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UEFA’s probe into match-fixing scandal reaches Hungary and Switzerland

May 25, 2010
Mad Michel

The bitter fruit of soccer governing body UEFA’s labor is blooming in a Europe-wide probe across 12 countries to determine to what extent matches are being fixed for gambling purposes. It appears impossible to say whether UEFA’s efforts will or even can succeed before the 2010 World Cup kicks off in South Africa on June 11.

Sydney Morning Herald: Nine Swiss footballers suspended

Switzerland’s national soccer association has suspended nine players, including five for an indefinite period, for match-fixing as part of the Europe-wide UEFA probe.

The national league board said in a statement that “The Swiss Football Association is, according to current information, the first and only federation which has treated in the consequent manner the suspects of match-fixing made public in autumn 2009.”

None of the nine players suspended were in the top division of Switzerland football. The four players given sentences were banned from Swiss soccer for between 12 and 36 months.

The suspensions were the result of 50 raids in November in Austria, Britain, Germany and Switzerland in the probe’s first big move. In these 50 actions, over €1 million was seized. UEFA official stated that “Without doubt this is the biggest scam there has ever been in European football.”

Sports Illustrated: UEFA quizzes players at Hungarian champion Debrecen over suspected match-fixing

UEFA officials recently questioned eight players of Hungarian league champion Debrecen, which lost all six of its Champions League matches to Fiorentina, Liverpool and Lyon in the 2009-10 season, for which the club earned €9.2 million.

Though UEFA offered no comment as to the extent or subject matter of the discussion, Debrecen official Csaba Bartha did not make much of it, writing on the official club website that “the degree of seriousness of the matter is reflected by the fact that they didn’t even [transcribe] the statements.”

Debrecen is the second Hungarian club to come into question in this particular investigation, after UEFA looked into a suspicious Honvéd loss in November. More than 200 games are being considered for the possibility of match fixing in the UEFA investigation.

USA Today: World Cup arrives amid global match-fixing probes

Referees in Bosnia and Ukraine have been banned for life as part of a UEFA probe in a season when fixing matches has “spread more widely through football than ever.” UEFA President Michel Platini described the situation as seriously enough to put the sport itself in “mortal danger.”

Another threat to the integrity of soccer has arisen aside from the existing match-fixing problems has appeared as well. English Football Association chairman David Triesman stated that Russian criminal elements would be attempting to bribe referees to favor Spain in exchange for Spain’s support of the Russian bid to host the 2018 World Cup.

To prevent scandal from tainting the 2010 World Cup, FIFA officials created the company Early Warning, which would monitor any suspicious activity online concerning match outcomes. The World Cup is expected to generate about $3.4 billion for FIFA.

China is also taking on corruption in soccer at home, arresting among others Chinese Football Federation head Nan York and former World Cup referee Lu Jun.

The UEFA probe first began last year, when a “nest of corruption” was revealed to have involved matches in four World Cup nations (Germany, Greece, Slovenia, Switzerland) and six others (Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Croatia, Hungary and Turkey).

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William Hill offers takeover bid to Centrebet

May 03, 2010
Centrebet Fish

UK bookmaker and online gambling operator William Hill made a $130 million takeover offer to Centrebet, one of the first licensed sportsbooks in Australia. Both parties insist that talks are preliminary, though it has been said that William Hill executives are now in Australia looking over Centrebet’s operation. The move seems to be part of William Hill’s recent globalization strategy.

The Australian: UK group William Hill to bid $130m for Centrebet

UK online sportsbook William Hill is poised to offer £80m ($132m) for online gambling operator Centrebet International.

William Hill’s executives are said to be in Australia examining Centrebet’s operations. It is understood that the groups are still in discussions, with final offers not yet regarded as imminent. Other major sportsbooks like Ladbrokes are still in the running.

William Hill has said it is interested in expanding its operations offshore by increasing its online presence instead of going for land-based betting shops. Australia is seen as fertile territory for bookmakers looking to expand.

“William Hill, Ladbrokes and (British group) Coral are companies I would expect, whether it’s through acquisitions or starting up themselves, to look at entering the Australian market at some point in the next year or so,” says Betfair Australia chief executive Andrew Twaits.

Sky News Australia: William Hill to make offer for Centrebet

UK sportsbook operator William Hilll has offered to pay $132 million for Centrebet.

Australian newspaper The Sunday Times reports that William Hill executives are in currently Australia, examining Centrebet’s books as part of an ongoing negotiation.

In March, Centrebet announced that it had received a number of acquisition proposals and was considering them all.

It is believed that there are other gambling groups interested in acquiring Centrebet, including William Hill’s UK rival Ladbrokes and Austria’s BWin.

The draft recommendation to liberalise Australia’s gambling laws recently published by the Productivity Commission has boosted overseas interest in internet gambling in Australia.

The Sydney Morning Herald: Centrebet continues consolidation talks

The internet gambling and betting group Centrebet International Ltd is still in talks with other operators over consolidation opportunities.

“Whilst parties have expressed interest in exploring a variety of transaction structures, no terms, including as to price, have been agreed,” Centrebet said in a statement on Monday.

“Centrebet anticipates that these discussions may continue for some time.” The group also admitted that the talks are preliminary, and may not result in any formal proposal being made.

Centrebet revealed back in March that it had received takeover proposals in February, and that the proposals were confidential and non-binding. At the time, it was speculated that Ladbrokes, William Hill and Sportingbet were all in talks with Centrebet.

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Aussie Senator Hates Free iPhone Gambling Apps

Apr 27, 2010
iAussie

Senator Nick Xenophon was recently alerted to the existence of free iPhone casino games that let people enjoy simulated poker and slots on their mobiles. He believes the games are vulnerable to abuse by children, and wants the federal government to launch an inquiry. The games, he says, should be illegal for children to play.

International Business Times: Parliament junks iPhone gambling applications

Australian senator Nick Xenophon does not want “for fun” gambling applications to become readily available for download on the iPhone. The lawmaker said Australians are already overexposed to gambling.

According to Xenophon, free poker applications available on the iPhone allow, even children, to play for fake money. These games, he says, should not be allowed by the Australian government because they can expose children to gambling at an early age.

“We already have a big enough gambling problem in this country and there’s no doubt this will fuel gambling addiction. Kids can become poker machine experts years before they are legally allowed to set eyes on a real machine.”

“The use of money, albeit fantasy, drills home a false impression that poker machines can be a source of money or income,” said Xenophon. “….This is a training application for kids to lose real money when they turn eighteen.”

Xenophon understands that it would be impossible to ban these applications in Australia, but he still hopes to introduce measures that would make it illegal for Apple to provide free iPhone casino games to children.

Herald Sun: iPhone pokie apps targeted at children, says Senator Nick Xenophon

Free iPhone casino games that allow children to play poker are irresponsible and should be banned, says Senator Nick Xenophon.

Numerous iPhone applications can be downloaded for free, and are identical to machines in found in clubs, pubs and casinos, except they don’t pay real money.

Senator Xenophon said he wasn’t aware that the games existed until he was recently alerted to their availability.

“It’s irresponsible to allow these applications in the hands of children,” Senator Xenophon said. “We already have a big . . . gambling problem in this country and there is no doubt this will fuel gambling addiction.

“Kids can become poker machines experts years before they are legally allowed to set eyes on a real machine.”

“The use of money, albeit fantasy, drills home a false impression that poker machines can be a source of money or income,” Senator Xenophon said.

The Sydney Morning Herald: Ban iPhone gambling apps: Xenophon

Numerous free casino games, some promoted by gaming companies like Harrah’s, can be downloaded and played on the iPhone for free. The games are similar to real money machines found across Australia.

Senator Xenophon says the games are irresponsible, and could too easily fall into the hands of children.

“We already have a big enough gambling problem in this country and there is no doubt this will fuel gambling addiction.

Some of the applications specifically state that they are for 12-year-olds and upwards, but others have no minimum age suggestions.

“Having a recommended age description of 12 is totally inadequate. This is a training application for kids to lose real money when they turn 18,” says Xenophon.

The senator hopes to alert the federal government, and to start an inquiry into the games, outlawing them for children.

“There needs to be a parliamentary inquiry into online gambling laws because otherwise we will see a new wave of problem gamblers as soon as these kids turn 18,” Xenophon said.

“It’s not only promoting poker machines its conditioning people to use them.

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Australian Analysts Anticipate Boom in the Online Gambling Industry

Apr 16, 2010
Gambling Babe

After trying to ban the online gambling industry from Australian’s, the government realized that it had made a mistake being that an estimated $790 million went out their window to offshore casinos. Knowing that’s there’s a high demand for the industry, the government is liable to break down restrictions and embrace it.

The Wall Street Journal: Analyst predicts online casino boom as governments seek taxes

The global financial crisis seems to be on its way out and could spark rapid growth in online gambling as governments remove bans and tax casinos. A report from KMPG predicts the global online betting market will grow by 42% to $32 billion by 2012.

The recent Productivity Commission draft report into online gaming urges deregulation of the industry, and repealing of restrictions on online betting as well as the removal of the ban on Australian companies operating cyber casinos.

Analysts guess that the long-term trend will be towards deregulation as prohibition clearly isn’t working. Australians have spent $790 million on offshore cyber casinos. The return of revenue to Australia and the potential for establishing an Australian-branded online casino would be a substantial boost for local players.

The Sydney Morning Herald: Online bets on track for legalisation

According to accounting firm KPMG, new laws allowing gaming companies to offer online gambling in Australia are ”inevitable,” as the federal government stands to benefit from the tax revenue of a rapidly growing industry.

According to the Productivity Commission, Australians spent $790 million on online gambling through overseas sites in 2008. The commission’s recent draft report on gambling concluded that, ”While illegal and invisible in official records, online gaming appears to have grown very rapidly, and could amount to 4 per cent of gambling expenditure.”

The commission recommended the government liberalize online gaming, allowing Australian companies to provide internet poker and casino games to local customers. Online wagering and sports betting is already permitted.

Many inside the Australian industry believe it is unlikely the government will move to liberalize online gambling during an election year. However, the idea does have the support of some anti-gambling figures who say legalizing the service would enable authorities to better control it and protect problem gamblers, who are already gambling online through overseas sites.

Australian Associated Press: Online gambling ‘to double by 2012’

A new report suggests that Australia stands to rake in the dollars if it relaxes online gambling restrictions. Australians are estimated to spend around $790 million playing poker and other casino games through offshore websites in 2008. Predictions indicate that the industry will double in size by 2012.

The estimate gives weight to calls for Australia to rethink its prohibition of online gambling, due to the fact that it’s obviously not effective. A wealth of revenue is there to be made if Australia can shape and expand the market, which is set to explode given technological advances in mobile phones and other devices.

Australia could harness the revenue spent at offshore sites by relaxed restrictions, a practice that other governments, including the United States, have been working towards. A federal Productivity Commission draft report has recommended the government consider regulated access to local gaming sites, rather than all-out prohibition.

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European Poker Tour robbed by group of heavily armed bandits

Mar 12, 2010
Germany Poker

As if the European Poker Tour weren’t exciting enough of an event, last week’s was heavily intensified. Knowing that there was a lot of cash at stake, a group of thugs made a successful attempt at armed robbery in the ritzy Grand Hyatt Berlin.

The Star: Bandits play hand in poker tour

German police hunted for 4 bandits who stormed a poker tournament in Berlin and stole about $335,000 in cash in a brazen daylight heist on Monday. The armed men rushed into the European Poker Tour event at the Grand Hyatt Berlin. According to the Berlin police spokesman, Police are analyzing video footage of the crime, dusting for prints and talking to witnesses.

Surveillance footage outside the hotel caught one robber without his mask, but only from behind. At least 2 of the 4 men were armed, one with a machete and one with a revolver, he said.

Rainer Wendt, leader of a German police union, faulted organizers for not hiring enough guards.

The Sydney Morning Herald: Poker heist gang were stupid amateurs: police

An armed gang that staged a brazen heist on a $7 million Berlin poker championship can be regarded as amateurs and will be caught soon, according to the head of the German police. The masked gang of 4 burst into the Grand Hyatt hotel in central Berlin, wielding machetes and handguns and made off with 242,000 euro in cash, while leaving mountains of evidence.

Though there are still “no hot leads” on the robbers, a police spokeswoman said investigators are “confident” that the “relatively large amount of material” they are sifting through will soon result in hard evidence.

After five days, American online poker star Kevin “ImaLuckSac” MacPhee carried off the one million euro top prize. The competition’s total prize pool was 4.7 million euro, according to the European Poker Tour, which organised the event.

BBC News: Robbers raid Berlin hotel poker tournament

Armed robbers have stormed a luxury hotel in central Berlin where a poker tournament was taking place. One report said the gang – armed with assault rifles and hand grenades – made off with the tournament jackpot of $1.1 million. There were injuries due to the ensuing panic but no one was seriously injured.

Four robbers entered from Potsdamer Platz while two others allegedly kept watch, according to Tageszeitung. Images of the chaotic scenes were broadcast by the private n-tv television station. Officials said most of the injuries were caused by panic.

The European Poker Tour (EPT) tournament – resumed about 4 hours after the attack, according to German media sources.

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