Each week, CasinoBeats breaks down the numbers behind some of the industry’s most interesting stories. A potential cut in New York sports betting tax, an 888 response to recent UKGC enforcement action, Gaming Industry for Ukraine fundraiser, and Gambling Minister Chris Philp, all feature as we run down a selection of last week’s headlines.
The gaming industry’s fundraising push to help people displaced by the current military action in Ukraine is soaring towards its £250,000 target.
Gaming Industry for Ukraine supports Choose Love’s Ukraine Crisis Fundraiser, which supports projects providing vital aid to the refugees that are being created by Russia’s incursion into Ukraine.
Choose Love’s £2.5m initiative has already pledged £1m in vital aid and services, including emergency medical care, food, shelter, clothes, legal support, support for the LGBTQIA+ community and mental health support.
To make a donation to the Gaming Industry for Ukraine campaign click HERE.
The UK Gambling Commission issued a $1.17m fine to Sky Betting and Gaming for sending promotional emails to customers who had self-excluded or opted out of receiving marketing.
This came after an “investigation outside of a licence review” discovered that a Sky Vegas promotional offer was distributed by the Flutter Entertainment brand on November 2, 2021.
Subsequently, the UKGC says that 41,395 self-excluded customers and 249,159 customers who had unsubscribed from the operator’s marketing emails received an offer that read “bet £5 get 100 free spins”.
Lawmakers in New York are making moves to slash the state’s online sports betting tax rate, as well as increase licence fees and the number of operators across the region.
After recently disclosing an online casino push via Bill S8412, Joseph Addabbo, Chair of the Committee on Racing, Gaming and Wagering, has introduced Bill S8471.
This supports a similar submission made one day earlier by J Gary Pretlow, Chair of the Racing and Wagering Committee, who filed an amendment to S8658, the state’s racing, pari-mutuel wagering and breeding law.
These come with an array of conditions, one key function of which is designed to potentially slash the current rate of tax from 51 per cent in half in a bid to increase competition across the Empire State’s digital marketplace.
This would be based on the number of licensed mobile sports wagering operators, with it hoped that no fewer than 14 will be operational by January 31, 2023, and no less than sixteen one year later.
Itai Pazner, Chief Executive Officer of 888, expressed that “we deeply regret” the recent “unpleasant” UK Gambling Commission sanctions imposed on the group, amid a vow to maintain a focus on improving internal policies and procedures.
This saw the regulator issue a fine of £9.4m to the company after an investigation discovered social responsibility and money laundering failings.
Kicking-off the betting and gaming firm’s most recent earnings call following publication of its 2021 performance figures, Pazner began by addressing penalties that “we’re not proud of as a company”.
“I think it’s not a happy moment for us in the history of the 888 because we do see ourselves as a responsible operator that takes customer safety, adhering to regulations, and meeting the highest standards extremely seriously,” Pazner commented.
Furthermore, the 888 CEO explained that “we completely recognise that there were some clear issues” regarding policies and procedures that “at the time that didn’t work properly.”
The Swedish government submitted proposals for a B2B licensing scheme, in addition to an uptick in B2C operator renewal fees, as it looks to take “the next step to regain control” of the market.
A memorandum with proposals has been submitted for consultation until May 9, 2022, and, if adopted to enter into force, they would be applicable from March 1, 2023.
Under the proposals, the application fee for a gaming software licence would amount to SEK 120,000, with it anticipated that in the region of 70 applicants “can reasonably be expected,” although it is added that the assessment “is somewhat uncertain”.
“Because there is already an established land game software development, and taking into account the proposed levels of fees, the proposals are judged to have only a marginal impact on conditions of competition,” the government memorandum notes.
The fee for an application for renewal of a license for both commercial online gaming and betting is proposed to be increased from SEK 300,000 to SEK 600,000.
Hollywood Park Casino and Cal-Pac Rancho Cordova, two California-based cardrooms, filed a lawsuit to the Los Angeles Superior Court challenging the legality of a November 2022 ballot initiative.
The issue, the pair claim, will result in legalised sports wagering, promoted by nine California Indian tribes, allowing roulette and craps at Indian casinos, along with a one-way permission for tribal casinos to sue its cardroom competitors.
Furthermore, the cardrooms have called for the court to bar the California Sports Wagering Regulation and Unlawful Gambling Enforcement Act from the November ballot, stating that it would violate the state’s constitutional rule that ballot initiatives can involve only a single subject.
The UK’s Gambling Minister, Chris Philp, has emphasised that “change is needed, and change is coming” and insisted that gambling reform is “undoubtedly long overdue”.
Ahead of the much publicised, and delayed, white paper on the 2005 Gambling Act – first mooted in the Conservative parties pledged review into gambling laws as part of its 2019 general election manifesto – Philp raised hopes of ending uncertainty within both the sector and suffers of gambling harm, asserting the outcome is due “very soon”.
Speaking at the Gambling Reform Rally last week, organised by Gambling Related Harm APPG and Peers for Gambling Reform, Philp stated: “The voice of those with lived experience and the families of those who have suffered or died is being heard.
“As you will appreciate, I cannot pre-announce the policies in our white paper which we are in the process of finalising. But what I can say is that we know that the gambling landscape does need reform – significant reforms – as it is now significantly different from the last time our gambling laws were comprehensively reviewed some 17 years ago.
“Internet gambling didn’t really exist in 2005. We now have evidence, including a Public Health England report, which identified 409 gambling suicides a year. It is imperative that we respond to that. Change is certainly needed.”
The European Gaming and Betting Association asserted that it will continue to promote a further reduction in intellectual property rights infringing online advertising in the gambling sector.
This comes as the Brussels-based trade association welcomed the findings of a study by the European Union’s Intellectual Property Office, which has reported a “ significant reduction” in advertising from major gambling brands on websites and mobile apps that infringe on IPR.
It is reported that during the past year ads from across the sector, including brands that are EGBA members, saw a 55 per cent drop across such entities, despite an increase of 26 per cent being documented across all sectors.