July 27, 2011

Sportingbet mulls Turkey exit to ease Lads takeover

Sportingbet has confirmed it is considering options for the disposal of its unregulated Turkish business, which would clear the way for a £600m takeover by Ladbrokes.

With the two parties known to be locked in discussions regarding a valuation for the online sports betting specialist, the sale or licensing of Sportingbet’s Turkish business is seen by analysts as removing the penultimate obstacle to Ladbrokes lodging a bid of between 80p to 90p a share.

Noting “press speculation” in this morning’s London Times over the potential disposal of its Turkish business, which according to chief executive Andy McIver (pictured) currently accounts for circa 15% of the operator’s NGR, Sportingbet released a statement to the London Stock Exchange: “The company confirms that, as part of its long-term strategy of increasing the proportion of its business mix derived from regulated markets, it is currently undertaking a review to evaluate its strategic options in relation to its Turkish language website business. This review may lead to an exit from this business.”

Sportingbet first entered Turkey in 1998 via a marketing deal with then owner of Superbahis.com, Maslin Properties. The Turkish authorities however enacted laws in 2007 that effectively outlawed online sports betting outside of the state-owned IDDAA, the same year Sportingbet brought out Maslin’s online business for an initial consideration of £3.5m. Two Sportingbet employees were arrested the following year as part of a clampdown by Turkish authorities, although no prosecutions resulted from the detentions.

Analyst James Hollins of Evoluition Securities said this morning’s news indicated that Sportingbet was “taking a direct and sensible approach to 'dealing with' its Turkey issue”, which offered “strong, secure returns, but [was] ultimately unloved by the market”.

Reiterating his buy recommendation on Sportingbet, Hollins added: “The potential sale could, we think, realise a 'surprisingly' strong cash injection into the group (surprising, as in the markets value Turkey at next to nothing), possibly into three figures (£100m). This would (1) resolve the Turkish issue, (2) improve net cash, (3) increase the likelihood of a Ladbrokes offer and (4) drive an improved share price, in our opinion.”

Sportingbet recently agreed terms for its acquisition of Australian online business Centrebet, the completion of which would increase the share of its business from regulated markets to around 33%. Regulation in its core markets of Spain and Greece would lift this regulated component to as high as 60%, but Greek draft law is currently held up by a disagreement by the ruling party over its form and the EC citing concerns regarding its compatibility with EU law.

July 26, 2011

Match-fixing scandal delays start to Turkish football season

The Turkish Football Federation has delayed the start of the new football season by more than one month as a result of the ongoing investigation into the widening match-fixing scandal which has now seen more than thirty people arrested for their involvement.

Previously set to kick off on August 7th, the Turkish Football Federation has confirmed that Turkey’s Spor Toto Super League will now begin the 2011/12 season on September 9th, a delay of more than one month.

In addition, Bank Asya 1 League, the second division of the Turkish professional leagues, will begin a day later on September 10th.

The delay to the new football season comes as Turkish football faces up to one of its biggest ever challenges, as serious allegations of match-fixing and corruption have been uncovered by authorities in the country.

More than 30 people are facing charges for their role in the growing scandal, including the president of champions Fenerbahce, Aziz Yildirim.

This followed an investigation into nineteen domestic football games, thought to include last year’s Turkish Cup final which was won by Besiktas 4-3 on penalties against Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediyespor. The victory enabled Besiktas to complete in next season’s UEFA Europa League.

Earlier this month, European football governing body UEFA said that it was fully aware of the current match-fixing allegations in Turkey surrounding certain clubs, individuals and players, and is monitoring the situation on a daily basis while maintaining close contact with the TFF.

The Turkish Football Federation has already decided to postpone the 6th TFF Super Cup, involving Fenerbahçe and Beşiktaş, which was scheduled to be played on July 31st.

July 25, 2011

Betfair enters German football sponsorship market

Having already dismissed Germany’s current proposals for its new State Treaty on Gaming as incompatible with European law, online betting exchange Betfair has entered into the German football sponsorship market for the first time following a deal with fourth division side Türkiyemspor Berlin.

Betfair will sponsor Türkiyemspor for the forthcoming season, with the company’s logo displayed on the front of the club’s football shirts. The sponsorship agreement is initially for a one year period, with an option for renewal.

“Our partnership with Betfair in the new season is an important and successful step for us,” said Yalcin Sancar, chairman of Türkiyemspor Berlin. “We are leaving behind the disappointment of last season. We must lay the foundation for a successful and sustainable future together – we must build that future together for the success of Türkiyemspor.

“Signing a sponsorship contract with an internationally successful organisation is another important step in multi-cultural bridge building for Türkiyemspor and it is a sign of our appeal.”

Founded in 1978, Türkiyemspor is a multi-cultural sports club recognised for its contribution to Germany’s immigrant communities, specifically within the Turkish community. Working with the German Football Association, Türkiyemspor paved the way for teams rooted in the country's various immigrant communities to participate in first and second division football in Germany.

The club currently plays in the Regionalliga Nord, the fourth tier of the German football league system, and the highest regional league for the northern and eastern part of Germany.

“Türkiyemspor has worked hard both in the field of athleticism and in working for tolerance and integration within and beyond the local community,” said Betfair’s regional manager of Germany and Central Europe Peter Reinhardt. “For us they are more than a football club. We specifically chose to sign with a sports club and not a professional football club.

“Without a foundation of sports clubs like this, there would be no professional football clubs. We are very pleased to be the new sponsors of such a special sports club and for the role we will play in helping this club move forward from the troubles of last season.”

Last week the standstill period for Germany’s new draft law on gambling was extended for a further month following receipt of detailed opinions from the European Commission and Malta, as well as the issue of comments from the United Kingdom. The move was welcomed by Betfair, which had earlier filed a legal complaint with the European Commission against the new German draft State Treaty on Gaming.

William Hill signs Scottish Premier League deal

UK bookmaker William Hill has signed a three-year agreement to serve as the official betting partner of the Scottish Premier League which kicked off at the weekend.

Following a successful partnership last season, William Hill will continue as the official betting partner of the Scottish Premier League, with the company benefiting from the promotion of its brand, products and services across Scotland.

“After such a thrilling climax to last season's Clydesdale Bank Premier League campaign - it was a no-brainer that we wanted to be involved again,” said Kristof Fahy, William Hill’s group marketing director. “The opportunity to reach out to such a diverse and passionate fan base will help to continue our fantastic partnership with Scottish football.”

Neil Doncaster, chief executive of the SPL, said: “It is great to have William Hill on board again as official betting partner of the SPL and this partnership demonstrates the huge level of interest in Clydesdale Bank Premier League football in the UK.

“We look forward to working with William Hill throughout the season to promote great deals to our fans, starting with the opening Clydesdale Bank Premier League fixtures this weekend.”

July 21, 2011

myBet.com awarded sports betting licence in Belgium

JAXX subsidiary myBet.com said Thursday that it will open a number of betting shops in Belgium in the next few days after being awarded a sports betting licence by the Belgian Gambling Commission, paving the way for the company to launch online operations in the country once the regulatory framework has been finalised.

JAXX said that its newly established subsidiary, QED Belgium SPRL, was awarded an F1 licence in accordance with the new Belgian Gambling Law which was enacted on January 1st 2011, allowing the company to provide sports betting services over the counter at betting shops.

The company said that once the regulatory framework for online sports betting operations has been finalised, it is expected that the licence will be extended to include online products (F1+), with myBet.com having been one of the official participants in the 'Internet Test Group' set up by the Belgian Gaming Commission.

The F1 licence covers all three regions of Belgium and allows myBet.com to immediately offer sports betting in an unlimited number of betting shops. The company said that the first myBet.com shops are expected to be opened within the next few days.

“While Germany's federal states with the exception of Schleswig-Holstein are finding themselves increasingly isolated in the EU because of their protectionism, Belgium is yet another good example of how a market for gaming can be regulated sensibly and liberally - without stifling the emergence of competition in its infancy or neglecting sensitive topics such as player protection and gambling addiction,” said Mathias Dahms, JAXX’s management board spokesman.

“We are delighted to be able to compete in the Belgian market with such an outstanding brand as myBet.com.”

Belgium passed new gaming laws last year but currently has no government to sign them into existence. However, the Belgian Gambling Commission is granting licences despite the delay.

Last week Belgium published two decrees on online gaming licences in the Official Journal.

The first allows casinos, gaming halls and betting operators who already own a land-based license to apply for an additional online gaming licence from September 1st. Games and bets which they will be allows to propose must be identical to those offered in their land-based environment.

Secondly, the Belgian Gaming Commission may prosecute internet site who do not own a license as of next year and intends, among other things, to systemically block relevant sites. In the case of foreign sites, these will only be targeted if they target the Belgian market.

Until the entire licence procedure has been put in place, candidates for an additional gaming licence may offer their online gaming services in an 'experimental' phase, with temporary licences issued by the Commission.

July 20, 2011

Chancellor Osborne to signal changes to offshore gambling tax rules

Offshore operators pay no UK tax, while onshore gambling companies pay 15% gross profits tax plus corporation tax. The chancellor George Osborne will fire the starting gun on the Treasury's new tax grab of offshore gambling profits by making a statement to the House of Commons.

The move, squeezed into the House's schedule on Monday, just before the start of the summer recess, follows a statement on the same topic last week by the heritage minister, John Penrose. He announced that every betting company offering wagers to British punters will have to obtain a UK licence – news that was widely seen as a precursor to the UK beginning to tax offshore operators. Like Penrose, Osborne is not expected to give a detailed outline of his plans, but the announcement will start a process leading to a more formal proposal and ultimately a tax-rate change.

A racing industry lobbyist said: "The statement will mean that this will be part of Treasury legislation. There is going to have to be a level of consultation in all of this but I would have thought that [the statement] will mean that the topic will end up being worth four sentences in the chancellor's budget speech next year."

Currently, offshore operators pay no UK tax, while onshore gambling companies are liable for a 15% gross profits tax plus corporation tax. Bookies operating from the UK also argue that they are disadvantaged by VAT.

There are a range of new taxation options open to the Treasury, which include simply imposing the 15% rate on offshore operators dealing with UK punters. However, the leading high-street bookmakers are almost certain to lobby for a drop in the gross profits tax to about 10%, arguing that the duty would also catch rivals who currently pay nothing. One top high-street chain privately insists that such a regime would see it repatriate its offshore operations to the UK.

Gambling analysts have warned that the government cannot simply change the law to raise taxes, which is why many of them believe that the initial move was made by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport [DCMS] and was painted as a consumer protection initiative.

In a note, JP Morgan analyst Richard Stuber remarked: "While the [DCMS] statement is likely to focus on player protection, rather than tax [a Treasury issue], we believe the key proposed change will be a move from recognising supply to recognising demand from a regulatory standpoint. We believe this could be the first step to creating a tax footprint for UK operators regardless of their corporate domicile."

Playtech signs 10-year Gala Coral deal

Playtech has signed one its largest contracts agreeing a decade-long €5m a year deal with Gala Coral to supply the group with a full range of gaming products including its IMS platform that will support the operator’s entire product range as well as see it migrate to its Virtue Fusion bingo network.

The supplier will be responsible for software across Gala Coral’s online gaming products, including sports betting, casino and bingo with migration from existing suppliers to the Playtech Information Management Solution platform and products expected to commence in the first half of next year, it announced in a statement this morning. The deal is thought to be its first multi-product deal, and is expected to be cash generative by 2012.

According to the Financial Times the deal ranks as one of its top three or four deals and could be worth up to €5m a year in pre-tax profits.

Gala Coral signed a memorandum of understanding with Playtech in June allowing the bookmaker to migrate a number of its platforms onto technology from the London-listed company.

It is thought William Hill Online, Playtech’s egaming joint venture partner, despite taking out an injunction earlier that month preventing the software supplier from doing similar deals with rivals Ladbrokes, was given prior warning to today’s agreement and has given its blessing. At the time Playtech reached a resolution with William Hill allowing it to licence its software to another, at the time, unnamed UK operator. Both parties are thought to have agreed that Playtech is allowed to complete software agreements but not joint ventures with rival businesses.

According to the FT “amendments to its joint venture allows Playtech to offer poker and casino products to Ladbrokes”.

Playtech already supplies and operates 6,500 of its Videobet gaming terminals to the privately held group as well as its Gala Coral’s rivals, William Hill and Ladbrokes.

Gala Coral's current suppliers include Geneity (sportsbook platform), Ash Gaming (games), Chartwell (casino), Cryptologic (slots games), Evolution (live casino), IGT (jackpot, games and slots), Ongame (poker network), Jadestone (Dice Arena - skills games network) and Game Account (skill games), Mfuse (mobile), Inspired Gaming (slots), Betradar (sports betting on Coral).

According to chief executive Mor Weizer, only Geneity will remain as a supplier to Gala Coral with the others gradually leaving between now and next year.

Playtech acquires Mobenga in potential €23.8m deal

Looking to integrate sports betting alongside its existing mobile casino, poker and bingo offerings, online gaming platform provider Playtech Limited has entered into an agreement to acquire Swedish mobile gaming developer Mobenga in a deal worth up to €23.8m.

Under the agreement, Playtech will acquire the entire issued share capital of Mobenga AB for an initial €8m subject to final working capital adjustments, plus a further consideration based on a 6 times multiple of the profit before tax of the business in 2013, capped at €15.8m. The initial amount has been financed from Playtech's existing cash resources.

Mobenga is a leading provider of mobile sportsbook betting platforms and has a fast growing base of customers, including major brands such as PaddyPower, Unibet, Skybet, Stan James, and Nordicbet. The company has developed a mobile solution delivering a sports betting offering on handheld devices, including smart phones and tablets, across Apple iOS, Android and HTML.

Playtech said that this provides a fully customised and highly flexible offering, allowing an operator to reflect its brand through the design, look and feel of its mobile channel, thereby complementing its online offering. The solution offers operators a range of features such as a touch user interface (TUI) and advanced functionality, including live video streaming which is fully integrated with its existing platform.

“Recent developments in mobile gaming are increasingly important in driving player acquisition and delivering demonstrable revenue streams,” said Playtech CEO, Mor Weizer. “Sports betting has always been the core product for many operators - one which creates different cross selling opportunities to other gaming products.

“This deal will position Playtech as the leading mobile gaming provider to take best advantage of the growth in mobile gaming and to integrate sports betting alongside its existing mobile casino, poker and bingo offerings providing the operators the ability to offer a complete multi-product mobile gaming solution.”

Playtech said that with the continued growth in the customer base in 2011, Mobenga achieved profitability during the second quarter of 2011 and on the current run rate is expected to be profitable for the full year.

“The Mobenga team has successfully developed and rapidly deployed a flexible solution which is highly regarded by many of the industry's largest operators and are growing their licensee base strongly,” continued Weizer.

“By integrating such a proven and sophisticated mobile platform into our offering, and gaining access to the excellent skills and know-how of the Mobenga team, we continue our strategy of positioning Playtech as the pre-eminent independent software provider. We are delighted to welcome Mobenga into the Playtech family.”

Christian Rajter, founder and CEO of Mobenga, added: “I am very excited by the opportunities this deal brings. It will help us take Mobenga to the next level and gives us exposure to the widest possible group of potential licensees. It underpins the future growth of the business and we look forward to being part of the Playtech team and contributing to the development of a leading mobile capability integrated into the market's leading gaming platform.”

July 19, 2011

bwin.party launches Italian cash game poker and casino

bwin.party digital entertainment plc has launched a number of new branded online gaming services in Italy under the bwin, Party and Gioco Digitale brands, following the introduction of cash game poker and online casino games in the Italian market.

bwin.party said that the launch of Italian cash game poker and casino follows the award of the requisite licenses from the Italian regulator, AAMS.

The new services for cash game poker and table based casino games have been launched under the bwin, Party and Gioco Digitale brands - PartyPoker.it, bwin.it, GdPoker.it and Giocodigitale.it.

bwin.party added that further branded offerings are expected to be launched over the coming weeks.

“We are delighted to have been one of the first operators to launch these new services,” said Jim Ryan and Norbert Teufelberger, co-CEOs of bwin.party. “Cash game poker is by far the most popular format and through our excellent software, we can now provide Italian customers with the very best in both tournaments and cash games and look forward to consolidating our already strong presence in the Italian market where, according to AAMS data, the Group's poker brands command over 16% combined market share.

“The launch of our casino offer in Italy should provide an exciting new revenue stream for us, and we look forward to leveraging our strong market position in other products over the coming months.”

The new launch expands the company’s existing licensed activities in Italy which includes online sports betting, skill games (including tournament poker) and online bingo.

Fortuna launches new Czech lottery game with Intralot

Greece’s Intralot has confirmed the launch of Fortuna Entertainment Group’s first numerical lottery game in the Czech Republic, as the battle to dominate the country’s lottery market heats up.

Intralot said Monday that it has launched operations at Fortuna’s network of more than 700 terminals for the operation of numerical, fast and instant games, which will rise to some 1,000 terminals in the next few weeks.

Under the company’s ten-year contract with Fortuna, Intralot intends to supply up to 3,500 lottery terminals, which are expected to be installed by the end of 2012.

“Fortuna is launching its operations much earlier than expected and is ready to provide a wide portfolio of gaming offerings to its customers in Czech Republic,” said Martin Illner, CEO of Fortuna Lottery. “So far, we have managed to develop a wide network of well-placed PoS that we are planning to expand further.

“We are confident that together with our experienced technological vendor, Intralot, we will manage to become the market leader of the country and recreate its gaming world.”

With problems besetting rival Sazka in recent times, Fortuna hopes to gain a 30 per cent share of the market within the next two years.

“We are pleased to cooperate with Fortuna, a strong player in Central Europe, in our strategic decision to enter the very promising Czech market,” said Fotis Mavroudis, Intralot’s managing director for Europe/North Africa region. “Intralot has supported the early launch of the project and will also secure its smooth and successful operation.

“Fortuna’s extended experience of the local market, together with Intralot’s international know-how guarantee the positive results of the project.”

The launch of numerical lottery games comes three months ahead of schedule and follows the recent introduction of a new lottery product from another rival, Tipsport, which was forced into a last minute name change following a challenge by Sazka.

EC Raises Doubts Over German Gambling Law

The European Commission has raised serious doubts over the compatibility of Germany’s draft gambling law with the country’s 16 Länder now forced to rectify their proposals or face EC infringement proceedings – a move welcomed by a number of operators that generate significant revenue there.

Martin Cruddace, Betfair’s chief legal and regulatory affairs officer, said he was “pleased and encouraged” to learn that the European Commission shares the same opinion [as Betfair] and added that from the outset it was “clear” that the proposals put forward by the German Länder were “discriminatory, anti-competitive and therefore incompatible with EU law”.

“Although the federal states claim to be opening up the market for sports betting, the current draft treaty contained a raft of protectionist measures designed to keep private online operators out of the market.

“We now expect the German draft law to be amended so that it genuinely caters for a competitive online gambling market in Germany, and will subsequently ensure the highest standards of value, integrity and security for German consumers.

“As a responsible operator committed to transparency and integrity, Betfair hopes to obtain a licence in the newly regulated German market, and we view today’s action from the Commission as a significant step towards us achieving this goal,” he added.

In June German’s federal prime ministers said they would delay their decision on the new State Gambling Treaty until October, when they hope to have a framework agreed upon by all 16 German federal states or Länder.

The delay was meant to allow the Länder to incorporate the decision of the EC on the compliance with EU law of their proposals, revealed in April, for a restrictive opening of the online sports betting market to private operators based on a 16.66% turnover tax. Following the EC’s findings, however, this could now be in doubt.

In the same month Betfair-commissioned research published by leading German law professor Professor Bernd Grzeszick of the University of Heidelberg that found the present notified draft would “fail in any assessment by the ECJ as well as in national courts”, as it does not restrict operators’ rights to offer services in the territory enshrined in Articles of 49 and 56 of the EU Treaty “in a consistent and systematic manner as required by the ECJ.”

Leading gambling data business H2 Gambling Capital has also projected a regulated market in Germany would only capture 7% of total egaming activity in the territory should it proceed with the restrictive opening for sports betting proposed in April.

July 15, 2011

Macau: gaming sector needs at least more 1,000 workers

The Macau Gaming Industry Employees Association, the territory’s biggest casino workers union, says the local casino sector needs at least 1,000 more workers as new properties are set to open in Cotai in the coming years.

According to the association’s head, João Bosco Cheang Hong Lok, Macau casinos are already facing manpower shortages.

Cheang stressed the growing job-hopping trend among dealers and supervisors, a phenomenon he said has recently increased by almost one third, with employees looking for promotions and better salaries at rival gaming operators.

Microgaming announces new games for July

Microgaming announced an array of exciting new games for release in July across its Download and Flash platforms, and through QuickFire, powered by Microgaming.

Riviera Riches is an amazing new five reel video slot, which incorporates a roulette wheel into its Bonus Feature. Set in opulent surroundings, the graphics for Riviera Riches portray elegance and wealth with flashy cars, haughty gamblers, and beautiful women sipping expensive champagne.

The innovative Roulette Bonus is triggered if the Bonus Scatter symbol lands anywhere on reels one and five. During the bonus round, players are awarded with two spins of the roulette wheel – choosing a number between 1 and 36. Players are guaranteed a minimum win of 4x multiplier during the bonus round and can win up to 35x multiplier. The game also offers 12 Free Spins if three or more scatter symbols land anywhere on the reels and all prizes awarded are multiplied by three.

Riviera Riches will be available on Microgaming’s Download and Flash platforms.

Hexaline is an ‘alternative slot’ style game where players aim to complete a coloured chain of adjacent hexagons from left to right on the honeycomb grid. After wins are paid, winning blocks are replaced with random new blocks which offer players the opportunity to win even more. If three or more bonus symbols are present on the grid after all wins are paid, the Gold Trail Bonus game is awarded. Players pick hexagons in an attempt to advance towards the right hand side of the grid, with each pick adding to the win until the End Bonus symbol is selected.

Hexaline will be available on Microgaming’s Flash platform and through QuickFire, powered by Microgaming.

Multi-Player Premier Roulette – Diamond Edition offers players the opportunity to play roulette with other players, placing bets alongside each other and watching how they play. Players can choose to play on a 20, 40, or 60 second table and are able to build on and work out their own strategy, copy a lucky player, or compete to be the biggest winner. Players can also choose an Alias and Avatar before taking a seat at the table and chatting with fellow players.

Multi-Player Premier Roulette – Diamond Edition will be available on Microgaming’s Flash platform and through QuickFire, powered by Microgaming.

Betting exchange Betdaq exits Australian market following media investigation

Irish-based betting exchange Betdaq (Global Betting Exchange) has abruptly pulled out of the Australian market following an investigation by local media outlet The Australian. A Betdaq spokesman announced that “betting services on Australian races and sports has been stopped. A legal problem has developed. It should be sorted out soon but until further notice we will not be operating on Australian sport.”

The brouhaha began when reporters from The Australian secretly opened an online account with Betdaq, which is not a licensed partner of the Australian Football League, National Rugby League or any of Australia’s horseracing bodies. The Australian claims that their ability to open a Betdaq account makes a mockery of the recent agreement between national sports associations and the government to police the integrity of Aussie sports.

Betdaq is a particular concern for integrity watchdogs because the exchange model allows punters to bet on teams/horses to lose. In response to The Australian’s investigation, Racing Victoria’s Rob Hines and Racing NSW’s Peter V’Landys issued a joint call for legislation that would require Australian banks to block money transfers to non-licensed betting operators. AFL general manager Adrian Anderson backed the racing bosses’ call, but used the incident to issue a plea for lifting the ban on licensed operators taking spot bets, which he said “would ensure punters did not go seeking that option on overseas sites.”

While Betdaq may have pulled Australian fixtures from their menu, other operators are likely to soon fill the void. Sky Racing’s recent deal with UK racing channel At The Races can only boost the Australian racing industry’s profile abroad, and thus further stoke horse bettors’ appetites for betting on the bob-tailed nags.

UK: Written Ministerial Statement on Remote Gambling Policy Proposals

The Minister for Tourism and Heritage (John Penrose):

British consumers face different consumer protection arrangements and have to deal with a myriad of different regulators and languages depending on where the gambling they are taking part in is regulated. This problem is growing as more countries permit online gambling. At the same time, it is unfair to GB-licensed gambling operators that overseas competitors benefit from access to the market in Great Britain without bearing a fair share of the costs of regulation, or of research, education and treatment of problem gambling.

I am proposing that the Gambling Act should be amended so that remote gambling is regulated on a point of consumption basis, so that all operators selling into the British market, whether from here or abroad, will be required to hold a Gambling Commission licence to enable them to transact with British consumers and to advertise in Great Britain.

As I intend to allow operators anywhere in the world to apply for a Gambling Commission licence, my proposals will mean that the white list will be phased out, although the Gambling Commission will ensure that regulatory good practice is recognised so that overseas based businesses in trusted jurisdictions such as the white listed countries, will have much lighter touch approach and, for example, will not have to duplicate regulatory work.

To ensure the minimum disruption for operators in the British market, I intend to put in place a period of transition which will see operators already licensed in EEA Member States and the existing white-listed jurisdictions entitled to or eligible for an automatic transitional licence to prevent them having to cease trading.

These proposals are an important measure to help address concerns about problem gambling and to bridge a regulatory gap, by ensuring that British consumers will enjoy consistent standards of protection, no matter which online gambling site they visit. For example, previous work by the Gambling Commission has highlighted deficiencies in some remote operators’ arrangements for preventing underage play, and, for the first time, overseas operators will be required to inform the UK regulator about suspicious betting patterns to help fight illegal activity and corruption in sports betting.

These reforms will ensure consistency and a level playing field as all overseas operators will be subject to the same regulatory standards and requirements as British-based operators.
The Government will work with the Gambling Commission and other stakeholders to develop the detailed arrangements for the new licensing system which will require changes to primary legislation.

July 14, 2011

More arrests in Turkish match-fixing probe

Turkey's state-run news agency says there have been five more arrests in a growing match-fixing probe, raising the number of suspects in jail to more than 30 and implicating leading club Besiktas.

The Anatolia news said Thursday that Besiktas' deputy chairman Serdar Adali and coach Tayfur Havutcu were charged late Wednesday. Two players from Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediyespor were also arrested.

Prosecutors have charged dozens of suspects, including the president of league champion Fenerbahce, over corruption allegations involving 19 games.

Besiktas finished fifth in the Turkish first league last season and also won the Turkish Cup.

William Hill takes a second bite at Italy

UK bookmaker William Hill has confirmed plans to enter the Italian online gaming market, as the company looks to benefit from the introduction of online casino games in Italy which is expected to take place later this month.

Following licence approval from Italian gaming authorities AAMS, William Hill said that its new WilliamHill.it site will be launched later this month. The company has spent over a year developing its Italian site, with the aim of competing with rivals such as Lottomatica, Microgame and bwin/Gioco Digitale.

With AAMS set to introduce online casino games to the Italian market possible as soon as July 18th, William Hill said that its new site will initially offer online casino games to its players, followed closely by bingo, sports betting and poker products.

“We are really excited about our Italian venture,” said Henry Birch, CEO of William Hill. “The combination of a high passion for sports and gaming makes Italy one of the most important markets in our international expansion plans.

“We’ve spent a lot of time developing the site and ensuring it conforms to the AAMS regulatory requirements. We’re delighted with the outcome of the site and we believe it will be a big hit with Italian players.”

William Hill added that its Italian launch will be supported by a marketing campaign, developed to maximise awareness of its brand in Italy.

The company withdrew from the Italian sports betting market in 2008, following the sale of its joint venture with Codere for a total consideration of €5.5m to Intralot Italia.

William Hill said at the time that despite holding 57 Italian retail betting licences which the joint venture was awarded in a 2006 tender process, 'the number was insufficient in scale to provide an attractive long term return'.

The €5.5 million sale also included the online betting licence awarded to William Hill Codere Italia following the 2006 tender.

London Olympics: IOC to bring in gambling ban

The International Olympic Committee is to introduce a widespead gambling ban at the London 2012 events in an attempt to prevent the match-fixing scandals which have blighted cricket and football.

The ban will apply to all 11,000 athletes, their coaches and support staff, VIPs and accredited politicians and journalists. It will also cover anybody who has access to inside information of the sporting competition or competing athletes.

The IOC hopes the tougher stance will help combat illegal and irregular betting, which President Jacques Rogge has called the biggest threat to the credibility and integrity of sport.

In his opening address at the 123rd IOC session in Durban, Rogge said there was “no room for complacency". He added: “Protecting the integrity of sport is a priority for the IOC. In all these areas, cooperation with governments is essential.”

The IOC has the authority to strip medals from competitors and ban them and their support teams from future Olympic competition if the rules are breached at any time from July 16 to Aug 15 next year.

Those who face action by the IOC disciplinary commission will be asked to hand over telephone bills, bank statements, internet service records, computers, hard drives and other electronic information storage devices.

July 08, 2011

bwin signs Euroleague Basketball sponsorship

bwin has signed up as the sponsor of Europe’s leading basketball competition, Euroleague Basketball, securing marketing and media rights to the competition until 2014.

The agreement with Euroleague Basketball follows the signing of an extension to a similar agreement in June between bwin brand owner bwin.party and FIBA, the world governing body for basketball.

“We are proud to announce the Euroleague Basketball agreement which represents a perfect match to our long lasting relationship with FIBA, the world governing body for basketball. This makes bwin an even stronger brand as we will now cover both club basketball with the Euroleague and the national teams through our FIBA partnership,” said Norbert Teufelberger, co-CEO of bwin.party digital entertainment.

“It is a big step for Euroleague Basketball to welcome bwin as partner until 2014,” added Jordi Bertomeu, president and CEO of Euroleague Basketball. “The most important basketball competition in Europe now gets the most important sports betting brand, bwin, as a supporter to take club basketball´s popularity in Europe to an even higher level.”

July 07, 2011

ARJEL suspends Full Tilt licence in France

French regulator ARJEL has suspended Full Tilt's licence for the foreseeable future. Rekop Limited, Full Tilt’s French licence holder, has had its licence suspended as a “precautionary” measure.

The ARJEL panel said a suspension, the length of which has yet to be determined, was necessary due to the dot.fr site’s inaccessibility following the original multiple licence suspension by the Alderney Gambling Control Commission last week and the company’s need to seek additional financial guarantees to continue operating.

ARJEL said it was, and would, remain in contact with Full Tilt to ensure refinancing conditions are met in the interest and protection of players in France.

Just days after Black Friday on 15 April the French regulator gave Rekop notice to generate new certificates of the bank managing its French business proving it had enough funds to pay players and continue operating, however it has so far been unable to do so in France as well as globally.

Full Tilt is facing an increasingly uncertain future with all its current operational licences now suspended, world-wide accounts frozen and two of its founders named in the original Black Friday indictments. It has also yet to pay back any of its US customers.

James Hollins, analyst at Evolution Securities, said that with zero cash income following Full Tilt's complete licensing base suspension, the situation could become "terminal" for the business if its cashflow issues are not resolved soon.

Late last week it emerged Full Tilt could reportedly be on the verge of selling a majority stake in parent company Pocket Kings to unnamed European investors, however no further news has since materialised with various sources connected to the company unable to comment.

Cirsa and Codere against tender and sale of Lotería y Apuestas del Estado

The upcoming IPO of Loterías y Apuestas del Estado (LAE) has not only raised expectations among investors, but also between the rival companies. Some of the major private operators in game, like Cirsa and Codere, criticize the way the privatization will be carry out.

Codere is "concerned about the possible unfair competition that may occur by the state enterprise.” This group, the only quoted in Spain with a capitalization of 520 million euros in 2010, criticizes that "an entity that doesn’t pay taxes can compete with the weapons of their special status against private operators."

Meanwhile, Cirsa is not much more positive. Its CEO, Joaquim Agut, stated that "the State cannot compete unfairly with Loterías," and requested a fiscal and regulatory treatment similar to the one that new law gives to public companies, which prepares the sale of 30% of its capital through an IPO next November.

To Agut, the lack of reciprocity between the two groups is shown in, for example, that LAE may enter and compete in new products with better fiscal framework than the other groups and less advertising restrictions. "We want a similar deal," said Agut. "The state can’t be regulator and competitor at the same time."

Cirsa, controlled by the Lao family, defends his position with data: according to its figures, industry revenue has fallen 27% since 2008, compared to the "slight fall" of LAE (-2%) and Once (-10% ). In its view, reflects the regulatory asymmetry.

At Once, they are cautious. "We don’t have all the information about how the IPO will be and we don’t have a closed stance in this regard," they said in the state. A different approach is the one that shows the association of Internet gamblers, Aedapi. Despite acknowledging that the public group will start "with certain advantages," its director, Sacha Michaud, is "positive" with privatization and believes "that the industry will grow faster. Their current games will continue free tax, but not the new ones,” he says.