What appears to be a fresh start for some notorious Internet gambling websites surfaced this week with the announcement by the Norwegian-listed Playsafe AS group that it is changing its online casino and poker software to Action Poker Network.
The Norwegian company acquired Action Poker, including software assets, from Las Vegas From Home Entertainment, Inc. in November 2006 following the advent of the UIGEA. Playsafe bought the entire network for US$2.35 million (see previous InfoPowa report).
The sale included, among other things, all of the Action Poker brands, the operating infrastructure in Action Poker Gaming Inc., APG Costa Rica S.A. and Action Commerce Limited and an undivided interest in the software used by the company to run the APN.
SciFi and Breakaway casinos, two of the 21 brands in the Playsafe stable, informed players via a website notification that the new software was from Action Poker Network this week.
Looking at the 21 operations listed under the overall Playsafe banner will perhaps give pause to some of the more experienced online gamblers, who will recall numerous disputes with brands then powered by RTG such as Connect2Casino, Black Widow Casino, Grand Banks and Sterlinghouse.
Under the hopefully better management of Playsafe, these formerly controversial venues have the opportunity to build a new and improved reputation if consistently managed with professionalism and integrity.
Other sites in the group have a somewhat better reputation, and there are a number of lesser known online casino and poker venues (see list at the foot of this report).
The rapid growth of the Playsafe group has occurred in pursuit of a corporate strategy to acquire what it calls "undervalued" small to medium sized brands and then manage these to success.
SciFiCasino is owned and operated by Ecom Enterprises, a fully owned subsidiary of Playsafe Holding AS, and all casino brands operated by Playsafe Holding AS are licensed and regulated by the Curacao Gaming Board, under the laws of the Netherlands Antilles.
Sandefjord, Norway based PlaySafe Holdings AS also claims to own and operate a proprietary platform for "live casino games".
Incorporated in April 2006, the group is headed by CEO Atle Bie-Johansen, who also handles the firm's finances. His operational experience includes gaming management and the supply of gaming control systems, and he is a former chairman of the Norwegian Trade Association for the Coin Machine Industry and Vice-President of Euromat, Pan-European Trade Association for the Coin Machine Industry
Ben W. Johansen is Chief Operations Officer and has extensive operational and managerial experience in sportsbetting, casino and game machine operations. He was involved in a merger of 17 companies to form Sport & Spill ASA, later sold to Norsk Lotteridrift ASA
Playsafe claims a player base of almost a million registered players across over 150 countries, and its ambitions lie mainly in the European and Asian sectors, where there is a traditional gambling culture and high Internet availability.
Online gambling websites owned by Playsafe AS:
Black Widow Casino
Sterlinghouse Casino (?)
Grand Banks Casino
5 Dimes Sportsbook and Casino (?)
Poker In Canada
It's a Ride
Cry Baby Poker
City Limit Poker (?)
Skytegra (now Poker Hive)