November 22, 2017

Unnamed Northern Ireland Bookmaker Arrested for having FOBTs

In a landmark case a bookmaker in Northern Ireland has been arrested for having Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBTs).

A file has already been sent to the Public Prosecution Service who will decide if the unnamed bookmaker will be charged and go to court for trial.

Currently there are some 600 FOBTs in Northern Ireland who has devolved powers on gaming which differ from the rest of the UK.

In Northern Ireland it is stated that a “Gaming Machine” has a maximum stake of £0.30, however a FOBT currently has a maximum of £100.

The bookmakers in Northern Ireland, Ladbrokes, William Hill, Paddy Power, Sean Graham, McLean’s and Toal’s argue that FOBTs are not classified as Gaming Machines and so do not fall in to the £0.30 stake.

It is understood that this arrest and case will be a test for the classification of FOBTs in Northern Ireland. The decision is not expected to be a quick one from the Prosecutors Office and if and when the Bookmaker in question will be named.

November 13, 2017

German banks involved in illegal online casino payments

On Wednesday, German newspape Süddeutsche Zeitungand public broadcaster NDR fingered DZ Bank, Postbank, Hypo-Vereinsbank and Wirecard for processing payments from internationally licensed online casino operators, in apparent contravention of Germany’s current gambling laws.

Evidence of the four financial institution’s connections with the online gambling sites came via the release of the so-called Paradise Papers, the latest document dump by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) in its ongoing efforts to shine a light on the financial dealings of the world’s 1%.

So far, the banks have issued statements denying that their activities were in violation of current German gambling laws, which prohibit online gambling outside of sports betting.

But the Interior Ministry of the state of Lower Saxony begs to differ, suggesting the banks could be found guilty of facilitating illegal gambling operations, as well as potential money laundering charges, although no one’s so far suggested any such charges are forthcoming.

Among the online operators’ namechecked in discussion of the banks’ activities are Bwin, Tipico, Royal Panda, Casino Club, amid others. Some of these, like Bwin and Tipico, hold online gambling licenses issued by the German state of Schleswig-Holstein, which enacted its own, more liberal licensing regime rather than sign on to the sports-only federal gambling treaty approved by Germany’s other 15 states in 2012.

Germany has targeted international online casino operators in the past by going after these sites’ local customers, but both German and European Union courts have questioned the government’s ability to sanction international sites due to lingering questions over the legality of Germany’s federal betting rules.

Schleswig-Holstein and three other states recently announced that they intended to follow their own path toward online gambling regulation, effectively dooming the revised federal treaty, which was to take effect January 1, 2018, provided it could secure the unanimous consent of all 16 German länder.

Last month, a Federal Administrative Court upheld the constitutionality of Germany’s ban on online casino and poker products, but the German Sports Betting Association (DSWV) was quick to issue a statement saying the court hadn’t given thumbs-up to the government’s original plan to issue 20 sports betting licenses, which only left the country in its current state of limbo.

November 08, 2017

Paddy Power unwilling to bet big on US growth plan

Earlier this week, the US state passed laws legalising certain betting activity such as online poker, casino games and betting on fantasy sports leagues. Paddy Power-Betfair has a strong presence in the US — via its TVG online horse racing outlet, its New Jersey-based online casino offering and Draft, a New York-based outlet focused on fantasy sports league betting, which it acquired earlier this year — and has welcomed the move in Pennsylvania.

However, outgoing chief executive Breon Corcoran told analysts on the company’s third quarter earnings call that it is unlikely to usher in a wholesale loosening of US betting laws.

“With respect to sports betting [in the US], in particular, I think we’re probably less bullish than most people. We think there’s an awful long way to go from where we are today to a legalised framework for sports betting that’s accessible to offshore operators,” he said.

“Draft is showing that we can acquire customers that we wouldn’t have acquired through the horse racing business. But, we still think sports betting, as we know it in Europe, is a long way away [in the US],” Mr Corcoran — who is formally leaving the company in early January — added.

Chief financial officer Alex Gersh, however, said that if that opinion was to be proven wrong, the group has substantially more ability than its competitors to invest in the US.

Paddy Power-Betfair’s third quarter trading update showed a 9% year-on-year increase in group revenue to £440m (€502m) and a 7% rise in underlying earnings to £121m. Mr Corcoran called the performance “encouraging” — particularly with the absence of any major football tournament in the late summer months.

Online revenue fell 3%, year-on-year, to £216m and gaming revenue was flat at £60m, with management saying it has no idea when that part of the business will return to growth. Overall, management expects full-year group earnings to be between £450m and £465m. Last year it generated earnings of £400m.

Third quarter retail revenues rose 12%, with the group announcing it has reached agreement — with an unnamed party — for the acquisition of another five UK shops. On a geographical basis, US revenues rose 18% and Australia-based revenues were up 29%. Most of the bets the group took on September’s Conor McGregor/Floyd Mayweather boxing match came via its Australian online avenue.

Woman wins £574,278.41 from £1 bet after she picked 12-match accumulator by choosing teams whose names she liked the sound of

A woman with little interest in football has managed to win £574,278.41 from a £1 accumulator bet.

The unnamed 58-year-old housewife put together a 12-team football accumulator, which she only bets on because she is sick of having to deal with her husband and son watching football on television every weekend.

Most of the teams selected on the betting slip were odds against outsiders. And one of the results only came in during the 92nd minute as Steve Cook scored for Bournemouth at Newcastle.

There was no skill or knowledge involved in the selection process either. Her son read out the weekend's fixtures and the woman picked 12 teams from the sound of their name alone.

Carli Faulkner, the employee from William Hill's Leysdown-on-Sea shop who paid out the bet, said she was delighted for the winner.

Faulkner said: 'It is incredible that the lady got them all up. Usually customers laugh when they see a payout figure on the bottom of their slip like £574,000, but this just goes to show it can happen.

'They will be having a cracking Christmas and I am delighted for them as it's real girl power landing a bet like that. My biggest ever payout before this was around £25,000.'

William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams said: 'Apparently, the lady's husband had been doing the £1 weekend acca since he was 18, so 40 years of practice on football punting.

'His wife started doing the same bet about six years ago, so she certainly had lady luck on her side as her hubby has never had a win anything like that.

'It just goes to show if you can't beat them join them and the payout in this case is absolutely fantastic.

'We wish them well.

'In my 15 years in the business working for William Hill I have never encountered a bigger football win by a female punter for just a quid.'

November 03, 2017

Malaysian gambling crackdown forces Playtech to issue profit warning

Problems in Asia and a troublesome bingo contract have forced gaming and spread-betting company Playtech to issue a profit warning sending the shares plunging by a fifth.

Management at the Isle of Man-based business, which was founded by billionaire Teddy Sagi, said it expected annual profits to be 5pc lower than the bottom end of market expectations, prompting analysts to wipe about €20m (£17.8m) off their full-year earnings forecasts and sending Playtech shares down 218.5p to 768p.

A key problem for the company is understood to be Malaysia, which is presently an unregulated market and has seen its government move to prevent citizens from accessing online gambling sites and mobile apps.

The country’s leaders are considering changes to its Common Gaming House Act 1953 to plug loopholes which enable citizens to gamble online.

Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is quoted as saying that the government hasn’t decided on whether the change of the law will be in the form of an amendment or if the parliament will craft a new preventive law that will specifically target online gambling activities.

Analysts at Investec predicted the Malaysia issue was responsible for the bulk of the value of the profit downgrade by the company.

Investec added it thought Malaysia represented 5pc of Playtech’s total revenue, which came in at €709m in 2016.

Elsewhere, its contract with Sun Bingo, which involves Playtech providing the technology for the game, has continued to be problematic.

Earlier this year Playtech chief executive Mor Weizer admitted it had been forced to spend more money than planned to attract customers and that it was a year behind where it wanted to be with the project.

In its update this week, the company said the contract “remains challenging” partly due to the re-launch of the new Sun Bingo site.

The company’s financial division Tradetech, which serves professional traders, has performed as expected.

GVC drops Turkey operations amid merger rumor with Lads Coral

UK-listed online gambling operator GVC Holdings has disposed of its Turkish-facing business, fueling speculations that it will once again attempt to acquire UK rival Ladbrokes Coral Group.

In a regulatory filing, GVC announced that it sold Headlong Limited to Ropso Malta Ltd., a company backed by investors who run the operation’s IT, for €150 million ($174.9 million).

Headlong accounts for 9 percent of GVC’s net gaming revenues. The Turkish-facing company and its associated business had gross assets of €21 million ($24.47 million) as of December 31, 2016 while its estimated earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization totalled €35 million ($40.77 million).

GVC drops Turkey operations amid merger rumor with Lads CoralBoth GVC and Ropso Malta agreed that the payment will be payable on a monthly basis and in a span of five years. They also agreed that transitional service arrangements will take place for no longer than six months following the completion.

With the disposal of Headlong, GVC’s revenue from “grey” markets will fall to around 25 percent.

“The decision to sell Headlong and associated businesses has been taken against a backdrop where, in an increasingly maturing and regulating online gaming world, the Board has concluded it is now appropriate for GVC to further increase its focus on regulated markets,” GVC said in a statement. “In addition, the Board believes that the Disposal will increase the attractiveness of the Group to investors and potential consolidation partners.”

The sale of Headlong, however, has revived rumors that GVC is attempting to acquire Ladbrokes for the third time since last year, according to The Evening Standard.

One of the contentious issues that both GVC and Ladbrokes are reportedly trying to iron out is the former’s businesses in unregulated markets like Turkey. Though profitable, unregulated markets are unstable and subject to sudden clampdowns.

Ladbrokes is basically telling GVC that if the company wants a marriage, then the former has to say bye-bye to unregulated markets.

October 26, 2017

Phil Ivey loses court battle over £7.7m winnings from London casino

The poker player Phil Ivey has lost his court bid to recover £7.7m ( $10.2m) of winnings from a London casino.

The 40-year-old American has been fighting to recover the sum since successfully playing a version of baccarat known as Punto Banco at Crockfords Club in Mayfair in 2012.

The hearing at the supreme court considered whether dishonesty was a necessary element of the offence of cheating.

Ivey had challenged a 2016 majority decision in the court of appeal dismissing his case against Genting Casinos UK, which owns Crockfords. Genting said a technique he used, called edge-sorting, was not a legitimate strategy, while Ivey maintained that he won fairly.

Five justices unanimously upheld the majority decision of the court of appeal, which dismissed his case on the basis that being knowingly dishonest was not a necessary element of “cheating”.

After the game in question, Ivey was told the money would be wired to him in Las Vegas, but it never arrived, although his stake of £1m was returned.

Genting said the technique of edge-sorting used by Ivey, which involves identifying small differences in the pattern on the reverse of playing cards and exploiting that information to increase the chances of winning, was not a legitimate strategy.

Ivey did not personally touch any cards, but persuaded the croupier to rotate the most valuable cards by intimating that he was superstitious.

In the court of appeal, Lady Justice Arden said the Gambling Act 2005 provided that someone may cheat “without dishonesty or intention to deceive: depending on the circumstances it may be enough that he simply interferes with the process of the game”.

There was no doubt, she added, that the actions of Ivey and another gambler, Cheung Yin Sun, interfered with the process by which Crockfords played the game of Punto Banco with Ivey.

Stephen Parkinson, head of criminal litigation at Kingsley Napley, the law firm that represented Crockfords, said: “This is one of the most significant decisions in criminal law in a generation. The concept of dishonesty is central to a whole range of offences, including fraud.

“For 35 years, juries have been told that defendants will only be guilty if the conduct complained of was dishonest by the standards of ordinary, reasonable and honest people, and also that they must have realised that ordinary, honest people would regard their behaviour as dishonest.

“The supreme court has now said that this second limb of the test does not represent the law and that directions based upon it ought no longer to be given by the courts.”

October 11, 2017

Why hurricane-ravaged Barbuda desperately wants to resolve a dispute over U.S. online gambling

As the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda struggles to rebuild after Hurricane Irma, the tiny islands are demanding that the United States settle a long simmering trade dispute that could provide them with millions of dollars for recovery.

The conflict revolves around the U.S. government’s campaign to prevent Americans from gambling at online sites based in Antigua and Barbuda.

Antigua and Barbuda claims that the resulting trade dispute has cost the twin-island nation some $200 million — about four-fifths the estimated cost of reconstruction after Irma.

The conflict dates to the 1990s, when online gambling soared in popularity.

According to the industry website GamingZion, Antigua was the first country to license online casino sites in 1994. At its height, Antigua’s gaming industry employed 4,000 people, including call center employees, marketers and IT professionals, and generated around $3.4 billion annually in revenues, Antiguan officials said.

But concern over the practice, along with pressure from the domestic casino industry, prompted U.S. authorities to crack down, using an obscure law outlawing the use of telephone or wire communications to make bets. Then, in 2006, the U.S. passed regulations cracking down on internet gambling.

Today the industry in Antigua and Barbuda provides jobs for only 300 to 400 people, according to Prime Minister Gaston Browne.

“So the loss is real,” he said.

Antiguan officials said their economy needed an injection of cash now more than ever.

Hurricane Irma ravaged Barbuda, decimating most properties and knocking out water, electricity and telecommunications. All of the island’s 1,800 people were evacuated to Antigua. Most have still not been able to return.

Antiguan authorities estimate rebuilding Barbuda will cost about $250 million.

According to Ronald Sanders, Antigua and Barbuda's ambassador to the United States, the U.S. has offered to pay Antigua less than $2 million to settle the trade dispute — a sum that was unacceptable, he said.

“The U.S. by its own policy has actually destroyed a thriving industry in Antigua and Barbuda,” said Browne.

The Caribbean nation has been trying to recoup its losses from the United States since 2003. When the U.S. turned down a request for compensation, Antigua and Barbuda asked the World Trade Organization to arbitrate the matter.

In 2004, a WTO arbitration panel found that the U.S. had violated its trade commitments and Antigua and Barbuda had been wrongly deprived of trade revenue. Over the years, the U.S. has appealed the decision and lost.

The WTO ordered the U.S. to pay Antigua and Barbuda for its trade losses at $21 million a year. To date, the cumulative sum is in excess of $200 million, Sanders said.

The U.S. has refused to pay that sum.

The Trump administration inherited the issue. In a statement to the WTO Dispute Settlement Body in Geneva last month, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said it remained “committed to resolving this matter.”

In filings published by the WTO, past U.S. administrations presented various arguments as to why they opposed remote gambling. These include the risk of money laundering, fraud, organized crime, underage gambling and the threat of expanding the number of addicted gamblers.

In a recent interview in the Antiguan capital, St. John’s, Browne criticized the U.S. for claiming the moral high ground.

“As far as I’m concerned they have no moral authority whatsoever,” Browne said. “There’s more gambling in the United States than any other country on the planet. Whether or not it takes place on the internet or in a casino or in a house, it’s gambling. So we do not buy into this nonsensical argument of morality.”

In its filings to the WTO, the U.S. underscored that gambling in America was “confined to particular locations and operates under the most rigorous regulatory constraints.”

Todd Tucker, a fellow at the Roosevelt Institute, a Washington-based think tank, said the U.S. had “a good legal case for disregarding the WTO decision.”

“The U.S., under both Democratic and Republican administrations, has argued that the [WTO] appellate body lacks the legitimacy or mandate to refashion what countries and their legislatures agreed to,” Tucker said. “And a lot of anti-gambling activists and religious groups agree with them in this case.”

The Antiguan economy is around $1.5 billion, far smaller than that of a mid-sized American city.

Browne said that “$200 million means nothing” to the United States.His government is willing to accept less, he added. “All we’re saying is that we want something substantive to compensate for the damages over the years.”

Patrick Basham, founding director of the Democracy Institute, a politically independent public policy research organization based in Washington and London, has followed the dispute closely over the years and described it as “a David versus Goliath story.”

“We have a situation with the WTO where the U.S basically founded the club and encouraged all these other countries to join, drafted the rules and everybody signed up,” said Basham, who last month published a report on the matter called “Do As I Say, Not As I Do.” “However, the U.S. seems inclined … to only play by the rules when the rules suit the U.S.”

The WTO authorized Antigua to use other means to recover what it is owed, including breaking U.S. copyright laws. The Caribbean nation could allow the downloading of U.S.-made computer software and Hollywood movies and keep the profits.

In a statement to the WTO in Geneva last month, Sanders, the ambassador, said his government had refrained from taking such action because “we have too high regard for the U.S. owners of intellectual property, who have contributed much to the enjoyment and advancement of the world.”

Browne, the prime minister, said he was concerned that the U.S. might retaliate against his nation using underhanded methods.

“They have sinister ways,” Browne said. “They may say, for example, that there is the Zika virus in Antigua and Barbuda, so don’t travel [there]. We understand those risks, that’s why we haven’t pursued those remedies.”

Tucker, of the Roosevelt Institute, said simply allowing internet gaming and writing a check to Antigua was not necessarily the solution. Citing Antiguan authorities, he said those likely to benefit were financiers in the gambling industry who would claim 75% of whatever settlement is reached.

“Direct aid to the people of Antigua is a much better humanitarian solution,” Tucker said.

Browne was adamant that his country would continue to fight for what it is owed.

“What we’re saying at the end of the day is that you can’t operate on the basis that might is right and trample on the rights of a small state,” he said. “There must be some equity in the system. We love the U.S. We don’t wish harm to the U.S. But don’t treat us with this type of contempt and neglect.”

October 03, 2017

Las Vegas gunman was high-stakes gambler who stayed at casino hotels for months at a time

He liked to bet big, wagering tens of thousands of dollars in a sitting. He owned homes in four states but preferred staying in casino hotels, sometimes for weeks at a time, as he worked the gambling machines.

He grew up the son of a convicted bank robber who was constantly running from the law. But in his own life, Stephen Paddock, 64, had kept his nose clean until Sunday night, when he suddenly unleashed a firestorm of bullets from his casino hotel room, killing at least 59 people and injuring more than 500 more on the Las Vegas Strip.

"If you told me an asteroid fell into Earth, it would mean the same to me. There's absolutely no sense, no reason he did this," his brother Eric Paddock said in an interview outside his home in Orlando, Florida. "He's just a guy who played video poker and took cruises and ate burritos at Taco Bell. There's no political affiliation that we know of. There's no religious affiliation that we know of."

After the shooting, officers found Stephen Paddock dead with 17 guns on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, where he had arrived Thursday.

Police believe Paddock acted alone in executing the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

Eric Paddock said he knew of five guns his brother kept in his safe but was shocked that a rapid-fire weapon was used in Sunday's shooting.

He said Stephen Paddock didn't hunt and barely shot his guns, once taking Eric's children on a skeet-shooting trip paid for by the casinos.

In the final years of his life, Stephen Paddock was living out his retirement in quiet obscurity. He liked country music, relatives said, and went to concerts like the Route 91 Harvest festival where he killed so many Sunday night.

He was worth more than $2 million, relatives said. Before retiring, he made a small fortune from real estate deals and a business that he and Eric Paddock sold off. He traveled a lot and had millions of free airline miles.

At various points of his life, Stephen Paddock worked for defense contractor Lockheed Martin and as an accountant and property manager. As a retiree, he had no children and plenty of money to play with. So he took up gambling.

"It's like a job for him. It's a job where you make money," said Eric Paddock, adding that his brother could lose $1 million and still have enough to live on. "He was at the hotel for four months one time. It was like a second home."

He recalled one time when the entire family took over the top floor of the Atlantis at the casino's expense.

His brother was very particular about the games he played. "It had to be the right machine with double points, and there has to be a contest going on. He won a car one time," Eric Paddock said.

"He's known. He's a top player. He's the small end of the big fish."

Over the past two decades, Stephen Paddock had bought and sold properties in several states, including California, Nevada, Florida and Texas, where for a time, neighbors said, he lived with his mother. Public records show Paddock at one point owned two planes and was a licensed pilot. He also had a fishing license from Alaska.

He told neighbors he was a professional gambler and a prospector, and he appeared to favor buying homes in retirement communities. At one point, he and his longtime girlfriend, Marilou Danley, were living in at least three retirement communities, property records show. Neighbors said the couple seemed almost itinerant, leaving the properties empty for long stretches as Paddock visited his casinos.

Donald Judy, who was his next-door neighbor in Florida until two years ago, said the inside of Paddock's home "looked like a college freshman lived there." There was no art on the walls and no car in the driveway. Just a dining chair, a bed and two recliners. Paddock was constantly on the move, carrying a suitcase and driving a rental car whenever he stayed at the community near Cocoa Beach.

"It looked like he'd be ready to move at a moment's notice," Judy said.

Judy said he never flashed his wealth, often wearing khaki cotton pants, with a polo or other collared shirt, and never driving anything nicer than a standard rental car.

A little while after living there, Paddock left Judy a key and asked him to keep an eye on the rarely used house and to borrow any tools he might want. Judy said there were no drugs or parties, nothing unusual except for Paddock's gambling.

"They did seem to always stay up till midnight and sleep in till noon," Judy said. "They always seemed to stay on Vegas time."

Then, as quickly as he had appeared, Paddock put up a for-sale sign, Judy said. "He never said much about it, just said they were moving back to Vegas."

Police in Texas and towns Paddock lived in in Nevada said they could find no records of run-ins with the law involving him.

California records show that Paddock married a woman named Peggy Okamoto in 1985. They divorced in 1990 citing "irreconcilable differences." In recent years, Danley had become his girlfriend, relatives said.

Authorities said Danley was out of the country at the time of the shooting and was located in Tokyo. She is not considered a suspect.

At one point, Danley worked as a high-limit hostess for Club Paradise, a rewards program in the Atlantis Casino Resort Spa in Reno, Nevada, according to her LinkedIn profile. In a statement, Atlantis officials said she has not worked for the casino for several years.

Diane McKay lived next door to Paddock and Danley at their Reno home until July, when McKay moved away. Danley wasn't forthcoming about her life, and Paddock was unfriendly, McKay recalled. She only saw him in the mornings, when he went to the clubhouse to work out.

"He was weird. Kept to himself," said McKay, 79. "It was like living next to nothing. . . . You can at least be grumpy, something. He was just nothing, quiet."

The couple kept their blinds closed, but sometimes Paddock would open the garage door, revealing an enormous safe the size of a refrigerator.

Paddock's father, Benjamin Hoskins Paddock, was on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list, described on a 1969 wanted poster as "psychopathic'' with suicidal tendencies.

He escaped from prison that year and, according to news accounts, was not captured until 1978, when he was nabbed while running a bingo parlor in Oregon.

Stephen Paddock was the oldest of four boys. Eric, eight years his junior, was the youngest, with two in between: Bruce and Patrick.

Their father died a few years ago, but Eric Paddock grew up thinking their father was already dead. He found out otherwise when Patrick went to the Air Force Academy and was told his father was a decorated veteran and still alive.

"We didn't grow up under his influence," Eric Paddock said. "I was born on the run in Tucson. My dad was about to be arrested for robbing banks."

FBI agents interviewed relatives Monday, including Stephen Paddock's mother, who is in her 90s and spoke with him two weeks ago, Eric Paddock said. Five days after Hurricane Irma hit Orlando, Stephen Paddock texted his brother to see whether relatives had been affected.

Eric Paddock said he did not know of any mental illness, alcohol or drug problems in his brother's life. He said he had no clue whether Stephen had gambling debts or was financially troubled.

By Monday night, after an entire day dealing with FBI investigators and reporters camped outside his house, Eric Paddock said he and other relatives were still struggling to process the atrocity carried out by his brother.

"When we talked about a month ago, I can't believe he was planning this," he said, squeezing his eyes closed. "But he must have. It takes time."

What he knows about his brother doesn't fit with Sunday's massacre of innocents.

"Something broke in his head is the only thing possible. Did he have a stroke?" he said. "I'm hoping they cut open his brain and find something. There's a data point missing."

September 26, 2017

Dubai investor accuses ex-Amaya CEO David Baazov of fraud

Former Amaya Gaming CEO David Baazov is being sued by a Dubai investor who claims Baazov fraudulently used the investor’s name to build support for an Amaya takeover bid.

On Friday, La Presse reported that KBC Aldini Capital president Kalani Lal had filed a lawsuit in Dubai in January accusing Baazov and his longtime financial services partner Canaccord Genuity of fraudulently using Lal’s name and signature to boost Baazov’s late-2016 bid to acquire Amaya.

Last November, Amaya announced that Baazov, who had parted ways with the company several months earlier to defend himself against criminal charges of insider trading, had made a C$24 per share offer to buy a controlling stake in Amaya and take the company private.

To support his bid, Baazov filed papers with the US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) stating that he’d lined up $3.65b in financial commitments from four investment firms, including the Dubai-based KBC Aldini Capital.

However, within a week of Amaya’s announcement, Lal informed CalvinAyre.com that “neither KBC Aldini nor any of its related entities are involved in this transaction.” The following day, Baazov retracted his claim regarding KBC Aldini’s involvement, and Baazov’s proposed Amaya acquisition quickly fell apart.

Knowledge of the KBC Aldini lawsuit came via Quebec securities regulator Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), which brought the insider trading charges against Baazov and two other Amaya-connected individuals in March 2016.

Last December, an AMF investigator contacted KBC’s Lal, who repeated his claim to have never heard of Baazov or Amaya prior to the SEC filings. Lal apparently asked Cannacord to provide him with a copy of the letter allegedly sent by KBC pledging its financial support, but Lal never received a copy.

The AMF report indicates that “KBC’s clientele is predominantly Muslim, meaning that KBC will never invest in a gaming business, otherwise it will lose all its customers.” Lal reportedly received many calls from KBC clients who’d heard about the alleged Amaya connection, and this had caused Lal “a lot of worries.”

Earlier this week, La Presse reported that the AMF’s raids on individuals connected with their Baazov investigation had uncovered a document in which Baazov allegedly agreed to hold the majority of his Amaya shares on behalf of his brother Ofer aka ‘Josh’ Baazov and Ofer’s longtime online gambling business partner Craig Levett. The AMF also claims to have email communications in which Ofer is referred to as Amaya’s real owner.

Baazov’s criminal trial is expected to get underway in November, but if this week is any barometer, we can expect a steady drip of damning information to leak out of the AMF offices in the weeks to follow.

Amaya, the parent company of online gambling giant PokerStars, rebranded as The Stars Group earlier this year, in what was widely viewed as a means of distancing the company from the increasingly negative media narrative surrounding its former CEO.