Each week, CasinoBeats breaks down the numbers behind some of the industry’s most interesting stories. In our latest edition we take a look at UKGC guidance, a charity poker tournament and COVID-19 impacted financial results.
The UK Gambling Commission has published new guidance for online operators, instructing that tighter measures need to be implemented to protect consumers during lockdown.
Encapsulating the need for affordability checks, prevention of reverse withdrawals and restrictions on bonus offers, it follows the publication of “new evidence” that the regulator says “shows some gamblers may be at greater risk of harm during lockdown”.
However, the UKGC does stipulate that “there is no evidence to suggest an increase in problem gambling,” with a market shift as a result of covid-19 highlighting a higher uptake of certain gambling products such as online slots, poker, casino gaming and virtual sports.
Collected through the gambling industry and YouGov surveys, the data shows that in terms of time spent gambling, while overall session length has decreased, there has been an increase in the number of sessions that are played for over an hour.
Indiana sportsbooks fell to their worst month ever in April, with the jurisdiction lacking legal online casino games, poker, or esports betting, becoming largely limited since mid-March to fringe international sports and futures wagering
With $21m of the state’s handle generated by the ‘other’ sports segment, Indiana’s lack of a retail sector for April is estimated to have cost approximately $165m in bets according to analysts at PlayIndiana.
As sports become postponed and casinos closed, the state generated $26.3m in wagers according to official figures released this week. April’s handle was down 64.8 per cent from $74.8 million in March, representing the lowest total for Indiana sportsbooks.
Due to retail sportsbooks being shutdown entirely throughout the month, costing an estimated $40m in in-person bets, their online counterparts accounted for the entire handle in the state. DraftKings/Ameristar Casino led the market with $13.6m in bets, up from $33.1m a month earlier.
Scientific Games remains confident of emerging from the current health crisis “stronger than before,” with a diverse product portfolio, boasting gaming, digital and lottery, positioning the company “uniquely” to emerge strong and excel in the future.
Despite the resilience of lottery and strength of igaming, both said to be “up significantly” during the current environment, US media outlets quote the firm as asserting an expectation that revenue levels for 2020’s second quarter will be its lowest of the year.
Publishing its latest financial report for the 2020’s first quarter, the company comments that it has taken “significant action” to improve quarterly cash flows by over $15m, preserve liquidity of nearly $1bn and position itself to take advantage of opportunities to strengthen the business as the industry begins to recover.
Revenue during Q1 decreased 13 per cent to $725m, down from $837m, negatively impacted by the COVID-19 disruptions that resulted in temporary closures of casino operations in jurisdictions globally, with lottery revenue lower as the prior year included significant equipment sales.
PokerStars’ charity invitational raised more than $1m as more than 90 celebrities united to generate relief funds during the current global coronavirus pandemic.
Stars from music, film, sports and TV joined for Stars Call for Action, powered by PokerStars, which saw 50 per cent of the total donation going directly to Care International on behalf of those playing, and the remaining $500,000 going to the winners’ charities of choice.
Billions and Suits star David Costabile ($100,000) earned the lion’s share after a battle with Brazilian footballer Douglas Costa ($75,000), gaining a donation to World Central Kitchen on his behalf.
Further main table finishes saw PokerStars ambassador Jennifer Shahade take $40,000 for a third placed finish, actor and director Casey Affleck’s fourth sport earn a $30,000 donation, fellow PokerStars ambassador Chris Moneymaker take $20,000 and fifth and ex-England Rugby Union international Mike Tindall’s sixth spot result in $15,000.
Kindred Group and Svenska Spel have issued more guidance regarding the evolving situation in Sweden, citing concerns over a sharply reduced gambling market and weaker consumer protections as a result of government proposals.
Intending to take hold from next month until the end of the year, the measures would includes temporary weekly loss and deposit limits of SEK5,000 (€458) per week for customers as well as making it mandatory for players to set limits on playing time.
Kindred, which last week added its name to an open letter sent to Social Security Minister Ardalan Shekarabi, voices a shared concern with several experts that the licensed gambling market will be significantly reduced as a result of the continued tightening of gaming regulations, which has widely been documented as inevitably leading to an expansion of the illegal market.
The group is urging the implementation of measures that protect the integrity of the licensed market and properly protect vulnerable players.