Gambling Regulators Combating Money Laundering

Malta has a lot invested in the online gambling industry and it is being called on the mat for not being strong enough when it comes to regulations based on fairness and issues related to money laundering. The United Kingdom Gambling Commission has been vigilant making online gambling operators aware of the responsible need to be compliant.

The U.K. Gambling Commission has been fining operators who violate the rules of engagement. The British regulatory body said it would not tolerate breaches of the strict the anti-money laundering laws. In Malta, anti-money laundering scrutiny does not fall within the concern of the Malta Gaming Authority but under purview of the Financial Intelligence Analysis Unit.

Earlier this year, the Malta Gaming Authority withdrew the licences of Maltese companies owned by Italian businessmen because of suspected issues with funds. Two Maltese online gambling operators were fined by The UKGC recently for failing to comply with the rules regarding money laundering.   

The writing is on the wall for other online betting operators they are being warned and via the authorities informing them they are being investigated. It is a sure bet these money laundering companies will find another way to render clean the ill gotten cash. Online gambling firms are on the watch list for this extremely difficult problem facing the gambling industry. Media in Malta reported  Casumo, based in Swieqi and owned by a mere 58 shareholders was fined €6.5 million by the UKGC and CZ Holdings of Birkirkara, decided to voluntarily surrender its licence in the U.K.

The firms in question were primarily owned by Swedes and Maltese nationals. The UK regulator said that, Maltese companies were not the only ones being looked at with six more companies under investigation.

Gambling Commission CEO, of the Gambling Commission, Neil McArthur, said the regulator’s  announcement and fines would make all online gambling operators, “sit up and pay attention as our investigators found that a large number of operators and their senior management were not meeting their obligations.”









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Bulgarian Government Benefits From Gambling Industry

Bulgaria has been experiencing financial growth in part due to its involvement in the European Union and in part the gambling industry. Bulgaria has transformed from a primarily agricultural economy into an industrial economy with scientific and technological research at the top of its budgetary expenditure priorities.

Now however Bulgaria’s gambling market destined to bring the local government more income than it collected last year.  Angel Iribozov, chairman of the Bulgarian Association of Producers and Organizers of the Gaming Industry (BTAPOI), announced that the government had made $101.6 million USD from licenses taxes and fees for gambling in the first nine months of 2018. Iribozov also pointed out the full-year figure will come in 13-15% higher than what the government realized in all of 2017.

Iribozov said 16.5% of the total revenue realized came from Bulgaria’s 12 online gambling licensees. These primarily include sites belonging to local offline operators, but also many recognizable international online gambling operators. Critics of the substantial growth have become concerned the extent of gambling activity is creating a generation of gamblers in a country with a very low income level.

Terrestrial gambling is significant boasting 876 gaming halls and 27 casinos.  A recent survey conducted revealed that land-based operators are assuming as much as 10% of the consumers will turn to online venues in the next three years. At least 33% of land-based operators have planned to expand gaming availability in the next year. Of the seven million plus people living in Bulgaria 53% of men and 44% of women participated in some form of gambling in the last year with approximately 3 percent of the total population either have a problem with gambling or have the potential to develop an issue with the activity. Lottery scratch cards are new in Bulgaria and have proved very successful. In 2017, punters purchased over 100m scratch card tickets adding to the Bulgarian government’s coffers.





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Australian Bank ANZ Limits Credit to Online Gamblers

The situation regarding excessive gambling by Australians has made one of the country’s largest chartered banks to limit the use of credit when the card credit is applied to gambling. The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ), which was established in 1835, is the third largest bank in Australia and it also has branches in 24 other nations.

It is an established fact that punters with gambling problems often use their credit to continue betting. Dealing with the issue the ANZ is putting a cap on the amount of credit a person can use with a gambling platform. Shayne Elliot, the chief executive of ANZ speaking before a royal commission on banking said the move was to counteract the temptation to play longer and spend more to win. The executive also stated the bank is looking for ways to derail funding for those occupied with the tobacco industry.

The bank has been under fire recently with a number of accusations levied against the institution including breaking responsible lending laws and not treating their customers in a fair manner.

There have also been five other instances where ANZ overcharged customers with fees affecting over 2 million account holders. Gamblers have already been banned from using credit to fund the habit at terrestrial gaming venues and now the bank will limit credit card transactions to 85% of the limit on the credit card when accessing online betting platforms.

CEO Elliot said to the commission that the move was akin to the responsible service of alcohol at bars, "There is a responsibility not to serve people – people can buy alcohol but at some point not if they're intoxicated. And we tried to apply those principles here to provide some level of protection to customers so they would not get themselves in harm's way by using our products perhaps irresponsibly."


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Sydney Opera House Target of Gambling Advert Issue

The extent to which governments and online gambling operators go to get attention for their gambling products is at times extreme with citizens noticing there needs to be some control over the advertizing saturation. All over the world the public is exposed to gambling in most media venues.  Sporting events and other areas are being inundated by ads related to casino betting and lottery whether it be a ticket for a hospital or charity funding there are those in the public who feel the saturation has reached a dangerous point.

The recent article from Australia concerning advertizing in the iconic Sydney Opera House has brought the issue into heated debate over whether it is appropriate and ethical. The award winning Sydney Opera House hosts as many as 1500 performances every year making it prime real estate for the advertising of gambling products and services.

The structure located at the entrance to Sydney Harbour is a favorite tourist location that gambling firms are looking to advertise on. The public in Australia is outraged by the proposal claiming that this kind of advertising would destroy the appearance of the noted landmark.

This has been done throughout the years for various displays, such as during the Olympics in 2000 and advertising some of the events in the Opera House. Recent advertising for the biggest horse race in Australia the Everest Cup has made the debate more heated with more people saying that the use of the Opera House for gambling advertising is inappropriate and a bad influence for the young and vulnerable sector of the population.

Government intervention in Australia has reduced the threat of too much gambling advertising with a ban on wagering adverts during live sports games shown on Australian television. Italy for example has banned all forms of gambling advertising, including sponsorships with other jurisdictions such as the U.K. Belgium and Spain also considering prohibiting ads for betting products and services.  



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Russia's Roskomnadzor Files Case Against Google

The ongoing battle against online gambling in Russia is stepping up a notch after the Russian regulatory agency Roskomnadzor recently released their third-quarter numbers on the types of complaints it received from the public regarding suspected instances of online content prohibited under current government regulations.

Russians have been inundated this year by obvious digital promos for unlicensed online casino operators. A certain online gambling operator has been employing Russian hip-hop singers to rap about how much fun it is to play at online slots. Apparently Roskomnadzor got 63,215 complaints related to online gambling in the three months ending September 30, nearly 5 thousand more than the agency received in the third quarter of 2017. Then in the first nine months of 2018, Roskomnadzor received over 206k gambling-related complaints, a massive expansion over the previous statistics.

Hard as it is to believe the Roskomnadzor’s banning initiative in the first week of November blocked another 3,119 online gambling domains. There were 14 thousand domains blocked in October with the year to date total up above 100,000.

Recently Roskomnadzor announced it had opened an administrative case against Google LLC over Google’s refusal to connect to the federal state information system (FGIS) and its list of “prohibited Internet resources.” It has been suggested the pending case will be considered in the very near future.

After the regulatory agency threatened Google with a fine of US$10,400 for failing to purge its search results of blacklisted domains it was reported that Roskomnadzor’s deputy chief Vadim Subbton has met with Google’s Doron Avni to point out the problems and to ask again for Google to join the ‘anti-piracy’ memorandum. This memorandum included the requirement for internet firms to purge search results of prohibited content, including file-sharing sites offering illegal copies of copyrighted material, which many times featured advertising for online casino operations.  Russia has licensed only a small number of domestic online sports betting sites with all other types of gambling prohibited.

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Sagi Sells His Last Stake In Playtech

Playtech software has been used by many top notch online gambling companies since its inception in 1999 by entrepreneur Teddy Sagi  in Estonia, with partners from the casino, software engineering and multimedia industries.

Playtech launched its first casino product in 2001, and since then it has grown to become the world’s leading international designer developer of web and mobile application software to the digital gaming industry. The introduction of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 in the USA the firm’s stock suffered a one-day loss of over 40%.

Mr. Sagi has been reducing his stake in the company for the last two years causing significant speculation and a severe reduction in the value of the company. Sagi has invested in a number of other markets such as the acquisition of Camden Market Holdings, Stables Market, Camden Lock Developments, and most recently Mobfox.  Sagi sold 15,193,489 shares in Playtech which is equal to 4.8% of the enterprise. Sagi completed the transaction of the remaining shares via his holding company, Brickington Trading.

Mr.Sagi issued a statement explaining his move to liquidate his remaining stake in Playtech, “My focus for the last few years has been in real estate, co-working, service apartments, e-commerce and advanced technology, cyber-security and innovation companies. I consider myself part of Playtech’s successful history, and I am proud of what we have accomplished together since its inception. I wish it every success in the future.”

Playtech has been supplying software products to some of the largest operators in the gambling business from its headquarters in the Isle of Man. The company has an operating income of € 322.1 million in 2017 and garnered a net income of € 249.1 million in 2017. The company announced a new partnership with Warner Bros in February 2017 for the development of slots based on DC Comic feature films.

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E-Sports Massive Future Revenue Projections For Asia

The most recent addition to the online gaming world is the introduction of e-Sports. Where the industry is headed in the next few years is pure speculation but some analysts are projecting it will explode to become a very lucrative activity for entrepreneurs and operators. The activity is already well established especially in the Asian jurisdictions but according to financial services firm UBS, eSports could boost gaming revenue to as much as $200 billion by 2030. That’s still a long way off but as the games and technology add more fuel to the fire it would seem that the claim could be fairly realistic.

Analysts from the firm predict that current gaming revenue in Asia could triple over the next 12 years, adding that the region will most likely have an annual growth rate of 9.5% through that time. The estimate of $200 billion is the same as what the region gained in revenue from the smart phone industry in 2016.

The UBS agency explained the logic, “It’s no coincidence that Asia is the first to recognize eSports as an official sport. The gaming culture and industry in Asia has grown by leaps and bounds over the past few years. For the first time in history, Asia Pacific’s gaming revenues will exceed that of the rest of the world this year, cementing the region’s position as a global gaming leader.”

UBS continued, “And we believe the journey has only just begun—Asia’s gaming ascent is set to continue over the next decade, with gaming revenues growing from $61.1 billion in 2017 to $200 billion in 2030, according to our forecasts, a more than threefold jump. This forecast is based on our expectation for greater user growth (accounts for one-third of the projected rise in revenues) and increased monetization per user (accounts for the rest).”

Despite the major growth stats in e-Sports UBS indicates that its forecasts are “conservative.”






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Woods and Mickelson Golf For $9 Million Prize

The recent rule change in the USA regarding betting on sports has created some interesting betting situations where certain sports are coming into the gambling spotlight like never before.

Golf the gentleman’s game played out on an immaculate course sculpted for the sport with obvious tension built in from the swing to the final resting place of the little white ball.  What could be more exciting than to make a bet while the ball is still not quite in the hole, not to mention the entire outcome of the competition.

The stakes are big for the players too as was just witnessed in the golf match between Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson on Nov. 23. The side bets were a big part of the games excitement with these amazing golfers starting quickly with the early wagering of $200,000 on whether Mickelson would birdie the first hole. The action at the Shadow Creek Golf Course, where Woods and Mickelson played for $9 million was interesting as the bets sent the players into overdrive as the wagers kept coming. The first $200,000  Mickelson lost to Tiger Woods then after a few holes there was the closet to the pin bet of $100,000 on hole five which was handled badly by Woods leaving him only $100,000 up.

The next bet closest to the pin also was one worth $200,000 which Tiger Woods lost again much to Mr. Mickelson’s pleasure. It is hard to believe these numbers but as the gentlemen were in a betting mood then on unlucky Hole No. 13 Tiger proposed a $300,000 closest-to-the-pin bet. Mickelson one-upped him by five feet. The game continues and the side bets will keep coming making pro golf even more interesting than ever before with Phil up $400,000.

The final outcome of the day was Tiger Woods losing to Phil Mickelson and the $9 million dollar prize.


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Brazil Moves Forward On Legalizing Online Gambling

Brazil has finally coming to grips with the introduction of legalized online gambling with the recent approval by Brazil’s senate to authorize both online and land-based sports betting, attached to a bill related to the lottery. Only the newly elected President has to approve it before it becomes the law of the country The Nation is expecting the approval to be granted although no one is holding their collective breath. Both the Chamber and Senate have debated measures that would authorize a variety of new gambling options for a number of years without any real signs of moving forward on the issue.

Brazil’s senate voted in favor of the Provisional Measure 846/2018 which deals with the way lottery revenue is dispersed. The bill also gives the Ministry of Finance authority over regulation and licensing of land-based and online fixed-odds sports wagering in a “competitive environment.” The bill was also granted approval by the Chamber of Deputies with the Senate acting decisively to ratify the provisional measure.

The measure was supported by both the current Minister of Public Security and the incoming Minister of Justice. The move also promises to utilize funds garnered by the lottery and betting proceeds for public security. The Ministry of Finance has been given two years in which to develop the new sports betting regulations and issue licenses to operate. Eligibility and the number of gambling licenses has not been established yet. If sports betting and online betting gets the go ahead the Latin American wagering market will expand significantly.

Government owned monopoly lottery operator Loterias Casixa is the only digital option open to Brazilians since its launch in August this year. Owners of offline Lottery houses expressed concerns that the introduction of online lottery in Brazil would cause their revenue to fall once the idea catches on with the estimated 77 million plus smartphone users in Brazil.  



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Social Responsibility Gambling Issues Arise In Guernsey

The backlash concerning gambling in many parts of the world seems to be getting stronger and more frequent. The Irish government has made noises that children are being allowed to gamble online and jurisdictions everywhere are finding fault with the excessive advertizing for gambling services and products. The situation regarding advertizing has reached a saturation point where there are citizens asking governments for controls on companies that have pushed the media coverage to unacceptable limits.

The recent article about the Channel Islands whose gambling officials have been accused of profiting off problem gamblers is an example of the controversial issues surrounding wagering in that small part of the world.  The Channel Islands, Guernsey and Jersey is a regulatory haven for online gambling operators which has a permanent population of only 65,000 that are legally entitled to gamble. In 2002 the Guernsey Gambling Control Commission began to regulate wagering in an attempt to limit and prevent money laundering and fraud.

One outspoken politician in the States of Guernsey, Emilie Yerby who was elected in 2016 as a People’s Deputy for the Western Parishes has spoken up about the issue of problem gambling in the State. Calling for a debate, the Deputy says that the States of Guernsey benefits from selling the Channel Islands Lottery scratch cards. A portion of the profit obtained from the Channel Islands Lottery goes to the operation of the Beau Sejour Leisure Centre. Yerby is not happy with lottery funds going to fund important core services within her mandated jurisdiction.

Yerby spoke on the subject, “There’s generally a reluctance in the States to debate anything that’s going to involve us having to raise money from different sources, or having to raise more money, which inevitably we would have to do to fill the gaps left by the lottery revenue.” The Deputy maintains the government must be social responsible to ensure that they are not taking advantage of punter’s problems and vices to increase state revenue. 




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