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Thursday, September 28, 2006

William Hill pulls plug on US gambling

British bookmaker William Hill said today it had stopped taking casino and
poker bets from US customers amid confusion over internet gambling laws
there. Online sports betting contravenes the 1961 Wire Act in America, which
bans the placing of bets on sporting events via the telephone line in the
states. William Hill already has measures in place to prevent American
gamblers logging onto its website and placing bets on sports events. But the
firm said it was also pulling out of casino and poker until there was a
better understanding over how the law will affect its business. William Hill
said in a statement it would not accept casino or poker business from
customers with a US address or US-issued credit card. Chief executive David
Harding said: "The advice we have had is that online gambling is not illegal
under the Wire Act, but there are clearly attempts within the US to make it
illegal. "Given the debate in the Senate about changes to internet gambling,
we just decided this was the most prudent course of action. "We are small in
the US and have never marketed ourselves in the states. It is just an outlet
for US customers if they come across us on the internet."

Frist looking to attach Internet Gambling Bill before Congress adjourns

Senator Frist failed again to attach an Internet gambling bill to a defense
bill today. However, Republicans are looking for other avenues to ban
online gambling before Congress adjourns for the November 7 elections. An
aide told Reuters today, "Frist wants to get it done...We are still working
things out. Everyone is still talking." A senior Democratic aide was quoted
by cnetnews.com as saying, "I wouldn't pronounce it dead yet." The proposed
bill would make most forms of online gambling illegal and prohibit banks and
credit card companies to provide funds to gambling sites. Backers of the
Internet gambling bill say that legislation is badly needed to emphasize
that the 1961 federal law banning telephone betting is also a measure
against a variety of online gambling such as horse and dog-racing interests.
Aides say that Frist along with other supporters are planning to tag it to
other provisions such as tightening port security against threats of
terrorism. Given the fact that time is running out, we can only hope that
level heads prevailin the Senate. This isn't really about right or wrong,
or helping any Americans out.

SPORTINGBET VETERAN SPEAKS OUT ON ONLINE GAMBLING BANS

Fiscal protectionism masked by political manoeuvring and adroit public
relations the real agenda Veteran industry professional and soon to stand
down Sportingbet CEO Nigel Payne spoke out against online gambling bans in
an interview with The Times of London this week. Long an articulate
proponent of government regulated and taxed online gambling, Payne explained
how not so hidden agenda have played an important role in recent arrests of
online gambling executives, including that of Sportingbet colleague Peter
Dicks. "The key to a proper understanding of what is happening in the
internet gambling industry is to look at the agenda of some of those who
seek to criticise it," Payne argued in the Times interview. "I believe that
the real picture that emerges is one of fiscal protectionism that is being
masked by political manoeuvring and adroit public relations. Payne says that
a good example of banning rationalisation is the often-used and emotive
issue of under-age gambling. "We are told that the industry is a social
pariah, a danger to children. Although internet gambling may provide the
capability for minors to participate in unsupervised gambling, the truth is
that the industry has long been able to demonstrate that it has the
technology to mitigate such risks.

"The US House of Representatives recently passed a Bill - H.R.4411 - to "ban
internet gambling". A central pillar of the Bill was that the industry is "a
risk to the children of America". What struck me as odd was that the House
never asked whether technology existed to mitigate the concerns.

"Moreover, the Bill lists a number of internet gambling activities,
including horse racing and fantasy leagues, that would be exempt from any
ban. No explanation is offered about why such activities should be exempted,
nor why children might be at risk from, say, a bet on a hand of poker but
not from a bet on a horse race."

Louisiana police issue arrest threat to online gambling

Louisiana police have warned all online gambling companies to stop
accepting bets in the state or risk having their executives and directors
arrested if they visit the US, the Financial Times reported, citing an
interview with Captain Joe Lentini, head of the casino section of
Louisiana's Police Gaming Enforcement division. The FT quotes Lentini, the
police official responsible for the arrest of Peter Dicks, ex-chairman of
Sportingbet PLC, on a Louisiana warrant in New York three weeks ago, as
saying the state is pressing ahead with its clampdown, in spite of what
appears to be a rethink about the case in other jurisdictions. Lentini said
the state has issued four arrest warrants for individuals associated with
Sportingbet, including Dicks. He would not name the other three but told the
FT it 'was reasonable to assume they were executives or directors'. The FT
says Lentini indicated that other online gambling companies were also under
investigation and their executives and directors at risk of arrest. The
report says it's understood that Louisiana has sealed warrants against more
than 50 people working or connected to at least a dozen online gambling or
related companies.

Gambling Interests Spend Big On Political Influence

Wisconsin's Indian tribes have spent millions of dollars in the past decade
to influence politics. A review of state and federal donations by the
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel shows the tribes and gambling interests committed
about $5.5 million in the past 10 years to political spending. That includes
campaign contributions and advertising campaigns. The review showed
Democrats are the biggest beneficiaries of the spending, with Gov. Jim Doyle
getting the most -- about $926,000. That includes big donations from tribes
funneled through Democratic Party committees in Washington. U.S. Rep. Mark
Green, the Republican candidate for governor, got virtually nothing from
tribes. Neither did Scott Mccallum, the Republican governor who lost to
Doyle in 2002.

Christian church leaders join forces against Ohio gambling issue

A broad coalition of Christian clergy said Wednesday they will push
parishioners to oppose a proposal to expand gambling in Ohio by displaying
yard signs, campaigning door-to-door and preaching against the measure from
their pulpits. The announcement at a Statehouse news conference marked a
moment of rare cooperation on a political issue between Ohio's mainstream
and conservative religious communities, which have differed in their
approaches in the divisive governor's race between Democrat Ted Strickland
and Republican Ken Blackwell. But both groups sent powerful religious
leaders - United Methodist Bishop Bruce Ough and evangelical pastor Rod
Parsley of World Harvest Church - to express their unity against the ballot
initiative, called Learn and Earn by backers.
Ough, who represents the Methodist church's West Ohio Conference, equated
the supporters' strategy of highlighting the college scholarships provided
by the proposal, rather than the gambling it would allow, to a game of hide
and seek. "What supporters of slot machines really want is a full-blown
gambling industry in Ohio," he said. "This ballot issue is the first step in
their agenda." Parsley said Ohioans deserve something better than a
snake-oil sales pitch from Learn and Earn.
"It's a risky scheme to enrich a few at the expense of the poor," he said.
The constitutional amendment, Issue 3 on the Nov. 7 ballot, would allow
seven horse racing tracks to operate 31,500 slot machines and give Cleveland
the option of setting up two freestanding sites downtown. Thirty percent of
the money raised would be earmarked for scholarships that students would
earn while in high school.

Learn and Earn spokeswoman Robin Hepler said supporters respect church
leaders' right to oppose the amendment, but believe they are spreading
inaccuracies.

"We understand their objections on the moral issue of gambling, but I would
disagree when they say this is not about education," Hepler said.

She said their opposition was expected.

The church leaders who gathered Wednesday said they plan to distribute
10,000 yard signs to be displayed in church lawns statewide, hand out voter
education pamphlets and hold informational forums on the topic.

Rebecca Tollefson, executive director of the Ohio Council of Churches, said
the proposal would create new gambling addicts in Ohio and would make a few
business owners rich at the expense of low-income people, who would be drawn
to the get-rich-quick promise of slot machines.

She accused its backers of being deceptive.

"Learn and Earn is about gambling, not education," Tollefson said. "And
gambling is bad for families."

Though organizers of Wednesday's event called on other faith leaders to join
their effort, they did not reach out to a recently formed coalition of
mainline and liberal religious leaders called We Believe, which has been
active in this year's election.

The Rev. Tim Ahrens of the First Congregational Church in Columbus and the
head of We Believe - which challenged the tax-exempt status of some
conservative religious churches, including Parsley's, and their support of
Blackwell for governor - said his group was not invited to take part in the
news conference.

We Believe has not taken a position on Issue 3, he said, but may do so. He
said most of the ministers in his group oppose the issue.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Online gambling arrest fears fuelled by resignation

Fears that more senior executives working for online gambling firms could be
arrested were fuelled today following the resignation of a lawyer who served
under former US President George W. Bush from the roles of chairman and
chief executive of World Gaming. Almost all of the internet betting firm's
business comes from the US, and the resignation of James Grossman, along
with fellow non-executive director Clare Roberts, comes at a crucial time
for the industry reports the Financial Times. On Thursday, British
businessman Peter Dicks, former chairman of Sportingbet, is due to appear in
a New York court for a hearing to find whether he should be extradited to
Louisiana to face charges of "gambling by computer". The FT says several
online gambling companies have stressed to investors that their executives
have either been advised not to make trips to the US or had no plans to do
so. US senators are currently engaged in a fight to tighten the country's
laws against gambling. The arrest of Mr Dicks and the indictment issued by
the US justice department in July against another British firm, Betonsports,
has raised fears in the industry that it may be impossible to protect
executives from anti-gambling laws.

'Online gambling' mecca beckons CryptoLogic

Software developer CryptoLogic Inc. is relocating its head office to a more
"friendly" environment in Ireland, highlighting a growing moral divide
between North America and Europe over Internet gambling. The Toronto-based
company, which makes software that Internet gambling sites run on, yesterday
said it will move its head office -- including top executives, human
resources, business development and investor relations -- to Dublin in
January. The company's chief executive, Lewis Rose, is not relocating for
"family reasons" and will step down once a replacement is found. Chief
information officer Stephen Taylor is moving . The Dublin office will start
with a staff of about 10, eventually growing to about 20, the company said.
The majority of Cryptologic's Toronto staff of 250, including its software
development team, will stay put. The company will list on London's
Alternative Investment Market, and maintain its Toronto and Nasdaq listings.
Mr. Rose said the main driver of the move was a desire to be closer to
customers. About two-thirds of CryptoLogic's customers are international,
with about 60% of those in the United Kingdom and Europe. "If you follow the
logic, it's a logical, practical step. It makes sense to be in the same time
zone," he said. But he also said CryptoLogic -- whose $104-million in 2005
revenue makes it Canada's fourth-largest application software firm -- wanted
to move to a "gaming-friendly environment."

The climate for Internet gambling in North America has turned sour lately.
The U.S. House of Representatives in July passed a bill to expand the 1961
Wire Act, which bans gambling over the telephone, to include the Internet.
The Senate is expected to move on the bill before it recesses on Oct. 9 for
mid-term elections.

Authorities have also carried out a high-profile crackdown over the past few
months with arrests in U.S. airports of several British gambling operator
executives.

The arrests cast a pall over the industry, causing Britain's Continent 8
Technologies PLC -- 40% owned by the Mohawks in Kahnawake, Que. -- to cancel
its initial public offering last month.

"There's no question the U.S. has created a situation of uncertainty," Mr.
Rose said.

On Friday, French authorities detained Manfred Bodner and Norbert
Teufelberger, the co-CEOs of Austrian betting firm bwin.com Interactive
Entertainment AG.

The difference, analysts pointed out, is the French arrests were not for
moral reasons, but for alleged violations of the state-granted Internet
gambling monopoly of Francaise des Jeux.

The European Commission is investigating whether these monopolies are
violating the rights of commercial gambling site operators to run their
businesses across the European Union.

In Europe, it's therefore a case of protectionism rather than morality,
analysts said.

Europe -- and particularly the U.K. -- is proving to be a panacea for the
sector by going in the opposite direction to the United States. Starting
next year, the U.K. will license, regulate and tax online gambling, making
it "the centre of the universe for online gaming," Mr. Rose said.

Canada has taken a more-European approach in that Internet gambling is
allowed, but only provinces and territories have the right to run such Web
sites. That has created a grey area for would-be commercial operators and
technology providers such as CryptoLogic.

Pa. gambling threat heats up even before slot machines open

Pennsylvania seems eager to make up for lost time. According to the
Associated Press, the state hasn't even opened a slot machine but officials
are already talking about table games. At a recent hearing, the state Gaming
Control Board asked racetrack owners seeking slot-machine licenses if they
were prepared to go to table games. They all answered yes. Table games, such
as roulette and poker, pull in bigger spenders than do slots. So in the war
between the states over gambling revenues, table games are emerging as the
latest weapon. Delaware should take note. The First State's slot machines
have boosted the state's revenues for years as legislatures in Pennsylvania
and Maryland bickered. Now Pennsylvania will soon have slots and who knows
what next. Pennsylvania has authorized 61,000 slot machines. It expects $3
billion in revenue. Both are ambitious goals.

The big question is: How much, if any, of that business will be pulled from
Delaware racinos? And what effect will that have not only on Delaware's
state treasury but also on the purses at the state's three racetracks?

In other words, is state-authorized gambling a zero-sum game? If
Pennsylvania wins, does it mean that Delaware automatically loses?

It's hard to imagine that the market for gambling operations is unlimited.
That certainly wasn't true for state lotteries. As more of them grew, the
first states lost their advantage. A similar tale can be told about the
slots in other parts of the country.

Delaware's slot-machine bonanza will not last forever. If Delaware wants to
stay in the game, it has to get going now.

Winnebago Tribe Wants To Expand Gambling In Reservation

The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska wants to open negotiations with Nebraska, so
it can expand gambling on its on its reservation. Winnebago officials
believe many Nebraskans want casinos even though the petition to legalize
casinos that the Winnebago, Santee Sioux and Omaha tribes backed earlier
this year failed to gather enough signatures to get on the ballot. And
earlier this month, the state Supreme Court ruled that a different casino
measure can't be on the November ballot because it was too similar to
measures Nebraska voters rejected in 2004. So the Winnebago Tribe decided to
pursue negotiations with the state to allow Class Three gaming. Slot
machines and table games, which are not currently allowed under Nebraska
law, are included in Class Three gaming.

ONLINE GAMBLING BILL NOW BACK ALIVE

Could be bad news for the over 20 million online poker players According to
thehill.com yesterday the online gambling poker bill is back and alive.
Controversial language to curb illegal gambling on the Internet snuck back
into the defense authorization bill over the weekend. While the language in
the bill was not finalized as of press time last night, the insertion of the
Internet gaming language could be a big win for Senate Majority Leader Bill
Frist (R-Tenn.). But that potential victory hung in the balance on Monday as
House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) continued his threats to postpone a
vote on the overarching bill until negotiators from both chambers include
unrelated measures on immigration and court security. "The Speaker will not
move this bill until these critical security measures are included in it,"
Hastert spokesman Ron Bonjean said yesterday. Conferees were still ironing
out defense-related issues yesterday, but lawmakers are now fighting to
include a number of non-defense items in the must-pass bill that has become
a regular vehicle for pet projects. The Internet gaming language would
create an additional enforcement mechanism for federal officials to crack
down on money transferred from banks, credit card companies and other
financial institutions to gambling outfits overseas. Internet gambling is
already illegal in most of the country, with the major exceptions of Nevada,
Indian reservations and other smaller locales where residents have voted to
change the law.

The fight in Congress to enact further enforcement methods has persisted
since former GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff fought to defeat a bill offered by
Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) in the summer of 2000.

Goodlatte combined his language with a bill introduced by Rep. Jim Leach
(R-Iowa) that passed the House earlier this year.

The language included in the defense reauthorization bill appeared to mirror
Leach's language, numerous outside lobbyists said over the weekend. Sen. Jon
Kyl (R-Ariz.) has been pushing a companion to the Leach bill, which is far
narrower than Goodlatte's legislation that would, among other things, revamp
the 1961 Wire Act.

Frist has been working hard to include some version of the Internet gaming
language in the defense reauthorization bill in what a number of outside
lobbyists see as a push to ingratiate himself with social conservatives and,
more specifically, Leach, whose endorsement would be a big boost during the
Iowa primary.

Frist co-hosted a field hearing on Internet gaming with Leach earlier this
fall in Iow.

The Internet gaming issue is far from settled because conference
negotiations do not end until all the negotiators have signed off on an
agreement.

This move to include an Internet gambling curb comes after Senate Armed
Services Chairman John Warner (R-Va.) and Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), the
committee's ranking Democrat, rebuffed Frist's attempts to include it in the
bill because it is not related to defense policy.

K Street has been watching the back-and-forth on Internet gambling intently.
Wall Street, in particular, has already priced Internet gambling stocks to
reflect some of the possibility that Congress will approve the legislation.

A unit of Friedman, Billings, Ramsey & Co, an Arlington, Va.-based
investment firm, has been tracking the legislation closely as it related to
various Internet gambling companies. In a report last week, the firm wrote
that "failure to attach a gaming provision to the DOD authorization bill
likely means that proponents have missed their last best chance to pass
anti-gaming provisions.before senators head home for the final campaign
stretch run."

Hastert has told negotiators that he will not move the bill unless there is
authorizing language to boost the security of judges in and out of
courtrooms, eases the process of deporting convicted gang members, and bars
their indefinite detention.

Senate leaders promised to include the courtroom language, which was part of
a larger child safety that passed the House earlier this year, on must-pass
bill some time this year, a House GOP leadership aide said yesterday.

Hastert has made a bill political issue of this push following the brutal
murder of the family of a federal judge in Chicago earlier this year. Sen.
Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) has also pressed for the legislation.

On the immigration language, House leaders said they have borrowed language
included in the Senate's own comprehensive immigration bill that was
approved this past spring.

Senate Democrats are critical of the gang-related measure, and the American
Civil Liberties Union said the measure is too broad and could negatively
impact legal immigrants. A spokesman for Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) refused
to comment on the issue.

House leaders hope to include other border security provisions in a spending
bill for the Department of Homeland Security. At least one Republican
conferee has criticized that move.

At a National Press Club briefing yesterday, Senate Judiciary Committee
Chairman Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) Senate Judiciary Committee chairman and a
member of the Homeland Security Appropriations subcommittee, criticized the
House's decision to enact its some immigration measures by including them in
the 2007 homeland security defense appropriations bill.

"The House of Representatives doesn't think much of the bicameral system,"
Specter said. "The Senate and House passed bills, but somehow we can't go to
conference on them. Now the House wants to take their key provisions and
enact them, which would take all the leverage away from the Senate bill."

He said that the Senate has pending provision for a fence running along the
southwest border, but that he is not for the "fence piecemeal.

The proposed Frist, Senator Jon Kyl bill to the Senate the online casino
anti-internet gaming bill leaves out horse racing, and lotteries so the bill
will that way be supporting online horse racing, and lotteries ALLOT - so it
would be total okay to gamble online on horse racing but online poker will
get banned - what an insane bill!.

A huge scientific poll conducted in March 2006 of over 30,000 likely voters
establishes that Americans overwhelmingly DO NOT want the federal government
enacting laws that restrict a recreational activity such as online gambling,
an activity that many adult Americans have decided to do from their own
homes. Almost 80 percent of Americans are opposed to the pending bills in
Congress to ban online gambling.

A recent CNBC poll showed also that over 90 percent of Americans would like
to see online gambling poker regulated in the U.S. and NOT prohibited!
Studies have shown that regulation and taxation of online poker could net
the federal government over $3.3 billion in revenue annually and another $1
billion for the states on internet gambling.

OVER 80 countries worldwide including the UK, are right now starting to
legalized and regulated online gambling and online poker gambling.

Senate should use its litle time left this year on other importen things
instead of banning online poker.
Telling American adults how to use their hard-earned money, whether on
e-bay, horse racing or on playing online poker after a hard days work,
should simply not be the federal government's job.

Over 20 Million peaple in USA enjoy online poker- that's 20 miilion votes.

Bill to ban online gambling could pass

A controversial Internet gambling measure may hitch a ride on a Defense
Department authorization bill, but as of press time, a standoff over adding
legislation to improve courthouse security and crack down on illegal
immigrants in gangs continued to hold up action on the overall Defense
package. While it was not clear that Senate Armed Services Chairman John
Warner (R-Va.) has actually agreed to attach the anti-gambling legislation,
Republican leadership sources on both sides of the Capitol said the measure
would be added to the Defense bill. "It's Kyl-style, with a Frist twist,"
said a senior aide to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) of
attaching the Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) bill designed to bar Internet gambling
by preventing credit card companies from honoring charges on gaming Web
sites. The aide said the Internet gambling bill has been tweaked slightly to
ensure optimum support in the Senate, though details of the changes to Kyl's
original bill were not available. Warner spokesman John Ullyot declined to
comment, saying, "This is in line with the long-standing committee policy to
keep such negotiations confidential." Still, one GOP lobbyist working
against the gambling bill said Warner and Frist had a "showdown" last week
over the Internet gambling legislation, with Warner telling Frist that he
wasn't going to put the Internet gambling bill in the Defense authorization
bill. "Then Frist told him the [DOD] bill won't come to the floor," said the
lobbyist.

Meanwhile, Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) has threatened to prevent the
measure from coming to the House floor if Warner does not agree to include a
House-passed courthouse security bill and the gangs legislation.

Warner is concerned that any of the three bills could complicate passage of
the larger authorization measure, sources said.

The wrangling over the three law enforcement measures provides a glimpse
into the end-of-session gamesmanship that goes on behind the scenes as
Members seek to add controversial measures to one "must-pass" bill or
another.

And because GOP leaders in both chambers have vowed to recess at the end of
this week so that Members can go home to campaign for this year's pivotal
midterm elections, Members and lobbyists have stepped up their push to get
their measures sent to the president's desk before Congress adjourns.

One Democratic lobbyist working against the gambling bill called the past
few days a "roller-coaster ride."

"Frist has been on a jihad about Internet gambling," this Democratic
lobbyist said.

Democratic Senate aides also complained that they have been left completely
out of the bargaining process, and that the Senate Judiciary Committee,
which has jurisdiction over all three bills, has not approved the versions
currently being considered for inclusion in the DOD authorization measure.

"It's just such a sneaky and sleazy way to go about it," said one of the
aides.

Three bills are moving this week that could play host to the Internet
gambling, courthouse security and gangs bill: the spending bills for the
Defense and Homeland Security departments and the Defense authorization
bill.

But GOP and Democratic Senate sources said that backers of the bills were
rebuffed in their attempts to get them attached to the annual Defense
spending bill, which has more of an imperative to move since it will
actually disburse funds to U.S. troops.

Because House and Senate conferees signed off on a conference report for the
Defense spending bill last week, any attempts to add extraneous language now
would send the appropriations bill back to conference committee - an
unlikely scenario.

Meanwhile, conferees for the Homeland Security spending bill were hoping to
wrap up their conference report last night.

That leaves the Defense authorization bill as the only measure in a position
to carry the controversial provisions and still have a chance of passing
this week.

Bill backers are betting that opponents of all three Judiciary bills will
fear the political ramifications of voting against any national defense
measure in this potentially volatile election year. And by threatening to
hold up action on the bill, both Frist and Hastert hope to force Warner's
hand, reasoning that Warner would be loath to see his authorization bill
become unnecessary, like so many other federal agency authorization bills
that languish in committee each year.

While it is unusual for Congress not to pass a Defense authorization bill,
it only authorizes funds; it does not distribute them.

Even though leadership sources said the Internet bill would be included on
the Defense authorization bill, the conference committee on the bill has not
yet completed and the deal could hinge on whether the court security and
gang bills are also included.

Additionally, Democratic sources said they were not convinced that Warner
would go along with the gambit to include the law enforcement bills in the
Defense measure.

The Democratic lobbyist said that Warner was not likely to cave in to the
pressure.

"You very likely might not have a Defense authorization bill," the lobbyist
said.

Other opponents of the Internet gaming bill said that any legislative
vehicle could be fair game.

"We remain on guard that the Internet gambling prohibition could be
included" in any remaining bills, said John Pappas, a spokesman for the
Poker Players Alliance, which opposes the ban.

Indeed, if the impasse does not get resolved this week, backers of the three
bills could attempt to add the measures to legislation such as an omnibus
appropriations bill that would be set to move through the lame-duck session
after the Nov. 7 elections. And of course, if the Defense authorization bill
does not get passed this week, the battle could then begin anew as well.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Costa Rica's lax laws shield online gambling industry

Think of Costa Rica and flashes of colorful birds, bright beaches and long
hikes through the rain forest come to mind. But several recent arrests and
indictments have thrust the country into the spotlight for another, less
savory reason: its cozy relationship with the online gambling industry. The
industry is under fire from U.S. authorities, helping create the notion that
this small Central American nation is the cybernet version of 1950s Cuba.
Earlier this month, police arrested British national Peter Dicks, a top
official of Sportingbet, at JFK Airport in New York. In July, authorities
picked up BetonSports CEO David Carruthers, also a British citizen, at
Dallas/Fort Worth airport. Both companies operate in Costa Rica. Ten other
Betonsports employees have been arrested in the United States. All are out
on bond while facing charges ranging from tax evasion and racketeering to
wire fraud and illegal gambling. Also in July, U.S. prosecutors indicted
four men, two of them Costa Rican citizens, in California and arrested one
of them on charges of running an illegal online gambling operation in Costa
Rica. The moves by the U.S. Justice Department have industry insiders
scratching their heads and shares of online gambling companies tumbling on
international stock markets.

''It baffles me,'' said Eduardo Agami, president of the Costa Rican
Association of Call Centers and Electronic Data, which represents 19 of the
online gambling companies here. ``Why go after companies that are trying to
operate legally?''

The legal arguments are based on the 1961 Wire Act, which forbids gambling
over the telephone, but until recently few actions had been taken to slow
this business.

Online gambling has been going on since the mid-1990s, and Betonsports and
Sportingbet are both publicly listed companies that operate legally and are
audited in several countries. Still, with half of the betting coming from
the United States, federal prosecutors and lawmakers seem bent on going
after the $12 billion industry.

''Internet gambling threatens our families by bringing addictive behavior
right into our living rooms,'' Senate Majority leader Bill Frist said
earlier this month on the Senate floor.

In July, the House of Representatives passed a bill expanding the Wire Act
to include Internet gambling; the Senate is expected to move on the
legislation before it recesses Oct. 9 for mid-term elections.

''The U.S. has clearly stated that they want to stop international companies
from accepting Internet wagers from U.S. residents,'' Internet gambling
mogul Calvin Ayre -- who is one of Forbes magazine's 1,000 richest men in
the world and whose Internet site, Bodog.com, also operates in Costa Rica --
said in a statement following the Dicks arrest.

''The only surprise is to find a director of a public company that accepts
wagers from the U.S. to be traveling in the U.S. at this time,'' Ayre added,
referring to Dicks and Carruthers.

In the middle of this fray is Costa Rica, a country of nearly 4 million
people known more for peaceful democracy than for gambling. An estimated 200
online gambling companies have operations here. Some operate more secretly
than others; all of them like the advantages that Costa Rica offers.

The Costa Rican government treats gambling like any other business. The
companies operate with little oversight and pay less in taxes than they
might in other countries that do regulate to avoid money laundering and
other criminal activities often associated with the industry.

Costa Rica also offers companies a secure legal framework and an educated
population, many of whom speak English with a flat Costa Rican accent.

Online gambling, a capital-intensive industry, has given the Costa Rican
economy a boost as well. The industry employs close to 10,000 people
directly and scores of others indirectly through rents, infrastructure and
maintenance. Most of the employees are students or recent college graduates
struggling to find a job in their field but making more money than they
might even if they did.

Alex Schultz, 28, who speaks Spanish, English and German, got a degree in
political science at a local private university. He worked at a human rights
group before getting a job at Bodog.com in 2002. Now he's setting the
betting lines on games.

''Here you can finance your studies, pay your expenses and your rent,''
Schultz said.

In the current climate, Costa Rica also may offer a safe refuge. Betonsports
founder Gary Kaplan is allegedly in Costa Rica, although employees here say
he hasn't been around in years.

There's an extradition agreement between Costa Rica and the United States,
but Costa Rica's Vice President and Justice Minister, Laura Chinchilla, said
someone would have to be breaking Costa Rica's own laws in order to be
extradited.

''If they're only accused of illegal gambling in the United States, then we
can't proceed [with the extradition],'' she told The Miami Herald.

Initially, industry watchers suspected the U.S. government was targeting
Betonsports because of Kaplan, alias ''Greg Champion'' or ''G.'' Kaplan
started his career as a runner for bets on the streets of New York and was
arrested there in 1993 on charges of illegal gambling before moving his
operations to Florida, then Antigua and finally Costa Rica.

Indeed, the indictment against Betonsports reads like something against the
Sicilian mafia or Colombian drug lords. Filed in the Eastern District of
Missouri, it's littered with supposed aliases, front companies and massive
bank transfers that went to Ecuador and Belize.

Costa Rican officials are feeling the pressure from the U.S. government as
well. They have promised to better regulate the industry, and in March, the
government raided Ayre's multimillion-dollar home after neighbors said he
was holding an illegal gambling event. Authorities said they found nothing.

''We're interested in incorporating them into the financial system,''
Chinchilla said about the industry. ``We need to set up clear rules. We
don't want companies that are fugitives.''

Legislation or no, there seems to be little stopping online gambling.

SPIN3 SECURES 'BEST GAMBLING' AWARD

Spin3, the leading wireless casino system provider powered by Microgaming,
the world's largest online gaming software provider, won the 'Best Gambling
Company' award at the first ever ME Awards, hosted by Mobile Entertainment
magazine. Spin3 was declared the winner by a judging panel comprising over
300 mobile content executives. The Mobile Entertainment award recognized the
pioneering work Spin3 has done in the mobile gambling arena, by bringing
popular casino games including unique progressive video slots and brands
like Lara Croft to wireless platforms. The award recognizes the success and
growth Spin3 has achieved since its launch in January 2005. Tim Green,
executive editor of Mobile Entertainment magazine, said: "These awards
recognised the talent and hard work that is making mobile content the
world's most exciting new industry. It was a truly amazing night and we look
forward to doing it all again next year - in a bigger room." The ME Awards
took place on September 19th at the Royal Garden Hotel in London. The
prestigious industry event recognised outstanding achievement in content
development and publishing, technical services and hardware, and operator
services.

"The ME Award is a great achievement and honour for Spin3 to be named the
best in a niche industry that is witnessing phenomenal growth," said Matti
Zinder, CEO, Spin3.

"The Award recognizes our drive to stay ahead in a dynamic market by
continually diversifying our products, developing unique and innovative game
offerings and providing customers a full service solution, not just a
software package."

Spin3 utilises Microgaming's market leading software to offer three wireless
game systems: GameWire - the leading real-play wireless casino system
worldwide; SpinFone - an advanced Pay Per Download networked gaming system;
and, SpinLite - a stand-alone java game suite.

Gambling with our trade

MARK Vaile's departure from the trade portfolio after seven years presents
an opportunity to rethink what Australia wants to achieve in trade, what we
need to do to get it, and what changes that will require. Any honest
assessment has to conclude that Australia's trade is in terrible shape.
Until 1980, our trade was more or less in balance, and on goods, in surplus.
Since then, we have run trade deficits in 22 of the past 26 years, and in
the past four years they have averaged more than $20 billion a year. Our
share of global exports of goods has shrunk from 1.12 per cent in 1996 to
0.94 per cent in 2004. Of the 30 OECD members, only three have had worse
export growth in that time. Surely it's time for honest debate about what
has gone wrong, what could go right, and what has to change to get us there.
But that requires an environment in which governments feel able to admit
that something has gone wrong, and to change their policies and structures
to put it right. We don't do things that way here. Suppose we did. Let's
start by asking what we are trying to achieve in trade, and why it is not
delivering the goods.

It is futile to blame Vaile for the deficits, although Labor's Kevin Rudd
incessantly does so. The problem is that Vaile was really not Trade
Minister, but Minister for Trade Negotiations. He is a good bloke, a hard
worker and a straight talker, who threw himself into the job with gusto, and
won global respect from his peers.

The problem was not the minister, but the job. Trade is now a branch of the
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It is now seen more as a vehicle
for improving Australia's diplomatic relationships than its economic
prosperity. Under Labor and Nationals, it

has focused on trade negotiations, not trade outcomes. Even if it wanted to
get Australia's trade back in the black, it has few levers to achieve it.

Of all the trade negotiations we have engaged in, only the Doha round offers
any relief for our chronic trade deficit. Even good free trade agreements,
such as ours with New Zealand and with Thailand, work because they offer
evenly balanced benefits to both sides. If you pursue trade deals with far
bigger economies such as the US and China, you end up signing on their
terms - as John Howard did in signing a deal that removed all our trade
barriers to US exports while it retained dozens of barriers to ours.

The modelling on both sides agreed that it would worsen the Australia-US
trade imbalance. And so it has.

What about Labor? Far from planning to liberate trade from its role as a
branch of diplomacy, it has downgraded it even

more by making it a part-time add-on for shadow foreign minister Kevin Rudd.

Both sides need to recast trade where it should be: as an economic
portfolio, linked to the bureaucracy responsible for other economic areas -
and with a clear, stated goal of getting Australia's trade balance back in
the black.

Step one is to move trade into a department where it fits: what is now the
Department of Industry, Tourism and Resources. Manufacturing, commerce,
mining, energy, tourism and services: they're all here, and they make up 80
per cent of our exports and almost 100 per cent of our imports.

(That leaves out agriculture. No problem: upgrade the Department of
Agriculture's role and resources on trade to give it the clout of its
foreign counterparts.)

Merely reshuffling the bureaucracy, however, would be useless without a
change in policies and priorities. The Industry Department is seen these
days as having little clout, little money and being frightened to put a foot
out of line. Its minister, Ian Macfarlane, doesn't frighten easily, but his
approach to industry is to go out and tell it what it's doing wrong, and
don't come to government for help. Nice line, minister - if it works.

The figures suggest it hasn't. Output of goods other than buildings fell
almost 4 per cent in the year to June. Macfarlane has now set up a taskforce
to re-examine Australia's industry policy settings, focusing on "global
integration". Read the background paper, and you realise why trade belongs
in his department. The future for exposed sectors of manufacturing clearly
lies in their integration with global markets.

We've been here before. The last industry policy review, under John Moore,
set up a good policy structure, with "action agendas" supposed to identify
and tackle the problems facing specific industry sectors. But then Moore
moved on, and the action agendas became words with little action. There was
no money to finance reform, and no commitment to make them work.

Now Macfarlane has a chance to make them, or some new model, work where
policy since 1997 has plainly failed. The manufacturing malaise has to be
tackled because most of the world's trade - most of Australia's merchandise
trade - is in manufactures. Last year we ran a staggering $92 billion
deficit in manufacturing trade alone. We need reforms to stop that getting
worse. And unless we want to trust in praying that global prices for our
minerals stay high and volumes grow, we must identify ways to significantly
cut that deficit, and get back in the black.

Another 25 years of global warming might not create a disaster, but why take
the risk? Another 25 years of big trade deficits might not create a disaster
either - but why take the risk?

Tim Colebatch is economics editor.

US online gambling crackdown hits World Gaming

The crackdown on internet gambling in the US has begun to frighten off
senior directors. World Gaming chairman James Grossman and non-executive
director Clare Roberts have both resigned from the online gaming group on
fears they will be arrested in the US. advertisementDavid Carruthers, chief
executive of Betonsports and Peter Dicks, chairman of Sportingbet, have both
been arrested in the US recently in connection with online gambling laws.
The arrests have prompted others, including PartyGaming's chairman Michael
Jackson, to say he would not travel to the US unless absolutely necessary.
Both Mr Grossman and Mr Roberts practice as attorneys in the US, outside
their work for World Gaming, while Mr Grossman is also an adviser to the US
Government, a spokesman said. Ms Roberts is a former Attorney General of
Antigua. "Clearly they've got other business interests and they've got to be
able to go to the US to be able to carry on their other business interests,"
World Gaming's spokesman said. It said replacements would be named in due
course.

World Gaming, which makes the bulk of its money from US gamblers, said
earlier this month it was in talks over a possible all-share takeover by
Sportingbet. However, Sportingbet shares collapsed after Mr Dicks was
arrested.

Online sports betting in the US contravenes the 1961 Wire Act, though
whether internet poker and casino games break that law is a legal grey area.

Cracking gambling ring long overdue

The adage, "they'll get what's coming to them" finally came true for the
many bars in central Indiana that ran illegal gambling, either through
illegal slot-like machines, called "cherry masters," or by running numbers.
For those of you who think of "running numbers," as slum-centered it's been
going on in area bars for years. Here, it's called "drawings," where someone
buys a number and hopes it gets pulled to win the pot. Sounds innocuous.
Cherry masters seem like innocent fun, too. Both are illegal and probably
rigged. Who knows for sure because no one regulates it. It's governed by
greed. Oh, and no one pays taxes on the winnings.
We don't know if any of the 39 people arrested over the past two days are
guilty. They are innocent until proven guilty. We're not casting individual
blame, we're just acknowledging that illegal gambling in Madison County and
its environs has been overt, well-known and ignored by every law enforcement
officer and agency for years. It included the cops who drank at those spots
to their bosses who knew about the activities at those establishments.
Imagine how much larger the coffers of state and local governments would be
if they had gotten a slice, through taxes, of that multi-million dollar
industry. Imagine how much easier it would be for legitimate, law-abiding
businesses to compete had their competitors not been awash in illegal
gambling money.

And when people operate outside the law, they don't act outside the law just
a little. In for a dime, in for a dollar. When there is this much money at
stake, assume there is extortion, bribery and violence. It all goes with the
territory. High risk, high return. Oftentimes, the only way out of a life of
crime is either prison or death. We're not exaggerating.

So, yes, we're delighted police swooped in and seized millions of dollars of
criminally gotten assets. Local governments will divvy up the spoils. Good
for them.

The prolificness of illegal gambling has been an embarrassment to our
community for years and proof that corruption lives in Madison County. The
raids didn't completely stop the problem. Illegal gambling is still rampant
in other area establishments.

Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings says the state excise police have
been building its case against accused ring leader John Neal for five years.
But what about all the illegal gambling long before then?

Why weren't these establishments shut down long ago? We can only guess. Why
were they seized just two months before Rodney Cummings is up for
re-election? Again, we can only guess.

Yes, the bust will play well for Cummings' campaign. In the long run, we
don't
care what the motivation for the raid was, just that it finally happened.

We Are Gambling With Our Lives!

How many times will the American people witness their government taking the
easy way out to dealing with terror? President Bush pushes and advocates
that we must be on the offense to dealing with our enemies. But our Senate,
and other government agencies are not operating that way. They are too
mired in politics, in the proper rules of engagement. The Path to 911,
ABC's docudrama which aired Sept. 10th and 11th recently, exposed serious
flaws in our government to quickly act upon important leads that would take
down our enemy. Now, we are busy playing catch up...or are we? It seems as
if everything is the same. Both administrations, Clinton and George W.
Bush, were at fault for not acting quickly to take down terror suspects that
loudly proclaimed to be a danger to America. America had even the help of
the Minister of Defense of the Northern Alliance, Ahmed Shah Massoud (as The
Path to 911 program revealed) who worked with the U.S., giving specific
intelligence that would have taken out Osama Bin Laden. But we failed to
take him out. Ahmed Shah Massoud died in a suicide attack by Arabs who
posed as journalists, claiming to be from Morocco. He died September 9,
2001, two days before America was attacked on 911. Before he died, Massoud
warned the U.S. that Osama Bin Laden was planning something huge inside
America.

I consider him to be a friend of America who had the guts to risk his safety
to save the lives of others. We don't honor his memory and those who have
died fighting terror in whatever form if we do not act as bravely and take
risks as they did.

It was recently reported that an unmanned but armed Predator drone used by
the Army for reconnaissance missions, shot photos of senior level Taliban
fighters, apparently gathered for a funeral. The order was not given to
fire, and many people like me, are wondering why we made such a disastrous
decision. The decision was a no-go due to the military rules of engagement,
which do not allow any strikes on a cemetery or religious sites. The
Taliban was clearly in the open, and the chance to attack was a perfect one.

We are fighting a new kind of enemy. We must adapt and allow the full
strength of our military forces to defeat them. Taliban activity has
increased this summer, and our response should be to take action to
eliminate a threat before we suffer from it later on.

Terrorists do not care where they attack. Weddings, funerals, mosques...it
does not matter, just as long as the "infidel" is crushed.

Just three days after the U.S. observed the 5th anniversary of September 11,
2001, the argument over how we interrogate terrorists in U.S. custody broke.
A few Republican Senators on the Senate Armed Services Committee expressed
their opposition to President Bush over current interrogation methods.

Monday, September 25, 2006

ONLINE GAMBLING BAN - PPA ATTACKS SNEAKY ATTACHMENTS

"....the way in which some members of the Senate have decided to move
[anti-online gambling measures] through reeks of political gamesmanship. The
issue of Internet gambling has not been given a hearing in the Senate, it
has not been debated, in fact, there isn't even a bill introduced."
Following the failure of Senator Bill Frist's attempt to attach an
anti-online gambling ban to an unrelated Defence Bill last week, the 110 000
Poker Players' Alliance leader Michael Bolcerek has launched a strong attack
on politicians who seek to push repressive legislation through Congress at
any cost. Indicating that his organisation was strongly opposed to the
manner in which Frist sought to fast-track his measure, Bolcerek said: "The
prohibition bill is tremendously bad public policy, and the way in which
some members of the Senate have decided to move it through reeks of
political gamesmanship. "The issue of Internet gambling has not been given
a hearing in the Senate, it has not been debated, in fact, there isn't even
a bill introduced. This effort to attach this very controversial and
non-germane issue to vital DoD authorization legislation is a disservice to
the American public and the men and women in our Armed Forces. "Prohibitions
don't work and the American people know this. That is why a vast majority
oppose a ban on online poker. The game of poker is mainstream and enjoyed by
millions of Americans. It is 2006, not 1920, the Internet is a part of our
daily lives. Let's practice good government that actually protects the
family and establish strict regulations and safeguards for on- line poker."

Frist aides have indicated to the press that the Department of Defence
rejection will not deter the Senator and colleagues such as Senator Jon Kyl
from attempting to find other non-germane legislation to which their
anti-gambling proposals can be attached in a bid to drive a law through
below this years legislative season ends around October-November.

News service reports indicate that anti-online gambling supporters are
trying to forge a compromise that would allow them to push through
legislation banning most forms of Internet gambling, aides said late last
week.

Top House and Senate lawmakers have been trying to break a logjam that has
stalled the Internet gambling legislation by attaching it to any one of a
number of must-pass spending bills before the end of the year, aides said.
However, they have yet to agree on a final deal.

According to two sources familiar with the matter, one possible compromise
would focus on a version of a bill already passed by the House, with some
provisions opposed by the U.S. horse racing industry removed. The bill would
prohibit most forms of Internet gambling and make it illegal for banks and
credit card companies to make payments to online gambling sites.

Lawmakers are scheduled to recess at the end of next week so they can
campaign for the November elections. They are expected to return afterward
to wrap up unfinished business.

Gambling gives to, takes from local economy

Electronic-slots parlors would generate thousands of jobs and tens of
millions of dollars to seed local business growth, gambling supporters say.
But the four parlors that would sprout in Greater Cleveland are by no means
a sure bet to bolster the region's economy, anti-gambling forces respond.
Even the local power brokers who back the plan to bring nine parlors and
31,000 slots to Ohio acknowledge that gambling is not an engine of resurgent
economies. "If you were to start from scratch and draw your optimal
economic development paradigm, you wouldn't necessarily include gambling as
part of it," says Fred Nance, adviser to Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and
chairman of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, the local chamber of
commerce. Yet Nance, Jackson, Cuyahoga County commissioners and other civic
leaders say slots at two sites downtown - and at racetracks in North Randall
and Northfield - would join lakefront museums and Gateway sports sites as
valued attractions. "This is the biggest project and proposal this
community has confronted since 1990," said Commissioner Tim Hagan.

But critics say, and research suggests, that casinos can exact a toll on
local economies. They pull money from local businesses and create social
costs, due in part to gambling addiction.

It might be a positive for Cleveland, where two casinos along the Cuyahoga
River "will suck money in from the suburbs," argues Ed Morrison, an
economic-development consultant working on business-growth strategies for
the Cuyahoga County Department of Development.

"But you're basically just taking money out of the home market," Morrison
adds.

Local leaders are intimately familiar with the plan -- a team of business,
labor and city-county elected leaders haggled over the details with
racetrack owners and two prominent developers, Forest City Enterprises Inc.
and investor Jeff Jacobs.

Gambling on change won't lose

If you want to see an ex ample of how quickly this region can change, look
at the articles on this page about gambling. Staff writer Tom Dochat
explains that the approval process for lucrative gaming licenses is hotter
than the handle of a 25-cent one-armed bandit on a Saturday night. Teams of
state investigators have been traveling worldwide to make sure that the
people seeking licenses are as squeaky clean as possible. So much money will
be involved that you have to hope these regulators will be watched closely,
too. In other words, the watchdogs will need watchdogs. Another story is
about how Penn National Gaming's operations in Mississippi weathered one of
the worst hurricane seasons in U.S. history. The company's casinos have been
rebuilt and most of the staff is back at work. Part of that rapid response
was made possible by Mississippi officials who changed laws to make gambling
even more lucrative in the state. Nothing like a natural disaster that
cripples your economy to shake out some business-friendly laws. In
Mississippi's case, gambling had been limited to casinos on the water. Now
it is possible to have them on land. As we also learned last week about West
Virginia, officials there are expecting their own tidal wave of sorts, which
is why they might expand that state's gambling laws so they don't lose too
many customers to Pennsylvania. Penn National intends to have slot machines
at its racetrack in Grantville and is betting that it gets approvals this
week, having already demolished old buildings to make way for new ones.

If they could go into a hurricane-ravaged area -- where everyone was looking
for contractors and virtually all locals were sleeping in trailers for
months -- and rebuild a casino in less than a year, imagine how quickly the
landscape could change around here.

Assuming the company gets its conditional license this week, it expects to
be open by 2008. That's just over a year from now.

I like talking with people about what gambling will mean to this region.
Some people have been seeing opportunities for a while -- we reported nearly
two years ago about land speculation around Grantville. Others see the
potential for crime, drugs and other problems that follow dreams of easy
money.

For years, there has been talk about hotels near the state Farm Show Complex
off Cameron Street and Interstate 81. I'm not sure that expos, craft fairs
and special events make such ventures a sure thing. But if you have a casino
a few exits down the interstate, you might not have many worries about
booking rooms.

I don't know if gambling will be good for this area or awful. I do know that
once a license is approved for a casino in Grantville, the region will be
transformed.

Gambling Machines Destroyed

The Royal Customs and Excise Department yesterday morning destroyed 52
gambling machines and 6,391 tokens, which were confiscated in 2002 and 2003.
Four local Chinese have been prosecuted in court for having the illegal
machines in shops as well as apartments. Aside from the gambling machines,
$1,262 in cash was also seized. The four were fined up to $49,200. The
machines were destroyed at the dumpsite in Jalan Sungai Akar. A number of
officials from the Royal Customs and Excise Department oversaw the
destruction of the machines, which were ripped to shreds by a tractor.

German crackdown raises the stakes for internet gambling

BRITISH executives of online gambling companies could be arrested on
criminal charges in Germany if they set foot in the country. Officials from
the interior ministries of the German states of Hesse and Bavaria told The
Business that executives of foreign companies who let German residents place
sports bets online are committing "criminal" acts that could lead to
prosecution in Germany. Germany's threat to foreign managers follows the
recent arrests in the US and France of executives from offshore gambling
firms. French state gambling officials also plan to adopt a tougher stand:
officials told The Business that they will continue to report offences by
foreign betting operators to the government, raising the possibility of more
arrests of executives at offshore gambling firms. Attempting to enforce
their monopoly on sports gambling, Hesse, Bavaria and Saxony ordered
Austrian online betting company Bwin to stop advertising and offering
betting services in their states. The ban "goes for everyone else, too," a
spokesman for the Hesse interior ministry in Wiesbaden told The Business.
Bwin has become the highest profile target in the German crackdown on
gambling which has also seen the forced closure of privately run betting
shops around the country. But executives from any company offering online
sports betting in Germany should be concerned about prosecution.

"I would take these threats seriously," says Michael Adams from Hamburg
University, an expert on gambling in Germany. He advised such managers to
steer clear of the country. "I wouldn't take a layover in Frankfurt."

In France, Bwin's co-chief executives were released on bonds of E300,000
($370,000, £205,000) apiece last week after their arrests as part of an
investigation into the company's French operations. The executives are
expected to return to France for more questioning in November.

The arrests stemmed from complaints filed last year by French state-run
betting agencies Francaise des Jeux (FdJ) and and Pari Mutuel Urbain (PMU).
Under French law, FdJ holds the monopoly for lotteries; PMU controls
off-track gambling and casinos for slot machines.

Online Gambling in Europe: A Question of Fair Access

It appears as though the right to free access to online gambling services in
Europe is destined to be decided by the courts, as increasing numbers of
European states ignore the recent European Court of Justice directive which
stated that a Member State cannot invoke the need to restrict its citizens'
access to betting services if at the same time it incites and encourages
them to participate in state lotteries, games of chance or betting which
benefits the state's Finances. The basic premise of a recent European Court
of Justice statement regarding the subject is that individual Member States
cannot protect state-sponsored monopolies at the expense of private or
foreign-based enterprise. In an ideal situation, the European Commission
would like to see open access to services or, failing that, no access at
all. Protectionist economic policies appear to be contradictory to the very
ideals upon which the European Union was established. In April of this year,
the European Commission sent official requests for information on national
legislation restricting the supply of sports betting services to seven
Member States (Denmark, Finland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Sweden and the
Netherlands). The Commission was responding to complaints that the Member
States were in breach of Article 49 of the EC Treaty which guarantees the
free movement of services. The EC decision to investigate these Member
States was specifically related to sports betting, and a statement released
by the EC at the time made it clear their decision to investigate did not
have implications for the liberalization of the market for general gambling
services. However, the alleged breaches the EC are investigating in relation
to sports betting seem to have a lot in common with recent steps France has
undertaken to protect its own state-sponsored gambling monopoly. French
police arrested two BWin executives in Monaco last week for "violation of
French gambling laws" by "offering illegal games of chance, illegal lottery,
advertising prohibited lotteries and taking illegal horse racing bets".

The European Court of Justice has repeatedly stated that any restrictions
which seek to protect general interest objectives, such as the protection of
consumers, must be "consistent and systematic" in how they seek to limit
betting activities. The recent French arrests of the BWin executives can be
described as a lot of things, but 'consistent' and 'systematic' they are
not.

Dozens of online gambling entities advertise in France, including market
giants such as Casino-on-Net (888.com), who are the title sponsor of
Toulouse FC. 888.com Chief Executive John Anderson handed in his notice not
long after the BWin arrests, the timing of the announcement coincidental, to
say the least. Hundreds of online gambling companies offer their services in
France via the Internet, and it now seems likely executives of those
companies risk arrest if they set foot in France.

To casual observers, the entire case appears cut and dry. The French
actions, in attempting to protect their monopoly, are incompatible with
European Community law. A spokesman for the EC Internal Market Commissioner,
Charlie McCreevy, warned the commission was considering expanding their
investigation following news of the French arrests.

Individual European states are testing the authority and will of the
European Commission. The EC needs to stand up and exert its authority and,
more importantly, it needs to exert that authority expediently. It is
possible that the French actions are nothing more than an attempt to buy
time to allow its monopoly to gain a firmer grasp in the market. If the EC
takes too long to investigate before handing down a decision and enforcing
that decision, the French monopoly can still win, even if the EC decision is
not in their favor.

But with European government-sponsored monopolies generating as much as $30
billion in revenue annually, and rising every year, the stakes are high. Cut
and dry it may seem, but the situation is almost certain to drag on for some
time before reaching a conclusion.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

School says no to gambling cash

Gambling money underpins parent advisory councils across B.C., but the
source of the much-needed cash poses an ethical dilemma for some parents.
Unlike most PACs that happily pocket provincial grants funded by gambling,
South Park Elementary does not. "Gaming can be problematic for some people,
and is the message that we want to be sending to our kids that we are making
money off gambling?" said Rosemary Mann, a parent at the school and former
PAC chairwoman. B.C. Lottery Corp. money has funded PACs since 1998. Until
2003, PACs needed to complete complicated forms to qualify for funding of
$40 a student. Now the government distributes funds to all PACs based on $20
per student. This year more than 1,500 PACs will receive almost $12 million
from the proceeds of casinos, lottery tickets and online gambling. South
Park has never accepted the funds although it revisits the issue every few
years. Government suggestions for the funds include school drama and chess
clubs, writing, debating and music competitions, student societies, student
travel in B.C., yearbooks, playground and sports equipment and scholarships.
Education Minister Shirley Bond said she understands some parents are
concerned about gaming funds. "But, the benefits from those dollars are very
significant," she said.

South Park's decision was not an easy one as the school also refuses to
raise money by having students sell items door-to-door or outside stores.
Instead, the school community relies on an annual auction, spring fair and
pizza days.

The government should fully fund education, making fundraising unnecessary,
Mann said. "It is unacceptable that parents [at South Park] have to raise
about $18,000 a year just to provide adequate library books and art
materials and field trips," she said.

South Park has 168 students, meaning that, last year, when the province, on
a one-time basis, doubled the PAC grant to $40 per student, the gaming
commission would have handed $6,720 to South Park. This year, the school
would be in line for $3,360.

South Park PAC chairwoman Sarah Hilliard supports the decision to turn down
gambling money, but said it makes life tough for parent fundraisers.

South Park hopes to get new playground equipment with the money it raises.
Money also goes to classroom teachers for field trips and other extras --
but also basics such as electric pencil sharpeners, Hilliard said.

John Bird, chairman of the Victoria Coalition of PACs, believes that rising
gaming profits should mean more money for PACs.

The government scooped up $914.4 million from B.C. Lottery Corp. last
year -- up from about $120 million when PACs first started getting gaming
money. However, Bond said no consideration is being given to increasing
gaming money for PACs.

Online gambling help going live this month

A service called gamAid that provides instant online help to people with
gambling problems has the green light to go live this month after a
six-month trial. The service has already had more than 55,000 visits and
provided 1,000 one-to-one help session during the first four months of its
trial. With gamAid, online gamblers can find instant, real-time, one-to-one
access to professional help when they feel like they're losing control of
their gambling or if they're interested in learning more about responsible
gambling. "gamAid gives our clients access to help and information that they
may not otherwise receive. Providing easy access to information assists us
greatly in meeting our social obligations," said Sue Harley, compliance
director at Ladbrokes, owner of Ladbrokes Poker. Ladbrokes and Betfair
Poker are just two of several gambling site operators who are already using
gamAid. Sites can make gamAid available to their players by placing an
active button on key pages of their site. Players will be able to click the
button and get instant, direct access to a trained advisor for help. "Online
advice is tailored to a client's needs and includes one-to-one consultations
and information about managing a gambling habit," said Tony Roberts, gamAid
manager. "We also provide online links to support services, forums, and
specialist counseling local to the client in whatever country they live."

Currently, gamAid is the only service that helps gambling sites meet the
demands of the U.K. Gambling Commission, which will implement the changes to
the Gambling Act in 2007. The company is also working with regulators to
provide a best practice use of gamAid to ensure that the gamAid button is
prominently displayed on every operator's site in the future.

"In order to tackle problem gambling, operators must clearly demonstrate
that not only do they operate an honest, fair and informative site, but they
also need to understand that, like anything addictive, preventative measures
must be put in place for when users think things may be getting out of
hand," said Sue Schneider, president and CEO of the River City Group at this
year's Global Interactive Gaming Summit in Canada. "gamAid is able to
provide a wonderful on-line help service for those with a gambling problem."

Four police chiefs in Luzon relieved over gambling

The chiefs of police of four towns in Tarlac, Bulacan, and Isabela have been
relieved because the illegal numbers game jueteng continues in their areas,
officials said.
In Central Luzon, Chief Superintendent Ismael Rafanan, regional police
director, on Friday ordered the relief of Superintendent Aniceto Frane,
police chief of Camiling, Tarlac, and Superintendent Jesus Reyes, police
chief of Calumpit, Bulacan. They are undergoing pre-charge investigation in
this regional police camp.
In Isabela, Senior Superintendent Jude Wilson Santos, acting provincial
police director, relieved Superintendent Felix Dayag, chief of the Echague
police, and Senior Inspector Renato Bucad, chief of the Jones police, after
a team from the Philippine National Police's anti-illegal gambling task
force and the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group raided suspected
jueteng dens in the province last week. Anti-illegal gambling operations by
the regional police in those towns confirmed the existence of jueteng,
Rafanan said. "The one-strike policy continues to be in full force to any
officer who defies the order to have the game stopped by September 30," he
said in explaining the immediate sacking of Frane and Reyes.

Chief Inspector Romeo de Guzman, CIDG Isabela chief, said his office
arrested 46 jueteng employees and bet collectors in Jones, Echague, Benito
Soliven, and San Agustin towns and in Santiago City.

Chief Superintendent Jefferson Soriano, Cagayan Valley police director, said
he had ordered provincial police directors in the region to beat the
September 30 deadline set by PNP chief Director General Oscar Calderon to
stop jueteng operations in the country.

The relieved police officials were the first to come under fire in what
Calderon called an "honest-to-goodness" fight against the underworld
lottery. Calderon said the new drive against jueteng was meant to strengthen
the small town lottery, which the government introduced in February as an
antidote and alternative to jueteng.

Gambling in Pennsylvania

For an activity to be "gambling" in Pennsylvania there must be payment of a
consideration or fee for the chance to win a prize. The winner must be
determined by chance. The legal forms of gambling in the state are
activities governed by the Race Horse Industry Reform Act, the Pennsylvania
Lottery, bingo and small games of chance. One way to put these groups on a
more level playing field might be to expand the types of games authorized
under small games of chance laws and increase what can be bingo winnings,
some county officials have said. Legislators plan to revisit small games of
chance and bingo laws in the state. About two years ago, Somerset County
Jerry Spangler spoke on behalf of Pennsylvania District Attorneys
Association before the state House Judiciary Committee on proposals to
update the bingo and small games of chance laws.

Meanwhile, the lines seem to be tightening around just what these groups can
do to raise money with fundraisers that use bingo and small games of chance.

Video horse racing is one of the popular fundraising events for nonprofit
groups in the state.

Laurel Arts in Somerset had incorporated that particular game of chance in
its Casino Night fundraiser for a couple years. The event usually raised
about $4,000.

Last year, that all changed.

Last year, the nonprofit art group changed the name to Vegas Night and
changed several games of chance, including video horse racing. The group
ended up discontinuing video horse racing.

"We found out that video horse racing is not specifically listed in the
small game of chance legislation," said Michael Knecht, Laurel Arts
executive director.

"Our budget is pretty complex. We count on everything to balance the
budget," Knecht said.

By not being able to incorporate video horse racing, the event brought in
less funds for Laurel Arts.

Losing any amount of funds is "a big hit," he said.

"Technology has been changing. The laws governing small games of chance or
those related should be revisited to make sure it is still effective as
written," Knecht added. "If it isn't then it should be updated."

Prize limits haven't changed in 18 to 25 years, Spangler said. The law of
small games of chance was passed in 1988; the bingo act was passed in 1981.

Spangler told Laurel Arts board members to eliminate video horse racing just
to be sure they are in compliance with state law.

"He said if it was not there in the law to stay away from it," Knecht added.

Meanwhile, until the law is interpreted to include video horse racing as a
legal small games of chance, it is best for nonprofit organizations to take
a "proactive stance to be sure they are complying with the law and eliminate
it."

"Our event is legal and everyone has a good time and it is still productive
as a fundraiser," he said about Vegas Night, tentatively planned for Feb.
23.

"The last thing our nonprofit needs is to have police show up and arrest our
patrons for something considered illegal," he added.

Laurel Arts is not the only organization having trouble with interpreting
what the law means.

There are those groups that use bingo as a fundraiser and others who just
enjoy playing the game.

For those playing bingo for entertainment, the law states they can do so as
long as winning prizes are of "nominal value."

What is not clear with the law is just what constitutes nominal value.

Playing bingo for cash at Somerset County senior centers was temporarily
suspended until the state bingo law is clarified, according to Karen
Ritchey, deputy administrator for Area Agency of Aging of Somerset County.

Fun fairs a front for gambling

Most fun fairs attract children, but at least six in the district are a hit
with adults. That's because they are a front for gambling dens. These fun
fairs have the usual attractions such as rides and carnival games, said
Johor Baru MCA Youth secretary Rodney Soon. "But hardly anyone plays these
games. The people go there just to gamble," he revealed yesterday. Soon
said such fun fairs were located all over the district - in Permas Jaya,
Johor Jaya and Kulai - and were open from 8pm to 2am. "The operators do not
charge entrance fees," he said. To gamble, punters have to buy RM1 tokens.
Soon said the games resemble roulette, where punters pick numbers between
one and 10. Soon said he had notified Johor Baru (south) district police's
anti-vice, secret societies and gaming division. Meanwhile, state CID chief
Senior Asst Comm (II) Datuk Abdul Rahim Jaafar said police had raided
several fun fairs.

Gambling addiction blamed for robbery 'frenzy'

A Christchurch man who committed a "frenzy" of six knifepoint robberies over
six weeks was sent to jail for seven years yesterday. Murray Duglas Harris,
a 46-year-old with a previously unblemished record, had pleaded guilty in
Christchurch District Court and was sentenced yesterday by Judge Gary
MacAskill. Harris admitted robbing three service stations, a tavern, a
liquor store and a factory shop during what his counsel, Ruth Buddicom,
termed a frenzy of offending during a "brain explosion" when he was out of
control. Police arrested Harris on June 23 while he was holding up the
liquor store. After each of the robberies, which netted him about $3000,
Harris would deposit amounts into his TAB account and bank accounts. He
admitted to a long-standing gambling addiction and said after his arrest
that he was "relieved" his gambling problem had come to the surface and he
could address it properly. Ms Buddicom said Harris was ashamed and
remorseful, and now realised the impact of his serious offending on the
victims he had robbed and threatened.

AdvertisementAdvertisementShe said Harris was now motivated to address his
gambling problem.

Judge MacAskill said Harris' offending was out of character and
inexplicable.

The gravity and seriousness of the offences were aggravating features, as
was the effect on Harris' victims.

He had committed multiple offences within a short timeframe while using a
weapon and making threats to the staff of the premises he targeted.

"Your offending will have an impact on them for a long time to come."

During the robberies Harris had threatened to use the knife if his victims
did not hurry to fill the yellow shopping bag he carried with money.

Gambling had become a "personal disaster" for Harris and while it could go
somewhere toward explaining the offending it was certainly no excuse.

The judge noted Harris had held the same job for 25 years, had no previous
criminal record, was a productive member of the community and deserved
credit for his community contributions, particularly to the sport of soccer.

Judge MacAskill jailed Harris for seven years on one "lead charge" of
aggravated robbery and imposed four-year sentences on four other aggravated
robbery charges.

He imposed a two-year sentence for the attempted robbery when Harris was
caught by police in the liquor store. All sentences were concurrent.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

More countries could be added to list of infringers investigated by European Commission

Several European states have taken action against online gaming companies in
a bid to protect their own gambling operations, but the tactic looks likely
to accelerate the demise of their own monopolies, says a report in Hemscott
this week. The report quotes a European Commission spokesman who said the
body is prepared to target more EU member states deemed to be stifling
competition in the sports gambling sector. "'We will perhaps add to the
number of countries involved in infringement procedures', said the EU
executive arm's internal markets spokesman Oliver Drewes during a European
Commission meeting on the issue. EU Internal Market Commissioner Charlie
McCreevy wants to ensure that laws in member states banning gambling
services are 'necessary and not discriminatory'.
The arrest of two Bwin executives from Austria on alleged gambling
violations whilst they were visiting France is seen as something that could
accelerate the possibility of EC legal action in a European market that
takes more than Euro 70 billion ($89 billion) from European gamblers every
year, Reuters reported this week. Detentions of international online
gambling businessmen by US federal and state authorities have resulted in a
closer focus by online gambling companies on alternative markets, with
Europe being the prime target. "Things are coming to a head," the report
quotes Simon Holliday at gaming consultants GBGC. "The industry is currently
in a legal grey area, but we think this will accelerate the speed it opens
up." Betfair Managing Director Mark Davies said it was wrong to equate the
situation in Europe with that in the U.S. "The two are completely
different," he said. "In America it is clearly illegal to take sports bets
over the Internet, but in Europe it's clearly legal."

Last week, European Union Internal Market Commissioner McCreevy said eight
EU countries might be added to a list of seven already facing legal action
for refusing to open their betting markets. France is said to be among them.

"France could have shot themselves in the foot by getting this aggressive,
as it could bring the whole process forward," said Holliday. "We thought it
would take five, six or seven years to sort itself out, but it now looks
like two to three years."

Although European Union law allows cross-border trade by gambling companies
under the Treaty of Rome, many individual states prevent it, claiming they
are protecting the public from gambling addiction. The counter argument to
that is the large monopolistic revenues these governments themselves make
from gambling, sometimes offered to citizens of other countries too in
vehicles like lotteries.

European Lotteries, which represents 74 organisations, said gambling was a
unique activity, and states should be allowed to monopolise it to protect
consumers and regulate crime. But critics say these same states promote
equally addictive national lotteries, and accuse them of hypocrisy.

Three of the EC investigations are at the behest of British gaming group
Ladbrokes, with complaints against Sweden, Finland and the Netherlands, said
John O'Reilly, managing director of Ladbrokes's Internet division.

"I think what we've seen in recent weeks is a bit of a backlash by European
member states who want to treat betting as a national issue," he said. After
seven or eight years of trying to get national legal disputes heard at a
European level, O'Reilly said he welcomed the prospect of clarity.

Earlier this year Bwin launched an EC complaint against France, claiming
that its gambling monopoly breaches Article 49 of the European Community
Treaty which enshrines the freedom to provide cross-border services. The
complaint asks the Commission to force France to comply with EC law on the
freedom to provide services.

Evelyn Heffermehl at law firm Ulys in Brussels said France's action against
Bwin did not signal Europe was becoming a riskier place for online gaming
groups. "They can be seen rather as a sign that the monopolies in general,
and in France in this specific case, are concerned that they might not
'survive' for long," said Heffermehl.

"Europe is currently facing a transition period between old restrictive
regulations, with monopolies etc, and opening of the market."

You could lay bets on Tomb Raider outcomes!

Activision video gaming boss Robert Kotick spoke this week of the role in-
[video]-game gambling could play in the future, describing it as the 'Holy
Grail' of the games business. Kotick reckons the cross-over between gaming
and 'gambling' could potentially be huge, and far more extensive than at
present. Discussing the potential of wagering with regards to online games,
he said: "There's probably lots of opportunities to figure out how to
develop prize play [and] cash play as a future growth opportunity. You're
going to need a big installed base, and a very different regulatory climate.
And that's going to take some time." The Activision CEO apparently thinks
the integration of gambling is 'inevitable', especially as games become
increasingly online and multiplayer focused. "When you think about the Holy
Grail of the video game business, organised competition for prize play and
cash play is going to be the floodgate of opportunity for new audiences," he
affirmed. "And it will happen eventually, but I wouldn't expect it anytime
soon." Whilst Activision recently dipped their toes into the realms of
online gambling, with a series of Poker games, these were played for the
love of it rather than cold hard cash.

OSU trustees oppose Learn and Earn gambling issue

In a surprise move yesterday, the Ohio State University Board of Trustees
came out in strong opposition to the Learn and Earn issue on November's
ballot that would allow casino and slot gambling in Ohio. "If we are silent
it implies we support it because we could benefit from it," said trustee Les
Wexner, Limited Brands founder. "I think it's very clever -- and bad public
policy." Under the ballot measure, Issue 3, 30 percent of the money raised
from the gambling would be channeled into college scholarships students
would earn while in high school, hence the "Learn and Earn" tag. It would
allow 31,500 slot machines at seven horse-racing tracks and at two downtown
Cleveland casinos. Wexner, one of the more outspoken members of the OSU
board, said he opposes the issue because it gives nine entities a gambling
monopoly. Trustee Robert H. Schottenstein agreed, saying Issue 3 "doesn't
smell right, feel right or seem fair" and sounds too good to be true. "We do
not think this is good for the state of Ohio," said Schottenstein. A number
of Columbus groups have come out against Learn and Earn, including the
Greater Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Columbus
Partnership, an influential group of area business leaders.

Former Teamster's boss formally charged in gambling ring

The accused ring leader of the state's largest suspected illegal gambling
ring faced a judge and official charges Friday. The Madison County
Prosecutor filed 71 counts against former Teamster's boss John Neal,
accusing him of illegal gambling, money laundering and corruption. For 72
hours, the man prosecutors claim controlled illegal operations at dozens of
central Indiana taverns sat behind jail bars uncharged. Now, after days of
seizing dozens of video gambling machines, receipts, files - and more than
$4 million dollars, John Lewis Neal learned the 71 gambling related charges
against him. John Neal sat in front of a court video camera in the jail for
his mid-morning hearing, initially confused about what had taken place. "Did
you say that charges have not been filed?" he asked the magistrate, before
getting another court explanation. The court set Neal's bond at $2 million
dollars - the same amount investigators froze in bank accounts. "We believe
Mr. Neal is a flight risk. He has bank accounts that we're not aware of,
probably yet. We still believe that there's about $3 million from this
enterprise that are unaccounted for and have not been seized. He has a home
in Florida," explained Cummings. On federal parole until next February on a
prior gambling related conviction, money isn't the only thing keeping Neal
behind bars. The magistrate asked Mr. Neal if he understood that he could
not be released from jail until that parole hold is lifted. Neal responded,
"I understand that."

Before the court began rolling videotape of the hearing, Neal informed the
court he hired Indianapolis defense attorney Richard Kamman. But Neal
admitted he wasn't sure he had money to pay for representation, saying, "I
don't think so, they got all my money tied up. They got everything I got
tied up. What we're going to try to do is get that money loose to pay the
attorney."

The Madison County Prosecutor says Neal is in for a fight. "We will resist
any effort to get any of his money back," said Cummings. "It is not our plan
to make a deal with him like has been made in the past. It is our plan to
take his money and have that money to come to the government of this
community."

The prosecutor confirms some of those who worked under Neal apart from the
gambling are cooperating. Cummings says the next step is to reopen some of
the bars raided and shut down. Under the plan the county would appoint a
receiver and all profits would go to the coffers of Madison County. Cummings
believes it will keep viable businesses open and employees earning a living
legally.

Gambling foes to gather

The Rev. Patrick Walsh understands slot machines at Seven Springs may be a
done deal. But though most of those playing the quarters at the popular
resort likely will be from out of town, Walsh is concerned about the
implications gambling could have on families closer to home. "You can't say
it's not going to impact people in our own community. They're going to go up
there," said Walsh, pastor of Rockwood Christian & Missionary Alliance
Church near New Centerville. For the first time since Seven Springs applied
for its slots license, anti-gambling activists are mustering united
opposition in the county. Dianne Berlin, volunteer coordinator of
CasinoFreePA and vice chairwoman of the National Coalition Against Legalized
Gambling, will be the featured speaker at a community meeting at 6:30 p.m.
Tuesday at the church. "I think there is considerable opposition to
gambling, but people are not speaking up," Walsh said. "There's been a lot
of PR from proponents of gambling, from the governor on down. But they've
not looked at the impact it's going to have on our community and families."
Seven Springs and Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in neighboring Fayette County
are the only two applicants for the state's two resort-gambling licenses. If
approved, Seven Springs intends to build a 500-slot casino.

Middlecreek Township supervisors already have come out against the plan on
moral and practical grounds in objections filed with Pennsylvania Gaming
Control Board in Harrisburg.

A hearing for the two resort licenses is scheduled for Oct. 25 in
Harrisburg.

Even though the slots will be open only to resort guests who spend $25,
Berlin said the ramifications will run deep.

"It's not just going to be the people from out of town who are going to
gamble," she said from her home in Lancaster County.

Berlin said the forum will provide information on the impact of casinos on
localities, how the law was passed to legalize gambling in Pennsylvania and
why it should be repealed.

"It's never too late to repeal a law - and especially a bad law," Berlin
said.

"People don't understand all of this. I wish I didn't know as much as I do,
because it makes me sick."

Entire state must vote on gambling issue

West Virginia's gambling industry plans another push in the Legislature next
year for local option elections to allow table games at the state's four
racetrack casinos.
In preparation for next year's effort, a poll released by the state Racing
Association earlier this week shows 61 percent of West Virginians favor
local option elections, up from 51 percent in a similar poll released in
January. Also, according to The Associated Press, racetrack executives and
political action committees distributed more than $100,000 before the May
primary among 72 House of Delegates and State Senate candidates. Association
President John Cavacini said the industry will contribute to candidates for
the general election. The gambling industry wants table games such as
blackjack, poker and roulette because it will soon lose its regional
monopoly on video slot machines. Pennsylvania could license its first slot
machines next week. According to the AP, the tracks in Jefferson, Hancock,
Kanawha and Ohio counties together host nearly 11,400 video terminals
operated by the state Lottery Commission. They grossed more than $942
million last fiscal year for the tracks as well as state, county and local
governments. The racetracks provide thousands of jobs. By adding table
games, West Virginia's tracks say they could maintain their existing jobs
and even add to them as they expand.

But every expansion of gambling so far has required a statewide vote, not
local elections in four counties. This is an issue that cries out for a
statewide vote for several reasons. The problems associated with gambling
addiction will be felt in every county, especially those bordering
racetracks with table games.

After all, most of Cabell and Putnam counties are closer to the track at
Crosslanes than parts of Kanawha County are. So are parts of Mason and
Jackson counties. But under a local option, those four counties would have
no say in whether table games are offered there.

On this issue, all counties deserve a vote.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Sampdoria striker gets two month ban for gambling offence

Sampdoria striker Francesco Flachi has been suspended for two months by the
Italian Football League following an investigation into allegations he
helped gather information for gamblers. The Football League's disciplinary
commission ruled that Flachi had "sought to gain information on the outcome
of games" for a third party. Flachi's former Samp team mate Moris
Carrozzieri, now with Atalanta, was also handed a two month ban for the same
offence relating to a lower division game. The charges were originally
placed against Flachi in October 2005 after a telephone intercept was
published featuring him chatting with Fabio Bazzani, then with Lazio, about
the Rome derby. The disciplinary commission's ruling said there had been no
evidence that Flachi's behaviour had influenced the outcome of any game but
that he had broken rules on gambling and sporting behaviour. Sampdoria were
fined 20,000 euros by the commission.

Investigators: Suspect In Gambling Probe Could Have $4M Stashed

A former state Teamsters boss accused of money laundering and helping to run
a multicounty video gambling operation could still have $4 million stashed
somewhere, investigators say. A magistrate on Wednesday ordered John Neal
held with a cash bond set at $2 million because prosecutors argue he is a
flight risk.
Earlier this week, authorities raided Neal's Yorktown home, seizing more
than $1 million hidden in a fake wall, and closed down more than 20 bars and
other businesses believed to be part of the gambling operation. Police also
have seized $2 million from financial institutions under state
anti-racketeering laws.
Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummings said investigators believe there
is up to $4 million more that they have not located. Neal faces preliminary
charges of professional gambling, promoting professional gambling, money
laundering and corrupt business influence. The prosecution has until Friday
to file formal charges.
Madison County Magistrate Steve Clase raised Neal's bond from $1 million
full cash to $2 million full cash after Cummings said the defendant was a
serious flight risk.

Asked at the end of the hearing if he had any questions, Neal responded:
"Just one. Uh, what was it about $4 million?"

More than 28 people besides Neal had been booked into the Madison County
Jail in connection with the case. Most face charges of professional gambling
and money laundering, and many are part-owners or employees of the bars
under investigation.

The arrest came about 18 months after Neal's release from the U.S.
Penitentiary in Terre Haute. In May 2000 he pleaded guilty in U.S. District
Court in Indianapolis to charges of illegal gambling, money laundering and
tax evasion.

Neal resigned as president of the Indiana Conference of Teamsters and of
Teamsters Local 135 in Indianapolis in 1996 after being arrested by the FBI.

Neal's probation on his federal convictions prohibits him from holding
alcoholic beverage permits or being involved in related businesses, the
Indiana Alcohol and Tobacco Commission said in a news release.

Ohio's Gambling Foes Speak To About Slots Proposal

Ohio Governor Bob Taft and US Senator George Voinovich have talked with
state higher education officials about a plan to pay for college
scholarships with slot machines. The two politicians have been outspoken
opponents of casino gambling. Taft has asked the Ohio Board of Regents to
study the proposal, which will go before voters November Seventh. Slots
would be allowed at racetracks, and scholarships would get 30 percent of the
proceeds. The regents oversee state spending on colleges and would be in
charge of distributing the scholarship money. Voinovich helped lead
successful campaigns to keep casinos out of Ohio. His spokesman says
Voinovich has no comment on his discussions with the regents.

Online Gambling CEO Sets Sights on U.S.

Despite the recent spate of online gambling related arrests in America,
incoming Sportingbet Plc CEO, Andrew McIver, has announced that the popular
online sports betting website will continue to market to U.S. based online
gamblers. Clearly McIver has balls of titanium and does not intend on
vacationing in the United States anytime soon! He has replaced Peter Dicks
who was arrested a few weeks ago while on a stopover in New York, and
subsequently resigned from the online gambling giant. McIver, who has many
years of experience in the online gambling industry, is confident that
Sportingbet will continue to attract American online gamblers with the
objective of expanding its online casino business. Said McIver, 'I believe
that the U.S. is the only market in the world worth increased online
gambling capital investment. America is where the online gamblers are, where
the growth is and where the money is.' The announcement has raised a few
eyebrows around the world because it has come at a time when many online
gambling operations are nervously withdrawing their marketing efforts from
the United States.

Internet Gambling Survives Another Attempted Ban

Senator Bill Frist attempted to attach the Internet Gambling Bill to a
Military Defense Bill but received much unexpected opposition and sources
say that attempt is now dead. Although the online gaming industry is
breathing another sigh of relief the fight is not over yet. Senator Frist,
from Iowa, is looking to run for president in 2008 and he is trying to
support what his conservatives in Iowa want done. They want internet
gambling banned and as such Frist will continue to fight through the end of
the year to attach the online gambling ban to some other bill that will be
sure to pass. Some sources say that this bill was his best chance at getting
the ban passed, others say that may be true, but when he tries to attach it
to another bill he will do so in a more quiet fashion as to not gain
attention from the internet gambling world who voiced very strong opposition
to his efforts. A week ago senators around the country received over 500
phone calls from the Poker Player Alliance, which is only one tenth of the
amount that actually tried to get through to senators. "Most opposition came
from those on the Armed Services Committee," said Jason Bailey, director of
development for the National Right for Online Gambling - the NROG has kept a
sharp eye on this case - "Senator Carl Levin (D-Mich.)," Bailey said, "and
Senator John Warner (R-Va.) were the two most influential, although it's
important to note there were several other key players that stopped him -
this time." The NROG encourages all online gamblers to continue calling in
opposition to any possible ban.

Senate Decides Online Gambling Stands Alone

During the month of September, cable and television networks paraded
programs on the subject of online and offshore gaming. These programs aired
just in time to stir up more debate as lawmakers on Capitol Hill were poised
to vote on whether or not to attach an online gambling ban to the current
defense bill. One network program on the subject of online gambling might
have given lawmakers the dose of reality they needed to make an educated
decision. News was swirling around the arrests of several Internet gaming
executives. ESPN hosted an online gambling debate on September 10th during
an episode of Outside The Lines. Nightline ran a feature on the eccentric
billionaire Calvin Ayre and took viewers on a tour of the Costa Rican based
Bodog Nation. The public response must have been startling, as in depth
feature segments about the gaming industry followed. And while the pieces
were interesting and helped expose the taboo subject of online gaming to a
mass audience, it was still just the drumming of an old message into new
ears. Network Programming On Tilt As networks continue to tackle topics on
the legality of online gambling, taxes on such, and the affect it has on
society, no real solutions are being presented. During two separate
features, reporters tilted their perspectives toward an all-out ban during
closing statements. But as hard-core journalists put a negative spin on the
gambling phenomenon, the results backfired, as those they scrutinized over
primetime television were given a voice. In most cases the interviewees
came across as more intelligent, better informed, and offered real solutions
to problems, compared to those delivering the hard-hitting questions. A 60
Minute segment that aired on Sunday, September 17 might have become just
another soft interview, as CBS reporter Lesley Stahl argued "gambling is
bad" and "the point of making something illegal is to stop people from
doing it, and penalize them if they do," but admitted that even America's
gaming industries, that have long opposed Internet gambling, are shifting
their position.

"I think the issue is very simple," said MGM/Mirage CEO Terry Landry. "You
should license it regulate it and tax it. I think to enact laws that you
can't
enforce makes no sense whatsoever."

Are Lawmakers Dealing With a Full Deck?
Sen. Jon Kyl believes the affect that gambling has on kids is the biggest
danger.

"Our kids have access to the Internet. They're frequently not supervised.
And you can run up a huge debt on your folks' credit card very, very
quickly."

Actually, that statement taken out of context could apply to several
activities when it comes to kids, or adults for that matter, on the
Internet. And Kyl's point was easily disproved in front of a mass audience.

Nigel Payne, former CEO of Sportingbet.com, who also ran Paradise Poker, ran
an experiment during a 60 Minute segment that aired on CBS. The producer
gave his son a credit card and Payne challenged the teenager to open an
account with Paradise Poker. Payne was certain, with effective security
measures in place, the underage visitor wouldn't be able to gain access to
the site.

"That 16-year-old has got to give me four or five pieces of information
about him, relative to his bank account, his personal details, where he
lives and other things," said Payne. "I can be 99 percent comfortable that
this 16-year-old doesn't even get through my front door."

Payne made his point, as the boy's attempts to register with Paradise Poker
were futile. Warnings that read, "You must be 18 or older" popped up each
time.

From Across The Pond
"This is why regulating the industry is so important," said Payne. "If you
regulate it, you set limits."

The Englishman addressed several other issues concerning online gambling and
countered questions with eloquence and poise. He even posed a few questions
of his own, though not necessarily intended for the journalist conducting
the interview, but a worldwide audience to ponder. So, without a harem of
bikini clad women or a convoy of shiny new Hummers, the unassuming Mr. Payne
presented a poignant thought.

"Do you think the Internet is suddenly going to go away? Do you think that
people are ever going to stop gambling? So what are we going to do in ten
years time when this industry is ten times bigger than it is today? "

Then Payne posed another question to a primetime national television
audience. "Please give me one solid plausible argument why you shouldn't
regulate it."

It was just about that time when the chairman of the senate armed services
committee was considering whether or not to attach an internet wagering
prohibition to a piece of 'must-pass' legislation.

Two days later, when Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist approached Senator
John Warner, Warner consulted with the ranking democrat of Michigan, Senator
Carl Levin. And though the House of Representatives passed the anti-online
gambling legislation in July, it still needed to make it through the Senate.

Frist made explosive accusations that online gambling promotes money
laundering, racketeering, tax evasion and a host of other felonies. And in a
desperate attempt to quickly establish an all out ban, he and other senators
attached additional legislation to the current defense bill.

Frist failed in his attempt but has vowed he will continue to push for
another vote on the issue. And though Payne and several other countries have
proven that licensing and regulating online gambling will win the trust of
consumers and eventually put the less reputable sites out of business, naïve
lawmakers would rather it all just went away.

"I promise you within 12 months. the problems. will have disappeared or
significantly reduced, because customers will have voted with their feet."

House of Odds

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