Sunday, 30 May 2010

iGaming Super Show

I have just returned from several days in Prague at the iGaming Super Show, an industry trade show where I helped out a couple of my clients. Competition for affiliates these days is intense, with all sorts of gimmicks going on. Cake Poker Network were giving away aprons and oven gloves, Jetbull had David Coulthard signing autographs as their 'brand ambassador' and one firm was giving away tiny bottles of vodka with the promise of a 350ml bottle of Jack Daniel's for every funded acct you sent them! And of course there were promo girls everywhere.

Product-wise, one firm was touting MahJong as the next online phenomenon in a p2p format like poker, OddsMatrix were announcing some recent new customers for their automated sportsbook solution, Kyoogi were showing off a brilliant iPhone odds comparison application and there were rumours about which poker network Betfair would be joining soon.

Formula 1 preview - Turkey

It's three pole positions in a row for Aussie Mark Webber, will it be three consective wins? This track is faster with more opportunities for overtaking, but that doesn't make it any easier to get in front of the obviously superior Red Bull cars.

You can find my preview here on Punting Ace.

Monday, 24 May 2010

Will William Hill be buying Centrebet or not?

Recent British press speculation suggested it was almost a done deal but the competition to buy Centrebet looks hotter than ever. William Hill are not the only ones trying to buy Centrebet, and rumour has it they are more than just 'tyre-kicking' several other potential targets Down Under. There are several Australian corporate bookmakers courting potential buyers at the moment and the Leeds-based firm will be at the top of any list for vendors. Sounds like only a matter of when, not if. Stay tuned for who Hills will be buying, and who will be taking over Centrebet, but it may not be the same deal.

need any more evidence that racing stewards are blind?

You'd think before finding a jockey guilty and suspending him that they'd at least look at the replay....

Jockey suspended despite dropping his whip

Irish stewards were left red-faced after suspending a jockey for breaching whip rules despite the rider not using the whip on his horse at any stage.

Stewards suspended apprentice jockey Ronan Whelan for three days after charging the rider with excessive use of the whip on his mount Monivea in the Emirates Equestrian Federation Handicap at the Curragh on Saturday.

The only problem for stewards was the fact Whelan had dropped his whip in the process of leaving the barriers.



Stewards come down hard on jockeys for making mistakes, how about the industry coming down hard on this mob of incompetent buffoons? This wasn't a bush track with amateurs, this was The Curragh on Irish 1000 Guineas day!

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Pagebet goes bust

Another bad bit of PR for the UK betting industry with shop chain Pagebet going into administration. The 53-shop company ran like a headless chicken last year according to directors who resigned early in the year. Stan James has stepped up to buy half the shop estate and pay out all outstanding bets.

Job losses as Pagebet goes into adminstration

PAGEBET, one of the leading independent bookmakers in north-east England, went into administration on Friday with the loss of more than 120 jobs.

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Betfair proposal attacked - Victorian racing industry virtually admits money laundering is good for racing

After recent revelations about leaks in sports betting and unknown punters being able to strike questionable bets (Melbourne Storm NRL scandal), Betfair Australia CEO Andrew Twaits put forward the idea of making all punters bet via accounts, or at least be registered so the money trail is traceable. Naturally, this would turn a few off, but the Victorian racing industry has had more than a handful of problems with dirty money being washed at the track by unsavoury gentlemen in tracksuits. When the Federal Government brought in legislation compelling the reporting of all wagers or payouts above $10k, what did they do? Simple, just have several tickets to win $5k each, bypassing the legislation. Or they would watch for a winning punter at the track and offer them a 15% premium to buy their winning ticket so they could collect 'clean' money from the bookmaker.

Back in the early 90s, a member of the Gleeson family was caught as part of a race-fixing allegation at Harold Park harness racing track in Sydney where the hopples of a horse were deliberately cut pre-race, so that they would break very easily during the race. The horse, the hot favourite, galloped and finished out of the placings. The punter backed the exotics without the favourite (from their stable), and stood to collect more than $10k from their shady work. He had bet cash at a TAB agency, but was caught out by the paperwork required with the Federal Govt anti-money laundering bill. Had the bright spark considered giving the ticket to someone not obviously connected with the family, they'd probably have gotten away with it.

Betfair proposal attacked

The proposal from Twaits was never going to find favour from anyone but the sports authorities. In reality, it's not that different from lotteries these days. By setting up a membership system where the cash player swipes their card with each entry, their ticket can then never be lost, so the punter will never miss a payout. Bookies/firms can offer loyalty schemes for punters and the list of options goes on. It's also a useful problem gambling deterrent. But, it would scare off a lot of money from suspicious characters the racing industry is obviously happy to do business with. The Victorian racing industry also relies heavily on poker machine (slot) revenue, another vehicle for laundering vast quantities of money. If you want a cleaner image guys, there's a couple of places to start working on...

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Betfair float postponed again

Not that Betfair will admit it, but the Racing Post today is reporting that Betfair have shelved plans to float this summer as world markets sink back into volatility, particularly over the Greek economic crisis.

Betfair put off flotation due to volatile market


By JonLees 7:24AM 18 MAY 2010

BETFAIR is understood to have postponed plans for a £1.5billion flotation onthe stock exchange this summer as a result of uncertainty in the world markets.

The volatility in the sector, which endured another roller-coaster period last week, is believed to have led the betting exchange's advisers to counsel against a stock market flotation or IPO (initial public offering) which had been tipped to happen in July.

In the past six months the company completed a string of high-level recruitments to prepare for a flotation which had been tipped for July.

It would have marked the summit of a spectacular rise by the company, which in the course of less than ten years has become the largest online sports betting operation in Europe, with a reach that also extends into Australia and the United States.


Could be a while yet then...

calling a race with a hoarse throat ain't much fun... but it's funny!

Adelaide harness racing Jim Jacques has been calling races for years, he's a legend of the sport. But on Monday he decided to work when the doctor would probably have told him not to....

Click on the story link to see the video (after the annoying ad), and make sure you have the sound on.

Video without the ad

Hoarse whisperer just squeaks home

The 48-year-old, known as the voice of harness racing in South Australia, had felt a niggle in the back his throat in the lead-up to yesterday's event at Globe Derby Park but, never one to throw a sickie, had turned up to his job with Radio TAB regardless.

That decision came back to haunt him towards the end of the first race when, several hundred metres from the finishing line, his rapidly fading voice gave out completely, and hilariously.

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Jacques said he had had a blocked nose for about two months, which worsened during trip to Brisbane last week when he was caught in the rain.

Despite his croakiness he battled through commentary commitments on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights, aided by a heavy dose of honey-lemon drinks.

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"I was trying to use my diaphragm a bit more. I changed my voice to a gruff voice and it was coming out ok, I thought I'd get by. By the time I got about 300 metres from home I thought, 'No I'm stuffed, I'm not going to make it'.

"I could see some of the horses getting tired, and I thought 'Well gee, I'm getting more tired than them'."

Meantime Jacques' daughter and wife had tuned in at home especially for the call, knowing in advance that he would struggle.

"They were at home, they were pissing themselves laughing because it was so ridiculous," he said.


Saturday, 15 May 2010

Michael Hussey is God

If you didn't catch the end of the T20 World Cup semi-final last night between Australia and Pakistan, you should be kicking yourself. Pakistan batted brilliantly, tearing the Aussie bowling apart to score 6/191. The Aussies were always under the pump, losing Warner in the first over, Watson soon after, then Clarke, Haddin and D.Hussey for not a lot. Cue a fightback from Cameron White, but then he was out with 19 balls left, the team 53 runs short. Even I'd given up - it couldn't be done, Pakistan were bowling too tightly and the Aussies were struggling to find the boundaries. Then up stepped Michael Hussey with an inspired finish. 60 not off 24 balls....

Mike Hussey's last five balls faced... 4 6 6 4 6. Here's a summary of his innings from Cricinfo

Some cricket traders copped a hiding, with over £380k matched on Pakistan at 1.01. The crowd, the commentators, the Australian team on the bench and the Pakistani players and entourage were simply gobsmacked by the performance.

They say never underestimate a champion team. Wow!

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Betfair v Racing NSW decision delayed until June

First it was April, then May, now it's officially June.


Race Fields court decision next month



The protracted court action by two wagering operators against Racing NSW over rights fees is set to have its resolution next month.

Racing NSW has been notified this week that Justice Perrem intends to deliver his judgment on the cases on June 16.

Betting exchange Betfair undertook legal proceedings to challenge the NSW Race Field legislation, which came into effect last year and requires all wagering operators to pay a 1.5 per cent fee on turnover for the use of race fields.



Rather naively I thought, Racing NSW last week released a strategic plan for the future dependent on them winning this court case. Surely that's prejudicial to the outcome, or it just makes Peter V'Landys a bigger target for ridicule if they lose the case? If V'Landys can hold his position if Betfair & Sportsbet win this case, then he should run for PM - completely unaccountable, can make ridiculous statements in the press without recourse and is despised by all but the people who rely on him to get paid...

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Malaysia to legalise sports betting?

Considering how huge sports betting is in Asia, this is hardly a surprise, but Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim country, a religion which is vehemently anti-gambling. Underground betting in Malaysia is huge, I got to experience it a decade ago when I lived there briefly.

Malaysian soccer legends support legalised betting

Legends bet on legalised gambling ahead of World Cup

Kuala Lumpur. Four Malaysian football legends on Wednesday threw their support behind a proposal to legalize sports betting ahead of this year’s World Cup finals in South Africa.

The former players said legalizing sports wagers would reduce rampant illegal betting and match-fixing, but some also warned it could encourage people to go into debt.

Last month the New Straits Times newspaper said sports betting might be legalized in time for the World Cup, which will be held from June 11-July 11.

It said the Berjaya Group, a major Malaysian conglomerate with holdings ranging from lottery to casino operations, was seeking government approval to operate sports betting activities.



Every four years the World Cup causes a massive dilemma for many governments in Asia - everyone wants to bet, but there are no legal channels to do so. So do we send the police (who probably like a bet themselves) out in force to shut down the bookies, or legalise it and earn tax revenue out of it? Hong Kong and Singapore are good examples of how to do it right, and keep most of the population away from the illegal bookies (who'll never go away, you just have to dissuade the honest citizen from betting with them and switch to legal channels).

Malaysia's situation is made all that much harder with a multi-racial and denominational population, but they do have Genting casino already, so it's not that much of a radical step forward. They have left it mightly late though to get a system up and running in time if they do approve it....

Monday, 3 May 2010

William Hill closing in on a Centrebet deal?

As mentioned on this blog previously, Centrebet is very keen to be bought out and some of the big boys of the global industry have been sniffing around.

William Hill is believed to have bid A$132m for the company according to this report, although the deal is not exclusive. Ladbrokes and Bwin are still evaluating their own bids. Watch the video on that link to hear the comical pronunciation of Bwin by the Aussie 'never been out of Sydney in my life' presenter.

How does A$132m stack up? In 2003, Centrebet was bought by SportOdds (the Kafataris family) for A$46.55m, although Jupiters Casino Group did say they wanted an unrealistic A$150m for it at the time. IASBet changed hands last year for around A$60m (after Centrebet posted a hostile bid for about half that amount).

The big variation in cost is the value of the AUD vs GBP - back in 2003, the $46.55m was worth less than £20m. Now on the very strong AUD, the A$132m equates to £80m.

Still, it sounds about the right sort of price, considering Con Kafataris would prefer to sit back and retire, rather than worry about day-to-day bookmaking these days.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

John Higgins exposed by News of the World in snooker match-fixing scandal

Not a good day for snooker ahead of the World Championship final, with world #1 John Higgins seemingly exposed by a News of the World investigative report.

Let's see him get out of this one....

How world snooker champion John Higgins plots to betray his fans for cash

MILLIONAIRE World Snooker champion John Higgins is captured here on camera shaking hands on a disgraceful deal to fix a string of high-profile matches after demanding a £300,000 kickback.

The scandal will cast a dark shadow over the final of this year's championship which starts today and disgust the millions of fans tuning into the BBC to watch their sporting idols.

John Higgins caught on camera agreeing to a massive bribe to fix World Series snooker matches

After 34-year-old Higgins' shock defeat in the tournament at the hands of veteran Steve Davis, he flew to the Ukrainian capital of Kiev and in a meeting with undercover News of the World investigators on Friday shamelessly:

* AGREED to deliberately LOSE frames in four matches so that illegal gambling syndicates could clean up.

* HAGGLED over the best ways to cover up the bribe - finally settled at Euro 300,000 (£261,000).

* BRAGGED it was "easy" to fool fans into believing they were watching genuine snooker action.




Seriously - how stupid have you got to be to fall for a set-up like this as a professional sports person? It's the same scam that Bruce Grobbelaar was exposed by 20 years ago!!

And there's more to the story here - Mooney: We're looking for John Higgins to maybe get beat by the likes of XXX