24 septembre 2009

The Team At Lunch

From left to right: Thomas, Daniel, Olivier

Online Gambling In Europe: Much Confusion, Still

While Europe is liberalizing online gambling, the recent European Court of Justice ruling on Portugal's state-run betting and lottery services provider, Las Santa Casa de Misericordia, suddenly reboosted the ancient model. In fact, the European Court of Justice confirmed on the 8 September the right of the Portuguese Government to forbid private companies of providing online betting services. Fraud prevention and punter protection seemed to be the main justification behind the Court's ruling.

"The prohibition imposed on operators such as Bwin of offering games of chance via the Internet may be regarded as justified by the objective of combating fraud and crime."

Ladbrokes, an online betting and gaming company, have just pulled out of a similar case after the Norwegian Government indicated that they would be using the Portuguese case as precedent. Thus, it could be more difficult for bookmakers to fight state monopolies despite of the new European law, as player protection and fraud prevention can always be used as an excuse for maintaining the state monopoly.

Following the Portuguese case, the European online gambling industry has responded angrily to the European Court of Justice ruling and Bwin has asked for an update of EU regulations. If the laws are not updated, a black market is likely to thrive and Europe may suffer the potential downsides of online gambling. Italy, France and Great Britain have already made concessions to change legal framework allowing for cross border trade of internet betting services as opposed to the position Portugal and Norway has taken.

23 septembre 2009

First Public Presentation Of BETCoffee

The launch date of the private beta is getting closer. If you haven't registered yet, go to betcoffee.com now and enter your email address to participate in the beta. You'll be one of the privileged beta users of BETCoffee!

Also, we'll give our very first public presentation on Thursday, 15 October. The event is kindly hosted by netinfluence, you can find all the details and register at fr.amiando.com/Betcoffee.html (page is in French, just click on 'Accepter ici' in the right margin). Attendees will receive a free access to the private beta as well.

Meanwhile, I'd like to introduce you to Betix (image). You'll see him a lot on BETCoffee, he'll be responsible for organising official bets.

Betix and the BETCoffee team is looking forward to meeting you on the 15 October!

22 septembre 2009

Online Betting: How To Rule Conflicting Results?

One of the difficulties with betting is to anticipate the numerous possibilities of outcome, even more so with online betting. Even in the case of binary results (when the betting options as well as the outcome are either true or false), there are chances that sometimes one cannot provide a clear result to the event stated in the betting rule. Many scenarios are possible: the event does not take place, or does take place on a different date, or terminates in a way that the result cannot be clearly defined, or terminates without any official result, etc. Moreover the real hurdle is when the result is perceived differently by the stakeholders, or when the official result is wrong and adjusted by a second official a few hours or days after the initial result. How do you cope with claims, disputes and requests for refund or compensation?

Take the PMU (the company marketing and totalizing bets on horse races in France) for example. Recently, at the Hong Kong Jockey-Club race that took place on 15 August in Deauville, the official result (6-17-9-16-1) triggered a number of winnings and the corresponding payments were made before the commissioners realised that there was an error and announced a second updated result (6-17-16-9-1). The latter triggered another series of winnings and payments.

One can easily imagine the consequent headache. It's very difficult to get the money back from the first group of winners who were paid too much by error. Otherwise, in case a stakeholder has been paid less based on the first result than he should have with the second, you probably want to pay him the difference. That's what the French PMU decided to do. At least for those players who kept their tickets! As for the others who got rid of there tickets too soon, they have no evidence that they placed the right bet.

As far as we are informed the PMU also decided to pay winners based on the first (wrong) result, even after the second result was announced! A nice gesture. Is it a happy end though?

9 septembre 2009

"Française des jeux" privatized?

The french ministry of economy thinks again of privatizing “La Française des jeux” (FDJ), according to Liberation.

This is interesting considering that France is currently, under the pressure of EU, opening its gambling market (actually sport betting and poker) over the Internet BUT ensuring the monopolistic position of the existing companies, namely FDJ and PMU.

Indeed, they have already launched their own Internet betting products and they are over-advertising before the market opening... cutting the grass under the feet of their future opponents.

France ensures an exceptional position for the company and sells the goose that lays the golden egg… who will this deal profit to?

FDJ and PMU are big players of the french market with 9.2 billion € and 9.3 billion € gross gaming revenue in 2008; but only 220 M€ (2.3%) and 440 M€ (4.7%) over Internet.

2 septembre 2009

Facebook Connect and Rails: handling logout from Facebook site in Facebooker

Integrating an existing website with Facebook Connect using Facebooker is fairly easy. Several tutorial have been made; the best I found being:However, there is no description on how to handle a frequent use case where the user has been authentified in your application using Facebook Connect and disconnects in the Facebook website.

In this case, you will surely meet the famous:

Facebooker::Session::SessionExpired (Session key invalid or no longer valid)

One solution to handle this is rescue_from introduced in Rails 2.0. This is also the method recommended in the Facebooker documentation.

When the exception occurs, you have to remove the facebook session informations AND facebooker cookies.
Indeed, the set_facebook_session will recreate the facebook_session with these cookies. If you do not remove them, you will loop again and again in your rescue_from handling.

Here is an example of what you can do:

class ApplicationController < ActionController::Base
rescue_from Facebooker::Session::SessionExpired do |exception|
reset_session # i.e. logout the user
flash[:notice] = "You have been disconnected from Facebook."
redirect_to root_url

Dead simple, huh?