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12 November 2010

Australian Gambling And Entertainment News, by Greg Tingle - 12th November 2010

Punters, entertainment and celebrity news junkies, casino and media millionaires and billionaires, and one and all. Another huge news update for you. Media Man and Gambling911 continue to satisfy your habit for the best gambling and entertainment news available anywhere...

Aussie Mark Webber Will Not Quit F1 Win Or Lose...

Mark Webber has squashed small talk he will quit Formula One if he wins or loses the world championship this Sunday. Webber, 34, is under a1 year contract with the mighty Red Bull and says he plans to race on in 2011 and beyond. "Yes, pretty much I'm taking on a year by year basis," Webber said. Webber strongly hinted he was looking forward to another stoush with young German teammate Sebastian Vettel, as well as proving he still had the speed to match it with the best. "The youngsters' eyes are really big when they arrive but I've been so proud of what I've done this year. "I'm not an old guy but to take Fernando (Alonso) and Lewis (Hamilton) and Seb on week-in week-out I feel proud I've been able to do that. "I've had to lift the bar up and I think next year I can still drive very well. "Timing is very important. To drive at 85-90% in this category - forget it, you need to be on top of your game." Webber advised he was confident Red Bull had not committed all their resources to this year's car and would again be competitive in 2011. "Time will tell but we've had a lot of god cars in the last two years," he said. "Last year was very, very taxing for us but the team responded for this year really well and produced another cracker. "Next year we'll find out in the next few races. There are a lot of big new changes and the pedal's going in one direction for this team. Much has been said of the tactics Red Bull will adopt in this season-ending race, but Webber said it was "too hard to call" whether Vettel should help him if in position to do so. "I think it is a question for Seb. What he does is going to be very dependent on how the race unfolds and there are so many scenarios that can happen," Webber said. "I can win this championship by finishing fifth and I can lose it by winning it (if Fernando Alonso finishes second). "Let's just see how things evolve. It actually is very, very tough to make a call at the moment and we know the team's position. "The team's position is that the gloves are off between Sebastian and I. They want us to race, which we've done all year." Webber will take an eight-point deficit into the race, trailing Alonso's Ferrari after the Spaniard took over the running when Webber spun out in Korea recently.

ACMA Rules Against Gambling Adverts On Network Nine And Ten...

Network Nine and Ten have both been found to have breached their license for running interactive gambling advertisements. The Australian Communications and Media Authority found that both networks ran several promotions for PokerStars.net, an interactive gambling service which contravenes the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (IGA). .net means that it was a play for free websites "These are the ACMA’s first investigations into advertisements prohibited under the Interactive Gambling Act," said ACMA Chairman, Chris Chapman, "All providers of television, radio and datacasting services need to ensure sure they are fully aware of and comply with their obligations under the IGA.” Network Nine ran ads for PokerStars during its Wimbledon broadcast in July 2009 while TEN ran similar ads in November 2009 in conjunction with its reality series on ONE, The Poker Star. ACMA says these are the first investigations relating to the broadcast of prohibited advertisements under the IGA. Both networks have agreed to measures intended to increase awareness of the IGA, with staff training, education and periodic reports to ACMA.

Centrebet Plans To Double Market Share...

Centrebet's 2011 financial year profit would be halved, but this news comes as the online wagering group unveiled a five-year strategic plan aimed at doubling its market share. Dubbed the "Rocket Plan", Centrebet has earmarked "tens of millions of dollars" to be invested in the five-year plan, which it is betting on to boost future profits and double its share of the Australian corporate bookmaker market to 20 per cent by the 2015 financial year. But management warned that its 2011 financial year profit would take a hit as a result of that investment and its net profit after tax would now be about $8 million, compared with $16m under a business as usual scenario. "The strategic plan is aiming to provide a step change in growth and a significant and substantial increase in earnings," Centrebet managing director and majority shareholder Con Kafataris advised.

Tabcorp Keen On Cloud Computing...

Tabcorp has harnessed the Cloud and iPads to help it address the massive increase in demand on Tabcorp's IT systems surged by the Spring Racing Carnival and the Melbourne Cup. Tabcorp's wagering division CIO, Kim Wenn, advised multiple load tests needed to be done to ensure Tabcorp’s IT systems could handle the huge influx of bets generated throughout the nearly three month long racing season. "Tabcorp’s preparations for the 2010 Spring Racing Carnival ensured we were ready for the significantly increased load,” she said. “As a guide, a typical Saturday sees our infrastructure usage at about 9 per cent of the load we see on Cup day. Our systems have to work a lot harder on the big days.” Combined with this increased load was Tabcorp’s introduction of iPad’s on the racetrack, a new iPhone app and live betting used for the first time during the racing season that stops the nation. “Tabcorp aims to be at the forefront of wagering technology,” Wenn said. “We introduced the TAB iPhone Betting App in time for the Spring Racing Carnival and more than 100,000 Australians have now downloaded it. “Tabcorp’s focus at the future is to continue to be at the forefront of wagering technology,” she said. “We are exploring new ways to allow our customers to transact with us such as Android technology, T-box and IP-TV.” In October, Tabcorp managing director and chief executive, Elmer Funke Kupper, flagged mobile and online gambling as a major source of future profitability.

Sky Falling On SkyCity In New Zealand...

Shares in casino operator SkyCity fell 3c early to 319 in trading on the New Zealand stock exchange, after the company said it had been unsuccessful in moves to buy the 50 per cent of Christchurch Casino it does not own. SkyCity said it had advised Skyline Enterprises of a cash offer it was willing to make, but Skyline had rejected the approach.

Call of Duty: Black Ops #360m First Day...

Video game Call of Duty: Black Ops has destroyed entertainment records by raking in $US360 million in its first 24 hours on sale. The result is a dramatic and lucrative indication that games have cemented their place on a par with movies, books and music. Activision Blizzard sold 5.6 million units the day Call of Duty went on sale, according to the company. Its predecessor, Call of Duty, Modern Warfare 2, sold 4.7 million copies in 24 hours to reap $US310 million on its first day of sale last year and it made $US550 million within a week. “Not too many years back it would have been unfathomable that the biggest entertainment launch would be a video game two years in a row,” said Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing. No longer. Today, such games as Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto and Halo all fit into the blockbuster category, and with each sequel they only get bigger. Production budgets for these games rival those of big-screen movies, as does the marketing push behind them. “You are delivering not just a gaming experience but a cinematic experience as well,” Hirshberg said. “The characters are emerging as the protagonists of the story.” The video game audience has expanded considerably in the last five years, reaching women, young children and even senior centres. But the people who flock to Call of Duty and other shooters are still primarily young men, just not as young as some would think. The average US game player is 34 years old, according to the Entertainment Software Association. Black Ops went on sale on Tuesday in North America and Britain for $US60, and works on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 gaming consoles. Across two years, with a budget well in the tens of millions of dollars, the developers of Black Ops created a world that immerses players in Cold War-era battles with settings ranging from 1960s Cuba to Vietnam and the Soviet Union. Its intricate graphics and details - down to the gruesome sound a knife makes when pulled from an enemy's neck - are amplified in players' homes through big-screen TV sets and powerful speakers. In one mission, which takes place with John F. Kennedy in the White House before the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion and the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, players must shoot their way through Havana to assassinate a young Fidel Castro. Cuba state-run media has levelled harsh criticism at the game, calling it “doubly perverse” by glorifying assassination and stimulating “sociopathic attitudes in North American children and adolescents.” “What the United States couldn't accomplish in more than 50 years, they are now trying to do virtually,” said an article on Cubadebate, a state-run news website. A big part of the appeal of Call of Duty is its multiplayer feature, meaning gamers can fight against someone across the country or on the other side of the world. The game is rated M for mature - meaning it's not meant for kids under 17. It's bloody, to be sure, but new media professor Charles Palmer says that's not the main appeal. “It's the challenge,” said Palmer, who teaches at the Harrisburg University of Science and Technology. “It's one of those areas that thrills and excites people.” Sports games, such as Madden, from Electronic Arts, are also popular, as are music simulators such as Guitar Hero. But shooters in the style of Call of Duty continue to be the most popular. “There is a DNA-level curiosity about and attraction to battle,” Hirshberg said. “That has been a staple of the entertainment industry - movies, television, books and fiction - forever. And the same is true for video games. Call of Duty has delivered perhaps the gold standard experience of battle.”

Aussie Tony Hachem Wins Player Of The Year...

Tony Hachem has scored a second consecutive victory as Player of the Year in the premier local event, the poker tour designed to reward ongoing strong performances, the PokerStars.net Australian New Zealand Poker Tour.

Gambling And Selling Arms: Not Cardinal Sins...

Gambling is not so bad says Australia's most senior Catholic cleric. Don't get him started on selling arms and smoking!

We kind of like this guy already.

Pell spoke at a an ethics in business lunch hosted by Notre Dame University, Cardinal George Pell hinting it might be hypocritical for the Catholic Church to totally condemn gambling, since poker machines are such a prominent attraction in New South Wales Catholic clubs.

"I must confess I do feel a bit uneasy about that, but only a bit uneasy," he admitted. "Because culturally I'm an Irish Australian and we grew up gambling."

Gambling in itself was not intrinsically wrong, he said. Only when it became an addiction, threatening the well-being of oneself and one's family, did it become a sin.

Warming to the forum's theme "God and Mammon: need or greed in the big end of town", Cardinal Pell said as far as the ethics of selling tobacco went, supplying the drug to adults who were aware of the risks and still chose to smoke was nothing to rush to the confessional sin box about. And when probed about the ethics of selling arms, he hypothesised that global military contractors may in fact be acting on a moral imperative.

"I think you can produce arms morally...You might say in some cases it is necessary. We are a peaceful country. If we were unarmed that would be an enticement to evil people. The best way to stay as we are is to be strong and effectively armed so I think you could make the case," he said.

Another question re Telstra's $10 million-a-year chief executive caught involved a comparison of his nice-guy reputation to that of his predecessor, Sol Trujillo, and its possible relationship to Telstra's all-time low of $2.58 a share. So can nice guys succeed in business?

"It's not about being nice or not nice," said Thodey, with a passing reference to the latest round of Telstra redundancies. "It's about doing things in an ethical and considerate way … in the best interests of our shareholders - which of course include customers and employees."

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Wrap Up...

Readers... er, punters, how did you like our report? Is having a punt a sin? Tell us in the forum.

If you have a bet, please bet with your head, not over it, and for God's sake, have fun.

*Greg Tingle is a special contributor for Gambling911

*Media Man http://www.mediamanint.com is primarily a media, publicity and internet portal development company. They cover a dozen industry sectors including gaming and offer political commentary and analysis.

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