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Zynga Gaming Network Adds Konami, Two Other Game Makers

(Reuters) - Japan’s Konami Corp and two other game makers have joined Zynga’s new gaming network, potentially drawing players to the fledgling service that Zynga hopes will reduce its dependence on Facebook.

Konami is the first publicly traded games company to join the service, which was announced last week, in a sign that Zynga is gaining momentum finding publishing partners willing to share revenue with it. The service has now signed on six publishers.

The website, Zynga.com, became open to the public on Monday, allowing users to make personal profiles and play games.

The service is the online game company’s most aggressive move yet to create a presence outside of Facebook, where it makes 93 percent of its revenue. Zynga went public in a much anticipated initial public offering last December.

Rob Dyer, head of partner publishing at Zynga, told the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco on Thursday that Konami is working on a new game that will be published on Zynga.com at a future date.

"We’re dedicated to creating the best destination for social games for players and developers alike," Dyer said.

Zynga is offering companies technology, analytics and the chance to market games to Zynga’s 240 million monthly users.

Playdemic, another games company, will bring social games “Gourmet Ranch” and “Crossword Buddies” to the platform, while publisher Rebellion will make a new social game for Zynga, the companies said in a statement.

Zynga’s redesigned website will make it easier for users to begin playing games quickly, by offering features not available on Facebook such as access to live chatting and a message board where they can ask for help.

But the so-called Zynga Platform still retains close ties to Facebook, as users must log in with their Facebook IDs and players will use Facebook Credits, the social network’s payment system, to trade in the games’ virtual houses, tractors, costumes and other goods.

(Reporting by Liana B. Baker; Editing by Edmund Klamann)
Original Story: Zynga Gaming Network Adds Konami, Two Other Game Makers
Copyright 2012 Thomson Reuters

Greyhound Races Face Extinction at the Hands of Casinos They Fostered

By A. G. Sulzberger
Originally published in The New York Times

Council Bluffs, Iowa — Not many people attend the races here at Bluffs Run Greyhound Park anymore. Aside from a few dozen aging diehards cheering the dogs from the shabby grandstand, the gambling-inclined prefer to take their chances amid the bright lights and constant action of the casino downstairs.

But even though the races are losing millions of dollars each year, the owners are required by law to keep the greyhounds running six days a week.

After a decade in which more than half the greyhound tracks in the country have closed, many of the remaining operations have survived thanks to the model used at Bluffs Run. Over the years, the tracks, which were there first, won permission from states to add slot machines and poker tables under the condition that a chunk of the profits go to the dog races — essentially subsidizing one form of gambling with another.

Now, after years defending greyhound racing against attacks that it is inhumane, a growing number of track owners are, to the astonishment of opponents and the dismay of fans, joining the critics among the animal rights groups. Complaining that they are being forced to spend millions of dollars a year to subsidize a pastime that the public has all but abandoned, greyhound track owners in Iowa, Florida and Arizona have been lobbying for changes in the law that would allow them to cut the number of races, or even shut down their tracks, while keeping their far more lucrative gambling operations running.

Though the legislative outcome is in doubt in the short term, the effort has intensified the concern that the end may be near for a century-old pastime that many regard as a blue-collar incarnation of horse racing.

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Michigan woman still collecting food stamps after winning $1 million lottery

By Eric Pfeiffer

People love stories about someone winning the lottery and then giving the money away. They’re less likely to feel fondly about Amanda Clayton, who won $1 million in the Michigan State Lottery but is still collecting food stamps.

"I thought that they would cut me off, but since they didn’t, I thought maybe it was OK because I’m not working," Clayton, 24, told Local 4 news in Detroit.

Back in December, a woman in Washington State fell under scrutiny when it was revealed she was receiving state economic benefits even though she lives in a $1 million waterfront home on Lake Washington.

Clayton, who says she owns two homes and a new car, receives $200 a month in food assistance from the state-issued Michigan Bridge Card, which is meant to benefit lower-income residents in the nation’s eigth most economically depressed state.

Twenty-five percent of Michigan’s residents receive some form of food assistance from the state. The state’s unemployment rate is 9.3 percent, more than a full point above the national average, but has dropped from a 10.4 percent peak in August.

And Clayton isn’t embarrassed about living off the state even though she now finds herself in the nation’s top tax bracket. “I mean I kinda do,” Clayton told Local 4 when asked if she had a “right” to the government welfare.

She certainly doesn’t the fit the mold of other lottery winners we have told you about here at the Sideshow, including the number of repeat winners of the Georgia State Lottery, many of whom chose to donate their initial winnings to charity or family members in need.

Clayton downplayed her wealth, saying she took the $1 million in a lump sump, which meant about half immediately went to taxes. “I feel that it’s OK because I mean, I have no income and I have bills to pay,” she said. “I have two houses.”

Her story has already caught attention locally, where state Republican Rep. Dale Zorn has sponsored a bill preventing individuals like Clayton from taking state financial assistance.

"Public assistance should be given to those who are in need of public assistance, not those who have found riches," Zorn told Local 4. The bill, which has already passed the state House and has a sister bill in the Senate, would require the state to cross check the names of lottery winners over $1,000 to see if they are also receiving state financial benefits.

(Source: Yahoo!)

A Safe Bet: Online Gambling’s Good for U.S.

By Patrick Basham
Adjunct Scholar
Center for Representative Government
Cato Institute

Federal prosecutors just dealt consumer freedom a terrible hand, shutting down the gambling website Bodog.com and indicting four company executives, including founder Calvin Ayre, for alleged illegal gambling that actually generated $100 million in customer winnings. Ironically the anti-Bodog crackdown comes as the push for sensible regulation of the online gambling industry is gathering serious political momentum.

In recent years, it’s become clear to a growing number of policymakers, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, that the ban on online gambling is a failure. Many federal and state-level politicians want to legalize online gambling, which Congress made illegal in 2006.

The current prohibitionist law is really a protectionist measure designed to support specific domestic operators, such as the websites run by the horse betting industry. Stopping American online gambling is truly mission impossible, with a vast number of insurmountable challenges facing governments that endeavor to criminalize online gambling.

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(Source: The Huffington Post)

Lobbyist: Casinos want fair online gambling

A top lobbyist says commercial casinos companies want a fair shot for everyone when it comes to online gambling - not a leg up over state lotteries, American Indian tribes and others jockeying to be first in line.

CEO Frank Fahrenkopf of the American Gaming Association said Wednesday the only way to make that happen is with a federal bill that explicitly legalizes online gaming while shutting down some 2,000 websites that currently offer illegal online gambling to Americans.

Fahrenkopf says any laws must treat all forms of legalized gambling equally.

Fahrenkopf’s comments came during the start of the Gaming Laboratories International Roundtable in Las Vegas.


Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2012/03/07/4318952/lobbyist-casinos-want-fair-online.html#storylink=cpy

Bally and Aristocrat strike deal for Net poker

By Howard Stutz

Slot machine makers Bally Technologies and Aristocrat Technologies will team up to capitalize on the potential for legalized Internet gaming in the U.S.

The companies jointly announced a deal to offer the same third-party poker networks as part of their business-to-business Internet gaming products for U.S. casino operators.

The transaction between Bally and the U.S. subsidiary of Aristocrat Technologies of Australia, said in a statement the companies will be able to move faster and more effectively by working together should online gaming — particularly online poker — be legalized in the U.S.

"By teaming up, Bally and Aristocrat can source and integrate with the strongest online poker product, specifically tailored for this market," said Bally Chief Executive Officer Richard Haddrill.

Bally and Aristocrat applied to the Nevada Gaming Control Board for the required extension of their gaming licenses to act as interactive gaming suppliers.

Both companies offer Internet gaming platforms — Bally recently announced plans to acquire a European gaming company’s platform while Aristocrat collaborates with GameAccount Network.

The deal’s announcement comes a day after Shuffle Master Gaming said it is buying a European provider of online gaming products. Last year, International Game Technology bought an European online poker company.

The transactions are in anticipation of Internet gaming being legalized.

Shuffle Master CEO Gavin Isaacs said his company’s online strategy is to provide Internet casinos with products, rather than competing with them.

"What is evident is that online gaming is rapidly becoming a much bigger focus for both equipment manufacturers and operators alike," said Janney Montgomery Scott gaming analyst Brian McGill.

Bally and Aristocrat plan to share their distinctive slot machine content for online use in America. The titles will be made available for free play until wagering is legalized.

Under the strategic alliance, Bally and Aristocrat will secure arrangements with leading poker providers, who will then be integrated into the companies’ online gaming platforms.

"Access to the proven slot content from both Bally and Aristocrat will allow gaming operators to create a compelling experience as legalized online gaming emerges in the United States," Aristocrat CEO Jamie Odell said.

(Source: http://www.lvrj.com)

Virgin Gaming Selects Mazooma as Its U.S. Payments Partner

Virgin Gaming, which hosts online competitive gaming that awards real cash prizes, has signed an agreement with Toronto-based Mazooma that will enable Virgin’s players to tap their personal bank accounts for cash-based tournaments and head-to-head challenges.

Mazooma transactions eliminate the need for credit cards and are completed in real time. Virgin Gaming’s chief financial officer Harp Gahunia said this makes Mazooma a good fit with its target customer demographic. “Not all of our gamers have access to credit cards, but they do have bank accounts. Mazooma lets us reach this entirely new player base,” he said.

Mazooma, which launched its micropayment solution in August 2011, currently supports the 16 largest U.S. banks. The company is headquartered in Toronto with offices in Miami and Chicago.

“We’re excited to be working with Virgin Gaming, the most recognized brand in the skills-based gaming industry,” says Wilson Lee, president of Mazooma. “Our solution supports the unique requirements of cash-based competitive gaming play – an exciting industry poised for explosive growth.”

Virgin Gaming supports specific multiplayer PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 games, which enables the company’s platform to directly verify game statistics. Participants must be at least 18 years old, and residents of 15 U.S. states are legally prohibited from participating in the cash games.

(Source: dmwmedia.com)

Zynga’s Social Gaming Platform Launches in Beta

By Angela Moscaritolo
Via PCMag.com

Zynga has lifted the curtain on its new social gaming platform, Zynga.com.

The game maker on Monday launched a beta version of Zynga.com, dubbed “a new playground for social games.” Visitors to the site can currently play five games, including CastleVille, CityVille, Hidden Chronicles, Words with Friends, and Zynga Poker. On Tuesday morning, the site boasted that more than 1.5 million people were playing.

The move to launch a social game  platform puts Zynga, in a sense, in  competition with Facebook as a gaming destination. Up until now, Zynga’s browser games have only been available on the social network. Zynga said it launched the site to give players more ways to meet, connect and find games.

"Zynga.com is a destination for social games built with the goal of bringing players more people to play with and more ways to play," Zynga said in a statement on its Web site.

The company pointed out that its new site is “completely integrated” with Facebook, meaning players can carry their game progress from Facebook to Zynga.com, and play games with their existing friends. And, its platform will offer players ways to progress through games faster, Zynga said.

While the site launched with five games, Zynga said it would be adding more titles soon.  Zynga is also working with several third-party developers to offer their games on the site as well.

Since the site is in beta, Zynga warned that users could experience some issues while they play.  Zynga asked players to provide feedback about the site. 

The site will suggest new “zFriends,” or Zynga friends, and show users which of their friends are online, and what games they’re playing.  Player profiles will highlight users’ favorite games, top zFriends and recent activity.  Players will also be able to chat with zFriends in real-time, without leaving a game board.

Zynga last week announced plans to launch the platform, taking the wraps off “Project Z,” which it tipped last October.

Bill allowing Atlantic City gambling on mobile devices moves forward in N.J. Assembly

Trenton, NJ — A bill allowing Atlantic City patrons to gamble using mobile devices moved one step forward in the Assembly today.

The measure (A2575) is aimed at younger customers who are adept at — and almost addicted to — using hand-held devices.

The bill, sponsored by Assemblymen John Burzichelli (D-Gloucester) and Ruben Ramos Jr. (D-Hudson), has support from casino executives but has raised concerns over how the devices will be regulated and kept out of the hands of minors.



"In order to remain attractive to visitors and competitive with neighboring states, it’s important that Atlantic City keep up with the latest innovations and trends,’’ Burzichelli said.

Nevada has had mobile gambling since 2005.

The bill unanimously passed the Assembly Regulatory Oversight and Gaming Committee today, but not without at least one legislator expressing skepticism.

Assemblyman Ralph Caputo (D-Essex) said the bill leaves too many questions unanswered, particularly about where the devices would be permitted to be used and how regulators would be assured minors would not use them to gamble.

The mobile devices offer electronic versions of casino games. Patrons would only be able to play the games within the boundaries of a casino hotel, including the swimming pool and outdoor recreation areas.

Details of how and where the devices would be used would be addressed by the state Division of Gaming Enforcement and the Casino Control Commission. Caputo said there are no details about how the devices would be obtained and whether they would be permitted in private rooms where there would be no oversight by casino employees or state regulators.

Caputo said he voted to release the measure so he wouldn’t be considered an obstructionist, but said he will not support it when it goes to the full Assembly for a vote.

"Part of having legalized gambling is having the proper oversight and that’s what we should be trying to maintain,’’ he said.

It is not yet known when the full Assembly will vote on this bill.

Reprinted from: NJ.Com