We’re almost halfway through the year and a lot has changed in the gambling industries around the world. Online gambling has been legalised, banned, regulated and proposed in a number of different countries, while land-based gambling has been transformed to keep up with the digital age. We keep an eye on all the movements around the world in our weekly column. Send us an email at [email protected] or leave a comment below to have your say about the latest issues.
Plenty has been happening across multiple jurisdictions this week including the legalisation of esports betting in Nevada, as well as the Senate approval of a bill which will make online gambling legal in Illinois. Meanwhile, Poland’s online gambling industry is getting smaller. There is plenty more happening which you can find out below, including one country questioning its people if it should legalise gambling at all.
Australian gambling giant scores 10-year lottery contract
The hearing for the $11 billion merger between Tabcorp and Tatts – two of Australia’s biggest gambling companies – is in its final days. Support has not been strong for the two entities, with Australia’s main regulator set to advise the Australian Competition Tribunal to reject the deal.
Meanwhile, Tatts has just scored a 10-year contract with the state of Victoria to runs its lottery games. Tatts already holds the current licence, which gives the company rights to run Tattslotto, Powerball, scratchies and Keno, but it will expire in July 2018. Tabcorp, as well as a number overseas companies missed out.
When it comes to the Australian casinos, James Packer’s Crown Resorts is being slammed by former partner Melco CEO and chairman, Lawrence Ho. Ho said Packer’s employees were too aggressive in terms of targeting Chinese high rollers – which saw 18 Crown staff and associates arrested in mainland China.
American state legalises esports betting
Nevada has made esports betting official after it was signed into law over the weekend. While the amendments were made to pari-mutuel betting legislation, the addition of “other events” technically includes esports. This could see more professional video gaming markets opening up at Nevada sportsbooks.
Ohio casino employees may soon be able to play the slots and bet on the tables. The Ohio State Senate has approved a bill which makes it legal for casino employees to gamble provided they do it at the casinos they do not work for. Since there are four land-based casinos in Ohio, the amendment to the Casino Control Law is not redundant.
In New Jersey, Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment owner, Jeffrey Guralm has said New Jersey should not expand its gambling facilities until New York opens its casinos in the southern part of the state. A ballot referendum which would have seen two new casinos opened in Northern New Jersey failed in November. Now the racetrack owner believes it will fail again if legislators do not wait.
Illinois’ Senate also passed a bill which will legalise online gambling and daily fantasy sports in the state on the final day of the legislature’s session. It has been sent to the House, which has adjourned until June 8, for approval.
Indian panel asks public if the country should legalise gambling
India’s Law Commission has questioned the public over whether sports betting and gambling should be legalised in the country. The panel is also asking the public if legalising the activities will address associated criminal behaviour in the country, whether it will generate revenue and create more jobs, and if the public thinks it is “morally correct”.
888 Holdings Polish gambling industry
Poland’s gambling industry is diminishing after 888 Holdings announced it was following the number of operators which have already exited the market. After the Polish government amended its laws to ban online gambling operators which do not have a local license last December, a number of reputable and popular gaming companies left. The requirements for a local license, including a 12 percent tax on gambling revenue, are reportedly too tough for many operators. 888Poker – an online poker site owned by 888 Holdings – informed customers it would be withdrawing by June 5. This is just in time for the July 1 deadline when Polish ISPs will begin blocking all unauthorised gambling domains.
Kenyan uniform tax hike scrapped by MPs
The entire ordeal regarding a uniform 50 percent tax rate on gambling and betting operators in Kenya has been scrapped. Last week, legislators voted to exclude betting operators from the tax increase – which would have been from 7.5 percent to 50 percent as proposed by Kenyan Treasury Secretary Henry Rotich. But many legislators said the vote was void due to a quorum not being present. This week legislators voted to completely scrap the tax hike, suggested in the 2017-18 budget, for lottery, gambling, betting and competition operators. Even the proposal of a 35 percent uniform tax hike was ignored. MPs said the tax would have crippled the gambling industry.
South African gamblers have winnings confiscated
South African gamblers who won their money on unauthorised online gambling sites have had their winnings confiscated. Last year, South Africa proposed the National Gambling Amendment bill 2016 to combat illegal online gambling since it was still occurring under the National Gambling Act 2004. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) has since followed through with the proposal to crackdown on illegal offshore gambling. Around R1.25million in “unlawful winnings” was confiscated from players after “unprecedented court proceedings”. The DTI said they would be making an example of these players and anyone caught gambling at home or at internet cafes – or other public venues – would be subject to fines of up to R10 million.
New anti-money laundering laws in the Philippines
New anti-money laundering laws are set to be enforced after the Philippine Senate approved the third reading of Bill 1468. The legislation proposed will include online, land-based and shipboard gambling operators, as well as junket operators in the Anti-Money Laundering Act. The bill is now awaiting Philippines’s President, Rodrigo Duterte to sign the measure into law.
UK Gambling Commission’s role clarified
The role of the UK Gambling Commission in terms of licensing has become clearer after the Court of Appeal dismissed a case brought by one of the country’s largest pub retailer. Greene King filed an appeal after the top gambling regulator, for online and offline gambling operators, rejected a license application for bingo distribution in its 3000-plus pubs. Greene King challenged the refusal stating it fulfilled the licensing criteria. But the appellate court said the regulator has the right to reject any applicant if it does not line up with its objectives.
The UK Gambling Commission has also teamed up with the Esports Integrity Coalition (ESIC) to monitor betting malpractice in the league. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed, which will allow the regulators to ensure the league is free of cheating, fraud and other issues present in sport and betting.
PokerStars loses six-year-old Spanish case
PokerStars has lost a 2011 case against Spain’s gambling operator, Codere after the Spanish Supreme Court handed down the ruling. The online and land-based gambling operator, Codere filed the lawsuit six years ago against PokerStars. Codere said the world renowned poker company was operating in the newly regulated Spanish online gambling market without a license from Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego. PokerStars obtained a license from the country’s gaming regulator a year later, but the court ruled PokerStars had operated illegally for that period of time. Still, Codere did not receive any compensation.
Online poker pool formalised in weeks, French regulator says
France’s gambling regulator Autorité de régulation des jeux en ligne (ARJEL) has announced the online poker liquidity sharing pool between the country, as well as Italy, Portugal and Spain will be reached this month. ARJEL released its 2016 annual report earlier this week which revealed the arrangement will be formalised within weeks.