Archive for August, 2009

Australia: 8 pokies found to have dodgy volatility levels

August 31, 2009 Leave a comment

One of Australia’s favourite gambling vehicles – poker machine games commonly referred to as ‘pokies’ – are at the centre of a new row building downunder. Eight of the 134 games approved since December 2007 have a level of volatility which is higher than that recommended by the Australia/New Zealand Gaming Machine National Standard, but their identities remain secret, reports news site

The Australia/New Zealand Gaming Machine National Standard recommends the nominal standard deviation of a game be no more than 15, yet the eight machines exposed through Freedom of Information Act disclosures are alleged to have volatilities in excess of this number.

While all poker machine games must have a return to player of at least 87.5%, games with a low volatility pay out a larger number of small prizes. However, highly volatile games pay out a smaller number of large prizes.

The disclosures have been exacerbated by a bar on identifying the games because the information is deemed to be “commercially sensitive”.

Independent MP Kris Hanna told that the excessively volatile games were cheating punters. “While some receive higher jackpots, there is less return to players in between payouts,” he said.

“The machines are already addictive enough without extra tricks. Gamblers should be told which games pay out less frequently.”

However, Independent Gambling Authority director Robert Chappell said he was not concerned about the claims because the regulation was a guideline.

“This particular fact doesn’t concern me,” he said.

“It’s a welcome development that the regulators have put limits on volatility because it enables us to be better assured games will resolve at their true return to player.”

Australian Hotels Association SA general manager Ian Horne said if Chappell wasn’t concerned, then no one should be.

“If the independent regulator has no concerns and they are qualified in this material, why would Kris Hanna have any concerns other than to cause mischief,” he said.

“We have total confidence in the integrity of the approval system and anyone who suggests there is some manipulation here is being deliberately provocative for political gain.”

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Malta: Opposition calls for regulation of local gambling arcades

August 31, 2009 Leave a comment

The return to work from the summer recess of the Malta Parliament will see a renewed drive to complete debates on a new set of gambling regulations aimed at regulating video lottery terminals and other gambling arcades that have mushroomed around the island, reports the Malta Independent newspaper.

Police have recently conducted a number of illegal gambling raids on the Mediterranean island and the official opposition party says it is time for the government to quickly implement new regulations controlling the establishment of gambling outlets, in the process clarifying the situation and raising tax revenues.

Shadow Finance Minister Charles Mangion told the the Malta Independent: “There must be no further delays in the implementation of regulations for the gambling and Video Lottery Terminals sector.

“We have been calling for the government to regulate the sector for a long time since a level playing field must be established for the operators while the authorities watch over the social interest of gamblers,” he said.

Mangion said that he believes that gamblers, even in the case of Video Lottery Terminals (VLTs), must be over the age of 25, as is the norm with local casinos.

Noting the police action and subsequent court applications for the return of gambling equipment, Mangion said that the police actions were the result of the government’s mismanagement and bad administration. No such action would have been necessary had the market been regularised before gambling arcades sprang up, he remarked.

Owners of the gambing operations concerned were critical of the Malta licensing agency – the LGA – which they felt had misled them in presenting a VLT Regulations Roll-Out Plan in October 2007. Besides proposing regulations following a two-year-long consultation process with stakeholders, the plan said that by the end of 2008, all machines had to be in line with regulations and compatible with the central monitoring system that LGA was supposed to create.

One operator invested some €5.5 million in new machinery and the sector had 400 employees up to the first week of August. However, LGA did not have the necessary framework set up and the government had not presented the proposals to Parliament by the end of 2008. It appeared as if everyone had forgotten the deadlines involved, now brought into sharp focus by official action.

Operators further claim that the now departed former LGA CEO, Mario Galea had told them that a general exemption applied because of the delay in legislature, however the law did not allow Galea to give such an exemption, which was only given by word of mouth.

Gambling arcade operators now await the regulations, which Finance Minister Tonio Fenech promised to present to Parliament following the summer recess.

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San Diego court rules poker players’ funds to remain frozen

August 31, 2009 Leave a comment

Monies that were seized by federal orders on their way through e-cash companies and banks to pay US online poker players will not be released, a US District Judge in San Diego ruled as the week came to a close.

The funds, which are understood to amount to some $13 million in the San Diego issue, are believed to have been destined for mainly Full Tilt Poker and PokerStars players, and were the subject of an appeal against federal warrants seizing the cash by San Diego-based Account Services Inc., an e-cash company allegedly owned by Canadian national Douglas Rennick. Rennick is not in custody, although US federal officials indicted him on bank fraud and money laundering charges, as well as conspiracy to operate an illegal gambling business.

The government also seeks $565 million in forfeited money it claims are the proceeds of illegal acts involving online gambling transactions.

The Rennick indictment enabled federal officials to sidetrack the San Diego action as ‘irrelevant’ pending the outcome of the criminal trial, possibly adding years to any recovery.

The San Diego Union Tribune reports that the case raises questions around the legality of online poker in the US, but that U.S. District Judge Jeffrey Miller denied a bid by lawyers for Account Services Inc., and the Poker Players Alliance to return the money, focusing on a specific legal issue of the court’s authority rather than debating the legality of online poker.

Michael Pancer, a lawyer representing Account Services, submitted in court papers that company officials believe the funds were seized under the federal Illegal Gambling Act. The company – later joined by the one million strong players association – argued that poker is not covered under that law and therefore the seizure was illegal. Pancer also contended that prosecutors in the case have used questionable tactics to hold on to the money, and have avoided arguing the legality question.

Now, following Judge Miller’s ruling that the seizure must stand, it could be years before company or players see any of the money.

Court papers filed by Pancer’s law firm on behalf of Account Services say the company makes payments to players who are cashing out or withdrawing from a game when instructed to do so by the designated operator. The company makes thousands of payments each month, according to court papers.

The controversy began in June, when prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan seized funds in bank accounts for Account Services at Wells Fargo and Union Bank. The precise justification for the seizures remain sealed in an affidavit applying for the warrants.

The federal gambling act requires that a state law against gambling has to be violated in order for a federal prosecution to be brought, said Marc Zwillinger, a lawyer for the players. Most states, including California, distinguish between games that predominantly rely on luck and those that rely on skill in defining whether gambling is taking place.

The players argued that poker is a game of skill, and therefore no laws were broken and the seizure was illegal.

Armed with those arguments, the company filed a suit in the San Diego District Court, where the banks holding the accounts are located.

Before the issue could be heard, prosecutors in New York indicted Rennick. They then argued the indictment made the San Diego lawsuit irrelevant and that Miller should not hear it. The judge agreed, saying the players could try to recover the money after the criminal case is resolved.

Lawyers for the players, however, contend that could be years. Rennick is a Canadian and is not yet under arrest and there is no telling when his case will be heard. The lawyers cry foul.

“It seems the government switched gears and they seem to have done it to specifically avoid the question of whether online gambling violates federal law,” Zwillinger said.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan declined to comment on the case, or say if the office is seeking Rennick’s extradition.

Pancer said Account Services is considering “other avenues” to try to get the money, but declined to be more specific.

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Politicians clamber to straighten out Ontario Lottery Corp

August 30, 2009 Leave a comment

There are reports from Toronto that the apparently error-prone Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation could be in for a shake-up as politicians vie for kudos in straightening out the state company. And it appears that claims of extravagance with the taxpayer’s dollar may exacerbate the accusations faced by the OLG Board.

The Toronto Star carried the story, featuring a photograph of CEO Kelly McDougald, who was brought on board by the Liberal government two years ago to reform the lottery and gaming monopoly. The piece ignited an immediate heated commentary from over 136 posters.

Three “informed sources” told the Toronto Star that McDougald is fighting for her Cdn$400,000-a-year job, as the Liberal government seeks to address the issues before it can be preempted by the opposition Progressive Conservatives when the Legislature returns September 14. A by-election scheduled for September 17th had added pressure.

The government is sensitive to accusations following the exposure of extravagant spending by the eHealth agency earlier this year.

“Something big is up,” a senior government official confirmed to the newspaper. “By next week, OLG will look much different. And by the time this is over, they’ll be forced to clean up their act.”

The Toronto Star recaps that McDougald has already been reprimanded by the Liberals for a series of problems at the gambling agency – including awarding foreign-made Mercedes-Benz cars as casino prizes at the same time as the province was bailing out General Motors and Chrysler.

And an audit last winter found:

  • A Good Samaritan treated shabbily when he tried to turn in a cache of lost tickets;
  • A malfunctioning slot machine erroneously informing a player he’d won $42.9 million when the maximum payout was $9,025;
  • A misprinted scratch-and-win ticket that led a man to believe he had won $135,000 when he hadn’t.
  • Questions surrounding results that showed lottery retailers, employees and their families won $198 million in prizes over 13 years, dating from 1996.

“But the straw that broke the camel’s back appears to be Liberal fears of a reprise of the eHealth Ontario debacle at OLG,” the newspaper explains. “The Tories, repeating their successful strategy that exposed spending run amok at the electronic health records agency, are seeking thousands of pages in OLG documents under freedom of information legislation.

“Records sought include expense accounts of senior executives, spending on leased, owned and rented venues, such as luxury boxes at sports stadiums, contracts for consultants as well as travel costs.”

In the case of the OLG, these demands for documentation have so far been stonewalled as the Liberals try to beat their political opponents to the punch by taking pre-emptive action.

Opposition MPP Norm Miller said his party has been trying since January to glimpse the inner workings of OLG.

“So far, we’ve been getting rebuffed. It certainly looks a lot like eHealth because with that we had to be very persistent – it wasn’t just ask once and get the information. It certainly makes us suspicious.”

Miller said the Tories targeted OLG because the organisation “has had quite a few problems.”

He added that voters would likely see through any OLG shake-up that seemed to be politically motivated.

“The concern is she’s (McDougald) been running OLG like it’s a private-sector company, when it’s a government agency,” one Liberal insider told the newspaper.

Approached for comment, both the CEO and her OLG officials remained silent, and Liberal politicians were reluctant to talk on the record because negotiations on the future of the OLG executive team are expected to continue through the weekend and into next week.

“Premier Dalton McGuinty issued warnings to government agencies like OLG in the wake of the eHealth scandal – which saw consultants paid $2,700 a day while expensing $3.99 bags of cookies to taxpayers – that such spending no longer passes the sniff test and must stop,” the Toronto Star report advises.

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Arizona Cardinals 2010 Super Bowl Betting Odds – 08-30-09

August 29, 2009 Leave a comment

August 30 – 2009 could yet be another excellent year for a Cardinals outfit that looks every bit as convincing now as it did at the end of the 2008 season.

The Cardinals head into 2009 looking just as strong as they did last year, perhaps even better but they must overcome a lot of negative history that is against them.

The Cardinals are a20-1 long shot at most bookmakers sites to pull off a win inSuper Bowl XLIV.

Like most teams, they have gone though a number of off-season changes, and th biggest is the loss of two members of the coaching staff: Todd Haley and Clancy Pendergast.

On the positive side though, Chris Warner re-signed,although the defensive line will have their work cut out to protect his 38 year old body.

Fans will be hoping that Warner can findLarry Fitzgerald (arguably the best wide receive in the game) with regularity.

The Cardinals improved their defense dramatically during the 2008 play offs and will need to keep up that intensity if they have any chance of making Super Bowl XLIV.

The Cardinals’ biggest enemy lies within, and they run the risk of suffering a Super Bowl let down, something that gets to so many runners up teams in the immediately following season.

Click here for all out 2009 Super Bowl Odds .

Online Gambling Insider, your guide toNFL Betting Guide and NFL odds.

Read our complete Cardinals Betting Preview.

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iPhone betting coming from Mfuse

August 27, 2009 Leave a comment

Mobile gaming technology provider Mfuse has signed agreements with Cozy Games and Mantle Games that will allow the two companies to integrate into the back office systems of blue-chip betting services.

The two companies are offering 15 browser-based betting games for iPhone users, including roulette, blackjack, slots, scratchcards and multi-player bingo.

The companies join Probability plc in signing up to Mfuse’s NOVO Open API platform, which is integrated with major online gambling firms like Betsson, Boyle Sports, Bet365, Centrebet, Gala Coral Group, Ladbrokes Plc, Skybet, Sporting Index, Victor Chandler, Sportingbet, Stan James, Paddy Power and William Hill.

Rick Brownlow, Business Development Director of Mfuse, said: “These contracts will make our Open API platform the leading provider of betting games for the iPhone and other smartphones, broadening our supported handset range by including a browser based solution for games”.

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Rome Casino attracts the wrath of American Express

August 27, 2009 Leave a comment

What appears to be a premature announcement from Top Game-powered online casino Rome Casino has triggered a tough response from the US card giant American Express. The reaction came after persistent stories that Rome Casino had in some way found a way of accepting Amex card deposits.

The company issued a statement through Vice-President Corporate Affairs And Communications Christine Elliott, leaving players in no doubt about the card firm’s position.

“It is a long-standing policy that American Express cards cannot be accepted for gambling; either online or offline and that Rome Casino is no exception,” said Elliot.

“Any merchant found to be in violation of this policy is terminated immediately from card acceptance. As a matter of fact, American Express has sent legal notification to Rome Casino that it is not authorised to accept the American Express Card and is not authorised to use our trademarks.”

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