News In Brief: October 17-October 21, 2022

October 21, 2022
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Cypriot betting oversight gets lawmaker backing, a surprise fantasy sports bill makes progress in Brazil and Argentine lotteries makes payments alliance to battle illegal gambling.

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Cypriot Legislator Praises Betting Regulator

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The Speaker of the House of Representatives in Cyprus, Annita Demetriou, has assured the National Betting Authority (NBA) that the legislator will continue to “examine and promote” gambling-related issues.

Demetriou made the comments at a meeting with NBA president Ioanna Fiakkou on October 19, during which the regulator discussed its responsibilities, the impact of the licensing system and ongoing research projects.

“The Speaker of Parliament praised the work of the National Betting Authority, especially in the field of prevention, and highlighted the progress it has achieved since it was established,” according to the House of Representatives.

The meeting follows the appearance of Cyprus’ minister of health Michael Hadjipantela at the launch of the country’s fifth annual safer gambling week on October 3, 2022.

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Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies Approves Bill Recognising Fantasy Sports

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On October 19, Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies approved Bill 2796/21, which establishes a legal framework for electronic video games as well as fantasy sports where prizes are involved.

The text specifically indicates that games of chance and slot machines are not within the bill’s purview, however the bill’s rapporteur, Deputy Darci de Matos, added fantasy games at the last minute.

The bill specifically regulates the import, development, manufacture, and sale of electronic games in Brazil. However, the amendment on fantasy sports recognises fantasy contests based on skill with a similar definition applied in U.S. federal and state laws to ensure these contests cannot be based on the outcome of a single real-life team or athlete.

Companies that produce and develop electronic games and fantasy contests will be entitled to a financial credit for business expenses which can be claimed as tax deductions.

“Today, Brazil taxes games and electronic games like they are slot machines, an absurd taxation,” de Matos said during the session.

Fantasy sports are classified as a game of skill and not gambling in most jurisdictions. Brazil’s legislation, which also must be passed by the Senate, states that fantasy sports providers are entitled to use real-life player names and game statistics as the basis of their contests.

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Argentine Lotteries Partner With Payments Service To Combat Illegal Gaming

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The Association of State Lotteries of Argentina (ALEA) has announced that it will partner with Rapipago to prevent illegal gambling.

Rapipago, whose services cover the entirety of the country with over 3500 branches, is an extra-bank collection channel and is popularly used to pay bills in both the public and private sector.

Their deal with ALEA will include the exchange of information and technical know-how to prevent users from using their service for illegal gaming.

“Both parties are committed to their mission of combating the behaviour of users in bad faith of the services offered by Rapipago who, improperly and contrary to the terms and conditions, try to arrange the sale or offer of products or services in violation of the applicable regulations,” stated the announcement.

“Adding all the members and components of the gambling ecosystem in our country represents progress to continue working to defend legal gambling,” ALEA concluded.

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UK Gambling Commission Receives Recommendations For Data Gathering Pilot

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The Gambling Commission has provided an update on its ongoing pilot to find a new approach to collecting participation and prevalence data, including several recommendations from experts.

An external review of the regulator’s pilot data suggested that its ongoing process to develop more suitable questions concluded that the current piloted questions were “clear and unambiguous”.

However, seven recommendations were made, such as including a broader range of harm issues in question and changing scaled response options to have more equally spaced responses.

Additionally, the review suggested considering how scaled answer options are reported, changing the ordering of the harms questions, reviewing the wording of all harms questions and continuing to collect data on suicide ideation and attempted suicide.

Since receiving the review, the regulator has already taken considerable action to broaden the range of harms covered in the questions, it said.

The Gambling Commission’s next steps will be to review the results of the experimental phase and evaluate which approach works best, as well as develop its approach to analysing the data and engaging with stakeholders on how it communicates the headline statistics and findings.

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Enforcement On The Cards In France

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French regulator ANJ said it has opened nine new enforcement cases in recent weeks, although declined to name any of the operators under investigation.

At a meeting on September 22, the committee began proceedings against seven operators that have overstepped France’s limit of 85 percent return-to-player rates.

Two operators are also suspected of not fulfilling their obligations to identify and support people showing signs of gambling harm, the regulator said.

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Mendoza Publishes Online Gambling Law In Official Gazette

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Two years after the law to legalise online gaming in the Argentine province of Mendoza was approved by the legislature, the text has been published in the official gazette.

The act is procedural, but is a sign that a call for tender is soon approaching in a province where gambling legalisation has been moving slowly.

The law (number 9267) specifies that between two and seven licences will be granted, which will be valid for ten years with the possibility of a year extension.

According to Article 1 of the published decree, the Provincial Institute of Games and Casinos (IPJyC) in Mendoza “is instructed to consider the preference established in Article 6 of Law No. 9,267 in the Evaluation framework of the bidding documents, providing a criteria or rubric and specific score for the persons or legal entities mentioned in the aforementioned article”.

In other words, preference will be given to entities that already have permits as gaming operators or as slot machine providers.

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888 Says Revenue Fell On Dutch Withdrawal

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888 Holdings said third-quarter revenue dropped 7 percent to £449m as the online gambling company was hurt by safer gambling restrictions in the UK and having to pull out of the Dutch market.

The Gibraltar-based company said that William Hill UK online revenue fell 14 percent over the same period a year ago to £125m, while William Hill international online fell 12 percent to £52m.

William Hill retail revenue was little changed at £124m, the company said on Tuesday (October 18).

The company said it was “cognizant of the increased cost of debt”, plus the economic impact of UK consumer sentiment.

It closed its £1.95bn deal to buy non-US assets of William Hill in July.

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Kazuo Okada Arrested, Bailed In The Philippines

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Japanese gaming mogul Kazuo Okada has been arrested on arrival in the Philippines over his alleged role in the seizure of the Okada Manila integrated resort.

Police detained Okada, 80, at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport early Monday (October 17) on the back of grave coercion charges in arrest warrants issued on October 11 after the forcible takeover of Okada Manila on May 31.

Okada was released on bail on Monday evening.

“I insisted on coming back to the Philippines despite several warnings from my lawyers that I may be detained by the authorities,” Okada said in a statement on Tuesday.

“I want to show to the Filipino people and the world that I am not afraid. I came back to face this ‘grave coercion’ charge against me and my associates.

“I have given my instructions to my legal team to avail of all legal remedies to ensure that those who fooled and robbed me in Okada Manila be sent to jail for their lies, deceit and usurping operational control of Okada Manila.”

The May 31 incident saw Okada's corporate allies and private security personnel storm the property and physically expel management. The protagonists cited a Supreme Court order restoring Okada’s board entitlements in owner Tiger Resort, Leisure & Entertainment Inc (TRLEI).

Control over Okada Manila was restored to TRLEI through a similar forcible operation in September with the blessing of gambling regulator PAGCOR.

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Brazil’s State Lotteries Adjust With The Times

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The Brazilian Federation of Lottery Companies (Febralot) and Caixa Economica Federal, the public financial institution of the Brazilian government, has met to address issues facing the burgeoning state lotteries.

Among them was the system crash on October 11, for which the president of Febralot asked Caixa for a reimbursement for lost profits.

The Superintendent of the Lotteries also reported that QR codes had replaced barcodes on betting slips, which are easier to read according to reports.

Meanwhile, the Union of Commissioners, Consignees and Leasing Companies for Movable Goods in the State of Rio de Janeiro (SINCOERJ), asked Caixa to comply with agendas from previous meetings, by guiding the lotteries through the process of setting up their products for online consumption. Specifically, the sites will be run on individual pages hosted through the Caixa lottery site.

State and local lotteries exploded onto the scene in Brazil in the wake of the September 2020 Supreme Court ruling that the federal government could not monopolise the industry.

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Dutch Market Sticking To Celeb-Ban Rules

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The Netherlands Gambling Authority (KSA) has said that its licence holders are doing a good job of observing the ban on the promotional use of “role-models”, including sports people and other celebrities, which came into effect on June 30.

The regulator said it had issued two warnings to online operators for continuing to use the voice of a famous Dutch person in a TV and podcast ad.

The KSA said it would continue to monitor the market for compliance.

Dutch operators face a much more stringent ban on all “non-targeted” advertising next year, although the implementation date of the proposed measures was recently pushed back to allow for the political process to play out.

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Fubo Sportsbook Abruptly Shuts Down

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FuboTV announced Monday (October 17) that it is shutting down its online sportsbook product effective immediately.

The streaming television provider was operational in Arizona, Iowa, and New Jersey, the latter of which had just launched last month. The company announced in August that it was evaluating strategic alternatives for its gaming product due to the costs of scaling the operation in multiple states.

"Following our previously announced strategic review, we have concluded that continuing with Fubo Gaming and Fubo Sportsbook in this challenging macroeconomic environment would impact our ability to reach our longer term profitability goals,” said David Gandler, co-founder and CEO of Fubo.

“Therefore, we have made the difficult decision to exit the online sports wagering business effective immediately,” Gandler said.

The company stopped taking bets immediately upon the announcement late afternoon Monday, with a message appearing on the sportsbook site and application that the site was “offline for maintenance” and expected to be back in a couple of hours.

A company spokeswoman said Monday that there is no timeframe for when players' outstanding account balances will be settled, and that the company is “working with necessary parties to make sure players and their existing accounts will be appropriately handled.”

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Chile's Comptroller Orders Shutdown Of Online Gambling Site

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After receiving a complaint, the Comptroller General of Chile (CGR) ordered the Superintendence of Gaming Casinos (SCJ) to shutdown an online platform that was offering tokens to gamble with to receive non-cash prizes.

The tokens, which could be purchased with money, could be “cashed in” for prizes such as more gaming coupons, hotel vouchers and dinners. The site has since been removed by the SCJ, a move which serves as a reminder that although gambling legislation has been introduced, online gaming is still illegal in the country.

“It is up to this supervisory entity [SCJ] to adopt the pertinent measures in order to analyze the situation in light of this official letter, initiate the corresponding administrative procedure, and apply the sanctions that may be appropriate, ” said the CGR in a statement. “[The SCJ] must inform the Audit Division of this Control Body within a period of 60 days counted from the total processing of this official letter.”

The online gambling bill is still waiting in the Economic Committee to be integrated into President Gabriel Boric’s larger tax plan before it is further discussed.

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Uruguay's Casino Workers Protest Online Gambling Bill

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Uruguay’s National Federation of Gaming Workers (Fenaju) has made it clear to the Chamber of Deputies that it does not support the bill to legalize online casino games, claiming the sector is a hotbed for money laundering.

The bill, which is under consideration in the Finance Commission, would allow casinos with in-person gaming licences to expand their offering online. It currently would not allow online sports betting.

Leonel Revelese, the director of Fenaju, told the commission: “What economic activity in the world is more friendly to money laundering than online gambling? There is none ... . We understand that the text should expressly include the ban on generating competition by giving bonuses, giving free money to users, giving free bonuses to gamblers."

Juan Arteaga, the leader of the Enjoy casino union, also demanded to know exactly where the money would go if paid on an online platform, questioning if it would be paid to an online wallet, directly to the casino or to a different account in a different country altogether.

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Safer Gambling Sponsorship Switch For Kindred

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Kindred is to swap its usual Unibet sponsorship deal with two UK football teams to instead promote its goal of reducing harmful gambling.

Middlesbrough in England and Rangers in Scotland will wear kits with the words “Zero % Mission” during the next seven days, as part of Safer Gambling Week, which kicks off in Europe today (October 17).

Kindred has publicly committed to reducing the share of revenue it receives from harmful gambling to 0 percent. The operator recently estimated that it still makes 3.3 percent of revenues from at-risk gamblers.

“We are on a journey and still have further to go, but we are confident that our approach is delivering results,” said Neil Banbury, Kindred’s general manager for the UK.

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New Gambling Harm Test Launched In France

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French gambling regulator ANJ has revamped a website on which French gamblers can test to see if they are showing signs of problematic gambling.

The Evalujeu.fr site prompts visitors to conduct a questionnaire based on the Canadian Index of Excessive Gambling (CPGI) and offers tools and advice for safer gambling, based on the results.

The updated website has a particular focus on the upcoming FIFA World Cup, which begins next month, the regulator said.

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Cypriot betting oversight gets lawmaker backing, a surprise fantasy sports bill makes progress in Brazil and Argentine lotteries makes payments alliance to battle illegal gambling.

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