Welcome to our weekly gambling column which takes a look at the ever changing gambling industries around the world. We summarise the latest legal changes and news updates in land-based and online gambling so you can catch up and find out what is happening.
You can send any information on gambling changes near you to [email protected] or leave a comment at the bottom of the page.
This week marks the last week that Australians can gamble at online casinos and poker rooms without the burden of the Interactive Gambling Act 2016. Meanwhile, the American Gaming Association is fighting for a legalised sports betting industry in the US. Additionally, Brazil is coming around to the idea of legal casino games and bingo halls. There’s plenty more happening around the world, keep reading to find out more.
Australian anti-gambling campaign slammed
The Australian online gambling industry is just days away from the Interactive Gambling Amendment Act 2016 taking effect. Several operators have already withdrawn from the Australian market, while many others will complete their exit when the legislation is in force.
On the land-based front, the Australian casino operator, Star Entertainment Group, has showcased design images of its $AUD400 million hotel and residential tower set for the Star Gold Coast (formerly Jupiters Hotel and Casino). The 53-storey tower will feature 400 apartments and 300 hotel rooms along with restaurants, takeaway stores, retail outlets, a pool and gymnasium, and other features which is set for early next year. The new six-star hotel featuring VIP gaming rooms is also expected to be completed in 2018.
In the state of New South Wales, a new government anti-gambling campaign, known as “Betiquette”, has been slammed by the Alliance for Gambling Reform (AGR). The campaign targets men between the age of 18 and 35 to minimise harms associated with problem gambling. Spokesman for the AGR, Tim Costello, believes more needs to be done, using the sports betting ban in the US as an example.
America continues the fight for sports betting
The American Gaming Association has joined New Jersey in filing a brief to fight the ban on sports betting in the US. The AGA argued in its amicus brief filed with the Supreme Court that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) bans states and tribes from altering laws to legalise sports betting, which in essence allows Congress to decide what laws they can and cannot instate. The AGA added that the ban has meant Americans illegally bet $USD150 billion per year.
While New Jersey fights to legalise sports betting, Caesars Entertainment is rubbing it in that Nevada residents can wager on sporting events. The gambling conglomerate has become the latest provider to release a sports betting app. Nevada residents can legally create an account in person and bet on games live at the sporting events.
Hurricane Irma, which is considered one of the biggest storms ever recorded, is expected to hit Florida over the weekend, threatening to severely impact the Sunshine State. Casino operators are yet to publicly discuss whether they will cease operations as the path of Irma is not set in stone. It has already killed seven people and destroyed Caribbean islands including Barbuda.
Canada faces hurdles in gambling expansion
Problem gambling issues are prevalent all around the world including Canada, where city councillors have raised concerns regarding a gambling expansion. Three councillors have said by upgrading the city’s Rideau Carleton Raceway in the city of Ottowa, they are increasing the risk of problem gambling rates. One councillor suggested lowering the betting limits and removing ATMS, but Ottawa’s mayor, Jim Watson reportedly said that the proposals are ‘unrealistic’.
UK Labour party wants sports betting sponsorships pulled
Labour is calling for an end to football gambling sponsorships. Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Tom Watson, wants football authorities to tackle the ‘hidden epidemic’ of problem gambling by cutting ties with sports betting companies, including ending shirt sponsorship deals. Watson outed 25 clubs out of 92 football clubs in English and Scottish leagues that have a deal with a bookmaker.
UK-based bookmaker William Hill has announced a deal with online gambling operator iSoftBet. The online and mobile software developer will provide land-based versions of its games to the William Hill betting shops. They will be exclusive to Britain’s land-based sector.
The UK finance Minister, Philip Hammond, has reassured the Bishop of St Albans, Alan Smith, that he will support a review on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) via a letter. The Bishop was forced to intervene after the Treasury and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport clashed over the decision to reduce the maximum stakes on FOBTs. But Hammond has reassured the Bishop that a review will take place in the coming months.
The UK Gambling Commission has released a warning regarding gambling scams on Facebook. According the gaming regulator, the social media site offers unlicensed raffles which could potentially scam players out of money. The UKGC advises players to use caution.
Japan expands online lottery products
International casino operators are still interested in a licence to operate an Integrated Resort in Japan once a national framework is implemented. Macau’s biggest junket operator, Suncity Group, wants to become a casino operator by teaming up with a local company in Japan. It’s not clear if MGM Resorts, who was a frontrunner for a licence earlier on in the year, is still interested due to the rumoured restrictions.
Japan is also looking to expand its lottery industry by allowing tickets for all online lottery draws to be purchased online. Japan’s lottery sales have reportedly declined and the government hopes to reverse this by allowing Internet purchases. The changes will reportedly take effect from mid-2018.
Brazil considering casino games and bingo halls
Brazil is considering legalising casinos and bingo halls, with a new study revealing that the public strongly supports the idea. Brazilian politicians are considering introducing a new law which would legalise casino games and allow bingo halls in the country, in a move which the Brazil Legal Gaming Institute claims could be worth billions. According to Paraná Pesquisas researchers, 45.7% of Brazilian citizens support a legalised gambling industry, with many favouring casino games like poker over bingo halls.
Indian illegal gambling den uncovered
While talks of a regulated sports betting industry have simmered down, India has been reminded casino gambling is still illegal. A former Indian model was arrested in Delhi this week for operating an illegal gambling den in the Greater Kailash neighbourhood. Police carried out a raid and found 45 packs of playing cards, 2700 gambling chips, and other casino gaming equipment, as well as phones, a money counting machine and alcohol. Around 7,58,000 Indian rupees has also been seized.
Macau smoking fines at casinos on the rise
Macau authorities have been cracking down hard on players who are smoking in gambling venues. In 2014, the government banned smoking in casinos except in VIP rooms. Earlier this year Macau legislators amended a bill to ban the activity in high roller rooms. While the ban in VIP rooms won’t come into affect until 2018, authorities have issued 60 percent more fines in 2017 than they did last year. According to the Macau Health Bureau, 80 percent of those caught were tourists.
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