Thursday, March 08, 2007

State lotteries reassured by Placanica ruling

The recent ruling by the European Court of Justice is welcomed by bookmakers as a sign that European markets are opening up. But the state lottery community is undeterred. On the contrary, after reading the fine print, the European association of state lotteries finds the judgement reassuring. Just like the landmark Gambelli judgement, the Court's new ruling recognises that Member States have a perfect right to restrict gambling activities. And it's perfectly legitimate for them to channel demand away from less regulated sources by offering games that people want to play, advertising them and delivering them over new distribution channels.

Three-headed man shows evils of VLTs

Some state lotteries' responsible gambling campaigns fall short by placing the burden on the players through messages like ‘keep it fun' or ‘play responsibly.' A new campaign by the Oregon Lottery takes the extra step of educating the public that the games themselves influence a player's behavior, KTVZ reports.

"This is a major step for a state lottery to take," said Jeff Marotta, problem gambling services manager in the Oregon Department of Human Services.

The "three-headed man" ad shows a man deeply absorbed in playing a video game when a second head appears and encourages him to stick with his budget and time constraints. Then a third head appears arguing that he has plenty of time and is about to win.

The Myth Buster section of the Oregon Lottery's website, inspired by responsible gaming pioneer Atlantic Lottery Corporation, is also a shining example of a creative awaress campaign by a state lottery.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Cohen conviction upheld

A federal appeals court has upheld the conviction of former World Sports Exchange president Jay Cohen under the federal Wire Act, IBLS Internet Law reports.

The ruling supports the Department of Justice's long-standing position that the Wire Act applies in Internet gambling. Gambling considered unlawful by the United States was previous possible on the Internet due to loopholes in enforcement. UIGEA aims to close some of those loopholes by obliging financial institutions to block transfers to online casinos.

Labels: ,

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Online gambling firms brace for French crackdown

French authorities say they want to interview as many as 20 executives at Internet gambling firms that do business in France, raising suspicions that a US-style crackdown may be on the way, the Guardian reports. Partygaming denied it was on the list but closed its website to French customers last week. One major shareholder has since sold 123 million shares.

The once mighty Internet gambling giant later announced a 56 percent drop in annual profits, Forbes reports, largely attributed to its forced departure from the US market in September.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Gambling crackdown linked to terror fight

UIGEA's connection with the Safe Port Act may not be as spurious as it seemed when the legislation sneaked onto President Bush's desk last October. The Las Vegas Business Press reports that the US Department of Justice is conducting its campaign against online gambling in large part to prevent funds from ending up in the hands of terrorist groups. Supporting this view, the attorney heading the DOJ online gambling crackdown, prosecutor David Litternick of the southern District of New York, is an expert on terrorism who previously handled cases involving the first World Trade Center bombing and U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Dar-es-Salaam.

Gaming expansion could cost €5bn

The report commissioned by the European state lottery association
warns that liberalisation of the EU gaming market could siphon as much as €5.5 billion from good causes and redistribute the money to players. But the report does not quantify the full economic and social costs of gaming addiction "due to a lack of good comprehensive data".

Monday, February 26, 2007

Purifying the cyber environment

China is cracking down on Internet gambling websites, the state news agency Xinhua reports. "The prevalence of online gaming has ruined the online environment and harmed young people's growth, which runs against the policy of building a harmonious society," the government said in a circular.

Gambling has technically been illegal in China since 1949, although gaming enjoys wide popularity, as it does throughout Asia -- which has been tipped as the "new hot market" for online gambling companies forced from the US market.

Sites where punters can exchange virtual money for real money and properties have become a money launderer's paradise. They're top of the list of targets in the Chinese crackdown.

Labels: ,

Texas defends its moral right to sell worthless tickets

Like lottery operators throughout the world, the Texas Lottery Commission continues to sell instant-win scratch-off tickets even when virutally all the prizes have been claimed. The lottery says its legal position is covered by a one-line disclaimer on the back of the ticket. But Texans are questioning the lottery's moral position on a practice that is increasingly seen as unfair and deceptive.

A player in Corpus Christi sued over the practice three years ago, the Houston Chronicle reports. Since that case settled (out of court) the lottery and its primary contractor are now making some information public about what kind of prize money is still available in each game. But the information available at retail outlets is often out of date.

Scratch tickets are the Texas Lottery's cash cow, generating $2.8 billion in sales last year and accounting for nearly 76 percent of its ticket sales.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Merck on the Texas money trail

Texas Governor Rick Perry's plan to turn over the hugely popular Texas Lottery to an outside firm may go sour before he can stand back and reap the budgetary benefits. Most of the money would go to help health care causes --funding a pool to provide health insurance for the uninsured and setting aside $300 million a year for a huge cancer research project. But the Austin American Statesman wonders where the money will end up. Perry's former chief of staff is now a lobbyist with Merck, and the drug firm potentially stands to benefit from the cancer research projects.

Making matters worse, Perry angered state officials this week by suggesting that turning over the state lottery to the private sector would be a "smart move"."Are we not smart enough to run the lottery?" an incensed state legislator replied.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Player protection measures take super-casino to Manchester

In a surprise decision, the UK Casino Advisory Panel awarded the much coveted super-casino license to Manchester, the BBC reports. Most experts had been predicting that the bid would go to either Blackpool or Harry Anschutz's Millennium Dome. Oddsmakers had ranked Manchester as the least likely of the seven finalists to win the super-casino. One of the key factors in the decision was Manchester's emphasis on responsible gaming principles in its proposal - further evidence of the CSR message resonating with regulators as they fend off a backlash to unbridled gaming expansion. In its original plan, the UK intended to grant licenses for dozens of super-casinos across the country, before scaling back its ambitions to just eight, and now to just this single "pilot" scheme.


Monday, February 12, 2007

Camelot proposes World Lottery

Camelot has unveiled plans for a World Lottery Draw as part of its bid for the United Kingdom's third National Lottery licence, which was submitted to the National Lottery Commission on February 9. The draw is expected to involve scores of lotteries from around the globe, from the Americas in the west, to Australasia in the east – as well as a host of lotteries from across Europe. Camelot has already received expressions of interest from lotteries in 48 states and countries around the world – and is in ongoing negotiations with individual and multi-jurisdiction lotteries. Camelot says it met with potential partners in November 2006 at the World Lottery Association Conference in Singapore, and will be meeting with those parties again later this year.

Congressman abandons national lottery proposal

The Memphis Commercial Appeal reports that a Tennessee lawmaker has dropped a proposal to create a national lottery in the United States after discussions with top Democrats in Washington. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tennessee) says he has rethought his position after conversations with party leaders convinced him that the plan would probably hurt local constituents more than it would help.

"If we had a national lottery, it would just take money from the Tennessee Lottery and that would take money away from scholarships and away from pre-kindergarten and away from education in Tennessee,” Cohen said.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Mendel says he will meet with McCreevey

The Antigua Sun reports this week that trade lawyer Mark Mendel, the attorney representing the tiny Caribbean country in its WTO dispute with the United States, has plans to meet with European Union internal market commissioner Charlie McCreevey in "the near future" to discuss the case. Mendel tells the newspaper that he plans to explore the possibility of the EU joining the action but sounds a bit pessimistic. The attorney tells the Sun that he thinks a European intervention is unlikely given the fact that the EU's membership is itself split over the issue of online gaming.

Texas governor proposes lottery selloff

Texas is the latest U.S. state to consider the benefits of lottery privatization, the New York Times reports. In his annual State of the State address this week Governor Rick Perry (R) proposed selling the state's lottery to a private firm. Perry wants to use the proceeds to pay for insurance for the state's 10 million uninsured and to fund cancer research, an area in which Texas is a leader.

According to some estimates, selling the Texas Lottery could raise up to $14 billion. The news of Perry's plan comes the year after Texas Lottery recorded it's best year in history, reporting $3.7 billion in sales. The New York Times notes that New Jersey is also considering a similar plan - along with a proposal to lease the New Jersey turnpike.

Critics in both states are attacking the proposals, arguing that a private firm is unlikely to apply the same degree of oversight as local government and that in the end states are likely to get the worst of the deal. Republican opponents in Texas downplayed the chances that the legislation would pass. "I don't know anybody who is supporting it" said Texas Rep. Warren Chisum, R-Pampa, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. "I'd give it only a 10 percent chance of passing."

Neteller's fall attracts online payment competitors

Neteller's decision to abandon the US market has inspired a number of imitators willing to violate Washington's ban on financial transactions involving online gambling. For the time being, the most talked about is YouTeller, a privately held e-wallet based in the United Kingdom. Because the company is not publicly-traded, it is seen as less vulnerable to legal action than predecessors like Neteller, Eye on Gambling reports. The founders are gambling that demand for the service will be high given the lack of alternatives. To sweeten the deal and attract new customers the service will not charge users for transfers. The service is scheduled to launch in March.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

GamCare stacks up online gambling endorsements

The online gambling industry is about to develop an international code of conduct to address responsible online gambling procedures reports. A working party led by GamCare (the UK’s leading authority on problem gambling) and eCOGRA (a self-proclaimed standards setter with a very natty new website) are about to launch consultations, merge their current codes of practice, develop a framework, hold an international summit, yada, yada, yada, and speak with a unified voice. The guys at GamCare are definitely on a roll!