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Article source: http://grandstandgazette.com/blog/547/112/online-casino-ipad-south-africa-697

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Lytro changed photography. Now can it get anyone to care?

How to build a hardware company

Since modern photography was invented in 1837, everything and nothing has changed. The tools have evolved — we shoot with different cameras and don’t need darkrooms for developing or controlled explosions for flash — but we’re still capturing static, two-dimensional images. But inside a nondescript office park on Terra Bella avenue in Mountain View, California, a new future is coming into focus.

It’s been a long road for Lytro since the company’s founding in 2006. Its first camera was made entirely with off-the-shelf parts, essentially a prototype that turned out well enough that the company stuck it on Target shelves. It was built by founder and executive chairman Ren Ng and three others, who scraped together the fewest, best parts they could find, and hacked together a way to take light-field shots with essentially traditional camera parts. At one point Lytro’s primary manufacturing partner lost the master recipe for the microlenses, the camera’s most important component, and it was six months before production ramped back up.

This time the team is larger and more experienced (and has diversified its partnerships), not to mention finally armed with enough cachet to get suppliers for whatever it needs. The first camera opened the doors required for Lytro to build exactly what it wanted, and what it wanted was to make Illum, an entirely new kind of camera. “With Illum,” Ng says, “we’re able to start to customize that supply chain in a very deep way… to rethink the entire imaging pipeline.” It began with the lens, a round barrel with big zoom and fast aperture throughout. Lytro built a lens that can focus on a subject physically touching its glass, and can shoot with remarkably fast shutter speeds (though it still takes a second or two to process each shot, like an old-school Polaroid printing each shot).

That kind of versatility and brightness is unheard of in the camera industry. The Illum has very little glass, and none of the complicated, expensive aspherical elements that traditional cameras require to reflect light onto the sensor. That’s because the Illum isn’t really capturing a photograph in any traditional sense when you press the button; it doesn’t imprint reflected light on a sensor the way a traditional camera does. Instead, it’s just capturing loose data, and the processor builds a picture later. “So you can make cheaper lenses if you want, you can make lower-quality lenses acceptable, and you can build new lenses that have higher performance than you’ve ever seen before.”

The Illum also has a square blue “Lytro Button” next to its shutter release, which maps in real time the refocusable range of whatever photo you’re framing. A green border frames everything at the front of the photo, all the way to deep orange in the back — it’s constantly showing exactly how someone might be able to tap or click through your photo. It’s a huge aid in understanding how what you see through the camera will translate into an interactive photograph. “Not only are you able to think in that extra dimension,” Lytro’s marketing chief Azmat Ali tells me, “we’ll help you to be able to frame that extra dimension. And when you can frame that extra dimension, your creativity is set free.”

As I wander the offices taking pictures of everything from the catered lunch spread (an impressive taco bar) to the unsuspecting Lytro engineers, it quickly becomes clear that shooting with the Illum is all about depth, and communicating the size of the scene. It took a little more work and a lot more stage direction to take a great shot, but every shot was more interesting than its potential static equivalent. Each one was like looking into a dollhouse, a tiny 3D representation of the world with new decorations and rooms everywhere I look.

Pitts next hands me an iPhone running a basic version of the app Lytro will release alongside Illum. It’s a grid of images, like a thousand other apps. But when I tap an image to open it, the photo wobbles as it springs into place. As it moves, the perspective shifts — I briefly see shadows and reflections change, and peer around the side of a barrel of a gun. I tap on the front of the barrel, and it snaps into focus. Then I tap the man holding the gun, and his grimacing face clarifies in front of my eyes. Before I know it, I’ve spent three minutes tapping different parts of the screen, exploring every part of the scene: his hands, the gun, the costumed insanity in the background at San Diego Comic Con. It’s a different photo each time, a story I’m helping the photographer narrate. The next photo, a close-up shot of a tape measure, shifts its focus backward to reveal the rough-handed carpenter in the background. Each photo feels more immersive, more memorable than others I’ve seen. More real, somehow.

Before Lytro was Lytro, it was Ng’s 203-page computer science thesis, entitled simply “Digital Light Field Photography.” It’s based on two decades of research into “computational photography,” a catch-all term for collecting more data with cameras. Ng combined it with his original research at Stanford, in an area called re-lighting — using computer graphics to map how light affects and changes in virtual worlds — to explore how computation could fundamentally change the things we see. His research and thesis focused on how light becomes data, and data becomes photos.

Light-field photography has been discussed since the 1990s, beginning largely with three Stanford professors, Marc Levoy, Mark Horowitz, and Pat Hanrahan. (The term “light field” was first coined in 1936, and Gabriel Lippmann created something like a light-field camera in 1908, though he didn’t have a name for it.) Instead of measuring color and intensity of light as it hits a sensor in a camera, light-field cameras pass that light through a series of lenses (hundreds of thousands in Lytro’s case), which allows the camera to record the direction each ray of light is moving. Understanding light’s direction makes it possible to measure how far away the source of that light is. So where a traditional camera captures a 2D version of a scene, a light-field shot knows where everything in that scene actually is. A processor turns that data into a 3D model like any you’d see in a video game or special effect, and Lytro displays it as a photograph. It’s a little bit like the small bots in Prometheus, spatially mapping an entire room in order to display it back later. Or think of it as a rudimentary holodeck, projecting a simulated scene that changes as you move through and interact with it.

Lytro didn’t invent the science, just found a way to turn the required technology — which was once made up of 100 DSLRs in a rack at Stanford — into a product you can hold in your hands.

Article source: http://www.theverge.com/2014/4/22/5625264/lytro-changed-photography-meet-the-new-illum-camera

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Lytro changed photography. Now can it get anyone to care?

How to build a hardware company

Since modern photography was invented in 1837, everything and nothing has changed. The tools have evolved — we shoot with different cameras and don’t need darkrooms for developing or controlled explosions for flash — but we’re still capturing static, two-dimensional images. But inside a nondescript office park on Terra Bella avenue in Mountain View, California, a new future is coming into focus.

It’s been a long road for Lytro since the company’s founding in 2006. Its first camera was made entirely with off-the-shelf parts, essentially a prototype that turned out well enough that the company stuck it on Target shelves. It was built by founder and executive chairman Ren Ng and three others, who scraped together the fewest, best parts they could find, and hacked together a way to take light-field shots with essentially traditional camera parts. At one point Lytro’s primary manufacturing partner lost the master recipe for the microlenses, the camera’s most important component, and it was six months before production ramped back up.

This time the team is larger and more experienced (and has diversified its partnerships), not to mention finally armed with enough cachet to get suppliers for whatever it needs. The first camera opened the doors required for Lytro to build exactly what it wanted, and what it wanted was to make Illum, an entirely new kind of camera. “With Illum,” Ng says, “we’re able to start to customize that supply chain in a very deep way… to rethink the entire imaging pipeline.” It began with the lens, a round barrel with big zoom and fast aperture throughout. Lytro built a lens that can focus on a subject physically touching its glass, and can shoot with remarkably fast shutter speeds (though it still takes a second or two to process each shot, like an old-school Polaroid printing each shot).

That kind of versatility and brightness is unheard of in the camera industry. The Illum has very little glass, and none of the complicated, expensive aspherical elements that traditional cameras require to reflect light onto the sensor. That’s because the Illum isn’t really capturing a photograph in any traditional sense when you press the button; it doesn’t imprint reflected light on a sensor the way a traditional camera does. Instead, it’s just capturing loose data, and the processor builds a picture later. “So you can make cheaper lenses if you want, you can make lower-quality lenses acceptable, and you can build new lenses that have higher performance than you’ve ever seen before.”

The Illum also has a square blue “Lytro Button” next to its shutter release, which maps in real time the refocusable range of whatever photo you’re framing. A green border frames everything at the front of the photo, all the way to deep orange in the back — it’s constantly showing exactly how someone might be able to tap or click through your photo. It’s a huge aid in understanding how what you see through the camera will translate into an interactive photograph. “Not only are you able to think in that extra dimension,” Lytro’s marketing chief Azmat Ali tells me, “we’ll help you to be able to frame that extra dimension. And when you can frame that extra dimension, your creativity is set free.”

As I wander the offices taking pictures of everything from the catered lunch spread (an impressive taco bar) to the unsuspecting Lytro engineers, it quickly becomes clear that shooting with the Illum is all about depth, and communicating the size of the scene. It took a little more work and a lot more stage direction to take a great shot, but every shot was more interesting than its potential static equivalent. Each one was like looking into a dollhouse, a tiny 3D representation of the world with new decorations and rooms everywhere I look.

Pitts next hands me an iPhone running a basic version of the app Lytro will release alongside Illum. It’s a grid of images, like a thousand other apps. But when I tap an image to open it, the photo wobbles as it springs into place. As it moves, the perspective shifts — I briefly see shadows and reflections change, and peer around the side of a barrel of a gun. I tap on the front of the barrel, and it snaps into focus. Then I tap the man holding the gun, and his grimacing face clarifies in front of my eyes. Before I know it, I’ve spent three minutes tapping different parts of the screen, exploring every part of the scene: his hands, the gun, the costumed insanity in the background at San Diego Comic Con. It’s a different photo each time, a story I’m helping the photographer narrate. The next photo, a close-up shot of a tape measure, shifts its focus backward to reveal the rough-handed carpenter in the background. Each photo feels more immersive, more memorable than others I’ve seen. More real, somehow.

Before Lytro was Lytro, it was Ng’s 203-page computer science thesis, entitled simply “Digital Light Field Photography.” It’s based on two decades of research into “computational photography,” a catch-all term for collecting more data with cameras. Ng combined it with his original research at Stanford, in an area called re-lighting — using computer graphics to map how light affects and changes in virtual worlds — to explore how computation could fundamentally change the things we see. His research and thesis focused on how light becomes data, and data becomes photos.

Light-field photography has been discussed since the 1990s, beginning largely with three Stanford professors, Marc Levoy, Mark Horowitz, and Pat Hanrahan. (The term “light field” was first coined in 1936, and Gabriel Lippmann created something like a light-field camera in 1908, though he didn’t have a name for it.) Instead of measuring color and intensity of light as it hits a sensor in a camera, light-field cameras pass that light through a series of lenses (hundreds of thousands in Lytro’s case), which allows the camera to record the direction each ray of light is moving. Understanding light’s direction makes it possible to measure how far away the source of that light is. So where a traditional camera captures a 2D version of a scene, a light-field shot knows where everything in that scene actually is. A processor turns that data into a 3D model like any you’d see in a video game or special effect, and Lytro displays it as a photograph. It’s a little bit like the small bots in Prometheus, spatially mapping an entire room in order to display it back later. Or think of it as a rudimentary holodeck, projecting a simulated scene that changes as you move through and interact with it.

Lytro didn’t invent the science, just found a way to turn the required technology — which was once made up of 100 DSLRs in a rack at Stanford — into a product you can hold in your hands.

Article source: http://www.theverge.com/2014/4/22/5625264/lytro-changed-photography-meet-the-new-illum-camera

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Scientific Games Signs Instant Game Contract with FDJ – SYS

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NEW YORK, April 21, 2014 /PRNewswire/ – Scientific Games Corporation (Nasdaq: SGMS) today announced that the Company has signed a contract with La Francaise des Jeux (“FDJ”), the operator of the French National Lottery.  Scientific Games will continue to be the primary supplier of instant games to FDJ, the second largest instant game lottery in the world.

Scientific Games supplies a significant share of FDJ’s instant game portfolio, including some of its top performing games, such as the number one selling 5€ Cash game.  In addition to these strong core games, Scientific Games was also awarded FDJ’s 10€ Millionnaire game, the only 10€ instant game presently on the market in France.

The three-year contract, which began on January 1, 2014, was awarded to the Company following a competitive procurement process, based on the ability to deliver economic performance as well as quality, high-level physical security, information security that meets ISO 27001 standards, and environmental standards, including the use of FSC-certified paper.

This contract includes options for the Lottery to extend the contract for three additional one-year periods.  Revenue to Scientific Games will continue to be on a price-per-unit basis.

“FDJ is a valued and long-term partner and this is an extremely positive achievement for Scientific Games,” said Jim Kennedy, Executive Vice President, Group Chief Executive of Lottery.  “It confirms our position as the number one instant game supplier for FDJ.”

About Scientific Games
Scientific Games Corporation is a leading developer of technology-based products and services and associated content for worldwide gaming and lottery markets.  The Company’s portfolio includes instant and draw-based lottery games; electronic gaming machines and game content; server-based lottery and gaming systems; sports betting technology; loyalty and rewards programs; and social, mobile and interactive content and services.  For more information, please visit: www.scientificgames.com.

Company Contacts
Investor Relations:
William Pfund, (847) 785-3167

Media Relations:
Lauren Johnson, (212) 318-9152

Forward-Looking Statements
In this press release, the Company makes “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of the U.S. Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements describe future expectations, plans, results or strategies and can often be identified by the use of terminology such as “may,” “will,” “estimate,” “intend,” “continue,” “believe,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “targeted,” “should,” “could,” “potential,” “opportunity,” or similar terminology. These statements are based upon management’s current expectations, assumptions and estimates and are not guarantees of timing, future results or performance.  Actual results may differ materially from those contemplated in these statements due to a variety of risks and uncertainties and other factors, including, among other things:  competition; U.S. and international economic and industry conditions; slow growth of new gaming jurisdictions; slow addition of casinos in existing jurisdictions; declines in the replacement cycle of gaming machines; ownership changes and consolidation in the casino industry; opposition to the expansion of legalized gaming; ability to adapt to, and offer products that keep pace with, evolving technology; ability to develop successful gaming concepts and content; laws and government regulation, including those relating to gaming licenses and environmental laws; inability to identify and capitalize on trends and changes in the lottery and gaming industries, including the expansion of interactive gaming; dependence upon key providers in our social gaming business; retention and renewal of existing contracts and entry into new or revised contracts; level of our indebtedness; availability and adequacy of cash flows to satisfy obligations or future needs; restrictions and covenants in our debt agreements; protection of our intellectual property; ability to license third party intellectual property; intellectual property rights of others; security and integrity of our software and systems and reliance on or failures in our information technology systems; natural events that disrupt our operations or those of our customers, suppliers or regulators; inability to benefit from, and risks associated with, strategic equity investments and relationships; inability of our joint venture to meet the net income targets or otherwise to realize the anticipated benefits under its private management agreement with the Illinois Lottery; inability of our joint venture to meet the net income targets or other requirements under its agreement to provide marketing and sales services to the New Jersey Lottery or otherwise to realize the anticipated benefits under such agreement (including as a result of a protest); failure to realize the anticipated benefits related to the award to our consortium of an instant lottery game concession in Greece; failure to achieve the intended benefits of the WMS acquisition, including due to the inability to realize synergies in the anticipated amounts or within the contemplated time-frames or cost expectations, or at all; inability to complete and integrate future acquisitions; restructuring costs; revenue recognition standards; impairment charges; fluctuations in our results due to seasonality and other factors; dependence on suppliers and manufacturers; risks relating to foreign operations, including fluctuations in foreign currency exchange rates; dependence on our employees; litigation and other liabilities relating to our business, including litigation and liabilities relating to our contracts and licenses, our products and systems, our employees, intellectual property and our strategic relationships; influence of certain stockholders; and stock price volatility. Additional information regarding risks and uncertainties and other factors that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated in forward-looking statements is included from time to time in the Company’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) (including in our Annual Report on Form 10-K filed with the SEC on March 17, 2014 and in our subsequent periodic reports), including under the heading “Risk Factors” in the Company’s periodic reports.  Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made and, except for the Company’s ongoing obligations under the U.S. federal securities laws, the Company undertakes no obligation to publicly update any forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

SOURCE Scientific Games Corporation

Article source: http://www.sys-con.com/node/3065767

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Horse racing is galloping back, says Phumelela

Independent Newspapers

Variety Club storms over the line to win the 1 600m L’Ormarins Queen’s Plate at Kenilworth in Cape Town in January last year. According to the country’s biggest racetrack owner, on-course attendance has risen by 15 percent this year. Photo: Matthew Jordaan

Johannesburg – After several years of shrinking market share following the boom of casinos and the lottery, horse racing was growing again in South Africa, gaming and leisure company Phumelela said on Friday.

South Africa’s biggest racetrack owner and the only racing operator other than Gold Circle with a totalisator licence said while local trading conditions remained challenging, its local betting division, racing operations, on-course attendance and hospitality performed ahead of expectations in the six months to January. In this time, it saw on-course attendances increase by 15 percent and totalisator betting on local horse racing increased by 2 percent.

Phumelela group chief executive Rian du Plessis attributed this to “hard work” rather than a change in market conditions. “My measure of horse racing really is on-course attendance. More people came to race. This growth was actually going down for a few years. We believe that now it has bottomed out.”

The company owns and manages five of the nine racing tracks in the country. While the R10 billion local horse race betting industry bounces back, Phumelela has identified more areas that will drive its growth. “We are looking to grow our international business and our local tote business particularly on soccer. Our soccer pool betting is growing very nicely and so is our fixed odds operations,” Du Plessis said.

Totalisator soccer pool bets increased by 32 percent in the period under review and exceeded betting on international horse racing.

Last year, Phumelela set a target to generate half of its revenue from sports betting in five years time as its horse racing business had been under pressure for several years.

In the period under review, local net betting income for other sports increased by 30 percent when excluding fixed odds while net betting income for horse racing was down 1 percent.

But on inclusion of fixed odds, net betting income on horse racing was down 5 percent to R25 million while other sports recorded a 55 percent decline to R5m.

On the international operations, horse racing’s net betting income was down 2 percent to R252m while income from other sports rose 17 percent to R99.3m.

The group’s total net betting income increased by 6 percent to R374m.

Total income from local operations increased by 7 percent to R475m. International operations grew by 143 percent to R112m.

Du Plessis said while there was still room for growth in the international market, it would not ignore the local market.

In the six months to January, Phumelela increased its Betting World retail footprint by 34 percent to 55 stores. These are the outlets where people can bet on sports such as soccer, rugby and cricket.

During this period, Betting World’s profits were adversely affected by the cost of expansion as well as procurement of new betting software.

“We probably were a bit too ambitious. We should have done only the software and then looked at the growth of the retail shops in the following six months. But it augurs well for us going forward, now that it’s behind us,” Du Plessis said.

He said the company continued to look for opportunities to expand this footprint.

Phumelela’s interim profit after tax increased by 32 percent to R52m. Its headline earnings a share were up by 30 percent to 67.77c.

Shares rose by 3.41 percent to close at R21.20 on Friday. – Business Report

Article source: http://www.iol.co.za/business/companies/horse-racing-is-galloping-back-says-phumelela-1.1675302

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Copycat Tactics Haven’t Paid Off for US Poker Rooms

ultimate-poker-online-poker-300x215*The opinions expressed below are those of the author and do not reflect those of Bluff.*

Nevada’s online poker industry is coming up on its one year anniversary, and New Jersey and Delaware now have five full months under their belts and the industry has been steadily chugging along, making improvements and solving problems.

That being said, there is also still quite a bit of confusion among the masses when it comes to legal online poker in the US.

This confusion persists mainly because licensed online poker sites have been unable to elucidate their product to their potential customers.

Education is key

Education was an important theme at the iGaming North America conference, where the focus seemed to be educating potential players that legal online poker is now tangible in the US, as well as how to educate people in regards to geolocation and payment processing troubles.

Those are certainly important points of emphasis for the industry, but perhaps the most troubling aspect of the new online poker industry is the inability of most casual players to differentiate between a licensed online poker provider and an unlicensed online poker provider.

This is extremely troubling when you consider the unlicensed providers seem to have the better promotions, the larger player bases, and in many cases the superior software.

Consider this poll from Commercial Intelligence (CI) that shows 21% of New Jersey respondents said they are only placing sports-bets at “approved” licensed sites (see page 9 of the report).

The problem is, there are no legal online sportsbooks in New Jersey. If people are wagering on sports online they are doing so at an unlicensed site.

CI’s polling data shows 63% of respondents play at “approved” sites and 37% play at unlicensed sites, but their metadata shows a good percentage of these people simply can’t differentiate between a licensed and an unlicensed provider. In their breakdowns, people responded they use “approved” sites for everything from bingo to lottery sales and the aforementioned sports-betting, none of which are legally offered in the state.

So what can be done to educate potential players?

Marketing the differences

First off, the words “Licensed” and “Legal” should be front and center on all websites and marketing campaigns.

Instead what we have are online poker websites that are little more than carbon copies of the websites that have been used in the industry for the past decade, and marketing campaigns that could e switched with any unlicensed site’s offers.

There is nothing at WSOP.com, or UltimatePoker.com, or US.888Poker.com, or NJ.PartyPoker.com telling me that I’m visiting a legal online poker room.

Marketing departments need to disassociate their current product from the previous itineration of the industry and make a big deal of the new licensed and regulated environment.

For instance:

How about a front and center disclaimer telling me what happens to my deposited money?

Or how about easy-to-find images and bios of the people in charge of the site?

Or how about simple infographics showing the security and player verification methods in place?

By copying the same marketing efforts and using the same deposit bonuses, VIP programs, and promotions you are essentially saying that there is little difference between a licensed online poker room and an unlicensed online poker room other than your fancy piece of paper.

If you’re just copying what is already in place than why should a potential customer choose your product? Especially when the original seems to have better deals?

My expectation was that licensed online poker sites would bring about mainstream marketing (such as the partypoker deal with the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia 76ers, or the WSOP.com deal with the New York Rangers) but for the most part it’s been the same old same old.

Sites need to use their legal status to their advantage.

Get some local celebrities together for an ad campaign that shows them playing legal online poker.

Or run an ad where two friends meet at a coffee shop and when the late arriver sits down his friend is on his laptop or phone and says “just let me finish this hand,” followed by an explanation that online poker is now legal, “you didn’t know that Bill?”

OR how about more images like this tweet from Ultimate Poker, featuring a picture of someone from the company about to mail $250,000 in withdrawal requests to their players?

Do something, do anything, that will tell people you are different.

Go negative

Politicians often talk about keeping their campaigns positive and out of the gutter, but inevitably, in any close race the campaigns will go negative, unleashing vicious attack ads in the direction of their opponents.

They do this for one simple reason: It works.

It’s time for the licensed online poker rooms to start doing the same to their shadowy cousins.

If at least 20% of the New Jersey population cannot tell the difference between a licensed and an unlicensed room, then sites need to start explaining to potential customers why unlicensed online poker rooms can offer those promotions and the risks these room pose to their money.

By: Steve Ruddock (7 Posts)

Article source: http://www.bluff.com/news/copycat-tactics-havent-paid-off-for-us-poker-rooms-53429/

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Teddy Sagi, jailbird pornographer behind Britain’s crack cocaine gambling …

  • Mail investigation reveals Teddy Sagi is king of fixed-odds betting terminals
  • His company Playtech is behind the majority of software used by High Street bookmakers
  • Sagi was once pictured arm in arm with supermodel Bar Refaeli in 2009
  • Ladbrokes alone took £1 billion from the terminals in just one month

By
Steve Bird

16:46 EST, 18 April 2014


|

20:54 EST, 18 April 2014

As a billionaire playboy, Teddy Sagi revels in his reputation as one of Britain’s most ­eligible and wealthy bachelors. He can certainly boast of ­having had romances with some of the most beautiful women in the world.

But what the businessman — who has a ­sprawling home in Knightsbridge — should ­perhaps be less proud of is that he made much of his vast fortune by exploiting the poorest and most ­vulnerable people in the country.

Today, a Mail investigation can reveal that he is the king of the fixed-odds betting terminals that have brought such misery to so many — the so-called crack cocaine of the gambling world. Sagi’s company, Playtech, is behind the ­majority of software used by High Street ­bookmakers where people, often from the most deprived areas, pump billions of pounds a year into the machines.

Supermodel and the gambling king: Bar Refaeli with Teddy Sagi

Supermodel and the gambling king: Bar Refaeli with Teddy Sagi

Ladbrokes alone took £1 billion on the terminals in just one month as punters addicted to the ‘games’ — which typically ­simulate roulette — wagered up to £100 every 20 seconds on a single spin.

As the Mail revealed yesterday, a new poll shows nearly half of all voters believe the terminals should be banned, while 73 per cent want the maximum bet of £100 dramatically reduced.

This pernicious presence in ­hundreds of High Streets is a direct result of Labour relaxing gambling regulations in 2001, which opened the floodgates for ­digital roulette games to be played in betting shops.

Since then the number of fixed-odds machines has rocketed to 33,000 — with Playtech providing the technology for more than 20,000 of them.

They have been blamed for an increase in problem gambling, and are said to have an almost hypnotic effect that leaves players like ‘zombies’.

Roger Radler, from Marlow, ­Buckinghamshire, blames his addiction to these machines for him losing his six-figure salary job as a business development manager in London, as well as the collapse of his marriage.

He ended up amassing £60,000 of debts, which he kept secret from his wife. At one point he was sleeping on a park bench.

‘You can try for a new “high” every 20 seconds, but then you find you are losing huge sums of money,’ he says. ‘At its worst, I probably lost a month’s salary in a couple of hours. It was horrendous.’

This, then, can be the human cost of the betting machines — yet still Teddy Sagi’s company Playtech ­unashamedly states its software can help book­makers ‘manage your players ­throughout the player’s life-cycle’, describing how a gambler can play on a machine in a betting shop, and then ‘when he is ready to move on, he can continue the game on his smartphone and tablet device in the comfort of his own home’.

While it is bad enough that Sagi has helped turn Britain into a nation of gamblers, even more ­disturbing is the fact that he learned some of the tricks of his controversial trade from the world of internet pornography.

A fixed odds betting terminal, which are often found in High Street bookmakers

A fixed odds betting terminal, which are often found in High Street bookmakers

Not only that, I have established he is a convicted criminal who comes from a family with a murderous past.

Born in Tel Aviv in 1972, Sagi became accustomed to the finer things in life. His father ran a travel agency and his parents appeared in newspaper ­gossip columns. But he and his ­family were to find far greater notoriety for their criminal activities.

In 1983, Sagi’s older stepbrother, Ronen, was convicted of the ­murder of an investment consultant. There was little doubt about his guilt — he stole his father’s gun, fitted a silencer and fired ten bullets at his victim after a disagreement believed to be about money.

Then in 1994, when Teddy Sagi was just 22, he was arrested along with seven other businessmen on suspicion of insider trading. They were charged with buying and then manipulating the value of stock in a widespread banking fraud.

Sagi, one of the youngest among those arrested, admitted grave deceit, bribery and insider trading. He was jailed for nine months.

When he was released, he became hellbent on making his fortune. He teamed up with his father trading on the stock market and buying and selling property. But he realised the internet was the means to make large sums, regardless of the ­morality of how the money is made.

As he said in one of his few public statements, ‘sex and betting are the most profitable businesses on the internet’.

Sagi invested in companies building pornographic websites. He was also eager to seek out those at the forefront of developing software.

In 1999, he invested in a company called Unlimited9, which was involved in setting up ­pornographic sites. That same year, he launched Playtech in a bid to become the ­biggest online gambling ­software developer. He sought out the brightest mathematicians and ­specialists who could develop games that would maximise profits.

Just seven years later, the ­company was valued at £550 million when it floated on the London Stock Exchange. Still in his early 30s, Sagi had joined the ranks of the world’s super-rich.

Ladbrokes alone took £1billion on betting terminals in just one month (file picture)

Ladbrokes alone took £1billion on betting terminals in just one month (file picture)

Since then, the company has gone from strength to strength — two years ago its share price was 312p, but by last month it had soared to 814p. Sagi announced recently that he will sell a 15.4 per cent stake in his company, giving him a payout  of £326 million.

Today, he is estimated to be worth more than £1 billion, much of it from his licensing deals for ­gambling software with the likes of William Hill and Ladbrokes.

While Sagi does not directly take a cut from gamblers pumping money into the betting machines, he is believed to have considerable financial interests in a number of High Street bookmakers.

He certainly knows the importance of ­hiring the best computer geeks to develop his software.

Crucially, fixed-odds betting ­terminals are said to be addictive because they tempt the player back with just the right level of rewards.

While a gambler may start off ­winning, the odds are likely to be against him in the long term.

Also, if someone goes to a casino to play roulette, a single bet can take a few minutes to complete: on a ­roulette game in a High Street ­bookies, it’s over in just 20 seconds.

Professor Natasha Dow Schull, a specialist in the way technology is being harnessed by gambling firms, believes the machines made by the likes of Sagi are ‘odious’ and should be banned.

Sagi was photographed arm in arm with supermodel Bar Refaeli, pictured in 2009

Sagi was photographed arm in arm with supermodel Bar Refaeli, pictured in 2009

‘The software in these machines taps into a fundamental part of human psychology, exploiting ­people for maximum profit,’ says the American academic and author of a book called Addiction By Design.

‘Essentially, people playing them are being manipulated by mathematicians who have worked out how to up the ante and keep you gambling, with just the right level of reward-to-risk ratio.

‘Sophisticated digital technology and ­mathematics are used to match the way the human brain and our ­psychology work. It makes people addicts.’

Labour MP Tom Watson says: ‘These machines have turned every High Street into a digital casino. They are a menace to communities up and down the country.’

While fixed-odds betting ­terminals have brought financial havoc to many lives, Teddy Sagi has lived high on the profits of his enterprises.

Unlike the users of his games, Sagi has received excellent returns on his penchant for risk. ­According to one Israeli newspaper, he ‘likes risk as much as he likes the good life’.

Pressure has increased on the Government to take some kind of action to curb the use of betting terminals (file picture)

Pressure has increased on the Government to take some kind of action to curb the use of betting terminals (file picture)

As well as that luxury home in Central London, he has properties in Cyprus, Berlin, Israel and the U.S., and recently splashed out on a Bombardier luxury private jet.

When I visited his home in Knightsbridge this week to request an interview, I was told by security staff at the heavily guarded ­complex that Sagi was a ‘very busy and very ­private man’ and was probably away.

He did not respond to a letter inviting him to talk to me, nor did his public relations ­representatives return my calls.

But he has not been quite so shy when it has come to pursuing some of the world’s most beautiful women.

In 2009, he made gossip columns around the world when he was ­photographed arm in arm with the Israeli supermodel Bar Refaeli, who had just split up with the Hollywood star Leonardo DiCaprio.

That same year, the couple posed for photographs at an after-show party when he took her to Berlin to watch a concert by Britney Spears.

There were also rumours that he was dating Esti Ginzburg, a model who has regularly appeared in a swimsuit in Sports Illustrated  magazine.

He had a child, now eight, with a former beauty queen, and is now seeing a former Miss Israel, with whom he’s had a ­second child.

But the couple have not ­married and Sagi still gets listed in the media as one of the most ­eligible bachelors around.

According to one associate, he revels in his wealth.

‘He likes to have fun. He likes the good life. He takes long holidays and likes to spend his leisure time ­watching football or films. He enjoys playing the piano and ping pong.’

Recently, Sagi raised his profile further in Britain with the purchase of London’s iconic Camden Market for £400 million.

Whether gambling machines will continue to be such a cash cow for him remains to be seen, as pressure increases on the Government to take some kind of action to curb their use.

But then, thanks to gambling, Teddy Sagi has already played the odds — and is a very big winner indeed.


Comments (45)

Share what you think

The comments below have been moderated in advance.

algerialynx,

Algeria,

37 minutes ago

Good on the lad. He pays his tax so no problem with him.

redleg3600,

Colorado Springs, United States,

37 minutes ago

Can’t blame a fella for doing what it takes to score the hot young ones.

Tom,

Watford,

40 minutes ago

These machines should be highly taxed and taxes on all gambling shod be increased. Same for smoking.
Give average working people a corresponding tax reduction on income tax.

poor worker,

Aldershot,

41 minutes ago

If you play on these or smoke crack as suggested in the title then that’s up to you. It’s your choice not for the nanny state or DM to judge. Personally I do neither as I work hard for my money and what little I have left after tax I spend on my family.

ladyblue,

Northants,

48 minutes ago

It was Tessa Jowell who, as ‘culture’ minister, crassly opined that those who objected to super-casinos and relaxation of gambling laws were ‘anti- working class’. Clearly words whispered in her ear by the vested interests of the gambling industry. If ever anyone was in the pockets of that industry it was the Labour government.

Paul L,

Wellington, New Zealand,

51 minutes ago

How about people taking some personal responsibility rather than blaming machines that THEY put their money into?

mrarmageddon,

Aberdeen, United Kingdom,

56 minutes ago

Why is no one allowed to be responsible for their own actions anymore? I go into the bookies regularly to bet on football and the 2-3 times I’ve played a machine I’ve never put in more than £10. If you can’t afford to lose it….then why are you giving it to a machine?

The people who want these machines banned will be the same ones squealing when bookmakers lose a lot of money, close many shops and are made personally to pick up the gaping taxation loss that banning them would cause.

Mike,

London,

59 minutes ago

Sure she’s interested in him for his good looks and charm

Hellen Baker,

England, United Kingdom,

1 hour ago

Gambling is a compulsion and if you want to protect everyone from potentially dangerous compulsions then you had better remove every cleaning product from every shelf, from every shop everywhere in the country. I have no problem with these machines being banned outright, It won’t make any difference to those already in the grip of a gambling compulsion and will stop others being caught up in one. Just lets not pretend that gamblers have no control over the situation. they do.

katfish-no-no,

lake side park, United Kingdom,

1 hour ago

people have fallen victim to an algorithm and not the physical laws of chance, anyone who lost on one of these things should seek redress in law for loss and damages.

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Article source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2608016/Exposed-jailbird-pornographer-Britains-crack-cocaine-gambling-machines.html

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Playtech Launches New Multi-Channel Solution for UK Betting Shops

Playtech is calling success on the new multi-channel solution “Coral Connect” which the company has just rolled out. The service which has been made available for the entire Coral betting shop estate in the UK allows customers the opening of one account in retail betting shops which will later be used for placing mobile and online bets anywhere and anytime.

The multi-channel account can be used to play casino games on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs), place over the counter bets (OTC) and deposit or withdraw funds. This integration of online-to-retail allows Playtech’s IMS system to be synchronized with retail operators, giving them the option to view player’s activity in all forms: online, mobile or in a retail betting shop. The service is already up and running, fully operational across all 1,800 Coral betting shops in the UK.

Responses

Speaking on the launch of the new service, Chief Operationg Officer at Playtech Shay Segev said: “We are extremely proud of our new multi-channel solution, which strengthens Playtech’s position as an innovation leader in the betting and gaming industry. The synchronisation of online and retail systems is a significant technological achievement. It illustrates our commitment to providing a complete multi-channel experience to Playtech licensees, who can in turn provide their customers with the ultimate player experience across all platforms.”

Andy Hornby, Chief executive of Coral said: “Multi-channel is a key focus of our development. With Playtech’s help we have made a real step forward.”

About Playtech

Playtech is a company listed on the London Stock Exchange. It has been in activity since 1999, receiving worldwide renown for providing online operators with gaming and sports betting software platforms.

Article source: http://www.onlinecasinoreports.com/news/industrycoverage/2014/4/17/playtech-launches-new-multi-channel-solution-for-uk-betting-shops.php

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Telefónica picks second cohort of start-ups for its Wayra accelerator

O2 parent company Telefónica today announced the latest group of tech start-ups to join its Wayra and Wayra UnLtd accelerator programmes.

The next incumbents range from those offering leveraged sports betting, LEVBET, to those with an educational bedtime story application, Dream Learners. 

The Wayra Academy opened its doors to 16 start-ups in June 2012 and announced in February that it was looking for additional start-ups to be part of the cohort that was announced today. 

As with the first cohort, Wayra and Wayra UnLtd will take a 5-10 percent stake in each start-up in return for up to €40,000, space in the Wayra Academy near Tottenham Court Road and advice from Telefónica staff. 

The start-ups will move in on 12 May, with six of them joining Telefónica’s Wayra accelerator and seven joining the Wayra UnLtd accelerator.

Wayra UnLtd aims to support start-ups solving social problems, and is run as a joint venture by Telefónica and UnLtd, which claims to be the “world’s largest supporter of social entrepreneurs”, as well as receiving backing from the UK government. 

The latest winners were selected from a pool of 30 finalists, following a two-day pitch process, known as the Wayra Finals, in which firms were judged by a panel of experts drawn from the likes of Google, the Cabinet Office and Accel Partners venture capital firm. 

Gary Stewart, director of the Wayra and Wayra UnLtd Academies in London, said: “We are confident that through funding, mentoring and the support of a multinational business in Telefónica, we will be able to give them the leg up that they need on the path to success.”

Several other accelerators have opened in London recently, such as Startupbootcamp FinTech next to the Tower of London and Microsoft Ventures in Whitechapel, East London. 

Wayra UnLtd Start-Ups:

  • Applyed – For parents, Applyed is a platform to find the best education for your child. For schools, Applyed is a digital admissions solution and data analytics tool. For society, Applied is a means of guaranteeing that talented and promising young people have access to ‘best-of-class’ educational opportunities
  • Get Out Explorers – Connects children and their parents with the natural world through an iPhone app, website and offline content.
  • The Busking ProjectKeeping – Described as the Time Out, Tinder and Foursquare of busking.
  • Proversity.org – Disrupts class through a digital university built by employers.
  • Roadio – Aims to help improve problem of road safety, with the context being that road crashes are the biggest killer of young people in the UK and globally.
  • Dream Learners – Educates children at bedtime through the magic of storytelling because this is deemed as the most effective way to learn.
  • Policy in Practice – This scalable software helps frontline advisors to quickly and clearly illustrate the impact of policy changes on individuals and households.

Wayra UK start-ups:

  • CLOUDWEAR/iWUNTA - Intention-based messaging for mobile and wearable devices.
  • DOOWAPP – Music messaging with that lets you to put specific song lyrics into your message and play them.
  • LEVBET – Leveraged sports betting.
  • OpenDesk – A global platform for local making. They sell furniture that is designed for digital fabrication and can be made locally all over the world.
  • RotaGeek – Delivers online scheduling for businesses and the health sector, allowing employers to create, modify and disseminate employees work shifts.
  • Yoyo – A simple marketing engine for today’s retailers, powered by in-store mobile transactions.

Article source: http://news.techworld.com/sme/3512193/telefnica-picks-second-cohort-of-start-ups-for-its-wayra-accelerator/

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SCG Trust announces interactive system, FAN360, to be installed and enhance …

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Article source: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/newslocal/city-east/scg-trust-announces-interactive-system-fan360-to-be-installed-and-enhance-live-experience-with-instant-replays-live-stats-food-ordering-and-betting-from-mobile-device/story-fngr8h22-1226885250683

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