News In Brief: November 21-November 25, 2022

November 24, 2022
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NHS (National Health Service) England said it has opened two new gambling clinics,

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New UK Gambling Clinics Open As Referrals Rise

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NHS (National Health Service) England said it has opened two new gambling clinics, in Stoke and Southamption, amid statistics which showed a 42 percent increase in referrals between April and September this year, compared with a year earlier.

Some 599 patients were referred this year compared with 421 patients between the same period in 2021, the NHS said.

“Thousands suffer gambling problems across the country, and it is important those suffering from addiction know that the NHS is here to help and they should not hesitate to come forward for support if needed,” said NHS mental health director Claire Murdoch.

“But while the NHS is there for anybody suffering, the NHS cannot be left alone to pick up the ills caused by unhealthy business practices. Firms engaging in activities that fuel addiction should think hard about the human cost that can be behind their profits.”

The openings make seven NHS gambling clinics nationwide, with the agency having promised to open 15 by the 2023-24 fiscal year.

The rise in referrals made front page news in The Times newspaper, sparking approval from pressure group denials of a growing problem by trade group the Betting and Gaming Council.

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Chile's Economy Commission Will Get New President To Speed Up Gambling Bill

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The Commission on Economy, Development; Micro, Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises; Consumer Protection; and Tourism in the Chamber of Deputies is momentarily without a president after a vote of no confidence in former head Daniel Manouchehri Lobos on Wednesday (November 23).

Chile’s online gambling bill, which was filed in the Chamber of Deputies on March 7, has sat in his commission ever since with no movement.

He was accused of delaying bills on purpose by deputy Gonzalo de la Carrerra, among others, who claim that Manouchehri only addresses projects that he supports and tables the rest. “The common good is not a priority for him,” said de la Carrerra.

The commission will vote for a new president, which local outlets report will probably be Miguel Mellado from the centre-right wing National Renovation political party, during its next session.

This move, said Carlos Baeza, a lawyer for Latamwin, Betano, Coolbet and Betsson, will allow the online gambling bill to move on. The current slow pace is untenable in the face of mounting legal complaints from the land-based casino industry against grey-market online operators.

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Hesse To Allow 'Limited' Online Casino Games

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Hesse’s state parliament has approved amendments that would allow “limited” licensing of online casino table games such as roulette, blackjack and baccarat, according to the German state’s Ministry of the Interior.

Hesse would join Schleswig-Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia in offering online table games, which are only being offered on a state-by-state basis.

The Hesse contracts may not be open for private licensing, however, as the ministry said hearings on the draft amendments revealed that several Hessian casinos are interested in hosting the games.

That statement, following a vote last week, suggests that casinos such as municipally-owned Bad Homburg Casino have the inside track.

“We allow limited virtual casino games because, despite all the bans, such a flourishing cross-border black market has developed on the internet in the past that we can no longer turn a blind eye to this reality,” said interior minister Peter Beuth.

Separately, London-listed Entain said it has been granted Germany-wide online poker and slots licences by the state administrative office of Saxony-Anhalt.

Entain said it was granted all five licences it asked for, which gives it the ability to offer online slots under its bwin, Ladbrokes and Sportingbet brands, and poker under bwin and Ladbrokes.

Entain is the first company to be granted an online poker licence in Germany.

The company already has nationwide sports-betting licences.

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UK National Lottery Sales Rise On Online Gains

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National Lottery sales rose 2.6 percent in the first half of the 2022-23 fiscal year to nearly £4.1bn, Camelot UK Lotteries said.

The gains were led by a 13 percent rise in online sales, up 13 percent to £1.8bn, the company said on Wednesday (November 23).

Mobile sales grew 19 percent to almost £1.4bn in the six months ended September 24, the company said.

Sales of draw-based games grew 7.5 percent to £2.4bn, Camelot said.

Sales of scratchcards and online instant win games fell by 3.7 percent to £1.7bn, mostly due to reduced numbers of shopping trips, the company said.

Allwyn, the Czech company which won the next National Lottery contract, has agreed to buy Camelot in a reported £100m takeover.

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Norway Regulator Bites Back Over Kindred Fines

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The Norwegian Gaming Authority (NGA) has rejected Kindred’s assertion that it has ceased targeting Norway and is resolved to restart daily fines from today (November 22).

In a press release on Monday (November 21), Kindred expressed dismay that the regulator had decided to re-issue daily fines that could rise as high as €43m even though the pair had agreed a deal that would see subsidiary Trannel shut down much of its Norway-facing operations.

A spokesperson from the regulator told VIXIO GamblingCompliance that it had assessed Kindred’s offer of withdrawal.

“As Trannel has described it, Trannel's gambling will still be aimed at the Norwegian market and the illegal gambling will still be offered in Norway, even after Trannel's plans for adjustment have been implemented,” they said.

The regulator is particularly concerned about online gambling websites Unibet, Mariacasino, Storspiller and Bingo, it said.

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New Lloyds Bank Feature Helps Customers Limit Gambling Spend

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Customers at Lloyds Bank, one of the UK’s largest retail banks, can now set a personal monthly limit on gambling spend when using a debit card.

These limits can be set or changed via the bank’s mobile app.

The feature, which is one of the first of its kind offered by a UK high-street bank, allows customers to set a monthly debit card gambling limit of any amount to the nearest whole pound, when spending online, in person or over the phone.

The news has been greeted by Anna Hemmings, GamCare’s chief executive, who said that it will “give those most vulnerable to gambling harms an important means of controlling their gambling”.

Research from the UK Gambling Commission shows that approximately one in three UK adults participate in gambling, excluding lotteries, and up to 3 percent of UK adults are estimated to be at some risk of harm due to their gambling, of which 0.3 percent is considered to be "problem" gamblers.

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DraftKings Confirms Some Customer Logins Compromised

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DraftKings confirmed Monday (November 21) that login information of some customers was compromised on other websites and then used to access their accounts where they used the same login information.

“We have seen no evidence that DraftKings’ systems were breached to obtain this information,” Paul Liberman, president global technology, product and co-founder of DraftKings, said in a statement.

Liberman said they have identified less than $300,000 of customer funds that were affected, and “intend to make whole any customer that was impacted.”

“We strongly encourage customers to use unique passwords for DraftKings and all other sites, and we strongly recommend that customers do not share their passwords with anyone, including third party sites for the purposes of tracking betting information on DraftKings and other betting apps.”

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Bally’s Closed $500m Chicago Casino Leaseback

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Bally’s Corporation has closed a deal worth up to $500m with a private equity form in Chicago, where Oak Street Real Estate Capital will acquire the 30-acre Tribune Publishing Center site where Bally’s Chicago casino will be built.

As part of the deal, Bally’s will lease back the land from the firm in a ground lease agreement. The agreement consists of an initial 99-year term, followed by ten separate 20-year renewals at Bally’s option.

“We are excited to be partnering with one of Chicago’s leading real estate private equity firms as we progress with building our $1.7bn flagship in the Chicago market,” Soo Kim, chairman of the board of Bally’s, said in a statement.

Bally’s has the option to repurchase the land from the investor at a fixed capitalization rate during years four through eight of the lease term. In addition, Oak Street will invest $300m in Bally’s Chicago project.

Oak Street acquired the site Monday (November 21) for $200m. A company spokesman declined to comment.

“This transaction is an important step in our development plan for Bally’s Chicago as we continue to work towards opening the temporary casino in mid-2023,” said Bally’s CFO Bobby Lavan.

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Costa Rica Looks To Update Illegal Gambling Sanctions

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Costa Rica will resume examining a bill (no. 21,632) which updates how to penalise illegal gaming which has been on hold for the past three years.

Esmeralda Britton, president of the Social Protection Board (JPS), said of the project: “Costa Rica faces this illegality with an obsolete legal framework that prevents curbing the funds of dubious origin that finance them."

The bill would leave the municipalities in charge of sanctioning illegal gambling, including electronic lotteries, sports betting and video lotteries.

The renewed effort is said to be in response to a crack down on money laundering.

Half of the revenue from the new sanctions, such as fines and confiscated items, would be left to JPS to divy up among social programs. The remaining half would go to security in the fight against money laundering and organised crime.

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Spain’s Gambling Sector Continues Post-Pandemic Recovery

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Spain’s Gambling Business Council (Cejuego), whose members account for almost 70 percent of the private gaming sector in Spain, has published numbers that positively reflect industry employment and tax contributions.

Cejuego published a year-end report on November 16, saying it found that despite a 20 percent decrease in gambling spending, the sector has maintained its levels of employment. The decrease is in comparison to levels in 2019, before the pandemic.

The report says that the gambling industry in general is one of the last to recover following economic hardship.

Online gambling turnover represented 8.8 percent of the total, at €825m, this is higher than was recorded the previous year in 2021. However, it is still lower than in 2020, when online gambling jumped as face-to-face private gambling was not available.

In total, €10.2bn was wagered in 2019, compared with €9.2bn the previous year.

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New York Times Series Slams U.S. Sports-Betting Regulation

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After a months-long investigation, the New York Times on Sunday (November 20) published a series of four critical articles on the rapidly growing U.S. sports-betting market.

The articles, which generally suggest that oversight of the sports-betting industry is too lax, focus on four specific themes: regulatory compliance and relatively low state enforcement; lobbying of state lawmakers by betting companies and sports leagues; the controversial Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy and his relationships with Penn Entertainment and state regulators; and the sponsorship of college athletic sports programs by operators such as Caesars and PointsBet.

Among other things, the articles highlight how the U.S. has fewer restrictions on advertising and bonuses compared with international markets.

The New York Times series had been anticipated by industry insiders for a number of weeks, after investigative reporters were a notable presence at a series of conferences in the spring and summer.

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Uruguay Promises Online Gambling Vote In December

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The Finance Commission of Uruguay’s Chamber of Deputies has said that it aims to come to a consensus on the text of the online gambling bill by November 30, according to local paper La Diaria. Its goal would be to vote on the draft legislation shortly thereafter in December.

The bill was first sent to the Finance Commission in the Senate, where it was approved in August.

However, the paper claims that inside sources have told them that there is a chance that the bill will be rewritten and sent back to the Senate, starting the process all over again and pushing back its timeline by years.

One such major change would be the creation of a new regulatory agency, something the opposition Cabildo Abierto Party has been pushing for.

The bill has drawn criticism from the gambling industry for legalising online gambling, but only for brick and mortar casinos that already hold in-person licences.

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Landing Chairman Yang Zhihui Suspended Over Lawsuit

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Controversial gaming mogul Yang Zhihui has been suspended as chairman and executive director of South Korea casino operator Landing International Development following a Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) lawsuit against him.

Landing’s board suspended Yang to “alleviate the concerns of the shareholders and the public” ahead of the outcome of the lawsuit, the company said in a Hong Kong bourse filing on Friday (November 18).

The SFC on November 14 alleged that Yang breached fiduciary duties, failed to disclose inside information, acted for personal and improper benefit, and failed to properly supervise operations in his capacity as chairman and executive director of packaging company Teamway International Group Holdings.

The SFC said it is seeking compensation from Yang and to disqualify him from serving as director, manager or other office holder of “Teamway or any other corporation”.

Landing named executive director Chan Mee Sze as acting chairperson in Yang’s absence.

The litigation is the latest storm to surround the former mainland Chinese property developer, whose control of the Jeju Shinhwa World integrated resort (IR) in South Korea saw him angling for a Manila IR project at one time.

In August 2018, Yang was detained at Phnom Penh International Airport by Chinese officials and removed to mainland China, where he disappeared for months amid graft allegations before being allowed to return to Hong Kong and resume work at Landing.

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NHS (National Health Service) England said it has opened two new gambling clinics,

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