Each week, CasinoBeats breaks down the numbers behind some of the industry’s most interesting stories. Today, we take a look at EGBA warnings, social media urges, German concerns and Crown Resorts’ Sydney casino unsuitability.
An independent inquiry has suggested that Crown Resorts isn’t fit to operate the $2.2bn Crown Sydney Hotel Resort, however, a number of recommendations, both regarding the region’s casino ecosystem and the company more specifically, could offer some potential for future progress.
Commissioned by the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority, which is to meet to consider the report’s finding, the inquiry was led by Patricia Bergin, a former Supreme Court Judge.
The almost 800-page critique of Crown’s suitability follows allegations raised by Australia’s Nine Network, the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and other media outlets, that Crown, or its agents, affiliates or subsidiaries, engaged in money-laundering; breached gambling laws; and partnered with junket operators with links to drug traffickers, money launderers, human traffickers, and organised crime groups.
Highlighting “very serious problems” that have been exposed in Crown’s operations in other jurisdictions, with the group boasting casinos in Melbourne and Perth, the inquiry cites poor corporate governance, deficient risk-management structures and processes, and a poor corporate culture.
The European Gaming and Betting Association has warned of a bleak future should lessons not be learned from the increased spotlight that is being placed on the industry.
With the online gambling sector “rightly under public scrutiny,” Maarten Haijer, secretary general of the EGBA, says that “there are still way too many companies in the sector who far too readily point the finger angrily at regulation and complain about it, without taking responsibility and providing solutions”.
Praise is given to Kindred Group after it became the first gambling operator to report its share of revenue from harmful gambling, revealing that during Q4 2020 trading it recorded a 4.3 per cent share of gross winnings from players deemed ‘high risk’.
“The sector needs to become much more mature in how it responds to society and it needs to do so quickly,” Haijer says. “This includes acknowledging that the sector is accountable for what it does and doesn’t do, and how it protects its customers, particularly those who need greater support.
“Otherwise, the future will look bleak, especially for those companies which continue to think that the best course of action to public scrutiny is to do nothing.”
A group of ‘50 former gambling addicts’ inked a letter to a handful of UK football clubs, warning them of the risks of advertising betting websites through their social media channels.
A total of 11 clubs across the Premier League, English Football League and Scottish Premiership were informed how addicts might feel ‘distressed’ to see links to operator sites on Twitter posts, for example, and be ‘encouraged’ to place a wager on the match.
“It’s painful to see brands associated with unimaginable harm when doing something as simple as checking their team’s starting line-up on Twitter,” it stated.
“We hope that you will take this request seriously and we look forward to seeing your social media channels free of direct gambling promotion soon.”
LeoVegas noted concerns in the ongoing transition period in the German market, which came into effect after federal states have agreed to introduce a licence system to be implemented during the second half of 2021.
Before that takes effect, operators that intend to apply for and receive a gaming licence must align themselves with a number of restrictions, which include a mandatory maximum limit of a €1 wager per spin, five-second rule between spins on slots, ban on live casino online, monthly deposit limit of €1,000 for casino and poker games, and more.
The comments from the online gambling group, which expects to receive nationwide licences once they have been made available, suggests that “there are certain elements and limitations in the German regulations that will affect customer value negatively and also risk leading to low channelisation”.
Acknowledging that “regulation is positive from a long-term perspective,” this group adds that over time such concerns may be compensated by lower competition, and greater access to local payment opportunities and marketing channels.
A white paper, compiled by Online Casino Ground, has signalled that the emerging Dutch online gambling market is set to become one of Europe’s ‘biggest’ with local players already spending more money on gambling activities compared to other major European jurisdictions.
According to player research conducted by Online Casino Ground, Roulette is currently the most played online casino game with its Dutch customers at 32 per cent with blackjack narrowly behind at 31 per cent. Slots are enjoyed by 25 per cent while bingo, baccarat and online poker combined is played by 12 per cent of players.
Scheduled to come into force later this year, the new online gambling legislation within the Netherlands will allow private offshore operators to apply for a licence for the first time.
Entain has, through its Bwin wholly-owned subsidiary, extended the acceptance period to the shareholders of Enlabs, regarding its ongoing pursuit of the Baltics online gambling group.
The company documented its acquisitive intentions last month, announcing a public cash offer to the shareholders of Enlabs to tender all shares at a price of SEK 40 each, valuing the group at SEK 2.8bn, equivalent to approximately £250m.
Subsequently, an acceptance period was expected to commence on or around January 21, 2021, and expire on or around February 18, 2021.
However, Entain notes that it “has filed applications to obtain the necessary approvals from relevant competition and gaming authorities, but due to the timing of the review process with the relevant authorities, Entain does not expect that all such approvals will have been received during the acceptance period which expires on February, 18, 2021.”
Ned Lamont, governor of Connecticut, has thrown his support behind the full legalisation of sports betting and online casino gaming within the state, both on and off tribal lands.
Outlining his strong approval, Lamont’s comments on the modernisation of the state’s gaming industry came in a two-year state budget address, with economic expansion forming a central theme.
Asserting that the region should be left behind amid ongoing action by numerous states across the country, Lamont also suggests that the growth of lottery games to an online platform should also be undertaken, in order to allow the state to remain competitive.
“Our neighbouring states are moving forward with sports betting and igaming, and Connecticut should not leave these opportunities for other states to benefit from our inaction,” he explained.