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
North Carolina has put tighter restrictions on internet casino gambling. This week legislators voted on a bill that would apply the state video poker ban to any game resembling a slot machine played in online sweepstake websites. The games themselves are said to be mere contests in which participants are awarded prizes for the purchase of telephone or internet service cards. However those in opposition to these games claim that it is a loophole around the video poker ban.
Officials have expressed their intent to specify the internet gaming laws. Representative Ray Rapp argued to the judiciary panel, “Just when we think we’ve gotten it taken care of in terms of video poker and gaming, it pops up again. There is an effort to close the loophole there.” Hhe later went on to say that lawmakers should be more consistent with their stance on video poker. “We considered it bad public policy then and we consider it bad public policy now,” he said.
The video poker ban is enforced by state Alcohol Law Enforcement agents who say that there has been a slew of illicit activity taking place on computer terminals where video poker was once popular. Here a phone card is purchased that holds a limited amount of calling time minutes. To determine if they’ve won a prize, customers may either ask an operator to swipe the card or use the terminal to play a “slot-like game” similar to those seen on video poker machines and online casino websites. The terminal acts as a sort of virtual scratch-and-win lottery ticket.
Representative Melanie Goodwin tells us, however, that players may use any earnings to play the game continuously and win more cash prizes and this may cause them to spend excessive amounts of money on phone cards. North Carolina had legalized video poker for 14 years in an ongoing experiment. In July of 2007 the ban was put in place because lawmakers made complaints that low-income families were spending too much money on games of chance and that the machines were, God help us, offering big cash jackpots.
Theresa Kostrzewa, lobbying for the ban to be delayed, seemed to have made to only valid argument. Kostrzewa questioned whether the passage of the bill would give the North Carolina Education Lottery a monopoly on games of chance. “This is an issue that if we move too quickly,” she said, “will open the gate up to unforeseen consequences.” She went on to compare the sweepstakes games to many other products like soda that have codes placed under the cap or on the label which customers can use to visit the websites and place games to determine if they’ve won a prize.
Recently a state judge has approved an injunction which would temporarily delay the enforcement of the bill until the court has been provided with more clarity on the subject. Since then, however, another more specific bill has been proposed that will only prohibit those sweepstakes that make use of the computer terminal. As North Carolina has always been clear on its anti-gambling principles, many believe that we will see the bill passed within the next year.
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 Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
The online casino industry suffered a devastating hard blow this Wednesday as the delayed vote in HR 5767, the Payments System Protection Act did not pass to Congress. The Bill was put in motion by Barney Frank and Ron Paul in an attempt to cease UIGEA related arrests.
The debate went on for some time, with valid arguments presented on behalf of the bill. Representatives of the Poker Players Alliance attended the meeting, as well as Congressmen. PPA’s Chairman and former U.S. Senator, Alfonse D’Amato showed concern that the UIGEA has not to date been able to provide gamers with what technically is considered unlawful internet gaming. D’Amato has expressed his disappointment in the opponents’ inability to see the true intent of this bill. He also stated that the UIGEA would not effectively be able to address its supporters concerns with online gambling, and that the actions it seeks to prohibit will continue regardless. It seemed that the “moral” issues that republican Congressmen have with internet gambling outweighed the arguments that the bill’s supporters were making.
The opposing side went on to explain their viewpoints on the issue, singing the same “protect the children” song. The argument made by Spencer Bachus of Alabama, was that underage gamblers were at risk of becoming addicts, and that one third of college students who use online casinos and poker rooms have attempted suicide. Yet he failed to address the fact that the UIGEA should be subject to more specification. These supporters don’t realize that gambling addictions, according to the psychiatric field, are classified as an impulse control disorder and could be easily detected in other vices. It is typical of the Republican Party to make a martyr out of the children in order to obtain support. Bachus’s slogan is “You just click your mouse and you lose your house,” which is permitted in the U.S. providing that house is lost in horse-betting transactions.
The bill’s representatives tried to argue that enforcement of internet gambling laws should be left to government rather than banking facilities and in that sense was not a gambling issue. Pete King, a republican of New York argued, “This is a banking amendment, not a gambling amendment. I hope this will be considered in a non-partisan way; not whether you are opposed to gambling or not. Let’s take our time and have regulations that mean something.” He was unfortunately unable to sway the republican vote with this logic.
It was hoped by those supporting the bill that the House Financial Services Committee would be able to establish a guideline of which types of internet gambling would be legalized. Should it have passed through the committee, it would have ceased further UIGEA implementation and forced the Treasury Department , the Justice Department and the Federal Reserve to give a thorough description of unlawful internet gambling. The vote, however, tied at 32-32 and regulation was denied. Because of this, banking institutions are still left with responsibilities they are unequipped to enforce without certainty of which financial transactions are considered illegal.
by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
Since the implementation of the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act there have been representatives throughout the U.S. arguing to have it discontinued. The UIGEA, in a nutshell, was put into play in order to keep offshore online casinos from tapping into the American gaming community. HR 5767 is a bill proposed by Barney Frank and Ron Paul on April 11th of this year that addresses the issue of the ban on internet gaming. The bill has been pushed into the mark-up stage, where it will be reviewed by the House Financial Services Committee to determine if there are any necessary amendments to add to it before it is considered by the House of Representatives.
As of yet, the new bill that Frank is pushing for, with the support of 20 other representatives, is in a very primitive form. It states, “The Secretary of the Treasury and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, whether acting jointly or separately, may not propose, prescribe, or implement any regulation under subchapter IV of chapter 53 of title 31, United States Code [UIGEA], or otherwise give effect to such subchapter or any such regulation, including the proposed regulations published in the Federal Register on October 4, 2007.” Essentially this is requesting the right of Congress to overturn the UIGEA. There has been much controversy surrounding the Act since its introduction. Much of this stems from feelings of unfairness surrounding the Act, in that it is discriminatory to other countries, it is not practical and difficult to enforce, and puts a responsibility on banking institutions that are not equipped to handle it. Frank has been able to provide several legitimate arguments that favor his bill. He feels that enabling internet casino gambling will result in an extreme economic boost. Barney Frank has instead created an alternative to this UIGEA, known as the Internet Gambling and Regulation Enforcement Act. Rather than outlawing internet gaming, Frank seeks to monitor and regulate these facilities in order to protect gaming users’ finances and provided a hefty revenue in the process.
There are two more representatives that intend to express their support for HR 5767 this week. Neil Abercrombie is a liberal Democrat representing the state of Hawaii, and had voted against the UIGEA when it was first brought to Congress for consideration. Abercrombie had also voted on the Internet Gambling Regulation and Enforcement Act, known also as HR 2046.
Lynch, a democrat as well, is a member of the Finances Committee that the bill is being brought before. He voted for the UIGEA when it was introduced but has now expressed concern over the financial burden that the Act has put on the country. Lynch represents the state of Massachusetts.
While the outcome looks hopeful for the HR 5767 bill, there does not seem to be as much support for the gaming regulation act. It seems that the U.S. may be voting in favor of online casinos in order to avoid any further scrutiny for the discrimination of other countries via the UIGEA.
by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
U.S. officials have essentially ignored a questionnaire presented to them by the European Union concerning U.S. discrimination against internet casino gambling. Americans are scheduled to meet next month with European Commissioner Peter Mandelson to deliberate complaints previously made by the Remote Gaming Association. That they have shrugged off this questionnaire shows that the U.S. is not prepared to consider any indiscretion on their part.
In addition to further disputes with the U.S. that involve the World Trade Organization this year, the Remote Gaming Association requested that the European Commission investigate complaints made by overseas online gaming establishments. The basis of these complaints are that European online casino gambling facilities are facing scrutiny from U.S. gambling laws in order to protect domestic operators, including websites run by the American horse-betting industry.
When U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab was presented with the questionnaire, she responded, “[There is] no basis for any allegation of ‘discriminatory enforcement’ of U.S. gambling laws.” She went on to say that the concerns brought to the U.S. were based on “mistaken assumptions” because legislation this year did not change which types of gambling were legal. She claims that nationality played no part in charges made by the U.S. against internet gambling establishments. This is apparently why there have been no results from numerous other disputes brought against the U.S. by other overseas nations for the same reasons.
The nonchalant response given by Schwab illustrates an unwillingness of U.S. officials to address the issue at hand. There are obvious discriminatory arrests made against European operators as the U.S. enables domestic internet gambling like horse racing betting and national lottery. Financial transactions made by domestic gamblers to European companies are no different than those made to U.S. establishments. Yet arrests are made on those that take advantage of overseas gaming facilities. It may be that the U.S. legislation that allows some gambling activities and not others is discriminatory in itself. Because of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, a great deal of major European gaming sites has closed their gambling market to U.S. citizens, depriving themselves of billions of dollars in revenue. The fear of these European companies now is that they may now be prosecuted by the U.S. for past “violations” of U.S. legislation and forced into punitive settlements, as was the case with third party payment processors like NETeller and Citadel. The Remote Gaming Association’s chief executive states that the U.S. is guilty of “unfair and discriminatory treatment of the EU gambling industry and the continuing threat of prosecutions cannot be allowed to go unchecked.”
Next week legislators will gather to discuss the further enforcement of the current gaming legislation, and a bill proposed by Barney Frank and Ron Paul that seeks to regulate online gambling facilities. Frank has recently gained the support of two U.S. senators, Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii and Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts, amounting to a total of 20 representatives that sponsor the bill. We will see if this discussion will hold any water against the UIGEA, working in the favor of the European Commission’s fair trade agreements.
by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
The gaming community was hit with yet another count of fraudulent activity recently. It seems that Casino Webcam, based in Costa Rica, has been added to the list of rogue online casinos. Scrutiny against the site arose when one of its users reported that he has gone some time without seeing a payout for his $38,000 in winnings. The user has enlisted the arbitration of Casinomeister, a website dedicated to the fair treatment of internet gamblers.
Casino WebCam had introduced one of the newest advancements in online casinos. Its users could play live with live dealers, dice and reactions via webcam. Players could also chat with the dealers, providing a very realistic style of play. This made the site safer all around for its users because they did not have to worry about random number generators. It also gave its U.S. Players legal clout in that they were literally gambling out of a casino in Costa Rica. The online casino offered substantial bonuses and promotions with a 15% NETeller bonus every day. There have been very few complaints about its operating methods until now.
So what happened? The user with the dispute against Casino WebCam claims that he has requested a payout for several months now with no luck. The online casino only allows its players to withdraw $5,000 per month and was initially responsive to the user’s requests for his payout. However, communication with the user and Casinomeister was severed. They have been unable to get a response from the facility through e-mail or telephone. Since soliciting the aid of Casinomeister, the online casino has inexplicably gone offline. Those wishing to access the site at casinowebcam.com will see a blank page stating that the site has been blocked. It has been reported that the manager and owner of the internet gambling site has gone AWOL.
Casinomeister allows internet casino users free arbitration with any online casino, providing that it’s a legitimate complaint. There is a $500 penalty for any illegitimate findings. If the site is found, as was the case for Casino Webcam, to be non-responsive or fraudulent the website is then added to a rogue list. Since the beginning of this year, 103 complaints have been made against various online casino establishments.
This also illustrates why it is important for the government to consider internet gaming regulation. To further prevent the exploitation of online gamers and their finances, certain laws should be put into effect monitoring the activity of these gambling websites. Despite what is said, internet gambling is not illegal, so long as financial institutions do not provide a means for gamers to pay for this activity. It is not unreasonable for gamers to expect federal legislation to be put in place to protect these finances the government claims to have jurisdiction over.
The amount of fraudulent activity has significantly increased since the industry flourished. For this reason it is important that gamers protect themselves when choosing a casino to play in. Online casino users should regularly check in with blacklists and thoroughly research a facility before using it.
by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
Things are not looking up for the online casino industry. Along with the U.S. there is a multitude of overseas nations that are cracking down on the use of internet casino gambling. Norway and the Ukraine have both struggled to come to a final conclusion on its stance on gaming regulation.
While the Ukrainian government still allows its expanding online casino gaming industry to continue, they have announced their intentions to put certain restrictions on its advertising. These restrictions have apparently been designed to prevent the spread of under-aged gamers and there are strict penalties that have been put in place for sites that refuse to comply. These new policies strongly resemble those put in place by the UK that dictate the time and place when online casinos are permitted to advertise for their websites. Officials must give these sites special permission to advertise in newspapers, on billboards and on television. The good news is that the Ministry of Finance in the Ukraine is encouraging citizens to share their response to the new regulations that are to be put in place next month.
Norway, however, is more on the fence on the subject. Its government has been fighting for protectionist legislation with the European Commission prompting them to take a completely opposite action. The protectionist legislation seeks to keep Norway as an online casino monopoly, denying access for foreign gaming sites to state land. Currently state sponsored land does not control internet casino gambling, but has put more laws in effect to restrict land gambling. The idea is to allot a certain amount of time and money for gamers to use slots machines in order to prevent gambling addictions in its country. For this reason, Norway is seeking to keep out the online casino industry. The government will continue to monitors its citizens and restrict their playing time with the use of a pre-paid card that all of its land casinos must now use. Norwegian officials feel that online casinos will promote further gambling addictions in its country. The European Commission is pressuring Norway to comply with their free-trade policies. This does not promise to amount to much, as we have seen with the many World Trade Organization disputes with the U.S. With the recent gaming restrictions and attempts at protectionist legislation, it does not look like Norway will cave to the European Commission.
It is without wonder that the world over continues to turn its nose at the online gaming industry and the benefits that come with it. Gambling regulation has certainly become one of the leading international controversies. With all of the recent restrictions put in place by various countries, it seems that the venues to internet gamers will continue to dwindle. It is uncertain whether the international free-trade policies will ever be successfully enforced. There is still hope as the European Commission continues its struggle against nations that refuse to comply. There are also several sites and e-processors that are making further advancements to ensure gamers their rights to play.
by Casino Intensity Senior Editor Hillary LaClair
It seems that the online casino industry is gaining support daily. In a recent briefing to state legislators, Frank Cantania spoke on behalf of the gaming community, arguing that internet gambling is an inevitability that we should embrace before all of its revenue is sent overseas. If you can’t beat them, join them is the mentality of former Assistant Attorney General and Director of New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement.
"The United States is going one way, and the rest of the world the other," said Catania, "The online gaming market will continue to expand regardless of any decision to regulate. Consumer demand and industry will force governments to act." Catania currently works for eCOGRA and is an independent gaming consultant. He was joined this Friday by a handful of other gaming expets including Ken Kirchner, a former senior Vice President of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, and John Pappas of the Poker Players Alliance. The team was able to establish thought provoking arguments in an assesement made that showed the possible consequence of the UIGEA. The evaluation looked into the 5 year dispute between the US and Antigua, in which the American government has lost a significant amount of money in recompense. The thought is that the UIGEA is an impossible bill to enforce, as the gambling community has only increased since its passing, although its business sent to countries where it is legal. Aside from this, the government has put financial institutions in charge of enforcing this act. Banks are required to screen every transaction completed by its clientle for suspicious activity like internet wagering, which is an unreasonable task on their end.These establishments are handling millions of transactions daily, and are unable to keep up with its federal obligations.
The team has predicted that the 2008 election would lean in favor of the gaming community. Pappas noted that since the federal prohibtion of internet gaming PPA’s membership has increased from 75,000 to over one million members. The team favors gaming regulations rather than restrictions which would include an age requirement. Those in favor of online gaming wish to make the conditions of online casinos the same as legalized land casinos. Catania argues that this responsiblity be put in the hands of State government as it has had more success in regulating gamnling than the federal government. "Keep out those that do not have good character and provide fair and honest games as a means of protecting the public from unscrupulous operators," Catania said.
Reverend Jim Butler of the California Coalition Against Gambling Expansion presented the opposing arguement that internet gambling would exacerbate the gambling problems in this country. To that State Denator Geller responds, "We may end up with internet gaming whether we like it or not. It’s an incredibly complex area that seems to change each week.
Having state officials on our side is a step in the right direction. With any luck we will see the opposing side of the online casinos dwindle as legislators are starting to understand the financial benefits that will come from gaming, and the cost of prohibiting gaming. Statistics show that the general public in favor of internet gaming is increasing significantly. Perhaps our upcoming elected officials will act on behalf of its people.
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.