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by Card Player News Team |  Published: Mar 02, 2009


Czech Republic Allows Online Gambling

Czech RepublicThe Czech Republic has legalised and regulated online gambling with five firms being granted permits to operate from January 5, 2009.

Tomáš Bahník from the Fortuna Group, which will receive a license, told the Prague Post newspaper, "We are sad and bitter that foreign Internet betting companies are allowed to operate in the Czech Republic without any control. There is no legal restriction. So basically they operate in this country illegally. So we want to have the same opportunities as foreign companies."

However, punters will not be allowed to use credit cards and will have to visit a betting shop to open an account.

"If someone wants to bet through Fortuna on Internet, they must register in a bricks and mortar office and show their ID," confirmed Bahník. "We don't accept credit cards but only regular payment [debit] cards because we don't support gambling and gamblers and we don't want people to become addicted to Internet betting.

It is not yet known whether any of the licensed operators have plans to set up an online poker site.

NoIQ Poker Moves Network

NoiQ PokerNoIQ Poker has moved from the iPoker network to the Entraction network which hosts poker rooms such as The online poker room, which has 10,000 active players per month, was removed from the iPoker network in December 2008.

"We made a thorough evaluation of several poker networks before we decided to go with Entraction," said Karl Buhagiar from NoIQ Poker. "The survey we made showed that our players prefer Entraction to other networks as it offers a faster game and a very stable poker client. We bring a large number of players with us from iPoker and the fact that they preferred Entraction was a decisive factor for us."

Peter Åström, CEO Entraction said, "Entraction's poker network is the world's fastest growing open poker network and the agreement with NoIQPoker is another proof that Entraction is an attractive network to the largest operators in the industry."

PartyGaming Chief Predicts Online Poker Consolidation

Jim Ryan, CEO of PartyGaming has said there will only be five online poker operators of any consequence in the next three years and he believes PartyGaming will be one of them.

"We need to retake the hill and position ourselves to be that leader again," Ryan told the Financial Times at the end of 2008. "Our job, frankly speaking, is to take share back," he said, but admitted that competition in Europe may cost them more as current industry high-rollers PokerStars and Full Tilt drive up the cost of media buys and teaming up with affiliates.

While the paper said Ryan was frustrated with his major competitors' ability to operate not just in Europe but also the U.S., he said he would "prepare the company for that day" when the U.S. online gambling landscape changed - a situation the paper believes is coming to a head with the acceptance by former founder Anurag Dikshit of an illegal gambling charge for which he has agreed to forfeit $300 million of his fortune.

Norwegian Online Poker Ban Likely by Mid-2009

Members of the Norwegian Parliament have backed plans to prevent Norwegian banks from processing financial transactions from offshore gaming operators including online poker companies.

The ban will likely come into force in mid-2009, and banks are likely to continue lobbying for further regulatory guidance from the government.

Norwegian poker players have become some of the most renowned in the game, and include among them Annette Obrestad and Johnny Lodden.

Growth Continues Unabated at Ipoker

The iPoker network, home to online poker rooms like PaddyPowerPoker, Titan, Boylepoker, and BlueSqPoker, today announced fourth quarter revenue of €8.6 million, up 43 percent on the same quarter of 2007.

Total revenue for the Israeli-based poker network hit €30.1 million in 2008, up 73 percent on the €17.4 million generated in 2007.

Publicly-quoted parent company Playtech saw total revenue for 2008 total €111.5 million, a jump of 70 percent on the €65.7 million earned in 2007. The balance was made up of casino revenues which leapt 68 percent to €79.4 million.

Playtech entered the regulated Italian poker market at the end of December and the company's interim report said of the move, "Current results indicate that the Italian poker network has proven to be significantly revenue enhancing and above management's expectations."

The company also added a number of poker rooms throughout 2007.

Mor Weizer, CEO of Playtech said of the key performance indicators, "Once again we have enjoyed a successful quarter both operationally and strategically as we continue to grow the business and make the most of the opportunities presenting themselves."

Justice Minister Tells Parliament of Plan to Legally Target Online Gaming Sites

Dutch coinDutch Justice Minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin has told members of parliament that online gaming sites, including online poker sites, which have refused to shut down, now face legal action.

Poker is regulated and run by the government in the Netherlands and the justice ministry confirmed to news agency ANP that both Dutch and foreign-based companies would be targeted in the crackdown.

The ministry also confirmed that it was going to warn banks that having gambling sites as customers was illegal.

PartyGaming Co-Founder Pleads Guilty in U.S.

Anurag DikshitDecember saw PartyGaming Plc issue a statement in response to co-founder Anurag Dikshit's guilty plea to illegal gambling in the U.S. Dikshit agreed to pay U.S. authorities $300 million and will be sentenced in 2010. He could face up to two years in prison.

Dikshit, who still has a 27 percent stake in PartyGaming, was a prime mover in the flotation of the company three years ago. When the U.S. introduced the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, which many observers say has made online gambling largely illegal in the U.S., PartyGaming pulled out of the U.S. market.

PartyGaming issued a statement saying it would not comment on the report but went on to say that, "…on the basis of the discussions to-date, PartyGaming expects any settlement with the DoJ [Department of Justice] to involve a payment by the Company of an amount that is significantly lower than that reported to be paid by Mr. Dikshit... In addition, the Company believes that any such settlement is unlikely to include a criminal plea on the part of the Company or any director."

Playtech Enters Italian Poker Market

Playtech, the software design and development company which owns the iPoker network, has launched a "play for real money" poker network on the Italian poker market. This latest development sees Italian operators Snai, Gala Coral's Eurobet Italia, Sisal, and Cogetech offer its players real money poker for the first time, instead of the former "play for fun" software.

Chief executive officer of Playtech, Mor Weizer, said, "The recent launch with leading Italian operators Snai, Gala Coral's Eurobet Italia , Sisal, and Cogetech set our foothold in the Italian market which will lead to a prominent position in that market. The launch of the play for real network in Italy testifies to our extensive experience in penetrating new regulated markets with our best of breed software platform."