Anti-competitive and unhelpful

In a landmark ruling last month, the German Federal Constitutional Court found that restrictions to private sports betting operations set up by the German State of Bavaria are unconstitutional. The Court concludes that these restrictions contradict the ‘basic right of freedom of occupation ’ enshrined in the German Constitution. In addition, the Court finds that the current polices of the State owned operators do not effectively restrict gambling problems, but are aimed rather at raising the State’s financial resources. Such a practice contravenes the settled case law of the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

The Court indicated that the state monopoly is not currently aiming at preventing gambling problems, giving the German authorities one of two options by December 2007: to realign the goals of the State monopoly towards restricting addiction as a conditions of maintaining its exclusive rights; or open the German market to licensed private operators. “This ruling is most welcome for the private industry with far reaching consequences beyond Germany,” stated European Betting Association Secretary General, Didier Dewyn. “We hope that the this precedent sets the tone for other Member States to immediately abolish all market restrictions in this sector that are unrelated to consumer protection. ” However, the EBA is dissatisfied with the time frame, stating that putting the market on hold for two years does not comply with current EU law.

Olympic Casino maintain Latvia operation growth

Entertainment Giant, Olympic Casino, has opened its 40th casino in Latvia. This latest Olympic Casino was opened in the town Riga, in March, at a cost of almost 1m euros. The entertainment centre has a Las Vegas theme and offers38 slot machines, a modern bar and organizes various entertainment events. The casino was designed to conform to more stringent requirements introduced in Latvian legislation for entertainment facilities. The company’s position on the Latvian gaming market improved radically in December last year, when Olympic Casino acquired Latvia’s second-largest casino operator, baltic Gaming AS. Olympic Casino is at present Latvia’s second-largest casino operator and is market leader in Estonia and Lithuania, with plans to become the biggest poker player on the market in Latvia too. Key to this plan is the opening of the largest and most spectacular casino in the Baltic states in Riga at the Reval Hotel Latvija. The investment in the new modern entertainment   complex will be 5.8m euros and by current plans the new casino is expected to open its doors may 1, 2006. The entertainment complex will be named Olympic Voodoo Casino and covers 1,800sq.m. In addition to the existing Voodoo Casino the complex will be expanded on account of the hotel extension. The casino will have 115 slot machines and 25 gaming tables, with a sushi restaurant and a large bar, plus a stage to host a variety of entertainment.

*   EssNet signs IVT PAF agreement

EssNet Interactive and Alands Penning Automat Forewing (PAF) have signed a new IVT Pilot Agreement. The agreement covers a client server based system using EssNet Interactive’s online Interactive Video Lottery Terminals (IVT). The pilot will start in the autumn of 2006 and will be trialed for up to six months. PAF had signed the first pilot in December 2005 for a period of six months located in the international casino PAF in Mariehamn, where the EssNet Interactive IVT system was successfully tested in a commercial environment. The IVT system in this second pilot will be configured for operations on-board a cruise ship, where the solution also provides an enhanced entertainment appeal for all of PAF’s sales channels. “The pilot on board one of the cruise ships in the Baltic Sea, is a stragtic move for Alands Penning automat főrening into the new client –server based technology, enabling PAF to offer customers enhanced entertainment in an effective and responsible manner, for the good of the public, which is PAF’s underlying goal,” commented LarsPorko, CEO, Alands Penning automat főrening.

*  Following the successful launch launch of Harmony at ICE 2006 earlier this year and in response to the growing market in Asia, Atronic debuted its new video slot machine for the very first time at the recent GEM show, which took place in the Philippines. Atronic took part in the exhibition in cooperation with Asian distributor RGB, and despite the fact that the official launch of harmony was not planned for Asia until later this year, initial customer response and feedback to the new machine was extremely positive. Atronic also showcased the very latest in linked gaming concepts including the proven dynamic bonus link Cash Fever and the millionaire making Wide Area Progressive millions. Cash Fever has already been enjoying success at a number of operations in Macau and that popularity is set to increase further with the launch of the new Asian version of Cash Fever midway through the year. This specially adapted version features simplified Chinese text as well as an Asian Dr Cash Fever. Also making its debut in the Philippines was the Wide Area Progressive millions, available exclusively on e-motion giving every player the chance to become a millionaire. The Super Playwin Poker card games Magic Academy and Passion coast complemented the range of linked gaming products on display. Both games feature the unique Super Play functionality which is a new way to play providing an ‘all wins pay scatter’ pay mode, appealing to a wider group of players. Atronic Sales manager for Asia, Zane Reynolds, said: “As Atronic continues to push into the Asian Market and with the Philippines being an integral part of this market – we were very pleased to use this year’s GEM show to bring a range of Atronic’s successful products likes Cash Fever. ”

In a move designed to increase speed to market and the implementation of its open standards, the Gaming Standards Association (GSA) will now encourage third-party companies to develop protocol tool kits based on GSA standards. The association’s goal is to allow third-play developers the advantages of Swift implementation of GSA standards. Radical Blue Gaming, located in Reno, NV will be the first company to take up the challenge. Russ Ristine, VP of Radical Blue Gaming said: “For manufactures, it would be great if their game designers can have a host simulator and verify feedback right away, enabling then to go to the next step comfortably. System developers need a scriptable tool that lets them run scenarios over and over again to test their developing products. That’s what these took kits will accomplish. ”

Fun world fights for its share

A series of blows has shaken the touchscreen market in Italy, but funworld battles on

One of the best markets for touchscreen games has become one of the toughest, as Italian legislation changed to homologate every touchscreen terminal in 2006. Technical regulations also changed with machines requiring smart chips to verify the games, while the biggest blow has been the removal of network  access. The AAMS Gaming Monopoly believes that network access, which has been the key sales of tool for the touchscreen games industry, linking players for tournaments and social games, has too much scope for manipulation in a country renowned for illegal operation. In response, Austria’s funworld has removed its Net access and sought the homologation of its latest games, funworld’s marco Huter at the Spring ENADA told  G3: “The week before the exhibition we could not sell a single machine, with homologation taking place in Rome. But it’s worthwhile for us to fight for this market, as it still makes a lot of sense to continue in Italy thanks to our subsidiary in Milan, which has given us a big advantage. ” poker gaming funworld’s Italian subsidiary has taken care of the product homologation process and fought the case for Photo Play at every stage.

 “We’ve taken our fight to Brussels, lobbying against the technology changes the AAMS sought to impose,” stated Mr. Huter. “We spoke to the European Commission, who in torn told the Italian government that certain changes were not acceptable. ” These changes would have prevented funworld from selling machines in Italy due to the nature of its hardware. The aim of the law is to rid the market of illegal machines, not put amusement firms out of business,” said Mr. Huter. “During the first nine months of the new law, it’s earned 1bn euros in revenue for the government.

Before the law this figure was 82m euros. So there’s a lot of pressure to ensure that all machines are homologated and illegal operations are stopped. ” The fall-out from increased scrutiny has been higher costs for the operator and distributor, who must pay for the homologation of the machines, and then for a readable smartchip, costing around 25 euros per machine. The operator must then have permission to site the machine, applying for a further chip which confirms that the machine is homologated and allowed to be position on the site, which is another fee. The operator must also log every type and number of games on every Photo Play   terminal in accordance with the law and file this with the authorities. To confirm this list the authority must be sent the machine for inspection. “There are many machines on the market in different states of upgrade,” said Mr. Huter. “Operators should update to the latest 2006 version to ensure that every game on their terminal is in accordance with the law. Otherwise, operators could face huge problems trying to make declarations for every game on every terminal across their estate. We guarantee the games on the 2006 have been homologated and provide lists to help with the declarations. ”