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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Media Man International Take On Australian Online Gaming, by Greg Tingle - 31st May 2010

News media and gaming insiders, outsiders, and everyone else...Media Man breaks its recent silence (patch) regarding the Australian online gaming, gambling and sports betting sector. We only went quite for less than a week, but with most major Australian media making a lot of noise, some of it very intelligently, we thought it should be our turn, given that for over a decade we have ramped up our global coverage of the sector, part of which thanks to our friends at beloved (and often controversial) Gambling911. Before we swing into things further, for the record, as recently told to The Sydney Morning Herald, Media Man is primarily a media, publicity and portal development company, established a decade. Gaming and igaming (including sports betting), is just one sector we cover. We are not a casino, nor are we a gaming company, or adult company. And furthermore, I am a qualified journalist - 5 years and established media agent - 5 years). A decade in business. It hasn't been easy, but what a journey it continues to be.

What is a website portal?...

In essence, a very popular website. Think like NineMSN, iGoogle, MSNBC, Wikipedia. Media Man is not as slick (or as well funded), but developed a niche and successful business model none the less. The Media Man website network is a work in progress, and is never completly finished (as is the dynamic nature of the web medium).


Background to iGaming and online sports betting...

PartyGaming, London Stock Exchange listed powerhouse, is understood to be the world's first igaming giant and firm of considerable name values.


What is an online affiliate program?...

An affiliate program is a largely commission based incentive b2b structure where an affiliate (i.e a web publisher) receives a % for generating successful sales / bringing in business. Website portals (and media companies) make for some of the most successful affiliates, as they have compelling unique content, high traffic, loyal readership interested in certain niche areas and the like. Some affiliate programs are quality and worthwhile, and some are not, and could be viewed as a waste of time.

Affiliate marketing (reference: Wikipedia)...

Affiliate marketing is a marketing practice in which a business rewards one or more affiliates for each visitor or customer brought about by the affiliate's marketing efforts. Examples include rewards sites, where users are rewarded with cash or gifts, for the completion of an offer, and the referral of others to the site. The industry has four core players: the merchant (also known as 'retailer' or 'brand'), the network, the publisher (also known as 'the affiliate') and the customer. The market has grown in complexity to warrant a secondary tier of players, including affiliate management agencies, super-affiliates and specialized third parties vendors.
Affiliate marketing overlaps with other Internet marketing methods to some degree, because affiliates often use regular advertising methods. Those methods include organic search engine optimization, paid search engine marketing, e-mail marketing, and in some sense display advertising. On the other hand, affiliates sometimes use less orthodox techniques, such as publishing reviews of products or services offered by a partner.

Affiliate marketing—using one website to drive traffic to another—is a form of online marketing, which is frequently overlooked by advertisers. While search engines, e-mail, and website syndication capture much of the attention of online retailers, affiliate marketing carries a much lower profile. Still, affiliates continue to play a significant role in e-retailers' marketing strategies.


Disclaimers Explained...

Responsible publishers such as Media Man put appropriate disclaimers on their work. ie: Media Man has a b2b relationship with X. Media Man owns shares in X. X is a client of Media Man. Media Man newsfeeds powered by Fairfax Media, The New York Times and Google News. X is not a client of Media Man, X is a former client of Media Man, and you get the idea...

Some History - 1998, Australia...

Professor Jan McMillen, executive director of the Australian Institute for Gambling Research, and Dr Peter Grabosky, director of research at the Australian Institute of Criminology, argued that strict prohibition of internet gambling would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to achieve. "While prohibition would quite likely reduce online gambling to some extent it might detract from the capacity to address other, more pressing forms of online illegality such as fraud, child pornography, or other more serious forms of computer hacking."

International History...

The UK was one of the first countries to fully regulate online gambling. This greatly assisted in both consumer protection, innovation and correct government taxation. Companies such as Virgin Games, PartyGaming (PartyCasino and PartyPoker etc), Paddy Poker and William Hill have traditional enjoyed strong success in the United Kingdom.


United States Key Historical Development...

U.S. legislation

On September 29, 2006, the U.S. Congress passed the Safe Port Act and attached unrelated anti-gambling language to the act. This legislation is known as the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act.

On October 2, 2006, PartyGaming announced that it would "suspend all real money gaming business with US customers" in light of the passage of the Safe Port Act.

George W. Bush signed the act into law on October 13, and PartyGaming suspended offerings of real-money games to U.S. players. Free play games and non-US customers were not affected.

As a result of this news being released to investors, PartyGaming's publicly traded stock dropped almost 60% in 24 hours. The company was moved from the FTSE 100 to the FTSE 250 Index on October 11.

In April 2009 the company made a settlement with the United States government where they agreed to pay a penalty of $105 million over the next four years as part of a "non-prosecution agreement". As part of the deal, Party put its name to a "statement of facts" in which it admits for the first time that, before October 2006, it had targeted US citizens, resulting in the processing of transactions that were "contrary to certain US laws".

*A number of online gaming companies continue to pro actively market to Americans. There are a widely accepted grey area in the law, one that could be viewed to exploit "loop holes" in American law.

Canada is generally regarded as much more igaming friendly that the U.S. PartyGaming, owner of the World Poker Tour brand, is currently rumoured to be looking at stepping up their activity in Canada, including eyeing off the Canadian Poker Tour.


Early Days Of White Australia History...

Gambling thrived, largely underground, since settlers arrived in Australia, firstly via Captain Cook (depending upon what history books you wish to believe). Gambling was a favorite pastime and provided for hours, sometimes months, of entertainment.

Circa 1950 - 70s Australia...

Illegal gambling dens thrived in Australia. Mainly on the east coast. George Freeman, as featured on some Network 'Underbelly' episodes was the king. Abe Saffron, subject of an 'Australian Families of Crime' feature was also considered king for many years.

Crown Casino Takes Casino Mainstream Down Under...

Circa 1980, the late, great, Kerry Packer, sees Crown Casino launch in Melbourne Australia. Crown Casino also becomes home of many great entertainment industry events, including The Logies! (broadcast on Network Nine). Crown grows the empire acquiring a casino in Perth (1984), re named as Burswood Entertainment Centre. In 2005 Kerry passes away, having cheated death a number of times, and James takes the reigns. Packer Jr's aptitude was questioned (mainly by the Aussie press) for many years, but last year he proved the knockers wrong, with Crown Casino and Burswood powering along, followed by his City Of Dreams, Macau, holding up well in a global financial crisis. The Crown empire has showed itself to be recession resilient, but not recession proof. Packer is still standing while many lost their shirts and went down for the count. Packer key business strengths include (other than being seriously cashed up), networking, enjoying relationships with company such as Richard Branson, David Gyngell, Eddie McGuire, Shane Warne, Damian Aspinall (long family history), Sen Stephen Conroy, and a bush tucker bag of Australian state and federal politicians, and a number of the Aussie media and entertainment A-Listers. Packer's teaming up with Aussie mining giant, Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest (Team GenerationOne) earned him browny points, and some say well needed, PR, but both Packer Jr and 'The Twiggster' have both enjoyed long and largely positive history and relationships with Indigenous Australia. By all accounts, their hearts are in it.


Australian Productivity Commission Report - May 2010...

Recommends that internet gambling be legalised and regulated

Australians are spending an estimated $1 billion per year on internet gambling (casino, poker and sports betting)

Firms offering online casino products are theoretically subject to fines of up to $1.1 million per day, but Australian Federal Police are refusing to lay charges against illegal operators.

Numbers just in show Aussies are expected to spend $968 million this year on online casino games, poker and bingo, approx 30% on online poker.

iGaming is thriving in Australia, and its cousin, videogaming, also remains one of the more financial stable business sectors.

*The below is credit to the Australian Productive Commission official website
http://www.pc.gov.au/projects/inquiry/gambling-2009


The Productivity Commission's final report on Gambling has been completed and sent to the Australian Government for its consideration.

The release of the final report by the Government is the next step in the process. Under the Productivity Commission Act 1998, the Government is required to table the report in each House of the Parliament within 25 sitting days of receipt.

When the Government releases the report, a copy will be sent to all registered participants including those who made submissions, appeared at the public hearing, or were visited by the Commission. At that time, the report will also be available for download from the inquiry website.

The Commission thanks all those who have contributed to the inquiry.

Following a decision by the Council of Australian Governments, the Australian Government asked the Productivity Commission to undertake a public inquiry into gambling.

The inquiry provides an update on developments since the Commission's 1999 report, and can consider a wide range of issues, including:

the nature and definition of gambling and the range of activities incorporated within this definition
the participation profile of gambling, including problem gamblers and those at risk of problem gambling
the economic impacts of the gambling industries, including industry size, growth, employment, organisation and interrelationships with other industries, such as tourism, leisure, other entertainment and retailing
the social impacts of the gambling industries, the incidence of gambling abuse and the cost and nature of welfare support services necessary to address it
the contribution of gambling revenue on community development activity and employment
the effects of the regulatory structures - including licensing arrangements, entry and advertising restrictions, application of the mutuality principle and differing taxation arrangements - governing the gambling industries, including the implications of differing approaches for industry development and consumers
the implications of new technologies (such as the Internet), including the effect on traditional government controls on the gambling industries
the impact of gambling on Commonwealth, State and Territory budgets
the impact that the introduction of harm minimisation measures at gambling venues has had on the prevalence of problem gambling and on those at risk
evaluate the effectiveness and success of these harm minimisation measures used by the State and Territory Governments.

ends...

Media Man coverage continued...

Forms Of Gambling...


Casino games - land based

Online casino games - games of chance, games of skill and sports betting

Sports betting - horse racing, AFL, NRL, UFC, Boxing, Cricket etc - (online or offline)

Illegal gambling - ie: betting at gambling dens, unregulated, be it in Las Vegas, Kings Cross, Maroubra Beach or China!


Australian News Media And Google Factor...

Both major Australian media companies / Newspaper firms, Fairfax and News Limited (The Daily Telegraph) advertise gambling, both in their newspaper and online newspapers. Gambling ("targeting" Australians) is carried in Google ads. Fairfax and News Limited both have branded and non branded gaming offerings. Some of them are "in house" and "white label" and some are not. The deals are well kept secrets, but obviously a deal was made between the powers that be at News Limited and a gambling firm, or number of firms, or Fairfax and News wouldn't be able to offer a gambling product / service. Fairfax and News Limited offering games of skill, games of chance and sports betting does not make them a gambling company or a casino. It just means its 1 of a number of matters they cover both online and offline. News and Fairfax both also offer journalism and advertising content and services.

TV in Australia...

Both Australian network TV and pay TV companies have broadcast footage of World Series of Poker and World Poker Tour. Australian former WSOP champion, Joe Hachem, has appeared on a number of Australian TV shows including The Poker Star and Network Ten's 7PM Project. Hachem also writes for The Age. Australia's Shane Warne has appeared on a number of Australian TV shows with the 888 - Pacific Poker connection being clear, and 888 - Pacific is well branded and covered on Mr Warne's numerous websites. Sydney Roosters players previously carried Full Tilt Poker branding on their shorts, but this is understood to be no longer the case. Years ago 'Joker Poker' was screened on Network Nine, and closely associated with James Packer's Crown Casino in Melbourne. Aussie celebrities such as Dave Hughes and Bessie Bardot appears. NRL, AFL and numerous Australian sports broadcasts carry betting odds which appear on the TV screen. TV announcers will often reference the odds as part of the sports commentating. Last year it's understood that somehow an overseas online casino brand was advertised on Australian terrestrial TV late at night. The facts are not known on that matter, or in the public domain. Australia's ACMA is likely to have a file on the case.


Media Man Fact Snapshot...

Media Man is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company

The founder is a qualified journalist (freelance), media agent and social and community entrepreneur

Media Man own and operate over 20 website portals, approx 99% are hosted overseas

Media Man covers approximately a bakers dozen different sectors including: technology, entertainment and celebrity, travel, tourism and lifestyle, property and investment, sports, political analysis, social and community

Established 10 years and founded by Greg Tingle, built from the ground up

Global audience / readership / coverage

Website network ranked in Hitwise top ten (entertainment category) and Google 'Best Of The Web'

Member of MEAA and pro active member of Virgin Unite and modest supporter of GenerationOne and The Salvation Army

Founder owns shares in both Crown Limited and Virgin


Summary...

Online Gaming Regulation In Australia - Yes Or No?

Media Man believes that online gambling, poker, casino, sports betting et al should be regulated in Australia. That's a "Yes". As we advised Fairfax Media, we think there are good guys and bad guys. Good guys in our opinion include World Poker Tour (owned and operated by PartyGaming), World Series of Poker, PartyPoker, PartyCasino, Virgin Games - Virgin Casino (not currently available to Australians), PKR, Betfair, Centrebet, Betezy, PokerStars, Rewards Affiliates, DGM (admin for Betfair affiliates), and of course, Gambling911 (who cover the sector, but are not a casino as such, but are a gaming, sports and entertainment website portal). Regulation will assist greatly administering correct taxation of companies and and around the sector, and will likely bring in extra millions into Australian government coffers. Last, but not least, regulation should help ease the small % of what is named "problem gamblers". Readers, keep in mind, many people have a range of problems or issues, "problem gambling" is just 1 of dozens of issues a person may have. The "problem gambler" angle has been the topic of a number of "attack journalism" style news stories in Australia over recent years. Media Man, covering over a dozen different industry sectors... sports, entertainment, community, technology, property etc... believes the gambling (and gaming - video gaming etc) believes that gambling and igaming are "easy or soft targets" (as is the case for oil companies), but that's another story.

Censorship - Blacklist et al...

At one point last year, Packer 50% owned Betfair was on the so called 'Blacklist'! Why, a simple mistake or something more sinister? The Australian Communications Minister is understood to have earmarked, some insiders say, singled out, the online poker and online casino sector. Religion and other "controversial" matter said to be "not acceptable to a reasonable adult" is also on the hit list. Folks, keep in mind the Wikileaks is understood to be on the list. You know, the guys who exposed the crimes against humanity in Iraq via their world famous website. That should have the reader concerned. Who is next on the list, and why? Richard Branson's Virgin is soon to do a hard launch of Virgin Gaming in Los Angeles. Virgin also have AWOMO (in collaboration with GDI), both of which are non gambling (at least at this stage). Branson also has the very successful Virgin Games - offering Virgin Casino, Virgin Poker and Virgin Bingo. The Virgin gambling products are not available to Australians. The question begs, will Branson's AWOMO and Virgin Gaming be available to Aussies, given its accessed via the internet? They may be an answer that needs addressing from both the Australian Labor and Liberal Party. The Greens are against censorship, and the Greens political preference is Liberal.

Wrap Up

Media Man is hopeful that this relatively basic write up will help further explain the igaming sector in Australia - Asia Pacific, and will form part of the road map for law makers and those in and around the industry. It's a complex subject, one where the legal eagles will likely be winners, but one we hope responsible brands and punters alike will also be in the winners circle. Any haters or detractors out there, keep in mind that this news report is not comprehensive, nor is it intended to be. It's some commentary and information put into the public domain while the subject matter is so politically hot in Australia. Media Man has a number of disclaimers on this article to add some balance to the ongoing discussion.

We look forward to continued balance coverage from the likes of Fairfax Media, News Limited, the ABC, SBS and others. We thank Gambling911 as a global media platform to put our thoughts into the public domain.

As always, bet with your head, not over it, know the odds and have fun. Good hunting and happy punting.

Media Man 'Online Casino Of The Month' PartyCasino.com

Media Man 'Online Casino Game Of The Month'
Sinatra Slot, 2nd place - Cleopatra, 3rd place - The Godfather

Runner-Up VirginCasino.com

*Greg Tingle is a special contributor for Gambling911

*Media Man is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company. Gaming is just one of a bakers dozen of industry verticals covered

*The writer owns shares in Crown Limited and Virgin

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