Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Report on the Frank Bill Amendments

GamblingCompliance has issued an Exclusive Report on the Frank Bill Amendments following the House Financial Services Committee’s approval of Rep. Barney Frank's bill to regulate online gambling in the United States.

This Report contains key analysis from our US journalists and lawyers based in our Washington D.C office. It also provides a summarized table which lays out the core elements of the approved Amendments with voting patterns, and focuses on the potential impacts upon the following sectors:

Tribal Gaming, State Lotteries, Payment Processing, Sports Betting, Off-Shore Gaming Interests, State Opt-Out Periods, Consumer Protection and Advertising Regulations.

Download report at: http://scr.bi/9VWRNX

2010 Annual Game Survey

Newly released survey revealing that online versions of First-Person Shooter Games have dropped in popularity, while traditional Board and Puzzle Games continue to remain strong. The survey revealed some interesting findings, confirming some of what you may believe and likely breaking down misconceptions about gamers. Among the highlights of the 2010 survey, Blockdot found:

- Most dramatic shift in gaming preferences since 2008: First-Person Shooter Games, once very strong with males, are now losing appeal. 20% decline in positive intent to play and 70% increase in negative intent.

- Puzzle Games remain extremely popular with female players. Action-Puzzle Games is a growing genre for both males and females.

- Traditional Board Games remain one of the most popular gaming genres, with 88% of females and 80% of males indicating a positive intent to play these games

- Most desired new trend of games is the ability to earn trophies and achievements.

- 49% of participants have a webcam, but only 17% use it.

- Very few participants have used their webcam for Augmented Reality games — while a quarter of participants don’t know what Augmented Reality is.

- Despite the growing attention focused on multi-player games, most people still prefer single-player game play.

Download report from: http://scr.bi/dqyQif

Amazon Says E-Book Sales Outpace Hardcovers

Editor’s Note: Another great example of the rapidly changing way consumers are interacting with media.

Amazon.com Inc. said it reached a milestone, selling more e-books than hardbacks over the past three months.

But publishers said it is still too early to gauge for the entire industry whether the growth of e-books is cannibalizing sales of paperback books, a huge and crucial market.

In a statement Monday, Amazon's chief executive, Jeff Bezos, also countered the perception that sales of the company's Kindle e-reading device had suffered due to competition from other devices, such as Apple Inc.'s iPad.

Borders Launches eBook Store, BlackBerry and Android Apps. Access thousands of business sources not available on the free web. Learn More .He said the growth rate of Kindle device sales had "reached a tipping point," having tripled since the company lowered its price to $189 from $259 last month, following a similar move by competitor Barnes & Noble Inc. to cut the price on its Nook e-reader.

Amazon said Kindle device sales accelerated each month in the second quarter—both on a sequential month-over-month basis and on a year-over-year basis. But the statistics that Amazon shared were all relative—it didn't share actual sales figures. The company has never said how many Kindle devices or e-books it has sold.

Barnes & Noble, the nation's largest bookstore chain retailer, also has "seen a big uptick" since it cut the price of its Nook e-reader, a spokeswoman said.

Read more at: http://bit.ly/9VfyDK

Customer Loyalty Called a Must-Win for Casinos

July 28, 2010: summarized from Las Vegas Sun -- The increasing popularity of gambling and casinos as mainstream entertainment is a double-edged sword for casino operators that must compete with properties offering the same games and similar entertainment options.

This makes casinos more dependent on marketing — and the battle for customer loyalty all-important.

Harrah’s Entertainment founder Bill Harrah took this to heart more than 30 years ago with the introduction of Premium Points — a predecessor of the company’s Total Rewards loyalty club that distributed paper tickets to customers who won slot jackpots, redeemable for products such as TVs and golf clubs.

Customers hoarded these tickets, the low-tech equivalent of last century’s S&H Green Stamps, saving up for bigger-ticket items and returning to Harrah’s to accumulate points playing mechanical slots, former Harrah’s CEO Phil Satre recalled at a recent conference.

Satre, who lives in Reno, retired in 2004 but is still in demand for his business insights. He serves on numerous corporate boards and made a rare appearance in Las Vegas last week.

Satre imparted some marketing lessons to casino operators at the sixth annual Casino Marketing Conference at Paris Las Vegas.

“Change creates an opportunity to learn,” he said. “It’s in these times of great change that those who capitalize on it create inordinate wealth.”

Satre joined Harrah’s in 1980 when the company had only two casinos. When Nevada’s casino industry viewed the fledgling business of riverboat and Indian casinos with trepidation, Satre saw opportunity. Under his tenure, the company grew exponentially, transforming from a small, regional casino operator to a nationwide casino chain.

If Harrah’s hadn’t taken advantage of the spread of casino gambling, others would have — and did, he said.

Much of the company’s growth can be traced to Total Rewards, a 12-year-old loyalty program that has boosted profit at Harrah’s casinos relative to competitors lacking a comparable program. Believing that the company’s future lay in its marketing strategy, Satre hired a Harvard University marketing professor, Gary Loveman, as the company’s chief operating officer, setting up an epic battle between Loveman, now Harrah’s CEO, and his team of marketing technicians and old-line casino operators.

Read more at: http://bit.ly/9alAK3

Europe Unleashes Online Gambling to Fill Coffers

Editor’s Note: Can the United States be very far behind?

July 27, 2010: summarized from the New York Times -- PARIS — Across Europe, cash-strapped governments looking for ways to reduce yawning budget gaps are embracing online gambling, a source of revenue they once viewed with wary skepticism.

While U.S. opposition to Internet betting has centered on concerns about gambling addiction, European politicians previously objected for a different reason: liberalizing the practice, they feared, would undermine state-sponsored lottery monopolies and gambling operators.

But more and more gamblers are spurning land-based casinos anyway, and logging on to Internet poker and sports betting sites — many of them based in places that are out of reach of tax collectors. As public finances worsen, governments are trying to bring this once-shadowy business into the mainstream of Europe’s digital economy, where it can be regulated and taxed.

“What’s happened is a realization that you can’t uninvent the Internet,” said David Trunkfield, a consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers. “People are gaming online. You either try to regulate and tax it, or people are going to go to the offshore operators, where you don’t get any revenue.”

France, which only four years ago jailed the top executives of an Austrian Internet gambling company, Bwin, when they visited France, last month permitted private companies like Bwin to start taking bets online, in competition with publicly owned gambling sites. Denmark approved legislation in June authorizing a similar shift. Greece plans within weeks to introduce a bill legalizing online gambling, which is currently banned.

Others considering liberalization include Switzerland, Spain and Germany. They are all following Britain, which in 2005 became the first big country in Europe to confer respectability on the business, and Italy, which has been phasing in legalized Internet betting over the past three years.

Meanwhile, lawmakers in several U.S. states, including New Jersey, California and Florida, have independently floated proposals for legalizing some kinds of online gambling, taking advantage of what supporters call a loophole in the 2006 federal law, potentially permitting such activity as long as it does not cross state borders. So far, however, no U.S. states have actually gone as far as British Columbia, in Canada, which has legalized some kinds of online gambling.

Read more at: http://nyti.ms/9a8qqt

Google Develops a Facebook Rival

Google Inc. is in talks with several makers of popular online games as it seeks to develop a broader social-networking service that could compete with Facebook Inc., according to people familiar with the matter.

Google has been in discussions with top developers to offer their games on a new service it is building, these people said. Those developers include Playdom Inc., Electronic Arts Inc.'s Playfish and Zynga Game Network Inc.—a company in which Google recently took a financial stake, these people said.

It is unclear when Google may launch the new gaming offering and the plans aren't finalized, but people briefed on the matter said the games would be part of broader social-networking initiative that is under development by the Mountain View, Calif., company.

In an interview this week, Google Chief Executive Eric Schmidt declined to confirm the development of a social-networking service that would incorporate social games, rumored to be called "Google Me." When asked if Google's service might resemble Facebook's, Mr. Schmidt said "the world doesn't need a copy of the same thing."

Google's push into social games represents the latest attempt by the Web-search leader to capture users and advertising dollars that are increasingly flowing to social networking, an area dominated by Facebook, Twitter Inc. and others.

For social-game developers, a successful Google offering would mean they wouldn't be so heavily dependent on Facebook, where the vast majority of users access the games. Consumers' appetite for social games is booming— Zynga's "Farmville" game has more than 60 million active monthly users—and that is attracting bigger players looking to tap new sources of growth. On Tuesday, Walt Disney Co. acquired Playdom for $563.2 million plus up to $200 million more if performance targets are reached.

Read more at: http://bit.ly/9WyKOp