GVC Holdings Divests Itself Of Turkish Operations

A Maltese group that provides IT services for business done in Turkey by Isle of Man multinational sports betting and gaming group GVC has purchased its operations in that country. Ropso Malta Limited has acquired Headlong Limited and other associated businesses from GVC Holdings for an approximate worth of up to €150m.

The FTSE 250 London Exchange firm’s decision to divest itself of the Turkish enterprises is creating renewed interest in the future plans that GVC Holdings has been revealing in the past year. Acquisition and take over talks have been held with major gambling operators and deals discussed worth as much as £3.6bn. The selloff also signals a move towards approaching the regulated online gambling market in a realistic manner in order to actually have an acquisition approved by shareholders of a targeted company.

GVC’s chief executive officer Kenny Alexander, commented on the deal , “As the group evolves, our focus is increasingly on regulated markets and markets where we believe there is a realistic path to regulation.” The proposed agreement is subject to gaming regulatory and lender approval.  GVC Holdings does however expect the completion of the deal to happen before the end of 2017.

A prepared statement from GVC read,  “The decision to sell Headlong and associated businesses has been taken against a backdrop where, in an increasingly maturing and regulating online gaming world, the board has concluded it is now appropriate for GVC to further increase its focus on regulated markets.”

The sale of GVC’s interests in Turkey may create a better understanding of the political savvy required to maneuver in the online gambling industry. Going bigger in the internet betting business makes for a stronger less vulnerable business model and positioning is a massive part of any success. Companies that survive regulatory change are flexible and insightful and make the right moves before the cookie crumbles.




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Pocket Games Software Partners With Leander Games

Independent gaming company Leander Games has been expanding its horizons lately with partnership deals such as the one made in London a few weeks ago with ‘Live 5’ which signed on as ‘Strategic Gaming Partner.’ Live 5 Gaming is a UK-based independent developer which provides a range of innovative slots and instant win products.

‘Live 5’ will utilize the Leander Games LeGa Remote Gaming Server (RGS) which has been developed with the latest technology for a fast, flexible and scalable platform. The platform runs with 30 languages and ISO 4217 currencies made possible by a team that has innovative concepts, creating top quality entertainment. It is licensed by both the UK Gambling Commission and the Alderney Gaming Control Commission.

Now Leander Games has announced it is again partnering with a noted content provider Pocket Games Software. PG SOFT™ was founded in 2015 and is headquartered in Malta. The team philosophy at Pocket Games Software is to disrupt the traditional slots industry. Leander will be offering a number of Pocket Games slot games on the Leander LeGa platform by next year.

Leander chief executive officer, Steven Matsell, said, “In a short space of time, Pocket Games has quickly established a reputation as one of the more innovative games developers out there; they bring a freshness to game play and their designs are top class,” “Signing up Pocket Games reinforces our ambition of bringing together the best and most innovative games on the same platform.”

Managing director and co-founder at Pocket Games Software, Ken Zhang, also commented, “We are super confident in the quality of our games and believe that slots players will take them to their hearts when they get the chance to play them.

“This is exactly the kind of deal we want whereby more operators and eventually players are exposed to our portfolio.”




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UKGC Coming Down Hard On Irresponsible Operators

The online gambling industry has standards and if those standards aren’t met the watchdogs start to bark. In the United Kingdom the strong UK Gambling Commission published the terms of a settlement it reached with SJU Limited, trading as Stan James Online, for the company’s failure to respond to a punters problem gambling issue and for failing to comply with the financial requirements focused on preventing money laundering.

Terms of the regulatory settlement revealed SJU has agreed to pay a financial penalty of £40k, plus a further £40k to reimburse the employer whose money was stolen prompting the investigation into the company practices. The UKGC has been moving forward with a stronger stance regarding its online licensees’ social responsibilities and obligations to the consumer. The activity in this particular case took place between November 2014 and October 2016 and the UKGC launched its investigation in March 2017 after police alerted the regulator to a case involving an individual convicted of robbing his employer.

The gambling operator faulted on its social responsibility code obligations with regard to consumers who display signs of problem gambling issues. SJU’s social responsibility interactions with the warning emails triggered by only monetary alerts, and the UKGC notes the operator “did not take the holistic view of the customer’s gambling activities that [the UKGC] would have expected.” The UKGC further suggested that that since this customer self-excluded from online casino products back in 2011, SJU had “inadequate policy and procedures,” contributing  to a failure to meet their obligations.

The UKGC did indicate the SJU has taken “prompt action” addressing the presented problems immediately upon hearing it was being investigated. The operator made “immediate improvements” to its policies and procedures and said it is continuing “to develop more robust processes.” SJU also, “recognized the value of investing in staff development providing an enhanced level of service.”



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Legal Sports Wagering May Come To All America Soon

The USA has been at the centre of many problems related to legal online betting with a miss mash of regulations and a huge number of jurisdictions it is hard to find something good to say about the situation surrounding the future of online gambling in America.

The sports betting argument is the most controversial of the many revolving around gambling in general in the United States. Sports betting is illegal in any shape except for a very few jurisdictions such as Nevada, Delaware, Oregon, and Montana. New Jersey has been challenging the old laws and the state’s oral arguments will be heard by the Supreme Court on December 4th of this year. One group standing firm for a change in the laws is the American Sports Betting Coalition which ‘brings together leaders in law enforcement, business, and organizations representing elected officials to advocate for a repeal of PASPA and give both states and tribal sovereign governments the ability to decide the question of legalization.’

The organization has declared the Federal Sports Betting Ban a failure sating that Americans wagered more than $15 billion on Super Bowl 51 and March Madness  97% of the wagers were placed illegally. This football season, $58 billion in unlawful wagers will be placed on NFL and college football games. The argument is strong to bring the courts to realize the problem is another story. The huge number of bets being made without a legal framework or regulatory oversight, consumer protections or taxes coming back to fund local projects should be enough to convince the judge of a need for change.

Adam Silver the National Basketball League Commissioner said to the New York Times back in 2015,
“Congress should adopt a federal framework that allows states to authorize betting on professional sports, subject to strict regulatory requirements and technological safeguards…sports betting should be brought out of the underground and into the sunlight where it can be appropriately monitored and regulated.”

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Lottoland Australia's Proposal Considered Not Genuine

The internet provides global access to news sports and entertainment which online gambling is a big part of for many people. The number of jurisdictions that allow or don’t allow the use of the internet to place real money bets is staggering. There are places that allow certain kinds of online betting and those that don’t allow it at all. There are other issues that the industry faces such as competition among providers of certain gambling products.

The government involvement in the gambling industry is sometimes a monopoly and at other times a battle to keep a legal lid on operator’s actions on the internet. Australia is an example of a nation in flux with the gambling industry at odds over the continued competition between international gambling operators and lotteries and local product suppliers. The so called war of words has been going on for some time in Australia between Lottoland and Australia’s newsagents. The recent proposal from Lottoland Australia that asks Newsagent’s customers to nominate their local agent and that agent would receive 10% of each wager the customer places on the website. In return, agents are requested to advertise Lottoland on the premises, providing all advertising is limited to only lotteries from other domains.

Lottoland’s CEO, Luke Brill, said: “Lottoland has listened to Australian newsagents and this model is recognition that we need to work together. Newsagents will always have a longstanding cultural link to lotteries, but as it stands there is no infrastructure for them to take advantage of overseas lotteries and online betting. This needs to change.” Brill added, “Every bet on an overseas lottery is incremental revenue, part of which can now flow fairly to newsagents. This model complements in-store lottery purchases and opens a channel for these businesses to benefit from the emerging pool of ‘online only’ punters.”

The competition is still on with agents saying it is not a “genuine or helpful idea”, with some considering it “insult added to the injuries already caused by Lottoland”.


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Pennsylvania USA Steps Closer To Legal Internet Betting

The state of the online gambling industry in the USA has been a gamble for politicians who see the potential revenue gains of a regulated and licensed system. Governments in the various jurisdictions in America need more funding for social programs and are looking at betting products available online as a way to obtain the needed funds.

Pennsylvania has been a jurisdiction that has recently passed a gambling expansion bill that could lead to making online gambling legal.  The Pennsylvania Senate voted 31-19, moving the bill to the state House, where it will be examined again. The bill had been in a stagnant state due to a disagreement regarding the subject of video gaming terminals and whether these machines should be permitted on a large-scale basis in Pennsylvania. Internet games and a number of new casinos across Pennsylvania legal games at highway truck stops and the possibility of legal sports betting in the future were part of the proposed legislation.  

House Bill 271 has gone through the next step with The House voting 109-72 in favour of the expansion bill. If the bill gets final approval, the state lottery will be able to sell an opportunity to win online while daily fantasy sports operators may also be able to operate in the state if Congress clears these activities nationally.

Executive vice-president of Spectrum Gaming Group, a New Jersey-based consultancy, Joe Weinert, said the bill was one of the most “aggressive” he has ever witnessed. Weinert commented, “Aside from any state initially authorizing casino gambling, this is one of the most aggressive gambling expansion bills we’ve ever seen.”

Pennsylvania plans to tax internet games the same rate as casinos pay for live play at their physical locations.  A portion of slots revenue is destined for property taxes and other online games contributing to the state’s general revenue needs.


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Russian New Online Betting Site Launched

Russia is a new frontier for the online gambling industry and there are those who see the gap in availability and are trying to fill it with services and gambling products. Last June it was reported that Russian billionaire Alexander Mamut was planning to join with GVC Holdings and bwin GVC’s main sports betting brand to launch an online sports betting platform in the jurisdiction. Mamut reportedly said he will spend up to €10m ($11.2m/£8.6m) per year over the next three years to develop the Bwin.ru brand.

Now Bwin is moving ahead with an announcement of a mid November launch in Russia. The platform which has already gone live for preliminary registrations is giving away a shared bonus pot of RUB100m (£1.31m/€1.47m) to all new sign-ups to the site.

The Russian magnate owns the company that was granted a license to operate Digital Betting LLC, and online technology company Rambler & Co. Bwin was the first offshore gambling firm to acquire a license in Russia since the country started to regulate sports betting a few years ago.

A spokesperson for the venture was quoted as saying it as a “highly competitive market” with about ten major Russian bookmakers already offering services and products including Liga Stavok, Fonbet, and 1xstavka. The spokesperson continued to say that Rambler & Co alone had as many as 42 million active monthly users. The spokesperson also said, “Our entry into the Russian market is thought to be a pioneering movement - we are the first foreign brand to operate in the market ever - and will pave the way for the entrance of other major betting sites,” adding, “We understand many players still bet offline due to there being plenty of betting shops. We did a lot of research to prepare for the launch and are ready to meet the expectations of those who believed and continue to believe in us.”








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Eastern European Gaming Summit Sofia Bulgaria Nov 20-22

The European jurisdictions that are holding their own in the competitive and difficult online betting industry are in the Balkans. Those eastern European nations such as Bulgaria Hungary and Romania are becoming tech hubs with a population of educated people supporting the growing consumer base for gambling services and products.

The recent announcement that the tenth anniversary Eastern European Gaming Summit is about to take place in Sofia, Bulgaria on November 20th through to the 22nd 2017. This most prestigious Eastern European forum for the gaming industry has brought the brightest and best professionals together again to share their experience. Participants will benefit from the ideas and scope of experts at this summit covering the online and terrestrial gambling sectors including tourism and leisure divisions from around the globe. Developments in other parts of Europe as well as Asia the USA and Russia will be examined and discussed.   

The Inter Expo Center will be the large venue for this exchange of professional information concerning expanding gaming business. The agenda starts with the introduction of virtual reality and how it may possibly become the next big trend in the online casino industry with notable speakers on the subject it is a great beginning topic. Just as interesting in terms of the impact that technology is having on the online gambling world is artificial intelligence and its repercussions and financial benefit. The agenda for the three days is extensive covering almost every aspect of the industry’s future direction. The inclusion of a segment on Blockchain will be welcomed by many operators and attendees willing to embrace this new system. Along with that subject comes discussion and information about the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation to be implemented in May of 2018 in Europe requiring online gambling operators to be vigilant protecting data associated with their customers. The extended events schedule also includes a round table for operators hosted by the Bulgarian State Commission on Gambling.



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LeoVegas Acquires Online Gambling Firm Royal Panda

The age of internet gambling has possibly reached a peak according to those venture capitalists looking for opportunity in the industry. The merger and acquisitions activity has been strong in the online gambling world with some smaller firms and some very large ones making purchase deals.

The recent revelation by the Swedish firm LeoVegas that it has entered into an acquisition agreement of the Malta-based company Web Investments Limited is another example of this trend. LeoVegas is a mobile gaming company and provider of online casino and sports betting services founded in 2011.

The group of the Web Investments Limited maintains the Royal Panda trademark which will provide LeoVegas with the opportunity to expand further in regulated gaming markets.  Royal Panda was launched in March 2014 and holds a license to operate granted by the U.K. Gambling Commission.

The announced purchase price comes to €100 million, with a possible earn-out payment of additional €60 million. The acquisition deal was expected to be finalised by December 1st 2017 after necessary regulations are met. The not so recent acquisitions and merger mergers have always kept pace with the growth of the industry although some of these purchases are massive and affect the whole business.

Competition is fierce in the global online gambling market and even stronger in the regulated jurisdictions such as the U.K. so firms that are bigger have a better chance of surviving the diverse market conditions.

Market conditions are brutal when they are constantly changing or threatened by amended regulations and platform changes. Now online gambling operators have to contend with the extra expenses of cyber security, legal issues, advertizing opportunities and government fees which are difficult to handle for  start ups and smaller firms.

Mergers and deal making is a big part of the internet betting industry, it makes betting on the industry a game of its own.  


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Rest Of Bit8 Stake Acquired By Intralot

In 2015 Intralot confirmed that its Intralot Global Holdings subsidiary had acquired a 35% stake in sports book and casino platform Bit8. Included in the deal was a call option for Intralot to increase its participation in Bit8 up to 60% in the next two years if certain financial targets were met.

Intralot first entered into the partnership with Bit8 in order to commence a joint development and marketing approach in the international online sports betting platform market. Bit8 chief executive Dr Angelo Dalli said back in 2015, “We are very pleased to further our strategic cooperation with Intralot, which gives Bit8 the necessary global reach that will enable us to achieve our vision of offering the best gaming platform in the industry complemented with a wide range of professional services and solutions,”

Now in 2017 Intralot has agreed to a share purchase deal to acquire the remaining 65 % interest in the gaming technology company Bit8.  Bit8 and Intralot have worked on a number of projects including the development of Intralot’s PULSE customer relationship management platform.

Chief executive officer of Intralot, Antonios Kerastaris, commented,  “PULSE has become a major pillar of our Digital Transformation strategy for Lottery Modernisation and a strategic asset in our product portfolio.

“Bit8 becomes a full member of the Intralot family, carrying enormous promise for future growth and product development by playing an important role in the successful deployment of our ‘All About the Player’ product design strategy.”

Founder of Bit8 Angelo Dalli, also added,  “I am thrilled for the success of our cooperation with Intralot and today’s development that promises to bring a new cycle of growth, portfolio enhancement, and international recognition for Bit8.

“Like every founder who has worked hard for the creation of a successful company I am proud about the company’s evolution and look forward to our future cooperation to reach new targets.”



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