News In Brief: January 31-February 4, 2022

February 4, 2022
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Greece's gambling regulator has launched a whistle-blowing service to report unlicensed websites.

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Greek Regulator Seeks Information On Illegal Websites

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Greece’s Gaming Supervision And Control Committee said it has created a website at which residents can report illegal gambling for enforcement.

The website, whistlers.gamingcommission.gov.gr, is seeking to collect information on illegal gambling activity in Greece for prosecution.

On the website, residents can report information, even anonymously, on illegal websites, unlicensed affiliate activity, illegal land-based sites and any other suspicious gambling activity, the regulator said.

Residents can also check if operators are licensed on the regulator’s website.

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Playtech Confirms New Offer Approach

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Playtech confirmed on Thursday (February 3) that it was approached about a possible cash deal on Wednesday by an investor group, TTB, that is affiliated with a group that previously made an approach to the company.

TTB is connected to Gopher Investments, which on November 19 last year had said it had no plans to make an offer for the London-listed gambling company after initially being in the running to launch a bid.

Playtech said it has now agreed to release TTB from restrictions that would prevent it from making an offer until May 20.

The announcement this morning came as Playtech said it was responding to “media speculation”.

“There can be no certainty as to whether this will result in an offer for the company, nor as to the terms on which any offer might be made,” the company said. “However, any offer, if made, is likely to be in cash.”

Playtech did not say whether the approach targeted some or all of the company.

Playtech’s shareholders also rejected Aristocrat Leisure’s £2.1bn bid for Playtech, with less than 55 percent of shareholders voting to approve the deal.

A 75 percent majority was needed.

Earlier that day, Playtech had said it was clear by examining proxy votes that the deal would not pass, adding that it was considering other offers it had received.

At that time, the company gave no details of possible bids.

“The emergence of a certain group of shareholders who built a blocking stake while refusing to engage with either ourselves or Playtech materially impacted the prospects for the success of our offer," Aristocrat chief executive Trevor Croker said in a statement.

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Dutch Regulator Warns Operators To Set Appropriate Limits

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The head of the Netherlands Gambling Authority (KSA) has said operators must ensure players set limits in the “spirit of the law” or risk government intervention.

KSA chairman Rene Jansen issued the warning after considerable media attention, including a long-standing Dutch TV show, Kassa, which covers consumer affairs, highlighted online gambling companies doing a lot to entice players to continue playing, even seemingly targeting marketing at a young adult.

“Everyone understands that you operate in a commercial market and that you have to compete,” Jansen said in a message to operators, “but you are offering a risky product and with that, you bear a major — also social — responsibility.”

The KSA chair flagged mandatory playing limits, noting players over the age of 23 can opt for playing 24 hours a day and set their spending limits to €100,000 per day.

Despite operators technically not breaching regulations, Jansen called on them to address the issue “quickly and carefully”.

“If providers themselves do not take sufficient responsibility, the government will at some point do so,” Jansen warned.

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Ex-Gambler Has Winnings Seized In Lithuania

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The estate of a dead gambler in Lithuania has had almost half a million euros seized by authorities because the money was won playing on an unlicensed gambling website.

The country's Financial Crime Investigation Service said last week that authorities were alerted when €427,000 was transferred to an individual's bank account.

The player subsequently died during the course of the investigation and a judge later gave the state permission to confiscate the funds.

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Rush Street Interactive In Mexico Media Partnership

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Rush Street Interactive (RSI) will enter Mexico’s regulated online gambling market through a partnership with local media conglomerate Grupo Multimedios, according to an announcement on Monday (January 31).

The company, which is already active in Colombia’s online market, said it would operate through a gambling license held by one of Grupo Multimedios’ subsidiaries and expects to launch a sportsbook and online gaming platform in the second quarter of this year.

A 2004 regulatory decree allows Mexican gaming licensees to offer sports betting and electronic games online and RSI will follow the likes of bet365, Betway and BetCRIS in inking a deal with a local operator to enter the market as effectively a skin partner.

Grupo Multimedios’ media brands include online and news and sports websites Milenio and Mediotiempo.

RSI CEO Richard Schwartz described Mexico as “an attractive market opportunity, with a population of more than 130m, which, when combined with Colombia’s population of 50m, will expand RSI’s offering in Latin America significantly.”

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Florida Fail For Online Sports-Betting Ballot Measure

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FanDuel and DraftKings have thrown in the towel on their effort to establish a voter referendum to create a competitive online sports-betting market in Florida.

To qualify their ballot measure, the duo needed to collect 891,589 valid voter signatures before a February 1 deadline.

The group’s political campaign committee, Florida Education Champions, had less than 500,000 confirmed signatures when it issued a statement on Friday (January 28) to acknowledge that making the ballot in November had become impossible.

“While pursuing our mission to add sports betting to the ballot we ran into some serious challenges, but most of all the COVID surge decimated our operations and ability to collect in-person signatures,” the group said.

The failure to make the Florida ballot is certainly a costly one for the two leading U.S. operators.

Florida Education Champions had spent more than $36m on its signature-gathering effort as of December 31, with DraftKings committing some $22.7m and FanDuel $14.4m, according to Florida Division of Elections records.

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New York Mobile Market Continues To Wow

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New Yorkers have already wagered more than $1bn with the state’s newly authorized online sportsbook platforms that launched on January 9, according to weekly statistics published on Friday (January 28) by the New York State Gaming Commission.

In the week ending January 23, the state’s five live online operators generated $43.2m in gross revenue on handle of $572.5m, taking the revenue total from the first 16 days of mobile sports wagering past $91.4m.

Only one state has ever recorded more than $100m in sports wagering revenue in a full calendar month, and that has only happened once, in New Jersey in November.

Week two of legal online betting saw an aggressive Caesars remain the market leader by both revenue and handle ahead of DraftKings and FanDuel, with that trio well clear of relative newcomer BetMGM in fourth position and BetRivers a distant fifth.

PointsBet launched in New York last week, with WynnBET, Bally’s and Resorts World Bet due to follow in due course.

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Greece's gambling regulator has launched a whistle-blowing service to report unlicensed websites.

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