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Gaming Report: Melco International Backs $630 Million Casino Resort Project in Cyprus, Pennsylvania Okays Sports Betting For 3 More Casinos & More

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  • Attreyee Khasnabis November 6, 2018
  • 7 Minutes Read

A lot seems to be going on in the international gambling industry with growth in business prospects and implementation of laws and policies.

A spanking new casino resort, City of Dreams Mediterranean is fast on its way to completion in Cyprus. The casino is backed by Hong-Kong’s Melco Resorts & Entertainment and is slated to open for operations in 2021.

Back in the US, three more casinos in Pennsylvania have acquired licenses to operate sports betting, taking the total number of casinos licensed as sports betting operators in the state to five.

Meanwhile, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has come out with a report that claims resounding success in keeping unauthorized international online gambling sites away. The ACMA has released data for the same.

Taking advantage of the yet unexplored sports betting domain, Scientific Games have acquired odds provider Don Best Sports Corporation, in an attempt to strengthen their foothold in the arena.

However, the future of offshore gambling operators and foreign bookmakers in Russia seems to be gloomy as the biggest banks of the country, including Sberbank have begun to implement a ban imposed by the government.


Melco International Backs $630 Million Casino Resort Project in Cyprus

An ambitious, $630 Million casino resort project, City of Dreams Mediterranean is coming up in Cyprus with the financial backing of Hong-Kong casino giant Melco Resorts & Entertainment.

City of Dreams Mediterranean

City of Dreams Mediterranean

While there are more than 20 casinos already operational in the Turk-dominated northern region of the island, City of Dreams Mediterranean will be Cyprus’s first officially licensed and regulated casino resort.

Scheduled to open in 2021, the project will feature 1,200 slot machines and 140 table games over a gaming space of 80,000 square feet. In addition to this, 500 guest suites and villas along with 11 restaurants and bars, a fitness center, spa and indoor as well as outdoor swimming pools will be part of the project.

Once the casino resort is completed, it will create close to 2,400 permanent jobs. Already a temporary casino has opened near the location and Melco plans to open four satellite casinos in other parts of the island.

Notably, at present Melco operates Studio City Macau, City of Dreams and Altira Macau in Macau, in addition to City of Dreams Manilla in Philippines. The company is also eyeing Japan as a potential market to expand its presence in the casino industry.


3 More Casinos in Pennsylvania Get Sports Betting Approval

Three more casinos in Pennsylvania have got the approval for sports betting this past week. Last Wednesday, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board approved Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino and Racetrack, River Casino and the SugarHouse Casino for operating a sportsbook. With this, the total of casinos sanctioned for sports betting in the US state has risen to five.

Pennsylvania Casinos

Early in October, Hollywood Casino and Parx as well as Philadelphia Turf Club had also received approval for sports betting. To apply for sports betting license each applicant has to pay a fee of $10 Million.

Harrah’s Philadelphia which is owned by Chester Downs and Marina, part of Caesars Entertainment will continue its partnership with Scientific Games to run a sportsbook that will feature 40 flat-screen TVs, six teller windows, stadium seating, two horse-racing terminals and self-betting kiosks.

Meanwhile, the Rivers Casino and SugarHouse Casino have plans to operate temporary sportsbooks, each of them featuring a 14-feet video wall. While Rivers’ will have a capacity to seat 98 patrons, SugarHouse will hold 70, even as permanent locations for their sportsbook would be developed and formally thrown open in 2019.

For bettors in Pennsylvania, these sportsbooks will be open for placing bets by early December. In all the increase in sportsbook activities is estimated to increase the gaming revenue for the state by $300 Million. While the five casinos have gained licenses to operate sports betting, all nine of the casinos currently operational in the state have sought online gaming licenses to run table games, slots and poker.

Australia’s Telecom Watchdog Claims Success in Keeping Unauthorized Online Gambling Sites Away

Australia’s telecom watchdog, Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has released a report claiming that it has successfully won its fight against unauthorized online gambling sites. Last Wednesday the ACMA came out with a report that claimed that 33 prominent and international licensed online gambling sites had withdrawn from the Australian market over a period of 12 months since the country’s amended gambling laws were implemented.

Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)

The report cites statistics from Global Betting and Gaming Consultants (GBGC) that estimates that the volume of business the Australian punters do with international gambling sites will fall by over 50% between 2017 and 2018.

However, the H2 Gambling Capital doesn’t seem to agree with these figures. It has estimated that volume of gambling by Australian punters on international gambling sites would actually see a more modest 7% reduction and that 40% of Australia’s online gambling expenditure was still on internationally licensed sites.

While ACMA has admitted that it was difficult to quantify the size and scope of unauthorized online gambling, it stressed that the main takeaway is that the figures reflected a downward trend.

“Australia’s laws are unambiguous, and the ACMA has moved decisively to disrupt the provision of unapproved online gambling services,” claimed ACMA chairman Nerida O’Loughlin.

The amended Interactive Gambling Act 2001 took effect on September 13, 2017. The Act banned all online sports betting sites that didn’t hold official approval from the Australian government, online in-play betting, gambling on credit, casino or poker products and promotion of unapproved gambling sites.

Over the next three months after the Act was passed, the ACMA launched 18 investigations that forced a number of suspect services to shut shop.

The recent ACMA report claims that it has concluded 62 investigations over a passage of 12 month since the Act was passed and in 38 cases the suspect services were found to be involved in breaching the Act, while 34 international operators were targeted for compliance, and 23 of them were now compliant. Out of the 58 websites targeted, 35 were now compliant.

For this the ACMA sent 15 notifications to gambling regulators in jurisdictions like UK, the US, Malta, Gibraltar, the Isle of Man, Curacao, Kahnawake and Alderney and also contacted 33 software providers and 10 payment processors asking them to rein in or cut off their offending clients.

The ACMA in the meantime, is about to implement a plan that will require local internet service providers to block international gambling domains.


Scientific Games Acquires Don Best Sports Corp.

Following the overturning of the PASPA act by the U.S. Supreme Court, the sport betting market has hit the ground running as several states and companies are clambering over each other to try and gain a head-start. In that vein, gaming solutions firm Scientific Games has acquired the odds provider Don Best Sports Corporation.

Scientific Games

In a recently released press release, the company said that the addition of Don Best’s expertise to its OpenBet products made for “an unmatched comprehensive library of sportsbook technology.”

Led by Don Best Managing Director Benjie Cherniak, the Don Best team will be a part of the SG Digital Sportsbook Operations service launched early this year. Cherniak will be reporting directly to SG Digital’s Sportsbook Senior Vice-President Keith O’Loughlin.

Talking about the acquisition, O’Loughlin said, “For us, Don Best is a perfect piece in the larger sports betting puzzle, truly augmenting our comprehensive offering for sportsbook operators. Don Best’s trading platforms already seamlessly integrate into our OpenBet product suite, so the impact will be instantly beneficial.”

Cherniak reiterated that the acquisition took place during “a transformational time” in the industry, and that Don Best’s “specialized leadership, unmatched expertise in the North American market, extensive knowledge of the region’s most popular sports, and leading trading capabilities… will continue to augment our partners’ sports betting technology.”

CEO of Scientific Games Barry Cottle also commented on the acquisition saying, “Don Best’s unrivalled pricing, trading and data services, combined with our new marketing services and OpenBet, our global leading sports betting technology platform, uniquely fortifies our position as the world’s leading sports betting provider, ready to help our customers win in the emerging U.S. sports betting market and beyond.”


Government Ban Imposed by Russian Banks on Offshore Gambling Operators

A little over a year ago, President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin had signed a bill that is now making an impact in Russia as the nation’s biggest banks have begun blocking payments to foreign bookmakers.

Gambling in Russia

Russian news site Rambler reported that state-owned Sberbank confirmed its intentions to comply with Russian law that forbids payments to and from blacklisted offshore gambling sites.

A statement issued by the bank read, “According to Federal Law No. 244, payments by cards in favor of foreign institutions involved in the organization and conduct of gambling are prohibited. Sberbank always complies with the laws of the Russian Federation and the regulations of the regulatory authorities. At the same time, Sberbank does not limit payments using bank cards to gambling establishments in Russia.”

The law in question, i.e. the Russian Law No. 244, was signed by Putin on November 27, 2017 and was supposed to go into effect 180 days later on May 26, 2018. But the true impact of the law was left only after Sberbank’s enforcement which began on October 19.

Multiple Russian poker forums have undergone transaction failures that were followed by an SMS message stating, “According to the Federal Law No. 244, from 10/19/18, card payments are not available in favor of foreign institutions involved in the organization and conduct of gambling.”

The implementation of the law mainly deals with blacklisting offshore online gambling operators that provide services to Russian citizens, while local operations strictly controlled by the state remain unaffected. The lengthy list of blocked sites includes most major operators including PokerStars, partypoker, 888poker, Unibet, Bet365, William Hill, Winamax and many more, according to Poker Industry PRO ($).

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