July 05, 2018

Mystery Lotto winner claims $55m prize after almost six months

It took 175 days to claim the $55m prize but just hours for the funds to flow to a lucky lotto player’s bank account.

The money is due to reach the mystery winner on Thursday, almost six months after the Powerball draw brought up the numbers.

The enviable sum was just days from being sent to Victoria’s State Revenue Office for safekeeping when the ticket holder came forward on Wednesday.

He or she has chosen to remain anonymous, with lottery operators refusing to divulge the winner’s age, gender or even where the prize was claimed, ticket in hand.

“They should see the $55m in their bank account on Thursday morning,” said a Tattslotto spokesman, Matt Hart. “It’s all pretty straightforward now.”

After the winning numbers came up in the 11 January draw, there have been weird and wacky rumours about the delay in claiming the prize.

Sam Misiano’s Brunswick newsagency sold the ticket and he said he was relieved the search was over after many customers illegitimately tried to claim the prize.

“It has been a crazy few months but now we can relax knowing it has been claimed by the rightful winner,” he said.

The feeling of relief was mutual at lottery headquarters. “We’re relieved that it’s finally been claimed,” Hart said. “We’re in the business of making millionaires, not holding on to the money.”

UK watchdog spanks Lottoland over PowerBall jackpot claim

The UK’s advertising watchdog has spanked online lottery betting operator Lottoland for misrepresenting the size of its potential US lottery payouts.

On Wednesday, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld a complaint filed against the Lottoland.co.uk website for its July 2017 promotion of a “PowerBall £169 million” jackpot. The complainant felt the ad was misleading due to the jackpot’s value being contingent on whether the prize was paid in a lump-sum or by installments.

Lottoland defended its promo, saying that the options for taking either a lump-sum payment or a 30-year annuity, as well as the difference in ultimate monetary value, were clearly specified in the site’s FAQ and T&C’s.

The ASA acknowledged that the FAQ did indicate that Lottoland replicated the official US lottery payout rules, including the 38% tax provision, the fact that the lump sum represented 60% of the total annuity payout, as well as the rule about splitting the potential payout should the official PowerBall prize be divvied up among multiple winners.

However, the ASA held that consumers were likely to assume from Lottoland’s big-type ad that the value indicated was what they stood to collect if they matched the right PowerBall numbers. As such, Lottoland’s promo was misleading because it quoted a prize value “that would never be paid.” Lottoland was ordered to be more upfront about its payout system in future ads.

The ASA also took exception to a SlottyVegas.com online promo that claimed “our games pay more.” SlottyVegas’ parent company NRR Entertainment claimed the statement was based on its Supercharged Wins feature that added extra funds to each winning round, thereby providing a higher payout than if the feature wasn’t applied.

The ASA wasn’t buying it, saying consumers were led to believe that they’d receive a higher payout from the games on the SlottyVegas site than from games on a rival operator’s site. The ASA found that SlottyVegas had provided no evidence to support this belief, making the promo misleading.

As if to prove that they’re not entirely joyless scolds, the ASA declined to uphold a complaint against a William Hill television spot promoting the company’s Bet Boost odds enhancer. The ad, which appeared in December 2017, featured a smartphone displaying odds for football matches scheduled for six months later. The complainant suggested these odds were misleading.

Hills defended the ad, saying that, while the odds displayed were roughly comparable to what the company were likely to offer on those matches, only a proper tool would presume these odds to be there for anything other than illustrative purposes. And the ASA, in its infinite wisdom, agreed.

July 03, 2018

Thailand arrest 6500 people for World Cup gambling

The Thailand Police has arrested 6500 people so far on gambling-related charges since the start of the World Cup. Among the arrested 250 persons are bookmakers who operated the illegal racket. The police also confiscated 28 million baht.

Deputy Police Chief Gen. Chalermkiat Sriworakarn said authorities are even considering the options to convert the temporary centre – established in May this year to crackdown the football-related gambling – into a permanent facility. The military and the police are launching a joint crackdown on gambling as many Thais are glued to the ongoing World Cup. Police treat the crime as a gateway to other crimes including robbery and drug trafficking, as some who lose money seek to gain quick cash to pay debts.

About 2.5 million Thais are involved in football-related gambling, according to a study by Chulalongkorn University’s Research Center for Business and Social Development.

The research, conducted last year, said 600,000 out of the estimated 2.5 million are young Thais aged 15 to 25, 110,000 or which are first timers. It added that mobile devices had made the practice more frequent.

June 30, 2018

Unibet signs €172 million title sponsorship with Swedish football

Set to commence on January 1st 2020, the 12-year agreement is valued at SEK1.8bn (€172m) and sees Unibet replace state-owned operator Svenska Spel as lead sponsor of the leagues.

The partnership was agreed with the Swedish Elite Football Association (Svensk Elitfotboll), and runs through to 2026 with an option to extend the agreement for an additional six years.

“We have only good things to say about co-operation over the years together with Svenska Spel and we are very grateful for all that Svenska Spel has done for elite football,” said Mats Enquist, secretary general of Svensk Elitfotboll. “We are also looking forward to completing the current contract period in the best way together.

“When Svenska Spel chose not to renew the agreement on acceptable terms, we had to look around at the market. We are excited that we could find this solution with Unibet and we are looking forward to the joint cooperation.”

Kindred Group general manager for Sweden, Dersim Sylwan, commented: “We are very proud to have made this historic agreement with Svensk Elitfotboll. The deal includes a significant long-term commitment to Swedish sports, an opportunity we have been fighting for during the last 20 years. We are very pleased to announce the partnership and we look forward to contributing to the development of Swedish football.”

The sponsorship agreement will see SEK150m distributed annually to Svensk Elitfotboll, with SEK100m allocated to Allsvenskan and Superettan clubs, SEK25m to talent development and integrity work, and a further SEK20m to clubs based on the wishes of Unibet customers. A further SEK5m has been earmarked for a special initiative focused on European tournaments.

“Our new agreement with Svensk Elitfotboll will give the association substantially more income compared to previous partnership deals,” added Sylwan. “The new gaming licence will finally make it possible for Swedish sports to gain market value for their partnerships, which is positive for the clubs, the associations and of course for the athletes.”

Svensk Elitfotboll chairman Lars-Christer Olsson added: “In Kindred Group, Svensk Elitfotboll sees a new serious partner who, together with us, can take responsibility for the healthy development of games in our leagues while supporting elite football development in Sweden.”

June 27, 2018

World Cup online betting is the highest it’s ever been

Sports betting is worth up to £625 billion per year, with 70% of that trade reckoned to come from football. During big sporting competitions, such as the World Cup, even more money is spent gambling than usual. Over the 2018 World Cup, bookmakers are estimated to make a profit of US$36.4 billion (£41.3 billion). And in the UK, the amount of money spent on gambling during the World Cup is expected to more than double from £1 billion in 2014 to £2.5 billion this year.

Sports gambling is being driven by the unlimited availability of online betting and the fact that no physical money is exchanged, making financial transactions seem less real. The vast amount of data that online gambling sites collect also enables them to personalise offers to individual gamblers. Instead, this data should be used to help people gamble responsibly by warning users in real-time that they are exhibiting problematic gambling behaviours.

For many people, gambling isn’t just a fun novelty every four years. About 430,000 citizens in the UK can be identified as problem gamblers. These individuals have lost hundreds of thousands of pounds online, which has impacted not only the gamblers but also their families.

High profile but infrequent betting events such as the Word Cup exacerbate the issues that problem gamblers face. Seeing others engage in betting, coupled with the advertisements from betting firms, leads problem gamblers to attempt to convince themselves that they do not have a problem. Environmental cues can also trigger the urge to gamble in those who have a gambling problem. So, the intensive advertising used by betting firms during the World Cup, along with media coverage of the World Cup in general, may further push problem gamblers towards making harmful decisions.

Online gambling sites have an infinite memory for bets – when made, for how much, regarding what, and so on. This data is a rich source that websites use for tailoring offers and marketing material to fit a gambler’s potential interests. But this personalisation exploits cognitive biases in gamblers and encourages them to increase risk-taking and by extension, gambling.

There is only a fine line between the legitimate marketing and personalisation of content and offers on the one hand and exploitation and manipulation on the other. For example, the tracking of a gambler’s betting pattern means the gambler can be targeted with offers following heavy losses, encouraging them to chase losses even further.

But this same data could also be used to support reductions in problem gambling, either led by gamblers themselves or with the support of a counsellor or software. Such transparency could enhance the image of the gambling industry and make responsible gambling a shared responsibility between gamblers and bookmakers.

In our EROGamb project, funded by GambleAware and Bournemouth University, we advocate a policy change where gambling sites provide gambling behavioural data to gamblers and their surrogates in real-time.

This data would provide an unprecedented opportunity to tackle problem gambling. For example, the data could lead to the app informing gamblers that they are exhibiting problematic gambling patterns. The real-time collection of information such as “the gambler has reached the monthly spending limit” could trigger a message visualising their past betting behaviour and a reminder of a commitment already made.

In our studies, digital addicts, including online gambling addicts, have indicated that having access to such data would act as a wake-up call, raising awareness. Digital media users, in general, like to be in control of their usage through labels and awareness tools.

Similar facilities have started to exist in mainstream digital media. For example, on Google, it is now possible to download your data and on Facebook to download your profile data history of interaction, but not currently as real-time streaming of data as actions happen.

We understand the barriers to implementing this vision. Gambling operators may not have such data readily available and may even rely on third parties to offer certain games. Some also fear that gamblers might share the data with competitor gambling sites, giving away information about marketing practices. But the General Data Protection Regulation(GDPR) right to data portability holds that gamblers shall not be prevented from accessing and sharing their data.

Given the advantages, and also the increased demand for transparency, this would eventually become the recommended practice for demonstrating advanced corporate social responsibility and inspiring the trust of the public and clients in the gambling industry. We are preparing a charter for the gambling industry towards a commitment for that.

The rise of online gambling, combined with the record amount of money being spent on gambling at this year’s World Cup makes this the perfect time to discuss what we can do to prevent and combat gambling addiction. Simply by using data to help people be better aware of their gambling habits, rather than hooking them back into their next bet, gambling sites could make a massive difference.

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.