The past month has seen a surge of both established and not so established Internet Gambling and other gaming companies make a push into the Asia Pacific region. Greg Tingle, Special Contributor to the Gambling911.com website and Australian correspondent, takes a look at the Internet gambling sector in that region. He also looks at the online poker component. Tingle is also the proprietor of Media Man out of Australia.
It appears apparent that some of the gaming entities have more than just a casual interest in Australia, judging by some of the game titles. Try "Goanna Gold", "Cool Bananas", "Kangaroo Zoo", and "Shaaark" on for size!
PartyGaming saw some of their PartyCasino.com titles enjoy a rise in popularity as Tom Cruise (Mission: Impossible and Top Gun) fame, and his partner, Katie Holmes, have been spending time in Melbourne, using James Packer's Crown Towers as a base.
Aspinalls are making a push with their Aspinalls Online Casino and Aspinalls Online Poker. Aspinalls have quite a colourful history, with the late, great, John Aspinall said to have ties and friendships with Australia's Packer family. In recent years it has been reported that Australia's James Packer has done business deals with Damian Aspinall. No doubt Aspers would be most welcome to accommodate the needs of casino whales, in both an online and offline capacity. Aspinall Jr has been spotted out and about with Australia's Elle "The Body" MacPherson a number of times over the past year, so Aspers wins points for that alone.
Titan Casino and Titan Poker both Playtech powered casinos have also identified the Asia Pacific region as a go ahead region for growth. Titan have come up with some impressive and generous bonuses for signing up at their online casino brands.
JackpotCity and Lucky Nugget Online Casino, both part of the Belle Rock Entertainment family, rose to prominence in Australia last year with their promotion of blockbuster movie hits, Tomb Raider and Hitman. JackpotCity is powered by Microgaming, which incidentally is also the software that powers Australia's Captain Cooks Casino. Captain Cooks Casino is by all accounts a favorite with the Aussies, so it looks like a battle of sorts may be on the horizon for the patronage of players who prefer Microgaming.
Casino Club and Slots Club, both powered by Boss Media, proudly have "Kangaroo Zoo" in their casino game stable. In recent months they have added more games, revamped the websites, and enhanced multi currency options.
Euro Partners, the European gaming powerhouse is embarking on a campaign pushing forward their highly respect casino brands into the Asia Pacific. Sources advise to be watching out for Casino Tropez and Europa Casino, to name but a few.
Virgin Games maintains presence in Australia and their Transformers online slot game is impossible to miss, thanks to the blockbuster movie launch last month. Virgin looks to have taken a page out of the Marvel Entertainment book, pushing forward a traditional entertainment brand. Marvel Entertainment is working on a Thor movie, so one would expect the Thor slot game to enjoy some renewed popularity. Virgin Casino top brass has recently gone on record via the Virgin.com website portal about the ups and downs of the online casino and igaming industry. Virgin's Richard Branson has approximately 200 companies in a range of industry verticals, so Virgin are certainly spreading their risk. Virgin recently ceased their Pikum! brand, however they remain one of the world's strongest and most respected brands. Let us not forget that celebrated film producer and director, Steven Spielberg has made a financial killing in the gaming sector over the decades, however it's his movie making that most of the world knows him for.
PKR.com have ramped up their progressive games and online slot game offerings, so they can expect to see more casino fans flocking to their casino, better known for the 3D casino and online poker experience. PKR are looking to continue their red hot streak in media, building upon their recent promotions tied in with the World Series of Poker, and are said to be sponsoring a number of upcoming events including the Asian Poker Tour, which is enjoying strong presence in Macau and Philippines of late.
To help cope with the current interest from the world's igaming and gaming entities, Australia's Media Man Australia, the media and publicity company, has ramped up portal development operations and also plans to launch more website portals including more for the gaming sector. MMA's Casino News Media, Australian Casino News and Classic Slots Online have been reporting a rise in rankings in recent months, as they strive to achieve Hitwise Australia top ten status. Media Man director, Greg Tingle, reckons its online a matter of time before Australian gaming figures, John "Singo" Singleton and Gerry Harvey, make a major play into Australian online gaming space, most certainly in the horse racing sector. Pokies baron, Bruce Mathieson, continues to do very well out of his pub pokies deal with Woolworths and the like. Media Man Australia is preparing a pitch to put to their connections at TVS Channel 31 Community TV, and sees the igaming and gaming sector as a new source of revenue for the community media sector. The gaming sector is said to be a significant source of revenue to fund Media Man's philanthropic and community endeavours, so TVS would do well to consider their pitch. Australia's SBS are said to also be open to approaches on new revenue streams, and ABC online has increased their online gaming involvement, with an online "Grandstand's Ultimate Ashes" game available, adding to their "Good Game" offerings.
The Australian government would be watching the igaming developments unfold in the US and Europe, as the game of skill vs games of chance debate continues. Now many sports betting experts are arguing that sports betting is largely a game of skill, following recent court findings on poker. You can bet that the UFC is watching this space closely and a number of sports betting operations in the US are said to have broken records with UFC 100, including BetUS.com, with the Brock Lesnar fight being the prime money maker, both for betting and Pay-Per-View buy rates. One can bet that Sen Stephen Conroy's office would have now heard of the upcoming motion picture staring Kevin Spacey, 'Casino Jack'. Spacey plays lobbyist Jack Abramoff, known for his Indian casino connections and lobbying. His career sees him land him in jail. Expect to hear whispers about the movie by the Tabcorp and Crown Casino fraternity.
Australia has seen a number more incidents at bricks and mortar hotels, pubs and casinos, so having a bet on the pokies at an online casino may be even safer and more enjoyable that one might have first thought. As always, take note of the casino and brand names and reputation, and gamblers are advised to know their limits, meaning set a financial limit and stick to it. In addition, gamblers are advised to ensure their gambling stays enjoyable, and if it stops being fun, its most likely time to stop. As the old Aussie term goes, Bet with your head, not over it.
Our friends at Gambling911, CAP, GPWA and eGaming Review see the gaming and igaming industry as being one of the world's most recession resistant industries, but certainly not recession proof.
Certainly mainstream press in Australia is starting to cover the industry in more details, with regular coverage being offered to the likes of PartyGaming, Joe Hachem (PokerStars connection) and the World Series of Poker.
Whatever side of the gaming, igaming and gambling sector you look into, there's plenty of exciting developments, be it technology advancements, legal developments or just new games, as the industry does its best to be a good corporate citizen and do the right thing by authorities, gaming regulators and players.
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