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The year may have changed, however the upheavals of the ever-evolving global gaming industry have continued. Let us bring you up-to-date with the latest happenings in the world of gaming.
One of the major newsmakers this past week was the gambling software platform company Playtech plc. which will pay $32.16 Million to the Israel Tax Authority.
In the eastern hemisphere, Genting Hong Kong renewed their agreement with FreeStyle Gaming PTE Ltd to purchase electronic games equipment for their cruise lines.
Back in the U.S, West Virginia became the third state to legalise online sports betting. Meanwhile, Galaxy Entertainment Group Limited awarded 783,700 shares to its executive directors and granted 8,818,000 share options at an exercise price of HKD48.65 ($6.21) per share.
Moreover, Dutch gambling regulator Kansspelautoriteit issued a record €1,709,800 in financial penalties last year doubling that of 2017.
Gambling software platform company Playtech plc. recently agreed to pay $32.16 Million to the Israel Tax Authority for tax owed between 2008 and 2017.
Playtech confirmed that the additional charge would be paid in the next 30 days and that no fines were imposed by Israel because of the audit. The amount will be a part of Playtech’s 2018 books to be listed as an exceptional item in the accounts.
Last year in December, Playtech had issued an earnings warning to investors for 2019 as a result of increases in taxes in the areas in which it operates, mainly Italy. Playtech’s share price took a dip in the wake of the tax rise news.
On the positive side, the company recently received a license for its Quickspin subsidiary and it will be entering the regulated Swedish gambling market. Playtech is also involved in Poland’s first licensed casino launch.
A day after announcing a new deputy CEO, Lim Keong Hui, Gaming investment firm Genting Hong Kong renewed their agreement with Singapore-based gaming company FreeStyle Gaming PTE Ltd which allows Genting HK to purchase electronic games equipment for their cruise lines.
According to reports, the deal began on January 1, 2019 and will last till December 31, 2021. Under the deal, a cap of $1 million in purchases for the first year, and $3 million for the following years has been kept.
In December 2018, Genting HK had relinquished its stake in Norwegian Cruise Lines to free up capital for future investments and purchases.
The equipment will help diversify the games offered on their ships and is expected to help attract a broader range of customers. The electronic games will also help reduce manpower cost of the company.
Following in the footsteps of Nevada and New Jersey, West Virginia became the third state to legalise online sports betting.
The Mountain state joined the regulated sports betting industry back in August when inaugural wagers were booked at the Hollywood Casino in Charles Town Races, signalling the launch of sports betting just in time for the football season. A few weeks later, on September 13, the FanDuel Sportsbook opened inside The Greenbrier.
The framework for West Virginia sports betting includes provisions for online and mobile sports betting. The WV Lottery, which regulates the industry, has worked hard to facilitate launch in tandem with retail operations.
Taking advantage of the online sports betting legalisation, a New York-based hospitality company, Delaware North released the BetLucky.com sports betting site and the BetLucky app a few days after Christmas. Developed by Miomni Gaming, the site and app can be accessed by gamblers throughout the state.
Delaware North’s vice president of marketing of gaming division, Luisa Woods said, “We think West Virginians and visitors to the Mountain State are going to love how easy it is to register and use the app. The platform was designed to be flexible, easy to use and reliable, with innovative features designed specifically to engage and entertain U.S. sports fans. Patrons at the casinos can use the app or the betting tellers in the sportsbooks.”
Galaxy Entertainment Group Limited recently awarded 783,700 shares to its executive directors, including company founder Lui Che Woo, and other shareholders. The company granted a total of 8,818,000 share options and announced an exercise price of HKD48.65 ($6.21) per share.
The options to subscribe will be valid until December 27, 2024, and will be distributed every year till 2021 beginning with 2,939,301 options on December 28, 2019.
The share awards will begin with 261,225 shares on December 28, 2019 and will be distributed till 2021.
Woo received 2,651,000 share options and 257,100 share awards, Deputy Chairman Francis Lui Yiu Tung got 3,749,000 options and 363,600 awards.
Last November, Galaxy granted 7,975,000 share options and 2,003,900 share awards to non-directors. The company is eying expansion in Japan, and looking to build integrated resorts in Nagasaki, Osaka, Tomakomai in Hokkaido, Wakayama, and Yokohama.
2018 seems to have been quite a year for the Dutch gambling regulator Kansspelautoriteit (KSA) which issued a record number of financial penalties. The gaming regulatory body recently announced that it had imposed a record €1,709,800 in financial penalties in 2018, nearly twice the €1 Million penalty total in 2017 and more than four times that of 2016’s penalty package.
The increase in fines was a consequence of KSA’s strict new rules targeting online operators who failed to block Dutch residents’ access to their sites. The vast majority of 2018’s penalty total was imposed on five internationally licensed online operators, namely Bet-at-Home, Betsson, CyberRock/Honeydew, Mr Green and William Hill.
Some of these operators are appealing these penalties, based on the argument that existing Dutch gambling laws run counter to the European Union’s rules against unfair restriction of trade between members states. How far these appeals will be successful is debateable.
However, the KSA has yet to announce how much of the €1.7 Million in fines has it been able to collect as of now. The task will not be easy for the gambling regulators since the online operators targeted by the KSA are licensed in jurisdictions over which the KSA has no authority.