Friday, February 3

BLACKJACK – The Casino Guide Betting Bits

Australians continue to gambling online despite the country’s recently passed online gambling prohibition bill, the push to ban Internet gambling continues in America, commences beta testing for its skill-based bingo game, Europe gets a new iTV-based lottery and a pair of Vegas companies team to bring lottery machines to shoppers in Mexico.

An Australian Online Gambling Bit

The Australian Industry Standard reports that a recently passed Australian Internet gambling prohibition bill isn’t stopping Australians from gambling over the Internet. Hitwise, an Internet monitoring group, shows that 0.42 percent of all local online traffic was heading to gaming sites. In fact, the gambling sub-category was second only to websites about television. Horse racing was the most popular type of gambling with lotteries and sports betting following close behind. Even though the “Interactive Gambling Bill” restricts online casino-type gambling,  was the fourth most popular website. These facts led Hitwise to wonder just how the Australian federal government intends to limit online gaming.

The Latest Bit on Prohibition in America

They got it done–sort of–in Australia, but legislators have yet get an Internet gambling prohibition bill passed in the United States. It isn’t for a lack of effort though. Two bills are currently being looked at in the U.S. House of Representatives. Both measures call for the barring of Internet gambling-related financial transactions, which means that Americans wouldn’t be able to legally transfer money to and from online gambling sites. But wait, there’s more: Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., and Rep. Robert Goodlatte, R-Va., have both been trying for years to get prohibition bills passed and have both made it clear that they will resume their efforts in the near future. House subcommittees have met twice this month to hear testimony on banning online gambling.

An Online Bingo Bit, Inc. has begun beta testing its pay-to-play skill-based Internet bingo game at. The test is the last step before offering the game to the group’s 750,000 members. When real-money play commences, players will be able to compete in pay-to-play, skill-based bingo tournaments over the Internet for real-money prizes. The company hopes to go live with the new service by the end of the month.

A Bit of Luck Here and There

For the second time since making its recent debut in Ontario, IGT’s popular Megabucks progressive slot machine network has turned a gambler in that province into a millionaire. A $1,309,301.20 jackpot won Saturday at Casino Niagra changed the life of Maryam Talini, a mother of four. The family will buy a new house and take a vacation together immediately. Megabucks slot machines are linked to machines in other casinos, making the jackpot grow steadily at a rate of $3 per pull. The first Megabucks millionaire, Pam Fowler, also won $1.3 million playing at Casino Niagra.

Luck is in the air down south too. James Lucas of Witchita Falls, Texas, became Louisiana’s latest millionaire Friday playing the slots at Horseshoe Casino & Hotel, Bossier City. Lucas hit a $1,097,106.91 jackpot playing a 25-cent Wheel of Fortune progressive slot machine. “I was very calm,” Lucas said of his initial reaction to winning, “but my wife wasn’t.” Lucas, a Texas correctional officer, said his wife had three days off, so the couple decided to make a fun weekend of it at Horseshoe. The couple comes to Horseshoe around twice a year. With the money, Lucas plans to “buy my wife a car, take a vacation and take care of the kids and eight grandchildren!”

An Interactive Lottery Bit

The Alladdin Lotteries’ lottery game will be available soon through the interactive television portal ITV Active in the United Kingdom. The online lottery game will be accessible to subscribers of the iTV service. Alladdin says the lottery has better odds of winning than Camelot’s National Lottery, the national lottery of England.

A Mexican Bit

Two small Las Vegas gaming companies have finalized an agreement to run “entertainment centers” in Mexico. The first center, which will host 460 token-operated lottery machines, will be placed in Mexico City’s largest shopping mall and should be complete in late August. Viva Gaming & resorts Inc. and Phoenix Leisure Group are running the show.

A Bit of Celebrity Golf

Mohegan Sun casino of Connecticut will serve as the title sponsor of the inaugural Mohegan Sun New England celebrity Players Tour. The celebrity-filled event, a golfing tournament, will be held September 11-15, 2002. More than 70 nationally recognized stars and athletes will compete. Some of the key members include Michael Jordon, John Elway, Mario Lemieux, Jack Wagner and Charles Barkley. The group has raised over $8 million for various charities so far.

A Bizarre Bit

DNA testing has confirmed that the remains of a woman found dead in Malaysia are indeed Carolyn Noraini Ahmad. Ahmad had been missing since Nov. 11, 1999. Four suspects have been arrested. One suspect reportedly confessed to the murder and told the police that it was a human sacrifice to get lottery numbers from the spirits. No court date has been set yet.

A Bit of Renovation for Harrah’s Online

Harrah’s Entertainment has re-launched its website, with added features. Now Harrah’s Total Rewards members can access their players club account information online. From the Web, members can view comps available to them, check the status of their level (gold, platinum or diamond) and even book hotel rooms and snag hot, last-minute deals on vacation packages.