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April 9th General news ... Picks Daddy Pro at picksdaddypro.com
DUTCH LOTTERY C.E.O DEPARTS
Observers of the Dutch gambling scene are speculating on whether the departure of Dutch lottery De Lotto chief executive Joost Otterloo last month will impact the reported merger talks with national lottery operator Staatsloterij, a project designed to meet the competitive challenges presented by the imminent legalisation of online gambling in the Netherlands.
Otterloo has left the industry for a management post with TNT Express, and his interim replacement at De Lotto's helm is Pieter Kuipers, a veteran businessman with ample experience, and one more than capable of pursuing the merger strategy formulated by Otterloo.
Among Kuipers' many talents is experience with mergers, following his involvement in bringing together the Television and Radio Broadcasting Foundation and the General Radio Broadcasting Association whilst he was an executive with the former body.
PENNSYLVANIA ONLINE GAMBLING HEARING GENERALLY POSITIVE (Update)
Tuesday's hearing before the Pennsylvania Madden Betting Pandemonia Senate Committee on Community, Economic and Recreational Development on intrastate internet gambling was generally positive, according to local media reports, despite Andy Abboud, a Sheldon Adelson lieutenant, again voicing the objections of his employer's land casino group to any legalisation.
The majority of witnesses appeared to support properly legalised and taxed online gambling, although some were more cautious in approach than others, suggesting delays to assess how other states were doing.
Abboud's claim that legalised online gambling in Pennsylvania would steal customers from his company's Bethlehem land casino were countered by Michael Cohen from Caesars Entertainment, who said that broadening empirical evidence has now shown that punters who gamble online do not typically frequent land casinos.
The Internet is a new distribution channel, tapping a new customer, Cohen said.
Pennsylvania represents an important opportunity for online gambling due to its populous nature. The state already has twelve land casinos and is regarded as second only to Las Vegas in terms of revenues, but faces rising competition from other Eastern states like New York and New Jersey, which have either legalised online gambling or are actively considering the possibility.
A spokesman for Parx Casino in Philadelphia, Robert Green, was concerned about the 20 percent drop in revenue at his company's land poker tables since online poker was legalised in neighbouring New Jersey late last year.
I dont think you can say with any authority that there is not an impact on bricks-and-mortar casinos, he said.
A report by Econsult Solutions earlier this year estimated that Pennsylvanian online gambling operators could generate $184 million in first-year revenues $307 million annually after that (see previous InfoPowa reports).
But Adam Ozimek, Econsult Solutions director of research added: "We don't include any license fees in there. And really, those revenues should be thought of as illustrative because we don't know what the tax rates are going to be."
Robert Pickus, chairman of the Valley Forge Casino Resort, felt the projections were reasonable and demonstrated why the state should move quickly to take a lead in the industry.
Stephen Mullin, the Econsult's president, said legalising online gambling isn't expected to eat into the profits of brick-and-mortar casinos.
"It's a different audience out there," Mullin said. "Not to say that there isn't somebody who plays I-games and also goes to a casino, but it is a very different audience."
A number of managers from Pennsylvania's 12 operating casinos say they'd be fine with online gambling as long as it were offered exclusively by existing casino licensees.
Pennsylvania lawmakers have proposed several bills, including one to prohibit any expansion of gambling without a referendum or two-thirds vote of the legislature, and another to allow online bets for many casino-style games.
Senator Edwin Erickson announced last week that he plans a state Senate measure to legalise only Internet poker.
Pennsylvanias land casino revenue fell 1.4 percent to $3.1 billion last year, the first decline since the state began opening land casino operations in 2006.
INDUSTRY VETERAN APPOINTED C.E.O. AT RANK GROUP
The British land and online gambling group Rank plc has announced the appointment of industry veteran Henry Birch (45) as chief executive of the group.
Birch will succeed Ian Burke (57) on May 6, when Burke takes up the responsibilities of non-executive chairman of the company.
Birch was most recently CEO of William Hill Online, a now dissolved joint venture between Will Hill and internet gambling software company Playtech, a post he held for four years.
Burke has been in the chief executive hot seat at Rank for the last eight years, and said Thursday that he had made the decision to relinquish his post.
"The Rank board believes it appropriate to ensure that the company benefits from some continuity to ensure a smooth transition of executive responsibilities," a company announcement said.
"With his track record in the online betting and gaming sector, the Rank board believes that Henry is well-equipped to lead Rank's continued exploitation of growth opportunities in the gaming and leisure markets."
Birch is currently a non-executive director of the AIM-listed CFD trading platform operator, Plus 500 plc and has more than 20 years experience in the industry.
Prior to working at William Hill Online, he was the chief executive officer of Leisure & Gaming plc, an AIM-listed company that owned and operated a number of online and retail betting and gaming subsidiaries.
Previous to that, Birch was the chief operating officer of Bettingcorp Ltd, an Israeli company focused on the development and operation of online and interactive TV gaming platforms, and in earlier years of his career he held management roles at Time Warner, Turner Broadcasting and Riffage, an early digital music operator based in Silicon Valley, and started his career working in the House of Commons.
MICROGAMING LAUNCHES NEW LUCKY KOI ONLINE VIDEO SLOT
Starting the New Year with a bang, online gambling software developer Microgaming launched its Lucky Koi video slot Monday, sending online punters on a virtual trip to the tranquil and serene Far East.
Lucky Koi is a five reel, 25 payline video slot with an Asian theme, depicted through beautifully rendered garden graphics and appropriate symbols. The game provides opportunities to win big with scatters, wild pays and free spins, with the Lucky Koi logo acting as the wild and giving gamblers the chance to build winning combinations by substituting for other symbols.
Three, four or five stone lantern scatter symbols will trigger a bonus choice feature in which the player can choose between the free spins feature and the Koi Bonus.
If the player picks the free spins feature they are awarded a random bonus of between 10 and 30 free spins with a multiplier of up to 5x. Alternatively, if the Koi Bonus is selected, the player will embark on an interactive fishing trip at the Koi pond. Armed with a bamboo fishing pole, the player is given between three and six opportunities to catch a Nishikigoi fish, which can earn big rewards.
Mike Hebden, head of casino games at Microgaming, said Monday: Lucky Koi is the first of many new and exciting additions to Microgamings casino games portfolio for 2014 theres plenty more to look forward to in the coming months.
NEW RABCAT GAMES
Austrian Lotteries' subsidiary RabCat has launched its Castle Builder slot game through the Odobo platform.
Castle Builder is a 5-reel, 15-payline slot machine that was launched last year through Austrian Lotteries' operational website Win2day.at.
The game debuts RabCat's level-based slot feature as players traverse through a medieval fantasy land populated by knights and princesses. Bonus features develop the adventure as players progress through multiple levels and challenges include building castles and making royal love-matches as they move towards the ultimate "royal wedding" bonus round.
The game switches into an endless mode as soon as the player has discovered all kingdoms and achieved the highest rank.
Another quality release is titled "Frozen Diamonds", an action-packed video slot that replaces the traditional reel spins with Frozen Diamonds falling down from above.
Symbols that make up a winning bet line detonate and trigger the Bonus Fall feature instantly and gaps arising from prior win combinations are filled with more falling symbols.
If the player scores a win during the 2nd Bonus Fall, 10 Free Spins are awarded. In addition, the Free Spin feature is peppered with Wild Symbols and the opportunity to trigger more Extra Free Spins. The game's feature set it topped off with a Gamble Game.
Dragons Cave again expands RabCat's premium video slot portfolio. This game features a fearless girl with the prowess to defeat four greatly feared dragons.
Once the dragons are defeated the girl gains access to the legendary Dragon's Cave where each dragon releases a head-hunter fee and the game shifts into the first bonus game stage.
The game is a 5-reel slot featuring 2-way paylines and an interactive wild placement feature.
Last but not least, Forsaken Kingdom is a 5-reel slot set within a dark medieval setting based on Arthurian Legend.
Players journey as King Arthur on a heroic mission while facing various challenges and deadly threats.
The core of the game mechanism is the Round Table of Fortune feature where the goal is to gather twelve knights around the Round Table by collecting rare shield symbols.
With each shield symbol collected another knight takes a seat at the Round Table. The feature is triggered as soon as the last knight has arrived.