Newgioco Launches New AI Addition 'Chatbot'

Newgioco Group Inc. and its subsidiaries, is a fully integrated, licensed gaming technology firm. The company offers a full suite of leisure gaming products and services, such as sports betting, virtual sports, online casino, poker, bingo, lottery, interactive games, and slots, as well as an innovative betting platform.

Newgioco Group has recently announced the launched of ‘Chatbot’ which is incorporated into its ELYS betting platform by Odissea.  Chatbot uses customised pattern recognition and machine-learning algorithms to determine the relevant features of customer interactions and to develop a customer betting profile.

The use of Chatbot automatically creates play options for customers by applying  quantitative relationships between betting odds. Newgioco intends to apply Chatbot for automated odds determination across numerous events.  

Newgioco’s Chief Technology Officer, Luca Pasquini commented on the artificial intelligence, "With CHATBOT we have developed a machine-learning engine for ELYS that automatically learns from previous customer behavior and could autosuggest the most effective play for our customers," Pasquini continued to explain, "ELYS now learns to model betting patterns and probabilities related to the player's historical behaviors, while requiring minimal upfront preparation or user interaction. We believe that both the cost and time savings for customer acquisition from this breakthrough technology will be immediately realized."

Michele Ciavarella, Company CEO and Chairman also commented on the development, "CHATBOT is a powerful, indispensable customer service tool designed to offer valuable user functions such as detailed data, odds updates, results, and news, and represents a disruptive technology edge for the Company in the highly competitive global online betting space,"

"With many more challenging in-game sports betting events being offered, customers are demanding useful, sophisticated applications and highly entertaining experiences from their sports-betting provider. These customer-centered technology demands are driving Newgioco's 2018 product code programming initiatives. We expect to have an exciting lineup of these new technology features along with further developments in business intelligence, customer relationship management and comprehensive blockchain code launched throughout 2018."


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Brazilian Senate Shuts Down Online Gambling Legalization

The South American online gambling market is one that operators all over the world would like to get involved with but governments in some jurisdictions are not fully committed to reforms that would give regulated betting a chance.

The recent rejection of a gambling bill proposed by the by the Brazilian government has dashed the aspirations of those who see the potential for revenue in the legalization of wagering in the country.

The Brazilian Senate Committee on Constitutional and Judicial Affairs voted 13-2 senate committee putting down gambling reform legislation. Senate Bill PLS 186/2014 if passed would have implemented the legalisation of bingo, online sports betting and casino games. The bill also would have given the Ministry of Finance the authority to appoint the federal agencies that would oversee regulations and licensing duties.

The reform bill was approved and then passed on to the Senate Committee on Constitutional and Judicial Affairs in 2016 after Senator Magno Malta requested a review on constitutional grounds.

One of the authors of the bill, Senator Ciro Nogueira, expressed his disappointment at the vote commenting,  "If we don’t regulate sports betting, our football will be contaminated. It's very easy to be against. But we do not have the option of having or not having gaming. Let's get the benefits. Today, Brazil is left alone with the mischief of the activity. Money laundering exists as it is today."

Another Senator Benedito De Lira who agreed with Senator Nogueira also commented,  "Clandestine games are a reality and cause the problems. All institutions are aware of this. We are trying to legalize an economic activity, which generates employment. We are pulling out legality."

During the discussions Noguiera and de Lira called the bill the government’s answer to the growing gambling black market.  The proposal would keep funds in the country and the legislation, would also create a new sector and thousands of new jobs.


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Online Gambling Industry Prepares For GDPR

Consumers of online gambling products can rest assured that the new regulations designed to protect their information will be good for them. General Data Protection Regulations do not come into effect until May 25th, 2018 but gambling operators have already started to get ready for the changes. Although the measures to ensure data protection are for consumers to give them more control over their data it will disrupt the online betting industry as operators adjust to comply with the new regulations.

The GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) has the goal to create a harmonised data protection law framework across the European Union with strict rules on those hosting and 'processing' this data around the globe. The GDPR also introduces regulations related to the free movement of personal data in and out of the EU.

In order to become informed of the consequences operators of online gambling firms are invited to attend the Disrupting Online Gambling – Technology, Security and Regulation event taking place in London the 23rd-24th May 2018.  This conference is organized to help international operators manage risk and security for an efficient delivery of customer products and services.

The event will target the operator’s responsibilities in order for them to attain a larger share of the gambling market will complying with the new data rule requirements. Disruptive technologies that are able to revolutionise operational efficiency in delivering services utilizing the latest digital tools will be the conference focus. The new event aims to provide a platform for operators providing solutions for enhancing the consumers experience through disruptive innovation.

The GDPR is more than just information security, data governance or training employees. It is complex and far reaching legislation, comprised of many components that affect organizations in many ways and on all levels.  GDPR is the latest in an increasing number of regulations which requires a strong Information Governance program and technical framework to be successful. A comprehensive approach is required, considering all aspects.


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Russia Struggles With Illegal FIFA Gambling

The current political climate in Russia has caused the gambling public in that country to be concerned about the legality of their wagers. Russia’s media regulator Roskomnadzor is constantly watching and challenging illegal foreign gambling operators but also the unlicensed Russian sites that moves money via Russian shell companies. The government watchdog has told Russian internet service providers countless times to block those blacklisted unregulated online sports wagering locations along with affiliate marketing portals, and offshore payment processing sites. In 2012 a ruling by the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation made Internet service providers responsible for blocking gambling sites that were illegally offering games in Russia.

The heat is on with the upcoming FIFA World Cup of football being held in Russia in2018 which is filled with concerns amidst allegations of corruption in the FIFA bidding process as well as doping scandals in Russian sports among other worries. There are also the allegations of match-fixing in the Russian domestic leagues and the fact Russia has reduced the budget for the tournament by $560 million since it won the venue competition.

The country has regulated and legalized sports betting so the intended so the changes may prove to be advantageous for the sports books that are licensed by the state but the government still suggests that 65 percent is going to unregulated operators.

Anton Rozhkovsky,  director of Russia’s centralized, government-sanctioned sports betting payments provider, TsUPIS has said the total revenue volume of the legal and offshore online bookmaking market is more than $2 billion a year,” The official added, “We do not pretend to know if the actual figure is $2.5 billion or $4 billion,” “Around 70 percent of that is illegal, offshore business.”

There are 15 licensed bookmakers that operate in the betting market in Russia with UK online gambling operator GVC becoming the first foreign operator to enter the Russian market. The authorities want to encourage more offshore operators to register for licenses.





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GVC Moves On Regulated Georgian Online Gambling Market

The firms in the online gambling industry are moving towards regulated markets mainly for the stability and long term earning potential. The recent news that GVC Holdings has acquired a majority stake in the internet betting company Crystalbet, a leading operator in the Republic of Georgia is proof that the regulated market is the most secure.

The purchase of Crystalbet, is part of GVC Holdings strategy to move towards regulated gambling markets.  GVC is in the process of taking over U.K. bookmaker Ladbrokes Coral which has yet to be completed. GVC will acquire fifty one percent of the Crystalbet from owner Mars LLC for €41m in cash with an agreement in place to buy the other 49 percent by 2021 for a maximum payment of €150m.  

Crystalbet which was created in 2011 is licensed to offer sports betting, casino games, and poker in the Republic of Georgia which is regulated by the government. Online gambling in Georgia is totally legal currently, but back in 2010 it was mostly available at interactive clubs. Georgian punters play at online casinos in these internet venues. Just last September in 2017 the government was considering a prohibition on online betting an idea which has since been scrapped.

A GVC spokesperson recently said that the Georgian operator had “achieved significant growth, driven by its entrepreneurial management team and a highly successful marketing strategy.” Crystalbet's management which includes Chief Executive Officer Koba Giglemiani will stay with the firm and retain their equity stakes during the initial acquisition of the majority stake.

GVC’s growth was being fueled by a strategy of targeting “grey markets” which were untaxed or unregulated but that approach has changed with the firm moving into regulated markets or those where it perceives there was a “realistic path to regulation. ”

GVC chief executive Kenneth Alexander said, "We are delighted to welcome Crystalbet to the GVC Group, having been impressed with what the management team has achieved thus far. "




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UKGC Reveals Booming Mobile Betting Usage

The internet has been providing access to gambling for some time now and the technological advancements have made that access even more profound. Online betting has evolved greatly with the increased use of smart phones. The mobile element has been a major boon for internet wagering creating a completely accessible platform at anytime and anywhere.

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has been keep tabs on the online gambling reported recently that the amount of gamblers using a mobile phone or tablet to make wagers increased to 51 percent in 2017. This information was just one of several findings in the Commission’s gambling participation and perceptions report for the year ending on December 31, 2017.

Comparing the information from 2016, it was revealed that 43% of gamblers had used a tablet or mobile phone to bet, with this figure increasing 8 percent in the last year. It was also revealed in the report that the number of consumers who bet online in the last month went from 17 to 18 percent.

Overall gambling declined in the last month, going down 3 percent from 48% in 2016 to 45% last year. This decline may be in part due to the trust issues in the industry, with just 33% of respondents believing that gambling is fair and can be trusted, compared to 34% in the previous year. Also exposed was the fact that 41% of the gambling public believes gambling is associated with crime which is up from 39% in 2016.

Programme director at the UKGC, Ben Haden, said,  “Our new three year strategy sets out our role in developing a strong evidence base and improved understanding of the impact gambling has on society.

“Today’s report makes an important contribution to that work as it presents a comprehensive view on how the British public is choosing the gamble and their attitudes to the current market.”




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FBI Probes Corruption In NCAA Basketball League

The ongoing Federal Bureau of Investigation probe into US college basketball corruption started in September of last year. The questionable recruiting practices and business activities investigated have resulted in charges against several coaches. Charges against the traveling coaches who recruited potential players in alternate US states were those of solicitation of bribes and fraud.

This investigation by the FBI has caused concern for CBS and Turner, a subsidiary of Time Warner, which signed a valuable deal with the NCAA two years ago.  The deal was worth $8.8 billion over eight years, and gave broadcast rights to the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s (NCAA)Division I Men’s Basketball Championship game, also known as March Madness.

March Madness has a very high percentage of viewers, advertising for these events brought in $1.24 billion nationwide in 2016. The deal might dissolve because of the FBI investigation. Financial records and other related documents were confiscated during the raids on the organizations revealing that cash advances given to potential recruits were present along with expense reports and questionable payouts. These revelations have sullied the reputation of one of the most respected sports leagues in the USA. The big sports apparel conglomerate Adidas has also been implicated in the scandal. Adidas has been charged with facilitating payments to the colleges and universities that signed deals with the equipment supplier.

It has been suggested that the investigation by the FBI will severely limit the talent available in the league. The extra scrutiny of the coaches and players will cause a declined fan base as well as less enthusiasm for March Madness during the season. The decline in viewers will result in less revenue from advertizing for CBS and Turner. The FBI has already probed ten NCAA teams with more indictments to follow. Corruption has been exposed in many sports organizations in other parts of the world and it is not surprising that the NCAA is experiencing these violations too.



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Stars Group Purchases Stake in Australia's CrownBet

The internet gambling industry has been changing rapidly over the last few years with many takeovers and sales of major firms located all over the planet. A recent news article about the sale of Australian gaming group Crown Resorts reveals the transitory nature of the business. Back in the beginning of the year it was announced that the firm had agreed to sell its majority stake in online gaming site CrownBet. It was reported that William Hill was in advanced talks to acquire the 62% stake of CrownBet by a group of investors including the site’s chief executive, Matthew Tripp.

Crown Resorts sold land in Las Vegas where it had planned to build a casino to Wynn Resorts for A$385m and it planned to divest a stake in gaming giant Caesars Entertainment Corporation and real estate within its luxury Sydney development in order to recoup around A$700m by selling assets.

Now however Canadian located The Stars Group has announced it has purchased the 62% stake in Australia’s CrownBet Holdings for an aggregate amount of approximately US$117.7 (€96.2m). The company revealed it acquired the online sports book from Crown Resorts Limited in an all-cash transaction using cash available on its balance sheet.

The Stars Group has partnered with other shareholders of CrownBet, including its management team led by founder and chief executive Matthew Tripp enabling this major purchase. Stars Group has the right to appoint a majority of the directors to the board at CrownBet but will retain Tripp as CEO of the company in the Australian jurisdiction.

The acquisition has been approved by the country’s Northern Territory Racing Commission subject to the Stars Group complying with the necessary rules. Chief executive officer of The Stars Group, Rafi Ashkenazi said: “CrownBet has become one of the fastest growing online sports books in Australia through its strong management team, proprietary technology, mobile app, unique partnerships and market-leading loyalty program.”


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U.K.Online Gambling Industry Receives Enforcement Action

It appears a number of government agencies in the U.K. are joining forces to keep the online gambling industry in line. Recently the Competition and Markets Authority in the U.K. revealed  it had “launched enforcement action” against a number of UK gambling commission licensed  operators regarding, “in respect of practices that may place unfair obstacles in the way of people withdrawing their money (whether as part of a promotion or not).”

Not that long ago the CMA said that that results of an investigation into promotional offers from online operators. The result was the admonishment of three operators namely William Hill, Ladbrokes and the Playtech subsidiary PT Entertainment’s TitanBet and Winner domains.

His time the CMA was concerned with “unreasonably low” daily, weekly or monthly limits on withdrawing funds, “potentially arbitrary short deadlines” for customers to verify their identity when withdrawing their money and potential forfeiture of said funds if punters fail to respond fast enough, as well as dormancy terms that allow confiscation of funds by online gambling operators or the imposition of   “apparently excessive charges” due to the inactivity of accounts.

Also this week the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) revealed the results of a “global intelligence-gathering operation” that discovered “significant issues” with affiliate marketing in the online gambling industry. The operation noted that 221 of the 902 websites probed needed “further action.”

The main findings of the investigation were that the affiliate sector does not have “appropriate unsolicited communication guidelines,” often failing to obtain the consent of customers and engages in misleading advertising. It was also revealed that Affiliates “have a short lifespan … and conceal their physical location, potentially making enforcement a challenge.” UK gambling and advertising regulators have been increasing their oversight of third-party marketing of online gambling products. At the beginning of the year the UK Gambling Commission advised that it would hold licensees directly responsible for the activities of their affiliate associates.

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Hungary Not Playing By the Euroepan Union Gambling Rules

UK online gambling operator Sporting Odds Ltd, a subsidiary of Sportingbet was recently fined (US$13,600) for offering services to Hungarian gamblers without a proper license. The case before the European Union’s Court of Justice has issued a preliminary ruling.

The High Court ruled that Hungary was in violation of the rules for E.U. member state inclusion and that its refusal to allow online gambling companies to gain a licence unless it operated a local land-based casino were incompatible with the E.U. interpretation of the laws. Hungary has been maintaining that  the nation’s gambling regulations were intended to minimize potential harm caused by problem gambling habits. The European Court of Justice is being firm in its commitment to create a level playing field for operators and countries that are keeping their gambling monopolies.

CJEU was straight forward when make its ruling saying this land-based prerequisite that obtaining a Hungarian online gambling licenses depends on, “does not constitute a condition indispensable to the achievement of the desired objectives, and that there are less restrictive measures which are capable of attaining them.”

Article 56 of the Treaty and Functioning of the European Union (TFEU), which prohibits unnecessary restrictions on trade in goods and services between EU member states is being sidestepped by the Hungarian government. This is the second time the government of Hungary has been taken to task for the violation of this basic principle by the Court of Justice for the European Union. A ruling last June in a case involving the Kindred Group’s Unibet, the CJEU stated Hungary’s requirement for online gambling licensees to have established 10 years of “trustworthy” activity in the country to be “discriminatory and contrary”

Hungary’s online gambling market is dominated by the state-owned Szerencsejáték Zrt betting monopoly and it appears the monopoly will remain for the time being after the government approved  amendments to its gambling legislation that requires local financial institutions to block all payments regarding unauthorized gambling sites.


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