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Gaming Report: Punjab Govt Bans Online Lottery Schemes, IFGS Re-Christened FIFS & More

Gaming Report
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  • Attreyee K. Ganguly February 4, 2020
  • 3 Minutes Read

Fantasy gaming may have been given a clean chit by the Supreme Court, but the country’s lottery companies were delivered a big blow recently. Last Friday, the government of Punjab announced a blanket ban on all types of online lottery schemes in the state. Enforcing Section 5 of the Lottery (Regulation) Act, 1998, the government has made this move in a bid to check the burgeoning illegal lottery business and to boost the state’s revenue.

In another development, India’s first and only gaming self-regulatory industry body, the Indian Federation of Sports Gaming (IFSG), has changed its name to the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS).

With Coronavirus cases witnessing a rapid rise in China, the Macau administration is giving serious consideration to shutting down the borders and with it all 41 casinos in the region. Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng announced that the government would shut down the casinos for 15 days.

Meanwhile, the UK. Gambling Commission (UKGC) has partnered with social media giant Twitter to launch its first guidance for Twitter users. As part of this endeavor, Twitter users will be explained different methods that they can use to adjust Twitter’s safety tools and settings within their individual account for limiting their consumption of online gambling-related content.

 

Punjab Govt Bans Online Lottery Schemes

The State government of Punjab has banned all online lottery schemes in the state. The ban has been enforced under the provisos of Section 5 of the Lottery (Regulation) Act, 1998. A government spokesperson announced the blanket ban last Friday, after a cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh.

The spokesperson said that the government was taking the step to reign in the increasing sale of illegal lotteries in the state. This would also boost the state’s tax and non-tax revenue.

With the ban in place, computerized and online lotteries marketed and operated through vending machines, electronic machines, and terminals have been prohibited. Alongside, online scheme tickets that are sold and promoted through the internet by any Indian state or a foreign country or company have also been banned. Effectively, only paper lottery tickets can now be legally sold in Punjab.

This is the second significant development that has rocked the domestic lottery sector in recent months. On December 18, the 38th meeting of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Council voted for fixing a uniform 28% tax rate on lotteries, effective from March 1, 2020.

Punjab bans Online Lottery schemes
Punjab bans Online Lottery schemes

 

Punjab is one of the front-runners among the Indian states for the lottery industry. While the traditional state-run lottery has been around since 1968, the northern Indian state took the first step to allow online lottery schemes in 2015. This was when the ruling Akali-BJP-led government announced its intention to allow online lotteries in a bid to increase the state’s revenues. The move met with stiff resistance from regular lottery operators, but the next year, the government went ahead with the plan and permitted online lotteries and horse racing in the state.

By banning all forms of online lottery, the state government obviously hopes to check the declining revenue from the state lotteries and other private operators.

For now, the government has tasked the Directorate of Lotteries to coordinate with the police for ensuring the implementation of the ban.

 

IFSG Changes Name to FIFS

The Indian Federation of Sports Gaming (IFSG) recently announced that it would be changing its name to the Federation of Indian Fantasy Sports (FIFS). India’s first and only Sports Gaming self-regulatory industry body was established in 2017 to protect consumer interest and create standardized best practices in the Fantasy Sports industry.

IFSG
IFSG

 

With fantasy sports in India progressing in leaps and bounds, FIFS presence has become essential for furthering the growth and development of the industry.

Elaborating on this change, John Loffhagen, chairman, FIFS, said, “In the last two years, we have seen exponential growth in the fantasy sports industry. From five million users and 25 operators in 2017, the fantasy sports industry has now grown to 140+ operators with 80 million+ users. This rapid growth is a testament to the potential of fantasy sports in India. The name change from IFSG to FIFS is a result of our recognition of this disruptive and emerging sector and its need for self-regulation to sustain growth. We look forward to working with the operators and stakeholders in creating and maintaining high industry standards.”

 

Spread of Coronavirus Prompts Macau to Shut Down Casinos

The deadly Coronavirus is the breaking story in Asia with news of outbreaks coming in from various parts of the region. The most affected country thus far has been China, where the very first case of the virus was discovered in Wuhan on December 31.

Macau, which is an autonomous region on the south coast of China, saw its casinos being negatively impacted as the tourism in the region declined. The latest news to come out of the region reveals that officials have considered asking casino concessionaires to shut down operations, and to provide accommodations for Mainland Chinese staff who can’t return home.

Macau may shut down border & casinos to check Coronavirus
Macau may shut down border & casinos to check Coronavirus

 

In a press conference hosted on February 4, Chief Executive Ho Iat Seng announced that the government was considering pushing casinos to shut down. “We held a meeting this morning to discuss if some casino services should be suspended. […] This afternoon we will meet with gaming concessionaire and legal advisers. It’s a difficult measure but we have to take it to protect the health of residents. It will have a great impact on the local economy but we need to face this challenge,” he stated.

However, Seng clarified that even if casinos shut down, the establishments will be encouraged to continue paying employees. The decision to shut down casinos to help protect the public comes just a few days after a group representing Macau casino workers asked for a two-week closure to protect their members. With a total of 10 confirmed coronavirus cases reported in Macau so far, employees are worried that unsanitary gamblers could spread the virus further.

Additionally, the DICJ has also asked all casino operators to provide accommodations to workers who live in the Chinese interior. This would allow them to stay in the city, so they did not have to return home, endangering themselves to contracting the virus.

The statement from Lei Wai Nong, Secretary of Economy and Finance, stressed that “Casino operators must provide this accommodation.”

 

UKGC Partners With Twitter to Offer Social Media Guidance on Gambling Content

The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) has found a partner in social media platform Twitter for guidance in reducing the amount of gambling-related content people see on social media portals. This is the fourth time that the UKGC has partnered with a social media company on such an initiative, and it hopes to produce similar advice for other platforms.

The guidance is expected to explain the different methods in which Twitter’s safety tools and settings can be adjusted within an individual account, which is hoped to ‘to help mitigate the risk of exposure to gambling-related messaging and advertisements.’

UKGC partners with Twitter
UKGC partners with Twitter

 

Head of UK Public policy at Twitter, Katy Minshall, said, “Improving the health of the public conversation is our overall mission as is ensuring those on the service feel safe and supported. With that in mind, we’re continuing to enforce our policies, specifically around prohibited and restricted ad content as well as assessing the eligibility of ads on our service – these policies apply to all advertisers and advertisements on Twitter.”

“We also continue to work with industry partners on tools to support their responsible advertising priorities. We’re happy to partner with the Gambling Commission in providing those on Twitter with information on the tools and controls they can use to manage their experience,” she added.

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