Each week, CasinoBeats breaks down the numbers behind some of the industry’s most interesting stories. An FL Entertainment financial uptake, AUSTRAC commencing court proceedings against Star Entertainment, a pair of Dutch updates and further UK Gambling Commission regulatory action all feature in our latest headline recap.
The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre began federal court proceedings against Star Entertainment for alleged serious and systemic non-compliance with Australia’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws.
The country’s financial watchdog said that an absence of risk-based controls meant that the group was vulnerable to criminal exploitation, with a perceived failure to manage ML/TF risks also exposing more widespread threats “over many years”. Any potential financial penalty is to be determined by the court.
This action stemmed from a compliance campaign that began in September 2019, which subsequently commenced an enforcement investigation into Star as well as Crown Resorts and SkyCity Entertainment.
Among an extensive list of AUSTRAC allegations are that Star failed to appropriately assess the money laundering and terrorism financing (ML/TF) risks they faced, as well as not ensuring sufficient systems and controls to mitigate and manage such danger.
Furthermore, a failure to to establish an appropriate framework for board and senior management oversight of the AML/CTF programs was also shared.
Aspire Global was issued with a £237,600 financial penalty for anti-money laundering failures in the latest of a string of similar such penalties issued by the UK Gambling Commission.
In the latest regulatory action undertaken in the region, AG Communications, which trades as Aspire Global and is responsible for 66 websites, also received an official warning and had additional conditions imposed on its licence.
The breaches identified by the UKGC were said to relate to the operator being unable to demonstrate that it had carried out appropriate due diligence checks on six third party businesses it had entered into white-label partnerships with.
Stake limits of between £2 and £5 are reportedly set to be just one of a number of reforms lined up to fix what is billed as a “catastrophe of online gambling,” according to Steven Swinford, Political Editor of The Times.
This latest report into the many potential outcomes of the much delayed review of 17-year old laws notes that Sunak is keen to “push ahead” and deliver on a Conservative pledge of the 2019 manifesto.
After encountering a series of knock backs through recent months due to party upheaval, it is said that the Prime Minister will resurrect digital curbs to include customer affordability checks and stake limits, the latter of which are opposed by industry leadership.
The Dutch gambling authority took yet further regulatory action after Toto Online was fined €400,000 for targeting advertising at young adults aged 18-23.
This saw the brand of Nederlandse Loterij, whose domains in the region include www.toto.nl, www.sport.toto.nl and www.casino.toto.nl, was found to have sent such messages to its entire customer base during a four month period.
This came from October 1, 2021, the date that the legal market for online games of chance officially opened, until February 1, 2022. Toto Online is said to have ceased the violation after this latter date.
Genting missed out on an aim of muscling in on the Macau land-based ecosystem after the current six concessionaires were awarded fresh ten-year gaming permits.
In September it was disclosed that the six current operators were joined by a group named GMM, which is linked to Genting Malaysia, in a move that would inevitably see one applicant miss out.
Subsequently, the Macau SAR Government has announced the provisional award of the casino concessions following a public tender submission phase that concluded on September 14, 2022.
The awarding of a new 10-year gaming concession contract permits the operation of games of chance or other games in casinos in Macau from January 1, 2023.
After considering the contents, the list of recipients was confirmed as MGM Grand Paradise, Galaxy Casino, Venetian Macau, Melco Resorts (Macau), Wynn Resorts (Macau) and SJM Resorts.
Glitnor Group announced that its purchase of KaFe Rocks would no longer go ahead, in an agreement that was said to have been “amicably decided”.
The firm noted that the decision was made “after much deliberation,” with it added that “given market conditions” it was deemed that “now is not the time to fully complete the acquisition”.
As a result, KaFe Rocks, and its flagship Time2play brand, will continue to be operated on a standalone basis and managed by its founding members and leadership team.
“It is clear emotions are beginning to run high,” noted Brigid Simmonds OBE, Chair of the Betting and Gaming Council, after suggesting that the men’s football World Cup has “sparked a torrent of baseless allegations” against bettors and operators.
Penning a blog regarding the “wonderful sporting occasion,” Simmonds responded to what she labels as “anti-gambling lobbyists” that are believed to be “backed by poorly informed commentators”.
She continued by suggesting that these “have reached for ever more extreme reasons to claim this World Cup will cause harm, despite there being no evidence to confirm that.”
Simmonds first pointed to the regulator’s assessment of betting in the UK, where problem gambling rates were recently reported to have remained consistent year-on-year at 0.3 per cent.
Bill Miller, American Gaming Association’s CEO, emphasised that the group are ‘in for the long haul’ to protect consumers after a report revealed worrying figures.
Urging the sector to “work together” to fight against illegal and unregulated operators, Miller’s call to action comes after the AGA’s report uncovered that Americans are betting approximately $511bn a year with illegal igaming websites, unregulated machines and sportsbooks.
Conducted by The Innovation Group on behalf of the AGA, the findings of the ‘Sizing the Illegal and Unregulated Gaming Markets in the US’ report noted that the use of these black market operators is currently costing the legal sector $44.2bn in gaming revenue and state governments $13.3bn in lost tax revenue.
Breaking down the above figures, the report showed that Amercans wager an estimated $337.9bn with illegal igaming websites, with a loss of $3.9bn in state tax revenue.
FL Entertainment basked in “positive momentum” witnessed through the year-to-date, as the group looks to accelerate from a “strong position” to potentially surpass guidance for the current year.
Driven by gains across the two core content production and distribution and online sports betting and gaming divisions, the group stressed a focus on achieving “productivity gains” despite the several macroeconomic challenges being witnessed on a global scale.
Earlier in the year, the company stressed a focus of capitalising on future growth opportunities after making “the start of a new chapter for our business” via July’s combination with Pegasus Entrepreneurs and listing on the Euronext Amsterdam.
Delivering a Q3 and year-to-date update, total revenue through the former increased eight percentage points to €844.6m from the €912.1m recorded one year earlier.On a sports betting and online gaming basis, through the company’s Betclic brand, revenue increased 29.3 per cent to €194.4m (2021: €150.4m).