Issue N26, 2007

July 5, 2007

Bwin Takeover Bid of Sportingbet Called Off

In recent months, the hottest gossip in the online gambling industry revolved around the takeover of the online casino company, Sportingbet by the Austrian gaming operator bwin Interactive Gaming AG. Intense talks between the two were held over a long period of time to see whether a takeover agreement could be reached. However, final talks on Wednesday of this week led to Sportingbet making the announcement that the deal was off – although no specific reason was given - and that, “these discussions have now been mutually and amicably discontinued”. The announcement was made to the London Stock Exchange where Sportingbet floats.

As a result of the official announcement to the LSE, Sportingbet shares predictably dropped by over 9% to a mere 53.25 pence. Investors had been excited about the possibility of a take over and the bringing together of two potentially excellent companies. Sportingbet has suffered greatly since the Unlawful Internet Gambling Act came into effect last year in the United States. It has been forced to close its doors to US gamblers – effectively losing a significant portion of its client base. Sportingbet joins other UK and European customers looking for a way out of the problems that they are facing in a very competitive post-UIGEA industry.

Neteller Founder Pleads Guilty to Charges

Stephen Lawrence, co-founder of the online banking company, Neteller admitted in a Manhattan Court this week that he was aware that he was abetting illegal activities by providing payment services to offshore gambling companies in the United States. Lawrence, who was arrested early this year with another co-founder of the company, John Lefebvre, pleaded guilty to charges against him. When sentencing is passed in October this year, he could face up to five years in prison, besides a huge fine that will be slapped on him. Lefebvre – who has pleaded not guilty – still has his case pending.

Neteller was one of the fastest growing companies on the internet, grabbing a huge portion of the $6-billion business generated by American online gamblers each year. Most of Neteller’s $5.1-billion worth of transactions in 2006 came from online gambling, mostly originating from the United States. Since Lawrence and Lefebvre were arrested, Neteller stopped its operations in the United States and froze all accounts. Account holders are still waiting to see when their funds will be released, and it is generally felt that this will happen once authorities have reached an agreement with the company.

New Gambling Addiction Technology Developed in Sweden

A Swedish company, ICU Intelligence, has announced an interesting new addition to intelligent software developments. The company said that the new software has the potential to identify 90% of problem gamblers through a unique tracking and analyzing system. The software tracks and analyzes the wagering habits of each individual player on a particular site, including frequency, amounts and conditions, and labels players who are considered at risk. If players reach a certain risk level, certain steps are automatically taken by the software, including blocking gambling advertisements to the player, suggesting behavioral counseling, providing assistance to build a gambling budget and other steps.

The new software has already been incorporated into a popular Swedish betting and gaming site, Svenska Spel. Players can have their gambling habits tracked on a voluntary basis and the software is limited to personal Svenska Spel betting cards at present. ICU Intelligence is hoping to offer the software to other online casinos in a bid to create better gambling habits among players.

Backgammon Site Launches No-Rake Poker Room Offer

BackgammonMasters is synonymous with fun and challenging backgammon perudo and other community games. However, the online casino site has decided to venture into the poker world by launching a new poker room through its site. To celebrate the new opening, BackgammonMasters is offering players the chance to get a bit of the action with absolutely no fees involved. For a limited time only, players will be able to enjoy no-rake poker, thereby lowering the house edge significantly and allowing them to stand in line to win even more at this new site.

Over time, it is seen that backgammon players can make a smooth transition into the exciting world of poker because of the strategies and skills that they have picked up when playing backgammon. As a result, BackgammonMasters decided to give their regular players the opportunity to access their new poker room through a simple one-download process. Players can now enjoy the site’s excellent graphics, exciting avatars, up-to-date chat facilities and rich playing environment in a poker setting as well. It is understood that players are always after slight diversions during their intense gaming sessions and will definitely welcome an easily accessible, reputable poker room – with a generous no-rake policy thrown in for good measure!