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Slingo Gaming in the News

E-gambling, made in Quebec for New Jersey
04.03.2004
Lynn Moore - The Montreal Gazette

Riding technology developed by a Loto-Qubec subsidiary, an international band of corporate and state-lottery entrepreneurs have crossed a frontier in the multibillion-dollar gambling industry.

Late last month, New Jersey Lottery had the "hard launch" of North America's first Internet lottery game, Cyber Slingo, following months of quiet negotiations with Loto-Qubec's multimedia research unit, Ingenio, and Montreal-based Oberthur Jeux et Technologies Inc. It was a breakthrough event long anticipated in an industry that feeds on new concepts and wants to plug into - and prosper from - consumers' love affair with the Net.

"Every lottery across North America has been looking at doing something like this for years," said Ivan Sack, publisher of Canadian Gaming News.

Already, Cyber Slingo is to have a sister game, and a second U.S. lottery has ordered some online games for its gamblers.

Ingenio, which has had calls of interest from about another 10 lottery operators, knows that private firms are racing to come up with the kind of technology that made Cyber Slingo possible and has announced that it will "aggressively defend" its patent.

To play Cyber Slingo, gamblers buy a lottery ticket, scratch the ticket to reveal a 13-digit code, then settle down at an online computer and log onto the New Jersey state lottery's Web site. The code is required to "play" the game, gambling for prizes of up to $5,000 U.S.

Less than two months after its trial - or soft- launch, gamblers are playing Cyber Slingo at a rate of 24,000 to 25,000 "access codes" a day, said Carla Schaefer, Oberthur vice-president of new product development.

Cyber Slingo is expected to generate $21 million U.S. in gross revenue within about six months, said Foster Krupa, the New Jersey lottery's manager of marketing and instant games.

Cyber Slingo and its sister games are part of "a new product line that will travel into the future," said Krupa, who has commissioned a second game.

"Many of the lottery games being offered today have been around for 30 or 40 years. This is an opportunity to keep the lottery fresh and keep us moving into the future," he said.

News of New Jersey's foray into e-gaming has spread like wildfire through the industry.

Ingenio director Natalie Rajotte said her office received calls from potential customers as soon as trade journals ran stories about Cyber Slingo.

Oregon's state lottery has already signed contracts for four games to be delivered next year, said Rajotte, who wouldn't identify other suitors.

While Loto-Qubec is not on the customer list, "it's not an option we are putting away forever," spokesperson Jean-Pierre Roy said.

Ingenio's cut in the venture is a "small percentage" of gross revenue, Rajotte said.

Cyber Slingo was inspired by the electronic game Slingo, which was America Online's biggest attraction until eBay came along, Schaefer said.

Oberthur acquired the rights to Slingo for lottery and e-gaming purposes, she said from her office in Texas. A leading lottery-ticket publisher linked to Groupe Franis-Charles Oberthur, Montreal-based Oberthur Jeux et Technologies, has had a long "partnership" with Loto-Qubec, Schaefer said.

That partnership revved up after Ingenio devised a technology that it first used in 2000 with the world's first CD-ROM lottery, a concept that has been licensed to sister lotteries in Europe and the U.S.

The patented technology permits "a predetermined... electronic game," Rajotte said.

"It is comprised of a code that the software will recognize as the predetermined issue (the outcome) of the game and which is embedded in the code," she said.

The application works something like this: you buy a ticket and scratch off a code to play the game electronically. But the outcome of the game - whether you win and how much - was decided the moment you bought the ticket. In fact, the ticket vendor can tell you instantly whether your ticket - or code - is a winner.

The beauty of this application is that "it is politically... and legally correct," said Rajotte, echoing a view shared by Sack, Krupa and Schaefer.

Because the ticket is needed to get the code, lottery operators can determine where - and to whom - those tickets will be sold. In theory anyway, Cyber Slingo is a game that will be played by New Jersey adults.

But Quebecers, for example, can have a New Jersey friend buy a ticket and telephone with the access code. Prizes have to be claimed in New Jersey.

The global gaming industry and governments, which have become dependent upon gambling revenues, will be scrutinizing the venture, Sack said. So will e-bandits - hackers, he said.

If nothing else, North American lottery corporations will be in "defensive mode," wanting to keep their market.

A demonstration game of Cyber Slingo is available at: www.state.nj.us/lottery

lmoore@thegazette.canwest.com

Posted by Aaron Arthur Day on April 3, 2004 11:38 PM

Adaptation from - www.winningstreak.com
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