July 28, 2020

Online Gambling In Greece Dropped By 40%

Revenues in Greece’s online gambling business have fallen by 405 during the first 5 months of the year as the COVID-19 pandemic halted all major sports around the world.

The Hellenic Gaming Commission (HGC) released figures show that in the first five months of 2020 revenues generated stood at €150 million, showing a 40% drop compared to the same period in 2019.

All the major online operators saw falls in their revenues during that period such as Stoixman, Bet365 and Sportingbet.

However smaller capital share operators did rather well as they offered other gambling opportunities to players such as NetBet, but the big winner was PokerStars as players took to playing poker and casino games while sporting events were all closed down. PokerStars actually doubled their revenues in the 5 months of the year compared to 2019.

July 22, 2020

NSW jockey Adam Hyeronimus guilty for illegal wagers

New South Wales (NSW) jockey Adam Hyeronimus has been found guilty of 30 out of 31 illegal betting charges, dating back to illegal bets that took place over three years beginning in 2016. Stablehand Blake Paine was found guilty alongside the Hyeronimus by Racing New South Wales stewards. The group one-winning jockey faces a potentially long suspension from racing for his part in the scandal.

Racing NSW stewards successfully proved that Hyeronimus had an interest in a $500 bet on ride Lucky Metor at Canterbury in 2016. He was also found to have placed a $500 bet on Limbo Soul, another ride that won on debut at Rosehill in February 2017.

The guilty verdict carries serious implications, with both charges carrying a minimum two-year ban from racing.

The NSW hoop was found guilty of a further 29 bets from 2016 to 2019, all on thoroughbred horse racing. Stablehand Blake Paine was found to have played a part in 31 cases and was convicted of 31 counts of betting for a jockey. Both men will also face additional charges of supplying false evidence to the enquiry.

The enquiry showed that Hyeronimus transferred funds to Blake Paine, who then deposited the funds into a Sportsbet account under his name on at least 22 occasions. Stewards also found that winning bets from the same account were used to place additional bets with nearly $21,000 USD changing hands over three years.

Stewards provided details of the conversations between the pair, that also included exchanges with cricketers and NRL players. The SMS conversations between the pair included details on potential bets, with one discussion over a potential bet in the Golden Slipper. Hyeronimus and Paine then switched the discussion to Snapchat in an attempt to ensure the conversation couldn’t be traced. Snapchat picture messages are deleted from servers regularly.

In their policies, Racing NSW rules forbid jockeys from having any interest in facilitating “betting, or have any interest in a bet on any race.”

Hyeronimus pleaded not guilty to all charges during the hearing, but will be free to ride until his sentencing hearing in August. The NSW jockey has been in stunning form this year riding 49 winners, including a Group One win in the Vinery Stud Stakes at Rosehill in March.

July 16, 2020

GVC Boss Kenny Alexander In Surprise Departure

Kenny Alexander the boss of GVC the betting giant is leaving the company from tomorrow, Alexander who helped propel GVC into one of the biggest gambling companies in the world with deals to acquire Ladbrokes Coral among others.

His surprise departure means that Shay Segev who has worked for the company since 2016 and is currently the Chief Operating Officer will promoted to the top job. Segev has a wealth of experience coming previously from Playtech where he worked for 6 years as Chief Operating Officer also.

Alexander who has been with GVC for 13 years said: “I have spent the last four months working from home and reflecting on my future plans, and this feels like the right moment.”

GVC chairman Barry Gibson said of Alexander that he help create a “remarkable global business”, adding: “We will miss him, but we also understand his wishes to hand over the reins after such as long and successful stint at the top of the company.”

June 24, 2020

Danske Spil has a new leader after unanimous selection

Denmark’s gambling and lottery operator has a new captain at the helm. Peter Christensen, a former member of parliament (MP), has been tapped to lead Danske Spil into a new era of gaming, bringing with him a lot of political experience and connections. Christensen was selected to replace Peter Gæmelke, who is stepping down after ten years on the job and will take the wheel after a unanimous decision by the gaming operator’s board.

danske-spil-has-a-new-leader-after-unanimous-selectionChristensen is a member of the Danish Venstre Liberal Party and served as the country’s Minister of Taxation in 2011 and the Minister of Defense in 2015, according to SBC News. At the time, former Danish PM Lars Løkke Rasmussen was running the show in the country, and Christensen is ready for his new role. He said in a statement, “It is a great privilege to help secure the financial foundation Danish sports and further social directive which I have personally benefited from. It is very important to me that gambling games remain as an entertainment feature. Danske Spil has an important social role in continuing to ensure a balanced and responsible gaming market in Denmark.”

Denmark’s finance minister, Nicolai Wammen, confirmed the appointment of the new chairman this week, which will lead to Christensen bowing out from his involvement with the Det Danske Klasselotteri, a state lottery operator. There, the new Danske Spil head had served as a non-executive director since 2018, and his resignation will take effect sometime during the latter half of this year.

Christensen is going to have his work cut out for him. In addition to having to deal with declining revenue as a result of the coronavirus, 2020 hasn’t been a good year for Danske Spil in general. The operator released its financial report for the first quarter last month, indicating that its year-on-year growth was not as strong as it had hoped. The quarter saw drops in iGaming and gaming machine activity, but these were offset by positive growth in the firm’s lottery operations. Overall, for the quarter, Danske Spil saw $186.3 million in revenue, of which $97 million came from lottery sales.

This year, already having gotten off to a slow start, won’t get any better. Revenue is bound to suffer because of COVID-19, and Denmark has just implemented a new online gambling tax increase that is going to scare off gamblers and push them to use offshore sites. As a result, Danske Spil has to be ready to weather a prolonged storm.

June 01, 2020

UK gambling regulator probing M88, Mansion Europe ‘model and operations’

Online gambling operator Mansion’s predominantly Asian-facing M88 brand is reportedly under investigation by UK gambling regulators, resulting in the brand losing its English Premier League sponsorship. 

On Friday, EPL club AFC Bournemouth announced that it wouldn’t be renewing its shirt sponsorship deal with M88 aka Mansion88 when it expired Sunday. The club thanked M88 for its support over the past three years but said it would finish the remainder of the EPL’s current season – which resumes play on June 17 – using a different kit. The sleeve sponsorship with parent company Mansion is reportedly unaffected. 

On Saturday, The Athletic reported that Bournemouth’s decision came after being informed that the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) was “currently looking at various aspects of M88 and Mansion Europe model and operations.” 

It’s unclear specifically what aspects of that model are under the UKGC microscope but in April, UK media reported that the UKGC was looking at the VIP scheme of Mansion’s MansionBet brand. The report quoted a Mansion rep telling a customer that the site didn’t like requiring customers to reveal the source of their gambling funds “but we have to do it because the UK gambling regulators make us do it.” 

The Mansion Group is no stranger to being on the receiving end of gambling regulators’ disciplinary tools, having been fined €150k by the Netherlands Gambling Authority several years ago for accepting Dutch customers without Dutch permission. 

M88 recently announced that it was withdrawing its services from Cambodia and Malaysia. The company didn’t specify the reasons behind the exits, although those two markets are believed to be small potatoes compared to the brand’s business in China, Thailand and Vietnam. 

The Daily Mail reported that if Bournemouth couldn’t come to terms with a new commercial sponsor, the club could end up featuring a ‘thank you’ message to COVID-19 frontline medical workers on its kit for the nine games remaining in the current EPL season.

May 31, 2020

Mystery Abounds as 138.com Shuts operations; M88 leaves Malaysian, Cambodian Market

Mystery abounds as online gambling operator 138.com shuts down for unknown reasons. Another operator, Mansion88, also exited Malaysia and Cambodia. 
At the beginning of this month, several Asian affiliates started reported that 138Bet/138.com would shut down operations. The operator, in a statement, assured customers that they would be allowed to withdraw funds from their user accounts, and also informed suppliers that they would cease their cooperation. 
Reasons for 138.com’s rushed exit are not clear. Some gambling affiliates stated that the website would be closed temporarily because their supports based in the Philippines were offline due to lockdown in the country. However, this seems highly unlikely, considering that 138.com has gone offline completely. 
Supplementary sources think otherwise, claiming that the reason the site went offline is that its parent company, Suncity Group, is under immense pressure from key stakeholders, who want the company to disassociate with online operators completely. In other news, M88 is scheduled to withdraw its services from Malaysia and Cambodia from the 31st of May. Its customers were notified that the company would discontinue all its promotions starting on the 25th of May. However, they will be allowed to continue gambling with whatever balance is in their accounts. Those wanting to withdraw should do so by the 31st of May. 
The company claimed that Malaysia and Cambodia are small markets, compared to Vietnam, China, and Thailand. However, quick research has shown that the company has been recruiting gamblers, propagating the notion that it is the most popular operator in both countries.

April 22, 2020

Tory MPs took £2,400 of Cheltenham Festival freebies days before coronavirus lockdown

Two Tory MPs accepted £2,400 worth of tickets to the Cheltenham Festival just days before the UK went into coronavirus lockdown.

It's feared the gathering of more than 250,000 people helped spread the virus widely across the country.

Shipley MP Philip Davies and former minister Caroline Nokes accepted eight tickets between them to the horse racing event from GVC Holdings, the sports betting giant which owns Ladbrokes and Coral.

Mr Davies accepted six tickets, worth £300 each, but refused to say whether he had used them.

He said: "I have absolutely nothing to say to the Daily Mirror."

Ms Nokes accepted two tickets, also worth £300 each.

She was photographed at the event, wearing a grey suit with pink checks and a shocking pink hat and matching scarf.

Both MPs registered the gifts with Commons authorities - stating they would have access to a VIP hospitality box during their visit.

Ms Nokes said: “I accepted the tickets and declared them in accordance with the rules, which clearly you can establish from the register of members’ interests.

“As you know it was prior to the lockdown being declared and there were no restrictions on movement.”

Ms Nokes added a number of other MPs also attended the races on the same day, including Shadow Security Minister Conor McGinn.

Mr McGinn confirmed he attended the event in his capacity as chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Racing.

He said: "I get an annual metal badge from the Racecourse Association which allows me admittance to race meetings across Britain over the course of the year, including Cheltenham, which is owned by the Jockey Club."

Mr McGinn registers the badge as a benefit with Commons authorities at the start of each year.

He added: "I’m heavily involved in horse racing, not least because Haydock Park Is in my constituency. It is currently being used as a COVID-19 testing site for NHS staff in the North West."

Professor Sir David King said yesterday (WED) that the government had waited too late to ban large gatherings like Cheltenham, and that delay had cost lives.

He told LBC Radio: “Imagine, 16th March (sic), having a horse race go on with a massive crowd at Cheltenham.

“We didn’t manage this until too late and every day’s delay has resulted in further deaths in the United Kingdom.”

The Cheltenham Festival ran from Tuesday, March 10 to Friday, March 13.

At the time, Boris Johnson was still holding out on banning large gatherings, despite Scotland issuing such an order on March 12.

The Government eventually banned gatherings of more than 500 people the following weekend.

The Organisers of the horse racing festival defended their decision to go ahead when concerns were raised that attendees had reported symptoms after the event.

Comedian Lee Mack tested positive for Covid-19 after spending two days at the festival - with a friend reportedly saying he believed he caught it from a driver on his way to the event.

And the Times reported Andrew Parker Bowles, the former husband of the Duchess of Cornwall said he believes he “probably got it on the Wednesday or Friday I attended Cheltenham”.

A spokesperson said: “The Festival concluded three weeks ago and went ahead under the clear and ongoing guidance from the government and its science experts throughout, like other popular sports events at Twickenham [and] Murrayfield, 10 Premier League matches and the Uefa Champions League [between Liverpool and Atlético Madrid] at Anfield that same week.

“We promoted the latest public health advice and introduced a range of additional hygiene measures at the event, including hundreds of hand sanitiser dispensers and extra wash basins.”

March 30, 2020

SIS moves into hibernation mode

SIS (Sports Information Services) has today announced the move to close down all non-essential services and to furlough a significant number of staff effective immediately.

With the suspension of almost all live racing worldwide, and the closure of a significant number of worldwide retail betting outlets, SIS has taken this action to protect its long term future and to be ready for the resumption of normal service for customers and partners when it becomes appropriate.

In this interim period, SIS continues to supply online content to operators while that content is live. All services to retail operators will be suspended.

Richard Ames, CEO of SIS, said: “SIS is moving into an interim period of hibernation in these extraordinary times. I am pleased to be able to confirm that our intention is to come back just as strongly as before and to be back up and running to serve the needs of our customers as soon as live racing content returns to action.

“We are taking this action to protect the business and to preserve the jobs of our hard-working team. I thank each of them for their fantastic commitment to continuing to service our content partners and customers throughout the last challenging weeks and look forward to welcoming them back into the business as soon as possible.”

Standards body Betting and Gaming Council announce new 10 pledge action plan for safer gambling during the Covid-19 crisis

The Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), the new standards body for betting and gaming which covers betting shops, online betting and gaming businesses and casinos, has today announced a new 10 pledge action plan agreed with its regulated member companies, which sets out the standards expected of our members during the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.

The 10 pledges build on actions and interventions that BGC members do as part of safer gambling operations, however the BGC will now require heightened monitoring, tailored responses and new action to address the unprecedented situation of social distancing and home working. Although overall gambling has fallen dramatically with the absence of sport and due to the closure of betting shop and casino closures, the BGC’s pledges will come into force immediately to help ensure that the highest safeguards are in place and action is taken to protect anyone betting online who may be more vulnerable as a result of the crisis.

The BGC supported the Gambling Commission, who this week demanded increased consumer protection and responsible marketing. The new pledges demonstrate the BGC’s determination to ensure the highest standards are implemented and cover the following areas:

Increase safer gambling messages across all sites and direct to all customers
Step up interventions if customers increase time and spend beyond normal pre-crisis patterns
Actively promote deposit limits
Action to ensure appropriate and responsible advertising including monitoring volume
Report all illegal, rogue advertising from black market online operators
One-strike-and-you’re-out policy where affiliates breach pledges
Signpost help to GAMCARE and the National Gambling Helpline and GamStop for self-exclusion
Commitment to ensuring funding for Research Education and Treatment (RET)
Welfare checks and well-being help for staff
Supporting the Government’s ‘National Effort’ with volunteers and facilities

Commenting on the 10 pledges, Michael Dugher, BGC chief executive, said:

“In this time of national crisis, with so many people self-isolating and social distancing at home, it is vital that we do everything possible to ensure safer gambling and to protect potentially vulnerable or at risk people.

“We all know that levels of gambling have plummeted not just because of betting shop or casino closures, but because of the absence of sport, which is also fundamental to online betting. Although gambling levels have dropped during the COVID crisis, our commitment to safer gambling is being stepped up. It is important that we help our customers stay safe and in control of their gambling during these difficult times. That’s why BGC members have developed a 10 pledge action plan that will help govern members throughout this crisis.

“Increasing safer gambling measures with more monitoring and customer interventions, stepping up safer gambling messages and measures like promoting deposit limits, together with a tough crackdown on affiliates and calling out rogue black-market operators, will make a big difference. We are also signposting professional help and are committed to funding Research, Education and Treatment (RET).

“The betting industry supports tens of thousands of jobs up and down the country, and we are equally determined to support the Government’s National Effort through helping with volunteers and facilities”.

The Pledges in full:

Pledge #1: Members will increase safer gambling messaging across all sites, apps and channels including inbox messaging to all existing and new customers reminding them of the safer gambling tools available.

Messaging is a crucial method of nudging customers into taking actions to remain in control. Actions include using tools that offer customers an important way to set limits and raise awareness of their play. Their prominence in the customer journey should be emphasized during this period.

Pledge #2: Members will implement heightened monitoring and data collection in the knowledge that customers are required to abide by social distancing measures. Any material change in customer play patterns, including any increase in time and spend, beyond normal patterns before the crisis, indicates potential markers of harm and operators must step up interventions.

While total gambling has reduced due to no UK sporting events taking place internal tracking and customer protection systems should be adjusted where necessary to ensure that changes in customer behaviour are identified.

Pledge #3: Members, operating heightened monitoring, shall actively promote deposit limits and send a deposit limit message with link to the tool to any player exhibiting abnormal patterns of play that are a marker of harm.

The current crisis can lead to changing patterns of consumer behaviour, particularly online. Where gambling companies are aware of customers increasing their play beyond their normal routine, they should ensure this triggers an appropriate response in establishing the customer’s welfare and being prepared to intervene with a deposit limit message or mandatory limited where appropriate.

Pledge #4: Members shall commit to an immediate and ongoing review of their marketing and advertising – in volume, content and targeting – and will act to ensure it is both appropriate and responsible given the increased risk.

Members should ensure that that gambling is not portrayed as a suitable or desirable response to those experiencing boredom or frustration during self-isolation.

Telephone, text and e-mail contact should not be increased from normal patterns during this period with the exception of promoting safer gambling messaging.

The industry is acutely aware of the risks arising from potential new patterns of work and leisure caused by the current lockdown. As such the industry is determined to ensure that marketing and advertising is appropriate and sensitive to these potential risks.

Pledge #5: Members will report to the BGC instances of illegal rogue and inappropriate advertising and the BGC will report these to the regulator.

Illegal offerings and their advertising can be found on the web and are unethical where they seek to take advantage of a customer’s vulnerability. BGC members should report such advertising to BGC who will inform the regulator. This is part of the overall effort to clean up advertising which is irresponsible and accessible to the UK public.

Pledge #6: These Pledges will fully apply to all affiliates. Members will enforce a strict one-strike-and-you’re-out policy for breaches of these Pledges.

Affiliates provide an important role in providing messaging and responsible advertising to customers. This means affiliates must in no way mention or use the words associated with the Coronavirus such as ‘’bored’’, ‘’isolation’’, ‘’stay at home’ ’amongst others. The BGC will collect and provide a list of key words and phrases to members, affiliates and social media platforms to prevent their misuse.

Pledge #7: Members will sign-post to GAMCARE advice and the 24-hour free to call National Gambling Helpline and GamStop for self-exclusion in their safer gambling messaging, particularly where issues around anxiety or isolation are apparent from monitoring systems or customer interactions.

The industry provides safer gambling messaging to all customers. At this time, it also needs to address issues arising directly from the current crisis. To this end members shall incorporate additional information for customers requiring intervention as part of our corporate responsibility to the public.

Pledge #8: Members restate their commitment to maintaining the vital flow of important funding for Research, Education and Treatment (RET).

There are a great many companies and people reliant on our businesses as suppliers, many of them small organisations that may lack the resilience to navigate this crisis. This is even more important for charities and organisations that deliver the crucial Research, Education and Treatment services which need to stay available to customers.

Pledge #9: Members shall conduct welfare checks on employees during this crisis.

Our employees are similarly affected by the same challenges and emotional risks as others. Companies should ensure that they have the mechanisms in place to make regular welfare checks on employees and fulfil their duty of care to ensure their safety and wellbeing.

Pledge #10: Members should play a full part in supporting the Government’s ‘National Effort’ by encouraging staff to volunteer for community service, as well as offering premises where possible for use by those supporting the effort to tackle the Coronavirus.

For those companies with large retail businesses on the high street, our employees will often know of people who may live alone or be unable to fully support themselves during this crisis. They are in a good position to assist where possible. The NHS also has a volunteer service which we would encourage those willing employees to volunteer.

March 12, 2020

Gambling firm Betway hit with record £11.6m penalty

Online betting firm Betway has been hit with a record penalty of £11.6m for failings over customer protection and money-laundering checks.

The Gambling Commission said Betway failed to check the source of funds of one customer who deposited over £8m and lost over £4m in a four-year period.

It also failed to effectively interact with a customer who deposited and lost £187,000 in two days.

The penalty package is the biggest to date faced by a UK gambling firm.

The Gambling Commission's investigation said the failings were linked to dealings with seven of Betway's high-spending customers.

It said that "as a result of a lack of consideration of individual customers affordability and source of funds checks, the operator allowed £5.8m of money to flow through the business which has been found, or could reasonably be suspected to be, proceeds of crime".

The commission said the investigation had also revealed "inadequate management oversight", adding that a probe "into responsible Personal Management Licence holders" was continuing.

"The actions of Betway suggest there was little regard for the welfare of its VIP customers or the impact on those around them," said Richard Watson, executive director at the Gambling Commission.

"As part of our ongoing programme of work to make gambling safer, we are pushing the industry to make rapid progress on the areas that we consider will have the most significant impact to protect consumers," he added.

"The treatment and handling of high-value customers is a significant piece of that work and operators are in no doubt about the need to tackle the issue at speed."