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Upheavals, shockers and new beginnings have essentially ruled the global online gaming industry over the past few days. In midst of the rising pressure from Chinese government, technology firm Tencent Holdings has announced withdrawal of its poker app, Everyday Texas Hold ‘em from its App Store in China.
In the U.S., dismissal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) by the U.S. Supreme Court, earlier this year, has led to an unbridled growth of the sports betting industry within the country. Riding on the wave of progress is the Garden State of New Jersey which was not only one of the first states to legalize sports betting but currently has increased the number of its online sports betting sites with the launch of 888sport New Jersey.
Meanwhile in Europe, after much delay Greece has finally unveiled its new online gambling licensing plans even as Wynn Macau Limited is facing a tough time as several gambling websites are illegally using the company’s trademark for their own benefit.
Marking a positive new beginning, Zynga Poker that has been on revamp mode this year, has introduced World Poker Tour (WPT) themed in-game tournaments as part of its long-term partnership deal with WPT.
Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings is shutting down its Everyday Texas Hold ‘em game app, fearing sanctions from the Chinese government.
The firm that also runs China’s biggest social network WeChat has announced in a notice issued on September 10, that the free-play poker site would go offline on September 25. Users would be compensated in line with the guidelines of Ministry of Culture, the notice stated.
For Tencent, the closure of its poker app comes at a time when it is facing financial turbulence. The company’s value dropped by $20 Billion in a single day in August while, a Q1 revenue report indicated that for the first time in the past 13 years, Tencent profits were down.
Earlier this year, after the Chinese government’s crackdown and ban on online poker and promotion of poker on all social media, Tencent removed the World Series of Poker app from its WeChat app store. The app had been added in 2017 after a partnership with the WSOP to “help educate and grow the competitive game of poker in Asia.” Tencent also had to amend the ‘Player unknown’s Battleground’ game because it “severely deviated from socialist core values.”
The Chinese government’s crackdown on online gaming and gambling has turned the gaming environment sour in the country. In August, Apple Inc. removed close to 25,000 ‘illegal’ gambling apps from its China facing App Store. With Everyday Texas Hold ‘em shutting down for good, another popular poker app is exiting the Chinese virtual space.
The launch of 888sport New Jersey was recently announced by 888 Holdings PLC which has increased the number of branding sites that the company has in New Jersey to three.
Launched on September 10, the online gaming operator has established it first legal sports betting venture in the U.S. that offers a multitude of gaming options to the citizens of the Garden State. Incidentally, the new platform is a culmination of 888’s relationship with software provider Kambi that will feature a plethora of pre-event and live betting options.
Coinciding with the beginning of the National Football League (NFL) season, 888sport New Jersey currently offers odds on 15 different sports, including soccer, football, basketball and mixed-martial arts (MMA).
Not only has this launch been a milestone for 888, it has also benefitted the residents of New Jersey who now have another option for betting online. Prior to the launch of 888sport New Jersey, William Hill, Caesars, DraftKings, Fan Duel and SugarHouse had all opened their own virtual platforms.
This rapid increase in the number of sports betting sites has also given New Jersey’s gaming economy a much-needed boost.
Gambling industry in Greece is about to get a makeover as the country’s regulators are finally rolling out a new licensing regime, though stakeholders are likely to find the fine print of the proposed new licensing plan disappointing in many aspects.
Last Friday, the country’s Ministry of Finance made public the long-delayed plans to revamp the online gambling market. While the 24 firms that have been operating in the country on ‘transitional’ permits since 2011 can now apply for new licenses, they have been doled out a tough deal with a high cost for licenses and limitations like the requirement to conduct their Greek-facing business via a dot-gr domain and basing their Greek-facing operation servers within the country.
Operators who only wish to offer sports wagering online will have to dish out €4M to obtain a new license while the right to offer other online gambling services will cost them an additional €1 Million.
These new licenses will have five-year validity, following which the operators will have to apply for renewal at least a year in advance to the date of license expiry. Here’s the shocker, the renewal fee is equivalent to the original license fee.
Further on, only those operators who hold a license to operate online in another European Union market and have not appeared in Greece’s online gambling blacklist for at least 12 months prior to their application, can seek a new license. They would have to deposit €500K for the same, along with their three-year financial records.
Notably, UK-listed GVC Holdings is among the brands that have been recently blacklisted in Greece.
The new licensing plan also includes a variable tax on online gamblers’ winnings that will be withheld by the operators for remitting to the taxman. It remains unclear whether the government will implement its original plans to tax operator revenue at 35%.
For now, the Ministry has initiated a consultation into its proposed online regime, inviting proposals, opinions and comments.
In a recently released interim report, the Hong Kong-listed casino operator Wynn Macau Limited has claimed that an increase in “fraudulent online gambling and investment websites” using the ‘Wynn’ name has been noted by the company.
According to the operator, these websites often prominently display logos and trademarks of known entities. “We do not offer online gambling or investment accounts. Websites offering these or similar activities and opportunities that use our names, such as ‘Wynn Resorts (Macau) S.A.’, ‘Wynn’-related trademarks, including our marks for ‘Wynn Macau’ and ‘Wynn Palace’, or similar names or images in likeness to ours, are doing so without our authorization and possibly unlawfully and with criminal intent,” it said.
Wynn Macau believes that its intellectual property assets which includes “the logo version of ‘WYNN,’ are among our most valuable assets.” The company has taken the onus to actively report all such websites that are unlawfully using its trademark. But the operator also admitted that litigation for this “may be costly and may not be successful in protecting and preserving the status and value of our intellectual property assets.”
A multi-year partnership inked between the World Poker Tour (WPT) and Zynga Poker in February this year has formally kicked off on September 10. As part of the deal, Zynga has introduced WPT-themed, in-game tournaments on Zynga Poker.
Talking about the partnership, Bernard Kim, president, publishing for Zynga had stated, “We are thrilled to invite the WPT into our virtual world to create an even more authentic and immersive experience that players will love. Our new free-to-play WPT-themed Zynga Poker tournaments will put the most competitive and genuine poker experience in the palm of players’ hands.” Zynga has been on a revamp drive this year, the Zynga Poker app is 11 years old and the operator saw its mobile revenue increase by 19% year-over-year in the second quarter of 2018. Mobile bookings for the game saw a 13% jump and the revenue was up more than 10% to a total of $38 Million for the quarter, when compared to the same quarter of 2017.
“We are incredibly thrilled to see the next step in the transformational multi-year partnership between the World Poker Tour and Zynga Poker come to life, on the world’s largest free-to-play poker platform” said CEO of WPT, Adam Pliska.
As a start, the groups will co-sponsor the NASCAR driver Matt DiBenedetto, who is competing in the South Point 400 that will be held in Las Vegas this coming weekend.