Once a week we publish a gambling column which follows recent changes in the industry all around the world. We cover land-based and online gaming regarding legislative reforms and modifications which could impact you as a player. With the regulatory landscape regularly changing, we report current and factual information. If you want to get in touch with a story or feedback, email [email protected] or leave a comment below.
This week we can report positive movements including in the Isle of Man, where amendments to legislation have made it easier for land-based casino operators, as well as New York as an online poker bill progresses. We also report setbacks, with an online gambling bill stalling in Pennsylvania. Then there are the anti-gambling crackdowns occurring in the Philippines and Uganda.
Australia confirms gambling ad ban
The gambling ad ban was confirmed this week by the Australian federal government. As enforced by the media watchdog, no gambling ads promoting live odds during sporting matches will be aired from five minutes before the game to five minutes after, or before 8:30 pm. Corporate bookmakers are on board, while free to air broadcasters will receive reduced licensing fees in exchange.
Australia’s biggest land-based casino operator, Crown Resorts, sold its final stake in its joint venture project in Macau. Crown sold its remaining 11.1 percent share in Melco Resorts & Entertainment (MRE) and terminated an agreement for the partnership to venture into Japan’s new casino market.
American states mull online gambling bills
Online gambling legislation in Pennsylvania has taken a back seat as the state’s Senate committee scrapped the hearing at the last minute, without reason. It could be due to the number of land-based and online gambling proposals recently submitted. One of the latest proposals does not mention online gaming, but does look to authorise “satellite casino locations”. Senator Camera Bartolotta wants around 25 to be opened, with up to 500 slots to go with them – no table games would be allowed.
In New York, the latest online poker bill to present itself got through the state’s Senate Finance Committee – though it made it this far last year. Now it will face a full Senate vote. Whether or not it passes the Assembly is another question as last year it was pushed out without discussion. There is another huge hurdle in the way too, with the revelation the NY governor was involved in an illegal campaign contribution by former Amaya (PokerStars parent company) CEO, David Baazov. The governor may want to distance himself from online poker as a result and veto the legalisation of the internet pastime.
Meanwhile, in Connecticut, a bill which would let Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes construct a casino in East Windsor has progressed. The Appropriations Committee in Connecticut’s General Assembly’s passed the bill on Monday, while lawmakers dismissed amendments which would have prompted a referendum in East Windsor.
The Oakland Raiders have successfully filed for relocation to Las Vegas in 2020, but the NFL’s strong anti-gambling stance will mean the team will face several hurdles. Regulations ban players from not only betting but entering a premise with sports betting. It also prohibits teams from accepting advertisements from a company which owns a sportsbook. This means the Raiders will miss out on a number of Nevada’s big companies, including Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts, in terms of ad space in the stadium and during televised games. The companies can purchase suites and seat packages, though.
Philippines cracks down on gambling
The Philippines is undergoing numerous changes in the gambling industry, both online and off. Recently the country announced it was teaming up with China to create an Anti-Illegal Gambling Task Force. As a result, it shut down four websites which were based in the Philippines that were operating illegally. More raids are reported to come.
The country’s regulatory body the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) also announced a new license class for offshore bookmakers regulated by international governing bodies. This will no doubt help clarify illegal foreign operations targeting Filipino nationals. Still, proxy betting which accounts for a large percentage of Philippines casino revenue has so far been left out of the crackdown.
China could be behind attack on Hong Kong online gambling sites
In April, several online gambling sites based in Hong Kong were targeted by distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. According to US-based Arbor Security, which oversees the web for DDoS attack data, the sites were attacked by hackers allegedly in China who wanted to knock the operators offline and steal the money. A cyber security expert said online gambling sites could lose millions if they are made unavailable. Whether the hackers were Chinese authorities remains unknown.
Meanwhile, Macau knows it has to comply with China’s anti-gambling crackdown to continue successfully operating the biggest gambling powerhouse in the world. As such, the semi-autonomous territory has announced plans to implement facial recognition software in UnionPay (China’s main bank) ATMs to limit capital outflow. Currently, Chinese mainlanders are circumventing the 10,000-yuan limit at ATMs by using a number of different bank cards.
New COO appointed by UK Gambling Commission
The UK’s media watchdog, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a StarWins.com television advertisement for blurring the lines of sexy and sexist. The online casino’s parent company, the Bear Group, aired the ad in January which resulted in complaints the ads objectified women. The ASA agreed, saying the ad linked gambling with sexual success.
The UK Gambling Commission has announced a new Chief Operating Officer, David Pemberton, to oversee corporate services including finance, HR, IT, and planning and risk. Pemberton was an Executive Director at Business in the Community and will start at the end of June.
Isle of Man update gambling legislation
A bill to address money laundering concerns in the Isle of Man has progressed this week. It also seeks simpler licensing rules for land-based casinos which include the relocation of venues. Members of the Isle of Man’s House of Keys passed the Casino Amendment Bill after a second reading debate.
A New Zealand city revamps investments
Auckland Council has banned the investment in gambling firms, along with weapons, tobacco and more. A new responsible investment policy is the result of a review of the council’s investments where some of its $NZD320 million ‘rainy day’ fund held shares in these controversial companies. While most of the investment fund was sold off, the $NZD130 million remaining can no longer hold shares in gambling companies.
Uganda cracks down on illegal gambling operations
Uganda has commenced a gambling crackdown of its own with inspection teams, operating under the Lotteries and Gaming Regulatory Board, targeting gambling operations without a gambling license or those which do not comply with licensing terms. Uganda’s media outlet New Vision has revealed around 28 unlicensed gaming, and betting shops have already been shut down in the country.