Personal gambling row between former Kiwi Rugby League player & friend in New Zealand

Originally Posted on Saturday Dec 26 11:03:00 GMT 2009

New Zealand is a popular place for gambling.  There are several successful land based casinos as well as online casinos.  However, these venues are not where former Kiwi rugby league player Jarrod McCracken lost a massive amount of money.

McCracken is a well known figure in New Zealand , moving very successfully into real estate in the 1990s. The manner of his loss was a personal arrangement between himself and an old friend, Harry Kakavas.  Apparently Kakavas, who is a well known gambler, borrowed on a handshake deal, $6.25 million, which he subsequently refused to pay back.  The money was lost, not in New Zealand, but in casinos in Las Vegas and Australia.

In spite of calling in middle men to try and settle the matter of the outstanding debt, the money was not repaid.

Eventually the matter was taken to court where an award of of $1.25 million was made to McCracken.  It does not look as though the rest of the money will ever be repaid.  Kakavas apparently owes many of his former friends large sums of money.

New Zealand gambling is worth around $2 billion per annum, some of this in the online gambling industry.

Facebook bans gambling advertising

Originally Posted on Tuesday Dec 22 1:06:00 GMT 2009

Facebook has announced that it will no longer run advertisements for gambling, tobacco and guns.  This is a setback for freedom of the Internet, which is already facing censorship in other areas.

This, of course, follows the online gambling industry’s problems following the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA) in 2006.  Although the industry does have a champion in Representative Barney Frank, so far no progress has been made in keeping the internet free from Government interference.

President Obama’s administration claims that it supports Internet freedom, but there appears to be little evidence of this.  Some would say that they have actually increased their stance against internet gambling by seizing bank accounts which have connections with online gambling.

Facebook, which is used by people all over the world, including New Zealand, may find that people interested in internet gambling may begin to use other networking sites in the future.

Online poker exceeds market expectations

Originally Posted on Saturday Dec 19 9:51:00 GMT 2009

The online gaming company PartyGaming is expected to announce earning results slightly ahead of expectations.

This seems to be in line with online gambling companies worldwide, including New Zealand.

PartyGaming, the largest listed online gaming group, receives most of its revenue from online poker and casino games.  The company also includes a smaller sports book and bingo arm.

Poker has been under pressure as the market has become more competitive.  Many online sites are offering bigger bonuses and encouraging players with better loyalty schemes.

New gambling regulations in France and Italy, expected to be announced next year, will offer better revenue prospects for online gambling companies.

Earlier this year PartyGaming paid $105 million to US authorities in return for a guarantee that they would not be prosecuted for providing online gambling to US customers prior to the US government ban in 2006.

There is rumour of significant mergers between large online gaming companies based in Gibraltar. PartyGaming is one of the companies that operates from Gibraltar.

Sale of online software company

Originally Posted on Wednesday Dec 16 3:38:00 GMT 2009

Recent news regarding online gambling businesses shows that GigaMedia Ltd (GIGM) is preparing to sell around 60% of its online gambling software business.  This will include Everest Poker.  The sale is to a European based online company called Mangas Gambling.  The price is set at more than $100 million.

Although GIGA shares were down 33% this year, with the company producing figures for the first quarter of the year so far.  However, stock jumped 11% and was trading at $4.20 in pre-market trading.

Mangas will initially pay $100 million to GIGA, making final payment after fair market value of business by 2012.  There will also be an option for GIGA to require Mangas to buy the rest of the stake in 2013.  Mangas also have the option of forcing a sale starting in 2015.

Currently Mangas’s portfolio includes BetClic, Expekt and Bet-at-Home.  Everest Poker will become their main poker site.

This is expected to create an on-line gambling powerhouse in Europe, which will offer poker, sports betting and casinos.

Online gambling in New Zealand will remain largely unaffected by the news.

New casino for Wellington?

Originally Posted on Monday Dec 14 2:57:00 GMT 2009

There is mystery surrounding a proposed new luxury casino in Wellington New Zealand.  Whoever has bought the site in Shelley Bay wishes to remain anonymous.

If permission for the casino were to be given, then it would be built on the site of the decommissioned Wellington Prison.  It is thought that the current building would be converted rather than rebuilt.  As the building stands on top of a hill, customers would have to leave their cars at the bottom and ride up to the top in a gondola.

Currently Wellington is the only large city in New Zealand not to have a casino.  Efforts in the past to open a casino here have met with local opposition.

This latest proposal will also meet with many challenges.  In 2003 the Gambling Act banned the licensing of any more casino gambling in New Zealand.

It may be that the developer who is pouring time and money into the proposed plans, knows something that everyone else doesn’t.

Since the 2003 moratorium on gambling in New Zealand the commercial gambling industry has not had much opportunity to grow.

At the same time the growth of internet gambling in New Zealand as been steady.  The average New Zealander spends around $41 a week on gambling.

Land based casino in Christchurch versus online casinos

For those who like to use internet sites for online gaming, it is hard to remember what it was like before the internet revolution.

These days people can buy anything on the internet pretty much sure that security is now so good that it is safe to do so.

Not many people will realize that online casinos were some of the first to take advantage of the internet.  Although it was always fun to visit land based casinos in Auckland, Christchurch, Queenstown and Dunedin, now people who enjoy the odd flutter can settle down to an evening at home and play their favourite online games for as long or short a time as they like.  With the money saved on a trip to a land based casino, there may be a little more cash to spend on the online games.

New games are always being introduced to online casinos, thus keeping up the interest of the player.  There is usually the opportunity to learn how to play the new game before actually committing any cash.  This is not something that is readily available at the land based sites.

Another great advantage of the online casino is the great bonuses that are available.  These are not only offered to new players to entice them to use the site, but they continue to offer great incentives to the player who continues to use the site.

This was never the case with land based casinos, where the ordinary punter was largely ignored.  Millions if dollars are constantly being invested in these sites, making them more and more user friendly.

New Zealand continues to enjoy the new innovations available on their online casino sites.

Will the UIGEA decision affect online poker in NZ

Originally Posted on Wednesday Dec 2 9:17:00 GMT 2009

The debate continues regarding the US decision to delay the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, UIGEA, until June 2010.

There is some question as to whether poker is actually a gambling game at all.  No doubt a an debate that will continue for some time.

The UIGEA, passed originally in the Bush administration in 2007, greatly hurt the live poker game as well as the online poker industry.

In 2007 the World Series of Poker Main Event attracted $82.5 million in prize money.  The following year it was down to $60 million.  This was the first decrease in WSOP history.

The decrease was not only seen in the big brand names and casinos, but also with the small operators.  Many people who work in the industry are saying that the proposed ban on internet gambling has cut their income to such an extent that they are forced to look for work elsewhere.

So it would seem that the ban on internet gambling would hurt one of America’s oldest pastimes, thus cutting perfectly legitimate jobs.  This, of course, would have profound implications  worldwide, including here in New Zealand.


Happily, the New Zealand government has not proposed any legislation regarding online gambling.  It is to be hoped that if the US government were to make a decision in 6 months time regarding online gambling, that it would not have too much impact on the online gambling industry in New Zealand.

Auckland Casino Hit by Student Prank

Originally Posted on Tuesday Dec 1 8:23:00 GMT 2009

The Sky City Casino in Auckland was the target of a student plank last month. Students dumped counterfeit cash worth NZ$5.5million on the doorstep of the casino in an attempt to highlight the problems of gambling addiction in New Zealand. The figure was thought to be the average amount lost by kiwis every day.

The students had been working with the Problem Gambling foundation and chose to dump the fake cash on the casino to highlight the issue of problem gambling and showing those that cannot afford to lose money that are still losing too much. It was dumped on Gamble Free day and did have a result as the responsible gambling manager of the Sky City Casino agreed to meet the group to discuss actions going forward.

Gambling online in New Zealand (especially at online casinos) has been a massive rising star in New Zealand over the past few years and as it looks to continue to rise the Problem Gambling foundation will look to keep an eye on it.

US online casino decision good for NZ too

Originally Posted on Saturday Nov 28 5:36:00 GMT 2009

The end of November has been eagerly awaited by the online casino industry.  Laws that were scheduled to come into play in early December in the US would have made it almost impossible for gamblers to be paid by their casinos.

However, on Friday the Treasury Department delayed their decision until 1 June 2010.  Apparently the extra time was needed in order to implement the rules for the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act, known as UIGEA.

Online casinos were afraid they would not be able to operate in the US market once the new rules came into effect.  It is now hoped that the representative, Barney Frank, will have enough time to overturn the UIGEA.

A statement by Frank made on Friday said, “The Department of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board of Governors deserve a great deal of credit  for suspending these midnight regulations promulgated by the Bush Administration which would curtail the freedom of Americans to use the internet as they choose and which would pose unrealistic burdens on the entire financial community.

The delay gives the online casino industry, here in New Zealand, as well as in the US and worldwide, time to reflect on the future on the online gambling business.

NZ online gambling fares better than USA

Originally Posted on Sunday Nov 22 0:00:00 GMT 2009:

Whilst online gambling in New Zealand continues to enjoy good times, this is not the case in the USA, where they have had to cope with a ban imposed by the last administration.

As December approaches there appears to be no legislation in sight to stop the full force of the ban in the USA.

The press and President Obama have indicated that they believe the recession is on the way out.  However, this is not the experience of the casino owners worldwide, who feel that it will take many years to recover.

The president of the American Gaming Association, Frank Fahrenkopf, thinks his land based casino membership may look closely at online casinos as the industry’s future.

He recently told an audience at the Global Gaming Expo that the gaming industry is facing a long road to recovery.  Although the decline in revenue has slowed this is by no means the same as an increase, and he felt that recovery may be at least 4 years away.

Setting up and maintaining an online casino costs a fraction of a land based operation.  In fact one Las Vegas operation has already set up an online poker arm through its Canadian division.

Although the AGA has in the past opposed online gambling there seems to be a softening of attitude.  It is hoped that the AGA will discuss the reintroduction of online gambling and show support for new regulations.

None of this applies to online gambling in New Zealand where there continues to be a significant growth in spite of these economically challenging times.