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08 Jan
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US state of Pennsylvania set to relook at online casino regulation

Pennsylvania Senator Jay Costa has stated that he will introduce an online casino bill to legislate online gambling in the US state.

In fact the state has looked at regulation in each of the last four years and came close with the HB2150 bill in 2016. This bill would have allowed land-based casinos in the state to partner with online operators to offer Internet poker and casino.

House of Representatives voted 114-85 in favour of the bill, but the lawmakers in the state remained undecided and the bill failed to pass by the stated deadline.

Senator Costa has now decided to begin the process again and announced that HB2150 will be used as “the base” for his own legislation.

Costa intends to enable Pennsylvania casinos to provide online gaming services, with necessary approval and pay a license fee of $10 million (€9.4 million).

Firms that collaborate with casinos to host an online gaming platform will have to dish out a license fee of $5 million, while there will be a 25% tax on Internet gaming revenue.

Also, the bill will determine regulation for daily fantasy sports contests, with brands in this sector to shell out a license fee of $2.5 million and tax rate of 25% on revenue.

08 Jan
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Juan Espinosa García appointed Spanish regulator’s new director-general

In an important new development, Spain’s national gambling regulator - Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ) – has named Juan Espinosa García as its new director-general. Since July 2013, García has occupied the post of deputy director-general.

Before joining the DGOJ, García worked for five years as deputy director within the Advocacy Division of the Spanish National Competition Commission.

The news of his appointment comes after the DGOJ in November revealed significant improvement in the Spain’s online gaming sector for the 3 months to September 30.

Online gaming revenue in the third quarter was €103 million ($107.3 million), up 22% during the same period in 2015.

Sports betting has been the major source of revenue in Q3 as it generated an income of €56.8 million. This was 15% more than in 2015. Also, online casino revenue jumped up 57% year-on-year to €28.4 million.

31 Dec
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Gaming Innovation Group secured Malta license for BettingCloud

Gaming Innovation Group (GIG) has bagged a Class 4 Remote Gaming Licence from the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) for its subsidiary -  BettingCloud.

This B2B supplier licence will help the firm to provide its sports betting product to other operators that are licensed.

Germany-facing Wetten.com is bound to be the first operator client to go live with the new license. A beta launch is expected and then a full roll out in the new year.

Earlier in 2016, Wetten.com also signed a platform agreement with GIG’s iGamingCloud subsidiary.

Robin Reed, chief executive of GIG, commented:

“We have reached a major milestone as we are now a fully licensed B2B gaming service provider for the Sportsbetting vertical.

“GIG is continuing to branch out in the iGaming value chain and is now a fully-fledged gaming service provider.”

GIG has also disclosed that it is building technology to generate proprietary odds via its OddsModel AS subsidiary.

The company also intends to commercialize the development in 2017 and merge it onto BettingCloud that will then provide odds feeds, content services, betting engine, risk management and trading tools.

These solutions will be sold, with an option to club it with the iGamingCloud platform.

Reed added:

“Within next year, these efforts will fully come into fruition and it will greatly benefit the company and our clients.”

26 Dec
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Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte promises to ban online gambling

In a rather significant new move, the president of Philippines - Rodrigo Duterte – has categorically stated his intention to ban online gambling in the country.

Duterte announced this while presenting the 2017 budget. However, he did not specify any timeframe to bring the new law into effect.

“I am ordering the closure of all online gaming (firms); all of them.

The declaration comes after Duterte in August cancelled an operator’s 13-year monopoly on gambling in licensed cafes, citing the fact that the country has no proper way of collecting taxes from internet gambling and a rise in the number of youth participation as the reasons behind the move.

“I was mad because even the youth are gambling and there was no way of collecting the proper taxes," Duterte said at the time, according to the RT.com website.

"I will restore online (gambling) provided taxes are correctly collected, and they are situated or placed in districts where gambling is allowed, which means to say, not close to churches or schools,” Duterte said.

His comments came after the country was hit by an online gambling scandal recently. According to media reports, close to 1,300 Chinese immigrants had indulged in an illegal scheme.

This scandal came to light after local authorities raided Fontana Leisure Parks & Casino in Clark, Pampanga.

The large number of illegal immigrants are likely to be deported by the authorities.

22 Dec
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David Baazov backs out from Amaya takeover bid

Former Amaya boss David Baazov has backed out in his bid to acquire the PokerStars owner after a disagreement with regards to the valuation.

Baazov, founder of Amaya, was willing to buy the company in mid-November in for approximately $4.1 billion (€4 billion).

If the transaction costs were taken into account then the bid was worth $6.7 billion.

This move was opposed by Amaya shareholder SpringOwl Asset Management, citing lack of transparency.

The negotiations received another jolt when KBC Aldini, a Dubai-based investor, backing for the deal announced was given without the approval of the firm.

“It became evident that the share price premium demanded by certain shareholders exceeded the price at which my investors and I would be willing to complete a transaction,” Baazov said in a statement.

“Amaya confirmed today that discussions with its former chief executive officer, David Baazov, regarding the offer to acquire Amaya by an entity to be formed, have terminated,”read the statement from Amaya.

Baazov was forced to step down from his position as chief executive earlier this year after he was charged with multiple counts of illegal insider trading by the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), Quebec’s securities regulator. These charges were leveled against Baazov with regards to Amaya's $4.9 billion acquisition of Rational Group.

However, none of these charged have been proven in court.

04 Dec
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Denmark struck by lowest-ever online poker quarterly result

In some bad news for Denmark’s poker industry, country’s gambling regulator Spillemyndigheden has announced that its online poker market has registered its poorest quarterly performance during the three months leading up to September 30.

Gross gaming revenue (GGR) generated by online pokers in the third quarter of 2016 was only DDK35 million (€4.7 million/$5 million), least since the game was legalized in the country.

While the online casino GGR was better (DDK335 million), that number too was lower in comparison to the previous two quarters. Interestingly, online casino GGR takes care of 64.5% of Denmark’s overall betting market.

However, gaming machines remain a consistent source of income for the country’s online casino market. It has a 70% market share, far ahead of poker, blackjack and roulette.

If the third quarter result is anything to by, Spillemyndigheden puts GGR for the full-year to be at somewhere around DDK8.85 billion, compared to DDK8.36 billion at the end of 2015.

There are tricky times for all the stakeholders in the Danish online gambling market. It now remains to be seen how the ecosystem responds to these numbers and patters. Is this trend here to stay or will business pick up in the final quarter of the year, is something one has to wait and watch.

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