Quebec has teamed with British Columbia on an online poker platform available to citizens of both Canadian provinces and hosted in Montreal.

Eight variants of poker will be offered on the joint platform beginning in 2011. The platform will be provided by GTECH G2 with customer account management software designed by OpenBet, which also supplies a number of table games.

Each province will keep the revenues generated by its citizens.

Loto-Québec’s own site, EspaceJeux.com, went live last month for a pre-registration period that was scheduled to end December 1, when registered online members were able to play.

The site offers players a variety of casino games, including baccarat, Sic Bo, Red Dog and various types of blackjack and roulette. Other games such as sports betting and bingo will be added at a later date.

Loto-Québec CEO Alain Cousineau said his agency is moving online to protect citizens from thousands of illegal offshore sites with a system in which age and identity verification measures are in place, together with features to help gamblers control their time and money.

Profits earned from EspaceJeux.com will be returned to the government of Quebec and contribute to the state’s ability to fund its programs.

Canada’s online market is estimated to be worth C$1 billion a year.



OUT-OF-STATE TRIBE WINS AGREEMENT FOR CATSKILLS CASINO


Outgoing New York Gov. David Paterson has signed a controversial land claim settlement with a Wisconsin Indian tribe that will allow it to build a casino in the Catskills with federal approval.

The agreement calls for the Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican Community to relinquish its claim to 23,000 acres in Madison County in the center of the state in exchange for 330 acres in Sullivan County, which it will request the federal government to take into trust on its behalf so the casino can be located there.

The casino, slated for the town of Bridgeville, is one of three authorized by state law for the Catskills. If it opens the state would receive 18 percent of slot revenues initially and up to 25 percent after five years, a formula similar to deals with the Mohawk and Seneca tribes.

Paterson and U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer said they will work to get federal agencies to sign off on the project. The Stockbridge and its partners, Trading Cove Associates, which helped develop Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun casino, have been working on approvals for the casino for nearly a decade. But the new agreement is expected to face legal challenges, from environmental groups, among others, and very possibly from the New York tribes.

The Senecas, who own three casinos in western New York, called the deal an “affront”. The Oneida Indian Nation, owners of Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, contested the Stockbridge’s Madison County land claim and blasted the Catskills deal as a “sham, 11th-hour” agreement achieved in secrecy.

Colonial expansion in the 18th century drove the Stockbridge from their ancestral lands in western Massachusetts to the protection of the Oneidas, whose lands encompassed what is now Madison County. A policy of Indian removal in New York in the early 19th century pushed the tribe into the Midwest and finally into what is now their federal reservation in Wisconsin.



WMS ON FORBES' LIST OF ‘BEST COMPANIES'


WMS Industries has been named to Forbes’ 2010 list of “America’s 100 Best Small Companies” based on sales and earnings growth and return on equity.

Over its past five fiscal years, the Waukegan, Ill.-based slot maker increased its industry ship share and generated compound annual revenue growth of 14.5 percent and compound annual earnings per share growth of 24.8 percent, according to a company release. By consistently implementing continuous improvement initiatives over this period, the company said annual operating margins grew to 21.9 percent in fiscal 2010 from 7.9 percent in fiscal 2005.

Forbes’ methodology in ranking “Small Companies” considered publicly traded entities with annual revenues between $5 million and $1 billion and a stock price above $5 a share.

Forbes also factored in comparative share price performance against the competition.



HARD ROCK OPENING DOMINICAN CASINO



Hard Rock International and Palace Resorts last month unveiled the new Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, ahead of a grand opening slated for January.

The 188-acre location on Macao Beach at the site of the former Moon Palace Casino and golf resort contains 1,800 hotel rooms, a spa, nightclub, a Kerry Simon-branded restaurant, 65,000 square feet of meeting and event space and one of Hard Rock’s famed music memorabilia displays.

The 47,990-square-foot casino features 457 slot machines, 40 table games, a high-limit poker room, a VIP lounge and a race and sports book.

Outdoor recreation includes 11 pools, a water park and an 18-hole golf course designed by Jack Nicklaus.



IGT EXTENDS INVITE TO THIRD PARTIES WITH SOFTWARE KIT


IGT has released a software development kit for third-party applications on its Service Window in a move Chief Technology Officer Chris Satchell called “our latest step toward building an ecosystem of player and operator applications for the server-based floor.”

A release by IGT said third-party vendors such as Synergy Blue, sister company of gaming vertical systems integrator Synergy Information Solutions, are using the SDK to create applications that automate manual processes and offer services to the player that include bonusing designed for specific game events and specific player profiles.

In addition to third-party vendors, casino operators can also use the SDK for their in-house development purposes, IGT said.

The company’s Media Manager, built on the Gaming Standards Association’s open protocols, uploads, schedules and delivers Service Window applications.

“When IGT made an SDK available for Service Window applications, we were intrigued,” said Synergy Blue CEO Georg Washington. “We conducted research to determine what’s needed in the marketplace, and now we have the tools to make those applications a reality.”



PINNACLE REBUFFED IN BID TO KEEP LEE OUT OF LAKE CHARLES



A Southern Nevada judge said Dan Lee can continue with his plans to develop a casino in Louisiana in competition with his former company, Pinnacle Entertainment.

Clark County District Judge Kathleen Delaney denied Las Vegas-based Pinnacle’s request for an injunction to prevent its former CEO from trying to win approval for his $400 million Mojito Pointe casino in Lake Charles next to Pinnacle’s L’Auberge du Lac resort. Pinnacle contended Lee was in violation of his non-compete agreement. The company also sought an injunction against Lee hiring Pinnacle employees.

The case is continuing.