News In Brief: September 26-September 30, 2022

September 30, 2022
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Malta still loves its online gambling industry and BetMGM faces multi-million New Jersey lawsuit from problem gambler.

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Malta Still Behind Its Online Gambling Segment

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Malta’s chancellor has reiterated government support for the gambling sector, which serves a major role in the island’s economy.

“As a government, we have always believed in the iGaming sector and we have strived to provide an environment for the industry to grow. We are continuing to work so that the entire ecosystem of this industry remains strong," said Silvio Schembri, minister for the economy, speaking at this week’s iGaming Next conference.

“As a government we believe that the gaming industry in our country will continue to grow and transform our economy and therefore it is in our interest to safeguard this industry: be it gaming, video game development or esports," he said.

Schembri revealed that a Council for iGaming would soon be established to allow the sector to advise government on pro-industry policy.

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BetMGM Faces New Jersey Lawsuit Filed By 'Defrauded' Problem Gambler

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BetMGM fraudulently incentivized a problem gambler to ignore repeated software glitches with various games in its online casino, according to a civil lawsuit filed in New Jersey Superior Court on Wednesday (September 28) by a supposed problem gambler who claims he wagered more than $29m with the operator between May 2019 and January 2020.

Plaintiff Sam Antar is suing the MGM Resorts-Entain joint venture, as well as the parent companies and MGM’s Borgata Casino, for compensatory, consequential and punitive damages after claiming he was illegally induced into ignoring technical glitches that caused the BetMGM online casino to freeze during his gambling sessions, “oftentimes in the midst of favorable hands.”

The lawsuit alleges that Antar repeatedly complained of the issues but he was persuaded not to report them to New Jersey’s Division of Gaming Enforcement after being granted additional bonuses amounting to more than $30,000.

The lawsuit claims BetMGM should have known Antar was a problem gambler based on his play patterns, as well as his interactions with senior executives and a VIP manager.

Antar acknowledged to the Associated Press on Thursday that he has previously been to prison for crimes committed to fuel his gambling addiction and faces further jail time over a pending fraud case, although he has not gambled for more than six months.

Neither BetMGM, MGM nor Entain has commented on the lawsuit.

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Bremen Says 14 Shops Stay Closed As Review Continues

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The German state of Bremen said 14 bookmaker shops remain closed as it continues a controversial review of betting shops for source of funds and other checks.

Five permits have been issued and more will be issued in the coming days, the state’s Senate said in a press release.

In Bremerhaven, three of six applications remain open, and four Bremen applications remain open, the Senate said.

There are no indications of money laundering in the 14 closed shops, but permission was denied in eight cases due to “unreliability”, with the managing director found to have had “a large number of criminal cases” conducted, according to the government.

Other cases have been denied due to regulations which set minimum distances from schools and other betting shops: 250 metres today and 500 metres from July 1, 2023, the Senate said.

At least five lawsuits have been filed challenging the reviews.

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Betting Shop Fined For Faulty Cameras

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Lithuania’s gambling regulator has fined the company Top Sport for lax security measures at some of its land-based betting outlets in the country.

The company was assessed €15,000 after an inspection found that a CCTV system designed to record individuals entering one of its shops produced blurry images.

Cameras in other venues designed to track activity at the cashiers desk did not always make it possible to see how much money was changing hands, the regulator said.

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Indiana Study Dismisses Online Casino Cannibalization Risk

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A study commissioned by the Indiana Gaming Commission to research the potential for online gaming in the state argues that legalizing online casino gaming would not negatively impact the state’s land-based casino revenues.

Spectrum Gaming Group conducted the market and policy analysis on behalf of the state's gaming regulator after being hired in February to do so.

The study, published on Tuesday (September 27), projects the state could produce about $830m in revenue in year three of a prospective online casino market.

Since passing legislation in 2019 to permit land-based and online sports betting, despite industry optimism, state legislators have tried and failed to pass internet gaming legislation on multiple occasions.

Republican state Senator Jon Ford, who has led the legislative push, said last week during an appearance at East Coast Gaming Congress in Atlantic City that cannibalization concerns were still a big factor in why legislation had failed to get off the ground.

“We're still trying to overcome that,” Ford said. “And we keep presenting studies that show there's not much cannibalization, show studies that the younger generation wants to do everything over the internet on their phones.”

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Tax Could Be Hiked In Brazil Gambling Bill

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Deputy Felipe Carreras, the lead author of a major gambling expansion bill approved by Brazil's lower house of Congress in February, has acknowledged that the Senate will have to increase the bill's proposed gambling tax that would primarily be used to fund healthcare.

As passed by the Chamber of Deputies, Bill PL 442/1991 would designate 4 percent of gambling tax revenue to healthcare, including raising the nursing salary minimum wage. Some senators who have supported the nursing raise have suggested that the portion should be increased to 12 percent.

The gambling bill's so-called Cide-Jogos tax would currently amount to a total of 17 percent of revenue from land-based and online gaming, calculated on the difference between total bets placed and total prizes paid. The gambling tax would go to support numerous government welfare initiatives including healthcare, plus an additional 1 percent which goes directly to athlete training.

Any changes to the text in the Senate will need to also be approved by the Chamber of Deputies.

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SPAC Deal Off For Allwyn

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Allywn has scrapped plans to list in the United States via a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).

The proposed merger with Cohn Robbins Holdings Corp had been touted to investors over the past few months.

The two companies said that the current economic uncertainty and general low level of investor confidence in the markets had led to the decision to exit the deal.

“Due to the prolonged and increasing market volatility, we and Cohn Robbins have decided not to proceed with the proposed business combination,” said Allwyn CEO Robert Chvátal.

Allwyn is set to become the UK National Lottery operator from February 2024, after a series of legal challenges preventing the handover were dropped.

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Northern Ireland MPs Want Further FOBT Crackdown

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The Northern Irish political group, the All Party Group On Reducing Harm Related to Gambling, has published a report into fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), calling for maximum stakes to be reduced to as low as 50p.

Northern Ireland’s gambling laws are separate from the rest of the UK and its market is not regulated by the Gambling Commission. FOBTs in the rest of the union had their max stakes slashed from £100 to £2 in 2019, after years of campaigning.

Although operators have adopted the £2 stake in Northern Ireland, politicians are still concerned about the problem gambling risks the betting shop machines present. The group suggests the government enforces a 1985 law that would see FOBTs classified as “gaming machines”, meaning that their maximum legal stake would be 50p.

The recommendation is one among a number of suggested changes, mostly made with pending reforms to gambling laws in mind.

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Tamil Nadu Unveils Ordinance Banning Online Gaming With Stakes

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India’s Tamil Nadu state is set to issue an ordinance banning online gaming with stakes, pre-empting its own Supreme Court appeal against a regional court that struck down similar legislation.

The state government’s Cabinet on Monday (September 26) approved the ordinance, which will come into effect after the state governor assents to the document.

The ordinance appears to serve as a placeholder ahead of the government tabling revised legislation in October that will implement a ban, while trying to avoid further repudiation by the state’s High Court.

The government has appealed the Madras High Court’s decision to void its online gaming ban to the Supreme Court of India, which has consistently ruled that skill gaming, with or without stakes, is a constitutionally protected enterprise.

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Chhattisgarh Flags Ban For Online Gambling, Betting

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The Indian state of Chhattisgarh is set to ban “online gambling and betting”, marking the latest punitive move against gaming among the nation’s state governments.

The leader of Chhattisgarh, a medium-size state of 30m people, ordered its top police official to prepare a draft of a “stringent” law that would outlaw gambling activity, the Press Trust of India reported on Sunday (September 25).

Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel also ordered police to crack down on websites and other online platforms and to include them as prohibited operations in the draft.

It was not immediately clear if Chhattisgarh will attempt to include rummy and other skill gaming with stakes in the ban, a move that would follow similar, recent bans in other states, but could potentially trigger an appeal to the Supreme Court of India.

Karnataka and Tamil Nadu states have lodged Supreme Court appeals over state high court decisions that voided their bans on online gaming with stakes.

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Paraguayan Senator Battles Regulator

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Paraguay is once again fighting back against its scandal-ridden state gambling regulator, Conajzar, this time in the form of a new bill to “prevent irregularities”.

Senator Blas Llano has not yet presented any legislation, but announced his intentions last week, citing a recent report from the Comptroller General of the Republic which found, among other violations, slot machines in general business, when they are meant to only be located in halls and casinos.

He said that machines in unregulated locations were unacceptable and that his legislation would “protect citizens from the danger gambling addiction gambling”.

Public and private businesses have been battling against Conajzar and its murky gambling regulation in the country for a few years, led by local media outlet ABC Color. The latest controversy arose when Conajzar called for bids to the rights for the contract for sports betting, which many believe is simply for show. The expectation is that the contract will go to the current holder, Daruma Sam.

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Malta still loves its online gambling industry and BetMGM faces multi-million New Jersey lawsuit from problem gambler.

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