Industry leaders will be gathering at Miami’s Wyndham Miami Beach Resort on March 15-16 for the World Internet Gaming Summit. The Summit will bring together gaming leaders from around the globe, including experts from North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, South Africa, and the Caribbean.
Speakers at the World Internet Gaming Summit will explain the current state of the market – including the development of emerging technologies and e-cash solutions – and discuss new models and new approaches for online gaming that will fit into different regulatory frameworks. These models promise to further bolster the credibility of the industry and accelerate its integration into the mainstream gaming market.
The conference, which will be chaired by Tony Fontaine, vice president of complex business solutions for Station Casinos, will feature 29 speakers from 6 continents. Experts from the fields of gaming, law, regulation, and government will include Frank Fahrenkopf, president of the American Gaming Association; founder and former president of the World Sports Exchange, Jay Cohen; Peter Coroneos, President of the Internet Industry Association; Marc Falcone, Vice President of Gaming Research, Bear Sterns; Joseph Kelly, professor of business law, SUNY College at Buffalo; Mickey Charles, president of the Sports Network; Frank Catania, president of the Catania Consulting Group; Charles Crawford, executive vice president of Internet Billing Co., Ltd.; Jim Litchko, president of Litchko and Associates, and many more.
Riding on the Winner’s Coattails
Lawsuits over cybersquatting are nothing new. In fact, they’ve almost become yesterday’s Slot Online news. But many of these cases are taking on an interesting twist. Companies are now suing one another for cashing in on web surfers’ confusion.
And if two recent court cases are any indication, the online gambling industry isn’t immune from this growing trend.
During the last week of February, a U.S. federal judge ordered a Costa Rican Internet Slot Online sports book to surrender control of the domain names RioSports.com and BetRio.com. Rio International Interlink was ordered to hand over the domains to Rio Properties Inc., a subsidiary of Harrah’s Entertainment Inc.
The ruling came “in light of the willful, bad faith nature of [Rio International’s] conduct in this matter,” and prevented the company from using “any confusingly similar term, mark or name.”
In the second case, Station Casinos of Las Vega sued NetraCorp LLC of Kansas City, MO to prevent them from using the domain www.stationcasino.com.
Station Casinos, which uses the URL www.stationcasinos.com, complained that NetraCorp had registered the web address in question “for the sole purpose of selling that domain registration.”
There is more to this issue than free enterprise or cashing in on similar domain names, however. Many casinos are concerned that the sound-alike casinos are infringing on their trademark and diluting their reputation.
In an industry such as online gambling, Web addresses serve as a digital billboard. Domain names are directly linked with brand identity and reputation, which in turn are essential components of customer loyalty. Companies registering similar domain names undermine the effectiveness of a particular domain name, and may in turn damage the reputation of the legitimate casino.
In an attempt to curb the practice of registering sound-alike domains, the U.S Congress has passed legislation. The Domain Name Piracy Prevention Act of 1999 prohibits “the bad-faith registration, trafficking or use of Internet domain names that are identical to, confusingly similar to, or dilutive of distinctive trademarks or service marks.”
But this legislation only provides a legal remedy for companies anxious to protect their identity and good name, rather than alleviating the problem. Many start-up online ventures, and Internet casinos in particular, are finding it easier to profit from someone else’s identity rather than create their own.
What does all of this mean for sites such as Amazon Casino and Amazon Casinos? Or Casino Inn and Casino Inc.? Or dozens of other online casinos? Only time will tell, but they shouldn’t be too surprised if lawyer letters show up on their doorsteps.
And if the recent court decisions are any indication, they shouldn’t expect to use sound-alike domain names with the support of the U.S. government.