News In Brief: October 23-October 27, 2023

October 27, 2023
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Dutch trade groups refute bonus allegations, the NHL suspends its first player for betting rule breaches and Colombia's new advertising rules are critiqued.
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Dutch Trade Groups Hit Back At Consumers’ Association Research
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Dutch trade groups have publicly expressed their disappointment with the Consumers’ Association’s research into online casinos, dismissing its conclusions.

Consumentenbond, a Dutch non-profit organisation that promotes consumer protection, published an article on October 24 stating that its research into the six largest gambling operators found “online casinos mislead players and encourage excessive gambling”.

Hitting back at the article, trade groups the Dutch Online Gaming Providers (VNLOK) and the Dutch Online Gambling Association (NOGA) put out a joint statement on October 25 stating their members “are well aware that they have a far-reaching obligation to protect consumers against the risks of online gambling and to prevent addiction as much as possible”.

“Our members act in accordance with laws and regulations. The Gaming Authority (KSA) supervises this. The Gaming Authority (KSA) will take action in the event of violations.” 

The trade groups said the operators in the research “were not involved in any way by the Consumers' Association” and that “no rebuttal was requested before publication and no access to the research was given after publication”.

Operators TOTO and Holland Casino have also individually dismissed the claims made in the article. 

The Netherlands Gambling Authority (KSA) was not involved in the research. 

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NHL Suspends First Player For Violating Sports-Betting Rules
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Shane Pinto, a restricted free agent center with the Ottawa Senators, has been suspended by the National Hockey League (NHL) for 41 games for activities relating to sports wagering. 

“The league’s investigation found no evidence that Pinto made any wagers on NHL games,” the league said in a statement Thursday (October 26).

The NHL made it clear it “considers this matter closed, absent the emergence of new information, and will have no further comment.”

Pinto, 22, scored 20 goals and totaled 35 points last season with the Senators. 

“I want to apologize to the National Hockey League, the Ottawa Senators, my teammates, the fans and city of Ottawa and most importantly my family,” Pino said in a statement released by the league.

“I take full responsibility for my actions and look forward to getting back on the ice with my team.”

The Senators called Pinto a valued member of their hockey club who made poor decisions that resulted in his suspension. The team added that it fully supports the NHL’s rules on gambling.

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Arkansas Supreme Court Rules Against Pope County Casino
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The Arkansas Supreme Court on Thursday (October 26) upheld a ruling that voided the gaming license for Cherokee Nation Business, once again leaving Pope County without a casino. 

In an 11-page ruling written by Associate Justice Cody Hiland, the court ruled against the Arkansas Racing Commission finding the state’s gaming regulator acted beyond its legal authority under Amendment 100, which legalized casinos in Hot Springs, West Memphis, Pine Bluff and Pope County.

Cherokee Nation Businesses purchased $35m worth of land in Russellville to build the $225m Legends Resort and Casino. The 2-2 decision by the court means that Pope County still has no casino, and the licensing process will have to start again.

Arkansas voters authorized four casinos by approving Amendment 100 in November 2018.

Hiland, joined by Special Justice Bryan McKenney, upheld a January ruling by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Tim Fox that invalidated the Cherokee’s gaming license. Gulfside Casino Partnership had argued the commission’s decision to license Cherokee Nation violated Amendment 100.

In previous litigation, the state Supreme Court had ruled against Gulfside’s casino license in Pope County. Justices Karen Baker and Shawn Womack dissented.

When there is a tie by the Supreme Court, the lower court decision stands.

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Betway Withdraws Illinois Online Licence Application
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Marcus Fruchter, administrator with the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB), confirmed Thursday (October 26) that DGC IL LLC, parent of Betway, had received permission to withdraw its application for an online-only sports betting license. 

That decision ends the IGB’s supplemental licensing process without a master sports wagering license being issued. The IGB reopened the process on November 1, 2022 to award the three online-only sports betting licenses available under the 2019 Sports Wagering Act.

Betway was also a finalist for a license in July during the original licensing process that ended in December 2021, but the company also withdrew during that process. 

The online-only licenses cost $20m. According to Betway’s bid summary released in July, its bid included a $22.5m payment to the IGB which included the $20m minimum bid, with a further $2.5m “committed at the applicant’s discretion.” 

“This process unfortunately comes to an end without a license at this time,” Fruchter said. He did not give any reasons for Betway’s withdrawal.  

The supplemental licensing process became necessary after Tekkorp Digital, which does business as Caliente, withdrew its application in October 2022.

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Colombia’s New Advertising Regulations Raise Concerns
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Further concerns about Colombia’s latest advertising regulation, the final draft of which was posted online on October 20, have come to light, leaving operators in the industry confused at the ambiguous wording.

Article 5, in particular, was marked as concerning, which governs the use of trademarks and branding. 

According to Juan Camilo Carrasco, a gaming lawyer at Asensi Abogados in Bogotá. “By the wording of Article 5, it is understood that it limits the use of third-party trademarks, that is to say that trademarks that are not owned by the operator or its business group cannot be used. From the wording of the article, one would think that the trademark of, for example, ‘La Liga’ cannot be used,” he said, referencing Colombia’s football league. 

Carrasco elaborated that an “abstract and ambiguous” process to determine whether or not a trademark has been used in Colombia de facto blocks the entry of “any operator that has a known trademark”. 

Another problem that has raised alarm is the time window. Although it will not be in force for current operators until January 1, 2024, it is in effect immediate for new operators wishing to enter the market. 

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Dutch Lawmakers Propose Gambling Tax Increase
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Two members of the House of Representatives of the Netherlands want to increase the gambling tax to avoid an increase in excise duty on alcohol.

The amendment was submitted on October 24 by lawmakers Silvio Erkens, a member of VVD, the largest party in the current ruling coalition, and Chris Stoffer, a member of the much smaller Reformed Political Party.

The amendment is aimed at altering the country’s current “Tax Plan” by increasing the excise rate on tobacco, as well as increasing the gambling tax by 1 percentage point.

“Ideally, the increase in the gambling tax would only have resulted in a heavier taxation of online gambling. However, the gambling tax is currently not differentiated with regard to different forms of gambling, which means that an increase cannot yet be focused on this group,” the amendment states.

The petition calls on the government to make these changes “as soon as possible” and “preferably by 2025”.

“Once that is the case, the additional revenue from the increase in gambling tax as a result of this amendment can be found by taxing online gambling companies more heavily, to the extent that the increase can be reversed for all other taxpayers,” the amendment states.

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German Regulator Publishes LUGAS FAQs
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Germany’s Joint Gambling Authority of the Federal States (GGL) has addressed a series of frequently asked questions about LUGAS, the online gambling database.

The FAQs published on October 24 cover a range of issues including details of players' deposit limits, when and how they can be changed and how to follow data protection rules.

The database's main aims are to enforce the €1,000 monthly spending limit across all operators to allow the regulator to view an operator’s every transaction if they wish and act as an activity file to prevent a consumer from gambling simultaneously across multiple sites.

In the past few months, some gambling industry executives have questioned the need for LUGAS, arguing that it is too complicated and might not be worth the effort.

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Light & Wonder Completes SciPlay Acquisition
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Light & Wonder has completed its previously announced acquisition for the remaining approximately 17 percent interest in SciPlay Corp. that it did not previously own, the company announced Monday (October 23).

The company acquired the outstanding equity for $22.95 per share in cash. 

Light & Wonder first proposed to acquire the company in May 2023 and entered a definitive agreement for the purchase in August. That transaction was approved by the company’s board of directors. 

SciPlay will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Light & Wonder. SciPlay common stock will no longer be publicly traded on the Nasdaq Global Select Market. 

Strategically, Chad Beynon, an analyst with Macquarie Research, believes SciPlay holds value with regard to Light & Wonder’s cross-platform strategy, especially with social casino not considered gambling and not gated behind state-by-state legalization as iGaming and mobile sports betting are. 

“This also means it is not regulated as strictly, so the company can develop and test slot content much more quickly in social casino (with its 35m monthly active users) than in the RMG (real money gaming) realm,” Beynon wrote in a note to clients on Monday. 

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Everi Confirms New York Cybersecurity Incident
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Everi Games Inc. confirmed on Monday (October 23) that two of its locations connected to the New York Video Lottery Terminals central department were interrupted by a cybersecurity event.

In a statement emailed to Vixio GamblingCompliance, Everi said the incident took place on the morning of Tuesday (October 17) and was limited to the two locations, one of which was very soon thereafter returned to operating a normal schedule.

As of Friday (October 20), all New York video lottery terminal (VLT) locations were operating on a normal schedule. 

“Everi acted swiftly to mitigate any impact and continues to work with the New York State Gaming Commission to investigate, contain and remedy the interruption,” the company said. 

Everi has deployed independent expert cybersecurity consultants to conduct a complete forensic analysis of the event.

“The integrity of the Everi systems and safeguarding of customer data is Everi’s highest priority.  The service interruption did not impact the availability of Everi’s financial access services, FinTech customer equipment, including ATMs & full-service kiosks, compliance and loyalty services and equipment at these VLT locations.”

Everi said that it will continue to take appropriate measures to safeguard the integrity of our information technology infrastructure, data and customer information.

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Dutch Authority Boss Jansen To Retire
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The head of the Netherlands Gambling Authority (KSA) will not seek a new term as the regulator's president, it has been announced.

René Jansen has been at the helm of the KSA since the Netherlands re-regulated its online gambling market in 2021 and since that time has been the authority's most high-profile voice, often speaking at industry conferences and taking on a sometimes unpopular role as the champion of the regulator's enforcement activity.

Jansen said he is not seeking a new term as he reaches retirement age at the end of this year. His tenure will close on July 1, 2024, the KSA said. The authority is now actively recruiting for his replacement.

"In recent years I have committed myself to the Ksa's mission of safe play with great energy and pleasure," said Jansen.

"There are many great challenges for the new chairman. The Ksa has an important role as a supervisor and enforcer in the various gaming markets. This management position is challenging, requires creativity, innovation and decisiveness, but above all has great social value."

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Florida Supreme Court Grants Governor Filing Extension
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The Florida Supreme Court on Friday (October 20) granted Republican Governor Ron DeSantis a 30-day extension to respond to a filing by a pari-mutuel operator that is trying to have a state-tribal gaming compact declared invalid.

DeSantis now must file a response by December 1. The state's Supreme Court warned DeSantis not to request additional extensions, writing “multiple extensions of time for the same filing are discouraged.”

“Absent extenuating circumstances, subsequent requests may be denied,” the court said.

West Flagler Associates is seeking a ruling that DeSantis and the legislature went beyond their authority in negotiating and agreeing to a compact that would give the Seminole Tribe of Florida a monopoly on retail and mobile sports betting.

The 2021 compact between the Seminoles and the state, which was allowed to come into effect by the U.S. Department of the Interior, granted the tribe additional exclusivity rights to offer craps and roulette.

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Dutch trade groups refute bonus allegations, the NHL suspends its first player for betting rule breaches and Colombia's new advertising rules are critiqued.

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