Wiggin EU regulation roundup – August 2018

first_img Tags: Card Rooms and Poker Online Gambling Slot Machines 3rd August 2018 | By Stephen Carter Bingo AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Chris Elliott and Beth French of law firm Wiggin provide a regulatory snapshot of markets across the EU, with Bulgaria, Italy, Malta and Spain among those updated Email Addresscenter_img Wiggin EU regulation roundup – August 2018 In conjunction with Chris Elliott and Beth French of Wiggin LLP, iGaming Business provides a regulatory snapshot of igaming across the EU, including all regulated products, legalised operator types and market updates. Belgium, Bulgaria, France, Italy, Malta and Spain are among those updated AUSTRIA Regulated gambling products: Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo and lottery. Operator type: Licences for sports betting and horse race betting are available for private operators on a regional basis within Austria, whereas poker, casino, bingo and lottery are controlled by the monopoly, Casinos Austria, which has exclusive rights until 2027.Status: In 2016, national courts reached conflicting decisions on the compatibility of Austria’s current gambling legislative framework with EU law, which remains unclear. The draft amendments to the Gambling Act, which would introduce ISP-blocking measures and an express provision rendering gambling contracts contrary to the Gambling Act void, has been temporarily withdrawn. It is unclear at this stage whether the initial draft will be re-published.BELGIUM Regulated gambling products: Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo and lottery. Operator type: All products are available to private operators except for lotteries, which are reserved exclusively for the monopoly provider. However, online operators need to partner with local casinos in order to satisfy the land-based establishment requirement; alternatively, apply for one of the 34 retail licences (F1 licences) that can be extended to cover online (F1+ licence).Status: There remain valid arguments that the existing regime is incompatible with Belgium’s EU Treaty obligations. On 22 March, 2018, Belgium’s Constitutional Court ruled in favour of an exemption from VAT obligations for online gambling transactions. Active enforcement measures against operators and players are in place. Following a recent ruling by the Constitutional Court that the country’s licensing arrangements are unconstitutional, each type of gambling product will need to be offered through a different URL  in order to harmonise the disparity between land-based and online licence conditions.  BULGARIA Regulated gambling products: Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo and lottery (excluding raffles and instant lottery games). Operator type: All products are available to private operators except for lotteries, which are reserved exclusively for the monopoly provider.Status: Any operator from an EU/EEA jurisdiction or the Swiss Confederation can apply for a licence. The Bulgarian regulator has awarded approximately 20 licences to date, including to a number of international operators.  The government has notified the European Commission of draft amendments to the country’s gambling legislation which, among other things, would introduce stringent restrictions on how gambling products can be advertised. The standstill period ends on 10 September, 2018.CROATIA Regulated gambling products: Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo and lottery. Operator type: All products are available to private operators except for lotteries, which are reserved exclusively for the monopoly provider. Private operators can only be licensed to offer igaming if they obtain a land-based casino or betting licence.Status: Following Croatia’s accession to the EU in 2013, it was understood that it would submit new legislation that was compatible with EU law. However, on 5 March, 2014, the Croatian government notified a draft bill to embolden the position of the monopoly and local operators, giving rise to further incompatibility issues. The receipt of a detailed opinion from the EC stalled the legislative process.CYPRUS Regulated gambling products: Sports betting, horse race betting and lottery. Operator type: OPAP has a monopoly over lottery operations; sports-betting licences are available to private operators.Status: Cyprus regulated online betting in July 2012, although a licensing regime was not established until 2016. Applications for online sports-betting licences were accepted for a one-month period only from 3 October, 2016. ISPs are obliged to implement blocking measures to prohibit Cypriot residents from accessing unlicensed gambling websites. Cyprus has notified new draft gambling legislation to the EC in response to concerns about the local establishment requirement under the Betting Law and the equal treatment of gambling operators in the country (principally as a result of the exemption afforded to OPAP).CZECH REPUBLIC Regulated gambling products: Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo and lottery. Operator type: EU and EEA-based operators are able to apply for licences.Status: The new gambling regulatory regime entered into force in the Czech Republic on 1 January 2017, allowing EU/EEA companies to enter the market. The licensing regime has been called into question after a number of foreign operators are believed to have withdrawn from the licensing process, citing the current regime as incompatible with EU law. ISP-blocking measures are active in the jurisdiction.DENMARK Regulated gambling products: Sports betting, fantasy sports, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo and lottery. Operator type: Sports betting, poker and casino licences are available to private operators. Lottery is controlled by the state monopoly.Status: The Danish online gambling regime went live on 1 January, 2012. ISP-blocking measures are active in the jurisdiction and the Danish Gaming Authority has been granted an injunction to block operators and suppliers that have been targeting Danish customers without the requisite licence. Danish political parties have reached an agreement to introduce limits on bonuses. The Ministry of Taxation is understood to be aiming for a 1 January, 2019 implementation, although the exact proposed changes are currently unknown.ESTONIA Regulated gambling products: Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo and lottery. Operator type: Licences for all gambling products are available to private operators save for lotteries, which are reserved exclusively for the monopoly operator.Status: Operators seeking to accept business from players in Estonia must be issued an activity licence for the type of gambling they wish to offer, then an operating permit to provide the services remotely. A blacklist of about 1,100 operators is maintained and updated by local authorities and ISP and payment blocking is in force. Though some operators argue that the regime is still not compatible with EU law, there has been no open challenge by the EC to date.FINLAND Regulated gambling products: Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo and lottery. Operator type: All gambling products are under the exclusive control of the three monopoly providers, Raha-automaattiyhdistys (“RAY”), Fintoto Oy and Veikkaus Oy. The monopolies merged into one state entity on 1 January, 2017.Status: An ECJ ruling confirmed that Finland’s three monopoly providers are legally permitted, which was subsequently written into law. In November 2013, the EC also withdrew infringement proceedings. Active enforcement measures are in place (restrictive marketing for offshore operators and ISP blocking).FRANCE  Regulated gambling products: Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, bingo and lottery. Operator type: Private operators can obtain online licences for sports betting, horse race betting and poker. The monopoly has exclusive rights to bingo and lottery.Status: A regulated market since the introduction of a licensing regime in 2010, following which the EC withdrew its infringement proceedings. Parliament announced a full review of French gambling legislation in 2016, although little progress has been made to date except for changes to allow for international poker liquidity and provisions relating to the organisation of esports tournaments. The state-owned operator of France’s national lottery games, Française des Jeux (“FDJ”), is set to be privatised, with broader regulatory changes to the online sector expected to follow.GERMANY Regulated gambling products: Schleswig-Holstein, a small northern-German state, regulates sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino and bingo. The other 15 states of Germany currently permit only sports betting and horse race betting. Operator type: Private operators can no longer obtain licences in Schleswig-Holstein and those in existence will expire on 30 June, 2019. In the other 15 states, horse race betting licences are available at a regional level but the position surrounding the 20 available sports-betting licences is still uncertain.Status: The licensing regime is in a state of flux. The tender for 20 federal sports-betting licences was aborted following a number of appeals by operators who were not granted licences. The ECJ ruled in 2016 that Germany’s sports-betting regulation was incompatible with EU law and that enforcement actions would be unlawful where none of the 20 licences could, in practice, be acquired. The decision led to calls for comprehensive legal reform of Germany’s gambling legislation. In March 2017, all 16 German states signed amendments to the country’s gambling law; however, on 22 September, 2017, Schleswig-Holstein’s state parliament voted against ratifying these, with North-Rhine Westphalia and Hesse since announcing their intention to follow suit. Without full state support, the intended changes did not take effect, further delaying reform. A Federal Administrative Court ruling on 26 October, 2017, upheld the ban on online casinos and poker. The ruling, which is now the subject of a constitutional complaint, appears to have led to action by local regulators seeking to enforce the prohibition of online casinos by issuing interdiction letters to operators. Payment-blocking initiatives are also being pursued.GREAT BRITAIN Regulated gambling products: Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo and lottery. Operator type: All licences are available to private operators save for lottery, which is reserved exclusively for the monopoly provider, Camelot.Status: Any operator that transacts with, or advertises to, British residents requires a licence from the Gambling Commission. Licensed operators are required to source gambling software from commission-licensed businesses. Since 1 August, 2017, the first use of free plays for remote gaming will be taxed and winnings will be brought into the duty calculation at the end of the rewagering process. The UK government has announced its intention to increase Remote Gaming Duty at the next budget to cover a shortfall in lost tax revenue resulting from a reduction in maximum stakes on fixed odds betting terminals from £100 to £2.GREECE Regulated gambling products: Sports betting, horse race betting and lottery. Operator type: All products are exclusively reserved for the monopoly providers, although 24 transitional licences for private operators remain active, with all products permitted.Status: The enabling regulations that implement a Greek online gambling licensing regime are yet to be implemented. In 2012, a “transition period” commenced, whereby the Greek government granted 24 transitional licences to operators, enabling them to keep transacting with Greek residents. The fate of the 24 licences is still unclear, although the Hellenic Gaming Commission launched a consultation on the reform of the country’s online gambling regulation in late 2017. Any new licensing regime is not expected to be introduced before 2019, at the earliest. Tax authorities in Greece are currently investigating the 24 licensees for taxes owed on operations from 2010-11.HUNGARY Regulated gambling products: Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo and lottery. Operator type: Only the state monopolies  (Szerencsejáték Zrt. and Magyar Lóversenyfogadást-SzervezőKft) and local concession companies can apply for a licence.Status: Amendments to Hungarian gambling law came into force on 1 October, 2015, and allow only two land-based casinos to hold remote casino concessions. The regulator has since issued fines, a number of which have been challenged, against unlicensed operators that continue to target the market. In June 2017, the ECJ determined Hungary’s gambling regime to be incompatible with Article 56 TFEU. A subsequent ECJ decision in February 2018 ruled against the Hungarian requirement that online gambling operators must have a land-based licence to offer online gambling services to Hungarian citizens, further strengthening arguments that the current regime is incompatible with EU law. The Hungarian Ministry of Justice has stated its intention to continue to seek to enforce the existing regime despite the most recent ruling. A draft bill that would introduce payment-blocking measures was notified to the EC on 15 December, 2017, although the bill does not appear to have been adopted to date.IRELAND Regulated gambling products: Online gaming is not specifically accounted for in Ireland’s outdated legislation and as such is currently unregulated. Operator type: Online betting regulated since August 2015.Status: Ireland is currently updating its legislation, which will create a comprehensive igaming regime. In January 2018, the Irish Cabinet gave the go-ahead to draft a new version of a bill that was first proposed in 2013. Ireland’s opposition party tabled its own legislation in response, citing a lack of progress by the government on its own bill. Amendments to the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1956 have also been proposed. Legislative progress is not expected until late 2018 at the earliest.ITALY Regulated gambling products: Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo and lottery. Operator type: Fully regulated market.Status: The Stability Law 2016, passed in December 2015, introduces various measures affecting the remote gambling industry, including tax changes and a tender process for the award of 120 new online gaming licences. The tender process for applications closed on 19 March, 2018. On 2 July, 2018, the Italian government approved a decree which will prohibit gambling advertising and sponsorship in the jurisdiction.LUXEMBOURG Regulated gambling products: Lottery. Operator type: Monopoly.Status: The general prohibition on gambling appears sufficiently wide to cover all forms of online gambling.MALTA Regulated gambling products: Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo and lottery. Operator type: Private operators can apply for a local licence (except for lottery products).Status: Malta has approved a new Gaming Act that replaces all existing gaming legislation with a single piece of legislation, supplemented by secondary legislation. The Gaming Act, together with directives and regulations, is effective as of 1 August, 2018. NETHERLANDS Regulated gambling products: Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo and lottery. Operator type: Monopoly for all products.Status: The Dutch parliament’s lower house approved the Online Gambling Bill in 2016, which will introduce an online gambling licensing regime. The legislation will impose a 29% GGR tax on both online and land-based operators. The bill requires approval from the Senate and licensing is not expected to commence until at least 2019. In the interim, the regulator continues to implement enforcement measures against operators targeting Dutch players and has announced that, as of 1 June, 2017, it would expand its approach to enforcement to pursue any operators that are “specifically and unequivocally” targeting the Dutch market. On 2 May, 2018, the Council of State Administrative Law Division ruled that the licence allocation process for the exclusive licences (under the current regime) for sports betting, lotto games and instant lottery is compatible with EU law.NORWAY Regulated gambling products: Sports betting, horse race betting and lottery. Operator type: Online gambling is reserved for the two monopoly providers, Norsk Tipping and Norsk Rikstoto.Status: The monopoly has extended its offering to include live betting, online bingo and casino games in an attempt to redirect traffic from unlicensed sites. In March 2017, the government published a long-awaited white paper on how best to regulate the gambling sector, which proposed that the gambling monopoly remain in place and no licensing system be introduced. The Norwegian regulator continues to step up enforcement efforts against unregulated operators, local banks and payment service providers. On 4 June, 2018, the Ministry of Culture notified a draft regulation to the European Commission that would establish payment blocking measures. The standstill period will end on 5 September, 2018. The European Gaming and Betting Association is understood to have filed a legal challenge against the proposed measures.POLAND Regulated gambling products: Sports betting, horse race betting, casino and poker. Operator type: Betting licences are available for companies with a representative in Poland. Casino and poker are reserved for a state monopoly.Status: Legislation enacted 1 January, 2012, permits betting. Following the approval of various amendments to the Gambling Act, online gaming (including poker) is no longer prohibited as of 1 April, 2017, although the exclusive rights to offer such products are reserved for a state monopoly. Provisions that provide for the establishment of a blacklist of unlicensed operators and ISP and payment blocking came into force on 1 July, 2017. The blacklist contains more than 1,000 domain names.PORTUGAL Regulated gambling products: Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo and lottery. Operator type: Any EU/EEA operator can apply to be granted a licence for online gambling. Lottery games and land-based fixed-odds sports betting remain reserved for a monopolyStatus: A regulated market since 2015. Although operators can now apply for licences, their Portuguese revenue streams will be subject to comparatively high tax rates, particularly in sports betting, which is subject to an 8-16% tax on turnover. In 2015, the RGA filed a state-aid case with the EC challenging the Portuguese betting tax as breaking EU trade rules. On 30 January, 2018, the Portuguese gambling regulator published a call for contributions on the review of the current regulatory framework for online gambling.ROMANIA Regulated gambling products: Sports betting, horse race betting, casino, bingo and lottery. Operator type: Any operator from an EU/EEA jurisdiction or the Swiss Confederation can apply for a licence. Lottery games remain reserved for the monopolyStatus: The Romanian government passed legislation in 2014 that allows entities within the EU to apply for a licence, imposes a reform on licence fees and eliminates many (but not all) of the tax burdens placed on player revenues. The Gambling Law (as amended) introduced a legal framework for a fully regulated online gambling market and requires licences to be held by online gambling operators, as well as software providers, payment processors, affiliates and testing labs. After some delay, the secondary legislation that fully implemented the new licensing regime came into force on 26 February, 2016. The National Office for Gambling in Romania published a blacklist of unlicensed gambling operators in July 2015.SLOVAKIA  Regulated gambling products: Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo and lottery. Operator type: Monopoly, save that land-based sports-betting operators can offer services online owing to a legal loophole.Status: In November 2016, a bill amending the existing gambling legal framework was approved. The amendments, which entered into force on 1 January, 2017, included the introduction of ISP and payment blocking of illegal online gambling offerings in the Slovak territory. Slovakia’s Financial Directorate began to perform its supervisory function over these blocking measures from 1 July, 2017. On 25 May, 2018, a new draft law was published for consultation which, if adopted, would replace the existing legislation and open up the market to private operators (save for state lottery games) as of 1 July, 2019.SLOVENIA Regulated gambling products: Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, casino, bingo and lottery. Operator type: Online gambling must be operated by land-based casinos or lotteries and, as a result, only the monopoly holds online licences in Slovenia.Status: Draft amendments to the Gaming Act were published in 2015, which aim to remove the current local establishment requirement. The proposal is yet to be submitted to the Slovenian parliament, although it is expected to be adopted in 2018. Whether any amendments will introduce a formal licensing system remains unclear.SPAIN Regulated gambling products: Sports betting, horse race betting, casino, poker, bingo and lottery. Operator type: Private operators can apply for licences for all gambling products save for lotteryStatus: First online licences were issued on 1 June, 2012. Operators must hold a general licence and a specific licence, both issued by the National Gambling Commission, for each activity. In June 2015, 10 new licences were awarded, the first since 2012. In addition, 25 online slot permits were issued to new and existing operators. This followed the approval of the regulation of slots and betting exchanges. The Spanish regulatory body DGOJ has formally opened its third call for tender, with applications for online licences accepted from operators for a period of one year, until 18 December, 2018. On 16 January, 2018, online poker liquidity sharing between Spain and France came into effect. The 2018 parliamentary budget was passed into law in June 2018, resulting in a reduction to gambling tax effective as of 1 July, 2018.SWEDEN Regulated gambling products: Sports betting, horse race betting, poker, bingo and lottery. Operator type: Only public-benefit organisations, the horse racing industry and the state lottery may obtain a licence. No licences are available for private operators, although this will change with the introduction of the new legal frameworkStatus: The Swedish parliament adopted a bill that will introduce an online-gambling licensing regime. The law is expected to enter into force on 1 January, 2019, with the licence application process opening as of from 1 August, 2018.WIGGIN is a law firm dedicated to supporting the media, entertainment and gaming sectors. Its market-leading betting and gaming group provides specialist legal services to an array of gambling industry stakeholders. We advise many of the world’s leading gambling operators and suppliers and also enjoy helping entrepreneurial, interactive start-up businesses. If you’d like to hear more, contact us at [email protected] Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Topics: Casino & games Legal & compliance Sports betting Bingo Poker Slots Table gameslast_img read more

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Long read: Business as usual

first_img Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Regions: US During the rush to build new US-legalised sportsbooks, many believed illegal sports wagering would immediately die down — but they were wrong. Larry Gibbs explores why this is and asks whether initial post-PASPA actions are to blameMembers of the casino industry and sports bettors alike will forever see May 14, 2018, the day that PASPA was repealed, as Independence Day. When an act or law is enforced, its intention is often to prevent or at least slow down the progress of an illegal act.However, as we approach the five-month mark post-PASPA, it seems obvious that things haven’t changed much in the illegal offshore wagering market. Nor, for that matter, in the illegal street-level bookmaking game. Although change takes time, is it possible that individual states are moving through the legislative path too slowly?Will new federal legislative outcries from prominent US Senators including Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) further delay the process and help illegal factions maintain a two-decade competitive advantage?Will their intentions for uniformity, taxation and mandates for “integrity” work?Or potentially enable the public and bettors to carry on believing that political forces should not join the sports leagues enforcing their games. In effect, now that it’s unbroken, let’s not fix it. These are all good questions to be debated and answered. But shouldn’t they have been settled first before opening the doors to the store? Meanwhile, the “illegal” competition is seizing any advantage for as long as possible. And like any competitive business, they’re utilising any potential incentive to maintain a long-standing customer base.State vs. federal rule Besides incumbent Nevada, the honeymoon for state rule had barely begun in four new states (New Jersey, Delaware, Mississippi and West Virginia) before a dangerous call for divorce from the US Senate emerged. While several states, including New York, Florida and California, are stalling in their legislative progress, momentum is building again to collect support for a federal plan.Senate Minority Leader Schumer is trying to initiate a bipartisan debate in Congress based on three core principles: ensuring consumer protection, protecting problem gamblers and maintaining the integrity of the game.His proposal comes on the heels of a similar proposal by Senator Hatch of Utah.In response to Schumer’s proposal, the NBA, MLB and PGA Tour issued a joint statement, which read: “As legaliaed sports betting spreads across the states, there is a need for consistent, nationwide integrity standards to safeguard the sports millions of fans love.“We strongly support the legislative framework outlined by Senator Schumer, and we encourage Congress to adopt it.” The problem here is timing. Nearly one-third of the Senate is up for re-election in November, with any federal legislation focused on sports betting unlikely until after the midterm election.In the interim, it is more likely that calls for federal legislation will build coinciding with league support.Also, Schumer’s plan proposes strict guidelines banning players under the age of 21, while restricting advertising for the young and vulnerable.Both Schumer and Hatch’s plans unite in protecting the purity of the game. But if progress is slow and individual states start dragging their heels then illegal wagering will be the winner.Understanding ‘the market’ Street bookmakers have been around for decades, offering unsecured credit and the opportunity to create their own terms. Latterly, personalised websites have also become part of their 21st century convenience.Although this segment will never completely disappear, swifter uniform policies and well-known national guidelines could help.In the offshore segment, well-trained teams of phone operators often take a significant portion of the action (perhaps as much as 30% for call-in wagers), catering to an older clientele who shun the internet.Many personal relationships have been established for several years and VIPs have utilised their long-standing status to acquire bonuses, rewards, etc. For the sophisticated bettor, the opportunity exists to play within a more even or global wagering line. At present, bettors within each US state are restricted by law to wager within state borders.As an example, a player should expect a crush of local money invested on popular local teams — an uneven amount wagered on, say, the Jets, Giants, Yankees or Mets in New Jersey or New York. Depending on perspective, this remains a competitive advantage.Winning with a low profile Another unfortunate tradition has been rumoured among new legalised US sports wagering bettors. Long common in illegal offshore wagering and in Europe, it sees successful, large bettors being flagged by casinos and barred from further sports wagering action.The prevailing excuse has been to protect against money laundering or against illegal wagering funds becoming incorporated in the pools.It’s reminded many of the argument involving skill vs. luck in daily fantasy sports. However, this time the adversary is the casino.Echoing the birth of legalised online gaming in the US, New Jersey has again been first out of the gate when it comes to legalised sports wagering. And the state that led the charge repealing PASPA has an interesting policy involving skill and wagering. “Patrons cannot be barred from wagering based solely on their winnings or skilled play,” David Rebuck from the Division of Gaming Enforcement of New Jersey announced.He went on to explain that New Jersey’s Supreme Court had previously ruled that only those on an exclusion or self-exclusion list, or who had violated the Casino Control Act or State regulations, would be excluded. “These same rules apply to sports wagering,” Rebuck continued. “However, a facility can act against skilled players, such as lowering an individual’s bet limit. Additionally, online accounts may be closed by an operator for misconduct.” To date, two bettors have reportedly been banned under these clouded conditions. These could be the first of many cases as legalised sports wagering spreads throughout other US states. As an interesting footnote, should this policy become stricter and more pervasive, a restricted legal sports bettor may have only a few sportsbook choices available to them per state — but they’ll be able to choose from hundreds of illegal online wagering sites.Legally convenient Undoubtedly, the ability to settle bets is the biggest selling point that new legal US sportsbooks have over any illegal competition. For two decades, anyone choosing to wager sports online has had to accept the risk of NOT getting paid.Legalised wagering brings with it a guarantee that all winning bets will be honoured at all US casino and racetrack sportsbook locations.Behind this is another potential major legal advantage. Still largely unknown to new bettors and account holders, most current state policies dictate that all tickets must be cashed at casino and/or racetrack sportsbook locations. This includes online account withdrawal requests paid onsite. While this is a useful marketing strategy for casinos, as it encourages ancillary wagering, it’s not so useful for punters.This is especially true if they’re used to online horse racing websites, where winning funds can be paid into users’ bank accounts as soon as 24 hours after a race.A giant advantage could be obtained by negating the need for an extra trip to a location to pick up winnings. In retrospect, we cannot blame the four initial states for opening their sportsbooks as soon as possible after the PASPA ruling. While more states consider joining them, shouldn’t everyone be on the same page with a set of rules to live by?Most crucial, like any business, shouldn’t the priority be a plan based on what customers prefer? In this case, that could mean observing what worked or currently works to provide optimum results.Here’s hoping that all US legislators, casinos and gaming affiliates unite as quickly as possible to seize every advantage, while at the same time protecting bettors.But for now, it’s business as usual this week legally AND illegally in the sports wagering industry.Larry Gibbs is vice president of US Gaming Services, a full-service consulting and marketing research organisation with 15 years’ experience in US online gaming. Legal & compliance 15th October 2018 | By Stephen Carter AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Tags: Online Gambling Spread Betting Long read: Business as usual During the rush to build new US-legalised sportsbooks, many believed illegal sports wagering would begin to die down — but they were wrong. Larry Gibbs explores why Topics: Legal & compliance Marketing & affiliates Email Addresslast_img read more

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William Hill buys Green (and a touch of grey)

first_img Regions: Europe Nordics Western Europe Norway Sweden Austria Netherlands Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Topics: Finance Legal & compliance 31st October 2018 | By Stephen Carter AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Financecenter_img Email Address William Hill’s proposed buy of Mr Green is more bolt-on than transformational but boss Phil Bowcock tells Scott Longley it ticks some important boxes William Hill’s proposed buy of Mr Green is more bolt-on than transformational but boss Phil Bowcock tells Scott Longley it ticks some important boxes for the businessPhilip Bowcock, chief executive at William Hill, gives every impression of being a man in a hurry. Stung perhaps by criticism that his company had been left behind in the consolidation game, particularly compared to the deal-laden bandwagon of domestic rival GVC, William Hill has added a European acquisition to a relative recent spate of agreements in the US.The proposed acquisition of Mr Green for SEK2.82bn (£242m) is important for William Hill both strategically (moving to a multi-brand structure in more international jurisdictions) and operationally (a Malta hub) and it takes some of the pressure off the company when it comes to the current swirl of M&A.But it still represents a gamble on Mr Green successfully navigating the transition of the Swedish online gambling market to a regulated status in January while also juggling grey market exposure in Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Norway.The acquisition is more bolt-on that transformational. In the nine months to September this year, Mr Green’s revenue rose 44% to SEK1.24bn while EBITDA was up 22% to SEK166.8m. It brings with it strong-challenger positions in Denmark and the soon-to-be-regulated Sweden as well as a presence in eleven other territories.It also adds online casino expertise and not insignificantly with Brexit looming a working hub in Malta with circa 300 employees enabling William Hill to accelerate its plans to end its offshore reliance on Gibraltar.The deal comes with irrevocable undertakings from individuals representing 40% of the shareholders and if anyone was looking to crash the party, there are stipulations that the offer would need to be at least 8% above the current William Hill bid level.The price is 13 times EBITDA for the past 12 months although this falls to a multiple of around seven times prospective EBITDA in 2019 when relatively skinny synergies of around £6m are included.Speaking to iGaming Business, Bowcock was keen to suggest this was on a par with multiples from other deals within the sector. “We don’t think that is expensive given the valuations and multiple achieved by other deals,” he said. “It is comparable to the (multiple for the) Stars buyout of Sky Bet, for instance and that was only one territory.”He was keen to point to the diversification that will be achieved by adding Mr Green’s current geographic footprint to William Hill’s current revenue profile. “The diversification is really important and is a big move for us,” he said. “It puts us in 13 territories.”In terms of group revenues, adding Mr Green will bring the percentage of group revenue William Hill generates internationally to 21% while the percentage of online revenues from international territories rises to 47% from 42%.“We are buying a leading player in many markets with leading brands particularly in the online gaming and casino areas,” he added. “It is a good cultural fit.”Grey risk factors It’s also buying a degree of regulatory risk. William Hill is saying that 77% of Mr Green’s revenues are from regulated and taxed jurisdictions, but this includes the grey markets Germany, Austria and the Netherlands as well as the much darker Norway.Sources suggest the percentage of Mr Green revenues from the latter market are “not material”. A spokesperson for William Hill said it “continually reviews the legal situation in all grey markets on an ongoing basis.”Mr Green has had its regulatory run-ins over the years including a legacy fine payable on its Austrian activities and a recent issue with the Dutch authorities (where the company copped a fine over €300,000) which, as Simon Davies, analyst at Canaccord Genuity suggested, might imperil the chances of the company gaining a licence there.William Hill has snared Mr Green at what is likely an inflection point in the company’s history. It has been undergoing something of a turnaround strategy for the past couple of years and has achieved significant growth rates in that period.In the third-quarter, Mr Green reported revenue up 51% to SEK445m for the three months helped by the completion of the integration of Evoke Gaming. Organic growth came in at 36% while EBITDA rose 49% to SEK75.5m.Now comes the challenge of the dawning of the regulated Swedish online market in January. Along with the rest of the Scandinavian-facing brands, Mr Green will be entering the relatively unknown and how that launch effects the business will be one of the KPIs that the company and investors will be keeping their eye on in the months ahead. Davies pointed out that the forecasts suggested Swedish taxes will account for 16% of revenues next year.The share price rose marginally on the news, up 3% midway through Wednesday, with investors still digesting the news this week on the implementation of the new stakes limit of gaming machines in UK shops and the UK government’s hike in remote gaming duty from 15% to 21%.But Morgan Stanley was more positive: “While some investors appear concerned with duty headwinds in Sweden and the Netherlands, (these are) more than offset by a combination of synergies and growth.” William Hill buys Green (and a touch of grey)last_img read more

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Sweden issues licence threat over self-exclusion failings

first_img15th January 2019 | By contenteditor AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Sweden issues licence threat over self-exclusion failings Swedish gambling regulator Spelinspektionen has warned it could rescind online gambling licences from operators that do not comply with the Spelpaus.se self-exclusion scheme Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Swedish regulator Spelinspektionen has threatened to begin rescinding online gambling licences of operators that do not comply with the Spelpaus.se self-exclusion scheme.The regulator has noted a series of failings since Sweden launched its regulated market on January 1 and has now ordered operators to adjust their systems or risk being removed from the regulated market.Licensed operators in the country are required to make checks against the Spelpaus.se register before allowing customers to gamble online. Should the player have self-excluded, the operator is to immediately block their access to the site.More than 10,000 people have signed up to the register, which was introduced in Sweden to coincide with the opening of the country’s regulated iGaming market on January 1. “If the gaming companies fail to check and stop players who have self-excluded, it can be considered a serious violation of the regulations, which could mean that the gaming company will lose its license,” Spelinspektionen said.However, not all operators that fail to comply with the self-exclusion scheme will automatically lose their licence. Spelinspektion could alternatively issue fines, if it considers this to be sufficient punishment. Such financial penalties could amount to up to 10% of the licence-holder’s turnover.Last week, Spelinspektionen named Genesis Global and AG Communications, a subsidiary of Aspire Global, as two licensed operators that had breached the self-exclusion regulations. Both companies were found to have allowed people who had signed up to the scheme to access gambling services.Genesis has since integrated with the register, putting the initial issue down to a third party’s system failing to integrate with Spelpaus.se. The company also said it has contacted and refunded all affected players, closing all of the accounts in question.“Genesis always takes compliance and responsible gambling at the core of its business operations in order to ensure a safe gaming environment to its players,” Genesis said. “Therefore, any regulatory requirements and guidelines are being treated as highest priority.”Aspire Global has not yet responded to a request from iGamingBusiness.com to clarify whether it has taken similar steps. Topics: Legal & compliance Tags: Online Gambling Legal & compliance Regions: Europe Nordics Sweden Email Addresslast_img read more

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Gaming acquisitions drive Q1 revenue growth at CDI

first_img US racetrack and casino operator Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) has cited the positive impact of gaming M&A as a key drivers of a 40% year-on-year increase in revenue during the first quarter. Gaming acquisitions drive Q1 revenue growth at CDI Finance US racetrack and casino operator Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) has cited the positive impact of gaming M&A as a key drivers of a 40% year-on-year increase in revenue during the first quarter.Net revenue in the three months through to March 31, 2019, totalled $265.4m (£206.1m/€238.3m), up from $189.3m in the same period last year.During the quarter, CDI realigned its operating segments, enabling the operator to focus on three specified business segments: gaming, Churchill Downs (horse racing) and online wagering.Gaming is the main source of income for CDI by some distance, with this segment generating $170.1m in revenue during Q1, up from $112.5m last year. CDI said its gaming business was boosted year-on-year by various acquisitions. In January, CDI finalised its purchase of Presque Isle and this brought in an extra $29.7m, while the acquisition of the remaining 37.5% of Ocean Downs in August 2018 pushed revenue up a further $18.4m.Revenue from Churchill Downs rocketed from $2.3m to $21.4m, primarily due to an additional $18.7m from Derby City Gaming that opened in September 2014. Churchill Downs Racetrack also brought in an extra $400,000 in revenue.Online wagering revenue amounted to $63.4m, slightly down on $63.6m in Q1 of last year.The overall increase in revenue was accompanied by a rise in operating costs for the quarter, with this figure up from $169.6m to $237.4m.CDI committed more than half of its total expenses to gaming, spending a total of $125.0m on the division, compared to $79.6m. Churchill Downs spend was also up from $9.9m to $23.4m, while online wagering slightly increased from $44.0m to $451.m.Selling, general and administrative costs were also up from $18.4m to $24.9m, while transaction expenses climbed from $1.4m to $3.5m.However, despite spending more, revenue growth resulted in operating income rising from $19.7m in Q1 of 2017 to $28.0m and income from continuing operations before tax climbing from $16.7m to $18.4m.Net income came in at $11.6m, including $300,000 in net loss from discontinued operations, which is significantly down on $182.0m last year. However, CDI said the 2018 result included $167.9m in net income from discontinued operations, namely an $168.3m from the sale of its Big Fish Games social casino business to Aristocrat in January 2018.Image: Kybluegrass Tags: Online Gambling Race Track and Racino 25th April 2019 | By contenteditor Topics: Finance Sports betting Horse racing Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Regions: US Email Address AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitterlast_img read more

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MGA launches second phase of cryptocurrency experiment

first_img Tags: Online Gambling Topics: Finance Legal & compliance Strategy MGA launches second phase of cryptocurrency experiment 4th September 2019 | By contenteditor Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Regions: Europe Southern Europe Malta Finance Email Address The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has commenced the second phase of its Sandbox Framework, the intitative designed to explore the use of cryptocurrency by licensed gaming operators. AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has commenced the second phase of its Sandbox Framework, the intitative designed to explore the use of cryptocurrency by licensed gaming operators.Following the first phase, which launched in January and saw licensees permitted to carry out tests of blockchain assets in a controlled environment, phase two sees the regulator accept applications for Innovative Technology Arrangements (ITAs).These comprise services and solutions such as smart contracts and Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) platforms.In order to gain approval for an ITA, operators must first undergo an audit carried out by an auditor registered with the Malta Digital Innovation Authority (MDIA). The MGA will then assess whether the operator will adhere to regulatory requirements before granting approval.Meanwhile, in relation to the initiative, the MGA has confirmed it is to extend the duration of the Sandbox Regulatory Framework until December 31, 2021. The initial phase had been due to run for 10 months, and was only open to operators that already held a licence from the MGA.After the success of phase one, which focused on the use of DLT technology such as blockchain, the regulator has also amended its guidance on ITAs and the acceptance of cryptocurrencies.In addition, the MGA has updated its Licensee Relationship Management System (LRMS) so that both prospective and existing licence-holders are able to apply for approval to integrate ITAs within their operations.last_img read more

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NJ continues to break sports betting records in October

first_img Topics: Finance Sports betting Finance AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Tags: Online Gambling NJ continues to break sports betting records in October 15th November 2019 | By contenteditor Licensed sports betting operators in New Jersey generated $46.4m (£36.0m/€42.1m) in collective revenue for October, representing yet another new record total for the state, with market handle also hitting a new high of $487.9m.Revenue surpassed the previous record of $37.9m, which was set in September. The October figure also represented a year-on-year rise of 297.8% on the $11.7m posted in the same month last year.New Jersey’s sports wagering handle in October comfortably surpassed the existing record of $445.6m, which was also set in September. Handle was up 87.14% year-on-year from $260.7m in October of 2018.However, it remains to be seen whether the Garden State can surpass amounts wagered in Nevada, after falling behind in September. For that month, Nevada’s sports betting market revenue hit $52.1m, with handle of $546.4m. Prior to September, New Jersey had performed better than Nevada in every month since June.Figures from the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (NJDGE) show that the majority of sports bets were placed online, with players spending $417.0m on licensed platforms. In contrast, retail spend stood at $71.0m for the month.Read the full story on iGB North America. Regions: US New Jersey Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Email Address Licensed sports betting operators in New Jersey generated $46.4m in collective revenue for October, representing yet another new record total for the state, with market handle also hitting a new high of $487.9m.last_img read more

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Pinnacle pens strategic esports deal with Askott

first_imgAddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter 30th January 2020 | By contenteditor Tags: Online Gambling Online gambling operator Pinnacle has entered into a strategic partnership with Askott Entertainment, the Vancouver-based company behind esports igaming platform Chameleon Gaming. Pinnacle pens strategic esports deal with Askott Esportscenter_img Topics: Esports Strategy Tech & innovation Email Address Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Online gambling operator Pinnacle has entered into a strategic partnership with Askott Entertainment, the Vancouver-based company behind esports igaming platform Chameleon Gaming.Pinnacle will provide its trading and risk management services to the platform in order to support Askott’s ongoing development of the betting technology.Chameleon Gaming currently offers users esports betting, streamer betting and esports fantasy games, while plans are in place to also add proprietary casino games.“We have worked closely with Askott on the development of our new API and are happy to transform this pilot project into a long-term partnership, Pinnacle trading director Marco Blume said. “Askott combines the best of passion for esports, tech and igaming and we are happy that our product can be used to enhance their offering.”Askott’s chief product officer and chief commercial officer, Ben Bradtke, commented that having Pinnacle as a partner to support its fixed-odds offering would “guarantee a level of operational excellence that is needed in this young market to create commercial value for our clients”.Scott Burton, chief executive of Askott, added: “We believe the only way to innovate in this sector is to have control over the value chain and be vertically integrated.“It is our goal to become an integrated one-stop shop for people who want to launch brands targeting the audience of tomorrow.”last_img read more

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Flutter Entertainment completes merger with Stars Group

first_img Flutter Entertainment completes merger with Stars Group Tags: Online Gambling OTB and Betting Shops Topics: Strategy Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Flutter Entertainment, the parent company of Paddy Power Betfair and FanDuel, has announced the completion of its acquisition of and merger with The Stars Group (TSG). Flutter Entertainment, the parent company of Paddy Power Betfair and FanDuel, has announced the completion of its acquisition of and merger with The Stars Group (TSG).The mega-merger, first agreed in October 2019, saw Flutter purchase all of the shares in TSG and join together with the operator to create a combined operation with annual revenue of £3.8bn (€4.3bn/$4.7bn).The entire enlarged issued share capital of Flutter, constituting 143,987,624 ordinary shares, was admitted to the premium listing of the Official List of the Financial Conduct Authority at 8am BST this morning (5 May).Shares were also admitted to the Official List of Euronext Dublin and are trading on the London Stock Exchange’s Main Market for listed securities and the Euronext Dublin Market under the ticker ‘FLTR’.Completion of the deal also sees former Tipico chief executive Jan Bolz and telecommunications executive Emer Timmons step down as non-executive directors of the business, as part of the recomposition of the enlarged business’ board. This also sees a number of Stars Group executives and directors join the Flutter board, with its former chair Dave Gadhia becoming the operator’s deputy chair. Rafi Ashkenazi, former Stars CEO, becomes a non-executive director, alongside former Sky Betting & Gaming chief Richard Flint, and Alfred Hurley, David Lazzarato and Mary Turner.Last month, shareholders holding 99.2% of Flutter’s share capital voted in favour of the merger, while TSG shareholders also backed the deal, with approximately 99.99% of votes cast in support of the proposed agreement.In addition, Flutter last week confirmed it had also secured all of the relevant regulatory approvals in order for the deal to go through.TSG’s business includes a number of major brands including Sky Betting and Gaming, PokerStars, Full Tilt, Fox Bet and BetEasy. All of these brands will form part of the combined business.Flutter said it would continue to employ a federal operating model, where each regional arm of the business has a degree of independence, rather than having strategy determined by group management.According to Flutter, this will leverage its teams’ local knowledge and ensures they have the autonomy to respond to developments in each of their markets, while still having access to the resources that the broader group has to offer.The newly combined business will split into an initial five reporting segments, including TSG International, excluding current US operations; and Sky Betting and Gaming, both from the TSG business.Other reporting segments will comprise Paddy Power Betfair (Paddy Power online, Betfair, Adjarabet, Paddy Power retail and B2B operations); as well as Australia (Sportsbet and BetEasy); and US (FanDuel Group and all TSG’s US operations including Fox Bet).center_img 5th May 2020 | By contenteditor AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Strategy Email Addresslast_img read more

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GiG lands platform agreement with GS Technologies

first_img Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) has agreed a deal to provide its platform and frontend development services for a new online casino brand being built by operator and affiliate marketing specialist GS Technologies.  Tech & innovation Tags: Online Gambling Topics: Tech & innovation GiG lands platform agreement with GS Technologies Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) has agreed a deal to provide its platform and frontend development services for a new online casino brand being built by operator and affiliate marketing specialist GS Technologies.The agreement, based on a new fixed fee model, will run for an initial three years, with automatic extension for two additional one-year periods.GS Technologies’ new casino offering is due to launch before the end of the year, and is expected to contribute to GiG’s revenue from 2021 onwards, the supplier noted.The business already runs a number of casino brands, as well as the Alpha Affiliate programme, first launched in 2012, through which it coordinates partners’ marketing efforts.Alpha Affiliates chief executive Nick Prokofev described GiG being renowned as a reliable and trustworthy business in the industry.“[We] are pleased to start one more successful project with such [a] partner, and believe that [by] joining our efforts we can create many new successful and interesting brands,” Prokofev explained.GiG chief executive Richard Brown added: “Alpha Affiliates has been a successful operator in the igaming business over many years, and I am delighted that they have chosen our platform and front end technology for their new Malta-based casino brand. We are looking forward to a long term relationship with our new partner.” Companies: GiG Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter 9th June 2020 | By contenteditor AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Email Addresslast_img read more

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