Courier-Mail)

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Fake gaming chips scam at Crown Casino, by Robyn Grace - The Age - 24th April 2009

Melbourne's Crown Casino has been forced to check the authenticity of $13.7 million worth of gambling chips after the discovery of counterfeit $1000 tokens.

The casino has identified $36,000 in fraudulent chips since the brazen deceit was identified by a staff member yesterday afternoon.

Crown spokesman Gary O'Neill said staff examined 13,700 individual tokens, including 4000 from the gaming floor, following the discovery.

Thirty-five other fraudulent $1000 chips were found in what is believed to be the largest fraud detected at Crown in recent years.

The casino has since changed the appearance of the chips to limit further damage.

Mr O'Neill today denied reports the casino had yesterday been in crisis, saying it took staff only a couple of hours to examine the $1000 chips.

"A review of the rest of the (denominations of) chips wouldn't take us all that long either,'' he said.

Mr O'Neill said while the quality of the fakes was good enough to pass ``first muster'', casino security staff identified the fraud ``relatively quickly''.

``I think in the early days it was fair to say that the quality of the fakes was laughable. These days they're getting better at it but so are we (at detecting the fakes),'' he said.

Mr O'Neill said it was impossible to know the real value of the fraud but the fake chips were believed to have been in circulation for less than a day.

``They were on the floor, clearly they had been passed for something. I don't know whether they were cashed in or whether they were simply there in circulation.''

Mr O'Neill said the matter has been reported to Victoria Police, who are ``taking it seriously''.

A police spokesman today confirmed officers would work with Crown security staff to investigate the matter.

The incident has also been reported to the Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation, which will alert other casinos throughout Australia. (Credit: The Age)

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Big poker weekend on tap, by Andy Samuelson - Las Vegas Sun - 17th April 2009

It’s a big weekend for Las Vegas’ poker scene.

Tonight Jennifer Harman’s third-annual Charity Poker Tournament kicks off at 5 p.m. in the Venetian poker room.

The event, which benefits the Nevada Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), includes past World Series of Poker main-event champions Doyle Brunson, Chris Ferguson, Phil Hellmuth, and Jerry Yang.

Other pros that plan on playing the $330 buy-in, $100 rebuys an add-ons tourney include Phil Ivey, Daniel Negreanu, Barry Greenstein, Eli Elezra, Andy Bloch, Maria Ho, and Tiffany Michelle.

The winner grabs a seat at the 2009 World Series of Poker main event and a Curtis and Co. watch. The top 10 finishers also win prizes.

On Saturday, the World Poker Tour (WPT) Championship kicks off at the Bellagio.

The $25,000 buy-in tournament is the last stop of Season VII and will air on Fox Sports Net.

David Chiu beat out 545 entrants last year, including Full Tilt Poker pro Gus Hansen, to claim the $3.4 million top prize. Hansen snagged $1.7 million for second as 100 players finished in the money.

The London Times reported Sunday that Harrah's Entertainment hired Mitch Garber, the former PartyGaming CEO.

While his role hasn’t been defined, speculators say Garber could head a new division of Internet gambling as well as the WSOP.

According to PokerListings, Harrah’s CEO Gary Loveman said at the 2007 Global Gaming Expo that the WSOP may branch into online formats in Europe.

Legalities in the United States prevent such a situation, but a U.S.-based company can offer online services in Europe.

"Although there's plenty of support brewing for legalization and regulation of online gambling in the United States, it's not a done deal yet," wrote Lou Krieger, the editor of Poker Player Newspaper, on a recent blog.

"Nevertheless, Garber's hiring puts Harrah's out in front of the curve should UIGEA be set aside, and Garber's presence would give Harrah's a hand up the ladder in the US online poker market." (Credit: Las Vegas Sun)

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Virgin Games hires Latitude to raise profile - NMA Magazine - 16th April 2009

Virgin Games is to ramp up its marketing activity as it expands its portfolio of online games to make the most of traffic to gambling sites. Virgin Games, which was launched three years ago and has casino, poker and bingo sites, has appointed Latitude as is first search optimisation agency to ramp up content on its properties and gain prominence on search engines. The company is also increasing display, affiliate and paid search activity, taking advantage of Google's decision...

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

PartyCasino.com Adds 'Rambo' To Movie Roster And Launches Live Dealer

15th April 2009 – http://www.partycasino.com is pleased to announce the arrival of a new ‘Rambo’ themed slot game at the world’s largest online casino. ‘Rambo’ is the latest movie themed slot to launch on PartyCasino.com and joins a collection of games that reads like a list of Hollywood’s greatest movies. PartyCasino.com pays out over $10 million EVERY DAY to players and continues to expand rapidly.

‘Rambo’ is a 20 line, 5 reel online slot machine based on the iconic film series that provides a high octane gaming experience. The game features heavy artillery, helicopters and jungle rescue sequences you would expect from the world famous motion picture. The minimum stake is one cent and a player can bet on a maximum of 20 lines.

The feature of the game is triggered when a player hits three pictures of John Rambo. There your mission as Rambo is to shoot down base defences from your helipcopter and rescue the POW’s. The enemy draws first blood not you but it is time to unleash the one man war to win big cash prizes. Within this feature the gameplay is boosted by chances to win extra multipliers and extra free spins.

Other film themed slots at PartyCasino.com include Mission:Impossible, The Terminator, The Godfather, Top Gun, Saturday Night Fever and Gone With The Wind. The Gold Mega Jackpot at PartyCasino.com currently stands at nearly $1.3 million! On February 24th 2009, ‘ScottishAOD’ won the $1,358,857.49 Gold Mega Jackpot on the Mega Fortune Wheel. This jackpot was particularly closely followed as it looked at one point that the PartyCasino.com record of $1,571,974 paid out to one player on the 8th October 2006 was under threat. His father, ‘Takemystack7’, also won a Gold Mega Jackpot but for $763,356.33 on the 24th May 2008! Between them they have won $2,122,213.82 off PartyCasino.com in exactly nine months to the day!

PartyCasino.com is also pleased to announce that the Live Dealer function on the site is up and running http://www.partycasino.com/games/live_dealer.html . Multi-currency bacarrat, blackjack and roulette games are available following an agreement made with EvolutionGaming last year.

A PartyCasino.com spokesman said: “With Rambo it’s a case of give it a go, give it a go now and we’ll give you an experience you won’t believe! PartyCasino.com has already developed a portfolio of slots that reads like a collection of Hollywood greats and there is more to come. We’re also very happy to introduce live dealer – this provides a new online experience for those that prefer the experience of watching croupiers dealing cards or spinning roulette wheels.”

Rambo, First Blood and any depiction of Rambo are trademarks of StudioCanal. TM & © StudioCanal 2009. All Rights Reserved.

PartyGaming Plc is the world’s leading listed online gaming company. Founded in 1997, the Group is a constituent of the FTSE 250 share index and the FTSE4Good Index Series, which measures the performance of companies that meet globally recognised corporate responsibility standards. PartyGaming’s shares are listed on The London Stock Exchange under the ticker: PRTY.

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Former PartyGaming CEO Hired By Harrah’s, by Earl Burton - Poker News Daily - 14th April 2009

On Sunday, the London Times sent shockwaves through the land based casino industry as well as the internet gaming world with a small article regarding the recent actions of one of the largest casino operations in the world and a former online gaming CEO.

It was announced in the Sunday Times Online that Harrah’s Entertainment – responsible for much of the casino action in not only Las Vegas but the United States as a whole and the owner of the World Series of Poker – and former PartyGaming PLC CEO Mitch Garber have entered into an agreement for Garber to join the organization. What isn’t known is what capacity Garber will have within Harrah’s or what effects it will have on the World Series itself.

Garber, who resigned as the CEO of PartyGaming in early 2008, is thought to be taking a leading role in a reorganization of Harrah’s online operations into a stand alone company that will also encompass the WSOP. After several recent developments in the online gaming world, it is believed that Harrah’s is envisioning that the legalization and regulation in the United States will happen soon and wants a qualified leader to be able to run the resulting operation. With Garber, Harrah’s has landed such a leader.

Garber led PartyGaming through much of its tumultuous last few years after the passage of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (UIGEA) and the resulting move of PartyGaming to pull out of the American market. While with PartyGaming he focused on international expansion through product diversification and a series of mergers and acquisitions. These efforts helped PartyGaming to absorb the losses of the American market with little effect on PartyGaming’s bottom line.

There are different theories as to if, and/or when the legislative mood regarding online gaming in the United States will be changing. In a recent interview with The Hill, Massachusetts congressman Barney Frank, the chairman of the powerful House Financial Services Committee, stated that he plans to introduce internet gambling legislation after the Easter recess. The Hill noted that the week of April 20th is a likely time frame for the bill’s introduction and that it would create a complete licensing and regulatory framework for the internet gambling industry.

This line of thought is tempered by the current economic and political climate in the United States, though. With the ongoing financial crisis affecting not only the U. S. economy but the situations of most nations worldwide, many believe that the legalization and regulation of online poker and gaming is far down the list of priorities of the U. S. Congress and the Obama Administration. Although the taxation dollars from the online gaming industry - which garners an estimated $12 billion yearly - would be helpful to the American government, other more lucrative financial moves are expected to be implemented first.

Gary Loveman, CEO of Harrah's Entertainment, has said online poker's legalization is a strong possibility in the United States and recent activities regarding online poker operators have demonstrated that the winds may be changing. In December, former PartyGaming founder Anurag Dikshit pled guilty to violations of the 1961 Wire Act and paid a $300 million fine. Just last week, Garber’s former company PartyGaming also settled their grievances with the U. S. Department of Justice, agreeing to a non-prosecution arrangement and payment of a $105 million fine over the next three years.

With the hiring of Garber to run the online operations of a newly created branch of Harrah’s and – if online poker is a part of that operation – the WSOP, it does appear that Harrah’s is preparing for the day when online poker and gaming will be legal in the United States. Whenever that day may be. (Credit: Poker News Daily)

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Frank Costigan Dies: James Packer Dad Never Forgave Him - Gambling911 - 14th April 2009

Australia's casino magnate, James Packer, has been all over the news of late. In the U.S. he's been tied to a potential investment in financially troubled Las Vegas.

A nemesis of Packer's, Frank Costigan, has passed away this week at the age of 78.

Costigan was the former royal commissioner remembered as a tireless campaigner against corruption.

In 2006, Packer described the Costigan royal commission as the "darkest chapter" in the life of his own dad, Kerry.

Speaking at Kerry Packer's state memorial service, the younger Packer said that his father had never forgiven Mr. Costigan and "nor could we".

Costigan had codenamed Kerry Packer as the "Squirrel", implicating him in fraud, drug trafficking, pornography and murder. The elder Packer would later describe those allegations as "grotesque, ludicrous and malicious."

Mr. Costigan died in a Melbourne hospital about 7:10 am Sunday. He is survived by his five children and 10 grandchildren.

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Two Men Charged in Australian Casino Brawl - Gambling911 - 14th April 2009

Two men and a woman linked to the Rebels outlaw bikie gang have been charged over a brawl at a Sydney casino, police say.

Two groups of patrons used glasses and chairs as weapons when the fight broke out at Star City casino early on Sunday.

When security staff threw them out, the brawl involving 20 men and women continued in the street outside until police arrived just after 1.30am (AEST).

Police, with help from the riot squad, brought the brawl under control, arresting 10 men and a woman, while others fled the scene.

It is alleged six of the men, aged between 22 and 35, as well as the woman, have links to the Rebels.

The 26-year-old woman from Shalvey, in Sydney's west, was charged with affray and bailed to appear at Downing Centre Local Court on May 5.

A 20-year-old man from Punchbowl and a 21-year-old from Riverwood, also in the city's west, were also charged with affray.

The pair were granted bail to appear at Downing Centre Local Court on May 4.

Police released without charge another six men allegedly linked to the Rebels pending further inquiries and a review of CCTV footage.

Another two men, both aged 20, were also released without charge.

A crime scene was established at the Pyrmont Street casino, and several items were seized for forensic investigation.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

Sydney Casino Brawl Results in 20 Arrests - Gambling911 - 11th April 2009

Police were called to Star City at Pyrmont early this morning after reports of a fight between two groups.

Police said the brawl started inside the venue before security staff threw a number of people out.

"A number of people fled the scene upon police arrival, however, 10 people were arrested at the location," police said in a statement.

"They have been taken to various police stations throughout the city and are currently assisting police with their inquiries."

Commenting on the brawls, Australian Media Man, Greg Tingle, told Gambling911.com:

"This is the latest of numerous high profile fights at Australian casinos. Last year a model was shot whilst working at Star City. In addition in recent months there's been a number of bashings at Burswood Casino in Perth and last month there was an in-play poker fight at the Rock Tavern (a club with strong similarities to a casino) Cairns, Queensland. Packer's Crown Casino in Melbourne currently has a number of legal fights on its hands, but has managed to avoid on premise violence to the best of public knowledge. Seems there's plenty more material available for more episodes of Network Nine's 'Underbelly' and Channel Seven's 'Gangs Of Oz'. These recent high profile criminal acts at some of Australia's premier gambling venues are certainly not going to hurt the popularity of online casinos." (Credit: Gambling911)

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

James Packer Could Still Prove a Savior to Las Vegas - Gambling911 - 8th April 2009

James Packer will be reviewing Las Vegas gaming revenue for the second time in five months, though he might be disturbed by what he sees.

February gaming totals are lowest since 2004 for state and the Las Vegas Strip.

From the Las Vegas Review Journal:

"Throughout Nevada, gaming revenue fell more than 18 percent during February and more than 23 percent on the Strip, figures released Tuesday by the Gaming Control Board show. The raw numbers -- $839.5 million statewide and $427.4 million on the Strip -- were the lowest single-month gaming revenue totals since 2004.

"During February, the statewide casino win of almost $839.5 million from gamblers was down from almost $1.145 billion won a year ago. The figure was the lowest statewide one-month total since July 2004, when casinos recorded $813 million in gaming revenues. February's 18.1 percent decline was the third largest monthly decline in state history, following a 22.3 percent drop last October and an 18.9 percent decline last December.

"On the Strip, casinos won $427.4 million, down from $558.3 million a year ago. The figure was the lowest single month total since November 2004 when casinos won $426 million. It was the second-largest single month drop ever, trailing only the 25.7 percent drop posted last October."

The negative news doesn't necessarily mean Australia's gambling magnate, Packer, won't still dive in.

Depending on which way he views the statistics, it's either good news for Packer's Crown because it will mean casinos in Las Vegas will be even cheaper, or bad if his company's only sizeable investment in the poker capital defaults on its loans, Australian media outlets reported on Wednesday.

The Las Vegas strip produces nearly 10 times the revenue of any other area in that city.

Crown has an interest in the strip through its 19.6 per cent stake in Fontainebleau Resorts (once worth $US250 million).

Fontainebleau is in danger of defaulting on loans if the ailing strip does not soon recover.

Packer himself is hardly immune to today's economic woes.

The Herald Sun reported on how Packer has taken measures to trim down his own company:

Packer's Consolidated Media Holdings has slashed the size of its board, with the remaining non-executive directors taking a pay cut.

In a sign of both the scaling down of CMH and of leaner economic times, the board has been slimmed down from 12 directors to seven, saving the company more than $500,000 a year in directors' fees.

Directors have also been told to repay loans taken out with the company to buy shares, or else forfeit those shares.

Media Man Greg Tingle tells Gambling911.com: "I think its great to see James Packer show some authority in the boardroom which his late father, Kerry Packer, was also noted for. James doesn't swear like his old man did however.

"There's nothing quite like a shack up on a company board to put them on notice that performance levels are being closely monitored." (Credit: Gambling911)

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PartyGaming pays $105m to avoid US prosecution, by James Thompson - The Independent - 8th April 2009

Online poker firm PartyGaming yesterday vowed to go on the acquisition trail after it finally settled a legal dispute with US authorities that could eventually pave the way for it to return to the world's most lucrative market.

The settlement, which follows a two-year legal battle, means PartyGaming will not be prosecuted for providing "real money" internet gambling services for nine years prior to US legislation banning the activity in October 2006. However, PartyGaming has agreed to pay a penalty of $105m (£72m) in instalments over three and a half years. The verdict sent shares in PartyGaming soaring by 31p, or 14.16 per cent, to 250p yesterday. It also lifted rival online gaming companies, with 888 Holdings up by 7.8 per cent and Sportingbet higher by 13.25 per cent.

Jim Ryan, the chief executive of PartyGaming, said the settlement removed the uncertainty over its strategy and will help it secure financing to fund acquisitions. "We can now look at merger and acquisition opportunities and have access to capital markets," he said, though he declined to name takeover targets.

Mr Ryan believes PartyGaming will be well placed if, and when, the US authorities overturn legislation that prohibits online gambling.

PartyGaming will pay the first instalment of the $105m forfeiture on 10 April and the final payment is due on 30 September 2012. The company exited the US market after the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act came into force on 13 October 2006, effectively banning its business.

Nick Batram, the analyst at KBC Peel Hunt, said the size and payment structure of the settlement was "better than we expected". He added: "The settlement with the DoJ [Department of Justice] should mark a point of inflection for the group which can now look forward without being anchored by the past."

The settlement overshadowed PartyGaming's subdued first-quarter trading update. For the three months to 31 March 2009, group revenue fell by 22 per cent to $100.1m. Its poker revenues tumbled to $53.6m from $80.7m, as it faced new US entrants in Europe and foreign currency movements. (Credit: The Independent)

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Debate Over Impact of PartyGaming Settlement

Whether ultimately good or bad for the industry and for PartyGaming, yesterday's settlement is bringing a great deal of attention to the legal status of online gaming in the United States

April 8, 2009 (CAP Newswire) -- Yesterday’s announcement that PartyGaming has settled with U.S. prosecutors over its online gaming activities in the United States has been greeted with a flurry of coverage in some high-profile media outlets.

Even though some in the iGaming industry are apparently unhappy that PartyGaming is relenting under what seems to be biased and unfair persecution by the U.S., the general consensus has been markedly positive.

As reported yesterday, the immediate point of interest was a sharp rise in shares for the U.K.-based gaming company, as well as for other gaming companies. PartyGaming’s shares “soared more than 15 percent,” according to the Associated Press. There's also a great deal of speculation that a wave of mergers and consolidation will be forthcoming, finally allowed by the resolution of this long-standing thorn in the industry’s side.

“That's because some financial analysts see the settlement as possibly leading to others,” writes Gilbert Gaul in the Washington Post, “thus reducing uncertainty in the industry and opening the door to industry consolidation and expansion outside the U.S.”

“[The settlement] does remove a big uncertainty,” agrees Jeremy Warner in the U.K.’s Independent magazine, “which ought in time to allow renewed access to equity and debt markets so the company can begin the process of consolidating this still-fragmented industry.”

The settlement is also being greeted as good news by many analysts because it allows PartyGaming to escape criminal prosecution, and because the sum that was negotiated is lower than many analysts had predicted. (The fee is $105 million, to be paid out in installments through September 2012.)

“The settlement covers the period from 1997 to October 2006, when PartyGaming offered internet gaming to US players, including real-money poker and casino gaming,” writes Chris Tryhorn and Julia Kollewe in today’s online edition of the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper. “The company admitted that even before the 2006 crackdown -- which forced it to abandon the US market -- some of its activities had broken US law.”

"Prior to 13 October 2006, certain of the US customer transactions intended for PartyGaming that were processed by third parties, and other gaming and payment-related activity, were contrary to certain US laws," PartyGaming representatives said in a statement published at the Guardian.

In his Independent column, Jeremy Warner goes on to conclude that the settlement can also benefit PartyGaming by creating a positive relationship with the U.S. in case online gambling is ever legalized there. “This is not altogether impossible at some stage in the next few years,” he writes. “In the search for new sources of income, some of the big physical gaming groups in the US are dropping their objections to the genre. Some privately owned poker sites, such as Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars, still operate illegally in the US, and as a result have cleaned up in the online poker market.”

The U.S. market, though off-limits at the moment, still represents the world’s largest and most enthusiastic group of poker players. According to the AP, the U.S. accounted for 80 percent of PartyGaming’s revenue before it was forced to leave the market.

Finally, amid the wave of positive reactions, there is some frustration about an industry leader of PartyGaming’s stature admitting to breaking laws that are vague, confusing, and seemingly haphazardly applied. After all, the settlement essentially amounts to admission that the company committed bank fraud, writes Roger Blitz at the Financial Times, who also hints that the financial results may not be as positive as initial reports indicate.

The Washington Post’s Gilbert Gaul also takes a more skeptical view: “Prior to the enactment of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in October 2006, PartyGaming operated one of the largest and most active Internet poker sites in the U.S. The company immediately withdrew from the U.S. market and stopped accepting U.S. players, which caused a dive in its earnings and stock price. Nevertheless Justice Department prosecutors continued to consider charges against the company for targeting U.S. players before 2006, contending that previous laws also outlawed Internet gambling.”

The Washington Post article also features some helpful analysis on the state of the anti-UIGEA movement in the U.S.; click here to read it. The Financial Times article can be found here, and the Guardian article can be found here. Click here to read Jeremy Warner’s article in the Independent, and, last but not least, the Associated Press coverage can be viewed via the Forbes website, here

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

PartyGaming Case Settled; Fee Will Be $105 Million

Among world's leading gaming brands, U.K.-listed firm finally reaches settlement agreement with U.S. Department of Justice

April 7, 2009 (CAP Newswire) -- After a long period of negotiations and legal maneuvering, PartyGaming has reached a deal with the U.S. Department of Justice to settle the years-long prosecution against the U.K.-listed gambling company, the Wall Street Journal reports today.

The deal is being called a "non-prosecution agreement," meaning that the company will pay a sizable fee rather than face any criminal charges. The agreed-upon penalty will take the form of a $105 million fee, reached after nearly two years of discussion and negotiation.

The case has been a controversial one, given the fact that it is essentially prosecuting a non-American company for providing a service with a legality that is difficult to define in black-and-white terms.

"After almost two years of discussions, the U.S. Attorney's Officer for the Southern District of New York has agreed not to prosecute PartyGaming or any of its subsidiaries for providing internet gambling services to customers in the U.S. prior to the U.S. government banning the online gambling industry in October, 2006,” writes Lilly Vitorovich in the article.

"In turn, U.K.-listed PartyGaming has accepted a 'statement of facts' about its business activities prior to the ban, and will pay $105 million in eight installments over a period ending Sept. 30, 2012, from its existing financial resources. The sum is broadly in line with market expectations.

"Under the statement of facts, PartyGaming admits that it offered internet gaming to players in the U.S. from 1997 to Oct. 13, 2006, which was 'contrary to certain U.S. laws.'"

Under the terms of this agreement, PartyGaming also agrees to continue to avoid the U.S. market in the future (at least, until current laws change).

PartyGaming's CEO, Jim Ryan, chose to see the resolution of the years-long case as a positive note, giving his company freedom to pursue new goals. The company will now focus on merger and acquisition activity, according to the article, which went on to predict that the closure of this case represents a turning point for the online gaming industry in general, and may signal a period of market and corporate consolidation.

"We've received a favorable indication from the parties that we'd gone to that once this matter was resolved that we could have access to not only the equity markets, but to debt markets," states Ryan in the article.

Illustrating the positive reaction to the announcement, PartyGaming, Sportingbet, and 888 shares were all up significantly today.

To read Lilly Vitorovich’s original article in the Wall Street Journal, please click here.

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Virgin king and Crown Casino king talk shop and Media Man makes a play

Media Man Australia and Casino News Media report Virgin's iGaming arm, Virgin Games aka Virgin Casino, is enjoying a huge comeback which can be attributed to a number of reasons.

New Virgin Games players now receive a 100% sign up bonus, which is of course double the original 50%!

New Virgin Games online slot releases include Battleship - Search & Destroy and MegaJackpots Cleopatra®. Cleopatra and Cleopatra II have long been the most popular games available on Virgin Casino and the merging with the mega popular MegaJackpots® has been an international big hit. Rumours are circulating that Dungeons and Dragons: Fortress of Fortunes will also soon be added to the already awesome Virgin Games portfolio.

Virgin boss, Richard Branson was recently spotted talking shop (or was it small talk? .. unlikely) at the Melbourne Formula One Grand Prix with none other than Australian casino king, James Packer, head of Crown Casino and a number of other casino and lifestyle businesses.

Media and iGaming analyst, Greg Tingle, has long gone on record starting that these two gentlemen might do well to get their heads together and offer a 5 star plus package for the casino whales of the world. They could pick up where Donald Trump dropped the ball. Branson's V Australia and his Virgin empire coupled with Packer's group of casinos in Melbourne, Perth, Macau, Las Vegas and elsewhere, would appear to be an excellent match. Branson is of course a fan of news media coverage whilst Packer has proved to be more media shy. Perhaps that may change if the two were to team up on a win - win venture combining the best of air travel, casinos and accommodation. It could be packaged as an ultimate travel and lifestyle experience for the whale who demands the best! The next best thing to space travel, another dynamic offering from Virgin Enterprises Limited. Tingle has wasted no time in showcasing the photo of Branson and Packer talking shop on the Media Man Australia website and has advised "We're keen to be pro actively involved in a Virgin - Crown campaign, given our proven track record with Virgin Games, Virgin Unite, air travel bookings and casino lifestyle campaigns".

Tingle is the former manager and agent for Crown Casino poker trainer and commentary, Keith "Bendigo" Sloan, so stranger things have happened. In what appears to be a strategic move Tingle has also registered Casino Travel Tourism and looks to be building his own World Casino Directory, a move tipped to compete with the original world famous online casino portal.

More details as they come to hand.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Crown Casino Won’t be Taking Stake in Las Vegas Project - Gambling911 - 5th April 2009

Australia's Crown Casino has denied media reports that it plans to take a stake in the troubled City Center development in Las Vegas.

The Wall Street Journal this past week quoted an unnamed source as saying Crown was considering investing in the project.

The US$8.6 billion development is owned by MGM Mirage and Dubai World. Las Vegas and MGM in particular have been especially affected by the recent economic downturn.

Australian Media Man, Greg Tingle, praised Crown Casino bigwig James Packer for the positive news that has come out of his camp of late.

"One can bet that Packer would be keen to regain some of this financial wealth back which was halved in the past one year plus," Tingle told Gambling911.com. "One would think that if there are still some true casino ‘whales' left they would frequent Las Vegas of of course Macau, where Packer just happens to be pushing along Crown Macau and The City Of Dreams."

Crown Limited (ASX:CWN) is an Australian gaming and entertainment company established in 2007 that owns Australia's Crown Casino Complex.

Crown Limited was formed on December 17, 2007 when Publishing and Broadcasting Limited (PBL) split into two new companies. Crown Limited acquired all of the gaming interests while Consolidated Media Holdings, the renamed PBL retained all of the remaining asset. (Credit: Gambling911).

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Sunday, April 5, 2009

Online punters rushing to play, by Nick Galvin - The Age - 4th April 2009

In 2000 the Federal Government was interested in attitudes to the embryonic online gambling industry. Would Australians cop a ban on all local gambling sites - and if a ban was enforced would punters simply go offshore for their gambling fix?

Results of the consequent survey seem almost quaint. Ninety-six per cent of people said they had no interest in online gambling, and 1 per cent said they would consider playing on an overseas site if they "stumbled upon it".

"These points suggest that currently involvement in internet gambling is only minimal and not likely to increase rapidly in the near feature," the government report concluded. The next year the Interactive Gambling Act made it an offence to provide online gambling services in Australia; as late as 2004 a review boasted about the ban's effectiveness.

Fast forward to 2009. Exact figures are impossible to obtain, but industry sources agree that hundreds of thousands of Australians regularly play poker on overseas servers.

Causes of this growth are complex. Television exposure played a part; so too did the number of Australians with home internet connections - up from a third of households in 2001 to two-thirds by 2006. And there is no shortage, it seems, of Australians willing to trust the internet with their credit card details. (Credit: The Age)

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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Australia’ Crown Casino and James Packer on the Upswing - Gambling911 - 4th March 2009

Greg Tingle of Media Man Enterprises in Australia reports on positive news circulating around Australian gambling magnate James Packer and his Crown Casino venture.

Tingle tells Gambling911.com:

"Australia's James Packer looks to be on the upswing again. Face to face appearances with Sir Richard Branson, social gatherings and another potential investment into Las Vegas. Maybe some of Branson's positive can do attitude has rubbed off on our James when they chatted in Melbourne last month. I can tell you from first hand experience that Branson's positive attitude pretty infectious. He helped us go from 3 websites to 7 in the world financial recession period no less! Recently Branson was quoted, ‘What recession?', so perhaps Packer may be of the same sort of thinking".

"One can bet that Packer would be keen to regain some of this financial wealth back which was halved in the past one year plus. One would think that if there are still some true casino ‘whales' left they would frequent Las Vegas of of course Macau, where Packer just happens to be pushing along Crown Macau and The City Of Dreams."

Tingle's remarks come on news that the Australian billionaire is considering taking a stake in City Center, the troubled Las Vegas development owned by Dubai World and MGM Mirage, according to a person with knowledge of the situation.

From the Wall Street Journal:

"Mr. Packer, whose Melbourne-based gambling company, Crown Ltd, has large casinos in Australia and China, is discussing the possibility of an investment in the project with Colony Capital LLC, a Los Angeles-based investment firm, according to this person. Colony and Crown "would step in and take over the funding requirements. The idea is to keep City Center going," said the person, who is close to discussions."

But the project in question is not without its headaches.

While an investment from Colony and Crown could infuse much needed cash into the project to save it from bankruptcy, and keep it from shutting down, the $8.6 billion project has come under fire by Dubai World, the investment arm of the Persian Gulf state. Dubai World is suing MGM Mirage over the project, citing mismanagement and cost overruns.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Dubai World so far has $4.3 billion invested in the project and skipped its regular monthly payment in March. MGM Mirage made the full $200 million payment, including Dubai World's share in order to keep the project going. (Credit: Gambling911).

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Friday, April 3, 2009

Conroy Backtracks on Internet Censorship Policy - Gambling911 - 2nd April 2009

The Communications Minister, Stephen Conroy has been clarifying more details on his Internet censorship policy.

The Australian community has spoken loud and clear and the vast majority do not want it.

On SBS TV Insight many parents were interviewed and agreed that the ultimate protection for a child in relation to the Internet is a good parent.

It's also widely understood that criminals who would use the Internet for illegal acts such as child pornography would use peer to peer or other ways for distribution, not methods which would be picked up by the ACMA blacklist.

Yesterday another industry insider advised that Betfair is still on the blacklist. Again, I don't have the list so I don't know this to be 100 percent. I can however confirm that the following link was posited on the CAP Forum (but I haven't clicked on it in case the spooks are watching. I don't want the link showing up in my browsing history... the spooks have me paranoid now).

Check out the new leaks here

Greg Tingle, www.mediaman.com.au

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

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Internet Filtering Continues to be Hot Topic in Australia - Gambling911 - 31st March 2009

The coverage related to Internet filtering in Australia continues to be a hot topic. A report aired just the other night with some 377 plus people commenting on what was transpiring. As Gambling911.com has been reporting, the Australian government, led by Communications Director Stephen Conroy, has been working to filter some 2000 plus websites they claim were "indecent" but as it turns out, a number of those sites were related to online poker, religion and politics.

One individual wrote:

"The fact that the black list already contains politically controversial sites -of religions with which the government does not agree- should be taken as a sign of things to come. That information on euthanasia has been blocked is fairly hypocritical. It was legal in the Northern Territory under 15 years ago. The filter only covers http traffic - not peer to peer traffic. Anyone hosting illegal content over http is advertising their location. Surely distributors of illegal content would use P2P."

Another had this to say:

"Both during his appearance on Insight and Q&A last week, Conroy described it as a "Genuine conundrum" that blacklists have to be secret in order to work - therefore disenabling legitimate sites from knowing and protesting their blacklisting. I don't really see how it is a "Conundrum". If the sites are blocked, then supposedly people won't be able to access them ANYWAY. So what's wrong with transparency? And those who really want to view illegal sites will already know of them and can bypass."

Our man on the street, Greg Tingle, had this to say:

"I'm an adult and if I wish to watch adult porno that should be my business only. If I want to visit a poker or online casino website to place a bet, so be it. If I want to link to Betfair, I should have every right to. Here's a movie to watch, John Carpenter's 'They Live'. Part science fiction thriller and part black comedy, the film echoed contemporary fears of a declining economy, within a culture of greed and conspicuous consumption common among Americans in the 1980s. In They Live, the ruling class within the monied elite are in fact aliens managing human social affairs through the use of subliminal media advertising and the control of economic opportunity. Rudd, any bells ringing here. Liberal, you have found your next election winner I believe. The way this is going Australia is heading for a riot which will make Cronulla, Maroubra, Thailand, China and France look like child's play. Rudd and Conroy, it's happening on your watch. Is the Australian government happy with themselves now. I would suggest that some Australian politicians are going to do well to get bodyguards, if they don't have them already, such is the dislike of some of their jackass policy, and some of them are the clowns that signed off some of this garbage."

This is a hot topic that won't be going away any time soon. (Credit: Gambling911)

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