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In this edition of our PokerGuru Gaming Report we bring you reports of numerous developments in the world of gaming and gambling.
First up, we discuss the possibility of MGM Resorts becoming one of the biggest names in the sport betting sphere followingitsventures with GVC Holdings and the National Basketball League (NBA).
Our next report takes us to the recent initiatives being taken by Bob Rita, a key lawmaker in the U.S. state of Illinois to implement a major gaming expansion in the state even as the gaming firm Caesars launched sports betting in several of its US casino operations.
A team of Thai police and Chinese specialist ‘tech’ team jointly raided an up-market tower block in Bangkok’s Klong Toei district and arrested 58 Chinese nationals found running online casino operations.
Finally, we wrap up with the news that South Africa may be amending its gambling laws, while PhilWeb Corp. seeks permission from Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to provide services to Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) licensees.
MGM Resorts seems poised to stamp its name all over the sports betting industry. On July 30, the casino developer announced that it had joined hands with Isle of Man-based GVC Holdings and established a 50-50 joint venture to create a sports betting and online gaming platform in the United States.
According to a press release, an initial $100 Million investment will be made by both companies separately. The companies said, “the plan was to launch the joint venture in time for the upcoming NFL football season, the most popular sport for betting in America.” Both firms are seeking to “revolutionize the world of sports betting and online gaming in the United States”.
The Chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts, Jim Murren stated, “We are proud to join forces with GVC, the largest and most dynamic global online betting operator, with existing reputable and trusted operations in the U.S. With MGM Resorts’ expertise and leading position in key markets across the U.S., this historic partnership will be positioned to become the instant leader in technology, market access, sports relationships and brands. Together, we are creating a one-of-a-kind platform that we expect will dominate the U.S. sports betting market”
Following the judicial overturn of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 by the U.S. Supreme Court in mid-May, several U.S. states have been working towards legalizing sports betting within their jurisdiction, with Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey and Mississippi, well ahead of the others. If all 30 states legalize sports betting, the U.S. market is expected to grow to as much as $6 Billion by 2023.
Hoping to grow stronger roots within the sport betting domain, MGM sealed a historic deal with the National Basketball League (NBA) that would make the casino operator the league’s official gaming partner. According to the deal, MGM will have access to NBA’s data feed, a valuable guide for punters especially for in-game betting. The Las Vegas-based casino giant also gained the rights to team logos. NBA is expected to get $25 million over a three-year period in exchange for the league’s direct feed.
Describing the deal “as a leap of faith”, the NBA Commissioner Adam Silver also added, “We thought we could accomplish commercially a lot of what we were trying to achieve with the state legislatures”.
The NBA-MGM deal is being viewed as a compromise in a way that the leagues may still be able cash in on sports betting without really hurting the licensed bookmakers’ margins.
Illinois may soon join the U.S states that are on their way to legalizing sports betting. One of the key Illinois lawmakers, Bob Rita has revealed plans to push for a comprehensive gaming expansion that will consider sports betting, online poker, online casino and daily fantasy sports. For a cash-straggled Illinois that has been facing its worst financial crisis since over a year now, the move could help chalk a roadmap to economic recovery.
On Tuesday, Rita, who is head of the Illinois House subcommittee on Gaming, Sales and Other Taxes, said that he intended to bring together two House committees soon for coordinating efforts to effect a major gaming expansion with economic opportunity initiatives.
This is the firsttime lawmakers will be looking at gaming laws and regulations since May when the US Supreme Court gave a green signal to states for legalizing sports betting.
“The gaming landscape has changed significantly since I took on this issue five years ago,” Rita said,“and I want to use these hearings to understand how those changes present new opportunities for us to put the right package together as we look to meet budget needs and provide a spark for our economy.”
A new gaming bill could bring “tremendous opportunities to create revenue, jobs, and economic growth” in the state, he stressed. The first subcommittee hearing is slated for August 22nd and the second will take place on October 3rd.
Meanwhile in the state of Nevada, CEO of gaming and casino operator Caesars, Mark Frissora presented the company’s growth and revenue results for the second financial quarter, calling them ‘strong’ on the back of a 10.7 percent increase in their Las Vegas gaming revenue attributed to a significant growth in income from Baccarat games. Evidently the investors didn’t agree, as the company’s stock price fell by 15 %.
Caesars has operations in 14 states and already has casino floor or online sports betting products in Nevada and New Jersey, in addition to operating the World Series of Poker (WSOP). The fall in stocks comes as a surprise shocker, in light of the fact that just this week, Caesars introduced sports betting to its properties in New Jersey and Mississippi. In New Jersey sports betting has begun at Bally’s, Wild Wild West and Harrah’s Atlantic City.
In a major crackdown on illegal online betting, Thailand’s top cop Police Maj Gen Surachet Hakpal led a joint Thai and Chinese specialist ‘tech’ team to raid two sections of an up-market tower block in Bangkok’s Klong Toei district and arrested 58 Chinese nationals running online casino operations last Friday.
The police team also confiscated a big cache of account books, computers and phones as evidence in the suspected illegal online casino operations. All of the arrested suspects were on tourist visas. They were found taking bets on 20 different card games popular with Chinese people, including poker. Bets were found to be made in China and transferred using Union Pay and We Chat.
Maj Gen Hakpal later informed that two raids were carried out targeting companies operating on the 13th floor of the building. While 22 people were arrested after they were found conducting online betting under the name of ‘Sapvinchi Technology Co Ltd’, 36 others were nabbed from the office of Sool El Technology Co Ltd.
The two illegally operated businesses had a total estimated turnover of 700 Million Baht and the police are now chasing the locals who acted as nominees for the companies registered by the Chinese operators involved in the scam.
Gambling laws in the “Rainbow Nation” of South Africa has been dictated by the 2004 National Gambling Act. The national lottery is the most popular form of gambling and is run under contract by an organization called ITHUBA. While casinos are also popular within the country, the limited payout machines across the country offer slot-style gameplay with a restricted maximum bet. The National Gambling Board governs all forms of wagering activities except for lottery, which is regulated by the National Lottery Commission.
On July 20, Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies introduced the National Gambling Amendment Bill to Parliament which had been in the works since 2016. Following several drafts and revisions, the final revised bill aims to create a stricter environment for South African gambling. The National Gambling Board will be rechristened the National Gambling Regulator (NGR), and its inspectors will be given broader authority. Perhaps indicative of a new focus for the organization, the position currently known as chairperson will henceforth be called chief executive officer.
The new legislations will also imply restrictions on the number of ATM machines within gaming premises. The rules pertaining to bingo have been updated to reflect the development of electronic bingo systems. The NGR will have the authority to place limits on the number of bingo licenses issued.
However, things look a little gloomy for the online gaming industry as the new bill states that financial institutions will be directed to block transactions related to unlicensed online wagering. Technology providers are similarly enjoined to cease providing services to those who run unauthorized online gambling sites.
The gaming technology provider PhilWeb Corp. has requested the state regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) to allow the company to provide its services to Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) licensees.
On July 30, PhilWeb President Dennis Valdes confirmed that the firm was in talks with the Philippine regulator on the legalities and requirements to service POGO gaming software needs, while also clarifying that extending services to internationally licensed gambling operators doesn’t mean that the company seeks to become a POGO operator.
Valdes explained, “We are not opposed to being a service provider for POGO. There are a lot of players servicing China, Malaysia and Indonesia.”
The company has been aiming to increase the number of its eGames venues from 41 to 100 by the end of 2018. Several weeks ago, PhilWeb swapped some of its company shares for an eGames café in the northern part of the Philippines, bringing the company’s gaming network to 53 venues.
The company President has also stated that, “We are pleasantly surprised that the combination of two gaming software have not resulted in one cannibalizing the other, but instead, has resulted in growth for both sets of games. We intend to use this learning to continue to introduce new gaming software to our pool of customers, so that we can continue to attract new players to our eGames outlets.”