With no shortage of headline grabbing stories over the last seven days perhaps we should take a moment to review some of the most important from last week
Fourteen people were shot dead, and another 21 injured, in the latest mass shooting in the US that occurred last week at a Christmas party organized for the employees of the San Bernardino Public Health Department. Syed Rizwan Farook, who had left the party after a dispute, and his wife Tashfeen Malik opened fire with a selection of automatic weapons, and were shot dead after a police pursuit later in the day. The FBI are investigating it as an act of terrorism after explosives were found at the home the couple, in their twenties, shared with their six month old child.
COP21, the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference, was held in Le Bourget, Paris, last week with a vast array of world leaders making speeches encouraging delegates to arrive at, for the first time, a “binding and universal” agreement on the planet’s response to this global crisis. Despite public pressure however, many observers feel the differences in vested interests between developed and developing nations may prevent anything but a very watered down compromise treaty being signed.
British Prime Minister David Cameron led the call for an expansion of UK airstrikes against so-called Islamic State last week with parliament debating and then voting on including targets within the territory of Syria. Opposed by Jeremy Corben, leader of the Labour party the government carried the vote with 66 opposition MPs voting with them, including Labour foreign affairs spokesman Hillary Benn who made a well-received impassioned plea for continued military action against the extremists.
In sport Real Madrid, who have been busy readying their appeal against expulsion from the Copa del Rey for fielding ineligible players during their 3-1 win over Cadiz, answered critics with four first half goals against Getafe to remain in touch with La Liga leaders Barcelona. Will they catch up and overtake their big rivals? You’ll have to read our daily news pages to find out but in the meantime here’s a look back at some of the major stories we covered from around the world over the last seven days.
1. PokerStars’ Ronaldo hosted a celebrity poker tournament and he also played reaching second place.
2. The most unpredictable Premier League season ever is unfolding in front of our eyes.
3. New market statistics showed that Australia gambling has hit a record high, with Australians spending more money on gambling now than ever before.
4. An FBI was underway regarding the Sepp Blatter bribery scandal. The FIFA president was being investigated for allegedly accepting bribes from sports marketing company ISL.
5. The new Kardashian-West baby name was announced, and it was Saint West. It is another ridiculous baby name from Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, who named their first child North West.
6. A new solution emerged from the internet about how Chelsea can become champions again next season.
Meanwhile the wreck of the San Jose, a Spanish galleon sunk in 1708 by the British, often described as the “holy grail” of sunken vessels was discovered off the port city of Cartagena. The galleon was carrying a fortune in gold, silver, gems and jewelry, today worth some $1 billion, that the Spanish King was to use as finance for his war of succession. Juan Manuel Santos, the Colombian President said the find “constitutes one of the greatest discoveries of submerged patrimony in the history of mankind.” He also announced the construction of a museum in Cartagena to house some of the wreck’s treasures.
The Scottish independence referendum is just three months away and it will happen on 18th September 2014. The decision about it came after the Scottish and the UK governments signed an agreement, followed by the Scottish Independence Referendum Bill, which dealt with the details around this historic event.
The Bill was passed by the Scottish Parliament in November 2013 and it received Royal Assent in December 2013. The Electoral Commission put forward the following wording for the referendum question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?” which people have to answer when they go to vote.
Naturally, this issue is pretty hot in Scotland and there are a lot of scenarios and speculations discussed among people and the media. The latest impressive gambling news came from a Surrey punter, who gambled GBP 400,000 that Scottish voters will say no at independence referendum. More about one of largest political bets even placed can he found on:
TheGuardian: Scottish independence referendum: man bets £400,000 on no vote
Bookmakers around the country are extremely excited about the impressive bet calling it the “biggest political bet ever struck.”
One of the biggest betting houses in the UK William Hill reported that the bettor in question showed a banker’s draft for GBP 400,000 in a branch in south-west London. Keeping in mind that the odds are at 1/4 for a no vote, he will most probably earn profit of GBP 100,000.
Additionally, William Hill reported that it already has a GBP 200,000 bet placed again on a no vote, which isn’t surprising as people’s support for a no vote has grown by eight points to 61%, while backing for a yes vote has declined to 18%.
Graham Sharpe, spokesman of William Hill commented: “As far as we can ascertain, this is the biggest political bet ever struck.”
Moreover: “The previous record was a GBP 200,000 bet also struck on a no vote in the Scottish referendum earlier in the campaign, and the same amount was gambled by a customer who backed David Cameron to become Tory leader.”
And: “We are now well on the way to turning over GBP 1 million on the outcome of the Scottish referendum, which is exceeding our expectations.”
TheIndependent: Scottish referendum set to be the most gambled on political event ever
William Hill is definitely one of the big winners, who are discussed in numerous gambling blogs, as this referendum will most probably earn the company more than any other political vote.
Sharpe added the revenue results on the referendum outcome are very impressive, especially keeping in mind that “our total turnover on the last General Election in 2010 was no more than one and a half million.”
With the current bet of GBP 400,000 the UK is pretty high in the table of political bets, very close behind the biggest reported non-UK bet, which was GBP 419,000. It was placed by an Australian gambler, who bet that Tony Abbott would win the 2013 Australian general election.
TheTelegraph: Man bets £400,000 on Scotland saying ‘no’
The GBP 400,000 wager on the outcome of the independence referendum in Scotland is definitely one of the most commented issues in the UK, prior the vote, which will happen in September this year.
William Hill reported that the bettor, who is part of all conversations in the gambling circles, is middle-aged man from Surrey and didn’t have Scottish accent. He placed the bet through a banker’s draft and will have the chance to “make profit” of GBP 100,000 if his prediction comes true.
In reality, “there are less than 100 campaign days to go until Scottish voters go to the polls to decide whether their country should remain part of the United Kingdom.”
Naturally, all three parties in UK’s parliament offered deals to Scotland if it rejects the independence, like more powers on the issues of tax and spending.
However, there are some controversies regarding the support, as last week Gordon Brown, who supports the “No” campaign against independence, accused David Cameron of making a “big mistake” in confronting Scotland against England in his attempt to save the union.
The former Prime Minister expressed his concern that threatening the Scottish population with cuts of jobs and bankruptcy if they vote for independence, transformed the debate and made it simply “Scotland versus Britain.”
Reuters: Gambler in England bets 400,000 pounds that Scots will reject independence
One of the “world’s biggest ever political bets” will most probably bring the bettor who placed it quite impressive revenue.
The GBP 400,000 bet is twice as big as the one of GBP 200,000, also placed on a no vote, by a Scottish man at an earlier stage of the independence referendum campaign.
Despite the larger percentage of people who will most probably vote “No”, in comparison to the supporters of Scottish independence, there are still a lot of voters who haven’t made up their minds.
Thus: “The bookmakers said they had shortened their odds on a “no” vote to 1/5, suggesting this was now more likely to happen than previously thought. Their odds on a “yes” vote stand at 10/3, meaning winners getting 10 pounds back for every three they bet.”
Fifty-two year old Cliff Bryant, placed several accumulator bets on whether cities in Britain would enjoy a White Christmas, and won all of them bringing his winnings to £7.1 million. Ladbrokes, the betting site where he placed the bet, is refusing to pay out this sum on account of the bets being accumulators instead of singles.
Press Association: No £7.1m payout after bet ‘error’
Bookmaker Ladbrokes refuses to pay off a bet worth £7.1 million to a man who wagered snow would fall on Christmas because it was accepted by mistake. Cliff Bryant placed 2 £5 accumulators on snow fall across 24 British Cities on December 25.
Ladbrokes staff accepted the bet by mistake as the company rules state such a wager can only be a single bet. The first accumulator would’ve netted Mr. Bryant over £4.9 million, the second £2.23 million. The company honored the relevant single bets and paid out a lesser £31.78 instead. They’ve since apologized for the mistake.
Mr. Bryant is seeking legal advice over the error and says he was “gutted” by the decision. He urged the company to make rules clearer. A Ladbrokes spokesman said company rules state “snow at Christmas” bets must be singles only, rather than accumulators.
Reuters: Bookie refuses to pay out £7 million on snow bet
Cliff Bryant placed 2 £5 accumulator bets that snow would fall on 24 towns and cities across the north of England on Christmas. Now he’s being refused the £7.1 million payout he won.
“We have apologized to the customer for any confusion and for mistakenly accepting an accumulator bet when our own rules state that only single bets are available on a market of this nature,” said a Ladbrokes spokesman. “We are happy to void the bets and to pay the customer his winnings on the relevant singles.” That would be a mere £32.
The graphic designer from Southampton, says he was “gutted” and will seek legal advice. He claims the 1st bet would have won him 4.9 million pounds, with the second adding 2.2 million. “If I make a mistake in my work like that it costs me dearly and I think the offer should be a lot more generous than they have made.”
Ladbrokes gave Bryant details of the Independent Betting Adjudication Service (IBAS), an neutral adjudicator that deals with gambling operators and customers disagreements.
Danny Cracknell, an IBAS manager, told Reuters that Bryant had been in contact and they would be investigating the issue once he had completed the relevant forms.
Mirror.co.uk: Punter furious after bookies refuse to pay out on £7m white Christmas bet
A UK punter thought he won £7million betting on a white Christmas and ended up with just £31. Cliff Bryant spent £10 on 2 accumulator bets that 24 UK cities would see snow fall on Christmas. All of his predictions were correct but he was later told that his wager was invalid.
Company rules say accumulators, a series of linked bets, can’t be placed on the chances of a white Christmas. Cliff received the winnings he would have got had he placed 24 single bets. The dad-of-three, said: “My heart was beating fast when I thought I’d won but now I’m absolutely fuming. If I’d been paid I would have loved to have got my teeth done.”
A Ladbrokes spokesman said: “We apologize that a bet was taken in error. We intend to talk to Mr. Cliff to see if we can make it up to him.”
Cliff Bryant would’ve made over £7 million this Christmas but Ladbrokes claims that his bets were invalid and will award him only £31 due to the mishap.
Talks of a new way of going about dealing with offshore online gambling operators are now circulating. Under the proposed changes, foreign operators would be required to obtain licenses from the UK Gambling Commission, and to comply with British gambling laws. The issue of taxing foreign operators has not been mentioned.
The Times: Overseas online gambling groups will need license
Foreign internet gambling companies that target British gamblers will soon require a license according to a proposal released yesterday by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe admitted only a few of the biggest overseas gambling operators that target British players are forced to comply with the Gambling Commission’s regulations. The proposed system would require online gambling operators licensed outside Britain to apply for a license from the Gambling Commission before they could legally offer their services to British players.
An additional rule would require any company that targets British players to record information about suspicious betting patterns, and to share it with UK sports bodies and with the Gambling Commission.
The Government is also looking into ways of securing levy contributions from overseas operators, which has been a concern since UK companies Ladbrokes and William Hill moved offshore. The issue of tax, however, has yet to be mentioned.
The Guardian: Online betting faces regulation overhaul
The British government will soon overhaul the problematic online gambling tax by tightening regulation of offshore operators.
The change is influenced in part by the recent successes of online gambling regulation in other European Union countries.
“Online gambling has changed significantly in recent years with many European countries taking new approaches to regulation,” says Sports Minister Gary Sutcliffe. “It would be wrong of us to stand still where things are changing around us.”
The proposed changes may see the Gambling Commission issuing individual licenses to online gambling operators, with license fees contributing to the cost of gambling regulation and the treatment of gambling addictions.
Sutcliffe’s announcement comes shortly after Ladbrokes and William Hill, fed up with UK tax policy, announced plans to move their operations to offshore tax havens.
Because one of Gordon Brown’s last moves as chancellor was to bump the tax rate for internet gambling firms to 15% of gross profits, no poker or casino sites conduct their UK business through a Gambling Commission license or pay tax here.
According to a Treasury spokesperson: “The focus of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) review was on the regulation – not taxation – of remote gambling … The Treasury will continue to work with DCMS to ensure that any implications for tax policy, arising from the proposals, are properly considered.”
The Independent: Plans to regulate offshore gambling websites
The British government today revealed to regulate foreign gambling websites that target UK customers.
Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe revealed that the new rules will require all foreign operators that cater to British players to be licensed by the UK Gambling Commission and follow UK gambling laws.
Under the proposed changes (which are still being discussed), all offshore gambling operators targeting the British market will have to comply with the Gambling Act and will be required to report suspicious wagering patterns to the Gambling Commission and to sport governing bodies.
Licensed foreign operators will also have to comply with British license regulations, such the protection of children against gambling, and will be required demonstrate how they can contribute to lessening problem gambling in Britain.
In a statement to Parliament, Mr Sutcliffe revealed that few companies active in the British market are now regulated by the Gambling Commission. “Though British consumers are not unprotected – most overseas jurisdictions have regulatory systems – standards vary and requirements differ from our own.”
Several UK bookmakers recently chose to shift their online businesses overseas to avoid UK taxes; this is one of the driving forces behind the recent talks.
Online gaming company 888 just agreed to buy Wink Bingo for a price that could reach as high as $96 million. Following a large down payment, the remainder of the price will depend on the site’s performance in coming months. 888 made the purchase to increase their presents in the rapidly-growing online bingo market.
New York Times: 888 Buys Wink Bingo For Up to £60 Mln
Online gaming company 888 just agreed to acquire Wink Bingo from its current owner Daub Ltd for as much as 59.7 million pounds, and said that current trading remains strong and in line with projections.
888 develops new gaming products like bingo to help offset the effect of online gambling becoming illegal in the United States two years ago, which lead to the loss of half of the group’s sales income. Today, bingo is the fastest growing area of its online business.
“We are delighted to announce the Wink Bingo acquisition as an expansion of our B2C online Bingo footprint in the lucrative UK market. The transaction is financially attractive and will be earnings enhancing,” said Gigi Levy, 888’s CEO.
Details suggest 888 will first pay 11 million pounds to Daub on completion, followed by subsequent payments based on performance. Payments are set between five and six times the businesses earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation in the year to March 31, 2011.
Wink Bingo saw revenue of 15 million pounds with pretax profit of 1.3 million pounds in the 11 months prior to November 30th.
Shares in 888 were up 1.1 percent, trading at 112.8 pence.
domain-b: 888 acquires online game Wink Bingo for $96 million
Gibraltar-based 888 Holdings Plc. Recently agreed to buy Wink Bingo for as much as £60 million ($96 million) in an effort to enhance the company’s presence in the online bingo market, which is the fastest-growing area of the internet gaming industry.
An initial payment of £11 million will be given to Wink’s current owners Daub Ltd., followed by as much as £48.7 million in late 2011 depending on performance. This second payment is capped at £59.7 million.
Wink Bingo arrived with a bang in early 2008, and soon became very well known. Sponsoring popular UK television show’s like Harry Hill’s TV Burp and running amusing adverts like the Dancing Dog helped Wink Bingo increase their player base by more than 60,000 players each month.
With this acquisition, 888 hopes to catch up with bingo competitors Gala Coral, PartyGaming and Gamesys. In July, 888 lost a bidding war with PartyPoker when trying to acquire Cashcade, owner of Foxy Bingo, which also sold for £96 million.
888 reported that trading in this fourth quarter remains strong, showing growth of about 8 per cent over the third quarter of 2009.
London Evening Standard: 888 gets the nod for online bingo business Wink
Online gambling company 888 today dished out £60 million for an internet bingo business that started less than two years ago.
888 will pay Daub Limited, owners of Wink Bingo, as much as £59.7 million for the bingo business, which also includes the brands Posh Bingo and Bingo Fabulous.
The fast-growing industry of internet is very attractive to online gaming firms like 888 and PartyGaming, which are both constantly looking for partnerships.
Wink Bingo was just launched in 2008 but already supports more than 60,000 active members, making it one of the more popular bingo sites on the net.
It saw revenues of £15 million and profits of £1.3 million during the first 11 months of 2009.
888 will pay £11 million up front, with the remainder of the price possibly reaching as high as £59.7 million – this depends on the site’s performance in the next year.
888 chief executive Gigi Levy said: “We are delighted to announce the Wink Bingo acquisition as an expansion of our online bingo footprint in the lucrative UK market.
“The Wink team has a proven track record of excellence and will be a great addition to our growing bingo business.”
Levy also remarked that trading at 888 “remains strong and is in line with management’s expectations”.
Another massive progressive jackpot slot game paid out big this week. This time it was at one of the internet’s top bingo sites: Mecca Bingo.
Mecca Bingo is a unique site, because it is actually the online version of a chain physical bingo halls in the UK. The lucky winner, who uses the online alias Dudderbear, was at a Mecca Bingo hall in Leeds when a lucrative welcome bonus led her to sign up online. Since then the mother of two has been regular at Mecca Bingo’s online website.
Dudderbear won the €65,625 prize on a progressive jackpot game called Jungle Madness. This wild video slot is filled with jungle critters like monkeys, snakes, and tigers. Its progressive jackpot prize is paid when five tigers appear in the middle payline.
“I just couldn’t believe it when the slot machine demonstrated that I had won,” explained Dudderbear. “Immediately I rushed to my mother who also was speechless. My mother has an injury so she wasn’t able to go wild with me but her calmness had a positive effect on me. I informed my children while my husband is away for his work. I still need to bring him the good news.”
“I plan to spend the money on a new car and on a nice vacation. I already know which car I would love to buy! Surely my colleagues will have more options for spending the windfall.”
Four winners shared in this weekend’s UK national lottery jackpot grand prize of £4.47 million, but none were as openly generous – or as young – as Stacey Bywater of Holmfirth, England. Stacey, who is 18 years old, was allowed by her parents to play the lottery after her last birthday, even though U.K. law says that anyone over 16 may win.
Bywater’s share ended up being exactly £1,117,779 (about $1.75 million), but British media is happily reporting that Stacey has level-headed plans for the money. First she says she’d like to help her mother and father get a bigger home, moving out of the council house they’re residing in now. She’ll at least be putting down the deposit on a mortgage for a new house.
Afterward, Stacey said she’d be buying herself a Mini Cooper convertible and perhaps a living space – but only for rent. “I’m only 18 and I don’t want to leave them yet,” she told local media outlets. “I don’t think it has sunk in that I’m a millionaire.”
The winning numbers chosen by Stacey and three others were 13, 16, 22, 25, 31 and 39. The total prize pool for last Saturday’s draw was over £14 million ($22 million).
Imagine you just won a £7.7 million ($11.7 million) in a national lottery. What would be the first thing you did? Surely a minority would answer, “Immediately get back to work,” but that’s precisely what Ivan Westbury did after receiving the life-changing news last Sunday.
Westbury’s wife of 21 years, Susan, was at a local Tesco checking on her lottery ticket. Susan attracted a bit of attention as she had the ticket scanned by a cashier, who informed her they’d have to call the lottery commission for more information. The information imparted was that, yes, the Westburys had won £7,706,631 in the U.K. lottery – at which, Susan said, “I nearly passed out.”
Susan called her husband, who joined her at the store after leaving his lightning-protection business. The two whooped it up for a bit, but within the hour Ivan was back at work. In explaining his actions, the self-professed workaholic was quoted as saying, “I’ve got a passion about work […] and I just love what I do. I suppose you could call it sad but I haven’t had a day off for four years.”
The Westburys will now take that vacation, though it was planned before the couple bought the lottery ticket: They’ll be taking a day trip to Cornwall.
In hoping to celebrate their win that evening, the Westburys ironically found that they couldn’t afford to pay for some pub drinks in cash.
The couple has stated that they’ll be doing “normal lottery things” by making a few major purchases in addition to giving their children and grandchildren some money – and they’ll be leaving the business open.
Mike McNally, a 29-year-old business graduate and football fan from Bradford, England, turned a £10 bet into £650,000 ($1 million) betting on World Cup at a popular online sportsbook in the UK. McNally correctly predicted the results of an incredible 36 out of the 64 matches of the 2010 World Cup, beating hundreds of other football fans from around the world who also entered the contest.
The win wasn’t secured until the final match. McNally and another participant were tied 35-35 until the Holland and Spain match. McNally picked Spain to win, while his rival had put his money on Holland. McNally must have been on the edge of his seat during the entire match, only relaxing after Andres Iniesta’s extra time goal for Spain put him in the lead.
“I was speechless when I learned I’d won,” McNally revealed. “I just wish England could have performed as well as I did.”
Punters who missed wagering on this year’s World Cup may feel left out after learning about McNally’s success, thinking about all the 2010 World Cup bets they could have made. This big football tournament series won’t be back until 2014, but in the meantime, there are thousands of bets offered every day at sportsbooks across the internet. Just check out the latest online sports betting odds, then put your money down to win.
Last Sunday, a woman from Wolverhampton (who wishes to remain anonymous) went to the Gala Bingo club at Ashmore Park with some friends to enjoy an evening of fun and games. The night started off with a bang when some of her friends won the house prize of £3,000. Things soon got even more exciting when the lucky lady hit the club’s High 5 jackpot, which paid out an amazing £250,000.
Because the High 5 jackpot is designed to benefit more than just one player, the winner only took home half the prize money. The rest got distributed between all the other players in the bingo club. There were 61 at the time, so each one went home with £2,049.18.
“I am absolutely ecstatic with the win,” said the 76 year old grandmother. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet – when I got home from bingo I just sat staring into space while it hit me! I’m going to spend the money on my kids, my grandchildren and some home improvements.”
Gala Bingo runs 145 clubs across the UK. Since the High 5 jackpot was launched in 2007, it has paid out a total £17,096,890.09.
Gala is also one of the many groups that offer online bingo games in the UK. Dozens of other top online gambling groups provide internet bingo services for UK players. All accept deposits in British Pounds. While jackpots as big as the one won at Gala Bingo over the weekend are not so common online, some of the internet’s top online bingo rooms offer progressive jackpot bingo games and progressive side games that can pay out enormous prizes.
Ann Marie Stubbs got the bingo bonus of a lifetime last week. This Scarborough resident was at home playing online games at Virgin Bingo when she won a big jackpot. Stubbs was so surprised and excited when she realized she had won, that she suddenly found herself ready to give birth!
Stubbs was pregnant while enjoying a game in the . When she went into labour, she announced though the game’s live chat feature, telling the other players that she had to abandon her game and rush off to the hospital.
“Everyone has been fantastic in the Marrakesh room,” she said. “I could not believe my waters broke while I was playing bingo, to say I was shocked was an understatement!”
Within hours, Stubbs had delivered a healthy baby boy: Harley Jay Stubbs, weighing in at 7lbs 1oz. Virgin Bingo was so excited to her about her “double win” that they caught up with her to offer their congratulations by presenting the woman and her new child with a bouquet of flowers.
Internet bingo in the UK is becoming more and more popular, not only with mums-to-be but also with a younger crowd as well. Sites like Virgin Bingo offer non-stop games in a variety of styles, and they use live chat technology to maintain the social aspect of traditional bingo halls. The site offers free bingo games several times a day in their Marrakesh room so new players can try things on for size.
Recently named one of the top ten online casino and bingo brands in the U.K., Foxy Bingo shows no signs of letting up in terms of either success or popularity. In June, the five-year-old website was able to add to its accolades at the industry’s recent Online Bingo Summit: Foxy Bingo was nominated in the category of “Best Online Bingo Operator for 2010” and won in the “Best Marketing Campaign” award.
Some of Foxy Bingo’s best marketing comes from its promotions of course and this month Foxy seems to be just cranking out the big winners. Last week saw user Itsbetty take £2,500 in the “Tombola Draw” held every Tuesday and Thursday; starting at £500, this payout was the highest yet recorded in the promotion at Foxy Bingo.
And in just one week of the “Pre-Purchase Game,” Foxy Bingo doled out £17,000 in cash prizes plus DVD players and TVs to 31 players, including wins of £30,00 recorded by players Fleapot and Jambojebus92. One other player took home a nice £2,000 prize in the competition and three others won £1,500.
While Foxy Bingo is just five years old, this online bingo site UK has rapidly become known as one of the biggest and best around. Foxy boasts 40 rooms offering nearly every available form of bingo, from 75 ball pattern games to 90 ball coverall tournaments.
Some promotions currently available at Foxy Bingo include the free £20 welcome bonus, a contest for a free wedding cake and £1,000 in cash for the big day, and Monday Super Prize nights with games for as little as 1¢. For an all-around outstanding bingo experience, experts and players appear to agree: Foxy Bingo is your place for fun and winnings!
Now that proponents of fair taxation for bingo in Scotland have been elected/reelected into the country’s parliament, the Scottish National Party constituency now awaits a repeal to a proposed tax hike on bingo gaming.
One of the more outspoken proponents of bingo in Scotland was Dundee East MP Stewart Hosie. Hosie, who also serves as the SNP’s spokesperson for the treasury and economy, actually invested the time for his last photo opportunity of the election season to meet with Mecca Bingo players and managers in Nethergate in May.
SNP spent much of the election campaign warning bingo players that Scottish bingo clubs were at risk because of the Labour Party’s proposed budget. Planned for in the budget, SNP candidates said, was an increase from 15% to 22%. Calling the prospective tax hike “unfair,” Hosie at that time said that “Bingo is a highly popular social activity yet is paying 22%, while duty on other forms of gambling including sports betting, online casino and online poker and football pools will remain at 15%.”
And in fact SNP strategy also had party head/First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond playing the part of bingo caller in a Glasgow bingo parlor in October. Ironically, the winning number in the game Salmond drew was 74, the number of years Labour had held the parliament seat of the district in which Salmond was calling. “You can’t fight fate,” he joked. (SNP’s candidate David Kerr ended up losing anyway.)
In 2009, a House of Commons study showed that three million people in Great Britain played bingo regularly. In that fiscal year, 1.42 billion was played on bingo games in real-life bingo halls alone and 69.8 million was raised in taxes for the British government. The Scottish market accounts for about 20% of the overall British numbers.
A player known as “Milllane” was playing Progressive Snow Queen’s Magic, a slot game installed at Virgin Bingo. On 10p stakes, Milllane managed to line up five Snow Queen symbols for a massive £55,000 on a single spin.
Ironically, Milllane had been a regular player at Virgin Bingo, but recently had been away from the online bingo room for two years. On a whim, she decided to visit her old favorite again last Sunday to come away with the five-figure prize money.
Though Milllane took a goodly amount of money out of the online progressive slot, she was only playing for 10p per payline and the total sum is only paid out to a player at the £1 bet level. As of this writing, over £496,000 is in the jackpot coffers right now.
When asked what she would be doing with her winnings, Milllane stated that “I think some of my winnings will be [for] going on holiday and getting a new kitchen fitted!”
Since its establishment in 2004, Virgin Games has now served over 1,000,000 players. The custom-built Virgin Games platform, including Virgin Bingo and Virgin Casino powered by WagerWorks and Cryptologic software among others, was established in 2008.
Join Virgin Bingo while the World Cup is going on to play free bingo games while a match is being played in the World Cup Free Bingo promotion!
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.
Paddy Power has been pulling all of the stops and stunts when it comes to advertising lately and the stunts seem to be garnering more and more attention. The latest opportunity has presented itself and Paddy Power took it – the company has sponsored the “Sin Bin” a confessional booth in a Catholic Church.
The Telegraph: Paddy Power betting firm sponsors church confession box
Paddy Power has paid £10,000 and sponsored a new confessional booth in Our Lady & St Etheldreda church in the racing town of Newmarket, Suffolk. Jockey Frankie Dettori, who was married in the church, performed the official opening ceremony yesterday.
The Dublin-based bookmaker has 200 offices in Ireland, 100 in Britain and a turnover of £2 billion. The betting company hopes that confessing your sins in a Paddy Power confession box will become a tradition for race-goers.
Sicilian-born Dettori, who is riding the Guineas meeting in Newmarket this weekend, said: “I was married in this church 13 years ago and all five of my children were baptised here.
Fr Michael Griffin, the priest, said: “It was suggested by a parishoner that we should ask Paddy Power for help because of its horse-racing connections. We were very pleased when they generously agreed.”
The Guardian: Church bets on power of sponsorship
St Etheldreda Church in Newmarket decided to turn the sin of gambling at this weekend’s Guineas Festival to its favour. The Catholic Church has taken £10,000 from bookie Paddy Power in return for sponsorship rights to the confession box.
“Our church has felt for a long time that we should have closer ties with the horse racing industry in Newmarket,” said Fr. Griffin. “Through the generosity of Paddy Power this is now starting to happen.”
Generosity indeed, but how difficult will it be for some penitent punters to drop a coin in the “sin box” if they happen to have already lost their shirt on a bet placed with Paddy Power? God only knows.
BBC News: Bookmaker Paddy Power sponsors confessional box
An Irish bookmaker has paid £10,000 for a new confessional box at a Catholic church in Newmarket after he was approached for a donation.
Father Griffin said everyone “liked a flutter” and gambling was only a sin if it left a wife and family without food. The priest said that the person who made the call knew Paddy Power was the name of a betting shop chain but was surprised when Paddy Power himself answered the phone.
Father Griffin said that the church had been trying to raise a total of £65,000 for renovations, which also included a new altar and font. The rest of the money raised has come from legacies.
Yesterday, entry to Ascot was free. Over 19,000 people showed up. It was a record-breaking day for bookmakers, but not in a good way. Many bet shops were experimenting with decimal prices instead of the usual fractional notation. The change confused punters, leaving some bookies barley able to cover expenses despite the impressive turnout.
Guardian: Decimal experiment fails to make its point
UK racing’s experiment with decimal odds only lasted a single day. The five major bookmakers agreed to show their odds as decimals rather than the traditional fractions all reported slumps in business, even though free entry to Ascot brought a huge crowd.
“We’ve had a number of queries today and they’ve all been about how we convert the decimal prices into the odds that are shown on other boards,” one worker said.
“So I’m now £160 up on the day and that just about covers the expenses. Which, considering the number of bets we’ve taken, is remarkable.”
Bookmakers feel that punters were confused by the unfamiliar decimals, and decided to place their wagers with other bookies who were not taking part in the trial.
“The feedback we’re getting from the customers is that they’re struggling to understand what our prices represent,” said Geoff Banks, betting on the rails.
“In the second race, for example, the favourite was 13-8 everywhere. I went 1.75 [a better price, the equivalent of 7-4] and I kept that for six or seven minutes – no particular interest.
“So then I said to my colleague next door, you go 7-4 with the fractionals and see what happens. He took six bets immediately and I took one.”
It is to be hoped that this brief change to decimal odds has not put bettors off.
Mirror: 5 out of 10 for decimal prices
Decimalisation began at Ascot yesterday as British racecourses tried out decimal odds instead traditional fractions.
The move is being heralded by Racing For Change, which is trying to bring racing to a wider audience. Their plan also includes free entry at nine fixtures this week to bring in new clients.
The decimal odds trial didn’t go over well. First-time racegoer Paul Rostron said: “The Tote odds include the stake but the decimalised odds don’t, so it’s quite confusing.”
Times Online: Bets are off as Ascot takes an unlucky punt on decimal odds
Yesterday at Ascot, a handful of course-side bookmakers offered their prices in decimal odds, a model that some believe is the future of betting. Instead, confusion took lead as punters juggled with the two types of odds.
Biike Wharton Slaney was not optimistic. “It’s just a fad. If you don’t know the odds you’re not going to be betting in the first place,” he mused.
Bettor John Denyer, 75, was dumbfounded by his decimal betting slip. “It’s hard for me being an old fellow,” he said. “If this takes over, that’s me out the window.”
Entry to Ascot was free yesterday, and more than 19,000 people showed up. There were a few takers for the new decimal system, but most punters were not happy with the change.
By midday, one bookmaker decided he’d had enough. His takings were 35 per cent down on last year. “The customers are confused,” he said.
Parents who subscribe to the new 3G wireless internet service offered by Tibboh will have fine-tuned control over what sites their children can access. The ISP has rated billions of websites using the same system that the British Board of Film Classification uses to rate films. Parents can create custom logins for each child, and restrict their net access to age-appropriate sites, keeping them away from adult-oriented websites like online gambling and porn.
Telegraph: New ISP with age ratings for websites launched
Tibboh, a new Internet Service Provider in the UK, consulted the British Board of Film Classification for help in categorizing three billion websites with a new rating system.
Each category of site is assigned its own rating. Social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace have been rated 12, while online gambling websites and illegal downloading sites are rated 18.
Each internet user has a unique login, and since their age is on file in the system, the internet becomes age-restricted. For example, 12-year-olds will be stopped from accessing websites that are rated 15.
The new system shares a commonality between movie and video game classifications that are standard across the UK.
The system was suggested in a government-commissioned report published in 2008 by Professor Tanya Bryon.
BBC News: Film classification takes to the web
A UK internet service provider will soon offer a web filtering service that uses the same classification system that the film and video game industries provide.
The British Board of Film Classification has teamed up with ISP to create the system. Parents will be able select the level of filtering they require to protect their children, choosing from U, PG, 12, 15 or 18. This will help parents to block sites related to pornography, gambling, and other adult themes.
The ISP, Tibboh, is currently only offering the filter through their 3G mobile internet service. Users who want to implement the filter will need a special dongle, and will be able to register individual profiles for different family members.
There will be a monthly charge of £19.99 for the service, which has a 15 gigabyte data limit.
Thinq.co.uk: Kids’ ISP launches with UK censor backing
A mobile internet service provider with a built-in content filtering system has just launched, giving UK parents a way to restrict their kids’ internet access to age-appropriate sites.
The £19.99/month service from Tibboh (which is Hobbit spelled backwards) classifies websites using the same system that the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) uses to rate films – U, PG, 12, 15 and 18.
The system will give parents fine-tuned filtering options than previous blanket filters that block too much.
The BBFC officially supports the project, after Tibboh became the first ISP to use its online membership guidelines.
The filtering system is tamper resistant, and will prevent net-savvy children from changing their profile settings and gaining access to sites their parents wish to block.
New legislation is being passed through the British parlament at record speed, among them a bill that has the power to bring much of the internet down to its knees within the United Kingdom. Whether or not the bill will affect the online gambling industry is unknown, but nevertheless, a possibility.
Cnet UK: Digital Economy Bill: Nine things you can’t do any more
The Digital Economy Bill has clauses that could lead to some pretty horrible outcomes. The bill sprinted from Commons to Lords almost without a pause for breath before getting the nod from Her Maj. Until Ofcom hammers out the details outlined in the bill, it’s impossible to say how we’ll be affected. Possibilities:
Watch copyrighted content
The bill aims to make it more difficult to access copyrighted content by blocking Web sites built around sharing such material. Sanctions can be applied to users if they use them.
Download from us
The bill states that download websites can be blocked if they providing copyright infringing tools.
According to the bill, the government can block sites deemed ‘likely to’ infringe copyright. How ‘likely to’ will be defined will determined which sites can be blocked.
Use free open Wi-Fi
Locations that provide Wi-Fi may think twice about doing so as they will be held accountable for internet traffic from their servers.
YouTube may come under fire as copyrighted material can be found on the site.
As Google is often used to find downloads, it too may be threatened.
The New York Times: U.K. Approves Crackdown on Internet Pirates
The British Parliament has approved plans to crack down on digital media piracy by authorizing the suspension of repeat offenders’ Internet connections.
Both the House of Commons and the House of Lords approved the bill after heavy lobbying from the music and movie industries. The anti-piracy plan is part of a broader bill aimed at stimulating the digital economy in Britain.
The government’s anti-piracy plans were modified in the final rounds of negotiations over the bill. Under previous proposals, the content industries could have gone to court to seek injunctions requiring Internet service providers to block access to Web sites that foster piracy. Similar clauses were included elsewhere in the bill.
The Guardian: Digital economy bill rushed through wash-up in late night session
The UK government forced the Digital Economy Bill through parliament with the aid of the Conservative party, attaining a crucial third reading – which means it will get royal assent and become law – after just 2 hours of debate in the Commons.
Despite opposition from the Liberal Democrats and a group of Labour MPs who spoke against measures contained in the bill, the government easily won 2 votes to determine the content of the bill and its passage through the committee stage. The vote was in the government’s favour, which it won by 189 votes to 47.
Earlier the government removed its proposed clause 18, which could have given it sweeping powers to block sites, but replaced it with an amendment to clause 8 of the bill.
Liberal Democrat MP, John Hemming, protested that this could mean the blocking of whistleblower sites. Stephen Timms for the government said that it would not want to see the clause used to restrict freedom of speech.
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.