Tuesday, February 24, 2009

From claws to applause: Jackman's Oscars blitz, by Clare Morgan - The Sydney Morning Herald - 23rd February 2009

To American audiences he is Wolverine but Hugh Jackman proved he has much more to offer than sideburns and retractable claws as he opened the Oscars ceremony with a raucous song-and-dance number that earned a standing ovation.

Joking that everything in the broadcast had been downsized due to the recession, a relaxed-looking Jackman told the audience at the Kodak Theatre in Los Angeles that he'd put together his own tribute in his garage.

There followed a witty musical routine covering the nominated films - Slumdog Millionaire, Milk, The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon and The Reader - that featured what looked like home-made props, cardboard cut-outs and even the Craig's List Dancers.

A highlight was best actress nominee Anne Hathaway joining him on stage for the Frost/Nixon duet, with Jackman singing "Why didn't you burn the tapes?" With Hathaway playing the disgraced former president, Jackson held her in a clinch and whispered a breathy "Oh, Nixon."

The opening number showed Jackman at his singing and dancing best as he finished with "These are the Oscars! This is my dream! I am a slumdog! I'm the reader, the wrestler. I am Wolverine!" and the assembled stars leapt to their feet.

The Australian performer then chatted with some of the nominees in the front row, offering tributes to Meryl Streep and telling Mickey Rourke about the broadcast's 30-second delay. "But if you win we have a 20-minute delay."

It was vintage Jackman, who had proved how well he could work a room when he starred in The Boy From Oz in 2006.

This year's Oscars were given an overhaul by organisers as they seek to bounce back from 2008 television figures that were the worst in history.

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Hugh Jackman

Oscars

OSCARS: Slumdog dominates, Ledger wins, Rourke hits the canvas

The Live Winners List:

Best supporting actress: Penelope Cruz - Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

Best animated feature: Wall-E.

Art Direction: The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button - Donald Graham, Burt Victor Graham Zolfo.

Costume design: The Dutchess - Michael O'Connor

Makeup: The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button - Greg Cannom.

Cinematography: Slumdog Millionaire - Anthony Dod Mantle.

Live short action film: Spielzeugland - Directed by Jochen Alexander Freydank.

Best supporting actor: Heath Ledger - The Dark Knight.

Documentary Feature: Man On Wire.

Visual Effects: The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button.

Outstanding Sound Editing: The Dark Knight - Richard King.

Sound mixing: Slumdog Millionaire.

Film Editing: Slumdog Millionaire.

Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award: Jerry Lewis.

Best Original Score: Slumdog Millionaire - A.R.Rahman.

Best Original Song: "Jai Ho" - Slumdog Millionaire. A.R.Rahman.

Foreign Languages Film: Departures.

Best Director: Danny Boyle - Slumdog Millionaire.

Best Actress: Kate Winslet - The Readers

Best Actor: Sean Penn - Milk

Best Picture: Slumdog Millionaire.

---------------------

For the 81st Oscars, it was a new look, new feel and a fresher approach. And for the most part, it worked.

Producers cut the fat of previous years, and lent a punchier, 'behind the scenes' feel to the presentation of the awards.

Long setups and elaborate comedy routines were eschewed for quick introductions to the various categories - spiced up with brief points explaining the backgrounds of writing, production, costume design, makeup, acting, animation and directing.

The admittedly nervous host, Australia's Hugh Jackman, maintained a steady, slick delivery thanks to the program's tightly formatted structure.

Jackman was under a certain level of pressure to perform well, with producers hoping to combat the falling ratings the ceremony has experienced in recent years.

He got off to a good start with an entertaining Broadway-style opening number that parodied the films up for best picture nomination.

Throughout the awards, he performed a medley of musical numbers which showcased his stage talents, sharing the duties with singer and actress Beyonce Knowles.

The crowd was also delighted by brief comedy routines by Steve Martin, Tina Fey and Jack Black.

Later, comedian Ben Stiller took a dig at derailed actor Joaquin Phoenix - appearing with actress Natalie Portman in full beard and long hair, and imitating Phoenix's recent rambling, incoherent dialog.

"You look like you work in a Hassidic meth-lab" Portman quipped.

As the awards kicked off, actress Penelope Cruz was the first to receive a gong, picking up Best Supporting Actress for her role in Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

Her reception of this award instantly dispelled a supposed "leak" of the winners list - with fake information suggesting the award would be picked up by Amy Adams.

Not surprisingly, best Animated Feature went to the wildly popular robot love story Wall-E. However, it was the only award the Disney/Pixar film would receive on the night.

But the moment on everyone’s mind was undoubtedly the announcement of Best Supporting actor, and in particular if the Late Heath Ledger would receive the Oscar for his critically acclaimed role as The Joker in The Dark Knight.

The actor, who died in January last year, was the recipient of the award.

Ledger's family graciously, yet emotionally accepted the Oscar on behalf of Heath's daughter, Matilda.

"Heath was such a compassionate and generous soul, who added so much excitement and inspiration to our lives." Heath's sister Kate said.

"We have truly overwhelmed by the honour and respect been bestowed upon him with this award."

"Tonight we are choosing to celebrate what he has achieved."

Following a series of emotional tribues, including Jerry Lewis's reception of the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, Kate Winslet was given Best Actress for her role in The Reader, with many believing her first Oscar was well earnt.

Winslet was emotional about her recognition, and said her dream to win the Academy Award started at an early age.

"I'd be lying if I hadn't made a version of this speech. Before I was 8 years old and staring into the bathroom mirror speaking into a shampoo bottle. But this isn't a shampoo bottle." she said.

While Winslet's win was basically in the bag, the announcement of Sean Penn trumping Mickey Rourke for Best Actor was a surprise.

Penn won the award for his gripping portrayal of a homosexual politician in Milk.

Rourke was initially penned to nab the gong for his role in The Wrestler, a part that was considered his 'resurrection'.

Thanking the Academy, Penn made a provocative statement by jokingly referring to the industry as "commie homo loving sons of guns".

He later went on to urge the importance of accepting all walks of life, including homosexuals.

The real winner however, was Danny Boyle's romantic tale of urban India, Slumdog Millionare.

Picking up best Cinematography, Sound Mixing, Film Editing, Original Score, Original Song Best Directing, and culminating in Best Picture, the film was the standout selection of the awards.

Media Man Australia Profiles

The Oscars

Australian Sports Entertainment

American public gives Hugh's Oscars performance a tick - 24th February 2009

Some US TV critics may disagree, but Hugh Jackman's performance as Oscar host has received a big thumbs up from the American public.

The affable Aussie's singing, dancing and stand-up comedy performance spearheaded a reverse in the troubling slide in US TV ratings for the film industry's glitzy night of celebration.

Preliminary figures pointed to a six per cent rise in American viewers for the Jackman-led US TV Oscar telecast over the dismal performance a year ago when the Jon Stewart-hosted ceremony pulled in a record low audience of 32 million.

Polls in the US also overwhelmingly gave Jackman the thumbs up.

New York newspaper Newsday asked its readers to rate the Australian host's performance and 65.5 per cent deemed it "excellent", 21.5 per cent "good", 8.1 per cent "satisfactory" and just five per cent gave him a "fail".

Entertainment Weekly asked its readers if Jackman should return as host.

Just over 70 per cent said he should and only 29 per cent said he should not.

Most negative reviews from TV critics pointed to Jackman's use of the words "excrement" and "pubic hair" and other lines they considered low grade humour.

"We knew that with Jackman involved, metallic lame was a real possibility, but to make fun of the Nazi-war-crimes/paedophilia-themed The Reader?," Los Angeles Times critic Mary McNamara, who voiced her complaints about Jackman when it was announced last year, wrote.

New York Daily News' David Hinckley agreed.

"His showcase opener would have been better served, however, without the line about 'human excrement'," Hinckley wrote.

"You'd think someone somewhere in the production process would have said, 'That's not entertaining. That's gross'.

"It pretty much killed any chance Jackman could summon the classy ghost of Fred Astaire, which made it ironic that his midshow number, an all-hands-on-deck Busby Berkeley blowout, was built on Astaire's Top Hat."

Other critics applauded Jackman.

"He sang, he danced, he sat on Frank Langella's lap and he also presented the 81st annual Academy Awards," New York Times' Alessandra Stanley wrote.

"Hugh Jackman was a shrewd, even thrifty choice for a recession-era Oscar night - the hosting equivalent of a value meal."

LA Times' McNamara did have some kind words for the family of Heath Ledger, father Kim, mother Sally and sister Kate, and the way they accepted the best supporting actor Oscar.

"To the Ledger family, we are all sorry for your loss," McNamara wrote.

"Thank you for the simple and heartfelt words about your son and brother and for reminding us that just one step back from all the glamour and craziness are ordinary people who understand both the importance and the limitations of a night like this."

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Academy Awards Live Broadcast in Australia First Time Ever - Gambling911 - 22nd February 2009

You won't have to rise too early in Australia, but you might want to skip work for a few hours. That's because it's the first time ever the Academy Awards are being broadcast live in the country. Late morning through early afternoon is the time frame for this huge awards show that features some of Australia's best talent.

Channel Nine, which also broadcasts the phenomenally popular Underbelly series, will air the Oscars Monday morning in Australia the same time they are being shown at 5 pm Los Angeles time (Sunday).

The Media Man, Greg Tingle, tells Gambling911.com that everyone in Ledger's native Australia will be tuned in to watch the Oscars later this month.

"Australia is very excited about the Heath Ledger being nominated," Tingle Said. "I never heard anyone ever say a bad word about him. Heath used to live just down the road from us at Bronte Beach, however, one or two rabid paparazzi saw Health generally keen a lower public profile in the proceeding 12 months prior to his untimely death. Like many actors, artists and talented arty types, his fame grew after he left us, and Australia still loves him despite Ledger's sometimes problem with drugs, which ultimately cost him his life."

And while Australia will be rooting for Ledger, they'll also be watching another native son, Hugh Jackman, host the show.

"It would be a travesty not to broadcast the show live," says Tingle.

According to the Courier Mail, there used to be a massive blow-out in the Hilton Hotel ballroom, hosted by the various film distributors, back when they maintained a decent presence in Queensland.

"Then it dwindled to the point where Nine would take the live feed off a satellite and everyone would gather in a studio or in one of those more intimate cinemas and then head back to work sometime during the afternoon. Only they knew who the winners were." (Credit: Gambling911)

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

NRL Club Launches BunnyBet Bookmaker Website Venture - Gambling911 - 21st February 2009

What's not to like about a site calling itself Bunnybet.com.au? Actually, the link redirects to the Betezy.com website as part of the latest NRL club joint venture with a bookmaking organization in Australia.

The Rabbitohs on Thursday launched the website following in the lead of other NRL clubs that have now begun to understand the potential in teaming up with betting groups like Darwin-based Betezy.

The Melbourne Herald writes:

"It is a stunning backflip after co-owners Russell Crowe and Peter Holmes a Court unsuccessfully attempted to rid the embattled Souths Leagues Club of pokies 18 months ago. If there was any concerns about hypocrisy, Souths members don't seem to care."

Souths chief executive Shane Richardson said around 90 percent of the club's members gave their approval to join up with Betezy.com.

"Obviously people are going to talk about it being a backflip,'' he said. "This is a decision made after much consultation with the members. From a commercial point of view, we would be mad not to do it.

"As a CEO, I asked all the questions and it is the smart way to go. We've not entered into this partnership lightly. We consulted our members on this issue by sending them a Members First video over three weeks ago, explaining our options on sports betting, and the response we received was over 90 per cent in support of moving ahead with a sponsorship agreement.

"We've been in consultation with the NRL to ensure we meet their policies regarding sponsorship and sports betting, and they have given us the green light to move ahead.''

The Rabbitohs will receive a guaranteed six-figure sponsorship plus advertising commissions based on turnover. (Credit: Gambling911)

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Bookies tip Ledger to win Oscar, by Peter Mitchell - 21st February 2009

If Heath Ledger's name is not called out at the 81st Annual Academy Awards it will be the biggest upset in Oscar history.

On the eve of film's night of nights, bookmakers in Las Vegas, London and Australia have the late Perth-born actor at outrageously slim odds.

British bookmaker bet365.com has The Dark Knight star at the shortest odds of all, 1/250, with second favourite, Doubt's Philip Seymour Hoffman, at the longshot price of 25/1.

Australia's Centrebet is almost as tight, offering punters just three cents for a $1.00 investment for a Ledger win.

"No contest, no debate, Heath Ledger," New York Times' film writer David Carr, in an article forecasting Oscar winners, wrote.

The Los Angeles Times polled 12 Oscar experts from leading publications including The New York Post, USA Today and Us Weekly and all 12 picked Ledger as the winner.

"The idea that Heath Ledger won't win for The Dark Knight is so unthinkable, I can only imagine mass walk-outs at the ceremony and riots breaking out across the country if it doesn't come to pass," CNN.com columnist Tom Charity wrote.

Ledger's family, headed by his father Kim and mother Sally, are expected to give the acceptance speech inside Hollywood's Kodak Theatre if the Academy's 6,000 members follow the script and name Ledger a posthumous winner.

Ledger is one of six Australians nominated for Oscars this year.

If bookmakers are right, Ledger will be the only winner.

Catherine Martin was the only nominee for the epic Australia, earning her nod in the costume category.

Martin, who won two Oscars for husband Baz Luhrmann's Moulin Rouge! in 2002, is at 8/1 and on the third line of betting in the category this year with Englishman Michael O'Connor the 2/1 favourite for the Keira Knightley period drama, The Duchess.

Australian Michael Carlin is nominated for his art direction on The Duchess, but again is an outside chance with The Curious Case of Benjamin Button's Donald Burt and Victor Zolfo the 1/3 favourites.

Australian visual effects wizard Ben Snow was nominated for his work on Iron Man and is at 4/1, but the bookies' bet for the visual effects category is the team from Benjamin Button at 3/11.

There are two Aussies in the editing category, Benjamin Button's Kirk Baxter and The Dark Knight's Lee Smith, and both are expected to be swept up in the Slumdog Millionaire Oscar tsunami.

Slumdog Millionaire's British editor Chris Dickens is the top pick at 8/15, while the Aussies are more than 7/1.

Slumdog Millionaire is nominated for eight Oscars and has emerged the last fortnight as the outright best picture favourite with tight odds of 1/6, distancing itself from onetime likely winner Benjamin Button currently at 5/1.

One-time bad boy Mickey Rourke (1/2) has also shot to favouritism for best actor for his extraordinary performance in The Wrestler.

A month ago Sean Penn (7/4) was the popular pick of most pundits for the biopic Milk, but Rourke has campaigned tirelessly, been on his best behaviour and has a comeback story Academy voters love.

The best actress category is one of the most open, with Kate Winslet (The Reader) still hanging on to favouritism at about 2/5 although there has been a late push for Meryl Streep (Doubt) who sits at 4/1 and a legitimate threat Anne Hathaway (Rachel Getting Married) at 5/1.

The best supporting actress race is the closest in the acting categories with Spanish siren Penelope Cruz (Vicky Cristina Barcelona) the frontrunner at 4/6 and the duo from Doubt, Amy Adams second at 3/1 and Viola Davis third at 4/1.

Slumdog Millionaire's Danny Boyle is the outright pick in the director category at slim odds of 1/10.

The Academy Awards will take place from noon Monday (AEDT).

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

888.com Hosts Charity Poker Tournament for Australia Wildfire Victims - Gambling911 - 17th February 2009

Gambling911.com applauds 888.com for its efforts in trying to raise money for those affected by the wildfires in Australia last week. Our friend, The Media Man, has advised that 888.com will be hosting an online poker tournament to help Australia wildfire victims. The publicly traded online gambling firm has been making some serious inroads into Australia over the last year.

Sadly, the wildfire death toll heading into Wednesday (Australia time) had reached 200.

A judge launched an inquiry into the deadly Australian wildfires on Tuesday as authorities announced they would find ways to make the region safer before the next season of inevitable blazes.

Media Man, Greg Tingle, questioned why one individual had been fined by environmentalists for clearing trees and brush away from his property prior to the fires.

"He was the only survivor in his neighborhood," said Tingle.

The nightmarish blazes tore across Victoria with 400 fires destroying more than 1,800 homes and scorching about 1,500 square miles (3,900 square kilometers) of farms, forests and towns.

Police suspect at least two of the fires were deliberately set, and have charged one man with arson causing death and lighting a wildfire. Brendan Sokaluk, 39, faces a maximum sentence of 25 years on the first charge and 15 years on the second. He was being held in protective custody to prevent revenge attacks against him.

A class-action lawsuit was filed against electricity supplier SP AusNet, alleging that defective power lines caused losses and damage in connection with one of the fires. SP AusNet, which is 51 percent owned by the Singapore Power Group, said it would "vigorously defend" the claim.

As for the online poker tournament, details appear below:

Due to the tragic events caused by the bushfires in the Victoria region,

888 will be hosting the "Bushfire Relief Charity Tournament" to help

families in need. The No-Limit Texas Hold'em tournament will take place

on Sunday, February 22nd at 8:30pm AEDT. The buy-in for this tournament

will be $30 and all buy-ins (and re-buys) will be donated to the relief

efforts. Entrants to this special tournament will be playing for great

prizes donated by 888;

1st place: $500 US

2nd place: $300 US

3rd place: $200 US

4th-10th place: Free entry into the 888 NZ Poker Champs Sunday Qualifier

on March 1 ($120 Value)

As well as these great prizes, if you knock out 888 ambassadors Brendan Fevola (bfevola25) or Jeff Fenech (fenech888) you will receive an $50 bounty prize (credited next day).

We hope you take this opportunity to Enjoy The Game while helping your fellow Australian families during this difficult time. Thank you for your support.

What: Tournament- "Bushfire Relief Charity Tournament"

Buy-in: $30 with optional $30 rebuys (all going to charity)

When: February 22nd @ 8:30pm AEDT

Charity: The Variety and Shane Warne Foundation Bushfire Relief Fund

Where: 888Poker

To download and join 888Poker please click on the link below:

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Friday, February 13, 2009

A Sporting Legend and the Media Man

Full article coming soon.

Off the Wall, by Jeff Wall - League Unlimited - 2nd February 2009

At long last a couple of NRL clubs have come up with a strategy to ring fence the game from the damage the economic downturn is inevitably going to cause – and at least theirs is a better strategy than the nonsense that emanated from the NRL over the weekend!

The Sharks and the Knights believe that the citizenry are going to be very happy to punt their way out of the economic storm judging by their decision to enter into agreements with on line betting agency, Ezybet (according to the Daily Telegraph) but I suspect it is with Betezy which has an agreement with the Gold Coast Titans that has been up and running since last year.

If it is Betezy, then the operation is a fully licensed on line betting agency, operating out of the Northern Territory and approved by the NT Government. Betezy takes wagers on horse racing, the trots and the dogs as well as just about every sport with the exception of marbles!

It would seem that fans sign up with their favourite club – provided it is in an agreement with Betezy – and that the club gets a return from what is invested by fans. Time will tell what the return is, but it may well be the difference between survival and collapse for some clubs. That will depend on how many club members/supporters join up – and how much they punt!

The NRL will review the Sharks and Knights proposals, but given that the Titans agreement has been approved, it is hardly likely to reject them.

And in fact it is really in no position to do so because the NRL has its own agreement with TAB Sportsbet.

The involvement of more and more clubs with betting agencies is going to attract the attention of the anti-gambling lobby. Comments such as “In hard financial times such as these, more people seem to gamble so it makes sense to benefit off that” coming from the Sharks CEO are unhelpful!
The simple reality is that online betting is here, and here to stay. And the greatest growth area in online betting is not on horses, but on sport – including rugby league.

And one has to ask, is it any different, or more dangerous, being sponsored by a sports betting agency than by a brewery or a rum producer?

At least the Sharks and the Knights have a solution that is more credible than what the NRL itself has so far offered.

Over the weekend we learnt that David Gallop has issued a direction that all NRL executives are now required to fly economy class, and not business class as has been the practice.

This was apparently done in response to the impact on the NRL of the global economic downturn.
Even if the NRL executives are industrious travellers – as the media claim they are – then how much will that save? One hundred thousand?

If the NRL believes that the prevailing economic circumstances – and what will follow – can be overcome with such a weak response then they are living in dreamland.

The Australian Rugby Union has also cut out business class travel AND cut the salaries of the CEO, John O’Neill, and his senior executives, AND delivered an effective match payment cut to the Wallabies for the 2009 season.

If the NRL is serious, it will insist that the ARL immediately begin merger talks – so that the savings from the costly duplication of administration of our game can end, and the savings be used to help protect the game in very tough times.

Those savings – if they are genuine about it – will make the “no business class” edict seem like small change by comparison.

And what the game needs is not PR solutions, but substantial measures that can help secure its future in difficult, perhaps extremely difficult, times.

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Australian Sports Entertainment

Saints and Betezy join to form a winning combo - 12 February 2009

The St Kilda Football Club has entered into an advertising and sponsorship agreement with major Australian corporate bookmaker Betezy, an AFL approved betting provider.

Betezy is one of seven sports wagering providers to have signed an information-sharing and financial agreement with the AFL.

Betezy will use its sports and racing site, clubbet.com.au to service St Kilda members and supporters.

St Kilda Football Club CEO Archie Fraser said, “We are delighted to welcome Betezy, the owner and operator of clubbet.com.au, as a new corporate supporter of the Saints. It’s extremely pleasing to secure such a strong commercial outcome for the Club, particularly one over a three year period which gives us a very secure and exciting new partnership.”

Betezy Managing Director Vince McDonald said, “Betezy is thrilled to be among the first sports wagering companies to secure a major association with an AFL Club. The Saints are an exciting Club with one of the most passionate fan bases in the country and we look forward to working alongside them in the coming years.”

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Saturday, February 07, 2009

First free sports channel to air next month, by Media Diary - The Australian - 6th February 2009

Ten's free-to-air 24-hour sports channel, ONE, will be launched on Thursday 26 March 2009 at 7.30 pm, the network announced today.

Viewers need a set top box and or a digital HD television with built in tuner to access the channel. But it is the first free-to-air commercial channel in Australia.

The first sports to be broadcast will be an AFL match between Richmond and Carlton, Swimming Australia SKINS event and live coverage of the Formula 1 ING Australian Grand Prix .

“We know our opening weekend will give viewers a sensational introduction to ONE, and mark the beginning of a lifetime’s habit of essential sports viewing,”
Network Ten’s general manager sport, David White, said today in a statement.

However, some Ten fans will be disappointed because when ONE begins broadcasting in High Definition (HD) on Channel 1 the current mix of general programming in high defintion will vanish.

Some shows which are shot in high definition such as Rove Live and Australian Idol will now not be seen anywhere in high definition.

ONE will also be broadcast in in Standard Definition (SD) on Channel 12. (Credit: The Australian).

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Online Gambling Heating Up in Australia - Gambling911 - 6th February 2009

The online gambling industry is really starting to get hot in Australia it seems.

The land down under is seen as the land of opportunities, but it is often forgotten by the folks up north. That's not so much the case with the online gambling sector. Last month we watched with excitement as the Aussie Millions Poker Tournament turned out yet another millionaire. It's now among the most popular live tournaments in the world today.

Many of the world's top online casino brands have been doing the ring around down under to see what media, PR, spin and online exposure mileage they can secure in the land known to be settled by convicts, back in the days when Captain Cook set shore and 1000s of Aboriginals were murdered in the progress.

Well known media analyst and entrepreneur, Greg Tingle of Media Man Australia is taking his share of the phone calls and letters of enquiry.

"We're been doing business with some some of the world's top online casino brands for a number of years now... Virgin Games, PKR, 888, WPT and Betfair. Recently the amount of enquiries coming in has been huge," Tingle told Gambling911.com Friday. "We've locked down business deals with PartyPartners, Slotland, JackpotCity, The Bingo Affiliates, BetCruise, and recently we joined our mates down the road here at Bondi Beach... Rewards Affiliates.

"Captain Cooks Casino has been hugely popular, but I haven't figured out whether it's the Bondi Beach locals or international whales coming to our region to check out the bronzed Aussies. We were privileged to spearhead the Ezybet sports betting media and publicity campaign which attracted major Australian and international interest."

Most of the excitement centering around the Australian sports betting sector has to do with deals being reached with the NRL (National Rugby League).

"The NRL (National Rugby League) is like a religion in Australia, and punters love having a punt," said Tingle. "The massive campaign was impossible to miss, and sources at the NRL are even looking at following some aspects of the TitansBet (Gold Coast Titans) business model".

Tingle also says, "There was also good interest by worldwide online casino entities to penetrate Australia, but the Ezybet exposure and worldwide story has really lit a fire under the industry."

More online casinos and poker sites will be entering the Australian market in the coming months, Tingle advised. (Credit: Gambling911)

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Rabbitohs backflip over bets, by Adrian Proszenko - The Sun-Herald - 1st February 2009

About a year after Russell Crowe outlined his vision to scrap poker machines at South Sydney Leagues Club, the Rabbitohs are in talks to create a club betting website that encourages supporters to open online betting accounts to gamble on league and other sports.

Newcastle and Cronulla have followed the lead of the Gold Coast in partnering the Northern Territory bookmaker Betezy.com.au in an attempt to improve their bottom line - and now Souths are looking to do likewise.

Parramatta will meet Betezy representatives tomorrow to discuss a similar arrangement, while two other NRL clubs will announce partnerships this week.

All rugby league clubs have been encouraged to explore alternative revenue streams in the wake of the global economic downturn and the impact of pokie taxes but the Rabbitohs' interest in gambling revenue is a huge backflip.

Soon after sweeping to power at Redfern, Gladiator star Crowe declared he wanted Souths Leagues to be a pokie-free zone.

"We are not moralising here, we just believe that low-income areas like Redfern need [fewer] poker machines rather than more," Crowe wrote in a letter to club members in September 2007.

The Oscar winner appears to have had a rethink, with the club deep in talks with Betezy about setting up a Titans-style gambling model.

Crowe has also warned fans he won't finance the club's premiership ambitions indefinitely in a six-minute video sent to Rabbitohs members just before Christmas in an apparent bid to boost the club's membership base.

Betezy.com.au's Ryan Kay would not disclose which clubs he was negotiating with, but confirmed several Australian sporting teams had expressed interest.

"Especially in NSW, leagues clubs are doing it tough with the new pokie tax and the smoking bans," Kay said. "There's a major hole to be filled and we feel we can be a major contributor." (Credit: The Sun-Herald)

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No love for Black Caps, by John Schell - Fairfax - 21st November 2008

New Zealand have been friendless in betting on the first Test against Australia despite gaining the upper hand on the first day of play.

TAB Sportsbet's Glenn Munsie said that even when Australia slumped to 3-23 they remained firm favourites.

"Early bets on the Aussies include $40,000 and $30,000 at $1.40 before they drifted to as much as $1.47 when they lost the three quick wickets," he said. "The draw was specked with a bet of $5000 at $4.25 with the largest bet on New Zealand being $500 at $8 after they were priced at as much as $11 with us before play started. The Kiwis firmed into as short as $4 before drifting to $6.50 with Australia 3-60 at lunch."

Munsie said TAB Sportsbet attracted one "interesting bet" with a punter having $5000 on a 1-1 series result at $11.

Centrebet punters only backed two options going into the first day of the Test that started at the Gabba yesterday. "I can't remember the Kiwis going into day one of a Trans-Tasman Test series an embarrassing $15 outsider to win the first match," said Centrebet's Neil Evans.

"But that's what they were with us. Australia firmed from $1.40 into $1.33 and were the best backed, but there's also very good money for the draw with the rain around and it was $4.35 into $4."

… None for Kiwis, also

Betezy.com.au's Tino Trung said punters did their money when Australia romped into the World Cup final with a 52-0 win over Fiji last week. This week they are backing the Kangaroos to give the Kiwis "a touch up" at a short quote in Brisbane tomorrow night, Trung said.

"That is in contrast to last week when the Kiwis gave punters a windfall when they covered the line against the Poms and Australia cost punters a hat full when Fiji were backed from $1.91 into $1.60 with 50.5 points start only to lose by 52," he added.

Evans said Centrebet punters are giving New Zealand next to no chance. "Australia has firmed from $1.11 into $1.10 and the Kiwis have eased from $6.35 to $7," he said. "Punters are prepared to take the $1.91 line bet about the Aussies giving the Kiwis an 18-point start. One Sydney client has had $10,000 at $1.91 about the Kangaroos covering the big start."

TAB Sportsbet is also struggling to take any money for the Kiwis with Munsie saying they are yet to attract a bet of more than $500 in any of the nine markets open on the match. "It has been impossible to write any bet of note for them in Saturday night's final," Munsie said. "Australia has been $1.14 into $1.11 with a string of big bets taken for the Kangaroos."

The biggest bets have been $36,000, $20,000 (twice) and $11,250 at $1.14 as well as $45,000, $12,500, $10,000, $7500 and $5000 at $1.13 and $50,000 and $21,000 at $1.11.

All aboard the Wallabies

Punters have quickly jumped on the Wallabies bandwagon after their win over England last week. Bets of $30,000 and $6500 were placed on Australia at $1.85 for their match against France. Meanwhile, one punter has plonked $20,000 on England at $2.20 to win against South Africa ($1.60).
A long bow to draw?

A TAB Sportsbet football multiplayer turned a little into a lot when their four-leg half-time/full-time double multi arrived.

"The punter took Draw/Inter Milan in their match against Palermo, Bayern Munich/Draw in their game against Moenchengladbach, Liverpool/Liverpool when they won against Bolton and Fulham/Fulham when they beat Tottenham," Munsie said. "The bet was $30 and the odds were $1014. The customer was very happy to collect almost $30,420."

THE BEST BET

Australia (-18.5) against New Zealand at $1.90 with TAB Sportsbet. (Credit: Fairfax)

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Monday, February 02, 2009

Centrebet goes hostile for IAS, by Giles Parkinson - Business Spectator - 2nd February 2009

Listed wagering and gaming company Centrebet has launched a hostile cash takeover for rival group International All Sports, playing on its target’s weak share price performance and the heavy losses suffered from its international operations.

Centrebet, which is controlled by leading book-maker Con Kafataris, is offering 28c a share for IAS, controlled by veteran bookmaker Mark Read, but will lift that offer to 33c a share should it reach 90 per cent. IAS shares last closed at 16c.

The bids value IAS at $18.6 million and $21.9 million respectively. Read owns a 27 per cent stake.

The bid has been launched just months after IAS concluded an asset sales process that failed to attract what it considered to be a decent enough offer.

Centrebet was one of those companies that took part in that process, and its bid is subject to the removal of confidentiality and standstill agreements that it signed at the time.

Centrebet is receiving advice from a Wilson HTM team led by Tony Jones and Scott Colvin, and David Selig from legal firm Addisons. IAS is yet to respond, but used local boutique advisory firm VMC Global and the London-based Torch Partners Corporate Finance on its asset sales process.

Centrebet sees strong synergies in the two businesses, but it is not clear what it would do with CanBet, which has been the source of much of IAS problems and returned a loss of $8 million in 2008.

The woes of CanBet began in late 2006 with the US decision to ban online gaming, and then its failure to attract good business in the international football betting market. In comparison, IAS’ Australian businesses have been performing well, nearly doubling EBIT in the past year to $12.3 million.

Centrebet says IAS has been a poorly performing company, paying only one dividend of 1.5c a share in the past five years, and with its share price down more than 90 per cent from its 1999 float price of $2.

Centrebet says the future of IAS is uncertain given the aggressive nature of international competitors, the challenging economic outlook and the adverse impact from the introduction of product fees.

Kafataris and other family members hold around 59 per cent of Centrebet, which has a market capitalisation of around $117 million. (Business Spectator)

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Online betting agencies lure gamblers with free bets, by Melanie Christiansen - The Courier-Mail - 1st February 2009

Online betting agencies are giving away millions of dollars' worth of "free" bets to entice punters to open an account, increasing fears of gambling addiction.

The offers range from $10 to $1000 credited directly into their accounts - in a move condemned by critics as "unethical" and an attempt to "suck in" problem gamblers.

"It's like saying to an alcoholic, here's a free drink," said social justice campaigner the Rev Tim Costello. "There is no question it is dangerous. I think it's wrong."

While most states ban poker machine venues from offering financial inducements to lure players, online betting companies yesterday confirmed offers of free bets were a widespread industry practice.

In a recent mail-out to about 13,000 long-standing clients, Centrebet offered a $10 "free bet" with the re-issue of membership cards. "Log in now and you'll find a $10 free bet token in your account," the letter to one Queensland customer said.

Sportingbet Australia said it also offered free bets up to the value of $200 - depending on the amount a customer deposited in their betting account - while Betfair caused an outcry at the Australian Open last week by offering free $50 bets to tennis fans willing to sign up for an account.

Sports bookmaker Gerard Daffy - with the ACT-based online betting company Sports Acumen - said his agency offered $50 in bets to existing customers who referred a friend.

But he said some industry players now offered as much as $1000 in free bets to new account holders, while "selected" well-established clients had long been allowed to bet on credit.

"Free bets are all relative to an opening deposit," he said. "It could be like 25 per cent of your opening deposit. It's sort of like a semi rewards system."

Along with Centrebet and Sportingbet, Mr Daffy dismissed suggestions the free bet offers would fuel problem gambling, describing them as no different to the incentives offered by other businesses.

"Everywhere you go there are bonuses on offer," he said.

"The petrol station will give you 5c off if you spend $10."

But anti-gambling Senator Nick Xenophon blasted the practice, saying online betting agencies would not be giving away millions of dollars in so-called "free" bets without the promise of a much bigger return.

"I would call them parasites, because what they are doing is they are playing on people's vulnerabilities," he said.

"There's no such thing as a free bet. They know people will get sucked in and hooked and they'll make back their money many times."

Senator Xenophon and Mr Costello both want the Federal Government to ban online offers of free bets.

Senator Xenophon said he would introduce a private members bill in the next few months to stop the practice, with the aim of triggering a wider inquiry into online gambling. He said online gambling would produce Australia's "next wave" of problem gamblers.

Mr Costello also called for new research into the extent of online punting, warning it could be even more significant than gambling on the pokies, which saw Queenslanders lose $1.83 billion last year - or more than $5 million a day.

"Online betting is potentially much worse, because you can lose your house without leaving it," Mr Costello said.

Online betting agencies have been allowed to advertise their free-bet offers in Victoria and NSW since those states dropped a long-standing ban on such ads. But Australia's racing ministers have since agreed to develop a national standard for bookmaker advertising. (Credit: The Courier-Mail)

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Sunday, February 01, 2009

Rabbitohs consider bet deal, by Adrian Proszenko - The Sun-Herald - 1st February 2009

About a year after Russell Crowe outlined his vision to scrap poker machines at South Sydney Leagues Club, the Rabbitohs are in talks to create a club betting website that encourages supporters to open online betting accounts to gamble on league and other sports.

Newcastle and Cronulla have followed the lead of the Gold Coast in partnering the Northern Territory bookmaker Betezy.com.au in an attempt to improve their bottom line - and now Souths are looking to do likewise...

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