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This edition of our PokerGuru Gaming Report has seen a lot of legal and political activities in the world of sports betting and gambling. We get right into the action with Quebec court judge Salvatore Mascia dismissing the charges of insider trading against ex-Amaya CEO David Baazov due to the inadvertent exposure of confidential documents by the prosecution to the defence.
Next, we learn that the sports betting industry is heating up in the U.S. and Africa. Indian company Nazara Technologies launching a subsidiary in Kenya’s NZWorld Kenya Ltd while Delaware has become the first U.S. state to legalize sports betting in the country.
Then, we move on to the partnership between PokerStars Casino and Play’n GO that will be beneficial for both companies while also improving the online gaming industry. We wrap things up with the speculative news of Kim Jong-un possibly asking Donald Trump to invest in a North Korean casino that may help resolve the country’s economic troubles.
Quebec Judge Dismisses Insider Trading Charges Against Ex-Amaya CEO David Baazov
Back in 2014, Amaya had acquired PokerStars through a deal worth $4.9 Billion which made it the largest public online poker company. However, this led to an investigation which resulted in Quebec’s securities regulator Autorité des marches financiers (AMF) charging now former CEO David Baazov, along with executive Benjamin Ahdoot and financial advisor Yoel Altman of insider trading in 2016.
The CEO had pleaded not guilty to five counts, including influencing or attempting to influence the market price of Amaya’s securities, whilst his colleagues Ahdoot and Altman had also done the same for the 18 additional charges levied against them.
In the wake of the charges, Baazov was asked to step down from his position as CEO, and his attempts to purchase the company and privatize it were also thwarted. Eventually, he sold off a majority of his Amaya holdings. The company was, thereafter, rebranded as The Stars Group.
Following a court case that lasted over two years, on June 6, 2018, the Quebec court judge Salvatore Mascia granted the defence’s third motion to stay proceedings after the defence claimed that the prosecution had “accidentally shared more than 300,000 documents that were supposed to remain confidential” which the AMF now want returned to them. The defence successfully argued that since the confidentiality of the privileged documents had been compromised, Baazov could no longer get a fair trial leading to the dismissal of the charges.
On June 4 the Mumbai based mobile gaming operator Nazara Technologies announced that it had launched a subsidiary in Kenya’s NZWorld Kenya Ltd and acquired a license issued by Kenya’s Betting Control and Licensing Board to become a part of the sports betting market in the African country.
Even though the laws regarding local tax obligations are ambiguous, the CEO of Nazara Manish Agarwal stated that real-money online gambling is, “a very big market in Africa and is the main reason why we are setting up a new entity in Kenya.” He also mentioned that the company will be investing in other African countries including Cameroon, Ghana and Nigeria.
Nazara’s marketing plan is to firstly introduce their pre-existing products into Kenya’s sports betting market, which includes its social prediction sports and fantasy sports apps, followed by the release of real-money products right before the start of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Currently Nazara controls 70% stake in NZWorld, whilst its regional partner controls the remaining 30%.
In the aftermath of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 (PASPA) being abolished by the U.S. Supreme Court, the states are now free to legalize and regulate sports betting. After the Supreme Court decision, it was speculated that some states would be quick to act in making way for the sports betting industry. Delaware, adhering to its namesake of being the First State, was in fact the first state to launch the sports gambling industry on June 5.
The Governor of Delaware John Carney in a press release stated, “Delaware has all necessary legal and regulatory authority to move forward with a full-scale sports gaming operation, and we look forward to next week’s launch. We’re hopeful that this will bring even more visitors into Delaware to see firsthand what our state has to offer.”
The Delaware Lottery, a subsidiary of the Delaware Department of Finance, will oversee the sports gambling activity within the state, with the state’s three casinos – Delaware Park, Dover Downs Hotel & Casino, and Harrington Raceway & Casino- keeping sports books. Additionally, these casinos will also be operating Delaware’s online poker rooms.
Delaware took its first steps into the sports betting industry with Governor Carney buying the first sports wager on June 5 at the Dover Downs Race and Sports Book.
The poker community witnessed the collaboration between two of the biggest names in the industry with the multi-year partnership deal that was signed between The Stars Group supplementary PokerStars Casino and slots specialist Play’n GO.
According to the deal, Play’n GO will provide its plethora of games to the PokerStars Casino platform through a direct integration that will help increase the focus on the formers slot expansion into regulated markets. This agreement will enable Play’n GO to venture into the gaming markets of Italy, Spain, Denmark and the UK. Both companies plan to go live on the PokerStarsCasino.com, .eu and .co.uk domains before the start of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Play’n GO’s CEO Johan Törnqvist recently said, “The Stars Group has seen PokerStars Casino grow considerably in recent years and we’re delighted to be adding our content to their offering. Our games are certified across more than 15 countries and with our varied, quality range of titles, we’ve confirmed our position as the supplier of choice to operators in regulated territories.”
The Managing Director of PokerStars Casino Bo Wänghammar stated, “PokerStars Casino has focused on improving its content offering, including through the integration of third party suppliers. We’re looking forward to working with Play’n GO to provide some great new games to our players on web, desktop, and mobile.”
A recent addition to the ongoing North Korea-U.S. saga is the possibility of an American investment in a North Korean casino resort. A report by Inside Asian Gaming stated that in the upcoming meeting between the two country’s leaders, Kim Jong-un may ask the U. S. President Donald Trump to finance a new casino resort in the Wonsan Special Tourist Zone.
In an attempt to uplift the nation’s tourism industry, the North Korean leader is considering the possibility of building a casino which will be touted as an “international tourism complex” and could help raise $50 million yearly.
If President Trump decides to undertake the investment it could act as a means of ending North Korea’s current economic crisis which has been caused after coal export and sending of workers overseas from the country was blocked by international sanctions. It could also lead to South Korean gaming operators showing interest in investing in the country.
However, analysts have not shown much enthusiasm towards the speculation stating that the only casinos located in North Korea at Pyongyang and Rason, are unlikely to be profitable.