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Industry News

by Card Player News Team |  Published: Dec 31, 2008

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PokerStars Takes on Italian Job

PokerStars granted Italian licensePokerStars.com has been granted a licence by Amministrazione Autonoma dei Monopoli di Stato (AAMS) to operate PokerStars.it which will cater exclusively for Italian players.

The Italian market was recently opened up to low-level tournaments and the company will be spreading games from €0.50 to a maximum of €100.00. Research says that up to 500,000 poker accounts will be opened in Italy during the first year of the relaxation of laws, with the market estimated at being worth €400 million.

PokerStars Italian Country Manager Fabio Angeli Bufalini said, "This is a ground breaking time for the online poker industry, and it's very exciting that the Italian market is pioneering this move. This is the start of a global template which could potentially be adopted in other markets internationally in the next few years."

PokerStars move follows recent announcements by iPoker and Boss Media that they were entering the Italian market.


$15 Million Settlement in UltimateBet and Absolute Poker Scandal


Tokwiro Enterprises, the owner of UltimateBet and Absolute Poker, $15 million claim against the former owner of UltimateBet, Excapsa Software, has been settled.

The settlement was endorsed by the Honourable Madame Justice Sarah E. Pepall of the Ontario Supreme Court on Nov. 3, 2008, and under the agreement, Excapsa will pay $15 million to Blast-Off Ltd., the Tokwiro-controlled company that originally bought UltimateBet.

Tokwiro said the "payment will be used immediately to refund players who were affected by the cheating scandal that Tokwiro inherited when it purchased the business from Excapsa."

The company said it continued to reserve the right to pursue further legal action against anyone involved in stealing from the company and that refunds to the players affected by the scandal will now be completed.


Entraction Continues to Expand

Swedish gaming software developer and poker network Entraction recorded net sales increased from SEK 56,929,000 (€5,646,618) for the third quarter of 2007 to SEK 86,188,000 (€8,547,430) for the same period of 2008. This is an overall increase quarter-on-quarter of SEK 29,259,000 (€2.9m).

Included in this is its poker revenue, which has seen growth from SEK 44 million in Q3 2007 to SEK 58.3 million in Q3 2008.

The company which supports Boss Media, as well as its own network, also offers its partners (such as DevilfishPoker, Betdaq, Victor Chandler, and Redbet) sports betting, casino, and bingo operations.


War of Words Between Ongame Network and NextPoker


NextPoker.com has issued a rebuttal to the claims by its former network, Ongame, that it was terminated from the network for rakeback violations.

Ongame had issued a statement saying NextPoker.com, "repeatedly violated the terms and conditions of our rakeback policy" and the company had removed NextPoker.com from its network.

However, NextPoker.com responded with a hard hitting statement saying, "Ongame's announcement is totally false and we are considering legal action as a result of this announcement."

Alexander Pettersson, a director of Abbantina Ltd., which owns NextPoker.com, said, "Nextpoker was at the forefront in working to protect operator margins on Ongame. This is evident from a letter sent to Ongame more than a year ago, on October 10, 2007, where a cap on bonuses and other concrete measures were proposed. In January 2008, Nextpoker wrote a second letter, with the aim of bringing the bonus situation to Ongame's attention".

NextPoker says it suggested bringing in one of the "big four" accounting firms to audit its back office in order to satisfy Ongame that it did not support rakeback. It says Ongame did not reply to this offer.


War of Words Over EU Gaming Monopolies


A study published in November by e-Commerce Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance (eCOGRA) found that 67 percent of responsible gaming standards applied by the European Gaming and Betting Association match or exceed those implemented by 10 of Europe's largest gaming monopolies.

It comes on the back of news that a European Parliament committee is scrutinising the integrity of online gaming in the European Union and is currently of the opinion that monopoly could, in some circumstances, be justified.

The report, drafted by Danish MEP Christel Schaldemose of the Parliament Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection said that in accordance with the principles of subsidiarity, member States have a legitimate interest in monitoring and regulating their gambling markets in order to protect consumers.

The study discovered that:

• 43 percent of the standards applied by the private operators match those of the monopolies.
• 24 percent exceed those of the monopolies.
• Only 4 percent of the standards applied by the private sector are deemed to be lower than those of the monopolies.
• The remaining standards could not be benchmarked against those of the monopolies either because of insufficient information (21 percent) or inapplicability (8 percent).

The report:

• Calls on the Commission to clarify the competences of the Member States and the EU in the field of online gambling.
• Is of the opinion that the Court of Justice should not define the European gambling market.
• Considers that online gambling creates an increased potential for gambling addiction.
• Is alarmed by the increasing cross-over between interactive television, mobile phones, and internet sites in offering remote or online games.
• Is of the opinion that online gambling is likely to give rise to risks to consumers and that Member States may therefore legitimately restrict the freedom to provide online gambling services in order to protect consumers.


World Poker Tour and Full Tilt Ink Deal


WPT Enterprises, the creator of the World Poker Tour, and FullTiltPoker.net have joined forces in a new television sponsorship deal.

Full Tilt will now be the title sponsor of 26 World Poker Tour Season VII episodes, with full ownership of the rights to in-show educational gaming brand integration for these episodes.

WPTE Founder, President, and CEO, Steve Lipscomb said, "We are delighted to be in partnership with FullTiltPoker.net and to bring together two very strong brands with proven global reach and loyal network of poker fans. With WPT's incredible brand value and TV distribution through FSN, coupled with FullTiltPoker.net's massive online following, this partnership opens more channels to reach new fans and continue feeding the appetite for new poker content."

The aforementioned episodes are scheduled to air on Fox Sports Net in America, and also Mexico.

The news came on the back of poor third quarter results for WPT where revenue dropped 39 percent to $2.7 million from $4.4 million in the same period in 2007. Revenue for the first nine months of 2008 are down 22 percent to $12.9 million.


William Hill in iPoker Move

William Hill in iPoker moveBritish bookmaker William Hill has purchased a variety of online gaming businesses, marketing assets, and contracts from software developer Playtech for up to $250 million in cash. The company will control 71 percent of William Hill Online, as the new company will be known, with Playtech, owner of the iPoker network, taking the remaining stake.

The move will see WilliamHillPoker leave the Cryptologic network and move to iPoker for a minimum of five years. The move is a further blow to software developer Cryptologic which learned recently that World Poker Tour Enterprises had terminated its agreement with WagerWorks, the company's wholly-owned gaming subsidiary.

Hill's share in the venture could rise to 32 percent depending on conditions being met, and the company has the option to buy Playtech out between four and six years from now.

The new enterprise is anticipated to generate net revenues of £190 million (pro forma) with net revenues expected to grow by over 50 percent between 2008 and 2010.