May 21, 2018

Pachinko not ‘morally’ suitable for Japan’s casinos, lawmaker says

A Japanese lawmaker has a beef with pachinko. Takashi Takai, of the Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan, has created a laundry list of questions for the government that questions the pachinko industry’s “moral fitness” in casinos. His main argument is that the game is the primary root of addiction in the country, and that the industry does virtually nothing to protect consumers.

Pachinko machines don’t reward money directly. They reward captured balls for tickets, which are subsequently traded for money elsewhere. To many, this helps the hybrid slot/pinball machine avoid the classification of being a gambling game but, rather, one of amusement. However, with the possible spread of casinos in Japan, lawmakers are revisiting the industry and have, so far, introduced lower payouts to the games.

In 2015, the pachinko industry dealt with a scandal that involved tampering of the machines. The ensuing government investigation, according to Takei, is a good enough reason to consider the validity of the machines in casinos. He was quoted by Asia Gaming Brief saying, “Considering that there was a major tampering case by pachinko makers from a mere three years ago, I believe we must take a strict view towards their participation in the casino industry. Also, the National Public Safety Commission, as well as the prefectural public safety commissions, have proven themselves unable to prevent large-scale tampering by the pachinko makers and therefore it is inappropriate to have them supervise the casino business.”

Takei should rest easy in knowing that the industry is already on life support. Last year, 420 pachinko cafes—one out of every 25—shut down. Additionally, 177 companies went belly-up, roughly 5% of all the operators in the country. There has been a decline in interest for a number of years as millennials seek out more exciting opportunities. Perhaps he should just let the industry have its remaining days in peace and let it die happy.

May 17, 2018

UK Government Slash FOBT Stake To £2

The UK Government has announced that Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs) will have the maximum stake reduced from the current level of £100 to £2, which was the biggest fear for bookmakers.

Sports Minister Tracey Crouch who made the announcement said that a high number of people seeking treatment for addiction say FOBTs are “their main form of gambling”.

It is estimated that the UK Treasury will lose £1.1 billion over three years with the reduction and many bookmakers affected say that thousands of jobs will be lost along with many retail outlets closing.

However The Minister for Sport went on to say about the reduction: “Following analysis of the evidence received at consultation, £2 has been found to be the stake limit that would most substantially impact on harm by reducing the ability to suffer high session losses, while also targeting the greatest proportion of problem gamblers, and mitigating risk for the most vulnerable players for whom even moderate losses might be harmful.

Ms Crouch added: “Even cutting to £10 would leave problem gamblers, and those most vulnerable, exposed to losses that would cause them and their families significant harm.”

The announcement from the government did not say when the reduction will come into force, William Hill had been asking for a one year time limit on the change.

May 15, 2018

US sports betting ban overturned

The federal ban on sports betting across the US has been overturned by the country’s Supreme Court.

The court today (Monday) ruled in favour of the state of New Jersey in its long-running bid to overturn the 1992 Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA).

PASPA had blocked states from offering regulated sports wagering services, with the exception of Nevada. Oregon, Delaware and Montana were also exempt.

New Jersey has been campaigning for a number of years for the ban to be withdrawn, highlighting the prevalence of illegal sports betting across the US as one of its main arguments.

The Supreme Court was seemingly in agreement with New Jersey, voting 7-2 in favour of voiding PASPA and also upholding a 2014 state law that permitted sports betting and casinos and racecourses in New Jersey.

The move effectively breaks Nevada’s monopoly on sports betting in the US and in turn opens up a much wider market.

The Stars Group’s share price is up 9%, with Paddy Power Betfair, Caesars and William Hill all rising by more than 6% in the immediate aftermath.

A number of leading operators have campaigned alongside New Jersey for the laws to be changed.

Various professional sports leagues including the National Basketball Association, Major League Baseball and the PGA Tour have also stated their backing for an expanded, regulated market.

According to USA Today, Justice Samuel Alito, a New Jersey native who wrote the court’s opinion in the case, said: “Congress can regulate sports gambling directly, but if it elects not to do so, each state is free to act on its own.

“Our job is to interpret the law Congress has enacted and decide whether it is consistent with the Constitution. PASPA is not.”

The American Gaming Association said: “Today’s decision is a victory for the millions of Americans who seek to bet on sports in a safe and regulated manner. According to a Washington Post survey, a solid 55 percent of Americans believe it’s time to end the federal ban on sports betting.

"Today’s ruling makes it possible for states and sovereign tribal nations to give Americans what they want: an open, transparent, and responsible market for sports betting. Through smart, efficient regulation this new market will protect consumers, preserve the integrity of the games we love, empower law enforcement to fight illegal gambling, and generate new revenue for states, sporting bodies, broadcasters and many others.

"The AGA stands ready to work with all stakeholders – states, tribes, sports leagues, and law enforcement – to create a new regulatory environment that capitalizes on this opportunity to engage fans and boost local economies.”

May 04, 2018

Writer Halts Book on Poker After Winning $86,000 Playing Poker

Most of us entertain fantasies of ditching our lowly, soul-crushing jobs and making it as the next Timothée Chalamet or Russell Westbrook or Cardi B or whatever, though we know deep down that most of us never will. In lieu of those talents, we work away as bartenders or salesmen or, you know, bloggers, and we deal with it. But one woman proved that it doesn't take otherworldly, innate skill to leap from the humdrum world of the everyday into a higher, more thrilling plane—that with a little hard work and a little luck, you can hit the big time doing something you don't know a damn thing about.

This heroine—this ray of hope in the darkness—is Maria Konnikova, a New Yorker contributor who decided to write a book about high-stakes poker. She teamed up with Erik Seidel—a Poker Hall of Famer who's made more than $34 million playing—who let her shadow him, showed her the ropes, and got her going on a career of her own.

She came into the world of poker "as someone who’d never had any experience with the game,” and started out playing small, $20 and $40 tournaments and never winning much, Poker News reports. Then, with Seidel's guidance, she got better—shared higher-stakes tables with good players at serious Las Vegas casinos like the ARIA, and walked away from a few games with upwards of $2,000. Pretty soon, she was playing major tournaments.

As if that's not sick enough on its own, less than a year after she'd picked up the game, she struck gold. In January, at a national championship in the Bahamas, she beat out 230 other players and came out on top—winning $86,400 from a game she'd started playing from scratch, as an experiment, to research a book.

Now, according to Poker News, she's making so much goddamn money playing poker that she's putting the whole writing thing on the back burner—pushing her book schedule back, and living it up in the lucrative world of professional gambling. And apparently, the move is paying off—she just won $57,519 at a tournament in Macau, where she came in second. She also recently touched down in Monaco, where she ponied up $25,000 at a tournament for a chance to win, oh, who knows, somewhere in the range of millions of fucking dollars.

Maria Konnikova did it. She peaced the hell out of her job, tried her hand at some wild-ass hobby she didn't have a lick of experience with, crushed it, and now, she's unbelievably rich! Let her be an inspiration to us all. I don't know about you, but it's time for me to go learn Texas hold 'em.

May 03, 2018

Pinnacle withdraws UK online gambling license application

Online bookmaker Pinnacle has rethought its plan to enter the UK’s regulated online gambling market.

On Tuesday, Pinnacle’s official Twitter feed announced that the company had “withdrawn our license application to the UK Gambling Commission.” The company said that while it remained “eager to serve the UK betting market, the decision has been made that now is not the right time.”

The company went on to say that it recognized the disappointment it was bringing to potential UK customers but assured punters that “Pinnacle remains committed to bringing its low margins, high limits and unique winners welcome policy to the UK market when the time is right.”

Pinnacle’s UK license application had been listed as ‘pending’ on the UKGC website for some time now, and the specific cause for the delay remains unknown. The company had previously expressed optimism regarding a 2017 launch for its UK-facing site, but it now appears that Pinnacle didn’t expect any regulatory breakthroughs anytime soon.

Pinnacle (under its previous incarnation Pinnacle Sports) withdrew from the UK market in 2014, but assured its UK customers at the time that it would be back “should we obtain a British gambling license in the future.”

At the time of its UK withdrawal, the Curacao- and Malta-licensed Pinnacle had already submitted its license application to the UKGC. The following year, Pinnacle changed ownership, and the new team made “expansion into regulated territories” a key plank of its business strategy.

Pinnacle appears to have shifted its focus to its new B2B sportsbook platform technology division, Pinnacle Solution, which the company unveiled last week. The company reportedly hopes to be able to market Pinnacle Solution to US companies looking to take advantage of any favorable shift in America’s sports betting laws.

May 02, 2018

Victor Chandler Invests in Premier Punt Group

Premier Punt Group, the Edinburgh based Business-to-Business social gaming provider, has managed to pull off a real coup in recruiting industry trailblazer Victor Chandler as an investor and advisor.

Mr Chandler is often credited with being the first to take gambling “online” and gambling operations offshore.

He said this of the announcement: “Premier Punt Group is an exciting company with fantastic vision and huge potential. The strategy of obtaining social bettors, at a low customer acquisition cost, then upselling to an integrated sportsbook & casino is an interesting formula to say the least. I am looking forward to working with John Gordon and the team to help them realise that potential.”

CEO of Premier Punt Group, John Gordon, also commented: “Victor is a legend in the industry so obviously we are absolutely delighted to have someone of his stature on board.

Since Victor has come on board the company has gone from strength to strength. Victor has been there and done it. For us to have that vast bank of experience and knowledge to tap into is priceless and indicates some very exciting times ahead for Premier Punt Group.”

Mr Chandler invested in the company’s current investment round which is still open. Their investment campaign recently went live to the public on the crowdfunding platform, Seedrs, which hit its minimum target investment on day 1.

April 20, 2018

From facing Arsenal to betting ban: Former Lincoln defender Bradley Wood suspended from football for six years

Former Lincoln City defender Bradley Wood was banned for six years and fined £3,275 pounds by an FA tribunal on Thursday after being found guilty of match-fixing and betting offences.

The player was accused of getting himself booked on purpose in two FA Cup matches in January and February 2017 to "influence a football betting market".

Wood, who played against Arsenal in the FA Cup quarter-finals last season, had denied deliberately seeking out yellow cards in the games against Ipswich Town, where he committed a 90th-minute professional foul, and Burnley where he was involved in an altercation.

Seven people had bet on Wood being cautioned, none of whom had previously bet on such a thing, according to the FA and betting companies.

The bets were also "atypical in the context of the caution betting market" and the potential winnings, which were not all paid out, in the region of £10,000.

"The betting evidence and the evidence of Mr Wood's association with those placing the bets is compelling," the tribunal said.

It ruled, however, that Wood's conduct had not constituted "match-fixing at its most serious" and there were mitigating factors which meant a lifetime ban would have been disproportionate.

Woods was banned for five years for the match-fixing offences and a further year for 23 other charges of betting on the outcome of matches.

Lincoln are in the fourth tier of English soccer after winning promotion back to the league at the end of last season when they also reached the FA Cup quarter-finals.

April 12, 2018

Playtech makes a $1.05B play for Italian betting firm Snaitech

Online gambling technology provider Playtech has agreed to buy a 70.6% stake in Italian gambling firm Snaitech, a move that the UK company expects will enhance its “revenue mix towards regulated markets.”

Playtech makes a $1.05B play for Italian betting firm SnaitechThe “initial acquisition” of Snaitech carries a price tag of €846 million ($1.05 billion), Playtech announced in a Thursday filing. The British gambling company is required to make a mandatory takeover offer for the remaining stake in Snaitech after the initial acquisition is completed sometime in the third quarter of 2018. The mandatory takeover offer is aimed at delisting Snaitech from the Milan Stock Exchange, according to Playtech. It expects the entire transaction will be completed before the year ends.

The deal will be funded by Playtech’s existing cash resources, plus new debt, and is expected to deliver cost material annual cost synergies of €10 million.

If the deal manages to clear regulatory and shareholder approvals, it would mean that Playtech will be seeing 78 percent of its revenue from regulated markets. The Snaitech acquisition will allow Playtech to establish “strong presence in Italy, Europe’s largest and growing gaming market, a fragmented market which is relatively underdeveloped online.”

Playtech sees the acquisition as an opportunity to combine “two market leading players in the B2B/B2C space with brand strength and scalable offerings,” giving the British company “incremental organic growth potential and greater strategic optionality.”

Snaitech is licensed by the Italian Monopolies Authority to offer gaming services and products, including sport and horse racing betting; virtual sports; video lottery; online and mobile poker, skill games, casino games, bingo; esports; and pari-mutuel. The SNAI retail betting network has more than 1,600 points of sale located throughout Italy. The group also operates 60,000 “New Slot” as well as more than 10,000 video lotteries across the country.

In 2017, Snaitech generated revenue €890 million and EBITDA of €136 million.

The acquisition deal couldn’t have come at a better time for UK’s Playtech, which has been battling the sweeping regulatory changes at its home market on top of the persisting operational problems in Asia.

Playtech reported a modest 18% net revenue gain in 2017, following Malaysia’s crackdown on gambling in the country. In February, Playtech Chairman Alan Jackson said the company is looking to diversify its revenue base by investing in fast growing regulated and regulating markets in Europe and Latin America.

April 05, 2018

Lottoland sings swan song, but Aussie newsagents aren’t buying it

Online gambling company Lottoland has finally begun singing its swan song, in an attempt to pull at the heartstrings of newsagents before it’s evicted from Australia.

On Thursday, Lottoland has published a full-page newspaper advertisement appealing to newsagents to come to the table and discuss a win-win solution for both parties in the wake of the Australian government’s decision to ban online betting on lotteries and keno.

The ad comes as a letter addressed to newsagents penned by no less than Lottoland CEO Luke Brill, who offered them 20 percent of the profits generated from every bet they refer to the online gambling firm. Newsagents may earn thousands of additional dollars from the proposal, according Brill.

At the same time, Brill said newsagents that took part in the program would have an opportunity to benefit financially from Lottoland bets on overseas lotteries.

“The reality is that the proposed legislation could make life even more difficult for newsagents while reducing choice for hundreds of thousands of customers,” Brill said in a statement. “We want to partner with newsagents to provide our customers with greater choice, in a way that will be fair and profitable for your business.”

Brill then took aim at rival Tatts Group, which it accused of bankrolling local lotteries in their fight against Lottoland.

The Lottoland boss claimed that Tatts is cementing its monopoly in Australia, to the detriment of both the newsagents and players. Their continued operations in Australia encourages both competition and innovation, according to Brill.

If there’s one threat to newsagents’ survival, Brill said that it is no other than Tatts.

“We believe in a level-playing field that encourages rather than restricts competition and innovation. That’s why we want to work with you as a true business partner,” he said.

However, Lottoland’s last-ditch appeal has fallen on Australian Lottery and Newsagents Association’s (ALNA) deaf ears.

In a statement, ALNA CEO Adam Joy said newsagents will never align themselves with a business that lacks consumer protections and doesn’t deliver what it promotes. Joy also dismissed Lottoland’s latest ad to be a desperate PR maneuver.

“Lottoland have spent years denigrating newsagents, and a partnership requires trust. They have repeatedly said that they are not targeting the customers of newsagents, yet this idea along with its entire business model does exactly that,” Joy said.

April 03, 2018

DraftKings seeks partners for US betting expansion

US daily fantasy sports operator DraftKings is reported to be seeking casino and leisure partners, with a view to expanding its future sports betting proposition.

DraftKings leadership seeks to gain a competitive advantage over potential US market incumbents, as the Supreme Court reviews the repeal of federal PASPA provisions.

This February, DraftKings declared its statement of intent on becoming a major player in licensed US sports betting, opening a strategic ‘betting’ office in Hoboken, New Jersey.

Furthermore, DraftKings has appointed UK betting executive Sean Hurley as the company’s first-ever Head of Sportsbook, tasked with delivering a US-centric sports betting platform and strategy.

DraftKings which to date has raised +$700 million in enterprise funding, believes that it has the best organic strategy for a potential US betting market.

Through its daily fantasy sports offering, DraftKings has a secured 10 million US customers and built a platform tailored to US sports engagement (live streaming, ticketing, payments).

For the betting sector, all eyes remain on Capitol Hill, as industry stakeholders await the judgement of the Supreme Court.

Latest industry reports indicate that 19 states have declared an interest in implementing licensed sports betting, should the Supreme Court repeal PASPA.

However, as yet little is known with regards to how US betting legislations and provisions will be shaped up, and what potential requirements will be needed by operators seeking to enter the market.