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The final day of ICEi in London
Posted 1/27/11 : More new games, and KGC taking a closer look at white labels
The final day of ICEi in London proved to be even busier this week as thousands of visitors interested in online gambling products and services flocked into the Earl's Court expo.
Continuing its now year-long initiative towards greater efficiency and player-sensitivity, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission reviewed progress, showcasing the improvements in player dispute channeling and communications, and giving a preview of more refined regulations following a research and consultative process with other licensing jurisdictions and input from the player protection and standards body eCOGRA.
Kahnawake's player dispute channel is run independently by respected industry veteran Micki Oster, who thoroughly investigates disputes lodged online involving KGC licensees. She reports that cooperation by licensees has been good, leading to efficient and timeous resolutions.
The new regulations focus on, among other issues, the need for more information on white label agreements between licensees and external parties, long a source of concern in the player community, where there is a perception that white labelling is detrimental to transparency and increases player risk.
The refinements will require more detail of the actual owners and their suitability, a move that will enhance player protection.
Other important components are the provision for disaster recovery to international standards, and the appointment of more testing agents acceptable to the KGC, with 8 to 10 interested parties.
KGC chairman Dean Montour said the new regulations are currently being drafted prior to being communicated to operators, and will probably be implemented by mid-2011.
"Our emphasis is on precision without over-complication; and a blend of practicality and relevance that benefits operators and players alike," he said.
Board member Murray Marshall added: "Regulators that do not focus on player protection are making a grave mistake - it is a critical element in the regulatory mix."
The KGC is often associated with Mohawk Internet Technologies technical support, which operates the ultra-modern Kahnawake server and hosting facility near Montreal in the Quebec province of Canada; and with the business and technical services and hosting provider Continent8, which has offices in a number of countries (see previous InfoPowa reports.)
MIT has continued with its program of improvements and technology upgrades, and earlier this week the Isle of Man-based Continent8 announced a new DDoS mitigation service, and received an international award as Technology Supplier of the Year.
The company has also revealed this week that it is working closely with an as yet unnamed Canadian provincial government on a new data centre in that country.
Chief executive Michael Tobin said: "Canada has an innovative approach to licensing and tax collecting, and has a very interesting platform." He went on to praise the Canadian federal government for its conservative approach to banking, which had enabled the nation to better survive the global recession.
Tobin also made the interesting revelation that Continent8 is laying the groundwork for activity in the United States, where recent state moves toward the sensible legalisation of internet gambling have raised hopes.
"We have a point of presence in a number of US states to provide services and we are working closely with regulators and policy makers," he revealed, adding that 2011 would see further expansion by the company, with activities opening up in three new jurisdictions.
Chartwell Technology, another Canadian company that has been developing internet gambling games and technology since the early days of the industry, has a busy year ahead, and its show stand featured a range of new RNG games and the imminent addition of a live dealer service for licensees.
The new service is truly international, and is satellite routed to various points, allowing localisation to be a feature and the use of several different languages, although the action is streamed from a Manila land casino connected with a branch of the famous Asian land gaming dynasty of Stanley Ho entitled Ho Gaming.
Chartwell has exclusivity in Europe on the service, which will launch within the next two weeks offering live baccarat, blackjack and roulette, with poker and automated roulette following.
Chartwell manager Mark Alison demonstrated the new service's impressive clarity and speed on a giant flat screen; two licensees will initially run with the offering, with another four joining them within the following 2 months.
On the more conventional front, Chartwell has a mobile product in R&D, and plans to augment its RNG games inventory of around 110 games this year by the addition of at least another 40 games. The company has conducted extensive player research to develop a blend of volatility and interactivity favoured by most players, and recently launched its innovative Streak Breaker player facility.
New games include 5 reel slots like Angel's Touch, Bars and Bells, Draco's Fire, Sinful Spins, Book of Ra Deluxe and Columbus Deluxe. If the latter two games sound familiar, they should, coming from a Chartwell 'premier game' licensing deal with Novomatic, which developed these popular land slots.
Other slots are developed in-house or are brought on from external developers like Ash Gaming and NextGen.
NYX Interactive had a noticeable presence at ICEi, too, and players can look forward to a range of games from the Isle of Man provider that includes Atlantic Quest, Cherries Diner, Funland Festival, Haunting Harry, Thunderstruck 2 and two non-slot games in Casino War and European Roulette HR.
Greentube, an Austrian company famed for its fantasy racing games depicted in outstanding graphics displayed not only a wide range of slots from Novomatic, which acquired the company last year (see previous InfoPowa reports), but presented a road race through the streets of Vienna game with remarkably high resolution graphics and smooth action. Auto manufacturer VW features prominently in the in-game advertising through car models and a hot air balloon.
Greentube’s slots selection reflects its family relationship with Novomatic, featuring such famous land slots (converted to online use) as Book of Ra Deluxe, Katana Delluxe, Columbus Deluxe and Just Jewels Deluxe amongst many others.
Real-time online poker provider Passoker chose the final day of ICEi to announce a deal with sports and e-gaming specialist Zukido, which is to provide mini-games to Passoker.
The initial suite to be supplied includes roulette, blackjack, Hi-Lo and two mini-slots, with delivery scheduled for February 2011.
Scratchino, a new mobile gambling provider of innovative scratch cards, reported a busy final day. The company’s product is designed to take full advantage of mobile capabilities and not just the flash port, said chief executive Charles Walker.
Offerings are platform-independent web applications with complementary phone native applications, and the appealing game design has attracted a steady stream of visitors to the stand.
Walker says that his company has exclusive mobile licenses for scratch cards such as Electrocoin's Bar-X, and that the product is available in multi-lingual and multi-currency formats.
The Isle of Man was just one of a number of regulatory jurisdictions meeting and greeting visitors at the show, with Manx Telecom represented on the stand. The telecommunications firm revealed that it is about to invest GBP20 million in building a second data centre on the island, which is conveniently located in the Irish Sea between the UK and Ireland.
The new centre will have four times the capability of the existing centre and forms a key part of the island's drive to win a larger slice of the e-gaming market.
Marcus Warren, the sales director for the company, said the existing facility has grown in excess of 100 percent of forecast over the past three years.
"The original 6 300 square foot capacity is now full - several years ahead of schedule - and last year we opened a second phase to double the capacity of the site. However, our new and even larger centre will take capacity into another league."
Warren said that although Manx Telecom was already deeply involved in e-gaming servicing, it intended to make a step change to win new business from the industry.
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