by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
Those opposing internet casino gambling are in an uproar over a Harvard research team’s findings in problem gambling. The gambling industry has donated $9.1 million dollars to the research of addictive gaming habits in the U.S., and anti-gamers are not satisfied with the results.
Howard Shaffer of Harvard has put great effort into the research of addictive behavior according to an article by Oliver Staley in Bloombergs business news this week. The opposing side, however, has made accusations that his findings were biased because they were financed by the gambling industry in what is being called the “funding effect.” “The casinos love the biological research because it points to the gambler as the source of the problem, rather than pointing to things like casino policy,” said psychologist, Henry Lesieur.
Shaffer’s research had found that less than 2 percent of American citizens are compulsive gamblers, which certainly puts a damper on the support for internet casino gambling bans. He notes that his resources included peer-reviewed journals which he had fully disclosed in his studies and that the casino companies had not intervened in his project. “Good science is good science,” says Shaffer, “It is possible to do very good research independent of the funding. It is also possible to be swayed by funding. My job is to have integrity and I think we have it.” Shaffer links addictions to chemical substances and behavior with biological, psychological and environmental factors. One study showed that casino workers were more prone to gambling addictions, smoking and alcohol dependency and depression than the general public. Shaffer explains that this demonstrates the legitimacy of his research. Aside from this, mental health experts will tell you that gambling addictions are classified as an impulse control disorder that can be associated with several forms of addiction.
While claims are still made that these studies may be influenced by a pressure to appease universities that judge academics based on the amount of funding is brought in, Shaffer’s research is in complete compliance with Harvard’s guidelines for receiving such finances says David Cameron, a spokesman for Harvard.
Shaffer is an associate professor of psychology at in Harvard’s Department of Psychiatry as well as the director of the Division on Addictions. His research institute has been funded by more than $9 million from casino companies and slots-machine makers, with an additional commitment for $22 million. His research is crucial to the legalization of internet casino gambling.
The opposing side is quick to condemn Shaffer’s findings without having provided much evidence to show otherwise. Government officials who justify gaming legislation with the argument that online casinos lead to problem gambling, especially in young people, may be responsible for these claims against Shaffer. With such a small percentage or compulsive gambling in the United States, the UIGEA has lost much of its clout. Whether or not this research will hold water in further court cases in support of internet gaming is yet to be seen. It goes without saying that regardless of how the gambling industry addresses compulsive behavior, critics will continue to frown upon games of chance.
by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
mENABLE, a leading Micropayment platform has announced its intention to merge into the online gaming industry in the coming year. Once it becomes available through online casinos it will allows these websites to support hundreds of currencies and local payment methods. This should facilitate the speed of payment transactions to and from gaming sites, especially for U.S. citizens who are unable to use many third party payment processors. Local and alternative payment methods that are preferred in some countries would be available without the hassle of foreign exchange rates and conversions.
Additionally, with the integration of mENABLE, internet casino gamers would be able to make quick and easy payments directly from their mobil phone. The system supports 30 different countries. This way, users will not have to make use of credit cards or bank accounts to pay the gaming site, which is the reason many U.S. players have been unable to successfully gamble online. Aside from this, mENABLE will allow gamers who don’t own a credit card to easily make payments.
mENABLE Director Michael Whelan states, “mENABLE is especially suited to online gaming needs because gaming sites have customers in many different countries around the world who want to be able to pay for their item quickly and get back into the game. With our service, gaming sites can offer one inexpensive package that is convenient for their user who do not have a credit card. In fact, all mENABLE options are plug ang play, all of which include the ever popular SMS and phone.”
It is predicted that this new form of payment, because many users will use their mobile phone to pay, will increase the overall revenue brought in by online casino games. With many internet gambling websites adding mobile casino access to their gameplay, this integration is crucial. For those who opt for this type of payment, the procedure is simple. Users will connect to the website where they will be asked to call the premium-rate number displayed on the page, or to transmit an SMS to get an access code.
mENABLE is currently used by some other mainstream gaming sites such as Massively Multiplayer Role Playing Games (MMORPG’s), Virtual Pet Raising Games and Browser games. Because they have their foot in the door and are experienced at monetized item-selling as well as upgrades and virtual currency for these gaming websites, the transition to the internet casino world should go smoothly. mENABLE would provide the easiest payment platform available to internet gamers.
txtNation’s Campaign Administration Consultant Joel Rosas commented, “I personally work closely with all such sites and every day we have a new gaming site requiring our billing. We can get them live in just a few hours, end to end.” There will be a larger commission taken from the payout for SMS, but its advocates say that the increased revenue should more than cover it.
mENABLE has a 24/7 support team available for web managers and gamers alike, and more information can be found on the website as www.m-enable.com.
by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
Calvin Ayre, founder and former CEO of internet gambling website Bodoglife.com, recently agreed to an exclusive interview with Josh Dean of Fast Company magazine. Ayre has received quite a bit of media attention since he founded Bodog in 1994, and was sometimes viewed as the Hugh Hefner of the online casino industry. He became most well known for his internet blogs in which he spoke openly his opinion of the issues that online casinos have faced.
Ayre has certainly made no secret about his lavish lifestyle. In his daily blog he would insert footage of films he has made when “jetting around the world to exotic places.” The online casino industry will remember him for his bullish outspokenness, but also for his contributions to the gaming world. Bodog Entertainment is one of the most well known in the industry, offering just about every venue of gambling possible to its members and creating a copious amount of jobs. As Ayre grew up in Canada on a farm, and since his acquired fame has donated countless hours and finances to the Calvin Ayre Foundation. The Calvin Ayre Foundation has dedicated its resources to improving health and educational conditions for under-priveleged children and “fighting the good fight against bear bile farming.”
Ayre announced his retirement in April of this year. He commented, “I was really more of a brand ambassador for Bodog the past while anyway – but it was fun while it lasted.” Founding Bodog in 1994 with just $10,000, Ayre managed to turn Bodog into what it is today; a leading establishment and top online casino, sportsbook and poker room in the gambling world.
So where is Calvin Ayre today? In his blog he mentions that he flew out to Antigua after his retirement, as though fans would expect any less of him. With Antigua being a large asset to the gambling community, Ayre adds, “I am not sure I will stay retired forever… I am a classic entrepreneur and already feel myself looking around for other projects to get involved in.”
Dean’s article covered the latest news on Ayre, who has now stationed himself in Macau. Ayre spoke of Bodog and its future in online casino gambling and his thoughts on the more pressing issues in internet gaming. “The Ayre I met in Macau was feeling bullish. ‘I sell to people like me, who like what I like,’ he told me. ‘If I like it, there’s a whole bunch of other people out there who like it too,’” Dean reports. The article touched on Bodog’s annual revenue and the amount of business Bodog is pulling in from the U.S. market. While many gambling facilities close their doors to the U.S. since the implementation of the UIGEA, Bodog is one of the few that still offers its services. Bodog is taking a large portion of the profits of the U.S. gambling market with there being so much less competition.
Needless to say, we are far from seeing the last of Calvin Ayre. Those who wish to keep updated with his current dealings in Macau, may visit his blog at calvinayrelife.com
by Casino Intensity Senior Editor, Hillary LaClair
For those people who consider internet gaming to be a selfish vice, many top online casinos are prepared to prove otherwise. The online casino industry is flourishing this year with various charity events, giving a high percentage of the prize pool to those in need. It is nice to see that these billion dollar industries are willing to share a portion of their profits.
CrownBingo casino kicked off the year offering its aid BLISS charity, an organization that focuses on premature newborns. CrownBingo’s members were asked to participate in a knit-a-thon with hats, cardigans and booties donated to BLISS. For every item recieved by the casino, a cash donation was also provided for the infants who qualified. This month CrownBingo has chosen the Orchid Cancer Awareness as its favored charity organization as part of Everyman Cancer Awareness Month. 50% of the prize pool will be donated. The site’s Managing Director states, "We’re very proud to be able to help such a worthwhile cause and it is fantastic to see so many of our members getting involved." The site has announced that it intends to host other charitable promotions throughout the month of June.
Several other online casinos have offered to make donations as well. PokerStars is currently holding a drive in which the site will match 100% of the money raised. All proceeds will go to the International Red Cross. BackGammon Masters have jumped on the opportunity as well, promising $5 to the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) for every $1 donated. Aston Villa is working together with Acorns Children’s Hospice.
Probably the most lucrative charity donations are made through betoncharity.com. Through this website, players may gamble on some of their favorite gaming websites. When entering the site, users are prompted to choose a favored charity. The site will then match that charity with a separate online casino which supports that charity. If a gamer loses a bet, a percentage of that money is then sent to the charity organization. Anywhere from 5% to 40% of the net win will automatically be donated to the same organization quartlerly. Users of the site are able to vote on any of he available charities to allow them a larger portion of the donations.The charity options are the UCSF AIDS Research Institute, the American Cancer Society, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Additionally, the site holds interactive polls in which users may vote for over 21 charities they would like to see added to this list, one of them being Gamblers Anonymous. There are several reputable online casinos that participate with this organization, including Bodog.
Some sceptics believe that these events are held only as a shameless promotional technique for the websites. Even if this were the case, the fact remains that these sites are generating good money toward needy organizations, which is more than what can be said for the institutions that are working to extinguish them. Users are doing great things for their community by gambling on the internet no matter what the reason for it may be.
Hillay LaClair, CasinoIntensity Senior Editor
Atlantic City, once one of the most bustling casino resorts, has recently struggled to retain its business. This certainly holds true for financial guru Donald Trump, as he closes the sale on the Trump Marina Hotel Casino. With the sale of this estate, Trump will be left with two remaining resorts.
A smoking law was recently passed in Atlantic City that is said to have contributed to the decreased revenue of the gambling industry. The resort has been purchased by Coastal Development LLC. The Coastal Marina, affiliated with country-western songwriter Jimmy Buffet, has purchased the property for $316 million dollars. New owners hope that its new theme, "Margaritaville" will generate more business.
Reports show that the casino decreased operating profits by $4.8 million in the first quarter this year. With the smoking law having passed just a few months ago, one would be led to believe that there were other factors behind this recent loss of revenue. What then is the cause? Online Casinos.
Let’s face it; the world is going virtual. A report from Associated Press this week reveals a 17.7% decrease in gross operating profits in Atlantic City this quarter. Top online casino sites are proving to be quite detrimental to the business of land casinos. It is hard to compete with gambling sites that offer various bonuses, VIP slots and copious amounts of other activities without having to leave the house. This may have gone unnoticed as many casinos based off of reservations do not feel the effects of internet gambling.
Of course online casinos cannot be held accountable for the advancements in technology. The spread of virtual revenue reaches far beyond the gambling industry. Almost every conceivable good or service can now be purchased online, from books, music, hardware, toys and electronics down to Chinese take-out! This may perhaps be another reason why the ban on internet gambling should be lifted. If Trump’s marina had been permitted the same online cash flow as some of the country’s leading reservations, he may not have had to sell.
Do not allow these statistics to discourage you from electronic commerce. There are a number of advantages to internet gambling and shopping, and many companies have taken advantage of this growing market. Some of these benefits include shorter transaction and fulfillment cycles, lowered procurement administrative costs, reduced operating expenses, increased company profits and improved management practices. In addition to this, research will tell you that as inefficient tasks are improved, businesses can enjoy savings in the range of 65%.
E-commerce also has a positive impact on the environment. With so many people utilizing the internet for all of their needs, they needn’t drive to brick-and-mortar establishments. Not only will this save consumers money on gas (which is speculated to reach prices of $7 per gallon by the end of this year), but green companies around the globe claim that online retail is the most environmentally friendly. There you have it. Top online casinos are a part of the solution to the effects of global warming.
Charlie Joon, CasinoIntensity editor
One of the most apparent qualities in an American is the inability to accept personal responsibility for our own reckless behavior. Just as tobacco companies force us to smoke and fast food industries force us to eat, online casinos force us to gamble. Recently, a Minnesota lawyer has filed a lawsuit against two casinos to the tune of $20 million dollars claiming that they directly contributed to her addictions.
After losing her law degree because she spent over a thousand dollars of her clients’ money at Atlantic City and Las Vegas casinos, Arelia Taveras decided she had had enough. She would sue. Taveras argues that she was neglected by the casino owners. She would spend business weeks at a time gambling without eating or sleeping, brushing her teeth with disposable wipes. She feels that this was proof enough that her mental stability was at stake and that she should have been cared for by the casinos facing charges. Apparently it was the duty of the casino to kick her out, clean her up and march her straight to a Gamblers Anonymous meeting, as well as to have Ph.D.’s in psychology. This way, if she were to return a few days later with more of her clients’ funding and a good night’s sleep, she would have won some money. These sue-happy "victims" would surely be singing a different tune if they had gambled successfully under such mental conditions. In fact, if they had asked her to leave, she’d have the legal grounds to sue for infringing on her right to be there. If this had presented a problem before she was disbarred, it certainly wasn’t apparent when she had spent years vacationing at Las Vegas resorts.
There’s another reason that online gambling ought to be legalized. If she had turned to an online casino, she’d have had no leg to stand on, and taxpayers wouldn’t have to fund frivolous court cases.
The question remains, is it honestly the gambling establishment’s responsibility to kick the habits of their clientele? Aside from the fact that many top online casinos do provide its members with resources for help centers, the truth remains that in the mental health field, gambling addictions are classified as an impulse control disorder. That is to say, if it weren’t gambling, it’d be something else. If the plaintiff succeeds in her efforts, does this open the door for addicts everywhere? Human beings can become addicted to anything: food, cigarettes, alcohol, caffeine, prescription medications, shopping, sex, etc. By Taveras’ theory, distributors of these goods should come into legal question as well. That may have gotten Spitzer off the hook.
Perhaps its time as a society to quit pointing the finger every time we become a victim of a circumstance that we have created for ourselves. It’s no secret that gambling can have adverse effects on some people. The media has made us well aware of that. Gamblers know this when they walk in to a casino. It is not the civic duty of the casino workers to prevent customers from throwing themselves into financial ruin.