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UK Gambling Commission Fines Casino Operators £4.5 Million

The UK’s gambling regulator has struck four of their licensees with fines that total £4.5 million. The fines were in response to the operators having a lack of attention to anti-money laundering processes, customer due diligence and social responsibility obligations.

After some time spent looking into the vast majority of the casino operators who hold a UKGC licence, the regulatory body found four offenders, including InTouch Games Ltd (£2.2 million), Betit Operations Ltd (£1.4 million), MT Secure Trade (£700,000) and BestBet (£231,000).

InTouch, which operates mFortune, PocketWin and Mr Spin, took little interest in finding where their customer’s funding was coming from – this is something the UKGC has been investigating since April of 2018. InTouch was found to have their financial triggers too high to flag warnings when players were depositing and withdrawing large amounts, resulting in concerns that money laundering
may be happening under the radar.

Similarly, Betit was found to have very little money laundering risk assessments in place, with the small amount being insufficient to meet the license requirements. One of their customers deposited around £67,000 – which caused no red flag to be triggered, resulting in the operator not investigating the source of these funds. Another example was when a different customer deposited over £100,000 in a 24 hour period, despite having two cards declined.

The UKGC has repeatedly shown that they are losing their patience with operators who are failing to stick to the rules and increased fines have been warned for future offenders. Last year, they reportedly charged over £27 million in penalties and given that they are carrying out even more investigations this year, they are expecting to surpass that figure.

Gambler Takes Chance on Tiger Woods to Win $10 Million

It’s not in distant memory, that the one and only Tiger Woods has made a comeback to his decorated career by winning the PGA Championship. A William Hill gambler spent his time biting his nails as he had $85,000 on the line after an against the odds bet on the, 14 year dry, golfer. James Adducci, the gambler managed to bank himself $1.19 million, after being given the odds of 14-1.

Adducci explained that “A month before is when I knew I was going to do it. I had been thinking a lot about this. I watched Tiger’s performance at the Tour Championship, and things seemed to be going his way. I looked at how well he did there, and some other factors you can’t put stats behind. It wasn’t about the stats for me. The fact that this was going to be his first major in front of his kids, I was convinced he would win.”

Darren Rovell of the Action Network drew attention to the fact that Adducci had the second highest earnings based on the event, banking around $250,000 more than the 2nd place golfer Xander Schauffele. The Direct of Trading at William Hill stated that
“It’s great to see Tiger back. It’s a painful day for William Hill—our biggest loss ever—but a great day for golf.”

James Adducci hasn’t stopped there, investing some of his winnings into an even bigger wager. He believes that Tiger is going to sweep the next three majors, he would be hitting the record of four golf majors won in a single year. He has already travelled to SLS Las Vegas to place his $100,000 bet with 100-to-1 odds. Stating that “Tiger has history winning at Bethpage, and he won at Pebble, by the biggest margin in history. This is a very unique situation.”

Norway Updates Payment Processing Laws

Norway is preparing to slightly change their regulatory scheme, with elements to improve payment transactions. The Norwegian government announced the new measures that will change the processing rules and will prevent gambling operators from offering unauthorised gambling services.

Outlined in the new scheme was the fact that there is an existing ban on payments both to and from unlicensed operators. The new additions stating that this ban extends to companies in charge of payments on behalf of unlicensed operators – as many companies used this as a loophole.

Trine Skei Grande, Minister of Culture and Gender Equality said that
- “The changes will help make it less attractive to play on foreign gaming sites without Norwegian permission. The unregulated players offer games with a higher risk of gambling addiction.”

Philippines President Reconsidering Gambling Expansion Ban?

The Philippines gambling industry has managed to take a vital step forward, after being pushed backwards every time a glimmer of hope presented itself. The small victory came after President Rodrigo Duterte showed signs that he might reconsider his ban on gambling expansion.

At a campaign stop on May 11th, Duterte was present to support his allies in the lead-up to the May 13th mid-term election and spent a little time talking about his efforts against gambling. Dutetre said “That gambling-gambling, I will not meddle with it anymore, just do not enter. I cannot control it, really… I will let you in, but not extortion or drugs.”

This is a big change from the president, as in the past we have seen comments such as “I will not allow gambling… I hate gambling” – Due to his previous views, the Philippine Amusement and Gambling Corporation (PAGCOR) has been barred from issuing new licenses to potential casino operators

No official policy change has been made and there is no telling if Duterte will allow PAGCOR to begin approving new licenses, but there is now a new hope that he could have a change of heart.

Spanish TV Broadcaster Stops Gambling Ads

Gambling Advertising is becoming sparse across Europe, with numerous regulators stepping in and adding new rules and restrictions. While not exactly a ban, the Spanish broadcaster Euskal Irrati Telebista (EITB) have recently announced that they will no longer run gambling related ads on their TV, radio and other platforms.

A statement was released, explaining the decision – claiming that they were “protecting and safeguarding the right of the most vulnerable against the serious problems of addiction that gambling and betting can create.”

It’s expected that these bans will end up being enforced across the entire Spanish market, with the Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party winning the
election in late April. The party itself, is anti-gambling, with intentions of fully banning gambling advertisements. Such restrictions have already been actioned by the Assembly of Madrid, after they instructed TeleMadrid to stop advertising across digital outlets.

These planned changes will put Spain in line with the UK and Italy. Both regulation bodies have restricted the use of celebrities, child-friendly characters and have had them removed from TV channels that minors are likely to be watching.

UK Gambling Commission - New Regulation

The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is still working on ways to better regulate the market to make the industry a safer place for consumers. The regulator published a new framework, after further investigation into the effects gambling can have on health, relationships and finances of young people.

Helen Rhodes, the Gambling Commission’s Programme Director for Safer Gambling said: “Gaining a better understanding of the impact of gambling on children and young people is a key priority for the Commission. This newly released framework will provide critical insight into the range of harms that young people in Britain can experience and will help greatly in concentrating the National Strategy’s prevention and education initiatives where they will have the most impact.”

This isn’t the only news from UKGC
, new rules have been put in place, with operators needing to verify the identity of players before they are able to place bets. The age of the customer as well as the personal details, such as name and location will need to be confirmed. Pre-existing players, who have not provided such details, will need to be prompted to and will need to be approved before being able to gamble with any funds that may already be on their account.

The Stars Group Partnership with FOX Sports

The online gambling operator The Stars Group (TSG), including companies such as PokerStars, Sky Bet and Bet Easy, has struck gold with a partnership with Fox Sports. The new deal will allow for The Stars Group to offer sports betting products in American States that have legalised the activity.

Late last week, FOX Sports announced the arrival of FOX Bet, a “first of its kind national media and sports wagering partnership in the United States.” The intention is to launch a real-money betting app dubbed FOX Bet in states where sports betting is legalised. An additional product will be available worldwide, as a free-to-play game that awards users cash prizes for correctly predicting the outcomes of sporting events

The deal will award TSG an exclusive 25-year license to use certain FOX Sports trademarks in “a range of immersive games and online sports wagering, and certain exclusive advertising and editorial integration rights on certain FOX Sports broadcast media and digital assets.”

FOX Corp will take a 4.99% stake in TSG through the newly issued common shares, which is estimated to be worth $236 million. The Stars Group stated that there is a 10-year window for FOX Sports to acquire up to 50% equity stake in TSG’s US-facing operations.

This isn’t the first major move TSG has recently made, in the closing months of 2018 – they acquired Sky Betting and Gaming, to expand their market into the UK. It’s just a matter of time before they take over the scene in the states’ newly legalised markets.

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