News In Brief: June 12-June 16, 2023

June 16, 2023
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Betsson is to buy its way into Belgium amid a partnership with Casino Partouche, Illinois has given the go-ahead for a temporary Bally's casino and Crown is fined in Australia yet again.

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Betsson Enters Belgian Market With New Acquisition

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Betsson AB has announced its intention to enter the Belgian market by acquiring Belgian sports-betting and gaming operator betFIRST and partnering with French land-based casino Groupe Partouche to enter the Belgian online casino space.

Betsson will buy betFIRST for €120m ($131m), which offers sports betting and dice games primarily online. The company also offers brick and mortar sales in 450 locations across the country and has a gaming arcade.

Meanwhile, Betsson and Groupe Partouche plan to launch their first joint online casino in 2023. Groupe Partouche operates land-casinos across France and Switzerland and will enter the online casino market in Belgium with Betsson’s help.

“The new partnership with leading French casino operator Groupe Partouche will combine Betsson’s expertise in the online gaming sector and Groupe Partouche’s market leadership in land-based casinos to deliver an attractive online casino offering tailored to the local market,” read the press release.

The sale of betFirst is not expected to be complete until July 5, while the partnership with Groupe Partouche must await licensing.

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Illinois Approves Temporary Chicago Casino

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The Illinois Gaming Board (IGB) voted unanimously Thursday (June 15) on a finding of “preliminary suitability” for Bally’s Corp., temporarily clearing the way for the Rhode Island-based company to operate its temporary casino while it builds a permanent structure.

The company expects its $1.7bn casino complex to open by 2026.

Bally’s already owns a casino in Rock Island, Illinois, along with 14 others nation-wide.

Soo Kim, Bally’s chairman, said the temporary site is almost finished and it is aiming to open in six to eight weeks. The Chicago Sun-Times reported Thursday the temporary site would open upon the IGB approving the company’s gaming license.

The temporary casino is expected to offer 750 slot machines and more than 50 table games.

Bally’s has already paid Chicago $40m as part of its deal with the city and has pledged to pay $2m when the temporary casino opens.

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Crown Resorts Fined Another A$20m

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Victoria state’s gambling regulator has slugged Australian casino operator Crown Resorts with a new A$20m ($14m) fine over improper tax deduction claims, bringing Crown’s total fines in the state to A$250m in just over a year.

The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) on Wednesday (June 14) ordered the Blackstone Group subsidiary to pay A$20m by the end of 2023, plus costs, for deliberately writing off promotional costs as winnings.

Crown exacerbated its violations by making “significant efforts at concealment”, VGCCC chairperson Fran Thorn said in a statement on Friday.

“The VGCCC will not tolerate this behaviour. We expect licensees to comply with their tax obligations and to be transparent in their dealings with us,” she said.

The tax violations were detected in 2021 by the Royal Commission into Crown Melbourne.

Since May 2022, Crown has been fined A$80m for cashcard scamming, A$120m for failing to protect gamblers and to prevent slots tampering, and most recently A$20m for abusive practices involving customer bank cheques.

Crown was separately fined A$450m last month by financial transactions watchdog AUSTRAC for violating anti-money laundering legislation.

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South Sudan Legislature Schedule Gambling Regulation Debate

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South Sudan, the youngest country in the world, has reportedly scheduled a debate on regulating the gambling industry in its legislature.

The Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) planned to discuss gambling regulation in its weekly sitting on June 14, which was to be accompanied by talks on the high cost of living in the country, according to local media reports.

Local media reports also state that a lawmaker put forward a bill to regulate gambling last week.

There is no official government source on the matter, but official documents are hard to come by in the young nation.

South Sudan only officially became a country in July 2011 and is home to an estimated 11m people. It has still not introduced regulations for several industries, including gambling.

The country has one of the smallest gross domestic products (GDP) per capita in the world, estimated by the World Bank to be just $1,071.

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Bloomberry To Appeal Delinquent Tax Ruling

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Solaire casino-resort operator Bloomberry Resorts will appeal a ruling by the Philippine Court of Tax Appeals that it pay 49m pesos ($875,000) plus interest in delinquent documentary stamp tax (DST) on loans and advances to its Korean gaming subsidiaries.

Bloomberry “will file a motion for reconsideration to challenge the decision of the Court of Tax Appeals but notes that the outcome of this case is not material to the operations” of the company, it said in a filing to the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday (June 14).

The court ruled in a 2-1 decision on May 29 that the Commissioner of Internal Revenue properly determined that all loan agreements by Philippines-based companies to “non-resident foreign affiliates are borrowing and lending transactions” that incur DST.

“A DST may be imposed even in the absence of a debt instrument so long as the transaction is distinctly established,” it said.

The loans in 2015 were made to Bloomberry’s South Korea-based gaming subsidiaries Solaire Korea Co and Golden & Luxury Co.

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Entain Makes Offer for Poland's STS

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Entain, parent of Ladbrokes and bwin, said its Entain CEE unit is offering £750m for STS Holding, the leading sports-betting operator in Poland.

Entain said it is offering 24.80 zlotys per share for STS, which is listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange.

Entain CEE is the company's central and Eastern European unit.

STS chief executive Mateusz Juroszek and his father Zbigniew Juroszek, who through their respective family foundations collectively hold about 70 percent of STS’ share capital, have entered into a binding agreement to irrevocably accept the offer, Entain said.

The London-listed Entain said that its offer is being made in conjunction with its partner in CEE, EMMA Capital, and the duo will fund the offer for STS in line with their 75 percent-25 percent ratio of holdings.

Entain is funding its portion of the offer through an equity placing of £600m, which will start today (June 14), the company said.

Mateusz Juroszek will remain as CEO of STS and join the board of Entain CEE, the company said. He has been CEO of STS since 2012.

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IGT, Scientific Games Move Into Expanding Brazil State Lottery Market

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A consortium of global lottery giants IGT and Scientific Games, along with a local partner, has signed a concession contract to operate instant and passive lottery games in Brazil’s second most populous state, Minas Gerais.

Instant lottery games are expected to launch later this year, the companies said in a statement on Tuesday (June 13).

The 20-year Minas Gerais agreement is the latest development in a Brazilian lottery market that is now expanding rapidly after a 2020 Supreme Court ruling that allowed all states and municipalities to operate any public lottery games approved under federal law.

In February, the Loto Minas state lottery deployed Brazil’s first regulated online sportsbook and iLottery platform in partnership with NeoGames and Intralot.

On Monday, the Rio de Janeiro state lottery’s first accredited sports-betting operator, Rede Lotto’s Loto Carioca, also launched operations.

Last week, the state government of Rio Grande do Sul announced the first stage of a process to select an operating partner to support the launch of a lottery in the state of around 11m people in southern Brazil.

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NFL Seeks To Prevent Player Gambling Violations

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After suspending several players in relation to investigations into violating the National Football League’s (NFL) gambling policy, league officials have outlined six primary gambling rules that its players should follow, or risk penalties.

The key message for all players prior to training camps opening next month is: do not bet on the NFL.

In the one-page document obtained Tuesday (June 13) by VIXIO GamblingCompliance, the league will require rookies to watch an additional training video that reinforces the league’s policy on not wagering on its games, as well as no gambling while with the team in any capacity.

Also, among the policies for the 2023 season are required club led education and training session, full gambling policy included in the player manual, and a specific document laying out the gambling policy and point of emphasis will be distributed to all 32 clubs to deliver to players.

The NFL is also requiring gambling policy signage in every team facility and every player contract includes a standard “Integrity of the Game” clause.

Other main rules included in the 2023 NFL Gambling Policy prohibit family or friends from placing a wager for a player, no sharing of “inside information,” no entry to a sportsbook during the NFL season and prohibited from daily fantasy sports.

Additionally, coaches, staff and personnel can not bet on any sports.

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Intralot Retains Control Of Taiwan Welfare Lottery

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Greek lottery giant Intralot has confirmed it will remain part of a consortium that retained control of Taiwan’s Public Welfare Lottery, guaranteeing technical stewardship of the lucrative segment for another ten years.

Intralot said in a statement on Monday (June 12) that it recently signed a ten-year contract to continue serving as lottery system technology provider for the CTBC Bank Co consortium.

CTBC Bank secured the renewal of the licence on August 15 last year, with the new licence valid from January 1, 2024.

Intralot has operated the technical side of the lottery since 2007. It also provides the lottery system technology for the Sports Lottery, Taiwan’s other lottery mode, which includes sports betting.

The Welfare Lottery recorded NT$129.2bn ($4.2bn) in sales in 2022, down 2.7 percent from its 2021 haul.

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U.S. Congress Targets West Virginia Greyhound Racing

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A bipartisan group of U.S. House of Representative members wants to end greyhound racing at West Virginia’s two tracks, but is facing opposition from two members of West Virginia’s congressional delegation.

Representative Tony Cardenas, a Democrat from California, has introduced HR 3894, which would amend the Animal Welfare Act to ban greyhound racing in the U.S. and make gambling on greyhound racing illegal.

The bill would outlaw remote gambling on greyhound races and prohibit the transport and sale of greyhounds across state lines for the purpose of racing.

“Greyhound racing is a cruel, dying industry that deserves no place in our country,” Cardenas, who is a member of the Congressional Animal Protection Caucus, said in a statement.

Representatives Salud Carbajal, of California, and Don Davis, of North Carolina, both Democrats, while Republican Representatives Zach Nunn of Iowa, Nancy Mace of South Carolina and Lori Chavez-DeRemer of Oregon, are on the bill along with Cardenas as sponsors.

West Virginia has the only two remaining greyhound tracks in the country located at Mardi Gras Casino near Charleston and Wheeling Island Casino Racetrack. Delaware North owns both racetracks.

“Delaware North continues to monitor legislative efforts to end greyhound racing in West Virginia and would support phasing out greyhound racing at our two casinos there if legislation passed that would allow us to operate the casinos without racing.”

Voters in two West Virginia counties approved table games at both casinos in 2007, but only if both facilities had racing.

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Brazilian Operators Band Together To Campaign Against Match-Fixing

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Ten Brazilian online betting operators have partnered with the National Association of Games and Lotteries (ANJL) to launch the anti-match fixing movement they have termed #respeitaofutebol (#respectfootball).

The campaign ads ran this past weekend during some Serie A and B matches and teams came onto the pitch wearing respect football patches. The campaign, which includes LED panels, merchandise, banners and social media, was present during all games played by teams who are sponsored by Esportes da Sorte.

The other operators involved are Betano, Parimatch, Betnacional, Estrelabet, Betfast.io, Pagbet, Pixbet, Mrjack.bet and Aposta Gahna.

The alliance stated in a press release: “We want to see respect and character on and off the field, so we leave our differences on the bench and unite for this movement. Manipulation in football weakens teams, honest athletes, championships, confederations, the passion of the fans and it can even reach other sports. Even betting platforms are victims of this crime when they suffer serious losses.”

The move comes as the parliamentary investigation committee (CPI) into the country’s match-fixing scandal heats up.

Last week, 59 summons were approved by the committee. They include representatives from Betano and Esportes da Sorte.

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Bill Introduced To Ban iGaming Ads In Ontario

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Members of the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) have introduced a bill that would ban all internet gambling advertising in Ontario.

France Gélinas was one of four members of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario to introduce Bill 126.

“The bill is quite simple,” Gélinas said as she introduced the measure last Tuesday (June 6) on the Assembly floor.

“The act prohibits the promotion of online gambling sites by means of advertising, with the same restriction that applies to cigarettes and alcohol advertising,” she said. “Any person who contravenes the act is guilty of an offense and on conviction is liable to a fine of at least $25,000 but no more than $1m.”

Gélinas said health professionals have been sounding the alarm about problem gambling, and most are pointing to the explosion of online gambling advertising and its availability.

“It is better to prevent problem gambling than to try to treat it” she added. “It's harmful that advertising of such an addictive product takes up 15 percent of your average sports broadcast.”

Gélinas was joined in sponsoring the bill by MPPs Lisa Gretzky, Tom Rakocevic and Monique Taylor.

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Betsson is to buy its way into Belgium amid a partnership with Casino Partouche, Illinois has given the go-ahead for a temporary Bally's casino and Crown is fined in Australia yet again.

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