WELCOME back to our weekly gambling column, covering sports betting legalisation, online gaming expansions, and land-based legislation movements. We aim to compile the biggest stories from around the world into the one column, accessible on the go.
This week, William Hill UK is looking into selling its Australian betting company due to regulatory changes expected in the coming months. In the US, the state of New Jersey is fighting a different gambling battle. And in Kenya, sporting teams are still recovering from the sponsorship cull. Find out what else is happening around the world, below.
Australian regulations force bookmaker review
William Hill Australia may be put up for sale once its UK parent company completes a strategic review of its operations. The online betting site has been flagged for its poor performance up against the company’s British and USA divisions. Last year, the bookmaker warned it would be impacted by a ban on credit betting, set to come into effect in February 2018. The announcement prompted punters to step away from taking out a line of credit with William Hill, reportedly causing the recent poor performance results. At the conclusion of the review, William Hill UK could sell the Australian betting site or initiate a merger with a local corporate bookmaker.
The Tasmanian Liberal Party has released the delayed three-yearly Social and Economic Impact Study report this week, revealing Tasmanians prefer a punt on their phones over the slots. The study interviewed 5000 respondents via 15-minute phone calls and found gambling on the slots had declined in past 10 years, while online wagering increased by more than 54 percent in the last decade. The state’s Labor Party recently released a plan to phase out poker machines in pubs and clubs by 2023, in a bid to win the upcoming election. Labor slammed its opposition over claims the industry created 5000 jobs when the report revealed there are only 317.
American state fights to keep online gambling legal
While New Jersey has been busy trying to convince the Supreme Court that it should be able to legalise sports betting in the state, it has had to turn its attention to online gambling regulations. Members of the NJ Congress have written to the US Department of Justice (DOJ) advising against plans to crack down on online gambling. The letter has arisen from the Trump administration looking into an old bill, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) legislation. The bill would put an end to the interpretation of the country’s Wire Act, which only prohibited online sports betting. The 2011 interpretation meant US online casinos could launch, including in NJ which boosted Atlantic City’s economy. Should RAWA be introduced, nearly all forms of online gambling will be banned in the country (lotteries would be excluded).
The state of Louisiana is looking into rewriting its laws, which are more than two decades old, in the coming months. According to local media, a new bill is circling, which reviews current legislation requiring all casinos to dock on the water. The 1991 law resulted in 15 riverboat casinos opening, and several pay higher taxes to dock permanently due to a slight law change in 2001. If the government introduces the bill, casinos will be able to relocate to land where they can operate bigger venues with more gaming services.
The Nevada Gaming Control board has appointed a female chair for the first time since the establishment of the regulator 60 years ago. Republican Senator, Becky Harris, will assume the position, after working on gaming legislation for the state, as well as working on innovation and gambling projects. She has acknowledged that Nevada’s regulations are among the best in the world, revealing that she will continue to build on these “with determination and honour”.
UK Gambling Commission to speak on responsible gambling
The UK Gambling Commission has revealed its support for the ICE Totally Gaming conference, running from February 6-8, 2018 in London. Commission Chief Executive, Sarah Harrison, will deliver a speech on whether responsible gambling is an adequate approach to the consequences of the industry. Commission General Council and Executive Director, Neil McArthur, will also appear on a panel discussing corporate social responsibility. The Commission is inviting people to come and speak to representatives from the regulator, located in the event’s first-ever Consumer Protection Zone. The area will feature stands dedicated to problem gambling treatment, harm minimisation and social responsibility in the gaming industry.
Ireland to consider a ban on free bets
The Irish gambling industry is set to receive new regulations and requirements as an old gambling bill resurfaces. Ireland Problem Gambling has used the opportunity to propose a ban on free bets, arguing that the alcohol industry isn’t allowed to give out free drink vouchers. While it’s not clear if sign up bonuses will be banned, the country is set to receive an independent regulatory body, which will oversee licences and monitor operators, to improve the industry’s standards.
Unlicensed operators control Polish gambling market
A recent report has revealed that despite Poland’s attempts to regulate the industry, 60 percent of the country’s gambling market is run by unlicensed bookmakers. International operators servicing Polish players left the market when the country partially licensed the industry, due to the requirement companies pay a 12 percent tax rate. While several operators applied for the license, resulting in more than PLN 396 million injected into the economy, the report by Polish legal association, Graj Legalnie, estimates the country could be making more than PLN 594 million. Despite the establishment of the Register of Domains for Illegal Offering of Gambling, where internet service providers blocked around 1200 gaming websites, it appears Polish players prefer offshore gambling sites. The report suggests looking into more efficient approaches to blocking websites and payment methods to improve the licensed betting industry.
Kenya cracks down on gambling machines
While all eyes have been on the aftermath of Kenyan sports betting company, Sportpesa, pulling its local sports sponsorships due to the high tax rate, the government has been working hard to stamp out illegal gaming machines. The Kenyan government recently ordered the impounding of 46 gambling machines after a series of raids at Kirinyaga County bars and clubs. Meanwhile, the country is still reeling from the sponsorship cull, causing sporting clubs like the Kenya Rugby Union, to call for a tax reduction. It’s not clear if the Kenyan Sevens will be able to travel to Sydney for the Sydney and Hamilton Sevens in Australia and New Zealand, respectively, as the club cannot pay the player’s salaries anymore.
Spain publishes shared liquidity rules
This week, local media published the resolution featuring Spain’s gambling regulator authorising the online poker shared liquidity deal with France, Portugal and Italy. Spanish gaming regulator Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ) announced that the deal would commence on January 16, and PokerStars became the first operator to offer shared liquidity between Spain and France. French and Spanish poker players can now verse each other at a round of hold’em, while the Portuguese have made little to no progress on the matter and the Italians are rethinking the four-way deal signed last year.
India proposes limits on sports bets
The Law Commission, responsible for reviewing the benefits and drawbacks of legalising Indian sportsbooks, is reportedly considering a limit on the number of times Indians can bet per year. According to local media, the Law Commission wants to ban online betting but since it seems impossible it will attempt to enforce the next best thing – three legal bets per year. Licensed operators would be tasked with the responsibility of limiting each punter, while a gambler’s income would determine their bet size. The regulations have been included in a paper set to be considered by its members in the coming weeks.
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