A former Moravian pastor on Wednesday pleaded guilty to charges of sexual assault when he appeared in a court in the southern parish of St. Elizabeth.Rupert Clarke, 64, pleaded guilty to two counts of having sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 16.The police report that on December 28, 2016, a team on patrol found Clarke with one of the complainants in a “compromising position” in his parked motor vehicle.Further investigations revealed that Clarke also had a sexual relationship with the child’s sister while she was under 16.Following his guilty plea, the former pastor of the Nazareth Moravian Church in the central parish of Manchester, was taken into police custody.Charles bail in the sum of $J800,000 was extended for him to return to court for sentencing on March 8, 2018. Prominent Moravian pastor in Manchester, Jamaica pleas guilty to sexuality assault of teen girl.
“Dorian was the strongest hurricane of record to make landfall in The Bahamas and unquestionably our worst natural disaster. It will take years for us to fully recover, considering the economic loss and damage to infrastructure totalling an estimated US$3.4 billion dollars,” he said, adding that the hurricane contributed to the loss of many lives, whose families are currently grieving. Acting Senior Meteorological officer, Marshall Alexander, noted that consistent with the past five years, there were at least two tropical storms before the official start of the 2020 hurricane season. “For instance, in 2019 Category 5 Hurricane Dorian hit the Bahamas as the strongest hurricane on record, bringing massive devastation and many casualties,” it recalled. He said the COVID-19 pandemic, and necessary emergency measures implemented by the government to suppress the spread of the corona virus and save lives, have understandably slowed national preparation efforts for this hurricane season. Minister of State for Disaster Preparedness, Management and Reconstruction in the Bahamas, Iram Lewis, told a news conference on Sunday that the destruction caused by Hurricane Dorian last year is a reminder to all, that it only takes a direct hit by one hurricane to cause widespread destruction to our country. Dominica which was among Caribbean countries hit by Hurricane Maria is also urging residents to take all precautions. “Disaster preparedness is everybody’s business. That is, it is the responsibility of each and every one of us, inclusive of the NEMA, the DRA, other government agencies, communities, private sector, civic society and households, to be ready, so as to ensure that the impact on our lives, our properties and our livelihoods is minimized,” Lewis added. “In fact plans were in place for a national week of activities, cantered on hurricane preparedness – some activities included school visits, and live hurricane drills. Nevertheless, with the use of technology many of the activities were addressed in meetings with Island Administrators and focal persons, who represented government agencies that are attached to the Emergency Support Function (ESF) body. “The COVID-19 pandemic, with its requirements for social distancing and stay-home measures, as well as the additional burden it has placed on health infrastructure, means that the forthcoming hurricane season will be especially challenging. It also means that the need for reliable forecasts with longer lead time and coordination disaster management plans are more important than ever before,” the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has warned. The Caribbean Meteorological Organization (CMO) is also urging the region to be fully prepared for the six-month hurricane period as well as the impact of the coronavirus. BRIDGETOWN, Barbados – The 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season begins today with a prediction of an above-normal hurricane season and the Caribbean having to deal with the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19). They said there is unlikely to be an El Niño event, which typically suppresses hurricane activity. “Each year, storm surge, flooding, extreme winds, tornadoes and lightning associated with hurricanes and tropical cyclones causes destruction and loss of life. “We have studied the lessons of Dorian and note that strengthening our systems and making them more resilient are key components of the policy efforts that are being led by my ministry. The government is committed to building back with resiliency and incorporating green and smart technology. Reconstruction work is being led by the Disaster Reconstruction Authority (the DRA), which is also part of my Ministry.” Lewis said that it is noteworthy that forecasters have predicted an above average hurricane season this year. The US-based NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, is predicting that there will be a 60 per cent chance of an above-normal season, a 30 per cent chance of a near-normal season and only a 10 per cent chance of a below-normal season. The Atlantic hurricane season runs until November 30. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a likely range of 13 to 19 named storms, of which six to 10 could become hurricanes, with winds of 119 km/h (74 mph) or higher, including three to six major hurricanes (category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 178 km/h (111 mph) or higher). An average hurricane season produces 12 named storms, of which six become hurricanes, including three major hurricanes. CMC “With the recently announced phased opening up of the country we are now able to fine tune our preparations and get back to full-paced planning and implementation efforts.” Weather officials said that the combination of several climate factors is driving the strong likelihood for above-normal activity in the Atlantic this year. “With the hurricane season upon us the nation is also dealing with a health and physical safety situation….posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Resident must continue to follow the safety protocols (and) as always the key message is to be prepared,” he added. “Also, warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea, coupled with reduced vertical wind shear, weaker tropical Atlantic trade winds, and an enhanced west African monsoon all increase the likelihood for an above-normal Atlantic hurricane season. Similar conditions have been producing more active seasons since the current high-activity era began in 1995. “In recent years we have witnessed the effects of climate change on tropical weather systems, where warmer seas are now giving rise to severe natural disasters. Storms that were once categorized as one (1) or two (2) are now regarded as super-storms in category five (5) and above. On landing these storms cause death and catastrophic damage.
Related Articles Spotlight ups matchday commentary reach and capacity for new EPL Season August 21, 2020 Eugene DelaneyEugene Delaney Racing Post Head of B2B talks to SBC on the upgrade of its in-shop Best Gaming Technology (BGT) retail betting terminals for horseracing.Working on the strategic venture with BGT that has seen the betting terminals initially launched across Paddy Power, Ladbrokes and Jenningsbet retail estates, Delaney details to SBC why project stakeholders have placed content and information at the central point of its product strategy and user engagement.__________________SBC: Why has Racing Post placed content and information at the forefront of its retail partnership with BGT?Eugene Delaney: Put simply, modern punters demand detailed content and high-class information to make informed betting decisions, Racing Post and BGT want to facilitate this betting consumer demand . We have capitalised on developments in technology to put Racing Post at the forefront of retail betting innovation through this partnership with BGT.SBC: From a development and technical perspective, how hard is it to integrate changing content and information to retail betting terminals on a daily basis?ED: It is only possible if you have the right foundations in place. We can swiftly adapt content thanks to the award-winning app technology that underpins the product. It allows us to regularly change content across multiple platforms as up to date as possible.SBC: With your recent product launch on 12,000 betting terminals, how have the project stakeholders gauged the initial success and impact of the partnership?ED: The feedback from stakeholders has been fantastic. We have received hugely positive comments, both from the bookmakers we are working with, and also from the customers who are using the product. This is also backed up by the analytics and bet tracking on the terminals which clearly demonstrates the value, success, and impact of this product.With regards to the terminal products initial launch results have been positive thus far, client Dan Taylor, Paddy Power Managing Director – Retail, said: “The feedback has been positive across the estate from both shop staff and customers. Our customers enjoy using the product and we see a continuous uptake month on month. We are excited about new developments and differentiating the product further for our punters.”SBC: How do you see your betting terminal product further integrating with bookmaker operations as the industry demand for multi-channel capabilities increases?ED: We are already in development for a phase two product and other enhancements with BGT in 2017. Also, we have recently released a bespoke development in Ladbrokes’ retail app and are investigating numerous multi-channel opportunities with BGT and all major retail bookmakers.______________Eugene Delaney Racing Post Head of B2B Share Submit Spotlight delivers Racing Post translated services for Pari-Engineering Russia August 26, 2020 Share StumbleUpon Spotlight Sports takes over MansionBet blog June 18, 2020
Share SBC’s Year In Review: March 2019’s big betting news December 23, 2019 Share Submit Related Articles StumbleUpon David Webb, BetConstruct: Why meeting new regulations is the industry’s big challenge for 2019 April 4, 2019 SBC Charity Boxing Championship packs a punch for Oliver’s Wish Foundation January 20, 2020 Secure Trading is sponsoring Betting on Football 2017, the fourth edition of the largest international football and betting trade conference at Chelsea FC’s Stamford Bridge.Ahead of the 3-5 May event, we spoke to Secure Trading Head of International Gaming Bryan Blake about why football is such an attractive sport for betting, how the market is changing from a consumer perspective and how betting and football stakeholders can work more effectively together.SBC: Why is football such an attractive sport for betting?BB: Football is an extremely popular sport worldwide, which is very easy to follow and with rules that are almost universally known and understood. Without the need to research and acquire intimate knowledge of the sport, it’s an easy game to bet on, and there are a multitude of options depending on how into it you are and how much knowledge you have. You can simply bet on your team, a side that catches your interest, or any number of combination of players, goals or outcomes. This, combined with the feeling that you are yourself competing against a million fans around the world, makes it exceptionally engaging and exciting for punters. SBC: From a consumer perspective, how is football betting changing?BB: Developments in technology have made real-time and live betting far easier, fairer and more accessible, which has given more choice and control to the consumer. For example, there are many more options for betting during the game today than there were a couple of years ago. With the talk of Television Match Official (TMO) or video refereeing coming into play in football, digital will be brought ever closer to the gameplay. As a result, I expect the trend of increasing choice to continue, as audiences in-turn get that bit closer to the game.SBC: How can betting & football stakeholders work better and more effectively together?BB: Within the industry, there is room for those in betting and those on the pitch to work better together. Match fixing is just one example of where there needs to be more effort to retain integrity both within the betting companies and the clubs themselves. Player awareness needs to be raised to the issue, and the wide-ranging consequences to foul-play.SBC: What new technology do you feel will have the biggest impact on football betting?BB: Once implemented, television monitoring is really going to have an effect on game decisions, and therefore on the betting industry. The referee’s initial response will no longer play such a key role, with TMO being deployed to override a wrong decision. This will help make results fairer – which is important for those with money riding on a game. Only time will tell, however, exactly the effect this will have on the popularity of football betting.SBC: What key agenda, debate or discussion do you want to hear at BOFCON 2017?BB: Focusing on the payments side of sports betting, I’m interested to hear how companies are preparing for the fourth Anti-Money Laundering (4 MLD) legislation this year. This directive is set to drastically change the face of the betting industry by expanding the coverage of regulations to all gaming operators, not just casino – with specific reference to online gambling. Non-compliance will come at a hefty price – with large fines already laid out, as well as the threat of companies losing their operating licence for large offences, not to mention the reputation damage. If they haven’t already, operators taking online payments across the EU need to take urgent steps now to comply – specifically by putting in place the appropriate Know Your Customer (KYC) measures and a Money Laundering /Terrorism Financing (ML/TF) risk assessment in place. At Secure Trading, we are interested to see how the industry is responding at the show.
Share Bolsa Madrid-listed gambling firm Grupo Codere SA is celebrating its tenth-year as a Spanish market bookmaker.The Spanish legacy gambling firm, took its first sports betting wager on 16 April 2008, placed through a betting point installed within its ‘Bingo Canoe’ Madrid property.Codere, whose initial enterprise services related to bingo and arcade halls, has to date expanded its venue footprint to +2,500 betting points across Spain, becoming the market’s biggest player.Speaking to media, Jacob López Zafra, Codere Espana General Manager stated that his firm was ‘the pioneer for Spanish betting’, laying the starting foundations for a multi-billion € market.“Codere has come very far and very quickly. This is an amazing story; we went from being a start-up to a solid benchmark in the market”.In 2017, a new look Codere seeks to further expand its active footprint within the Spanish market, with the group due to expand its retail betting portfolio and commercial points in the regions of Andalucía and the Balearic Islands.Furthermore, Codere governance detailed in the firm’s 2018 update, that the company would undertake a retail systems and products upgrade, further improving the firm’s digital and omni-channel capabilities. Codere secures €250m credit lifeline on aggressive interest rates July 14, 2020 Share Codere records 10X losses seeking vital lifeline May 28, 2020 Submit Blackstone reviews CIRSA options as pandemic wipes out IPO potential June 2, 2020 Related Articles StumbleUpon
Share Mace launches EQ Connect to solve the industry’s ‘single view’ conundrum on identifying risk August 10, 2020 Submit GiG lauds its ‘B2B makeover’ delivering Q2 growth August 11, 2020 Share Related Articles StumbleUpon Gambling.com maintains momentum against COVID-19 impacts August 19, 2020 Digital marketing service providers Gambling.com Group has announced the strengthening of its team, through the appointment of Matti Metsola for the newly created role of Head of Legal.Metsola, who joins the teams from Gaming Innovation Group (GiG) where he held position of GiG’s first General Counsel, commented: “The affiliate sector is among the most dynamic parts of the online gaming industry right now with vast opportunities coming along thick and fast, including the prospect of a large, legal sports betting market in the United States. “With its visionary leadership Gambling.com Group is in prime position to capitalise on those developments, and I’m thrilled to become part of it.”Boasting in excess of ten years of experience, a selection of Metsola’s previous experience has encompassed being legal practitioner and in-house counsel for a number of high profile companies, including Unibet (now Kindred Group) and Mr Green, in addition to GiG.Charles Gillespie, CEO of Gambling.com Group, stated: “We are happy to see Matti join the team and bring with him a wealth of experience from managing demanding regulatory projects in the industry.”
Share Share Premier League looks to broadcast every behind-closed-door fixture August 28, 2020 Submit Winamax maintains Granada CF sponsorship despite bleak Spanish outlook August 19, 2020 StumbleUpon Related Articles EFL announces that all non-Sky Sports fixtures will be available to stream August 27, 2020 This season, the entry of Amazon and Eleven Sports has drastically altered the UK’s football broadcasting landscape, something that could have a significant impact on the betting interests of the UK audience. Whilst Amazon’s stake is in the Premier League, it’s spread over just two game rounds and is therefore unlikely to have a major impact on betting patterns. On the other hand, Eleven Sports has captured the full rights to Serie A and La Liga, two leagues which hold significant betting value for UK operators, that are likely to be keeping a close eye on how the broadcaster utilises the rights.Something that’s noticeable immediately with regards to the way that the broadcaster, who are owned by Leeds United chairman Andrea Radrizzani, is streaming football this season, is that the platform is solely available through the firm’s mobile app or website and not through a TV channel, something that’s likely to be an burden for an older generation of fans. Abelson Info’s Jeevan Jeyaratnam commented: “There’s a strong positive correlation between betting revenue and viewer accessibility, so there is little doubt that La Liga and Serie A, both previously providing very strong betting interest, will suffer from the highly questionable decision to sell the rights to an unestablished (in the UK) service. With no apparent platform, bar Facebook and its own internet sites/apps it is a highly damaging move for the leagues.”Analysing the current climate for football broadcasting in the UK and how we ended up in this situation, he continued: “BT and Sky are quite right to not overpay for these leagues, and so you have to wonder how Eleven Sports can possibly justify paying such huge fees. Their advertising revenue and viewership figures are guaranteed to be far, far less than established commercial platforms, and this should concern the leagues that have sold their soul for a short-term monetary boost.“Eleven Sports, in their communication thus far, have continually espoused that they are still trying to arrange a platform deal in the UK, likely to be through Sky/BT/Virgin, but the lack of any such deal suggests that those firms are not simply not like-minded to comply. It’s hard to blame them.”Eleven Sports also broadcast US PGA Championship golf, however Jeyaratnam outlined that the overriding reaction to the coverage was one of “dismay”, adding: “If Eleven Sports are to make it until the end of their first season they are going to have to substantially improve their act.”Looking ahead, he shared his anticipation for how the established broadcasters could still come into the mix before the season’s culmination. He said: “There is a chance that this experiment will backfire and BT Sports or Sky will end up picking the pieces up for a knockdown rate, it may be a waiting game tactic from them, both knowing their EPL & Champions League coverage is important enough to maintain market share. “The situation is a concern for the industry, as if few are watching, even fewer are recreationally betting.”Last season, an average of 19 games were shown from Serie A and La Liga alone, that means with the broadcaster only planning to show up to 20 weekly live games and also acquiring the rights to the Dutch Eredivisie, Chinese Super League and Swedish Allsvenskan, there will be a noticeable reduction in the amount of live football on offer to a UK audience. That being said, the firm has continually vowed to ensure it brings the biggest games to the UK market.Charlie McCann, Spokesman for BetVictor, gave us an insight into whether the alteration in streaming impacted betting figures in the opening weekend of the season: “These are early days, but we actually saw no impact on bet numbers in week one in the major European leagues despite the lack of coverage on BT Sport and Sky,” he said.“Punters like to put their Real Madrid, Barcelona and PSG in their weekend accumulator and that was the case again this week. We don’t yet know what impact, if any, the lack of TV coverage – if that is still the case at the time – will have on El Clasico numbers and that might be a better barometer, but at this early stage of the European season there is no evidence – at least not within BetVictor- to suggest that the lack of TV coverage will have a negative impact on bet numbers.”
StumbleUpon Share UK Racing pushes for drastic levy reforms as deep recession looms August 25, 2020 Related Articles Submit Unibet backs #GoRacingGreen as lead racing charity July 28, 2020 The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has confirmed that it has ratified proposals from the Racecourse Association (RCA) via the sport’s “Racing Group” to adjust the conditions of selling races from 1 October 2018.The objective of the proposals is to make the conditions of selling races much clearer to owners and trainers considering running horses, or bidding for the winners of these races in the post-race auction.The most notable adjustment is that the commission retained by racecourses on the sale of any winning horse sold through the post-race auction, including those horses which are bought back by the existing trainer or owner, will be capped at 10% of the sale price, although racecourses do have the option to charge less than this should they wish.Currently the amount of commission charged can vary from racecourse to racecourse, which causes uncertainty for owners, and can be anything up to 50% above the minimum bid, which can be off-putting for anyone considering putting their horse forward to run in these races.In the view of the RCA and the Racing Group, these factors are causing a lack of interest in running horses in Selling races, and hence they are becoming less attractive for racecourses to stage. This is supported by data which has shown a steady decline in the number of Selling races staged and a stagnation in the field sizes of the races that have been programmed.The other changes are that the minimum bid at post-race auctions will be set at £3,200, or higher at the option of the Racecourse, and that auctions of the winning horse will now be held in pounds, rather than Guineas. The proposals will be implemented on an initial 12 month trial basis.Paul Johnson, Head of Racing for the BHA, commented: “Having once been a popular race type, in recent years we have seen a decline in the attractiveness of sellers. We hope that these steps will go some way to revitalising sellers and make them a more appealing proposition for racecourses to stage as an alternative to handicaps.”Andy Clifton, Racing Director at the RCA, added: “Racecourses are keen to boost the attractiveness of Selling races, as they add variety to the race programme and produce popular post-race theatre when the winning horse is offered for sale. We have suggested the changes to make the conditions of these races as clear as possible in the hope that Sellers continue to be supported at racecourses around the country, providing a different winning opportunity for the connections of lower grade horses.” Racing DiRSG launches LGBT+ awareness module for PRIDE June 25, 2020 Share
Romania’s ONJN adds 20 sites to blacklist August 14, 2020 Share StumbleUpon UK: B2 impact – the sound of scraping…With Britain’s B2 ban now formally enacted into law (see below), the first practical signs of impact (beyond PR and lobbying) are starting to be felt. So far, these have been seen in machine contracts, rental pleas, horseracing funding and M&A. This list is likely to grow as April approaches and then impact occurs. We therefore consider the key likely impacts in the first year of seismic change to British high street gambling.The most heavily analysed (and/or guessed at) impact has focussed upon revenue and shop closures. We retain our view that c. 3,000 shops are likely to close as a direct result over the next c. three years (net of the c. 500 already gone), with a further 1,000 put at high risk but potentially saved by the redistribution of footfall. This is likely to leave a c. £1bn hole in the £3.3bn industry, more than halving profits for the rump estates (indeed, the most profitable shops are likely to be the biggest EBITDA swing factors for estates: a £120k contribution shop could be reduced to c. £30k, whereas a £10k shop will simply close). We see no ‘hidden upside’ here for existing operators, with the industry’s track record on mitigation extremely weak since the fondly remembered (by too many senior retail managers) but largely irrelevant 1990s (we would also be surprised if more than £200m finds its way online – a c. 3% potential remote boost likely lost in the roundings of slowing overall growth). The biggest shock caused by April implementation will fall harder on the machine supply chain than the LBOs, in our view – and it is perhaps no surprise therefore that PP’s contract with Inspired . This is because while c. 33% of an LBO’s revenue is being switched off, it is closer to 66% for the machine suppliers, largely on variable rates. Further, while shop closures can represent significant cost mitigation for estates, they represent a loss of revenue and a loss of servicing/replacement productivity for suppliers: the drip feed of closures across the country (on a month by month view) could make pro-active cost cutting very challenging, in our view. The hidden opportunity here is for strong B3 content, we believe – drawing on a materially wider supply chain than current B2/3.Operators are already hoping to pass on some of the pain, with William Hill reportedly writing to landlords explaining the issue and hoping for flexibility. Landlords (as a group) have done pretty well out of LBO clustering onto the high-street and away from tertiary locations; but estates with strong locations have managed LfL property costs well – WH’s property cost CAGR is only 1.6% in 10 years (on an almost identically sized estate). Equally, the loss of c. 1,000 retail premises per year out of a system already losing c. 6,000 pa is only likely to make a difference at local levels. It is of course logical to ask, but rental mitigation is likely only to occur where there is a bigger long-term problem: lower retail footfall. Racing is a big cost centre to LBOs, with a total content cost ofc. £30-35k per unit, largely fixed, and with horseracing representing the majority of this (just) – with costs increasing above inflation for a decade while retail revenue from racing decreased. In other words, racing has been a big beneficiary of FOBTs, albeit not in a directly planned manner. The fixed cost per shop model is showing signs of creaking (eg, the TRP-LCL deal), but remains the standard model – a model which is likely to force more closures and therefore reduce racing’s income even more than the resultant loss in overall retail racing revenue (the Levy, as a volume measure, is much more protected from disruption). This pressure has already caused ARC to announce a cut in Prize Money of £3.1m next year (potentially leading to £4m more if BHA rules on matching are followed), while the Jockey Club has announced no increase (for the first time in 10 years), with a possible reduction if the FOBT impact is worse than expected. Given that ARC is a commercial organisation that will not comfortably run at a loss – and is also (far) more reliant on media rights than courses with higher quality races (non-levy and media revenue per fixture is only c. 25-30% that of the Jockey Club) – this reaction is both logical and predictable (however “disgusted” some stakeholders may feel). However, ARC’s ‘decision’ (Hobson’s choice) is likely to hit the lowest value races hardest due to the nature of ARC’s fixtures (which are in turn more relevant to bookmakers than horsemen or racegoers) – making relatively small changes in the scheme of things (c. 2-5% of a system-wide prize money pot that has shown healthy growth) have a disproportionate impact on elements of a fragile ecosystem. Herein lies both a problem and a potential answer – if funding for the bookmaking product unravels the fastest, it might either accelerate the demise of both retail bookmaking and ‘race-to-race’ punting; or lead to some much-needed creative thinking (the jury is still out on which way this goes).Finally, some silver lining (of sorts). BoyleSports has confirmed that it is in advanced talks to acquire its first UK LBOs. BoyleSports is used to a highly competitive and completely betting oriented shop landscape in Ireland (the proving ground of PP) – that it feels that is can create a business amid the chaos (and let’s not forget Brexit for an Irish business as well as the B2 ban), rooted in what betting shops were originally for, should give some hope that the LBO is not dead – though whether this hope is worth anything more than a further threat to UK majors which have spent a management generation growing fat off FOBTs to the near total neglect of betting (ex SSBTs) remains to be seen…UK: In Parliament – B2 not to beThe end, when it came was a rather quiet affair. On Monday, in the relatively modest surroundings of Committee Room 11 within the Palace of Westminster, the Delegated Legislation Committee approved the Statutory Instrument to reduce the maximum stake on FOBTs (across more than 8,000 betting shops and a number of casinos) from £100 to £2. The coup de grace was delivered the next day as the House of Lords approved the motion.It was a rather anti-climactic end to the charmed life of the high-stakes, high street roulette machine. It is now more than 17 years since Gordon Brown (the notionally puritanical ‘Son of the Manse’) inadvertently breathed life into the terminals by changing the basis of betting duty from turnover to gross profits (a sensible reform in all other respects); it is around 15 years since the old Gaming Board of Great Britain sought to take their case against the machines to court (losing their nerve along the way).Throughout that period – and particularly during the course of the last six years – the public policy debate over the machines has been characterised by high emotion, a blatant disregard for facts (by all sides), vicious industry in-fighting and inept handling by a succession of governments.During Tuesday’s debate in the House of Lords, the betting shop sector’s erstwhile ally Lord Lipsey delivered a damning indictment of its handling of the issue, saying: “This has been a complete shambles by the bookmakers. I spent some time trying to persuade them that they had to take a more flexible approach and find something acceptable to everyone by way of a stake—and I wasted many hours of my time talking to them because of their sheer greed.” He then added: “They should have woken up much earlier—instead of which they went on trying to make as much money as possible for as long as possible and have now found that instead of the half a loaf that they might have had, they have merely a shrivelled, dried-out crust in the shops.”One might imagine that with friends like these, enemies are surplus to requirements. However, on important matters, a true friend may sometimes need to present the truth unvarnished. Lord Lipsey’s excoriating attack on the betting lobby offers important insights for all.Whether required or not, the gambling industry does however have a growing legion of parliamentary foes (some driven by conviction; other perhaps by opportunism). Unsurprisingly, a number of peers (Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat and DUP) used the debate on FOBTs to switch focus to what they perceive to be the ills of remote gambling as well as the need for a levy to raise funds for research, education and treatment.Lord Griffiths of Burry Port (Lab) expressed a view that is gaining in currency in Parliament – that we may have to think again about gambling legislation in Great Britain: “So much is happening piecemeal across the whole range of gambling initiatives; we are tinkering with this here and that there, and perhaps now it is time for us to take a generic look. Perhaps this statutory instrument can be seen as a first blast in a bigger action that could lead to a better understanding and a far better set of regulations for our society at large.”Labour has already pledged to bring in a new Gambling Act once installed in Government and on Thursday, the party’s Deputy Leader Tom Watson announced Dr James Noyes, formerly of the think tank Respublica would lead the legislative review process. The news may cause consternation within the industry given his work while at Respublica on FOBTs, online gambling and advertising. However, his article in the New Statesman in October did call for legislative reform to be “a collective endeavour”, involving the industry; an invitation that operators would do well to embrace.Reform is not the preserve of the Labour Party with the Church of England also planning to set up an investigation into the reforms of the Gambling Act 2005; and there are rumours of an attempt to establish a committee of inquiry in the Lords. How these different reviews will be coordinated is anyone’s guess – but it all points to a busy (and potentially messy) 2019.The present administration certainly does not want new primary legislation. The next triennial review ought to commence in January – but there is no chance of this happening (it is not even clear whether the principle of the three-year cycle has survived given the painful nature of the last review).Most operators probably fear that they have more to lose than to gain from a legislative rethink. However, we are now almost 18 years on from the Budd Report and root and branch reviews do tend to come along every 20 to 25 year. Considering how to approach an official review as well as how to engage with the growing number of non-official inquiries ought to be a priority for our major licensees in 2019.Elsewhere, there were fresh Parliamentary Questions from Labour’s Lord Lipsey and Conor McGinn (St Helens North) on Government plans to revise the horseracing levy. Meanwhile, Preet Kaur Gill (Lab, Edgbaston) inquired about links between scratchard play by children and problem gambling and whether the minimum age for purchase would be raised to 18; and the wonderfully named Thangam Debbonaire (Lab, Bristol West) probed on the regulation of video games with gambling elements.Looking ahead to 2019, the bookie bashing Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Rev Alan Smith has put down an early marker of intent by securing a debate (oral PQ) on child gambling for 15th January. The very next day, Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate will lead a debate on whether gambling advertising should be banned (whether outright or in part is unclear; a full ban would effectively prohibit online gambling) “to counter negative effects on younger and vulnerable people”. Lord Kirkhope had ministerial responsibility for gambling (and horseracing) during his time at the Home Office in the mid-90s and may well yearn for a return to an era when gambling was an activity to be tolerated rather than encouraged. This has been a busy and bruising year in Parliament for both the gambling industry and for the Government. There are signs that the industry is starting to get a better grip on matters (through concerted efforts to address harm and better inter-sector coordination) – but it will take time to repair the damage and, if anything, the year ahead looks even more challenging.UK: Regulation – Bad LadsThe Guardian’s story on Monday that Ladbrokes had paid hush money to a problem gambler and those he stole from in return for non-disclosure agreements may – if substantiated – have profound consequences for one of Britain’s biggest operators.There are a number of important questions to be considered (if indeed the reports are accurate): did the inappropriate “wooing” of a VIP customer occur before Point of Consumption licensing kicked in, late in 2014? Did therefore the Gambling Commission have jurisdiction at the time? What was the Gambling Commission told? Do the NDAs (if indeed they exist) constitute a cover-up? Were the NDAs uncovered by Coral’s and GVC’s management in due diligence during subsequent takeovers? If so, what were their reporting obligations?As US President Richard Nixon learned all too painfully, there is no sin so damaging as the one that is unsuccessfully covered up. In gambling terms in Great Britain, this is one of the grounds for licence revocation (although personal management licences appear far more likely targets than operating licences). We must hope that the allegations are wide of the mark. If not, then the swingeing sanctions suffered by some operators of late may well come to be seen as mere wrist-slaps.UK: Regulation – Good LadsGVC’s announcement this week that its Ladbrokes shops in Northern Ireland would voluntarily lower maximum stakes on FOBTs to £2 may just about be the smartest thing that anyone has done in the politics of gambling this year (a position publicly and shrewdly supported by GVC’s main FOBT supplier, Scientific Games).There was a level of disquiet about the fact that Northern Ireland (where gambling legislation is a devolved matter and the legal status of FOBTs has long been controversial) would be the last bastion of the £100 high street roulette machine in the UK – particularly with the Democratic Unionists. However, there was no great pressure on the industry (yet) to address the issue.The fact that GVC drew warm words from otherwise cantankerous peers in this week’s debate in the House of Lords suggests that it is still possible for operators to get a fair hearing and credit for doing the right thing. This will hopefully provide a lesson both to encouraging operators’ good behaviour and recognising that behaviour in terms of a balanced rather than kneejerk view from lawmakers.US: online gaming regulation – Michigan motoringMichigan could be the third state to offer a material online gaming market (with Nevada and Delaware struggling to justify that definition, on our view) after an enabling bill has got as far as the governor in last minute 2018 legislation. The bill will allow for casino games including (but not limited to) poker and potentially also sports betting. The proposed tax regime is a highly benign 8% GGR – 11ppts lower than landbased equivalents, with licenses restricted to three commercial casinos and 24 tribal properties (at a cost of U$300,000 initially and US$100,000 pa thereafter for operators, half for B2B). Michigan’s commercial operators are Caesars, MGM and an independent, meaning that GVC is the only online operator with any kind of head start in the market through recent deal positioning.Michigan has a population approaching 10m and we believe that a relatively mature online gaming market (c. year 3-4) could be worth c. US$500m in revenue terms – a material addition to US$1.4bn of commercial casino gambling and US$1.5bn tribal revenue already present, assuming there are no significant impediments to online participation. However, given that Michigan’s bill explicitly allows for online gaming customers to be accepted from other online-enabled states and (probably critically, given the state gambling make-up) enables Indian casinos to participate across state from tribal lands, the DoJ’s potential further reinterpretation of the Wire Act might prove especially sensitive.US: landbased betting – Hollywood blockbuster?Pennsylvania’s first two weeks of landbased betting have provided exceptionally strong revenue figures in the busiest period of the US sporting calendar, with US$509k revenue reported from just one site (Hollywood, Penn National) from 15 to 30 November. The 35% gross win ratio suggests similar revenue definition problems as NJ, but handle of US$1.4bn is nevertheless highly encouraging. However, to put this into context, if the handle were factored to an average month, grossed up for the year and then a 6% normalised win margin applied, then the initial revenue run rate would be c. U$1.3m – solid, but far less exciting.The early statistics for both NJ and now PA suggest two things to us. First, looking at revenue per sportsbook in the only major US market with any official pedigree (NV) is somewhat misleading – even in Clark County – given the very large number of premises and the itinerant nature of most footfall. Good casinos with strong footfall elsewhere than Nevada seem more than capable of generating revenues from sportsbooks in the low single digit US$ millions (ie, destination venues for both locals and tourists – especially the former, somewhat thin on the ground on the Vegas strip). However, – and second – while this is operationally positive, there is not yet much evidence that supports casino revenue from sportsbook growing a significant quantum above this figure (as discussed in WP’s passim we see NJ racetracks very near NYC as unique – normalised NJ run-rates for casinos average at US$2.7m pa). While by no means disappointing, therefore, we still see a tendency to over-hype US landbased sportsbook potential in casinos beyond a welcome operational boost to revenue and – more importantly – as a wider footfall driver.Nordic: regulation – courting controversy?Three separate issues in two Nordic countries have taken legal turns this week. The first was a Swedish court’s refusal to hear Swedish Football’s case to limit betting events on soccer contests via a restrictive ‘catalogue’ similar in form (but potentially even tighter in substance) to those run by Portugal and France. That the market will remain liberal in this context is critical for the smooth transitioning from .com to POC with minimal dislocation and leakage. However, the fact that Swedish football has this view should not be ignored by Sweden’s growing number of licensees, in our view – it might have failed this time, but a big integrity scandal and/or a swathe of ‘irresponsible’ advertising to welcome domestic licensing could put demands back on the political agenda in a much less forgiving environment.Also in Sweden, the advertising regulator is taking an operator to court over ‘immoderate advertising’. That the advertising regulator is prepared to get stuck in so early should suggest that the Swedish market is likely to be effectively policed, which, given additional restrictions on bonuses, is likely to cool off some of the over-trading seen historically, in our view. These regulatory steps within the new licensing framework, combined with additional significant gaming competition from (highly effective) monopolies, suggests any hopes of significant online gaming growth due to ‘reregulation’ for new licensed Swedish .com operators (seemingly shared by most) are dangerously misplaced, in our view.A subsidiary of Kindred is also taking to the courts in Norway over the regulator’s (successful) pressure to remove gambling apps from app stores and limit payment processing options (as well as cutting TV advertising). There is a dangerous risk of damned either way here, which operators do not seem to have learnt from other jurisdictions. It is possible that the Norwegian Gaming Authority has overstepped its statutory powers, but it seems to have strong political backing for its actions. The result of a successful legal case from Kindred could very well therefore be appeal and government action to tighten the regulator’s powers. Test cases are important to clarify the law and the imposition of ad hoc actions or over-mighty actions should of course be challenged – but in Norway, this could very well be (yet another) case of beware of what you wish for in a highly lucrative ‘dark grey’ jurisdiction.Romania: duty regime – sin tax errorRomania is close to passing swingeing retroactive (but not ‘back’!) tax changes to a number of sectors, including gambling. Since 2016, Romania has been a relatively liberal online market from a fiscal-regulatory standpoint, as well as supporting a dynamic landbased industry (in places). However, the ruling SDP has become increasingly ‘anti big business’ (including gambling) since the premiership of Viorica Dăncilă in early 2018. A “greed tax” grab to fund public services (in a fiscally challenging environment) is proving popular, with gambling in line to contribute 3% of retail turnover and 5% online (presumably seen as more “greedy”, likely due to higher international mix, more advertising and fewer jobs created, despite lower gross margins significantly increasing the underlying rate of turnover tax in any event).If enacted as planned, the turnover taxes will force a significant re-engineering of the online market from a pricing perspective as well as a requiring a both heavy and unexpected further cost of participation (likely causing some smaller and/or structurally lower margin operators to pull out). However, the overall impact is unlikely to be as terminal for the overall market as some are lobbying (Germany makes a 5% betting tax work for most operators – including bet365, which has had its own challenging regulatory history with Romania), though if applied to gaming this would cause structural problems. The much bigger problem, in our view, is that if an EU government gets away with such a loose application of the rule of law, it is likely to set a very dangerous (and undoubtedly recurring) regional precedent.International: Tennis – second serviceThe Independent Tennis Review Panel has delivered its final report after a two-year analysis and subsequent consultation. The report was commissioned by the International Governing Bodies of Tennis (ATP, WTA, ITF, Grand Slam Board) in order to assess risks to integrity and the processes of investigation and prosecution. The key recommendations include the advised discontinuance of supply of official scoring data in respect of ITF World Tennis Tour US$15k tournaments (due to the identified greater risk to the probity of this level of tournament), which (significantly) now allows official data for US$25k tournaments, in an amendment to the original “Recommendation 1” (recognising a gateway to professional tennis and capturing a material number of additional matches). Bookmakers are also requested to cooperate with the Tennis Integrity Unit by not offering odds on these tournaments (in an attempt the prevent the supply of unofficial data), to be reinforced by suggested contractual obligations for receiving official data and disruption measures. The International Governing Bodies are also to consider whether to accept sponsorship from betting companies, which could further be applied to players.In terms of ‘internal’ recommendations, the TIU is to appoint an Independent Advisory Board, including an independent chair and four other members, with additional representation of the one person per International Governing Body with the recommendation of a more diverse group of representatives. Improvements are recommended to be made to the investigation processes of the TIU, including in-house betting expert resource. It is also suggested that more effective betting market monitoring may be required.As well as removing official data coverage at the lowest levels of tennis, the IRP recommends strengthening player education, incentives and court security in order to mitigate both integrity risk and player-related harm.Regulus Partners acted as betting expert advisor to the Independent Review PanelInternational: eSports betting – in search of the unicorn?Unikrn is pushing a number of tech and regulatory boundaries with a blockchain-based in-game eSports betting product which allows gamers to bet upon the likelihood of their own success in completing levels, tasks etc in-game. The solution resolves a number of liquidity-led and market-making issues and so is an important product innovation in potentially taking eSports betting to a wider audience (beyond all the hype). However, its core premise is that it is entirely skills based – which is the basis for it to be offered in 41 US states (broadly following DFS) – a premise likely to be tested in substance in terms of underlying game mechanics and in spirit in terms of the number of (point of consumption) regulators (and US lawmakers) becoming increasingly concerned about gambling within and around video games. Equally, as has been seen from social gaming, a premise which allows gambling by not being gambling can allow for regulations such as those protecting minors to be sidestepped by operators so inclined. Unikrn’s latest innovation may therefore become a victim of its own success…Global: M&A – summaryBridgepoint has made a US$1billion bid to take over Cherry AB.Golden Entertainment Inc is to acquire two casinos, Colorado Belle & Edgewater, from orwell Gaming in a deal worth US$190m.RK Capital Management LLC has purchased a further 12.4% of Golden Entertainment Inc.Breaking Data Corp completed its acquisition of Oryx Gaming. The new entity will be Bragg Gaming Group Inc.MGM Growth Properties LLC has signed a deal to pay MGM Resorts International US$637.5m for the repositioning and investment of the Park MGM and NoMad Las Vegas.MICT, Brookfield Interactive (hong Kong) Ltd and Paragon Ex have agreed to merge. The new entity is Global Finch Holdings.Blockchain Innovations Corp has acquired The Games Company Submit Winning Post: Swedish regulator pushes back on ‘Storebror’ approach to deposit limits August 24, 2020 LeoVegas hits back at Swedish regulations despite Q2 successes August 13, 2020 Share Related Articles
Submit Share Related Articles Björn Nilsson: How Triggy is delivering digestible data through pre-set triggers August 28, 2020 Kambi takes full control of LeoVegas sportsbook portfolio August 26, 2020 StumbleUpon Share LeoVegas hits back at Swedish regulations despite Q2 successes August 13, 2020 Online gambling group LeoVegas has strengthened its responsible gambling policies after developing new plans to launch a new live chat service across its UK-facing brands, in collaboration with Gambling Therapy.The new service, LeoLine, will deliver immediate live help to punters that wish to access support in managing their gambling activity. The overall impact of the new service is due to be evaluated during a three month trial period and the subsequent impacts will be shared later in the year.Mark Good, BetUK.com representative, commented: ”Our mission at LeoVegas is to create the greatest online gaming experience, with safer gambling at the core of our culture. This innovative idea from within our own team has developed into a working solution, and we are proud to be working with Gambling Therapy to deliver and share our findings with the wider industry.”The new partnership with Gambling Therapy is expected to help support early identification and interaction with customers through education and awareness.A previous LeoVegas donation to Gambling Therapy has helped deliver a number of bespoke training sessions, as well as the development of 12 portals unique to the individual brands under the organisations banner, which in the UK includes LeoVegas, Pink Casino, BetUK.com and Slotto.Rob Mabbett, Gambling Therapy manager at Gordon Moody, who has previously spoken to LeoVegas staff on rehabilitation and education, added: “This is a really exciting project for Gambling Therapy. For years, anyone who has been affected by problem gambling has accessed our multilingual service through links on gambling operator sites to our website and app. “Having a direct link to our services through LeoLine will reduce the friction that can so often prevent service users getting the support that they need. This is a fantastic initiative and it has been a pleasure working with the team at Rocket X, they are dynamic, forward thinking and passionate about responsible gambling and player protection.“I am sure this trial will be a success for our respective organisations, and I look forward to sharing the results of a meaningful collaboration between operator and treatment provider that will help us achieve our shared aim of creating a safer gambling environment for the millions of people who gamble online worldwide.”