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Gaming Report: Meghalaya Government Considering Licensed Casinos, Finland’s State-Run Betting Agency Veikkaus Cutting 400 Jobs & More

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  • Namita Ghosh January 23, 2019
  • 4 Minutes Read

India has a modest but steadily growing gambling sector and in midst of the ambiguity surrounding poker and gambling, only two states, Goa and Sikkim presently allow legally permitted casinos. A third state, Meghalaya is looking at joining them by permitting legal operations of casinos. The state’s government is exploring legal options for the same.

The increasing shift of gambling to online sites has had a big impact on the live casino industry. One such instance came to fore when Finland’s gambling giant Veikkaus announced plans to cut back over 400 employees.

Meanwhile, gambling operators in Uganda are facing the possibility of going out of business soon. Earlier this week, the government has announced its intention to stop issuing new gambling licenses and even decline the renewal of existing ones.

In fresh updates coming from the U.S., a 19-year old blackjack dealer working at a resort in Washington was arrested after being caught for allegedly helping players cheat the house. The accused has been charged with first-degree cheating and is now facing up to five years in prison.

 

Meghalaya Government Considering Licensed Casino`s in the State

Yet another Indian state may soon permit casinos to operate legally. The north-eastern state of Meghalaya is giving serious consideration to legalizing casinos in the state, as per a report published in The Shillong Times.

Conrad Sangma
CM of Meghalaya, Conrad Sangma

According to the report, there is a lot of internal political support to the idea of allowing casinos to set up shop in the state that many feel will boost the tourism industry in the state, bringing in much-needed revenue. The government is also reportedly looking into the possibility of re-starting its state lottery and appointing a private company for the distribution and marketing of its lotteries in states where lotteries are legally permitted.

Citing reliable sources, the report claims that the state administration is looking at Byrnihat in the Ri-Bhoi district as the possible location to allow opening up of casinos.

Traditionally, gambling has found little favor in the administrative circles in India. However, the increased popularity of games like poker and rummy and a rise in illegal gambling has drawn the attention of political leadership to the need for establishing a regulatory mechanism for gambling.

Last month former Samajwadi Party (SP) leader and Rajya Sabha MP Amar Singh had raised a starred question in the lower house over legalization of betting and gambling. In response, the Union minister of Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad had told the parliament that as per the Law Commission, legalization of betting and gambling was not desirable in the present scenario and a complete ban on the activity must be ensured.

According to reports, the proposal for setting up casinos in Meghalaya is reportedly still in the early stages of formulation. While the government plans to permit casinos, it is mulling over the implementing of a model akin to that applied in Nepal, wherein locals will be banned from playing in the casinos with only foreign tourists or non-state residents allowed to gamble.

Once the government of Meghalaya is able to build a consensus, it will have to initiate legislative amendments to the Anti-gambling Legislation i.e. the Meghalaya Prevention of Gambling Act, 1970 to proceed further on this proposal.

Finnish Betting Agency Veikkaus Plans Major Employee Layoffs, Reduces Restaurant Gambling

Finland’s state-owned gaming firm, Veikkaus may soon undergo a major structural change translating in a big cut down of employee strength and reduced gaming table business.

Veikkaus

On Monday, Veikkaus announced that it was launching redundancy talks involving 1,300 of its 2,000-strong employees. The company said it planned to layoff close to 400 employees, nearly half of who are located in the Helsinki region itself.

CEO of Veikkaus, Olli Sarekoski said that the cuts were the call of the day since most consumers were shifting their gambling activity online, and this was having a big impact on the company that has been forced to shift focus to digital media in order to stay in business. Approximately 45% of Veikkaus’ sales he added now came from its digital channels.

“Due to structural changes, our network of sales locations has shrunk considerably in recent years. Therefore we are planning significant overhauls of our gaming locations and an end to the restaurant gaming table business,” Sarekoski said.

The restaurant division of the gambling operator presently comprises of 187 tables across 162 restaurants and bars across Finland.

Veikkaus had in 2017, undergone a merger with the Finnish Slot Machine Association (RAY) and the pari-mutuel betting group Fintoto that was owned by the Finnish horse trotting and breeding association.

 

Uganda Government Halts Issuance of Betting Licenses

Troubled times await gambling operators in Uganda where the government has stopped the issuance of licenses to gaming and gambling firms. The Kampala edition of The Independent has reported that Uganda’s state minister for Finance, David Bahati has announced that the government plans not to issue fresh licenses or renew existing ones, for gambling operations in the country.

David Bahati
David Bahati

According to the report, Bahati made his announcement on the concluding evening of the 2019 Brethren Conference of the Diocese of Kigezi on Monday. He said that not only would fresh licenses not be issued, but the government also intended to halt renewal licenses for already existing gaming companies once their running licenses expired.

Bahati added that the directive came in the wake of concerns from the religious leaders that Uganda’s teenagers were wasting their lives on bets on football games.

However, while Bahati made the announcement, chairperson of the National Gaming Board Uganda, Manzi Tumubweine stated that his office had not yet received any official communication on the aforementioned announcement.

As per the country’s Lotteries and Gaming Act 2016, residents only 25 years and above can participate in gambling activities. In May 2018, Uganda’s gambling regulator had announced that it would be developing a central monitoring system to track gambling activity and ensure that minors were not accessing gambling services.

Public criticism of gambling in the country is based on the claim that more and more Ugandan youth are getting addicted to betting and are staking their little earnings in gambling activities. There is also fear in the religious circles that online betting has reduced the productivity of the youngsters, making families poorer.

 

19-Year-Old Blackjack Dealer Charged With Class C Felony in Washington

19-year-old Steven Darnell Singer was recently arrested and charged with first-degree cheating, which is a Class C felony. A blackjack dealer working at the Clearwater Resort in Suquamish, Washington, Singer was allegedly caught helping players cheat the house. If convicted, he could be looking at as many as five years behind bars and a fine of as much as $10,000.

Blackjack

The casino received a tip from another dealer that Singer was colluding with players and launched an investigation earlier this month. Singer was captured on camera offering tells to players in order to indicate when they should hit or stand in blackjack.

Clearwater Resort is one of only a small number of Native Indian casinos in the state that also allows gambling for people of the 18-20 age bracket, and Singer joined the resort as an employee last year in April.

According to Washington State law, an individual can be found guilty of cheating in the first degree when he or she cheats or “knowingly causes, aids, abets, or conspires with another to engage in cheating” and “holds a license or similar permit issued by the state of Washington to conduct, manage, or act as an employee in an authorized gambling activity.” An adult found guilty of cheating in the first degree can be sentenced to prison and be fined as much as $20,000.

Singer’s bail has been set at $10,000, but no details were available regarding whether or not he had been released.

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