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Gaming Report: Israel to Legalize Poker, Gaming & Tourism Conference to be Hosted by Eventus International in Nepal & More

Israeli parliamentarian Sharren Haskel & Eventus International
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  • Attreyee Khasnabis November 9, 2018
  • 7 Minutes Read

With countries and companies recognizing the legitimacy of the gambling industry, this past week saw several important developments taking place in the domain.

Following the introduction of a new bill by Israeli parliamentarian Sharren Haskel, the middle-eastern country is on the path to implementing legislation to recognize poker as a game of skill.

In the Indian subcontinent, the Hong Kong-based specialist event management company Eventus International has announced the first-ever tourism and gaming focused event at the Tiger Palace integrated casino and resort in Bhairahawa, Nepal.

Meanwhile, the Q3 revenues of The Stars Group (TSG) has increased by 74%, but not because of PokerStars. Instead, the growth has been attributed to sports betting acquisitions that the company had made.

The midterm elections in the U.S have had a decisive impact on the future of casino and gaming in Florida. The state’s residents voted in favor of Amendment 3 that gives them exclusive rights to authorize future casino development, and also chose to bring the practice of dog racing to an end, by voting yes on Amendment 13.


Israel to Implement New Legislation to Legalize Poker

Even though poker is a popular indoor game in Israel, up until recently it was illegal in the middle-eastern country. Sharren Haskel, a member of the Israeli parliament ‘Knesset’ had introduced a new bill in the legislature that sought to permit and regulate poker tournaments in the country, while also recognising it as a game of skill.

Israeli Parliamentarian Sharren Haskel
Israeli Parliamentarian Sharren Haskel

A parliamentarian belonging to the Likud party, Haskel, had introduced the Bill to give effect to certain observations of the Israeli Supreme Court, given in the context of a tax ruling, that described poker as a game of skill and recognised the fact that poker players have to work hard to participate in various contests and tournaments.

The bill followed a recent ruling by Israel Supreme Court Judge Neal Hendel, who stated in his decision that poker was a game of skill.

“The fact that the players go to contests and tournaments year after year strengthens the conclusion that it is not a game of luck,” he wrote.

If approved by the Knesset, the bill will allow the Israeli Poker Players Association to organize poker games and authorize the Finance Ministry to regulate taxes.

“Israeli sportsmen bring respect and pride to the state in international competitions,” added Haskel. “Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that poker players are sportsmen and not gamblers, they should be permitted to practice on their home turf.”

Israeli criminal taxation attorney Sharon Fishman also stated, “The tax authorities did not deal with poker players for many years. An administrative decision was recently taken there to zero in on this segment of professional poker players.”


Nepal Gaming & Tourism Conference to be Hosted by Eventus International in 2019

Nepal has a thriving gambling industry with the capital city of Kathmandu consisting of eight gambling facilities. In fact, Asia`s first casino was Casino Nepal which opened in 1968. With the intention to develop the gaming and tourism industry within the landlocked country, Hong Kong-based specialist event management company Eventus International has announced a first-of-its-kind tourism and gaming focused event at the Tiger Palace integrated casino and resort in Bhairahawa, Nepal, near the India border.

Eventus International
Eventus International

Slated for September 24 to 25, 2019, the two-day long conference has been titled ‘Gaming, Entertainment and Tourism Summit’ (GETS)’. The event will be supported by the Australian Securities Exchange listed hotel resort and gaming company, Silver Heritage Group, the Ministry of Tourism of Nepal and the Nepal Tourism Board.

The conference will discuss topics related to tourism and tourism-related investment opportunities in Nepal, along with the experience of foreign investors (FDI) and other organisations in the Himalayan nation across multiple sectors. The summit will also discuss future opportunities and current experiences in the booming casino industry across South Asia, including Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka.

Bringing in experts from the fields of tourism, investment, gaming, regulation, infrastructure and technology, Eventus International aims to discuss thought-provoking topics that affect the gaming, entertainment and tourism industries in the South Asian region.

Commenting on the announcement of GETS, Managing Director at Eventus International Yudi Soetjiptadi said, “It is our honour and privilege to present the first-ever summit of this kind held in Nepal. We hope to bring together all stakeholders associated with the gaming and tourism sector in Nepal and the wider the South Asian industry and to help all participants to understand the unique opportunities available in one of the most rapidly emerging investment destinations, Nepal, as well as neighbouring India.”

He further added, “We are delighted to be hosting the event at the beautiful Tiger Palace Resort in Nepal, which is South Asia’s first Integrated Resort and strategically located near the Indian-Nepal border, between two UNESCO World Heritage Sites – those of Lumbini and Chitwan.”

CEO of Silver Heritage Group Mike Bolsover also said, “Eventus International is an experienced group who always organise and execute first-class events and having been to many as a delegate and a speaker we are honoured to have Tiger Palace Resort, and Nepal, as the destination and host for GETS 2019.”

Jay Sayta, an advisor to GETS 2019 also added, “Nepal has been fast emerging as a popular tourism and entertainment destination in Asia, with companies from India, Sri Lanka and China interested in investing in making massive investments in the sector. Eventus International’s decision to hold a structured dialogue on the massive tourism potential and opportunities in the casino and entertainment industries in the region is a timely and welcome step.”

The Stars Group Witnesses Sharp Jump in Revenue From Sports Betting

The Stars Group (TSG) is indubitably a giant in the gaming and gambling domain, and according to the Q3 presentation given to investors on November 7, things seem to be on the rise for the company.

The Stars Group

The presentation revealed that revenues for the company increased 74% year-over-year, but the increase in revenue was not related to anything produced by PokerStars, instead, it was sports betting acquisitions and growth driving the jump. Poker revenues have remained static year-over-year for TSG.

CEO of TSG Rafi Ashkenazi stated, “This was a landmark quarter during a transformative year for the company as we begin to deliver on our vision to become the world’s favorite iGaming destination.”

While PokerStars still holds a commanding position in the online poker marketplace, its market dominance did not have much of an impact on TSG’s revenues. According to online poker resource PokerScout, “PokerStars holds two of the top three online rooms — its global dot-com room and its European regulated room. Combined, those two put it about double the size of its nearest competitor in terms of seven-day average players.”

However, the stagnation was expected due to regulatory difficulties in a number of markets, specifically Australia.

Florida Residents Vote to Control Casino Legislation

The people’s verdict in the question over having exclusive rights to authorize future casino development in the U.S state of Florida is out. The issue was voted upon in form of Amendment 3, during the November 6 mid-term elections. AKA the Voter Approval of Casino Gambling Initiative, Amendment 3 was passed with 71.5% vote.

Emblems of the Seminole Tribe of Florida & the State of Florida
Emblems of the Seminole Tribe of Florida & the State of Florida

Notably, there were strong supporters and opposing groups vying to pull the voter’s opinion. While the Poker Alliance openly opposed Amendment 3 and its president Mark Brenner called it “a pernicious and anti-competitive approach to limiting poker and other gaming in Florida,” the Seminole Tribe that operates a total of six casinos in the state and Disney, which has a huge presence in Florida’s tourist circuit, were all for getting Amendment 3 voted to enactment.

Florida residents also voted yes on Amendment 13 by 69% vote, sealing the fate for the existing practice of dog racing that will now close down completely by 2020. The ‘Yes on 13’ campaign welcomed the vote. “Tonight, in an historic vote, Florida voters have delivered a knock-out blow to a cruel industry that has been hurting and killing dogs for nearly a century,” the Yes on 13 campaign statement read.

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