June 22, 2018

Come on Russia! Paddy Power hits £80,000 for LGBT+ charities

Paddy Power is revelling in its World Cup 2018 charitable campaign ‘Rainbow Russians’, having racked up £80,000 in donations for LGBT and equality/inclusivity causes.

In partnership with Attitude Magazine’s ‘Foundation’, Paddy Power launched Rainbow Russians’ at the start of Russia 2018, detailing that the bookmaker would challenge LGBT+ prejudices and homophobia in football.

The charitable campaign sees Paddy Power ‘Put-in’ £10,000 to Attitude Magazine’s Foundation for every goal Russia scores during its World Cup 2018 campaign.

Following Russia’s 3-1 win over Egypt on Tuesday night, Paddy Power has raised £80,000 in donations, as an unfancied Sbornaya has delivered for the bookmaker.

Commenting on the campaign, Amy Jones Paddy Power’s PR & UK Mischief Maker detailed; “Following the host’s first game against Saudi Arabia – where they netted five – it was announced that £10,000 of the money will fund 20 members of the LGBT+ community to become fully qualified referees.”

So, thank you to Denis Cheryshev (who has topped up the fund by £30,000 himself so far), Artem Dzyuba and Ahmed Fathi’s own goal last night for their contributions to the campaign…Just keep on scoring lads!”

32Red handed £2 million penalty for failing to protect high-staking customer

Online bookmaker 32Red have been fined £2 million by the UK Gambling Commission after failing to protect a problem punter.

Between November 2014 and April 2017, the customer was allowed to deposit a total of £758,000, without the appropriate social responsibility and money laundering checks carried out.

Instead of checking whether the customer needed help with their problem, it was revealed that 32Red staff instead applied bonuses to the customer's account – despite 22 instances indicating he was a problem gambler.

The customer had told staff they were frustrated with their losses, and were chasing them. They also expressed concerns about the amounts they were spending.

It was revealed during the investigation that 32Red failed to check that the customer could afford their level of spending.

The customer's account was not reviewed until January 2017, as a result of unusual play suggestive of possible problem gambling – a seven-figure win, which was instantly replayed.

Gambling Commission executive director Richard Watson said: "Instead of checking on the welfare of a customer displaying problem gambling behaviour, 32Red encouraged the customer to gamble more – this is the exact opposite of what they are supposed to be doing.

"Operators must take action when they spot signs of problem gambling and should be carefully reviewing all the customers they are having a high level of contact with.

"Protecting consumers from gambling-related harm is a priority for us and where we see operators failing in their responsibility to keep their customers safe we will take tough action."

June 21, 2018

Severe online restrictions see change at Norwegian regulator

Norwegian gambling regulator Lotteri- og Stiftelsestilsynet has reappointed Gunn Merete Paulsen as its Director General, as pressure increases on the government to further restrict remote online gambling services.

Paulsen retakes leadership of the regulator, replacing former incumbent Atle Hamar who has been repositioned as Norway’s Environment Secretary. A former PWC executive, Paulsen had served as Deputy Director General of Lotteri- og stiftelsestilsynet from 2011-2015.

At present, Norwegian gambling policy is facing an extensive shake-up demanded by a coalition of political parties which has secured a mandate to implement severe restrictions on foreign online gambling services targeting national consumers.

Last April, the joint online gambling mandate developed by the coalition of Norway’s Labour, Christian Peoples, Socialist Left and Centrist Parties’ was approved by Storting (Norway’s legislative assembly).

Critical of the government’s stance on unlicensed remote gambling operators being able to service Norwegian consumers, the coalition has put forward severe restrictions on banking transactions, advertising services, stiffer penalties and IP blocks.

The supporting parties have detailed that the provisions aim to tighten Norway’s gambling framework, whilst further supporting state-owned gambling operator Norsk Tipping’s charitable contributions.

Furthermore, management of Norway’s Sovereign Wealth Fund has been criticised for investing in foreign online gambling operators, a move deemed to have undermined Norsk Tipping’s position as a state-owned charitable enterprise.

This Tuesday Norway’s parliament referred its pending industry changes to the European Commission, seeking approval to implement the restrictions on European licensed operators.

As a member of the European Economic Area (EEA), Norway will have to adhere to European Union legislation on digital services.

However, in December 2017 the European Union announced that it would no longer allow its legal courts to adjudicate online gambling disputes within member states.

Following the EC’s pending review, Norwegian policy stakeholders believe that the new restrictions will be implemented by January 2019.

June 12, 2018

Portugal’s Santa Casa lottery launches online sports betting

Portugal’s sports bettors have one more online wagering option after the local regulator approved the country’s 13th licensee.

On Friday, the Serviço Regulação e Inspeção de Jogos do Turismo de Portugal (SRIJ) regulatory body announced that it had issued an online sports betting license to SAS Social Betting, Gaming and Gambling Online, SA. The company will operate using the Placard.pt domain, which officially launched on Monday.

Placard is the offline betting brand of state lottery monopoly Santa Casa da Misericordia de Lisboa (SCML), which was the primary antagonist against international gambling sites before Portugal liberalized its online market in 2015.

Santa Casa originally announced its intentions to apply for a sports betting license over two years ago. Launching just days before the 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off, SCML is apparently banking on familiarity with its Placard brand to allow it to hoover up a sufficient volume of customers without a lot of advance marketing work.

SCML holds a 54% stake in SAS, with minority stakes held by the Portuguese Misericordia Union, the Montepio Geral Foundation, Caritas Portuguesa and the Associação dos Cegos e Amblíopes de Portugal (ACAPO).

Placard makes Portugal’s fifth online betting license, joining Betclic Everest Group, Bet Entertainment Technologies, Casino Portugal, Estoril Sol and Cofina Media’s A Nossa Aposta brand, which received its online sports betting approval in March to go with the online casino license it was granted last October.

Sports betting is the dominant vertical in Portugal’s regulated market despite the onerous tax on betting turnover that averages 12%. Sports betting revenue was flat in the SRIJ’s most recent quarterly report, although that figure is expected to spike in the current quarter with the volume of World Cup wagers.

Portuguese-licensed online gambling operators generated combined revenue of €122.5m in 2017, more than twice the sum generated in the limited window of licensed activity in 2016. Still, online represented only a small fraction of the overall Portuguese gaming market revenue of €3.52b in 2017, of which over €3b came via SCML’s lotteries.

Last November, Santa Casa imposed new restrictions on its Placard product, limiting punters to a single betting slip (stamped with the bettor’s tax number) and a daily wagering limit of €5k per punter.

May 21, 2018

Pachinko not ‘morally’ suitable for Japan’s casinos, lawmaker says

A Japanese lawmaker has a beef with pachinko. Takashi Takai, of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, has created a laundry list of questions for the government that questions the pachinko industry’s “moral fitness” in casinos. His main argument is that the game is the primary root of addiction in the country, and that the industry does virtually nothing to protect consumers.

Pachinko machines don’t reward money directly. They reward captured balls for tickets, which are subsequently traded for money elsewhere. To many, this helps the hybrid slot/pinball machine avoid the classification of being a gambling game but, rather, one of amusement. However, with the possible spread of casinos in Japan, lawmakers are revisiting the industry and have, so far, introduced lower payouts to the games.

In 2015, the pachinko industry dealt with a scandal that involved tampering of the machines. The ensuing government investigation, according to Takei, is a good enough reason to consider the validity of the machines in casinos. He was quoted by Asia Gaming Brief saying, “Considering that there was a major tampering case by pachinko makers from a mere three years ago, I believe we must take a strict view towards their participation in the casino industry. Also, the National Public Safety Commission, as well as the prefectural public safety commissions, have proven themselves unable to prevent large-scale tampering by the pachinko makers and therefore it is inappropriate to have them supervise the casino business.”

Takei should rest easy in knowing that the industry is already on life support. Last year, 420 pachinko cafes—one out of every 25—shut down. Additionally, 177 companies went belly-up, roughly 5% of all the operators in the country. There has been a decline in interest for a number of years as millennials seek out more exciting opportunities. Perhaps he should just let the industry have its remaining days in peace and let it die happy.

May 17, 2018

UK Government Slash FOBT Stake To £2

The UK Government has announced that Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) will have the maximum stake reduced from the current level of £100 to £2, which was the biggest fear for bookmakers.

Sports Minister Tracey Crouch who made the announcement said that a high number of people seeking treatment for addiction say FOBTs are “their main form of gambling”.

It is estimated that the UK Treasury will lose £1.1 billion over three years with the reduction and many bookmakers affected say that thousands of jobs will be lost along with many retail outlets closing.

However The Minister for Sport went on to say about the reduction: “Following analysis of the evidence received at consultation, £2 has been found to be the stake limit that would most substantially impact on harm by reducing the ability to suffer high session losses, while also targeting the greatest proportion of problem gamblers, and mitigating risk for the most vulnerable players for whom even moderate losses might be harmful.

Ms Crouch added: “Even cutting to £10 would leave problem gamblers, and those most vulnerable, exposed to losses that would cause them and their families significant harm.”

The announcement from the government did not say when the reduction will come into force, William Hill had been asking for a one year time limit on the change.

May 15, 2018

US sports betting ban overturned

The federal ban on sports betting across the US has been overturned by the country’s Supreme Court.

The court today (Monday) ruled in favour of the state of New Jersey in its long-running bid to overturn the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).

PASPA had blocked states from offering regulated sports wagering services, with the exception of Nevada. Oregon, Delaware and Montana were also exempt.

New Jersey has been campaigning for a number of years for the ban to be withdrawn, highlighting the prevalence of illegal sports betting across the US as one of its main arguments.

The Supreme Court was seemingly in agreement with New Jersey, voting 7-2 in favour of voiding PASPA and also upholding a 2014 state law that permitted sports betting and casinos and racecourses in New Jersey.

The move effectively breaks Nevada’s monopoly on sports betting in the US and in turn opens up a much wider market.

The Stars Group’s share price is up 9%, with Paddy Power Betfair, Caesars and William Hill all rising by more than 6% in the immediate aftermath.

A number of leading operators have campaigned alongside New Jersey for the laws to be changed.

Various professional sports leagues including the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and the PGA Tour have also stated their backing for an expanded, regulated market.

According to USA Today, Justice Samuel Alito, a New Jersey native who wrote the court’s opinion in the case, said: “Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own.

“Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not.”

The American Gaming Association said: “Today’s decision is a victory for the millions of Americans who seek to bet on sports in a safe and regulated manner. According to a Washington Post survey, a solid 55 percent of Americans believe it’s time to end the federal ban on sports betting.

"Today’s ruling makes it possible for states and sovereign tribal nations to give Americans what they want: an open, transparent, and responsible market for sports betting. Through smart, efficient regulation this new market will protect consumers, preserve the integrity of the games we love, empower law enforcement to fight illegal gambling, and generate new revenue for states, sporting bodies, broadcasters and many others.

"The AGA stands ready to work with all stakeholders – states, tribes, sports leagues, and law enforcement – to create a new regulatory environment that capitalizes on this opportunity to engage fans and boost local economies.”

May 04, 2018

Writer Halts Book on Poker After Winning $86,000 Playing Poker

Most of us entertain fantasies of ditching our lowly, soul-crushing jobs and making it as the next Timothée Chalamet or Russell Westbrook or Cardi B or whatever, though we know deep down that most of us never will. In lieu of those talents, we work away as bartenders or salesmen or, you know, bloggers, and we deal with it. But one woman proved that it doesn't take otherworldly, innate skill to leap from the humdrum world of the everyday into a higher, more thrilling plane—that with a little hard work and a little luck, you can hit the big time doing something you don't know a damn thing about.

This heroine—this ray of hope in the darkness—is Maria Konnikova, a New Yorker contributor who decided to write a book about high-stakes poker. She teamed up with Erik Seidel—a Poker Hall of Famer who's made more than $34 million playing—who let her shadow him, showed her the ropes, and got her going on a career of her own.

She came into the world of poker "as someone who’d never had any experience with the game,” and started out playing small, $20 and $40 tournaments and never winning much, Poker News reports. Then, with Seidel's guidance, she got better—shared higher-stakes tables with good players at serious Las Vegas casinos like the ARIA, and walked away from a few games with upwards of $2,000. Pretty soon, she was playing major tournaments.

As if that's not sick enough on its own, less than a year after she'd picked up the game, she struck gold. In January, at a national championship in the Bahamas, she beat out 230 other players and came out on top—winning $86,400 from a game she'd started playing from scratch, as an experiment, to research a book.

Now, according to Poker News, she's making so much goddamn money playing poker that she's putting the whole writing thing on the back burner—pushing her book schedule back, and living it up in the lucrative world of professional gambling. And apparently, the move is paying off—she just won $57,519 at a tournament in Macau, where she came in second. She also recently touched down in Monaco, where she ponied up $25,000 at a tournament for a chance to win, oh, who knows, somewhere in the range of millions of fucking dollars.

Maria Konnikova did it. She peaced the hell out of her job, tried her hand at some wild-ass hobby she didn't have a lick of experience with, crushed it, and now, she's unbelievably rich! Let her be an inspiration to us all. I don't know about you, but it's time for me to go learn Texas hold 'em.

May 03, 2018

Pinnacle withdraws UK online gambling license application

Online bookmaker Pinnacle has rethought its plan to enter the UK’s regulated online gambling market.

On Tuesday, Pinnacle’s official Twitter feed announced that the company had “withdrawn our license application to the UK Gambling Commission.” The company said that while it remained “eager to serve the UK betting market, the decision has been made that now is not the right time.”

The company went on to say that it recognized the disappointment it was bringing to potential UK customers but assured punters that “Pinnacle remains committed to bringing its low margins, high limits and unique winners welcome policy to the UK market when the time is right.”

Pinnacle’s UK license application had been listed as ‘pending’ on the UKGC website for some time now, and the specific cause for the delay remains unknown. The company had previously expressed optimism regarding a 2017 launch for its UK-facing site, but it now appears that Pinnacle didn’t expect any regulatory breakthroughs anytime soon.

Pinnacle (under its previous incarnation Pinnacle Sports) withdrew from the UK market in 2014, but assured its UK customers at the time that it would be back “should we obtain a British gambling license in the future.”

At the time of its UK withdrawal, the Curacao- and Malta-licensed Pinnacle had already submitted its license application to the UKGC. The following year, Pinnacle changed ownership, and the new team made “expansion into regulated territories” a key plank of its business strategy.

Pinnacle appears to have shifted its focus to its new B2B sportsbook platform technology division, Pinnacle Solution, which the company unveiled last week. The company reportedly hopes to be able to market Pinnacle Solution to US companies looking to take advantage of any favorable shift in America’s sports betting laws.

May 02, 2018

Victor Chandler Invests in Premier Punt Group

Premier Punt Group, the Edinburgh based Business-to-Business social gaming provider, has managed to pull off a real coup in recruiting industry trailblazer Victor Chandler as an investor and advisor.

Mr Chandler is often credited with being the first to take gambling “online” and gambling operations offshore.

He said this of the announcement: “Premier Punt Group is an exciting company with fantastic vision and huge potential. The strategy of obtaining social bettors, at a low customer acquisition cost, then upselling to an integrated sportsbook & casino is an interesting formula to say the least. I am looking forward to working with John Gordon and the team to help them realise that potential.”

CEO of Premier Punt Group, John Gordon, also commented: “Victor is a legend in the industry so obviously we are absolutely delighted to have someone of his stature on board.

Since Victor has come on board the company has gone from strength to strength. Victor has been there and done it. For us to have that vast bank of experience and knowledge to tap into is priceless and indicates some very exciting times ahead for Premier Punt Group.”

Mr Chandler invested in the company’s current investment round which is still open. Their investment campaign recently went live to the public on the crowdfunding platform, Seedrs, which hit its minimum target investment on day 1.