News In Brief: September 6-September 10, 2021

September 10, 2021
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Netherlands licensees to be named in late September, Cypriot regulator wants gambling companies to embrace crypto and Japan's Yokohama is officially withdrawn from casino-resort contention.

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Dutch Regulator Will Unveil Licenses On September 29

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The Netherlands Gambling Authority (KSA) will publish a list of applicants who have been successful in obtaining a gambling licence on September 29, a spokesman has told VIXIO GamblingCompliance.

The regulator has been reviewing a batch of applications made between April 1 and April 15, with applicants seeking to become eligible for the October 1 opening of the Netherlands market.

But companies may only get a few days’ notice before they are eligible to begin pitching potential players.

Even licensed operators are not eligible to begin advertising in the Netherlands until the October 1 kick-off, the spokesman said.

Online gambling companies have been able to retain customers in the country, as long as they did no marketing of any kind.

The hard deadline suggests that there will be a hailstorm of marketing pitches from October 1, and KSA chair Rene Jansen has suggested that the agency fears there will be a “bombardment” of advertising when the market opens.

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Cypriot Authorities Back Blockchain, Cryptocurrencies

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Cyprus’ National Betting Authority (NBA) is backing blockchain and cryptocurrencies to accelerate its own “digital transformation” and believes the technologies will strengthen cooperation between public bodies to benefit the gambling industry.

NBA president Ioanna Fiakkou showed her support for the technologies during the “Blockchain & Cryptocurrency Technologies” conference held in Cyprus on September 8, in response to the new technological challenges regulatory authorities in the country are faced with.

During the conference, the University of Nicosia presented a study on the effect and benefits that the application of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies can bring, both in the internal operation of the NBA and in the development of the gambling market.

Dimitra Kalogirou, chair of the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission, also expressed that the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission supports the responsible innovation of the technologies, “while ensuring the smooth operation of markets”.

“Cyprus is one of the main hotspots for blockchain technology in Europe,” said Kyriakos Kokkinos, deputy minister of research, innovation and digital policy, in his opening speech at the conference, referring to a European Observatory and Forum on Blockchain conclusion.

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England, Wales Get £2.58m GambleAware Education Investment

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UK charity GambleAware has invested £2.58m into the new Gambling Education Hubs in England and Wales to help prevent and reduce gambling harms among young people.

The services aimed at early intervention and prevention methods to reduce gambling harms among children and young people will be based on the same system that has been run by Fast Forward in Scotland for seven years.

Two new tenders for the design, delivery and development of new Gambling Education Hubs have been launched, with the deadline for applications set at 12pm on November 2, 2021.

The hubs will deliver training on core youth sectors, including youth services, family services and formal education, according to the charity.

“As a result of the training, youth practitioners, teachers and youth organisations should have an increased awareness and understanding of the risks related to gambling and the impact of gambling harms, as well as what services are available to young people,” GambleAware said.

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Yokohama Pulls Out Of Integrated Resort Contention

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Newly-elected Yokohama Mayor Takeharu Yamanaka has formally ended the city’s campaign to host an integrated resort (IR), reducing Japan’s number of candidate cities to three.

Yamanaka said in his maiden speech to the Yokohama City Council on Friday that he had terminated the selection process for candidates and will abolish the city’s IR Promotion Office on October 1, the Nikkei Shimbun reported.

The independent politician, who toppled pro-IR mayor Fumiko Hayashi in the August 22 election with an aggressive anti-gambling platform, was backed by opposition parties in his campaign.

At least temporarily, the decision maroons Genting Singapore and Melco Resorts & Entertainment, whose IR campaigns had centred on the city and who were the last applicants standing after Las Vegas Sands, Wynn Resorts and other major casino operators dropped out of the running.

Yokohama’s withdrawal leaves Osaka, Nagasaki and Wakayama as the only declared candidate cities vying for one of a maximum three IR licences.

Each city has selected a preferred candidate, with MGM Resorts International, Casinos Austria and Canadian private equity heavyweight Clairvest leading the respective consortiums.

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888 Confirms Talks Over William Hill Acquisition

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888 Holdings confirmed on Monday (September 6) that it is in “advanced discussions” with Caesars Entertainment about buying the non-US portions of William Hill.

The international operations include 1,400 UK shops and online operations in countries including Spain and Italy, along with its Nordic-focused Mr Green.

The Times newspaper has said the 888 bid is an estimated £2bn, which compares with the £2.9bn price the US-based casino company paid for William Hill.

CVC Capital Partners, majority owner of Germany’s Tipico, dropped out of the bidding last week, leaving 888 and Apollo Global Management in the running for the UK bookmaker.

“There can be no certainty that these advanced discussions will result in a transaction,” 888 said. “A further announcement will be made as and when appropriate.”

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Connecticut Tribes Waiting For Sports-Betting Approval

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Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont acknowledged Tuesday that sports betting and online gaming will not be going live in time for Thursday’s National Football League (NFL) season opener between the Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Lamont told reporters that it was unlikely the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a division of the U.S. Department of the Interior, would approve the compact signed earlier this year between the state and Mohegan and Mashantucket Pequot tribes.

Although no answer could mean implied approval, Lamont said Connecticut will wait for a “green light” before proceeding, News12 reported. The updated gaming compact allows casinos operated by the two tribes to offer retail and mobile sports betting, along with online gaming.

Lamont in May signed a sports betting and online gaming bill. The measure also allows the Connecticut Lottery Corporation to offer mobile, retail betting and internet lottery games.

The General Assembly’s Regulations Review Committee last week approved emergency rules for sports betting and online gaming.

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Genius Sports, Caesars Reach Data Content Deal

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Genius Sports has entered a partnership with Caesars Entertainment to provide the gaming company with access to its suite of official data content, the company announced on Tuesday (September 7).

Financial terms were not disclosed, but Genius will become an advertising partner and supply Caesars with marketing technology. The goal is to bolster customer acquisition and retention at Caesars’ online and retail sportsbooks.

Genius data feeds will support the Caesars trading and sportsbook platform by providing access to official National Football League (NFL) products, including official live sports data feeds, according to a statement announcing the deal.

Alongside NFL content, Caesars will gain access to official data-powered in-play content for other U.S. sports leagues, including the English Premier League and NASCAR.

“We know how exciting NFL betting is for our players and through our partnership with Genius, we can now provide bettors with live NFL data they need to make wagers,” said Kenneth Fuchs, head of sports at Caesars.

Fuchs said the partnership will allow Caesars to improve its NFL sportsbook offerings.

The NFL owns an equity stake in Genius valued at $450m, amounting to around 22.5m shares that were acquired through the Genius-dMY Technology Group II’s taking the company public in April.

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Malta Regulator Denies Connections

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The Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) has issued a notice denying any connection with a series of predominantly Asia-facing gambling websites.

The operators in question feature MGA and other logos on their websites that imply they are licensed by the regulator.

One URL, Vietnamese-language bet365vnn.com, also lists the British Virgin Islands, Philippine regulator PAGCOR and the UK Gambling Commission on its site.

The full list of web addresses cited by the MGA is: v8.com; thienlong99.com; comebetvn4.com; bet365vnn.com; uwin992.cc; and uwin957.cc.

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New Crown CEO Drops University Post As Academics Fume

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The incoming chairman of troubled Australian casino operator Crown Resorts has apparently been forced to resign as chancellor of a Melbourne university, after academic staff objected to his involvement with the company.

Leading communications businessman Ziggy Switkowski, who was named Crown Resorts chair on August 26 pending regulatory approvals, will leave his post as chancellor of the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) by October, the university said in a statement on Tuesday.

Switkowski’s departure follows a petition from the Victoria state branch of the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), whose members demanded his resignation and attacked the company for being “shown time and again to be a socially destructive force”.

Referring to evidence presented to the Victoria state Royal Commission into Crown Melbourne, the petition said Crown “is an organisation that cannot be rehabilitated, operating in a sector that destroys people’s lives".

“The Higher Education Act 2005 requires by law that University Council members have ‘an appreciation of the values of a University’.

“Given RMIT values include being ‘agents of positive change for our students, the community and beyond’, it is simply untenable that you continue in your role of RMIT chancellor or as a Council member whilst chair of Crown Resorts Board,” it said.

RMIT said Switkowski “confirmed his intention to step down from the position of Chancellor of the University by the end of October to focus upon his recently announced new Board responsibilities”.

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Ads, Credits Cards Part Of Voluntary Irish Ban

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Members of the Irish Bookmakers Association (IBA) have agreed to ban credit card gambling and impose a whistle-to-whistle advertising ban.

An updated code of conduct means that for sporting events before 9pm, gambling ads will not be shown from five minutes before the kick-off until five minutes after.

Major companies set to follow the code include Flutter, Entain, bet365, Kindred and more.

The IBA said that the “majority” of licensed online betting companies are members of its group and will therefore adhere to the new rules.

Sharon Byrne, the trade group’s chairperson, said: “We recognise that there is a need for the industry to continue to develop the highest of standards for safer gambling. We believe in particular, that the credit card ban and the ‘whistle-to-whistle’ advertising restrictions are significant steps on that path.”

The IBA continues to call for a dedicated gambling regulator to be created in Ireland.

Plans to reform gambling laws and set up an independent authority have made slow progress over the last decade, but a regulator is expected to go live sometime in 2023.

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Netherlands licensees to be named in late September, Cypriot regulator wants gambling companies to embrace crypto and Japan's Yokohama is officially withdrawn from casino-resort contention.

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