October 09, 2015

Playtech confident on acquisitions despite CBI opposition

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Playtech remains confident it would receive the necessary regulatory permissions for its two proposed financial trading acquisitions despite the intervention from Ireland’s financial watchdog with regard to one of the deals in question.

The announcement by Playtech on Monday that the Central Bank of Ireland (CBI) had notified the company of its opposition to the AvaTrade buyout late the previous week came out of the blue for both Playtech and the analysts who follow the group.

The company said on Monday it would be “seeking clarification from the CBI” and will “engage with them in order to discuss certain issues raised in the letter which the company believes can be addressed to the CBI’s satisfaction”.

It followed that up with another stock exchange announcement on Tuesday saying it had heard back from the CBI and “following this communication and having taken legal advice, the company intends to formally challenge the decision”.

Nick Batram at Peel Hunt suggested the CBI news was “undoubtedly a setback”, particularly given that the AvaTrade deal is commonly thought to be less contentious than the Plus500 deal, where Playtech is also currently engaged with the regulators across various jurisdictions to gain deal clearance.

“In the grand scheme of things AvaTrade is not a material transaction,” Batram said of the US$105m deal in a note to clients on Monday.

“However, it clearly creates uncertainty around the Plus500 deal. We don’t know whether the (UK’s Financial Conduct Authority) will be influenced or not by the CBI, but the Plus500 deal is already taking longer to complete than originally expected.”

For its part, Playtech remained tight-lipped over the details of the CBI objections, but sources close to the company suggest it is set to vigorously defend the deal and added that it is “very, very surprised” at the intervention.

It is understood the company received the notice late on Friday evening, after the markets had closed, and that up until that point there had been minimal contact with the regulator.

It will be appealing through the official regulatory process and it is thought that recourse to further legal avenues is available should it become necessary.

Combined, the AvaTrade and Plus500 deals mark a further evolution of Playtech’s march into financial trading (paywall), a move that began at the start of the year when it bought TradeFX, a company owned by Playtech’s majority shareholder Teddy Sagi.

The “opportunistic” Plus500 acquisition came after that company fell foul of the UK’s financial watchdog over its client ‘onboarding’ techniques. The FCA intervention saw Plus500’s share price take a 50% tumble, at which point Playtech stepped in with its takeover offer.

The original completion date for the Plus500 deal was pencilled in for September, but in a stock exchange announcement in mid-September, the company said that the necessary regulatory approvals were “taking longer than… originally anticipated”.

It said at the time that it was “currently not aware of any issues which would give rise to the required regulatory approvals not being granted in due course”.

The US$105m AvaTrade acquisition is the lesser of the two deals, compared with the £460m deal for Plus500. Playtech sees the AvaTrade deal as a bolt-on acquisition that had been agreed upon by TradeFX before the Playtech deal.

Goodbody analyst Gavin Kelleher said “in its own right AvaTrade is not huge driver of the investment case”. But he added: “However, given the delays with the Plus500 deal, which is a significant driver of the investment case, the market will be looking for that deal to complete within the next month.”

Playtech is understood to remain confident it will gain clearance from the UK’s FCA and other regulators involved in the Plus500 deal, including Singapore and Australia. The company noted at the time of the publication of the Plus500 buyout prospectus that further enquiries regarding Plus500 had been received from an unnamed regulator.

The deal already has clearance from the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) and from the British Virgin Islands, however, analysts from Cannaccord Genuity pointed out that the news of the Irish issues “will clearly raise some concerns over the potential for the FCA to block the Plus500 deal”.

Batram at Peel Hunt pointed out there were questions about whether the FCA would be influenced by the Irish central bank’s intervention. “The Plus500 deal is already taking longer to complete than originally expected,” he added.

Playtech said this week that both deals were proceeding in line with regulatory guidelines and would be completed either this month or in November.

Canaccord Genuity said it believed the “heightened concerns over the timing and certainty of completion” of the two deals could cause some share price uncertainty. The Playtech share price suffered on the CBI news, falling from around 840p last week to 784p as of Thursday (yesterday).

In tangential news, financial trading rival IG Group announced on Wednesday it had settled a compensation deal with clients over events at the beginning of the year related to trading on the Swiss franc.

The company has accepted the Financial Ombudsman Service’s decision that the company could have settled certain ‘fill orders’ at a more beneficial price than that given to some of its clients. It said the decision would cost it £1m to rectify all accounts affected.

This stands in contrast to Plus500, which said at the time of the extraordinary movements in the Swiss franc that it had made money from the movements caused by the Swiss National Bank decision to end its currency peg to the euro (paywall).

October 07, 2015

Two Singaporeans charged for match fixing in Turkey

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Two Singaporeans have been charged with corruption for involvement in match-fixing in Turkey in 2013, court documents showed Wednesday.

In a fresh case that highlights the global reach of football-rigging syndicates in the city-state, Rajendar Prasad Rai, 42, and Shree Manish Kalra, 22, each face three charges at a district court.

Two were lodged on Monday and the other in late September.

One accuses Rai of “instigating” Kalra to give 25,000 euros (US$28,185) to a Macedonian national, Marjan Stojanchevski, and two countrymen to fix the outcome of a match between SC Charleroi of Belgium and VVV Venlo of Holland on January 11, 2013 in Antalya, Turkey.

Another charge says Rai asked Kalra to give 15,000 euros to the same Macedonians to fix a game between Steaua Bucuresti and Dynamo Moscow on February 3, 2013 in Antalya.

The third charge alleges Rai asked Kalra to give 27,000 euros to the same people to fix a match between Sturm Graz and Steaua Bucuresti on February 1, 2013 in Antalya.

Kalra allegedly handed the money to the Macedonians in all three instances.

The charge sheets did not give details of the Macedonians, but a Marjan Stojanchevski is described as a linesman or referee on several football sites.

Each charge is punishable by imprisonment for up to five years or a maximum fine of Sg$100,000 (US$70,315) or both.

Rai is on bail of Sg$300,000. In a separate case he and another Singaporean are accused of trying to bribe three or four players of a local football team, Singapore Recreation Club, in the local S. League in July 2014.

Singapore has a long history of match-fixing scandals, a stain on its reputation as one of Asia’s least corrupt countries for business and government.

Last month a Singaporean man described by state prosecutors as “a criminal match-fixer extraordinaire” was sentenced to four years in jail for conspiring to rig a match in the recent Southeast Asian Games.

Rajendran R. Kurusamy, 55, pleaded guilty to bribing the manager and players of East Timor’s under-23 football team to lose a preliminary match against Malaysia scheduled for May 30 in Singapore, which hosted the games.

In 2013 police arrested Dan Tan, the notorious alleged mastermind of a global match-fixing ring linked to hundreds of rigged football games worldwide.

He is still being held under a law, usually applied to members of criminal gangs, which allows for detention without trial.

Singaporean businessman Eric Ding is serving a five-year jail sentence for providing prostitutes to Lebanese football referees to try to influence international matches in April 2013.

Experts have said that easy international transport, a passport accepted around the world and fluency in English and Mandarin have helped Singaporean fixers spread their influence – with the support of external investors, most believed to be from China.

October 02, 2015

partypoker Set to Make Changes to Level the Playing Field

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The debate on whether third-party software should be allowed is almost as old as online poker itself. Players tend to be in one of two camps: (1) Third-party software should be allowed or (2) third-party software should be banned. There tends to be no middle ground on this subject.

Over the coming weeks, partypoker is taking steps to prevent players from using third-party software with a trio of changes to the partypoker client in a move that it believes will level the playing field for all partypoker players regardless of their skill levels.

In short, the changes taking place are:

  • Players will be able to view the last 12 months of their own hand histories within the Missions icon in the partypoker software, but hand histories will no longer be able to be downloaded and saved to their local devices
  • Players wishing to wait for a cash game will join the room-wide waiting list and be randomly seated when a seat that matches their preference becomes available
  • Players joining a cash game will see the names of their opponents only once their first hand is dealt

These changes will stop players from using poker tracking software and their associated Heads Up Displays (HUD), prevent players from sharing hand history databases and halt the use of seating scripts that some players use to target lesser-skilled players by automatically seating them in what is commonly referred to as the “God seat.”

Tony Dunst, a World Poker Tour champion and partypoker Ambassador, believes the upcoming changes will benefit both recreational players and professionals alike by preserving the quality of the games.

These changes at partypoker are designed to create a more hospitable environment for recreational players. Unfortunately, many of the tools and tactics that professionals use to maximize their edge have made the games too difficult for new players to survive. Without them, grinders will merely pass money back and forth while being raked, and games will inevitably dry up. I think these changes will help level the playing field for casual players, and preserve the quality of games for professionals.

”It is our duty as an online poker operator to provide a level playing field”

We put it to partypoker’s Head of Poker BI and Network Operations, Jay Kanabar that the upcoming changes to the partypker software may be seen radical to some section of the poker community, but Kanabar disagrees.

“To be honest, I don’t think there are radical changes, we are just doing our duty as an online poker operator to provide a level playing field and ensure that we strive to provide the fairest and most ethical environment for all poker players to enjoy the game that we all love.”

According to Kanabar, discussions about the changes have taken place over a 12-month period, during which time consultations with different sectors of the poker community have been had and analysis done on a plethora of statistics before reaching the decision to make the technical changes necessary to implement the aforementioned changes to the partypoker client.

Both Unibet Poker and Sky Poker prohibit the use of HUDs, with Unibet Poker taking things one step further by allowing players to change their screen name. Some sites, such as those on the MPN (formerly Microgaming), have tables where players remain anonymous throughout their session, but this last feature is not something that partypoker considered.

“I think it would be a real shame if online poker had to become completely anonymous, it wouldn’t be much fun to enter a WPT with everyone playing blindfolded. Our Poker for the People mission is about developing the partypoker community where players can play online and meet each other face to face at our live events. I think this is really important so I don’t feel that repetitive changing of screen names is good for partypoker or our players. I actually think this would be a defeatist solution and somewhat the easy way out.”

Comparisons will be drawn to the recent changes at Full Tilt where players can no longer select which tables they sit at, instead they choose which stakes they want to play for and are seated at a randomly selected seat.

Cash game traffic dropped significantly shortly after Full Tilt implemented its recent changes, something that Kanabar and his team are aware of, but believe that the changes set to come into force will benefit the site and its players in the long term.

“I think the changes we are making are more fundamental that other operators have so far implemented. We are not jumping on the recreational player bandwagon, we are making these changes to benefit all poker players and of course, we hope that partypoker will also benefit in the long term by making sensible, fair and balanced changes although it’s possible we could experience a drop but we want to be brave and not sit on the fence. If I walked into the Bellagio Poker Room in Las Vegas, I could not ask the Card Room Manager, “Who are your worst players? Can you lock me a seat up to the left of one of them? Where do I get the printout of all the hands everyone here has played over the last 6 months? When my juicy seat comes free can you give me a shout, I’m just nipping into Bobby’s Room to take some notes on the hands being played in there!”
Kanabar admits he has no issue with players who like to use third party software, but has received “overwhelming feedback from players that they would prefer not to use this software but are forced to because they would be at a disadvantage against the players that are deploying it against them.”

Players who are worried about their opponents trying to bypass these changes can rest assured that Kanabar and his team have thought of everything possible and steps are in place to prevent those players attempting to gain an advantage over others.

“We have made sure that we all our homework has been done before pushing the go button and delivering these improvements.”

October 01, 2015

Sky Bet moves into eSports with Betgenius

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Sky Bet has become the latest bookmaker to get into eSports after launching a full eSports betting service including both pre-match and live betting through its partnership with Betgenius.

According to the recent report by Eilers Research, there are currently 2.3m eSports viewers, which is expected to rise to 19.5m by 2020. The report further claims that the current eSports betting market pulls in revenues of USD$24 million and that by 2020 this will reach USD$1.81 billion worldwide.

Ben Wright, Head of Sports Trading at Sky Betting & Gaming, said: “The eSports sector is such a fast growing market that we see great potential in this new offering. Our partnership with Betgenius and the new opportunities it provides for our customers is a key part of our vision of making betting better.”

Mark Locke, CEO of Betgenius, added: “Sky Betting & Gaming has been a critical partner in our journey to success, and the launch of their eSports product through Betgenius’ technology solidifies our long standing partnership. We are looking forward to what will be a very exciting time for both teams and carving out another profitable revenue stream.”

PokerStars back in the US - NJ Regulator approves Amaya Gaming

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The New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement has granted Amaya Gaming the right to offer online poker in the state with its brands PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker after some two years of trying to enter the fledgling internet business in New Jersey.

Amaya which will link up with Resorts Casino Hotel in Atlantic City to offer online poker to state residents is seen as a positive to boost the sector there.

With PokerStars entering the US again with its 95 million registered users many observers say it will reshape the state’s fledgling online betting industry which has 17 websites currently offering online gambling.

Now with the world’s largest online poker operator allowed back it is expected to boost revenues in the state which had $122 million in revenues last year, and for the first eight months of this year brought in $96.7 million, an increase of 15.6% over the same period a year ago.

Amaya’s chairman, David Baazov, said he was pleased to add New Jersey to the list of regulated markets that have found PokerStars and Full Tilt suitable to offer real-money online gambling.

“We look forward to bringing our popular brands, innovative technology, marketing prowess and world-class security and game integrity to the growing New Jersey online gaming market,” he said.

The Division of Gaming Enforcement confirmed Wednesday it had issued waivers to six Amaya subsidiaries to operate PokerStars, the world’s biggest poker website, and Full Tilt in New Jersey through a partnership with Resorts Digital. Resorts president Mark Giannantonio said he didn’t know when the sites planned to go live.

PokerStars left the US online gambling sector back in 2011 and with the entry back into New Jersey many expect the company to apply for any state that legalises online gaming in the future.

September 26, 2015

Eldery Japanese in Kobe banned from playing pachinko

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Elderly residents at day care centres in Kobe Japan have been banned from playing cards, Pachinko and other forms of gambling as the city’s Municipal Assembly voted to ban those forms of activities as they foster a self-reliance on the part of the elderly.

This week the Kobe Municipal Assembly unanimously adopted a local ordinance as the country’s first municipality to ban day-care centers operating under the public nursing-care insurance system from letting elderly people play such games.

Under the ordinance, day-care centers cannot regularly provide activities such as pachinko and mah-jongg that may “stir up the passion for gambling.”

Also companies offering those activities will be banned from advertising to the elderly there.

Kobe city officials said day-care centers pitching these “casino type” activities are springing up nationwide, running counter to the spirit of the public nursing-care insurance system, which is partly funded by taxpayers’ money.

September 25, 2015

Sport betting spawns Kenya’s newest brand of millionaires

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George Mwangi, who earlier this week won the Sh29.5 million Sportpesa jackpot prize is a living testimony that sports betting is alive and well in Kenya.

Mwangi became the newest millionaire in town after placing a bet and rightly predicted the outcome of a series of football games. He spent a sum of about Sh16,00 before hitting the jackpot, having started placing bets in May.

“I do not consider this gambling otherwise I would not have wasted my money on it. I take it as a game of fortune where you combine luck and commitment to succeed,’’ said an elated Mwangi during the unveiling on Tuesday.

“I recall the starter was 2/13 and the most games I won were 8/13 in multiple bets. I deployed computation skills and analysed every game for three hours beforehand. There was no guesswork.”

He is just one of a growing crop of middle-class Kenyans who are taking up sports betting as a hobby and while at it making money. Besides Sportpesa, other recognisable betting sites in the country include Elite Bet, Kenya Gold Bet, Just Bet, Bet Yety, Royal Kenya Bets and Go-Bet.

The industry has grown in leaps and bounds overtime to become a money-spinner, attracting the attention of authorities with the National Treasury recently imposing tax on winnings.

Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich in his budget statement in June announced that there would be between five per cent and 12 per cent tax on gross earnings by every 20th day of the following month from participating bet firms.

The betting industry drives its business mostly through online platforms and the mobile telephony networks. Sportpesa, that has been in operation for just under a year, was established by Pewans East Africa at a cost of Sh300 million and commands around 800,000 registered users on its online platform.

It focuses on soccer only and has a variety of markets to choose from. One of its unique features is that unlike other Kenyan bookies, Sportpesa alongside Royal Kenya Bets has a jackpot. The Jackpot value keeps on increasing on weekly basis until there is a winner.

The approximate growth rate of the Sportpesa Jackpot is Sh2 million. Sportpesa Jackpot is played at a cost of Sh100 per jackpot pick. The sports betting industry arguably continues to earn hugely as a result of exceptionally well researched interest points.

In Kenya, the focus is mainly on football which has a large following, especially the English Premier League. According to Kiko Dewal, an industry expert, betting firms are shrewd in calculations and understand the market dynamics.

“The business has liquidity and is very fluid. Money is always moving in and out seven days a week and like traders in the stock market, firms understand the intricacies involved to detail,’’ he said.

From soccer to Formula One and even horse-racing, all punters and betting organisations know how to strike the right chord by offering such incentives such as a consolation prize to losers.

Skrill – from Online Payment Processor to Gambling Affiliate

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Recently, online payment solution provider Skrill was acquired by Optimal Payments. The €1.1 billion acquisition deal will see two of the most preferred payment processors by online gambling customers – Skrill itself and NETELLER – being managed by one and the same parent company.

It could be said that both providers of payment services rely quite a lot on Internet gambling operations, as a substantial amount of their revenues is contributed by those same operations. Upon the transaction’s completion, executives for Skrill and Optimal Payments said that they intend to further increase proceeds from online gambling, as the market is known to be growing at an extremely rapid pace.

Since it was founded back in 2001, Skrill has undergone a number of changes in order to turn into what it is now. Although the company started as an online payment processor, it gradually became much larger and is now involved in other activities as well. The following paragraphs represent a somewhat brief overview of Skrill’s establishment, development and relations to one particular industry – online gambling, which, as already mentioned, has been gaining a lot of popularity over the past several years and is expected to further increase its influence and to attract the attention of more and more gambling customers of different nationalities and social status.

A Brief History of Skrill

Skrill, or Moneybookers as it was initially named, was founded back in 2001 by Daniel Klein and Benjamin Kullmann. Although registered that year, the online payment and money transfer website moneybookers.com officially commenced operations in April 2002. Over the first year and a half of operations, Moneybookers had about 2 million registered users. In other words, it seems that the company gained popularity and customers’ trust quite quickly.

In 2008, or six years after Moneybookers started offering its services, it reported to be handling more than 6 million customer accounts and to be operating in a total of 200 countries around the globe.

In 2010, the company was ranked UK’s fastest growing private equity business entity based on its profits. In 2011, it announced that its customer base has reached a total of 25 million. As of 2015, Skrill employs more than 560 people from as many as 30 nationalities. Those work in the company’s London-based headquarters as well as in its offices across Europe and the USA.

Skrill currently handles more than 36 million accounts. Its customers are able to both receive and send money to and from 200 different countries and as many as 40 currencies. The website also provides its services to 156,000 businesses around the world.

Customers of Skrill are able to send and receive money, deposit funds on various international gambling sites, own and use Skrill’s prepaid MasterCard in a number of locations around the world, etc. Speaking of online gaming, the e-wallet was given the green light by the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement to go live with its services in the state, which is only one of three to offer Internet gambling options. This happened in 2013, when six poker operators were allowed to launch such operations within the state’s borders. Thus, Skrill turned into an indispensable part of the gaming experience of New Jersey-located gambling customers.

As it could be seen, the online payments processor grew quite quickly and became one of the leaders in this constantly expanding niche. Over the course of its development, Skrill or Moneybookers went through a number of alterations and important changes that contributed and are to contribute to the company’s popularization and expansion. Two of those significant changes were the e-wallet’s re-branding announced in 2010 and its acquisition by rival Isle of Man-based online payments company Optimal Payments, which was finalized in August 2015.

Change of Name

As mentioned above, Moneybookers announced its planned re-branding in 2010. Back then, the company explained its move with the fact that everything in life changed and it considered it was the right time for such a major change. Its new name – Skrill – has a number of definitions in different slang dictionaries. However, it seems that it has been gradually coined as another term for money.

Moneybookers explained that it had chosen that particular name as a means to best introduce what it has always strived to offer to its customers – innovative and safe ways to pay for their online purchases and to send/receive money, flexibility, choice, “reliability and peace of mind.”

Back then, some assumed that the re-branding from Moneybookers to Skrill could be seen as the company’s attempt to further expand its services within the online retail sector and to limit its operations related to online gambling. Yet, it turned out that this was not the case at all. At the time of the changeover, Moneybookers was among the preferred payment methods on the websites of some of the world’s biggest gambling operators. Now, five years later, Skrill is among the preferred payment methods listed on the websites of even more online bookmakers and card rooms. What is more, it is generally considered by gambling customers among the most efficient providers of ways to transfer money for the purposes of Internet gambling.

Here it is important to note that being founded and headquartered in London, Skrill is administered through UK’s Financial Services Authority and is subject to the country’s financial laws. It also could be said that over the past several years, the site has been a direct competitor to giant PayPal and NETELLER.

In August 2015, Skrill’s competition with the latter e-wallet provider was put to an end after the completion of a key acquisition deal.

Optimal Payments’ Takeover

In March 2015, Optimal Payments, owner of renowned providers of various payment services, such as NETELLER, NETBANX, Net+, etc., proposed to buy Skrill for the amount of €1.1 billion ($1.2 billion). The deal was not finalized until August, as it has been subject to both shareholder and regulatory approval. The FCA gave the green light to the transaction as it considered Optimal Payments had met all the necessary takeover obligations. CVC Capital Partners, which bought a majority stake in Skrill Group for the total amount of €600 million back in 2013, also gave the nod to the acquisition.

Executives of the two business entities pointed out that the merger marked the beginning of “a global fintech champion” and “a powerful force” in “the fast growing digital payments space.” They also noted that deal is transformational not only because it creates a leader in the digital wallet services but also because it gives Optimal Payments the chance to further expand its presence in the constantly growing online gambling market.

Prior to acquiring Skrill, the company had said that revenue from services related to online gambling operations accounted for almost 46% of its overall revenue. Adding yet another leader in the provision of payment options for this swiftly and constantly growing market to its portfolio means that this figure has every chance to go up in future.

Analysts predicted that the acquisition deal will be quite profitable for Optimal Payments. The combined entity is expected to post annual EBITDA of about £117 million. The figure is expected to increase to £160 million in 2017. In comparison, Optimal Payments’ standalone EBITDA was £58 million.

The Many-Faced Skrill

Apart from the traditional services that every self-respecting e-wallet platform offers, the options offered by Skrill are not just limited to that. Being one of the most preferred providers of payment solutions for the online gambling industry, it is not a surprise that the company has made its foray into the world of gambling affiliate marketing, offering exclusive gaming and betting options and bonuses for some of the world’s biggest gaming sites.

But what exactly is affiliate marketing and how does it work?

Affiliate Marketing in a Nutshell

Generally speaking, affiliate marketing is a rapidly growing market and it is quite a useful means for retailers and other types of businesses to popularize their services and product offering through their affiliates or in other words, companies that advertise them on the Internet by means of various approaches. Those approaches could vary broadly – from the orthodox ones, such as organic SEO, e-mail and content marketing, etc. to less traditional ones.

This particular industry has four main players – the retailer, which offers certain services or products and seeks proper advertising for those, the network, which features a wide variety of affiliates to choose from, the publisher, also known as the affiliate itself, and the customer, whom affiliate marketing addresses. The affiliates’ purpose is to bring visitors to the retailer’s website and typically, they get rewarded for this.

Skrill as a Gambling Affiliate

A quick tour around Skrill’s website makes it quite clear that the company has not been involved only in the provision of payment solutions for individuals and business organizations. Yes, it is true that it gives customers the opportunity to quickly and conveniently send and receive money, pay what they need to pay via a 1-Tap mobile optimized payment solution, and many more. Yet, apparently, the company has also decided to delve into the world of affiliate marketing.

Skrill itself features its own affiliate program, which many consider quite alluring. The company promises money rewards to websites that have brought new customers to its own website. But Skrill’s involvement is not limited to this. Its recently introduced Promotional Centre or Exclusive Offers, as the section has been named after the website’s latest update, is just what a typical affiliate offers to customers.

Skrill’s Exclusive Offers is particularly oriented towards two groups of people – gambling customers and traders. For the purposes of this article, we will pay more attention to the gambling customer and what he or she could find in the section.

As a gambling affiliate, Skrill has resorted to a number of marketing approaches in order to draw the attention of people who are already into online gambling as well as of potential gambling customers. In the first place, the website features banners of some of the world’s biggest and most popular gambling operators that provide their services on the major regulated online gaming markets.

Skrill also provides comprehensive reviews on what they offer. Gambling customers as well as potential ones can choose from several gaming options, including sports betting, casino games, poker, and bingo.

Being an affiliate of some of the major online gambling companies on a global scale is quite indicative of Skrill’s involvement in an industry that is expected to further grow in the years to come. With operators constantly expanding their presence and introducing their services to new regulated markets, it seems that the future of the popular online payment processor and its new parent company Optimal Payments is to be even more closely related to the gambling industry. And as it turns out, this involvement is to be related not only to the provision of reliable payment solutions but also of securing operators with successful affiliate marketing activities.

Israel to open a casino in Eilat

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Eilat in Israel could be the first to have a land based casino as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has started discussions on opening a casino in the southern resort city.

Netanyahu during his campaign election promised that he would look at the possibility of legalizing casinos to check the effects it would possibly have on the socioeconomic impact to the country and at the same time helping to boost the economy along with creating jobs.

The city of Eilat has for many years been the location where Israeli’s go to gamble on ships as they go out to neutral waters and offer gambling on board, so for a casino to be located there would make sense. Also with the continued accusations that these ships offer money laundering and rigged games would remove that problem with a legalised casino resort.

A casino did open in Jericho back in 1998 for some six years before closing in 2004, the casino was allowed as it stood on Palestinian Authority-controlled territory, however with the onslaught of the Second Intifada it never really was the success it had been hoped for.

Building a casino on Israeli land would cause opposition from orthodox Jewish sections of the community, whether it will be a reality is some way off thou.

Pentagon expenses scandal on casino & strip club visits

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A major scandal could be ready to erupt in Washington after the Pentagon’s Inspector General was called in to investigate whether US military staff had used their official expenses account to pay for casino visits and strip club bills amounting to almost $1 million.

In May of this year, the Pentagon watchdog issued a report that Defence Department employees spent $952,258 at casinos and another $96,576 at “adult entertainment establishments.”

In September the Senate Armed Services Committee asked the Inspector General’s Office to make a full investigation into those expenses.

“Our objective is to determine whether (Defence Department) cardholders who used government travel cards at casinos and adult entertainment establishments for personal use sought or received reimbursement for the charges,” the Senate Armed Services Committee said in a memo to the Inspector General.