News In Brief: January 22-January 26, 2024

January 26, 2024
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888 details its battle against poker bots, Nevada regulator website downed by hackers and Fallsview Casino Resort fined in Ontario.
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888poker Continues To Shutdown AI Bot Users
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A total of $362,893 (€333,130) was refunded to 4,068 888poker customers who lost to AI bots in 2023.

The poker operator, which is part of 888 Holdings, also closed 161 accounts that were using bots last year, according to a press release on January 25.

Matan Krakow, head of poker offering at 888poker, said: “Our continued progress in tackling bots has been driven not only by our increased investment in our detection capabilities but also through the continued support and cooperation of our players, who have an important role to play in helping provide us with vital information about players they think are using AI and real-time assistance (RTA)."

The total amount refunded to players since 2021 is now more than $1.2m.

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Svenska Spel To Shut Casinos
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Sweden’s state-owned gambling company Svenska Spel will soon operate just a single land-based casino in the country after announcing plans to close two of its three sites.

Casino Cosmopol locations in Malmö and Gothenburg will be shuttered in the near future after falling revenues, the company said. That just leaves its Stockholm site operational.

Svenska Spel has a monopoly on land-based casinos in Sweden.

The company blamed gamblers transitioning to online casino games and said it had tried and failed to improve profits by restructuring the company.

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Cyberattack Takes Down Nevada Gaming Control Board Website
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The Nevada Gaming Control Board’s (NGCB) website has been taken offline by a cyberattack and has been offline for several days, the agency said in a statement. 

“The [NGCB] became aware earlier this week that its public-facing website had been compromised,” the control board said in a statement Thursday (January 25). “NGCB technology personnel initiated immediate steps to protect the website by taking it offline.”

The control board said it is working with experts to thoroughly assess the situation.

“While working to restore the full website, the NGCB is preparing to publish a temporary website for those seeking access to NGCB information and relevant weblinks.”

The website used by the NGCB and Nevada Gaming Commission (NGC) includes meeting agendas, regulatory complaints and settlement agreements, listing of gaming regulations, proposed regulations, press releases, as well as information about NGCB and NGC members. 

The five-member commission held its monthly meeting on Thursday and none of them mentioned the cyberattack or websites being offline.

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MGE Niagara Entertainment Fined For Risky Activity
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The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) has fined MGE Niagara Entertainment, which operates Fallsview Casino Resort in Niagara Falls, C$70,000 for failing to meet requirements to minimize the risk of unlawful activity, including money laundering. 

In April 2023, a patron attended the Salon Privé at the Fallsview Casino Resort and presented $80,000 in strapped $100 bills from a reusable grocery bag, according to the AGCO report.

Surveillance showed that once the money was counted and confirmed, the patron left the table with casino chips without playing at that time. Despite having previously identified the player as "high risk", the casino failed to notify the AGCO and on-site police of this transaction as required.

The casino operator also failed to take any meaningful steps to ascertain and corroborate the patron’s source of funds, as is required by anti-money laundering rules set out in the Registrar’s Standards for Gaming.

“Casino operators are important front-line partners in this effort and the AGCO holds all operators to rigorous standards when it comes to the prevention of unlawful activity,” Karin Schnarr, CEO and registrar with the AGCO, said in a statement.

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Pennsylvania Levies Fines, Approves Mohegan License
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The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board (PGCB) approved two consent agreements Wednesday (January 24) resulting in $27,500 in fines, while in a separate decision unanimously voted to renew the license of Mohegan casino. 

Since its opening in November 2006 through December 2023, Mohegan Pennsylvania has generated more than $4.035bn in gross revenue from the play of retail slot machines and table games, sports wagering and iGaming, as well as $2.06bn in state taxes, assessments, and fees. 

The PGCB also signed off on a $22,500 fine against Stakelogic USA, an interactive gaming manufacturer, for not properly notifying the board of a change in control of its ownership structure. TA Operating, doing business as TravelCenters of America location 67, was fined $5,000 for not having functioning surveillance monitors in its gaming area.

The TravelCenters location, which offers video gaming terminals (VGTs), also lacked direct line-of-sight monitoring of its gaming area by store employees.

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Dutch Regulator Says It Cannot Estimate 2024 Fines
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The Netherlands Gambling Authority (KSA) told lawmakers that it is unable to estimate how many gambling companies will be fined this year, or how much it expects to collect.

The regulator, however, said that it imposed €34.2m in fines in 2022, and €18.1m in 2023, including for both online and land-based companies, and legal and illegal operators.

“No trend has been observed in recent years,” the regulator wrote.

The “vast majority” of fines were imposed on online operators, the authority wrote.

The information surfaced in questions to the Ministry of Justice by members of parliament and was first reported on the Casino Nieuws affiliate site.

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Swedish Regulator Bans Curaçao, Cyprus Operators
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The Swedish Gambling Authority has banned two companies for soliciting Swedish gamblers without a licence, one based in Curaçao, the other in Cyprus.

The Cyprus-based company is True Polygon Entertainment, which operates under the brand name csgobig.com.

Smein Hosting, based in Curaçao, offers games under the website TRGamdom.com.

Both companies used Swedish-language websites and marketed to players in Swedish without a licence, the regulator wrote.

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New Session, New Gaming Bills In Virginia Legislature
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A bill that would allow wagers on Virginia college teams, along with a proposal for a sixth casino in the state, were two of many gaming related measures to be approved Tuesday (January 23) by a Senate subcommittee on Tuesday (January 23).

The Gaming Subcommittee of the Senate General Laws and Technology Committee approved Senate Bill 124, authored by Democratic Senator Schuyler T. VanValkenburg, that permits betting, with the exemption of proposition wagering, on Virginia college sports.

VanValkenburg reminded his colleagues that a lot of people still gamble on Virginia sports whether its in Tennessee, Washington, D.C. or with illegal online operators. He said it would be better for the state if we brought it into the market.

Republican Senator Bryce Reeves has opposed allowing wagers on in-state collegiate teams but abstained from the vote instead of voting against the measure.

The committee also approved Senate Bill 541, which removed Richmond as an eligible host city for a casino after two failed votes, as well as Senate Bill 628 that adds Petersburg as an eligible city for a casino referendum, and Senate Bill 675 to allow Fairfax County in north Virginia to hold a referendum on a casino project. 

The bills were scheduled to be considered by the full Senate General Laws and Technology Committee on Wednesday (January 24).

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Betr Gains Market Access In Three U.S. States
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Betr Holdings Inc. has secured market access deals for its online sportsbook product in three additional states, the sports betting and media company announced Tuesday (January 23). 

The company’s sports-betting app will eventually launch in Pennsylvania, Colorado, and Kentucky. Betr will also launch an online casino product in Pennsylvania through a market access agreement with Cordish Gaming Group. 

Betr has already secured market access in Indiana and has applied for a sports-betting license in Maryland. Currently, Betr is live in Ohio, Virginia and Massachusetts. However, the operator plans to not renew its temporary license in Massachusetts, citing economic decisions for the reason. 

“We want to thank the (Massachusetts Gaming Commission) for their great partnership during our temporary license period in Massachusetts and we hope to receive the honor and privilege of re-entering this market at a later date,” Joey Levy, founder and CEO of Betr, said in a statement. 

Levy said the new states they have acquired market access in will offer Betr Sportsbook the opportunity to reach more than 17 percent of the U.S. adult population by the end of the year. 

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Curaçao Selects Head Gambling Regulator
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Curaçao has appointed an ex-banking official to lead its Supervisory Board of Gaming Control (GCB).

Cedric Pietersz joins the regulator as managing director after 20 years at the Centrale Bank van Curaçao en Sint Maarten (CBCS), where he was part of the management team.

The GCB is set to inherit an uncertain number of direct gambling licensees in the coming year, as the island continues on a journey to abandon its current opaque master licensing system.

Legislation, known by the acronym LOK, is currently working its way through the parliamentary system, where it has recently faced criticism.

Pietersz said: “I am honoured to join the Gaming Control Board at such a dynamic time. I am confident that together with the team and the Supervisory Board we will strategically steer the GCB into a new era while delivering value to all stakeholders.”

Pietersz will join Curaçao's finance minister Javier Silvania at the ICE trade show in London from February 6.

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Japan's Pachinko Outlets Down 8 Percent In 2023
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Japan’s pachinko industry continued to shutter operations last year, with 588 parlours shutting down or suspending operations out of 7,665 operations active at the end of 2022.

The 7.7 percent national closure rate for pachinko parlours is part of a long-term decline in the once unassailable gambling segment, according to data released by Seeds Research and cited by the Amusement Japan website on Tuesday (January 23).

The most closures (170) were recorded in the Kanto region, which includes Tokyo and is Japan’s largest region by population, followed by 113 closures in the Chubu (central) region and 102 in the Kansai region (including Osaka and Kyoto).

The Chubu region also accounted for the highest rate of closures at 8.9 percent, while the highest closure rate for an individual prefecture was 15 percent in Kyushu island’s Miyazaki, the data showed.

However, the data did not account for business transfers or new openings.

Outlets with fewer machines were the most affected by closures, with 14 percent of parlours hosting between 101 and 300 machines shutting down, while only 0.8 percent of parlours with more than 1,000 machines closed, the report said.

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888 details its battle against poker bots, Nevada regulator website downed by hackers and Fallsview Casino Resort fined in Ontario.

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