Category Archive : gambling

Gambling Commission appoints four senior commissioners

The Gambling Commission has announced the appointment of four commissioners to start effective immediately.

Terry Babbs, Brian Bannister, Jo Hill and Sir Martin Narey will take up their positions on the Gambling Commission’s Board of Commissioners, after being appointed by the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden.

Each will be in the role for five years from 30 April 2020.

Babbs joins alongside his roles as the senior independent director at the General Dental Council, vice char of the Investment Committee of Oxfam’s Enterprise Development Programme, and non-executive director of HMRC’s Valuation Office Agency.

Bannister, a former PwC UK Director of Public Affairs, is also currently the executive director for strategic insight and influence at the England and Wales Law Society.

Executive director of strategy and risk at The Pensions Regulator, Jo Hill has also held senior roles in the banking and insurance sectors. Government adviser on children’s social care, Narey has previously been director general of the England and Wales Prison Service.

Gambling Commission Chairman, Bill Moyes said: “Their collective experience will help us as we look to implement further protections for consumers and strongly regulate what is a fast-moving and innovative industry.

“I’d like to welcome them to the Commission and look forward to working closely with them.”

England footballer Kieran Trippier charged by FA for betting breaches

Kieran Trippier has been charged with misconduct by the Football Association (FA) due to betting breaches.

The charges relate to the period of July 2019 and the England footballer has until 18 May to provide a response.

The former Tottenham Hotspur defender, who now plays for Atletico Madrid in Spain, is said to have broken two of the FA’s rules.

The first rule involves a footballer not being allowed to bet, or directly or indirectly enable a person to bet on a football event.

The second rule involves passing on information to aid another person betting on football.

In March, former England international Daniel Sturridge was suspended from all football-related activity for four months, after being found guilty of breaking the FA’s betting rules.

Pandemic has become “a real leveller” between fans and players

Kevin Dale, CEO, Faraway Sports, says the current coronavirus pandemic has brought sports fans and athletes closer together.

It’s a concept which has helped FSB’s Remote Darts League (RDL) succeed, according to Dale, who helped the supplier with the project.

Speaking at the SBC Digital Summit alongside FSB CEO Dave McDowell and CTO Sam Lawrence, Dale said: “The pandemic is a real leveller, particularly between fans and players.

“Fans for the first time can see into players’ homes, so it brings everybody closer.

“We’re all in the same boat and we were able to capitalise on that with some fan competitions at the end, with the winner being able to play against a pro on finals night from their own home.

“Players, organisers and fans are that much closer together now.”

Moving forward, Dale and FSB have plans to expand the tournament while the current lockdown shows no signs of abating.

He added: “We’re moving now to Remote Darts League Two, with 16 players and some top lady players too.

“And we’re going worldwide this time, too. Logistically and technically, that will be slightly more problematic!”

Macau’s revenue drops in April

Data shows that gross gaming revenue (GGR) for Macau casinos fell by 96.8% compared to April last year. The revenue is also 85.7% less than March’s. The data from the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau showed April’s GGR was MOP754 million ($94.4 million).

Since the start of 2020, Macau’s GGR fell by 68.7% compared to year-on-year data from 2019. The four months earned Macau MOP31.24 billion, while the revenue for the same period last year was MOP99.74 billion.

Experts agree that such a drop was caused by travel restrictions and country lockdowns. Reportedly, Macau received several hundred visitors a day in April 2020, while the same time in 2019 saw close to 100,000 visitors.

 Credit Suisse equity analyst Kenneth Fong said the Individual Visit Scheme could help Macau’s situation. “We estimate the pent-up demand will help the VIP business to recover to 50% once borders reopen and likely reach 100% of the pre-virus level in summer time,” he said. However, mass GGR would likely only recover by the end of the year.

In the meantime, MGM Resorts remains optimistic that summer will see the return to profits with more relaxed travel regulations. Bill Hornbuckle, MGM Resorts International’s acting chief executive, is confident the company will recover once the COVID-19 restrictions are no longer an obstacle. It’s estimated MGM China venues cost $1.5 million a day to run, which is more than the properties currently earn.

While the casinos in Macau are open, the lack of visitors will likely continue to put a strain on the venues.

SPORTRADAR TEAMS UP WITH PLAYSIGHT, TENNIS CHANNEL AND BASE TENNIS ACADEMY FOR THE TENNIS POINT EXHIBITION SERIES

SPORTRADAR TEAMS UP WITH PLAYSIGHT, TENNIS CHANNEL AND BASE TENNIS ACADEMY FOR THE TENNIS POINT EXHIBITION SERIES

As live sport starts to slowly return, Sportradar, the global provider of sports content and intelligence, today announced partnerships with PlaySight Interactive and Base Tennis Academy to launch the Tennis Point Exhibition Series, a three date series of events starting in Germany this Friday, 1 May.

The four day event, featuring eight top men’s players from the ATP ranks, will be streamed live via Tennis Channel’s new Over-the-Top (OTT) platform – Tennis Channel International. Utilising Sportradar’s market leading OTT platform, Tennis Channel International is available as a paid for app to tennis fans in Austria, Germany and Switzerland, and was launched this week with a one month free trial. The service is also available on Tennis Channel’s www.tennischanneleverywhere.com website.

Organised and hosted by Base Tennis Academy at their sports complex in Höhr-Grenzhausen, Sportradar is delivering a range of live tennis content solutions directly from the event. This includes data production, using data collection software which the umpires will use to score matches and transmit data back to Sportradar.

Additional live content from the event includes a state-of-the-art audio-visual offering. Working alongside PlaySight Interactive, Sportradar’s live video content will feature a seven camera production, with live mixing and replays, graphics and German commentary. 

Sportradar is also providing integrity monitoring services for the event series, with this weekend’s fixture being one of the first competitions to take place between ATP ranked players since professional tennis was suspended in early March due to the coronavirus outbreak.

David Lampitt, Managing Director Sport Partnerships at Sportradar, said: “This is a significant moment as we move to bring back live tennis. The players have received compliance clearance from the ATP and TIU to participate in the events and we will be monitoring event progress, as well as providing remote production services to maximise safety on-site.

“We’re tapping into the full breadth of our technological capabilities to deliver safely and responsibly at this time for our partners.” 

Playsight Managing Director Rodney Rapson said: “We have enjoyed a strong working relationship with Sportradar in other past endeavours, and are excited to lead the return of tennis with them – in a safe and responsible manner.

“We are taking the opportunity to utilize video and production technology in new ways to provide the very best viewing experience for tennis players around the world, while ensuring stringent compliance with Germany’s coronavirus measures.”

Andy Reif, Senior Vice President, Tennis Channel International, added: “Sportradar is an integral partner in the global rollout of Tennis Channel International and the platform’s ongoing performance for our customers.

“Once live tennis returns, we are especially excited to introduce MatchCast, our new play-by-play and statistics graphical interface powered by Sportradar that will allow tennis fans to follow live competition around the world in real time with dynamic graphics, advanced data and statistical information you can’t find anywhere else.”

Base Tennis Director Ruben Herrera added: “At Base Tennis, we asked ourselves a simple question: what can we do today that will help serve the tennis community’? We wanted to bring the joy of tennis back to peoples’ lives, and that is how the event came to be. It has grown well beyond our initial expectations thanks to the great partners and players that have joined in.”

The first Tennis Point Exhibition Series event begins this weekend with subsequent events taking place between 7 – 10 May and 14 – 17 May. Each event of the Series will be available via the Tennis Channel International app.

Operators not taking current situation lightly, says William Hill director

Operators are not taking the current situation brought about by the coronavirus pandemic lightly and are very much focused on player protection, according to a panellist from William Hill.

Speaking at payments day of the SBC Digital Summit, William Hill AML group director Steven Armstrong said player information is key in this current period so operators are aware what could lead to a change in behavior.

He said: “It’s important for us to know personal information such as if someone has been furloughed from a long-term job which might change their behavior and lead them to play a different product or for more hours than usual.

“Knowing their situation allows us to manage their and all that data collected is so vital for us to make that decision. The pandemic has heighted the need for such information but operators should be doing this anyway.”

Armstrong also praised the industry after it was announced this week members of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) in the UK have agreed to no longer advertise on TV or radio during the lockdown. He added that the industry needs to come together during this current crisis.

“There has been a lot more focus on player checks from the industry during this time. We always react to bad news in the industry, but the work I’ve seen with us and from other members – including those of the BGC – shows we haven’t taken this situation lightly.

“We’re certainly not taking advantage, if anything it’s hitting us hard. We’re a hibernating sports business and it will return which will give us a chance to refresh but other operators don’t have that luxury and it will still be hitting them hard over the head. As an industry we need to come together to make sure the customers are protected during this period.

“What we’re really looking at is if a player’s situation has changed and if they are now looking at gambling to make ends meet.”

Flutter announces Stars Group acquisition to be completed 5 May

Flutter Entertainment has announced its acquisition and merger with The Stars Group (TSG) will be completed on 5 May.

The deal will see Flutter acquire all TSG’s issued and outstanding shares, to create a merged entity worth £3.8bn ($4.7bn), which was first announced last October.

Last week, 99.9% of TSG shareholders voted to support to special resolution, with Flutter shareholders voting 99.19% in favour, a week prior.

Flutter has now received all of the remaining regulatory and competition authority clearances, with trading on the London Stock Exchange’s main market for listed securities, and Euronext’s Dublin Main Securities Market, to commence at 8am on 5 May.

The combined business will initially have five reporting segments, including TSG International – excluding current US operators – Sky Betting and Gaming and Paddy Power Betfair (PPB)

Flutter anticipates the Group will report 2020 full-year earnings on that basis, before moving to a four-divisional operating structure, merging TSG International operations with PPB. Paddy Power will then move into a new UK & Ireland division, along with Sky Betting and Gaming.

Flutter CEO, Peter Jackson, said: “The enlarged group brings together exceptional brands, products and businesses, a hugely talented and experienced team, and a diverse global presence.

“The strength of our combined portfolio of assets means that we approach the future with confidence in these uncertain times.”

Yggdrasil expands strategic partnership with Azure Tech into Franchise

Yggdrasil Gaming has signed a strategic Franchise licensing agreement with Asian gaming supplier Azure Tech. This is the second Franchise agreement from Yggdrasil in less than two weeks. 

Azure Tech is a rapidly emerging content provider, introducing superior game content to the Asian gaming industry. With its dedicated IT infrastructure, Azure Tech has the capacity to ensure the best performance on game content distribution. With its tailored BI service, Azure Tech is able to elevate customer engagement to the next level and boost client profits.

As part of the Franchise licensing agreement, Azure Tech will have access to Yggdrasil’s entire end-to-end game development process, the YG platform including its standardised GATI technology (Game Adaption Tools & Interface) solution, and game promotional tools via BOOST™.

As a Franchisee to Yggdrasil and through the unique GATI technology, Azure Tech will be able to source and offer its own game content for distribution to targeted markets, and cross-collaborate with other Franchisees globally, enabling it to accelerate territorial reach and drive incremental revenue opportunities.

Azure Tech’s business strategy will be significantly accelerated following its decision to become a Franchisee of Yggdrasil, enabling the supplier to take greater control of its B2B iGaming operation, rapidly scale up market opportunities and optimise its roadmap offering.

Cora Chen COO of Azure Tech, said: “We are very proud to expand our business cooperation with such an innovative and professional company as Yggdrasil. We remain amazed how agile and responsive they are as a company and how Yggdrasil continue to deliver groundbreaking technologies that support faster time to market for partners’ business needs. We are very excited to become a Franchisee of Yggdrasil, and we cannot wait to realise the potential of the GATI technology, to start collaborating with other Franchisees, and having full access to their best in class slots and table games”.

Björn Krantz, Head of Publishing for Yggdrasil, said: “We are absolutely delighted to sign our second strategic Franchise partnership in just two weeks. With our new Franchise offering, Azure Tech will be able to scale its go-to-market operations and accelerate its business strategy in a way they did not think possible.

“GATI is a true disruptor technology. All our partners, being tightly integrated to GATI, will be able to cross-sell their games to any of our global Franchisees. This is a unique way to rapidly scale distribution and revenue opportunities at the same time as enabling completely new ways of working and collaborating. It’s truly exciting times for us, Azure Tech and our Franchisees”.              

Are Scandinavian markets becoming ‘guinea pigs’ for stricter gambling regulation?

With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting industries worldwide, without even mentioning its effect on human life in general, the gambling industry was always bound to suffer to some degree.

Land-based casinos have fallen victim to property closures and sports betting has been stripped of its essence through the postponement and cancellation of major sport.

As has been explored in depth by Gambling Insider, other verticals have thrived, including online casino, virtuals, poker and esports. But, for the sector as a whole, it is as tough a time as it has seen.

With social distancing and isolation measures also in place globally, there is increased scrutiny on problem gambling and an increase in online gaming.

While the industry has been quick to point out data has not shown as “drastic” a change in player behaviour as expected, external outlets have reported on operators ‘luring problem gamblers back in,’ as well as picking up on rogue operators offering COVID-19 related markets.

As Gambling Insider warned earlier this month, elevated scrutiny always seemed inevitable during this pandemic. Anti-gambling media outlets have relied less on evidence and data in recent years but, in their defence, the industry was always likely to come out and play down any rise in problem gambling.

Whatever the real numbers are, the most important result is the end outcome in terms of player protection and regulation. But the two are not mutually exclusive.

As Betsson Group CEO Jesper Svensson told Gambling Insider this week, referencing advertising regulation in Spain and the suspension of licenses in Latvia, restrictive regulations can become “contradictive” to player protection.

He said: “What you risk doing as a regulator is pushing players to play outside the regulated market. That can severely impact the channelisation in those jurisdictions, because players will not stop to play, they will just find other places to play.

“I think it’s good when you can work closely with regulators and have a good dialogue about what are the right measurements to do at a time like this; to protect not just the consumers but the regulations in themselves.”

While the industry urges caution, uttering that ever-more important phrase “evidence-based,” those opposed to the very nature of gambling assume all operators are exploiting homebound players and want governments and regulators to step in.

In Scandinavia, they have – and rather swiftly. First, the Swedish Government set a weekly deposit limit of SEK 5,000 ($500) and a SEK 100 cap on bonus offers during the COVID-19 crisis.

In the words of Svenska Spel president and CEO Patrik Hofbauer, “It is difficult to interpret the proposals as anything other than a substantial underestimation of the gaming industry’s ability to present powerful measures themselves.”

This week, however, Finland’s Interior Ministry took things a step further, capping online game loss limits at €500 ($542.24) per month, down from the previous cap of €2,000.

It must be stressed the Finnish market operates with a state-owned monopoly, making this a different case study to the norm; though these actions are still an obvious sign Finnish politicians share a similar outlook to those in Sweden.

Those calling for tighter gambling regulation across the world will feel vindicated and, in many ways, these Scandinavian markets are the ‘guinea pigs’ for a strict gambling regulation model, with no disrespect intended.

The Malta Gaming Authority, by contrast, recently spoke of assessing real data before making any such proposals during the coronavirus pandemic. In the UK, it’s also worth pointing out the actions of the Betting and Gaming Council, which has imposed a voluntary TV and radio advertising ban. These kind of actions can perhaps help hold off potentially similar regulation.

But, clearly, Finland and Sweden disagree.

Will the sanctions imposed by these markets genuinely protect players and reduce problem gambling? Are they genuinely needed or are the responsible gaming actions of the industry to date simply being ignored? Thanks to the experimental approach of regulators, we are in the process of finding out.

Those inside the industry will rightly discuss the risk of black-market activity. But those outside the industry, just like those I have conversed with outside work recently, will believe the right thing is being done to curb problem gambling.

With channelisation of the market already down in Sweden, early results are not encouraging. Yet, either way, Scandinavian gambling markets will give us a true glimpse of how a far stricter-regulated gambling industry would look in the future.

Personally, I feel €500 a month is a more than fair limit, which encourages mass marketing rather than a cash-cow approach towards high-value players. But, crucially, that is a subjective opinion not based on data and formed purely on my personal circumstances, not taking into account the earnings of higher-income players. That’s exactly where arbitrary limits fall short.

My opinion, though, is one that brings us straight to the issue of affordability, one UK commentators are already highly aware of. That, however, is a different conversation altogether – one I’ll leave for another day for fear of opening up another can of regulatory worms.

AffiliateCon Virtually Live secures ActiveWin MD Warren Jacobs for affiliate-operator panel

ActiveWin managing director and founder Warren Jacobs will speak at AffiliateCon Virtually Live on Tuesday 12 May.

Taking part in an affiliate & operator panel which will cover market trends from both sides of the equation, Jacobs will be joined by Oddspedia JSC co-founder Jeton Kodia.

AffiliateCon Virtually Live will be free to watch on YouTube, following the postponement of AffiliateCon Sofia to 2021 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The affiliate & operator panel will take place at 3.15pm CEST (2.15pm BST), rounding off a day of first-class analysis also featuring speakers such as Louise Agran, Racing Post CMO, Tal Itzhak Ron, Tal Ron, Drihem & Co Chairman & CEO, and Martin Wachter, Golden Race CEO.

ActiveWin MD Jacobs said of the current pandemic: “The greatest challenge has been sportsbook, and the lack of content to drive acquisition, while also ensuring they are protecting players with responsible marketing messages.”

Oddspedia co-founder Kodia explained: “I am very disappointed with a lot of operator behaviour.

“I strongly suggest they should check what they expect and what is allowed before taking any actions and decisions, instead of acting over-the-top and rushing things too fast which they revoke a short time later.”

You can read the full Q & As and event agenda on affiliatecon.com, which also includes talks on SEO, esports, virtual sports and much more.