October 12, 2018

SSC Napoli looks to Africa, Latin America in new regional betting deal

Serie A club SSC Napoli has added another regional betting partner to its sponsorship portfolio, after signing a deal with Curaçao-based KTO.

As part of the deal, the length of which was not disclosed, KTO will become Napoli’s Official Betting Partner in Africa and Latin America.

Curaçao is a Dutch-Caribbean island off the coast of Venezuela, renowned for its relaxed laws on gambling and licensing.

KTO intends to use its partnership with Napoli to expand into Africa and Latin America – two regions where the sports betting industry is seeing strong growth, and where Napoli has a large fan base.

Michael Rasmussen, senior marketing consultant at KTO, said: “The Neapolitan following is huge, especially in Latin America, where Napoli counts over ten million fans.

“It is therefore no coincidence that in partnering with Napoli, we have an excellent match.”

The deal comes after Napoli signed with Nextbet as its first Asian betting partner earlier this month.

As part of the deal, Nextbet will promote itself across Asia using official club imagery, digital assets and offline campaigns.

Brokered by marketing consultancy firm SEM, the deal was Nextbet’s first in football.

September 27, 2018

Online gambling scammer Fred Khalilian booted by Monster after “threats of mutilation, death”

Online gambling scammer Fred Khalilian has been booted from Monster Technology Group less than a year after selling the company his worthless gambling technology.

On Tuesday, electronics firm Monster Products issued a press release celebrating its 40th anniversary, while casually mentioning that its chief operating officer, one Fereidoun ‘Fred’ Khalilian, had been “successfully exited out of the company as of July 27, 2018.”

The release went on to say that Khalilian was the subject of a temporary restraining order issued in California’s Superior Court “for the protection of numerous employees of Monster against threats of mutilation, death, and threats to family.”

Furthermore, Monster has filed reports with the South San Francisco Police Department and other law enforcement agencies, “including the FBI,” concerning “allegations of fraud, theft and conspiracy.” Accompanying Khalilian on his way down Monster’s shame chute was “the team he brought into the company to do a hostile takeover.”

The press release goes on to cite a raft of unfavorable online articles concerning Khalilian’s past exploits. The linked articles detail Khalilian’s ‘colorful’ history, including a handful of assault charges, his $4.2m settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission to resolve a deceptive telemarketing case, and Khalilian’s ongoing cons of would-be tribal gaming operators involving hyping in-development online gambling sites that never actually develop into a going concern.

Last October, Monster raised eyebrows by announcing that a subsidiary had struck a deal to acquire the online gaming software assets (such as they were) of Khalilian’s Universal Entertainment Group (UEG), with the plan to use said assets to launch PokerTribe.com on behalf of the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma.

PokerTribe was the second incarnation of Khalilian’s efforts to pull a fast one on unsuspecting tribal groups. Khalilian collected $9.5m from his original Oklahoma tribal partner before new tribal leadership pulled the plug on the site (PokerTribes.com – plural) which never actually opened for business. This led to lawsuits and a probe by the National Indian Gaming Commission.

This spring, the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma launched GreySnowPoker.com, apparently deciding that the PokerTribe brand had been irrevocably tainted. PokerTribe.com (singular) currently redirects to InSkyCasino.com, another of Khalilian’s improbable can’t-miss schemes, in which gamblers strapped into airline seats would be allowed to play online casino games, you know, as opposed to doing so via their mobile devices with any one of thousands of existing online gambling operations that managed to launch without Fred’s help.

Despite the fact that he walks around with red flags positively shooting out his ears, Khalilian has proven remarkably resilient in rebounding from his very public setbacks. But with any luck, this will mark the end of Khalilian’s dalliances on the fringes of the online gambling industry.

September 19, 2018

Banning companies from sponsoring sports won’t tackle problem gambling

With the battle on fixed odds betting terminals over, the debate around gambling has shifted to TV advertising and sports sponsorship. This was given added fuel by England's relative success in the World Cup which led to high viewing figures on terrestrial TV.

No one can deny that there is a high concentration of gambling advertising around sport, particularly football. And some argue banning gambling TV advertising before the watershed, and stopping gambling companies from sponsoring clubs, would protect children and vulnerable people.

But I do not believe a watershed or the banning of sponsorship would be the most effective way of getting to grips with problem gambling.

Societies and governments around the world have grappled with how to regulate online gambling. There are many things wrong with the industry in this country. But one major positive is that the vast majority of it – over 95pc – is regulated by the UK Gambling Commission and pays a point of consumption tax to the UK Government. This is the result of sensible regulation, including the ability to advertise.

Countries that take a more restrictive approach on advertising still have a gambling industry and they still have problem gambling. Eight out of the nine "front of shirt" gambling sponsors in the English Premier League come from overseas – predominantly Asia – as a means of targeting consumers in their home countries that watch the games.

But because these countries do not allow advertising and it is not tied to a regulatory regime, they have no means to force these companies involved to improve their behaviour.

This is where the greatest promise lies in the UK. Fundamentally, we should use the carrot of being able to advertise on TV as a means to drive up standards across the industry. You cannot advertise on television in the UK without a licence from the Gambling Commission. So the standards needed to secure a licence should rise markedly.

With the rapid shift to online betting, it is my firm belief that companies should only be licensed in the future if they are able to demonstrate higher standards that make the most of technology to help customers.

This should include defined processes that identify likely problem gamblers, a willingness to interact with customers who show signs of harm and offer them tools to modify their behaviour – and in serious cases a preparedness to intervene with customers to stop them from harming themselves.

At Sky Betting & Gaming we have increased the number of interactions we have with customers who show signs of gambling related harm. These conversations, and the marketing campaign we have implemented to highlight them, has in turn markedly increased the use of responsible gambling tools on our platforms.

Most importantly, we have stopped a number of customers from harming themselves by returning sums of money they either could not afford or should not be betting with.

To take a recent example, during the World Cup, our risk and responsibility team identified a young customer had placed a large bet on Spain and Portugal to win their respective matches. After a conversation with that customer he decided he couldn't afford that bet, so we returned the money, and agreed a deposit limit. This has happened with a targeted number of other customers too.

We do not have all the answers though and will never over-claim. That is why we would support these standards being made uniform and legal requirements across the online gambling sector in the UK.

There are other measures you could also take to beef up the requirements to secure a Gambling Commission licence. We would, for example, support the Gambling Commission's intention to introduce an affordability test. And we'd like more help from the banks to allow vulnerable customers to block themselves from spending money with gambling companies via their bank accounts.

Finally, there is a legitimate debate to be had over the content of gambling advertising. The Committee for Advertising Practice issued new guidance earlier this year over the standards expected. But I believe all operators should be required to dedicate a proportion of their advertising budget to educational adverts on how to gamble responsibly.

We already spend a defined portion of our marketing on safer gambling advertising and would be relaxed about that being codified into law.

This is a debate I welcome. We should always keep a sense of perspective: problem gambling rates have remained broadly stable over the last decade and are low by international standards.

Being able to advertise our products helps create a more vibrant and competitive market for the five million people that enjoy betting on the football or otherwise gambling online, and who do so safely and without harm. This advertising helps keep sport on TV, particularly horse racing, and helps keep football clubs afloat.

But nonetheless over the years I have met people whose lives have been greatly harmed by gambling, and as an industry it is clear than we can and should do more to help the most vulnerable customers.

A watershed for gambling advertising, or a ban on football sponsorship may make for an easy headline – but other measures would be more effective to help the people who need it most.

September 10, 2018

888sport launches in New Jersey

Yaniv Sherman, 888's senior vice-president and head of commercial development, has relocated to the company's New Jersey office to spearhead the company’s expansion plans across the US after the 888sport brand was launched in the state.

With 888sport now available in New Jersey, it is the first time that 888 has offered sports betting to customers in the US. 888 CEO Itai Frieberger described the move as a “major milestone” for the company.

With FanDuel and Caesars also now live in New Jersey, there are now six operators offering online betting in the state, with DraftKings, SugarHouse and William Hill all available.

“This provides 888 with a unique and truly multi-product proposition in what is currently the largest regulated US state,” Frieberger said.

“888 has been committed to developing its position in the US since launching in Nevada, the first regulated US state, nearly six years ago and today we are the only operator with a presence in all three regulated US states.

“We now have our sport, casino and poker products all operational in the US and are continually developing our proposition, brands and technology to ensure that the group remains exceptionally well positioned to capture the potentially significant future growth opportunities as new regulation allows.”

888sport has been launched in New Jersey in partnership with Kambi, the company’s sportsbook provider across global regulated markets.

Kambi, which recently launched the Cash Out live ticket system in New Jersey, also went live with Teaser+ to mark the start of the 2018-19 NFL American football season this past weekend.

Teaser+, a new version of the teaser parlay, offers a different method of pricing the wager, with Kambi’s in-house trading team generating a price based on each individual leg of a player’s chosen parlay.

“When we considered how the market priced the classic teaser, we felt the processes involved had failed to evolve with the wider industry, or kept pace with technology, therefore we identified and implemented a more efficient and transparent way of offering these bets,” Kambi CEO Kristian Nylen said.

In a further development in New Jersey’s online sports betting market, DraftKings has become the latest sports betting provider to add PayPal to its list of payment deposit options – a move that is likely to provide a further boost to punters in the state.

FanDuel, SugarHouse and Caesars sportsbooks already offered PayPal, according to Legal Sports Report, which added that credit card decline rates are still understood to be at about 50% in the state for online gambling, having improved from about 75% five years ago.

This Wednesday, the figures covering the first full month of online sports betting in New Jersey featuring DraftKings will be revealed by the state. DraftKings said last week that it had already processed one million sports bets in New Jersey since launching its sportsbook in August.

August 15, 2018

Buffalo Wild Wings looks to get into sports betting

Buffalo Wild Wings is the country’s third most popular casual restaurant chain, behind Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar and Olive Garden. But BWW is looking to increase that ranking, and may be doing so via an unusual means.

Nation’s Restaurant News announces that the chain may explore getting into gambling, with the following statement from a BWW spokesperson: “As the largest sports bar in America, we believe Buffalo Wild Wings is uniquely positioned to leverage sports gaming to enhance the restaurant experience for our guests. We are actively exploring opportunities, including potential partners, as we evaluate the next steps for our brand.”

Lucky for B-Dubs, this past May, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a 1992 law that banned sports gambling in most states. Since the house almost always wins, these gambling excursions could only help boost Buffalo Wild Wings’ bottom line, an attractive possibility for the chain that recently saw sales dip 1.6 percent. We envision nationwide March Madness bracket sheets and wings-fueled fistfights erupting over Super Bowl squares in front of BWW’s multitude of large-screen sports-only TVs.

Belgium gives Ladbrokes a slap on the wrist

Ladbrokes has been put in timeout – literally. Belgium has reportedly punished the sports betting company for breaking gaming regulations and has ordered it to not offer any gambling activities for a day next month.

Media outlet The Brussel Times reports that Ladbrokes was slapped on the wrist after admitting it had received bets from players in Belgium for the outcome of virtual machine events until March 14. Virtual match betting allows gamblers to place bets on the outcome of fantasy competitions and the practice has been outlawed in the country since June of last year after being “tolerated” for about five years.

Ladbrokes’ subsidiaries in the country, Tierce Ladbroke SA and Derby SA, will not be able to receive any bets for 24 hours on September 3 due to the infraction. Ladbrokes has 300 agencies and around 100 sportsbooks, and a number of digital operations, linked to it in Belgium. The country’s gaming regulator indicated that Ladbrokes had “not contested the materiality of the facts” and continued to offer the betting activity “until it was legally banned from doing so.”

In a response provided to 5 Star iGaming Media, Ladbrokes said that it had not been notified officially of the sanction. It explained that it had only learned of the punishment after it was informed by an unidentified third party on August 7.

Ladbrokes further complained that it was received an email from the regulator the same day the news starting making its rounds in the various media outlets, adding that it “‘deeply regrets that such confidential information is transmitted to the press and to third parties even before it is informed.” It alluded to the possibility of filing a lawsuit for breach of professional secrecy, but plans to honor the sanction. The sportsbook also said that it may challenge the punishment before Belgium’s Council of State.

The one-day penalty pales in comparison to that seen by Ladbrokes last year. In November, it was hit with a $2.9-million fine for not intervening after two gamblers blew a little more than half of that in stolen money on the Ladbrokes Coral-owned Gala Interactive casino website.

August 09, 2018

Crown Resorts sues NSW government over iconic Sydney Harbor view

Australia-listed casino operator Crown Resorts Ltd. has challenged the New South Wales (NSW) government to a legal tug-of-war over the iconic Sydney Harbor view.


Crown Resorts sues NSW government over iconic Sydney Harbor viewThe Wall Street Journal reported that Crown Resorts has brought the Barangaroo Delivery Authority (BDA) to court over concerns that any new property developments could obstruct the harbor views from its Barangaroo casino.

Crown is betting on the unobstructed Barangaroo views to attract affluent Chinese gamblers to visit its casinos in Australia after the casino operator has decided to fold up its overseas expansion plans.

In its lawsuit, Crown wants the court to compel BDA to comply with a contract requiring the government to consult any developments that may affect the panoramic views of the iconic Sydney Opera House and Harbor Bridge.

BDA, which is responsible for the management of the Barangaroo area, plans to develop 5.2-hectares of Central Barangaroo district into a public space for recreation, events, and entertainment, as well as residential, retail, and commercial spaces.

The supposed contract obligations “ensure that sight lines from the Harbor Bridge to the Sydney Opera House are retained for the Crown Sydney Hotel Resort,” according to Crown.

“The proceedings seek injunctive relief and declarations against the BDA that, in substance, require the BDA to comply with a number of its contractual obligations under the Crown Development Agreement,” Crown said in a regulatory filing.

Crown wasn’t the only one suing BDA over the iconic Sydney harbor views. Property developer Lendlease also filed an injunction seeking to stop the agency from constructing properties that could block the views of its apartment complex, which is located near Crown Sydney.

Despite filing a lawsuit, Lendlease remained hopeful that the parties would resolve the problem and reach an agreement through a negotiation.

BDA, for its part, claimed that it had been negotiating with Lendlease and Crown about the matter for the past two years. It vowed to defend its position in court, according to the report.

“At all times the Authority has acted in good faith and in accordance with its contractual obligations,” A BDA spokesman told ABC News online.

August 07, 2018

Advertising ban places Italy on the brink of huge problems

Recently the Italian Parliament has approved a new law called “Decreto Dignità,” which has now been passed on to the Senate and will become effective immediately.

This law is composed of 15 articles: one of the most controversial is about gambling advertising. Article 9 of “Decreto Dignità” forbids all media (TV, Internet, Radio) directly and indirectly advertising games in which a player can win money, including casino games, skill games, sports betting, poker, horse racing, lotteries, scratch cards. Italy is the first European country completely forbidding gaming advertising and Luigi Di Maio, the deputy prime minister, expects other European countries to follow Italy’s example.

Currently in Italy no political party or movement is aware of the consequences that this new law will produce.

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Casino2k – Advertising ban places Italy on the brink of huge problems
August 7, 2018
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The steps taken in Italy to introduce a blanket ban on all forms of gambling advertisements have certainly raised a few eyebrows, and formed a crucial part of many a conversation.

Now standing on the bring of introduction, after the reform was approved by the Chamber of Deputies last week and passed on to the Senate, Italian online web gaming guide casino2k details the numerous problems with the Dignity Decree, pitfalls now facing the country and potential solutions.

Recently the Italian Parliament has approved a new law called “Decreto Dignità,” which has now been passed on to the Senate and will become effective immediately.

This law is composed of 15 articles: one of the most controversial is about gambling advertising. Article 9 of “Decreto Dignità” forbids all media (TV, Internet, Radio) directly and indirectly advertising games in which a player can win money, including casino games, skill games, sports betting, poker, horse racing, lotteries, scratch cards. Italy is the first European country completely forbidding gaming advertising and Luigi Di Maio, the deputy prime minister, expects other European countries to follow Italy’s example.

We at casino2k.com, an Italian website which provides information about responsible gambling on regulated casinos, have studied the law and followed the three day discussion about “Decreto Dignità” inside the Italian Parliament. Currently in Italy no political party or movement is aware of the consequences that this new law will produce.

“FORBIDDING EVERY TYPE OF ADVERTISING ON THE INTERNET WILL RESULT IN ILLEGAL GAMING COMING BACK“

Italy is the biggest gaming industry in Europe with 150,000 employees and hundreds of small companies, like ours, whose business will be affected significantly by the prohibition of every kind of advertising. The Italian government doesn’t seem to care about the future of all the other people working in this market.

The Italian market has been strictly regulated since 2011. Illegal activities have significantly decreased since then, with websites like ours helping drive people out of the illegal market into the regulated one. Forbidding every type of advertising on the internet will result in illegal gaming coming back!

Affiliate websites spread knowledge about online gambling and promote a responsible approach to it, playing an important role in the fight against gambling addiction, under age gambling and illegal operators. Those websites will now probably close, since advertising is not allowed anymore.

The aim of this law is noble, fighting gambling addiction, protecting fragile people from wasting all of their money. The main problem is that this law does almost nothing to fight it. In every Italian bar you can play slot machines and lotteries, and in Italy you can even buy scratch cards in supermarkets.

Blocking every type of advertising does nothing to reduce such things, which are often accessed by teenagers. An advertising ban is just propaganda, people will continue spending €20bn per year on slot games in bars and private mini-casinos (called VLTs), because the law doesn’t reduce the number of slots per town, it doesn’t set a minimum distance from public places, it doesn’t stop scratch cards from being sold in supermarkets. It just blocks advertising. And physical slots in bars don’t need any advertising to earn money and to destroy people’s life.

Starting soon, Italian players will not be able to recognise a legal casino from an illegal one. Right now Google AdWords has stopped accepting regulated operators ads, and unregulated ones have already appeared.

Without online advertising it will be very difficult to recognise legal and reliable sites, while the illegal ones will take advantage and gambling addiction will flourish.

Illegal casinos don’t care about the fun and the health of their users, they don’t care about responsible gaming, they don’t do anything against gambling addiction. Furthermore, they don’t pay taxes because their base is often placed in offshore countries.

The law is almost approved, the time for amendments is over, but we want to suggest a proposal. We hope that it will be considered by mass media, national and international newspapers and, in particular, that it will be evaluated by Parliament for a future law.

An alternative to an online gambling advertising ban could be allowing advertising only on specialised websites, magazines and newspapers, with these restrictions:

1. A license for affiliate websites and website owners with strict and specific requirements chosen by government.
2. Every affiliate or affiliate company needs a legal representative who will be personally responsible for every breaking of rules.
3. Every affiliate or affiliate company needs to pay taxes in Italy.
4. 2% of affiliates income to be used against gambling addiction.
5. Slower games to fight fast bets which lead to deep addiction.
6. Government campaigns to increase culture of responsible gaming.

The Government lacks knowledge of the market, they don’t understand how online gaming can be strictly controlled, players can ban themselves from gaming sites, operators can recognise addiction and block players. Artificial intelligence can also play an important role in preventing addiction and problematic players.

In conclusion, we think Italy needs better rules, because the ban on advertising would produce serious damages and would bring the market back to the early 2000’s. We hope that the government will try to understand how online gaming works, and why it’s safer than slot games in bars.

August 03, 2018

William Hill notes ‘solid progress’ despite booking + £900 million FOBTs adjustment

FTSE bookmaker William Hill will settle exceptional charges and adjustments of £916 million, including a ‘£882 million non-cash impairment’ for its Retail division, as governance adjusts to the UK government’s Triennial Judgement reducing wagers on FOBTs machines to £2.

Publishing its half-year 2018 results (26 weeks ending 27 June), William Hill governance has pre-booked corporate losses of £916 million, which will result in the FTSE bookmaker declaring a period statutory loss before tax of £820 million.

Aiding its corporate adjustments, William Hill was able to recoup proceeds of £241 million from the disposal of its Australian business division (acquired by CrownBet) and its enterprise investment in NYX Gaming Group (acquired by Scientific Games).

Despite settling high-cost exceptional charges, William Hill governance reports solid operational progress during a period of ‘substantial corporate change’.

Closing World Cup Russia 2018 trading, in which the bookmaker recorded ‘+1 million active online customers’ during the tournament, William Hill records group net revenues of £802 million, up 3% on corresponding H1 2017’s £778 million.

In its Interim update, William Hill governance outlines substantial growth across its digital assets, with the firm’s online sportsbook up ‘18% in net revenues and 16% in new accounts’. The firm’s online gaming assets detailed 4% increase net revenues, driven by improved ‘cross-sell efficiencies’.

Replicating industry trends, William Hill’s Retail division’s net revenues were down 3% due to a ‘challenging environment for the UK high street’, with a number of UK horseracing fixture cancelled during Q1 2018 due to severe weather conditions.

Moving forward, the legacy bookmaker seeks to become a leading player in the liberalised US sports betting market, expanding its footprint within New Jersey having launched a new sportsbook at Ocean Casino in Atlantic City.

Updating investors Philip Bowcock, Chief Executive Officer of William Hill, commented on H1 2018 trading: “William Hill has performed well during the first half of 2018 and, following major regulatory decisions in the UK and US, we now have greater clarity over the challenges and opportunities that lie before us.

“During the first half, our Online business continued to deliver double-digit growth. In Retail, we are beginning to put in place plans to mitigate the impact of the Triennial Review. In the US, we have moved quickly following the repeal of PASPA as we grow into newly regulating states. We will continue to invest in the US to ensure we are well placed to capture the substantial potential available to us.”

“Fundamental to delivering over the long term will be our sustainability strategy, which marks a significant cultural change for the company. Gambling-related harm is a serious issue and it is important that we face up to this challenge. We have set ourselves the ambition that nobody is harmed by gambling and set out a detailed programme of actions as we start out on this journey.”

July 31, 2018

Caesars races to cash in on NJ, Mississippi sports betting market

Casino operator Caesars Entertainment Corp. (CEC) officially joined its rivals in the sports betting market derby, right on the heels of one Atlantic City casino that has started taking sports bets this week.

Bally’s Wild Wild West have started accepting sports bets on Monday morning, while its sister casino Harrah’s Resort will open its doors to punters on Wednesday, according to CEC. This makes the twin gambling facilities the third and fourth casinos to offer sports betting in Atlantic City.

Bally’s temporary sportsbook operation inside Wild Wild West reportedly has 30 leather chairs placed right in front of three large television screens and five smaller screens. Bally’s has converted its shuttered cashier windows to sports wagering windows. Harrah’s sports wagering space looks quite similar to Bally’s, although Harrah’s only has 28 leather chairs, six high-top tables and five screens for viewing.

CEC also plans to bring sports betting in Mississippi by mid-August through its casino properties, Horseshoe Tunica and Harrah’s Gulf Coast resorts.

The casino operator’s announcement came a day after its rival MGM declared it will create a $200 million sports betting and online gaming joint venture with UK-based GVC Holdings, one of the world’s largest bookmakers.

CEC has tapped gambling technology provider Scientific Games Corporation (Sci Games) to provide its OpenBet sportsbook platform in New Jersey and Mississippi. CEC President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Frissora described its partnership with Sci Games to be strategic since the casino operator also plans to roll out mobile sports betting throughout New Jersey and Mississippi.

Frissora pointed out that the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision to repeal the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 allows CEC to expand its “sports betting digital and mobile offerings into new markets.”

One of the advantages that CEC have against its rivals in Atlantic City is its experience operating sportsbooks in Las Vegas, according to Frissora.

“We recognize that our customers expect exciting new experiences, which is why we will continue to offer new products through our mobile and digital platforms and inside our properties,” Frissora said in a statement.