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Paddy Power oil spill extinction odds draw criticism

Jun 01, 2010
Oil Bet

As the BP oil disaster unfolds in the Gulf of Mexico, Irish internet sportsbook Paddy Power is offering odds on which species the oil will drive to extinction first. Some have called the offerings irresponsible, saying that the attempt to profit from the disaster is in bad taste. Paddy Power responded by saying that they offer the odds in hopes of bringing attention to the issue.

The Wall Street Journal: Paddy Power Seeks To Cash In On Marine Life Extinction

Paddy Power may have crossed the line. In a recent press release entitled “Ridley Turtle Tipped For Oily Exit” Ireland’s biggest online sportsbook announced odds on which marine species will be the first to become extinct due to the oil spill disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

Paddy Power insists that they are only trying to bring attention to the responsibilities of oil companies.

“The oil spill seems to be going from bad to worse with no end in sight,” says a spokesman for Paddy Power said, who denied that the extinction odds were in bad taste. “Hopefully our odds will bring home the imminent danger to such a varied mix of species dependent on the ocean.”

Unfortunately these words clash with the the tone of Paddy Power’s press release, which inserts humor in all the wrong places. For example, the statement quips about the Kemp’s Ridley Turtle, saying the fact that the species migrates through the Gulf of Mexico this time of year is “spectacularly bad luck”.

This is obviously a publicity stunt, and Paddy Power’s bottom line is to make money. Unfortunately, the fact remains that BP’s pipeline has yet to be fixed, and everyone involved is side-stepping the issue, refusing to accept responsibility.

New York Times: Website Offers Betting on Spill-Related Extinctions of Gulf Species

The online sports betting site Paddy Power is offering odds today on which marine species would be first to go extinct due to BP’s ruptured oil well in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Kemp’s ridley turtle, already an endangered species, is favored to go first. A $5 bet on the turtle would win $9 if it becomes extinct because of the spill. Other species like the gulf sturgeon, smalltooth sawfish and elkhorn coral have less probable odds, paying out at rates of 20-to-1.

Paddy Power hopes the offer will bring attention to the fact that the spill is an environmental catastrophe that will likely lead to the extinction of one or more species in the Gulf.

“We kind of have a very simple philosophy at Paddy Power — within reason if there is a very newsworthy event that are people are talking about, people should be allowed to back up their opinion with some cash,” said spokesman Ken Robertson.

The Chronicle Herald: Ruptured oil well threatens bluefin tuna

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is threatening the Atlantic bluefin tuna, raising concerns about the future of the species in Atlantic Canada. The fish breed in the Gulf, but then follow the Gulf Stream north, along the Nova Scotia coast.

“There is an important rod-and-reel fishery and a significant tourism industry associated with the great fish during the fall season in the Maritimes,” said Reg Hartlen at H&H Fisheries in Eastern Passage.

Many people associated with Canada’s fishing industry first heard about the threat to the bluefin when Paddy Power online sportsbook gave odds on which species would become extinct first because of the disaster. The bluefin is listed as second most likely to face extinction, right after the Kemp’s ridley turtle.

“Anybody who knows anything at all about the importance of the gulf region to our fishery is watching this situation very closely,” said Stephen Kiley, a former Shad Bay charter boat captain.

“One of the worst environmental night­mares of our time is unfolding right now in the gulf. We’ll be living with it for years.”

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Lance Armstrong Accused of Doping by Former Teammate Floyd Landis

May 21, 2010
Bike Pump

In a series of emails sent out to top cycling officials, American rider Floyd Landis admitted to systematically using blood doping and drugs to enhance his performance throughout his career. The emails also accused other cyclists of doing the same – including Lance Armstrong. Armstrong denied all accusations during an impromptu press conference he held earlier this week.

The Wall Street Journal: Cyclist Armstrong Denies Doping

Cyclist Lance Armstrong has denied allegations of participating in performance-enhancing measures. The allegations came from former teammate Floyd Landis, who recently admitted to using drugs and other practices.

Landis, whose 2006 Tour De France victory was nullified after he tested positive in a doping test, recently admitted through a series of emails to cycling officials that he systematically used blood transfusions and performance-enhancing drugs throughout his career. The emails also claim that other riders participated in the practices, including seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.

After Landis’s accusations, Armstrong held a press conference at the Tour of California during which he denied all allegations. “If you said, ‘Give me one word to sum this all up:’ credibility,” said Armstrong. “Floyd lost his credibility a long time ago.”

“I’d remind everybody that this is a man that’s been under oath several times and had a very different version,” said Armstrong, alluding to Landis’ constant denials of doping accusations in the past. “This is somebody that took, some would say, close to $1 million from innocent people for his defense under a different premise. Now when it’s all run out the story changes.”

Armstrong has faced doping accusations several times during his career, but has never been sanctioned.

Boston Globe: Wheels spin on doping

Lance Armstrong faced accusations yesterday that he used performance-enhancing drugs. They came from American cyclist Floyd Landis, who lost his 2006 Tour de France victory when he tested positive for synthetic testosterone.

“It’s our word against his word,” said Armstrong. “I like our word. We like our credibility.”

Landis recently admitted to top cycling officials that he had used performance-enhancing measures in the past, including steroid patches, blood doping, and HGH. He also accused several other high-profile American cyclists of doping, including Armstrong.

In an impromptu press conference, Armstrong said, “We have nothing to hide. We have nothing to run from.”

“It’s very sad,’’ said Armstrong. “At one point or another, all of us implicated have cared about Floyd. That’s one thing we all shared in common.

“We all gave ladders to Floyd at some point in his life when he dug himself a hole. People aren’t throwing him ladders anymore.’’

Sport.co.uk: Armstrong dismisses Landis claims

Lance Armstrong says he has nothing to hide in the face of recent allegations of performance-enhancing drug use made by fellow cyclist Floyd Landis.

Landis was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title after testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs. Earlier this week he admitted to systematic drug use thorough his career.

More shocking than this admission of guilt was a series of allegations that implicated Armstrong and his team boss Johan Bruyneel were also involved in performance-enhancing activities.

Landis says that Armstrong and Bruyneel struck a deal with authorities to cover a positive drug test during the 2002 Tour of Switzerland.

The UCI, cycling’s governing body, is on Armstrong’s side. As it turns out, he did not even compete in that event.

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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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Armed Robbers Strike the Grand Casino in Switzerland

Mar 29, 2010
Swiss Robbers

Masked Robbers charged the Grand Casino, located in Basle, Switzerland, just 200 meters from the French border. The bandits made off with hundreds of thousands of franks and escaped across the border. Swiss and French police are working in a joint effort to bring the situation to justice.

BBC News: Switzerland casino is robbed by armed gang

According to prosecutors, masked men stormed a casino near the Swiss border city of Basle, and made off with hundreds of thousands of francs. About 10 raiders showed up in two cars and smashed their way in, brandishing machine-guns and pistols.

The gang spoke French and ordered the 600 guests and employees to the floor while they emptied registers. Reports say they couldn’t get into the strong room despite firing on the door. The gang escaped in their cars, silver Audis with French license plates, headed towards France. Basle lies on the Swiss border, with French territory just 200m from the casino.

According to the Basle prosecutor’s office, no-one was injured though several shots were fired. Managing director Michael Favrod said it was the first robbery at the casino.

The Guardian: Basle’s Grand Royal casino raided by armed gang

French and Swiss police have launched a cross-border manhunt for an armed gang which recently stormed a Swiss Casino and made off with hundreds of thousands of Euros. According to prosecutors, the raid was professionally executed at 4am in the Basle’s Grand Casino by about 10 masked raiders armed with machine guns and pistols.

One man burst through the door with a sledgehammer, and his partners ran inside and ordered guests to the floor while firing into the air. Some of the gang tried to break into the safe room but failed, despite firing bullets into the door.

The gang sped across the border in 2 silver Audis. The Grand Casino is just 200 meters from the French border. Witnesses said the gang members spoke in French.

The Wall Street Journal: Armed Gang Raids Swiss Casino

A gang of masked men raided a large casino in Basel and stole hundreds of thousands of Swiss francs just 1 week after the Swiss government approved the expansion of gaming.

The 10 men pulled off a daring heist at the Grand Casino of Basel. They pulled up to the casino in a pair of gray Audis bearing French license plates. Once inside, they brandished machine guns and pistols, and ordered the 600 guests and employees to drop to the ground. Investigators said the men spoke French.

Some of the men emptied registers, while others unsuccessfully attempted to break open a safe in the basement by shooting the door. A few guests and casino guards were lightly injured in a scuffle.

The theft happened just a week after the Swiss government gave the green light for regions that don’t currently have casinos to seek a license this spring. At the moment, there are 19 casinos in Switzerland.

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Ladbrokes watch as profits plummet

Feb 23, 2010
Ladbrokes Sportsbook

Ladbrokes, one of the UK’s largest , reported a 28% fall in profits for 2009 over the previous year. They blame the economic climate which kept punters from betting, and the unusually snowy winter which kept bettors from heading out to the 2,700 betting shops that Ladbrokes operates across the UK.

The Wall Street Journal: Ladbrokes’s Net Tumbles

The UK gambling company Ladbrokes PLC reported a significant drop in 2009 profits amid the economic downturn.

The sportsbook reported last year’s net profit down 63% to £74.4 million from £200.7 million in 2008. Revenue fell 10% to £1.032 billion.

Revenue suffered from winter weather, with snow and ice across the UK keeping customers at home. Another contributing factor was a strange year for the Premier League, which saw fewer draws in matches than usual. Draws are a bookmaker’s secret weapon, as most bettors wager on one team to win.

Chief Executive Officer Chris Bell says they are putting their hopes on the soccer World Cup in South Africa this summer. “Far from me to make the prediction that the World Cup will balance the economy … But it’s a huge tournament.”

Ladbrokes is watching carefully for changes to US gambling laws. “We are prepared,” Bell said.

BBC: Ladbrokes profits hit by recession

UK sportsbook Ladbrokes blames the economy for a 28% fall in profits for 2009. Last year it made £191.3m ($301.5m), down from the £265.6m it made in 2008.

Sales in the UK fell by 28%, as bettors cut back on spending in the recession.

The company says the football World Cup this summer is a good opportunity to increase profits and attract new customers.

Ladbrokes also hopes to increase profits through the upcoming launch of a new spread betting service, which will let punters to bet on stock markets, shares and currencies.

The company’s chairman Peter Erskine admits “2009 was a challenging year for Ladbrokes.”

“We were impacted by the deteriorating economic environment… however, Ladbrokes continues to be a profitable and cash generative business.”

The New York Times: Ladbrokes Profits Slump

Britain’s largest sportsbook Ladbrokes reported a 28% drop in last year’s pretax profits. The figure reflects recent economic conditions and bettor-friendly results hitting margins during the third quarter.

The company, which has operates more than 2,700 betting shops across the UK, said their 2009 pretax profits fell from 265.6 million in 2008 to just 191.3 million pounds.

The figures are still ahead average forecast for pretax profit, which stood at 166 million pounds according to a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S poll of 19 analysts. Ladbrokes is also facing the loss of CEO Chris Bell who will step down in early summer, and are currently looking for a replacement.

Shares in Ladbrokes closed last week at 151.9 pence, valuing the business at 1.4 billion pounds.

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