Sports betting will commence in New Jersey just ahead of the first game of the FIFA World Cup on Thursday after Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation on Monday allowing the state’s racetracks and casinos to begin operations.Betting will begin at 10.30am on Thursday at New Jersey racetrack Monmouth Park. That’s just before the opening World Cup game between Russia and Saudi Arabia, which begins at 11am EST.After New Jersey’s five-year battle to legalise sports betting, the US Supreme Court last month struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992, the federal ban on state-sponsored sports betting.New Jersey has become the second state to pass legislation to allow sports betting since the ruling, following Delaware.After signing the legislation into law on Monday afternoon, Murphy said in a statement: “Today, we’re finally making the dream of legalised sports betting a reality for New Jersey.“I’m thrilled to sign Assembly Bill 4111 because it means that our casinos in Atlantic City and our racetracks throughout our state can attract new business and new fans, boosting their own long-term financial prospects.“This is the right move for New Jersey and it will strengthen our economy.”The nine casinos in Atlantic City as well as the state’s three racetracks and sites of former racetracks are allowed to offer sports betting under the legislation.“I look forward to the governor joining us at Monmouth Park Racetrack on Thursday morning to usher in a new era for New Jersey by placing the first bet,” said Dennis Drazin, chairman and chief executive of Darby Development, operators of Monmouth Park.MGM Resorts, which will operate the sportsbook at Atlantic City’s Borgata, said it is “moving ahead with all possible speed to begin accepting legal sports bets as soon as required regulatory approvals are in place.”Related article: New Jersey closes in on full-scale sports betting regulation AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Email Address 12th June 2018 | By contenteditor New Jersey betting to commence for World Cup opener Sports betting will commence in New Jersey just ahead of the first game of the FIFA World Cup on Thursday after legislation was signed yesterday Topics: Legal & compliance Sports betting Legal & compliance Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Regions: US New Jersey
Maturing markets squeeze growth figures for developer, with tough May and UK slowdown cited Finance 13th July 2018 | By contenteditor Recently-appointed NetEnt CEO Therese Hillman has insisted the developer is “taking action” after a slowdown in the UK contributed towards disappointing revenue growth in the second quarter.In a trading update this (Friday) morning, NetEnt reported a 6% rise in revenue year-on-year to SEK437m (£39m/€44m/$51m) – a 0.8% decline in euro terms – while earnings before tax grew by a modest 1.2% to SEK149m. NetEnt’s share price on the Nasdaq Stockholm was down around 17% this morning following the release of its Q2 results.In a conference call, Hillman (pictured) said she “couldn’t be too confident” that the revenue outlook would improve significantly over the next two quarters.“We are taking action where we are not doing enough at the moment,” she added. “What we do see is that the slowdown in the UK has made a difference and the UK is a challenging market.”Hillman said that in spite of the emergence of new players in the UK, the company’s market share in the country remains at approximately 10%.“I’m confident that the game portfolio will be better in the second half of the year and we also have a good line-up of new customers to launch in Q3 and Q4,” she said.“We need to grow our live casino and have more growth initiatives to kick in.”Hillman was appointed as the new permanent group chief executive in May. She had served as NetEnt’s chief financial officer since January 2017 before taking on the top job in an acting capacity following the removal of Per Eriksson in March – with the board stating that the performance of the group had “not been as it should”.Strengthening the customer offeringLooking forward, Hillman said that NetEnt’s plan of action includes strengthening the customer offering, cutting lead times and freeing up resources for new commercial projects. The company is enjoying stronger growth in southern Europe than the UK and Nordics, where the markets are maturing and there is increased competition, she said.However, she added that it is an “ambition” rather than an expectation that revenue growth will surpass cost growth this year.“We continue to review our cost structure to improve scalability across the business and we have started to see a lower pace of cost growth,” she said.Hillman added that the Fifa World Cup, which started in June, had made a positive impact on NetEnt’s performance after May had “really hurt” the company’s figures.Increasingly dangerousIn a trading note, Regulus Partners said that NetEnt’s slowdown mirrors two macro trends that “will be difficult to overcome”.The note stated: “First, NetEnt’s key Northern European markets are maturing, making growth harder to come by, especially for operators and suppliers with already large market shares and limited USPs.“Second, the rapid growth in mobile-led businesses has also disaggregated the supply-chain from the comfortable (near) vertical integration of the early and middle phases of remote growth. The best operators seek the best content from a wide range of sources, reducing the value of incumbency in absolute terms and also increasing the growth risk of clients with legacy systems and slow response times.“In our view, these two pressures have a number of suppliers and operators in an increasingly dangerous vice. It is easy to know that it is critical to be ‘more agile’, ‘more innovative’ and ‘more relevant’, as well as more efficient; but when shaped by a supply-chain environment that is changing very rapidly, it is a lot harder to do.” AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Topics: Finance NetEnt ‘taking action’ as growth slows Regions: Europe Tags: Online Gambling Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Email Address
Online gaming operator 888 Holdings has completed the purchase of JPJ Group’s Mandalay bingo business for £18m (€21.0m/$23.7m). Announced last month, the deal will see London-listed 888 take full ownership of various bingo assets, including Costa Bingo, from JPJ subsidiaries Jet Management Group and Jet Media. Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Online gaming operator 888 Holdings has completed the purchase of JPJ Group’s Mandalay operating business for £18m (€21.0m/$23.7m).Announced last month, the deal will see London-listed 888 take full ownership of various bingo assets, including Costa Bingo, from JPJ subsidiaries Jet Management Group and Jet Media.888 will pay an initial £12m to JPJ under the terms of the deal, with a further payment of £6m due in September.Speaking last month, 888 CEO Itai Pazner said the purchase of Mandalay would support the operator’s strategy of expanding across global regulated markets, including the UK bingo sector.“This expansion is underpinned by organic growth initiatives supported by exploring value-enhancing M&A,” Pazner said.“Having been developed on Dragonfish, the Group’s first-class B2B platform, we are confident that consolidating these brands into our existing B2C portfolio will deliver synergies and growth opportunities by applying the full extent of 888’s core capabilities in product, marketing and customer relationship management to their operations.”JPJ Group has also said the sale would allow it to develop a single-brand strategy in its core UK market, based around its flagship Jackpotjoy brand, which would optimise returns on marketing investment.Shortly after announcing the Mandalay acquisition, 888 also confirmed that it has struck a deal to purchase Irish sports betting operator BetBright, including its proprietary platform, for £15m.Earlier this week, 888 said that these two acquisition agreements will help the operator build on its success in 2018 and pursue further growth.888 posted revenue of $540.6m for 2018, which is down 2% from $541.8m in the previous year, but earnings were up to record levels. Adjusted EBITDA amounted to $107.1m, up 6% on $100.7m in 2017.Adjusted profit before tax was also up 11% to $86.7m, while 888 profit before tax was up from $18.8m to $108.7m. 888 put this down to exceptional income, compared to exceptional charges in 2017, as well as VAT accrual release and gain from re-measurement of previously held equity interest in joint ventures. Once taxes of $13.9m were paid, 888’s net profit for the year stood at $94.8m. Finance Topics: Finance Strategy 888 completes acquisition of Mandalay from JPJ 13th March 2019 | By contenteditor Email Address AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Tags: Online Gambling
Email Address 25th April 2019 | By Joanne Christie Regions: LATAM Bingo Tags: Online Gambling Race Track and Racino While a number of countries in the region have taken steps towards sustainable regulated igaming markets, there is still a lot of work to be done, says Layla Ali Topics: Casino & games Legal & compliance Lottery Sports betting Bingo Horse racing Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter There is still a lot of work to be done before local and international operators can reap the benefits Latin America’s huge, diverse populations have to offer, says Layla Ali, conference producer at Clarion GamingFrom Mexico down to Argentina, Latin America is a patchwork of different regulations which, in some cases, date back as far as 1947. Over the past three years, countries such as Argentina, Brazil and Colombia have made real progress towards sustainably regulated online markets.However, to date, the only country with a fully regulated and operational online gambling market is Colombia. Regulator Coljuegos legalised online sports betting and casino in 2016 and now has 18 licensees working in the country.Coljuegos president Juan Pérez has stated that his pipeline includes plans to regulate virtual sports and live casino in the near future as well. These developments have brought Colombia to the attention of some of the biggest international operators, and have given local operators the chance to develop their businesses.That is not to say, however, that the process has been smooth sailing. For example, quite significantly, Coljuegos failed to inform Google of regulatory changes, meaning Colombian gamblers could not access legal betting sites when they were first approved.Given that there are almost 20 operators working successfully in the market, this technological glitch doesn’t seem to have slowed business down too much. For most operators, the focus is now on marketing and raising brand awareness, and this infrastructural step-up opens the path for affiliates to legally start working in Colombia now as well.Local operators certainly have an appetite for learning more about what value affiliate partnerships could bring to their businesses, and international operators are looking for partnerships promising maximum brand exposure and customer acquisition in the quickest possible time.Whether they achieve this through the acquisition of smaller, local operators, partnerships with more consolidated local businesses, or sponsorships of well-known sports teams is a strategic question individual to each company.One of the first operators to obtain an online licence in Colombia, BetPlay, has certainly made a success out of sponsoring the Colombian national football team.Brazil beckoning Building connections with the sporting world would also appear to be a winning tactic for operators in Brazil, whose government recently approved legislation for online sports betting in the country.After years of back and forth on which verticals would be legalised and when, in December 2018, exiting president Michel Temer approved a bill to legalise online sports betting and gave the Ministry of Finance two years to draft regulation.With no fixed guidelines yet available to operators, it is much more difficult to draft a strategy for Brazil than for Colombia. Working with the information we do have though, what we can say is that with a population of approximately 2.12 million, when the Ministry of Finance gives the industry the green light, Brazil could be the second largest gambling market in the world.The country’s GDP per capita of $10,889m (£8,421), combined with the net worth of the currently illegal lottery game jogo do bicho, indicates that enough Brazilians with some disposable income would be willing to have a flutter to make the market an incredibly profitable investment.Immediately after the sports betting bill was approved, Paulo Azi from the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies submitted another bill (PL530/2019) proposing legalisation of the land-based casino industry in Brazil.PL530/2019 advocates building up to 32 integrated resorts and designating 10% of each resort’s available space to casino gaming. Should the bill be approved and integrated resorts regulated, it would mean international operators such as Las Vegas Sands (LVS), which has long expressed an interest in Brazil, could stand to make an immense profit not only from local gamblers but also from tourists, of which Brazil has no shortage.Small steps forward In a similar way to Brazil covering all its bases with online sports betting and land-based casino gaming, a couple of Argentinian provinces are beginning to expand their regulation as well. In November 2018 the Province of Buenos Aires and the City of Buenos Aires agreed on rules for the legalisation of certain types of online gambling across the capital city and province.This year, the Lottery of the City of Buenos Aires will regulate online slots, roulette, poker, blackjack, sports betting, lottery and baccarat, with bingo, esports and virtual betting on the list for a later date.In combination with the already legal land-based casinos, slots and horse race betting, Buenos Aires is arguably an attractive prospect for both local and international operators.Zooming out, however, the country as a whole is still troublesome for investors. Divided into 23 provinces, each of which regulates on its own terms, Argentina is a challenge in terms of staying up-to-date with developments and calculating the return on different levels of investment and verticals.Aside from Buenos Aires, the only other province known to be working on online gambling regulation is Mendoza. The city plans to legalise the online versions of verticals already on offer in the land-based space, which are lottery and casino games.Mendoza’s land-based offering, like Brazil’s proposed bill, comes in the form of integrated resorts, with the regulator’s ultimate goal being to encourage tourism to the region. Whether or not this opportunity will be of more interest to international giants such as LVS, or local operators that know their demographic well, is difficult to predict.In fact, unpredictability can often be the name of the game in Latin America, with some of the smallest, and seemingly unlikeliest, countries, such as Costa Rica, running alongside giants Brazil and Colombia in planning to regulate online lottery this year.The only clear trend in the region, and arguably the most important one, is a widespread forward movement towards full and sustainable regulation, which both local and international operators need to be ready for at any time.This year’s Juegos Miami event, exploring opportunities in Latin American and Caribbean gaming, will be held from May 29 to May 31. See the full agenda here. Latin America: a work in progress
The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) has revealed that it issued cease-and-desist orders to 14 businesses in 2019 as part of ongoing efforts to combat illegal gambling in the state.Working in partnership with Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office, the MGCB sent officers to businesses that claimed to be operate redemption games, which are legal in Michigan.However, when investigating each location, the MGCB determined the sites were instead offering casino-style video slot machines, which are based on chance and not skill.Four locations in Oakland County were shut down in 2019, as well as three each in Macomb County and Lapeer County. A further two closed in Genesee County, and one each in Kent County and Washtenaw County.Read the full story on iGB North America. Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Regions: US Michigan AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter 13th February 2020 | By contenteditor Michigan illegal gambling crackdown sees 14 venues shuttered The Michigan Gaming Control Board (MGCB) has revealed that it issued cease-and-desist orders to 14 businesses in 2019 as part of ongoing efforts to combat illegal gambling in the state. Tags: Slot Machines Topics: Casino & games Legal & compliance Slots Casino & games Email Address
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Regions: Europe Nordics Sweden Swedish operators slam Covid-19 restrictions Topics: Casino & games Legal & compliance 11th May 2020 | By Daniel O’Boyle Tags: Online Gambling Email Address Casino & games A consultation on proposed restrictions for Swedish online casino licensees has seen operators and industry associations condemn the new rules, echoing gambling regulator Spelinspektionen’s assessment that the controls would only benefit unlicensed operators.Proposed by Minister for Health and Social Affairs Ardalan Shekarabi, the restrictions would set an SEK5,000 (£401/€459/$495) mandatory weekly deposit limit and a SEK100 cap on bonuses while the country deals with the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. Mandatory limits on time spend gambling would also be imposed, while the government pledged to explore potential restrictions on return to player (RTP) rates. This has already prompted a dubious response from gambling regulator Spelinspektionen, which warned that such restrictive conditions would prompt players to move offshore, in turn harming player protection efforts and undermining the government’s goal of channeling players to legal offerings.This was supported by operator contributions to the consultation, which ended on 8 May. Henrik Tjärnström, chief executive of Unibet operator Kindred, called the proposals “an open invitation to illegal gambling sites”.“We are extremely concerned that the [regulated] Swedish gambling market continues to shrink, a trend confirmed by both the Swedish Agency for Public Management (Statskontoret) and research firm Copenhagen Economics,” Tjärnström said. “What the government is now proposing will result in a continued decline in the gambling market and an erosion of consumer protections.The operator said that there was no data to support the idea that problem gambling has increased since the pandemic started.“The overall gambling industry (private and state-run) has experienced a drop in gambling activity,” Kindred said. “We are left to wonder on what evidence the Minister has based his alarmist hypothesis.”In addition, Kindred cited a report commissioned by operator association Branscheforenigen for Onlinespel (BOS) and compliled by Copenhagen Economics, which said that the channelisation rate for online casino may be as low as 72%.The operator also said the government had not carried out an impact assessment of the technical changes required for the new regulations.“Licence holders cannot change technical systems in the manner prescribed if they only have until 1 June to implement these changes,” Kindred said. “This forces licensees to choose which rules to violate. Not all rules can be followed if the proposal is implemented.”“We need to be careful about introducing regulations that move customers away from regulated gambling companies towards unlicensed sites where Swedish authorities have no ability whatsoever of ensuring a high consumer protection,” Tjärnström added. “This is a negative development for customers, for the licensed gambling companies, and for society as a whole.”Meanwhile, Svenska Spel chief executive Patrik Hofbauer argued existing regulations set out each operator’s responsibilties to customers, meaning that additional controls were unnecessary.“With the duty of care that applies to gaming operators, we are already bound to take action [to protect players] as and when necessary,” he said.Hofbauer added that a measure that could prove to be effective in fighting problem gambling on both licensed and unlicensed sites would be a ban on short-term borrowing by players, such as payday loans. “It’s time to put a stop to lending to gambling addicts,” Hofbauer said. “Set a requirement for lenders to check a person’s total debt in real time before new loans are granted and withdraw the permits of credit institutions that do not carry out secure lending.“This is a particularly powerful measure, as it also discourages problem gambling on illegal gambling sites.”The biggest threat to players came from offshore providers, and not from the regulated market, he continued. Instead of putting the onus on operators, Hofbauer said it was therefore up to Spelinspektionen to do more to tackle illegal gambling in the country.“Spelinspektionen already has several tools to counter illegal gambling, including payment blocking and warning messages,” he said. “It is time for the authority to start using these tools.“In addition, we would like to see B2B licences for gaming suppliers. This would allow game developers to have their license revoked if they provide services to gaming companies that engage in illegal gaming activities.”In its response, online gambling trade association BOS said the reason given for the regulations – an increase in online casino play – was news to its members, which had seen little evidence of a spike in activity.“Our members have a hard time seeing the dramatic increase in online casino that Social Security Minister Ardalan Shekarabi repeatedly says they are experiencing,” BOS said. “We are looking for independent sources to substantiate this claim.“When we asked our members, on average, a very slight increase [of 1%] for online casinos was reported.”BOS also echoed Kindred’s assertion that the government had not made an effort to determine a reasonable amount of time for the introduction of the regulations.“The Ministry of Finance has not consulted with the industry on the practical consequences of introducing these proposed measures, and what timeframe is reasonable for their introduction. The Ministry of Finance has seriously underestimated the time it will take to implement these new controls.”BOS added that the measures seemed certain to further damage the level of channelisation to the Swedish legal market.“If the government proceeds with these proposals, it can prepare for a channelisation level so low that it threatens the licensing system, and an increase in problem gambling linked to unlicensed gambling,” BOS warned. “In this scenario, the problem players are left entirely to their own fate.”The association then claimed that the regulations amounted to a violation of European Union laws.“We believe that the measures proposed are a violation of EU law in that they discriminate against licensed gaming operators, that they are not effective for the purpose they are purported to serve, and that they deviate from the principle of proportionality,” it concluded.BOS has already made its opposition to the rules clear. With the release of the Copenhagen Economics report into channelisation, BOS secretary general Gustaf Hoffsted said Shekarabi “must withdraw” the rules.The association then published an open letter to the minister and launched a petition calling for the withdrawal of the regulations. This petition has drawn signatures from at least 12 industry chief executives. Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter A consultation on proposed restrictions for Swedish online casino licensees has seen operators and industry associations condemn the new rules, echoing gambling regulator Spelinspektionen’s assessment that the controls would only benefit unlicensed operators.
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Rush Street Interactive (RSI) has agreed a deal to launch retail and online sports betting in partnership with the Little River Casino Resort in Michigan.Under the agreement, RSI will become service provider for a new in-casino retail sportsbook at the property, which is operated by the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians with plans in place to open the facility early in the third quarter.Michigan launched legal retail sports wagering in March, days before the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic disrupted sporting fixtures worldwide.The deal also covers the launch of a co-branded online sports betting and online casino, as soon as regulations in Michigan allow.Read the full story on iGB North America. RSI to launch sports betting with Michigan’s Little River Casino 23rd June 2020 | By contenteditor Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Topics: Sports betting Sports betting Regions: US Michigan Email Address Rush Street Interactive (RSI) has agreed a deal to launch retail and online sports betting in partnership with the Little River Casino Resort in Michigan.
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter 14th July 2020 | By contenteditor Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Sports betting Esports analytics and data providers Bayes Esports Solutions and Shadow.gg have developed a data-driven application to enhance esports engagement for betting operators. Esports analytics and data provider Bayes Esports Solutions has developed a data-driven application to enhance esports engagement for betting operators.Bayes, which is a joint venture between Sportradar and Bayes Holding, the company formerly known as Dojo Madness, has created esports widgets with the goal of improving the live experience, visualisation of in-game data, and accessibility of esports events.Bayes said the visualisation tools can provide official data and content opportunities from every esports match, similar to those available for traditional sports. Users can add esports headlines, stats, win predictions, team and players breakdowns, as well as interactive 2D mini replay maps.The esports data provider said that by deploying the widgets, betting platforms can capitalise on major esports tournaments, covering everything from basic data to granular information on match events and statistics.“The Esports Widgets provide esports fans with the modern look and feel to which audiences have grown accustomed,” the supplier explained. “Visuals and pop ups within the interactive technology provide deep insight into every esports match, including pregame, postgame and in-play, delivering engaging visual content with no technical overhead.“For media and betting companies, the Esports Widgets mean a new standard in audience engagement.” Topics: Sports betting Tech & innovation Email Address Bayes aims to enhance esports data use with new widgets
AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Amid rising numbers of novel coronavirus (Covid-19) cases in the country, the property is now scheduled to reopen on 5 October. Regions: Asia South Korea Email Address This, the operator said, is likely to mean it loses out on KRW53.9bn (£36.1m/€39.3m/$46.3m) in revenue during the closure. Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter South Korean casino operator Kangwon Land will now keep its flagship venue in Jeongseongun closed until October, the fourth time it has pushed back the reopening date for the property. Casino & games While it was originally set to be a two-day closure, to 23 August, this was pushed back to 29 August. Reopening was then delayed until 7 September, and then 21 September. Kangwon Land expects KRW53.9bn hit from extended closure Image: Laserland / CC BY-SA 21st September 2020 | By Aaron Noy Topics: Casino & games Finance It had been due to reopen today (21 September), having closed its doors on 21 August, less than two months after reopening following its first Covid-19 shut-down. Kangwon Land has already been badly affected by Covid-19, with revenue falling 63.5% to KRW270.6bn in the first six months of 2020, after it was closed from 23 February due to the pandemic.
“Permitting children to gamble up to £350 a week on these products was a mistake, and it is welcome that the government has already committed to increasing the minimum age to 18.” Tags: National Lottery Camelot National Lottery Licence Tender For some critics, however, this is not quickly enough and Camelot CEO Nigel Railton was criticised in November after telling a session of the APPG on Gambling Related Harm that Camelot may need up to a year to implement the changes. This should perhaps stand it in good stead given it’s the online channel that seems to have pushed the government to take action. When the decision was announced on December 8, Minister for Sport, Tourism and Heritage Nigel Huddleston referenced the trend towards online play as a key factor. In any case, the government has given Camelot until October next year to make the necessary changes, although Camelot has since said it will make all changes before this, with all online changes to be complete by April. But the reality of spending habits for players under 18 is rather different, says Richard Hickson, Camelot’s head of policy and public affairs. But rather than being a blow to incumbent Camelot and its competitors in the race for the fourth National Lottery tender, and unlike some of the decisions expected to result from the review, the news probably came as a relief. Particularly over the past year or so, Camelot has repeatedly come under fire for, to quote an investigation published in The Sunday Times in July, “exploiting a loophole that allows children to gamble hundreds of pounds a week online”. The newspaper suggested that some of Camelot’s games appeared to target children, and said: “The normal minimum age for gambling is 18, leaving lotteries like Camelot, which runs the lottery, having exclusive access to a teenage market denied to other betting firms.” The government’s decision to raise the minimum age for playing the National Lottery will hopefully draw a line under an issue that brought lots of bad press to the sector for very little financial gain. Joanne Christie reports. Technically speaking this may be true, as the weekly deposit limit of £350 applies to players of all ages. Subscribe to the iGaming newsletter Time for action on National Lottery age limit Shortly after the announcement, a Camelot spokesperson pointed out: “We’ve said all along that we would fully support any decision made by the government to raise the minimum age to play.” “The weekly deposit limit for the National Lottery website is £350 a week. However, the average weekly spend for this age group is under £5. It won’t happen ‘overnight’ Although the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s announcement on the review of gambling laws didn’t specifically say loot boxes were under review, it referenced the government’s call for evidence on the topic, which was launched in September. “We would have been unable to unilaterally change the law or our current operating licence, which requires us to sell National Lottery products to anyone who is eligible and is aged 16 years or over,” he says. With such modest revenues from the players in question, it seems likely the bad PR would have far outweighed the financial rewards for Camelot and it repeatedly said when asked beforehand that it didn’t oppose the age being raised. Topics: Legal & compliance Lottery Social responsibility Compliance Regulation Online lottery Retail lottery Problem gambling Responsible gambling In retail he says about 80 individual items need changing or removing and in online more than 50 separate areas need to be addressed. So far, the only concrete change to come out of the much-hyped forthcoming overhaul of British gambling laws is the raising of the age at which players can play the National Lottery from 16 to 18. Online the problem area “On top of that, any Covid-19 restrictions will need to be taken into account to ensure that we implement the changes as safely and responsibly as possible,” he adds. “With our operating licence requiring us to ensure that the minimum age to play appears on all physical materials, as well as in all online channels, the changeover will not happen overnight. This isn’t simply a case of sending new stickers to retailers or flicking an online switch.” “You must be 18 to purchase lottery products in all of our markets with the exception of Austria, where the age limit is 16 in retail stores in accordance with domestic law.” Predictably, APPG chair Carolyn Harris described Camelot’s proposed timeframe as “unacceptable”, while Conservative MP Richard Holden told the Telegraph it was, “farcical to suggest that it would take 12 months to replace a few sticky signs in shops”. Regions: UK & Ireland But a perhaps more important political question to be raised by the government’s National Lottery announcement is how much further it will go on restricting gambling or gambling-like activities for under-18s. However, Hickson says it isn’t that simple. “The National Lottery is a vast and complex operation, with a network of 44,000 independently owned retailers across the UK and more than 8.5m active registered players, making it Europe’s largest online lottery in terms of sales. Clean Up Gambling founder Matt Zarb-Cousin also identifies online as a key problem area: “Allowing under 18s to buy lottery tickets means they’re also allowed to engage in scratch cards and online instant wins, which have more in common with online casino games than the National Lottery draw. “Patterns of play have changed since its inception, with a shift towards online games, and this change will help make sure the National Lottery, although already low-risk, is not a gateway to problem gambling,” he said. AddThis Sharing ButtonsShare to LinkedInLinkedInShare to FacebookFacebookShare to TwitterTwitter Camelot’s most public rival in the bid for the fourth National Lottery tender, Sazka, appeared to be of a similar view when it released a statement in support of raising the age prior to the government’s decision. It referenced the fact that while it limited sales of all lottery products in four of its five European markets, it also restricted online sales in the fifth. Indeed, Mark Griffiths, psychologist and director of the International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University, told iGB last year that if there had been an increase in problem gambling among young people, as was reported at the time, it was simulated gambling activities such as loot boxes that were the most likely cause. In anyone was dragging its feet, it was perhaps the government and indeed, Hickson says Camelot was not in a position to make the decision itself. Whether Sazka can gain any political advantage in the tender process for its anti-under-18s stance and track record remains to be seen and will depend to some extent on Camelot’s rollout of the changes. “Now that the decision has been made, we’ll be doing everything we can to implement the necessary changes as quickly as possible.” “We support the change because this is the age limit in four of our existing European lottery markets, where we have proven that innovation and strong player protection measures can work in tandem to grow lottery sales and fund good causes,” a spokesperson told iGB. “As far as I’m concerned loot boxes are a form of gambling,” he said, with his view having been echoed by many others recently, including a House of Commons Committee and the Children’s Commissioner for England. Given the House of Lords Gambling Select Committee recommended in July that the government shouldn’t wait for the Gambling Act review to classify loot boxes as gambling and that one of its other recommendations was to raise the National Lottery age to 18, it’s entirely possible loot boxes could be next in the government’s firing line. “And, to put it into context, out of more than 8.5m active registered online National Lottery players, only around 3,300 of them are currently aged 16 and 17.” Various other anti-gambling campaigners and newspapers jumped on board the anti-Camelot bandwagon, with a number of headlines claiming it allowed children to gamble up to £350 a week. 17th December 2020 | By Joanne Christie While National Lottery sales to children may have been one focus of recent negative attention, the situation with loot boxes is arguably a much bigger issue. Regulation An exaggerated issue? Email Address