Latest Gambling News: 888 To Sell Some US Assets To Hard Rock Digital, and more

Kat Pilkington


April 1, 2024

Catch up on six of the stories our gambling compliance analysts have covered lately, and stay up-to-date on the latest news.

888 To Sell Some US Assets To Hard Rock Digital

888 Holdings said it plans to sell some of its US consumer-facing assets to Hard Rock Digital, a step that should finish its strategic review of its US operations.

The online gambling company, which is changing its name to evoke Plc, said its exit from consumer-facing operations in the US should give it a £25m boost in adjusted EBITDA from 2025 onwards.

About £10m of the savings will be channelled into growth and creating value, the company said in an announcement today (March 28).

The Hard Rock Digital deal is contingent on regulatory approval.

The disposal could be completed by the end of the year, London-listed 888 said.

The Hard Rock sale announcement follows the Gibraltar-based company’s announcement earlier this month that it planned to end its financial arrangement with Authentic Brands and the Sports Illustrated brand due to intense competition and low margins.

888 will pay a £40m one-time fee as part of its exit from the United States, including an already announced payment for the termination of the brand licence.

Lottoland Gets Lottery Brokerage Licence In Germany

Lottoland Deutschland said it has received a German licence for brokering state lotteries and state-licensed lotteries, and that it expects to receive licences for online sports betting and virtual slots.

“We are delighted that our licence application has finally been approved by the Joint Gaming Authority for the Federal States (GGL) after intensive examination,” said Magnus von Zitzewitz, managing director of the Hamburg-based unit of the Gibraltar-based company.

The licence approval comes despite an October 2022 request from the authority for internet service providers to block Lottoland’s websites for betting on lotteries.

The company said it will offer sports bets, not lottery bets, when it gets its betting licence.

Sportsbook Operators To Jointly Promote Responsible Gaming

Seven of the largest U.S. sports-betting companies have created a trade group to promote responsible gambling and will share information about problem gamblers.

The seven operators — BetMGM, bet365, DraftKings, Fanatics Betting & Gaming, Hard Rock Digital, Penn Entertainment, and FanDuel — will form the Responsible Online Gaming Association (ROGA), the group announced Wednesday (March 27).

The members represent more than 85 percent of the legalized online sports betting and iGaming industry and have pledged more than $20m to support ROGA in year one.

Jennifer Shatley, who currently serves as president of the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling, will serve as ROGA’s executive director.  ROGA members plan to fund academic research and promote evidence-based best practices to empower the industry and consumers with information.

Shatley will also oversee the creation of an independent clearinghouse, or database, that will allow each member to share information related to the protection of players. In its statement, ROGA did not offer any details on how the database would work.

NCAA President Wants Ban On College Prop Bets

The president of the National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) has called for a ban on prop bets offered by bookmakers on college sports.

“The NCAA is drawing the line on sports betting to protect student-athletes and to protect the integrity of the game — issues across the country these last several days show there is more work to be done,” Charlie Baker said in a statement Wednesday (March 27).

Prop bets allow gamblers to wager on how many yards or touchdowns a college football player might have, instead of placing a bet on the outcome of a game or spread.

Sports betting is legal in 38 states and the District of Columbia, but prop bets are still allowed in several states including Michigan, Wyoming, Kansas, Louisiana, and West Virginia.

Baker, who has opposed prop bets on college sports, wants that ban to cover the entire United States.

“This week we will be contacting officials across the country in states that still allow these bets and ask them to join Ohio, Vermont, Maryland and many others and remove college prop bets from all betting markets,” said Baker, who played basketball at Harvard.

Baker said sports-betting issues are rising across the county, “with prop bets continuing to threaten the integrity of competition and leading to student-athletes and professional athletes getting harassed”.

Georgia Sports Betting Bills Set For Final Day Push

The hopes for sports-betting legalization will come down to the final day of the legislative session in Georgia, with legislation requiring a full tour through both chambers of the state’s General Assembly on Thursday (March 28) to pass.

The House Higher Education Committee again failed to act Wednesday (March 27) on a package of sports-betting legislation that would amend the state’s constitution to permit mobile wagering.

However, the committee did leave open the possibility of voting the bills out of committee early Thursday (March 28) morning. If the committee votes the sports-betting bills out, they will need to receive a two-thirds majority on the House floor to clear the chamber.

After that, the bills will either need a two-thirds vote in the Senate to agree to the changes in the House, or a conference committee will need to be formed to reconcile the two bills, at which point both the Senate and House would need to vote once again to approve the new bills, all before the legislature adjourns Thursday night.

The bills, if enacted, would also require voter approval in November to become law. If the legislature fails to enact the bills, a similar effort to amend the Constitution would not be possible until 2026.

The current package would authorize the Georgia Lottery Commission to issue up to 16 mobile betting licenses, with nine reserved for professional sports teams and facilities, and seven open licenses to be issued through a competitive bidding process.

UK Gambling Commission Signs MoU With Botswana Gambling Authority

The UK Gambling Commission has continued its international outreach by signing its third memorandum of understanding (MoU) of the year, this time with Botswana’s Gambling Authority.

The MoU will see the sharing of best practices, strengthen ties between the two regulators and strive to help make gambling safer in both jurisdictions.

“It’s a privilege to cooperate in a more official capacity, as we look to build closer ties after colleagues enjoyed constructive conversations with representatives at last October’s IAGR conference in Gaborone, including a recent joint panel on advertising webinar hosted by the National Gambling Board of South Africa,” the Gambling Commission said in a social media post on March 26.

Gambling Commission executive director Tim Miller told Vixio GamblingCompliance at the ICE gambling conference that the regulator has been working closer with regulators in other jurisdictions as the industry is increasingly “internationalised”.

“The UK is tiny and as a result our importance as a regulator risks diminishing. We see this as one way of addressing that through strong relationships with regulators across North America, but it's not the only part of the work we are looking at. Over the next few days I will be meeting with people from four continents,” Miller said.

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