Steam Will No Longer Support Bitcoin As Payment

Watching the volatility of the virtual currency Bitcoin going up to astronomical heights and then diving deep into obscurity has just a few entrepreneurs having a sleepless night or two. Steam, the massively popular gaming store began accepting Bitcoin as payment for games back in April of 2016 but has now stopped accepting payments in the virtual currency because it is too volatile.

Steam engineer Kurtis Chinn wrote in an info blog, "As of today, Steam will no longer support Bitcoin as a payment method on our platform due to high fees and volatility in the value of Bitcoin."

The decision has nothing  to do with the various issues associated with virtual currencies such as the huge energy drain or criminal activity but the massive transaction fees.

Chinn explained, "In the past few months we've seen an increase in the volatility in the value of Bitcoin and a significant increase in the fees to process transactions on the Bitcoin network. For example, transaction fees that are charged to the customer by the Bitcoin network have skyrocketed this year, topping out at close to $20 a transaction last week (compared to roughly $0.20 when we initially enabled Bitcoin)."

Chinn continued saying more problems are created when the coin plunges, "When checking out on Steam, a customer will transfer x amount of Bitcoin for the cost of the game, plus y amount of Bitcoin to cover the transaction fee charged by the Bitcoin network. The value of Bitcoin is only guaranteed for a certain period of time so if the transaction doesn’t complete within that window of time, then the amount of Bitcoin needed to cover the transaction can change. The amount it can change has been increasing recently to a point where it can be significantly different."

Steam is the major rival of Sony's PlayStation Network as the world's biggest gaming service, with 67 million monthly active players compared to Sony's 70 million active users.




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All-in Diversity Project Partners With Paddy Power Betfair

The All-in Diversity Project is an industry-driven initiative which aims to bench-mark and generate an open and constructive discussion about diversity, equality and inclusion across the global betting and gaming sector. This is a noble cause, considering the politics today and the need for fundamental change in the gambling industry.

A recent announcement that Paddy Power Betfair has partnered with All-in Diversity Project is good news and a call for action in the betting business. Paddy Power Betfair will serve as an integral part of the initiative both as a Founding Member and Participant in its inaugural year.

The All-in Diversity Project’s aim is to measure and facilitate an open and objective dialogue about diversity across the whole of the industry on a global level acting as the primary resource for all data relating to diversity and inclusion.  

The first objective of the project is to build an industry standard index focused on a benchmark measurement of the current situation and with this tool chart future change and progress. The year to year progress update, highlight successes, challenges and opportunities, will provide information to make best practice recommendations for corporate governance, internal policies, recruitment practices, equal pay, employment legislation, unconscious bias and marketing.

Co-Founder of the All-in Diversity Project, Kelly Kehn, commented, “We established the All-in Diversity Project because we believe the industry itself has a role to play in improving how we do business. We believe the best way to push the industry forward, is to create the tool for all businesses globally to use in benchmarking their own diversity initiatives.”

Fellow Co-Founder Christina Thakor-Rankin also said, “The All-In Diversity project is not about pushing quotas or agendas. It’s about acknowledging that the expectations and aspirations of the next generation of employees and customers is very different to ours, and understanding that if this industry is to be able to attract and retain the employees and customers of the future it needs to start making changes now.”


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BetStars Launches Czech Online Sports Wagering

Former Amaya Gaming now the Stars Group operating the world’s largest online poker room, PokerStars and its online sports betting brand BetStars will be the first to launch an offering in the Czech Republic. BetStars offers participants a seamless experience between sports betting, casino and poker, with a single financing wallet for all three. is accessible on desk top, and mobile devices on both iOS and Android to consumers in the Czech Republic. players are now able to play a portfolio of over twenty sports and specialized wagering opportunities now granted by the licence issued by the Czech State Supervision of Gambling and Lotteries.

Managing Director of BetStars, Zeno Ossko, commented on the launch “It is a great honour to be the first international sports betting operator to launch in the Czech Republic,” continued to add, Ossko “The BetStars team have worked very hard to make this a successful launch and we hope customers in the Czech Republic will enjoy the range of betting options available.”

Unfortunately the neighbouring nation of Slovakia did not grant the international firm BetStars a go ahead in that jurisdiction and was in fact banned from operating there.  PokerStars and BetStars domains were added to the online gambling blacklist in Slovakia. The finance ministry in Slovakia brought out its online blacklist last July much to the dismay of consumers.

Though not as bad as the measures taken in Russia where over seven thousand domains were banned Slovakia which hasn’t liberalized the online poker and casino market has decided to leave the business of betting to the state-owned TIPOS national lottery.

The Czech Republic has a very high concentration of terrestrial casinos and a fairly restrictive regulatory regime with high taxes and fees as well as government imposed curbs on online bonuses and free bet promotions. BetStars however has the resources to build on the existing online gambling market in the Czech Republic.

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E.C. Drops Online Gambling Compliance Complaints

The jurisdictions in the European Union have now been handed a go ahead letter from the European Commission stating the Commission will no longer bother with online gambling issues. Recently the E.C. told online gambling trade associations and other stakeholders in writing that all current infringement procedures against protectionist measures by online gambling interests in the E.U. will no longer be considered.

Confirmation of the decision also came to light recently with the E. C. stating it had a “political commitment to be more strategic in enforcing EU law,” and thus it was “not a priority for the Commission to use its infringement powers to promote an EU Single Market in the area of online gambling services.” The E.C. maintains it will continue to support member states in “efforts to modernize” their online gambling market and pledged to help facilitate cooperation between local gambling regulators.

Rulings were issued by the E.C. with regard to licensed E.U. online gambling operators giving them the right to access customers in EU member states. The EC is confident that gambling complaints “can be handled more efficiently by national courts” on the basis of these earlier responses. EU member states are allowed to restrict access to their gambling markets provided they can demonstrate that these actions are socially responsible.

The Secretary general of the European Gaming & Betting Association (EGBA), Maarten Haijer was not happy with the Commission’s hands off approach, declaring the decision,  “shows a baffling lack of understanding of the digital consumer” and he suggests that the E.C. is not “taking its role as guardian of the treaties seriously.”

Mr. Haijer stressed that the EC’s announcement “does not change the legal situation and – as the Commission states itself – cannot be read as any form of ‘greenlighting’ existing breaches of EU law in the Member States’ laws.”


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Volatile Bitcoin Gamble Paying Out At Over 1500 Percent

The Bitcoin gamble or virtual currency bet has a lot of people excited on the internet. Bitcoin has reached unbelievable heights in recent weeks crashing through barriers many thought were impossible to achieve. There are high stakes gamblers watching the meteoric rise of the crypto currency and loving the volatile nature of the exchange. The profit from a single Bitcoin purchase back in the beginning of 2017 is over 1500 percent and not many investors or online gamblers can stomach that kind of uncertainty.

A recent article points to the obvious as an exchange group which plans to launch Bitcoin futures maintains there are "ominous signs" that rising transaction costs could cause the crypto currency to collapse in value. American financial market company operating an options and futures exchange CME Group has announced it will begin offering a trade in Bitcoin futures contracts. It will be the second major exchange to allow speculators to bet on Bitcoin's price moving in either direction. The expanding interest in Bitcoin by institutional investors has prompted the move.

Executive director and senior economist at CME Group, Erik Norland, has said that transaction costs are showing "ominous signs" that could signal another price correction is imminent.

Norland shared his understanding of the volatile situation with his clients, "Transaction costs spiked from $2 to around $30 per transaction in late 2010 just before Bitcoin prices suffered a 93% collapse. As Bitcoin transaction costs subsequently fell, another bull market developed. Transaction costs edged higher in 2012 and then soared to over $80 by early 2013, which coincided with another collapse in Bitcoin prices. By 2015, transaction costs eased toward $8 when another bull market began."

Transaction fees are those paid to Bitcoin "miners," Miners are rewarded for their efforts with the creation of Bitcoins. Unfortunately the more Bitcoins that are "mined," the less the reward meaning the cost to create a Bitcoin will rise.



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Catena Expands With Sports Affiliate Baybets Purchase

Watching the expansion of online gambling is a fascinating look at the dynamics of internet commerce. The recent acquisition of German focused sports affiliate Baybets Ltd. by Stockholm-listed industry affiliate marketing network Catena Media is a prime example of the ever changing gambling market.

The Baybets acquisition is part of Catena’s European market expansion plan, an increased focus on services and coverage for the German facing sports betting market.

Catena Media has agreed to an initial payment of €26.5 million for the Baybets’ 50 website presence. An additional €65 million in ‘earn-out payments’ based on the performance of acquired assets over an initial 24-month period is also part of the agreement.

Chief Executive Officer at Baybets Jan Steffen, commented on the arrangements,  “I would like to thank all the people that have been involved in the company’s journey so far, bringing us to where we are today. We now look forward reaching new heights together with Catena Media on a long-term basis, both from an operational perspective and as shareholders. We are excited about all the upcoming opportunities that a-wait”

Present acting Chief Executive Officer for Catena Media Henrik Persson Ekdahl,  spoke about the acquisition deal, “We are proud to announce the largest acquisition made by Catena Media since company inception, making us one of the strongest sports betting affiliate players on the market. We have set ambitious financial targets for the company, and the acquisition is fully in line with those targets. We are excited about being able to complete this deal, given the upcoming sports year of 2018, which will have both the Winter Olympics and the World Cup. ”

Catena’s sports betting division based in Malta will provide the integration for the takeover that will engage the 23 member team from Baybets.

Last May 2017 Catena strengthened its position in the U.K. by acquiring Online Media, a UK based fast-growing sports betting affiliate.


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Police In Hong Kong & China Break Up Illegal Gambling Operation

An investigation that was triggered by a tip last April has resulted in yet another bust in Hong Kong and mainland China of a major illegal online gambling operation.

China’s state media outlet Xinhua recently posted that authorities had detained 71 individuals suspected of involvement in an online gambling operation that involved illegal betting by Chinese mainland gamblers on Hong Kong’s legal gambling network.

Police in the Chinese province of Guangdong were made aware of websites that let mainland gamblers place bets on international football matches, as well as horseracing organised by the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

The large contingency of police raided dozens of suspected illegal gambling locations in both Guangdong and Hong Kong resulting in the arrest of 48 people in one jurisdiction and 23 more alleged criminals in the other. Between the Guangdong and Hong Kong police efforts they revealed they have stopped RMB 21m (US $3.2m) worth of online bets and wagers worth around HKD 100m ($12.8m).  A significant amount of cash, as well as computers, cell phones, betting slips and other gear related to the illegal operation.

Organized Crime and Triad Bureau chief inspector Bert Lo Chung-wong was quoted in the South China Morning Post as saying that the ring was organized into four tiers, “overseas bookmakers, senior brokers, brokers and gamblers. The senior brokers sometimes acted as the bookmakers and received bets directly from gamblers. Or they passed the bets to overseas bookmakers to earn brokerage.”

Chinese officials have been adamant about eliminating illegal online gambling and have stepped up efforts to identify wrongdoing and arrest and punish perpetrators. China’s Ministry of Public Security is cooperating with other jurisdictions in Asia to fight over the boarder illegal gambling.

The FIFA World Cup will take place in Russia this year where there will be close proximity to China in prime viewing hours illegal betting is expected. More cross border crack downs are in the works before the series as China anticipates a large volume of illegal betting activity.


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Micrgame SportPesa Partner For Success In Italy

Privately held company sports betting platform SportPesa which is headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya has decided to enter the Italian market and prior to the launch has partnered with Italian online gambling company Microgame.

In 1998, Microgame was one of the first in the online sports betting market and subsequently, it became the first Italian service provider in the field and expanded services into Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Georgia, Malta, Austria, and United Kingdom.

Kenya’s, SportPesa is owned and operated by Pevans East Africa, a firm with shareholders from Bulgaria, Kenya, South Sudan and the USA.

The proposed online sportsbook and casino in Italy will be worked on by the Microgame and SportPesa teams with future additions including table games, bingo, internet poker, and virtual games for the Italian online gambling market. Integration of the SportPesa portfolio will be handle together by the Microgames and SportsPesa development experts.

SportPesa manager Luca Magnano commented on the progress of the Italian launch, “We’re delighted to be teaming up with Microgame to create a best-in-class gaming experience for the Italian market; we have quickly developed a strong understanding and working relationship with our new partners and we believe that together we will soon be recognised as industry leaders in Italy,”

Marco Castaldo, chief executive of Microgame, also spoke on the arrangement,  “We are extremely proud to have been chosen outsourcing partner by a successful international group such as SportPesa for its launch in Italy.” Castaldo continued,  “We are confident about the great potential of this project and will deploy all the resources necessary to ensure its success.”

Microgame also recently secured a reseller deal with Microgaming-powered Prima Networks. It appears the right moves are being made by SportPesa in providing a solid foundation for success in the competitive Italian online gambling jurisdiction.




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EuroMillions Lottery Now Prohibited in the U.K.

Protecting the interests of online gambling consumers from outside influences is a big part of the responsible efforts made by gambling commissions and authorities in many jurisdictions around the world. Following public complaints from National Lottery operator Camelot, which stated that Lottoland was undercutting its EuroMillions revenue by not matching the higher ticket prices charged by the National Lottery the government in the United Kingdom has prohibited third-party betting on EuroMillions lottery draws.

Last March, the UK Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DDCMS) created an open consultation on ‘Prohibiting Third Party Betting on Non-UK EuroMillions Draws.” The resulting action by the DDCMS is, “to introduce a new license condition to prohibit consumers in Great Britain from placing bets on EuroMillions games which take place outside the UK.”

The DDCMS commented it is “mindful of the effect on impacted businesses” like Lottoland, and thus it will “tailor the license condition to ensure it is in line with our aims to reduce consumer confusion.” The fine of £150k was levied against Lottoland for not being upfront with consumers that they were, “betting on the outcome of a lottery draw and not actually taking part in a lottery.”

CEO of Lottoland, Nigel Birrell called the DDCMS decision “unjustified” and would set “a dangerous precedent for policy-making on the basis of no evidence.” Birrell, who criticised UK lottery operators’ outdated business model, said the decision “will do nothing but stifle innovation in the sector.” The business model of Lottoland has been criticised because it takes away money from good causes and charities: many lotteries such as the British National Lottery give a sizeable percentage of ticket sales to charity, while secondary lotteries such as Lottoland do not.

Lottoland’s disruptive business model is causing issues in other jurisdictions, including Australia, which recently announced it would prohibit third-party betting on domestic lotteries.



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1X2 NETWORK Content To Be Added to GAN Worldwide

The competition for the online gambling consumer’s attention has become fierce with content topping the list for players seeking quality entertainment. One firm that has published more content for leading gaming manufacturers than any other company in the sector Game Account Network has recently announced it will be adding the 1X2 NETWORK collection of HTML5 virtual sports games, table games and slots to GAN’s worldwide platform.

 1X2 NETWORK is the new corporate name for the 1X2gaming group of companies. An independent software company based in the UK, it has been pioneering software for gaming content since 2002. The 1X2 NETWORK also consists of the new Iron Dog Studio brand that produces high production slots available for the UK, Malta, Gibraltar, IOM and Italian jurisdictions.

GAN offers an option to players when accessing the content by using a ‘Simulated Gaming’ option or real-money regulated internet gaming mode.  

GAN’s  Chief executive officer Dermot Smurfit commented on the distribution deal with 1X2 NETWORK,  “We are delighted to support independent UK software companies such as 1X2 NETWORK and their game studio clients in distributing their innovative gaming content to GAN’s clients worldwide, enabled for real-money internet gaming and virtual currency, based Simulated Gaming,”

Chief commercial officer at 1X2 NETWORK, Kevin Reid, also spoke about the deal, “Our partnership with GAN allows us to continue our growth into additional markets where there is a real desire for fresh, innovative games such as those available from 1X2 NETWORK.”

The company is in a good position to see revenue growth with the signing of the law allowing Pennsylvanian’s to enjoy internet betting. GAN is very well prepared for Pennsylvania to regulate with a full Internet gaming system already active in one of Pennsylvania’s leading  casinos, hold a full gaming license in New Jersey as well as being a registered authorized gaming services provider in Pennsylvania since 2014.




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