A year in review. Online casinos and Gambling Sept– Oct 2006

Part three in a series of news reviews covering the online casino and gambling sector. 

September
Harrah’s follows up on Augusts’ speculation by confirming the $530 acquisition of London Clubs International. Harrah’s hope the move will be a small stepping-stone into lucrative European markets.

A report by Screen Digest reveals that spending on online gambling sites will double from £660 million in 2005 to £1.6 billion by 2010 in Britain.

Sportingbet CEO Peter Dicks is arrested at JFK Airport in New York, causing more panic within the online gambling industry following the July arrest of BetOnSports chief executive David Carruthers. He is released on bail a few days later. As a result, shares in the company take a nose dive of over 40 per cent and over £400 million is wiped off the value of the company.

The legality of online gambling in the US is hotly debated as Republican Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist announces that he will attempt to attach new gambling legislation to another bill already scheduled for voting.

Malaysia’s Genting International Plc move close to buying the UK’s Stanley Leisure for a reported price of over $1 billion, appearing to scupper interest from casino giant Harrah’s Entertainment.

PartyGaming outright deny rumours that they are interested in buying Victor Chandler.

888.com chief executive John Anderson announces that he’ll step down after six years in charge of the online gambling company, with Gigi Levy taking up Anderson’s old post.

Peter Dicks resigns from his post as Sportingbet Chairman as he is finally allowed to return to the UK. He must return to a court in New York later in the month to hear if he is to face extradition to Louisiana. Officials warn online casino executives to stay away from the state or face the same fate as the beleaguered executive.

Two executives from World Gaming resign amid fears they could be the next to be arrested as the US gets tough on online gambling since nearly all of their revenue comes from the US.

William Hill, on the basis of legal advice, announces that they will cease to accept bets from the US, also claiming that they never actively sought players from the US.

The Ritz Club online casino closes, citing the current uncertainty in the online gambling world as the reason. Ukbetting soon buys the online casino and plans to reopen the website as soon as possible.

October
The Internet Gambling Prohibition Act is passed by the US Senate, making it illegal for US banks to take payments from online gambling sites. The bill was pushed by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and now only needed President Bush’s signature to become law. The law is seen by many as laden with ambiguity but many big online casino players, such as Intercasino, pull out of the US market altogether. However, NETeller, the online payment processor, announce they will still continue to serve its US customers as normal.

Following the US gambling act, the UK reveals plans to make Britain a world leader in internet gambling. The UK plan to regulate the industry and encourage offshore companies to base their headquarters in the UK.

Online casino and gambling companies unanimously hail the UK’s proposed reforms. 

The UK’s Gambling Commission reveals that it has been inundated with applications for casino licences, seeing a rise in 80 per cent.

Three Russian hackers are sentenced to eight years in prison after running a campaign of DOS (Denial of Service) against online casino and bookmakers.

President Bush signs the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, attached to the Port Securities Bill, making it illegal for US banks to accept payments from online casinos and gambling websites. This was the biggest single story of 2006 and one that would change the industry for the foreseeable future.

World Gaming announces soon after that they have gone into administration, making it the first casualty of the US crackdown.

Gala announce that they are interested in the UK state-owned bookmaker, Tote, and state that they would come in with an offer as soon as the government decided what it was going to do with the company.

Despite announcing that they took a one off hit of $250 million form closing their US operations, PartyGaming remain optimistic for the future and seek to explore possibilities in Europe and Asia.

Two of Austria’s Bwin.com’s directors are arrested at a press conference in France, charged with the illegal promotion of gaming, as they announce the shirt sponsorship of football club Monaco.

The Casino Advisory Panel, in charge of deciding the location of the UK’s first super casino, announces it will delay its decision until the end of January.

Bodog Entertainment Group buys Austria’s Betcorp Ltd for $11 million with Bodog founder Calvin Ayre stating that it would be the first of many acquisitions his company would be likely to make.

888.com and PartyGaming announce cutbacks at their Gibraltar headquarters.

Macau, the small Chinese territory, looks set to overtake Las Vegas as the world’s largest gambling destination, raking in $6.8 billion in revenue compared to Las Vegas’ $6.6 billion. All eyes turn to the east.

888.com confirm that they’ve been in talks with a number of third parties interested in buying the online gambling firm. Ladbrokes and PartyGaming are said to be those parties.

A new study revels that Brits are the biggest gamblers in Europe with over 1 million people regularly logging onto internet betting sites.

Tessa Jowell hosts the International Gambling Summit in a bid to help unify gambling regulation and how best to address problems associated with the industry.

Editor, Jackpot.co.uk - 2006-12-29 11:27:36




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