News In Brief: June 19-June 23, 2023

June 23, 2023
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A cashless slot machine trial in Australia has been delayed, after hackers stole customer data.

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Aristocrat Shutters Cashless Trial After Data Hack

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Australian gaming machine manufacturer Aristocrat Leisure has suspended a single-facility cashless gaming trial for slot machines in New South Wales (NSW) state, after hackers accessed the data of participating club members.

Hackers breached the network of Aristocrat digital partner and ATM operator Banktech to access the data, impacting some 40 club members at the Wests New Lambton leagues club in Newcastle, north of Sydney, the Sydney Morning Herald reported on Thursday (June 22).

Aristocrat “ensured the swift deactivation of all relevant digital wallet functionality in the venue and has ended the digital wallet trial”, a company spokesperson told the Herald.

The incident occurred just weeks before the NSW government launches a year-long trial of cashless gaming for 500 slot machines, the results of which may determine if a compulsory cashless regime will be introduced in the state.

NSW gaming and racing minister David Harris said cyber experts, police, and regulator Liquor and Gaming NSW are investigating the matter.

Industry lobby ClubsNSW and other club advocates have opposed mandatory cashless gaming because of cost reasons, but also citing technological risks such as personal data leaks.

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Illegal Wagers Lead To Ontario Fines For BV Gaming, Fitzdares Canada

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BV Gaming Limited and Fitzdares Canada have been fined a total of C$30,000 by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO), for allegedly taking wagers on prohibited Canadian hockey games.

Both operators were found to have offered numerous bets on Ontario Hockey League, Western Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League games during the 2022-23 season.

In doing so, the operators are alleged to have violated Standards that expressly prohibit offering bets on minor league sports, including the Canadian Hockey League’s three major junior hockey leagues.

BV Gaming and Fitzdares Canada were fined C$15,000 each, according to the AGCO. Any operator in Ontario served with a notice of monetary penalty has the right to appeal.

Dave Phillips, chief operating officer with AGCO, stressed the agency was resolved to maintain the integrity of sports betting which, in turn, may serve to protect the integrity of sport.

“This includes a clear prohibition on offering bets in Ontario on minor league sports, including Canadian major junior hockey,” Phillips said in a statement. “We will continue to carefully monitor Ontario’s sports betting markets to ensure the public interest is protected.”

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Maryland Election Officials Fine Sports Betting Alliance $48,000

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Maryland election officials have collected one of the largest fines in the agency’s history levied against a consortium of gaming companies for failure to report campaign spending within the state’s required timeframe.

The $48,000 fine against the Sports Betting Alliance (SBA) was issued for failing to comply with the state’s 48-hour disclosure requirements.

“This was simply a filing error by our compliance team,” SBA spokesman Nathan Click said Wednesday (June 21). “As soon as we realized the mistake, we immediately filed the missing form and worked with the Maryland State Board of Election to correct the error.”

The SBA is comprised of operators BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, and Fanatics Betting and Gaming. All four operators are licensed in Maryland.

Failure to file is punishable by a $1,000 per day fine, or 10 percent of the expenditure that was not disclosed.

Jared DeMarinis, director of candidacy and campaign finance for the board, told board members on Tuesday they worked with the state prosecutor’s office on this issue and decided to go with a $1,000 per day fine.

“We are cracking down hard on disclosure with independent expenditure entities and that was one of the biggest fines that was collected so far,” DeMarinis said.

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Esports Rules Delayed By Nevada’s Regulation Freeze

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Nevada Governor Joe Lombardo’s decision to sign an executive order in early January that freezes new state regulations has delayed gaming regulators from final consideration of whether to make it easier for sportsbooks to accept wagers on esports competitions.

Executive Order 2023-003 bars state agencies from issuing any new regulations. Lombardo, a Republican, signed the order on January 12, one day after the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) granted initial approval to the amendments to Regulation 22.

“The Nevada Gaming Commission submitted a written request for exemption of Governor Lombardo’s Executive Order for regulations pertaining to the Esports Technical Advisory Committee (ETAC),” the commission said in a statement late Tuesday (June 20).

“That request is still pending,” the NGC said.

Ben Kieckhefer, Lombardo’s chief of staff and a former commission member, did not respond to a request for comment on whether the governor would approve the exemption.

The board approved regulatory amendments crafted by the ETSA that permit sportsbooks to accept wagers on esports events, instead of seeking board approval for each specific event in advance.

Sportsbooks have been allowed to accept wagers on esports since 2016, but esports contests are still considered so-called “other” events that required event-specific regulatory approval.

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Lawmakers Back $1.5bn Football Duty For Hong Kong Jockey Club

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Hong Kong’s Legislative Council on Wednesday (June 21) passed a government proposal requiring the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) to pay an additional HK$12bn ($1.53bn) in duties on football betting revenue over five years.

The new levy, flagged in February as part of the annual budget, triggered an unusually blunt response from the non-profit HKJC that its business model, competitiveness and charitable donation agenda would be “irreversibly” damaged while empowering illegal operators, and that the government should reconsider.

“In this regard, we strongly appeal to the government to critically review and reduce the betting duty rates on a long term basis, which are the highest in the world, in particular on horse racing which stand at 72.5 percent to 75 percent,” the HKJC said in a statement on February 22.

Lawmakers disregarded these concerns, passing the bill on a hand vote after several speeches stating the new levy is well within the HKJC’s capacity to pay.

The Betting Duty (Amendment) Bill 2023 amends the Betting Duty Ordinance by requiring the HKJC to pay HK$2.4bn annually for five years.

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Ecuador Approves 15 Percent Online Gambling Tax

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Ecuador’s tax reform plan has been approved by the nation’s constitutional court, which includes establishing taxes for online gaming operators for the first time.

Up until this point, online gambling operated in a grey market, paying automatic value added tax via payment platforms but nothing else.

In Ecuador, land-based casinos are outlawed, after a referendum on the issue in 2011, which came into effect in 2012.

Under the new tax plan, operators who are local taxpayers will pay 15 percent tax on their total income, minus prizes paid out. Offshore operators will pay 15 percent of every bet placed, which must be paid by the player.

Players will pay 15 percent tax on total winnings, which will automatically be withheld by the platforms.

The reform is slated to come into force on January 1 of 2024.

The tax reform plan comes from President Guillermo Lasso, who dissolved Congress last month as he was due to face trial for embezzlement. As a result, he will not run in the snap elections to be held in August.

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Malta Passes Legal Shield Bill Into Law

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Malta has passed a controversial bill into law that seeks to shield its gambling licence-holders from foreign judgements.

Amendments to the country’s Gambling Act, formerly known as Bill No. 55, were approved on June 16.

The law now makes it illegal for a court judgement against a gambling company based in Malta to be transferred to the island if it “conflicts with or undermines the legality of the provision of gaming services in or from Malta” or if it “relates to an authorised activity which is lawful in terms of the [Malta Gambling] Act”.

The amendments have been made as gamblers routinely win court cases in Austria, and to a lesser extent in Germany, to reclaim all losses from online casino operators who were active on the online market without a licence.

The bill has drawn criticism over alleged conflicts with EU principles and regulations.

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Nevada Congresswoman Seeks Info On League Sports-Betting Policies

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U.S. Representative Dina Titus, a Democrat and co-chair of the Congressional Gaming Caucus, has sent a letter to the leadership of each of the 13 professional U.S. sports leagues, as well as the National Collegiate Athletics Association, urging them to clarify their sports-betting policies.

Titus, whose Nevada district includes the Las Vegas Strip, also called on the leagues to assure fans that the games they watch remain fair.

“While sports betting offers a fun way for fans to enjoy their favorite teams, it also brings risk that could undermine the integrity of the games that so many love. This risk is not new,” Titus wrote in a two-page letter to National Football League (NFL) commissioner Roger Goodell.

She asked Goodell and other league commissioners to answer several questions and submit them to her office by July 15. Among other things, Titus wants to know what the NFL’s sports-betting policy is for athletes and staff, and if the league prohibits affiliated individuals from betting on other leagues.

Titus also wants to know if the NFL employs staff for the education, monitoring and investigation of sports-betting activity by league-affiliated individuals.

Also, since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the federal ban in May 2018, Titus asked for information on how many individuals have been found guilty of breaking rules regarding sports betting.

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Peru’s Online Gambling Draft Regulations Coming In July, Says Official

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Peru’s draft regulations for online gambling are expected to be published next month, according to a government official.

General director of casino games and slot machines at Peruvian regulatory body MINCETUR, Eduardo Sevilla Echevarría, told the audience at the Peru Gaming Show last week that the draft regulations would be available in July.

The online gambling law and its edited text will come into effect 120 days after it is signed, which caused concern regarding the timeline of draft regulations amongst operators currently in the grey market who want to apply for licences and meet standards. If draft regulations are not published soon after, the timetable could be too tight to reorganise an entire operation to adhere to the new regulations, they say.

Sevilla assured attendees that MINCETUR is working in tandem with the Multisectorial Commission of Regulatory Quality, which is working on the regulations.

The deadline for the President, Dina Boluarte, to sign the online gambling law amendments is June 28.

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Brazil’s Fantasy Sports Bill Passes Through the Economic Affairs Commission

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Brazil’s bill 2796/21, which regulates electronic games including fantasy sports, was approved on June 6 by the Economic Affairs Commission.

The bill has been greeted with enthusiasm as it clearly delineates that fantasy sports are not games of chance and will not be categorised as such.

The next step will be for the bill to receive amendments from senators. There is hope that, if there are none, the bill may be voted on before the July recess.

The bill did not originally include fantasy sports within its text, but its rapporteur, Darci de Matos, included them late in the process to address an industry that is quickly growing in size and profit in the country.

According to an estimate from the Brazilian Association of Fantasy Sports, the industry generates R$70m per year (US$14.5m). It said that this figure could someday grow to more than R$100bn (US$20.7bn) if it is promoted.

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A cashless slot machine trial in Australia has been delayed, after hackers stole customer data.

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