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Gaming Report: Charity Poker Room Under State Investigation, Czech Republic Facing Difficulty in Collecting Online Gambling Fines & More

Charity Poker Room run by the Northside Knights and Ministry of Finance’s inability to collect on Fines
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  • PG News October 15, 2018
  • 6 Mins Read

The global gaming and gambling industry has undergone several changes in the past few weeks. In this edition of Gaming report, we start with news from the Charity Poker Room run by the Northside Knights of Columbus in Indianapolis that found itself embroiled in controversy as the state regulators brought it under investigation for undisclosed reasons.

On the European front, Czech Republic was subjected to severe media backlash for allegedly failing to punish online gambling operators that serve local punters without a local license.

On the bright side however, the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has ultimately approved The Stars Group’s (TSG) takeover of Sky Betting & Gaming (SBG).

Charity Poker Room Run by Northside Knights of Columbus Under State Investigation

The Indianapolis based charity poker room run by the Northside Knights of Columbus is being investigated by state regulators for undisclosed reasons.

Charity Poker Room run by the Northside Knights
Charity Poker Room run by the Northside Knights

A report published by IndyStar stated, “the investigation stems from minor issues such as not prominently displaying rule signs such as one that reminds players that tipping the dealers is not allowed under the state’s charity gaming regulations.”

The charity poker room in question had generated nearly $4 million worth of rake last year with a profit of $150,000, according to a State Gaming Commission report.

State officials also believe that they were contacted by a disgruntled poker player who was banned from the games hosted by the charity gaming operation, which has eight poker tables. The poker games are continuing while the state takes another look at the operation.

Czech Republic Facing Difficulty in Collecting Online Gambling Fines

The European nation of the Czech Republic has come under media fire for allegedly failing to punish online gambling operators that serve local punters without a local license.

On October 11, Czech media outlet E15 published a report detailing the Ministry of Finance’s inability to collect on fines imposed on internationally licensed online gambling operators who’ve failed to acquire a local license following the market’s regulatory revamp that took hold on January 1, 2017.

Ministry of Finance’s inability to collect on fines
Ministry of Finance’s inability to collect on fines

According to the report, “the Ministry imposed 24 fines totalling CZK455m (US$20.4m) since the launch of the regulated market but has to date collected only CZK240k ($10,750). The article says the paltry sum collected is due to the Ministry’s lack of any real tools to compel companies with no physical presence in the country to cough up the dough.”

The Ministry responded to the article in a statement acknowledging the difficulties in trying to force “operators based in the Caribbean, for example” to ship their outstanding fine payments across the pond.

The Ministry further stated that, “the main purpose of the fines is not the enrichment of the Treasury, but the restriction of the illegal offer of gambling. Fines have not only a restrictive but also a preventative effect.”

The Ministry’s blacklist of illegal online gambling blackguards who continue to serve Czech punters despite the lack of local approval currently contains 116 names, which is a fairly low number considering the regulated market has been up and running for 21 months now.

Stars Group’s Acquisition of Sky Bet Approved by UK Competition Watchdog

There is finally some good news for The Stars Group (TSG) and it comes in the form of an approval from the UK Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) who have approved of TSG’s acquisition of Sky Betting & Gaming (SBG).

The CMA announced on October 11 that it had cleared TSG’s $4.7 Billion acquisition of SBG. The deal, which was announced in April and completed in July, prompted the CMA to issue an enforcement order freezing the integration process while it investigated whether the deal was a good thing for consumers.

The Stars Group and Sky Betting & Gaming
The Stars Group and Sky Betting & Gaming

Even though the full decision of the CMA is still pending, TSG issued a statement sharing the good news and announcing a change in the new senior management assignments “to execute [SBG’s] integration plans, including the delivery of expected cost synergies.”

As a result of this executive reshuffle, SBG’s current CEO Richard Flint will move on to the position of executive chairman, while SBG’s CFO Ian Proctor has been elevated to fill the CEO’s seat. Also, former director of SBG’s gaming brands Conor Gant is now chief operating officer. Grant will report to Proctor, while Flint and Proctor will report to TSG CEO Rafi Ashkenazi.

Commenting on the changes in the top-level management, Ashkenazi stated that the changes will “position us well to deliver our strategy to become the world’s favourite iGaming destination.” Flint said the new management structure would allow SBG “to maintain our unique culture and continue delivering market share gains in the UK online betting and gaming market.”

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