MMORPG’s Found More Addictive than Online Casino Gambling

by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
February 14, 2008

              Many anti-gamblers have proclaimed that the internet is a gateway drug of sorts for the problem gambler. Opponents of online casinos argue that such an easily accessible industry opens the door for gambling addictions in youth. However, recent studies show that MMORPG’s, or Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games, are the monsters hiding under our children’s beds – with addiction rates an astonishing 32 percent higher in World of Warcraft players than in gamblers.

                A study by Howard Shaffer of Harvard, who has intensely studied the behavior of gambling addicts, found that less than 2 percent of Americans are compulsive gamblers out of the 8 percent that has admittedly engaged in online casino gambling. Conversely, a study from clinical psychologist Dr. Maressa Hect Orzack shows that of those who play Blizzard Entertainment’s World of Warcraft, adoringly labeled World of Warcrack by many of its players, 40 percent have an addiction to the game.

                Orzack, who has studied problem gaming for 11 years as the founder and coordinator of the Computer Addiction Service said that, “even if the percentage is 5 to 10 percent which is standard for most addictive behaviors, it is a huge number of people who are out of control.”

                She notes that in an MMORPG, the player is subject to “variable ratio reinforcement,” a term used in psych circles to describe how the game rewards correct behavior to keep its players enticed. E.G. A lab rat that must press a bar to be given food will press it faster and more often if it is unaware of how many times it needs to do so. In World of Warcraft, players are rewarded with an “epic” piece of equipment when playing the game, but are never sure when it will drop or at what rate.

                “This isn’t about willpower or restraint,” Orzack adds. “These games are very elaborately designed to ease you in gently, entice you, and keep you there. And it’s a cycle: people begin to spend too much time playing and their careers and personal relationships begin to deteriorate.”

                For this reason, rehabilitation centers have begun to open around the globe to treat gaming addictions. At the announcement of the grand opening of the Wild Horses Center in Amsterdam, a rehab program for gaming and cellphone addictions, some WoW gamers shared the stories of their addictions.

                One commenter writes on a news article referring to the clinic, “I was once a World of Warcraft Addict. I played WoW for over a year and it was quite literally the only thing I thought about. My day consisted of work, WoW and sleep with the occasional splash of something else. I did the math one day and found out that 40% of my life was spent behind the computer. 8 hours at work 5 days a week and the rest was WoW. I have not even removed the time I spend sleeping.”

                The wife of a gaming addict added, “My partner is addicted to a game called Imperial Conflict to the point that it is worrying (me). He can sit up from 7 in the morning till {sic} 4 in the morning playing this stupid game. He lies about what time he comes to bed. I can’t remember the last time we went to bed together at the same time.”

                Those who feel they may have a gaming problem are prompted by Orzack to contact Computer Addiction Services. Visit for more information.

Spain Loses $25 Million in Untaxed Online Casino Gambling

by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
February 13, 2009

             One of the arguments usually presented in the ongoing attempts to have online casino gambling legalized in the U.S. is the tax revenue it could generate. It is the hope of internet gambling advocates that a taxed and regulated industry would not only help the economy thrive, but that it would also benefit the gambler who would no longer have to seek out shady establishments to wager online. It would seem that the regulated internet casino industry in Spain has not been a shining example of this concept, however, having lost $25 million in uncharged taxes on online casinos.

                According to reports from the Spanish Association of Internet Bettors, $250 million is gambling revenue from Spain continues to go toward offshore, unregulated and unlicensed online casinos. Since Devember of 2007, when the Spanish Congress of Deputies voted for a bill to tax and regulate online gambling websites, the industry has taken one step forward and two backward.

                While the bill outlined the nation’s intent to regulate and tax online casinos, the Spanish Association of Internet Bettors is curious as to why an estimated $250 million in gambling revenue continues to go to offshore establishments. The Spanish National Lottery charges a 10 percent tax rate, which if applied to internet gambling, would result in $25 million in annual tax revenue.

                The Spanish government has since decided that it would advance its plans to place online gaming terminals in convenience stores and gas stations, increasing the public online casinos from 4,000 to an estimated 11,000. The betting association has opined that despite the legislation, it will be another full year before the nation sees a taxed and regulated online casino industry.

                The last attempt made to regulate the industry was in June of 2008, when the Gambling Sectoral Commission held a conference with members of the Minister of the Interior, the Secretary of the State of the Information Society, the Tax Agency, the National Entity of Lotteries and Betting as well as a number of autonomous communities. The laid-out game plan has since been delayed significantly, according to the Swiss-Presse.

Washington Appeals Court Rules in Favor of

by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
February 12, 2009

                The online casino industry as well as Nick Jenkins, who founded the person to person internet betting exchange, celebrated a victory on Tuesday when a Washington appeals court ruled that the website was not a gambling operation. Betcha management had never classified the website as a gambling facility, as it does not require its players to pay any losses incurred. A lower court did not agree, however, having ruled to the contrary of Tuesday’s victory in 2007.

                Judge C.C. Bridgewater elaborated on the 2-1 majority decision, saying, “Because customers agreed in advance that participants were not required to pay their losses, was not engaged in ‘gambling’ as defined in the Gambling Act. Also, the listing of bets for a fee was not ‘bookmaking’ because bookmaking rests upon engaging in ‘gambling.’”

                Since the implementation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, the online casino industry has had a number of websites looking to provide U.S. citizens with a loophole in order to legally accept wagers from them. In addition the Betcha, there have been such strategies as providing gamblers the funds with which to gamble, omitting the element of luck from the game and even charging a monthly subscription fee in place of a wagering system.

                Bridgewater had also written in a statement that since the website required that its users “acknowledge and agree” that all wagers taken were “non-binding,” betters would not be under the impression that they would “receive something of value” when winning.

                “Accordingly, there is nothing risked, which is the essence of both the common law and statutory definition of ‘gambling,’” the Judge continued.

                Buffalo State busness law professor, Joe Kelly, says he was not at all surprised by the ruling, and its interpretation of what U.S. law considers gambling. “Criminal law must be strictly interpreted,” he said. “Any ambiguity is resolved in favor of the accused.”

                In the 2-1 vote, both Judge Bridgewater and Judge David Armstrong ruled for the majority opinion, while Judge Elaine Houghton expressed her disapproval in writing. Some were taken aback by her dissent, as it seemed that she might favor the majority ruling and agrees with the basic premise.

                “I respectfully dissent from my colleagues’ decision that allows to operate as it intends. And although, in my usual judicial course, I follow the majority’s cited statutory construction principles, I cannot do so here,” she writes. “Certainly the legislature did not intend that, while running its operation on foreign-based servers, could provide an unregulated platform for internet wagering that undoubtedly will result in unpaid wagers being collected through unlawful means. Most certainly this is not the result the legislature intended when it set forth its strong declaration of public policy against unregulated gambling. Thus, I dissent.”

                Jenkins, along with Josie M. Imlay and Peter M. Abrahamsen, both employees at, were arrested and charged with violation of internet gambling laws in Louisiana after a state trooper accepted four bets under permission of the Washington State Gambling Commission. Jenkins served four days in a jail cell, until he was released and his case was dropped because he had complied with a set of conditions.

                Jenkins had launched in June of 2007, calling it the “world’s first honor-based betting exchange.” It operates as a strictly person to person betting platform, and while users are to provide a credit card upon registration, they are not obligated to pay when they lose.

                “We hope they will, of course,” reads a segment in the website’s Terms of Service. “Not because they have to, but because they should. In any case, bets made on Betcha carry no term, express or implied that winning bettors will be paid when they win.”

                The website generated a revenue by placing a fee on every wager made, based on the amount that was wagered. Jenkins argued in court that because the company did not actually accept real money bets and that the bets were “non-binding,” it was legal to operate the gambling website in the U.S.

                “That the criminal element can get involved in something like is a bit bizarre,” said Kelly.

       will continue to operate, after having been shut down in July of 2007 – one month after opening its doors. It accepts virtually any wager from its users, ranging from sports and politics to weather and television shows. is not yet back up and operational, and it is uncertain when and if Jenkins will reopen his doors to the U.S. gaming public.

Lucien Barriere to Launch the First Fully 3D Casino

by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
February 11, 2009

                Lucien Barriere, a brand of hotels and casinos, has announced that it will launch an unprecedented addition to the online casino market. LeCroupier will soon open its doors to the UK, offering the world’s first full 3D online casino. The website will include a number of casino games in an interactive, 3D playing environment. While many in the gaming sector offer a 3D environment, this marks a first for internet casino gambling.

                “ is set to provide a brand new way to play online,” said a company spokesperson. “Whether players are looking for a little entertainment of genuine 3D casino gaming, they will find it at – creating their own virtual characters from a series of life-like avatars in a ‘dressing room’ area. Using their avatars, players will then be able to look around the casino, talk to other players while at the tables and play a few games of roulette and blackjack or even try their luck on the slots.”

                According to the company, the online casino will mirror its land casinos, developed as an exact replica of the world-famous casino in Deauville, France. LeCroupier is owned by Lucien Barrier Hotels and is expected to open for business in the UK later this year. Users will be able to chat with other players while perusing the casino.

                “Whatever players find in the casino in Deauville, they will find in – from the plush furnishings and classly clientele to the range and quality of casino games on the main floor,” the spokesperson continued.

                “With our 47-year heritage in managing 40 land-based casinos, is uniquely positioned to provide the best online casino in the market,” said Jon Strock, Chief Operating Officer for  “With the first truly 3D online casino, featuring life-like avatars and the possibility to interact with other players, we are confident that will be the next generation in online casinos.”

                The casino is dedicated to bringing players the closest to a live gaming experience as possible while playing online. It is expected to generate a large customer base when it goes live. The developers have used next-generation technologies, generally found in mainstream video games to design the casino. The company has said that a 2D version of the game will also be available to old school gamers. The casino is powered by Barriere Interactive Gaming, a subsidiary of Lucien Barriere Hotels and Casinos.

       is scheduled for release in March, although the exact date is not certain. The company plans, in the future, to offer online poker and sports betting, and all of its wagering opportunities on a mobile platform by 2009. A “for cash” version will only be released in the UK, where online casinos are given clear legal permission. A “just for fun” version is expected to launch for residents of other countries and will only be made available for individuals of 18 years of age.

Kentucky Commonwealth Asks Supreme Court for More Time in the Domain Seizure Appeal

by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
February 10, 2009

           According to iMEGA, the Commonwealth of Kentucky filed a notice to appeal in the domain seizure case, in which the Court of Appeals had issued a 2-1 majority ruling that prohibited the confiscation of 141 internet casino gambling domains. Since the appeal was filed in January, the Commonwealth has asked for more time to prepare its case.

            The Commonwealth has asked the Kentucky State Supreme Court for permission to extend the court hearing date so that it might add an additional 30 pages to its already 50 pages appeal. Kentucky will face-off against advocacy and net neutrality groups like iMEGA, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Center for Democracy and Technology and the American Civil Liberties Union. It was also requested that if another 30 pages were not permitted, that a 10 day extension be placed on the deadline to file the brief.

            “They’re certainly within their rights to make their request, but they don’t really seem to be bringing anything new to the table,” said Joe Brennan Jr., chairman at iMEGA. “The motion is a repetition of the same arguments that failed in the Court of Appeals – that iMEGA is an ‘illegal gambling association,’ that we have no right to represent our members in court and that domain names are ‘gambling devices’ under Kentucky law. Those arguments didn’t work before, but maybe they feel the added volume of pages will overcome the flaws found by the Court of Appeals in their attack on our members.”

            The online casino industry celebrated an historic victory in January, wherein the Supreme Court ruled that online casino domains were not considered devices. Not only did this ruling prevent the seizure of a large portion of gambling websites, but it gave the internet casino industry political clout against the UIGEA, which has criminalized internet gambling since 2006.

            The chairman at iMEGA did not speak highly of the decision to appeal, and the frustrations of the advocacy group are beginning to be more apparent. “The Commonwealth’s attorneys might save some space if they drop this continued assault on our standing,” said Brennan. “Perhaps they might review Hunt v. Washington State Apple Advertising Commission, where the U.S. Supreme Court established the right of associations to stand in court on behalf of their members. Since that’s been a settled issue since 1977, I think it’s time for the Commonwealth’s attorneys to move on.”

            It has been argued that Kentucky’s attempts to confiscate the internet casinos are nothing more than a display of protectionism against its horse racing industry, which the governor who initially launched the lawsuit has spent a great deal of time lobbying for. The U.S. is in continued negotiations with Antigua and the World Trade Organization for its blatant show of discrimination against offshore gambling facilities. The $21 million settlement agreement has yet to be completed, however, while the U.S. continues its assault on the industry.

A Rise in Live Casino Gaming

by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
February 7, 2009

               Online casinos that offer a live dealer option have begun to flourish in the industry, as it builds a level of trust not always believed to be there. This feature is quickly gaining momentum in internet casinos. A number of gambling websites have begun to add live video streaming to their offerings.

                When online casinos were first introduced, technical errors and delays caused gamblers to distrust the websites. A live dealer gives the internet gambler a sense of security in that they are able to verify the cards are being drawn at random.

                Internet casino giants Playtech and Microgaming have jumped on the live dealer bandwagon, in casinos such as 32 Red, Bet 365, Canbet Casino and Riverbelle Casino. A number of affiliate programs have provided valuable resourced in locating reputable online casinos with live dealers, such as

                Playtech has continued to expand its live gaming casinos in newly merged William Hill, Cpays and Webrout Affiliates. “Playtech’s upcoming European live casino games reflect our commitment to continually broaden our product range and upgrade its quality. Expanding our Live Gaming offering is the natural next step for Playtech as we extend our reach and enhance the profitability of our licensees throughout Europe.” Playtech will offer live roulette, blackjack and baccarat that will be support multiple languages.

                Many gamblers that had become used to a land casino atmosphere will appreciate the recent addition of live gaming in several online casinos, and will be more apt to play for real money. Allowing the player to watch a dealer physically shuffle the cards when playing blackjack or poker gives the gambling community a greater sense of a real time experience.

                The London ICE exhibition this year served as an opportunity for many online casinos to showcase the new live dealer features that will bring back an element of trust to old school gamers, provide a more realistic gaming platform that is soon to be a fully mobile offering.

       offers an informative and extensive list of internet casinos that offer this feature, with thorough reviews and commentary in four languages – separated by which accept U.S. players.

Reports Show Higher Appearance of Casino Bots

by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
February 6, 2009

              Online casino operators have had a number of obstacles to overcome in running a licensed and regulated industry. Like any other website that processes an individual’s financial information, internet casinos have become a target for cyberfraud and hackers. According to an article published in SC magazine, a media outlet dedicated to internet and IT security, a number of hackers have begun implemented bots disguised as players to foresee the odds in slots payout systems.

                Information is pilfered from a number of scammer and “web-scraping” techniques that allow hackers to predict when a wager is more likely to turn a profit. The bots used are very similar to live player script and are therefore difficult for anti-collusion and bot-detection software to detect in online casinos.

                “The hacker can use the bot to manipulate the odds to improve the winning margin,” said Guri Geva, regional director for Radware at Israel, Northern Europe and the UK. “It can also measure times so it can hit the site when it is at its busiest, going as undetected as possible.”

                As IT technology advances, so too does the techniques discovered by internet hackers, and Geva predicts a major increase in the complexity of cyberfraud schemes. As such, he has suggested that online casino operators take measures to fully monitor and analyze player behavior in transparent real time. With the online casino industry expected to increase to a $125 billion market by 2015, it is sure to become a more common target for virtual pirates and malware.

                “Webscraping is going on all the time,” said Geva. “It can steal information from a website, put the details on to another and redirect people to it. This can lead to fraud and even phishing, you could blacklist IP addresses but that would require a lot of time.”

                With the increase of bot-usage, the online casino community is concerned that the issue may affect the way internet gambling is voted on in future legislation. One of the more active arguments against internet gambling is the risk it involves, including the ability for users to cheat using computer software.

                The rising rates of attempted fraud should alerts governments that have currently criminalized online casino gambling, however, as it illustrates the need for heightened security and closer monitoring of the gambling establishments. While casino gamblers from several restricted locations continue to gambling in unlicensed and unregulated facilities, the appearance of bots may become all too common.

                With issues like the Ultimate Bet scandal, where an employee had used software to view the hole cards of other poker players, a more strict set of guidelines would seem to be the best option in preventing online casino fraud.

                Advocates continue to fight for the legalization of online casino gambling in the U.S., with pressure groups and representatives like Barney Frank that continue to propose legislation in its favor. It is still uncertain what the Obama administration’s stance is on internet gambling, but many hope a democratic majority may be easier to sway – especially in times of a global economic crisis.

The Balkan States to See an Increase in Online Casino Gambling

by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
February 4, 2009

              It would seem that the Balkan states, Eastern Europe, are set to join the likes of the UK and southern Europe in offering the cyber masses online casino gaming. Internet casino gambling has become a hot topic internationally, especially in the Balkan states where the economy is failing.

               The Balkan states have drawn a considerable interest from online casino operators who might see a Euro 4.5 billion gambling market and 130 million sports bettors in its future demographic, according to research from the MECN consulting firm.

                In a study dubbed “The Balkan Gambling Markets,” analysts found the total gambling market in the Balkan states, Greece, Turkey, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia, Montenegro, Romania and Bulgaira, produced a total gross revenue equaled out to nearly Euro 4.5 billion after prizes were handed out – with an online gambling market worth about Euro 520 million that is currently generated in licensed offshore markets.

               When determining the numbers, the MECN group based its research on the size of the gambling market that currently goes to foreign online casinos. 1 to 3 percent of the online casino market exists in Croatia, Serbia and Romania where more competition is found. Monopolistic areas such as Greece and Turkey can generate as much as 20 to 30 million Euro in annual gambling revenue.


               The online casino market is slowly integrating into these states, such as Sportingbet, which attributes 5 percent of its annual revenue to Bulgarian gamers. Bwin and Bet-at-home have each joined the Balkan market. Additionally, a survey conducted by the MECN research group showed that 20 to 30 percent of online casino operators intend to expand their markets into the Balkan states.


               A copy of the report on MECN’s website reads, “The report includes:


  • Analysis of all sectors – The report analyses all key sectors of the gambling markets: lottery, casino, betting, gambling machines, and interactive gambling (Internet/mobile).
  • Current market figures – Comprehensive market data, such as market size and development of sales/turnover as well as gross revenues, including 2007 and in some cases also 2008 figures.
  • Legal and tax information – Detailed explanation of the current legislation and the taxes imposed.
  • Insights from local expert – The analyses of Balkan gambling markets need local expertise. Therefore, we gathered some of the most renowned local market insiders and authors. “

           The consulting firm, which specializes in online gambling, has also reported studies of the Italian, Spanish, Belgian/Dutch and German gambling markets, as well as the future of online casino gambling. It provides a monthly gambling newsletter to those interested in the success of the industry.

              In the study in the future of online casino gambling, the group focuses on the impact of current development of the industry, the most affected sectors, the companies that are most and least affected by recent gaming developments, the biggest threats to the online casino gambling industry and the immediate and medium-term effects of the current threats.

              MECN is comprised of a network of research experts, founded by Ex-BCG consultants. Of its 40 consultants, none are resitricted geographically, and will “source the team wherever the experts might be.”


Internet Casinos Criticized in Australia for Bonus Offerings

by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
February 3, 2009

        With any online casino, users are offered a sign-up or welcome bonus. While the is the norm in the internet gambling industry, Australian online casinos have taken heat for offered millions of dollars in free bets to drive in a customer base. The country has currently placed a ban on poker machine venues offering such bonuses to players and is in the planning stages of implementing “safe cards” to limit the amount of money spent on gambling.
        The moral majority was none too happy with recent online casino offerings, however. An internet gambling website, Centrebet e-mailed 13,000 users in Queensland to notify them of a $10 bonus offer with a renewal on membership cards. Additionally, Sportingbet in Australia offered users free wagers of up to $200, Betfair offered $50 in free wagers to tennis punters and Sports Acumen offered $50. Although this is regular practice with any online casino, the recent promos have caused concern that it will add to problem gambling in the country.

         The argument has always existed that an extra incentive to gamble online will lead to problem gambling, especially in times of economic turmoil. Anti-gambling activist, Senator Xenophon, has asked that the Australian government ban online casino bonuses – an extreme measure and potential blow to the industry.
         Campaigning for “social justice,” Reverend Tim Costello has asked that research be conducted as to the extent of problem gambling caused by internet casinos, noting that over $5 million was lost to state gambling every day last year. Costello adds, “It’s like saying to an alcoholic, here’s a free drink… There is no question that it is dangerous. I think it’s wrong.” It can be said that this is an unfair generalization – in that all online gamblers are gaming addicts or that it is an unfair or that no venue provides free alcohol in Australia.

         Costello has been involved in a number of protests against social vices, including alcoholism and drug abuse. He is a member of Baptist World Aid, the Australian Earth Charter Committee, the Interchurch Gambling Taskforce and the Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation. Costello has also spoken in favor of fun control in Australia. He has won the Australian Peace Prize awarded by the Peace Organization of Australia. Costello has commented in the past that “gambling should be something that you are forced to jump a few hurdles to go and do,” a mantra that contradicts the free betting opportunities of internet casinos.

         The attempts to ban internet casino offerings have so far been to no avail, as Australian gamers continue to cash in on free wagers. Additionally, many internet gambling companies have been given permission to advertise such bonuses in Victoria and NSW. Betfair, an online casino, sports book and poker room, was the first sponsor in history of the Victorian horse races.

Rival Powered Gaming Exits the Canadian Market

by Hillary LaClair, Senior Editor
January 28, 2009

              It seems that Canada may mirror the U.S. in banning online casino gambling. Rival Gaming has had to announce to all of its players and affiliates that it will exit the Canadian market as of February 1st. The loss of Rival Gaming is unfortunate for Canadian casino gamblers, who will no longer have to pleasure of betting at Davinci’s Gold Casino, Pantasio Online Casino, Superior Casino, Cocoa Casino, Paradise 8 Casino, Sloto Cash Casino, Mayan Fortune Casino or This is Vegas Casino.

                Rival Gaming powered casinos have been a hot commodity in the internet gambling industry, offering unique features such as the i-Slots series. I-Slots are multi-reel, multi-line slots games that have been enhanced with a more interactive platform, complete with an “unfolding story.” The beginning of each i-Slot includes an animated video of the gamblers character, or avatar, and as they move ahead, so does the character. The slots games are complete with a multitude of unique features, including interactive mini-games.

They have received multiple rave reviews for their originality and the storylines involved in their slots games. Pre-existing accounts will have until the end of February to continue playing with Rival Gaming, before Canadian wagers and withdrawals will be declined. U.S. players, however, will still be welcomed at Rival Gaming online casinos.

                A statement sent to affiliates from the online casino group reads, “Unforunately as from 1st February 2009 Rival powered casinos will no longer accept residents of Canada. The
Image by Rival Powered Gaming

decision was made by our Software Provider “Rival Powered Gaming” due to pressure from their Canadian suppliers to cease accepting Canadian residents.”

                The notice leaves affiliates with a modicum of good news, explaining that its Sloto Cash casino is now available in eight languages: Dutch, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Turkish, Japanese and Greek. Rival Gaming is downloadable to Windows or Mac with real time remote access to reports via Blackberry. Rival Gaming also provides website hosting, assistance with gaming licenses for operators and comprehensive training programs.