While there are many professional online gamblers, the majority of those who play at an online casino play for fun. Assi Isac, a former development manager with internet casino website 888, has started a casino where users give back while playing games on the internet. Isac’s idea is to turn the profits that would normally go to the gambler at home to benefit American philanthropies.
Isac began to develop an online casino gambling software in 2006, which he has aptly named GoGiving. Isac and two others invested $600,000 in order to launch the user-version of the online casino this week, which he says should be up and running within the next few months. Isac, CEO at GoGiving, is currently working with various charity organizations to gather registrations for the site.
Isac says that private investors are currently “psychologically frozen,” but that he and his company presented the idea to a room of entrepreneurs at Bootcamp Ventures where he received a number of promising inquiries. Bootcamp Ventures is an organization in Israeli designed to provide new businesses with the investing opportunities needed to launch an enterprise.
“GoGiving is a fundraising platform for registered NGOs, combining two of the fastest growing markets in the online industry – online gambling and online charities,” said Isac. “Today when you donate $2 by SMS, more than 50 percent of this money goes to other companies, and most goes to the ones in the middle. This is an outrage.”
Isac says that while his company will operate for profit, he promises to collect a substantially smaller commission on the money donated to charity through his online casino. Funds will be distributed by members when playing multi-user online casino games against other members. “We will be a central gateway, and audited by an external source like Ernst & Young or Pricewaterhouse Coopers” he explained.
The gamers that lose cash to other players will have a portion of their losses sent to a charity of the winning player’s choice. The games on GoGiving are said to be very competitive, and any earnings or donations made are tax deductible in the United States and wherever the software is installed.
“It’s a whole new attitude,” said Isac. “We want to concentrate on people around the world. We’ll be asking users: Who did you donate to and why?
“For the first time, NGOs will get premium services to access potential donors. Normally donors spend less than a minute on a website. Now they’ll be spending a lot more time, with the GoGiving games and the community. This is the perfect time to offer them exclusive and targeting information.”
While the site has been launched, the games are not yet available to potential users. Isac and his team, instead, have provided information for needy charitable organizations. There is a notice posted on the website, which prompts nonprofit organizations in the U.S. to join he beta program by contacting the GoGiving team at beta@GoGiving.org.
For more information, users may contact Isac or his team members at info@GoGiving.org
Barrier Interactive Gaming, a leading online casino software provider, has announced that it is in the final developmental stages of an online casino product that will be available for video game consoles, such as the PlayStation 3, the PlayStation Portable (PSP) and the Xbox. The game, set for release by the end of March, will allow video gamblers to play online casino games from their television sets, or from portable devices other than mobile phones.
Microsoft and Sony have not yet confirmed that said game will be available on the PlayStation consoles or the Xbox, due to the highly controversial issue of internet casino gambling which would now be more accessible for underage gamblers.
Barriere Interactive is licensed by the European Lotteries and Gaming Authority in Malta, and currently accepts players from countries that do not have geographical restrictions on internet casino gambling, which is the majority of the European Union and the UK.
Barriere Interactive is most notorious for its recent launch of the first fully 3D online casino which is set for this month and will include games such as slots machines, blackjack, video poker and roulette among others. Players will design their character, down to the dress code and physical appearance and are able to chat with other players. The casino is being called the PKR of online casinos, but it mostly resembles a video game console environment. Most video gaming systems are capable of internet access, and sportsbooks exist where players can bet against each other when playing the games for them.
The company has been in talks with Sony and Microsoft about the potential of releasing the casino software on the PS3 and Xbox. Barriere Interactive Gaming CEO Jonathon Stock was asked about the potential partnership, answering, “Yes. I can’t mention a name but one of the two you just mentioned, we’re in very active discussions with.”
Despite Utah’s recent call to have Congress leave decisions on gambling laws to individual states, expressing that it desired to maintain a zero tolerance policy on online casino gambling, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff supports the idea of online casinos in the state – permitting that it does not lead to tribal casinos or other forms of gambling in Utah. In response to gambling advocates in Las Vegas pushing for a law to legalize and regulate online gambling, Shurtleff has taken a “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” stance on the issue.
“It’s going to happen anyway, let’s put some regulation in place,” he said.
Shurtleff considered the idea after meeting with representatives from the Poker Players Alliance during the spring at the National Association of Attoneys General in Washington, D.C. The PPA has been working closely with Democrat Barney Frank on legislation that would create a licensing, regulatory and taxing framework for online casino gambling that will include the prohibition of underage gambling, compulsive gambling, money laundering and cheating. Frank’s bill awaits the first round of voting in a hearing at the House. It will counteract the Unlawful Internet Gambling and Enforcement Act of 2006, or UIGEA, which was just reintroduced as a midnight drop by the Bush Administration – mere months prior to the Obama administration’s swearing in.
“Even though we outlawed it for two years now, it is still going on and it is highly unregulated, so you’ve got unscrupulous people rigging the system. People are getting ripped off,” said Shurtleff.
Shurtleff’s only hesitation comes from the fact that Utah is one of two states in the U.S. that prohibits any form of gambling, including the national lottery. The allowing of one form of gambling, online casino gambling he fears, would lead to tribal casinos forming in the state of Utah. Shurtleff has asked the PPA and Frank to consider an amendment to the legislation, which would allow for Utah to maintain its ban of tribal casinos.
John Pappas, Executive Director of the PPA, said the he did not wish for the proposal to “upset the balance struck in the Indian Gaming Regulations Act,” a law which controls gambling on reservations. He added, “Our goal is not to bring brick and mortar casinos to Utah.”
Tribal casinos already own a number of online casino establishments, such as the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, which regulates thousands of internet gambling websites. The fear that a legalized casino gambling industry would result in land casino resorts popping up in Utah is rather presumptuous.
Shurtleff’s support of the bill comes as a shock to many legistlators in Utah, as the state has recently petitioned for gambling laws to remain a state’s decision. Gambling of any form is currently illegal in Utah, such as national lottery tickets. Utah residents currently travel to bordering states Idaho and Nevada to purchase such tickets or to gamble in a live casino. “It’s very important that states give input and get involved before agreements get signed by 152 countries,” said Representative Sheryl Allen, who advocates for states’ rights.
by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor February 28, 2009
If Congress decides to allow individual States to make the decision to allow or disallow online casino gambling, Nebraska certainly would not be first to jump on the bandwagon. A recent proposal in Nebraska that enabled citizens to vote on whether or not to allow slot machine gambling in the Nebraska Thoroughbred racetracks failed to pass the first round of voting and is likely to die before 2010.
“They don’t want gambling, I guess,” said State Senator, Russ Karpisek of Wilber in reference to the state’s General Affairs Committee. According to the Omaha World-Herald, the proposal was introduced before the Committee, which failed at a 3-4 vote to advance to further consideration. Out of the eight members on the Committee, a mere five votes are required to move a proposal to the full legislative body.
Karpisek is chairmen of the General Affairs Committee. He told press that Nebraska has lost a good portion of its gambling revenue to bordering states that offer slot machine gambling. A vote to allow casino gambling at the racetrack would have revived the struggling industry, according to Karpisek. He added that some of the revenue would have been allotted to the state’s declining road-building programs. Without the much needed funding to increase the purses, the state’s racetracks are doomed to fail in just two year’s time. President of the racehorse owners and trainers group, Jerry Fudge, placed a greater vote of confidence in the industry, however.
“I wouldn’t say we’re out of business, but we’ll have to try something else. What that’ll be, I don’t know,” said Fudge.
The state had intended to replace the racetrack in Lincoln, with a proposed $50 million in funding, and that the existing State Fair Park track would be used as a research facility for the University of Nebraska.
Senator Cap Dierks voted against the proposal to allow the citizens of Nebraska to vote on slot machine gambling. “The bottom line is that this is taking money from the people who can least afford it,” he said. “It’s an immoral way to treat our citizens.”
The proposal would have allowed 3,500 slots machines to be built at seven racetracks in Nebraska and a counterpart of the bill would have given a detailed outline of the machines’ regulation. The estimated revenue that would have been generated from the slots machine equals out to $221 million per year. 40 percent of that money would have been put toward building roads and 14 percent would have gone to the struggling racetracks.
The news comes shortly after officials from Utah called for Congress to uphold the rights of individual states to form their own online casino gambling laws. The immediate refusal of Nebraska to allow slots machines to be built in existing land gambling facilities does not bode well for the future of internet gambling in the state, should Congress allow individual states to decide gambling law. Of all fifty states, Washington is the only existing that outlines any legislation pertaining to internet casino gambling. Hawaii and Utah are the only two states that have completely outlawed any form of gambling, including national lottery tickets.
Committee advancement was the first obstacle that the proposal had to overcome, which would have been followed by a constitutional amendment, were it not stricken down. State voters have in the past rejected the expansion of gambling in Nebraska in recent years.
by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor February 27, 2009
The possibility of a legalized online casino industry increased considerably this week, as a Washington research facility released a position paper that supported the industry. The Competitive Enterprise Institute has presented the argument that gambling is legal in the United States, contrary to popular belief. The Institute has opined that the online casino industry has received bad publicity from politicians who use scare tactics to protect domestic gambling facilities.
“Contrary to such fear mongering, recent examples of online gambling ‘scandals’ have been isolated incidents, and are not symptomatic of a corrupt system. In fact, gambling on the Internet is safer in many respects than gambling in the real world,” the paper reads. “Even so, such fears have resulted in repeated attempts to either limit of prohibit American’ ability to gamble online, as some members of Congress portray Internet gambling as a lawless activity involving only cheats and victims. Most attempts by Congress over the past 10 years to limit or ban online gambling have been unsuccessful, but some recent high-profile scandals at gaming sites have revived such efforts.”
The CEI paper notes that a great deal of individuals whose finances were put in jeopardy was the direct result of legislative action taken by the U.S. Department of Justice and the IRS. The specific incident, which occurred in 2007, withheld NETeller payments from casino-goers who were owed winnings. Several key personnel at NETeller were arrested and the affected persons were blocked from millions of dollars. NETeller has since refused to service U.S. online casino players. A similar case arose with Bodog online casino, in a civil forfeiture hearing that the casino shrugged off, where millions were seized that were intended for the payment of U.S. citizens.
The study continued, reporting that regulation for online casinos does exist under the jurisdiction of industry groups, foreign governments and the casino owners who have established a strict set of rules for the online casinos to adhere to. Organizations such as eCOGRA allow rating systems and mediation to casino players for disputes with any internet gambling facility. Additionally, the gamblers are able to detect collusion in gambling websites, with the Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet scandals serving as the perfect example. Gambling facilities that are traded on the London Stock exchange adhere to these guidelines to maintain a solid reputation and a position on the market.
“As a result of gambling’s unique development in America,” the study continues, “there is no set federal regulator or official body tasked with overseeing online gambling. However, that does not mean that Internet gambling faces no government regulation. Many independently operated rating agencies offer certificates for sites that meet standards of security, legality (meaning they guarantee that age-limits are strictly upheld), and fairness. Many of these rating organizations also require Internet casinos to participate in their dispute mediation services in the event that a player feels cheated. These ratings are a viable and effective way for consumers to ensure that their rights are respected in the realm of online gambling.”
The only form of betting prohibited by U.S. federal legislation is sports betting and Washington is the only state in the U.S. that has a specific law prohibiting internet gambling. The UIGEA does not actually criminalize the act of internet gambling, but rather the funding of any online casino activity. The U.S. government has placed financial institutions at the head of the enforcement of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006, without a clear definition of what actually constitutes illegal internet gambling.
“Gambling online for money is legal in the United States, with some restrictions on sports betting… People who fall victim to fraud in online gambling operations are not lawbreakers. Internet gambling does not break any federal law and only one state in the union, Washington, expressly bans it for state residents,” the paper continues. Internet casinos can, by comparison, coordinate and track a user’s IP address and further monitor him and his gambling activity across several gambling platforms and multiple casinos, alerting sister site management and other casino operators.
Finally, the paper points out how difficult it has become to cheat in online casinos, as any gambling website worth its weight institutes bot and collusion detectors among other fraud prevention software. The author states that cheating in the real world is much easier to pull off than on the internet. The paper also notes that land casinos are more at risk for cheating because they do not support an effective means of observation. The only dealer observation available is a video camera that is only effective when watching a player that is already suspected of cheating – and that even then it is difficult to use the video to prove any misdeeds.
Conversely, it is easier to detect cheating in online casinos by tracking hands in the history recorded by almost every casino and the IP addresses to which they are attached and that casino operators are able to write effective software to “sound the alarm” if there are suspicious betting patterns – even if the other players are not privy to it.
“It is far easier to cheat in real-world casinos than it is online. Online cheating requires more technical skill, is easier to track and is harder to get away with than cheating in the real world. In the real world. Cheating can take a variety of forms. For example, players can use marked cards, tamper with gambling devices, pay off dealers, move bets so they ‘pay off’ in certain table games, stack a game with confederates and employ other methods to otherwise goose the odds in their own favor. Most of these tactics are literally impossible to carry out in the virtual world.”
The CEI concludes in the end that online gambling faces challenges common to any growing industry, as it may be tied to threats or risks that do not exist in the real world, but that it is not illegal, does not take place in a lawless “Wild West” setting and that there are no real grounds for cheating that do not exist in land casinos.
It is uncertain what effect this study might have on the Obama administration and its decision, if any, that is made on overturning the UIGEA. One thing is for sure, the text provides online casino advocates with political clout that may be used in future legislative battles and a reason to celebrate.
by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor February 24, 2009
Party Gaming, an online casino provider that made headlines this year for its involvement with the Department of Justice, announced today that it has launched an Instant Internet banking feature, which will allow players to make financial transactions directly from the website. ESI Entertainment Systems, a payment processing giant offering services to international e-commerce establishments, and its subsidiary, Citadel Commerce, will process instant bank transactions for Party Gaming PLC.
“We’ve had a long relationship with Citadel and we are pleased to take advantage of their new payment method. Low cost and immediate local payment solutions are a key element of our business and we believe that Citadel’s Internet banking solution provides an attractive new payment option for our customers,” said Jim Ryan, Party Gaming CEO.
Michael Meeks, President of ESI and Citadel, added, “PartyGaming is clearly recognized as a prestigious leader in the industry, and we are please that they are utilizing our Instant Internet banking to provide their customers with a secure and easy-to-use alternative to credit and debit cards.”
Party Gaming has managed to survive as a leading online casino, despite one of its co-founders having pled guilty to charges of accepting U.S. wagers prior to the implementation of the UIGEA – and agreeing to a $300 million settlement. It has integrated Citadel’s Internet Banking product, a white label payment processing solution that provides support for instant and quick online bank transfers in over 38 countries, into its own cashier system.
by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor February 24, 2009
Bodog is running a special promotion until the end of this month, where its participants can earn up to an $100 bonus. By entering the special promo code, FEBRUARY, the online casino will match 100% of a deposit made this month up to $100.
A number of Bodog users have hit the jackpot this month, including George E. of Texas who won $34,671 playing Cleopatra’s Gold, Michael M. of New York who won $25,640 for playing Bonus Deuces Wild, Tony W. of Florida who won $24,758 playing Keno, and many others.
There’s a little something for anyone choosing to take advantage of the February bonus. The table games at Bodog Casino include blackjack, baccarat, Caribbean Hold’em, Caribbean Stud, craps, American Roulette, European Roulette, Let ‘Em Ride, Pai Gow poker, Tri-Card Poker and three-card Rummy. Bodog additionally has a wide selection of slots games such as Aztec’s Treasure, Caesar’s Empire, Cleopatra’s Gold, Crystal Waters, Derby Dollars, Diamond Dozen, Dirty Martini, Food Fight, Fruit Frenzy, Goldbeard and Lion’s Lair to name a few. There are a number specialty games and video poker games as well. This month’s featured table game is bacarrat.
“Each of us at Bodog believes that the player is the most important part of the Casino. Everything we do – from our expert customer service to our certified software – reflects the appreciation we have for every member of the Bodog Nation,” reads a description on the website.
by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor February 21, 2009
While the land casino industry continues to decline, with media outlets reporting Las Vegas as a ghost town in recent months, the last thing the management needs is an injury lawsuit. Perhaps yet another reason why online casino show more growth than land casinos is that there is no physical location for its players to attend, and therefore no accident reports.
An El Cajon woman recently sued an Indian tribe that according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, “broke new legal ground for personal injury suits against tribes.” A settlement agreement of $500,000 was the result.
Allegedly, Celest Bluehawk slipped in the Golden Acorn Casino, fell and injured her back on a newly mopped floor some time in 2002. The casino, operated by the Campo Band of Mission Indians, was issued with a summons to court following the accident. The lawsuit eventually led to a ruling in the 4th District Court of Appeals in San Diego. While casinos have faced litigation before for multiple reasons, including gambling addictions and removing an obese man with extremely poor hygiene, this is the first recorded case of justices intervening in a tribal legal matter – ordering the tribe to bring its case to arbitration. The tribe attempted to have the ruling appealed by the Supreme Court, but the court refused to accept the case.
According to the Tribune, a videotaped showed that the signs indicating a freshly mopped floor were not placed at the scene until after Bluehawk had injured herself. The videotape was not turned over to Busby until 2007, nearly five years after the incident occurred. Apparently, Bluehawk visited the casino, located off of Interstate 8, east of Pine Valley, to gamling in December of 2002 after she finished a shift as a poker dealer in the Viejas casino.
“They were basically refusing any state court jurisdiction over the case for years, then four years into it the videotape shows the cleaning lady putting out the cones after she was down,” said Busby.
Indian tribes are insulated from most U.S. legal action because of the doctrine of sovereign immunity – the legal right for governments, and tribes are considered separate governments, to the shielded from lawsuits. Bluehawk had filed a claim with the tribe prior to the lawsuit, but its insurance carrier denied it. Therefore, she turned to the Superior Court in El Cajon, where a judge ordered that it be sent to arbitration.
Perhaps for cases such as this, many tribes have begun to operate casinos online, such as the Mohawk Gaming group and the Kahnawake Gaming Commission which licenses and regulates such casinos as Party Casino, bet365, Golden Casino Eurogrand, Zodiac Casino Wild Jacks Casino, Vegas Red, and Spin Palace among its 10,758 members.
The Gaming Commission, established in June of 1996, is comprised of three members appointed by the Mohawk Council of Kahnawake, and has been given the authority to regulate and control gaming and “gaming related activities” conducted within and from the territory of Kahnawake, Canada. Casino operators can apply for a license by visiting www.kahnawake.com/gamingcommission.
by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor February 20, 2009
Online casino and bingo room, Wink Bingo, has announced its Wink Fit promotion, wherein it will promote a healthier lifestyle for its players. The promotion will take place on Sunday, March 1.
“We at Wink Bingo would like our online bingo players to maintain a healthy lifestyle,” said a spokesperson for Wink Bingo, Greg Dear. “These values are important to use so we have decided to have a bingo tournament to recognize this.
Recent studies show that online casino players are less likely to dedicate enough time to a fit an active lifestyle. Because much of their time is spent indoors, online casino players rarely watch their diet or exercise as much as they should. The Wink Fit program is designed to raise awareness of this issue. The promotion has received a great deal of attention from the media, not only because of its large cash prize but also because of the values that it supports. It marks one of the few instances in which a casino promotes health benefits more than its bonus offering.
“Life is about moderation and we want our bingo players to know there is more to life than bingo. Saying that, we have received a tremendous amount of interest in this competition and those who haven’t yet purchased their tickets should do so to avoid missing out,” Dear concluded.
The first player to complete his card will win the prize. Ticjets can be purchased at Wink Bingo for GBP 1.
by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor February 18, 2009
We at Casino Intensity would like to congratulate our player, Richard M. of New Mexico for his cash winnings of $10,156 in Bodog’s Aztecs Treasures online slots game. Aztec Treasures is a 5-reel, 20-payline themed game that includes a random progressive jackpot and free bonus spins.
Because the jackpot is completely random, it can be hit on any spin with any wager, ranging from $0.01 to $5. 3, 4 or 5 scattered “Idol” images will trigger 5, 15 or 25 free games in that order. Each scatter that appears while playing a free game awards a bonus prize of the value of the bet that triggered it.
Players will “travel back in time to discover wild treasure in the ancient civilization of the Aztecs.” The themed game is based around the jungles of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, which holds the lost treasures of the king of the Aztecs. Ancient warriors appear to battle you in the most dangerous circumstances for the treasure, and only the bravest prevail.
“Protected for centuries by fierce warriors, dense tropical terrain and a mystical curse, the gold waits for an adventurer brave enough to challenge the mighty and mystical Aztecs,” reads a description at Bodog. “Collect sacred idols to win free games and seek out the Aztec King, the key to turning any spin into a winning-spin. The Aztec gold awaits… do you dare accept the challenge?”