Online Gambling: Monthly Form Guide
This month saw regulatory activity focused in Europe. ARJEL, the French regulator, released figures implying that only a quarter of online sports betting in France took place on regulated sites since the new regime was introduced. We believe this will increase pressure on the government to change the framework sooner rather than later, to introduce lower taxes and more products in the country. Ladbrokes announced that it will not now launch in the country, joining the growing list of credible and high-profile operators that are ignoring the country. In Germany more states said they would not support the renewal of the Interstate Treaty in the country which bans online gambling, raising the prospect of legalization here. Elsewhere in the continent progress towards regulation is continuing, including in Spain and the Netherlands, and the European Commission green paper on gambling is due in November. Activity in the US was relatively quiet ahead of the mid-term elections, in which Harry Reid was re-elected Senator for Nevada, and the Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives. Although the Republican Party views online gambling less favourably than the Democrats, Barney Frank’s bill did receive bipartisan support when the House Financial Services Committee voted on it, and we will be focusing on whether Frank or Reid attempts to take this forward during the ‘lame-duck’ session.
Poker Traffic update:
October saw continued improving trends for most operators. Full Tilt saw a particularly good month, mainly due to its Take 2 promotion, although its volumes did fall off again after the promotion ended towards the end of the month. The World Series of Poker main event ends this weekend, and last year this coincided with a 5% rise in online poker traffic.
Ready to Roll:
We highlight some of the key forthcoming dates and events.
Ziigmund won the biggest pot of the month, worth $545,397, from DrugsOrMe, although DrugsOrMe won the second biggest, of $307,331 from Ziigmund.
US Regulation and Prohibition
• Harry Reid was re-elected Senator for Nevada. The Senate Majority Leader remains key to the passage of online gambling legislation. The Republican party took control of the House of Representatives, as expected, and this is likely to be an obstacle for regulation.
• Thomas Jensen argues that control of the House of Representatives passing to the Republicans could increase the chances of online gambling legislation passing. This could make it more likely that Barney Frank attaches his bill to other legislation in the lame duck session.
• PokerStars.net signed an agreement with FOX Sports to make its free-play poker available via the broadcaster’s sports news website. FOXSports.com is one of the most popular sports sites in the US.
• Microgaming has been added to a lawsuit in Kentucky which already targets Fill Tilt and PartyGaming. Microgaming exited the Kentucky market in 2008.
• The Poker Players’ Alliance has changed its strategy to overturn rules in Washington state against online gambling. It now plans to lobby lawmakers rather than fight cases through the courts.
• Antigua may be close to resolving its WTO dispute with US on offering online gambling services across borders.
• Industry lobby group iMEGA is continuing its efforts to overturn the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act which prohibits all but four US states from offering sports betting. iMEGA, together with counsel for New Jersey Senators Lesniak and Sweeney fuled a brief at the US Circuit Court.
• PokerStars exit from Washington, while continuing to operate in the rest of the US, is an effort to remain eligible for a license should online gambling become legal in the US in the future, argues Casino City Times.
• The Spanish government is continuing to consider online gambling regulation, although deciding the roles of national and regional authorities remains an obstacle.
• The president of the Racehorse Owners Association suggested that owners strike in order to secure a better deal from bookmakers from the Levy. Paul Dixon said that racing ‘should organize to exert maximum harm on the bookmakers.’
• Ladbrokes said that it will not launch in France and pulled out of its proposed sports betting joint venture with Canal+. The company had decided that tax rates make the market unviable.
• Spanish police arrested an employee of a Gibraltar online gaming company on fraud charges. The man is accused of using credit cards to place bets then complaining that they had been used fraudulently when he lost.
• The European Commission Green Paper on gambling was discussed at the European Gaming and Betting Association’s Responsible Gaming Day. Timothy Kirkhope MEP said that Europe had a golden opportunity to establish a level playing field for the sector. The Green Paper is due on 9 November.
• Four more states have joined Schleswig-Holstein in opposing the German Interstate Treaty which bans online gambling. This makes it unlikely the treaty will pass back into law when it expires at the end of next year.
• The Chief Executive of Mangas Gaming said that the 85% payout limit on online sports betting in France should be raised as it is failing in its aim of protecting the consumer….
• … and French regulator ARJEL said that the size of the regulated market is only one quarter the size of the offshore market prior to regulation.
• The government of the Netherlands is reported to be considering moves to regulate online gambling. A study by the Dutch justice ministry proposed a more open approach to online gambling in August.
• The team behind England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup have approached ministers about introducing a betting levy on sporting events. It said this would enhance its chances of success ahead of the decision in December.
News from around the world
• The minister for racing in Tasmania announced that a fee would be charged for wagering operators to use the state’s race field information. Mr Green estimated the fee would raise $4.9m a year.
• South African ISPs are appealing a ruling by the Gauteng Gambling Board which said that ISPs could fines up to R10m for facilitating online gambling. They argue that policing online gambling is not within their jurisdiction.
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