VirtGame gets okay, and a mild warning!

Oct 15, 2002 6:11 AM

   A system that takes cashless sports bets from home computers is under development in Nevada.

   VirtGame Corp., whose software already powers sports wagering in Ontario, Canada, was recommended for licensing by the state’s Gaming Control Board.

    “We’ve perfected an interface product with Las Vegas Disseminators that will serve as a multipurpose gaming station,’’ said President Bruce Merati..

   The product is viewed as the next step in interactive gaming. VirtGame currently furnishes software support to a closed-loop sports wagering system at Coast Casinos.

   VirtGame’s new device would show live sporting events and sports-related wagering options.

   Still, nagging questions remain about the financial viability and regulator compliance of the firm, which has offices in Las Vegas and San Diego.

   Citing $18 million in negative shareholder equity, control board Chairman Dennis Neilander said, “It’s difficult to consider this application in a favorable light.’’ Regulators also noted a pattern of questionable investments and misleading statements by the firm.

   Mindful of federal restrictions on interstate Net wagering, the board sternly warned VirtGame against bouncing any signals out of, and back into, Nevada.

   Nevertheless, regulators recommended an 18-month license, restricting VirtGame to providing server-based gaming platforms. Three prospective licensees — Leo George, Joseph Paravia and Scott Walker — were rejected.

   VirtGame reported that it has downsized its staff to seven employees. Meantime, Merati says the firm is looking for a partner to sponsor high-speed DSL service to accelerate its existing dial-up lines.

   In other action, the control board:

@ Delayed action on registering of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., as a publicly traded corporation. The company is seeking to be the sole shareholder of

@ Approved a public offering by Riviera Holdings. The offering, which will be used to retire higher-interest notes, comes as Riviera reports stronger bookings at its Las Vegas property. Elsewhere, the firm is adding 600 slots at is racino in New Mexico and expects to acquire a riverboat in Missouri.

@ Refused to accept the application withdrawal of Venetian consultant Matthew Sung-en Ma. An investigation is ongoing.

@ Approved Aristocrat Technologies’ Mark VI slot platform. The equipment, which has been field tested at Harrah’s Las Vegas, powers a five-reel video game with bonus features. The nine-line game permits bets of up to 10 coins per line and recorded an 8 percent hold.