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News In Brief: October 31-November 4, 2022

November 3, 2022
Postcode Lottery breaks ad rules in the Netherlands, Ohio approves new sports-betting licences and Rwanda suspends slots approvals.

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KSA Issues Warning For Advertising Breach

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The Netherlands Gambling Authority (KSA) has issued a warning to the National Postcode Lottery (NPL) for using a role model in its advertising without researching their reach among young people.

The NPL avoided a fine, which the KSA said it could have handed out, as the concept of what a role model is defined as was not specifically laid out in regulations until June 30, 2022.

One issue raised by the KSA in its investigation was the large number of social media followers the role model has, arguing it was a reflection of their “substantial reach” among young people.

On June 30, the Dutch government banned ads using role models for casino games; however, less risky games, such as lotteries, “must investigate the reach of that person among minors and young adults. If this is substantial, the role model may not be used in advertisements,” according to the KSA.

The NPL’s role model appeared in adverts for its deal or no deal game which ran from October 2021 to March 2022.

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Ohio Regulators Approve Latest Sports-Betting Licenses

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Ohio gaming regulators approved their latest batch of sports-betting licenses as they continue toward a January 1 universal launch date.

The Ohio Casino Control Commission (OCCC) granted five mobile management service provider licenses for online wagering to BetMGM, DraftKings, Hard Rock Digital, Rush Street Interactive, and Tipico. Each of the five also received at least one license to offer retail betting with their local partner.

In addition, three new proprietor licenses were approved, including the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village in Canton, Hard Rock Cincinnati, and the Miami Valley Gaming racino.

Wednesday (November 2) also marked the deadline for operators to submit compliance materials such as responsible gaming plans, house rules, and other documents to the OCCC to go live January 1.

“Anyone who isn't 100 percent complete today, it does not necessarily prohibit the commission from being able to accept those submissions,” said Matt Schuler, the commission’s executive director.

“However, there's no guarantee that there was time to do so for the universal start date.”

The next key deadline for operators is a December 2 date to have sports-betting systems and equipment installed and ready for commission verification.

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Rwanda Suspends Slot Machine Licences

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Rwanda has temporarily suspended all slot machine licences until further notice, as the government searches for a way to better regulate and tax the sector.

The announcement was made on October 20 by the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MINICOM).

Revelations that machines were being made illegally, yet were indistinguishable from official machines in many cases and being used without a licence led to the suspension, according to the ministry.

To make matters worse for regulators, some licensees were sharing their licences with other operators, according to Evalde Mulindankaka, the acting director general of the industry promotion and entrepreneurship development department at MINICOM.

Mulindankaka told local media that MINICOM is working with other government authorities to set up a digital monitoring system, which would also help prevent tax leakages. Once that is established, he said the suspension will be lifted.

“Investigations are still ongoing on how the spare parts passed through customs and who has been bringing them in Rwanda and under which names,” Mulindankaka said.

Since the announcement, the ministry has launched an operation to seize unlicensed gaming machines, as well as shut down their illegal assembly.

MINICOM oversees the existing Rwanda Gaming Board, which was established in 2013.

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Lithuania Regulator Fines Top Sport UAB, Again

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The Lithuanian Gaming Control Authority (LGCA) has fined Top Sport UAB €15,000 for accepting an online customer from outside Lithuania.

The sports-betting operator was warned that it has until November 11 to address the violation or it risks having its licence suspended.

Enforcement decisions made by the gambling regulator are not final, meaning they can be appealed.

News of the fine follows several others for the company in recent months.

In September 2022, the LGCA similarly fined Top Sport €15,000 for the improper installation of digital video recording systems at its betting points in Lithuania.

In May 2022, the LGCA handed out its biggest fine to Top Sport of €25,000 for violating provisions of the law that prohibit the promotion of gambling.

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Boyd Gaming Closes $170m Pala Interactive Purchase

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Boyd Gaming has closed its $170m purchase of Pala Interactive, the company said Tuesday (November 1).

Pala Interactive is an online gaming technology company that provides real money and social gaming products on both a business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) basis in regulated markets in the United States and Canada.

The deal was originally expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2023. Boyd’s acquisition of Pala does not affect its sports-betting partnership with FanDuel, in which it has a 5 percent stake.

“Online casino gaming is an attractive growth opportunity for our company, and the acquisition of Pala Interactive provides us with the technology, products and expertise to create a profitable regional online casino business,” Keith Smith, Boyd’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

Among its current deals, Pala provides its interactive gaming platform for Unibet Sportsbook in Indiana and online real money gaming in Pennsylvania, along with Wind Creek Casino in Pennsylvania.

Pala provides B2B services in eight states in the United States, as well as Canada, and operates B2C offerings in New Jersey and Canada.

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Paraguay Receives Three Bids to Operate Sports Betting

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Paraguay’s regulatory body, the National Commission for Games of Chance (Conajzar), has received three bids for the exclusive operation of sports betting for the next five years.

Although six companies originally requested to receive the terms and conditions, only half of them had submitted on Monday (October 31) when the envelopes were opened.

The tender process has been mired with accusations of fraud. Daruma Sam SA, the local company that currently holds the licence, is expected to once again win the contract.

The other bidders are B-Gaming Sucursal Paraguay together with Gambling SA, and businessman Luis Carlos Alder Benítez. Daruma Sam SA tried to have Gambling SA disqualified for also having a stake in Argentina, but it appealed on the grounds that it also has a branch that operates locally. The appeal is still pending.

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Camelot Confirms Allwyn Discussing Purchasing UK Operations

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Camelot has confirmed that Allwyn is engaged in advanced discussions with the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP), which may lead to it purchasing Camelot’s UK operations, a spokesperson told VIXIO GamblingCompliance.

“Our shared objective is to reach an agreement which would best serve the interests of the many stakeholders of The National Lottery, in particular the good causes it supports as well as the employees of Camelot and Allwyn UK,” Camelot said.

The OTPP acquired Camelot in 2010 for around £400m.

Camelot’s statement was the same as Czech-headquartered gambling multinational Allwyn's (formerly Sazka) announcement on October 29.

In September 2022, the UK Gambling Commission announced it had formally awarded the fourth National Lottery licence to Allwyn.

Allwyn was the preferred applicant earlier in March 2022, a decision that was contested by the incumbent licence holder, Camelot, and its technology partner, IGT. Both parties subsequently withdrew their appeals.

However, Camelot could not comment on whether or not the discussions have any impact on other ongoing litigation related to the lottery contest.

The new lottery licence will commence in February 2024 and will last for a fixed ten-year period.

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KSA Appeals For Responsible World Cup Advertising

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The Netherlands Gambling Authority (KSA) has sent a letter to operators calling on them to “responsibly” advertise before and during the upcoming FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

KSA chairman René Jansen wrote in his blog that operators can “not let go of the brakes” as the appeal is “not enforceable” but believes “another tidal wave of advertising is counterproductive”.

“The image of the gambling sector and individual gambling companies is not very good. The bombardment of advertising after the opening of the legal market did not help. I hope that lesson has been learned,” Jansen wrote.

The KSA’s appeal follows similar calls made by Franc Weerwind, the government minister overseeing gambling policy, during debates on October 6 and 19 in the House of Representatives.

Operators have also been reminded to not take bets on certain events such as yellow cards or first corner.

The regulator promised to immediately sanction any illegal offerings during the World Cup.

Operators in the Netherlands currently face the prospect of a ban on all “untargeted” ads that the industry fears will wipe out huge swathes of the current advertising market.

The ban on non-targeted online ads was originally supposed to be introduced on January 1, 2023.

However, the proposals now face an unspecified postponement as they wait for approval from various stages of the Dutch parliament.

Weerwind has argued the restrictions are necessary as addiction experts and ex-addicts have raised concerns with the volume of untargeted advertising.

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Casino Owner Tilman Fertitta Takes Stake In Wynn Resorts

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Tilman Fertitta, who owns the NBA’s Houston Rockets and Golden Nugget casinos, has built a 6.1 percent ownership stake in Wynn Resorts, according to a U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing.

Fertitta has amassed roughly 6.9m shares in Wynn, according to a 13-G filing made public Monday (October 31). Fertitta is now the second-largest individual shareholder behind only Elaine Wynn, who co-founded the company with her former husband, Steve Wynn.

The filing indicates that Fertitta himself, Fertitta Entertainment and Hospitality Headquarters Inc. purchased the shares last month. The 13G filing indicates a passive investment by Fertitta, while a 13D is the regulatory filing required of activist investors.

“We are aware of Mr. Fertitta’s 13G passive investment filing,” Wynn Resorts said in a statement.

Fertitta did not disclose in the filing the reason for the investment in Wynn. Messages left with Fertitta Entertainment were not returned.

According to gaming regulators, once Fertitta acquired more than 5 percent of a licensed private trust company (PTC) he must notify the Nevada Gaming Commission and include the SEC filing.

At more than 10 percent, Fertitta or any individual must apply for suitability or request a waiver. Under the waiver, they can acquire up to 29 percent.

Shares of Wynn gained $5.60, or 9.61 percent, to close Monday (October 31) at $63.90 on heavy volume of 13.84m shares traded on the Nasdaq exchange.

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Mandatory Cashless Slots Off NSW Agenda Before Election

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The New South Wales (NSW) state government has placed a bill that would reform slot machine operations at registered clubs on hold after an independent lawmaker tried to add mandatory cashless gambling to its provisions.

Just days after the NSW Crime Commission issued a report recommending compulsory cashless gambling in the state’s clubs and pubs, the move by central Sydney progressive lawmaker Alex Greenwich triggered a delay on debating the bill until after the state election this March.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet’s promised to act immediately against findings that organised crime launders billions of dollars through the state’s slots segment.

But Greenwich and Greens lawmakers' push for the bill to implement the Crime Commission’s advice has hit turbulence as lawmakers weigh up resistance from influential lobby group ClubsNSW.

ClubsNSW has instead supported facial recognition technology to weed out gamblers who breach club rules and gambling legislation or regulations.

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Mendoza Rewards Haste In Rush To Regulate

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Argentina’s province in Mendoza is awarding extra points in the tender process to operators who can launch quickly. The deadline to submit bids is November 17, but according to evaluation criteria five points will be given to bids that promise to be operational within the shortest time frame possible.

Although it has been reported that Mendoza aims to have at least some sports betting operational for part of the FIFA World Cup, the tournament begins on November 20, just three days after the deadline. The tournament ends four weeks later on December 18, during which time bids would have to be awarded and signed and launched to see any profit from the tournament.

Mendoza will issue two to five licences, which will be valid for ten years. Favour will be given to those who already operate brick and mortar casinos and slots in the region and those who partner with them.

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Ontario Casinos Launch Retail Sports Betting

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The Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLG) announced an agreement on Friday (October 28) for certain of the province's land-based casinos to begin offering retail sports betting.

“We are proud to have worked closely with the gaming industry and our partners in the Ontario government on this next phase of growth in Ontario’s gaming market,” Duncan Hannay, president and CEO of OLG, said in a statement.

“Sportsbooks in casinos will offer a diverse and integrated entertainment experience for players, give our service providers a stake on the sports gaming market, and bring more jobs and economic benefits to host communities,” Hannay said.

In a separate statement, casino operator Great Canadian Entertainment said it had launched sports betting at ten of its casino locations in Ontario. Last week, the operator announced a partnership with Kambi to support its sportsbook offerings.

Other land-based casino operators in Ontario include Caesars Entertainment, Mohegan Gaming & Entertainment and Hard Rock International.

The launch of retail sports betting at Ontario casinos on Friday comes more than a year after lawmakers authorized single-game wagering in Canada.

That change in federal law saw OLG directly operate single-event betting through its lottery retail network and via its online platform. Private online operators are also active in the province, although those entities must partner with iGaming Ontario rather than OLG in the case of land-based casinos.

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Opposition Party In Uruguay Demands More Protection For Minors

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Uruguay’s Cabildo Abierto party has said that it will not advance discussions of the country's online gambling bill unless the Uruguayan Institute for Children and Adolescents (INAU) makes assurances that it will develop controls for minor access to gambling.

Local outlet El País reported that Cabildo Abierto deputy Álvaro Perrone said that INAU needed protocols as some platforms were too easy to access.

Pablo Abdala, the president of INAU, wrote that he had no “reservations” as the bill “does not violate or threaten” the rights of children, but that the institute reserved the right for further evaluation as the bill progresses and to make modifications to the text, if need be.

Currently, the project is in the Finance Commission of the Chamber of Deputies after being approved by the Finance Commission of the Senate. Modifications are reportedly going to be introduced by November 9, after which voting will occur.

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Postcode Lottery breaks ad rules in the Netherlands, Ohio approves new sports-betting licences and Rwanda suspends slots approvals.

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