Welcome to our weekly gambling column which takes a look at online and offline gambling industries around the world. We feature legal and regulatory changes, as well as detail any movements which may impact you as a poker, blackjack, roulette or other casino player or sports punter.
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Another week, another operator exiting the Australian gambling market as the Interactive Gambling Amendment Act 2016 gets ready to take effect. Meanwhile in Macau, authorities are investigating whether the Macao Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau prioritised gaming over patron safety. There’s also plenty happening in the US, with New Jersey kick starting the fight against the sports ban. Keep reading to find out more.
Australian gambling market diminishes
Gambling operators are continuing to exit the Australian market and this week it’s the Fortune Lounge brand casinos, including Royal Vegas and All Slots. Fortune announced it would no longer be accepting Australians from September 11 and all Australian accounts would be shut down by September 13. Prominent casino software developer Microgaming has also announced its departure, along with Casino.com.
American state commences fight against sports ban
New Jersey has filed its initial brief for the case against the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) which bans sports betting in every US state except four. The main argument is that the legislation violates state’s rights. Governor Chris Christie said in the brief that “under our Constitution, if Congress wishes for sports wagering to be illegal, it must make the activity unlawful itself. It cannot compel States to do so.” The appeal will likely be heard by the US Supreme Court later this year.
Although Pennsylvania is working towards a legalised online gambling industry, a Pennsylvanian representative is working towards a federal ban in Washington D.C. Representative Brian Fitzpatrick, wants the Department of Justice to make online gambling illegal in every state of USA and has drafted a letter to address the issue.
New Hampshire has ignored calls for a nationwide online gambling ban, with a hearing for an online gambling bill set for next Wednesday. The state’s H562 bill doesn’t directly legalise online gambling but the language could see International operators accepting New Hampshire residents in the future.
The US is also advancing the online gambling cause with Libertarian Republican Congress members introducing a bill to protect and regulate cryptocurrencies. The new bill will allow cryptocurrencies, such as bitcoin, to be used in an online market and as a mainstream payment method.
UK gambling regulator cracks down on skin betting
The UK online gambling industry is attempting to reduce the number of problem gamblers with research revealing operators already have the data which can help identify at risk individuals. A number of signs were listed to identify problem gamblers and will be live tested in the coming months.
The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has announced plans to crack down on the £4 billion illegal skins betting industry, following an increase in black market activity. Chief Executive of the UKGC, Sarah Harrison, said they need to start coming at illegal operations from every angle “to isolate and starve them” instead of “a Whac-A-Mole strategy”.
Chinese lottery officials under investigation
The Macao Meteorological and Geophysical Bureau is in hot water following allegations it prioritised the city’s casinos over patron safety. Last week a fatal typhoon, known as Hato, hit the city and killed 10 people. Macau’s Commission Against Corruption (CCAC) is now investigating the Bureau, and its former director Fong Soi-kun, who resigned following the typhoon. The CCAC said it is undergoing a special investigation into whether the Bureau failed to sound the alarm quick enough, prioritising casino revenue in the process.
On the mainland, two high ranking lottery officials have been removed following allegations involving bribery and corruption. According to the state news agency Xinhua, the two officials are suspected of accepting bribes and having inappropriate sexual relations. It is alleged that one official also leaked state secrets. The pair have been relieved by the Ministry of Civil Affairs and they will now undergo an investigation.
Colombia to block payment methods
International online gambling companies that don’t have a Colombian license may soon find it a struggle to operate in Colombia. The Colombian government has announced plans to block payment methods at offshore casinos, similarly to the US. President of Colombia’s gaming regulatory agency Coljuegos, Juan B. Pérez Hidalgo, announced the regulator planned to “intensify controls” to stamp out illegal games of chance. Colombia regulated online gambling last year, with local operator Wplay.co obtaining a licence in March and international operators such as Sportium expected to launch by the end of the year.
Japanese government restricts horse racing betting
The Japanese government has announced it will be restricting online horse racing betting in a bid to address problem gambling concerns. The country is working towards a legalised land-based casino industry, but several hurdles including problem gambling concerns have arisen. Playing pachinko machines and betting on public sports, like motorsports, horse racing and bicycle racing is legal in Japan. But when the Diet lifted the casino ban a magnifying glass was placed over these industries. While the exact details have not yet been published, Japanese lawmakers plan to limit gambling at racetracks – ATMs have already been removed – and there are calls for limits on pachinko machines.
Maltese gambling regulator new licensing system
The Malta Gaming Authority has announced a brand new user-friendly ‘Licensee Relationship Management System’. The system aims to improve communications between current and future licensees. The new service has been created in conjunction with Microsoft to create a secure web portal. The service allows remote gaming license applications, Dynamic Seal URL requests and player liability and gaming tax reports submissions. The MGA will look to extend the system to land-based venues after the service has been completed.
India to discuss sports betting in 2018
India is unlikely to legalise and regulate the sports betting market until 2018 as a conference discussing the pros and cons won’t take place until next year. The National Sports Betting and Gaming India conference will be held in February in Goa to highlight the benefits of a legalised industry following an evaluation of possible ramifications.
Austria Casinos to focus on domestic assets
Belgium media outlets have reported that Austria Casinos is planning on selling off all its international assets to focus on its domestic markets. Austria Casinos owns 27 land-based casinos in 11 countries, as well subsidiary companies in Macedonia. The decision follows recent renovations in its German, Canadian and Belgium properties which resulted in the company’s recent profitable results.
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