British Columbia Concludes Video Game Gambling Study

The Canadian state of British Columbia has just finished a twelve month assessment carried out with more than 150 video gamers in order to explore the link between gaming and gambling addiction.

The study reflects increasing concern among betting regulators over the way that video-game developers and their gambling-product counterparts are swapping features, leading to what has been described as the ‘gamification’ of the gambling industry and the ‘gamblification’ of video games.

The study ran between October, 2018, and November, 2019. It is set to be used by regulators as a resource for analysing risk factors as well as for making recommendations in the area of counselling support for all video gamers. Results are expected to be released in 2020.

Speaking about the study, the head of Gambling Policy for British Columbia, David Horricks, said that the 165 people involved were seen by counsellors, and that overall the study shows the need for more scrutiny of what is a new and growing problem:

“This whole industry is new, and people are just starting to understand the implications of the merging of these industries. We’re at the very front of this.”

Politicians and concerned groups around the world have raised concerns about some video games, asking for some games or practices to be officially labelled as gambling. The practice of offering so-called ‘loot boxes’ to players during video game play has been widely criticised and, in some jurisdictions,, action has been taken to classify this as gambling.

According to Mr Horricks, his department is likely to come up with recommendations on the value of offering counselling for those found to exhibiting signs of problem. But he ruled out making recommendations on the possibility of regulating games, expressing the view that this was a bigger subject and required more in-depth study.

IBIA to Share Data with MGA

The fight against sports corruption has seen a number of bodies and stakeholders forming new links and the latest example has been unveiled this week.

The International Betting Integrity Association (IBIA) will now be sharing important data with the Sports Integrity Unit, which is part of the Malta Gaming Authority’s push to promote sports integrity. The Unit, which was set up this summer, aims to target match and spot fixing in sport.

The two bodies have signed an official Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which is the first time that the Unit and a major betting monitoring organisation have struck a deal.

Speaking about the partnership, the CEO at the IBIA, Khalid Ali, said that they would be offering the services of their sports betting monitoring set up that includes some of the global betting industry’s biggest operators, to help spot suspicious betting patterns. He also praised the MGA for their commitment to the cause of tackling sports corruption:

“The creation of the Sports Integrity Unit and its focus on tackling match-fixing is a very welcome move, which is why I am delighted to have reached this agreement with the MGA that will allow us to work collaboratively on integrity.”

The MGA Sports Integrity Officer, Antonio Zerafa, also commented on the deal. He said that the MGA had the fight against sports match fixing at the heart of its operations, and that success depended on working with other bodies, including betting operators.

The deal comes at the same time that the IBIA has officially praised the International Tennis Federation (ITF) for the steps it has taken to tackle tennis corruption. The IBIA played a role in drawing up recommendations produced by the tennis Independent Review Panel this year.

Spain Classify Gambling Addiction as a Mental Health Issue

The Spanish betting regulator Dirección General de Ordenación del Juego (DGOJ) has issued a new update for its Responsible Gaming Program. And according to their findings problem gambling will now be considered to be a mental disorder.

The change was approved by the Responsible Gaming Advisory Council (CAJR), and the associated measures are set to be rolled out during the next few months while the DGOJ pushes ahead with its campaign to promote safe gambling in the Spanish betting sector.

The first of the measures covers gambling addiction reclassification. The DGOJ and CAJR are planning to bring together a number of variables that will help the identification of problem gambling on the part of an individual. The DGOJ hope that this information will support wider4 decision-making as well as guiding policy in this sector and help to tackle other issues including the impact on Spanish society of problem gambling.

At the same time, the DGOJ is planning an in-depth examination of the existing General Registry of Access to Game Interdictions (RGIAJ), which is the main self-exclusion scheme in Spain. They will be looking for ways to improve the effectiveness of the scheme through operational or other changes.

In a statement commenting on the changes, the DGOJ said that it was important to examine the RGIAJ for any potential improvements, even though it was functioning well:

“Although the evaluation of the operation and results of the RGIAJ is highly satisfactory it is necessary to reflect on those aspects that require adaptations and improvements.”

They are also planning to set up what they described as an alert system that would be able to identify possible ID fraud at the point at which a player signs up to a Spanish operator.

New CEO for SK365

Italy-focused betting operator SKS365 has strengthened its leadership with a new appointment. The firm have made Alexander Martin, formerly of the German Gauselman Group their new CEO. At the same time, Andrew McIver, who was previously the CEO at Sportingbet has been named as the non-executive chairman at SK365.

Martin worked at Gauselman for four years, where he held roles as the company’s chief media officer as well as a place on the executive board. Prior to that, he had been working as a management consultant consultancy firm A.T Kearney.

Speaking about the appointment, the board at SKS365 said that they were delighted to have Martin on board and that he would have the task of taking the company forward to its next stage:

“His expertise in retail, online, global strategy and leadership combined with his strong industry knowledge and energy, make him ideally suited to further accelerate SKS365’s growth.”

Martin said that he was proud and honoured at becoming the first permanent CEO for SK365 since the last CEO, Ian McLoughlin had stepped aside back in January. He added that he was delighted to have the chance to use his experience to help the company expand and that the firm would be working to improve the customer experience and product to bolster their market position.

McIver, meanwhile, comes to SK365 after a stint at Jackpotjoy, which is now known as Gamesys Group. Before that, he had spent seven years in charge at Sportingbet.

The company commented that McIver was a well-regarded figure in the business world, and that his experience of leadership within the betting industry, he would be able to offer support to the management team as they tried to continue the company’s growth.

SKS365 is well placed to grow in the Italian market through its PlanetWin365 brand. According to October figures, it took 5.7% of all online casino revenue in the country, as well as 11.9% for combined online and retail sportsbook revenue.

EGBA Reveals Euro Market Growth

The online betting market in the European sector appears to be growing quickly, according to figures released by a leading gaming industry body.

The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA) has published new figures, which show that the online sector in Europe has grown by 11%. The figures also show that the UK leads the way when it comes to online betting, with a healthy 32.4% slice of the total market.

The data was released through a partnership between the EGBA and H2 Gambling Capital and it shows that revenue for the sector grew from €20 million in 2017 to €22.2 million.

Speaking about the figures, the secretary general at the EGBA, Maarten Haijer, said that it showed that there was a huge demand for online gaming, but also warned of the need for improvement when it came to the uniformity of regulatory standards across Europe:

“But its increased popularity reinforces the need for more consistent and strong consumer protections and industry standards across all EU countries. The current situation of diverging and sometimes conflicting regulations in EU countries is detrimental to consumers, authorities and operators alike.

EGBA speaks on behalf of a number of Europe’s leading betting operators, including Betsson Group, Bet365, GVC Holdings PLC, MRG and the ZEAL Network. In total, the EGBA members hold 121 licences to offer betting services in 20 different EU countries.

The figures also showed that online gambling is a growing factor as a percentage of the total European gambling market. It accounts for 23.2% of the EU betting market. And there has been huge growth in the popularity of mobile betting, with 43% of online wagers made using phones, a rise of 39% on the same figure for 2017.

Legal Success for Videoslots

Online gaming firm Videoslots has secured a notable legal success in Sweden, becoming the latest company to successfully fight for a full-period licence to operate in the Swedish market.

Videoslots applied for a full five-year licence. But the Swedish regulator Spelinspektionen initially granted them only a two year licence.

That decision, which has now been overturned by a court in Sweden, was made due to previous disciplinary action taken against Videoslots by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC).

That related to a November 2018 case, in which the UKGC uncovered failings in the firm’s anti money laundering policies and in its procedures related to social responsibility. A settlement of £1 million was reached in that case, with the money going towards a project to help tackled problem gambling.

The Swedish regulator had ruled that this was enough to deny the company the full five-year licence, but on Monday the Administrative Court disagreed.

In its appeal, the company had pointed to the fact that the UKGC had reported that they had cooperated fully with the UKGC investigation, had shown insight into the failings identified and had taken quick action to tackle the problems that came to light. They argued in the court, that the UKGC decision should not have been a factor in deciding on their Swedish licence application. They also pointed out that Spelinspektionen gave five year licences to a number of other firms who had been similarly fined in other jurisdictions. These include Casino Cosmopol, which was awarded a five-year licence despite its parent company Svenska Spel being punished for procedural failings.

In this instance, the court sided with Videoslots. They ruled that the Videoslots licence should be extended until the end of 2023.

STS Signs Up with Enteractive

Polish gaming firm STS has entered into a new agreement that it hopes will boost its ability to retain customers in a competitive European betting market.

The operator has signed up with Enteractive, a company that focuses on iGaming conversion. As part of the deal, STS is set to benefit from the Reactivation Cloud operated by Enteractive, that works to boost their retention rates among online gaming players.

Speaking about the deal, the CEO at STS, Mateusz Juroszek, said that Enteractive was a good fit for his firm, as they share a focus on invention and continuous improvement. He explained that through the partnership and the use of the Reactivation Cloud, STS would be able to improve their customer retention through better communication and engagement on a significantly larger scale.

According to reports, the Enteractive platform can be plugged into a company’s existing customer retention system using API integration. The platform is said to provide transparency for operator clients, while giving them full control of the customer retention operation. The platform is also said to be fully GDPR compliant, with all customer data secured in accordance with regulations.

Polish market

Commenting on the arrangement with STS, the CEO and founder of Enteractive, Mikael Hansson, said that he was delighted to strike up a partnership with a major operator in the Polish online gaming sector, which also had the potential to increase their market share into the wider global market. He also said that there were early signs of improvement in STS’s retention system:

“With STS connected to our (Re)Activation Cloud we have already seen good signs in terms of conversion rates and player reactions which further strengthens our belief that strong brands benefit even more from our qualitative and scalable product.”

He added that he hoped that there would be further work in this area and that the two companies would forge a mutually profitable relationship in the months ahead.

Bookies Report Money for Labour

With just over a week to go until the UK General Election, there are signs that the race may be tightening, with some bookmakers reporting that they have seen money coming in for Labour.

Although the opinion polls still show a significant lead for the Conservative Party, those polls have been tightening in recent days, and the average lead has fallen from the mid-teens to around 10%, which should still be enough to give the Conservatives an overall majority.

But there are signs that the Conservative support has levelled off, amid of series of negative headlines for leader Boris Johnston, including over his failure to attend the climate change debate held by Channel 4 last week and his apparent unwillingness to follow other party leaders in subjecting himself to a grilling by veteran political interviewer Andrew Neill on the BBC.

And it has been reported in one national newspaper that bookmakers are cutting their odds on a Labour majority. According to a spokesperson for Paddy Power punters had been backing Labour at 20/1 in this market, and in some places, their odds had dropped to 16/1.

The Labour Party still have a lot of work to do if they are to secure a majority, and a Conservative majority remains the overwhelming favourite in his market at 4/9 with many bookmakers, with a hung parliament rated as a 9/4 shot generally.

But although the drift towards Labour may have come too late to propel Jeremy Corbyn into office, there are signs that, as in the 2017 election, Corbyn’s ability to remain largely gaffe-free can work in his favour against a misfiring Conservative campaign. There are also signs that the Liberal Democrats have altered their strategy in recent days, focusing more heavily on their push in Conservative marginals, rather than attacking the Labour Party over Europe.

Casino Coin Signs with Omnia Casino

CasinoCoin, one of the world’s best-known gaming blockchains, has signed up with online operator Omnia Casino to produce a new token for their online site.

The token will be used to operate the Omnia Casino loyalty program. Players taking part on the Omnia site will be able to earn tokens, and then spend them in a new online store, giving them access to a variety of promotions, including bonuses, free spins or other prizes.

Speaking about the new deal, Omnia Group’s founder, Sam Hobcraft, said that they had always put innovation at the centre of what they do and chose CasinoCoin for the new venture as their technology was better than all of the alternative options:

“As the blockchain for gaming, and with a team that understands this space, they are the perfect partner and we look forward to building a long-lasting relationship.”

According to reports, Omnia Casino will control the token and is promising almost instantaneous transactions along with much lower fees. The new Omnia rewards scheme will also apparently feature more robust security and a greater level of automation.

Director of advocacy for the CasinoCoin Foundation, John Caldwell, said that since their custom tokens were launched earlier in 2019, the firm has seen a variety of innovative operators employ the technology in different ways. He also said that the addition of one of the online gaming world’s leading cryptocurrency sites to their network boosts their position as the foremost gaming blockchain.

The new deal is just the latest struck by CasinoCoin during the last year. A number of companies have signed up with them to produce their own token system using the CasinoCoin blockchain. These include well known roulette game maker Cammegh and the eGamingFund; a distribution and licensing provider for online casino games producers.

Singular Launches Sportsbook

Systems developer Singular is set to launch what it describes as its new ‘4th generation’ sportsbook platform when it attends the SIGMA conference in Malta this week.

The sportsbook is a significant product launch that the company hopes will make a big impact in 2020. The platform has been developed to improve the ability of betting operator clients to engage with their customers during in-play betting.

Releasing details of the new product ahead of the conference unveiling, Singular says that the redesigned sportsbook can enable a greater degree of personalisation, while boosting reporting of customer turnover. According to the company, the platform is based around a modular framework that employs both big data and a number of AI modules. They also state that it will enable betting operators to tailor player journeys as they bet, encouraging greater player engagement.

Speaking about the new product, the VP of Business Development at Singular, Darko Gacov, said that it would help clients to tailor their brand in a flexible way:

“Singular is committed to maximising the growth of each client. We are dedicated to giving operators full flexibility to create their own brand. With that idea in mind, we have created a solution for Tier-1 sportsbook companies with high scalability.”

The company also state that the new sportsbook platform can be integrated into the data supply of any provider, enabling operators to switch or combine between various odds feeds.

Founded in 2009, the company entered its first major project when it worked with the Bank of Georgia during 2010 and 2011. After a period of rapid growth, Singular adjusted its focus in 2017. The company now concentrates on producing software solutions in the igaming and sports betting sector and are set to announce their first tier-1 industry partners next year.