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The UK £2 fallout

According to press speculation today, the fallout of the government’s cut in fixed odds betting terminal (FOBTs) stakes, announced yesterday, will hit British bookmakers for more than £200m in profits.

Culture Secretary Matt Hancock described FOBTs as "a social blight." William Hill, the big bookie, has estimated that the decision will hit profits between £70m and £100m. GVC has put the potential loss from its profits at £120m and Paddy Power £22m.

Despite the gloom, shares in both William Hill and GVC rose, by 4.1 per cent and five per cent respectively. The UK Treasury will lose £1bn in taxes from the FOBTs, but is planning to increase the 15 per cent tax on online gambling, possibly to 20 per cent.

There has been no precise date for the imposition of the new £2 stake. In a radio interview Minister Tracey Crouch indicated that it would be "some time next year," but most newspapers are suggesting that it would be in 2020, giving the bookmakers time to run down or reorganise their estates.
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Updated LeBron Odds: Philly coming in behind the Lakers

The newest round of odds for LeBron James’ ‘18-’19 destination have been released.

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The new odds are out and the Sixers remain unchanged at 7-2 which, after adjusting for bookmaker profit, suggests that Philly is around 18-20% likely to be welcoming the King. As we might have guessed, the Cavaliers being swept has massively reduced the forecast chance that leBron stays in Cleveland, as the Cavs are now at +3000, suggesting only a 2-3% chance James stays with his current team. Here are the complete odds:

* Los Angeles Lakers +200
* Philadelphia 76ers +350
* Miami Heat +500
* New York Knicks +750
* Houston Rockets +1000
* San Antonio Spurs +2000
* Cleveland Cavaliers +3000
* Golden State Warriors +5000
* Boston Celtics +5000
* Chicago Bulls +7500
* Oklahoma City Thunder +7500
* Washington Wizards +10000
* Field (Any Other) +1000

The other big loser here is Houston, now showing at 10-1; meanwhile the Lakers have taken over the top spot. A few things happened last week that hurt Houston’s chances while helping LA:

* Chris Paul said he will not take a pay cut to play with LeBron. Of course he could change his mind, but if he doesn’t that cuts off some of the most attractive LeBron-to-Houston scenarios.

* Marc Stein floated the idea that since Paul and James are both free agents, they could both sign with the Los Angeles Lakers, who have room for two max-level additions under the cap.

*Finally, word seems to be spreading that a sign-and-trade from Cleveland to another team is exceptionally unlikely unless a complex three-team deal can be worked out. A sign-and-trade is the only way LeBron could come to Houston if both he and Paul require max salaries, as now seems likely.

Let’s dig into that third point as it helps explain why not only the Houston possibility, but also the LeBron-to-Boston scenario recently floated by Jonathan Tjarks at The Ringer, have such long odds. Backers of these plans make a seemingly-compelling argument. It goes like this:

1. Suppose LeBron really, really wants to go to a specific team — let’s say Boston.
2. And let’s suppose Boston wants to add James and is willing to part with high-quality, high-paid talent in order to make it happen.
3. LeBron approaches Cavs management and says “look, you know I can walk away and you’ll get nothing. But Boston will give you some stuff — say, Gordon Hayward, Marcus Morris, and maybe a valuable draft pick too, if you trade me to them after I agree to another year at/around the max.”
4. Cleveland would rather have something than nothing, and Boston would prefer the superb LeBron to the merely-excellent Hayward, so both teams say yes
5. LeBron then gets to stay in the East and play on a team with Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, plus a fine bench and a terrific coach; an easy path to the Finals and a potential dynasty, so why wouldn’t he do this?
6. If Kyrie objects, either tell him to shut up and play, or trade him for a similar player like Kemba Walker.

Sounds plausible! So why does Vegas think Boston is well below 2% to get James? Part of it is that Brad Stevens and Gordon Hayward have a very close relationship. But Hayward isn’t the only guy who could be included in such a deal. No, the real story, I believe, is that Cleveland’s salary cap/luxury tax situation makes a deal like this insane for them. And the same goes for all the Houston scenarios I’ve seen. Houston and Boston are over the cap. So they can only participate in a two-team sign-and-trade for a max-paid LeBron if they give back $35M or so in salary.

But if Cleveland keeps their current team, or keeps that team except they replace LeBron with players who earn the same amount, they will not only have a $150M payroll, they’ll also owe around $150M in luxury tax due to the dreaded “repeater tax” provision. Here’s an ESPN piece laying it out.

Now, if you’re billionaire Dan Gilbert, and you can keep LeBron, make some trades to upgrade the roster, and probably go to the Finals again, maybe that’s worth it. But for Gordon Hayward and Marcus Morris? Putting those guys together with Kevin Love, Larry Nance, George Hill, etc. — you’re not going to make it out of the second round. Just a few years ago the Sixers were purchased for less than $300M; is Dan Gilbert going to spend that much to buy an early playoff exit? I don’t know Dan Gilbert, but I say there’s no way he will make that choice. And that’s why the bookmakers see it as so unlikely James will end up on an over-the-cap team like the Rockets or Celts.

Now, there is, I believe, a workaround. I say “I believe” because the salary cap is plenty complicated and I don’t pretend to understand all its vagaries. So maybe what I’m about to suggest can work, maybe for some reason it can’t. And maybe there’s some other way that Daryl Morey or Mike Zaren can cook up that I am not aware of. With those disclaimers in place: a third team could probably make a deal possible. Let’s use the Sixers as the third team, just because we all know the Sixers’ cap situation. Suppose LeBron says his first choice is the Rockets, second choice the Lakers, and we are, sadly, out of the running. Houston calls and says: “Look, Brett, you can’t get LeBron, but you can still win here. Let’s do a three-way deal where We, Houston, get LeBron, Cleveland gets some Houston draft picks, and Philly gets Eric Gordon and PJ Tucker.” I’m oversimplifying; maybe Houston needs to dump a third player to make the numbers work, maybe Philly needs to give Cleveland a second-round pick so it’s not something-for-nothing, maybe Cleveland demands more. But basically, we’d be getting a terrific and underpaid shooting guard in his prime in Gordon and a fine, arguably underpaid 3-and-D forward in Tucker, and giving up nothing but cap space. Would we do that? Perhaps not, it’s an interesting question as it probably takes us out of the superstar-signing market. But if we wouldn’t, perhaps some other team with cap space would. It only takes one!

So it’s not impossible. But, three-way deals are awfully hard to put together. So that’s why Boston and Houston are such unlikely destinations.

It’s understandable that the Lakers are considered the most likely team. LeBron has two houses in the LA area. He has long-term interest in the entertainment industry. LeBron says his family’s needs will be central; reports were that his wife liked the Miami move and didn’t want to return to Cleveland; if that’s true one might imagine she’d prefer LA to Philly on lifestyle/weather grounds.

From a basketball perspective Philly seems preferable, at least to a Sixers believer like me. But Chris Paul is really an exceptional player; if you believe on-off statistics, as I do, he’s worth perhaps double what a normal excellent player like Paul George is. So while I viewed a Laker team with LBJ and PG added as probably too weak to compete in the West, with Paul it might — might! — be a different story. And remember, the Lakers can trade young talent for veterans. What if they could trade Brandon Ingram, Kyle Kuzma and the Cleveland pick they got in the Jordan Crawford deal, plus cap stuff, for Kawhi Leonard; then you have LeBron, Kawhi, and CP3 together with Lonzo Ball, Julius Randle, Josh Hart and more. Or maybe Kawhi is out of reach, but, look, despite his shooting woes Lonzo still has significant trade value and, together with the Cleveland pick, could easily fetch a quality vet or two to flesh out the roster.

So, yeah, LA has a real shot. As to the relatively high probabilities associated with the Knicks and Heat, I don’t have any great insights to share. Obviously LeBron knows Miami, knows the coach, etc., but that seems like a completely hopeless situation; they aren’t anywhere near good enough to compete and their cap status leaves them very few options. And the Knicks would seem to have little to offer other than being a famous team in New York; the owner is bad, the players are bad except for the good-but-overrated Porzingis... presumably there are some rumors or something that make this scenario more plausible but I don’t yet see how James to the Knicks could make sense.

I do think the Sixers are looking awfully attractive at this point, attractive enough that I was surprised and disappointed to see us at only 20% or so. Perhaps Philly is being underestimated in the way we are all so used to! Or perhaps the Colangelo mess has hurt our chances. Or maybe Vegas has the inside word on LeBron’s thinking and it’s not as pro-Philly as I’d have expected. We shall see. But for now, this is the information we have.
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DraftKings seeks + $150m funding round to drive new betting vision

US news source Axios has reported that DFS operator DraftKings targets a further $150-200 million funding round, seeking to accelerate its US sports betting proposition.

The news of DraftKings’ planned funding round, comes as the Boston-based enterprise, today confirms that it has officially filed its application for a New Jersey state sports betting license.

Furthermore, this June saw DraftKings announce its first betting-centric partnership with New Jersey-based Resorts Atlantic City Casino.

Following the Supreme Court’s repeal of federal PASPA laws, DraftKings has made no secret of expanding its enterprise through sports betting.

Targeting New Jersey as its entry point, DraftKings governance believes that it will clear state licensing requirements by the start of the NFL season 2018/19 (regular season begins 7 September).

To date, DraftKings has secured circa $700 million in venture funding. Led by Eldrige Industries, DraftKings last VC round was undertaken in March 2017 raising $120 million.

Jason Robins CEO and Co-founder of DraftKings enterprise, has previously detailed that his firm will diversify its product base, beyond fantasy sports, accommodating new consumer trends in US sports.

Furthermore, the repeal of PASPA laws has seen a shake-up in DraftKings market, as its main DFS rival FanDuel has agreed to merge its business with FTSE-listed Paddy Power Betfair’s US subsidiary Betfair US.

Robins and corporate stakeholders actively seek to establish DraftKings early US betting footprint against potential US betting incumbents.
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World Cup online bookmakers are set to make record $36B this year

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Sports betting is worth up to £625 billion per year, with 70% of that trade reckoned to come from football. During big sporting competitions, such as the World Cup, even more money is spent gambling than usual.

Over the 2018 World Cup, bookmakers are estimated to make a profit of US$36.4 billion (£41.3 billion). And in the UK, the amount of money spent on gambling during the World Cup is expected to more than double from £1 billion in 2014 to £2.5 billion this year.

Sports gambling is being driven by the unlimited availability of online betting and the fact that no physical money is exchanged, making financial transactions seem less real. The vast amount of data that online gambling sites collect also enables them to personalize offers to individual gamblers. Instead, this data should be used to help people gamble responsibly by warning users in real-time that they are exhibiting problematic gambling behaviors.

For many people, gambling isn’t just a fun novelty every four years. About 430,000 citizens in the UK can be identified as problem gamblers. These individuals have lost hundreds of thousands of pounds online, which has impacted not only the gamblers but also their families.

High profile but infrequent betting events such as the Word Cup exacerbate the issues that problem gamblers face. Seeing others engage in betting, coupled with the advertisements from betting firms, leads problem gamblers to attempt to convince themselves that they do not have a problem. Environmental cues can also trigger the urge to gamble in those who have a gambling problem.

So, the intensive advertising used by betting firms during the World Cup, along with media coverage of the World Cup in general, may further push problem gamblers towards making harmful decisions.

Watching your habit

Online gambling sites have an infinite memory for bets – when made, for how much, regarding what, and so on. This data is a rich source that websites use for tailoring offers and marketing material to fit a gambler’s potential interests. But this personalization exploits cognitive biases in gamblers and encourages them to increase risk-taking and by extension, gambling.

There is only a fine line between the legitimate marketing and personalization of content and offers on the one hand and exploitation and manipulation on the other. For example, the tracking of a gambler’s betting pattern means the gambler can be targeted with offers following heavy losses, encouraging them to chase losses even further.

But this same data could also be used to support reductions in problem gambling, either led by gamblers themselves or with the support of a counselor or software. Such transparency could enhance the image of the gambling industry and make responsible gambling a shared responsibility between gamblers and bookmakers.

A chance for change

In our EROGamb project, funded by GambleAware and Bournemouth University, we advocate a policy change where gambling sites provide gambling behavioral data to gamblers and their surrogates in real-time.

This data would provide an unprecedented opportunity to tackle problem gambling. For example, the data could lead to the app informing gamblers that they are exhibiting problematic gambling patterns. The real-time collection of information such as “the gambler has reached the monthly spending limit” could trigger a message visualizing their past betting behavior and a reminder of a commitment already made.

In our studies, digital addicts, including online gambling addicts, have indicated that having access to such data would act as a wake-up call, raising awareness. Digital media users, in general, like to be in control of their usage through labels and awareness tools.

Similar facilities have started to exist in mainstream digital media. For example, on Google, it is now possible to download your data and on Facebook to download your profile data history of interaction, but not currently as real-time streaming of data as actions happen.

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Challenges

We understand the barriers to implementing this vision. Gambling operators may not have such data readily available and may even rely on third parties to offer certain games. Some also fear that gamblers might share the data with competitor gambling sites, giving away information about marketing practices. But the General Data Protection Regulation(GDPR) right to data portability holds that gamblers shall not be prevented from accessing and sharing their data.

Given the advantages, and also the increased demand for transparency, this would eventually become the recommended practice for demonstrating advanced corporate social responsibility and inspiring the trust of the public and clients in the gambling industry. We are preparing a charter for the gambling industry towards a commitment for that.

The rise of online gambling, combined with the record amount of money being spent on gambling at this year’s World Cup makes this the perfect time to discuss what we can do to prevent and combat gambling addiction. Simply by using data to help people be better aware of their gambling habits, rather than hooking them back into their next bet, gambling sites could make a massive difference.

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How football’s transformation could impact betting

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.”
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Greek OPAP makes 50m euro stake in Stoiximan & Betano brands

Athens-listed Greek gambling group OPAP has swooped to acquire a 36.75% stake in the holding company of Stoiximan Group, TCB Holdings Ltd for a consideration of €50 million.

TCB operates online gaming services under its Stoiximan brand in Greece and Cyprus, and uses its Betano brand in Romania and Germany. In 2017, Stoiximan Group had revenues of 136 million euro and EBITDA of circa €16 million

Updating the market, OPAP governance stated that its investment is aligned with one of its key strategic priorities – ‘Leveraging the latest Digital and Technology Capabilities’.

Following the conclusion of its large-scale retail technology transformation programme this summer, OPAP has been focusing on building up its own online activities and will also be launching its new online/mobile sportsbook, Pamestoixima.gr, in the next few days.

OPAP CEO Damian Cope commented: “As part of our ambition to become a world-class gaming entertainment company, we know that we must offer our customers an attractive and competitive online gaming experience. The imminent launch of our new online sportsbook Pamestoixima.gr is the first step in this direction, with the intention to add further products online over the next 12 months. The new sportsbook will offer competitive odds for our customers in Greece and generate additional commission income for the agents in our retail network.

“The strategic investment in Stoiximan that we are announcing today directly compliments OPAP’s own online activities and also gives us an online presence at an international level. Stoiximan has proven itself to be a successful online operator and we are happy to be working with them. We, therefore, look ahead with confidence to the next stage of OPAP’s modernisation and development in the delivery of our overall 2020 Vision.”

George Daskalakis, Stoiximan CEO, stated: “OPAP’s strategic investment in Stoiximan, Greece’s largest online betting operator, is a tangible acknowledgement of the hard work of the 450 members of our team and of our company’s successful growth model. At the same time, it underscores its potential, as we are entering the stage of the permanent regulation of the online gaming market in Greece.

“This partnership strengthens Stoiximan’s leading position in Greece and additionally allows us to accelerate our growth in international markets, as well as to intensify our strategic focus on technology. Our vision is to become established as one of the top GameTech-companies in Europe while maintaining our Greek character and it is towards this direction that we will continue to work with the same passion and dedication.”

OPAP has also reached pre-agreement with TCB to make an additional investment to acquire joint control with TCB in Stoiximan Group’s Greek and Cypriot operations. This investment is subject to the satisfaction of various conditions precedent, including clearance by the competent gaming regulatory and anti-trust authorities and the performance of due diligence. Once the due diligence is concluded, the terms of the investment will be crystalized and the full details will be disclosed.

GML recently hired Petra Zackrisson as Chief Development Officer aim to utilise OPAP’s investment in order to accelerate its international growth in 2019.

GML is a markets leader in Greece and Cyprus with the Stoiximan brand (shirt sponsor of Olympiacos and PAOK) and one of the leading online operators in Romania (Liga 1 naming sponsors, aka Liga 1 Betano and Craiova shirt sponsors) with Betano. The firm also just launched in Germany where it has already become the betting partner of VfB Stuttgart.
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BetVictor tipped for success with Euroleague Basketball deal

On the back of securing a deal to become title sponsor snooker’s English Open for the very first time, BetVictor has announced a further deal alongside the Euroleague Basketball in Germany.

Becoming the competitions official betting partner until 2020, BetVictor is hoping it can draw upon its three quarter century strong base of expertise, to further boost the appeal and fanbase of the competition’s presence within the country.

Hailing Germany as “a market of great strategic importance,” this step “further solidifies BetVictor’s commitment to providing the sport’s growing fanbase an enhanced gaming experience.”

Matt Scarrott, Director of Sportsbook at BetVictor, stated: “Basketball is a roaring sport in Europe, and Euroleague Basketball competitions are playing a pivotal role in the increasing popularity of the game in basketball hotbeds, and in new territories like Germany.

“We take pride in supporting Euroleague Basketball as the official betting partner in the German market.

“The rise of the Euroleague Basketball is proving to have an impact in new markets embracing betting, which is interesting for our business and the gaming industry as a whole.”

The 2018-19 Turkish Airlines EuroLeague season got underway yesterday (Thursday 11 October), and continues through today (Friday 12 October), with eight games across the continent between the best 16 teams in Europe taking place across the two days.

Roser Queraltó, Euroleague Basketball’s Chief Business Officer, added: “BetVictor’s vast experience in sports, and its outstanding success in its own field, make it the perfect partner to help Euroleague Basketball on its continuous path of growth.

“We are excited to work together with BetVictor to grow the sport, especially in such a key market as Germany. It’s a win-win-win situation for Euroleague Basketball, BetVictor and German fans.”

This deal builds upon BetVictor’s deal earlier in the week alongside World Snooker, securing sponsorship of the first of this season’s Home Nations series, set to be held from October 15 to 21 at K2 Crawley in London.

Addressing the link-up World Snooker Chairman Barry Hearn commented: “We are thrilled to bring BetVictor back on board for the first ranking event to be staged in The UK this season.

“They have been great supporters of snooker over the years, and they are a fantastic team to work with.”
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Sports betting to accelerate significant growth of North American sports

Increased sponsorship opportunities and the heightened value of media rights are set to elevate the growth of North American sports in the coming years according to research by the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

The research suggests that new inventory related to gambling, digital media platforms, uniform rights, and incremental in-venue signage and naming rights opportunities will play a key role in enhancing the value of sports in the region.

In total, the research details that the value of sports betting in North America will increase to $80.3bn by the year 2022, with the sponsorship value of the leagues increasing from $14,565 to $15,238, and media rights hiking from $20,141 to $23,803.

The data confirms the assumption that media rights remains the strongest asset of North American sports, with its annual growth being estimated at 4.5%, more then any of the other elements, including sponsorship and gate revenues.

Furthermore, the liberalisation of sports betting could allow North American sports to see levels of fan engagement that would have previously seemed, with potential engagement increasing 13.4%, with the NFL overall potentially could intake $2.326bn from sports betting.

Identifying how North American sports may benefit from the heightened sponsorship opportunities brought on by sports betting, the research stated: “ In September 2018, the NFL relaxed its existing policies on accepting advertising from casinos. The NFL is now accepting sponsorships from casinos that offer sports betting (with certain restrictions).

“Under one of the restrictions, casinos with sportsbooks cannot mention the sportsbook in their advertising. Another restriction prohibits any type of revenue sharing with sportsbooks and teams. Still, this enables the league, individual teams and broadcasting networks to participate in a new advertising revenue source.

“Over the last few years, leagues have become less averse to Las Vegas. The NHL placed an expansion franchise in Las Vegas and the NFL has approved a team to relocate to Las Vegas. Casinos will be sponsors and purchase premium seating as well as season tickets. Later in this Sports Outlook we will examine the potential future state of media deals (post 2022).”
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Interwetten targets €100 million GGR mark for 2019

Sports betting and online gaming operator Interwetten has targeted €100 million in gross gaming revenues (GGR) for 2019 after reaching €47.7 million for January to June (H1).

Interwetten confirmed that Q2 revenues had increased by 27 per cent to €25.2 million, while the year to date (YTD) total of €47.7 million was up by 24 per cent from the corresponding period in 2018.

Dominik Beier, Speaker of the Board at Interwetten, said: “Due to hard team-work we have reached the best numbers in the company’s history for H1 2019. We haven’t reached the ceiling at all yet though, further improvements will make Interwetten shine even brighter in the future.”

Assisted by a drop in marketing spend, which was down 38.5 per cent year on year (YOY) – to €4.8m or 19.1 per cent of the GGR – due to last year’s World Cup in Russia, Q2 2019 EBITDA was up 12x to €7.6m.

Despite the World Cup being in the comparative trading period, the company was pleased to report that Q2 sports GGR had ‘inched’ up nearly 3 per cent YOY to €10.6 million.

However, the number of first-time depositors (FTDs) did suffer a drop through a reduced marketing spend, down by 20 per cent to 16,564. CPA was down by 24 per cent to €290.

Despite this Q2 reduction, FTDs for H1 still came out 7 per cent ahead of last year (36,000 YTD), while CPA was down 21 per cent to €325.

Lapping the World Cup period, and taking into account the inflated number of FTDs last year, H1 actives were unsurprisingly 13 per cent lower at 111,000. Average revenue per user (ARPU) was ahead by 43 per cent to €430.

Meanwhile, gaming revenues jumped by a huge 58 per cent to €13.9 million, while other revenues were deemed as ‘flat’ for YOY in H1.
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Betfred Gibraltar to pay £322,000 after UKGC AML investigation

Betfred’s Gibraltar trading subsidiary ‘Petfre’ has been forced to pay £322,000 as part of a ‘regulatory settlement’ having been found to have ‘shortcomings in the application of its AML controls and its policies and procedures.’

The Gibraltar unit is due to make the payment in lieu of a financial penalty following an investigation by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).

The UKGC investigation found that the ‘operator failed to carry out adequate source of funds checks on a customer who deposited £210,000, and lost £140,000, of stolen money in a 12-day period in November 2017.’

It was found that the customer was able to both deposit and lose significant amounts in a short period of time, which the UKGC highlighted ‘clearly indicated failings in the effectiveness of Petfre’s anti-money laundering policies and procedures.’

Under the terms of the regulatory settlement package, Petfre is due to pay its gross gambling yield of £140,000, received as a result of the player in question, which will be returned to the person whose money was stolen.

Petfre will also make a payment in lieu of a financial penalty of £182,000, which the UKGC has confirmed will be directed towards the delivery of the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms.

In addition to publishing a statement of facts following the investigation, the operator will also make a payment of £15,168.42 which will go towards the Commission’s investigative costs.

Petfre has since accepted responsibility for the weaknesses in its AML proceedings, and has since taken steps to prevent further recurrences. The UKGC, in response to the investigation, outlined a number of considerations in order to determine an appropriate outcome.

During the investigation, the regulator emphasised that ‘the breach arose not from the absence of AML policies but of a particular shortcoming in control measures for which remedial action has been undertaken’, with the incident in question noted to be an isolated event.
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International operators vie for Sportsbook of the Year prize at SBC Awards

Industry powerhouse bet365 will be hoping to make it six in a row when the winner of the Sportsbook of the Year prize is announced at the SBC Awards 2019, but it must see off strong international competition to do so.

The victors of all 41 SBC Awards will be unveiled in front of an audience of more than 700 sports betting and igaming industry professionals in a lavish ceremony at Battersea Evolution, London on Tuesday 3 December 2019.

Having been triumphant in the marquee category for the past five years, bet365 is taking on the highest-quality shortlist ever assembled for the honour this time round.

It includes William Hill, Sky Betting & Gaming and Betsson Group, who all also take on bet365 for the Football Sportsbook and Racing Sportsbook awards. Rounding out the Sportsbook of the Year shortlist are FanDuel Group, FavBet, GVC, Pinnacle, Sportsbet.io, STS and Vbet.

Andrew McCarron, Managing Director of SBC, said: “The entries for this year’s Sportsbook of the Year prize are of an exceptionally high standard, showcasing the growth, innovation and commitment to social responsibility of the sports betting industry’s leading operators.

“We’ve given voters a lot to think about and it will be fascinating to see whether the industry decides to recognise the continuing excellence of bet365 again, or if one of the challengers can take the crown.”

Meanwhile, the five-strong shortlist for the prestigious Leader of the Year award features professionals drawn from right across the gambling industry.

Joining operator CEOs Jesper Svensson (Betsson Group) and Alexander Stevendahl (Videoslots) are Khalid Ali, who is recognised for his work as Secretary General of the International Betting Integrity Association, Charles Gillespie of leading affiliate Gambling.com Group and Martin Wachter of virtual sports supplier Golden Race.

And in the supplier section of the awards, one of the most eagerly-awaited categories sees virtual NBA games, a fully-integrated gamification platform, an AI-powered personalisation platform, a live lottery and a voice-activated gaming assistant among the products battling it out for the Innovation of the Year (Sports & Casino) prize.

The shortlist includes Bet Invest LTD, BetConstruct, GeoComply, Golden Race, Helio Gaming, Highlight Games, NSoft, Optima, Playtech, Pragmatic Play, Sportradar and Vaix.

The winners of the Operator and Affiliate Awards will be chosen by the industry, with everyone who attended this year’s Betting on Football, Betting on Sports and CasinoBeats Summit conferences eligible to vote. However, the Supplier Awards will be decided by a panel of judges, who have been handpicked for their ability to identify the potentially industry-changing innovations among the entries.

To view the shortlists for each of the awards, please click HERE.

Tickets for the SBC Awards 2019 are now on sale. In addition to the ceremony and entertainment, all attendees will enjoy a champagne and cocktail reception, three-course dinner and complimentary drinks, while businesses booking VIP tables will also benefit from company branding, five extra bottles of champagne and a dedicated table waiter.
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Greece approves passage of new gambling bill modernising industry frameworks

The Greek government has settled on amendments to finally approve the passage of its revamped gambling bill, launching the country’s first regulated online gambling framework.

First sanctioned in September 2018 with the aim of overhauling Greek gambling’s licensing regime and industry-wide regulations, final provisions of the new gambling bill have been approved by the European Commission (EC) and Greece’s House of Representatives.

The new bill sees Greece end the ‘transition status’ granted to 24 online gambling enterprises which were issued temporary licences during 2011. The operators will be allowed to fulfil their temporary licences until 31 March 2020 but will, thereafter, have to reapply for new certification.

Final licensing amendments see Greece settle on a €3 million licence fee for online sports betting and RNG (slot) provisions, with incumbents able to pay €1 million for additional product extensions.

At a fiscal level, Greece maintains its much-contested 35% gross gaming revenue tax rate on top of further corporation charges. However, final modifications saw the Greek government allow licensed operators to discount GGR taxes before standard 20% corporate tax is applied.

The progress of the gambling bill has seen a number of initial criteria dropped by the Greek government, such as requirements for €500,000 deposit for licensing reviews by Greece’s Finance Ministry.

Furthermore, the government dropped plans to include a ‘15-20% variable tax’ on online gambling player winnings above €100 and €500 range.

As communicated throughout the procedure, the Greek government won’t allow ‘black-listed operators’ to apply for licensing for a period of up to 12 months.

All licensing applications will be monitored and processed by the Hellenic Gaming Commission as lead regulatory body.
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OPAP secures Greek market clearance on Stoiximan investment

Greece’s markets & competition authority HCC has granted its approval for market leader OPAP to acquire a majority stake in online bookmaker Stoiximan Group.

The transaction initiated at the start of 2019, sees OPAP agree to acquire a 51% stake in Stoiximan for €95 million, a Greek and Cypriot online sportsbook property operated by Malta-based European online gambling group GML Interactive.

The stake will be maintained by subsidiary ‘OPAP Investments’, who will co-share ownership of Stoiximan with enterprise investors TCB Holdings.

Prior to the transaction, OPAP had maintained 37% stake in Stoiximan secured through a €50 million investment undertaken in 2018.

HCC had been forced to reviewed OPAP’s increased investment in Stoiximan, carrying out due diligence on anti-trust conditions and competition criteria as Greece seeks to implement a new gambling regulatory framework.

Seeking to complete its investment, OPAP governance will require approval from Cyprus’s Competition and Consumer Protection authority.

OPAP secures its Stoiximan approval, as the Athens-listed enterprise sees itself targeted by Czech gambling and lottery SAZKA Group who last week upped its shareholding in OPAP to 40% (formerly 33%)

This summer, Czech billionaire Karel Komarek Jr undertook full ownership of a SAZKA, underlining the group’s aggressive intent to expand its investment portfolio in tier-1 European gambling and lottery operators, facing disruptions across multiple markets.
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