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Global gambling legislation news – Week ending January 26

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WELCOME back to our weekly gambling column, checking out all the changes in the sports betting and casino industries. We take a look at the biggest news stories from around the world, which you can keep coming back to on your smartphone, tablet, laptop or desktop device.

This week, progress is being made for the US sports betting case with the NBA outlining guidelines. Japan’s Diet has returned, and casino legislation is of high importance. And an interesting proposal has been made by the Turkish Hotelier industry.

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Australian casino breaches problem gambling policies

A casino in South Australia has come under fire for not acting when players display signs of problem gambling. According to a study by the South Australian Centre for Economic Studies, Adelaide casino staff don’t intervene when gamblers show signs of problem gambling. The study found that many players could gamble without interruption after four hours of continuous play. The study reviewed automatic alerts and response rates, revealing several, where players gambled for more than four hours with minimal breaks, were ignored. The recommended response time is 15 minutes, but the study found staff responded between a few minutes to more than two hours.

The state is also reviewing its poker machine policy, with the Greens proposing a ban to wipe out pokies/slots from pubs and clubs, similarly to Tasmania. The ban mirrors former Senator Nick Xenophon’s agenda, who has attempted to wipe out Australia’s poker machines. Xenophon, running in the same election with his party SA Best, is yet to reveal his pokies policy to the public. It will reportedly focus on reducing the number of machines in the state and slashing the maximum bet limits to $1, however.

US sporting league switches sports betting sides

In what could be an indication of potential developments in the US, the NBA has formally requested several requirements, which could act as the grounds for sports betting regulation. NBA attorney, Dan Spillane, outlined pre-requisites for sports betting to be approved by the country’s major sporting leagues in New York recently. He said the NBA wants one percent of every bet made to go to sporting leagues while pushing for gambling to be made legal on smartphones and AT stadium kiosks instead of just casinos and racetracks. The regulations all fit into the NBA’s plan of increasing revenue for the league. The Supreme Court is currently considering the sports betting case, brought forward by the state of New Jersey against the NBA, NFL, NHL, and MBL, plus the NCAA, and the latest developments could indicate a change in laws.

Telecoms giant, Verizon, believes the outcome will result in a regulated sports betting industry, according to local media outlets. Verizon has reportedly looked into entering the sports betting industry, provided a favourable court ruling. Verizon recently completed a $4.5 billion Yahoo deal, and already owns a daily fantasy sports site, which could soon see the addition of a sportsbook. Additionally, Verizon has broadcasting partnerships with the NFL and NBA, setting it up to become a bookmaker with live streaming services.

The New York Senate has also been mulling over the best way to tackle sports betting legalisation in the state. The New York Senate Standing Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering held a hearing looking into “the potential of sports betting in New York State.” The hearing included the demands by the NBA, a racing panel discussing its place in the market, and a discussion on whether the government should restrict sports betting to the casinos. The committee will consider arguments for both sides in going forward.

UK review tough regulations

Rumours have been circulating this week, with local media reporting that the UK government is preparing to slash maximum bet limits on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) to £2. The 12-week consultation period reviewing gambling industry regulations held by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has left bookmakers uneasy given FOBTs are a dominant source of revenue. While there was hope when the government elected a new Culture Secretary and supporter of the racing industry, Matthew Hancock, sources are indicating the stake reduction will go ahead. Local media reports suggest Hancock believes the machines steal money from the racing industry, while William Hill CEO, Philip Bowcock, said the stories are rumours while arguing the revenue from the machines goes into the racing industry for vision fees.

Just before the consultation period closed on Tuesday, thinktank ResPublica entered a submission with last-minute regulations aiming to curb problem gambling. ResPublica proposed a one percent mandatory levy UK online gambling operators have to pay, which will go towards the treatment of the 430,000 problem gamblers in the country. Gambling charity, GambleAware, supported the levy, stating the 0.01 percent voluntary fee is ineffective. The charity also proposed a ban on using credit cards at UK online casinos and betting sites in the submission, arguing it could prevent people from spending more than they can afford.

Meanwhile, parliament has warned bookmakers to get a grip when it comes to closing punters’ accounts. Politicians have warned that UK betting companies restricting accounts without clarifying why will prompt regulatory intervention.

Greece government wants three new casinos

The Greek Islands are fighting back against a gambling bill supported by the Greece government, proposing three land-based casinos constructed on Santorini, Mykonos and Crete. Santorini’s Mayor, Nikos Zorzos, penned a letter slamming the bill, stating the casinos would change the character of the island and attract a different type of tourists. Mayor of Mykonos, Konstantinos Koukas, also penned a letter, explaining to the Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, that the island has more pressing issues, such as building infrastructure and schools, before constructing a casino. Crete is also reportedly against the gambling expansion, which has been proposed to bring in more revenue to the cash-strapped country.

Russia eases bookmaker sign up process

Russian punters have been having so much trouble signing up to bookmakers that the government has had to intervene. Current laws require punters to register online via a centralised payment hub like TSUPIS and then prove their identity in person at a land-based betting shop. But Russia’s Ministry of Finance has recently drafted new legislation eliminating the arduous process, stating Russian online betting sites have “the right to entrust … the identification of a gambling participant to the centre for the recording of online betting of bookmakers or sweepstakes, operating in accordance with the requirements of the Federal Law of December 29 2006 No. 244-FZ.” The proposed legislation follows on from a meeting between the government and the country’s online bookmakers, who revealed the issues behind getting punters to sign up.

Japan prioritises casinos in 2018

The Japanese Diet is back, and according to local media outlets that dissected Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s speech, casino legislation will be given priority in 2018. Abe’s speech revealed that the government will likely address the Integrated Resorts Implementation Bill (IR) in the coming months to increase tourism rates in the country. The Japanese government was meant to address the IR bill last year, but a snap election delayed its movements. Before the bill can be addressed, the Diet needs to pass the “Basic Bill on Gambling Addiction Countermeasures”. However, analysts believe the IR bill will pass before June 20, during the 2018 legislative session.

Turkish hoteliers want tourist-only casinos

Turkey wants to attract high rollers from mainland China, but it’s taking a different approach to Crown Resorts aggressive marketing strategy. Turkish Hoteliers Association president, Timur Bayındır, has reportedly said the country needs to open tourist-only casinos to attract wealthy foreigners. Bayındır said there are 261 million Chinese tourists travelling the world, but less than one million visit Turkey, adding that casinos could help attract them to the country. He suggested the island of Yassıada in the Marmara Sea as a potential destination for a tourist-only casino. But he also said the price of tickets to Turkey and the inadequate number of flights needs to change too.