Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Dover Downs launches Poker Play Beta!

November 23, 2009: summarized from Comptropolis.com -- few weeks ago, Dover Downs launched their latest online offering: Poker Play! It's a legal, online way to play poker and win some money. I've been testing it out and it's pretty fun - and the chance to win money doesn't hurt at all.

Registration is free, but can be a little tricky to find. So I've written up a little guide.
Head over to http://doverdowns.casinobonusplay.com/ to begin your registration. Registration is completely free and will let you play the game. On the right there is an "Online Registration Form." Enter in your information and you're ready to start playing online.

Once you log into your new account, you can start playing poker immediately. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and in simple text there is "Poker Play -- Live Multiplayer Poker" and click "Play Now!"

Now, I know you're just wondering how you can win money. As of right now, there is a tournament every Wednesday at 8 p.m. eastern time and the winner gets $100 in cash - but the catch is they have to go to Dover Downs to pick it up.

In addition to the tournaments, there are both Sit&Go tables and Hold'Em tables. All new accounts get 1000 chips, but don't worry if you run out - you automatically get more when your account balance is empty!

This is a great way to play against other players legally and brush up on your skills at Texas Hold'Em. And be sure to register for the weekly tournaments on Wednesday at 8 p.m.!

Read more at: http://bit.ly/6bY1U1

Video: Social Media ROI

Erik Qualman at Socialnomics has created another excellent video in his Socialnomics series about social media and the impact it's having on marketing, customer interaction, and business. This one is about return on investment (ROI) with social media: is it worth it? Typical social media initiatives have close to zero direct cost - blogging, Twitter, posting videos on YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. are all free - they just require a (significant) time investment. For big businesses there may be an indirect cost in terms of hiring people to engage specifically in social media. For small businesses it's a fantastic way for an owner to market his business to a wide audience almost right off the bat and compete with the big boys via great ROI.

Watch video at: http://bit.ly/6YBTYR

Marketers Find Web Chat Can Be Inspiring

November 23, 2009: summarized from Wall Street Journal -- For decades, advertisers have relied heavily on sometimes-dated consumer surveys and focus groups to provide grist for their ads. Now, some are using new technologies to scan the Web for key words to find out what consumers are—and aren't—saying about their brands. Then, they are incorporating those findings into their more-conventional research and using them not only to choose the overall themes of their marketing campaigns, but also specific text and photos for their ads.

Once the campaigns are up and running, the companies and their ad firms are using the same Web-scanning technologies to gauge consumer reaction to their messages, and to fine-tune them to boost performance.

Last year, Harrah's Web sites and online ads began to reflect lessons it learned from consumer reviews on travel site TripAdvisor.com. It also started scanning reviews and comments on social-media sites like Twitter and Facebook to better understand consumers' perception of its casinos, hotels and spas.

Working with Ogilvy, Harrah's learned, for example, that travelers tended to chat about the "iconic views" of the Las Vegas Strip from its Paris Las Vegas hotel and casino. As a result, it changed the main picture on its Web site to one that features the Paris, surrounded by other Las Vegas attractions.

Harrah's also discovered that consumers were interested in hotel amenities, such as room size and details of menu offerings and services. In response, it started including such specifics in its marketing messages as the square footage of its suites.

Making such changes in its online ads boosted Harrah's online bookings by a double-digit percentage, says Monica Sullivan, the company's vice president of advertising.

"It is one of those 'Aha' moments, when you think, 'I should have known that all along. Being relevant to consumers is the way to communicate about your brands,' " Ms. Sullivan says.

She adds that Harrah's is finalizing a series of TV, print, radio and Web ads that were inspired at least in part by online research.

Read more at: http://bit.ly/8tyEDe

Start-Ups Hedging Their Bets On Online-Gambling Legislation

November 27, 2009: summarized from Wall Street Journal -- Venture-backed start-ups operating in the three most popular forms of online gambling - poker, horse racing and sports betting – stand to see major impacts from proposals winding their way through Congress that could legalize certain types of Web-based betting.

While the start-ups are keeping a close eye on the bills’ progress – and in some cases positioning themselves for possible major changes – most believe that any new laws won’t be enacted for at least another year, and possibly longer.

Gerard Cunningham, president of Betfair US, the world’s largest legal online gaming company, isn’t confident that the bills will get their proper hearing in Congress soon. “The challenges those bills face is the amount of things going on in Washington,” Cunningham said. “They have other concerns now…maybe next year…maybe the year after.”

To be sure, Congress is beginning to realize there’s a major bucket of taxable dollars they’re missing out on. Internet gambling revenue for offshore companies was estimated to be $5.9 billion in 2008 from players in the U.S. and $21 billion from players worldwide, according to gambling industry consulting firm H2 Gambling Capital.

In May, U.S. Representative Barney Frank unveiled a plan that would exempt operators that are licensed and regulated from an online gambling ban enacted in 2006 that made it illegal for banks and credit card companies to make payments to online gambling sites. The ban resulted in billions of euros in losses for European online gambling firms.

Frank’s legislative proposal, HR 2267, would access a fee to operators, collect taxes related to Internet gambling and provide safeguards against fraud, money laundering and terrorist finance. The bill seems to be geared toward poker games, as it excludes any type of sports betting. On Sept. 19, Oregon Senator Robert Wyden introduced a bill that funnels all revenue created by Frank’s bill into low-income subsidies for health-care.

The Frank-sponsored bill would raise nearly $42 billion for the U.S. Treasury over the next decade, according to an analysis by the Joint Committee on Taxation.

In August, New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez introduced the Internet Poker and Games of Skill Regulation, Consumer Protection, and Enforcement Act. The bill focuses on licensing games such as poker, bridge, chess, mahjong and backgammon “in which success is predominantly determined by the skill of the players.”

John Taylor, chief executive at GameLogic Inc., considers himself an expert on gambling regulation. The Waltham, Mass.-based company offers free games that are loaded on casino Web sites to attract potential customers. GameLogic makes a host of online games including slot games, card games, bingo, trivia and puzzles.

“Given that so much of our business is about interactions with gamblers online through games, it has a big impact on our business,” Taylor said of the proposed legislation.

GameLogic is essentially a bridge between brick-and-mortar and online gaming. Casino customers play the games on the establishment’s Web site, and can earn perks such as casino credit when they visit in person. While the company currently operates as a marketing tool, it could easily flip a switch to offer a full-blown online gambling system to its customers.

But Taylor doubts Congress will act on the proposals any time soon, which gives start-ups time to decide how they will play their hand if online gambling is legalized. “The conventional wisdom, and it changes regularly, is that if anything is going to happen it’s going to happen by the end of 2010,” Taylor said.

Betfair Group Ltd., on the other hand, has managed an extremely lucrative betting operation of its own in the U.K. After launching in 2000, Betfair has more than 2.5 million registered customers in 140 countries. It now holds licenses in the U.S., U.K., Australia, Italy, Malta, Germany and Austria. In January 2009, Betfair acquired TVG, which included TVG.com, the largest legal wagering business in the U.S., and horseracing television channel Television Games Network. In addition to sports betting, Betfair offers a portfolio of casino, exchange games and poker.

Cunningham, Betfair US’s president, said the company saw revenue in the last 12 months of $50 million in the U.S. and more than $500 million outside the U.S. The company is experienced in understanding and navigating legal issues around gambling in many locales. It’s in a great position to turn on its online casino games in the U.S. if they are legalized.

“I joined Betfair for the opportunity because I believe the laws are going to change,” Cunningham said. “These things are legal and well-regulated in other parts of the world.”

Another company that could be substantially impacted by the proposed legislation is Zynga Inc., maker of the hugely popular Texas Hold’Em Poker games on social networks. The game allows Facebook users to play with their online friends. Players spend $5 for $75,000 in virtual chips and $50 for $5 million worth - but they can never cash out.

It’s been an enormous business for the company, which industry watchers estimate could see $100 million to $200 million in revenue this year. However, with a legal online version of poker available, those players could move to a table where they’re allowed to earn some actual winnings. Zynga declined to comment on the proposed legislation.

Read more at: http://bit.ly/7bRvJO