North Korea’s national airline is going direct to Macau once again after a 15-year hiatus.
Governor JB Pritzker is expected to sign off on widespread gambling reforms in Illinois.
Authorities raided more than 20,000 Turkish gambling dens in a nationwide crackdown on Saturday.
FLORIDA voters on Tuesday approved an amendment that strips the state legislature of the power to expand gambling, including sports betting.
Amendment 3 says the only way casino gambling can be approved is through a statewide initiative placed on the ballot by citizen petition.
Exceptions were made for casinos on Indian reservations.
The Walt Disney Co. and the Seminole Tribe of Indians have both backed the move, which owns casinos in the Fort Lauderdale and Tampa areas.
Opponents included some horse track and dog track operators.
They accused Disney and the Seminoles of not wanting competition for tourist dollars. They believe the decision on whether to allow casinos should be left to each county’s voters.
Other opponents of the amendment said it would “potentially close the door” on sports betting legalization in the state.
The Miami Dolphins sent out a tweet Monday highlighting their concerns over Amendment 3, claiming that if the legislation passes, it “would effectively block any chance for sports betting in Florida.”
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers also lobbied against the amendment, as did online betting sites such as FanDuel and DraftKings.
The measure was placed on the ballot by petition.
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.
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.
WELCOME back to our weekly gambling column, covering sports betting legalisation, online gaming expansions, and land-based legislation movements. We aim to compile the biggest stories from around the world into the one column, accessible on the go.
This week, William Hill UK is looking into selling its Australian betting company due to regulatory changes expected in the coming months. In the US, the state of New Jersey is fighting a different gambling battle. And in Kenya, sporting teams are still recovering from the sponsorship cull. Find out what else is happening around the world, below.
Australian regulations force bookmaker review
William Hill Australia may be put up for sale once its UK parent company completes a strategic review of its operations. The online betting site has been flagged for its poor performance up against the company’s British and USA divisions. Last year, the bookmaker warned it would be impacted by a ban on credit betting, set to come into effect in February 2018. The announcement prompted punters to step away from taking out a line of credit with William Hill, reportedly causing the recent poor performance results. At the conclusion of the review, William Hill UK could sell the Australian betting site or initiate a merger with a local corporate bookmaker.
The Tasmanian Liberal Party has released the delayed three-yearly Social and Economic Impact Study report this week, revealing Tasmanians prefer a punt on their phones over the slots. The study interviewed 5000 respondents via 15-minute phone calls and found gambling on the slots had declined in past 10 years, while online wagering increased by more than 54 percent in the last decade. The state’s Labor Party recently released a plan to phase out poker machines in pubs and clubs by 2023, in a bid to win the upcoming election. Labor slammed its opposition over claims the industry created 5000 jobs when the report revealed there are only 317.
American state fights to keep online gambling legal
While New Jersey has been busy trying to convince the Supreme Court that it should be able to legalise sports betting in the state, it has had to turn its attention to online gambling regulations. Members of the NJ Congress have written to the US Department of Justice (DOJ) advising against plans to crack down on online gambling. The letter has arisen from the Trump administration looking into an old bill, the Restoration of America’s Wire Act (RAWA) legislation. The bill would put an end to the interpretation of the country’s Wire Act, which only prohibited online sports betting. The 2011 interpretation meant US online casinos could launch, including in NJ which boosted Atlantic City’s economy. Should RAWA be introduced, nearly all forms of online gambling will be banned in the country (lotteries would be excluded).
The state of Louisiana is looking into rewriting its laws, which are more than two decades old, in the coming months. According to local media, a new bill is circling, which reviews current legislation requiring all casinos to dock on the water. The 1991 law resulted in 15 riverboat casinos opening, and several pay higher taxes to dock permanently due to a slight law change in 2001. If the government introduces the bill, casinos will be able to relocate to land where they can operate bigger venues with more gaming services.
The Nevada Gaming Control board has appointed a female chair for the first time since the establishment of the regulator 60 years ago. Republican Senator, Becky Harris, will assume the position, after working on gaming legislation for the state, as well as working on innovation and gambling projects. She has acknowledged that Nevada’s regulations are among the best in the world, revealing that she will continue to build on these “with determination and honour”.
UK Gambling Commission to speak on responsible gambling
The UK Gambling Commission has revealed its support for the ICE Totally Gaming conference, running from February 6-8, 2018 in London. Commission Chief Executive, Sarah Harrison, will deliver a speech on whether responsible gambling is an adequate approach to the consequences of the industry. Commission General Council and Executive Director, Neil McArthur, will also appear on a panel discussing corporate social responsibility. The Commission is inviting people to come and speak to representatives from the regulator, located in the event’s first-ever Consumer Protection Zone. The area will feature stands dedicated to problem gambling treatment, harm minimisation and social responsibility in the gaming industry.
Ireland to consider a ban on free bets
The Irish gambling industry is set to receive new regulations and requirements as an old gambling bill resurfaces. Ireland Problem Gambling has used the opportunity to propose a ban on free bets, arguing that the alcohol industry isn’t allowed to give out free drink vouchers. While it’s not clear if sign up bonuses will be banned, the country is set to receive an independent regulatory body, which will oversee licences and monitor operators, to improve the industry’s standards.
Unlicensed operators control Polish gambling market
A recent report has revealed that despite Poland’s attempts to regulate the industry, 60 percent of the country’s gambling market is run by unlicensed bookmakers. International operators servicing Polish players left the market when the country partially licensed the industry, due to the requirement companies pay a 12 percent tax rate. While several operators applied for the license, resulting in more than PLN 396 million injected into the economy, the report by Polish legal association, Graj Legalnie, estimates the country could be making more than PLN 594 million. Despite the establishment of the Register of Domains for Illegal Offering of Gambling, where internet service providers blocked around 1200 gaming websites, it appears Polish players prefer offshore gambling sites. The report suggests looking into more efficient approaches to blocking websites and payment methods to improve the licensed betting industry.
Kenya cracks down on gambling machines
While all eyes have been on the aftermath of Kenyan sports betting company, Sportpesa, pulling its local sports sponsorships due to the high tax rate, the government has been working hard to stamp out illegal gaming machines. The Kenyan government recently ordered the impounding of 46 gambling machines after a series of raids at Kirinyaga County bars and clubs. Meanwhile, the country is still reeling from the sponsorship cull, causing sporting clubs like the Kenya Rugby Union, to call for a tax reduction. It’s not clear if the Kenyan Sevens will be able to travel to Sydney for the Sydney and Hamilton Sevens in Australia and New Zealand, respectively, as the club cannot pay the player’s salaries anymore.
Spain publishes shared liquidity rules
This week, local media published the resolution featuring Spain’s gambling regulator authorising the online poker shared liquidity deal with France, Portugal and Italy. Spanish gaming regulator Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ) announced that the deal would commence on January 16, and PokerStars became the first operator to offer shared liquidity between Spain and France. French and Spanish poker players can now verse each other at a round of hold’em, while the Portuguese have made little to no progress on the matter and the Italians are rethinking the four-way deal signed last year.
India proposes limits on sports bets
The Law Commission, responsible for reviewing the benefits and drawbacks of legalising Indian sportsbooks, is reportedly considering a limit on the number of times Indians can bet per year. According to local media, the Law Commission wants to ban online betting but since it seems impossible it will attempt to enforce the next best thing – three legal bets per year. Licensed operators would be tasked with the responsibility of limiting each punter, while a gambler’s income would determine their bet size. The regulations have been included in a paper set to be considered by its members in the coming weeks.
MGM Resorts has revealed the Route 91 festival site, where 58 attendees were killed last year, could become a Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) command centre.
The Las Vegas Village, owned by the American casino operator, could transform from an outdoor concert and event space into a law enforcement base, according to local media outlets.
“MGM has had preliminary discussions with Metro regarding the possibility of using a portion of The Village site for the purposes of creating a facility for the Metro SWAT team,” the casino operator told an independent journalist, Laura Loomer.
“The discussions are in the conceptual stages and no final decisions have been made as to the future use of the entirety of the property.
“However, consistent with our history of working collaboratively with law enforcement, utilising a portion of The Village site for law enforcement is one option we are exploring with Metro.”
While local authorities are still investigating the incident involving lone gunman Stephen Paddock, who shot at the country music festival attendees from his 32nd Mandalay Bay room on October 1. The massacre left 546 injured and 58 dead.
Officers pinpointed Paddock’s location 10 minutes after he began shooting at 10:05 pm, but it became clear he had semi-automatic guns which could fire almost automatically due to additional weapons, so they called for SWAT.
The tactical team arrived at 10:30 pm, around 15 minutes after Paddock took his own life.
While there are SWAT centres close to the North Las Vegas Airport and near the Las Vegas Speedway, retired Metro Police Luitentant Randy Sutton told local media that a base on the opposite end of the Strip would ensure a quicker response time.
DeShong revealed the site would not feature a training facility, and it’s not clear whether MGM Resorts will fund the transformation.
The Route 91 festival organiser, Live Nation, hasn’t said if the event would return in 2018.
Nevada regulator appoints first female chair
The Gaming Control Board, responsible for overseeing Nevada’s gambling activities, has appointed Becky Harris as the first chairwoman since the state established the regulator more than 60 years ago.
A.G Burnett announced his departure in December 2017, and the former Republican Senator for Nevada will take over his legacy, according to the announcement by the state governor, Brian Sandoval.
“Nevada’s gaming regulatory structure is the best in the world and it is imperative that the public servants who serve on this commission are beyond reproach and willing to make difficult decisions,” he said.
He commended Harris for her past work including her contribution to American gaming legislation, adding he is “confident she will continue to serve with distinction and integrity.”
Gambling news from around the world including legislative changes in Australia, UK, US, Finland, Kenya, Philippines and Italy.
It’s the last week before Christmas, and our weekly column has all the latest news and legislative changes before you kick back and relax.
We will be taking a two-week break over the Christmas and New Year period, before getting back into the legislative changes and updates. You can always go back to our previous news columns to stay informed on upcoming movements while you wait.
There’s still plenty happening this week, with an American state opening up the auction process for casino licenses. In Canada, allegations of money laundering by a casino operator have hindered gambling expansion laws. And in Indonesia, a ban on a popular gambling payment service has been announced. Find out more below.
Australian bookmakers concerned about advertising loopholes
Last week we reported that shareholders from the Australian gambling giant, Tatts, had approved the $AUD11.3 billion merger with Tabcorp. The following day the Supreme Court of Victoria approved the tie-up, which cemented the deal. Then late last week, Tabcorp announced it would be shutting down its digital arm, Luxbet.com from 8 am on December 20, 2017. The company announced earlier in the year it would be undertaking a strategic review of its online betting site, following poor performance results. Australian punters can withdraw any winnings up until January 19, 2018.
Australian licensed betting sites have slammed industry broadcasters for exploiting loopholes in the new media reforms. Earlier in the year, the Australian government announced it would be introducing a ban on gambling advertisements during live sporting events between 5 am and 8:30 pm. Free TV Australia, Commercial Radio Australia (CRA) and the Australian Subscription Television and Radio Association (ASTRA) released draft provisions including exemptions, like allowing gambling ads during longer sporting events. Corporate bookmakers, represented by the independent body Responsible Wagering Australia, have slammed the broadcasters, arguing the reforms have been proposed to protect children from exposure to gambling. The industry bodies will reportedly consider these comments before releasing a finalised code next year.
US casino prepares for regulated sports betting
Pennsylvania has opened the floor to American gambling operators following the approval of the gambling expansion in October. US operators can apply for one of the new Category 4 casino licences in Pennsylvania, with the initial round of licenses beginning on Wednesday, January 10. Nine additional dates will follow, with one satellite casino awarded at each auction by the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB). Each license will start at a minimum bid price of $USD7.5 million for Category 4 slot machine licences, and $2.5 million for table games. Successful licensees will be able to have between 300 and 750 slot machines, and 30 table games within the first year of operating.
Ending Atlantic City’s casino monopoly in New Jersey isn’t likely to happen anytime soon, according to State Senate President, Stephen Sweeney. In 2016, voters strongly opposed a referendum which would have resulted in at least two casinos 72 miles out of AC. Sweeney recently said the government is unlikely to reintroduce the issue after voters rejected it by over 70 percent.
Although the media has quietened down about sports betting in America, MGM Resorts International has reportedly held “preliminary discussions” about integrating the service in several of its casinos around the country. The company is preparing for the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) approving New Jersey’s case which repeals the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act 1992. MGM is reportedly considering integrating sports betting into its New Jersey, Mississippi, Michigan and Maryland venues, according to local media reports.
Canadian casino company under investigation for money laundering
Ontario’s Alcohol and Gaming Commission (AGCO) is investigating Great Canadian Gaming Corp, after allegations of money laundering at its River Rock casino in Richmond, British Columbia surfaced. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) recently found that the venue failed to follow anti-money laundering (AML) procedures, and facilitated the alleged laundering of drug money and financing of terrorism. These allegations could hinder lawmakers’ decisions over whether they should approve an expansion of the regions gambling laws.
UK betting shops fail to meet problem gambling expectations
UK betting shops have made headlines again after a news reporter went undercover to test their problem gambling systems. BBC reporter, Rob Cave, used the current problem gambling self-exclusion system, which sends a photo and a name to local betting shops in the UK. He self-excluded himself from 21 betting shops and then returned to see how well it worked. He was able to place a bet at 16 of the venues, before being recognised and asked to leave. Cave ended the investigation by questioning whether a piece of paper is an effective system.
The Association of Bookmakers said it appears there are some flaws in the system and are continually working to improve the problem gambling initiatives. But the independent body added that problem gamblers are usually known to betting shop staff. The industry is in the middle of a 12-week consultation period over the maximum bet limits of its fixed odds betting machines, with the investigation likely to hinder a positive result for bookmakers.
The UK Gambling Commission has released a statement, saying it is concerned over the recent self-exclusion investigation. It will reportedly investigate the findings.
Brazil prepares for regulated casino industry
The Brazilian Senate failed to address the gambling expansion bill this year, but it is likely to be reviewed in 2018. And in preparation, the country sent several Brazilians to Las Vegas to learn about gambling regulation. Five Brazilians recently attended the University of Nevada Las Vegas’s International Gaming Institute where they learnt the five-day curriculum on “Fundamentals of Regulation for Land-Based Casinos.” The classes included the history of gambling regulation, casino operations, financial reports, licensing processes, appropriate criteria and a summary of where regulatory bodies are headed. The move is a positive indicator that the country is considering legalising casino gambling in Brazil, provided the Senate ever revisits the bill.
Philippines warns casino operators over law breaches
The Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corporation has issued a memorandum warning casino operators they will be shut down if found with minors in their venues. Although it is already illegal for people under the age of 21 to enter a casino, the advisory clarifies the penalty if caught. It also reiterates other prohibited persons, including government officials and their immediate family, members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, gaming license holders, and those listed in the National Database of Restricted Persons. Casino operators will be fined PHP100,000 if found violating these laws.
Indonesia bans bitcoin
From the start of next year, bitcoin payments will be banned in Indonesia, according to local authorities. The cryptocurrency, which is used to make online casino deposits and withdrawals, is currently worth 226,551,880 Indonesian Rupiah at the time of writing. But Bank Indonesia said the new regulations banning the cryptocurrency would take effect from 2018. Local media outlets revealed that the bank will issue the regulatory framework soon, as it is currently working out whether it should regulate all digital currencies or just bitcoin.
Indian panel to suggest legalising sports betting
The Indian Law Commission has reportedly recommended that the Indian government legalise and regulate gambling to stamp out illegal behaviour. The Commission is preparing a report after the Supreme Court advised the panel to look into the benefits of legalising sports betting in India. According to the Commission, regulation and tight restrictions will curb the issue of illegal gambling, especially given it estimates that Rs 130 billion is gambled illegally in the country every year. Chairman of the Commission, Justice BS Chauhan, told local media outlets that they need “stringent law”.
NOTORIOUS New York mobsters have been arrested and charged with running illegal casinos, as well as engaging in a number of other unlawful activities.
Federal Authorities have revealed they have charged seven members of the Gambino and Bonanno organised crime families for illegal gambling, racketeering conspiracy, and obstruction of justice.
Prosecutors unveiled a 13-count indictment for alleged criminal activity in Brooklyn and Long Island between January 2014 and December 2017 on Tuesday and detained the suspects.
The offenders reportedly offered and engaged in illegal poker games, slot machines and online sports betting.
It’s illegal to offer sports betting in America in every state except Nevada, Oregon, Delaware, and Montana.
New Jersey is attempting to overturn the piece of legislation which bans individual states from amending laws to allow sports betting (Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act 1992). The Supreme Court heard cases for and against legalised sports betting last week, with a decision expected to be handed down before June.
While New York is looking to amend its laws to legalise sports betting it remains illegal in New York for the time being.
Suffolk County police also investigated the mob’s illicit casino, using tapped phone conversations to support their case.
Although New York has land-based casinos, acting captain of the Gambino family, John (Johnny Boy) Ambrosio, was caught on tape telling someone that they didn’t have to travel to the venues, instead, they could play “right here” and “save gas money”.
Ambrosio was arrested, along with Frank (Frankie Boy) Salerno, Anthony Saladino, Thomas Anzaone, Alessandro (Sandro) Damelio, Joseph Durso, and Anthony Rodolico and appeared in federal court before United States Magistrate, Judge Gary Brown on Wednesday.
“The arrests, in this case, prove organised crime families haven’t gone away, and continue to plague our communities with their general disregard for anything other than their own greed,” FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge, William Sweeney, said.
Along with the illegal gambling charges, the suspects also allegedly distributed a range of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine and Xanax and extended “extortionate” loans to several people, charging high-interest rates and violently collecting fund.
Several of the suspects face a 20-year prison sentence, while Saladino and Salerno face life for distributing of large quantities of cocaine, including 12 individual sales to an undercover cop which amounted to more than half a kilogram.